Clarifications…

I just wanted to clarify a few things that I said in a comment thread on this story, in a place where everyone could see them.

Here’s my original comment:

“I understand your concerns, guys, but I’d ask that you give things a little time to settle down before freaking out too badly. :) Ficlets technically hasn’t even shut down yet (Jan 15th) and integrating members of one existing community into another can always cause a little grief.

The comment-based tagging will end a soon as I finish putting in a built-in “challenge” mechanism (funnily enough, this was something Dysphemism [suggested] ages before the Ficlets folk[s] started coming over.)

As for any kind of clique-ish or isolationist behaviour, well, the only problem with that is that we don’t have groups on the site yet. Once that’s in there.. well, that would be the expected behaviour within each group. This is all part of the growing pains of any kind of community site and I’m keeping an eye on it.

I would expect the zeal of our new members to die down a little bit eventually, though, so I’d ask you all to please bear with it for the time being. A little patience should solve much of this. :)”

To clarify that statement: I didn’t mean to imply that anyone was at fault for anything here (and maybe I misread your original message, Trish.)

I have had a few authors on the site email me and voice their concerns primarily about the deluge of re-posted material from Ficlets, which is shutting down for good later this week. That’s more what I’m talking about when I said things should settle down soon. Re-posted content can be a little tough to deal with in an established collaborative community, as our existing authors aren’t really sure if they can contribute or not. I would ask that if you are re-posting material from another source, that you please clarify whether it’s okay for people to contribute to it in the author guidance for the story. That should put everyone a little more at ease when re-publishing stories from another site.

I really hope the activity on the site itself doesn’t settle down, or else I’d be shooting myself in the foot. :)

As to challenges, they won’t be restricted to groups or anything of that sort. I’m still thinking about how to work them into the interface, but they’ll be a separate way of requesting that someone follow up on a branch or chapter. That will avoid the “by invitation only” kind of feeling authors are getting right now, seeing all of the challenge spam/comments going back and forth on the activity feeds. And if you have any questions about how groups (writing circles) will work, there’s a blog post here describing them in a bit more detail. They should be nothing if not beneficial to the site’s mechanics.

As to notifications being a bit spammy, I’m thinking some of you may not be aware they they are at least somewhat configurable. While the system isn’t quite totally done and granular yet, you can read about how to configure your notifications in the Getting Started guide. I’ll be making some tweaks to the on-site notifications display down the road, as well. But in the meantime you shouldn’t be getting a deluge of email if you’ve set yourself up not to receive any.

Finally, I’d just ask that everyone have a little patience. The merging of two active communities is always likely to be a bumpy ride, and this was unplanned. If any of our authors, new or old, have concerns that they’d like to share with me, please contact me directly, or feel free to post a comment here, and I’ll do my best to reply promptly.

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12 Responses to Clarifications…

  1. Ana Cristina says:

    I can only speak for myself, but I think people are concerned about the notifications they receive within the site itself. For instance, when I log in, I receive about 15-20 notifications on average each time that tell me how so-and-so of my favorites has published a story. I don’t necessarily want to get rid of my favorites, but at the same time, it can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes a comment I *would* like to receive gets lost in the avalanche.

    But I know that these are minor issues and that they will be resolved in time, as with any community that is experiencing growing pains.

  2. Nick says:

    Yeah, I realize that the on-site (not email) notifications are a bit cluttered. There’s also a bug concerning duplication (and here) that’s happening in the on-site notifications (and again, not in the email ones) that I need to get sorted out soon.

    I’ll see what I can do about making it a little less spammy, but there’s only so much granularity I can add without making it horribly complex (which it’s on the borderline of being already…)

  3. darkliquid says:

    Hey nick, I think you’re doing a great job. The sites still running and posts like this are good to see, it’s always nice to be reminded that we have someone who really cares looking out for the site and community we’re all so invested in.

    I’ll be looking forwards to the challenges functionality. As I’ve said on the comments, the tagging fad that’s going around gives an impression of exclusivity and a neutral way to invite or challenge someone to write a specific branch or chapter without comment spamming or specifically naming someone to the exclusion of all others can only be a good thing.

    I can’t think of a decent way of providing an interface for this, the only one I can think of is to add another button like the Add Fave button called invite or challenge or something to that effect. Clicking that could bring up a box where you can select an author (or authors) to challenge. The box could have a text entry for doing auto-completion on usernames or something like that.

    For notifications, I’m not sure how to tackle that. Perhaps you can aggregate notifications of similar types together, so you can view all your comments, or all the new branches/chapters on stories you’re watching or all the new branches/chapters by your favourite authors by selecting a corresponding tab or something?

  4. g2 says:

    I highly appreciate and thank you for the clarification. I’m most looking forward to the challenge page… I’ve always been a huge fan of challenges, and I think the separate page could make it much easier to actually *find* the challenges.
    Again, I’m really glad you took the time to clarify the points that you did. It’s a huge indicator, to me, that what we say really does matter.

  5. Tricia (aka Tasha) says:

    Thank you Nick, for responding so swiftly, as ever, to concerns.

