The future of curation

We’ve been doing some design work around making the overall app store story more appealing, and one thing we keep coming back to is the importance of curation, and the potential for Flathub to be the place where that curation happens. This issue has more context:

We’ve been discussing a number of ideas that would involve Flathub:

  • The notion of a “primary” repo the local app store uses as the single source of truth for all curation. App banners, editor’s choice, etc. in Software would come from the primary repo (as opposed to Software itself, or some distro thing), and would be exactly the same as the lists on the website.
  • A metadata flag that distinguishes apps we deem “good” from everything else. We’d use this flag to filter out apps with bad icons, bad screenshots, ugly UIs, etc. and not show them in prominent places (such as the Flathub front page or the Software Explore view). This could be a simple list of IDs, similar to the current editor’s choice list.
  • New types of editorial content, such as app banners, curated lists of apps, and articles featuring apps. Obviously this is highly speculative unless we have the resources to actually write, illustrate, and localize that content, but it’s worth discussing how we’d do this if we did, and think about low-hanging fruit in this area.

It’s early days for this initiative, and a lot more thought and discussion is needed at all levels, but I’d be interested in any thoughts on the general direction from the Flathub angle.

I think this is an interesting discussion to have. I think that this discussion should include the topics of user reviews and ratings for applications, and a more formal process and website for app publishers and the roles they would play in curation.

For example, if users could rate and review applications, those ratings and reviews could be used to organically push highly rated applications to the front of the store. A more organic system like this may be easier to run than manually picking out applications to put a spotlight on.

With a formal portal for app publishers to more easily put apps on Flathub and control their app’s presence on Flathub, there’s also the possibility of Flathub gaining a source of revenue to fund it’s own maintenance and server costs by allowing publishers to bid for advertising slots on Flathub.

This could be done in a very open and honest way. I could imagine frontends for Flathub simply displaying sections such as “Top Rated Apps” “New Trending Apps” and a section for blatantly titled, “Sponsored Apps”, with a description underneath the title along the lines of, “These applications sponsored Flatpak and Flathub’s development and server costs.”.