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Story requests?

By MSBob in Meta
Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:04:37 AM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

One feature missing in this site that I would see as a useful addition is a story request queue.

The idea is simple. Give users the ability to post requests for stories they would like to read. Currently K5 mostly appeals to people with a who have a general interest in a wide variety of subjects. However, real in-depth stories have become rare in the recent past. I hope that a list of story requests may help restore the balance. For instance if I happen to be interested in learning more about MS .Net I could post a request. Someone in the know sees the request and posts a story that matches my request. The story goes in the submission queue and my request disappears from the request queue. In addition users should be able to vote on story requests but purely for the feedback value (ie. no -1 votes on requests). This would give some indication about the "demand" for each story.

The reason why I'm proposing this is that I find a lot of stories that don't overlap with my interests. It's true that the ultimate solution lies in the hands of those who post stories but I believe that when demand is shown supply quickly follows, even in the world of free information/free software.



Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Story request queue
o Yes, please 68%
o No, thanks 31%

Votes: 94
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by MSBob

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Story requests? | 31 comments (29 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Easy solution (2.57 / 7) (#1)
by ubernostrum on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:03:35 PM EST

Write the stories you'd like to see. That's kind of the idea here - when you think to yourself, "Gee, a story about x would be nice" you can write a story about it and submit...you've already taken the one prerequisite step of creating an account.


You cooin' with my bird?

ya see here. (3.77 / 9) (#3)
by Defect on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:07:09 PM EST

If you don't happen to know about the topic, but someone else does, it may be enough to encourage someone by stating you'd be interested in such a piece.

defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
My point exactly (3.20 / 5) (#4)
by MSBob on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:10:36 PM EST

Sometimes it's just not feasible for me to research a topic for weeks that I have little knowledge about. Someone else may be doing it for living or have a keen interest in the subject area and may be willing to share their wisdom. I think the request queue would boost such interactions.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
And for that (2.80 / 5) (#7)
by ubernostrum on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:16:12 PM EST

Either do a little research into the topic (which shouldn't be too bad, since you're interested in it), or if you know someone who knows a lot about the subject, there's always email. There's also the diary section, where you could talk about things you'd like to see written, and maybe encourage someone to write them, and K5 IRC - though I don't frequent it myself, it appears to harbor the occasional discussion of a story in progress, among other things...

You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]

So you're saying... (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by kaatunut on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 09:55:37 PM EST

... if you don't know about something, learn about it. How do I learn about it? By reading about it. This guy wants to learn about it, and he wants to learn about it on the site he likes best, also thinking it would at the same time help other people who might find it interesting but don't have time to study it.

By extending your logic, we could ask, why read (informative) stories at all? After all, if you're interested in it, researching it shouldn't be that bad...

And about your suggestions to pester peolpe with email, diary, K5 IRC, they're just ineffective. He might not know who to ask. He might have to spend all day whining about it on IRC. If you suggest him to find people on IRC etc to write it, why is it so repulsive to add a forum specifically meant for this purpose (as opposed to something meant for idle chat, apparently), making things easier to those wanting to know about it and those who want to write about something?

there's hole up in the sky from where the angels fall to sire children that grow up too tall, there's hole down in the ground where all the dead men go down purgatory's highways that gun their souls
[ Parent ]

Great idea (3.40 / 5) (#2)
by A Dapper M on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:05:50 PM EST

I personally think this is a great idea, thought it probably wouldn't work well in execution. I think if someone has a good idea for a story, there are going to write on it, regardless of whether there has been a request for it or not.

Conversely, if they don't feel strongly enough to write on it without a request, a request will not be incentive enough to do so. (Then we get to the execution question: how would it get incorporated into scoop?)

"I sought only myself." - Heraclitus

It could be a special 'Story request topic' (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by Xeriar on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:14:10 PM EST

So, someone submits a request under the heading, and instead of 80 (or whatever) points to come up it only needs 20 (or however large the '-' value is set at).

