Feature discussion, 2012

7 years ago | Chris Poirier (Moderator)

I'm going to try to separate out the site feature discussion from the Black Blossom discussion, as the existing conversation is getting a bit messy. Please add your comments on site features here.

We now join your regularly scheduled discussion, already in progress . . .

Read responses...

Page: 123


  1. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Can't say I'm actively updating the site software very often, but the last several changes were to de-emphasize editor picks, as they really aren't being maintained. I've just altered the criteria to make it easier to get into (Worm now appears).

  2. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Hey cool. That's interesting to know. Thanks, Chris.

    Out of curiosity, is it mainly the fact that there's less editors rating/reviewing now, that was skewing what determined an 'editor pick'?

  3. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    @Wildbow When we started, every listing got an editor review at some point, so it was reasonable to make them a significant part of the site. Unfortunately, that proved unsustainable. Editors burn out. Quickly, as it turns out. And, as you can probably tell from the lack of reviewing in general, there's no supply of new blood.

    All in, WFG didn't work. That's due partly to the overall site design (which I never figured out how to do right), and partly due to what seems to be a fairly laissez-faire attitude amongst the readers of web fiction when it comes to talking about what they are reading.

  4. M.C.A. Hogarth (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I wonder why there's no supply of new blood? That's an interesting question. Who reads web serials (in English, since there's no shortage of popularity in China and Japan)?

  5. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Another question worth asking might be, who writes reviews of web serials? Those are really the people we're looking for, right? My guess at that answer would be "writers for the most part."

    I suspect that like most fiction listing sites, WFG attracts the writer as a long term user more than it attracts the potential reader. At least that's a theory. I haven't tested it. I suspect that readers are more likely to click through the site, find something that interests them, and click through to that without coming back.

  6. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I kind of agree with Jim -- fans of an individual story will tend to write a short, positive review if their writer bugs them on the original site, but the long, in-depth reviews tend to come from other writers. The only consistent, prolific non-writer lengthy reviewer I can think of is Fiona, who puts a lot of thought into everything.

    I think we need to think of the site as "writer-driven" -- I got my start with building any sort of fan-base by hanging out on Pages Unbound, reading other people's stuff and then commenting and reviewing on the ones I really liked, developing a relationship with those writers and then convincing them to check out my stuff and do a review. I got involved with WFG at the beginning because I found Sonja N. on PU and we got along, and she led me to Sarah Suleski. They were instrumental in helping NMAI be great, and then launching "The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin." Because of Sarah I helped with WFG and there I got to know MeiLin and moved to DigitalNovelists (.com) and had a home for all my stories.

    Because of WFG I got to know Chris a bit, and Jim, and now because of Jim and "The Legion of Nothing" I read "Worm" and bug Wildbow. I think as writers we should be doing more reviewing to help follow authors, and drive our readers to WFG to find more things to read. If someone likes me, it's not a stretch that they'll like what I read -- so then if they follow my recommendations on this site they'll have a whole new library of stuff to check out. Then we can coax more reviews and trade readers back and forth and hopefully they'll spread the word and talk to their friends. I used to be more involved trying to do things like that, lately I dropped off the radar even for updating my own story because of the twins being born and work and things -- but I'm building update momentum now so we'll see if I can get comments, readers and reviews going again.

    I think WFG would help itself a lot if it required a new writer to review three stories before theirs got posted -- we have tons of new stories all the time but few reviews, and that might help even out the imbalance. It should be a give and take relationship, not a place where you list your story and hope for readers without getting involved, just my opinion.

  7. A. M. Harte (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago


    The problem with your suggestion is that it would raise all sorts of questions as to the honesty and quality of the reviews. Reviews are supposed to be unbiased and not written for compensation... if an author has to review 3 stories to have their own listed, it's almost like being paid to review. Also, I imagine it would just result in 4 authors getting together and make some kind of deal -- the resulting reviews would therefore be biased.

    And someone would need to vet the reviews. An author could just invent 3 reviews without even reading the stories, just to get listed, which would take time to check/approve/reject... Aaaand given the varying quality and length of different reviews, how would we ever set guidelines on what makes an acceptable review or not?

    /end rambling.

    The idea is good in principle, but I just think it'd be impossible. We can't hold people's listings hostage. If anything, there would need to be another kind of incentive to encourage reviews.

    Qazyfiction: fantasy fiction with a sinister edge.
  8. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    @Gavin: I like the idea, but agree with @Anna's criticisms. Unfortunately, for every author who will take up that challenge honestly, there will be a half dozen who whine and angst about it and try to find dishonest ways around it. Hell, I've recently had *another* author threaten to sue if we didn't delete a bad review. Tiresome.

    The truth is writing a quality review is the easiest way to get your name on the WFG homepage, and most of our traffic leaves through those links. If you are an author and want your listing to be prominent, writing reviews of other stuff is a great way to do it.

    Maybe it's time to remove the listing indices from the site: make it so the only way you can get traffic from us after the initial listing is to participate.

  9. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Well, one thing I can do in the short term is add a link to the review byline, so every author's latest listing is right there with the review they write.

    In terms of reviews for new listings, maybe this would work: one review, on one listing of a shortlist I provide, and it only goes to the home page if it meets the usual standard. Then ditch the "new listings" list on the home page. Basically, if you write a quality review, your name and listing go to the home page.


  10. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I'm just suggesting a possible solution based on a problem other people are identifying:

    1) we aren't getting a lot of reader reviews
    2) we have a lot of unreviewed listings
    3) we have new listings coming in

    I think creating a mutual relationship where a writer interacts with the community starts to solve all three problems -- stories would get more reviews from the writers coming in, but also that increases the chance of new readers for those stories, and then potentially more reviews as different readers discover different stories through those portals.

