Graphs: Educational and Fun!
A little over a week ago I was browsing through one of my new favorite sites for inspiration Consumating.com and had a great idea for Pligg, “let’s use graphs”! Oh sure, when you first think of a graph you immediately compare it to your TI-83 calculator and high school Algebra class. But graphs are some really great ways to display data in a very informative and easy to see say. Many web site statistic scripts like Google’s Analytics program (Free) and Mint ($30/domain) use graphs to display large amounts of data in easy to interpret ways. The reason they do this is because graphs are excellent ways to determine purportions and people tend to like pictures better than words. Pictures help describe the overall idea of something very fast, rather than reading and interpreting numbers from text.
Back on to my original mention of Consumating… I won’t go into detail about Consumating.com because the site deserves an entire blog post about what it is and all of the great ideas that they have come up with. The basic idea of the site is for social networking nerds seeking other nerds to date. The site however isn’t purely driven by the typical dating site profiles and match-making software. It rather lets users answer from a list of whacky questions (one new question each week) and other users rate that users with a thumb up or down depending on their answers. The answers are also able to get a thumbs up or down, for every thumbs up you get 2 points and for each thumbs down you lose 1 point. This then ranks you on the site and the basic goal is to become the most popular person. My favorite feature is their Popularity tab, which shows you how popular you are and graphs out how people have been voting for you recently.
Wouldn’t it be great if Pligg used graphs to display data for both stories and profiles? Imagine being able to see the voting pattern for an article to help detect spammed articles, or to watch the popularity of an article rise and fall. Or imagine being able to show how popular or active a user is on their profile. By putting these types of graphs onto user profiles it gives them an incentive to use the site more. AshDigg pointed me to an article about CSS for Bars and Graphs when I mentioned this idea to him a week ago. The tough part is figuring out what data we need to start building into Pligg so that later down the road we can extract the data for things like this.