Switching comments on

https://trollheaven.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/deactivation-of-all-social-media-plugins_/

One week ago, I switched off all comments and Like buttons here in the wordpress blog. The idea was to get more comments. This didn’t work very well. I wondered why most “we have deactivated all comments” sessions are ended after some weeks, now I know the answer. It is not a good idea, to redirect all traffic to Facebook and Google plus. Realtime-communication with 2 billion people is not, what the ordinary blogger or author wants. So I have to made a second announcement: the comments are active again, also the Like and share buttons. This time the aim is the opposite. To get less traffic on Facebook but more here in the blog. Until the comment section under the old postings is reactivated it can take some time, because I must switch it manually online.

So why this new opinion? The initial effort to switching the comments off was driven by the idea to redirect the user interaction into Facebook’s social network. If the reader can’t anymore comment here, he is forced to do this on Facebook. The problem is, that social media are working different from blogs and forums, because they are bottom up focused. That means, a huge amount of people is interactively creating content all the time. It is a bad idea, to force anybody to adapt to this working style. :The result is chaotic.

The circulation speed for information inside Facebook is too high for this blog. It makes no sense, to discuss deeper topics with 2 sentences and a picture. The better alternative is too slow down the interaction. But with Facebook or Google Plus this isn’t possible. Both are designed as a realtime medium with a high interaction rate.

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What to do with Google Plus?

I tested out the Google Plus service a bit. At first, I unfollowed the lovely Lady Gaga. Why she was in my Following circle is unclear. Perhaps it was some kind of automatic spam? I don’t know. But as replacement I’m now following Mr. systemd aka Lennart Poetering who has written a Forth extension for the Linux kernel, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/comp.lang.forth/AcqnHxflT58%5B1-25%5D

So what can we do apart from following groups and persons in Google Plus? I think, the main feature of the platform is to discuss things. Instead of posting blogposts comments below an article, Google Plus has the ability to write the comment below a Google Plus image box. The advantage is, that a much bigger community will read the comments. So it is comparable to a Facebook discussion, but only with more advertisement.

What is advertisement? It is marketing for a product or an idea. For example it is possible to sell a laptop, but it is also possible to sell a Finite state machine. A finite state machine is not a real product, it is something which is written down in a book. The question is how to convince people to following a FSM, LSTM or Forth? I don’t know, but according to the Google Plus marketing rules a photograph and a small sentence is everything what is needed. The more advanced approach is to use discussions about the product, because this time the customer is active involved. He thinks, that it is not an advertisement but a https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-Flohmarkt

Advanced search
A bit tricky is to search inside Google Plus only for a timeperiod and complex search querys. The magic phrase must be entered in normal Google Websearch:
site:plus.google.com openai gym

Game over Facebook

At the Google I/O 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61gRrXW4oTc a new old service was announced: Google Photo. What Google has presented was nothing completely new, it is more a service which is already out under the brandname Instagram or Facebook. The user has a smartphone with a 4k camera, press the button and the photo will be uploaded to the cloud. This function is working at the Facebook universe from the beginning. But, according to the numbers, Google photo is enormous successful. Perhaps because it is so deep integrated in the android device, that it’s easier to use than any other application. But, if Google Photo is technically working and the users love the service, what is the purpose of Facebook? Facebook without the ability to uploading photos makes no sense, what remains is only a website with a profil, in which somebody can mark the checkbox if he is married or not. If Google photo is successful, that’s the end of Facebook. Any other killer features are not available on the website. And if the customer decides for any reason, that google photo is more advanced than Instagram and Facebook, that the game about the social network is over.

Today, Facebook is a company with a long tradition. Most marketing companies and newspapers are focussed entirely on the Zuckerberg website. But, Google Plus is more than only a ghosttown. For example, the profil page of the ny times https://plus.google.com/+nytimes has around 4 million followers. Every article has around 10 comments. In comparison to Facebook, the user engagement is lower, but it seems, that Google+ is the next alternative. The Wall street journal generates a bit more traffic, https://plus.google.com/+wsj with over 6M followers. Under every article around 20-30 comments are posted. Most of them spam, one sentence postings or foreign language, but it is traffic, it is a discussion.

