MessyBlob writes: When a website invites comments, with any luck there will be more than a dozen responses, which is when the fun starts: you'll need to show the good ones to add value to the site, but at first you won't know which are good. Here's the problem: How can we get the good comments (among many) to bubble to the top: first you need to make them visible, have them rated, and then ensure that any potentially good new comments can be seen in order to be rated as good.
Most mainstream sites fail to do this, so what's the best way of giving all good comments a chance to add value to a site? Is it simply to have, say, 25% of the comments taken randomly from the lesser-rated list, presented among the highly-rated comments? Does time-ordering do the same? Is there a critical ratio of users vs commenters?
MessyBlob writes: "I'm the author of a Freeware game (Zenith), which I provide for free on my website and two other mirrors. I now find that an unassociated opportunist website (10001 downloads) is charging for the download (the user asks for a download-unlocking password via text message at £1.50 UKP). I feel it is unfair for third parties to profit from my intellectual property and development efforts, and I have not issued a licence for the website to charge for delivering my software. How can I prevent this happening to my software, and others?"
MessyBlob writes: If a company pays for a home Internet connection for an employee, is it entitled to request usage logs for their own purposes? Before you start sniggering, this really is a hypothetical question, and I figured the answer would be of interest to Slashdot readers, of all countries.
MessyBlob writes: "Here's a question for the game theorists — and for contributors to popular web 2.0 sites: How can your contributed entry attract attention on a very popular site? [Discussion follows...]
Initially, one might think that good entries would eventually bubble to the top, but those entries can easily disappear quickly. My question arises from the fact that popular sites (like Flickr, and Slashdot for instance) have many contributions, and the limelight for a contribution could be limited to fractions of a second (a mere flicker, then it's gone!).
Meta data seems to be one answer: featuring as a result in a popular tag search, being associated with groups, building loyalty networks, or being best in a small category, all seem to be valid ways of helping your entry to gain the momentum of the popular vote. Catching the moderator's eye only really works for small to medium-sized sites [cough!].
Ideally, we'd all have a chance for our contributions to appear before every user who logs in, so that we may be evaluated. For example, if we contributed duplicate items at 12 noon and midnight, then the different entries would win similar amounts of approval from different users, but by not logging in at the 'right time', many users do not have opportunity to vote for your contribution before it disappears. Had both sets of users seen the one entry, then it would have received more votes (as would everyone else's, of course).
So, what makes an entry survive the boiling soup of a Web 2.0 site, and rise to the top of popularity ratings?"
MessyBlob writes: "comp-sci (John Valentine) thinks that text presentation standards for the web need to change direction:
"Most 'completely-designed' websites use a convenient fixed-width layout to make graphics stick together, and to help ensure that formatting 'always works'. So what happens when you increase the size of the text, or use the browser's features to zoom in on the whole page? Chances are, it will look ugly, and not achieve the reader's intention.
Current standard tools are not yet powerful enough to achieve a fully liquid text layout. Perhaps we can learn from the print publishing industry? Over the years, they have had the freedom to develop easily-readable formats, where in-house standards for publication have developed around the need to present their content legibly and in a way that should please the reader..."
What is the answer? New standards, new browsers, better authoring, plug-ins,..?"
MessyBlob writes: Users of Microsoft Office are repeatedlyengaging Microsoft about the openness of their file formats. While this battle is raging, the massive digital camera user base should see the opportunity to ride this tide of publicity to their advantage, because they too are affected by a similar problem. Digital camera manufacturers are renowned for dropping support for cameras, releasing an encrypted format with a new camera, or just going bust. Over time, this would leave most people with a collection of raw-format files that can't be opened.
Although the Openraw campaign is a few years in the making, the challenges facing raw images are the same as for Office files. Indeed it can be argued that the raw situation is more complicated, and in need of some good brainstorming, because of the number of manufacturers competing in the market. Could a unified open format be the answer, or can we get by if manufacturers openly documented their formats? Is this the best time to raise awareness about digital raw files?
This subject has many facets. Nevertheless, I'll attempt a concise summary here: There are hundreds of proprietary file formats for camera raw images, but very few are openly documented. It is very easy for a camera manufacturer to stop supporting a format. Users of old cameras can lose access to their raw images, as software developers also drop support. It is difficult for software developers to write libraries to read and write undocumented formats. Some data is deliberately encrypted (e.g. Nikon colour data) to give proprietary vendors a competitive advantage. Scientific and historic organisations can not trust proprietary raw formats for fear of losing the ability to read the archives in future. Digital raw photographers are not afforded the same rights to their original image as film photographers. Adobe's DNG has some answers, but not all of them. Open documentation gives developers a chance to write encoders and decoders. A common file format would give developers a better chance of supporting all compliant cameras. Standardisation might inhibit innovation by camera manufacturers. Finally, an idea: can object-oriented images help, or would this have the same problems as undocumented proprietary raw formats?