For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
-- Gospel of Matthew
I think that there are two reasons why people, especially new people, have an increasingly hard time getting posts read on Open Salon. These are
- the layout and function of the cover page
- policies about posting (or the lack thereof)
The reason why many posts aren't read isn't because they aren't good; it's because of the way that OS is structured.
As I write this there are ten items listed in the Activity Feed. One of those items is a sponsored link for Lexus. So in effect there are nine slots available. The first of the nine items was posted on 12:50, the last posted on 12:52. In other words, at this point the activity queue displays two minutes of activity. In addition, several of the comments and ratings were for the same post.
Also at this time there are ten "New Posts." The first post came through at 12:29, the latest at 12:50. So the New Posts section covers only 21 minutes of activity.
This means that a new post, especially from a recently-added member, typically has only a very short amount of time to create a "buzz" that will continue to show up in the activity feed. If it doesn't accomplish that, there's little chance that anyone will read it.
Also as I write this, on the rightmost column of the cover there are lists of "Most Read" in the past day, and "Top Rated" in the past week. In most cases anyone who wanted to read these posts has already read them. But under the "Matthew Principle," the posts that have already had the most attention get even more attention. The"Friends" feature also tends to reward those who are already well-known.
Compounding the problem is that there no posting limit on OS. Recently one member posted 7 (yes seven) items in the space of 30 minutes, effectively thrashing the New Post list for everyone else. At one point 6 of 10 posts in that list were from a single person. All of these posts were single pictures that easily could have been condensed into one post.
Yet other posts are little more than "one liners" -- posts that might take a minute to compose. These "compete" for attention with posts that might have taken writers many hours to compose.
Compare this to the layout and policies of the Daily Kos, a venue in which many OS members have also posted.
As I write this the Daily Kos has 30 recent "diaries" (the DK version of the OS post) displayed on the cover page. The first and last diaries were published 90 minutes apart. In other words, as of this moment an OS post would show up for 20 minutes, and the Daily Kos post for 90 minutes, or over 4 times the amount of publicity. In addition, the Daily Kos list includes the number of comments on each diary.
Daily Kos also has policies that limit the number of posts. From the Diary Guidelines:
- All users are limited by the system to one diary per calendar day.
- New users cannot post diaries for one week after an account has been created.
- Diaries should be substantive. A good guideline is that if you don't have at least three solid paragraphs to write about your subject, you should probably post a comment in an open thread, or in a recent diary or front-page post that covers a topic relevant to what you wish to write about.
These policies have at least two effects:
- the number of member posts is reduced. In effect people are encouraged to write fewer but better posts
- spam attacks from new members are rare. On Open Salon a new spam account can trash the New Post list with multiple posts before anyone can do anything about it.
In my humble opinion, the problem is that the layout and policies that worked well in the early days of Open Salon no longer work. When you have 300 members that is a very different situation from having 3,000 members, but we're still using the same basic layout and policies as in the "early days." It is now much more difficult for new members to gain a foothold and establish a readership. With a different layout and new policies I believe that can be changed.