Somebody may argue, that Facebook is so successful, that they can’t be beaten. But, in comparison to Google, Facebook is 4 times smaller, and in the internet age the customer can faster switch to another service provider, than Zuckerberg’s sportscar can drive. The main problem goes deeper. Google owns the internet. With their search engine, they have to most powerful tool for ranking all newsfeeds and private profil pages. In contrast, Facebook works as a blackbox, their searchengine and image-tagging algorithm works only with the facebook content. In contrast, Google has additional resources like Gmail and Youtube for connecting the information.

But why I’m arguing pro Google? The game is over, Facebook has lost the war. It is a bit sad, because Facebook was a really good grassroot-movement.

Sharing photo

Around 2 billion people are using Facebook, but nobody of them can explain what a Social network is. Even journalists can’t do, because the term isn’t clearly defined. If we observe the traffic to and from the Facebook website it is easy to explain what Facebook is. It is mostly used for uploading photos and sending the URL to the content to friends. Additional Facebook consists of groups, which is equal to a wider audience. The interesting aspect about this definition is, that this business model can be easily cloned. The best example is “Google Photo”. How does the service work? Very simple. At first, the user uploads photos from his smartphone to the cloud-storage. That means he transfers the 1 MB .jpeg file over the UMTS connection to a remote Google storage server. With a webbased gui which works account based, the user can share in the next step the photos. That means, he sends the URL link to friends, for example his sister, brother or parents. They can see the photos, but the public has no access.

If we compare this pipeline with the Facebook workflow, it is identically. So google photo is a social network too. It consists of two things:

1. uploading photo to a storage server
2. sending URLs of these photos to friends

The good news is, that the business model of Google can be copied too. The “Baidu Xiangce” is the working example, which is a photo sharing service dedicated for the chinese market. https://technode.com/2012/05/15/baidu-to-launch-cloud-powered-photo-sharing-service-baidu-xiangce/ This can be called a social network too. Because it consists of the same elements. Amateur photos are uploaded with smartphones to the internet, and the link to the file are shared with friends but not with the complete world. All these services can be called a grassroot-movement, because in contrast to “Wikipedia commons” (which is also an image hoster) the service is used by millions of people.

Somebody may argue that images on the internet are nothing new. The first photo on a website was available since 1993. So what is the innovation? The new thing is the number of photos and the people who are able to create such content. Usually photos are created by few peoples and consumed by many. Wikipedia is good example. Around 100 people worldwide are feeding the “Wikipedia commons” section with content, and this is delivered with Wikipedia to billion of people. Social network based photosharing works technical with the same principle. Normal jpeg-compressed files are used, and standard internet connections, but this time, the number of uploaded photos is higher, and it is done by millions. Getting reliable numbers is difficult, but according to estimations, 2 billions people worldwide are uploading every day around 2 billion photos to the internet. No, it’s not a joke, we see massive engagement in user-created content.

Grassroot movement

The first impression is maybe, that Google wants to sell a new product to the customer topdown, but the customer do not want the service. In reality it is the other way around. The customer has decided to buy smartphones with flatrate internet connection. The customer walks around and press the photo button, and now, the customer wants to upload the content somewhere. He do not want to delete his best moments in life, but he want it to share it with friends. The announcement of Google photo in 2015 wasn’t a product presentation, it was more a reaction of Google to an ongoing development. That means, Google had no choice. It isn’t able to resist the grassroot movement form the customer. That means, there are million of people out there, and they are angry. They have photos on there smartphones, and they want to push them to the cloud. And if Google don’t fulfil the wish, the mass will escalating.

What is the problem? The problem is, that the customer has spend around 500 US$ for the smartphone, around 40 US$ for the UMTS flatrate per month, and for this price he wants, that the technology works. But which commercial service is available for photo sharing? Right, this is the bottleneck. Today, we have Google, Facebook, Flickr and Instagram. The details are not important for the customer, what he wants is to upload tons of photos. And he do not want pay extra money, he wants the service for free, because he spend enough money for his smartphone and the internet connection.

A social network is the result of a grassroot movement which uploads photos and share the link with friends. It can’t be build as a website, it is more the effect what happens if million of people are uploading their content. Here is a presentation of the sharing capabilities of Google photo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSXkXGbaxf4 The service consists of two parts. At first, many hundreds photos are on a smartphone, which means that the user is pressing the shot button often. And second, the photos are shared with friends. That means, they are not used for publishing it in the voque magazine or other formal media. Google calls the service Google photo, but the Facebook users are doing something similar. I would call the service grassroot photo sharing, which can be part of a social network.

