Category Sort Order

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:

  1. Your article may not appear in the category view until up to an hour later after it’s approved for the 1st time
  2. 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.

Complex, eh?

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.

14 Comments »


1
Heather writes:

After reading your post and re-reading it, I’ll trust you on this one. Thanks for offering a great service that benefits paid and non-paid users. Blessings! :)

Comment provided February 23, 2009 at 1:10 PM

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2
brian ostrowiak writes:

well hopefully all goes well with the new sorting…Ive never paid to close attention as to how my articles rank in th page after i submit them. They seem to get page views either way.

Comment provided February 23, 2009 at 3:58 PM

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3
Alexis writes:

hi Chris:

You mentioned:
“……are currently sorted by SUBMIT DATE (date the article was originally submitted).”

However, I found that it is not always the case.

Look forward for the new improvement. So when’s the exact date you will start to implement the new features?

Comment provided February 24, 2009 at 9:41 AM

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4
Ray Randall writes:

On a post made at another forum, I referred to the high standards of fairness and article quality found at EzineArticles. Changing to “1st published date” makes sense, and is within the scope of fairness as you’ve explained.

Comment provided February 24, 2009 at 9:46 AM

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5

Alexis,

We’re implementing it right now and it’s a multi-day job.

No ETA for when it will be done but it’s in progress. I will announce it here when the sort order has been updated.

Comment provided February 24, 2009 at 11:33 AM

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6
Lance Winslow writes:

I am wondering how this worked out, have you completed it yet?

Comment provided March 3, 2009 at 11:02 AM

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7

Lance & Everyone:

This job is now done.

Comment provided March 6, 2009 at 4:31 PM

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8
Anon writes:

Does this not seriously degrade the value of a premium membership? After all, premium members pay to have their articles above those who do not pay. “Other recent articles” specifically brought in a significant amount of traffic to top articles before this change, as the top articles were at the top of “Other recent articles.” Now that this change has occurred, traffic to the top articles has decreased exponentially. Articles from non-premium members are now receiving premium member views for free. If non-paying members wish to have increased views, then they should pay and compete for such views. While this new change my seem fair to non-paying members, it it wildly unfair to those of us who pay every month. The top articles should receive the most views. Let this site be a meritocracy once again. If you want more views, pay 100 dollars a month and compete for them. As a premium member, I feel that the value of my membership has been severely compromised.

Let me know if I am misinformed. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 9:06 AM

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9

Anon,

This change happened because PREMIUM members demanded the category sort order to make sense. Sorting by SUBMIT DATE, didn’t make any sense to them when they assumed it was sorted by most RECENTLY APPROVED DATE (like it is now).

Yeah, kind of ironic that meeting the needs of our Premium members has now caused an exponential leveling that benefits all members. I don’t think our Premium members knew this would be the result of this change and I don’t think we knew this was going to be the result either.

It wasn’t a meritocracy previously.

All articles were sorted by SUBMIT DATE, not 1st APPROVED DATE (as they are now).

“Other Recent Articles” – the 15 listed in what call the “Article View” are also based on 1st APPROVED DATE, but keep in mind there are hourly pre-gens going on in order to deliver a faster user experience. That means, the CATEGORY view and the “OTHER RECENT ARTICLES” are not live in real-time updated, but they are updated hourly.

During our work day, there are times when more than 15 articles are approved for the 1st time within an hour in a specific category and that can cause some articles to never reach the “OTHER RECENT ARTICLES”. Same goes for the CATEGORY VIEW for high volume categories.

I can tell you that we’re continuously investing in more dedicated servers each month in order to bring parts of our site that are no longer in real-time back closer to real-time; but there are always trade offs.

As far as I know, none of our site pre-gens are over 1 hour in length… and many of them run several times an hour.

I think what you’re really asking for here is for us to give Premium members an advantage in the article view.

We’re reluctant to make a “Featured Articles” listing in the article view because quite frankly, many of our Premium member articles don’t blow us away with quality.

ie: What value does it bring to our USER experience?

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 9:48 AM

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10
Anon writes:

this makes little to no sense whatsoever, the only reason I signed up to premium membership was so my articles would not get demoted straight to the bottom as they did before hand and I strongly suspect that others did as well.

Now I can just submit my articles with the rest of the non-paying members and get the same number of views as everyone else. My premium membership has been completely devalued

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 1:02 PM

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11

Anon,

I’m sorry you feel that way.

Yet, you are not offering any solutions to this issue?

ie: How specifically should this be changed?

Lastly, we never promised any Premium members any increase in traffic or any increase in article views.

It feels like you were expecting a benefit that we never promised you’d get?

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 1:32 PM

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12
Anon writes:

“Other Recent EzineArticles” should consist of the top 15 in each category. This way both premium members and non-premium members are both happy. Premium members get the links that that recent articles provide, and non-premium members nonetheless have the chance to be on the first page and receive more views than was possible in the past. I understand that premium members were not promised any increase in traffic or article views, but it was an unintended benefit for us, which we have come to associate with premium services. As a result, taking it away is indeed very painful, since much of the way we approached submitting our articles was contingent on this fact.

I can appreciate making things fair, but it seems that the premium members have more or less lost something that they have come to expect, making their membership less valuable than in the past.

I appreciate this discussion. I hope that we can continue.

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 2:20 PM

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13
Anon writes:

P.S.

The post submitted at 1:02 was not me.

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 2:21 PM

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14
Andy writes:

Even though the benefit was not stated it was the way things were and was the main reason that I signed up to premium membership in the first place, now if all users go top I may have to rethink renewing my membership when it runs out.

Perhaps the top few articles could be premium members articles so there is some extra benefits for paying out the $97.

Comment provided March 9, 2009 at 3:03 PM

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