Re: Algorithms

1

I've been wondering about this. For a year, I've been actively killing items in "trending" that I really am not interested in: gaming, WWE, the NFL, Hollywood stories. Why are they still putting these stories in my trending box? Because they're discounting my explicit answer that I don't care at all about these topics?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:33 AM
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You say it's low-hanging fruit, but that suggests tailoring the feed to user's interests/desires is the end goal. If it were, they wouldn't use an algorithm for the feed at all. I mean, it's worse than useless. Not that I go on Facebook much these days but the very first thing I do when I do is switch it to chronological. The fact that I have to do that, every single time, shows (as if it were in doubt) that they care a lot more about serving ads and promoted stories or whatever they call them than they do about letting me find out what my friends are up to.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:35 AM
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It's mysteriously awful, even for optimizing ads and revenue.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:37 AM
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I've been trying to kill the weird right-wing stuff that is mostly one guy who I don't want to hide because he was my favorite teacher. Still, I may have to if the election stuff keeps going. Also, a couple of my cousins might have to go.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:38 AM
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I hide everything posted from any external site and check the box that hides all posts from that site in the future. I's great!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:40 AM
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3: indeed. I keep getting served ads for "The UK's Top High-Net-Worth Divorce Lawyers" which shows that Facebook knows what country I'm in, but literally nothing else about me.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:40 AM
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You've hidden some of the t's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:41 AM
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Anyhow I think FB has gotten down this unfortunate path where they A/B test feed strategies and pick the winner, but it's a nonindependent system -- people's preferences are conditioned on what their baseline has been -- so that if they now a/b tested their current algorithm against a purely time-based one I bet the latter would win. Hire better behavioral scientists, FB.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:43 AM
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7: true.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:43 AM
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Apparently, we need to go to war with Iran because the sailors that were captured in Iranian water were actually not in Iranian water because nobody ever is in the wrong place now that we have GPS.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:44 AM
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Hire better behavioral scientists, FB.

Given that they've already been embroiled in a research ethics scandal, this seems like good advice.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:46 AM
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6: It's like "Minority Report". Facebook has seen in the future that you're going to rob them, so they're trying to help you out.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:48 AM
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I always choose to make my New Feed "Most Recent" rather than "Top Stories." It's still not showing me everything posted by my FB friends, but it seems less algorithm-y. It's also annoying that, no matter how many times you change it to "Most Recent," FB always defaults to "Top Stories" when you come back to the site.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:49 AM
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if the election stuff keeps going

You want Obama to cancel the election? Jeez, how sexist are you?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:50 AM
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"Yet their actions were biasing the data that Facebook relied on to rank stories."

Or rather, they were showing that Facebook's model for what "hiding" means was incorrect.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:55 AM
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. For the superhiders, however, the ranking team decided to make an exception. Tas was tasked with tweaking the code to identify this small group of people and to discount the negative value of their hides.

I don't know if there's a term for it, but there's something quite striking about this logic. I'm sure there's a good engineering/commercial reason for not personalising the algorithm, but objectively only an insane person would look at this problem and think the solution is to discount a specific group of people's hides rather than put a higher weight on your own (or even your friends').


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 7:59 AM
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I just want posts in chronological order with no fucking algorithmic tweaking, which is apparently just too much for Facebook. Even sorting by "most recent" gives posts out of order and promoted posts moved to the top. I click on ads because I know that's what's paying for my free time wasting, so I don't mind having them interspersed with posts, but just give me my feed unfucked with, please.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:09 AM
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You want variables to do this. If those individuals don't vary, they're not adding anything to any model at the level of the individual (which is implicit in your weighting scheme).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:10 AM
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18 to 16.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:10 AM
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I don't think they're saying it does no individualization - isn't that function close to well-trodden ground by now? Rather they seem to be clumsily saying they assumed one person's "hide" decision had the same meaning (measured in negative rat-orgasms) in the individualization process.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:14 AM
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Contra basically all the comments in this thread, I have been stunned by how good facebook's algorithms seem to be at showing me things I want to see. This applies to news articles, sure, where facebook's recommended articles are often the best things in my feed. But it applies even more to ads. I can't count the number of interesting products I've seen on fb ads--not just things I've been searching for, but things I didn't know existed and didn't know I needed, but that after seeing the ad I'm genuinely interested in purchasing. Usually these are these that are very highly tailored to my niche interests. No other web service has targeted ads that are even remotely comparable in terms of getting my interest. (Google's are terrible.) Facebook's ads are so well individualized for me that it's both embarrassing (am I that predictable?) and disturbing. Or at least it would be disturbing if they weren't showing me such interesting things.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:18 AM
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"Facebook's algorithm doesn't even do any weak individualization?!"

