WFG Redesign Suggestions

Responses

  1. Eli James (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Dary:

    "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!!).

    I am choosing to be civil. I am tempted to employ a flippant remark in return, but that would be childish. Would you like to reconsider these words? Chris has put in $600 of his own money into running WFG (thus far) at no cost to you. In fact, in order to benefit you. I would like to point out that it is neither polite nor nice to react in this manner. It suggests a sense of entitlement that I am inclined to believe you did not mean (and if you did mean it, then I would say that it is a sense of entitlement that is misplaced). The rest of us have our own serials, our own writing, and our own lives. I find your reply quite offensive, to be honest. Are you willing to reconsider your words?

    On the reader forums: yes, I agree. But the second remark was uncalled for - I write articles on webfiction, and there's nothing blatant about contacting a writer for some information. Most of it is informal stuff - emails, and Twitter, and PMs.

    On to more salient issues ...

    If a forum is to be reader-centric, though, then it probably would have to be about reading only, and the writing discussions would have to be moved to another forum. Weblit.us, perhaps?

    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;

    Good suggestions, both of them.

  2. A. M. Harte (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Oops! I'm a little late to this discussion.

    While I have my own reservations about the term weblit, I think @vjchambers makes a great point.

    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).

    The positive aspect of weblit.us is it is seeking to spread awareness of webfiction, which as Valerie rightly points out is an awareness that is sorely lacking.

    And WFG *is* missing that reader-audience. I am hoping that the new overhaul in the works will seek to rectify things a little bit, and if we had a general reader-focused forum that could help, too.

    @ambersimmons Interesting point about the fact that ratings should reflect both content and website design. But - and I can't speak for anyone but myself here - I thought this was already included in ratings. When I review a site, I do examine both aspects.

    That said, website design/interactivity preferences can be quite subjective, which makes evaluating those aspects hard. Some people hate light text on dark background and some don't mind it, for example, and some people love having added content like videos and voice clips whereas others just want a straight no-frills text story.

    Qazyfiction: fantasy fiction with a sinister edge.
  3. Dary (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I am choosing to be civil. I am tempted to employ a flippant remark in return, but that would be childish. Would you like to reconsider these words? Chris has put in $600 of his own money into running WFG (thus far) at no cost to you. In fact, in order to benefit you. I would like to point out that it is neither polite nor nice to react in this manner. It suggests a sense of entitlement that I am inclined to believe you did not mean (and if you did mean it, then I would say that it is a sense of entitlement that is misplaced). The rest of us have our own serials, our own writing, and our own lives. I find your reply quite offensive, to be honest. Are you willing to reconsider your words?

    Hell if I think I have any 'entitlement' to this place. I know Chris and others have put time/money into it. BUT you can't just turn around and tell people "if you don't like [x], then do your own" when they comment on something especially in a thread asking for opinions!. Now take a breather, you taking everything waaaaay too seriously D: Don't look for vitriol in the ramblings of a guy who, well, doesn't take anything seriously XD

  4. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Just off the top of my head, it strikes me that the way to get more reader contributions to make reader contributions more prominent.

    Though I'm sure we can't do this precisely, it seems to me that Weblit.us has a good idea in making the front of the site the entry point to the forums. You can create a topic and it goes to the front page. People see the topic and if they have something to contribute, they can do it immediately.

    What WFG would have is forums, but also the ability to review and comment on reviews. Once you've got the ability to comment on reviews, you've essentially created a forum to talk about the story whether you intend it or not. In my view, that's a good thing. I think it would encourage even the writers to respond to the story as readers.

    Assuming that's true, putting links to forum conversations and story/review commentary in a prominent spot (like the front page?) might encourage readers to hang out in the forums. Encouraging people to hang out in the forums might be one of the better things WFG can do to attract readers to come here regularly. Ultimately however, I suspect it falls to the writers to come up with ways to attract people to their serial.

  5. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    General comments: WFG has a fundamental problem. It has to produce a ton of output with almost no input. Because even most of the people who care (it seems) never bother to log in and supply any data (by rating, recommending, or reviewing). The point about us having no readers is ludicrous. We have over 3000 visitors a month, and I would be surprised if writers were more than a fifth of that. Unfortunately, only a handful of those non-writer readers ever log in to tell the system anything, either. If you want to know why the algorithms work the way they do, it's because it's the best I can do with the data I have available, and still keep things reasonable fair.

    Re: weblit/webfic/e-fic/whatever -- could we move that discussion to another thread, please? Thanks.

