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Okay, I'm being over dramatic, but I wanted to get your attention. As many of you have noticed it's taking longer and longer for your submissions to see the front page. Many people believe the process is automated and it's not! I validate posts every single night between 9:30 and 11:30 pm central, sometimes later on the weekend.

The process is pretty simple, I validate 10-12 poems and 10-12 stories every night and I try limit it to 1 item per person, per day. Sometimes if a person hasn't been published here before and someone else is in the queue who has been, I'll skip and give the new member the attention.

This is not really a problem, just a symptom of growth. We are doing very, very well and we are going through some new growing pains. I am working on a slight re-design of lit.org to make room for new features and just clean things up a bit. One of the complaints we get from new users is that our front page is very daunting and it scares them off. Also, with the space we have we can't add too much more to the front page without making it even more cluttered.

What I would like to do is move *all* new submission to their own front page. So there would basically be 4 sections to the site, just like their are 4 main sections on the front page. We can add more as needed, but these 4 have served us well for over a year so I think we are good there. The front page would then become a launching point into those 4 areas. This will clear the front page off to focus on site announcements, Write Off's and other competition and other supporting information. This would make it less menacing to new people.

The new section home pages would draw attention to stand out pieces in that category as well as be able to list many more new items since it doesn't have to compete for room with the other 3 categories. It would also make it so the poetry folks aren't bothered with short stories and vice versa, unless they are interested in them. I would create 4 tabs to make it very easy to switch between the 4 main areas with a 5th to bring people back to the front page. The new sub pages would be able to support 50+ new submissions easily and I was going to organize them by day (like here: http://www.lit.org/week.php ) to make it easy to follow. If you miss a day, you know which day you need to catch up on.

I would like feedback from everyone. This is not set in stone and those who have been around for a while know I like to run things by you all first. This affects you and this is as much your choice as it is mine. My job is to make things work better for you. Tell me how I can improve things and I will. Please give me your suggestions. If you don't feel like voicing them in public, send them to me via email: crowe@lit.org

Thanks, and I look forward to your ideas and suggestions.

------
Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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Comments

The following comments are for "Lit.Org is in trouble and needs your help!"
by Chrispian

OK by me!
Chris, I'm perfectly happy with things as they are, but then, I don't have to stay up nights trying to juggle things around. Your judgement has been great so far, so do what you think best!

( Posted by: Beatrice Boyle [Member] On: December 10, 2003 )

Sounds good
Sure, let's give it a shot! I'm up for anything, and I trust your judgment.

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: December 10, 2003 )

*relieved sigh*
Way to get me all worked up, I thought we were all in trouble here! *grin*

Sounds like an excellent plan. I would be worried that it might perpatuate the slight list of the site towards poetry, since the option would be open to -never- look anywhere else. That, however, is hardly a concern worth more than a few minutes contemplation. The new design sounds wonderful enough to go through with anyway. I'll support it.

-Kitten

( Posted by: Kitten Courna [Member] On: December 10, 2003 )

Thumbs up
Ha. You don't know that I have a number of nightmares, and it isn't good for me to get another jolt when I wake up and see this kind of subject line!! Was worried there for a sec...

I think in the end it could be a good plan, but I'm going to echo what Kitten said. My only concern is that the rest of the site's content, besides poetry, might suffer.

But you're the Boss Man, and I trust your judgment. I never found this format daunting, though (maybe because I check here every day).

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: December 10, 2003 )

plans
I think your new plans sound really good Chrispian. I kinda wonder how the comments would be laid out, but I'm sure you will figure it out. I totally support however you end up changing this site especially with your changes being so positive.

As far as the other catergories suffering, I know that for my part, at least, I'll still make an effort to comment on different forms. Perhaps they will grow apart, and kinda become their own little groups. *shrugs* I think it'll be fine. =D

( Posted by: Darkshine Raven [Member] On: December 10, 2003 )

trust
All the choices you've made so far have been good ones. Please do whatever makes things run better for YOU. Obviously, this site runs beautifully for US.

