Brainstorming New Features For WFG

Chris is redesigning WFG from the top down, and one of the things he's trying to include is reader participation. Here's the background: we've got a lot of new listings coming our way, and if digital writing continues to increase in popularity we believe there will come a time where we'll be swamped by new listings.Chris has said as much over here. Also, I've talked (on Novelr) about how we'd like more new readers - as opposed to fellow writers who read our works - and this is one of the ways we can do that.


My opinion is that readers are currently not signing up (and therefore not rating anything) because there're no incentives for them to do so. The chief value they get from WFG are the reviews, and you don't need to sign up for anything to read a review and find something you want to read. I believe we can get readers to sign up if we provide reader-centric things that come with membership - for instance, the shelf idea, or perhaps widgets to display on their personal blogs what piece of online fiction they're currently reading.


Here's my question: what new features will you, as a reader, think will provide enough incentive for you to sign up to WFG?


I've been thinking about this myself. There must be some way to net a wider audience.


I don't know. Maybe we should give them cake. Of course, it seems unfair that the readers would get cake and the writers wouldn't. So the next logical step would be to get ourselves some cake.


Hmmm... perhaps a more reader-centric forum of some description? With an off-top area or some such. This forum here is all very well and good, but I think it's quite transparently a writer's den. It might be a bit intimidating to readers wanting to chat- and a reader community is important. Of course, the problem there is that at least for a while you might have an empty forum, and they're always a turn off to casual surfers.


A book club for online fiction, perhaps?


@ ejames book clubs seem to be popular enough although I have no personal experience


I think that you should ask everyone who submits their site to add a reciporical (link text/button/banner on their homepage back to WFG. The more links the better.


Get a twitter for the site - I may be wrong but I think you will pick up a few new readers that way.


I'll give it some more thought today.


A Blog!


I like the widget idea.


Hmmm... this might seem a bit left-field... what about a widget-y thing which writers can put on their site, allowing a reader to rate the site directly? Record the rating, take them to a page asking for an email address (or login), send them a userid (based on email addie) and password via email? As long as I had some assurance that the site wouldn't bombard me with spam, I think I'd follow that through quite happily.


Competitions. Rate a few sites to go in the running to win a tshirt.


I like the readers' forum idea. Might be a bit slow to start with? Could combine that with the book club idea. Book club? Site club? :-D


If we're getting a WFG widget, it should tie in with the bookshelf, give people the ability to mark a story as 'Reading' straight from the site rather than having to go to the WFG listing. Then ask them to log in/register.


Regards,

Ryan


Something that always increases membership stats is if there is anything in being active. Much like the points system on "an Intimate History" and other web-fiction.


In some way I kinda like the Authonomy Talent Spotter idea, but I would change it al little. Let's say readers could get featured on the main site if they have written a couple of helpful reviews. They could even get an interview or something alike.


Also authors might donate prizes (like signed copies of a book or something, an answer to a frequently asked plot question and so on...) and if you get featured (let's say one member a month) you can pick a prize.


Also I was thinking that members might recieve a monthly newsletter, wherein the newest high-rated reviews are included (maybe sorted per genre or tag), and again authors could offer some insight information on their work, some scoop that only WFG members get.


I'll read through and reply to the rest of this later, but I just wanted to add that the new ranking algorithm will draw data from both editorial and member ratings/recommendations/bookshelves. I'm still working out the details, but that's the plan.


Nice Chris!

I was just thinking that most of the answers and suggestions that have been given until now are focused on getting more interaction with readers already reading something online. But how do we get more readers to read on the internet?

Personally I'm doing a huge Stumble Upon campaign, hoping that people who are interested in books will discover the value of online books. It's a slow process though.

However, one thing that might be a first step is that their could be more information on the medium/genre/whatever online reading actually is.

E.g. The Faq does answer shortly on what web-fiction is, but maybe a more elaborate definition / discussion might explain sceptics better what it al is about.

Added to that some explanation on the difference between the different sorts (wovels, webnovels, serial-fiction, blog-fiction and other variations) and different media.

The clearer it is what the WFG is all about, the sooner people will come back.


Widget and Twitter. Both really good ideas. If you could set things up to auto-post to Twitter, that'd be great. My software does that, and it has drawn a few people in.


Definitely Twitter.


Also a widget that authors could place on their site that not only links back to to WFG, but also cycles through images of member web sites.


