Field of Science

Lab Notebook: Social Networking

The problem with websites is they quickly become obsolete. A few years ago, I updated the website to make it easier to share pages, adding buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and Reddit. A little while ago, I noticed that the Digg button wasn't working anymore. Then the Twitter button disappeared. 

I just updated the website, switching from native buttons for social networking systems to ShareThis. ShareThis has the advantage of incorporating every social networking system you've heard of and a bunch you haven't heard of (I've put Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and email up front, but by clicking on the ShareThis button, users can choose from dozens of networks). 

Fieldofscience (the network this blog is a part of) has been using ShareThis for a couple years. However, it went through several periods where it wasn't working. Periodically, it would have memory failures, and posts that had once had dozens of likes suddenly went to zero. But lately it seems much more stable, so I'm trying it out.

The disadvantage is that every page says that it hasn't been liked by anybody, which isn't great advertising for the website. (*UPDATE* We've got a few shares now on some of the pages.) I hope this changes quickly.

The $64,000 question is, of course, whether this update changes the overall amount of traffic to the website. It's been averaging around 2,000 visitors/month for a couple years now. That's very respectable for a research website. However, many of the experiments now running (like the Mind Reading Quotient and Finding Explanations) require large numbers of participants, and they would really benefit from an uptick in traffic.

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