Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 7, 2014 - 12:39pm

Hello all,

I'm setting this thread up with a self-explanatory title. Here, I'll answer your questions to the best of my ability, field your comments that you want to send up the chain, and make important announcements.

You may have noticed that the title now has a date associated with it. I will change the date whenever I announce another update and post it below by its date, so you'll know whenever there's something you might want to see going on in here.

If you're looking for the submission form for our community spotlight, follow this link.

January 26

Hey all,

I've been wrestling for a little while on whether or not to say anything, but decided that it's better to say something didn't quite work out than to let you think we either forgot about it or are still slowly progressing on it. Besides, I've gotten a couple of PMs.

The short of it: I wasn't able to find a way to make the featured workshop story a viable project. I did my damndest, coming up with comically-large Excel sheets and lots of long emails. But as Rob has stated in other threads, it's hard to ignore the more mundane resources like time and money.

And this project rather requires both. For instance, it's easy to think that, in theory, we could always line up guest judges, but reading and critiquing is work, and getting people to do it for free is uncomfortable, considering the other places where we might be able to use goodwill.

I am not saying that it's totally dead; it was something I adopted when I signed on as community manager, and it's always going to be something that I'll be looking at, but at this time, it doesn't really have enough lift to get off the ground. And I just want to apologize for that, because it was something that was more complicated than I thought when I said I was going to make it work.

All that being said, we are ALWAYS welcoming new ideas for community events, whether it be through here, the workshop, or some other medium that we haven't fully explored yet. I want to keep hearing your ideas, so you can always either reply to this thread or shoot me a PM.

Love,
Nathan

October 8

Hey all,

I just went on a spam-crushing massacre through many of the articles, namely by looking at those with the most comments. Generally, spam hits en masse, and I deleted upwards of fifty spam posts on a single article in several cases. If you guys see any more, let me know; I like it when things look clean and orderly.

Now that Arrest Us has ended, I'm finally looking to start working on the featured workshop story. For those who are newer, the concept was that we would look through our member workshop for some of the best short stories, and these could get a shot at getting published (paid, of course) on the site. Unfortunately, the project didn't take off quite as easily as we hoped, but it was popular enough for me to want to try bringing it back.

So, while I'll be going through the details and thought-testing some ideas with the leadership, I wanted to give you the opportunity to provide your own ideas and feedback. Are you interested in seeing this feature come back? If so, what sort of format would you like to see? Would you be willing to opt in to this with some of your stories? Let me know.

And, as always, don't forget to submit for our monthly spotlight column. We miss you.

-Nathan

.'s picture
. May 7, 2014 - 4:49pm

Unrelated suggestion: How about a Litreactor anthology?

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 7, 2014 - 8:52pm

We've skirted around the subject of anthologies. There's so much work involved, plus it puts us in the business of publishing, which sort of changes the dynamic around here a bit. Not saying it's off the table, but no immediate plans. 

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 7, 2014 - 9:09pm

What are the "Your work was accepted in anthology" achievements are/were for? Did LR do this before?

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 8, 2014 - 6:21am

I concur with Rob. It's a lot of work.

I submitted my Chuck/Burnt Tongues story back in 2009. Never thought it would take another five years before I saw it in print.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 8, 2014 - 6:52am

Natso--I think that badge is for people like Brandon who got into the BURNT TONGUES anthology. I think?

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 8, 2014 - 7:25am

I think so, too. Where the hell is it, Kirk?

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 8, 2014 - 6:27pm

OK, that's two achievements I won't reach. I've got the rest of them in my reticle.

Hook's picture
Hook May 9, 2014 - 7:14pm

So far I'm enjoying the site, but it feels like a boiler plate template for Django or something and it's lacking some critical polish.

Two things I've noticed are that a lot of the essay comments are spam.  There's no way to report spam, and it doesn't look like anyone is actively pruning spam messages?  That gives a sense of neglect to the community.

The other issue is that before I comment or critique a submission I want a vague idea if the author is even still around. It would be nice if we could see "Author's last activity", e.g. forum post or site visit, because there's little point in critiquing a story if the author hasn't even logged into the site for a year or more.

 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby May 9, 2014 - 8:31pm

Django? Really?

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 10, 2014 - 5:34am

@Hook - There is a lot of spam there, but the point there isn't so much to critique as too have a discussion. 

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 10, 2014 - 5:48am

Hook--we try to moderate spam comments the best we can. Most of them get caught in the net before they even make it onto the site. Unfortunately, we've got a small staff so it's impossible to get them all. We do our best. 

Not sure what Django is. And while maybe everyone has a different opinion, listing people's activity strikes me as a little Orwellian. Is this common on other sites? 

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. May 10, 2014 - 6:10am

Rob, I think I know what he's talking about.

