So I understand the use of apples in posts or threads. But what's the meaning of the apples on main forum pages, or on the Best Topics page? I was assuming that the number of apples was the total number of apples the thread (or posts within the thread) had earned. But when I've clicked through to see what posts earned apples, I haven't found nearly as many apples listed within the thread as it claims on the main page.
One of the more obvious examples: There is a post on the Best Topics list titled "Rainwater collection to supplement public water." On the screenshot below, you can see that it has 1 reply and claims to have 155 apples. Clicking through to view the thread, neither post received any apples (it's a fairly basic thread, so I don't find that too surprising).
Another example: There is a post from Dec 30 in "Tinkering with this site" titled "CSRF error". The forum page says it has 2 replies and 2 apples. Looking on the actual thread, I only see 1 apple received.
I've heard mention of a thread (rather than a specific post) earning apples, but I haven't actually seen that happen. And I doubt the rainwater collection thread garnered 155 apples, at least not the type of apple I'm familiar with.
I think that the apples are calculated based on some sort of algorithm based on how many thumbs up the posts in a thread has, as well as the number of apples. I think, though, that the algorithm might malfunction at times, which would make sense for a thread like rainwater catchment...
Or, maybe, perhaps, it's based on how many views a thread has had? For instance, that Rainwater Collection thread has "has been viewed 155959 times." That's pretty similar to 155, if you just move the decimal over three spaces. Looking at other threads, though, I see that the apples don't correlate so well to the views, often having double the amount. But, those threads also have a lot more thumbs up and apples than the Rainwater Collection one, so maybe it's a combination of views, apples, and thumbs up that that thread has?
Hmmm, looking at the https://permies.com/t/7181/permaculture/Permaculture-Magazine thread, I see it has 272 apples, and been viewed 272,431 times. There are no apples, only a few thumbs up in that thread. So, I'm thinking that it's a some algorithm based on number of apples in a thread and the amount of views that thread has...
What all I can say is there is a complex algorithm running behind the scene, which identifies best threads. It takes hundreds of factors into account to decide which threads deserve 3 apples, 2 apples, 1 apple, or no apple. I can't tell you the exact attributes it takes, because it evolves so rapidly, that the attributes it takes right now would not be what it would take after a couple of months from now.
In a related note, this algorithm also contributes to another algorithm that shows best posts in the home page.
And I see that the "What is a fair price per acre for land?" thread has 180695 views, 1 apple, and 1 post like, and it's ranked at 182 apples. And I liked two of your posts above, and now this thread is ranked at 1 apple.
Actually, I really like this idea of ranking based on page views and likes, since those are received a lot more easily than apples. So this ranking will be based largely on what average users think, not just on how the 94 rank things.
Though I still think that using apples to mean two different things is a bit confusing.
It's exactly the same and completely different as this tiny ad: