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Regarding approving new sites




Mar 10th, 2016 10:23pm
holy hannah, 279,000 sites to review?!
And most of them are bereft of important details and in other languages?!
how does anything get done around here?!


I have two things to say about the process:
1) more of the burden should be placed on the submitters to provide quality submissions
2) there should be some guidelines for the reviewers

Let's take them one at a time:

1) burden
clearly we don't want people who have good site ideas to give up. but it isn't a high bar to make them pick at least one category. and it isn't a high bar to make them write the minimum number of characters. heck, I did that for like 10 sites without having ever been to those sites before. also, the description should have some guidance like the other fields do.
"not "FlitterWeb: Index of the Internet" or "FlitterWeb.com"" is brilliant.
the description should have some guidelines as well like
"describe the services offered on the site from an objective viewpoint (minimum X characters, aim for Y characters)"
also, if you want a minimum of X characters, and a target of Y characters, the text boxes should be large enough that 2*Y characters fit inside the box. Encourage them to write! I had to re-size those boxes so many times to see my descriptions.
give the submitter the OPTION of fixing the picture. submitters shouldn't be forced to know how to edit pictures, but those that do will greatly reduce the load on reviewers. a note suggesting that entries with a fixed picture will get approved faster doesn't seem untoward.

2) reviewer guidelines
* what do we want to do for pictures for sites that don't have any good options? I grabbed some screenshots and turned them into 200x200 pixel images if there wasn't a logo, but I don't know if that meets our quality standards. would it be better to fit their entire logo into a wide but short picture then scale it to fit 200 pixels wide?
* what kind of sites, if any, should be rejected on the basis of their content? A site with user submitted porn would be difficult if not impossible to vet for under-age content. are there any categories of sites you are against hosting reviews for?
* what kind of sites, if any, should be rejected on the basis of quality of the submission? If the description is unintelligible/poor, is it up to the reviewers to fix them? or can we just vote them down?
* I don't know what to do about foreign language sites. can those be rejected for language reasons, or do we want this to expand beyond english audiences? who is going to review and fix these pages?
Alexander Winn

Alexander Winn


Mar 16th, 2016 9:30pm
Hahaha yeah, I designed a system called FWCrawler that scans websites in our database for links to other websites, and adds them.

Right now it only runs every 15 minutes, so it's adding 200-400 websites a day, but for a while I had it cranked up to where it was adding about 10,000 websites a day. It was a lot of fun, but it ended up making the website SUPER-sluggish, so I turned it back down. :)

As for your two points...

1) Burden - I completely agree, and improving the user-submission process is right near the top of my current priorities. That will include minimum description length, requiring all fields (including categories), user-added icons, etc. I'm hoping to get at least some of those updates done in the next week or so, but full disclosure, I'm in the final 3 weeks of wedding planning so it may take a little longer. But yeah, you're completely right, and that's a major priority.

2) Reviewer Guidelines - I'm currently working on a major update to the "Content Guidelines" page, linked in the footer, with more information on the specifics of website approval. I'll be sure to post when it's updated, but I'll address your specific points right now:

* I've found that most websites have a Facebook page linked in their footer, and those pages almost always have perfect icons, conforming to our standards quite consistently. (Often they're 180x180, but it's a simple matter to resize them to 200x200, and it's usually not a noticeable difference in quality.) To be honest, I often just skip websites that don't have icons or social media pages for now, because it's too much trouble and with 280,000 websites in the queue there are plenty of other options. But as for what we're looking for, there are five levels of acceptability:

A) Best - Simple shape-icon or logo symbol, for example Yelp or E*TRADE. These icons are instantly recognizable even at small resolutions, have strong brand recognition, and come across as extremely professional.
B) Better - Full-text logo or "busy" logo shape, for example OutlineTheSky or IFL Science. These are still very polished, but often complex enough that they are hard to make out at smaller resolutions.
C) Good - Branded/Stylized text logo, for example What's On Netflix or Fiberfrau. These logos are much simpler, often being almost purely text-based, but still feature enough color or font choices to be properly "branded" as a website logo.
D) Fine - Plain text logo, for example BiddingForGood or Hog on Ice. These are barely logos, more just text images featuring the website's name. The casual use of font and color can give them some personality, but they are usually very straightforward on a single-color background.
E) Acceptable - A representative photo or other image, for example Lacey Nicole Hannan or Messages in the Moonlight. These are common for personal websites, where a person's photograph can represent the site as a whole. I try to minimize the number of websites with these icons, but sometimes they really are the only choice.