    If there are any ex-Ficleteers (or new-Protagonizers), reading, I have a suggestion, which may be a little late, but better late than never, eh?

    I know you need to rescue all your work from Ficlets before it goes, but the trouble with posting it in bulk is that it is less likely to be read properly, as it deserves, than if it was posted, say, at the rate of one or two chapters a day. I would suggest, if people still have things to post, that they leave it in Word or whatever, and post it here gradually. With a lot of active people on this site (even before you joined) new chapters only stay on the front pages for a short time before others post something and push them down. If you ration it, you have more chance of it being noticed over several days, than if you post 30-odd chapters in one go. After all, there’s no hurry, is there? I hope most of you are going to stick around :)

  6. CheshireGrin says:

    I would like to mention for those newly joined, regardless of where you come from, that there are a variety of feeds on the site that function as notifications and it may help to be aware of them while Nick is doing his fabulous job of streamlining things even more.
    1) Activity. This page will tell you pretty much everything that has been happening on the site. Thus, it changes quickly and is generally pretty difficult to keep track of. It is, however, a good place to find new users to welcome, etc.
    2) Notifications. This page is full of notifications that pertain to you for various reasons. New stories, etc, by your favourites, changes to favourited or marked stories, comments on your content or profile are all listed here.
    3) Recent Activity (on profile pages). This is on every profile page and lists everything the author has done as well as comments posted to their profile, people adding them as favourites, bookmarking and favouriting their stories, etc. You can always check someone’s profile if you are keeping an eye on someone or something like that.

    Still a bit cluttered, but fixes are coming. Hopefully this offers a bit of help for how to tone down that “holy crap” feeling. I’m still looking forward to Nick’s adjustments. I agree I probably miss a good number of interesting things because I’m overwhelmed at times by activity and notification lists. :) But that means things are happening, which is great. So awesome to see the site growing.

    I agree with Tasha about maybe portioning out new stories, and Nick’s suggestion of marking which stories cannot be added to in author’s guidance. This has been a standard way to do things on Protag in the past, and everyone has been very respectful of it. We all get excited about new content we could post on though. So if you are reposting and are willing to open it up and see a different way it could go, that would be great too!

  7. Ana Cristina says:

    @ Tasha & CheshireGrin: I’m all for portioning! I’m trying to resist the temptation to bring my stuff over all at once, carrying over only a few at a time. I don’t want to inundate anyone, plus the whole purpose of bringing my stuff over is to hopefully get some critique and comments on them, right? That’s not happening if I transfer 10 separate stories in one go.

    @ Nick: Forgot to add something very important about this site — it’s FTW. :D

  8. The Mighty Tim says:

    I for one intend to bring nothing over from ficlets. But that’s me and my eccentricities. Aside from the issues of volume of notices, this just sounds like a lot of bristling as the status quo is shaken up a little bit. Or am I misreading something? I actually agree with a lot of the concerns raised in the original story itself, but that’s a consequence of a free-willed society. People are bound to do stuff you don’t like, and you can either accept it or attempt to squash. I would hope for a more laissez-faire sort of approach, though again, I think the concerns are valid.

  9. I’m a former Ficleteer, and I want to put all the regulars on protagonize.com minds at rest. When we moved over here, we felt ourselves outsiders. With that in mind, we reached out to former ficleteers for aid and comfort. In ficlet land we were individuals. Give us a little time and we will slowly merge with you. We are not trying to take over, as some of you may think. I also believe that most of the stories that we carried over are open to all of you to collaborate on. Thanks for the warm welcome.

  10. Nick says:

    Oh, believe you me, I epitomize the term “laissez faire”. :)

    @AnaCristina damn straight it’s FTW! :)

  11. Tricia (aka Tasha) says:

    The funny thing is, my diary entry chapter wasn’t even about Ficlets people, though it *had* been a comment from a bemused former Ficleteer I had read the day before, asking if people could only add to stories here by invitation, which gave me food for thought. Having thought about it since, I realise that even I felt excluded from adding to some of these stories. There were a couple of them I was dying to add to – but I hadn’t been invited. (The rapping one, for example. If that had been a non-tagging story I would probably have been among the first contributors because I *love* writing raps!) I’d been tagged on lots of the others, of course, but I still felt left out of the ones I was interested in. I’d never come across that before in my eight months here, and it was a strange feeling. So, if I, as a supposedly “popular” member felt this way, how must others be feeling?

    It wouidn’t have been as bad if there were not so many of them. I also felt – and this is a secondary thing – it was happening at the wrong time. Just before the site went into “tagdemonium”, I saw that everyone was starting to make friends, and then, to me, it looked as if the tagging was beginning to cause the site to split into two camps again, and delaying the integration process. That’s why I felt I had to say something. I was actually surprised, to be honest, that I wasn’t alone in my opinion.

    @ Tim – I wasn’t attempting to *squash* anything, by the way. I’m just another member of this site. I was simply voicing my concerns, which were heartfelt.

  12. Nick says:

    Hah, even the literary/publishing press appears to have taken notice of this blog post. Now that’s interesting. :)

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