There's a site called "Critique Circle" that does a similar point system. When you're browsing stories to read for feedback, next to the writer's name it will say something like "last logged in April 3, 2014" or something like that. That way you can weigh the potential of them not logging in anymore to read their feedback (I know some people see how hard this can be if their first story bombs, so they drift away never to return).

However, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the system in LR default you 2 points if the writer doesn't rate your feedback within a certain amount of time?

Hook, if you go back as far as a page or two worth of workshop stories, chances are very high you will get timely feedback on your critique. I've been heavily in this workshop for over a year and it's never been a problem for me.

-Doug

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 10, 2014 - 7:30am

@Rob - The site already does what he is talking about for the authors' forum id, just not for the team member page.  I think he was getting at the fact it is hard to figure out which is which.

Forum page

http://litreactor.com/user/47/track

Team page

http://litreactor.com/team/rob-w-hart

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 10, 2014 - 7:42am

Hi Hook,

As has been said, the amount of spam in the essay comments is not due to neglect; the staff delete spam posts as we see them. But spam is spam, and the only way of increasing automatic filters is to make it more difficult to join and interact with the site (such as a captcha every time you post). And with the amount of news and articles we post, it does become difficult to monitor every single one for spam comments. However, I wasn't aware that there apparently is no report function in the articles, so I'll take a look.

As for the workshop, you're usually okay if you stay within the first few pages. The further back you go, the more likely that the stories have been either published or abandoned.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 10, 2014 - 9:28am

Maybe it isn't right this moment, but there have been times they were left up for over a year, and that sure looks like neglect. 

Would it be possible to auto lock/hide items in the workshop after 3 months?  Or set it to lock and the author of the story can unlock it if they still want feedback?

Hook's picture
Hook May 10, 2014 - 11:16am

To clarify, I'm talking about spam comments in the essay comments, not forum spam or message spam.  Some of the spam was years old.

Regarding the 'last logged in', a review takes a long time, and if I feel there's a good chance that the review won't even be read by the author I won't want to bother, which biases me towards newer (and shorter) submissions.  Which may suck for an author who submitted something a year ago and still wants feedback but isn't getting any because someone (like me) assumes it's stale.

Also another request: if a class is sold out, note it before the click through so if you're looking for classes to sign up for you don't have to click through to all the full ones.  It might be nice to also show the availability (3 slots left! etc) on that page, just so people don't have to click through to each (and it may encourage some to look at something before the slots are sold out!)

 

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 10, 2014 - 1:44pm

Hi Hook,

LitReactor runs about four articles every day through our feed. Like I said, the staff does its absolute best to delete spam as we find it, but to get everything on every article we've done, we'd need to spend hours every week pruning through and ensuring all comments were made by actual people. When you weigh the benefits of doing that versus the benefits of spending that time actually putting out new content, creating new features, and working to expand the site, the spam thing is simply aesthetic.

Now, I will agree with you that there should be a report button in the comments of articles that lets you paint targets we can delete, and I'll be looking into getting that implemented. However, you wouldn't be wrong to give us the benefit of the doubt; there are not a whole lot of staff members, and we each are wearing multiple hats. Spam can penetrate even the most sophistated social sites, and we do our best to manage it with what we have available. When we get a report button functional, I'll make sure to let you all know, and we would definitely appreciate your help in rooting out spam posts.

As for the workshop, you wouldn't be the only one to be biased toward newer, shorter posts. Writing reviews takes a long time, and people are simply more likely to focus their efforts where they are needed most. Normally after four or five reviews, a writer has more than enough revision material to work with. If you are very interested in whether or not a writer is still active, you can check the tracking info that Dwayne alluded to, or you can simply PM the member and ask them if they'd be interested in another critique on their story.

Also, many writers who are interested in plugging their older workshop material will post in the Workshop Whoring Thread. But most stories further back than four or five pages are so old that they've either been published or abandoned, so you're far more likely to find writers still interested in critiques toward the front (which is why the submissions are in chronological order).

For the classes, I'm not sure I understand the problem. Classes that are sold out generally are marked with a "SOLD OUT" banner in the upper right corner of the picture. For instance, check our Scott Lynch's class which is, at the time of this posting, in the upper-right corner of the class listings. The picture marks the class as sold out.

I'll also pass up the chain your request for a record of how many spots are left for each class. I do want to point out that it's not usually a good idea to wait too long for any class that you want to join, because most of the classes seem to accept less than twenty students. However, the vast majority of the classes will run again in the future, many times with the same teacher, so even if you miss your chance this time, there's a good possibility it'll be back.

Thanks for the comments.

