1 (edited by Apricots 2021-11-14 17:34:42)

Topic: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Points System Suggestions:
1.    Currently, the points system doesn’t promote continued improvement as it only offers points for the initial review, and not any subsequent reviews on revisions. I can see how such a re-review reward might be abused, but perhaps even offering a diminished amount of points for when people go over later versions would encourage more improvement. Example: When I posted my first chapter, all my grammar knowledge was in essay writing and I didn’t know how to punctuate dialogue. I didn’t know how to write a tight PoV. I had massive info dumps. I went back through and fixed that steaming pile of boiled lettuce—but it still needs work. Now that all the mess is gone, it’s easier for reviewers to see further issues, but there would be no reward for them to do so. I can repost the chapter anew, but that seems like an inefficient system. It takes the full amount of points to do that and my feeling is that we’ve already kinda paid our dues in reviews for that chapter once. Maybe having a small point cost for revisions? Overall, I think that encouraging re-reviewing with some incentive that is not so costly to the writer would further writer-reviewer relations.

2.    The points system also does not encourage anyone to finish a book or do a final book review. This leaves people with tons of reviews on their first chapters, but few on late chapters. I feel there should be “benchmark rewards” and “completion awards.” This would give a kind of fun/incentivizing goal aspect to reading while also making people more reluctant to stop reading a book.

3.    I feel that there might also be some form of title/tag by people’s usernames on the reviews to indicate their main genres of interest. I see people ranging outside their usual genres (which is a great thing!) and leaving reviews that don’t account much for the genre differences. Knowing which reviewers are in your target audience and which reviewers might be coming from another audience is helpful. This is not to say that those outside your genre can’t help—in fantasy books there is romance (a romance writer/reader can help immensely there) and action (a thriller writer/reader can be great help) but it may help to determine what advice of theirs you should for sure be taking, and what advice might be because the expectation in their genre is different. For those of us who have gotten to know each other, it’s not such a big issue, but for a new member who has fifteen reviews to parse through on their first chapter, it can be overwhelming when half those views conflict.

4.    And it may sound silly and overly social-media-esque, but badges on profile pages may be another helpful indicator of what someone’s skills are. All my reviewers have different strengths, and if I was new on the site again, knowing what reviewers have what strengths may have helped me figure out which ones I wanted to keep around sooner. If someone has 5 “Wordsmith” badges (awarded by the folk they’re reviewing), then you know a fair amount of people have decided they’re excellent at fixing your wording issues for clarity, other badges might indicate those with good character advice or structure advice or the ones who help trim the fat. While it would be nice if all people just thrived on the reward itself of helping others, psychology tells us that isn’t how our brains work. We’re programmed to like acknowledgment/reward and are motivated by competition. So both for acknowledgement incentive and to know who’s good at what, I feel this would be a nice add.

5.    Increased incentives on contest entries (as brought up before) would also encourage more community participation during these events. It would encourage more overall improvement and make the contests themselves more rewarding even for those who don't win.

6.    And, unrelated to points, also brought up before, but the “cover” page when posting new writing could use a revamp. It should include the image size/dimensions that work without the image going sideways. It should also be split to make more sense: Blue button “Upload your image and create your cover” should be in a separate gray box with “your image, choose file.” While Cover filter/title/color/style/font/size should be in a separate gray box with the yellow “Use TNBW default cover.” As it is right now, the blue button is in the same box with filter/title/color/style/font and such, but if you try to use them together, it doesn’t work. There’s no reason for the selections (filter/title/font and such) to be separated from the yellow button that they function with, but grouped with the blue button that they don’t function with. And there is no error message to indicate why your image isn’t showing up when you try to use the selections with the blue button. Nothing happens, no image, no message to say what went wrong. I suspect this is why there are so many coverless works from new members.

