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Most Readers Don't Like Customized News

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the you-decide-for-me dept.

The Internet 107

An anonymous reader writes "Despite the push by organizations such as Google and Yahoo!, a recent study found not everyone is a fan of web-based customization for news. The researchers defined customization as when the user gets to choose specific topics to read on a daily basis. Instead, some prefer personalization. This is when the system chooses content based on a reader's past choices. 'The obvious assumption is people would like more control over what they read,' Sundar said. 'We found when it came to evaluating new stories and quality of content, customization was the preferred method for power users. If you were not a power user, you wanted the system to tailor the news for you.'"

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I don't want any customization (5, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 years ago | (#33740432)

It's selection bias. I intentionally visit salon.com and foxnews.com back-to-back to make sure I've covered both extremes.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | about 4 years ago | (#33740528)

I don't know the value of visiting those particular sites you mentioned, but I definitely agree that selection bias is something to avoid.

I disliked it when Google changed up (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | about 4 years ago | (#33740562)

it fouled up my reading to no end. From the different layouts to it choosing stuff it thought I wanted over others. I prefer the old version much better. I am more likely to visit sites like DrudgeReport which throw it all up there and I pick and choose with ease instead of trying to figure out where something I might want to read went. I bounce between CNN/FOX to get all the stories afterward and then back to google's news collector.

Its getting to the point where my local newspaper's website, with its lack of customization is much more readable. With customization I am never sure what I miss.

Re:I disliked it when Google changed up (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#33740642)

With customization I am never sure what I miss.

This is exactly why I don't want customization nor personalization.
Just because I'm interested in Tech and World news doesn't mean that I want news there to push aside a piece of news I'd be interested in on a topic I don't normally read.

Re:I disliked it when Google changed up (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 years ago | (#33741826)

Well, there's always more news than there's time. Usually most people do it by reading some general sources and some specialized sources in the topics that interest them, what these customs news are trying to offer is to be your one-stop shop for all your needs. Reading a specialist source like "news for nerds" instead of reading more general news that might have interested you is also a form of "pushing them aside".

What I find annoying is that the filters tend to be too absolute. Its fine that I have preferences, but even if I'm not huge on sports I might like to catch some headlines. I'm not into celebs but it might be nice to not have the deer-in-headlights look saying "Paris who?". Even though I don't need to hear of every bowel movement on the stock market I like to know where the economy is going. For me to really use it, there's have to be a less/more slider with articles getting ranked by importance. I imagine that is why the "guessing" algorithm is better, I bet it's not so absolute as most crude checkbox selections I've seen.

Re:I disliked it when Google changed up (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#33743016)

What annoys me more is 1000+ articles about the same thing, and many of which are just advert/blog pages with a summary that points to the article (or worse they don't even point anywhere useful).

Re:I disliked it when Google changed up (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 4 years ago | (#33746524)

I'm not into celebs but it might be nice to not have the deer-in-headlights look saying "Paris who?"

It's OK, she had that look herself in "One Night In Paris". So I'm told.

Re:I disliked it when Google changed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33744298)

That's why I still love reading the physical newspaper - you get to read all sorts of stories you would normally miss online. Gives you a broader coverage.

Re:I disliked it when Google changed up (0, Troll)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 years ago | (#33740678)

it fouled up my reading to no end. From the different layouts to it choosing stuff it thought I wanted over others. I prefer the old version much better. I am more likely to visit sites like DrudgeReport which throw it all up there and I pick and choose with ease instead of trying to figure out where something I might want to read went. I bounce between CNN/FOX to get all the stories afterward and then back to google's news collector.

It's like this latest remodel of google news has thrown away all the good parts, specifically:

1) The mostly random nature of the articles and publishers grouped by category on the front page (i.e. sports, world politics and business sections)
2) Density of the layout - I get lot less headlines to pick from than I used to

I don't even let google set a cookie or use javascript so I assume its gotta be even worse for 'normal' users.

FWIW, the current layout reminds a lot of the old Nando Times news website which was freaking awesome ... 15 years ago.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 4 years ago | (#33740612)

I come to slashdot for the selection bias.
Just the right mix of inflamitory and inaccurate headlines, and apple slashvertisments. It's my two minute hate.

Re:I don't want any customization (3, Interesting)

cappp (1822388) | about 4 years ago | (#33740718)

I come to Slashdot for the comments. The story-summaries are usually questionable but the articles themselves tend to be rather interesting (and Idle is awesome for my despair-about-humanity-emo-rants) however the real treasure tends to lie down below when everyone piles on. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of pure rubbish festering around the place, but I usually leave a comments threat benefitting from a well argued perspective or a link to some resource I didn't know existed. I've used Slashdot as a research tool many-a-time, mining the comments for data or at least the beginning of a search for data, hasn't let me down yet.

