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  1. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Reorganization?

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by evizaer, Nov 27, 2007.

    I think that one reason why this site may seem dead is that there are too many forums spread out in a shallow structure.

    Here's my suggestion for reorganization. The goal is to make the front page more attractive, to make it show higher post totals, and to focus the individual forums more effectively.

    Code:
    +Site Related
    --Announcements/Rules
    --Suggestions and Feedback
    +Community
    --Off Topic/The Lounge
    --Games
    +Contests
    --Prose
    --Poetry
    +On Writing
    -+Prose
    --+The Short Story
    ----Reviews
    --+The Essay
    ----Reviews
    --+The Novel
    ----Reviews
    ---Story Telling
    ---The Art of Language
    -+Poetry
    ---Reviews
    
    The basic forums (The Short Story, The Essay, The Novel, Story Telling, Poetry) are general discussion forums for those particular types of writing. They each have a relevant sub-forum for reviews. Contests can be placed into those individual forums where they're appropriate.

    That's just an idea, of course, and by no means do I think it's perfect. With some reorganization, this place could certainly be more appealing. It's quite annoying to have to scroll down the page for so long to get to what I want. All those forums with below 1,000 posts seem vacant to the passerby--my idea would condense the forums into more popular, though slightly less specific subforums.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Looks intresting, but you seem to have missed out the introductions forum, which I think is an important part, as it makes new members feel welcomed into the community.

    Also, I think that the Writing Contests need their own forums, as they are a major attraction to the site, and a major part of what we offer.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  3. Bluemouth
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    Bluemouth Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll admit something has gone wrong recently because I'm finding myself coming on here and having nowhere that I want to post in. It's annoying. Do we have any sub-topics such as Movies, Music, Games etc. that aren't all directed into the lounge, instead have a place of their own? That could help to attract more users ... unless, of course, that seems to detract from the writing site aspect.
     
  4. Ryankia
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    Ryankia Member

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    What about dividing up the poetry a bit into categories. I know it may seem redundant, but that way people know what to expect when they enter a specific forum. Your happy and your dark poetry aren't all smushed together.
     
  5. SeaBreeze
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    SeaBreeze Banned

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    Here I was thinking that the place seems fine. o_O
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Perhaps subforums within the Lounge? That way they are still confined to one forum, but things are a little more organised.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Although the Community Interaction (including the Lounge) are where the highest post volume is concentrated, it's not where the site owner wants the focus of the site to be.

    The Site Informaton forums are at the head because that is information everyone should see first - announcement, new member introductions, etc.

    Next we have the contests collected, by popular request. These are of great interest to new joiners, and therefore attract new members.

    After that, we have the Writing Issues, where most of the general discussion about writing is concentrated. This used to be located after Community Interaction, but was moved up to emphasize the writing focus of the site and to de-emphasize the general chatroom aspect of the site; chatting really doesn't need the advertisement of early placement.

    Finally, the Review Rooms atre placed last, because they are primarily intended to be a workshop, and we don't wish to encourage new joiners to head directly there and immediately post works for praise - we do everything possible to let them know that it it is not just a refrigerator to post their favorite writings, it is a place where the writing will ideally be disassembled down to the chassis and examined for possible improvements.

    That is the logic of the overall site layout, which I happen to agree with.

    Certainly there are details which could be changed. The General Writing seems out of place to me in the Community interaction, and I am constantly having to look through it as well as the Writing Issues section when trying to find a particular discussion thread. And the idea of Poetry subdivisions might be good, but I'm not sure what subdivisions are really helpful.

    If a particular user spends most of his or her time in one section or forum, he or she could always point the site link in Favorites there instead of the Home page, and then navigate outward.

    But the reason the site traffic seems to have dropped is well understood. It really has to do with a few particularly active members being unavailable at the present time. I don't believe this condition constitutes an alarming trend. We've actually had quiet an influx of new joiners lately, enough so that the Reviewers are having a tough time keeping up with the review requests. Again, our absent active members are also normaly veryu active with reviews, so that also is probably a transient condition.
     
  8. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to agree here. The forums have been organised as they are in order to emphasize the writing aspect of the site. In the past, the community section did used to belong above the writing section but then more and more pepole began to focus on the games and the lounge/off-topic sections, which detracted from the aims of the site.

    I'm not particularly against having sub-forums, but perhaps you should send a PM to our site owner about this? I'm sure he'd be able to talk more about it.
     