If we go back in history, long before Google the Facebook network also implemented such a feature. Like the google announcement it was grassroot driven, that means, the users asked Facebook to implement such service. Until now, the sharing of photos is the primary business model why Facebook is so successful. In reality, the Facebook apps on iphone and Android devices are used for this reason only. And this explain, why recently Facebook had problems with competitors like Instagram and Snapchat. Because what the people really wants is not Facebook they want photosharing with friends.

Reason why switching off comments

In a recent blogpost, i stated short to switch off the comments and the Facebook “like button”. I have searched this subject a bit more, and found in the internet some similar explanations. But as far as I can see, it is a minority who has deactivated under their blogs and youtube-videos the comments, and mostly only for some articles but not for all. At first, I have to admit that comments in a weblog are the most important thing. Even more than the article itself. So switching them off is a unusual.

But, what i have done is not really switch off comments, i only switched off local comments which are created here directly in the URL which has a low traffic. Currently, not more than 80 visits has this blog daily, so the chance is very small that a comment will be read by somebody other than me. The alternative to local comments are remote comments. This is what Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and blogposts who a referencing to other blogposts doing all the time. Commenting, retweeting and forwarding content which was read in the internet to a wider audience, to a discussion group and even back to the transmitter is not an exception, it is what is done in the internet all night long.

And social media websites which are mentioned above are the first and the best possibility to do so. The traffic which is generated on twitter, reddit and discussion-groups is by far higher, than my own blog, Trollheaven. My hope is, to get more comments in future which were read by more people. And that is the main reason, why I’m deactivating the local comments.

In the beginning of blogs, the local comment was the only possibility for commenting a post. The reason was, that in this time the google search engine, and the ping back mechanism didn’t work very good. But today, in the area of Web 2.0 every search engine knows, what an URL is. If somebody is posting into his blogpost a string which starts with the magic letter “https://” the searchengine knows without any doubt what follows next. So it is impossible, that any comment on the web which is created in respond to my blog will be lost. There is no need, for collecting them here in the blog at a central point, if the users who are writing them are using different searchengine, news aggregators and content-creation tools.

Another reason why I’m deactivating the comments is because I want to get a blog, which is similar to a scientific journal. Usually an academic paper can’t be commented directly like a twitter message. Instead a new paper must be created, in which the original paper is cited. That is some kind of remote comment with a timelag. The aim is to reproduce this for blog-articles. If this will works? I don’t know, but i give the idea a trial.

Let us investigate how a modern comment section works on the internet. Usually, a Reddit thread starts with an URL to a blogpost. Somebody who has found interesting content with google, posts the link into a subreddit, and the other people are reading the blogpost too. If they have any comments, they are free to post them. Not to the blog directly, but to the reddit thread. So the comment section of the internet works remotely as default. And I would go a step further. The reddit website is by far better qualified for moderating a discussion, than myself as the author of an blogpost. So i decided to let the discussion be done by something else. I’m out of the loop, my task is done after writing a blog post.

So, I hope that i will get a lots of useful comments for improving my blog.

Reddit

Let us investigate how Reddit works in detail. According to the last number the service has today 250 million users wordwide. One of them posts a URL and the others a talking about it and starts to up- and downvote. So far so good. Reddit is a commenting platform which is comparable to the comments under a blog. But, nobody need both. In case of doubt, the comments in reddit are more important and the users there are engaging more. Some threads will get 100 or more comments only because somebody has posted an image. So it seems possible and useful to separate between the content itself and the community which likes to argue about it. I believe this is the future, that we will see more websites like reddit with much traffic on it, and at the same time more blogs without local comments.

On the other hand, it is not possible to use Reddit as a blogging platform. Longer articles can’t be uploaded there. It is only focussed on community driven content evaluation.