2 (edited by Dirk B. 2021-11-14 19:45:42)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Further to Apricots' point about reviewers dropping off, this is a chronic problem, and we just lost another paying member (one of my long-term reviewers) because he wasn't receiving enough reviews on his later chapters, as well as often receiving only minimal (5) comments sufficient for the reviewers to earn points. Two potential fixes would be to increase the number of points earned for reviews of later chapters in a story and to increase points based on the number of comments actually left. In the case of regular reviews, the number of points could be increased based on word count in the review. I've noted before that I think reviewers who give more detailed (and time consuming) reviews ought to earn more points. Admittedly, I sometimes struggle to find many things to comment on in chapters written by the better writers on this site, so I'd be willing to settle for fewer points for those reviews. Although it's possible to game the system for more points (e.g., paste War & Peace into a regular review), maximum points can be limited, and abusers can be blocked.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Perhaps too many flies in the ointment to remove all at once, but I'll try to pluck out a few
1. I don't think keeping reviewers from start to finish of a book is a points problem, it is more a combination of keeping reviewers interest and/or a strong reciprocal relationship. Either of those will keep the reviews coming and will extend to revisions as well. Of course major revisions should be reposted so that the reviewer does indeed receive points for their efforts and loyalty.
2. The site used to have a type of "badge" for reviewers in that the number of reviews were listed and also their was a "competition" for the most prolific reviewer spot. There was also a "star" system for rating reviews which basically led to a bunch of squabbling over less than four stars and a tit for tat back scratching which rendered the system useless or worse.
3. I do think it would be helpful to have a separate bonus category for an overall review of the entire book after completing reviews for all  chapters. This could include overall plot lines, pacing, interest level, strong and weak points throughout such as dialogue or description, distinct character development, etc.

Just my two cents discounting inflation. Take care. Vern

4 (edited by George FLC 2021-11-14 16:01:05)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Apricots, my next comment might seem trivial, but could you consider using numbers instead of dots? It's easier to refer to. If not, don't worry about it. I like this subject but will reply later.
George FLC

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Reviews naturally fall off with later chapters. When a new book is started, reviewers will have a look, either like the story and the writing and continue, or like the story despite errors in the writing and continue, or not really like the story that much but will try to help the author with constructive criticism. The latter two groups will tend to fall off if subsequent chapters show the same errors being repeated.

Apricots - I think that a bonus for reviewing a complete book is a good idea, but that system could be gamed, especially when using regular, as opposed to in-line, reviews, and I don't know how the system could keep track of it. I don't like the badge idea, as it would set up popularity competitions to amass badges, in my view. But the genre idea is a good one. Personally, if I move outside my preferred genre, I usually tell the author so they know where I'm coming from. I don't have a solution, short of posting a chapter as "revised,"  for getting reviews for chapters revised in situ from reviewers who reviewed pre-revision other than including the fact in your summaries for subsequent chapters. Your best reviewers will take another look and comment in their subsequent reviews, but they won't be rewarded, as you pointed out.

Dirk B. - I think that increasing the points for comments would certainly result in gaming the system. And who will be the arbiter of which regular reviews show the most time and effort? The author? And how would that be done? I predict that would lead to some pissed-off reviewers.

Now for my points gripe - The points granted for reviews currently are not commensurate with the points required to post chapters. It's about 4-5 to 1 in the requirement's favor. A new author will have to review 4-5 chapters before getting enough points to post his own chapter. Granted, it gives motivation to leave reviews, but it puts a new author at a disadvantage. How about making it closer to 2 to 1 instead by lowering the point requirement for posting chapters?

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

I second Apricot's thoughts.  The solutions may not be easy or perfect, but improvements will help.  Jack's issue with the point ratios may be sound, too.

With regard to keeping reviewers, maybe a minor boost for those who have reviewed most of an author's chapters?  Maybe 15 to twenty percent?

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

George: Altered to numbers for efficiency!

Dirk: That is unfortunate to hear. And I do think it's clear that member retention, particularly new member retention, is an issue. Most of the people that stick around are those who have stuck around since the old site and may be more willing to overlook the issues for longer (until it really gets to them like your reviewer). I see a lot of new members in that little side box, so clearly there's interest, but few of them seem to stay.

