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An Improved Reporter: Herdict Under the Hood


The other night we released a less obvious, but still significant change to the site: a new algorithm for our Reporter.  In our previous update we revamped the homepage in order to emphasize reporting sites.  This current change, while more subtle, is also about improving the reporting of sites.

Most of our users provide data on accessible and inaccessible sites through the Reporter.  The Reporter provides an easy-to-use way to test sites.  It loads a site in the bottom pane of the page and prompts the user to say whether that site is accessible or not.  After the user selects their answer, the Reporter automatically loads the next site in the queue.

Prior to today, the sites that appeared in the Reporter were set according to a series of assumptions we made when Herdict was first starting, which largely proved to be untrue.  The result was that the queue was entirely set by recently reported sites and sites that we selected.  This led to a rather flat set of sites that was highly influenced by recently reported sites, regardless of their importance or inaccessibility.

Our new Reporter tries to address these problems.  Sites for the new Reporter are picked from a more diverse, and hopefully more interesting, pool of sites.  Sites will be picked in the following manner:

33% will be from “popular” sites, which will be selected based upon sites Herdict identifies as important, sites with global high-traffic, and sites with high traffic in the user’s country.

33% will be recently reported inaccessible sites, both globally and from the user’s country.

20% will be sites that we wanted tested in the user’s country.

14% will be drawn randomly from those sites that have previously been reported both globally and in the user’s country, but have not been reported recently.

We believe that this new algorithm will provide a more useful set of sites for our users.  As new features are added to Herdict in the coming months, we will be further tweaking the Reporter to provide an even better tailored list of sites.  This is a work in progress; any thoughts you have on ways to improve the Reporter are greatly appreciated!


About the Author: Ryan Budish

Ryan Budish is a fellow at the Berkman Center and the Director of Herdict, which uses crowdsourcing to present a real-time view of Internet accessibility around the world. Ryan received his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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