Biting more than you can chew, without realizing it!

As many of you who’ve read the previous entries in this blog know, I’m working on a new reviewing system for the site. I have the feature set ready and have already started with the implementation. However, I’ve hit few snags.

Let me tell you a bit about my way of developing features. I don’t work in a conventional manner. I learned programing on my own, as in no formal training, and over time have developed my own way of working. One of the most important issues for me is the user interface.

When designing something, I start with a feature set, then with the interface, then the actual implementation. The reviewing system has a feature set, but no user interface. While it was easy to decide on how to make the review submission system work and where to place the link to it (the end of the story of course), I still can’t figure out how to give the users access to already submitted reviews for editing (where do you put something like that?). How to display the reviews and where? How to manage the moderating system? where to access it from?

Another stumbling block is the fact that I’ve always wanted to implement multi-language support into the site. So I thought that I should start that by implementing the reviewing system in a way to allow support for multiple languages, and that lead to the start of the redesign of the site’s infrastructure. So this is taking way too much time; definitely more than I first anticipated.

One thing led to another and now I’m contemplating the redesign of the whole site, layout-wise.

While doing these separate things, there is always the day-to-day things involved, from helping readers to helping authors. It seems that no one can actually find the help page that cover everything most people would need help with. I typically answer about 25 – 50 help emails per day that contain nothing more than a link to the appropriate help page. Does anybody check the help link at the top of all pages before they email me?

I realized that the homepage, while it’s been working for the longest time, isn’t the best way that it can be. Most people with smaller screens don’t seem to bother scrolling down and it seems that author services extend way too low on the screen for most authors to find the services relating to them.

So what started as a project for a review system has suddenly turned into an extensive redesign of the site, from the basic layout to the main infrastructure of the site.

At this time, I have no time frame for anything. One thing for sure, the site’s interface will be changing and the thing that I’m dreading the most is the angry emails that I will receive for daring to change what people are already used to.

So the first thing you’ll see will be the interface changes, I’ve decided that there should be two distinct areas of the site, one for reading stories and one for writers. They’ll both be easily accessible by everybody, and two distinct areas will allow me to reorganize features and pages in a more streamlined and logical manner.

Published by Lazeez

Owner and operator of storiesonline.net

8 replies on “Biting more than you can chew, without realizing it!”

  1. How to display the reviews and where?

    Nothing to add here… just a warning.

    I was over at literotica.com which has a ‘commenting’ system.

    I have to say… this reviewing with moderation may be a LOT MORE work than you think.

    There’s going to be work just to keep shutting down the jerkwads that want to ‘hate’ and the ‘fans’ that just want to say ‘GREAT STORY!’.

    ElSol

  2. Rather than re-inventing the whole wheel you could use one of the many open source PHP forum systems out there.

    I believe many of them can be configured so that a person postes their comments and then a moderator either alows it to go live or kills it. This is assuming of course you want to have the reviews moderated and not just a free-for-all

  3. Let me also go for a vote on the php systems. They seem to work in a massively scalable way and if some of the people I know manage to make them work then just about anyone can get them to work. Plus you get support from the huge amount on literature and people already using php.

    I think it might even look fairly seamless.

  4. Laz, whatever you decide, I’m sure it’ll be just fine. Just don’t make it more work for yourself than you have to. Because, I know from experience, that if people were REALLY interested in reviewing stories they’d have asked you to be allowed to review as I have.

    I consider being a reviewer, an honor and a privilege that could definitely be misused (as anything that requires responsibility).

    All I ask of any of you who want to review stories is to be fair to the authors. If you can’t be constructive or if you’re just going to write what amounts to “this story sucks, don’t waste your time” just leave it alone and go onto a story that you do like.

    I’ve gottan emails from many of the authors who appreciated what I’ve done. However, I have to tell you that it is I who appreciate the authors.

    Laz, you give them a great place to showoff their work and all they ask for is an email to let them know how you liked their story or not and why.

    So, let’s not forget how powerful reviewing someones work can be. Be mature, considerate and most of all, be sure you can do a better job than the story you’re reviewing negatively (if that is your intention). Because, like many of you, I’m a consumer of these author’s work and if you want them to improve, don’t put them down. Just help them along.

    The other side to that ‘coin’ is that if you find something that’s a ‘gem’ in your opinion, but hasn’t gotten the score you think it deserves. Tell everyone about it. Don’t hold back. Because you can never tell. I’m pretty sure the authors will appreciate it as well.

    It’s like that old saying goes, “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure”.

    The bottomline folks is to be cool with it and have fun. You don’t have to disrespect anyone just because you don’t like what they write. In fact, you don’t even have to read their story!

  5. Although I have not posted a story in a long, long time, I really like the site and talk of ‘improvements’sets alarm bells off. Sex Stories Post, tried something similar, only for it to go horribly, horribly wrong.

    It’s not nice when supermarkets decide to change the layout of the store and everyone ends up spending forever hunting for where the buggers have now put the beans/ toothpicks/ pickles, etc etc

    Please think VERY carefully before you make any drastic changes!

    Pixy

  6. I read mostly scifi, fantasy and historical stuff. I look for certain story types so I think the stories should be categorized.

    I have gotten good at using Category Search and Advanced Search but they often miss the type stories I am looking for.

    Codes are good. As an example I don’t read anything with MM, Mm or mm codes. Nothing personal, just ain’t for me.

    and… I almost never look at anything smaller than 40K in size.

    If I am going to invest time in learning character’s names, geography etc. I want a story that will last more than a couple minutes.

    Goodluck as this sounds like a difficult thing to do.

    Swabby

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