New Library Options - please read/respond!

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Jedi Knight Muse

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New Library Options - please read/respond!
« on: January 17, 2017, 06:59:46 PM »
Hi everyone,

As I said in this post, we're currently looking into other library options, since we know that some members are having some issues with it. Right now we're still looking into other options, but these are the ones that we've come up with so far:

1. Get rid of the library site entirely


We would have all writing posted on the forum instead of the library once the library was entirely gone. The new categories for writing submissions would be members only (and/OR password protected). Those who wish to submit their writing would do so in a post and format the story as necessary after filling out a form (title, summary, rating, categories, author notes). Any reviews/feedback would be given in the thread that a chapter to a specific story has been placed into.

If we did this, we would probably have member portfolios, which would basically be for members to display a list of the stories they'll have submitted to the forum and the links to the chapters of those stories.

As an example, here's a general idea of how it would be set up:
I'm thinking that all stories would be submitted into the very first category (library submissions), and then the staff members would be the ones to move the stories into their appropriate forum.

I'm not sure yet, but I think chapters would be submitted as responses to the story's thread- meaning if you post the first chapter to a story, then you respond to that thread with the next chapter.

Downside: there would be no multiple category selection, because that's not something that can be done if the stories are being submitted to the forum. We have a tagging mod installed that's currently being unused but theoretically could be used to help distinguish the categories a story belongs in. Otherwise, that's why the form (see the next screenshot) would be needed for people to fill out when submitting to the library.

On the other hand, filling out a form really shouldn't be that big of a deal, especially since right now when submitting to the library, that's basically what you're doing anyway, it's just a fancier set up than what we'd have if the stories were being submitted on the forum itself.

Example of the form that members would be filling out when submitting their stories.

2. Use the SMF Social Groups Mod for $29.99
Social groups is a mod that would work with our forum, and would cost $29.99. Based on the features, I think it could be set up to possibly work as a library of sorts that would be on the forum. It would be members only, access can be approved...there's several other features on that page that we could use for it as well. I'm honestly only guessing about being able to use it as a library of sorts, but it's an option.

Forgetting about possibly using it as a library, are the groups anything you'd like to see added to the site? I mean, we don't really have enough active members right now to need to add groups like this, because we already have parts of the forum that serve well enough for most topics. The only thing I could see potentially using the groups for, other than a library, is for role playing (and that's if/when enough people were interested, but right now I don't see that happening). I don't really want to be adding the social groups to the site only to find out that it's not something we can use, since it costs $30.00, but if we can figure out more than one purpose besides the library and MAYBE role playing, then it would be something to consider.

The more I think about it, the more I think that maybe we'd just have different groups for novels, novellas, short stories...and then I think anything else would pretty much be the challenge submissions and excerpts, which would basically be like in the screenshots in option #1 since I don't really see a need for there to be two separate groups just for excerpts and just for challenge entries. The different genres, like fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, light fantasy, etc wouldn't need their own groups because there would be a form to fill out to indicate the categories the story would belong in.

Possible downside: like option #1, there would be no way to select multiple categories that a story would fit into, which means that the form would be needed for this option as well, because you'd be writing out the other categories that it fits into besides its main category.

3. Use Google docs
Fair warning: I've never used Google docs in this way before, and I don't even use it enough to know if this option would REALLY work, so there are a lot of things to figure out. While you need a Google account in order to access a document with private settings, you can create a Google account without having a Google e-mail address. The other option would be for the author of the document to make it so that only those with the link can view a document.

Google docs has an in-line commenting system that, theoretically, could be useful for giving comments on someone's chapter they've submitted. I haven't actually used this feature a whole lot, either as an author as a reviewer, so I have no idea how much of a pain it may or may not be.

So basically, if we used Google docs, we would be doing what I described in option #1, but instead of copying and pasting the text of a chapter into a post, you would be linking to the document that a chapter is in, and any reviewers would either use the in-line commenting system (ideally) or give their review by replying to the thread that the author has made for a story. Each time an author had a new chapter for the same story that they were looking for comments on, they would reply to the thread they'd created for the story and give the link (or ask for e-mail addresses for those who wanted to read it and get an invitation).

Like I said, I've never done it this way before. I have no idea if it would actually work out or not. It would be kind of risky to do it this way, unless there's some massive flaw in this idea that makes it impossible for us to even try. I mean, I suppose if we had a small enough group of people who already have something they want/need edited, we could try having a few people use Google docs to edit each other's writing for a short while and see how they like it.

Possible downside: again, the category issue, as well as having to fill out the form.


Google docs is no longer an option!
4. Move the site onto IPB

This is an absolute last resort option, because unfortunately it wouldn't be cheap compared to, say, option #3. While we already have a license on IPB due to Kher having bought one for a previous site of hers, the problem is that a lot of the features that we get here on SMF would actually cost money on IPB. Some of the most basic features on here cost, like, $11.00, for example, and it adds up. Right now I cannot afford to spend tons of money on purchasing a bunch of features, but it's an option for waaaay down the road (like, two or three years. The only reason I'm listing it is because it can be a goal for the future while we temporarily try doing one of the other three options.

