This morning, we uploaded a few changes to the site. There are two that I’ll briefly mention and then one that I want to discuss a bit more in depth.
1) Featured Popper: Each day, we will now have a Featured Popper on the site (below the Featured Clipper on the right side of the home page). We’re looking for ways to recognize users who consistently pop clips on the site. It’s currently difficult for them to get the appreciation they deserve, simply because popping is a more anonymous act than clipping. However, just as the site wouldn’t function without the great contributions of clippers, it also relies on people who pop the most interesting clips so that everyone else can have a better chance of seeing them. Adding a Featured Popper to the site each day is our first step in giving greater recognition to our poppers.
2) Who’s following who: Under each open clip (just to the right of the clipper’s username) you will see a little button that displays the number of followers the clipper has. Clicking this number will open a window that lists each of the users who are following that clipper. By making it easier for people to see who is following each clipper, we hope to also make it easier for everyone to connect with more users . The idea here is that if you know that a bunch of users who you like and respect are following a particular user, then you would likely be interested in learning more about that user and perhaps following his/her clips too. Over the next few weeks we’re going to try making each users My Clippers list a much greater focus of the site.
3) Ignore clippers: We have always taken great pride in the open nature of our system. Other than a few rare exceptions, we have tried to create a site that is completely in the hands of its users. Users contribute the clips…users pop their favorites for others to see…and users are free to add their own comments to any clip. Though we are very passionate about the concept of a completely open system without any limitations on user behavior, based on our observations of the Clipmarks site as well as other sites, we feel that it’s necessary to embrace some rules and boundaries in order to maintain harmony as the size of our user base grows. I anticipate this being an ongoing process where we do our best to react to site dynamics with measures that honor the idealism with which we started Clipmarks but also address some of the realities that come with a growing user base on the Web. As I indicated in this video clip, we have recently begun introducing a number of measures on the site aimed at dealing with this issue.
This morning, we added a little “x” next to each username in the comments section of each clip. If you click the “x” a little window will open that allows you to hide that user’s clip and/or comments as well as block them from commenting on your clips. Though these options can be used at each user’s discretion, I strongly ask of you not to use it to block people on the grounds that they disagree with you or who present views that challenge your own. It is through the presentation of differing views that we learn, so please, lets not use this as a way to censor those who don’t advocate our own way of seeing things.
We are offering this feature because of some consistent user complaints as well as our own observations that some comments on the site seem overly antagonistic. There have certainly been times when i have read comments on a clip and felt bad for the user who posted the clip because the comments seemed so inappropriately harsh. I’ve struggled with the decision of whether to simply allow this to continue because of my desire to keep clipmarks as open as possible or to try to curb it. Ultimately, we decided that each user should be free to make these decisions for themselves.
If you relate this to the Don Imus situation, our goal is to remove our own discretion from the equation as much as possible so that unlike CBS that chose to yank Imus off the airwaves, users will be able to make the choice about who they interact with on the site. Lastly, I’m hopeful that simply knowing that others can block you from commenting on your clips will spur people to maintain a greater level of respect for each other…even through their debates and disagreements. One suggestion/request I’d like to propose is to not use this measure immediately based on people’s past comments. Give this new system a chance to have an impact on how people comment and then use it when you feel necessary.
Like all of our work, nothing is permanent. If we come to believe this is a mistake or that there is a better approach, we will gladly make adjustments.