  9. SeaBreeze
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    SeaBreeze Banned

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    Kit and Cogito are right and I'm inclined to ask you if you have a forum of your own. The layout here is great but I'm sure LP wouldn't mind any suggestions. Go for it and suggest this. I'm sure he'll take it into consideration.
     
  10. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    I've administered at least 2 forums that have had more traffic than this one. If I had put those forums in a structure based on the same reasoning as the current one here, they would never have gotten as popular.

    Your reasoning is valid at its face, but it's not really based on how people think when they look at forums--and that means it won't lead to a busier and flourishing forum. You can always subdivide forums into subforums ad nauseum and all that does is create forums that have fewer posts and, likewise, less interest. You end up having a lot of subforums that have relatively little interest when there is actually a LOT of interest in the site; Then you wonder why the place is so dead. It is not dead, just struggling to fill unfocused interest.

    There's a big trade-off in forum structuring. You have to keep things busy enough so people don't get bored and go away, but you don't want to have them so busy that people are put off by it. You usually will create subforums when a particular forum is too busy and merge forums when individual subforums are not busy enough. As things stand now, these forums are leaning towards the not-enough-traffic end of things.

    The organizational consideration is also important, but less so than the traffic consideration. The forums should be logically delineated, with as little ambiguity as possible. Splitting "dark" from "light" poetry may seem reasonable at its face, but it creates difficulty where there wasn't in the past: How do you tell a light poem from a dark one? That's a question that most likely none of us here can answer certainly nor do we have the authority to make such a claim--only the poet does (and we all know that the poet doesn't always have the clearest view of their work). Whereas most poetry and prose is easily differentiated on the bounds of its type of writing, the content is always up to interpretation.

    "Wouldn't it be nice if we had a separate forum for..." suggestions are almost never useful. People have a tendency to want to break every little interest out into its own forum--If you listen to them, it is often to the community's detriment. You have to consider a lot of factors that the average user does not consider when they claim they want a subforum: The way this topic is discussed, what subcommunities are involved in the discussion, why the topic is discussed--to name a few.
     
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  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But traffic is not the only consideration, as was already said. We don't exactly "wonder why the place is so dead." That is a temporary situation.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i totally agree that 'general writing' does not belong in 'community interaction' as it's directly related to writing, and not socializing... i hope it will be moved to where it more logically belongs...

    as for poetry subdivisions, i can't agree that they might be good, since dividing by type [i.e., traditional and modern or rhymed and blank/free verse] would seriously diminish the number of viewers of each... members who think they only like one type, wouldn't be exposed to the others and thus miss out on perhaps widening their horizons, by coming across pieces they like, in spite of their pre-set preferences...

    just my thoughts on the matter... any assent?
     
  13. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Why are you so short on traffic, then?
     
  14. Crimson Threnody
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    Crimson Threnody Senior Member

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    People do that already. And even more so, tend to pick apart pieces simply because they do not like the style or type of poetry, rather than its poetic nature and if it is structurally sound.
     
  15. phurst
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    phurst Senior Member

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    I'm new to the forum and I can see what my problem has been. It turns out to be mostley poetry if you look at the number of submissions. Then when you get to the other review sections, you can see where there are only 1 to 2 reviews for a post and that doesn't encourage anyone. I have had several (means more than 3) that stayed for over a week and got 0,0,1,2 reviews. Waste of my time right? And then the contests. What good is a contest where the number of entries exceed the number of votes? I came to this forum to review and have my work reviewed. I already have a few places for socializing. If the main purpose is writing and reviewing, that is where the focus needs to be. If you are generating 2Xs the volume from poetry then peraps you should go to poetry only. If you want to stay where you are, you better get your users and reviewers out of the poetry and into the other sections. And as I have said before, anything gteater than a week old is never reviewed so you should just delete the thread so the focus can remain on the newly submitted.
     
  16. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    If you can give someone a reason (aside from money) to read ten pages of text that they may absolutely hate, and whose quality may be atrocious, and write up their opinion on it, I'll give you a medal. That's a lot of reading and thinking to be done for just kicks.

    Poetry gets so much attention because of two things:
    1.) it's short.
    2.) pretty words.

    Much like movies that get a lot of public attention are 1 1/2 hours long and have good visuals.
     
