WFG Redesign Suggestions

Responses

  1. amber simmons (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I'd like to have a better way to discover new fiction. I'm not sure what that looks like, but a way to help people discover something unusual or different. Even "unpopular". I liked the old set up, where you had random listings posted prominently on the front page. There needs to be some sort of visibility for less-popular, lesser-known works.

    I understand the point of the "Our best, recently updated", but it drives me nuts every time I see it. The way WFG determines what is "best" leaves, let's face it, something to be desired. I get so tired of, and frustrated with, seeing the same dozen or so serials rotated on the front page. There's got to be a way to both raise awareness of other stuff out there as well as promote "quality" web fiction.

    I hate the "editor's notes" pseudo-ratings. I'd rather see no editor rating than see a "rating" given based on someone having read 1500 words of something. While I understand why these are used, I'd rather not have them available to the public. If someone's going to leave a review, it should be a review with some substance, a review based on actually reading a work, not just perusing it in a hurry.

    "You know, like having reviews that comment on current storylines, rather than the first 5 episodes. When was the last time you saw a TV show review that judged it based on episodes from 3 years ago?!"

    Amen to that! I don't write serialized novels. I write web-native fiction. It's not linear. It doesn't follow standard formats. The current review system doesn't serve projects like mine very well. I think we, as a community, need to broaden our ideas about what web fiction is and what it can be, and then consider how we can best serve those whose vision strays from the standard of idea of, "a book served on the web."

    All's Fair In Love & War, Texas | http://www.loveandwartx.com
  2. Shutsumon (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    The only problem I have with the term weblit is it makes me think of weebles. (*sings* weblit wobbles but it doesn't fall down.... why are you all staring at me like that?)

    As to the reviewer bribes - if people were offering money to people to give positive reviews I'd worry, but they aren't. And what they are offering would only appeal to fans anyway, so it's not going to create false positive reviews just larger numbers of reviews. We want more interactivity but most people still sit at "passive" on the social media scale and need sticks and carrots to push them out of it.

  3. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I guess at this point I'd like to suggest that those people who don't think the existing reviewers are doing a very good job should perhaps sift through our listings themselves and write a few reviews. Preferably of the stuff that hasn't been reviewed, yet. Or, hey, how about sifting through *all* of them, as the WFG editors have to do on a daily basis.

    After all, there's little point complaining about the workings of a community site in which one does not participate . . . .

    Suggestions for actual, workable improvements that don't demand vast quantities of someone else's time to manage are, of course, welcome.

    Chris.

  4. Eli James (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Okay, responses to suggestions, in order:

    On reviewer bribing: well, writers are free to say whatever they want on their own sites. If you want to encourage your readers to write a review on your work (and reward them for it), then that's your right as creator of said work. Nothing we can do about it, I'm afraid (and good thing too - writing might not be fun otherwise!).

    On weblit vs webfic (DIGRESSION ALERT!) - I prefer web fiction, because there's very little online at the moment that can be considered literature. I'm saying this as a matter of honesty - thus far, the only work I've had trouble reviewing, from a literary analysis POV, is Corvus (by L. Lee Lowe.) It's a well written, thematically complex, remarkably symbolic allegory on the nature of consciousness, and I'm only 20% done with the review. I'll probably need to reread it, in order to understand it in all its complexity. Can the same be said for most of web fiction? No. There are few works - even by writers here in this very thread - that deserve the 'lit' label. It's simply not the kind of thing we like to write. Genre fiction yes. Lit? No, not in the least. We should be honest, and we should stop using the lit label. It's not a good representation of the things we write. (DIGRESSION ALERT END)

    I understand the point of the "Our best, recently updated", but it drives me nuts every time I see it. The way WFG determines what is "best" leaves, let's face it, something to be desired. I get so tired of, and frustrated with, seeing the same dozen or so serials rotated on the front page. There's got to be a way to both raise awareness of other stuff out there as well as promote "quality" web fiction.

    Amber, we're trying to find a balance between letting new visitors read good stuff, and letting old timers find new, experimental, not-so-good stuff. Chris is going to implement a dual screen system - if you log in, that section would only be populated with YOUR favourites, which should be an improvement over a generalized listing.

    Pseudo ratings, are, unfortunately, here to stay. We cannot expect editors, who are working for free, to review every thing that gets listed on the site. There's just too much work, and for that, we need help.

