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Improving the site for authors

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  • Improving the site for authors

    With Sev's recent reappearance, this seems worthwhile to bring up.

    So in the recent cross site contest that brought people from other CYOA sites to here, a few things were identified as being a real annoyance.

    1.) Being randomly logged out.
    This is the big one. I cannot describe how infuriating the sensation of having a fat page of writing destroyed because a site just boots you for giggles every 30 minutes is, but luckily I don't need to, because everyone here already knows it. And out of everything this seems like the easiest fix; just have the site stop logging people out when they haven't clicked anything for a bit. Because when you're writing you're obviously not clicking things.

    2.) Please let us delete old stories. Okay, this was more a thing I specifically identified as an annoyance because newbies haven't progressed to the 'a dozen WIPs you will never finish or touch again' phase yet. But I really wanted a clean profile to start fresh with, and hitting delete just moving them to a section labeled 'Deleted Stories' right below that where they're still extremely visible to me and also still stored intact on the site gives a very cluttered feel which I hate. If there are reasons why you don't want to remove them entirely, can they at least be hidden in a collapsed tab or something?

    I know it's theoretically possible to 'recycle' games by deleting each individual page and changing the title and then putting a fresh game in there, but that seems like a lot of work. And besides that it can be working against yourself because of:

    3.) The way new stories are listed. Or rather, the way they aren't listed. Because at the moment, only rushed and bad stories are listed unless you take steps to work around that. The project I'm working on here now which I'm expecting to be in the range of 70k-100k words when finished will have to be manually pasted over to a brand new story I create, or else it won't appear under New Stories which means not being visible on the front page anywhere at all. That's a good incentive for just writing it elsewhere. The fix for this would just have 'New Stories' look at the first time a story is switched to Public, not the date of actual creation.

  • #2
    Thanks for taking the time to write out these suggestions and ideas for improvement.

    1. Someone reported this earlier this year and I thought I had addressed it and it seemed to be working better for him. Originally it was around 30 minutes but I increased the cookie timeout to 3 hours. Are you still being logged out at 30 minutes?

    2. I haven't looked at the story mgmt in awhile but allowing you to delete/hide stories permanently is a pretty easy change. I agree that having you recycle a story is not something a user should have to do.

    3. For a story to show in the "new" block on home page, it must be browsable and public. They are sorted by creation date descending. For a story to be browsable it must have at least 20 rooms. If you still don't think it's operating the way I described, let me know. Remember, users can see all "new stories" by simply browsing and sorting by newest first. Perhaps a link to this under the home page new block would be sufficient....


    • #3
      The issue with #3 is that a lot of people, and I'd argue most of the people writing the more quality stories, will create a game and work on it in private until it's done. Then when they're ready for people to read it and switch it to public, it doesn't appear anywhere visible on the main page, because larger stories with a lot of effort put in can take awhile and in the meantime a bunch of tiny low effort things have crowded out that space.

      The stuff linked on the new stories list typically averages 3000 words or less. The 20 room limit is a good idea in theory, but in practice it just means all these stories with one sentence per page are all most new people just casually browsing will see. Making the site look at the first time a story of appropriate size is set to Public instead of the actual creation of the blank game I believe would balance this out.

      Happy to hear about the first two suggestions being easy fixes though. I'll have to actually time the logouts to figure that one out, but I think it does time out after about thirty minutes. Or at least I had to get in the habit of opening the main page in another window to make sure I was still logged in before submitting a page. Maybe someone can weigh in on this more specifically though....I did leave the screen up to go afk now and then but, I don't think it was ever for three hours.


      • #4
        Changes that just went live:
        1. Deleted stories no longer show on My Stories
        2. Added link to all popular and new stories under each home page block
        3. When deleting a story, user must confirm the one-way action.

        Of course, everyone wants their story promoted on home page. If the community can come up with better criteria, then I'm open to changing it. It's supposed to be the most recent stories created - not "largest newest stories" - at some point we have to draw a line/criteria somewhere. Not everyone keeps their story private when writing so tracking when it's of "appropriate size when set to public" wouldn't work. And in theory, it doesn't show up on the newest widget until it hits the 20 mark but going off the creation date does give an advantage to those who write faster.

        Maybe I just need to add a Paid Promotion Widget

        "New Beefcakes" section... or maybe it's determined by how many words?

        How does CYS handle this ?

        I'm just brainstorming. Maybe some others can join in here.


        • #5
          CYS has stories under a certain rating unpublished, and there are a certain number of featured slots for each genre, containing stories hand-picked by the admins.
          On the home page is the "Story-games most in need section," containing games that the user has not yet rated but which need a few more ratings to be ranked.
          The top-ranking stories based on rating also show on the home page in their own category. I can't remember if it was top six or five.

          Some of those ways of organization and presentation would likely not make much sense here, but it does attract more quality readers and writers to have Eternal be the first thing they see rather than, say, a three thousand word rip-off of a YA novel or yet another crushing fetish story.

          Looking at the front page here, there are the contest winner, which is great, but it is at the bottom of the list. If someone was just clicking this link on a whim, they might not even scroll down that far.
          Before that are the most popular stories, based off hits rather than rating. So there's ooh, a two star Pokemon game, porn, Pokemon porn, and a couple stories that might be good, but I'm going to assume at this point that they are porn, if I didn't already know otherwise.

          The top at the list are the newly created, often extremely shitty stories. That's the first thing people see when they find IS. Even a change in placement with the contest winners on top rather than the bottom would clean things up a little and give a better first impression to someone coming in blind who wants a site for something other than Stanley Parable crush porn.