In the interests of posing a constructive suggestion, could you perhaps farm out some of the validations to a trusted second?

( Posted by: cybele [Member] On: December 10, 2003 )

re: trouble
Seems that everyone likes the front page as it is. I'll think more on how to handle that.

As for the validating - the manual process is not a problem in the least. I like doing it and it only takes a couple of minutes. Keeping it "hands on" makes sure everything is the way I like it.

The source of the problem is the VOLUME being published daily, and how to publish enough every day so that we aren't backlogged for a year or that we don't have a front page that has 30, 40, or 50 entries per category (Poetry, Stories etc.) Right now your lucky if your story or poem is on the front page for 1 day!! That's the crux of the issue here. The reason I don't validate more is because some items would miss being on the front page at all.

So, the real question is how to validate more and still give every piece more time in the "spotlight" so that it has a fair chance of being seen and read? Ideas?

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: December 10, 2003 )

So much to read!
It's daunting, but here's my thought.
A Sidebar.
You can keep the main page as is, only add a Sidebar, the top of which would be a drop-down menu that allows you to select one of the big bold face 4 or 5 (Story, Poetry, Comments, ect...) or a category in regular font under a deliniating line that separates the big 4 from the rest. Then the most recent submissions of that selection appears in the Sidebar, all the way down the page. That should give you about 60+ a day in each selection, and all without leaving the front page.
An extention of the front page in effect. You'd never need to click on other links or pages. What do you think?

You might even add scroll capability to the Sidebar and scroll your way to the very last in that category, if the site database can handle that sort of thing.
Add a cookie and the last selection you left the sidebar on will remain, keeping the front page always loaded with the member's reading preferences.


On another note, I'd really like it if there were a way to increase font size on the front page(of course this ironically wouldn't apply to a Sidebar) At least maybe include it on pages that display the actual works, the text. That would make this site much easier to read, and easy reading means more reading and more visitors.

This site is still a gem IMHO. Well designed. Cudos.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: December 11, 2003 )

yeah...
i've noticed the backlog, and also the huge recent volume of blogs, which i sometimes read and sometimes don't. i think it's a great idea to have new work posted on separate pages, as long as it's easy enough to flip back and forth between categories... mostly i read poetry and flash... call it attention deficit disorder, maybe. i like your idea, chrispian. go for it. and... i remember being kind of overwhelmed when i first saw the first page... but after a while you get to know where the "what's new" button is. that's all i need, really.

( Posted by: ark [Member] On: December 11, 2003 )

categories
I'm inclined to like your idea of one page per category, with the category choices on your opening page. Like others on the site, I write more than one format, in my case, poetry, then Flash, and I used to make a living writing articles, so I'm open to expository prose when it hits me. I check all these categories in the order of my predilections, as my time permits. I bookmark good poems/flash/etc under Favorites, and use them as springboards to the works of authors I know to be good, so I can review their latest works of all genres, thereby saving the time to browse new works in each category. I dread missing some good new author simply because their work didn't get enough time on the front page. I wholeheartedly recommend a whole page per genre, since it lets us review faster and make better use of what time we have. Go for it.

john

( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: December 11, 2003 )

back in the old days...
There was a time when the rate of new submissions was low enough that I could read every post on the day it was validated, and comment on a lot of them too. These days I simply don't have time to read them all. That's partly because of the massive increase in posts over the last year (particularly the last six months), and also because I've got a less free time now to spend on the site than I did (you old timers have probably noticed I haven't been posting as much as I used to).

Either way, it is frustrating knowing that I might be missing some good stuff. There's not much you can do about that - the quantity isn't going to change because you redo the layout - but if it makes the site easier to navigate, I'm all for it. I personally love the site design as it is, but I'm sure I'll also love whatever else you come up with as well, so no worries.

