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The DEV Team

Improving the way DEV elevates the good stuff

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・2 min read

We are making a few concerted efforts to ensure the quality of the content that rises on the platform. As long as folks are not acting maliciously, we do not have an approach of gatekeeping even low quality content, but the problem is we do not do a great job system-wide of discerning the best stuff from the worst.

To speak to a few things we're doing imminently:

Expanding the number of "trusted" users. Trusted infers greater capacity to vote against bad content through special reactions. It's a wisdom of the crowds approach. We have guidelines, but can also rely on the gentle nudges of folks who've shown to be thoughtful.

Currently less than 1% of users have that role and it will go a long way for us to increase that program. This will have a big impact.

Better matching members with content they like. Increasing relevancy in the feed will be a priority for DEV. If there is any component of work on DEV that has gotten less love with our focus on Forem, it's been some of the tweaking that ensures DEV— the biggest Forem— keeps getting algorithm improvements.

Our focus of late has largely been on the smallest Forems as we're getting the program underway. But as much of 2020 has focused on the nuts and bolts of getting this Forem idea working, 2021 will give us much more time to focus on the refinement of key areas. Content discoverability is first and foremost here. We want to make it easier to match people with topics and people they care about.

We also have one or two specific projects in 2021 which will be really fun!

This year we were able to tackle some hair-on-fire problems as they came up... Notably an influx of bad spam which helped us come up with some nice scaleable solutions.

Of course, everything we do is open source. There is a lot we can do with our moderation practices, some of which I touched on with the note on trusted users— and others can be improvements to the core product.

Feel free to pitch us on specific ideas through issues.

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Welcome to the Forem codebase, the platform that powers dev.to. We are so excited to have you. With your help, we can build out Forem’s usability, scalability, and stability to better serve our communities.

What is Forem?

Forem is open source software for building communities. Communities for your peers, customers, fanbases, families, friends, and any other time and space where people need to come together to be part of a collective See our announcement post for a higher level overview of what Forem is.

dev.to (or just DEV) is hosted by Forem. It is a community of software developers who write articles, take part in discussions, and build their professional profiles. We value supportive and constructive dialogue in the pursuit of great code and career growth for all members. The ecosystem spans from beginner to advanced developers, and all are welcome to find their…

If you want to trigger broader discussions instead of specific issues, we welcome you to also post on https://forem.dev/

👉 forem.dev

Discussion

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ekeijl profile image
Edwin

Maybe DEV should facilitate different formats of content that can be posted on here. A lot of stuff in my feed does not feel like a blog/article, but more like a discussion thread (e.g. "what did you achieve this week?", "I need help with x", "watercooler" stuff) or something else. One of the biggest problems is that I don't know what to expect by reading just the title and tags. I think having only tags isn't enough to improve the signal-to-noise ratio.

What if you are required to choose the type of content you are posting? I can think of the following categories:

  • Articles (default)
  • News: dedicated links to release notes/github release page.
  • Tutorial: support multiple steps/parts, readers can ask questions per step.
  • Showcase: dedicated field for Codepen/Codesandbox and make it really shine at the top of the article.
  • Polls: ask the community how they feel about a certain topic.
  • Videos: oh, that's already there :D
  • Q&A: but maybe there's StackOverflow for that
  • "100 days of code": encourage the writer to write about what he learned, like keeping a diary.

I could probably go on for days and a lot of stuff is already there in the right column of the homepage, but my point is that by adding features for specific use cases, it might become easier for people to find the stuff that they enjoy, because they will know where to look. You could add these categories to the left column or mark posts with a category icon.

I'm not sure if this is going to make the whole platform too complex, I also enjoy the simplicity writing a post the way it is right now.

Curated lists of articles (put together by real human beings) might also help finding quality content. I always enjoy reading these "newsletter" type of aggregators (javascript weekly, ui.dev, etc).

Btw, I never really read the right column because they look like ads to me.. 🙈

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jonoyeong profile image
Jonathan Yeong

I love that Forem is aware of this issue and actively trying to take steps to mitigate it! I know there's a lot to be done to increase relevancy and decrease spam. But I wanted to touch on the trusted users.

Could you explain more what that is? I didn't realize that there was a particular trusted role. Also, do you have a link to the guidelines to be a trusted user?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

We award the role to folks we deem "thoughtful" in their approach to a situation. And that's part of the reason we currently have too few (less than 1%)... But when folks submit abuse reports, it's a good way to catch our eye for the role.

Also a lot of folks who weighed in on that thread about possible quality issues will be given the role as having stepped up to demonstrate thoughtfulness.