It absolutely does individualize. The content you see is prioritized both by your actions (I hid something like this), and by actions among larger populations (a million people hid this). The latter case has weight both because it's specific--a million people hid *that particular thing*, not just similar things, where similarity can be surprisingly difficult to determine--and because the data is much more abundant.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:28 AM
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a million people hid *that particular thing*

Pants, FTW.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:31 AM
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If I was writing an algorithm to find "Top Posts" it would start by creating an affinity criterion for friends and friends of friends, where affinity is measured by how many likes and comments you have in common, weighted according to how many likes and comments each person has in total. Then I'd rank posts according to number of likes weighted by affinity. One post in ten or so would be randomly selected for promotion to keep things from turning into a complete circlejerk.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:36 AM
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I still have fond memories of the few months when both Facebook and Google thought I was an Indian woman.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:41 AM
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25: Because of your sari phase?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:46 AM
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Facebook, Google, and the cashier at Safeway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:46 AM
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Amazon thought I was a lesbian for years.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:49 AM
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We all did.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:51 AM
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No, she knew perfectlywell that you were a guy who just happened to be into lesbian porn.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:51 AM
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I click on ads because I know that's what's paying for my free time wasting

I use AdBlock and unblock ads on sites I like. Otherwise, I only rarely intentionally click on an ad, in the futile hope that that whole model of monetizing the internet dies in a fire.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:53 AM
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Netflix still recommends RomComs for me, thanks to an ex- who used to borrow my account when we were dating. It's like, "Suggestions for Stanley: a gritty, hard-hitting crime drama about one good cop on a force of bad apples....OR! a light-hearted romp about two people falling in love in the most unlikely of places!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 8:56 AM
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"Suggestions for Stanley: Films starring Shannon Tweed."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:01 AM
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At our recent elections, the Tories seem to have gone all in on Facebook advertising:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/how-the-tories-spent-ps12-million-on-facebook-adverts-in-run#.lqMOnwMdo

see this quote:

"We're looking for people in front of the telly, or on the bus on the way home, so we will be in their News Feed when they're bored out of their mind."

that's how you target right-wing people. watching with the sound off.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:02 AM
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Terrifyingly, Labour spent less on Facebook ads than they did on a big chicken suit.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:02 AM
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Was it a suit with real feathers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:07 AM
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Amazon spent several years being pretty confident that I would like the music of the Wu-Tang Clan, for reasons that I was unable to ascertain.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:10 AM
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Possibly an interest in Asia combined with an algorithm that doesn't have a very deep understanding of rap.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:13 AM
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Facebook is convinced I hate Russ Feingold for some reason. Ironically I've donated money to him in the past, and voted for him when I lived in Oregon. I assume it's because of my cousins, who are huge Palin fans.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:14 AM
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It absolutely does individualize. The content you see is prioritized both by your actions (I hid something like this), and by actions among larger populations (a million people hid this).

That's what I had assumed before reading the article.

I guess I see what the reporter's saying - within the data of large populations, FB had given every individual equal weight.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:18 AM
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Like the elevator capacity signs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:21 AM
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36: I honestly don't know. This tweet contains the entry in the Electoral Commission report:

https://twitter.com/JamieRoss7/status/689773322914111488

£577.78 worth to the account of Mr P J Heneghan for chicken suits. Looked like this:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/general-election-spending-revealed-cash-went-spin-doctors-pizza-express-chicken-suits-1539055

meanwhile, Moby, you had a cookie of mine good for one future answer when I get back to you. It's Cunningham method we're doing.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:43 AM
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I usually clear cookies every couple of days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 9:51 AM
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I gave up trying to manage what I see on Facebook by clicking on their boxes and started managing it by just not caring if I check the site more than once or twice a week. The mix of current and recent stuff isn't as annoying when it's been five days since you looked anyway.

I got an email from Facebook yesterday asking me to participate in a survey. I deleted it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 10:09 AM
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voted for him when I lived in Oregon

Perhaps FB doesn't like you voting illegally.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 10:21 AM
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45: Fuck! WTF has happened to my brain? I clearly recall supporting him in the 1990s. I must have my wires crossed with someone else. Googling around I see it must be Ron Wyden I'm confusing him with. Stupidity sucks.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 10:55 AM
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I was wondering about that, but figured Togolosh must be talking about the Democratic presidential primary.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 10:58 AM
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If voters can't appreciate a bespoke chicken suit, then they deserve what they get.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 10:59 AM
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It seems like the algorithm is taking the fall for Facebook having a pretty shit user interface. If there was a proper "mark as read" feature that stopped showing you content you've already seen, people wouldn't need to use the hide button the way they are.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 11:27 AM
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24: What you're describing is a form of user-based collaborative filtering. It's a classic and very widely used technique.


Posted by: lambchop | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 11:39 AM
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50: I'm always glad to hear that I've reinvented the wheel.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 11:53 AM
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Didn't help me at all.


Posted by: Opinionated Mayan toy maker | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 11:55 AM
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I know I've posted this here before, but I don't understand why everyone isn't already using FB Purity to hide all the annoying bits on their FB feed. No more trending stories, ever!