I would be more than happy to write something up I knew about if I knew someone was interested.

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

A couple of caveats (4.28 / 7) (#5)
by abdera on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:12:43 PM EST

I can see a couple of possible problems that may make effective implementation of a story request queue difficult:

1. What happens when a story request really, really sucks? Something like "Reqest story: Why is water wet?" Does someone have to grow so weary of it that they actually write a story that is doomed to get dumped just to dump the story request, does Inoshiro need to step in and manually kill it, or is an arbitrary timer used that may dump a popular request before an infrequent k5er who is capable and willing to write the story has the opportunity to see it?

2. What if there's a great request, but someone writes a terrible story, causing the request to go away before someone who knows can write a good article on it?

I think the idea has promise, though may be difficult to implement.

#224 [deft-:deft@98A9C369.ipt.aol.com] at least i don't go on aol

I got an idea for the first... (4.25 / 4) (#8)
by Xeriar on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:23:37 PM EST

As above.

For the second problem, I would imagine that if possible, more than one person would submit a story. I am certainly not the only one here with knowledge of computers and their related studies, for example :-)

Say someone asks 'how does jpeg compression work?" So I write an article explaining what the Fourier Transform is, explain what it can do, the neat tricks you can do, etc. And from there run length and huffman encoding. Now, I'm not the best at all of this - someone is bound to come up with a better article (I would expect it here, anyway). If mine is worthy, it gets voted up too, and K5 is not at a loss for knowledge, certainly.

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

Both easily answered (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by kubalaa on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 08:59:56 AM EST

You make it sound like k5 intelligently matches article submissions with story requests. Or that the authors of stories get to pick which request they're fulfilling. Both are too easy to abuse; you could do two things:
  1. Let only the original submitter remove the request. Then they remove it when they're satisfied.
  2. Make the requests voted-on like articles. If nobody else agrees with the request, they vote it down. Or else they just vote it down after they're satisfied because the story appeared. In this case everyone would need one up and one down vote, and you'd need to notice who placed each vote; of those who voted up, a certain percentage would have to vote down for it to be removed.

[ Parent ]
Too much administrative overhead (none / 0) (#31)
by abdera on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 06:01:48 PM EST

Let only the original submitter remove the request. Then they remove it when they're satisfied.

In the event that the original submitter get laid off and suddenly finds himself spending all day looking for a way to support his family instead of posting to K5, or just (gasp) loses interest, this method fails ad forces us to:

Make the requests voted-on like articles. If nobody else agrees with the request, they vote it down. Or else they just vote it down after they're satisfied because the story appeared. In this case everyone would need one up and one down vote, and you'd need to notice who placed each vote; of those who voted up, a certain percentage would have to vote down for it to be removed.

There's enough cruft in the submission queue to eat up a good portion of my time spent online moderating instead of reading something interesting. So now I spend the rest moderating the request queue? I might put forth the effort for about 2 days.

#224 [deft-:deft@98A9C369.ipt.aol.com] at least i don't go on aol
[ Parent ]

Story requests v. 1.1 (2.80 / 5) (#9)
by MSBob on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:39:05 PM EST

Already had a thought about a slight adjustment to the idea. When a request for a story gets fulfilled the request does not disappear from the queue until said story gets voted up. In the meantime the request turns into a hyperlink that links to you guessed it, the story being voted. This way requests only disappear if they are matched by a story that gets posted.

I'm not sure if the system should permit multiple submissions per story request. My knee jerk reaction is 'no' in order to comply with the KISS principle.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

preferred ver 1.0 (2.00 / 4) (#19)
by leon jacobs on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 04:55:54 AM EST

i'm about to +1 you because i think your idea is fabulous. but this extension to not make stories disappear until the need is met is - in my view - a bad move.

what if some crackpot asks for a story on how to paint buses green [i'm pulling this straight of the top of me head] but he's lonely in his thirst for this knowledge, then we're going to be staring at this for a long time. especially if nobody can tell him how to do it.
10 REM sig
30 GOTO 20
[ Parent ]

Skid it on the grass. (3.50 / 4) (#24)
by your_desired_username on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:13:07 AM EST

As every schoolboy knows, the most beautiful green comes from grass. Put on a new pair of slacks. Go outside and find a big park with lots of grass. Run as fast as you can. Then leap, and pull up your feet so you land on your knees and skid across the grass. Now look at the knees of your slacks. Beautiful, isn't it? This is the color we need on our wonderful green bus.

