Product Feature: Feed Sorting

There are thousands of awesome, deep discussions happening on Packback every day, but navigating and finding all of those great discussions used to be a challenge. At Packback, we have several ways to sort and order questions so users can easily find the best, most thought-provoking content!

On a typical discussion board, new posts go to the top of the feed, so a great post would only be seen by students who happened to be online while the post was still at the top of the feed.

On Packback, students can sort the feed by two categories:

  1. Hot– a proprietary sorting algorithm that sorts posts by a combination of their activity, quality and freshness.
  2. Undiscovered– a proprietary sorting algorithm that helps students discover the highest quality posts that do not have replies.

Instructors and TAs also have additional ways to sort the feed (by Activity, Quality and Top Sparked), to have more transparency and control over what is happening in their communities.

Feature In Action: Sort by “Hot”

Sorting by “Hot” will order all questions in the feed or all responses on a question by an algorithm that takes into account the activity, quality and freshness of each post.

This will allow students to have a fresh and recent feed that shows them the most interesting, active and high-quality posts. This feature also ensures that the reading and discussion experience is equally valuable for all students, regardless of when they log in.

Without the feed sorting feature, students who logged in days before the deadline would see the best quality content, because posts made earlier in the week had more time to accrue responses and develop into robust discussions. The new “Hot” feature helps to account for this effect and balance the experience across the week!

Feature In Action: Sort by “Undiscovered”

Sorting by “Undiscovered” allows students to discover the highest quality, recent posts that have not yet received any replies.

When sorting questions, any question that has not received any response will appear, with the highest quality on top. When sorting responses on a question, any response that has not yet been critically debated will appear, sorted by their quality. This will help ensure that students who write high-quality, “tough-to-answer” questions have a higher likelihood of receiving a response.

Additional Sorting Options for Instructors and TAs

Instructors and TAs have access to the same sorting options as students, plus three additional options:

  • Active: Sort by most responses
  • Quality: Sort by highest curiosity score
  • Top: Sort by highest sparked posts

Improving discussion experience by sorting the feed

These options for sorting questions and responses on Packback will enable deeper discussions to develop before the question is pushed out of the feed by more recent posts. Sorting by “Hot” and “Undiscovered” will help deliver a more consistent experience regardless of what time a student logs in, and help them discover the most interesting, engaging discussions on Packback. Instructors and TAs can leverage all of the new sorting parameters to get a complete picture of the health of their community, select great questions to use for discussion in class, and more!

The Feed Sorting feature helps to reinforce Packback’s product objective of inspiring students’ curiosity around the subject matter of the course, by providing a feed that is full of new, interesting, high-quality discussions.


Want to see a live Packback community and learn how you can increase student engagement and critical thinking in your course?