Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« on: May 01, 2018, 09:58:26 AM »
Hi everyone,

We're getting close to our two year anniversary, and we're looking for your honest feedback about the site. What would you like to see on the site? Is there anything you would like to see changed? Please offer us your feedback, and discuss. If you feel that you need to take it to PM, please go ahead and message me (Jedi Knight Muse).

Thank you!
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Sheepy-Pie

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 01:56:26 PM »
I would like to see more people discussing the topics, cause it's far too quiet around here.

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 12:08:31 AM »
I would like to see more people discussing the topics, cause it's far too quiet around here.
Yep, me too.

I want to be able to log in to the forum and see more than one or two new topics or replies to read. I want to see more people starting their own topics, instead of relying on us staff members to do it. I want Worldsmyths to be an actual community where people interact and discuss with each other, instead of just dropping a reply into a thread and saying what they think and never replying to it again, and not respond to other people's posts within a thread and create a conversation. (Not saying that the last thing is something all of the members do, but it's definitely something I've noticed certain members do, for whatever reason.)

I want to be able to make feedback posts and not practically beg for responses.  :-\ Particularly ones like this one.

These are just a few things that I want, actually, but I'm half asleep so this is what I'm listing at the moment.
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Manu

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 11:48:36 AM »
Since feedback is not only about what I want to see improved, I'll start off with what I like about Worldsmyths :)

I like that Worldsmyths is a small community, and I like the familiar atmosphere. Apart from the NaNo forum, this is the only one where I have decided to stay, and it is the only one at all where I have managed to connect to people and make it last longer than just November. That may sound cheesy, but I feel at home here and Worldsmyths has become like a small writing family for me.

I absolutely love how the staff handles feedback and suggestions, that you always listen to and consider suggestions, and try to find a solution together with the members. I guess that's part of what makes the atmosphere here so friendly and familiar?

I love the focus on fantasy. While I also have two scifi projects on the backburner, my focus is fantasy, and I enjoy having a community of fantasy writers.

Even though I only submitted something twice, I think that  the monthly challenges are awesome, and they are actually what lured me in when @Jedi Knight Muse mentioned them somewhere in the NaNo forum.

I love that we have a section to submit stuff to, and to ask for feedback. Admittedly, the long-awaited librarium could make it more awesome, and I'd love to see more people engage in feedback (myself included, I've been way too busy in the past months), but that's not something the staff has a lot of influence on. Random idea: We could maybe try a feedback event, and everyone who signs up is randomly assigned a submission to review? Maybe even once a month, in the middle between challenge votings?

Yeah, I agree, more activity would be awesome, but even huge writing communities like the NaNo forum struggle with maintaining activity year-round. I have the impression that a lot of us are not writing regularly, or that they're writing regularly and are published and don't really have a lot of questions to discuss because they know what they're doing.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 12:06:21 PM by Manu »
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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 12:39:16 PM »
Since feedback is not only about what I want to see improved, I'll start off with what I like about Worldsmyths :)

I like that Worldsmyths is a small community, and I like the familiar atmosphere. Apart from the NaNo forum, this is the only one where I have decided to stay, and it is the only one at all where I have managed to connect to people and make it last longer than just November. That may sound cheesy, but I feel at home here and Worldsmyths has become like a small writing family for me.

I absolutely love how the staff handles feedback and suggestions, that you always listen and consider suggestions, and try to find a solution together with the members. I guess that's part of what makes the atmosphere here so friendly and familiar?

I love the focus on fantasy. While I also have two scifi projects on the backburner, my focus is fantasy, and I enjoy having a community of fantasy writers.

Even though I only submitted something twice, I think that  the monthly challenges are awesome, and they are actually what lured me in when @Jedi Knight Muse mentioned them somewhere in the NaNo forum.

I love that we have a section to submit stuff to, and to ask for feedback. Admittedly, the long-awaited librarium could make it more awesome, and I'd love to see more people engage in feedback (myself included, I've been way too busy in the past months), but that's not something the staff has a lot of influence on. Random idea: We could maybe try a feedback event, and everyone who signs up is randomly assigned a submission to review? Maybe even once a month, in the middle between challenge votings?

Yeah, I agree, more activity would be awesome, but even huge writing communities like the NaNo forum struggle with maintaining activity year-round. I have the impression that a lot of us are not writing regularly, or that they're writing regularly and are published and don't really have a lot of questions to discuss because they know what they're doing.

I love that you consider Worldsmyths to be your writing family. <3 I consider it mine, too. Not even just because I'm the one who decided to create it and I'm one of the ones who've been keeping it together among the staff by trying to figure out what we can do differently, but because it feels like a good place to come to for discussions and feedback and such. If I was just a regular member, I would definitely feel this way. It doesn't sound cheesy at all. :)

The writing challenges are one of the biggest things we've always focused on promoting, because they're fun! And they're good ways to get ideas flowing! I mean, I wrote a novella based on two characters I came up with at the last minute when trying to come up with something to submit to a challenge. I think part of the problem with the challenges is that we don't offer an actual "prize," but honestly...we shouldn't need to offer a prize. It shouldn't be about prizes, it should be about writing and participating.

Anyway....

Having the Librarium would be extremely awesome and helpful at this point! Realistically, though...it's extremely up in the air as to whether or not it's ever going to happen. It sucks, but that's...basically where we are with it right now. Even if we got the finished Librarium tomorrow, I'm not sure that everyone would even jump into using it, or that it would actually help solve all of the issues the site has, so at this point...it is what it is. It would have been nice to have a year ago when we were supposed to have it and there was a chance that it would really help things.

