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Jon Randy
Jon Randy

Posted on

Say "var", "let" or "const" again...

Can anyone else remember the time when DEV had interesting, non-repetitive articles? Content moderation anyone?

Just remember kids - friends don't let friends write "var, let, and const" posts.

Stay safe out there! 😉




















































Top comments (31)

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jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

I think the repetition is fine as long as we get tools to filter these out, once we are not interested in these topics anymore. I have no solution about how these tools exactly look like but I think they should be there to help.

Another approach I already commented on that some time ago is to create a system where the reward for unique articles with high quality is so much higher than for copycat content or articles like the above, so people are motivated to avoid them. Again, I am no social engineer so I can't say how such a system could look like.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Another approach I already commented on that some time ago is to create a system where the reward for unique articles with high quality is so much higher than for copycat content or articles like the above, so people are motivated to avoid them.

Really appreciate ya dropping this idea!

We have a button available to mods that allows them to boost and lower visibility of posts. As leader of the mod team, I think I'll suggest to these folks that we consider boosting particularly unique content and lowering visibility on repeat content.

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jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

I know this may become (or even is already) necessary. However, my personal preference would be to give the authors hints during writing, whether this content has already been written a lot. Similar to what StackOverflow does, when writing a new question. It immediately lists similar existing questions and articles by comparing title and content.

If authors get some idea that their content has been written a thousand times before, then may add some new unique element to their post to keep things at least interesting even though it's repetitive.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy Author

Some AI could probably help detection of potential repeat content - giving the moderators a helping hand

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Oooo that's a pretty cool idea! We could even potentially use AI to filter our like posts from the same feed, so that as you're scrolling through the feed you'd be less likely to see 2 posts on the same topic. But, I also like the idea of using it to identify these posts to mods and allowing them to take action. Hmmm... lots to think on. 🤔 Thank you for this idea!

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl • Edited on

To be honest, you don't need particularly sophisticated "AI" for this. One could explore approaches like tf–idf (term frequency–inverse document frequency) or semantic similarity (e.g. via Paragraph2Vec which turns a document into a high-dimensional vector space and then calculates similarity via the cosine distance of the vectors). I had pretty good experiences with both approaches in the past.

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katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski

But what should moderators do in this case? Delete repetitive content? It kind of defies the purpose of the blogging platform. Maybe it could be somehow scored down - this is probably the main issue to discuss here.

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl • Edited on

Agreed, the only way to have an even remotely useful feed is too heavily penalize JS, though I'm not sure how many users even know this is possible. And of course there's the problem that I actually would like to see GOOD Javascript content.

JS anti-follow

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy Author • Edited on

Yes, this is the huge downside. Some 'content' writers also abuse tags anyway - just adding popular tags in an attempt to boost views/placement.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Thanks for bringing this up, Michael. I agree that we need an easier way for folks to discover the anti-follow!

And of course there's the problem that I actually would like to see GOOD Javascript content.

To be clear, we provide tooling to our trusted users to help us bump up higher quality content and lower visibility of lower quality content, so we're trying to make an impact on the good to bad ratio. But, good is subjective and I don't think everyone would see the posts above as bad (I certainly don't!), I just see them as popular beginner-level topics to cover.

I said this elsewhere in thread, but I think a big part of this is that we need to improve our filtering for experience level.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy Author • Edited on

It's a tricky balance to be sure, and I appreciate that there are probably an awful lot of posts coming in that have to be somehow rated and graded for 'worthiness' (for want of a better word) - and that grading is definitely going to be subjective to a degree.

It's frustrating that there IS quality content here, just often buried under a seemingly neverending avalanche of clickbait titled fluff, listicles, and reworked pages from documentation websites.

Please don't feel singled out here, this is a problem all over the web and is by no means unique to DEV - it's just depressing.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Word up, thanks John! I really appreciate ya saying this.

And, I do hear your frustrations, see some of the validity in what you're talking about, and will keep thinking through this one. I really do hate the thought of unique, high quality content disappearing under a deluge of posts with questionable quality, repetitive subject matter, or whatever else.

One thing that I've been considering (and have advocated for internally once or twice) is that it might be helpful for us if we had a feed specifically for curated, hand-picked content. We have "relevant", "latest", and "top" available to select from our home feed. I think it might be time to break the mould and come up with some other ways to filter the feed. I know that wouldn't solve everything and there still might be curated posts that are better for beginners, but it's a start.

And, if we did something like this in conjunction with some of the other ideas here in the comments a) stepping up our experience level labeling, b) identifying duplicate topics with AI so we can potentially take action, and c) looking for more ways to reward original, high quality content, then we might noticeably improve things. Lots to think on!

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy Author • Edited on

Some curated lists, along with better 'grading' of all content sounds like a definite way forward. Not sure I have the time, or how exactly I could help, but I'd be happy to pitch in if I can.

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

One thing that I've been considering (and have advocated for internally once or twice) is that it might be helpful for us if we had a feed specifically for curated, hand-picked content.

I'm not sure if you remember (or are even aware) but while I was still part of the team I advocated for an extension of the reading list functionality to allow users to create custom shareable and subscribable reading lists, like e.g. "My favorite advanced React posts".

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

I didn't realize that you were heavily advocating for this feature, but I mean, I absolutely believe you! You frequently advocated for good ideas and I do remember this being talked about a number of times...