Skidding a bus is bit more complicated. Don't listen to those paranoiacs who say it is frighteningly dangerous - they don't know what they are missing. But it is kind of complicated.

First, you need a good long road with a low wall running on one side. Make sure the wall is no taller than the tops of the tires on the bus. This wall critical to flipping the bus on its sides or top. (Remember, that's where we want the pretty green color.) Get the bus on the bus on the road and accelerate to about 145 kph (90 mph). A bus is very heavy, so it needs a lot of velocity to get a good slide. Once you are up to speed, change lanes steadily until you hit the wall and flip over it. This part can be tricky to get right - you want the bus to land on its side or top and slide across the grass (you did remember to pick a road with lots grass along side it, didn't you?) - but don't let this difficult maneuver faze you. Do it again and again until you get it just right - 3 times, because you have two sides and the top to mark up with skids. Exercise for the reader: Observe how a wall of the proper curvature could make flipping the bus easier.

Now that you have your wonderful green bus, invite all of your friends to come take a ride so you can show them how you did it. They'll love you forever for it.

[ Parent ]

Story time! (4.25 / 8) (#10)
by MicroBerto on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 11:57:21 PM EST

Right when I read your subject, I thought that you'd be asking for more STORIES, such as the anal experience story. Now I got to thinking that this is something that maybe we could use more of - some really intriguing personal experiences really broke up some of the monotony!

yeah yeah i know that these should go in diaries a lot, but I encourage people to write good moralistic stories more often!

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

Hmm.. (2.60 / 5) (#11)
by MSBob on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:01:17 AM EST

Funny. I normally refer to K5 stories as 'articles' however, I noticed that the link says "Submit Story" and I changed all ocurrences of 'article' with 'story' to avoid confusion. Obviously it worked well :).
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Now all we need is micropayments (1.40 / 5) (#12)
by QuantumG on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:15:13 AM EST

There I said it.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
Oops! (2.83 / 6) (#13)
by regeya on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:30:49 AM EST

Voted it down, then thought to myself, "Hey, I misread that...great idea." Would be nice for the folks who are interested in a subject, but aren't good writers (or so they think) or just don't feel knowledgeable enough to write it...whatever.

Maybe it could just be a slight variation on the diary section. Hm.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

[OT] Voting motivation (4.00 / 6) (#14)
by MSBob on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:34:54 AM EST

I'm unsure whether you should vote down an article (any article) just because the idea it presents doesn't correlate with your own views. Seems to me that's what you've done. I think it's best to vote Don't care in such case and post a topical comment that challenges the views/proposals of the article. Don't vote up only the articles you agree with, it kills the discussion when people do that
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
I agree with the comment... (2.66 / 3) (#16)
by Aquarius on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:57:13 AM EST

...but not the story. However, I think that the story postulates an interesting idea, and I'm open to convincing. So I voted +1 on the story and "no" in the poll :-)

"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
Great detective work, Bucky. (none / 0) (#29)
by regeya on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 07:26:11 PM EST

Too bad you're way off...

My thinking was erroneous, true. But I was thinking that this was yet another meta article about the lack of good articles, for some unknown reason. Perhaps I should have pointed that out to avoid such a low rating on my comment. :-/

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Story Suggestion: Miguel/Mono, C#, MS/.Net and Jav (4.00 / 3) (#15)
by quam on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:39:44 AM EST

Just a thought --- it would be interesting to see some analysis/read feedback about Ximian's development of Mono and whether this development constitutes acceptance of MS's strategies, and inherently curbs the potential online use of Java (or other languages (what affect may this have on Perl?)) for many projects.