When I say it wouldn't be cheap, I mean...I've been looking at the different mods that we could have. There's some that we currently have for free that we would have to pay for on IPB. Right now, combining the ones I know we would definitely use and the ones I can see maybe using (even if not right away), it would easily be $356.99 and those are just the ones I have listed in a document right now.

The good thing about IPB is that it does have a free Google docs embedding mod, although if we were going to move to IPB, we wouldn't even need it because there's another mod (that costs $35.00 + $10.00 to renew it after 12 months) that Kher has used in the past that we would be able to use as a library instead.

On the one hand, it seems like IPB would be the "best" option in terms of its features and functionality and such, but in terms of cost it's actually worse because the cost of all of the mods is ridiculous and really adds up. And I mean, I wouldn't be buying them all at once, 'cause I can't afford that, but it would be hard to choose which ones we would REALLY need right away VS the ones we wouldn't.


5. Some other option that we haven't found yet

I've been trying to find another solution, but so far nothing that hasn't had some major flaw to it has been found. I did find one option but after playing around with it, which is a fan fiction SMF mod, but I'm giving it a hard no due to the fact that you can't select multiple categories (i.e. the genre a story may belong in and the setting, like earth-based) like you can in our current library. It seems pretty pointless to not be able to do that, especially for our purposes. It may be a paid version option, but the site with the information about the paid version is currently down so I can't even look into seeing how much it would cost.

We'd greatly appreciate whatever your thoughts are on any of these options.

Please respond to this post with the following questions answered:

Code: [Select]
[b]Do you think that the social groups mod that costs $30.00 would be the best option? [/b]
[b]Do you want to do it the old fashioned way and copy and paste a chapter into a post on the forum, where the formatting might not work out exactly the way it should? [/b]
[b]Should we just keep the library?[/b]
[b]Should we use the SMF groups mod for the $29.99 and see what we can do to set up a library of sorts? Can you see other uses for the groups mod other than using it as a library of sorts? (i.e. maybe role playing eventually, but other things as well.)[/b]
[b]Forgetting about possibly using it as a library, are the groups anything you'd like to see added to the site? Are they something you could see yourself using (i.e. creating a fan group or a group for showing off artwork or something) and/or joining?[/b

If you know of any other options besides the fan fiction SMF mod and any of the options I've given, please feel free to let me know and I can look into it.

These are the questions that we'd really like to know your thoughts on so that we can make a decision and, once we do so, start making changes to the site and possibly get rid of the current library altogether.

Thank you!
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 08:50:17 PM by Jedi Knight Muse »

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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WriterDave

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2017, 08:00:35 PM »
First, I'm a newer member and have not used the library function. Most of  my writing is not fantasy, so would not be a frequent user of the library. That said, when I do, simple would be better than full featured. 
Google docs might work well.
The social groups mod seems unnecessary unless the volume of active participation goes up.
Cut and paste is really clunky.
I don't use the library as it is, so I don't  have an opinion on keeping the library as is.
Sorry, I did not understand how you want to use the SMF groups mod.
The only thing I'd like to see added to the site is more active participation on the forums.

(Edited to fix coding.)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 08:02:19 PM by Jedi Knight Muse »

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2017, 08:57:59 PM »
First, I'm a newer member and have not used the library function. Most of  my writing is not fantasy, so would not be a frequent user of the library. That said, when I do, simple would be better than full featured. 
Google docs might work well.
The social groups mod seems unnecessary unless the volume of active participation goes up.
Cut and paste is really clunky.
I don't use the library as it is, so I don't  have an opinion on keeping the library as is.
Sorry, I did not understand how you want to use the SMF groups mod.
The only thing I'd like to see added to the site is more active participation on the forums.

(Edited to fix coding.)

(I fixed your post 'cause the coding got screwed up somehow so I made it easier to read. :) )

I'm trying to think of the easiest way to explain the groups.

So, basically, from what I can tell, the groups would basically be additional forums. Let's say I create a group for talking about Star Wars. Members could request to join that group and I'd approve them, or they could automatically join without needing me to approve them. The posts that they make within that group would only be made within that group, and if I wanted to, I could make that group members only so that only members with registered accounts could see the posts in that group.

The idea that I have with using the groups in replacement of the library is basically to make multiple groups (or additional forums, in this case) for each type of writing that people would submit- novels, novellas, short stories. The threads for those groups would only show up in the group forums, so if you weren't a member of, say, the novels group, but were a member of the short stories group, you wouldn't be able to see the threads in the novels group unless you joined.

Basically, it would create a secondary way of protecting everyone's writing, like the library currently does right now, but it would be on the same site as the forum, so people wouldn't have to go off-site and register an account on a technically separate site (they have similar URLs but only because the library was directed to the Worldsmyths domain) just to participate in the library. All they would have to do is create an account on the forum and request to join those member groups.

