The dog days of summer

Vancouver has been pretty hot for the past couple of weeks. Not unseasonably so, but it’s been a major shift from the prior couple of months here (especially our miserable June.)

This heat tends to make my home office almost unbearably hot. Lacking A/C — it’s most often considered an unnecessary waste of power in a temperate city like Vancouver — I find myself locked away in a small, dark room at the back of my apartment with no windows, no air circulation, two very hot computers, two pathetically ineffective fans, and a very furry, panting white dog beside me. Working in here is pretty hellish at this time of year.

This, combined with the fact that I’ve had to pull a lot of overtime over the last couple of weeks at my day job, is why I’ve been pretty quiet on Protagonize in the last little while. I had originally hoped to get the writing circles feature up by July 15th, but my plans were foiled by an unanticipated workload.

Now that things have settled down a little, I intend to get cracking on features and site updates once again this week. I’ll be taking a week off in early August (!) and I expect to have a slew of new stuff on the site for you all to play with in the coming three weeks or so.

So, to make a long story short, apologies for my unintended absence. I’m back, and you should be reaping the benefits of my return shortly. :)

Protagonize named one of Canada’s top 20 Web 2.0 projects

Protagonize a winner in PICK 20 Awards

Just a quick note about this, as I’ve elaborated a little on it already on the Taunt Media blog, but I thought you’d all be interested in hearing that Protagonize was recently named one of the top 20 Web 2.0 projects in Canada by Backbone Magazine and KPMG. You can see the full list of winners over on the Backbone site, but suffice it to say that Protagonize is in some pretty excellent company (including that of my former employer, ThoughtFarmer, which is pretty neat.)

Backbone is a technology magazine delivered both on newsstands and as an insert in one of our national papers, the Globe and Mail. If you’re looking for a hard copy, check out your local bookstore or magazine vendor for the July/August 2008 issue, or you can find the insert in the July 15th issue of the G&M.

There’s an event related to this competition happening in downtown Vancouver on the evening of September 16th. I’ll be attending, along with several other winners of the competition, so please stop by and say hello! The details are over on the Taunt Media blog here, if you’re interested in joining me there.

This week’s features

Yes, I’ve been entirely remiss in not mentioning our featured authors and Editor’s Picks on the blog over the course of the last few weeks. I’m going to get that going again, but I’ll try and keep it brief as I’m sure you can just as easily hop over to the site and see our features for yourselves.

This week’s Editor’s Pick is “One Minute Mysteries” by Smalltown125, and our featured author is LukeRyan. Congratulations to both authors, and thanks for your contributions this week!

To our new Protagonists: if you’re unfamiliar with how Protagonize features work, I wrote a little overview a couple of months ago that should cover the bases. New picks go up every Monday, so make sure to check back regularly!

I’ll also be putting up some new controls on the Stories and Authors main pages so that you can see the last few weeks’ features, as well. That should be going up sometime in the next week.

A little housekeeping

I plan to implement a few changes to the way ratings work over the next few days. No, it’s not the complete ratings revamp that I’ve been hinting at for the last few months. I’m actually going to test some minor changes to the way ratings work and see if those enhance the system and make it a little friendlier.

What do these changes include, you ask? Here’s a taste:

  • Ratings now include half-marks, so you basically have double the precision you had before.
  • Each overall rating will show a breakdown of vote totals per possible rating (i.e. similar to the way Amazon shows rating breakdowns.)
  • You’ll no longer be able to rate your own items (I’m still debating this one. What do you all think?)

The idea here is to allow you to rate items a little more specifically, and also prevent spammy ratings. Once the changes go in, please let me know what you think.

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4 Responses to The dog days of summer

  1. redhat says:

    Has it been really slow on the site lately, or is it just me? Maybe the heat is getting to everyone. I have been feeling kind of lethargic lately. Sorry… need to go now… must… take… nap…


  2. nick says:

    July and August are typically pretty low-usage months on community sites… I’ve had the same experience in the past on other sites. People are on holidays, out of town, or just generally hot and tired and lacking energy… which translates into less activity for the most part.

    I’m doing what I can to keep things growing, as the site’s been getting pretty good press in the mainstream media lately, but I do have to count on our members to spread the word, too. :)

    On that note… an “invite” form should be going in pretty soon. Tell your friends! :)

  3. Paola Opal says:

    I am a published illustrator ( books: “Saffy” and “”One Little Bug”) and saw the article on protagonize in the Georgia Straight – it’s a great site! I have just started up a web site for sharing ILLUSTRATED stories at and would like to invite you to check it out at

    I thinks it’s interesting that we’re both based in Vancouver and are developing web projects for sharing stories. If you have any feedback on the site I would love it!



  4. Pingback: the protagonize blog: thoughts about collaborative writing » Blog Archive » An update from the front lines

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