Yes, there was a Slashdot story regarding the announcement of Ximian to create Mono, but I think many would like to read more about the ramifications and expectations of the project; an in-depth analysis. Also, Miguel seems excited about .Net (perhaps this is not too unusual considering Miguel worked with MS and often speaks well of MS) compared with other open source developers.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
Isn't there... (4.33 / 6) (#20)
by benzilla on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:53:30 AM EST

already a Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) topic which could just about cover this?



Poll results (4.33 / 6) (#21)
by codemonkey_uk on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 06:32:55 AM EST

I think the results of the poll indicate the wishes of story readers, rather than story authors. Even if 100's of people who never write a word want stories on specific subjects, it won't help a jot asking for them if the people who do write don't care.

As a semi regular controbutor, and someone who as in the past written in depth articles on both technical and social issues, I would like to say that NO I do not want lots of unsolicited demands for stories. When I want to write and am short for ideas, I ask in the diary section.

Remember, the authors are unpaid, and write for pleasure. This sounds like a request for a reduced effort version of the Ask K5 section.
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

Can this become abused by plagiarists/slackers? (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by Netsnipe on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:24:23 AM EST

After reading your post, the thought occured to me that some of the "100's of people who never write a word want stories on specific subjects" who would be willing to abuse this feature (which I still think is very interesting and useful when using properly by proper K5 readers), would be those who are all too willing to plagiarise a K5 article for a school essay on a subject -- more likely to be current affairs; that they're being asked to write about. Or people too lazy to do proper research, and instead con some hapless K5 author into doing all the research for them with relevant links and analysis.

I mean, who wants to see K5 unwittingly being turned into a "essays to order" website? Perhaps this privilege should only be extended to those who possess a high enough mojo rating? But on the over hand this could probably encourage the whole "karma whoring" that is plauging Slashdot atm. So what do you guys think?

Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]

Does it work? (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by ghjm on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:28:29 AM EST

Do you get useful suggestions when you ask in your diary?

Also - I don't think the proposal was for this to be targeted at specific authors. If you don't want to feel harried by a volume of requests, don't look at the request queue! On the other hand, authors and potential authors who _are_ short of ideas would have somewhere to go look for them.

It's still purely voluntary - what's the problem?

[ Parent ]
And who is going to moderate the story requests? (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by jbridges on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 09:16:26 AM EST

Do we have another submission cue for the story requests?

Or shall we have 9873 requests for stories about hotgrits, and Natalie Portman filling up the story request cue?

It doesn't need to be new code. (4.50 / 2) (#26)
by ghjm on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 11:26:09 AM EST

You could accomplish this just by creating another category, "requests." People post stories requesting other stories. This might seem strangely self-referential, but no more so than "meta" already is. In fact it might be a subcategory of meta. Then people can comment on, moderate and vote on particular types of story requests. Authors and potential authors would have a rich resource - the stories (requests) themselves, and all the ensuing discussion, from which to pull ideas about stories they could write. Maybe it should be handled like the diaries, in the sense that story request stories don't appear under "Everything" - then again, maybe they should. But it doesn't seem like this idea would require substantial new code in scoop.

[ Parent ]
It might get me to post a story (none / 0) (#28)
by error 404 on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:40:15 PM EST

As it happens, I know lots of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. I could write several books. And I bet I'd bore everyone to tears if I did. I suspect most people are like that.

Now, I bet there are several things that I know about that someone might post a story request for. I can imagine my reading a story request for topic X and thinking "hey, I know a lot about X - I didn't know anybody was interested" and writing the story. In fact, something very like that happened to me recently on a mailing list - I was veering off-topic and posted a message that I would have sent off-list if I had been a bit less lazy. And several people posted requests that me and the other guy keep it on-list.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Story requests? | 31 comments (29 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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