Update: I've made a decision on the new algorithm and it's pretty simple. It will be the latest updated stories at the top but only for stories with five subscribers or greater. Just five people have to think your story is worth following to get included into the Trending section. Since the goal was to ensure that spam stories and nonsense stories don't make it to the front page and those stories don't normally get subscribers, this should have the desired effect while still allowing the majority of people to get their stories on the front page. I think I got too hung up on using the most popular algorithms other sites are using when I should've just made one more appropriate for AFF. I think this change should satisfy most of you.
As for the previous "popular today" algorithm, I still think that has value in providing quality content. I'll keep that as one of the options under the Popular section.
I'm sure all of you have crossed into the new year already (unless of course you're going by Chinese New Year) so I can confidently say Happy New Year to all of you.
The topic of discussion today is what to do with the front page trending stories algorithm. The reason that the front page stories was changed from latest updated to a more customized algorithm is all due to spam and test or nonsense stories. Especially in the case of spam stories unrelated to fanfiction that advertise handbags and shoes for money, those used to end up blanketing the frontpage for hours until a new antispam measure is created against it. Other times, nonsense stories make it to the front page just wasting space.
The way the trending stories algorithm currently works is that the stories with the highest number of votes within a four hour timeframe will be displayed in the order of highest votes during that time period until the next four hour interval occurs when the front page is wiped for a new set of stories. For example, in the beginning of a four hour time interval, every story starts off with internal zero votes. If someone votes for a story, that gets that story to the front page unless another story gets more votes within that time period. At the end of the four hour time interval, every story starts from zero again. Note that even stories with no subscribers, no comments, and no views can get to the front page as long as someone votes it up. The rationale for this approach is that most people wouldn't vote up spam or nonsense stories so those should never make it to the front page no matter how much a bot tries to spam the site with handbag ads. It also gives the added bonus that the story is probably interesting if someone liked it enough to vote for it and it should be fitting for the front page.
The problem is that this approach is pretty easy to cheat if you know what you're doing and you could be on the front page for days with a little patience and no life. I need a more robust approach that can't be cheated so easily.
So the question is what kind of stories do you think deserve to be on the front page? What factors in a story are important to you? Keep in mind that the approach must take into account that spam and nonsense stories cannot make it to the front page and the front page must also change often enough to keep it interesting. I welcome your suggestions in the comments.