  17. ILTBY
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    ILTBY Contributing Member Contributor

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    I visit the site every day, but I have to agree with Blue in that I feel I don't really have anywhere much to post when I come on. I enjoy posting in the Short Stories review section, but usually only in the Crime and Thriller, General Fiction and Horror categories. I don't really enjoy reading poetry so I avoid that and I don't participate in the Lounge much because I can never really contribute. I think my issue is that I only enjoy spending time in a small part of the site and if there's nothing new in it, I'll only spend about 5 minutes here and then leave, so I suppose I should be more open-minded and read different sections.

    I don't really have any suggestions on how the site could improve, I guess I would like to see more stories posted in the categories I listed above, but that's just personal preference.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Insofar as getting reviews is concerned, I think that when Daniel has the time to rework the Recent Reviews panel to better represent all the latest Review Room threads, the easier it willl be to spot unreviewed work. For example, the subdivisions of Short Stories make it so you must dig a bit deeper to find new submissions.

    As a corollary to "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," I would add "If you do fix it, make sure the fix improves more than it worsens."
     
  19. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Firstly, I appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions in this thread.

    So the issue at hand is that some of you feel there isn't an appropriate place to post - or what?

    I want to stray away from adding forums like movies and politics simply because this is a writing forum - and I want it to focus on writing. If the writing forums were very active and the lounge wasn't, I might reconsider. I'm also against adding new subforms in general because, as someone else mentioned, they general decrease overall activity rather than increase it.

    And Cogito - I haven't forgotten about fixing that sidebar. I just have a... rather long to-do list. I agree, though. That should help the reviewing situation.

    I'm willing to listen to suggestions to help increase activity/your desire to post/traffic or whatever the issue is. However, I'm currently struggling to actually comprehend the issue at hand.
     
  20. phurst
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    phurst Senior Member

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    Isn't that what we committed to do when we joined? If I can't get through the first 50 words, I crit that and let them know. Poetry is simple and anyone can write bad poetry, that's why that's so popular. I want someone to look at my stuff and if it sucks, just say so. I asked once that anyone try and just say the story didn't draw them in. I had 6 views, no comments, 2 weeks. I try to review a couple a day. If you don't like something say so.

    As for the main question which was how do we reconfigure the site to improve traffic. I, myself, have gotten used to it. I go from the main section right to the review room and skip the rest unless I have time. I look at everything posted since I was last on and review what I can. I think it works pretty much okay like it is. Nukeworker.com is formatted alot like this forum and I believe they started with the same software. You could look at theirs and see how it looks.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I wasn't nudging. I was only pointing out that an already planned fix would address part of the issue.
     
  22. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that the layout here isn't the easiest in some aspects but I actually find that it draws attention mor to the writing side of the forum rather than the non writing side.

    We had all discussed once before how the forum could be altered to make it better for everyone and get more trafic in certain areas and it has done so.

    If people don't like it then that is their choice. We like it the way it is simple as that and I don't see the need for it to be changed.
     
  23. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Reading fifty words, then posting "this sucks" is useless to the writer, most often, because it doesn't give them anything to work with. Perhaps they like their own poem and they want to improve it? Telling them that it sucks does nothing for them aside making them feel bad. They almost certainly want to know WHY it sucks.

    You get backlash against some of your "reviews"because you don't substantiate your claims. You say "this isn't poetic" but you don't say WHY it isn't poetic, even when other people express strongly contrary opinions.

    That's the problem. You had to "get used to it." The way the forums are laid out should be inuitive. You shouldn't have to spend time figuring out how things work. It should be direct and inviting.

    That site looks like a 10 year old built it in 2001 with front page and a cheap javascript toolbar making program. :p Not a good example of effective web design in any aspect.
     
  24. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    I currently feel that the organization of this site is such that potential users are turned off or confused by the shallow and vast forum structure. This structure emphasises specialization in a community that isn't big enough at the moment to sustain numerous subcommunities that can specialize sufficiently to make the site as a whole a success. Interest is too diluted at the moment, so this place appears to be far more dead than it actually is.

    That doesn't make sense. You are saying that you'd divide an already low traffic section into more even lower traffic forums? People will just stop posting in those forums...

    It doesn't decrease the overall activity. It may increase it, but it APPEARS that it has decreased because it is divided between many locations.

    It'd be awesome if you could make that do "Unreviewed Works" so we can easily go to where reviews need to be written. :)
     
  25. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    I see your point here, but what I mean is that if the writing forums are the most active and there's a demand for more off topic forums, I'd add them. However, if the off topic forums are active and the writing forums are less active, adding more off topic forums would (in theory) decrease the activity in the writing-related forums.
     
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