    @ambersimmons -- I'm happy to add a tag that marks stuff that uses the net in weird and wonderful ways. If you'd care to send me a list of the listings you think should get it, it would save me a lot of work (and get you better results). In terms of multiple ratings, we originally had separate ratings for design and content (before we opened) and we eliminated them in favour of the snapshot because we were already asking for and displaying a confusing array of information. I'm afraid that part of the redesign is to eliminate complexity, not add more.

    @dary -- You got *exactly* out of WFG what you put into it.

    @miladysa -- I'll give your suggestion some thought. We do need to encourage more reader interaction with the site, so something along those lines might help. That said, my preference is to leave the video games on topwebfiction.com. However dry and stuffy is not the way I want WFG to come across, so maybe some video games are in order. :-)

    Chris.

  6. vjchambers (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    "Ultimately, I suspect it falls to the writers to come up with ways to attract people to their serial."

    Well, yes, of course it does.

    But...think like a bored housewife or a teenage girl or college student avoiding studying. The thought process is... "Hmm, I want to read a book, but I don't want to pay for it." I'll look around on the interwebs... What am I going to search for? Probably, I'm going to search for something specific that I know I want, (i.e. "torrent scott westerfeld") or I'm going to search for something in a genre I like, (i.e. "vampire romance books free online" or something).

    Imagine my delight and surprise when I run across the Web Fiction Guide, which lists ALL of these free novels which I can read and peruse at my pleasure. Is my first instinct when running across this veritable smorgasbord of free reading enjoyment going to be wanting to post on a forum? I think it's more likely that my instinct is, "What do I want to read first?"

    So, WFG has to be easy to find and easily searchable. I think, for the most part, it already is easily searchable. It is way above most of the sites out there that offer free novels in alphabetical lists. What I think we (as authors) have to keep in mind is that it's more important for the site to work well for readers than it is for it to portray our serial in a positive light. That way readers are more likely to use the site and tell people about it.

    A thought for helping people to find things they may like... If we could enable a reader-generated sort of, "If you like xxx, you might like xxx." I don't want to create more work for the editors, so it could be something a member or casual reader could do when he/she rates something, maybe relate it to something else??

    As a final note, I'd like to say that I think the Web Fiction Guide is a fabulous site and a fabulous resource, and I am grateful to everyone who has donated their time and money to creating it. :)

    Breathless: Sex, Satanists, Secret Societies, and (just a hint of the) Supernatural
  7. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @vjchambers I agree. Being easy to search and navigate is hugely important. I take that as a given.

    I was mostly responding to the "readers aren't very prominent in the forums" thread of thought. It seems to me that WFG has to do both tasks well -- making it easy for people to find stories they want, but also making it easy for them to become part of the community by making it obvious that there's something for them to do here.

  8. vjchambers (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Upon reading Chris' post, which appeared while I was laboriously editing mine, (I always write too much. Gaah!) I'm thinking maybe there's really nothing wrong with this site at all.

    My impression that there were less readers than writers, I must admit, is something I decided from hanging out on the forums, meaning that what Jim was saying may have more merit than I had considered.

    If what Chris is saying is true and most people don't log in or rate, review, etc., then maybe people would respond to some kind of incentive like points, etc. ???

    Or maybe WFG just actually is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. (I've been coming to this site since July, and it's been redesigned twice during that time. Maybe we're trying to fix something that isn't broken??)

    Breathless: Sex, Satanists, Secret Societies, and (just a hint of the) Supernatural
  9. amber simmons (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Chris:

    In terms of multiple ratings, we originally had separate ratings for design and content (before we opened) and we eliminated them in favour of the snapshot because we were already asking for and displaying a confusing array of information. I'm afraid that part of the redesign is to eliminate complexity, not add more.

    Quite. And I don't actually need to see more ratings, really. Adding tags that aren't genre specific would probably be very helpful.

    @AMHarte:

    That said, website design/interactivity preferences can be quite subjective, which makes evaluating those aspects hard. Some people hate light text on dark background and some don't mind it, for example, and some people love having added content like videos and voice clips whereas others just want a straight no-frills text story.

    You could say it's *all* highly subjective. :) (There's plenty of content out there other folks find compelling that I think is drivel, and I daresay vice versa!) But there are standards that make for a good design: white space, line lengths, contrast, font selection, accessibility, navigation, etc. A good *design* isn't as subjective as good *decoration*. Though of course, everyone's mileage is gonna vary. (Don't let me get started on this topic. My web developer self could write pages!)

    That said, though, I totally take your point about interactive and multimedia versus straight up text--which is why I mentioned above that I'd like to see more ways to find that content. I like for sites to tell a story in an unusual way. If I want to read a story, 9 times out of 10 I'm going to read a book. That's my proclivity. I look for web fiction to fulfill a different need that goes beyond straight storytelling. And I think if WFG could differentiate between those types of story models, I think that would be really useful.