And all the goatse links a man could ever want.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 4 years ago | (#33741162)

Slashdot comments: 99% crap, 1% good.

Sounds like most everything else, honestly.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

ockegheim (808089) | about 4 years ago | (#33743406)

Personally I find the most interesting discussions in the polls, which is the least news-related section of the site.

Re:I don't want any customization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33745158)

but I usually leave a comments threat

So I see.

And all the goatse links a man could ever want.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 4 years ago | (#33746594)

I've used Slashdot as a research tool many-a-time

Heh heh, he said tool.

Re:I don't want any customization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33740666)

Same here. Personalisation will just make us more ignorant than we already are.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#33740982)

depends on your personality

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 years ago | (#33742614)

Depends on your personality? Maybe. But, first, you have to be AWARE of what is happening. The young student and/or grad happens to lean a little left, or right, or whatever, so over the course of a few weeks, he reads several articles that appeal to him. Then, the customization kicks in, and feeds him a diet of articles that support his past habits. I see a downward spiral here, that can and will affect most normal people. If you are conscious of this, and if you actively resist the affect, then you're good to go.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33741006)

In what way am I biased if I filter out all "news" pertaining to the World Cup or Lady Gaga?

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

tanujt (1909206) | about 4 years ago | (#33741546)

I suppose one could consider what Lady Gaga was doing while feeding her pony as "news" by the strictest definition of the word. If presented with a billion news stories to choose from, I'm pretty sure according to the statistics of Gaussian distribution, people at large will end up going for all of them. If someone wants to step on in the shit, knowing it's shit, I don't see a problem with it.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 years ago | (#33741024)

I intentionally visit salon.com and foxnews.com back-to-back to make sure I've covered both extremes.

I completely agree with you ( I do the same - visiting CNN, Reuters, and Fox to cover all sides). But I don't think that's what they mean by "customization". I want Google to show me World and Business news. If there's a Sports story I might care about I'll seek it out, and I don't give a crap about Entertainment, so I customized Google to lower the priority on those categories.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 4 years ago | (#33741532)

What about providing a preference of news sources? In other words, when Google shows you world news, it uses articles from sources you want to see. If there is an Obama speech that day, out of the 1300+ articles that they have links to, I'd rather see the BBC and NYTimes ones first, instead of ones from Fox or obscure sources like the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Re:I don't want any customization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741082)

Oh come on, Salon is bad, but it's not Fox News bad. If you want to be balanced, try the People's World. They're the left-wing equivalent to Fox.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#33741702)

I disagree. Fox News' tagline is "fair & balanced", while People's World about us page says "We enjoy a special relationship with the Communist Party USA, founded in 1919, and publish its news and views."

One is honest about its bias, the other isn't.

drudge (1)

HawaiianToast (618430) | about 4 years ago | (#33741240)

That's probably why I've used drudgereport.com for about the last decade as one of my first sources of daily news. This is despite thinking he and brietbart are a bunch of dirt bags. The site almost always something interesting to read between the slant.

what a distorted perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741310)

You're misguided to believe that foxnews.com and salon.com are opposite extremes, between which you will find the reasonable middle ground.

When someone tells you to jump off a 200-foot cliff, and someone else tells you not to jump of a cliff, you apparently compromise by jumping off a 100-foot cliff.

Re:what a distorted perspective... (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 years ago | (#33741536)

When someone tells you to jump off a 200-foot cliff, and someone else tells you not to jump of a cliff, you apparently compromise by jumping off a 100-foot cliff.

The goal of hearing both sides isn't to blindly pick the median; sometimes one side of the story is much more convincing than the other, other times there isn't even much overlap in what stories they choose to report on. But without variety it's hard to know you're covering all the bases, and informed enough to choose sides (or a middle position).

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

Omniscientist (806841) | about 4 years ago | (#33741462)

Although you'll get different interpretations of the same talking points by sampling polarizing US media, it's doubtful you'll get any different, tenable pieces of information from the endeavor.

I believe that the most important interpretation and view point regarding a current event at the end of the day is your own. Instead of juggling interpretations of the same data provided by journalists who are all working under the same framework, I find it more useful to juggle opposing accounts and data.

To do so you need to find sources that operate with interests that are actually opposed to those held by your average news sources. That means, if the news topic is regarding Iran, comparing what you have read in US media to articles put out by Iranian news agencies and other countries in the surrounding region.

While you may think that anything coming out of a state-run Iranian news agency is rubbish, the fact of the matter is plenty of journalists in the Western world rely on information provided by their own government in regards to matters on the world stage (not entirely of course, but a large amount of it is). The information provided will be whatever it needs to be in order to fuel their interests while (hopefully) conforming to any applicable laws, and that's it.

