We’re in the middle of a massive project to change the category sort order in order to correct an unintended consequence.
Right now, all articles in the category view (example of what today’s “Skiing” niche looks like in terms of the sort order) are currently sorted by SUBMIT DATE (date the article was originally submitted).
We thought “Submit Date” was the best sort order because this would ensure that articles that were edited after they were made live would never get an unfair exposure advantage by being able to cycle through the ‘category view’ each time their edited article was re-approved.
Very soon (late this week or early next week), all articles will be sorted by “1ST PUBLISHED DATE” (date your article was 1st published on).
Most members who have complained about the current way we sort it feel that we should be sorting by MOST RECENTLY APPROVED date… but that doesn’t solve the fact that we can not give an edited & re-approved article an unfair position in the category view; thus the “1st Published Date” sort order solution.
Key Insights into our systems: We’re in 604 niche markets at this time and each of the 604 category views are pre-generated hourly (to improve site load speed). That means two things:
- Your article may not appear in the category view until up to an hour later after it’s approved for the 1st time
- If more than 30 articles are approved for the 1st time in that category within the time since the last time the pre-gen process was run (between 1 to 59 minutes ago), your article may be bumped to page 2 without every having seen page 1.
This would be important if it really mattered, but our internal stats continue to prove that category position MEANS VERY LITTLE…despite many members who have ‘tested’ the importance of having their article make it on page 1 in the category view of their niche.
Usually I believe the market is always right; except this time, I believe many of our members don’t have all of the facts about how we build traffic and exposure to each of your articles…that might lead a member to believe that the category view is really important. Please read my October 2005 blog entry on [Why The Booster Rocket? Effect]
So, you might be thinking, “If my article position in the category view doesn’t really matter, why would they be changing the sort order from SUBMIT date to 1st PUBLISHED DATE…after all, seems so inconsequential, right?”
Answer: Because by sorting by 1st Published Date, the member experience will be closer to that which is expected and newly approved articles will get a higher chance of seeing page 1 of the category view of each niche we’re in, rather than being buried 2-20+ pages deep into the category view just because they were submitted 6-10 days ago.
The net result of this change is that ALL members will get a higher chance of seeing their article show up in page 1 of their niche/category. Kind of ironic considering it was Premium/Platinum members who gave us this feedback that our sort order was ‘wrong’… yet now, in order to help our Premium & Platinum members get an experience that is closer to their expectation of the ‘way it should be’… Basic/Basic+ level members will see an advantage when this change is done because their articles were normally ‘lost in the category pile’ (because their article submit date is usually 5-15 days before their articles are approved) as some might perceive it.
When this category article view sort order is done, I’ll post an updated comment to this entry indicating it’s been done.
For now, any questions/comments?
** UPDATED March 6th 2009: This job is now completed. All categories are sorted by 1ST PUBLISHED DATE date instead of SUBMITTED DATE.