    BTW, like Chris says - please provide suggestion to things that we CAN change. Complaints about the state of the web fiction community should go elsewhere - Novelr, for instance. If you want to formalize such complaints, send me an email and I'll let you do a guest post on the site.

  5. Ryan A. Span (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    About the 'webfic vs. weblit' thing, I agree completely with Eli. I don't like the term 'weblit', it's not representative of the sene or the work. We're better off with one simple, workable term that doesn't pretend to be something it's not.

    Regards,
    Ryan

  6. Shutsumon (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I believe the term weblit isn't supposed to be highbrow. It's a play off of "chicklit" - and let's face it chicklit is far from deep and complex.

    It's also an attempt to distance original online fiction from fanfic - since fan fiction has negative connotations to a lot of people. The argument I heard on Twitter was that some potential readers associate 'fic' with 'bad' and we needed to avoid any term that might do that. I don't know about that, but I'm using it because it's the hashtag that people are using on Twitter and it might stick.

    It still makes me think of weebles though.

    Becky

  7. Eli James (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    From Wikipedia, origins of the term chick lit:

    "Chick" is an American slang term for young woman and "Lit" is short for "literature". The phrase "chick lit" is analogous to the term chick flick.

    The term appeared in print as early as 1988 as college slang for a course titled "female literary tradition." [6] In 1995, Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell used the term as an ironic title for their edited anthology Chick Lit: Postfeminist Fiction. The genre was defined as a type of post-feminist or second-wave feminism that went beyond female-as-victim to include fiction that covered the breadth of female experiences, including love, courtship and gender. The collection emphasized experimental work, including violent, perverse and sexual themes. James Wolcott's 1996 article in The New Yorker "Hear Me Purr" co-opted the term "chick lit" to proscribe what he called the trend of "girlishness" evident in the writing of female newspaper columnists at that time. Works such as Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City are examples of such work that helped establish contemporary connotations of the term. The success of Bridget Jones and Sex and the City in book form established chick lit as an important trend in publishing. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank[7] is regarded as one of the first chick lit works to originate as a novel (actually a collection of stories), though the term "chick lit" was in common use at the time of its publication (1999).

    Publishers continue to push the sub-genre because of its viability as a sales tactic. Various other terms have been coined as variant in attempts to attach themselves to the perceived marketability of the work.

    The logic doesn't hold either way, Becky.

    If it's supposed to differentiate from fanfic by invoking the term 'lit', then it is not honest; if it attempts to play on term 'chicklit' then the connection isn't clear. Chicklit itself evolved as a means of describing certain feminists texts, before becoming the genre it is today (by virtue of publishers pushing the term and associating it with a certain kind of fluff-novel). And, if for the sake of argument we say that we want it to be a play on the term 'chicklit', and the association is clear - what connotations are we invoking? Webfiction as a scene has very little of these kind of light, female oriented fluff novels that the reading public recognize as chicklit.

    'Web fiction' is honest. It is what we do. We write fiction, and we do it on the web.

  8. amber simmons (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    if you log in, that section would only be populated with YOUR favourites, which should be an improvement over a generalized listing.

    I actually like that less. I'm already subbed to my favorites via RSS, right? I assume most readers are. (I mean, that's one of the points of publishing online; to take advantage of web technology.) So I already know which stuff I read is updated. I, as a reader, want to know what's out there that I'm not already aware of. Newest listings. Or recently updated but not yet reviewed. I think the, "People who recommend this also recommend..." feature is GREAT, because that helps me find other stuff to read.

    So that's my workable feature: let readers log in and choose what listings they want to see. Actually, I don't know if WP will let you do this. I know I could build it with drupal; not sure about WP. confounded technology!

    Look, guys, these aren't a list of random complaints. If I just thought the community sucked I wouldn't bother with it. These are things I personally feel could be better--doesn't mean I know, off the top, how to do that. But brainstorming is good. Discussion is good.

    All's Fair In Love & War, Texas | http://www.loveandwartx.com
  9. Eli James (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    That it is. Thanks for the feedback, Amber. We certainly will have the recommended listings in a more prominent place on each listing in the redesign. (I like that feature too). Also: what else do you think will help you find stuff you like better?

    On the favourites: Chris says that the majority of readers don't subscribe via RSS(!!), that quite a number of them use the Recently Updated section on WFG. I found that surprising. I can't, however, argue against user data.

    I think I should be clearer here. There are three questions that I asked at the start of this redesign. These are three user scenarios:

    Scenario 1: Reader is unsure, he's trying out this 'webfiction thing' for the first time, he wants to read a sampling. How to get him to read really good, shout-out-from-rooftops kinda work? How to adjust for genre/tastes?