I like news for nerds (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33742448)

It's the stuff that matters.

Re:I don't want any customization (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 years ago | (#33742542)

Hmmm. I never thought of that. I do visit both sites, but never thought about the affect it would have on Google. I certainly don't want any algorithm deciding which news I should read. I want the full spectrum - or, as full a spectrum as I am likely to get in the United States. I also go to BBC, Al Jazeera, and more outside the US, hoping to gain more perspective on the stories that do make it into our media.

Personalisation (2, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | about 4 years ago | (#33740452)

I have no problems with personalisation, which I take (based on the article's pretty unclear description) is where the system tries to predict news stories based on what you read in the past. However, I do have problems with the personalisation algorithms used. I get useless news articles that I would never have actually read, while the system hides stories I might actually be interested in.

Until the personalisation algorithms used by news sites surpass my ability to filter news that I read, I'll probably not use any sort of personalised news site.

Re:Personalisation (1)

zmaragdus (1686342) | about 4 years ago | (#33742042)

Agreed.

A mathematical model is just that: a model. Not an exact duplicate, but an estimation, and approximation. I'll filter my news myself, thank you very much.

Professors of communications... (3, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 4 years ago | (#33740460)

Why does the title "Professor of Communications" sound like "Bullshit Artist Extraordinare" to my ears?

People love personalized news. Most folks I know get their news from Google News or other customizable news aggregators for just such a reason - it is a digest that you can edit so you are only seeing stories that matter to you. For example, I don't care about sports or entertainment. Lindsay Lohan's trials and tribulations, and big 'roided out athletes beating their mammas, are just not important. I also do not enjoy getting AP or Reuters news - neither can really be trusted after all their fuckups and propaganda plants. However I do enjoy getting news from abroad and Google lets me do this.

Professors of Communications are the people we can blame for the sorry, shabby state of the media today. Infotainment is the name of the game thanks to these bastards and their corporate overlords.

Re:Professors of communications... (3, Interesting)

Peeteriz (821290) | about 4 years ago | (#33740714)

Read TFA or even the summary - while people love personalized news, according to TFA most don't like or want to do the customization themselves - so system where you can customize/select/configure news types as you describe is inconvenient, but only a system that guesses your preferences automagically based on your clicks, behavior, whatever is seen as desirable.

And I entirely agree with the professor. I have strong preferences for various news types, but I can't be bothered to manually customize even the slashdot article categories.

Re:Professors of communications... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 4 years ago | (#33740830)

Well then you don't want personalized news. You may like the idea of it, but if you actually wanted it, you would arrange it.

I did read TFA. He's bullshitting about power users and nattering on about irrelevant crap. It's not exactly rocket science to click a few checkboxes after punching the big friendly "Customize" button.

If the news is automatically personalized, you may never find out about important stories. And if you click on a story that mildly interests you (say gays in the military) you might get nothing but gay-interest news from that point on.

Re:Professors of communications... (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 4 years ago | (#33744698)

Well then you don't want personalized news. You may like the idea of it, but if you actually wanted it, you would arrange it.

Bollocks. There is nothing contradictory about wanting something and not acting on it. I want a shorter drive to work. I also want the job I have, want my partner to have a shorter drive etc. I weigh up the options, make a value judgement and keep my current drive. None of this makes the fact I want a shorter drive to work false.

Re:Professors of communications... (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33741284)

He read and responded to the parts he felt like. Why get the whole picture when you can focus on just what you like!

Re:Professors of communications... (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 years ago | (#33740734)

Because the whole article basically can be summed up as: "THIS JUST IN: Users prefer doing less work!"

Re:Professors of communications... (1)

tanujt (1909206) | about 4 years ago | (#33741844)

One can always be aware of the fact that they're choosing history-based biased news stories, and not "general" stories (whatever that means). If you are aware of the fact that eventually you're going to end up reading about the same things everyday, and i stress IF you are aware, I don't think there's a problem with personalization. If you want variety, you can always search for it. We just get lazy after a point and fit into the comfort zone of reading about the things we see as more pertinent. It's not so much the fault of the news provider that you don't read varied stories, it's your history; it speaks for itself. So i second you, we like doing less work. But we'd rather not acknowledge that and blame the source of giving us the same ol' bullshit all the time. It's convenient.

Re:Professors of communications... (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#33742066)

Why does the title "Professor of Communications" sound like "Bullshit Artist Extraordinare" to my ears?

Because otherwise you couldn't justify your "I know better than any actual professor, never mind I've neither conducted studies nor have any statistics, I just know better regardless" rant. And without that rant, you can't get in your karma whoring slam at the media.

Re:Professors of communications... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 4 years ago | (#33743662)

Yes, let us all sing praises for the media. Where would we be without them?

