To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Hong Kong

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Middleburgh - Game on!

I don't play computer games, not really my thing ....well....when I do it's to game the system rather than play the game. ie several years ago I optimised the SEO factors on this blog so that it showed up in the top 10 results for "Middleburgh", and above my cousin's site. As an exercise it didn't materially affect view rates and once done I moved on. FYI I don't optimize this blog now, and it ranks anywhere between 40 and 40 in results and the view rate is negligible.... to point that traffic from behind the Chinese Firewall has recently become conspicuous ...

Anyway, last week, on IMGUR, the "thought police" tagged two of my memes (Exhibit A and Exhibit B) as "Propaganda Bullshit" which brought me to DEFCON 5. In this heightened state of readiness it occurred to me that it might be diverting to try and "game" IMGUR. FYI I wish to make it clear that I am neither a propagandist on behalf of the DPRNK, Ninja Turtles, eBay, Brocks Fireworks or their respective critics.... but if it will gets the view rate up on this blog I will consider it...

I did some research including test uploads to better understand the IMGUR site, it's user base and what works/doesn't work if you are a "normal" user etc . In simple terms, putting aside pretentious aspirations, it is a social media site where users post images which can be viewed and/or rated by other users. Users may also post comments about images or even reply to and score other comments. Images can also be favourited/downloaded/embedded and/or linked etc. The system calculates scores (highest best) which reflects how the user community regards an image or comment and the submitter get a rating. It is essentially all about peer group approval and acceptance.

One possible user goal is to post a viral image/comment ie one which gets get mega scores (the equivalent of catching the snitch in qwidich !!). Another is to build an personal score that identifies the user as an esteemed and valued member of the "community" if not a superstar. The contrary also applies: users with low scores sit at the low tables with the underclasses whilst those with negative scores are deemed outcasts condemned to "walk alone". Users who fail to favorite images are tagged as Scumbags .... and it's a given that a low or negative score on an image or comment represents peer group disapproval. Users who offend the community by posting inappropriate images etc may be sanctioned by having the offending image/comment or account pulled (without right of appeal).

Although there is a function to request an image pull down I believe the system automatically pulls down images if net score drops below -10. This means that organised vigilantes can jump on an image to rapidly drive score down in order to kill it. To date I have had 3 test images pulled (including my targeted response to the 'propaganda bullshit' tagging - apparently the "tagger" is a sensitive soul): One case involved an unintended misogynous undertone which someone picked up on, the other case involved an image of a couple shopping which could be interpreted positively (ie laughs at their close relationship )or negatively (interpreted darkly as a fetish). The first set of comments took the latter view which set mood and so doomed the image. (on reflection these latter pull downs were fair calls) and my take away was:If you don't want images pulled, post ones which cannot be misinterpreted and remember, even if you think they are not controversial there will always someone who disagrees. Frankly I am of an age and disposition that I generally will shrug of such disapproval's so I neither feel like an East Berliner who was informed on and visited by the Stasi or a naughty schoolboy whose been caught playing with himself.

I will however try to moderate future posts to reduce legitimate adverse comments.This goes to the heart of matter, there is no point in posting to the site if you don't want to engage with the "audience". They merit respect and antagonising them is "counter productive".... However engagement is not all about "likes", high scores and pandering to the whim of the mob which brings me back to the objectives of the "game" Personally I share with Groucho the view that I would be reluctant to be a member of a club that would have me as a member. So I am not going to play the "game" of seeking approvals/high scores.

Instead I have set myself a series of provisional engagement targets (KPI) based on available image metrics (ie I am going to play against "myself") I will post a couple of images a day (i have a life after all .... If the targets are met 2 weeks running (assumed weekly review) then I will reset based on actual achievement + 10%. I will play until I'm bored.


Logically if there are no views then there is no audience engagement. They are a prerequisite for other types of action/engagement and therefore the primary indicator of success: Target: 20% of images posted in lats 7 days must have =>2000 views within 24 hrs of posting. (for comparative purposes I am going to post at more or less same time each day and I will worry about whether its the best time of day down the road)


IMHO a vote takes a view to the next level ie user was sufficiently engaged to both look at the image and vote. Any vote would be an indicator of engagement and it doesn't follow that negative votes are "a priori" worth "less" than positive votes. The image might have been chosen to trigger negative votes (or not) Target: 20% of images posted in last 7 days have total of =>35 votes within 24 hours of posting NB I think the ratio of votes/views may be a quality of engagement indicator and similarly the ratio likes/dislikes (sentiment) but I am not convinced these would be statistically reliable


IMHO favoriting takes a like to the next level ie user was sufficiently engaged to look at image, vote and/or favorite; Target: 20% of images posted in last 7 days must =>5 favorites within 24 hours Nb the ratio favorites/views may be an appropriate quality indicator (i may set targets for this later)


I don't believe too much can be 'read' into actual comments posted against an image. In principle more comments = more engagement but based on those posted against my "trials" the threads seem to take on a life of their own . The first comment then subsequently the "best" sets the tone. You need a good comment which triggers more comments (to build sentiment) but not so good that visitors vote for the comment rather than the image; Target: 20% of images must have =>10 comments within 24 hours of posting

Although I am not playing to maximize my user score I will be tracking the latter (and comparing it to profile provided by imgurleaderboard (excellent piece of work!) I have no confidence in any scoring algorithms which are not published for public scrutiny (IMGUR'S are not- well at least i can't find them ) There may be built in biases favoriting paying subscribers images/comments etc ie may be an uneven playing field comparable to the process of electing the HK CEO in 2017.

I am also tracking how effective images of the supreme leader are (and I will probably set targets for this subset ..... speed of pull down ??? ratio of negative votes/total views ???......)

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