Number of followers to be shown on a profile?

Gaurav Shankar on September 15, 2018

I just happened to be browsing across dev.to today and I realized that on visiting a user's profile, you're not shown the number of user's they're ... [Read Full]
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I happen to agree with both Ryhmes' and Kayla's perspectives.

I too do not care for it. Though I'm not against it, I just do not see the value.

I will admit that the narcissist in me does appreciate having access to it through my dashboard. 😎

Displaying metrics like the number of followers publicly does nothing but create the illusion of popularity. It also helps foster the competition and performance pressure that almost always ensues. It can most certainly contribute to "social media anxiety" for some. As Kayla said, we already have hearts and unicorns to vote with. I also think the badge system works quite well.

One of the things I enjoy about DEV.to is exactly what Rhymes stated, their commitment to lessen the social anxiety of contributing to this community.

 

There's some primal lizard-brain thing in us that loves watching numbers go up. I'm all for judicious indulgence of such baser instincts, but I appreciate having structural barriers to making it comparable (& therefore competitive) at a personal level; I think that's where it can start becoming unhealthy for individual people and for the community in general. Reactions to a single post act both as psychological reward and as selective environmental pressure. Metrics like aggregate "karma" or follower count don't have much use beyond making a popularity contest out of things. I'm glad they haven't been implemented and hope they continue not to be.

 

I am strongly against this.

The number of followers is a metric of how many people want to read more articles similar to one you have already written. It is a measure of popularity, not quality. Sometimes popularity is due to quality, sure enough. However, this website is about technical knowledge rather than entertainment. If we accept the law of triviality for this situation (which I do), we must conclude that popular posts, on average, have a lower technical content; a lower barrier to entry. From personal observations, I do believe this is happening in practice on this website as well.

In other words, I'd expect a number of followers to be negatively correlated with technical depth and complexity of written articles.

Since we'd also expect a positive correlation between number of followers and quality of writing, without objective measurements of how these factors are correlated exactly, number of followers becomes a useless metric.

Being a bad metric, it should not be used, and therefore, people should not have access to it.

P.S.: There are also more controversial arguments to be made about other aspects that contribute to popularity based on e.g. pandering to the audience or abusing human nature.

 

I've noticed an uptick in the number of Cracked/Buzzfeed style headlines here. X Ways Your Y Will Z

I suspect that's the numbers game coming to fruition. Entertaining and teaching at a high level, like Cracked's early days. Which will then turn to just entertaining since that boost's the author's read count (like Cracked's current days)...

Granted, this is pure speculation on my part, but your comment brought up a good point that the trends seem to be gaining steam. It's more a crossroads of being a community and a blogging platform, and I'm seeing it more often used for the later if you browse /latest recently.

 

I'm not familiar with those platforms, but yes that sounds like the same situation.

 

While I don't like it, I don't think it's damaging to the site. We already have hearts and unicorns for likes and friends in the sense that mutual following allows for direct messaging. 2 more lines of detail on a profile page won't turn this into a social media platform.

I don't care for it since

  1. I don't think that it provides value
  2. Those numbers don't even equate to popularity or anything like that since most followers are random Day 1 lurkers

The "quick metrics" on the profile is not highlighted in the "main" section of the profile, but off on the side, so adding 2 more numbers doesn't really change much. At its core, I think your PR should be merged because more numbers are better, but I don't think people should put meaning behind it.

Number following or having been followed doesn't really tell you anything about the quality of the person, so I don't see its value. Lurkers may have a ton followed to just read a bunch, but they aren't participating in the community. Quite active people may be following nothing and using dev.to as a soapbox, so they aren't participating in the community. What does it buy you, the user viewing their profile, to know that information?

There are several posts from earlier in the year on the site regarding why randoms are following people with blank profiles. The reason from @ben is that the new user experience gives a bunch of suggestions on who to follow and people do that readily. At that point, then, the number of people that have followed you is meaningless, to the point that most people back then assumed the new follows were bots.

I have 567 followers, but I rarely ever post. I follow 31 specific people who post frequent content that I find interesting, and I have something like 5 mutual follows. That follow count in no way should imply that I'm popular or post high-quality content.

 

I currently follow users based on how much I like their content (posts, comments). I'd hate for that to change ("Oh, this fellow has 3k followers—means they must be worth following. This one has only 15—nah, I'll pass")

 
 
 

Yep, @rhymes is repeating something I’ve described before with regards to the intentionality.

I’m not religiously against the feature, so I’ll read all the comments in the thread with an open mind 🙂

 
 

The lack of a visible followed count is probably my favourite thing about this site. I mean, I like a lot of things, but that's the best bit by far.

I think follower counts are incredibly damaging to a community. You've only got to look at any other social sites to see that. The most popular Quora discord server has channels you're only allowed into if you have over a thousand followers. People are more likely to upvote something that's been retweeted enough times to have the count switch to using a thousands separator. On Twitter people judge you poorly if your follow er count is less than your follow ing number.

I've seen a couple of people here make posts with titles like "hey thanks for getting me past n followers!" and they make my heart sink. It's not a race. There's no good equivalence between number of followers and "worth" but people make that assumption and if you don't have as big a number, maybe you're an imposter. Right?

 

I feel like this is the type of feature that we may be better off without.

But as someone else mentioned, some basic analytics stuff may be nice (maybe a counter for how many people viewed each article? or perhaps that's just as bad..)

 

Thanks for adding this feature @grv19 . As much as I've felt like I've wanted this feature, I share the same sentiment as @rhymes . At the moment, I like that my follower count is what matters to me and I shouldn't be concerned with how other people are doing. I think it removes the social anxiety and doesn't introduce subconscious competition.

 

On the other hand, what I'd like to see are more stats into things like how am I getting my followers and what can I do better to increase my reach.

At the moment, it appears that brand new signups are presented with people to follow. They may be following these people blindly, so I'm not sure if I'm truly earning my followers.

 

I dont care for this feature.

I think it’s detrimintal. You should follow users based on if YOU think the user is worthy of following and not based on how many others found the user “worthy of following”

“Worthy of following” is subjective here.

 

I don't care much about this.

What I'd really like would be some analytics features xD

 

I give them a dollar a month to see pretty numbers on my posts in the dashboard ;) It's still in beta, though :)

 
 

At first glance there is something to say for nr of followers; if a lot of people follow a person, there must be some value in what they say. On the other hand, if people start following just because that high nr, this may lead to people with lots of followers who - basically - have nothing really interesting to say.

What might be a good way to find interesting contributors on dev.to is to give a ranking based on quality; measure the nr of hearts and unicorns and divide it by the nr of posts and you get an average quality of the posts. Combine that with the tags in their post and it makes it easy to find high quality content on a specific subject.

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