I still think there's a need for the best work on the site to be highlighted. I've mentioned it before, but my opinion is that this would be the biggest problem for me as a newbie if I joined now: There's so much material on the site that the newbie could be overwhelmed (that isn't a reflection on the front page design, it's simply down to the raw quantity). When I joined Lit.org, I did so largely because I read some of the other work on the site, liked what I saw, and joined in. If others work the same way, I think the best way to give them a good first impression is to show off the cream of the Lit.org crop with an obvious link that says to them "These are the very best works on the site - read these first"

Right. That's my opinion. Now I'll let you get on and do it however you like.... it is your site, after all. :)

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: December 11, 2003 )

Whatever is fine with me!
Sounds ok to me.I'm still new on the site anyway. So I really don't know what to say. I love poetry mostly but love to see what other comments are and items are too.

( Posted by: larryta4 [Member] On: December 12, 2003 )

log in problems
I have'nt been here in awhile and I was just wondering why when you now have to sign in over and over and over to submit then to manage your writing. Is it my computer something I need to change or is that the way it is now? I did'nt get that memo. Thanks Crowe let me know.
I like the set up otherwise it's great.

( Posted by: lovesessence [Member] On: December 13, 2003 )

re: log in
the log in process has not changed. If you could log in before - you should be able to still. The only thing we've done is extend the log in process to allow you to also do thing on the site, not just in your manage writings control panel. It uses the exact same log in process.

Has anything changed on your system? This is the first time I've heard anyone having trouble logging in.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: December 13, 2003 )

log in
Pen, the login thingy here doesn't worky exactly like the one on the forums. I'll increase the time-out to much longer. I had forgotten it was set to 10 minutes ;)

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: December 13, 2003 )

well done, Mr. Editor
I'm pretty new on this site but I have to say I feel very comfortable here. I use to submit my works on another poetry site also (www.agonia.net, mainly in Romanian section of that site). Take a look on that site. Maybe you could find some ideas there. I think it's a good idea to separate the four sections on separately pages.

Warm regards,
Eugenia

( Posted by: inmost [Member] On: December 14, 2003 )

As far as I can see
your site is so successful that you've had to redesign to cope with increased input. I've had Spuds' problem over the last few months - hardly any time to post anything. I say your decisions have made it this successful, so carry on giving it some welly, lad.
Ciao
Paul the busy Ogg

( Posted by: Ogg [Member] On: December 14, 2003 )

lit.org
Finding this site was a long search for me. Out of the many I've tried, it's by far the best.

( Posted by: gsmonks [Member] On: December 15, 2003 )

Changes
Hi Crispian
I support the plan you have laid out. I don't have any problems with the new design you suggest. In fact it sound a very good idea. When I look for a short story to rea in the new section I often have to search through many poems , etc before I get to the fiction item I'm looking for.
Is it possible to have a random story displayed for a short time? Or is that too complex?


( Posted by: Cleveland W. Gibson [Member] On: December 16, 2003 )

cry wolf
Hah. You had me worried. I see you caught Elphaba too. The four page-plan would give more people longer in the spotlight, as you say. A definite plus and shouldn't be harder to navigate from this end.
Now where's submit?
smithy

( Posted by: Smithy [Member] On: December 22, 2003 )

Good Idea
I think it would be a good idea. The site becomes cluttered and hard to let people find some writings. But overall the site has been an outlet for me defantly so its in your hands. And I am sure this comment has come late enough something is already been done.

( Posted by: Mr36 [Member] On: December 22, 2003 )

Changes are good
So far every time something gets changed I either like it, or get confused by it followed my liking it ocne I figure it out.

I liked the ideas mentioned above about a drop down tab, and also the listing of the best stuff (maybe that will get more people rating stuff while they read it).

The only suggestion I can make is regarding The Majestic, the pop-up was fine the first few times I saw it, but every time I go to this site it comes up... if it was in a page for new people I would like it, but right now it makes me come here less.

( Posted by: Ragath [Member] On: December 22, 2003 )

good idea
I, for one, like the idea of a separate page for new poems, short stories, essays, etc. That will clear up some of the clutter on the front page, let new submissions appear on the page longer, and help focus the reader towards exactly what they want: if someone comes in to read short stories, they can go directly there and not have to scroll through the rest of the new submissions unless they want to.

( Posted by: evil_bacteria [Member] On: December 28, 2003 )

Crowe..
Father I never had...
I trust your decision on this. Lit's been the best.. and it's all been because of your hard behind the scenes work. If it wasn't for you - we'd just be a bunch of writers out there dying for a place to colaborate on the web.
*huggles*
Nik.. Yes .. I do still exist.

( Posted by: nicicole [Member] On: December 28, 2003 )

support
I would support this, I've been offline, still am technically but i like to come here and read when I can...

The new format you have suggested sounds very workable, and I agree with your reasoning of wanting pieces to be on the 'new writing' link more than one day... we all like our time to shine ^_^

( Posted by: De`esse [Member] On: December 29, 2003 )

wow
im still fairly new to the community, about a week or so it seems. just my opinion, but i'm very impressed with the entire structure of the site; and to find it's a one man operation reading every post! my hat tips to you.

i do like the current layout; i didnt find it overwhelming. it seemed to me very professional and carefully planned. my only suggestion is to maybe automate the submission process a little more, or perhaps get some of the willing senior members to help you validate posts.

an idea for a slight change in layout: perhaps you could blend both ideas together. on the front page could be the same sections but shorter, giving somewhat of a 'highlight' of the best of the fairly recent submissions, but also giving links to a separate page of all new submissions. this would reduce clutter while simultaneously allowing newcomers to the site to taste good material right from the front page. just a thought.

( Posted by: ochimusha [Member] On: December 31, 2003 )

Trouble, my friend
You certainly got the attention of everyone on the site. There are avatars here I've never seen before. Like most, I agree that you should do what you feel is best. I love this site. The feedback is tremendous and well considered. If you've found room for improvement, more power to you.

( Posted by: poeteye [Member] On: January 3, 2004 )

Sounds like an idea.
I agree that the front page can be overwhelming. When I first joined this site back, I believe around August, I even found it overwhelming then and how quickly the items on the front page got shifted. I knew this was only natural, but I found it quite annoying.

Seperate pages for new items is a great idea in my opinion. Even though there is a lot of material, it's then manangable for those who want to read through and comment on stuff.

Like rcallaci said, change is good. When you changed the template a little bit on WritingForums, I think most of us liked the change. Now that I've gotten used to it, I prefer it so much more.

Nothing is going to stop the growth of the material on Lit.or, except maybe if you turn off new members, which of course wouldn't be an option. That being said, accomidations must be made for the growth and mass of material, whether it be layout or personal preferences.

Go for it. I'm sure you'll come up with something great!

( Posted by: AdamR [Member] On: January 4, 2004 )

go for it
hey it sounds good and as said by some other people im new and not to sure about how things work so sorry for the lack of input on my part

( Posted by: avilanch2000 [Member] On: January 5, 2004 )

An idea
Hi Crispian. Love your site, discovered it a poster on the forum at Ed the Sock's website (www.edthesock.com) just so you know.

Anywho, I have a simple, non-offensive (LOL) question for you: how's your staffing? Because I was thinking maybe you can hire more staff members (that is, if you can afford it) and assign them to edit in a different category, so you can have 20-30+ new materials on the front page every day, and keep them there for some time.

Also, (and you might think this is silly coming from me,) you should advertise other categories to all those poetry buffs, short story freaks, etc. Maybe they can develop more interest in them. After all, what that old cliche: variety is the spice of life.

Thank you for letting me speak. Think these ideas over, I think they're very sound. Take care!

( Posted by: davewriter [Member] On: January 14, 2004 )

EotW
I've been using eastoftheweb.com/uncut to post stories at, and it seems to me that they have a fairly effective system.

( Posted by: johnsf [Member] On: January 21, 2004 )

Another item
Comments are out of control. I enjoy the comments for being able to view a cross seciton of the site that has garnered the most interest. Unfortunately it has often become one person's jihad for the day, with said person filling not only an entire day's column, but into the extended section as well. It's worse when it becomes a feud between two people, and far, far worse when it's someone who loves the sound of their own words.

