Introducing Search, Improved Post Tagging, and Tag Settings

Text as originally posted to changeaview.com on July 3, 2019.


Hi all,

ChangeAView is still very much a work in progress, continuously evolving to best serve our mission. We are trying to adhere to the ‘Lean Startup’ philosophy when possible, which essentially means releasing the earliest version of something that allows us to start learning and improving. It’s a balancing act to avoid releasing too early, which risks a broken or boring product that nobody uses, and releasing too late, which risks missing our moment or overdesigning something that nobody wanted. With the help of your invaluable feedback, we’re getting better at finding the right balance.

Yesterday, we released a batch of changes that we’re very excited about and felt they deserved an announcement:

Improved Post Tagging

Background: Until now, we’ve had only a very basic system of organizing discussions using 25 categories and a temporary filter on the homepage. This was limiting due to there being subtopics missing from each category and unrelated topics missing entirely. It also handled geographical relevance poorly.

Solution: In the end, we realized that we needed to swap categories for a more expansive tag system. We now have a much longer list of ‘common tags’ to help with selection, which includes topics and places, and users can also create or choose custom tags.

Tag Settings

Background: When our launch was covered by Wired, our homepage was largely dominated by views on American issues. After the recent BBC article, the focus moved to British topics. Who links to CAV next is currently unknown, but it seems likely that each traffic boost we get going forward will continue to reflect the audience of the source. While we are delighted to welcome such activity and new users, there is a chance that pre-existing users will see this and think CAV isn’t relevant or interesting to them anymore. To prevent this, we are introducing tag settings.

Solution: Users now have three options for every tag: subscribe, unsubscribe, and block.

  • Posts with subscribed tags will show up on your homepage.
  • Posts with unsubscribed tags won’t show up on your homepage unless accompanied by a subscribed tag (posts can have a maximum of 5 tags).
  • Posts with blocked tags will never show up on your homepage, even if accompanied by a subscribed tag. You can still seek out blocked posts if you wish.

All current users will automatically be subscribed to our new list of common tags. User-generated tags (‘custom tags’) are set to unsubscribed until you add one to your post or subscribe manually. If you want to change your tag subscriptions, you must either visit the management page in user settings or click a tag while browsing posts to open a menu.

Our filtering feature has also had a couple of updates worth noting:

  • Selecting multiple tags is now an ‘AND’ function instead of ‘OR’ (filtering by #united-states and #politics will only show posts that use both tags rather than a mixture of posts that use one or the other).
  • Filtered tags will now show in the URL. This means tags can be externally shared easily, e.g. changeaview.com/technology.

How this helps: CAV will continue to be a place to discuss issues of global importance, connecting people of different backgrounds and locations. But this feature means that we can also facilitate discussions about local issues and niche interests much more effectively.

Additionally, if you don’t want to see a topic for any reason, you don’t have to. That might mean permanently blocking some issues, but perhaps you’ll just want a break from others. Topic fatigue was a big problem for us on the subreddit, resulting in the occasional month-long moratorium and a weekly ban of popular topics during ‘Fresh Topic Fridays’. These restrictions on everyone won’t be necessary at CAV now⁠—what you see is up to you as an individual.

Future plans:

  • Design improvements to the tag settings management page.
  • The ability to report and suggest tags to the mods, since it’s possible that the OP will choose incorrectly.
  • The common tags list will likely change according to observed use and user requests.
  • We will add an ‘interests’ page to onboarding to make tag subscriptions easier.

Search

A search bar was the most requested feature since the BBC article went out, and ultimately we agreed it was time to build it. We hadn’t prioritized this until now since it’s only useful if we actually have content to search for, and so features relating to active contribution took precedence. But having recently passed a total of 1,000 discussions, hopefully there’s starting to be enough content to generate useful search results.

The search page currently displays posts and the most popular tags used by those listed. We plan to also include comments and sorting options in the future.

Thanks for reading, and we’d be delighted to hear any thoughts or feedback you may have!

  • The CAV Team

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