Post Metrics Principles Set 1


Tell us what you thought about the March 2013 issue!

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Post April 16, 2013, 04:54:51 AM

Post Metrics Principles Set 1

Suggested principles set 1 for post metrics:
1. Aggregate only - the fast responders are a resource we have to tap into. It is important to avoid quantity comparisons.

2. By Category - offline tools such as spreadsheets will certainly become important to do the math, and minute technical details can be done via PM. But also the board already shows the counts per story, so it saves both time and eye-wear not to repost a huge detailed list. Minor math details and tally errors should be done in PM's - I think this thread will produce some useful discussion, but I hope to keep it crisp by shunting an inevitable 8 extra posts into a PM when for example I get a brain cramp and botch the tally.

I expect some mix of me, Mark and maybe Lester will be working on this, so it's also important not to yell at each other when we make goofs! We need each other as proofreaders. It won't matter if the count is off by a few posts for a few days - we're looking at aggregate trends and it will take at least three months for enough early info to come in.

3. Seed post might not count - I suggest that not only it saves a little wear and tear on the seeder to get the raw list up quicker before thinking at the story level, but that if we put all commentary in *replies* (even to ourselves if the seeder does it!), we can bypass an important statistical mistake of confusing the seed posts with the commentary counts, which is what we want. This is important because the full set of seed posts will be 15-20 each month, and our total posts at all (not counting admin-type threads) might only be triple that!

Lester, you and I have been the leaders in seeding, I would like to ask your help to shuffle a couple of your commentaries to a reply in case you lose track and forget. This also has the cute benefit that each fresh month will have a big list followed by 0 replies, so everyone can just look for which items have the 0 replies and whack at them!

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Post April 16, 2013, 05:13:13 AM

March Post Metrics Notes

(Apologies to anyone who is irked by my style of split posts! I have learned that once I get going my treatments of topics are thorough, so if I end up with a couple of controversial suggestions, maybe the rest of the thread won't get dragged into the fog!)

For March the metrics will be a huge mess. Some of this is my fault. :shock:
The blindingly obvious reason is that this new theme is coming at the far tail end of the posting month, and after a bit of unfortunate debate. I take full blame for my own lack of posts earlier on. For the interest of descriptions and not excuses, my attention span runs like a comet - it alternates between brief intensity 20% of the time when I get 80% of my goals for the period done, and then the far orbit 80% of the time when I only can manage the 20% upkeep on stuff. So here I am in close orbit, here goes!

I learned from the Archives (yes, that will be coming back into orbit again soon!) that maybe we aren't like rabid software testers itching for quick multiple posts, so that it might be nice just to run one list at the top of a month thread and keep timestamping it the day it was updated. We can work on the mechanics of exactly how that happens.

I'll do a first draft before any of my story comments, just to get going. That will be useful this month to show the scarcity that was the driving concern, so that when I bang out a bunch of comments it doesn't suddenly look all rosy.

Mark, I want to send a plea out to you, to ease up a bit on the auxilliary threads for a couple months while we do some "back to basics". They're fun/funny threads, but in our own ways we are all realizing that our magnificent Aphelion Ship is drifting off course somewhere. The fancy theme for what I am hoping to tap your energy for, has a couple of names such as "rewarding repeat visits". As you post notes into the story replies, because you are so fast, a casual reader can post something say at say 8AM, and by the time she/he/it gets off work there's a good chance of a reply waiting.

Also, the short Story Editor (Robert, if I can beg him to stay) has a structural role that doesn't lend itself to public detailed critiques - because he is ahead of the magazine doing the detailed critiques before the item becomes accepted for the 'zine! Eek! That functional role needs to be an area that writers can trust is fairly private so that the budding writers we recognize are a hugely important part of our base, have a zone to improve in before the spotlights go onto a story in the live 'zine. If he's not careful and even if he is, real problems could ensue by blurring public critiques with the private editorial remarks polishing the story for production. I don't want to get into THAT mess! Yikes!

So supposing one of the three of us - you, Lester, or me - does the first critique. We have different tastes so we can see how it all emerges which writers like which of us, like the resident reviewers of different newspapers back in the day. But the content editors need a bit of Olympian distance. (I skate a bit on thin ice, but I'm a data analyst and have no bearing on magazine content.)

