WFG Redesign Suggestions

So Chris is rebuilding WFG from the ground up, and I'm helping do the design bits (and I promise you, it will be intuitive). This thread is for the suggestions you'd like to see incorporated into the next iteration. We can't guarantee anything, but we figure listening to ideas and letting people hash things out would be a good thing to do. If anything, it could give all of us some new ideas as to what we still need to do w/r/t the current community use of the site.


For instance, I want discussions better integrated into the site. I think people should be able to start discussions on reviews, and listings, and authors, and so on. Not sure how that would look, yet, but I'd like to see more opportunity for interaction. I'm also hoping we can just eliminate the current ranking system, and enhance casual browsing instead.


I'd prefer the ranking system to continue working, to be honest - it does help differentiate good stuff from bad. But discussions I completely agree with - if our early sketches are anything to go by, community will be one big change for WFG in general.


Could we get stumble and digg links on each review, or on individual reviewers' pages? That way we could highlight the high quality reviewers to the world as a whole?


Becky


@Becky: That's a good idea. It does fit into what we see for the reviewer pages. Let's see if we can work that in ...


From Miladysa, on Twitter:


Is the new WFG going to be listing WF sites & ebooks U can read online? If so it's going to be mega & will face rapid expansion.



Well the tentative answer is no. We're here for web fiction, and there are certain things you can do on the web as a medium that you can't in others - interactivity, for instance, and cross-media integration. Plus there's the fact that not all the ebooks are free; ebook formats aren't standardized, and there are many ebooks for traditionally published works. Chris likes the idea that we're here for the indie people, and I agree. I think that we should pick a niche, and serve that niche very, very well.


Updated: that does make sense, right? I'm tired right now, head's screwed on wrong. Will read again in the morning. Have fun, guys!


I have more ideas than I have time to write right now, as I have two weblits to post on before midnight and a dinner and Santa Claus parade in between. But my *first* suggestion was going to be comments on the reviews, so I'm glad you're doing it. It will make the whole site friendlier, provide more information about the works without any effort on the part of Chris or other key people, and provide interesting content.


My second suggestion was going to be to second what JanOda said, that the home-page needs more conversion info. More words to make people feel welcome and to entice them in.


I have lots more ideas but no time at the moment... will do more tomorrow. What I suggest depends in part on this, so I hope you'll let me know: what are WFG's objectives and how important are they relative to each other? In other words, if it has two objectives -- 1) helping readers select works, and 2) promoting the field as a whole -- which is the priority or are they equal? (And are there others?)


More anon.


Ditto Chris.


I think there needs to be more opportunity for feedback rather than rating, shelving or writing a review. Sometimes you haven't the time or the inclination to write a full site review but you would like to offer up a couple of sentances of feedback.


A few years ago there was a great site called Blog Explosion - it still exists but lost most of its original spark when it changed owners. The point of BE was that you could surf sites and earn points. There was also a blog rocket which was limited to a number of sites at one time (10 I think) and every time someone added their own site you moved up the rocket. Whilst you were on the rocket people earned a point if they visited your site and there were also mystery points to be won.


The more sites you surfed the more visitors you received. The points converted to visitors back to your own site or banner space, news articles etc. Whilst surfing you could leave a comment or add the site to your favourites to read at a later date.


I know these things are open to abuse but I did discover a lot of new blogs that way - some I would never have come across otherwise and I had quite a bit of fun whilst doing so. I am still friends with people I met through the early community of BE.


From a writer perspective it would be nice to be able to embed trailer videos - I'm assuming that this would over burden the site though?


I wish there was a way to outright eliminate "give me a review and earn points!" across the board. Fair enough when it's a popularity contest like this newfangled TWF thing, but when it's about reviews and for a directory that ranks things BASED on those reviews it creates a bit of a hierarchy: those series that offer stuff for good reviews (because, face it, THEY'RE GOING TO BE GOOD) have an advantage against those series just starting out, or who don't offer such rewards. Let TWF be ruled by popularity, not WFG!


It would also help if all the webfictionlitserial communities just...joined forces. There doesn't NEED to be all these different forums for what is still a niche. What has weblit.us done that WFG couldn't have (or indeed, what has WFG done that EpiGuide couldn't have XD)? I know the former was started as a resource for writers thing but, eh, it doesn't seem to have panned out that way! The forum there is just the forum here (or rather, the users here migrated there and...have pretty much the conversations they had here...) Basically: PEOPLE ARE RUBBISH AND DON'T MAKE SENSE! If everyone focused their attention and concentrated ON ONE THING then MAYBE WEBFICTIONSERIALLIT CAN BECOME MORE THAN JUST A CLIQUEY NICHE.


D:!


Someone please take the jigsaw and put it together before I bang my head on this desk enough to break it!!