My suggestion: there are other means to communnicate with people outside the comments ( if not there might need to be). Comments could easily be restricted to 3 per person per day. Some people will hate that, but they own the place right now. Let independent voices be heard!
My two cents...and rant of the day. Thank you.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: January 23, 2004 )

Comment Limit
I am not much of a fan of the comment limit; although I do not comment more than 3 times a day; I think a limit will hinder those days when one will just absolutely want to comment about different works.

One thing loved in this site is the comments themselves... it allows a free exchange that is very akin to how artists quabble or collaborate in the real world.

Taking that will remove the spirit. The separate sections woul be a great idea. the commenting though for me ... well I'm not much of a fan of it.

( Posted by: webguy [Member] On: January 25, 2004 )

two cents from Lazarus
First of all I humbly apologize for my recent abscence and will be doing my best to be more like my old self in the coming days. And having been away so long I definately see the growth here on the site with new eyes. Wow, we've exploded. But I do see Crowe's point. Good material is getting buried under a sea of new submissions before most of us see it. So multiple milieu specific pages would in my opinion be an excellent solution.

Onto Malthis concern that the comments section has become of late a place for one or two people to carry on debates on all matter of things from religion to whether or not "x" writer's work has any merit, these type of debates are entertaining reading I'll say that much and I often times enjoy them, but the comment section is not the place for them. Please try to move such discussions over to the forums where they belong. Many of us use the comments as a browser of sorts and this will allow for more feedback to be posted on the front page as well. I am however, against limiting the number of comments any given user can make. That hamstrings those of us who tend to comment in large numbers on multiple pieces in a given day. It may be personal preference, because I'm guilty of that, but I believe we shouldn't hamstring the people who use the system correctly just to curtail a few people who are misusing it.

With all that said.. I'm glad to be back.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: January 26, 2004 )

re: trouble
What excellent suggestions. I don't think the changes that are needed are as dire or drastic as I had thought. I have some ideas to solve some of our issues without changing the way things work to much. I'll work on them and put up a beta page soon for everyone to get a feel for it.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: January 29, 2004 )

good
good

( Posted by: Titus Tolshem [Member] On: February 2, 2004 )

excessive commentary and limitations
If excessive commenting is a crime, I'm quite obviously guilty as charged -- not only regarding the qauntity of posts, but in sheer volume, as well.

Allow me to plead my case, however. I have never entered into a commentary "jihad" for love of the sound of my own voice. Rather, I have commented volubly as an outgrowth of my concern that many entries in the poetry section are not recieving commentary at all. As a writer I have a strong desire to know what is and isn't working in my pieces, and feel that I can only get this through feed-back. I also think criticism can be an excellent way to dig deeper into an analysis of writing, as the critic is expected to explain on what basis they liked or did not like a given work. Ratings are an extremely limited way of expressing this. I admit that I have assumed that my wants are the wants of everyone else on this site. I would be interested to know if there are others out there who would prefer a limitation placed on comments per day?

As an alternative to limitations, however, perhaps the order in which articles are posted could be programmed to re-shuffle during the day so that the most frequently read posts would always show at the top of each category? Or a sidebar could be added along with Lonely Posts, so that Popular Posts could be easily extrapolated as well? I think it would be a shame to limit the number of comments which can be posted, as I feel the ability to have one's work reviewed is the strongest feature of this site. However, I am willing to work with the wishes of the majority, in this or any other case.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: February 7, 2004 )

Okay by me.
Like the idea; do whatever you feel is best for everyone (including yourself).

( Posted by: Cryptic Rapture [Member] On: February 9, 2004 )

re trouble
I think I have a pretty clear idea of what all needs to be done. This week I'm going to outline all the changes I have planned and put down a rough idea of when they will be completed. I've got a couple other projects in the hopper, but I should manage to get the site done pretty soon. I'll make some subtle changes as I go and I'll post a beta link as soon as I have it ready. Thanks again for all the great feedback.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 10, 2004 )





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