I've found (1)

KillaGouge (973562) | about 4 years ago | (#33740488)

I've found the "Recommended Items" tab in Google Reader to be spot on 97% of the time. It takes time for it to get smart, but any system does.

I hate customized news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33740490)

I had to read this article, rather than troll about GNOME 2.32.0. Bastards. And I'm not just referring to the GNOME developers.

Power user? (3, Interesting)

rs1n (1867908) | about 4 years ago | (#33740504)

WTF is a "power user"? Is someone selling illicit forms of "power" and I'm just not aware of it? Is this just someone who actually does more than click on the website to read their content? What sets a power user (as far as news-reading is concerned) from your "typical" user? Sounds to me like a lot of bullsh*t buzzwords to merely say that most people will choose to read whatever they want to read -- like a real newspaper. I don't read every little article written -- just whatever catches my fancy.

Re:Power user? (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33740754)

It's really simple: a power user is someone who can figure out what the difference between user customization and user personalization is. I can't, therefore I am not a power user.

Re:Power user? (1)

Anders (395) | about 4 years ago | (#33740788)

What sets a power user (as far as news-reading is concerned) from your "typical" user?

If you prefer to customize, you are a power user. So "customization was the preferred method for power users" really says nothing.

Re:Power user? (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 4 years ago | (#33740840)

WTF is a "power user"?

A power user is somebody who has the power to power-read content powered by powerful software.

Re:Power user? (2, Funny)

holiggan (522846) | about 4 years ago | (#33741074)

Usually, for me, a "power user" is someone that doesn't go "ohhhhhhh" when I press enter, instead of clicking "ok", or when I press "tab" and the cursor "magically" changes fields...

Re:Power user? (1)

xwizbt (513040) | about 4 years ago | (#33741090)

A power user, if I may take you seriously for a moment, is generally people who populate slashdot. They are people who know more than ctrl-c and ctrl-v to copy and paste. They might be aware they're using a Macintosh, and therefore substitute a command key for the control. If you ask them to press the 'print screen' button they don't look at you blankly. They've heard of it, even if they've never seen it. If they're a Macintosh user, they'll never see it, but nevertheless they know enough to tell you they have no such thing.

To check if you're a power user is quite simple. Do you control the computer or does the computer control you? Does the machine before you bend to every whim you have, or must you constantly think before daring to press return? Do you even know what return is?

When someone says captcha, do you jump?

Enough with the jollity. Power users are people who control the computer. The computer is their tool. They make it do their whim. Ruthlessly. That's being a power user. I'm one, and I guess you are. Your Mom isn't.

Re:Power user? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33744502)

"..like a real newspaper. I don't read every little article written -- just whatever catches my fancy."

I'd prefer not to pay for the sports, faith, ads, fashion, classified and the rest of the crap.

Who would've thunk.. (3, Funny)

Mascot (120795) | about 4 years ago | (#33740526)

"Not every one is a fan of option x", "some prefer option y".

Different people prefer different things? This is truly revolutionary news. Quick, someone make more than one flavor of ice cream!

Re:Who would've thunk.. (1)

Naked Jaybird (1190469) | about 4 years ago | (#33740850)

Different people prefer different things? This is truly revolutionary news. Quick, someone make more than one flavor of ice cream!

You can have any flavor you like as long as it's vanilla.

Re:Who would've thunk.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741100)

Different people prefer different things? This is truly revolutionary news. Quick, someone make more than one flavor of ice cream!

You can have any flavor you like as long as it's vanilla.

Is it evil vanilla?

Re:Who would've thunk.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33740874)

"Not every one is a fan of option x", "some prefer option y".

Different people prefer different things? This is truly revolutionary news. Quick, someone make more than one flavor of ice cream!

Please pound that through Google's head so Google News gets a option to go back to the way it was.

Icecream (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#33740986)

Sure. How about garlic?

That was a surprising twist (1)

Punto (100573) | about 4 years ago | (#33740530)

my first thought was "of course, people don't want to have the topics of the news they read manipulated, they want to get samples from everything current!". I guess I should stop overestimating them.

News for nerds, stuff that matters. (1)

baxnick (1732500) | about 4 years ago | (#33740584)

"If you were not a power user, you wanted the system to tailor the news for you." This is why we read Slashdot, no?

News sites are about what is important to everyone (1)

yareckon (1236270) | about 4 years ago | (#33740608)

I read the news to know what is news as much as to know what is going on.

If I am reading what someone / a recommendation engine thinks I want to see, it defeats the purpose of feeling out the pulse of the public. If I want something different, something tailored, I will seek it out by joining a community such as slashdot, identi.ca or some other community that curates information for me. I go to the Nytimes, CNN and to google news to see the IE6 / windows 98 version of the news, so I can tell what the hell my silly relatives are seeing. Stop trying to talk to me, talk to the frigging public, don't worry I will get the message.