I agree that there should be some range of points for effort put into reviews (number of comments and word count maybe). I struggle, and I mean really struggle to find five whole nits in Seabrass' or NJC's chapters even after I've read them several times. I'm borderline useless as a reviewer to them and my value is perhaps only in my overall opinions of their books. Reviewing their work is very low in reviewer burden for me and I don't feel like it warrants a lot of points. But I know that for them to review my work is very high in reviewer burden. My writing is as smooth as trail mix and as clear as swamp water. They deserve a heckin' lot of points for the massive walls of blue they've gifted me with. Similarly, there are writers who I can be helpful to, and sometimes it takes me days to do those reviews. The you-review-mine-and-I-review-yours mentality is good to an extent, but sometimes that's a very uneven balance. I do think we should be rewarded for being as helpful as possible as opposed to being rewarded for rushing.

Vern: I think the problem with reviewers finishing books has several aspects. For those who are new, the expectation of response and engagement is unclear. I think many of us came to the site with a sort of mentality that we were handing in papers to professors to be graded and then grading our peers as well. There isn't usually a back and forth in that situation, and for those of us who are less socially competent, it's difficult to pinpoint where we're going wrong. But even so, if the book isn't keeping interest, that should be a point for critique. It becomes difficult to tell who has stopped reading because 1. no more new member bonus, 2. they lost interest, 3. they no longer have the time/are busy, 4. another reviewer has swamped them with reviews and they now have to reciprocate those, 5. they never actually wanted to read the book in question (due to genre or subject) and were just reciprocating or being friendly. Regardless of why someone keeps reading though, I do feel there should be more reward for actually completing someone's book in its entirety. It should be celebrated and rewarded when someone offers you that level of help and commitment. I would pay them out of my own very shallow points pocket if I could.

I can definitely see how a star system could go terribly wrong, but I think a badge system would be less subject to backscratching and offense. Particularly if you can only give a reviewer one badge every so many reviews (they review five of your chapters), you would have to think carefully about which badge to give them. There would be little incentive to give them badges outside their reviewer skillset (if they made no character suggestions, why give them that badge? Why would they want you to?) and I'm sure most of us wouldn't want to be sought out for things we're legitimately not good at review wise.

And I like the final book review ideas. I find I have little to say about individual chapters, but my overall thoughts on the book are usually more put together. Having the "final verdict" on what your reviewers think about the book as a whole seems pretty important.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

I agree that there should be some range of points for effort put into reviews (number of comments and word count maybe).

Ah, but there we have a difficulty. For example, I rarely leave more than 10 comments on a chapter, but I often spend days re-reading, reading past and future chapters, other reviews, try to get an understanding outside my own why a particular passage works or doesn't.

I can definitely see how a star system could go terribly wrong

omg that caused Sol so much grief having to separate us while the fur was flying

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Yes, Vern. I remember it well.

10 (edited by Apricots 2021-11-14 17:37:34)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Jack: Final book reviews could be gamed, but not much more than the point/review system itself can be. It would actually take a lot more effort to benefit from the game of an end-of-book review. You'd have to do minimal regular reviews on every single chapter of the book (which is in itself gaming the system) before reaching the slightly higher payout of the end of book game payout. And even so, I would expect that such a person would be obvious to the person they're reviewing (by way of their reviews not reflecting that they've read) and then the person could be reported and banned, making all their gaming efforts worthless.

As to gaming through increased commentary, that also seems like it would be a low payout-to-effort game that would be clear to spot and ban. Even people who are exceptionally wordy like myself will have a hard time coming up with a plethora of things to say unless they actually read, and in that case, the things they come up with to say will likely still be relevant and useful to an extent. I would think that word count + # of comments would be helpful. At most I would expect to see people typing out "that is" instead of "that's."

But I totally agree that the ratio for review/posting is a bit off. The amount of points I started with wasn't half as much as required to post one chapter. And I had no idea how to review properly to get the points to do so. Looking at the reviews of others was more intimidating than instructive, as I didn't feel I could contribute in the ways that they did.