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Post April 16, 2013, 06:21:13 AM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 2

4. This one is an ironic one! Precisely the problem we once wished to avoid, needs to be guarded here! If "Spam" is Sales-Bulk, we should take a little care to avoid "Canned Chicken" (5% more nutritious, but not much more!) That would be fluff posts with the sole purpose to boost the numbers. Don't make me get all Sciency again about what that would trash the info we need! :)

Rule of thumb, while about 2 stories per issue "green roomed" with an explosion of funny comments, overall comments should be more than a few words that just "game the system". One funny test: If you can type the whole thing while holding your breath, the post is probably too short! :)

5. Mark, you and I might want to chat about getting an email chain going. It occurs to me that if I'm on my form, I'll need some of this info for the index, so whoever starts the spreadsheet first can trade it to the other one. We'll probably have different ways we like to look at spreadsheets, but we can thrash that around maybe in PMs or the emails. I am building the initial raw one this morning as I churn out these notes.

6. Stories need comments! I'll be the first to take some heat that I have often skipped over stories to post some poem notes because sometimes I can grok a poem in a flash, bang out a comment, and then drift back to whatever other thing of the day is going on. However, stories have to be read in a dedicated sitting! So while poets are awesome, that's something I see lurking!

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Post April 16, 2013, 08:55:14 AM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

(Technical Bump to get this thread in the proper place at the top.)
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Post April 16, 2013, 02:06:39 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

First of all, I'm not sure what the purpose of all this is. Going gonzo over board stats? Not my cuppa, but, let 'er rip.

3. Seed post might not count
To me, it doesn't. And, the first time I made to post a comment this month, I edited the seed post instead of posting a reply. Noticed that my "reply" didn't show up as a reply; the post didn't get bumped -- not what I wanted; not what WE want for inspiring more comments, so I undid it and posted a normal reply.

If "Spam" is Sales-Bulk, we should take a little care to avoid "Canned Chicken" (5% more nutritious, but not much more!) That would be fluff posts with the sole purpose to boost the numbers.
I see a lot of this in other forums I visit -- replies like, "^^ +1" or "Nice post! Thanks for sharing!" Boosts the post count, but adds nothing meaningful.

I don't see that happening here. I think there's an air of expectation about Aphelion that if one is to comment on a story or poem, that comment should be worth something.
6. Stories need comments!
Indeed, but I sometimes find myself finishing a story and not being able to think of a thing to say about it. I know how a total lack of commentary on a story distresses the author. In some cases, I think it just needs more time for analysis on the part of commenters. Some of us don't think as fast as others.

Remind me later about the topic of beta-readers.
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Post April 16, 2013, 08:44:06 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

Lester Curtis wrote:First of all, I'm not sure what the purpose of all this is. Going gonzo over board stats? Not my cuppa, but, let 'er rip.

3. Seed post might not count
To me, it doesn't. And, the first time I made to post a comment this month, I edited the seed post instead of posting a reply. Noticed that my "reply" didn't show up as a reply; the post didn't get bumped -- not what I wanted; not what WE want for inspiring more comments, so I undid it and posted a normal reply.

If "Spam" is Sales-Bulk, we should take a little care to avoid "Canned Chicken" (5% more nutritious, but not much more!) That would be fluff posts with the sole purpose to boost the numbers.
I see a lot of this in other forums I visit -- replies like, "^^ +1" or "Nice post! Thanks for sharing!" Boosts the post count, but adds nothing meaningful.

I don't see that happening here. I think there's an air of expectation about Aphelion that if one is to comment on a story or poem, that comment should be worth something.
6. Stories need comments!
Indeed, but I sometimes find myself finishing a story and not being able to think of a thing to say about it. I know how a total lack of commentary on a story distresses the author. In some cases, I think it just needs more time for analysis on the part of commenters. Some of us don't think as fast as others.

Remind me later about the topic of beta-readers.


Right, if we're "paying attention", we can standardize the Thread Opener as a "null post". Its purpose is to quickly get the "lay of the land" because even when you mean well suddenly it can take you days to get to an actual story. That's when we had stories going whole months without posts, simply because the eye can't see that three are missing from "a bunch of stuff".