I would prefer an exclusion filter (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 4 years ago | (#33740656)

Give me everything according to what's currently generally newsworthy

Except, leave out:

- Celebrity, Paris Hilton (the person, not the building)

- American Football, Basketball, Baseball, Car Racing

Re:I would prefer an exclusion filter (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33740726)

Paris Hilton (the person, not the building)

Yeah. I hear the building is really hard to get into.

Customization/Personalization := Tracking (1)

wowbagger (69688) | about 4 years ago | (#33740658)

I don't use any of the customization or personalization features of the news sites I visit, simply because to do so requires me to be tracked by the site, and I don't wish to provide ANY site with any more data about me than I must.

Re:Customization/Personalization := Tracking (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#33741806)

You're already telling them what you like by clicking on the news you find interesting. And for "personalization" as defined by the article, that's all they need.

one problem with online news (3, Insightful)

sirinek (41507) | about 4 years ago | (#33740660)

I'd be pleased just to get rid of all the anonymous commenting on most news sites. The level of nastiness leveled by pretty much anyone commenting on sites like Yahoo News is just mindblowing. Anonymous web commenting has gotten so out of hand, someone even made a firefox plugin to filter it! [mozilla.org]

Re:one problem with online news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33740854)

I'd be pleased just to get rid of all the anonymous commenting on most news sites. The level of nastiness leveled by pretty much anyone commenting on sites like Yahoo News is just mindblowing. Anonymous web commenting has gotten so out of hand, someone even made a firefox plugin to filter it! [mozilla.org]

You're wrong because you're ugly!

Re:one problem with online news (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 years ago | (#33740872)

Anonymous web commenting has gotten so out of hand, someone even made a firefox plugin to filter it!

Such irony that the comments section for that plugin are full of spam.
Perhaps the plugin author doesn't know it's there because his filter is on.

Re:one problem with online news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33740916)

Anonymous web commenting has gotten so out of hand

You're damn right it has!

They're the most honest comments. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741656)

The anonymous comments are usually the most honest, and truly reflect what the poster is thinking, even if the views expressed may hurt your fragile emotions.

It makes perfect sense why people might get "nasty" regarding certain topics. In such cases, there's usually a serious problem at hand.

Take software developed in India, for example. When that topic comes up here, you'll probably see comments you consider "nasty", posted by "Anonymous Cowards". If you actually bothered to listen to what was being said, you'd understand the very real problem of Indian-developed software being extremely shitty.

Re:They're the most honest comments. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 4 years ago | (#33746688)

Take software developed in India, for example. When that topic comes up here, you'll probably see comments you consider "nasty", posted by "Anonymous Cowards". If you actually bothered to listen to what was being said, you'd understand the very real problem of Indian-developed software being extremely shitty.

The Invisible Hand will sort everything out, do not worry child.

Re:one problem with online news (0, Redundant)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 years ago | (#33744532)

Anonymous?

I read a local newspaper where a non-anonymous guy gives his worthless comment on each and every article they post. I might install Greasemonkey just to filter out that moron.

Or maybe a time-of-importance ranking (2, Interesting)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 4 years ago | (#33740744)

First, give me stuff that will affect all of humanity for a time period of 50 years or more,

then, stuff that affects everyone everywhere for about 5 to 10 years

1-2 years

then getting more local (my nation or region, my city or local region)

I should be able to flip which is more important, the effect-time or the geographic scale,
and be able to flip the order I care more about in terms of local, state, national, regional, global

Re:Or maybe a time-of-importance ranking (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 4 years ago | (#33741304)

when you find this please let me know so i can order the same, in reverse

Re:Or maybe a time-of-importance ranking (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about 4 years ago | (#33741322)

This is the best ranking method I have ever encountered - I would subscribe to your site in a second, and never use any other.

Kudos!

Laziness (1)

Anomalyx (1731404) | about 4 years ago | (#33740752)

What I got from this is that people DO like customized news, but they are too lazy to mess with settings or subscribe to rss feeds on their own. They want the system to decide, based on viewing history, what the user is interested in. Laziness at its finest.

Re:Laziness (1)

Geek_Cop (930002) | about 4 years ago | (#33740860)

Let the sheeple be sheeple, but first figure out how to bottle it up and make money off of them!

I prefer customization vs personalization (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 4 years ago | (#33740756)

Seems that personalization uses some sort of Bayes slope and eventually all the "choices" that I make on what to read ends up in the Entertainment section somewhere because I clicked on a link for Linux kernel and because Lady Gaga wore a carmine fez one day, my news feed starts showing content related to Twilight premieres in France.

I have keywords ("camping hiking" "restaurant review broward" "heather graham") because that's the only news I care about. So far so good...