Moderation

Sometimes the deactivation of the comments section is explained with too much spam, too much comments or comments with low quality. Here on my blog, this was never a problem. The overall number of comments over 1 year was around 50. My problem was, that the number was too low, and the discussion wasn’t really starting. But how can I as the blog author influence the number of comments? There is no possibility, because the community decides. That are the readers and the potential readers. And this community has in case of doubt their epicentre outside of this blog, somewhere else in the internet. Perhaps at Instagrem, Reddit, in other other blogs or in online-discussion groups. I don’t know, perhaps everywhere. Instead of trying to become more comments here, I wanna try the opposite way and let the community decide what they want to comment and in which social network they want to do it. This makes it technical a bit more complicated because a higher instance like Google must collect the comments together, but nowadays it is possible. My impression is, that all the searchengines, user-groups and social networks are working with high efficiency and i can trust them to work right.

I would even go a step further and recommend to all blog-users to deactivate their comment section. This will result into a concentration of comments to the dedicated commenting websites like Reddit and co. If these side gets more traffic, it is likely, that they will invent better moderation tools for semi-autonomous content classification which improves the discussion quality.

Ideal commenting workflow

The future ideal workflow is simple: a user worldwide finds an interesting blogpost with the help of google. He wants to write a comment. He sees, that the comment section is deactivated. So he has to switch to another channel, for example the Facebook group Deeplearning which has today 80k members, or the subreddit group Deeplearning, or he can write a tumblr blogpost. So I’m not saying, please not commenting, I’m say, please commenting my blog, like and upvote all my postings and make this in a Facebook group of your wish.

Comment compression

I don’t think that comments and feedback is bad, or that the quality of comments are too low. I think that comments are the greatest thing ever invented. But, it makes no sense that every blog has its own community, own moderation pipeline and an own upvote- / downvote system. The better approach is, if the comment flow is redirected to major hubs which are specialists for commenting and which are heavily userdriven. This system would result into more comments and a very efficient information flow.

It is only a technical question of how to connect the comments with the article. But this technology is available. It is called URLs, pingbacks and searchengines. The result is, that content in the web can be stored under URL1 and the community discussion is done under URL2. The advantage is, that users who wants to commenting heavily can easier follow different threads at once. Instead of follow different RSS feeds from blogs it is enough to follow only a reddit group and that’s it. The second advantage is, that the author of the original blogpost is no longer the moderator of the incoming comments. He doesn’t need to check if a comment is spam or not, if he wants to answer it or not.

Facebook: myth and reality

Facebook itself presents his website in the media as some kind of social hub, which aggregates other platforms. It is a bit difficult to watch behind the image, but in reality Facebook works not as a second internet. The overall activity of Facebook users is to upload photos to the network. They doing this within Facebook itself, but also with Whatsapp and Instagram. As a result, Facebook wants to control the content. That is the reason, why Facebook is not searchable with Google. So it is not a standard-website, it is more a app like Snapchat which is executed in the browser.

Other activities which are in theory also possible inside Facebook like updating the profil page, playing games, sending textmessages are technical possible but are not widely used by the users. For example, the groups feature of Facebook consists only a small amount of traffic and most of them is only URL based which references to content outside of Facebook. The daily send message inside Facebook are according to latests numbers around 500 million per day. That is compared to twitter less important, and compared to the daily submitted e-mails worldwide nothing.

If we want to describe Facebook in one sentence, it is a luxury version of Instagram. The other features inside Facebook like the marketplace, the internal search engine, the news aggregation for major newspapers and the video feature are all implemented and they are working, but outside of Facebook are much better services available which were used by the users heavily. For example, the Reddit website has today around 250M members which are doing all the day commenting existing website outside of reddit.

Is Facebook a useful website and a market leader? Yes, if someone wants upload his personal photos and sends them to a circle with around 100 friends, than Facebook is the number one in the internet. But if somebody wants to create his own blog, needs a searchengine, wants to upload videos to the overall world or sending e-mails, than Facebook is not the best choice.

The most interesting aspect in the reception of Facebook is, that Facebook is not a newspaper hub. It is right, that nearly all newspapers and tv-studios have a facebook page, and that their newsfeed is accessible inside Facebook. But it is the same content which is available outside of Facebook in the normal internet. It is created by the newspapers, not by facebook or their users. So this special feature of Facebook can be ignored, because a newsfeed can be redirected to every other website, for example to Reddit or to an E-Mail provider too.

