Review rewards


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Guest Nomadic

Back in the years prior to The Great Cleaning of AFF there was a lot of community involvement. Im spoiled being from an era where you posted a story and got reviews.

Im not sure what happened in my time from then to now but there's been a clear decline in reader involvement. People just don't review like they did back in the olden days.

My suggestion needs development. Because its just the inkling of an idea. Or maybe my priorities are in the wrong place and we don't care about reviews like we did back in the day.

But maybe we can create some sort of system where ratings (is there like a 1-5 star rating system?) and reviews generated some sort of rank system on the site. You read. You review. You get something. You have badges the more you do? Something like that. Something to get some sort of discourse going. Maybe authors can remove nonsense reviews or something? So people aren't keyjamming for badges. 

Its really just a start of an idea. I dont know what the site is capable of to generate more than the start.

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17 hours ago, Guest Nomadic said:

But maybe we can create some sort of system where ratings (is there like a 1-5 star rating system?) and reviews generated some sort of rank system on the site. You read. You review. You get something. You have badges the more you do? Something like that. Something to get some sort of discourse going. Maybe authors can remove nonsense reviews or something? So people aren't keyjamming for badges.

We HAD ratings, but trolls kept spamming the down-vote button w/o reading the stories, which was demoralizing to some authors; and fanboys spamming the up-vote based on their one-true-ship desires.  This made ratings useless for actually judging if the story was any good.

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I just joined another fiction site and they have a rating system that you need to be logged in to utilize. Or you can elect to allow things to be anonymous and come what may. Just give us the option to have it there and only allow logged-in people to use the star option and then you don’t have trolls (unless they gonna be making 12 accounts but I imagine that would be obvious). 

Maybe the badge system would come with a demerit and if you’re reported enough times for trollololololing then your review and ratings rights are suspended. 

I was around when the trolls attacked and I watched it happen – but there was much more conversation back in those days about what was being written. I couldn’t remember if we had a star system back in those days – so that does seem possible, then. The nothing approach I think has created a breakdown in author/ reader relations that were really good back then.  Or bad, sometimes, granted. But also could be really good. 

Side note: I somehow started this topic while not logged in accidentally – whoops?

Edited by Nomadic
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We had pluses in the archive back when I first joined. You could rate a story from one to five pluses, with five being the highest rating. As @Desiderius Price said, and as you recall, there was a great deal of abuse of that system.

We also had the AFF Reviewers Association, which gave out tokens and banners for reviewers. It was strictly a member-run thing, and not an official campaign, but it did help spark some reviews.

We do have the ability for authors to allow or disallow anonymous reviews, as a global setting for their profile, and not by individual story. I’m not a coder (as I frequently admit) so I don’t know if there is any way to implement what we have on the forum—the more a forum member’s posts are liked, the more reputation points they get—and make it a reputation point system for logged-in reviewers. I’m going to guess that it would be harder to implement in the archive, however.

(I’m going to admit that I haven’t had a lot of time for reading for pleasure, so I have been seriously remiss in reviewing anything as well. I’d love to say I’ll get better about reading and reviewing, but I hate to make promises I’m not certain I can keep.)

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I couldn’t remember. Now I do! I thought removing them was temporary and there was some work for something new and great that was supposed to happen?

That being said, it’s not really about bringing back the star rating system (though I’m not a fan of all or nothing and feel we should find a way to restore that) it’s about encouraging reviews. Something like a system that grants something to interact with the writers. Even if it's gold star badges. 

I think I had proposed a while ago a system that authors could block off access to newer chapters with a lack of interaction from the audience XD But that was like… forever years ago and was sort of a joke suggestion. (sort of)

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We were talking at one point about something to replace the ratings system, perhaps a “like” or “kudos” feature that would be harder to abuse, at least in terms of downvoting a story that didn’t have the reader’s OTP, or had content (duly tagged) that the reader still found offensive even though they were alerted by the tags to its presence. (Yes, it got that petty.) As I recall, and it was a while ago, it was not something that was easy for the coder to implement, and our focus on code updates was to make the site more mobile-friendly.