Hopefully I explained that right. It's hard to explain and I can't SHOW you what I mean without actually purchasing the groups mod. The only possible example I can think of that's kind of what I'm talking about is these groups on Figment. They're not the greatest example 'cause it's not even the same software as far as I can tell, but it might give you a little bit of a visual.

I'm assuming that by "copy and paste is really clunky" you mean that it would be a pain to have to copy and paste the form each time they submit something. This may be true, but honestly, it's what people have done in the past on other sites, and it's not that hard to copy and paste and then fill out the form.

For what it's worth, I did find a free mod that allows a custom form to be made and used in a post, and I installed it on the test forum but I haven't figured out how to actually make the form show up so that it can be filled out...so I need to work on that. If I can get THAT to work, then copying and pasting should, theoretically, not be an issue.

I honestly can't say whether or not adding the groups would make the site more active. It's a guesstimate at this point. The main issue that's been pointed out in the member feedback survey is that people are confused as to why the library is a separate site from the forum, and that they find it clunky to work with certain features that the library has. Enough people, even among the staff members, have been saying this that it's made me realize that obviously, something needs to be changed.

This groups idea may or may not be the best solution, but at the very least it would be a long-term temporary solution until we can get moved over onto IPB (which, again, may not happen for a few more years if it's going to happen at all), and it would get the library onto the same site as the forums, which is what everyone who's interested in using the library, whether as a reader and/or writer, seems to want.

Activity can only be generated by those who want to generate activity. The staff team and I have been doing our part to try and create more activity, and we've been wracking our brains to try and come up with more topics, but it can't all be the staff members who are the only ones generating that activity and coming up with those topics. It has to be done on both ends (meaning the members have to generate it, too), otherwise we'll stay in this rut of low activity without much change taking place. We can only do so much to try and come up with topics that we think people will respond to, as well.

Do I think that the groups could generate activity? Maybe. It's hard to say. Do I think it would be a possible solution to the library issue? Yes, at least as a long-term temporary one. Am I willing to give it a shot? Only if enough people agree that it seems to be the best option at the moment for a better library than the one we have. I don't mind spending the $30.00, but I don't want to do it if only a few people are going to use the groups and if no one is going to submit writing to them or anything. I can't know for sure what's going to happen without buying it and seeing what happens once it's installed and set up.

I'm iffy about using Google docs just because I've never used it the way I described before, and I honestly don't know if it would be better or worse than the current library set up. I don't want to do anything that's going to make things worse for the site, but I know that something has to change with the current library set up sooner rather than later.

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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Bryman

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2017, 10:30:00 PM »
 - I recently started using Google docs, I don't mind it
 - In regards to the social groups mod, I can't say. Never know until ya try?
 - I think formatting helps when reading a story (or even sometimes how you see your own writing) so that might be an issue, though it isn't big
 - I think the library currently in use is fine. The fact that it's separate is a minor annoyance, but not anything to complain about.
 - Depending on how deep the SMF mod you're talking about is, it could be used for a lot of things. Roleplaying, like you said, or an easy way to collaborate if people want, etc.
 - Any new way to socialize or show off is a welcome addition to any forum I feel. I'd probably use it, depending on how easy it is to use or how many others end up using it
I was going to say that life is short. There are only a few good things in it, really. Don't pretend that one isn't happening. - Ripred, The Underland Chronicles, book 4

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 10:48:47 PM »
- I recently started using Google docs, I don't mind it
 - In regards to the social groups mod, I can't say. Never know until ya try?
 - I think formatting helps when reading a story (or even sometimes how you see your own writing) so that might be an issue, though it isn't big
 - I think the library currently in use is fine. The fact that it's separate is a minor annoyance, but not anything to complain about.
 - Depending on how deep the SMF mod you're talking about is, it could be used for a lot of things. Roleplaying, like you said, or an easy way to collaborate if people want, etc.
 - Any new way to socialize or show off is a welcome addition to any forum I feel. I'd probably use it, depending on how easy it is to use or how many others end up using it

That's the thing - I won't know until I try, but it's $30.00 that I could potentially be spending on something that I don't know for absolute certainty is what I want and will do what I want it to do.  :-\ And there's no refunds, so once I buy it, we either use it a LOT and get the $30.00 worth out of it, or we end up not using it a whole lot and I'm out $30.00. But honestly, I can't imagine that we won't use it a whole lot, especially with it being the new library...I'm just nervous about spending that much money without knowing that it's what we should be doing. If it were, like, $10.00, I wouldn't mind it.

It's not so much that people have complained about the current library...but the fact that it's a separate site was mentioned a lot in the responses we got to the survey, along with activity. Activity is something that the staff members can't do alone, as I said in my reply above, but the library issue has become enough of an issue that I know something needs to be done about it.