The front page wall also made it seem like it was okay to start people's books halfway through (and when you think your only contribution is proofreading for typos/spelling, it doesn't occur to you why this might be frowned upon). I generally spent a lot of time the first month here lost, confused and points-broke. I was reviewing people's stuff from years ago that they aren't working on anymore, random chapters in books and generally had no idea what I was doing.

K: I totally feel that con to the suggestion. I have put more work into some of my tiniest reviews than I've put into the larger ones that are mostly typos. But I'm not really thinking less points for smaller reviews, just more points for larger reviews, and perhaps only minimally. Example: if you get 1 point for the review now regardless. With changes you would get 1 point + .25 points for every 5 comments and .25 points for every 50 words over the initial 50 up to 2 total points.

If a reviewer abuses this by rambling, they can only ramble up to 2 points, and we can chastise them lightly, then ban them if they continue in their subsequent reviews. I think on average it would encourage people to do more.

Secondary Thought:
The no-points posting section gives new users a skewed expectation. Those boards are not even active. I feel like they could be deleted to sort of hedge the community in closer and be rid of the ghostly empty portions of the site. We're working in a very large mansion and we can't fill those rooms—nor do I think any of us really want to fill them. We like the points system (even if it can be improved). But as a new member, when I went about exploring, seeing all the empty rooms wasn't too encouraging.

11 (edited by Willem Robart 2021-11-14 20:33:56)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

' ... it doesn't occur to you why this might be frowned upon ...'

I only frown upon that if the reviewer starts asking stupid questions about what happened in previous chapters which he/she didn't read, however, if it's a review on the technicalities of the piece, it's fine by me. The thing is, though, I always post edited versions, basically to avoid the next reviewer finding the same issues as the previous one, which doesn't help me, and one runs the risk of the reviewer getting tired of the work he/she has to put in for a few credits or fractions thereof. I readily admit the latter is one of the reasons I quit reviewing stuff (that, and anything with swords). Too hard on the eyes. Also, I wonder how many really active writers we have here. Feels like a very small group compared to the times Vern referred to. I'm lucky to have five regular reviewers, very good ones, too.

12 (edited by Jube 2021-11-14 20:57:21)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

To add to the mix, I'd like to provide an example of how a different review-point system handled things. Maybe some ideas could be borrowed from it. When I was on a different writing site prior to TNBW, they used an interesting review point system, or at least I thought so. Here's how it worked, though it was so long ago my memory is likely rusty.

You could peruse through a list of members who were open to reviews (via your profile, you could toggle between not available and available) and see a minimum number of points you had to spend to "hire" the particular reviewer you set your eyes on. Once the reviewer agreed to your request for a review, the system would auto-deduct your points and hold them in a sort of escrow until the review was completed. At that time, the system would then forward the points to the reviewer. However, if the reviewer did not complete the review on their end within a designated three-day window, your points were all returned, and the agreement was canceled.

Well, you can see where this is going with that system. Reviewers were rated by the writers who hired them, and a ranking list would be created from that. Needless to say, you knew your points were going to be seriously drained to hire the ones at the top of that ranking list (art imitating life), and it wasn't rare to find published authors or freelance editors in those high-demand spots. And if your reviews were of poor quality, as indicated by the aggregate weight of the feedback, it would come as no surprise that writers would often shop elsewhere for a review.

I do feel both Apricots and Vern are correct in what they say. The TNBW point system currently rewards reviewers all the same regardless of the quality of the review and does nothing to encourage long-term reviewing (such as increasing review points at different chapter intervals for the same reviewer). Vern's conclusion could be argued this way (If I understood it correctly) — If you provided acceptable reviews to others who in turn return satisfactory reviews back to you, then the points are irrelevant. The outcome of netting good reviewers in a reciprocal arrangement would happen even without the points. So that begs the question: If the greatest value to be had is gaining long-term reciprocal review relationships, then do points even matter when all the parties involved have no need of them? This, of course, isn't a one-size-fits-all because those writing poetry, short stories, and anything that doesn't have a long continuance are affected differently.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

That makes sense Jube, and I can see how that system would work, but how did writers get the points? Were the points paid for or were the writers all also reviewers? If the latter, it would seem to not promote much improvement—if you're not a good reviewer or writer, then no one would pay you points for your reviews, and you would thus not have points to pay for other people to review you? So that would leave you with no advice outgoing or incoming. If the points are paid for with money, I can see how that works, but it would probably end up pretty costly.