Filtering (1)

Geek_Cop (930002) | about 4 years ago | (#33740852)

Slashdot is about the only news I will read anymore because it has a minimal amount of political and entertainment news, the two things I could really care less about, and the comments I find are very entertaining. I had set Google News, at one point, as my home page but not being able to remove categories is a very big negative. Not all of us care to feel manipulated by article titles written to inspire hatred, greed and ignorance. So now I bounce back and forth between Slashdot and HappyNews.com lol Ahhh yes, ignorance, to a point, is bliss!!

Re:Filtering (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#33741854)

I could really care less about

Must... resist..!

I'm not fond of the idea.... (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 years ago | (#33741002)

I don't think I like the idea of computerized customization of what news I see. I think for real news, the question shouldn't be "is this a topic I'm already interested in?" because maybe you'd be interested if someone informed you about it. The real question is, "Is this important?" I don't see myself ever trusting a computer very far in determining what's important.

Of course, the problem is that the people at news organizations are also doing a terrible job of determining what's important. News organizations are focused on things like Farmville, Lindsay Lohan, the newest viral video to become a big hit, and the latest Twitter buzz. Honestly, even if you do care about those things, you probably shouldn't.

Not that they should prevent you from learning about these things, or even completely fail to cover them, but I feel like media outlets are really failing to keep a sense of priority and a sense of perspective.

mod Down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741066)

has steadily JOIN ThE GNAA!!

Not a fan of customized news (1)

Flector (1702640) | about 4 years ago | (#33741104)

Essentially, everything I'm really interested in, I will already be aware of on a given day, as I have numerous sources that are checked frequently. What I want to know as a news consumer is what the broad spectrum of new readers knows. That said, I can certainly appreciate that people who are interested in (for example) Britney Spears need a place to get constantly updated linkage to that topic.

Polarization (4, Interesting)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 4 years ago | (#33741124)

I think having the system automatically personalize your news based on prior viewing history is bad for society. Right now in both Canada and the U.S.A. there is increasingly extreme polarization between conservatives and liberal (R versus D in the 'States). Granted people view what is of interest to them but when they are served ONLY news pages based on the articles they normally view, they never get the chance to see a different view point. Sure they can search for it if they want, but out of sight generally means out of mind. This can only lead to increasing polarization.

I believe one of the insidious dangers of the web is that it allows people to not only associate with those of like ideas, but to focus those ideas/ideals. science fiction author Gordon R. Dickson explored this idea in his Dorsai books. His idea was that if man were to be able to migrate to different star systems, those with like minds would choose to locate together. In his books, there ended up being planets of mostly agnostic scientists, mostly philosophers, religious fanatics, etc. And all with strong feelings towards their own doctrines. As they isolate themselves, the stronger their ideologies become. I see the internet facilitating this on our one and only planet and within countries, and often pan-nationally. People with like interests form groups on the internet, associate with proportionally more people in those groups on the internet, and become very entrenched in those ideas (i.e. closely interact proportionally more with internet friends than than they would with real people they meet in the 'real world') . Before the internet we had no choice but to interact only with real people who generally had a wider range of ideas and ideals.

While the internet is generally a good thing, I think the biggest danger of it is the polarization of society. Helping people to only see one view point is only contributing to this negative aspect. I wonder if it would help to instead of only choosing similar news viewpoints to what people normally look at, to make sure the system automatically presents at least a few news stories reflecting something different. i.e. Provide choices of what people generally view, but always show a few alternatives so that perhaps they might choose them occasionally and the system doesn't spiral the viewer into say radical right or radical left wing only ideologies in the news that is presented to them.

Re:Polarization (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 years ago | (#33742276)

Picking the news outlet you agree with is a sure way of getting a slanted view of the world. Here's a story that made the rounds a couple of days ago, Obama answering the question about his faith. See if you can pick the outlet from the way they present the story. Choices (not in order are): AP, Fox, NPR, USAToday, CNN, US News & World Report

Outlet #1: These guys leave no doubt what they want you to think. "Christian Bona Fides"?

A woman threw the president a slow-pitch of a question — "Why are you a Christian? she asked.

That allowed Obama to once again state his Christian bona fides in an attempt to beat back the Doubting Thomases, including those who insist he's a Muslim

Outlet #2: This one seems unbiased to me...

An event billed as a discussion on the economy turned personal Tuesday when a woman asked President Barack Obama about his Christian faith and views on abortion.

Outlet #3: More opinion than news here...

Should Barack Obama turn out to be a one-term president, students of his presidency who attempt to explain his fate will cite high among their reasons for the president’s downfall his insistence on being too clever by a half. No better example of this process at work could be found than in Obama’s answer yesterday to the obviously planted question, “Why are you a Christian?”