Quote
Group Threads:
Each group has its own threads and can be showned only for group members, threads aren't related in anyway with SMF Forum.

From the sound of it, the groups would basically be mini forums of their own. They'd be totally separate from the main forums of the site.

That's what I'm nervous about, is whether or not enough people would use it. I think it would be fairly easy to use, but the amount of people using it is what has me slightly concerned. On the other hand, if we were to use at least a few of the groups for the library, I think there'd be at least some activity from that. I know I'd be more likely to remember to look and see what's been submitted for critique than I admittedly currently am right now- a large part of that has to do with the fact that the library is a separate site, and I never remember to go to the library, so I'm definitely part of the problem.

One perk that I forgot to mention: the activity stream streams a lot of things, and once I purchase and install the groups mod, it will stream things from that as well, which means that the groups will be part of the stream and hopefully be more noticed, which means that the library groups would be noticed more. There's also an index that lists the social groups, and the groups you join would be listed on your profile.

Heck, technically we could also have a group for the writing challenges and take advantage of the "group events" feature:

Quote
Each group has its own events so members can easily share events related with their group, each event has an start date, location, event title and end date this is a pretty nice way to increase the possible uses of this mod and allows members to give information about important events that can be of interest of group members and it can be restricted only to group members.

I don't think we'll do that for the monthly challenges, but we could definitely do that with other challenges (NaNoWriMo, any other kind of challenges we can come up with...I was discussing the possibility of a world building challenge with @briari hallow not that long ago, I just need to figure out how it would work).

There are definitely useful features, and I don't think it would be hard to use the groups at all. It's just a matter of people using them the way they should be used in addition to them being used as a replacement for the library.

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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Ahryantah

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 10:52:38 PM »
After reading through the options, it seems to me that keeping the Library as it is currently is probably the best one. The groups thing sounds like it could be a hassle, and that's a lot of money for something you don't even know will work for our purposes. I'm fine with using Google Docs, but wouldn't that still just be using a different site? I think of all the options, I like the idea of having writing right on the forum itself, but like you said, there are a lot of limitations there.

For me (and maybe not for anyone else, but I thought I'd mention it), the Library being on a different site and needing a different account isn't what bugs me about it. I just don't like the interface; it's clunky. Leaving reviews is especially annoying because of it going to a new, separate page that doesn't even let you look back over the story you're reviewing while you write, at least not without going back (and losing your work) or remembering to open in a new tab/window every time. If the interface could be improved, I'd be more inclined to use the Library more often, I think. If not, like I said, my second choice would be dedicated sections on the forums. Then maybe the groups if they can be used for that purpose and would function better than the current Library. Google Docs is probably my least preferred option.


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mircat

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 11:06:01 PM »
I am also a newer member with little experience using the library, so I may not have the best insight. However, I can say that the library functionality being separate is partly why I have not used it much.

Do you like the idea of using Google docs? I am wary of this idea. I love google docs as a program to use on an individual basis, but I have found it to be rather clunky when used collaboratively. I have only used google docs this way for work and that's where I've had issues, so maybe others have had great success using it as a feedback system. This is my favorite of the options (even though I said I am wary of it) because we don't lose anything to take it into beta.

Do you think that the social groups mod that costs $30.00 would be the best option? I don't have experience with the social groups, but I wouldn't call it the best option. The group functionality is not necessarily something I think is missing right now, and  without further data about using it to replace the library, the fact that it will cost money makes it a less appealing option to me.

Do you want to do it the old fashioned way and copy and paste a chapter into a post on the forum, where the formatting might not work out exactly the way it should? I can imagine the formatting issues might get really annoying, but beyond that this might be a rather cluttered way of sharing your writing and collecting feedback. It is certainly a serviceable method, but not the best.

Should we just keep the library? I can't say. I currently haven't used it much because it is separate from the forum, but that is more my own laziness than anything wrong with the system. Again, this is coming from a very inexperienced perspective.

Should we use the SMF groups mod for the $29.99 and see what we can do to set up a library of sorts? Can you see other uses for the groups mod other than using it as a library of sorts? (i.e. maybe role playing eventually, but other things as well.) I can't think of any uses beyond the aforementioned.


Forgetting about possibly using it as a library, are the groups anything you'd like to see added to the site? Are they something you could see yourself using (i.e. creating a fan group or a group for showing off artwork or something) and/or joining? I don't think I'd use this very much. I wouldn't actively avoid it if it was added; I'd certainly give it a try, but it isn't something that I think I need. However, if you're thinking the forum (apart from the library) needs a shakeup, then I'd say it's worth a shot.

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 11:46:53 PM »
After reading through the options, it seems to me that keeping the Library as it is currently is probably the best one. The groups thing sounds like it could be a hassle, and that's a lot of money for something you don't even know will work for our purposes. I'm fine with using Google Docs, but wouldn't that still just be using a different site? I think of all the options, I like the idea of having writing right on the forum itself, but like you said, there are a lot of limitations there.

