Did you know?
Content in our Trending column - a central feature on the new homepage - is determined by HASTAC member comments and up-votes, as well as page views generated by all HASTAC site visitors as they read and explore. Why does this matter? We want you to see what's currently most interesting to the community. And, in turn, you can help others find the content you enjoy and appreciate most by doing a few simple things: Comment. Up-vote. Read. Explore.
Read more below for details on how this works and why we've implemented it on the new HASTAC...
Among the most significant changes we made when we redesigned HASTAC were simplifying the site and offering greater ease of use to our members. We approached this in a variety of ways, the most obvious of which, especially to long time members, is the new design and layout. Put simply, that change was fervently requested and eagerly awaited by folks who've been with us a long time. I loved the old site in so many ways - even for its quirks and annoyances - but what we've been able to achieve in terms of no-hassle registration, general ease of use, and better access to content, has allowed me lay the old site to rest with not-too-many tears.
Along with rethinking site design and utility, we also wanted to allow the site to act as a better representation of the community. In a a sense, we want it to describe our collective interests, disparate foci, what's gaining our attention and capturing our imaginations in the realm of the the scholarly, the political, the professional, and otherwise. Of course we've always had posting and commenting as the most obvious way to do this. And I want to encourage you to do that. A lot. And then some more. But with limited space on the home page, and the tendency for content to get pushed down quickly during times of high activity, we agreed that something beyond Recent Posts and HASTAC Picks was needed to hold certain content on the homepge.
In keeping with our new layout and content-streams, it was decided early on create a stream that showed what content had the most traction (for lack of a better word) on the site. So what is "traction?" Essentially, the idea was to serve up snapshot of what has a grip on our community at the moment - to show what's trending on HASTAC - and do put it front and center on the homepage. To achieve this, a view was created to display content based on selected site data specifically related to that about site content. In doing so, we also chose to account for the readership of both HASTAC community members and non-memebers (which is enormous), the engagement / interaction of members, and the recency of posts. This helps us find content that might be worth surfacing (based actual site-usage) but that might otherwise be buried due to the historically rapid creation and turnover of content in the the HASTAC community.
You can't always see it all but it's there
In essence, we've sought to offer a mechanism to collect and reflect back to the community what individual users are finding and reading (via page views), what members have deemed to be most engaging (via comments), and which posts members have appreciated or recommended (via up-votes). The data goes into a system which then surfaces content with high current interest, and also allows content to "age out" as interest may wane (points assigned to this data decay over time). Ideally this system offers an opportunity for posts-of-interest to get more time in front of the community and garner even more attention by dloing so. If interest flags over time the site automatically makes room for new items to surface in the list.
Where we want to go
Our intention is simple. We mean to provide a publicly visible mechanism of surfacing the best of HASTAC according to the people who use hastac.org. The idea is to show this content based on actual interest and engagement with just the right amount of volatility to keep things fresh. This tool should therefore allow posts of interest within the network and beyond to have more time front and center of the HASTAC community. This comes with the additional benefit of offering a way of balancing page stagnation and the rapid turnover in recent-item feeds. Ultimately, our goal is to represent the truly dynamic nature of the HASTAC community.