[Theforum] +1/-1 Author Info Blocks

Madhu Menon webguru at vsnl.net
Mon Dec 10 09:23:30 CST 2001


I disagree with some of your arguments.

At 12:23 PM 12/10/2001, .jeff typed these words:
>but if
>i'm reading an article from an author that hasn't logged in in over a year,
>i'm questioning him immediately.  for example, why hasn't he logged in since
>a few days after his only article was published?

And why would you do that? That's not a logical conclusion at all. The 
usefulness of an article should be its relevance, not when the person who 
wrote it logged in last.

Let me present Exhibit A:

Article name: Your clients need a Content Management System
Author: Martin Burns
Article date: 2 March 2001... uh oh, no, it's 3 February 2001. Damn date 
format! ;)
Article URL: http://test.evolt.org/article/themadman/20/5127/index.html

This article is almost a year old. What if Martin hadn't logged in ever 
again after writing this? Are you going to "question it immediately" just 
because of that? Maybe he changed usernames, maybe he doesn't check evolt 
any more because he doesn't find it interesting. But how does all this 
affect the quality of the article? Does it rust unless its author logs in 
periodically? Do we need to apply oil regularly so that it doesn't creak ;)

No, this article on why you need a CMS is a "golden" article that's going 
to live a long life unless something out there in the Internet world 
changes drastically. If Martin never ever logged in after writing that 
excellent article, does that immediately diminish its value? Not in my book.

The only test of relevance is:

a) Is it relevant? (duh!)

How do I do that? One simple way is to look at the date of the *article* 
itself. This isn't 100% reliable, but it's certainly more reliable than 
checking the author's last login date.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the prosecution presents Exhibit B:

(to maintain the appearance of fairness, I'm going to use one of Martin's 
articles again. Sorry, old chap ;)

Article name: Browser testing list
Author: Martin Burns
Article date: 11 April 1999... uh oh, no, it's 04 November 1999. Damn date 
format! ;)
Article URL: http://test.evolt.org/article/themadman/20/5127/index.html

OK, let's see. This author has clearly logged in recently (08 December 
2001, in fact.)
Aha, so you no longer "question it immediately".

But what's this? Martin's missed out on Netscape 6.x, Opera 6.0 and IE 6.0! 
How useful or relevant is this article if the goofy author missed out on 
the most recent mainstream browsers out there?

But hey, he logged in recently, so you don't question its relevance.

I, however, would simply look at the date of the article and say, "It's not 
poor Martin's fault. He wrote the article towards the end of 1999, over two 
years ago. None of those browsers had been released at the time."

I've just presented cases that demonstrate how the "last login" date 
doesn't tell us anything reliable about the article being *read*. The best 
way to check the article's age is to look at the date it was written 
(which, incidentally, is rather obscure at the moment.)

Anyone have comments? Agree? Disagree? Want to postpone this discussion 
till later?

>without seeing last login i can't know the relevance of the articles written
>stat.  if i can see it, it allows me to make an assumption about how new
>some of those articles written might be.  again, using the example of the

I don't see how this works either.

joeuser last logged in: 08 December
Last article written: 05 June 2001.
Last article written before that: 21 August 1999.
Total number of articles written: 14

I'm currently reading joeuser's latest article. How are you deducing that 
his other 13 articles are recent? The one before the one I'm currently 
reading is two years old!



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Madhu Menon
User Experience Consultant
e-mail: webguru at vsnl.net

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