For me (and maybe not for anyone else, but I thought I'd mention it), the Library being on a different site and needing a different account isn't what bugs me about it. I just don't like the interface; it's clunky. Leaving reviews is especially annoying because of it going to a new, separate page that doesn't even let you look back over the story you're reviewing while you write, at least not without going back (and losing your work) or remembering to open in a new tab/window every time. If the interface could be improved, I'd be more inclined to use the Library more often, I think. If not, like I said, my second choice would be dedicated sections on the forums. Then maybe the groups if they can be used for that purpose and would function better than the current Library. Google Docs is probably my least preferred option.

I think it will work for our purposes, honestly, I just...it's hard to give a definite "yes, it will work for what we need it do" answer without being able to play around with it and see what it can do. Unfortunately there's no demo (at least not that I've found, but maybe I should ask on the support forums for the site it's on and see if there's a demo, or see if someone would be nice enough to let me see what it would do or...something) for me to look at, so it's hard for me to know for certain.

As far as using Google Docs go, it would mean using a different site, but it would possibly be better than our current set up with the library. If there's a way to change the interface of the layout, I don't know how to do it. (Also, I hadn't PM'd you about this yet, but I think- and this is something that @Becca pointed out to me- I know why you're being brought to a separate page when you go to review. When you look at the main age for a story that has the rating and summary and such on it, there's a link for "reviews" that takes you to the reviews page, which I THINK is what you're clicking on. But if you look below the text of a story's text, right below is a spot for typing out a review.


I think this is the page you're being brought to?

But if you scroll down toward the bottom of a page with a story's chapter, you should see this:

It's still not ideal because you can't type the review as you're reading (but that's what made me think the in-line editing feature of Google docs would be good), but it is there on the same page as the chapter. Let me know if that's not what you're actually talking about, though.)

I admit I'm a little iffy about using Google docs as well because it can be clunky- I don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I'll be in a document with pages of text, and I'll be scrolling (with my mouse on the scroll bar) but it will highlight the text in the document while I'm scrolling and sometimes delete some of the text, and it can be really annoying. That's really the only issue I've noticed with it, although I admit I don't use it tons compared to a lot of other people. I just thought that the in-line editing feature might be what we need, since being able to give comments as you scroll through a document that line up with a specific line in the document would be easier than just copying and pasting a quote from a piece of text and then responding to it (which is basically what we'd be doing it if we had the dedicated section on the forum as the library).

I just posted on the support forums to see if there's a demo or something that I can look at. I'm not very hopeful, but I figured it'd be worth a shot.

I can almost guarantee that the groups would function better than the current library, just based on the features that are listed. I mean, I can't imagine that they wouldn't. eFiction, which is what we use for the current library, is a bit...not outdated, necessarily, but I think it's been a while since the developer has done much to upgrade it (i.e. creating a bridge for SMF), and I don't foresee that happening any time soon, if at all. I think the developer has basically moved on to bigger things.

I am also a newer member with little experience using the library, so I may not have the best insight. However, I can say that the library functionality being separate is partly why I have not used it much.

Do you like the idea of using Google docs? I am wary of this idea. I love google docs as a program to use on an individual basis, but I have found it to be rather clunky when used collaboratively. I have only used google docs this way for work and that's where I've had issues, so maybe others have had great success using it as a feedback system. This is my favorite of the options (even though I said I am wary of it) because we don't lose anything to take it into beta.

Do you think that the social groups mod that costs $30.00 would be the best option? I don't have experience with the social groups, but I wouldn't call it the best option. The group functionality is not necessarily something I think is missing right now, and  without further data about using it to replace the library, the fact that it will cost money makes it a less appealing option to me.

Do you want to do it the old fashioned way and copy and paste a chapter into a post on the forum, where the formatting might not work out exactly the way it should? I can imagine the formatting issues might get really annoying, but beyond that this might be a rather cluttered way of sharing your writing and collecting feedback. It is certainly a serviceable method, but not the best.

Should we just keep the library? I can't say. I currently haven't used it much because it is separate from the forum, but that is more my own laziness than anything wrong with the system. Again, this is coming from a very inexperienced perspective.

Should we use the SMF groups mod for the $29.99 and see what we can do to set up a library of sorts? Can you see other uses for the groups mod other than using it as a library of sorts? (i.e. maybe role playing eventually, but other things as well.) I can't think of any uses beyond the aforementioned.


Forgetting about possibly using it as a library, are the groups anything you'd like to see added to the site? Are they something you could see yourself using (i.e. creating a fan group or a group for showing off artwork or something) and/or joining? I don't think I'd use this very much. I wouldn't actively avoid it if it was added; I'd certainly give it a try, but it isn't something that I think I need. However, if you're thinking the forum (apart from the library) needs a shakeup, then I'd say it's worth a shot.