It's important to us that we strike the right balance, award a diverse set of folks from different parts of the world, experience level, etc, and that it be just powerful enough to have a bigger impact, but not be something where the knife is too sharp and now super users run the show.

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jonoyeong profile image
Jonathan Yeong

Thank you for adding some more background info to this role!

Agreed it's a fine balance and "thoughtful" is very subjective. Like can a user be thoughtful in one instance but not another? How long do they need to be "thoughtful" before they're awarded that role?

But I think this is a move in the right direction. Rewarding people positively for creating thoughtful content that isn't spam or plagiarism makes a lot of sense to me. Hopefully, exerting pressure on both sides (positive reward for thoughtful content, abuse reports for spam/plagiarism) will help elevate content that people want to read.

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greenroommate profile image
Haris Secic

Was about to ask you to prevent it becoming toxic like SO but preventing "super users run the show" is that. I did mention on on post that it's good if possible to keep the low quality post not to scare away not so experienced people. They might look like spam but it gives them feeling of inclusion even if criticised on a post but in civilised manner. Basically report button is great but downvote and having points to post or comment is more toxic than useful.

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habereder profile image
Raphael Habereder

What I would love would be guidelines for reports.
In the last hour I found about 20 posts in my feed, some of which I reported for clearly being spam like advertisements for things like cooking equipment, or some lorem ipsum looking post about a german railway station.

While I still have a few tabs open of posts which I have no idea if they should be reported or not. They clearly do not fit on DEV in my opinion, but my opinion isn't really important since I am not DEV :D

As a few examples:

  • A post that is titled TEST, with no text
  • only the text of "how do you download"
  • a rather inspirational text about "not giving up", no Tags whatsoever
  • a single link to stackoverflow
  • a URL to a personal website, no Post Text otherwise, with that same site being broken and landing on 404

It's really tough to "hit the button" on some, so a guide on what DEV deems as ok and not would be very helpful. I have no problem with doing the leg work, I just don't want to be the bad guy and kick someone in the shins if they don't deserve it.

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itsjzt profile image
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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Yeah, this is definitely a motivator for this post

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stiv_ml profile image
Stiv Marcano

Wow, that was a really quick response. I'm really looking forward to see (and help) this changes being implemented on the platform.

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simonholdorf profile image
Simon Holdorf

This definitely is a step in the right direction and I am very grateful that the Dev Team is always listening to the community and acts quickly. I mean, this whole community is an ever evolving thing and nobody was prepared, I guess, for where we are now. So there is always learning, always trying, always adjusting. And I think it works very well. Maybe Dev hit a new maturity level, maybe not. But I see there is progress and the will to work on this as best as possible. Nothing more I wish from a community. I am glad to be part of this and will help as much as possible. 😊

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shadowtime2000 profile image
shadowtime2000

It's kind of sad cause I can't find interesting more quality posts on Dev. When I find a post that has a somewhat interesting title, it either gives a brief summary of the article and gives you a link to an external website, or it is just a title with a cover image.

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vaibhavkhulbe profile image
Vaibhav Khulbe

I absolutely loved the addition of Mod Panel and Mod Center to DEV. Wonderful work by the DEV team (thanks Ben!). This will help writers a lot to make this community even better! :)

Dev Mod:

Dev Mod screenshot

Dev Panel:

Dev Mod screenshot

You can read more about the DEV Trusted User Guide here.

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190245 profile image
Dave

Isn't the idea of "trusted users", as stated in this post, the opposite of the intent of the post, and indeed what the team at DEV are trying to do?

Post title: improve the good stuff.
Trusted user role: better able to fight against the bad stuff.

A trusted, thoughtful user, should really be empowered to make the good more visible, edit the good to make it better, and edit the bad to make it less bad... at least in my view.

I mean, I can "downvote" on many platforms - I choose not to, because I'm not a fan of suppression.

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eecolor profile image
EECOLOR

Not sure if it helps, but my thoughts:

I come here only via the email. It lists 6 topics and I scan the titles and use my intuition to click something. My fear is that "find valuable based on your interests" will lock me into a bubble with only one type of article. An alternative would be 'most liked' or 'most viewed', but that would equally create a certain bubble because all of the mechanisms reinforce themselves.

This is a tricky subject. I like the fact that it is boiled down to only a handful of suggestions (6 is a great number). And my main intent of these emails is to get a bit of a feel of what is happening in the community.

To escape the self-reinforcing bubble would be to have 2 out of 6 be 'random'. Where 'random' means 'distributed among all active readers', this ensures that all articles get equal attention at launch.