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I, a boring, plain old user, and infrequent diarist, played around with the new beta.  Here are some thoughts on what seems like a garden variety refresh.

There's been a lot of writing about the new beta, but the strong feelings seem rather stronger than I'd have expected.  Here are my quick takes on things:

The visual language

I'm totally unqualified to comment, but it looks almost the same.  DK has a lot of "brand equity" in the ugly orange color, so I'd have been shocked to see it change.  The new look is a little more "modern", by which I mean less cramped.

Since the "orange blob on the right" school of navigation was retro when this version of the site debuted, I'd say the new look is a net win.

Front page organization

The situation on the current site is (left to right):

* A curated blog taking up most of the middle.

* A "tower" of ads

* Some controls, followed by

* A "collaboratively filtered" rec list, followed by

* A temporally organized "recent list"

the present background, to which I am mostly blind, seems to be an ad for for profit "colleges" that try to scam students into taking out subsidized loans at taxpayer expense.  

In the beta we have:

* Some navigation controls at the top

* A curated (?) "Community highlights" at the top middle

* A curated "Features"

* A curated blog in the middle

* Ads

* A Rec List and a recently rec'd list

So, again, it looks similar.

Comments

The current DK has one of the best comment systems, and it's nearly the same in the beta

New stuff

The new features seem to be "social" and built around manual work.  Honestly, I'm not going to spend any time on this.

What's missing

A "short diary" section for starting comment threads would actually have been very nice, but I've promoted the idea on and off for years in comments, and it's clearly not made the cut.

Also, I'd say that the idea of collaborative filtering has been shown to not work that well.  Tags don't have much better of a track record, in the sense than they add no information not gotten from the text using algorithms from the 90's.  So, really, the dichotomy between professionally curated and "recommended" seems a little silly.  The idea of a "ticker" from cartrightdale is good, but it would make sense for it to just take things similar to what you click and comment on.  It's more computationally intensive, but also more accurate.

My bottom line

Look at my uid.  It's very likely I will continue to hang around on the new site.

Originally posted to theran on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 04:00 PM PST.

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