An old chestnut......

November 20, 2009 11:23 AM

Yup - another whinge about the charts. I know we've been here many times before but..... Should add that I have no wish to piss anyone off or start a fire (which is kind of oxymoronic innit?), but I think there is a genune issue here.

I've been mulling this over for a while and it seems to me that the "Most Playlisted Of All Time" and "Most Favourited Of All Time" charts run a considerable risk of being counterproductive.

Seems to me that the casual visitor to MeFiMu is more likely to check out the "biggies" than look at anything else. I certainly would do that. So they can't really be a fair representation - there's a sort of inherent bias that means these tracks have a head start over everything else, not because they're necessarily the best (whatever that means) but because they're more likely to attract the casual browser's attention. Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a pisser.

As to evidence of this, m'lud, I adduce the observed phenomenon that during relatively quiet periods the "Most Favourited In The Last 7 Days" charts start filling up with tracks from the "All Time" section.

What other chart is there that is based on this non-time-limited cumulative total "sales" approach....? If this was the norm, we'd still have huge-selling records by '60's bands at the top of every chart in the western world. It's a bit silly really....isn't it? And the longer it goes on, the more it is likely to distort things.

So - my proposal is that the "Most Favourited Of All Time" etc charts are time-limited say to "Most Favourited Within The Last 3 Months" or, better still, we just get rid of them altogether. I struggle to see any real benefit or purpose in them.

I will now retreat to my bunker, muttering under my breath and smelling faintly of stale piss....
posted by MajorDundee (21 comments total)

I think I agree, but I'm a bit confused. All I have is 7 days and from my contacts.

My contacts most favorited list is full of old stuff.
posted by snsranch at 3:54 PM on November 20, 2009

All I have is 7 days and from my contacts.

snsranch, those abbreviated charts are the ones on the Music top page. To get to the expanded versions of those lists, as well as to the "Most Favorited Tracks (of all time)" you need to click on the "(more)" next to each of the abbreviated lists.

As for Dundee's suggestion, I dunno, I don't really have any strong opinion on it one way or another. But I have to wonder how many folks ever even see that page with the "Most Favorited Tracks (of all time)"... for example, old regular snsranch seemed to not know of its existence. I'd imagine very few visitors, especially "casual" ones, as you've mentioned, ever click on the "(more)" button at all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:45 PM on November 20, 2009

I think the chart pages are mostly kind of invisible, though I'd have to ask Matt or pb to look at whether they're getting traffic after all. We put some of that stuff together pretty early on when we were trying to brainstorm Music-specific views into information, but I don't know if they're really all that useful in their current form now except maybe as a guide to folks seeing Music for the first time.

So I guess that's sort of the question: should those pages be an index / "best-of" introduction for people wanting to see what's up with Music the first time they encounter it, or should they be more of a tool for tracking the shifting zeitgeist for folks being more attentive to the site? I honestly don't know.

But I'm cool with brainstorming.
posted by cortex at 8:39 AM on November 21, 2009

Now that I can see clearly, thanks flapjax, ol' buddy, I don't think I have a horse in this race either.

Considering the concern of exposing new and casual visitors to new music, maybe making the built in player/randomizer more visible might be cool. That's what I turn my friends and coworkers on to.
posted by snsranch at 5:01 PM on November 21, 2009

Well..........whatever I guess! I still think - regardless of which buttons are pressed - there must be some way that people are readily accessing the "All Time" stuff given that these tracks do seem to pop up in the "Last 7 Days" chart pretty regularly. But if everyone else is cool with that - fair enough. In terms of improvements I guess one thought is to have separate charts for original material and covers? I also wondered - sparked by Flapjax's latest upload - whether there should be a "video" chart? Taking that one a little further we could also have some kind of chart/area where artwork related to tracks could be uploaded. Interestingly, this could be open for others to contribute to - I mean, someone could do the artwork for a piece they've heard by another artist on MeFiMu.....which might open up a whole new level of artistic interaction. Anyway - I'll shut the fuck up now!
posted by MajorDundee at 3:13 AM on November 22, 2009

I still think - regardless of which buttons are pressed - there must be some way that people are readily accessing the "All Time" stuff given that these tracks do seem to pop up in the "Last 7 Days" chart pretty regularly.