And on the reciprocal reviews, I feel that the exchange is often not even. My reviewers have helped me immensely, and while I'm learning to be a better reviewer and improving (I hope), my greatest contribution so far is convincing CJD that her characters should drink less coffee.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

I suggested once that for every review a post received, the writer got back one-tenth of the cost to post. So if a post earned ten reviews, the writer earned back the credits it cost them to post. Any review after that tenth was gravy!

Would this carry through to the end of books? Who knows. As others have mentioned, a lot of my stories see an abundance of early reviews, then the number peters off to three or four regulars, whom I cherish. And maybe it would have to be reciprocal reviews--in-line for in-line or regular for regular, perhaps. But it would forge reviewing relationships, I think; might even shorten the time between posts, which encourages continued reviews. And end-of-the-book extra credit would also be an interesting piece of reward bait. It's nice to actually review the end chapter of a book's first or second draft posted here, to see how the entirety comes full circle.

Due to my current WIP coming to a close (proofing Mother of Draglins one last time before trying my luck in the trad world) my reviews are on hold. When I get back into a routine, I usually get five out a night. I have a number of regulars who I read, and who read me back. The system as it is works okay enough with the effort (and some have mentioned some in-lines do take some effort). But as several have mentioned, the "earning the credits to post" system might be skewed just a tad. Perhaps returning some of those credits through number of reviews is a way to go. Lord knows some of my posts are kind of...expensive. Those offer yummy credits for reviewers, even a fifty-word regular. If I got back just a teeny bit of what those cost to post, I'd for sure be throwing more material out.

We seem to have this type of discussion every now and then.

Go Patriots!

15 (edited by Jube 2021-11-14 22:22:39)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Apricots, the site I referenced had a very large pool of members at around two million if I remember right. So as a new member, you could always get points with those willing to take a chance on you (so long as you didn't incur a bad rating rep). Like here, they had a sort of profile section where you could describe your reviewing style and skill. In addition, you could gain points by doing reviews on randomly featured stories without going through the "hiring" process. It's just that good to top reviewers wouldn't bother with points that way since they can acquire a much larger chunk by being hired.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Seabrass: I like the idea of making some points back. I too have lengthy chapters (less so now than when I started) and range between 7 and 14 points to post. My book has 50 chapters (when including the logues), I've done 330 reviews, 285 in-line, and still have 3 chapters left to post. So my book will have cost around 360 reviews to post. But the pressure to review quickly to post quickly so that reviewers can stay engaged with the story is another big issue. Now that I'm all caught up with my main reviewer's WIPs it's not a big thing, but as a new reviewer, it was like a race and trying to read multiple books at the same time that fast was overwhelming. My brain tends to go into protest when I've got too many things going on.

Jube: I can imagine with that many members it would be a good market for that kind of system. And now that you mention it, I should probably make my profile more about what I can offer as a reviewer.


Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

The reward for successive and continuing reviews could work like bowling scoring, where sequences of 'marks' cause the pin count to be doubled or trippled on subsequent frames.  Double and triple are probably too much, but 1.2x for two in sequence, 1.4x for three in sequence, and 1.5x for four in sequence might work.  It's a little trickier if you don't do them in order, but it should be feasible.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Good idea njc. I'm new at books. Why wouldn't you read them in order? Unless there are version numbers on chapters to deal with.
George FLC


Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Case in point:  Apricots was several chapters ahead of me.  I did a couple of deliberately short, no-points regular reviews to Id issues without doing the full job.  She suggested I skip a couple of chapters while she re-thought parts of one of them, and go back.  I did.  Due to outside commitments, the two chapters remained un-reviewed for over a week.