You're right, we won't necessarily lose anything by at least trying it out...maybe have a few select people try it? Like, me, one of the other staff members, and then maybe four other non-staff members who are willing to volunteer? They use it for a few months, see what they think, and then we decide whether or not to do it for the site as a whole or something.

Like I said, I don't mind spending the $30.00, if I know it's going to work out the way I think it will (which, again, I can't know unless I buy it). I bought the activity stream for $9.00 less and definitely don't regret doing so, although that's a little different from the groups.

I agree that the formatting issues might get annoying, too. That, and that it might be more cluttered. I mean, we can try and organize it the best we can by having separate forums to stick stories into, but the feedback, particularly, might make things more cluttered, which is why I thought that Google docs might help, because the feedback would just go into the doc rather than the actual posts in the threads, at least theoretically.

I think that the groups could shakeup the forums...it might help to draw more people in to joining just by having the library on the forum rather than on an entirely separate site, and that's one of the reasons I'm thinking about doing it. I'm just not convinced that there's enough general activity on the site to say that we could add the groups and have the activity improve and not get any worse.

So maybe what we do is we try one of the other options first...either dedicated forums on the site or we use Google docs...and see how things go after a few months. If things seem okay after a while, we'll upgrade and buy the groups. Or maybe I should just take the plunge and buy the groups and set them up the way I think they'll work as a library, and see how things go with them just being used for that before we use them for anything else (role playing, collaborating, etc).

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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MagicMagor

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2017, 01:23:56 AM »
Do you like the idea of using Google docs?
No. While using on a personal basis Google docs might be a good option for some people, i wouldn't consider it a good option for replacing the library. People are wary where they want to post their stories and not everyone will be happy to post their story on google-servers. In addition, it has the same problem the current library has - it's basicly another site to post your story, with another account.
Do you think that the social groups mod that costs $30.00 would be the best option?
I haven't read the description of the mod so i don't know how it could be used to function as a library but i'm against using it. For one it cost money and secondly the introduction of groups might fragment the user base even further. That is ok and nice for really big forums, but given the low member count we currently have nothing we should do now.
Do you want to do it the old fashioned way and copy and paste a chapter into a post on the forum, where the formatting might not work out exactly the way it should?
Personally i think that is the best option. Stories are posted actually on the same site using the same account. I've seen several writing forums and that is usually the option they choose. Since then more than one category is not possible, when the subforums are divided by category i would advise to either revise the category system or split the forums by something else than category. Usually it is done by genre, but since this forum is all about fantasy maybe it could be split by the dominant sub-genre. The tagging system could be used for categories and everything else, or topic prefixes.
I also think posting the writing in the forums is the best way to generate critique and allow the critique and author to engage in a meaningfull discusssion.
Should we just keep the library?
Using the forum to post shorter pieces and ask for critique and the library for longer "finished" pieces might be a way to go.
Should we use the SMF groups mod for the $29.99 and see what we can do to set up a library of sorts? Can you see other uses for the groups mod other than using it as a library of sorts? (i.e. maybe role playing eventually, but other things as well.)
Like i said before, i think using such a mod in the forum as of now might actually do more harm (fragmenting the community) than good.
Forgetting about possibly using it as a library, are the groups anything you'd like to see added to the site? Are they something you could see yourself using (i.e. creating a fan group or a group for showing off artwork or something) and/or joining?
No.

Title: Tigerhall (WIP)
Status: Outlining/Writing
Progress: 12/29 Scenes, 1/3 Acts
Word Count Total: 24,496
Word Count Draft: 15,064

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Elena

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2017, 05:07:15 AM »
I agree with @MagicMagor entirely. Be wary of groups and limiting who sees the posts because this would lead to fragmenting more the little community we have. The forums (with writings being seen by all members, without group limits) are the best, most interactive solution.



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Supert009

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2017, 09:38:57 AM »
Im sorry for not being too active on here lately, but i just did a massive website rework myself along with my normal other projects. I'd strongly vote for keeping the library as it is. I think by switching to using just the forum you lose a ton of functionality. I'd also be wary of using any other plug in as a library, if that's not what it is designed for. Google Docs are great for one on one collsboratuon, but will not work for what you want and is nit designed for it. Likely you will end up getting into a similar situation to what you currently have where the system works, but there are one or two things people really don't like.

Really the best solution is the one you always wanted is where you have someone mod the library plug in or you have someone build a plug in from scratch. That doesn't seem like an option so I'd just keep it as it is.

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2017, 09:55:11 AM »
@MagicMagor and @Elena

I don't really see how adding the groups would fragment the site any further than it already is, especially given the fact that the groups would basically be dedicated forums themselves, they'd just be something we have to pay for to add them to the site. Members would still be copying and pasting the text of a chapter into a post, they'd still have to format the post, and they'd still be getting the critiques within the thread for that story. How would creating "normal" dedicated forums be any different than just adding the groups to create the dedicated forums, outside of the fact that the groups cost money?