Nathan

Hook's picture
Hook May 10, 2014 - 7:01pm

Hi Nathan,

I hope my tone hasn't been overly negative, I really enjoy this site and recommend it to all my aspiring writer friends!  I understand you guys can't root out all the spam, a 'report' button would at least let you crowd source that ;)

I somehow missed the 'sold out' thing on Scott Lynch's picture, doh!  My apologies.

The only issue with the 'whoring thread' is that if you're trying to build up enough reviews to gain submissions you can easily 'outrun' the past few pages (at least, that's my gut instinct based on recent browsing), especially if you're only interested in reviewing certain types and lengths of fiction (e.g. I don't review romance, poetry, non-fiction).

Anyway, thanks for listening.

 

 

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 11, 2014 - 4:29am

Hi Hook,

This thread is for questions and feedback, and you used it exactly how I hoped people would. I will definitely be running your comments and suggestions up the chain; I just wanted to make sure that if there wasn't a reasonable way to accommodate, that you knew why. For instance, my gut feeling is that the only way to catch 100% of spam is to disallow automatic comment publishing and force each post to be individually moderated and approved, which would really hinder free and open discussion of the topics we write about. But maybe there's a solution I haven't thought of, which is why I'll be checking up the chain anyway.

Hook's picture
Hook May 11, 2014 - 12:47pm

I'm not too worried about the spam thing, it's just one thing I noticed when I first joined and thought I'd mention it.

Are there metrics for number of submissions/week (on average)?  Or rate of graded reviews vs. total reviews?  Someone upthread mentioned that reviews that aren't graded used to get scored 2 points no matter what but I didn't see that in the help section?

Would it be possible to add how long ago a submission was made in the Browse list?

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters May 12, 2014 - 6:21am

RE: Spam

If you just ask the author of the article to monitor the comments on their articles for a couple weeks after they are published it'll clean a lot of that up.  And they probably should anyway in case a commentor asks a question about the article. 

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 12, 2014 - 7:12am

re: Spam

I track all conversations I'm involved in for new replies, especially the ones I write, and any spam I see I delete. Anyone else who sees spam on other articles, feel free to PM me and I will delete that as well.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 12, 2014 - 3:58pm

Good news, everyone!

We now have our official submission form up, tested, and ready to go!

Check it out here.

Here's how it works: You do something cool. This might be getting a publication deal, signing with an agent, winning a contest, or something of the like. You go to our online form and fill out the details. That shoots it as a convenient email to me, and at the end of the month, I will post it in our community roundup column.

To start, I'll probably be accepting most of what's submitted, but a good rule of thumb is, "Would anybody but me post this info?" For instance, getting 1,500 words written is a job well done and all, but that's small fries compared to actually getting the thing published.

I want to keep the spotlight as a reward for those who have proven their success, but there's no harm in trying to convince me if you aren't sure. For anything I consider rejecting, I will check it with a couple of other staff members to see if they agree, and then send you a message as to why your submission was rejected.

Also, while I realize that a lot of you call out your successes to the forums, I will not be posting anything that doesn't come through the submission form. This isn't about workload so much as it is efficiency; I don't want anyone whose post I overlooked to feel jipped, and I don't want to send a rejection reply to every poster who just wants to share that they had a really good idea last night.

This is one of the cooler aspects of my new role here, because it allows me to highlight how awesome our members are, so get submitting. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post in this thread or shoot me a PM.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 12, 2014 - 5:21pm

"Access denied"

I'm logged in, and a workshop member.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 12, 2014 - 5:32pm

Grawr. Embarrassing. Let me look into it.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies May 12, 2014 - 5:56pm

yep. access denied.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 12, 2014 - 6:11pm

Yeah, it looks like the page wasn't published when it should have been. It's something that's easily overlooked when everyone involved in testing has admin access and can see every page regardless of permissions. Kirk said he'll fix it soon.

Meanwhile, I need to give Obama a call and tell him I completely understand what it's like to have a messed up roll-out.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 12, 2014 - 6:36pm

I FIXED IT!

I think. 

Did I fix it?

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 12, 2014 - 6:41pm

It looked promising when I logged out and tried it. Gordon, you're now promoted to official testing guy for this project. Did it work?

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 12, 2014 - 7:00pm

Looks good, gents.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 12, 2014 - 10:32pm

ACCESS GRANTED

Heh heh, there was no clichéd graphic like you always see in movies, but yes, I can see it now.

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun May 13, 2014 - 8:11am

@hook re:

Also another request: if a class is sold out, note it before the click through so if you're looking for classes to sign up for you don't have to click through to all the full ones.  It might be nice to also show the availability (3 slots left! etc) on that page, just so people don't have to click through to each (and it may encourage some to look at something before the slots are sold out!)

