8

We are having more and more problems with the content becoming repetetive and stale. The biggest reason for this are users that just copy funny stuff of the internet or bluntly repost what other users posted.

I saw the same effect in other communities I participated as well (9gag is pretty much the most extreme case with 9/10 posts being some form of repost:

  • Exactly the same post (stolen from another user or reposted from another platform from different users)
  • Same post in slightly different way

This is why I left the platform and this is why a lot of people get bored. On the other hand the praise and engagement they do get (on 9gag as well as in my community) show that there are still a lot of users that really cherish the content.

What are counter measures you know of without?

Note: We do have up and down votes and also a reputation system much like stack. Unfortunately this is also part of the problem as people who repost get a lot of upvotes for it and that is why they keep doing it. I have somewhat limited control over the software.

6

Posts, original content, content and reposts are all synonyms for the word information. The users simply spread the information either to entertain other people or to be praised for their "original" idea. And this is a very normal thing to do: Teachers do pretty much the same. They iterate over different teaching concepts over and over again in order to educate aspiring folks.

The same goes for your community. Users come to your site in order to entertain or to be entertained. And they need the necessary information, the posts, to do so successfully. So they simply recycle other users information. Widely seen as a bad thing by a large userbase, it's also welcomed by users who happened to have not seen the information yet. This especially can become a problem if the community is growing at a rapid speed, as new users constantly join the community while the base of seasoned users also grows. The result is that there is the demand for re-sharing information while another majority of the site is already annoyed of it.

So the owners of the site are now in a little dilemma. On the one side, you don't want to do something against it, as that would make you less attractive to those who are new and want to join, on the other side, you feel pressured by the seasoned users to do something against it as they don't feel entertained anymore if they have seen information over a dozens time.

Before proceeding to finding a possible solution, let's have a word about reposting information. Let's take a look at the SE-network. Reposts aren't allowed as the SE-network is built to be a knowledge base, combining and bringing together experts of various fields who can assist with problems. Reposts aren't necessary as content simply doesn't cool down, it's always accessible by providing different guidelines to quality. This makes the content easily findable and not outdated as long as the key problem of the question is not outdated. We can conclude that on a site which is built to harvest knowledge and serve it, reposts would just be an option to aesthetically fill up the site with content.

However, on a site which is built to entertain, content cools down relatively fast. Content is made for the laughs and after you laughed about it, you can forget it quite easily so other user think that it's necessary to bring it up again as they simple can't remember the link to the original content, nor how the title of the content was. So people repost what other originally posted, sometimes altered, sometimes not.

The key problem of course doesn't change. Seasoned users have been reminded of specific content a lot of times, as "classic content" is reposted quite frequently.

Let's come to a possible solution.

It's important to know that simply imposing rules isn't effective, nor efficient. There needs to be a change in how the site delivers content towards its audience so that every possible targeted group can enjoy it. The best solution would be to customize how content is shown by the behaviour of users and is implemented by a lot of companies. However, I think that's wrong.

Instead of calibrating the tools to avoid possible reposts for the users, the tools should be given to the users to customize them for their own need. This means that it should be able to customize what you want to see, but not filtered on your actions but rather out of your desire.

A possible implementation is to provide users with a kind of a button, tag system, but no report function to mark posts as reposts. If a sufficient amount of people mark the content as repost, the site automatically assigns the post to the pool of reposts. By doing so, it's not shown anymore to those users who decided to hide posts from the repost pool. The limit of when a post is reposted should be aligned to the business around the content. If it's viewed by a lot of users, the limit should be higher, if it's seen by less, it should be lower.

This tool is very simple but yet very effective as it combines several things at once:

  • The report function won't be misused anymore to report reposts.
  • Seasoned users have the power to make a make a change onto the community and therefore develop a hopefully deeper connection to the community.
  • The site owners can solve both problems at once as the users are sorting it out for themselves and are only shown what they want to see (either everything or only fresh, not already known content).

Nevertheless, this method also has a downside. Especially on sites like 9GAG, Imgur or other communities that are built onto the same principle, the line between actual repost and memes is blurred. While some recognize memes as reposts aswell, even though they may have a different content, other simply don't want to see memes. Of course, there could be made another implementation to also mark memes, but that would instantly make the system overly complexive and everyone would call for their own category.

A way to bypass this can be to define different limits to what degree a post is a repost and offer different options. This would mean that at a specific percentage of marks, it lands into different ratings of being a repost.

The provided solution is naturally very technical and can oftentimes only be implemented by the site owners themselves. (Yes, a browser add-on might be feasible too.)

A people's solution might be impossible as it's not possible or the slightest bit economically worth it to educate each and everyone in a big community. And a people's solution might hurt portions of the two parts of a big community: the new members and the seasoned ones. And probably a big community would keep everything unchanged as seasoned users can always leave while new can always join so that both factors keep each other in balance.

  • Wow, that was a nice answer! Could you please edit it with a TL;DR on top? I think it could be helpful to tease the ones who don't bother reading long posts. – pedrez Sep 15 '16 at 11:07

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