Like I said, I DON'T mind spending the $30.00 if the groups are going to get good use. I have no problem installing the mod, setting the groups up as a library, and seeing how things go before we add any additional groups like role playing. I would actually prefer doing it that way, because I don't think right now is the time to be adding any role playing to the site anyway, and I don't see much need for any other kind of group at the moment. That could change, but it will only change if the activity of the site changes.

Quote
Personally i think that is the best option. Stories are posted actually on the same site using the same account. I've seen several writing forums and that is usually the option they choose.

I've seen plenty of forums like that, too. And that's just it- I don't want to make the site like other forums. If we take the library away, we basically take away one of the more unique features of the site, but since there's no bridge between eFiction and SMF, we either keep the library and have people frustrated with its interface and the fact that they have to log in to a separate site, or we try and find a middle ground and get it so that the stories are all on the forum and the critiquing can be done on the forum while still giving us an extra unique feature, which would be the groups.

What unique feature would we have to offer that would make us different from a hundred other sites out there if we just created dedicated forums for the library and that was it? What would draw people in? What would make our current members decide to post more often on the forums in general in addition to submitting their writing for critique? Nothing. We'd just be like any other forum out there. There's another site that I lurk on that's a fantasy writers forum. I've posted the link to Worldsmyths on their site and someone asked an honest question: what makes Worldsmyths different from (-insert site here-)? I was honest and said that there's not much that makes us different from them, outside of the library feature. I said that there didn't have to be anything different from their site, and that we weren't looking to one-up them and turn it into a competition, and that we just wanted to co-exist as another writing community, but still offer a unique feature, which is the library. Without that, we take that unique feature away and we're just another forum.

You guys want more activity and are concerned that adding the groups would fragment the community that already exists. The only way it's going to fragment the community is if the groups go unused and no one steps up and actually actively posts anywhere on the site, never mind in the groups themselves.

I think we can officially nix the Google docs idea. While I like the idea of using the in-line editing feature, it doesn't seem like there are many people who are interested in using it, and it would mean having to deal with logging in to another site.

So it comes down to either using the groups for the library or creating dedicated forums and doing it the old fashioned way, or finding some other alternative we haven't found yet. I don't particularly love the idea of doing it the old fashioned way, because it just makes us like any other forum for writers out there.

Im sorry for not being too active on here lately, but i just did a massive website rework myself along with my normal other projects. I'd strongly vote for keeping the library as it is. I think by switching to using just the forum you lose a ton of functionality. I'd also be wary of using any other plug in as a library, if that's not what it is designed for. Google Docs are great for one on one collsboratuon, but will not work for what you want and is nit designed for it. Likely you will end up getting into a similar situation to what you currently have where the system works, but there are one or two things people really don't like.

Really the best solution is the one you always wanted is where you have someone mod the library plug in or you have someone build a plug in from scratch. That doesn't seem like an option so I'd just keep it as it is.

Hey, long time no see! XD

We would lose a ton of functionality, but we'd also gain having the ability to log in to one site rather than have two separate sites. The library is considerably being underused, and that's largely because of the fact that people forget that it exists, and because of the interface, as others have said.

The groups can be used for ANYTHING, it doesn't matter if we're using it as a library (I'm calling it a library but it wouldn't be a library in the same sense of the current one as far as its set up goes) or for role playing or whatever. It's basically no different from having dedicated forums set up and doing it the old fashioned way. The groups are MEANT for interaction and for being used in this manner. They'd basically be pretty similar to the groups on Facebook.

The two biggest issues with the library right now are the log in and the interface. I think the groups would definitely give a better interface than what the library has right now, and the log in would definitely be solved because you'd just be logging in to the account you log into now and that's it.

Haha, it's funny that you said what you did about having someone create a plug in from scratch. She's not positive, but @Sheepy-Pie's partner does coding with Pearl and she's going to ask him if he can build something that would integrate with SMF and create a library mod of some kind. In an ideal world, I'm hoping for something like Figment.com, but I have no idea if he'd be able to build anything like that or how complicated it would be or anything. It's at least worth asking him and seeing if he could make something, though, because then I think it would definitely solve our problems...theoretically. If it turns out he can't code anything, then we're back at square one and have to decide between using the groups or doing it the old fashioned way, which I'm not keen on doing...at least not on a permanent basis.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 10:07:01 AM by Jedi Knight Muse »

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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MagicMagor

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2017, 02:03:55 PM »
@Jedi Knight Muse
Correct me if i'm wrong, but i assumed the groups meant a group would have some sort of forum or chat functionality, that only members of that group could access.
In that case this can happen:
Person A and Person B are member of Group 1. Person C and D are member of Group 2. Everyone only communicates through the group-specific forum, not through the main forum, that everyone has access too -> That is fragmentation.