    I think it's silly that someone would consider suing -- first of all, WFG doesn't make money, second of all free speech, third of all reviews can be done by anyone and other than the editors they aren't speaking for WFG itself. Isn't there a disclaimer somewhere like in movies, where the opinions expressed in the interviews don't necessarily reflect those of the company?

    I would say that if someone didn't think it was worthwhile to participate in the review process, maybe they shouldn't list -- because they're expecting reviews and not willing to give back. It should, ideally, be a mutual-benefit relationship, and not parasitic.

    (besides that, I've heard from a lot of people that they get MORE traffic after one of my negative reviews)

    Just so everyone knows, the opinions expressed in my comments and my reviews don't necessarily reflect those of WFG -- I'm an independent, sassy operator.

  11. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    @ A.M.'s criticisms -- I don't think Chris's proposals would result in writers working out a deal to review each other because a) Chris could choose what a writer reviews, b) they would already be stories present on the site, so it wouldn't be a case of 4 writers all trying to help each other get on, because the only new writer would be the one writing the review. That seems to prevent bias, and if a writer doesn't put much thought into the review then I suppose they can expect that subsequent reviews of their work won't have much thought in them either.

    Engineers call that GIGO -- garbage in, garbage out. I think it's self-sustaining/self-policing because it will show what kind of relationship a writer wants with the site. And I think an editor SHOULD vet the review before the new writer's story is listed, because anyone trying to game the system would then not get listed based on dishonesty.

    If they don't like it, they're free to put the years of work into programming and maintaining their own site the way Chris has, in my opinion. He put a lot of work into something where there's very little compensation, I think the least anyone can do is review a few stories.

    If it was a really fair Pay it Forward situation, though, then I'd have like 100+ reviews of my stuff, too. I tend to write a lot of reviews and then get burned out, and that's on a voluntary free-time basis -- it would be nice to see other people writing reviews more consistently.

  12. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    It boggles me that writers threaten to sue over bad reviews. :-/

    I mean, they're no fun. I get that part. But... yeesh.

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  13. Alice (Blocked)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I thought the purpose of WFG was to provide an online archive/database of ... well, web fiction. Not to be a place where you list your stories in order to get reviews and feedback. I didn't list my web serial here in order to get as many reviews as possible, I listed it so that people would know I was writing a serial and could check it out if they liked the sound of it. Most of my traffic comes from WFG, so as far as I'm concerned listing here was a success. People can find my serial listed on this site and read it if they want to. Any reviews I get as a result of listing here are just icing on the cake.

    Granted reviews can help to make up someone's mind as to whether or not they want to read a given story, but not everyone will have the same tastes or opinions as a reviewer, and might want to check out a story even if it has bad reviews, and may hate a story even if it has good reviews.

    Reviews, especially if they're nice, positive and detailed, are a great boost to the author. But I never really thought they were what WFG was all about. I don't think reviews and ratings should be important, and for me, as I said, I listed my serial so people would know it exists. That's it.

    I think forcing authors to review existing stories if they want to list a story of their own is a hugely bad idea, and goes against the entire reason for this site. All around the net I keep hearing people say "Check out WFG, they list loads of free to read web stories and serials". What if a really good web serial doesn't get listed because the author doesn't have the time to both write their story AND read AND review someone else’s work? I know I don't. I'm barely able to snatch free time at night before I go to sleep to write updates for my web serial, I just don't have the time to read through enough of another person's work in order to properly review it. And so for that I shouldn't be allowed to list my work here?

    As I keep saying, I didn't list here to 'parasitically' leech reviews and ratings from people. I listed here so people could find my work and read it if they liked what they saw. I imagine there are others who feel the same, who just want to let people know their work is out there and free to read, but who don’t have the time to leave detailed reviews for other lengthy works.

    And to paraphrase Bones McCoy, "I'm a writer dammit, not a literary critic." - I know how to write a story (at least I hope I do) but I don't have the faintest idea how to write a decent review, and I'd rather use my free time to better hone my craft.

    When you get right down to it, what's more important? Getting reviews, or letting people know your stories exist for them to read? I've always felt that the latter is why WFG was made - to provide an archive of free web fiction, not as a mutual appreciation society.

    The reviews are not more important than the stories IMO.

  14. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Personally, I'm inclined to think that we ought to be reasonably sure my suspicion is correct before taking action based on it.

    That said, if I were to be right about that, I'm inclined to think that any action's got to be a "soft" push rather than a "hard" push. What WFG is first of all, is a place to list your story and make it easier for people to find it. Sometimes people stay and become part of the larger serial fiction community, and sometimes they don't. It's in WFG's interest, however, to list everything in its field (and be as barrier free) as possible or people won't bother to list things here. That in turn would make it less likely a community would form here in the first place.

    My suspicion is that while readers come through, find something interesting and leave, the same is true of writers. They come through, list their story, and leave (for the most part). The difference is that there's more "soft" reasons to linger and become part of the community for the writer than the reader.

    For the writer, there's the reviews of one's work (even if that's not your main reason, it's hard not to be curious), the possibility of self-promotion, the community of writers already here that you can ask questions of, and so on.

    For the reader, there's the filtering factor, the lists of stories, and the reviews to read. The reader's reason to linger mostly don't require interaction with others, though.

    I like Chris's suggestion for making people's byline available in reviews. More small things like that (and I don't know what they'd all be) seem likely to push people to review and interact with each other.

    By the way... Chris: I don't what precisely you meant by saying that WFG had failed, but I don't agree. I'd agree that it didn't end up working exactly as intended, but to me the main focus is that it allows people to list web serials, and allows people to review them.

    On the whole, I think it works reasonably well for that.

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