Encouraging reviews has always been difficult. We had to implement a policy of not allowing authors to withhold chapters until a certain number of reviews was received, because readers emailed us in droves to complain bitterly. Review demands are still prohibited, because honestly, none of us have the patience to deal with the surge of irate emails they engender. On the other hand, readers tend to expect fast updates without any consideration for real-life demands that might slow an author down, and I can’t imagine we’d want to reward a flurry of “Get off your ass and write the next chapter, dammit!” reviews. But that would involve a quality assurance review of reviews, and I don’t have the staff for that, probably because we’re all volunteers and getting paid in virtual whiskey and brain bleach isn’t appealing to a lot of folks.

Now, if someone wanted to revive the AFF Reviewers Association, and had the artistic talent to create badges and banners to hand out to reviewers, that would be something I’d get behind. Anyone reviewing a story could leave a link to their review, and whoever is running the initiative could hand out badges and such monthly (weekly might be a bit time consuming). Who knows? It might be a way to get folks more active again.

Another way for authors to perhaps encourage reviews is to post story updates to the Promote a Story! thread, with helpful links to the story or chapter so readers could jump to it quickly. Readers could follow that story promotion thread, and get email notification when the author posts about an update. Sometimes we lose track of a story, and this could be a way to keep it fresh in readers’ minds.

I’m enjoying all this brainstorming! :lol: 

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Maybe just a “recommend” or “subscribe” button? The assumption being if someone reads and clicks the recommend button then the story is “liked” and would generate traffic and encourages the writer that people are at least enjoying the work. Prevents disliking maliciously. A subscribe would create an alert on the archive profile to say “hey a story you are reading has updated!” and would again also let the author know they are being enjoyed. I know we have, in the archive, a list of recommended reading but if we could link it somehow because it doesn’t make the author’s heartstrings flutter because there’s no link to them that lets them know they’ve been recommended and afaik there’s no alert to let the reader know there’s been an update. They have to check manually. I may be wrong, I cleared out my profile years ago, and apparently, a lot of my favorite authors removed their stories which is sad.

My thoughts were more archive-oriented. Forums and the archive are, in my mind, not really “together”. I know this is a forum about the archive but I always feel like I’m joining a separate space with the forums. (I take additional issue with the amount of separation that exists in the forum for topics – you can promote your story here but to talk about it you have to go over here and if you want a beta go here whereas I would think an author would just make a single thread where they can simultaneously say “go read my story” and talk about it and thank people for reviewing and get feedback from the audience. Just the “Nomadic String about This Story I wrote about Delicious Cake” and not worry if it zigzags into chaos. Potentially a me problem but I am mentioning it. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.)  

But I am not a coder and I do not know the amount of mess coding all that would be. If I was a coder I’d volunteer my time to make gold stars for reviewing stories in the archive. I started and stopped at HTML. I wish I could code but I fear I’m too tired to pick up a new hobby. 

I can see if I can design something that happens monthly for reviewing here in the forum, but my request, if I were to design something, would be chaos. I’ve never been one for controlled conversation. I know you guys got titles here that goes in the signature so that can always be utilized, I suppose. A ranking system I dunno... I’m chewing on it...

Edited by Nomadic
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You’re absolutely right about the recommended reading feature in the archive—there’s no way for an author to know they’ve been recommended. The same thing applies to the archive currently reading feature. Authors remain clueless about who listed their story, and readers have to check manually to see if there’s been an update.

Some of our authors have very lively review reply threads, and readers find out about new updates there. The forum does allow for email notifications if you follow a thread, like a review reply thread. It’s sadly the case that the forum allows for a great deal more interaction than the archive itself.