This feature has been suggested multiple times via issues in GitHub:

I think it's a really cool idea and definitely jives with my suggestion for creating a curated feed. Part of my suggestion was to break the current mould of the feed — we've been making changes to our feed algorithm, but haven't done anything that is obviously, visibly different in a long while. I think we need to make it clearer to folks that we are changing up things with the feed and so I've been suggesting that we add new parameters there.

BUT, if we could give folks the ability to easily share curated lists, that be a different avenue to get to content than the main feed. And being able to access a curated list around a specific topic you're interested in is more helpful than just having a list of articles that were hand-picked but possibly not catered to your preferences (though I was hoping the hand-picked column could still be somewhat geared toward what you're following).

So, in short I think this is a great idea with a lotta promise! Let me try and pick up the torch in advocating for this and see if it's something we might move forward on. I just dropped a feature request here to get this back into discussion in case ya wanna follow along or drop any extra thoughts!

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

I didn't realize that you were heavily advocating for this feature,

I'm not sure I'd call it heavily. But when we started discussions around feed quality I repeatedly stated my opinion that while the feed is important we should also explore other options of surfacing content to users, shareable reading lists being one of them. Basically what you said you were/are also doing. 🤜🤛

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Gotcha, that's what's up! 🤜💥🤛

I think you're absolutely right that we shouldn't get too lazered in on the feed and need to keep our minds open to other routes to deliver relevant content to folks — like shared reading lists!

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

To be clear, we provide tooling to our trusted users to help us bump up higher quality content and lower visibility of lower quality content

I know, I'm one of them 🙂

But, good is subjective and I don't think everyone would see the posts above as bad

I admit to taking the lazy shortcut of writing "good" instead of "relevant to my interests and skill level".

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Word, I just wanted to note that we do have tooling in place to help with quality control as it felt like a relevant thing to bring up. But, I'm also glad we have your help as a trusted user!

I admit to taking the lazy shortcut of writing "good" instead of "relevant to my interests and skill level".

Thanks, I think it's important to be clear here since a bunch of posts were name-dropped above.

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katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski

Ok, this is cool

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katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski • Edited on

If you need a break from "const vs let" you can always head over to Hashnode and read one of the hundreds of "how to start with git" articles that get published there every week ;)

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Yep, there's plenty of posts on "var", "let" or "const", but I personally don't see this see this being an issue in the same way that you do.

Why do you say?

Content moderation anyone?

Are you suggesting that we should stop people from writing on a topic because it has already been written on? If so, that seems pretty harsh, gatekeeperly, and ultimately kinda silly to me. I hope that's not what you're expecting, but I'm not really sure what you are expecting...

I personally think it's okay for folks to write on a topic that has been previously written on. It's completely natural if it's a thing that many folks are learning. They might be writing it for themselves to better understand a topic. They might reveal different aspects about the topic. And they are almost certainly going to use different wording... maybe saying something in a different way could make it so that it clicks better for someone else.

Also, just look at the date ranges on these posts you dropped! Haha, there are posts from 4 different years here — 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022. It seems pretty understandable to me that plenty of folks would write on this topic across a 4 year span. You have 52 posts in your article here spanning 48 months; at that rate you're seeing this post 1.08 times a month in your feed. Now, I imagine your list isn't completely comprehensive and that there are even more than 52 articles on this topic, but my point is that these articles are spaced out over time and it's not that your feed is filled up with "var", "let", "const" posts all at once; it's more likely that you regularly see this topic appear in your feed across time. That just seems kinda normal to me — popular topics get written on frequently.

I'd also stand against the remark that @alonedatascientist dropped in the comments here about folks often posting these articles for promotion — to generate ad revenue and click through traffic. Sure some folks might do that, but if you actually click into the articles above, you'll see that the large majority of these authors appear to be genuine and just trying to learn.

Anyway, I don't mean to get too defensive and say that we shouldn't try to hone our tools for serving up the most relevant posts, but I do want us to have more nuanced, empathetic, and productive discourse around this topic. On that note, I'm curious what you think we might do to improve this situation. One idea floating in my mind — I'm thinking if we could improve both our labelling of and filtering for experience level that this might help you and others in the same boat to filter out some of these beginner level topics that people like to post on. If you have thoughts on this or other ideas on how we might improve this situation, please share them, we're open to constructive feedback all day!

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy Author

I didn't hand pick the articles above, I did a search and made a quick script to pull out the links and generate the embeds. I just wanted something visual to illustrate the point.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Gotcha! I was thinking woaaa, you really had to dig deep to pull so many articles from 2019. 😅 Now that I know ya pulled these via script, it makes more sense... were there others or just 52?

That's why I did the math, because if you think of it through that angle, it seems pretty understandable that this topic might appear in your feed once a month.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

It's a trend, one day all articles will be about var, let and const. It's a beautiful and subtle subject that gives more each time it's viewed from a different perspective. Either that or its the layers of take away wrappers that build up on top of the nuggets of brilliance that rapidly drop out of sight.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy Author

Word

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aarone4 profile image
Aaron Reese

That's because it was this weeks homework assignment...

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devfranpr profile image
DevFranPR

Don't forget about about array methods in JS.

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aarone4 profile image
Aaron Reese

This seems to be the result of some bootcamps allowing (or requesting) students to post assignments on DEV with the argument that it also builds the students on-line profile which should help them in the job market.

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codingjlu profile image
codingjlu

So what's the difference between let, const, and var? jk

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