Often I think they're getting linked to from other parts of the site. I think someone's "Hallelujah" cover got linked recently -- maybe from the recent Scientology thread where Leonard Cohen was discussed? -- and that sort of thing usually causes songs to get bumped back onto the charts for a while.

Which is to say, the songs are being favorited by people who are not even "casual" visitors -- it's people seeing a link on the blue, listening to the song (which is usually a parody or an in-joke, due to the nature of linkage), clicking "favorite" and leaving. It only takes a tiny, tiny percentage of people in a popular thread doing this to make the song "top the charts."
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:18 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know I said I'd shut the fuck up....but can't resist observing that as at 11.19am GMT the top five "Most Favourited In the Last 7 Days" chart (with a minimised screen) features three "oldies" that respectively were uploaded in April 2007, September 2006 and August 2008. I submit, m'lord, that the case against the "Most Favourited Of All Time" chart is proved beyond reasonable doubt and there the prosecution rests. Your witness, Mr Darrow....
posted by MajorDundee at 3:27 AM on November 29, 2009

I know I said I'd shut the fuck up....but can't resist observing that as at 11.19am GMT the top five "Most Favourited In the Last 7 Days" chart (with a minimised screen) features three "oldies" that respectively were uploaded in April 2007, September 2006 and August 2008.

"Punch 'em in the Dick" had this link from the popular "side hug" thread. It got one favorite an hour later and another a few days after. That's enough to put it on the chart. Previously, it was the subject of three MetaTalk threads (1 2 3), one from just a few months ago.

"Mathowie's Community Blog" was linked to from here in the "Music to cook your turkey to..." FPP and gathered its two faves within a couple of days.

"Plate of Beans," I dunno exactly -- most recent link I find is in the birthday thread from July, but if you search the site -- or the wiki -- looking for an explanation of the phrase, you will run across this song.

I'm sure that all of the "classic" threads get a constant trickle of attention all the time. Look at the "how do I dispose of a dead body?" question: the "best answer" -- from 2004! -- got 45 (!) favorites in the last month because it was the subject of a MetaTalk thread -- but look at its favorites even before that: they just keep coming, constantly, because that thread's become part of the underlying fabric of the site, just like those "classic" songs, which means people reference them and link to them. That's where the favorites are coming from, I bet, and they get favorites from people who otherwise never venture into MeFiMu at all and probably have never even seen the "Most Favorited Of All Time" chart (which, as Cortex said, is a little hidden).

Further evidence? Note that the #1 Current Favorite has its own MetaTalk thread -- and the #2 Current Favorite is linked to inside of that thread. "Casual visitors" aren't getting as far as the "All Time" charts. They're listening to one song, linked from somewhere else, and leaving.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 5:55 PM on November 29, 2009

I have no doubt you're absolutely right Karlos - and thanks for taking the trouble to analyse and explain. But I still think that regardless of how these whiskery tracks are getting into the "last 7 days" chart they are still skewing things somehow and are a misrepresentation of what's going on at MeFiMu. Most of them seem to be self-referential or solipsistic in some way or other - songs by MeFites about MeFi........hmmm.

In fairness, it's probably me that's got this all wrong. I'm not a habitue of "chat" websites and, other than music, I tend to use the net basically as an information source rather than a social network. The only bit of MeFi I visit is the music area. That's after committing some abstruse cardinal sin on the "talk" bit - I've left that to the spotty anoraks who appear to enjoy pouncing on the unwary (if they met me in a bar they wouldn't be so vocally smug or sarcastic - I'm an ex-rugby player with the scars to prove it..). I guess I simply forget that MeFiMu isn't stand-alone. Enough already. Thanks again, man.
posted by MajorDundee at 11:58 AM on November 30, 2009

Hey Major, you're a regular player here at Music and I think a LOT of people appreciate you, your comments, ideas and music. So keep it up. I'm glad you're here. Cheers!
posted by snsranch at 4:10 PM on November 30, 2009

Oh, definitely, what sns said just above. And don't take having a post knocked off the front page so hard, Major (I think you've referred to that a couple of times now in comments here at MeFiMu). It's no big deal. I saw that post, and it was in fact too chatty for the blue, and, ironically, very self-referential (as to Metafilter Music). It really wasn't the kind of post that could hold up on the front page. But posts get deleted from the blue all the time. In fact, there's a whole site devoted to deleted Metafilter posts, which is sometimes a fun read! It's called, appropriately enough, Deleted Thread.

