1 (edited by Dirk B. 2022-01-16 02:24:12)

Topic: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Apricots made a number of suggestions in her thread about the points system to simplify the site, and I thought the topic could use its own thread. The goal is to make the site less daunting to new users and perhaps make things easier for everyone to use. It's a given that some of the suggestions in this thread may be too difficult, but people should feel free to suggest them anyway. Maybe there's an easy solution.

Here are a few items I can think of:
- Clean up the groups. That includes deleting all groups that haven't had any works posted to them and haven't seen any forum posts in a long time. I'd be inclined to purge anything that's been dead for a year, but perhaps two years would be safer.
- In the site feature that displays available groups, please include the date of the last posted work and of the last forum post so everyone can quickly see at a glance which groups are still being actively used. This is especially important for users trying to figure out which groups to join.
- Once the dead wood had been cleared out, perhaps contact moderators of groups that seem to duplicate each other and ask them to consider combining groups. If they agree, the moderators can ask their members to join the group intended to survive, after which the other group can be deleted.
- Perhaps get rid of non-points groups. Many of us regularly have to remind new users that they're unlikely to get many reviews unless they post to points-paying groups. I wonder how many people simply leave the site because they don't realize how important that is.
- It would be nice to see a few site statistics, perhaps available via a Stats button off the home page. Interesting stats could include the number of users logged in during the past month, number of users currently logged in, number of chapters/short stories/poems posted in the past month, number of new users this month, etc.
- Move the the forum search features (user defined search and advanced search) where new users can find them. Clean up and sort the list of forums in the advanced search screen.

I'll add to this thread as ideas come to me.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

All of this, plus a revamp of the cover art form. And listing the image size/ratio on the cover page and by the profile photo. It's comical that I'm suspended sideways forever, but it'd be nice if others could be forewarned.

It also seems like being able to "convert" a short story into a book would be helpful, as several new users have selected the wrong one and been confused at why they can't add chapters. Or a bandaid fix of having "Book" be the first of the selections, because it won't really hurt anything if they post a short story as a chapter, whereas a chapter as a short story is a waste of points that can't be got back. Maybe even give an extra hint of "Book, Chapters" for that selection.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Simplifying the site? Easy. Write (and post) more. Reciprocate, for cryin' out loud (been screwed again and again). And last but not least: upload edited versions of chapters/posts, so reviewers don't have to point out certain but obvious errors over and over again and spend far too much time commenting.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Willem Robart wrote:

Simplifying the site? Easy. Write (and post) more. Reciprocate, for cryin' out loud (been screwed again and again). And last but not least: upload edited versions of chapters/posts, so reviewers don't have to point out certain but obvious errors over and over again and spend far too much time commenting.

Writing and reviewing is irrelevant to how intuitive the site is for new members.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

In building the current iteration of the site, we tried to incorporate all of the suggestions members had made in the past. That was not the correct approach and resulted in an overly complicated system. To remedy this, I think we're going to remove almost all groups except for Premium and a few other establishes groups and also the ability to post without points. We'll also create one large regular forum. I think that should remove most of the confusion members have using the site.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

That sounds great. Doesn't sound easy though. A small, fixed number of groups defined by you would definitely address a lot of the current complexity. Perhaps one per site genre or less.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Apricots wrote:
Willem Robart wrote:

Simplifying the site? Easy. Write (and post) more. Reciprocate, for cryin' out loud (been screwed again and again). And last but not least: upload edited versions of chapters/posts, so reviewers don't have to point out certain but obvious errors over and over again and spend far too much time commenting.

Writing and reviewing is irrelevant to how intuitive the site is for new members.


I'm not a new member.

8 (edited by Apricots 2022-01-13 22:23:51)

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Willem Robart wrote:
Apricots wrote:
Willem Robart wrote:

Simplifying the site? Easy. Write (and post) more. Reciprocate, for cryin' out loud (been screwed again and again). And last but not least: upload edited versions of chapters/posts, so reviewers don't have to point out certain but obvious errors over and over again and spend far too much time commenting.

Writing and reviewing is irrelevant to how intuitive the site is for new members.


I'm not a new member.

The topic of this post, if you read it, is how the site can be made simpler for new members. That’s why it was labeled “Simplifying the Site” and the content of the post was entirely about various ways the site could be made user friendly and less intimidating for new members and easier/simpler for everyone. Writing and reviewing more is in no way related to the topic.

And Sol, that sounds great!