We could try a feedback event, but I'm nervous that we'd have people sign up for it and then disappear and not follow through with their assigned story or something. :-\ Every time we think of some kind of event that we could have that might actually help (except for the million challenge, 'cause I think that's helped a bit, at least...), I always say "do we know that people would participate, though?" and then we're like "it'd probably get very little participation, so why bother?"

I think part of why people have signed up for the Million Challenge is because it doesn't require any more extra work than what you, as a writer, give yourself. You wanna write 1,000 words a day, then that's all you have to do. But a feedback event would require not only writing the 1,000 words a day, but taking the time away from your job/real life/own writing to give feedback on someone else's, and there don't seem to be many people who are willing to do that....which is why we have the issues that we do with people who submit things to the library getting feedback.

The thing with the NaNo forum is that it's not a great example of needing year 'round activity, because they're not really focused on that. Their main event is in November, so that's when their activity really picks up, but during the remaining months it's pretty quiet because it's not NaNo (even during Camp, it doesn't seem to be that active...or maybe that's just the fantasy section that's not very active). They don't need to thrive on year 'round activity like we do, because they know they're always going to have people participating due to how long NaNo has existed and how popular it's become. We're a community that thrives on year 'round participation, because that's what it's been built up to be. NaNo gets away with being quiet at times because it's so well established that until they stop holding NaNo every November, it's never going to matter. We've been around for almost two years and we're still constantly battling with activity issues.

I think you might be right, that we have at least several members who simply are at the point with their writing where they don't need to ask questions. But like I pointed out in Discord, they could still 1. post their own discussion topics/questions, even if it doesn't directly relate to their own stories 2. participate in other discussions made by others, and help out when people ask for help. There are absolutely members who are at that point and still participate and give feedback and such when asked- @JayLee and @Ahryantah are good examples of this...but there aren't many that do.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 12:45:06 PM by Jedi Knight Muse »
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katfireblade

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 10:10:23 PM »
I'm going into this firstly saying I love this place and want to see it succeed and thrive. Not necessarily become big, mind you, but definitely thrive. The admins are awesome, the members are friendly, and I do love the small-town feel.

That said....

First let me debunk a few things.

No, most members really aren't too busy with life to post here, give feedback, join in forum games, or participate in discussions. And before anyone cites at me jobs, kids, school, and so much more, I'm going to ask that person to stop and think about their own lives.

What websites do you hit every day? Once a week? How much time do you actually spend on them daily? Weekly? How much TV do you watch? Do you binge it? How about video games?

These are the same excuses for "I don't have time to write," and they ring just as hollow. We all, every one of us, carve out leisure time to do things we really want to do. When the activity matters to us, we are more than happy to make time, waste time, or just kill time doing any little thing we desire.

And then we say we have no time.
Yes, all of us.

It's all about really mattering.

And that's important, because I'd say to most members here, this place doesn't really matter.

And that's not to say they don't like it or enjoy it or want to see it succeed--all those things are a separate matter altogether. In fact, I'd say the largest chunk of them do (I have far from met everyone here), and those that don't aren't anti-Worldsmyths, just possibly apathetic. Like I said, this is a really cool bunch of people.

But...Facebook matters to those who visit it every day. Twitter matters. Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Spotify, DevianArt, Netflix, whatever their social or web media crack of choice, it matters. It gives them something, something they seek out again and again and again.

And this website, it's supposed to fill some sort of writing need.

It doesn't matter if people here are the best writers in the world and never need to ask for help; asking for help is only one need this place could fill. There's also mentoring younger writers, the need to help. There's sharing our writing and getting feedback, the need to improve. There's participating in contests, the need to challenge ourselves or the need for competition. Or discussions about writing, the need to share a fannish hobby with like minds or just to feel less isolated; even in the best of circumstances writing is still a very isolating hobby. Or games, a need to play. Or just conversations in general, a need to make connections with others. Or hanging out with friends in the virtual sphere, a need for companionship.

And my concern is that no one seems to need anything from this site. Ever.

And sometimes I wonder why they're here if this site isn't fulfilling any needs, and at others I wonder how long it'll be until they float away. Or until the admins give up in despair.

My question to anyone on this site wouldn't what the admins can do to improve things, because we've already seen the answer to that--nothing. Games don't work, contests don't work, giving feedback doesn't work, discussions don't work--nothing works. In fact, this site was far livelier back when a troll was active here than since they were banned.

Apparently...anger works?

So I guess what I figure the right question is is what is it any given member needs. I listed a lot of needs above, there are more I haven't mentioned. What exactly brings you back to a website over and over? What do you look for?

And, very specifically, what rings your bells about writing, both online and off? When you visit other writing forums or websites, what makes you stop and look, play or stay? What would you like to do more of?

And if you do those things elsewhere but not here, what's the difference? What stops you here?

This isn't judgey, and no one aims to get mad. But I haven't met a mind-reader yet, and even if some issue can't be fixed, sometimes not knowing is worse than just being told. Not saying anything doesn't necessarily spare anyone's feelings. And if there is anything you need, that you were looking for that made you stop to poke around here, you're a lot more likely to get it or build it if you're just up front, you know?

*shrug* And that's pretty much my thoughts on things.