Outlet #4: Again, this one seems unbiased...

Obama talked about his beliefs when he was asked, "Why are you a Christian." The question was posed by a woman at a backyard conversation here, part of a series of meetings Obama is holding to talk informally with Americans.

Outlet #5: Stating the facts here too...

Asked about his spiritual beliefs by a local woman during a question and answer session with the crowd, the president said the church came "later in life."

Outlet #6: Another place with a subliminal message for you. Only Obama knows for sure if they are "false claims", but these guys want to be sure you think they are.

Why are you a Christian?

What about abortion?

"I'm a Christian by choice," replied Obama, who has spent a good part of his public life fending off false claims he is a Muslim.

Outlets

1) NPR

2) CNN

3) US News & World Report

4) AP

5) Fox

6) USAToday

Re:Polarization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33742310)

I believe one of the insidious dangers of the web is that it allows people to not only associate with those of like ideas, but to focus those ideas/ideals.

That's an interesting belief. To some of us freedom of association, thought and speech are not insidious dangers but essential liberties. People having the ability to pursue strong beliefs in wrong ideas is by far preferable than whatever scheme of thought control would be necessary to prevent that.

Before the internet we had no choice but to interact only with real people who generally had a wider range of ideas and ideals.

You've got to be kidding me? It's so funny that you would post this on slashdot, which is a cacophony of different people, ideas and beliefs. I doubt very much I could find such a concentration of different people in any other way.

Re:Polarization (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 4 years ago | (#33742520)

You must be young. When you've been around for a while, you've already heard all those "other points of view". I certainly have, and I can tell you that seeing them is now little more than annoying. People would call it being "close-minded", which really just means "someone whose brain we can't easily stuff with our opinions". In reality it's just a difference in the core values; there is nothing you can say to change my opinion because my opinion is based on what I deeply believe is right. The polarization comes from the fact that different people have different values, and thus a different, sometimes completely opposite, idea of what is right and what is wrong. You can't change that abour yourself short of suicide. These are the things that form the core of your character, that define who you are. You could present your "point of view" all you want; that will change nothing. I already know what it is, and I already know that you think it's right and I think it's wrong, and I know there is absolutely no way to resolve this difference. As a result, I prefer to avoid articles with a slant opposite to mine; reading them simply goads my mind into repeating the same old tired arguments on why the author is an idiot. Why would I want to constantly subject myself to that? As far as I am concerned, the issue is closed; if you want, we can vote on it and let the democracy decide what the country should do.

Re:Polarization (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 4 years ago | (#33744014)

repeating the same old tired arguments on why the author is an idiot

I wouldn't call myself old, but I think young folks wouldn't call me young. I watched the moon landings on TV when I was really young... give you an idea?

Granted there are times when we all encounter opposing points of view and have this feeling. It is just plain sad when that is all a person believes whenever they see an opposing opinion. Generally I believe that means that person is either incapable of or will have a great deal of difficulty learning anything new; mainly because I think in this case the mind really is like a muscle: if it can no longer flex, it isn't really good for much. Rene Descarte said that if you are about to learn a subject of which you know a little, to try to pretend you don't know the subject at all. Otherwise the tendency is to miss many specific things you really didn't know because you wanted to skip over general subjects that you thought you knew. That requires mental flexibility. Otherwise this leads to ignorance which leads to hard times for a country. And BTW, I'm not saying anything about you. Being willing to wade through slashdot comments means you have to be open minded at least a bit. (But I also believe Slashdot is one of those rare internet forums where (occasionally almost violently) divergent thinkers come together. But I think that means we have to have at least something in common to keep coming back... kind of like a bunch of golfers...). ;-)

Now I know that I can generally hold strong opinions, however knowing that I can be stubborn I sometimes try to take a second look at things to make sure that I was correct in my viewpoint/assumptions and not just being stupidly stubborn. I don't always succeed in doing this, but I think it helps. I think that sometimes one side or the other won't have anything positive to offer (e.g. I can't find anything good to say about Pol Pot or Hitler), but generally either side of a position generally will have a few things positive that you can say about them, regardless of your position. I will still pick one side over another however. I know there are those who don't believe this as evidenced by them being so polar they never have one good thing to say about those with different viewpoints (e.g. I have never heard Rush Limbaugh say anything good about the democrats). These are the people that that will induce me to say "idiot". I feel they invalidate their arguments by being so closed minded they almost literally will cut off their nose to spite their face (i.e. they will ignore good ideas just because they come from the other camp while convincing themselves they were bad ideas just because they were from the other camp). But I also believe that makes them not really intelligent enough to bother with too... this is where I admit I am closed minded. :-) . Cheers.

