Long before I began thinking about the damage being done in the use of authoritative judgement as fuel for creativity and wit, I found myself having to work out ways to stave off gaming of the site, in particular dealing with sock puppets and self-starrers and the recent, baffling phenomenon of people finding several hundred things a day to be their ‘favourite’. And then I took a hard look at the stats: the site was getting a million or so pageviews every month, but from a rather small number of unique IPs. As people reflexively refreshed their personal pages, sometimes thousands of times a day, I began to feel like the manager of a comedy club in which comedians crack a joke, then repeatedly run from table to table to stare each patron in the eye, looking for the love. --Dean Allen's comment in Jeffrey Zeldman's post on the death of Favrd
Guilty. I'm totally guilty.
My browser has a link to Favrd in the boomark menu. But if you click on it, it won't take you to http://favrd.textism.com. It takes you to http://textism.com/favrd/person/mat. I loved the validation Favrd provided, quite honestly, and would often check in to see how a particular tweet was doing. It was almost always disappointing and surprising. The stuff I thought would do great often didn't, and the stuff I thought nothing of was often my most popular. I kind of loved that, and I kind of hated it. But like most of the best stuff on the Internet, it was a meritocracy.
So despite my need for validation, I didn't really get why you would try to game the leaderboard. If something doesn't do well based on its own merits, then who cares how it does? I was aware that some people intentionally held tweets until after Favrd reset. I knew about the sock puppets designed to boost star counts. And then of course, as Dean mentioned, it's pretty easy to find people starring hundreds of tweets just to get you to star something of theirs in return. And that last behavior is the one that really irks me. While the other behaviors only serve to artificially inflate favorite counts, indiscriminately doling out stars devalues the very concept of a "favorite."
Last night, I looked at some of the people on the Favstar leaderboard. I found, as often seems to be the case, some of the stuff with 100-plus stars to be simply banal. I didn't get how it got so starred. And so I started looking at the things the people on top were favoriting, and there was the explanation.
Two of those on top of the stack (the only two people I looked at quite frankly) had each favorited hundreds--hundreds--of tweets on Friday. Many of their "favorites" were total crap. Pity faves. It's an obvious scheme to get stars back in return. How is that not just as douchey as following a thousand people just to get them to follow you in return? The site that was set up to be the anti-Cashmore was turning us all into 10,000 tiny Petes.
I loved Favrd. And I'm sorry to see Dean pulled the plug on it. Obviously, I would rather have seen it handed off to someone else. At its best it was a vibrant community and a haven for bright minds. But at its worst, it was enabling some real lowdown starfucking behavior. We were the ones who killed it .