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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 10:20:05 PM »
I'll reply to the rest of this tomorrow, but this part:
In fact, this site was far livelier back when a troll was active here than since they were banned.

Apparently...anger works?

Actually made me snort-laugh, 'cause it's true...but it's actually sad that it's true.  :-\ We shouldn't need a resident troll to be what keeps the site active.

I will say that there was a short while after she finally left where I thought things were going okay, because it was like all of the members took a collective sigh of relief the moment we banned her and the toxic atmosphere left the forum along with her...I can't remember the exact time frame any more, but there was a point where it was like "okay...things are actually going good." Then again, I've had that feeling a few times throughout the last two years, along with the "okay, this site is going to keep slipping and die" feeling. I think the latter has been something I've felt more often than the former.
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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 10:55:09 PM »
In fact, this site was far livelier back when a troll was active here than since they were banned.

Apparently...anger works?
I would say that few things stimulate discussion like controversy. Maybe we should have more conversations about controversial topics? :P

On a more serious note, some other fantasy writing forums I've seen have discussions about historical accuracy or realism. You know, things like feasible weapon designs, how things really worked during certain historical periods and places, and other topics that touch on real history but are nonetheless of interest to fantasy writers (since most fantasy draws from history to one degree or another). It would require having posters around with expertise in certain subjects, but maybe that would stimulate more activity on this forum?
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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2018, 09:37:23 AM »

No, most members really aren't too busy with life to post here, give feedback, join in forum games, or participate in discussions. And before anyone cites at me jobs, kids, school, and so much more, I'm going to ask that person to stop and think about their own lives.

What websites do you hit every day? Once a week? How much time do you actually spend on them daily? Weekly? How much TV do you watch? Do you binge it? How about video games?

These are the same excuses for "I don't have time to write," and they ring just as hollow. We all, every one of us, carve out leisure time to do things we really want to do. When the activity matters to us, we are more than happy to make time, waste time, or just kill time doing any little thing we desire.

And then we say we have no time.
Yes, all of us.

While I understand what you're getting at, I think you're making a massive generalization, which in some ways is unfair, because people do have legitimate reasons for not being on the forum that much or at all.

Here's my question: why is someone who says they're too busy working on their own writing, or working their jobs and dealing with kids or whatever the case may be, going to visit a site that's currently barely got any life in it, when they can spend time doing something else instead?

Why are they going to make an effort to be active when (seemingly) no one else is?

They're not.

That's basically where we are with this right now- people are logging in, and posting here and there, but most people are logging in and then closing the tabs because they don't see much of anything interesting going on (despite the fact that we have, say, this thread regarding site feedback that could really use their input).

However, here's the other side to my argument, which is basically what you're saying: if people do not make the effort to take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to make a post on the forum, then the forum is going to continuously stay in this pattern where we have activity and then the site goes really quiet, and we're all left wondering what to do with it, and the pattern is never going to break. So if they can spend ten minutes scrolling on Facebook and replying to things there or sharing funny pictures or whatever, then surely they can spend a few minutes doing similar things on the forum, right?

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It's all about really mattering.

And that's important, because I'd say to most members here, this place doesn't really matter.

And that's not to say they don't like it or enjoy it or want to see it succeed--all those things are a separate matter altogether. In fact, I'd say the largest chunk of them do (I have far from met everyone here), and those that don't aren't anti-Worldsmyths, just possibly apathetic. Like I said, this is a really cool bunch of people.

But...Facebook matters to those who visit it every day. Twitter matters. Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Spotify, DevianArt, Netflix, whatever their social or web media crack of choice, it matters. It gives them something, something they seek out again and again and again.

Bingo.

They all matter more than the forum because there's constant activity on those things, and Worldsmyths doesn't have that.

We were talking about this the other day, @katfireblade, and you disagreed that Facebook was our biggest competitor. But here's the thing:

I've watched us struggle for two years because of Facebook. Do you know how many people we have on the forum that know about it because of Facebook, but they always "forget" about the site because you can't access it on an app from your phone, and you can't easily browse it on your phone, and it's too big of an effort to sit at a computer to access it? Do you know how many people we had within the first month come to the site because of Facebook and then proceed to disappear, or only show up once in a blue moon?

It's a lot.

There were a lot of accounts that I deleted within the first year that belonged to people who registered and then never logged in again. We had a bunch of people who were supposed to be helping with different aspects of the site (beta reading, writing challenges, etc), and they all disappeared either immediately or eventually for one reason or another.

Do you know how many people I've told about the site, and the only reason they even somewhat remember it exists is because of the posts that I make in the Facebook group (which, the Facebook group was ONLY made so that we could keep in touch with people who were interested in it while @kherezae and I worked on the forum, because we were trying to figure out what to do best as far as getting some form of a library created goes)? Again, it's a lot.

So yes, Facebook is our biggest competitor (or at least one of them), because it's more convenient, and they can access it on their phones. I don't have the money or the skills to be able to create a phone app version of Worldsmyths, and apparently the one thing that SHOULD make the forum mobile friendly refuses to actually WORK with the forum software, and I have no way of fixing that, so we have no way of making the forum mobile friendly. Facebook has thousands of writing groups for people to join and access from their phones, so that makes it our competitor. The groups on there are our competitor because yes, people ARE willing to share their writing there, even though Facebook doesn't promise privacy, but we don't actually really promise it either. Closed groups on Facebook are basically the equivalent of the library section of the forum being members only. There's nothing to stop someone from plagiarizing something that's posted here if they really want to. We haven't had that issue come up as far as I know, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. That's just the reality of this kind of thing. I am a member of multiple writing groups on Facebook, and believe me, people do not hold back on posting their writing there.