    Scenario 2: Reader has some experience with web fiction, he wants to experiment a little, read a couple of not-so-highly rated works. How to cater for such user behaviour?

    Scenario 3: Reader wants to share his find with other people / he wants to talk about what he's just read. Where does he go for such discussion? WFG forums? WFG forums are writer centric. Should there be an ideal balance?

    Your scenario is scenario 2, Amber. What else do you think might help you?

    PS: Chris is doing a custom system. It's going to be done from the ground up.

  10. Shutsumon (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Eli - I didn't say I agreed with the logic, just that it was the logic that I heard when weblit first surfaced as a term a couple of months back. I actually don't but by the same token I the only thing I really dislike about the is that when you say it it sounds silly.

    The main problem with the logic is that it generally states professional fiction doesn't come with that tag as part of its name. Um, right? So I'm imagining "Science Fiction", "Fantasy Fiction and Speculative Fiction (which is even shortened to SpecFic :-P) as genres am I?

    The main problem is that we're taking our potential names from genres, and the web is a medium not a genre. When was the last time you heard someone say "paperfic" or "paperlit"? Lit at least suggests we're talking about text based fiction, Fic as short for fiction could cover other media (webtvshows, audiopodcasts).

    WebSerial may be the better term looking at media - people talk about TV Serials, Radio Serials and Magazine (Paper) Serials, so webserial is intuitive - some kind of fiction serialised on the web. The problem is that as with fiction it's not clear if it's text, sound or video based. Also it excludes short fiction of any type since that won't serialised. And it's already in use by the web show makers.

    This is why we're having so much trouble I think - none of the labels fit quite right.

  11. Eli James (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I never said that you agreed with the logic Becky, I merely pointed out that the logic doesn't work. ;-) And it seems we are agreed! I particularly liked your argument:

    The main problem with the logic is that it generally states professional fiction doesn't come with that tag as part of its name. Um, right? So I'm imagining "Science Fiction", "Fantasy Fiction and Speculative Fiction (which is even shortened to SpecFic :-P) as genres am I?

    Well said.

    I have to disagree with you, though, when you say that fiction conjures up multiple mediums. Last I checked, I don't go to the movies to watch fiction, nor do I tune in to my favourite TV serial for some good 'ol fiction ... storytelling maybe, but certainly not fiction. Fiction (either due to sociological linguistics, or the mere fact that bookstores and publishers use the term so often) refers largely to text. Storytelling is the term you're looking for if you're interested in including webTV or podcast serials.

    Again, webfiction is what we do. It's that simple. We write fiction, and we do it on the web.

  12. amber simmons (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Scenario 2: Reader has some experience with web fiction, he wants to experiment a little, read a couple of not-so-highly rated works. How to cater for such user behaviour?

    ...

    Your scenario is scenario 2, Amber. What else do you think might help you?

    I should own up to something: I come to WFG not looking for "stuff to read" so much as "stuff to do".

    I'm someone who doesn't like to read online. Or rather, I don't really enjoy reading on the computer. What makes online fiction compelling to me is the ability to do something different: explore and interact.

    For example: the Germaine Truth, before a lot of the content disappeared, was one of my favorite online projects. It wasn't just a serial. It was a town you could explore: a web of stories and interactions. That's something you can't get from a book. That was super compelling to me. I want to see more like that.

    But there's no way for me to just find other work like that by a genre search. If we're talking online fiction, it might be useful to differentiate between straight-up serials--books on the web--and sites that experiment with different formats and presentations but still tell a coherent story. I guess, for me, that's the biggest thing I'd like to have--a way to search or filter not just by star rating or genre, but presentation/format.

    I think ranking systems are important and useful. I hope that stays. But I'd also like to see ratings based on how well writers use the "web" part and not just the "fiction" part. And that doesn't have to mean how experimental or edgy it is: City of Roses is pretty straight-forward, but the presentation is beautiful, focused, and lends a wonderful reading experience. Other websites, while the writing might be good, make me want to tear my hair out because of poor design and over-crowding. And because that aspect is so important to what I chose to read, I need ratings that are going to reflect *that*.

    Does that make sense?

    But I'm still thinking of other things that would help me find what I'm looking for.

    All's Fair In Love & War, Texas | http://www.loveandwartx.com
  13. vjchambers (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    In my mind, the biggest issue with WFG is that the site seems to attract more writers of webfic or weblit or whatever you call it than it does readers.