Let us watch a bit how Facebook marketings works. Usually the website is called an hub for anything. But a more exact marketing for Facebook would be to promote only the aspect of photo-uploading. That is the core function of the site, what their users are really doing. The problem is not, that Facebook calls themself best-of-the-best. That is doing by all companies. The problem is, that Facebook isn’t aware the difference between photo uploading and the rest of Facebook. Perhaps the reason is, that the company wants to hold all doors open for further grow.

The reason why media company are so euphoric about Facebook is simple. They are seeing in the tech-gigant a friend to fight against google. Usually, the newsfeed of a journal is visible in Google news. That is something, what the media-companies don’t like. What they want is become a friend of the users. And this option is delivered by Facebook. What the media companies wants, is to go into the closed-facebook world which is no longer searchable with Google. So they have more control about their contents and the payments of the users. Facebook is the realization of the MSN Microsoft network.

But, in reality the user can run in a second browser tab a new instance of the internet with access to Google. So that the idea of building a closed world will not work. And if competitors like Snapchat grow, Facebook will loose his target users, so the risk is high to loose all.

Instagram for experts

Somebody, may argue that Facebook and Instagram are not his favourite website and he is planning to reduce the engagement or even delete the account. But that user-behaviour is not the way the network is working. So instead, I’m describing in the following howto, a way to maximize the Instagram-engagement for generating more likes and friends.

Instead of inventing the wheel from scratch, here is the URL http://iainbroome.com/blog/mind-maps-stories of a blog, who has written the walkthrough for becoming an Instagram-alpha-nerd. It is a tutorial of how to invent a photo-story with the help of mindmaps. It is started simply with 4 nodes: characters, plot, timeline and settings. The nodes are expanded to detailed information about the story, and images are connected to the words. Later on the Mindmap tutorial the complexity grows rapidly and at the end we have a deep branched story with lots of characters which are described with photos in detail. This mindmap has to be uploaded to Instagram, and that’s the blueprint for maximum reach.

The new thing is, that the people in Instagram can be real or not. So it is possible to tell a life story, which is equal to big brother TV. So the gap between reality and fiction disappears. That is perhaps the main reason, why Instagram and Facebook are attractive to the people that they are logged in all the day. They want to know how the story goes on, and want to be a part of it.

Image-based story telling with the help of mindmaps is a good homework for increasing creativity and makes a lot of fun. Because Instagram is for free, everybody should give it a try.

Facebook tutorial for beginner

In contrast to the myth, Facebook is not be used by everybody on the planet. The reason why, has to do with missing information. In the following tutorial, I will describe the secrets of Facebook and give detailed hints of how to use it right.

Facebook can be described as a proprietary software like Skype, with the aim for uploading photo-stories. That’s the definition, it is short but brings the usage scenario to the point. It is not enough, for criticizing Facebook, or to try to change it. At first, we must understand how the system works, if somebody uses is in the right way. But to the details. The term proprietary means, that it is not possible to use Google for search inside Facebook for images. So it is not a normal website like the Wikipedia commons section, it is more a paywall protected software which runs in a browser window and on smartphones. The second aspect is the typical usage-scenario inside Facebook. The people worldwide are using it not for everything, but only for a certain purpose. According to the last statistics, from the around 1,8 billion uploaded photos every day to the Internet, around 500 million or more a uploaded by Facebook users. That includes, Instagram and Whatsapp users too and Snapchat can be seen as a Facebook copy. In theory, it is possible to use Facebook for something else, for example for uploading videos, or even blogging, but this is not the core feature.

If somebody wants to get started with Facebook and similar services, the first steps are easy. The user creates his own photo-stories which is a combination of high-resolution photos plus very little text, which are describing a plot. For example:

1. Today is a nice day. [photo of a cold winterday]
2. My dog and i made a walk. [photo: selfie with dog]
3. We meet Rick. [photo of him with his cute pitbull]
4. He has a new friend. [photo of me with his girlfriend]

So our stories consists so far of 4 very short sentences plus 4 photos in HD quality with perfect lighting. This will be uploaded to Facebook and a link is send to people who are interested in it. That it. That is the normal use-case of how to interact with facebook. This kind of content will generate the most likes, and it is the rule of how Facebook works. It is possible to vary the story-template a bit. For example, not 4 items but only 3. Or another story without any dogs, but something what we have experienced at the library. But in every cases, it must be story, which consists mainly of photos which are easy to follow.