As far as the Mefi-referentialness being a big part of MeFiMu favorites and playlist choices and all, well, just comes with the territory. No getting around that. This is a subsite, after all, and I'm sure that most of the visitors here are coming from the main site (the blue) and/or MetaTalk, and not just stumbling in from the web at large. I feel pretty certain that my MeFiMu megahit VU cover wouldn't have gotten any more favorites than my usual song posts here were it not for the fact that someone made a MetaTalk post about the song, and people came flocking over to hear it, as a result.

So, clearly, a sockpuppet that'll post your stuff from MeFiMu to MetaTalk is the way to go...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:14 PM on November 30, 2009

but...I'm a sensitive artiste dahlings, and I shall simply scweam and scweam until I'm sick! Actually all this proves is that I am officially and irredeemably a Grumpy Old Man. Don't know if that series, featuring a very English brand of humour, ever reached the US or Japan - but....yup........that's me.....
posted by MajorDundee at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2009

Hi! MD, I hope you didn't think I was attacking you or anything.

I recognize and am sympathetic toward the issue you're concerned about, but I think it might be more useful to look at it from the opposite angle: not "why are these old songs getting more favorites than new ones?" but "why do the new songs, by and large, not get any favorites?" -- which I think becomes "why is MeFiMu almost completely ignored?"

Even if that's a fact that can't be altered, which is probably the case -- you can't just make people show up and listen to stuff -- I'd like to see more attention paid to individual songs somehow. Most MeFites aren't interested in coming here and sifting through dozens of songs to find something they like, but they do show up when a specific song gets mentioned in MetaTalk or on the sidebar.

Ah, the sidebar. I was looking through the first MetaTalk thread about "Punch 'em" -- a song which was sidebarred (an event rare enough to be remarked upon therein) -- and cortex said "Shouting out a great song on the sidebar is something we could probably stand to do more often." Unfortunately, it's only happened once since then that I found, and that was with a multi-mefite collaboration.

I've in the past suggested that when a Monthly Challenge goes particularly well that there could be a sidebar post linked to the challenge playlist. (The October challenge went well, for instance -- it would've been cool to have a sidebar post about it on Halloween. Maybe this month's challenge songs could get a post on Christmas Eve?) That would avoid the issue of, say, certain musicians always getting sidebars and others not.

Are there other ways to help people navigate this subsite and find music that they might enjoy?
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 6:00 PM on December 1, 2009

Sideman walks into a sidebar, bartender says "why the long bass?"

/ba-dum pssssshhhh!

That's my way of saying I'm with Karlos. More sidebarring for cool MeFiMu stuff! Especially general Challenge stuff, when Challenges go well.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:04 AM on December 2, 2009

Yeah, I'm still down with the sidebarring thing (and with the Music Podcast thing), it's just totally fallen by the wayside in the last few months especially with a one-thing-after-another set of distractions.
posted by cortex at 7:04 AM on December 2, 2009

Never crossed my mind Karlos, but now you mention it - what an utter bastard you are! Just kidding mate.

Perhaps we should have a "song of the week" that gets flagged on the Blue sidebar (bear with me on the terminology)? Easiest way to decide, I guess, might be the one that gets the most "favourites" or "playlists" in the last 7 days. In this way the "oldies" get cut out of the loop and newer stuff gets it's place in the sun + the profile of our poor wee Cinderella bit of MeFi gets some promo. Views on that?
posted by MajorDundee at 11:50 AM on December 2, 2009

I had a blue sidecar once. Attached to a motorcycle. Clearly, that's not what we're talking about here....right? Or is it??? I'm sooooo confused. I mean.......I sold it years ago to a geezer from Romney Marsh, so we'd struggle a bit if we want to advertise on it.....might still have his number though......
posted by MajorDundee at 11:56 AM on December 2, 2009

Was it this one?
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:52 PM on December 2, 2009

Nope - it was this one. Heh.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:07 PM on December 2, 2009

....which was a step up from this one - although, frankly, she was a better lay.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2009

I'm kinda partial to this one. I guess it's the old hippie in me...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:43 PM on December 2, 2009

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