But for example Lester, the first post on the Seanan McGuire Feature is in fact still your comment. So just to save time I posted a null comment of my own. In other days I'd buzz you to re-shuffle it.

Yeah, a couple of forums I go to have a bit of a "comment bloat" thing going with the +1 / I Agree on one side, and on Slashdot they have a set of stock jokes everyone wheels out. We do pretty well here, but I put a bit of work into things, and when suddenly "nebulous rewards" appear for increasing post count, I wanted a bit of a stopgap.

I do encourage you to ponder that if you finish a story and have NOTHING to say, there's something *wrong*. It doesn't have to be one of my 5 paragraph epics, but to completely finish a story and can't think a SINGLE thing in ANY direction to say, just might mean that you were tired/something and didn't put enough energy into the story. That's why I do allow quick posts (past the opener) - if you're stuck, just say you're stuck and give us 2 sentences to chew on why. The character is nebulous, you can't figure out what setting it is, something. Then we can chew on it. I absolutely encourage "rough draft" posts because my goal under my 7 post 5,000 word essay was that there's something called *momentum* that even if you can't figure out a story, give us some bit of tuna to mash about, and maybe we'll figure it out. Or not. So then if SEVEN commentors get stuck, it whips back to you, and then you say "well gee how does this story accomplish nothing for anyone?" Voila - 4 more sentences. But it MOVES.

It's these multi day dead zones I believe are a part of the long term problem that is really in fact beginning to affect the health of the 'zine. So we have say five "fast" commenters - you, Mark, me when I can think straight, your choice of two. Out of nowhere in "miscellaneous unexciting posts" suddenly comes an ethereal "movement" that then leaps into a life of its own. Don't worry if it sounds unclear - it took the pro scientists 50 years to get there too, and they get paid to think about that stuff. :)

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Post April 16, 2013, 09:19:28 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

Would you please put that in English. I honestly don't get more than , if there are no comments after you read a story something is wrong somewhere with the reader. Now if the writer gets a lot of it didn't move me to write anything other than it didn't move me, it falls on the writer to figure out what the IT was that was not IT.

Do I have that part correct?

Now enters an obligation to comment, hmmmmmmmmmmm. Not sure about that.

And yes I wonder what people think about what I write, good bad or indifferent. However most of the pre-publication comments come from Robert and we work it out. It's a private conversation between author and editor and should remain that way. Hemmingway's editor didn't broadcast his comments to the world, until one or both of them was dead, (not sure of the order of happening there but you get the idea). The forum is for the rest of us, if we choose to, to post publication comments.

If you want to have an obligatory comment rule, then introduce a required number of critiques before one can have a story published here. Now that might chase away the new writers. I would have for me in the beginning. The openness of this ZINE, and its inviting nature made me feel, to use a hackneyed phrase, at home even with the battles.

The other question as to where have all the readers gone, look and see the number of Zines out there. And I would venture a guess most writers are looking to make a few Renbi, Euroes or Dollars. You get the idea. I haven't heard of any body being "discovered" here. So other than those of us who like to write, and of course would like to sell, but more importantly, enjoy entertaining this group of total misfits, myself included, what can we expect? We are not a paying venue.

And that leads me to one other point, once you publish here first, most other Zines prohibit your story from appearing in their Zine. And that could be one more factor in the decline of stories and readership.

In conclusion, at least this Zine had a wide variety of stories subjects and themes. That is welcome to this reader, especially when I am not busy with work, family issues, and writing my own ego based tomes. And, and, and, the editors are all volunteers, and from what I can glean, keep their egos in czech.

Robert Don't go!

Richard.

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Post April 16, 2013, 09:43:55 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

rick tornello wrote:Would you please put that in English. I honestly don't get more than , if there are no comments after you read a story something is wrong somewhere with the reader. Now if the writer gets a lot of it didn't move me to write anything other than it didn't move me, it falls on the writer to figure out what the IT was that was not IT.

Do I have that part correct?
Richard.


Lots of stuff here, so I'll split it a little.