The main reasons Worldsmyths isn't primarily on Facebook instead of the forum are because 1. you have to fight with algorithms, which make it way too easy to miss posts 2. it's too easy for those groups to take the focus off of writing and become a "let's post about whatever" group 3. sharing writing for critique is nearly impossible to do, especially longer pieces.

We basically have very few advantages over Facebook, which is what makes it a big competitor.

Quote
And this website, it's supposed to fill some sort of writing need.

It doesn't matter if people here are the best writers in the world and never need to ask for help; asking for help is only one need this place could fill. There's also mentoring younger writers, the need to help. There's sharing our writing and getting feedback, the need to improve. There's participating in contests, the need to challenge ourselves or the need for competition. Or discussions about writing, the need to share a fannish hobby with like minds or just to feel less isolated; even in the best of circumstances writing is still a very isolating hobby. Or games, a need to play. Or just conversations in general, a need to make connections with others. Or hanging out with friends in the virtual sphere, a need for companionship.

You would think that these are all things that people would keep in mind as being things that we can offer them.  :-\

Quote
And my concern is that no one seems to need anything from this site. Ever.

And sometimes I wonder why they're here if this site isn't fulfilling any needs, and at others I wonder how long it'll be until they float away. Or until the admins give up in despair.

We're trying really hard not to give up in despair.

Like, really hard.

But we're just at the point where we don't know what to do any more, because we've tried everything we can think of. I mean, even this post isn't getting the responses that it should be/usually does, so I don't get it. I really don't.
 
Quote
My question to anyone on this site wouldn't what the admins can do to improve things, because we've already seen the answer to that--nothing. Games don't work, contests don't work, giving feedback doesn't work, discussions don't work--nothing works. In fact, this site was far livelier back when a troll was active here than since they were banned.

Apparently...anger works?

I already responded to this the other night, but this still amuses me a bit.

But yes, the controversial topics seem to be what help to make activity rise more...but it should NOT take controversial topics to get more than one or two posts on the forum, and I definitely don't want to start letting people make a bunch of controversial topics just for the sake of activity.

Quote
So I guess what I figure the right question is is what is it any given member needs. I listed a lot of needs above, there are more I haven't mentioned. What exactly brings you back to a website over and over? What do you look for?

And, very specifically, what rings your bells about writing, both online and off? When you visit other writing forums or websites, what makes you stop and look, play or stay? What would you like to do more of?

And if you do those things elsewhere but not here, what's the difference? What stops you here?

I would love to know the answers to these questions, too, 'cause like I said...we're stuck.

In fact, this site was far livelier back when a troll was active here than since they were banned.

Apparently...anger works?
I would say that few things stimulate discussion like controversy. Maybe we should have more conversations about controversial topics? :P

On a more serious note, some other fantasy writing forums I've seen have discussions about historical accuracy or realism. You know, things like feasible weapon designs, how things really worked during certain historical periods and places, and other topics that touch on real history but are nonetheless of interest to fantasy writers (since most fantasy draws from history to one degree or another). It would require having posters around with expertise in certain subjects, but maybe that would stimulate more activity on this forum?


I mean, the historical accuracy/realism posts are definitely a thing that could take place, if we have the people willing to share that kind of information...? Like, I am the last person to be giving any information about anything historical. I grew up hating to learn and read about history and had 0 interest in it, and I don't even remember the majority of what I learned any more (like, seriously. I remember very few things). It was too many dates and people and such for me to memorize or take an interest in when I was forced to learn about it, so I basically just let it fade out of my memory. There's really nothing I could offer any information on, so I'm totally useless. But if anyone else has that kind of information, they're more than welcome to post information about whatever they're experts in.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 09:40:44 AM by Jedi Knight Muse »
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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2018, 11:41:12 AM »
Ok, so I'm pretty new on here, so I don't have a lot of feedback, but there are some things that I think would be helpful to me as a new member.
- Expand the FAQ with more information of how to post, where to post, what boards are for what, etc. I get a bit confused looking at some of the sections and boards, like "Am I supposed to post in the child board? In the main board? Do I post the whole thing, or just a link to a Google Doc?" Some more info on stuff like that would be really helpful
- Um, what is the Librarium? Everyone keeps talking about it and I'm not sure what it is...?
- The welcome email is really nice! Could it possibly include a few more links to just general site info? There was a lot of information about current happenings, but no links to the FAQ or stuff, which would be helpful.

So yeah. I would love to be more active on here, I'm just not quite sure how everything works. So I guess clarifying that would be my biggest suggestion.
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Elena

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2018, 12:55:39 PM »
What exactly brings you back to a website over and over? What do you look for?

Activity. Discussions, exchange of opinions. Making friends over common passions.

What rings your bells about writing, both online and off? When you visit other writing forums or websites, what makes you stop and look, play or stay? What would you like to do more of?

I like exchanging ideas, brainstorming plots, discussing writing techniques. It doesn't happen as often as I wished, but it happens sometimes.

And if you do those things elsewhere but not here, what's the difference? What stops you here?

I don't know. I am trying to reply to everything I have a reply for.

