Halloween story writing contest 2013

It’s that time of year again. We’re having our third annual halloween contest.

Have fun everybody 🙂



Scoring and Voting System’s Upcoming Changes

As I announced back in 2012, changes are coming to the site’s voting system. Since work on the updates has progressed enough to make things clear, I guess it’s time to update you all on the coming changes.

1 – The TPA system is going away. The system never lived up to its potential. The members that could use it effectively and correctly are very few and those who used it tended to ruin the results. So it became a waste of resources that delivered very little value for everyone. The existing votes will be converted to normal votes (what used to be basic).

2 – The updated system now keeps individual votes and that means new useful stuff and less drawbacks.

3 – Due to the way the updated system works, there will be no display of the old bScore. Only the weighed score (the bScore was already hidden from new authors).

So what useful stuff will result from #2? Well, now we can calculate a story’s score while dropping the top 5% and the bottom 5% of votes; thus eliminating outliers and minimizing the effects of vindictive/manipulative/destructive votes. This top and bottom drop will kick in once the story reaches 20 votes. So, I don’t want to hear anything anymore about votes of ‘1’. Those are taken care of with this change.

I’ve been keeping individual basic votes since 2009, so those, with the individual votes from the TPA, will make up the source for the scores in the updated system (millions of votes already). I’ll be dropping the old vote results completely. Theoretically, all the scores displayed for all the stories on the site will now reflect the same voting conditions. What that means is that the old stories’ scores most likely will change drastically. I haven’t completed enough work to make a comparison between the old scores and the new scores for the top performing classic stories, so I don’t really know what will happen yet.

The updated system will allow readers to change their votes. So no more “where is the voting form” except when authors turn off voting. And readers will be able to update their votes on serials as chapters get posted.

Update 2013-05-21: All the changes have been implemented.


iOS 6 and the non-working random story display

Anybody who upgraded to iOS 6 on the iPhone soon found the random story display on the home page to be broken. It took two days to track the problem to excessively aggressive page caching on the part of Safari.

I finally worked around the problem by varying the URL where the random story is fetched for each request. It’s now working on iPhones with iOS6.

You may need to force reload the site’s home page and javascripts by clearing all sites’ data on your iPhone.

To clear all sites’ data, go to: Settings -> Safari -> Advanced -> Website Data and clear the data.


New Submission Wizard Features

Today, Saturday, August 19th, 2006, marks the deployment of a new version of the site’s submission wizard. It’s not a complete re-write but a significant one nonetheless.

New features:

  1. Shortcuts:
    Designed for authors with multiple similar postings. For example if you need to post several chapters of a novel, separately, instead of clicking the wizard, then selecting a pen name (if applicable), then selecting ‘New Chapter’, then selecting the story – for each chapter, you can save the pen name, submission type, story, progress status, opt out of new categories, opt out of story’s end-note, opt out of moderator notes.
    Also works for new stories, but of course with appropriate options (for example you can’t opt out of categories because they’re required). Basically, the version saves a lot of clicking.
  2. Delayed Posting:
    For authors that like to post something to appear later on the site.

Other changes include some JavaScript enhancements to reduce the clicking required; as well as removing some ambiguities when editing existing submissions.

If you’re an author, give it a whirl and tell me what you think. Of course, bug reports are appreciated as well as suggestions for possible enhancements.


Email Feedback System: A minor, but important change

I’ve made a small change to the email feedback system that all authors should be aware of.

From now on, all non-anonymous email messages coming from the site’s feedback system will be coming from ‘feedback’at’’ with their ‘Reply to:’ field set to the real email address submitted by the feedback sender.

The net result of this change is that less feedback messages will have the chance of being blocked by spam filtering software/services. And that’s because the site’s mail server won’t be pretending to be the sender’s mail server in order to deliver the messages.

What will this change mean for authors? should be nothing.

All email services and email clients, whether desktop based or web based respect the ‘Reply to:’ header and when you click the ‘Reply’ button in your email client, the ‘To’ field should be filled with whatever email address is set in the message’s ‘Reply to’ field/header.

If you filter messages based on the ‘From’ field, then you may have to change that to the ‘Reply To:’ field.

Anonymous messages will still come from ‘

With this change, all email being sent from storiesonline’s servers will be from the domain. Also, the new mail server installed on the site, which is responsible for receiving mail sent to the domain, is configured to scrutinise incoming messages as much as possible to cut down as much as possible the amount of spam being received by the mail server.

All in all, this change will make the site a better net citizen.