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

When a reviewer has a draft inline review in progress for a chapter, the site flags it as Draft in red on the chapter view, but many people stumble at this point trying to figure out how to get back to the review. It would be great if one could click on the word Draft and have it open the in-progress review from there.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Dirk B. wrote:

When a reviewer has a draft inline review in progress for a chapter, the site flags it as Draft in red on the chapter view, but many people stumble at this point trying to figure out how to get back to the review. It would be great if one could click on the word Draft and have it open the in-progress review from there.

Great suggestion. I had this exact issue when I joined the site. I ended up redoing a couple of reviews before a kindly soul clued me into the process.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Perhaps give Premium members ten extra points for every month that they are a paying member. While some of us old timers probably don't need them, it might be a nice added incentive to convert non-paying members to Premium.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

The problem lies not with the amount of points to be earned when reviewing. The real trouble is manifold: 1) Reviewing efforts are not reciprocated (isn't that the foundation of a site like this?), and 2) There aren't sufficient active writers (maybe just a handful). Many are the times I see posts disappear without even 1 review. As to how a newbie finds out how to work this site, that's up to Sol.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Not sure there is a technology solution to people not reciprocating.  I, too, review plenty of book openings where the author doesn't recip. If they read my content summary and decide my story is not for them, I wouldn't want to force them to review my book since their review would probably be useless. I do pick up the occasional good reviewer, though.

That being said, we should still look to simplify the site for new users to make it less daunting to get up to speed. The easier the site is to understand and use, the more likely they are to stick around.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

It looks like the fix to people accidentally posting multiple books when they intend to add chapters is easy. On the Post Your Writing screen, the Add New Content button needs a better name, since Add New Content can be easily misunderstood to include adding new chapters. Perhaps call it Add a New Work. Most importantly, though, is to add text somewhere on that screen telling new members that they should use the Active buttons to add chapters to existing books. Easy peasy.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

People not adhering to the same ideas about reciprocation is not an issue that can be fixed. We all have different expectations and the idea of assumed direct reciprocation is not reasonable or useful in all situations for all people. I think the foundation of the site is to improve our writing and help others improve theirs, but that's not always a direct back and forth. Not everyone is a good reviewer fit for every book. I have a variety of reasons for not reciprocating all reviews, and my reasons are reasonable.

Retaining and engaging new members is the goal in simplifying the site and offering incentives to make things a little easier on people when they first get here. There are new members in the side window all the time, we just need them to stay. Tightening up the ship is an effort in that direction.

@Dirk - is there a non-paid member option? I thought the only non-paid members were those in the trial. It's been a while since I joined so I don't actually know, but I feel like I'd have timidly hung out in the freezone for a while if that had been an option.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Unless things have changed, you can become a non-paying Basic member (a step down from Premium). One major difference is that you can't read or leave inline reviews. You also can't be a member of the Premium group/forum or participate in contests. There's a Basic group for them, comparable to Premium.

Of course, if you can't post works to groups that Premium members see (such as Premium, lol), then Basic members are left without the benefit of being reviewed by Premium members. However, how do they know that's a potential benefit if they can't see what they're missing? Chicken and egg problem.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

And as per usual here, it feels as if I'm talking to my own ass.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Ben, I'm not sure what to tell you. There's no tech solution to get writers to reciprocate if they don't want to. This thread is an attempt to identify things that could be done to make the site more welcoming and easy to use for members, especially new ones. The decision as to which of those changes to implement is up to Sol.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

If you feel your reply was relevant, defend how it was relevant. I'll refer you to how you yourself have replied to a comment that you deemed irrelevant: https://www.thenextbigwriter.com/forums … marks.html

Ironically, you deemed it irrelevant for the same reason that you did not offer a relevant response here. You only read the title without reading the post/article. Neither in that thread did you bother to read the defense of how it was relevant and instead offered your same initial reasoning, with no acknowledgment of the relevant portion of the article that was mentioned, no acknowledgment of how you were incorrect. If you defend how your contribution was relevant as well as Sideman defended his contribution, I'll apologize for my mistake.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Willem Robart wrote:

And as per usual here, it feels as if I'm talking to my own ass.

