Christmas has passed us by, with New Year’s left to come in a few short days. Everyone’s stuffed to the gills with turkey, burnt out on malls and shopping in general in the aftermath of Boxing Day, and looking forward to a few more vacation days before going back to work in January.
I’m a few hours late with this (I’ll blame spending the afternoon trying to find a good set of snow boots… and failing miserably as they’re sold out across Vancouver), but December 27th marks another special day for me. It’s Protagonize‘s first anniversary, if you can believe it. (Has it been that long? Yikes.) The old cliché holds true; time really does fly. I clearly recall spending hours upon hours writing last-minute code on Christmas Day in 2007, working off a self-imposed deadline, getting the site setup on our live servers before making it available to the public. I sent out a bushel of emails to various media outlets and social media bloggers on the 27th announcing Protagonize’s launch, and the next few days changed my outlook on my career, my life, and gave me the courage to think that I could run my own business with almost no investment and only my own time behind it.
A year later, Protagonize is nearing 5,000 registered authors, many of whom are participating in the site on a regular basis. We have many times that in terms of readership. The site isn’t where I want it to be just yet, but it’s definitely taking strides in the right direction. There are features people have been asking me for a year that I just haven’t had time to complete yet, and there are dozens of small additions I’ve made to the site that people constantly send me thanks for. The reception I get for the little things really keeps me going, and the feedback I get from our Protagonists world-wide inspires me to keep building on a site that many would have considered “done” nearly a year ago.
Niche-based communities and social sites like Protagonize are ever-evolving entities and the change we’ve undergone in the last year has served as a wake-up call for me — stagnant just doesn’t work. The site needs constant attention and feeding, child-like as it is, and I’m starting to notice that I’m running out of free hands to maintain everything as the site grows. In the coming few weeks, I’m going to be promoting a few of our core members who have both volunteered and who fit my (stringent) criteria to moderator status, to take a little of the load off my shoulders. What this means is that I’m building tools for our new moderators to handle specific areas of the site while I’m unavailable or otherwise occupied, since Protagonize is a completely custom application. Why these moderation features aren’t live on the site yet is for the very same reason, time (or lack thereof); now that I have the time, it’ll be happening sooner rather than later.
As an aside, another large site in our collaborative creative fiction writing sphere, AOL’s Ficlets, is shutting its doors for good on January 15th (more info here). In turn, we’ve been lucky enough to gain a significant number of new authors from an existing writing community who are already familiar with the medium and are keen to participate in a new community. I would love if it our existing members would welcome them with open arms. It’s rare to have a bunch of experienced contributors come in at once like this, and I’ll be doing my part — in terms of adding some new features Ficlets users may already be familiar with — to make the transition a smooth one. Please say hello to anyone you see coming over from Ficlets, and if our new members have any suggestions, please post them over on the Help forum! I review every suggestion, and those that work in our framework will definitely be implemented at some point.
I want to thank you all for making the last year working on Protagonize one of the most exciting and creatively fulfilling of my career. I’m hoping that the next year will be even better. Cheers, best wishes, and a happy new year to all of you!