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:00 PM
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I did start using FB purity the last time it was recc'd here! It doesn't revolutionize the experience for me, though. It doesn't do anything about "so-n-so liked/commented on the same damn old post" unless my feed would otherwise be even worse than I realize.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:22 PM
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Yeah, I didn't notice much difference with FB Purity except weird extra UI features that didn't make a lot of sense and then eventually it shut itself off due to some incompatibility with a Firefox update.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:26 PM
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Huh. I value it for being able to hide ads, game/app stories (why should I care that so-and-so reached a new level on Candy Crush?), trending topics, sponsored stories, "people you may know," and the news ticker, which I hate hate hate and was the original reason I installed it. That did make the difference for me between tolerable and intolerable. There was a compatibility issue with Firefox a couple of versions ago, but that's been solved now.

Heebie, have you tried blocking "so-and-so liked this" updates by clicking on the FBP icon in the toolbar, choosing "Various Story Types" in the left-hand side bar, and checking the "Liked this" box?


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:39 PM
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Yep.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:48 PM
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Maybe there are fewer of those, now that I'm scanning my feed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:49 PM
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Whats the News Ticker? Is that the thing on the side that I ignore?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:57 PM
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I only do FB on my phone. Does that matter?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 12:58 PM
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Am I the last person whose face is still not in the book?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:01 PM
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You know who else never had a Facebook account.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:02 PM
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62: Gandhi?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:05 PM
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61 My face is also not in the book.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:07 PM
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I just applied to the job in the war-torn former Soviet republic. Knowing my luck, I'll actually get it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:44 PM
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Perhaps FB doesn't like you voting illegally.

I voted for Sanders when I was first living in Oregon until my eligibility to do so was not remotely colorable.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:49 PM
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I'm so left that Sanders votes for me. Illegally.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:53 PM
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I'm so left that Sanders doesn't vote for me because that would be divisive.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 1:56 PM
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I'm so left I'm voting for Vermin Supreme because I want make sure Sanders feels pressure for not being weird enough.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 2:10 PM
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The non-profit of which I am president has been experimenting with FB advertising. It's kind of fun narrow-casting: people living in counties A, B, and C with interests X, Y, and Z. We're looking for likes, and boosted our numbers by 50% in a single month.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 2:16 PM
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This thread seems very useful. the "Hide Post" button sounds too good to be true. I just went through and hid the first five ads I saw and nothing else. I don't expect it to work, but it can't hurt, right?

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I click on ads because I know that's what's paying for my free time wasting, so I don't mind having them interspersed with posts

I assure you, I'm good at wasting time. If Facebook goes out of business or starts offering fewer meaningful features because too many people start blocking ads, I'm confident I'll find some other way to procrastinate, dick around, and avoid all the stuff that actually matters in life.

I do feel a tiny bit guilty about blocking ads from certain other sites that aren't such juggernauts, but given how often their ads autoplay videos, I almost feel entitled to block them. A place with good service and unexpected intrusive noise doesn't actually have good service. I should periodically whitelist them to see if those ads have stopped, or else look for a donate button, but that's it.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 2:24 PM
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more inclined to click through on science articles than religious articles

What about articles shared by humanist associations, about religion, written by a member of our very own 'tariat?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 3:49 PM
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We're looking for likes, and boosted our numbers by 50% in a single month.

My brother in law has been promoting his band on facebook. He gets a huge spike in likes every time he pays $$ to fb. How does fb arrange this? My suspicion is that there are superlikers who like any damn thing put in front of them, and fb displays your post to a number of superlikers proportional to the size of the wad of cash you give them.* I question whether this is a valuable service at all. I mean, is there any reason to believe that the people who like your page are going to come see the show? Also, is there any reason to believe the likes are from real people?

A conversation along these lines caused some conflict at a holiday gathering, so let me disclaimer this: Sorry Charlie, I'm sure your organization is the bee's knees. I just don't trust fb at all.

*Of course, I did not read the linked story. Maybe this is confirmed/denied.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 5:57 PM
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The people liking us seem to have the attributes we're looking for. We're getting more newsletter sign-ups too.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-20-16 11:08 PM
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I avoid fb as a rule, but when I have to I log on with images and ads blocked, which leaves a restful scattering of blue and grey text. User agent ftw.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-21-16 1:55 AM
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Also, This is working great for my procrastinating needs. I haven't even created an account, just subscribed to their editorial newsletter. 5 links a day, no bullshit. I hope they find a business model.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-21-16 2:10 AM
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There is a nice cottage in the south of the island who's owner has been advertising out for weekend and vacation rentals. It shows up in my feed because I like to fantasize about vacations I'm not going to take. The thing has over 10,000 likes. But, I feel that if there were really 10,000 people who knew about it and would be interested in staying there, it probably wouldn't need to be advertised.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-21-16 4:11 AM
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Link in 76 doesn't work.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-21-16 4:36 AM
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Clicking dead links is procrastination.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-21-16 6:26 AM
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FFS. Get the tags right, fudge the address.
This.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-21-16 7:21 AM
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