We actually do most of this already. If you hop on over there, you'll see Scott Lynch's upcoming class is already sold out http://litreactor.com/classes/upcoming we display a "sold out graphic" on all the banners and as soon as you click through, you get a sold out message, you can't continue beyond that point. 

The issue you describe is when there is a "race condition" and more than one person is trying to sign up for the last seat. The truth is, this almost never happens to us. Though we sell out a good amount of classes, it almost always happens at a leisurely pace. So, our system checks availably of the class at each step of registration to make sure it is still available, when that actually happen.

Hook's picture
Hook May 14, 2014 - 7:35am

Going back to an earlier comment, a suggestion I have is this.  When 'Browsing Submissions', putting how long ago (which you already do for forum posts) the submission was sent, and also a quick note if you've already reviewed it.

Also, a filter for word length would be great for browsing submissions.  I often only have time to read a 1-2K word submission right before bed, so filtering out the 6K+ ones helps.

 

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 14, 2014 - 8:03am

I'll be sending an email to the leadership tonight relaying all suggestions in this thread and those I've gotten via email. I plan to do this twice monthly, and I'll post relevant results here.

Hook's picture
Hook May 14, 2014 - 8:10pm

Another feature request/bug fix -- submissions have "X reviews" listed, but that's not actually the number of reviews, just the number of replies/comments.  It would be nice to prune that down and just count responses that are not replies to other comments on there.  For example, one of my submissions has "12 reviews" but it's actually only 5 real reviews.

It's a minor thing, but it can be misleading when looking at something and thinking it's heavily reviewed but isn't.

 

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. May 15, 2014 - 6:27am

Hook, if you click on "Browse Submissions" it will give you a true number of reviews (not counting other comments) as opposed to the main workshop screen, which gives total of all comments.

Hook's picture
Hook May 15, 2014 - 9:59am

Aha, you're right.  Even more confusing then =)

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 15, 2014 - 7:21pm

Well I'm sure there are a ton of ideas that could help.  Lets not flood them with it all at once.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 19, 2014 - 8:21am
 
Hello loves.

Remember when I said to keep your eyes open for info on an exciting new contest?

Wait. No. Longer.

Today, allow us to present our awesome new crime fiction contest, ARREST US.

With all new rules and exciting prizes, consider your month booked. Check out the article for the details.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby May 19, 2014 - 5:40pm

Oh my! Let the Games begin!!

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 19, 2014 - 6:56pm

I'm yelling "Yeaye" like Lil' Jon over here!

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 21, 2014 - 10:06pm

I'm sorry but I still miss WAR. I know, get over it. but still, it was the most invigorating thing to get me to write. Is this feed back totally lame? 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 22, 2014 - 5:32am

I'm pumped to see it (WAR) go over to LitDemon.  I don't want to rain on everyone's parade, but it is nice to have the writing site I go to the most not having something I have zero interest in take over.  Most everyone else loved it, but 15 seconds after the first round results I realized regarding what is the best story I had something around zero in common with most the people voting.  

So I'm suggesting more cooperation, less direct competition?  Because from what I know of writing that seems like a more useful skill since you have to work with editors and agents and what not.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 22, 2014 - 7:25am

Re: WAR

This is probably the last post I'll make about WAR, because I've discussed it a couple of times, and really have nothing new to add.

WAR is fun. WAR is a lot of work, and LitReactor is focusing our efforts on other projects (two of which we've announced since I became your Community Manager earlier this month). We have no problem if you want to go do WAR on Lit Demon, so if you want to participate, by all means do so. We aren't a religion, and you're allowed to belong to more than one community, after all.

There isn't any animosity over Lit Demon taking over WAR, so there's no need to apologize to us if you want to play. It ain't like that. :)

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry May 27, 2014 - 12:33pm

Whew!  That is a relief!

Covewriter, stand by for important announcements.  And Dwayne, there will always be room at the inn, man, even for you.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 28, 2014 - 2:07pm

Thanks?  I think?

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 29, 2014 - 10:30am

Our May community roundup column is out, and our spotlight features three of our members. Check it out, and leave me some feedback if you think I can make the column better.

http://litreactor.com/columns/monthly-roundup-may-2014

In the meantime, remind me of any projects you guys would like to see up and running to make sure I haven't forgotten to bug the leadership about anything.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 29, 2014 - 10:35am

Very nice. Great job!

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things June 2, 2014 - 5:11pm

Hey, you.

ARREST US is officially open for submissions. We have quite a few stories in already, and it hasn't even been a day. You have the whole month to submit, so don't start stressing yet, but do take some time and leave some reviews when you can.

I'll be sportscasting this event throughout in the columns, so let's give me something interesting to write about. Otherwise, Josh will take another one of my fingernails, and I only have four left.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby June 2, 2014 - 8:54pm

You tell us not to stress, and then you have to mention the fingernail thingy!