Willem--
You've been a member a long time and know that getting people to reciprocate is not a new problem. Sol has made it as attractive as he can by offering points for people to read and review if they want to post their work. Outside of that I have no idea how to get people to reciprocate. You've mentioned this numerous times in other forum threads for at least a year and it hasn't changed. I'm not so sure bringing it up again and again is a solution.
What I suggest is what I did when I was very active on this site: cultivate reviewing relationships with authors in your genre. I know I tend to stick with someone's work if it's in my genre.
smile

21 (edited by George FLC 2022-01-15 12:38:47)

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Dagny and Dirk are right. You learn who can and will review your writing and work with them. I too, have not been reciprocated and I once forgot to reciprocate, and it took me a long to correct it. It happens. But it takes work and time to get a team of reviewers for your writing and to be part of their teams. The big issue is keeping track - I think he owes me 2 chapters! But that might be more of a personal organization issue. And if I've forgotten to reciprocate you review then please let me know.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

First ... I'll be active on the site again some time next week. My wife's health has progressed such that she doesn't need 24/7 attention. Also, I have fulfilled most of my music contracts. Looking forward to it! And, as many older members know, I have a disease that makes typing a nightmare, so in my reviews and replies, they will be noticeable. However, I literally spend hours making corrections before posting a new chapter. But I still miss a few here and there.

As far as reciprocation, the main reason I do not reciprocate to a few folks is I'm put off by overbearing, somewhat self-righteous, and the know-it-all (be they right or wrong) personalities. I don't have time for them in my life. My life is already full of non-stop matters that I'd rather - usually must - attend to. Also, there are certain genres that I just cannot bring myself to read: science fiction, some fantasy (If it gets too extreme for my taste, I'm out). I doubt my reviews would be helpful to authors in those genres. But, I do let the author know that it's not a genre I prefer, so they don't think I view their writing as inadequate. Some of them are terrific authors  but not the arena I enjoy.

Also, some of us have huge amounts of responsibilities in our personal lives and time is hard to come by.

As far as the site, I don't have a lot of issues with it. No site is perfect, nor will it bend to every user's wishes and wants. Could it be better? Of course. But, being a pragmatic type, I consider the pluses and minuses. If there are significantly more pluses, I stay and deal with the issues. If the minuses prevail, I generally just move on.

I do agree with the comments about making the site a little more intuitive and inviting for new members. I've been a member here for 13 years and I'm still here. The reason -even with it's warts, it's still best site of its kind on the internet. I've tried three others and came back here after a month or two test driving the other sites. I do miss a lot of the old regulars who have left for one reason or another. But we have quite a few new members who post some really good stuff. I'm anxious to get back to their writing.

Hope everyone has a great 2022.

Alan

23 (edited by vern 2022-01-16 00:42:55)

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Tit for tat, my way or the highway, if I can get something for nothing I will, some things I don't like and will never review no matter what, I'll check you out and see how it goes, if you don't like what I say I'm gone, I'll just give you the minimum words regardless of the quality or your writing, I'm great at grammar so that's what I'll do for you even if you are an English professor, I've got so many points I don't care what you do I'll only review what I like, I can't review as much as you but please stick with me, I'm just a beginner and can't really say much except I like your writing, I'm trying to get this in shape for publishing so I can't review right now, I spend an hour or more doing a review and only get the minimum in return, I don't have enough points to publish as much as others, I have too many people to review already and can't add any more, I'm really sorry but this is just terrible and I can't help you, ....

We are all different with different perspectives, goals, free time, abilities, etc. In essence, we do what we can with what we have and strive to make our writing and others a little better one review at a time. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail but life goes on. Any situation can always be made better depending upon the cost, the time, the difficulty, etc. so we keep on trucking and work toward a better deal and yet are mostly satisfied with the deal at hand regardless of the faults and inequities which abound. I think of all the "new improved" products and how most were not imho. Good luck and hopefully what we wish for won't come back to haunt us or make things worse for your neighbor. Take care. Vern

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

All great examples Vern! And sometimes fixing things does break them more, I'll give you that, but hopefully these bitty changes at a time allow us to pinpoint what works as Sol works through it.

I'm glad things are easing up and she's doing better Alan, we'll all be happy to have you back! And I definitely agree that how a person conducts themselves is a big factor in whether or not I reciprocate a review. I've got a real low tolerance for people getting ugly and snappy, so I'm not going to put myself in a position where I'm obligated to deal with that on a regular basis. If I can't have a disagreement with someone without the possibility of them cursing at me, that's just not worth my time. I'm not patient or pleasant enough to tiptoe for the benefit of people who weren't socialized properly. I'm more likely to review a person if they seem durable to criticism and eager to engage in conversation that we can both learn/benefit from. I think NJC and Jube are really good examples of people who are willing to talk things through and have a civil discussion on disagreements.

Re: Suggestions for simplifying the site

Apricots wrote:

All great examples Vern! And sometimes fixing things does break them more, I'll give you that, but hopefully these bitty changes at a time allow us to pinpoint what works as Sol works through it.
.

Yes, I agree with that hope, and having gone through the transition from the old site to this "new improved" one, I'm obviously adaptable. Take care. Vern