(Like... What kinds of characters do you want to challenge yourself to write? is not exactly a thing I can reply for. I can reply to what kinds of plots I want to challenge myself to write... and then the characters are the ones tailored for that plot to happen. E.g. I can't reply much about worldbuilding either, because I don't do it. The world was built by humans and influenced by history. I am just navigating in the said setting, among the historical facts, writing my own story with characters which aren't in the chronicles because they aren't as important as the leaders they are in the shadow of.)

And if you want a discussion about historical accuracy/ inspiration, I am game for it! <3  :) I have read about more settings than I have written in, I promise!

Somehow, however... how to say it? I feel that I am talking alone? I mean there are well-thought questions. There are answers people give. But there is no connection between the answers. Everyone reads what the other had said, without feeling the need to further discuss what one or another had said. So it feels like a... symposium sometimes.

I like this site. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't have come back. I understand that you have done everything you could to improve it, and it still hasn't worked enough. But I have no ideas about improving it. I think, exactly like my own RPG site, where I would have wished to see more activity, I have done what I could, but... these are the people. This is their rhythm, their style. Not sure what you (or I, or we) could do more...




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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2018, 09:05:52 PM »
Ok, so I'm pretty new on here, so I don't have a lot of feedback, but there are some things that I think would be helpful to me as a new member.
- Expand the FAQ with more information of how to post, where to post, what boards are for what, etc. I get a bit confused looking at some of the sections and boards, like "Am I supposed to post in the child board? In the main board? Do I post the whole thing, or just a link to a Google Doc?" Some more info on stuff like that would be really helpful
- Um, what is the Librarium? Everyone keeps talking about it and I'm not sure what it is...?
- The welcome email is really nice! Could it possibly include a few more links to just general site info? There was a lot of information about current happenings, but no links to the FAQ or stuff, which would be helpful.

So yeah. I would love to be more active on here, I'm just not quite sure how everything works. So I guess clarifying that would be my biggest suggestion.

First, thank you for your feedback! This is exactly the kind of thing we were looking for, especially from our newer members, so it's super helpful!

I looked at the FAQs and wow do they need to be updated, haha. I vaguely remember updating them last summer some time, but there are some things that have changed since then so I definitely need to work on fixing that. Same with the rules (which were updated in the fall, I believe, but could still use an update). I will work on expanding on them this week so that they're hopefully less confusing. If you have any more questions that you think should be added in, please let me know 'cause I'll be glad to add them.

In answer to your questions that you gave as suggestions:
-What specific child boards/main boards are you talking about? Or do you mean just in general? For "the whole thing," I assume you mean a story that you want to submit (in which case, you can either post an entire chapter in the actual post itself, upload a Word document to a post or you can just stick it into a Google doc and link us to the chapter).

The Librarium...okay, so long story short, we used to have something that was more or less along the lines of fanfiction.net, but the software was severely outdated, and we ended up (accidentally, but we were going to do so anyway) getting rid of it, because @Sheepy-Pie's partner said he could build a library site from the ground up for us. So basically the Librarium is supposed to be a library portion of the site, but...it's taking a long time to get it built - longer than originally expected -  and whether or not it's actually going to be finished is kind of up in the air.

Sooo I basically need to get rid of any mention of it out of the FAQs, because right now it doesn't even apply.

Aah! I'm such a dummy. I've been sending those PMs out with all those links and somehow I stupidly forgot to put the links to the rules and FAQs in to them. XD So thank you for that reminder, 'cause now I know that I need to do that (though I should have thought of it before now).

If you can think of anything else, let us know!

I like this site. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't have come back. I understand that you have done everything you could to improve it, and it still hasn't worked enough. But I have no ideas about improving it. I think, exactly like my own RPG site, where I would have wished to see more activity, I have done what I could, but... these are the people. This is their rhythm, their style. Not sure what you (or I, or we) could do more...

You're right- I don't think it's a matter of me or the other staff members needing to do more, it's the members. I've said this multiple times, but the members are the beating heart of the community, and without them, it doesn't beat. If they're not active, there's no point. So basically...the members need to make a much bigger effort to be more active, in order to get the site going in the right direction finally. But it has to be a massive effort, and it can't just be a few members doing it and that's it. Everyone has to make the effort.
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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2018, 12:58:46 PM »
Hello! Like Elena I am a new member, this is my third post maybe.

I think I first heard about this site when I googled 'writing forums'. This would have been about a year ago. At first glance I loved the concept but didn't sign up then, I remember it looking like there was a lot of content on the site because of all the child forums and I didn't have time to dig deep into a new community.

I found this site again a couple months ago, maybe through the Nano forums? This time I signed up. I signed up because other forums I'm on aren't all that busy, or don't have content I'm looking for. I used to be on the Scribophile forums quite a bit but I find them a bit...elitist isn't quiet the right word, more like the community has a bit of a hive mind about writing concepts that can be unfriendly at times. Nano comes and goes for activity. I also use the 4 the Words site, which is awesome, but the forum is a bit sluggish. So I thought I'd try here. I dove into the forums and found it a bit of a ghost town, which of course is why we are here looking for suggestions.

So my impressions of the forum. This is kind of free thoughts as I click through things and formulate this reply. First, I thought the website was a lot older than it actually is (2016?). I think the colour scheme and website set-up looks maybe a bit dated, which may scare people away. There are a lot of slick looking user friendly forums out there to pull people to other sites. The homepage looks good but when you click into the forums...I think it is the little icons on the side for normal post, hot post etc, they remind me of old Windows systems. This is just my vague impression or course.