          • #6
            Really I'd rather see the top rated stories on the front page rather than the most "popular." The "popular" stories are strictly going by number of hits and generally speaking the longer stories are going to have the advantage if even they suck really badly. Plus it tends to remain static since people are going to click through them more due to design.

            At least with top rated, it's subject to change a little easier since people will rate a story accordingly and usually a story that doesn't "belong" will fall eventually.

            As far as how CYS puts stories on the front page, there's a few ways.

            The front page proper has the 5 top rated stories on the site listed. This of course is just based on the ratings.

            Then there's the main story section page which has 7 featured stories listed in each category. Featured stories are determined by the admins.

            Featured stories are generally the top rated ones in their categories, but not always. They're usually rotated a bit from time to time so new stories in those categories can get a chance to gain attention.

            EDIT: Cricket explained some of it better.
            Last edited by End Master; 11-19-2019, 09:35 PM.
            Writing: It's more fun than a barrel of Ebola ridden monkeys!


            • #7
              I’d be down with adding a top-rated section to home page but I don’t think a story with a single 5-star should rate higher than a 4.9 with 20 ratings. Maybe we require a minimum of [x] ratings? We also run into the same issue of promoted stories getting more attention and ratings. Plus newer good stories are often by average going to rank higher than older stories with more ratings. Maybe that’s okay.

              As for the popular list on home page, I agree with the issues you brought up. At the very least it should be reset monthly or weekly if only done by hits. And yes, longer stories will inherently be more popular which I agree is a flaw.

              Perhaps home page can have a top-rated 5 stories list in each category.

              And maybe just a featured 5 stories that is curated and changed monthly. I’m not going to do the curation though so the automated approaches seem better.

              Still need a way to identify the shit / abandoned stories. Not sure what to do with them once they are identified though.


              • #8
                Moving the IWT winners to top sounds like a no brainer. I’ll do that tomorrow. FWIW, I put New at top thinking that the freshest would be best.

                Probably should think about promoting the contest entries more too since we can likely assume they are not in the shit/abandoned group. A link to contest page “view all contest entries” would suffice for now.

                I remember talking about this before but if we can identify the good/real/serious/complete-ish stories I’d be happy to flag them and promote in a random carousel rotation on home page as featured stories. Identifying new stories that fall into this category is an ongoing process of course and I would need the community’s help with that.

                Any volunteers that want to be part of an IS Curation Consortium?

                old thread on the abandoned/crappy stories issue:


                • #9
                  Oh, I’m now thinking each category needs its own landing page...

                  one big featured story carousel rotation
                  top 5 by hits
                  top 5 newest
                  top 5 rated


                  • #10
                    Check out the new home page -

                    IWT winners at top

                    Then a top-rated list (must have 5 or more ratings to be included)



                    • #11
                      Oh wow, there's been a lot going on here. Work was kind of a mess today and I'm about to head in for a few more hours so I'm not going to be able to respond to much yet but this is awesome, I'm impressed that changes are happening so fast.

                      Making the IWT stories more visible was a good start. It's also a good incentive to join and win the next one. And some sort of flagging system for quality stories (or uh, the opposite, if you want to go that route) is something I'd love to see and be happy to help with.

                      Cricket has described how CYS does things pretty well, but for how it handles new games, the main difference there is that stories aren't open the way they can be here: there's an author with the ability to add designated co authors, and it's expected to not be published until its finished. So the game is private in their profile (or else visible as a title and description and accessible to anyone with the URL in a mode called sneak peek). The New Storygames list goes by publication date rather than initial creation of the blank game. The stuff I said about setting to Public was the closest parallel to our version of publishing I could think of.

                      The six newest stories are listed on the main storygames list, but we manually remove anything with a rating of 2.5 or less after it gets ten ratings or so. The main list looks like this:

                      (well, I'm using the extension and dark mode so the site actually looks nothing like that, but the way the stories are listed is the same....)

                      Which brings me to my next dark mode a possibility? I'm old now and prone to headaches when staring at white screens.

                      I hate throwing all this stuff at you at once, but in this case I know there are people who find that kind of thing a deal breaker with any site that expects you to read.
                      Last edited by mizal; 11-20-2019, 05:34 PM.


                      • #12
                        Beautiful. Now THIS makes me want to stick around and read this stuff.
                        You do not have permission to view this gallery.
                        This gallery has 1 photos.


                        • #13
                          Check out the category landing pages I created last night too... For the IWT section at the top on those pages, I include all contest entries, not just the winners. I'd like to add hand-curated stories in a hero presentation carousel as well. It'd be nice to have an image for the story so it could look very enticing and sexy.

                          I still need to add an easy way to navigate to other cagegories (probably a category dropdown) and as I mentioned somewhere else, a sexy hero / image carousel of hand-curated stories.

                          It seems like we've got a lot of great content but the recent changes are making it easier for readers to get to the good stories thereby making it more enticing for writers to want to create content. Yay.

                          Screenshot 2019-11-21 09.29.32.png
                          Screenshot 2019-11-21 09.30.00.png


                          • #14
                            As for dark mode - start a separate thread on it. I fear we're all over the place in this one thread.


                            • #15
                              The new Stories by Category buttons are in a good place and very inviting to click on, and the front page is a thousand times better about putting the good stories right up in front of a new reader's face now with all the changes. I know you've been working on a lot of different things but I think this was a simple one that in the long run is going to make the most difference in keeping newbies around.

                              If you wanted to encourage authors to start incorporating some kind of title art, you could allow a small image to be uploaded directly in the story settings...although ultimately that would be one more thing to moderate. Or did you mean something the site attached only to the hand picked stories?

                              The way the Quest site lists their featured games is kind of attractive, but honestly one of the things I like about the design of IS is how clean and uncluttered it is. (Being able to load it when I'm out of highspeed data is another plus.)


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