Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Boston.com shenanigans

After posting about what I think is partisan gaming on boston.com's "most popular stories" rankings, I've been keeping an eye on the list. It looks like supporters of both campaigns (or maybe the campaigns themselves) are playing with this list

There are a couple of things that make me think things are not occuring organically:

1. These top stories are listed according to e-mailed recommendations made within the last hour
2. The top stories all ran days earlier

Here's a screenshot of the top rankings at about 10 a.m. this morning:

The top story? It's LaGuer, which originally ran Oct. 4! All of a sudden, 262 people saw this and had to recommend it to their friend? Three weeks later? Same thing with the second story, which is about Patrick donating money towards a DNA test for LaGuer, which ran Oct. 5.

Remember, today's Oct. 24.

It doesn't just go one way, though, as a friend pointed out to me. A lot of recent "top stories" on boston.com have been about women's groups endorsing Patrick, Criminologists hating on Healey, and lawyers defending Patrick.

So you tell me: How do these weeks-old stories all of a sudden become super popular? Is it that hard to imagine both campaigns putting an intern in front of a computer to send out recommendations all day and keep stories up in the mix?

To test my hypothesis further, I just e-mailed a story (Girls Soccer Stars!) to five people at once, and it showed up on the list as one recommendation. So when we talk about 262 recommendations, that's 262 times people looked at the article, clicked on the "e-mail to a friend" link, and sent the article to a buddy. So 262 people in the past hour decided to e-mail out a three-week old story that's dominated the headlines and commercials for nearly a month? C'mon now.


Gienna said...

I wonder what would happen if you emailed a story to yourself 262 times. Would it show up as 262 recommendations? Would Boston.com be able to tell you'd done this?

Also, you notice the strangest things.

thesouthender said...

Boston.com is the worst city site I've ever seen. In order to find a movie or restaurant, you have to go through a zillion clicks. Then, a screen pops up asking you to sign in or register. Then once you get into the subject that you have requested, you find that the listings (restaurants, galleries, etc.) are so old that the venues don't even exist any longer. Plus, even the front page is hard to read due to the myriad advertisments mixed in.