    I'm not sure it matters whether we call it webfic or weblit if we know that very few people are searching for either of those terms on google. A keyword suggestion tool suggests that the phrase people search for most is "free novels." When I google that, WFG comes up on the second page of search results. It would be cooler if it were the first result (although I'd be damned to figure out how to make that happen).

    I think that readers are much more likely to look for things within the genre that they like to read. So, I think the site should be easily searchable by genres (and IMHO there are way too many genres listed on the site.) Something simple like a Barnes and Noble store division would help readers, I think: Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Horror, Literature, Young Adult, Children, Mystery. Of course, you can cross post your serials as you will within the genres.

    All that being said, I currently like the way that WFG works. I've discovered some neat new stuff from the main page. :) And I second the nifty idea about the schedule or preview thing.

    Breathless: Sex, Satanists, Secret Societies, and (just a hint of the) Supernatural
  14. Miladysa (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    "In my mind, the biggest issue with WFG is that the site seems to attract more writers of webfic or weblit or whatever you call it than it does readers." - vjchambers

    That is why I mentioned my experience with Blog Explosion and raised the idea of readers earning points by surfing through ALL the sites here. WFG would have to come up with ideas as to what readers could spend their earned points on - bonus stories, ebooks, etc.

    Site owners could gain points for each referral to WFG and spend their points on banners, updates etc.

    Competitions are another thing which may attract readers here.

  15. Dary (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    NoooOooooOOOOooOOOOOOO!! NOT POINTS!!! The whole system of "gain [x] points for doing [y]" is such a fiddly system and promotes all sorts of bad things a community doesn't need, as proven by forums (and their post-count wars) back when they were the in thing for online socialising. People can quickly take advantage of and game the system, and it also encourages competition (even when it's not designed to). Once again things will just devolve into a popularity contest.

    "I guess at this point I'd like to suggest that those people who don't think the existing reviewers are doing a very good job should perhaps sift through our listings themselves and write a few reviews. Preferably of the stuff that hasn't been reviewed, yet. Or, hey, how about sifting through *all* of them, as the WFG editors have to do on a daily basis."

    "Hey there, Mr Whedon! I know you're busy being a writer and producer and all, but maybe you should spend the rest of your time watching all these other shows and reviewing them too! I mean it's only fair!"

    Translation: writer =/= reviewer. In fact, what would be more helpful would be more reader-reviewers. And I would assume that, if someone signed up to be a WFG editor then they're well aware of the work and responsibility it comes with. Otherwise why would they want to be one in the first place? If I had the time to sit and read stuff and write reviews then I would, but I already spend upwards of 40 hours a week on my own serial. That is my 'contribution' (no disrespect to the work you people do put into WFG, but don't make it sound like the rest of us aren't doing our bit too!!).

    On the favourites: Chris says that the majority of readers don't subscribe via RSS(!!), that quite a number of them use the Recently Updated section on WFG. I found that surprising. I can't, however, argue against user data.

    Not surprising at all, really. I imagine most people who read a series just bookmark it and check back when it updates, hence why every webcomic you see makes a point to list their update day(s) where everyone can see it (and stick to them).

    Scenario 1: Reader is unsure, he's trying out this 'webfiction thing' for the first time, he wants to read a sampling. How to get him to read really good, shout-out-from-rooftops kinda work? How to adjust for genre/tastes?

    The listings could do with a little more information, I think. An extract for a start. At the moment it's akin to going into a book store and looking at books, but only being able to read the blurb on the back. The extract can be writer submitted or, even better, let readers submit them. What the author thinks is a good extract might not be what a reader thinks. This does mean putting faith in users not to abuse the system and put up youtube code for Rick Astley instead of an actual extract, mind XD

    Other things that might be useful include: differentiating between web-serials and web-novels, as has been suggested; a rough idea of word/chapter count;

    Scenario 3: Reader wants to share his find with other people / he wants to talk about what he's just read. Where does he go for such discussion? WFG forums? WFG forums are writer centric. Should there be an ideal balance?

    There needs to be a more reader-centric forum. Not series-specific forums, though. Maybe just a basic "discuss what you've been reading" one. Something like this would make it A LOT easier for anyone wanting to write articles on webfiction too, because they wouldn't have to ask authors for blatant press releases when they want to write an article on "sibling rivalry in webfiction" or whatever - they can go to the readers.

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