My second impression is that there are maybe TOO many places to post? Like the Submissions & Review section, do the different kinds of fantasy need to be divided up? It just adds another click through until I am able to view content. And it seems similar to the Beta Readers Society, what differentiates them? Showcases - Do we need a separate one for Worlds, Characters, Projects, or could they be sorted into one (title of post could show which it is, like 'Character Showcase - <character name>'.
With the Hall of Fame the posts mostly seem to be links to other forum posts about old challenges, or they redirect to a 'Library Lite' which doesn't load. And yet this is the first thing I see when I go to the Monthly Writing Challenge. This adds to a feeling of clutter or 'why-bother-ness'

I hope that all didn't sound too negative, I just want to give a snapshot of the thoughts of a new user. I DO like this site, other forums can be kind of snobby about fantasy so the idea of a fantasy safe space is intriguing. I want to see this site thrive.

So solutions. I have a couple of suggestions. I think a mission statement on the home page or an About page would be useful. Explain the site, what a new user could expect to get out of it. I could have sworn I had seen a mission statement somewhere before but I'm not seeing one now. I also think a blurb at the top of each subforum would be useful. I know there is the one liner on the main forum page (eg. - Monthly Writing Challenges
All monthly writing challenges and prompts will be posted here. All monthly writing challenges are posted by staff members) but a more in depth explanation in easy sight as soon as I click in would help new users engage. Like, what is a monthy writing challenge and why should I participate? If a blurb isn't easy with this website setup then a stickied thread would work too. I know some of the subforums have How Tos and templates, but I would like to see a standard 'this is what this subforum is for and how to use it' post for each one to give a feeling of consistency. And I would like the How To and the template to be in one place. If I've got to read the how to, go to the template, copy that into a new post, go back to the How To for instructions, well that is a lot of steps. It sounds a bit whiny but the more a person has to click the more likely they are to ditch the site.

I think the best thing for bringing users back would be a weekly roundup email with direct links to active posts. Remind them this site exists, make it easy for them to get back here in a single click. Cross post this to various social media pages (facebook, twitter, instragram, tumblr). As annoying as it is to maintain social media pages as well as this website it is a good way to reach people and encourage them to come back here, and you've already identified facebook as a big competitor.
 
At the moment I think the activity stream might be hurting you, it is easy to see how sleepy this site is, which can also make potential new members not want to come back. Maybe it can be hidden from being at the top of every page? It already has its own tab on the header.

So there you go, some first impressions and some talking-out-my-butt suggestions. Hope that helps?

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2018, 10:31:28 PM »
Sorry, I meant to respond sooner, but I think @katfireblade has already said pretty much what I was thinking. I've said for a long time that people have to want to make the time for this site (or any other). I think this is a good site and I like coming here, but I don't really have suggestions for what the  mods can do. I think you guys have done pretty much everything you can do, short of offering monetary rewards for challenges or something (which I know you can't do and isn't something I think you should have to do).

I have my own excuses for not participating, and they're just excuses, but ones that I feel are a real barrier to participating more on this site. But that's down to me, not the fault of the site, so nothing you guys can fix. I know the mods have done a ton of work to keep the site going, and I appreciate that. I hope it sticks around.
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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Site Feedback Wanted- Discuss!
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2018, 11:49:51 PM »
Hi, @Penguinball! Thank you for the great feedback!

Hello! Like Elena I am a new member, this is my third post maybe.

I think I first heard about this site when I googled 'writing forums'. This would have been about a year ago. At first glance I loved the concept but didn't sign up then, I remember it looking like there was a lot of content on the site because of all the child forums and I didn't have time to dig deep into a new community.

I found this site again a couple months ago, maybe through the Nano forums? This time I signed up. I signed up because other forums I'm on aren't all that busy, or don't have content I'm looking for. I used to be on the Scribophile forums quite a bit but I find them a bit...elitist isn't quiet the right word, more like the community has a bit of a hive mind about writing concepts that can be unfriendly at times. Nano comes and goes for activity. I also use the 4 the Words site, which is awesome, but the forum is a bit sluggish. So I thought I'd try here. I dove into the forums and found it a bit of a ghost town, which of course is why we are here looking for suggestions.

Yeah, I've found that there are definitely some other forums out there that aren't quite elitist, but they can definitely be unfriendly at times, too. I've been bouncing from writing forum to writing forum for years, never quite finding the right place to be part of...Worldsmyths is different, though. I mean, it helps that I created it, but it definitely feels more homey than other places I'm on and mostly lurk at.

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So my impressions of the forum. This is kind of free thoughts as I click through things and formulate this reply. First, I thought the website was a lot older than it actually is (2016?). I think the colour scheme and website set-up looks maybe a bit dated, which may scare people away. There are a lot of slick looking user friendly forums out there to pull people to other sites. The homepage looks good but when you click into the forums...I think it is the little icons on the side for normal post, hot post etc, they remind me of old Windows systems. This is just my vague impression or course.

Yes, the site was opened in 2016.

Hm. See, I use the dark skin, so I don't see what you see on the forum...but looking at it without being logged in in another browser, I guess I can kind of see what you mean (depending on which theme you're using. I think there's at least three or four skin choices? Or at least there should be). The unfortunate thing with SMF, our forum software, is that there really isn't a whole lot of nice, decent theme choices for us to choose from. Like, I looked a little while ago and there really aren't many choices for themes that would work for us. You're right, though, that there are a lot of forums out there that are on fancier (and therefore expensive- SMF is free, so it's one of those "you gotta take what you get" situations, because I sadly am not good enough at HTML/CSS (especially CSS) to be able to fiddle around with the theme's code, and with my luck I would break the forum (I've actually had that happen before...not fun to deal with) themes and such that are more likely to draw people in.

