Sound Off! on Hey! Nielsen
A Land of Confusion
Yesterday, in discussing the problem of points of origin, it was inevitable that we’d leak into today’s issue. The established knowledge of other sites is a barrier of entry, but it is only one cause of the confusion that many fans delved further into within the comments section yesterday. Hey! Nielsen’s general design is, in itself, confusing even without any pre-existing views on what social networking represents.
WelcometoCO, a Jericho fan, found that “the Comment, Reaction, and Opinion options sound and seem like one and the same to me, and it took a long while before I could find any explanation that attempted to differentiate them. For that reason, I had already “klutzed” my way through the site and probably violated the intent for each of the options offered — becoming one of those dreaded Jericho ‘spammers’ who were so roundly criticized.”
What I want to do, based on this comment, is actually look at the intention behind the Opinion, Reaction and Comment options to attempt to figure out why they’re there, what they should be used for, and how they are confusing even once you’re used to the system (I’ll be getting to the spamming tomorrow).
Opinions are something I equate to a message board post, but they’re also an unfortunately blank template. The purpose of an opinion is simple: expressing one’s opinion. And while I know that it is taboo to tell people what to say, I am personally open to a bit more guidance as to what makes a good or bad opinion.
Opinions have ranged from detailed analyses of new series or premiere episodes to simple statements of like or dislike without any further analysis. Are these examples of good or bad opinions? We don’t really know.
“The main detractor, as many have already said, is a lack of topic direction,” fan BlackLid noted in yesterday’s comments section. “Regardless of the site, what all social networking areas have in common is a category and then a subject to which other users can respond. There are clearly acceptable categories and clearly unacceptable ones.”
This seems like a great way to further provide a framework to opinions: opinions about the cast could be separated from general opinions, for example. It doesn’t fix every problem, but it might provide more thought being put into each individual opinion: as BlackLid pointed out, a series of dropboxes would help in streamlining this process.
Reactions, meanwhile, are somewhat easier to understand: you agree or disagree with an opinion. However, the problem with Reactions is that I often don’t quite know what I’m reacting to. If someone posts a negative opinion of a series, and I disagree with it, is that registered as a negative reaction to the show or to that opinion? I’m still not entirely sure, but I think it is relevant information that would (for me) clarify the situation.
I think that, in comments, there lies a great deal of the site’s content potential. In commenting, people are able to enter into a discourse, and there is a sense that each opinion is in fact a discussion, which elevates that discourse to a more interactive level.
But no one is using them: an opinion might have sixty reactions, but only 5 comments. For me, comments are an integral part of people understanding this process: you could make a great opinion, but commenting on others is just as important to the discourse that will follow. If you want to create a social networking community, comments are essential. I think that a larger focus on the importance of this element, even though it is more difficult and time-consuming than a two-click reaction, would help avoid the spamming issue as well (Which, as noted, we’ll get into with greater detail tomorrow).
This is not to say that it is impossible to figure the system out. There exists a certain level of quality in the organization, and it’s certainly possible to have a decent discussion. But, in the interest of more people being involved, it would be great if these three new forms of communication could be both better explained and streamlined to be as representative as possible of their true purpose. There is, in other words, light at the end of the tunnel.
“I was [confused], briefly,” says Supernatural fan Shoi. “I can see where it’s a little difficult to tell how to leave feedback, but I figured out it by going slowly and taking my time. ”
Shoi set a good example, as did several of the other fans who contacted me. However, in a world where many people don’t take their time, I believe we have plenty of suggestions on what Hey! Nielsen could do to improve. For more, continue reading below.
Rachel, a Supernatural fan, on tackling the confusing system:
Actually, it’s easier to say what I do know how to do: I know how to log in. I know how to post a reaction if I happen to be on a page where I can, but not how to find a specific thing that I want to post a reaction to. I know how to post an opinion, but apparently not when/where/why it’s appropriate to do so.
Supernatural Fan Juanita on her first experiences with the site:
Yeah I was, it was a little confusing in the fact that it invited people to create an opinion rather than just respond to a topic like in a forum situation. I had no idea that what I was doing when I added my opinion was basically starting a new thread. If I had, I would just have responded to a previously posted opinion.
As time passed, some fans got used to the system: various Jericho fans (maybei, foxgray1, law0621) had trouble at first, but eventually came to better understand the system.
Supernatural fan Brooklyn had little trouble with the system, but Brande noticed some inconsistencies:
Initially, yes. The way the site was set up was confusing. It appeared that you had to write a comment to vote. The search box is hidden up in the upper right corner with no commentary on what it does. My views on the scale bars often disappear when I click the back button to look at another comment. I know it’s a beta test, but it could use some work.