REALISTIC SUGGESTIONS (because I know the above aren't happening XD)

~ Some kind of "next week in Webserial World...!" special previews. Like a television schedule. Hell, just get some inspiration from TV magazines. 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?!

~ Articles and advice for beginning authors on things like site design, effective promotion and, eh, writing a serial

~ Be careful with adding the ability to comment on reviews. It could alter the quality if people fear a reply from the author - of if the author doesn't agree with a review and wants to be public and shouty about it!!

~ Delicious cake


@ Eli - Good. I had this awful idea that WFG was changing direction and going to be directed more towards ebooks than websites.


Just for the record, I really like the idea of making it easy to comment on individual reviews.


Making it easy to stumble/digg/reddit/facebook things would also be cool.


Dary wrote:


> I wish there was a way to outright eliminate "give me a review and earn points!" across the board. Fair enough when it's a popularity contest like this newfangled TWF thing, but when it's about reviews and for a directory that ranks things BASED on those reviews it creates a bit of a hierarchy: those series that offer stuff for good reviews (because, face it, THEY'RE GOING TO BE GOOD) have an advantage against those series just starting out, or who don't offer such rewards. Let TWF be ruled by popularity, not WFG!


Hear hear. I second this 100%. Some of my dearest friends bribe for reviews, but I still disagree with it.


> It would also help if all the webfictionlitserial communities just...joined forces. There doesn't NEED to be all these different forums for what is still a niche. What has weblit.us done that WFG couldn't have (or indeed, what has WFG done that EpiGuide couldn't have XD)? I know the former was started as a resource for writers thing but, eh, it doesn't seem to have panned out that way! The forum there is just the forum here (or rather, the users here migrated there and...have pretty much the conversations they had here...) Basically: PEOPLE ARE RUBBISH AND DON'T MAKE SENSE! If everyone focused their attention and concentrated ON ONE THING then MAYBE WEBFICTIONSERIALLIT CAN BECOME MORE THAN JUST A CLIQUEY NICHE.


I don't see the "people are rubbish" thing happening as much as you do, Dary, but I totally agree about joining forces to promote the field (though joining forces doesn't necessarily mean amalgamating sites). Basically, the larger the group of people who are co-ordinating efforts and the better they co-ordinate, the bigger difference they'll make. The term "web literature" and hence "weblit" was my idea, and it was picked up with a bang by MeiLin -- she registered the domain name "weblit.us" almost immediately -- as well as by the twitterati. So now I worry that I am responsible for some division in the community, which I hope I am not because that was the *last* thing I intended, and if I am, I hope it can be healed. I think we need a single term to push, for one reason and one reason only: search engines. You want fanfic, you google "fanfic", you want web comics, you google "web comics." You want what we do, you google... ? How many potential readers does that prevent from finding our work? When I came into the field there was no agreed-upon term that I could discern, so I proposed one. I personally am not attached to "weblit" being THE term, but from the day I worked vainly on SEO'ing my site, I've been absolutely committed to there being one main one, whatever it is.


More later, focusing more on WFG!


On "reviewing for points": I've never been wild about that either.


On multiple communities: Personally it seems to me that the nice thing about Weblit.us has been that the person responsible for Epiguide has been involved there, opening up a connection. WFG and Weblit.us seem to be largely the same group. Epiguide is a distinctly different one. I don't believe that "there can be only one." I do think some collaboration would be useful.


Weblit vs. Web Fiction: I really don't think it matters either. That being said, I'd argue that the matter might have already been settled. Google "weblit" or "web literature" and see what you get. Then google "web fiction."


I like the web fiction results better, personally. The first page of web fiction leads you to WFG and the forums, Janoda's article on what web fiction is, and on the second page a Wikipedia article on web fiction. Weblit leads you to a place without a "gateway" telling you where to find it or what it is. Mind you, that can be changed, but it might be better to build on what's already there.


That being said, it's a bit of a moot point, since both terms are now being used.


@Dary @Karen @Jim - Agree


@ Dary "Some kind of "next week in Webserial World...!" special previews. Like a television schedule. Hell, just get some inspiration from TV magazines. 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?!"


Great Idea!


"Delicious cake"


Yummy!


Webfic plays off the established term for fan fiction, so that always seemed the obvious one to me. I mean you don't hear people say Fan Literature/Fanlit! Literature also sounds REALLY PEDANTIC AND HIGH BROW. Like "look! look! take us SERIOUSLY guyzzzz!!"


Re: reviews. It just occurred to me that one issue might be that these days everyone seems to assume we're all writing NOVELS. I'm not sure where that idea came from, but there's a BIG difference between a novel and a serial, and between a web-novel and a web-serial.


Maybe THAT needs to be something addressed in listings?


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."


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.


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.


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.


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