I admit that one of the reasons, outside of the fact that there really aren't a ton of choices for us to choose from that would work and aren't just downright ugly (some of the choices I linked you to really are ugly looking), that I haven't done much to give more theme choices other than what's there is because SMF is basically a pain in the butt to deal with the coding for the themes and such, especially when it comes to changing the header image, and I haven't wanted to deal with that because I really have no business trying to fiddle with it. The darker theme (Into the Black) was actually installed by someone who was a semi-member but hasn't been on the forum in a long time, so I can't ask her to fiddle around with anything for me. My semi-MIA co-admin is back to being around more often, but it's been a while since she's fiddled with coding, and it may be a while before she's able to play around with it. So basically, I've been a bit lazy with dealing with it, but for good reason, because the last thing we want/need is for me to break the forum while I try to update the coding or something. :P

What theme are you using? 'Cause that could have something to do with the Windows-y feel you're getting. Try switching to the "Into the Black" theme and see if it makes any kind of a difference to you (I'm curious to see whether or not it does. I think I'm literally the only one who's using that theme right now).

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My second impression is that there are maybe TOO many places to post? Like the Submissions & Review section, do the different kinds of fantasy need to be divided up? It just adds another click through until I am able to view content. And it seems similar to the Beta Readers Society, what differentiates them? Showcases - Do we need a separate one for Worlds, Characters, Projects, or could they be sorted into one (title of post could show which it is, like 'Character Showcase - <character name>'.
With the Hall of Fame the posts mostly seem to be links to other forum posts about old challenges, or they redirect to a 'Library Lite' which doesn't load. And yet this is the first thing I see when I go to the Monthly Writing Challenge. This adds to a feeling of clutter or 'why-bother-ness'

The reason the different kinds of fantasy are divided up is that it's easier to categorize the submissions and so that they don't all get lost in pages of submissions...it makes it easier for those who are looking for specific kinds of stories (i.e. pseudo-historical) to find them, rather than having to look through multiple pages in order to find them. I do understand what you're getting at as far as having to click to find more content, but...you'd be clicking even more to find (certain kinds of) content if we didn't have it set up this way. It hasn't always been set up like this, it's just the way that we had to set it up due to losing the library portion of the site (think of it as being kind of like Wattpad, only specifically for fantasy stories instead of pretty much any genre). Hopefully we'll get the Librarium soon and then we'll be able to get rid of the submissions section altogether 'cause the submissions will be on that portion of the site and not on the forum.

The beta readers society is specifically for finding/offering to be someone to beta read a longer piece of work, like an entire novel, whereas the submissions section is just specifically for submitting a shorter piece of writing, like a chapter, that you want anyone to critique.

As far as the showcase goes...that was something that an old member had suggested we add, I believe, and we did it thinking that more people would use it, specifically with those sections since the point is to showcase specific parts of worlds that members are writing in. But honestly, since no one is really using it, we'll probably end up getting rid of it. I did make a post asking about whether or not to get rid of it a while ago, and I believe the consensus was to keep it, but...with the features that the Librarium is supposed to have, we won't need it any more, anyway.

The hall of fame definitely needs to be fixed up. The reason Library Lite doesn't load is because it leads to the old library that we basically (accidentally) got rid of a year ago. I will definitely see about getting that situated.

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I hope that all didn't sound too negative, I just want to give a snapshot of the thoughts of a new user. I DO like this site, other forums can be kind of snobby about fantasy so the idea of a fantasy safe space is intriguing. I want to see this site thrive.

Nope, you don't sound too negative at all! This is exactly the kind of feedback we want, and need, especially from the perspective of a newer member, because it helps us see what else we need to be trying to do. So please, feel free to give more suggestions!

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So solutions. I have a couple of suggestions. I think a mission statement on the home page or an About page would be useful. Explain the site, what a new user could expect to get out of it. I could have sworn I had seen a mission statement somewhere before but I'm not seeing one now. I also think a blurb at the top of each subforum would be useful. I know there is the one liner on the main forum page (eg. - Monthly Writing Challenges All monthly writing challenges and prompts will be posted here. All monthly writing challenges are posted by staff members) but a more in depth explanation in easy sight as soon as I click in would help new users engage. Like, what is a monthy writing challenge and why should I participate? If a blurb isn't easy with this website setup then a stickied thread would work too. I know some of the subforums have How Tos and templates, but I would like to see a standard 'this is what this subforum is for and how to use it' post for each one to give a feeling of consistency. And I would like the How To and the template to be in one place. If I've got to read the how to, go to the template, copy that into a new post, go back to the How To for instructions, well that is a lot of steps. It sounds a bit whiny but the more a person has to click the more likely they are to ditch the site.

We do have an About Worldsmyths post (which needs to be expanded on, I agree), which is in the announcements & information section, toward the bottom. Unfortunately, the more announcements I make (that I make as sticky posts), the lower on the list of posts in that section that post will be, if that makes sense...meaning, I'd basically have to repost it in order to put it at the top of the forum in that section (which I'll probably end up doing anyway, along with the rules and the FAQs). There's also a mission statement mentioned in the rules.