Yes, I believe if you totally read a story all the way through and have *zero* comment, there's something wrong with the reader. Either the reader was tired... or the reader wants to be polite and not say what he might have actually thought! :shock:

Now what I really think is happening, is some kind of internal filter is going on. It's in fact quite difficult to feel *nothing*. More precisely I'd call that "I had no special moments I feel like sharing with the audience". But my whole crusade say this and next month, is to resist that filter. If it's "just a run of the mill story", then fine - call it that! (Maybe nicely!) But say *something*.

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Post April 16, 2013, 09:49:43 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

rick tornello wrote:Now enters an obligation to comment, hmmmmmmmmmmm. Not sure about that.

And yes I wonder what people think about what I write, good bad or indifferent. However most of the pre-publication comments come from Robert and we work it out. It's a private conversation between author and editor and should remain that way. Hemmingway's editor didn't broadcast his comments to the world, until one or both of them was dead, (not sure of the order of happening there but you get the idea). The forum is for the rest of us, if we choose to, to post publication comments.

If you want to have an obligatory comment rule, then introduce a required number of critiques before one can have a story published here. Now that might chase away the new writers. I would have for me in the beginning. The openness of this ZINE, and its inviting nature made me feel, to use a hackneyed phrase, at home even with the battles.
Richard.


I am going for a step below "obligatory" commenting. (Once's it's Obligatory, it ***** $#%#$%$#%$). I want to do my best to *encourage* commenting. However, no slugs will be dumped on your pillow if you decline. But notice a nice difference in your phrasing vs Lester's: You are implying you *have* something to say, but aren't sure about it. Lester was exploring possibly want to say something, but being far from certain what to say.

My chief theory is that "The forum is for the rest of us, if we choose to, to post publication comments" ... might have a flaw. No evil aspersions cast. Just that from small studies of Small Groups that I'll skip the 9 page details of, if the group is small enough, and I believe we are, there isn't in fact room left for people to "just not choose to comment". Yes, I get inspired at erratic irregular intervals, but chalk that up to constitution, not my feelings for Aphelion. After all, this 'zine is one of only 7 sites I have kept up with for 8 years.

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Post April 16, 2013, 09:58:52 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

rick tornello wrote:The other question as to where have all the readers gone, look and see the number of Zines out there. And I would venture a guess most writers are looking to make a few Renbi, Euroes or Dollars. You get the idea. I haven't heard of any body being "discovered" here. So other than those of us who like to write, and of course would like to sell, but more importantly, enjoy entertaining this group of total misfits, myself included, what can we expect? We are not a paying venue.

And that leads me to one other point, once you publish here first, most other Zines prohibit your story from appearing in their Zine. And that could be one more factor in the decline of stories and readership.

In conclusion, at least this Zine had a wide variety of stories subjects and themes. That is welcome to this reader, especially when I am not busy with work, family issues, and writing my own ego based tomes. And, and, and, the editors are all volunteers, and from what I can glean, keep their egos in czech.
Robert Don't go!
Richard.


I politely disagree here too, and it's okay to disagree! My theory is that we're stuck in a bit of a loop of stagnation, and there are in fact writers out there who might want/be-worthy to publish here. It's 50% of a marketing problem, 50% "ethereal voodoo". One of the three/etc common tropes is you don't make money by writing amateur short stories. So we can get a few people who "just want to spend a month of their life writing a story, then go back to their job".

Meanwhile in the category of being "discovered", maybe not actively recruited here, but a few comments come in to "remove my story because I have a chance to sell it". Not many, but some. But in many ways it's an outlet for people who might in fact know they are one notch below publishable standard, but don't want to spend X years of their life on it. So they can bang out a story here. I'm fine with that.

About the "Publish here first, be castigated ever since", we have to be careful. "Prohibit your story from appearing in their Zine". That gets into an UGLY 'zine comparison that just goes 'round in circles! Whose Zine is better? Does it even matter?!

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Post April 17, 2013, 06:44:13 AM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

just read your reply, got to go work out. I'll think about some of what you said before i respond. You present sound arguments.

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Post April 17, 2013, 09:36:11 PM

Re: Post Metrics Principles Set 1

rick tornello wrote:just read your reply, got to go work out. I'll think about some of what you said before i respond. You present sound arguments.

RT


Thanks Rick.

It's one of those cases where it's a lot of words but it's supposed to be "easy". Once I get going, I cover a bunch of "corner cases" in presentations.

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