If I had the time, I’d look into learning the archive code myself, honestly. I’m already volunteering my time here, and it would be nice to feel a little more productive, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. In the meantime, brainstorming like this helps bring to light things members would like to see in the archive, and that’s always a good thing. If our coder and tech admin can make it happen, I know they’ll try their best. After all, none of us want to see AFF disappear like so many other archives have done.

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.Petition to include a “Liked” button then in addition to my additional request (minus a dislike so there’s no maliciousness). 

I recognize I am at a disadvantage writing originals and not fanfiction so I do understand that, but it does break my heart to look in my neck of the woods and see close to 1,000 views with 2 reviews. Which is common in the original fiction side of the house. 

You have always done a lot of work here – it’s very impressive. I was surprised when I returned and you were just as active as always. 

Yes, I’m not trying to attack or anything I’m just saying where I believe the breakdown is and possible solutions. Maybe I’m remembering things in a favorable light but I do remember conversations with fellow authors discussing writing tips and requesting feedback on how to accommodate reader requests. 


I honestly did not know that people were so…….. there’s a word here I don’t know if I should use….  to tattle on authors for requesting reviews to mods. That seems sophomoric to me as this should be a gathering of adults. young, learning adults granted sometimes (I have been there) but I don’t think it ever occurred to me to tattle on my readers or authors I was following.
 

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I’m mostly a writer of original fiction myself, so I know what you’re saying. I don’t write what seems to be the generally accepted genres of original fiction, either, and that’s okay. I’m playing in my sandbox happily.

I actually miss the Shoutbox. That was a really neat way to stay in touch with other authors, and having it at the top of the forum homepage meant it was always visible for me. It’s not as much fun stuck in a separate tab/window, to be honest. But it did feel like the site was more active in the past, and I’d love to see it liven up again.

I will say that letting authors ask for reviews is fine. There were a few former members who took it too far, however, and would call out reviewers in their author’s notes for not leaving enough reviews, or for not reviewing fast enough, or for being critical, or for complaining about late updates. I’ve never felt like I needed a certain number of reviews to post a new chapter—I’d never post anything if I did that—and I also never felt the need to call out reviewers for what they had to say about my work. And trust me, I did have a few people leave hate reviews on my stories because of my moderating duties, which was both childish and ineffective. I’m still writing, albeit very slowly, and I’m still moderating. I’m a native New Yorker, and I don’t scare easily.  :lol: 

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On 5/31/2022 at 4:08 AM, BronxWench said:

We had pluses in the archive back when I first joined. You could rate a story from one to five pluses, with five being the highest rating. As @Desiderius Price said, and as you recall, there was a great deal of abuse of that system.

I had gotten smacked by the trolls.  I’d post a chapter, lose a “+”.  Post another chapter, lose a “+”, repeat.  That became...very discouraging to an inexperienced writer.  And I’m posting originals here!

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1 hour ago, BronxWench said:

I actually miss the Shoutbox. That was a really neat way to stay in touch with other authors, and having it at the top of the forum homepage meant it was always visible for me. It’s not as much fun stuck in a separate tab/window, to be honest. But it did feel like the site was more active in the past, and I’d love to see it liven up again.

Shoutbox was cool in that regard, few ever visit the Chatbox.

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The ratings trolls were unacceptable. It was incredibly discouraging, and far too many people were chased away by them.

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2 hours ago, Nomadic said:

I recognize I am at a disadvantage writing originals and not fanfiction so I do understand that, but it does break my heart to look in my neck of the woods and see close to 1,000 views with 2 reviews. Which is common in the original fiction side of the house.

TBH, I’d be overjoyed if I netted two reviews per 1,000 hits.  Only one of my stories exceeds that ratio, because I had a serial reviewer post for the first half dozen chapters or so.  Rest of the stories… the one with 16k hits has only three reviews.

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The problem with any rating system is that if a person can click the button then you can make an bot that does the same. There are a number of technical schemes to make it harder for the bot to post, but its an arms race that you will lose unless you constantly upgrade your defenses. I have seen a number of sites on the internet that stayed in the game for a few years until they became overrun by the bots. From another point of view a rating system can be abused even without bots since you can have more than one email.