Right now we're not accepting screenshots of the website itself as an option, so if absolutely no proper logo can be found, I've just been skipping the site for now. I have hopes eventually to add a "logo generator" where people can make Grade C-D logos right here on the site, but that's a major endeavor and I haven't gotten a chance yet. Again, with 280,000 websites to choose from, it's easy enough just to come back to those sites later.

And to be honest, occasionally when I'm feeling creative, I'll just whip up a few website logos myself, based on the design of the website in question. From the above links, the icons for Fiberfrau, What's On Netflix, and Hog on Ice were all made by me, along with Circus Menu and several others. It's just something I do as a hobby, certainly not a requirement, but it can be fun from time to time.

* The only websites we're rejecting based on their content right now are Adult Content sites (i.e. porn) or websites that encourage breaking the law or are themselves illegal (e.g. a website for buying drugs or hiring hitmen). Even the Adult Content sites may come back at some point, either as part of FlitterWeb or as an adult-themed spinoff site, so for now we have an "Adult" checkbox where such sites can be flagged, and then rejected. (The website was actually built to support adult content, with user preferences for if you want to hide it from search results etc, but our advertisers have a no-porn policy so we haven't approved any adult sites yet.) If we do decide to re-enable them at some point, we'll just re-evaluate all the rejected sites with that flag in the database.

* Right now I'm trying to keep a very high quality standard for our listings, but I have essentially no quality standard for the websites listed. So you can list an awkward geocities-style Spice Girls fansite from 1992 if you want, but in order for the listing to be approved, it'll need a proper logo and a decent description, etc. It is up to the moderators to improve listings, although as mentioned above I'll be improving the requirements for user submissions, so that job should get easier soon. But if a description still isn't up to snuff, a quick visit to the About page on the site in question, or the Company Overview section of the site's Facebook profile, will usually yield a few usable paragraphs that should suffice. The only thing I've been actively weeding out is any email addresses, phone numbers, etc. The site description shouldn't have any contact info, just a description of the site or company itself.

* Yeah, foreign language sites... That's a head-scratcher to me too, to be honest. I haven't quite settled on what to do there. For now I've just been ignoring them, focusing on the English sites and letting them stay in the approval queue, since we have so many to get through. It's obviously not a permanent solution, but it's what I'm doing so far. Feel free to follow suit, until a better solution can be figured out.

One final note: I made some updates to the site this weekend that will make site approvals easier: now, websites are sorted by the number of approval criteria they meet. So, if the description is already long enough, it moves up; if the icon has been set, it moves up some more; if the categories have been set, it moves up even more; etc. This way, the first sites on the list are the ones most ready for approval. This also helps with sites that can be ignored for now but shouldn't be rejected, like non-English sites: simply empty the description field, and it will go to the back of the line. We've got a bunch of Wordpress icons up front because the system isn't smart enough to filter them out yet, but overall its made site approvals MUCH easier to manage.

Thanks again for all the work you've put into the site already! It's actually re-energized me and gotten me back into working on it. :) Let me know if you have any questions about any of this, and I'm ALWAYS interested to hear more suggestions and feedback (positive or negative).

It's my hope that, once the community reaches a critical mass, the community standards will evolve and grow by group discussion, like those of Wikipedia. We're laying the building blocks of that right here, so definitely weigh in if you have an opinion!
Alexander Winn

Alexander Winn


Mar 16th, 2016 11:54pm
Alright, I've made some significant changes to the user submission page, including...

1) The description field now lists a 200 character minimum, and has a counter so you know how much more you need.
2) The "Submit" button now cannot be clicked if the site already exists in the database.
3) Better URL scanning, based on the code from the crawler.
4) Form validating: users will now get an alert popup if they try to submit a new site without filling in all the fields, including the description and both categories. (Doubling up the same category also produces an alert.)

I still haven't added user submission of custom icons, but I hope to add that soon. Overall, though, things are getting better all the time! :)


PS I've also added "show the last few posts on the 'Post a Reply' page of the Dev Forums" to my FW ToDo List. I don't know what I was thinking, but not having the thread there for reference while you reply is crazy!
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