Regarding the unique feature:
I understand that starting a new forum is difficult, because the main drawing point of any forum is the community. It's easier to draw people in, when there are already a lot of active members. But i don't think doing things differently just to be "unique" is reason enough. The library is a good idea but it's not perfect, otherwise this thread wouldn't exist.
Stepping back in the "guest"-shoes, what draw me to this forum was the fantasy-foucs. This might not be such a unique feature itself, but all other writing forums i knew (mostly german) where an "general writing"-forum, not focused on a single genre.
I also think the challenges and writing prompts are a good feature.

Also thinking about the marketing aspect makes me realize that the library might be harmful in a way. Because we only post our writing in the library and get our reviews there and it's member only, a newcomer has no way to see the amount or quality of the reviews, that are exchanged here. Considering that this is a writing forum, getting reviews or comments about your writing is probably one big reason to join. Having no way to see if this forum offers the right kind of feedback before registering might actually turn some people off.
However i understand the reason for making it member only, not everybody wants to publish their stuff for the whole world to see and posting it in a public forum might make the stuff unusable for traditional publishing.
I would suggest the following course of action:
  • Keep the library. Like you said it is indeed a somewhat unique point. Also i think the library is a lot better for posting longer pieces of fiction (like a whole novel) than a forum. Also keep it member only as it is right now.
  • Introduce two new forums specificly for posting fiction to get feedback. One member-only and one that is free to read for everyone (to advertise the site). If possible i would recommened having the the member-only forum even visible from the outside, so people can see the stats (number of topics/posts). That way they can judge the activity of the forum, without being able to actually enter the forum. With one member-only and one guest-readable each author can decide where to post their stories.
  • Don't split these feedback forums up into category or genre-forums like initially proposed. It's more attractive to have a single forum with 10 topics, than it is to have 10 forums with 1 topic each. We have neither the member size nor activity to fill so many forums. Categorys and other stuff could be communicated via tags (f.ex. the first tag should always be the category - the rest can then be filled as the author sees fit)
This way the site keep its unique feature (library, to post and read longer pieces of fiction) but also advertises what, in my opinion many people joining a writing forum seek, getting feedback on their fiction.
Title: Tigerhall (WIP)
Status: Outlining/Writing
Progress: 12/29 Scenes, 1/3 Acts
Word Count Total: 24,496
Word Count Draft: 15,064

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TkZ

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2017, 03:09:19 PM »
Do you like the idea of using Google docs?
I'm against using Google docs. If your goal is to replace the library with something more integrated into the forum this wouldn't exactly be a solution. Plus as mentioned it's kind of clunky, and while I do use it to store info I can see why someone might not want to use it to store their stories.
Do you think that the social groups mod that costs $30.00 would be the best option?
I'm not too sure. It looks like it might be interesting, but it's hard to give a real opinion without actually trying it out first. 
Do you want to do it the old fashioned way and copy and paste a chapter into a post on the forum, where the formatting might not work out exactly the way it should?
I don't have a problem with this method if there are no better options, but I can see how formatting could be an issue.
Should we just keep the library?
I haven't really used it yet so it's hard to give areal opinion on whether or not to keep it. I personally don't mind the fact that you have to log in to access it, but I can see why some might not like it.
Should we use the SMF groups mod for the $29.99 and see what we can do to set up a library of sorts? Can you see other uses for the groups mod other than using it as a library of sorts? (i.e. maybe role playing eventually, but other things as well.)
Like I said earlier it's hard to say without trying it. I can see them being used to some extent, but whether or not it would be enough to justify the cost I don't know.

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Sheepy-Pie

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Re: New Library Options - please read/respond!
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2017, 04:35:22 PM »
My partner has to look into it more before he can really tell if he can make a mod, it all depends if he has access to the source code and bits and bobs like that. So right now it's not a yes or a no, so nobody get their hopes up :P

As for the library, the one reason I don't put stuff up is because I'm not writing anything small to put up. I am working on my WIP right now which I can't really show and I'm not the biggest fan of prompts. I used to write lots of dribs and drabs of allsorts when I was younger, but now I am settled on one or two ideas. I also forget about it a lot, which I think is an issue with others too.

I don't like the Google Docs idea, and to be completely honest I don't know what to do. However I do think anything posted should be members only to read. Our work needs some security. I think if the pieces had a presence on the forum people would know when they got put up and potentially see how many reviews they have had. I find the library awkward to manage and even trying to submit a new story isn't really obvious where you go - I'd much prefer a "submit a story" button.

I don't want us to lose the uniqueness, but on the other hand is there anyone here who was persuaded by that to come and join?

Also i think the library is a lot better for posting longer pieces of fiction (like a whole novel) than a forum.

I think in the way like fanfic.net does, however how many of us really are going to be posting that much material? I can't cause I wanna publish, and from what I last saw of the library at most there is 2 chapters? Which is fine enough for a forum post. If multiple chapters then just link in the post.

From what I can understand the groups mod thing is sort of what you are on about.

I think anyway!

Overall perhaps the mod is a good way to do it. I personally dont mind only having one category or something cause I dont need to whittle it down. I can always add more info in the title or post itself if needs be :)