At the end of day there need to be human who says if a review was a genuine effort or just spam. Giving people badges for reviews would be nice...but it takes serious effort to run such. You have to keep doing it even on days when you much rather would prefer to do other stuff.

Trying to think outside of the box...maybe the thing that is really missing is feedback on reviews. I try to do community service by from time to time reading stuff that I think I can tolerate and writing a review afterward. There are few authors who have a reply thread on the forum and these make it loads more fun to do a review than the authors that never respond.

What if we had a badge that represent that you promise to give feedback/responses on any reviews you get? Authors who sign up for this get the badge posted by their story submissions that makes it clear the author has pledged to respond to reviews within a certain time scale. I think having the badge will drive traffic to the stories with badges. The author can mark a review and enter a link to the forum when they have answered to “prove” they are following the pledge. The AFF code makes sure the links posted only goes to the forum (or even the right part of the forum). If no link is posted to a response for a certain time the badge is removed automatically from the author profile until they reactive the pledge.

Possibly there might eventually be cases of need for moderation if an author tries to pretend they follow the pledge even while they in reality don’t do it but I think this scheme is quite harder to abuse than many others and it would promote good behavior. Additionally there might be cases when people need technical assistance about how to post links...but this can be handled by other people than the actual admin of the site.

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21 hours ago, Thundercloud said:

The problem with any rating system is that if a person can click the button then you can make an bot that does the same. There are a number of technical schemes to make it harder for the bot to post, but its an arms race that you will lose unless you constantly upgrade your defenses. I have seen a number of sites on the internet that stayed in the game for a few years until they became overrun by the bots. From another point of view a rating system can be abused even without bots since you can have more than one email.

As an author, I won’t do a bot for that, because it’d destroy the point of the metrics, to know if people reading & enjoying my stories.  As to the other stories… sure, it’s an arms race, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least put up speed limit signs & speed bumps.

21 hours ago, Thundercloud said:

At the end of day there need to be human who says if a review was a genuine effort or just spam. Giving people badges for reviews would be nice...but it takes serious effort to run such. You have to keep doing it even on days when you much rather would prefer to do other stuff.

Human reviewing reviews means staff, which we’re not exactly busting at the seams with, or conscriptingthe complicit authors.

21 hours ago, Thundercloud said:

Trying to think outside of the box...maybe the thing that is really missing is feedback on reviews. I try to do community service by from time to time reading stuff that I think I can tolerate and writing a review afterward. There are few authors who have a reply thread on the forum and these make it loads more fun to do a review than the authors that never respond.

This is a nice thing, and I do post a link in my stories to the relevant forum thread.  However, inline in the story, like a comment section (similar to AO3) might be better engagement – but we’d need that mythical coder for new features.

21 hours ago, Thundercloud said:

What if we had a badge that represent that you promise to give feedback/responses on any reviews you get? Authors who sign up for this get the badge posted by their story submissions that makes it clear the author has pledged to respond to reviews within a certain time scale. I think having the badge will drive traffic to the stories with badges. The author can mark a review and enter a link to the forum when they have answered to “prove” they are following the pledge. The AFF code makes sure the links posted only goes to the forum (or even the right part of the forum). If no link is posted to a response for a certain time the badge is removed automatically from the author profile until they reactive the pledge.

I’d suggest starting with the honor system on this, we don’t need to add more enforcement duties to the archive moderators.  And you can certainly make a badge today, put it into your profile today.

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5 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

Human reviewing reviews means staff, which we’re not exactly busting at the seams with, or conscriptingthe complicit authors.

Do not place temptation in my path…  :lol: 

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On 6/4/2022 at 9:29 PM, Desiderius Price said:

As an author, I won’t do a bot for that, because it’d destroy the point of the metrics, to know if people reading & enjoying my stories. 