Re:Polarization (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 4 years ago | (#33746050)

You are missing the point. Seeing other people's opinions does not change my mind, and neither should they change yours. A logical mind bases its opinions on facts, not on what other people think. Once you have the facts you need, you can form an opinion. From that point on, other people's opinions are either right (if they agree with yours) or wrong (if they don't). This is not going to change unless you get new information that invalidates your prior arguments. If the subject is important to you and you have searched for enough information before making your decision, this event is highly unlikely, and rereading other people's opinions is a waste of time. Your disagreements are based not on what they know, but on their moral code, and that is not reconcilable.

Re:Polarization (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 4 years ago | (#33746872)

Say what you like about slashdot, but I don't think there's any danger that all the people posting here share the same values and beliefs.

Look at a thread which includes any of the following and you will see diametrically opposed opinions: gun control, Christianity, copyright law, Apple Computers, abortion, health care, any programming language (except COBOL, which is obviously evil), law and order, free speech, Linux (kidding, only one acceptable attitude here), France and evolution.

Stupid. (1)

pclminion (145572) | about 4 years ago | (#33741164)

Reading only what you want to read is a good road to go down to eventually become a closed-minded bigot. It used to be you had to work hard to avoid exposing yourself to facts you don't like, but these days we have computers that will do that for you. Cognitive dissonance will be rendered a thing of the past, so that we may more easily group ourselves into extremist factions and ignore reality. It's all so wonderfully efficient.

Re:Stupid. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 4 years ago | (#33742072)

Sure if you filter on the bias of the author - which is far more likely to be done without a filter.

But if I decide I don't want to see articles about "The Kardasians" but I do want to see articles about "restaurants in Manhattan" and "the economy" and about "Federal politics", how is that going to going to turn me into a closed-minded bigot.

Yes a netflix style "you liked these articles so you'll like these" has that potential but simple category filters is a different ball game. Am I closed-minded bigot because I don't read the Sports section of the newspaper, because I don't read the Entertainment section, because I don't read the Local Happinings section?

If you had to wade through *every* article that google news had indexed then I'm sure everyone would give up and go back to just reading whichever primary sources they prefer. Likely ending up choosing ones that you agree with and hence being more likely to be closed-minded.

Of course some topics have built in bias, "Obama birth certificate" or "Jews did 9/11" for example.

Story title written by total idiot - did not rtfa (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741214)

"you wanted the system to tailor the news for you"

End of story. Holy shit who would have guessed.

iGoogle vs Google News (1)

jefu (53450) | about 4 years ago | (#33741416)

I have an iGoogle page with a number (25 at the moment) of selected RSS feeds in boxes (but no hamster gadget). Several of these are news feeds (general news, NY Times, BBC, Al Jazeera), some are tech (slashdot...), others are just interesting stuff (metafilter...). I guess this is customization (as opposed to personalization) and it works for me.

I used to have Google News open more or less permanently in a tab, but since their new look this summer, it has become less than useful for me and I don't think I've looked at it more than twice since they changed it (once was just now to see if it had become any better). I suspect this was personalization. (Well and twittization with the "popular" cruft and adization with the "spotlight" cruft.) To echo that New Yorker cartoon - "I say it's spinach and I say to hell with it."

Fox News Channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33741672)

I beg to differ; millions love having customized facts!

they're just doing it wrong (3, Interesting)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 4 years ago | (#33741856)

Why make people chose what they want when it would work better the other way round? Just give us a block feature that works like Facebook - mouse over an article and an X appears over a corner, and when you click on it you'd get options like 'Hide this article', 'Hide this author', 'Hide stories about football', 'Hide stories about sports'. No longer seeing crap I will never be interested in, yet not narrowing content to just what I pick, that would make me a pretty happy reader.

Re:they're just doing it wrong (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 4 years ago | (#33743796)

Pandora needs that option, too.

You hear that, Pandora? Just because someone likes Heavy Metal doesn't mean they want some double-digit IQ primate howling in their ears about resurrecting Hitler!

 

Insert obligatory privacy warning here (1)

zmaragdus (1686342) | about 4 years ago | (#33742080)

See title.

I will admit, though, as far as all of the things ISPs and other entities track, news preferences are noticeably lower on the chart. Still...

digg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33742348)

digg are you listening?

Uh, "most people" are a-holes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33742780)

I'm just sayin'

Google only does X number of topics (1)

dogzdik (1700552) | about 4 years ago | (#33744546)

Then it runs out.... = shit.

. I want 20 subjects for my customised news, not 5.

Speak for yourself (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 4 years ago | (#33745418)

I dumped Google News when every story even tangentially related to US politics began to sport a snarky, propagandistic headlines provided by Fox News or their related ilk. But give me the option to completely weed out the scumbag sources of 'news', and I'm back in a heartbeat.
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