    And yes, I'd be happy to ferret out those projects.

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

    Posted 10 years ago

    @vjchambers:

    If what Chris is saying is true and most people don't log in or rate, review, etc., then maybe people would respond to some kind of incentive like points, etc. ???

    In order to get people to create an account and log in, there has to be a compelling reason to do so. What do readers need points for, you know? If I think about ocmmunities I belong to, I think of the activities those communities allow me to perform:

    1. Share recipes / patterns with others
    2. Ask for help if I run ito problems with those recipes / patterns
    3. Make notes on recipes/ patterns I've tried in the past
    4. Share those notes with others
    5. Store my recipes/ patterns in a way that I can easily access and sort them

    etc.

    So *IF* WFG wants to be a reader-centric community (and I don't know if it does. I guess that's the major question--what does it want to be, and for whom? It can't be all things to all people)there has to be a compelling benefit to gt readers to create a profile. Will they want to collect stories? Share stories with others? Comment on stories? WFG has a difficult task because it doesn't own or house the content that people ultimately want--that all exists off site. folks can comment and subscribe to sites without the help of WFG. So if this were my redesign, after I established exactly who my audience was, I'd be asking what WFG can give a user that they can't get elsewhere, and what might that user want to do badly enough to log in and create a profile?

    Just some thoughts :)

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

    Posted 10 years ago

    @VJChambers:

    (I've been coming to this site since July, and it's been redesigned twice during that time. Maybe we're trying to fix something that isn't broken??)

    We are not. There's a lot of information that we can have better presented, and a few conversion factors, too. It should be interesting to see how better data organization would look, and I'm quite excited about it. =)

    @Amber: I was thinking of a label for what you suggested. Experimentals, perhaps? And, yes, I'm with you on design ... as a designer noob I'm quite a stickler for usability and readability.

  12. amber simmons (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Eli: Pshaw. You're not a designer noob. Novelr is proof of that.

    Unless you didn't design it. Then maybe you are a noob.

    Hee! (kidding!)

    All's Fair In Love & War, Texas | http://www.loveandwartx.com
  13. A. M. Harte (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @ambersimmons Yes, good point. And if I stumbled across something so garish I'd mark it down for that. :P And I also like your idea of distinguishing between interactive and text-only stories, too.

    @vjchambers I did think about how incentives could perhaps motivate people to vote, although judging from previous comments in this thread, not everyone is a big fan of points systems. Or what if people didn't need to log in to vote (I think that isn't possible - Chris?). But a system like that could be easy to abuse.

    I think it's not a problem specific to WFG, though. People all over on all sites are lazy and don't rate/review often, it seems. As far as I understand, on Muse's Success readers who contribute more earn points, meaning their subsequent ratings carry more weight than a member with less points, or someone who isn't a member. But that's not something that would work on WFG, and I don't know how else incentives could be offered.

    Qazyfiction: fantasy fiction with a sinister edge.
  14. amber simmons (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    One model that jumps out at me as something worth considering is the Yelp model.

    Reviewers can earn reputation, connect with other reviewers, share information on shops, beauty salons, lawyers, whatever, via *intimate connections* made with other reviewers. Writing an awesome review and then getting a message in your inbox saying, "Yay your review was great! Let's be friends" feels warm and fuzzy. Who doesn't like that?

    Yelp also has "reviews of the day", where an especially funny/useful/interesting review gets promoted to the front page.

    Anyway, y'all probably already know how Yelp works. My point is that it's a community of reviewers, which may be a useful model for WFG.

    I think it's easy to overlook the community part--getting readers to interact with *each other*. That's what builds community and gets people to come back. If we can give readers good content and a reason to come back, then you've made a good internet :)

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

    Posted 10 years ago

    Man, I'm on a roll. Tell me to shut up if I'm being annoying.

    Another thought. Let's say readers have their own pages--where they aggregate the RSS feeds of the stories they follow. Readers create their profiles, have inormation abotu them and what they like to read, and on their pages they aggregate the stuff they're reading--plus, they get to comment on what they're reading and why they like it...or why they don't like where the author is going. Either way, that's additional exposure for writers, and it allows readers to share something--what they like.

    My husband and kids are bugging me to get up and go shopping, so I'm not sure if I'm being as coherent as I want to be. But the idea is to get the reader pages more prominently integrated into the site. Less "catalog", more "Good Reads".

    I dont know. Y'all run with it, or throw it out. I'mma shut up now. Really.

    All's Fair In Love & War, Texas | http://www.loveandwartx.com

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