I would argue it is pretty much the same as with review bombing. It is hard to understand why anyone would do this since the metric becomes worthless when you do such manipulation but reality seems to be like there are too many bad actors out there that want to do such for it to work.

On 6/4/2022 at 9:29 PM, Desiderius Price said:

As to the other stories… sure, it’s an arms race, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least put up speed limit signs & speed bumps.

Not quite sure I understand your comment. My point about the arms race is not an argument against adding speed limit signs & speed bumps but more along the lines that trying to use technical safeguards to keep the rating system safe would require quite an increase in time devoted to coding AFF.

On 6/4/2022 at 9:29 PM, Desiderius Price said:

Human reviewing reviews means staff, which we’re not exactly busting at the seams with, or conscriptingthe complicit authors.

I totally agree. It takes too much human resources to keep it running so I think it would be bad idea to try to run it by the staff or the community.

On 6/4/2022 at 9:29 PM, Desiderius Price said:

This is a nice thing, and I do post a link in my stories to the relevant forum thread.  However, inline in the story, like a comment section (similar to AO3) might be better engagement – but we’d need that mythical coder for new features.

I think there is much to win if better engagement is achieved. I considered if I should propose that the authors get the option to respond to actual reviews...but that comes with the risk that authors and readers start to use it as a forum and you suddenly has dozens of apparent reviews when in reality the author is chatting with a reader about what they should do on next Sunday. If the input field are restricted to be links to posts on the forum you lessen the risk to almost nothing but keepthe good aspects of the proposal.

Codewise you need to add a field to the database, add the field in the GUI on two places and write a regular expression that safeguard people don’t try to link to other sites or write free text into the text box. The mythical coder is needed, but compared with much else that has been proposed this seems like a more minor job to me.

On 6/4/2022 at 9:29 PM, Desiderius Price said:

I’d suggest starting with the honor system on this, we don’t need to add more enforcement duties to the archive moderators.  And you can certainly make a badge today, put it into your profile today.

I would argue that the problem is that the profile is not enough visible for it to really work. The badge would need to be visible on the story list itself so the readers can see what authors that honors the pledge to respond to reviews. In theory you can today put text there as an author but the limited number of letters means it does not work in practice. You don’t have enough numbers as it is and trying to explain the honor system will lessen the available space even more.

As for enforcement issues...I think my proposed scheme require very little moderation. If you can only posts links to the forum it means the only way people could abuse it is to link to other stuff on the forum than reviews. If spam is posted it will be moderated and the link becoming dead. You lose the badge (so you must reset it from your author profile) if you don’t provide a link to the forum quickly enough and that can be done without the staff making a decision. Possibly a lazy author could posts links to random content on the forum to pretend they are responding to reviews...but what would be the gain? Doing such will quickly backfire and it not like it takes any more effort to write a reply to the review and post that link. The only real downside to the staff would be to provide technical assistance to readers that find it tough to find the link, but maybe that can be handled by the community.

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My idea for a rating system if a 1-5 scale came back: If you do vote, you also have to leave a comment explaining why the story made you vote that way, with a mandatory word count of 50-100 before it can go through. This specific system would be good for registered users. Obviously wouldn’t work for unregistered users who could just vote 1’s without anything tying them together.

If it were the standard kudos system: I would still like something similar to the above, as guests will leave you random kudos and then not leave reviews explaining what they liked, and then it feels like your story exists in a vacuum. If someone abused the word count to bypass the system, the comment/review could easily be seen as spammy and could be safely deleted, removing the vote as well.

Edited by TimedWatcher
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Two other requests that would make it more attractive to do community service by writing reviews

  1. Besides dragonprints on stories I would like to have a counter that tells how many reviews an author has written on other peoples stories. The metric should be visible on the author profile but could possibly also result in a badge that is included with author name when the story is listed.
  2. I would like statistics on the author profile that tells how many words a certain user has written in reviews, average length of the review etc

 

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