Hm. I mean, I'm used to forums where shorter forum descriptions is better- you don't necessarily want to give a massive description on what you can find in a specific forum, because people aren't necessarily going to read it. (I've also learned in my graphic design classes that shorter is better, too- KISS (keep it simple, stupid) has been knocked into my head, so I think that's part of why I've stuck to shorter descriptions.) But I could definitely see a benefit in adding more information to them, so I can work on doing that, too.

By a blurb, do you mean like...a blurb that's part of the actual forum, kind of like the way the forum descriptions are part of the forum? Or do you mean just having it in a sticky post? Because the sticky post is really probably the only thing we'd be able to do...which is definitely easy enough to do. I can also do the "how to" and "what this forum is for" post for each section, too.

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I think the best thing for bringing users back would be a weekly roundup email with direct links to active posts. Remind them this site exists, make it easy for them to get back here in a single click. Cross post this to various social media pages (facebook, twitter, instragram, tumblr). As annoying as it is to maintain social media pages as well as this website it is a good way to reach people and encourage them to come back here, and you've already identified facebook as a big competitor.
 
At the moment I think the activity stream might be hurting you, it is easy to see how sleepy this site is, which can also make potential new members not want to come back. Maybe it can be hidden from being at the top of every page? It already has its own tab on the header.

So there you go, some first impressions and some talking-out-my-butt suggestions. Hope that helps?

My only hesitance with doing a weekly e-mail is that, quite frankly, I think people would be scared off by constantly getting an e-mail from us...when the forum first started, I was using a newsletter mod that I installed, and I think it sent out an email...every week? And I can't even remember what the issue was that made us stop it, but we did. I think it was being sent out too often, and it wasn't even going to people's inboxes or...I don't even remember any more. But after we stopped it, I started trying to only send out an e-mail once or twice a month, because otherwise it might get too annoying. I think once a week might be too much. Something I want to do is get InDesign so that I can design a PDF newsletter to e-mail out to people, but that's a long ways off. Either that, or I could try using MailChimp to send e-mails out, but I don't know. I don't want to send them out so often that people get annoyed by them, but I don't want to not send them out enough, either. It's a slippery slope.

We do post on social media (though I admit that I've been terrible about posting on the Facebook page for Worldsmyths over the last several months, but that's mainly because it doesn't even have many followers, and I've forgotten, and I'm fairly sure that most people don't even see the posts on there due to algorithms)...I definitely need to be better about posting on Twitter and Instagram, but we have those. We also have a Pinterest, but I don't think we've actually gotten anyone from there to join.

See, the activity stream is a constant back and forth battle for us. We've actually been told by people that we should just get rid of it, for the same exact reason that you said. But, the "view new posts" thing isn't very reliable- there were definitely times when the site first opened where I would click it and there were posts that it didn't show me. The activity stream always tells when someone starts a new topic or replies to a post, which makes it easier for people to find the more recent topics. Not to mention, we have at least a few people who mainly only visit the forum through their phones, and they use the activity stream to find the most recent topics...

I think I'm going to be making a separate post regarding the activity stream, because we're kind of at a standstill on what to do with it. I don't personally care either way, though I certainly think it's helpful and would honestly rather click that and know I'm seeing all of the posts than click "view new posts" and not see all of the posts despite the fact that I should be able to do so. I do think you're right that it probably scares people off, because they see how few posts are being made, but...I doubt that it's the activity stream that's making people register for the forum, maybe introduce themselves and then disappear into oblivion. When you look at it like that, it seems to be the least likely culprit compared to other factors, such as people just not taking the time to make a bigger effort to be part of the community. I will be working on a separate post asking for feedback about the stream to see what people think. We did a post a while ago asking about it, and I think people said to just keep it, but since we have newer members it might be time to do another one and get opinions, since the staffers and I can't seem to agree either way.

I'm not sure whether or not there's a way to keep it from being shown at the top of every page. :-/ I'd have to look into the settings again, but...from what I remember, it didn't leave much room for that kind of customization. It's a mod that I purchased and installed...a year and a half ago or something? I've lost track...so it's not something that we coded or anything like that. I just spent the money and installed it.

Like I said, this feedback was super helpful, so please keep more of it coming!

Sorry, I meant to respond sooner, but I think @katfireblade has already said pretty much what I was thinking. I've said for a long time that people have to want to make the time for this site (or any other). I think this is a good site and I like coming here, but I don't really have suggestions for what the  mods can do. I think you guys have done pretty much everything you can do, short of offering monetary rewards for challenges or something (which I know you can't do and isn't something I think you should have to do).

I have my own excuses for not participating, and they're just excuses, but ones that I feel are a real barrier to participating more on this site. But that's down to me, not the fault of the site, so nothing you guys can fix. I know the mods have done a ton of work to keep the site going, and I appreciate that. I hope it sticks around.
Yeah, I definitely don't want to start offering monetary rewards or anything (not that I can do so anyway, but I also don't believe it should come down to that just to get people to participate in the challenges).

Worldsmyths will stick around for as long as we can possibly keep it around, but we definitely need more members making more of an effort to be active and be part of the community and discuss and interact with each other for that to happen (just speaking in general, not because of you not being around much). I've honestly been considering the idea of just moving onto Discord, but I think that's going to be the super, absolute last resort before closing the site, because I know we'd lose several people who don't use Discord if we did that and I don't want to see that happen. So...here's hoping that once we start implementing certain changes, and hopefully once we get the Librarium finally, things start to change.
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