Last week’s Berkman Thursday Blog Group was an update on Babbledog – Jessica, one of the folks who does QA/testing on the site, walked us through the existing features and some stuff that’s still in alpha/beta phase.

It’s an interesting site – a cross between Digg or Reddit (in that you can post new stories/topics which folks can vote up or down) but also a kind of recommendations engine which pulls in lots of back end feeds and suggests stories to you based on your expressed preferences (answers to a quiz about what you are and are not interested in) as well as your implicit preferences (what you post, read, comment on, etc).

Babbledog\'s Interests Quiz

Down the left column, to the side of the river of stories, is the current site activity – almost like a live IM chat room discussion across different threads. They’ve also got stickers, which are badges you create and wear on your profile, to show the things you’re interested in. (You can see my profile and few stickers I created).

Once you create a new post, a discussion thread gets created around it. Here’s an example where I posted about ICanHasHotDog, the new LOLDogs site from the makers of ICanHasCheezburger:

LOLDogs discussion at Babbledog

I like that threads and users have unique urls, though they are a bit obfuscated – will I ever remember that is my profile, rather than something like ?

They also don’t yet have OpenID, so you’ll have to create another username/password combo. They do link, in the user’s profile, to other profiles (free form – you enter URLs) but they are marked rel=”nofollow” rather than with XFN notation like rel=”me”

There doesn’t seem to yet be a way to see other users who are “wearing” the same stickers as you – in other words, a kind of “groups” function which might be valuable.

We also spent some time talking about the “progress percentages” Babbledog uses, as in this screenshot:


I love the idea of people earning points over time for activity on a site – but I have to say as a former geeky honors student (now just a professional geek) I found it rather disheartening to still be at <25% complete. That's like an F-minus. At least when LinkedIn tells you your profile is 50% complete there is a clear set of steps for how to get to 100%. Maybe the concept is just too mixed - there is some set of tasks which add up to a 100% complete profile, then there is some running total "activity points" you earn on the site, and a rank which goes with those points. That way I could feel ok with my 100% complete profile and a low standing in the overall activity ranking - otherwise it feels a bit like a disincentive. Who wants to log in to a site which will keep telling them they are nearly 80% incomplete?


  1. Hello John,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Babbledog! I circulated your blog post among the Babbledog team. You’ve given us a lot of excellent feedback.

    Since the list of people wearing a sticker on a stickers page (like this vegan sticker) doesn’t seem to work for you, can you please elaborate on what you’d rather see?



  2. Actually that list is what I was looking for – not sure how I missed it – maybe the design element doesn’t make it clear enough, or I just wasn’t looking closely enough.

    Seems to me that the list sometimes doesn’t load – called in later through an ajax call or something? If I go to my profile and then click on the sticker the sticker’s page loads but no list of users is present. If I just refresh the page then the list loads.

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