Allow comments on everything. Every listing should be a post and people allowed to comment on it in the full listing. Also, allow comments on individual reviews. If I want to comment on someone's review I can only create a new forum topic. If the user doesn't spend time in forums they would have no way of knowing that.


Notification. On top of allowing comments, allow a email notification so that an author can be notified when his listing has a new review or comment. The same goes for reviewers. Let a reviewer know when someone comments on their review.


Finally, I like the idea already mentioned about recognizing top reviewers. Maybe you can come up with a rating system to display the previous daysweeksmonthsall-time reviewers and commenters. The system can be based on quality and quantity.


@Janoda: Good idea on the Stumbleupon campaign. ;-) Man we need more people like you to spread the word. On a side note, Novelr's first collaborative project attempts to serve as a landing page for skeptics, though I must admit that the code is a little of a hassle for me to finish atm.


Also, would a tour of the site help? Assuming, of course, that it's place at the very top of the WFG home page.


@Dustin: might be a little hard to present comments for everything, considering the current wealth of information we already have to design around. But you make a good point about notifications.


@ejames

The comments don't necesarily have to be on the main listing page. There could be a link that that says how many comments there are and take you there.


As for comments on reviews, you already have links that list just a review, why not allow comments on that page?


Okay, I am going to put comment functionality on reviews. I had originally rejected the idea, back when we first opened, because I was concerned about flame wars between reviewers and fans. However, as things have been civil, I'm willing to give it a shot.


As for comments on listings, that's what reviews are for. ;-)


For notifications, we have RSS feeds on just about everything (and more to come), so I think that will how we deal with it. I'm wary of email notifications because email is a hairy mess that can do all sorts of bad things to a server. Not something I really want to deal with.


One Twitter feed, coming up, I think.


There will be RSS feeds on all parts of the bookshelves, but integrating them into your websites is something I will have to leave to you guys. Most CMSs have a way to integrate an RSS feed, so it should be fairly easy.


We had originally planned to provide a "rate it" front-end for listed authors to integrate into their websites, as a way of counting readership. However, it never made it off the ground. I'll give it some more thought, but I think there are technical issues that might prevent it from happening.


Finally, cake all around.


Chris.


cake? best idea yet :D am i first in line?


seriously, i haven't had much input here due to my hazardous nature, but am liking what i'm seeing. i have to get onto the twitter and stumbleupon bandwagons too... more readers would be fabulous and making everything other than our own den more reader-friendly, is a wonderful idea.


however, i still plead simplicity on the home page at least. every other website bombards the eyes with millions of words and flashing clicky things from the get-go. would hate to see this site get lost among all the other leaves... i won't belabour any more :D


should i bring the tea?


I thought the online-fiction bookclub idea was a pretty fantastic one, m'self.


Something else that might help, and I think someone else mentioned it, is some forum work. I like these forums, but do wonder if they're a bit off-kilter to attract anyone who doesn't REALLY wanna join up. (It took me some getting used to, this BBPress system).


Beyond that, I dunno. When one starts looking at how to handle a mass of content and become a bigger site, I start looking at places like IGN and thinking about how they do it. And by that line of thought, perhaps a more graphical design to the site? More content besides the listings (for example, there are a few interviews to be found around the WFG. And they're cool. What about MORE interviews? Previews?) Or bringing some of the wonderful-chatting nature of the NovelR blog, with its very fine articles, around here...


Or cake. I'd quite like some carrot cake. Or pineapple-upside-down if anyone is offering... :)


As for comments on listings, that's what reviews are for. ;-)


I thought someone might say that. However, I believe that there is a subtle difference. When I read a review, I am expecting a certain amount of quality and quantity. That the person has read all or most of the book.


A comment might generate more responses because people could leave small comments like, "I read the first 3 posts and I'm hooked, can't wait to read the rest" or "hey, the listing needs to be updated, it's no longer updating" or "this story is just a rip off of [insert book here]". The goal is to lower the barrier for a reader to start participating. Leaving a quick comment is a lot easier than thinking that they need to leave a comprehensive review.


To maintain a distinction you could make a maximum character limit for comments and minimum character limit for reviews.


For notifications, we have RSS feeds


I agree, that's probably sufficient.

Overall, I'd like to just say that you guys are doing a really good job here.


@DustinM I agree with you regarding the comments.


& I just love WFG :D