20 (edited by Dirk B. 2021-11-15 01:34:25)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

You don't really need to look for sequences. The site could simply count how many reviews a member has left against the same book and award points according to a multiplier (e.g., x1 for 5 reviews or less, then up by perhaps 0.2 for the next 5, etc.). By the time you get to 25 chapters, the multiplier is 2. Perhaps a max multiplier of 3 for those who go to 50 chapters and beyond.


Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

That makes it more dependent on the book size, and encourages authors to write each scene as a chapter.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

I joined the site in April of 2019. As of this writing, I'm sitting on an 888.78 point war chest. Points are pretty irrelevant to me at this point but I try to suck them up when I do a review just because I'm a greedy heifer and always want more. But I don't do reviews for points.

When I first joined the site, I posted a chapter and got my ass handed to me pretty quick. If the highlighting were red instead of blue, my chapter would have looked like a mass murder crime scene. I resisted the urge to tuck tail and run, instead I dove into doing reviews. Most of them were probably not terribly helpful because I had no idea what I was doing. I could correct spelling and grammar issues all day long because I was a teacher in my pre-retirement days. But things like characterization, POV, protagonists, antagonists, foreshadowing, etc, made as much sense to me as Klingon opera. I read the reviews that other people left and I learned a lot that way. Then I started reading and reviewing voraciously. There was one poster back then that had a series of 11 volumes that was over 650,000 words. I read and reviewed every one of them. (That reader never finished my first posted book of 88,000 words.) I built up a hefty cushion of points while learning what was expected in a review and practicing my own reviewing. I posted chapters of my own work but spent more time reading others during the first couple of months.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it illustrates how someone can get to a place where points are irrelevant. Which makes gaming the system or not pretty much moot.

I do reviews because I enjoy reading the work of others. I have some regulars that I follow pretty closely. I recently had a "dry spell" because real life got in the way, but that happens to all of us at times. (I expect there to be more "dry spells" from all of us during the coming holiday season.) I try to hit new posters as much as I can, as time permits. Some reciprocate, some don't. If they do, great! If they don't, such is life.

It would be nice if my postings got more reviews, especially in the later chapters. The volume of reviews tends to peter out around the 8 to 10 chapter mark. People lose interest, real life intervenes, I don't get to their work as quickly as they like so they drop mine, they don't like the review I gave so they don't reciprocate....there are a plethora of reasons why reviews don't get done. For people like me, no amount of bonus points or badges or stars or whatever is going to get me to do more reviews. I do as many as time permits. I do as many as my brain can deal with before taking a break. I write freelance for a living. Sometimes my fingers are just sick of pounding a keyboard. And I still have my own writing that I desperately want to get done that gets put on the back burner too many times, just like everything else when real-life comes a-knocking.

Whatever system y'all decide on is fine with me. I'll just keep doing what I can do. That's all any of us can do or should expect.

My 7.8 cents, factoring in inflation.....


23 (edited by Dirk B. 2021-11-15 03:29:05)

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

njc wrote:

That makes it more dependent on the book size, and encourages authors to write each scene as a chapter.

Then factor in the number of reviews and the word count of the previously reviewed chapters. However, I think fears about people gaming the system tend to be overblown on this site. That's why none of these points-related threads ever lead to any much-needed improvements to encourage long-term readers and more thorough reviews. If someone is getting paid double points for reading chapters 25+ of a book, then, all else being equal, I think they're more likely to stick with it than go foraging for new books that pay half as much for the early chapters. Unless of course I'm writing Klingon opera, in which case no amount of points will help.

Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Dirk B. wrote:

Unless of course I'm writing Klingon opera, in which case no amount of points will help.

Your writing is FAR better than any Klingon opera, believe me! 



Re: Sol and Community, Points Suggestions

Where do you go to learn about Klingon opera?