Consider an online news site, such as or, which consists of a front page with…

Consider an online news site, such as or, which consists of a front page with links to many different articles. The people who operate such sites generally track the popularity of the various articles that get posted, asking questions like the ones that we’ve seen in this chapter: “As a function of k, what fraction of all articles have been viewed by k people?” Let’s call this the popularity distribution of the articles.

Now suppose that the operators of such a news site are considering changing the front page, so that next to each link is a counter showing how many people have clicked on the link. (For example, next to each link it will say something like, “30,480 people have viewed this story,” with the number getting updated over time.)

First, what effect do you think this change will have on the behavior of people using the site? Second, do you expect that adding this feature will cause the popularity distribution of the articles to follow a power-law distribution more closely or less closely, compared to the version of the site before these counters were added? Give an explanation for your answer.

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