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Full answer spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArzxItYBSFzmdE1EbERaRE1qVE92MDN2elljTmMxV0E#gid=0
Here we have the results. My personal half assed thoughts in a short sentence so you don't have to bother looking at graphs if you don't want to. This one is just my perspective, obviously this is a group effort so share your thoughts if you have em.
I don't know if about 100 answers is enough data points, but hell, let's work with what we have.
Age: About what I expected apart from slightly more old men. This one was mostly for curiosity.
How long visiting: This one actually does prove something I thought wrong. The largest portions are between 3 and 2 and 2 and 1 years, meaning that the site has actually been attracting people along the years. I would have thought most of the reader base would have been here from the beginning.
Where they came from: TVTropes and 4chan share equal portions, with google searches making up the majority of the 'others' section. I didn't even know that could happen. Do you just google "touhou fanfiction"? I can't see that working. Since the site originated from 4chan, logically most of the more recent people would be from tvtropes. I see no issue with this.
Boards browsed: Whoops! The graph for this one doesn't help us much. Guess I fucked up. Anyway, most people check multiple boards. Or, most people that bothered to vote on this poll do.
Stories followed: 4 chucklefucks follow no stories. A small (24%) portion of people follow a boatload of stories while everyone else falls in a pretty curve centered at 3-4 stories. Interestingly, some people said they regularly visit more boards than their stated numbers of stories followed. I don't get it.
Vote/discussion: This one is more or less as expected as well. See, personally, I simply don't vote or discuss every single choice because often there's not much to discuss, or I don't care enough about a particular vote. A few people are making an effort to always vote or always vote and discuss, which is what we all should do. Also, a loot of people not even bothering to try discussing anything.
Really guys, discussion doesn't mean you have to work your brain. Just pick a thing in the update to talk about, anything that catches your attention. Speaking as a writer, voter comments help me direct a story and show more or less of a specific thing. Try and comment on stuff.
IRC: 'bout half and half. Not much to talk about here.
Important story factors: This one is bound to make at least one person mad. Isn't it funny that a fanfiction site specifically focused on "CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE" stories has readers that barely care about the interactivity part at all?
Genre: More or less even split between stuff. Less people like drama and romance. I guess pure romance really is pretty niche in the site.
Most of the people who put down others made it either "Don't care" or "a bit of everything".
Reader wants: Surprising absolutely nobody at all, people want completed stories over other things.
First story: This one was for curiosity's sake too. A lot of A Wizard is You. Go and read if you're interested, maybe you can draw a conclusion I failed to.
Who has written a story:
Here we come to the crux of the poll, what I think has been the most interesting and useful question.
A measly 16% of people that bothered to respond to the poll have not considered writing a story. I imagine that the category that stated that they have started a story is mostly composed of 'retired' writers now idling. But more importantly, only 31 out of the 84 people (that's 36%) that thought about starting a story went through with it.
Now, correct me if I am wrong, but more writers would mean people voting in more stories and more updates per day, which would attract more readers than a half-dead site. Simply put, more writers = more activity.
I can understand why so many people have thought about starting a story and didn't. Obviously it's a big commitment of free time and all and many people give up because of that, but I think a big part of it is that we don't help people start.
Allow me to illustrate this point. Say you are an aspiring writer. You have little to no experience writing anything creative, but you read all these cool stories and you want to contribute as well, to this site specifically. This is an attitude we'd want to foster, obvious. Where would you get started?
Right now, the answer is... nowhere. You don't know what the fuck you're doing. The only kind of writing resource connected to us is a random thread in /blue/ with half-baked and specific advice, which likely won't help you all that much if you are just starting to write, if you're even able to find it. But hey, let's say you're not discouraged by that. Taking note of your previous favorite stories and googling writing stuff on your own, you manage to write up an introductory post to your story. But what now? You don't just want to post it straight up without making sure it's at least passable due to performance anxiety, which is a factor for most people.
This is where your options are even more limited than before. It comes down to either having a good friend that knows something about writing and is also willing to evaluate your weird magical little girl fanfiction, which obviously isn't an option available to everyone, or going to the IRC. Let's say you're still not discouraged, but you don't have a writer friend. You log into the IRC and what do you find? A bunch of people talking about either video games or their personal problems. There's not one fucking word about stories or touhou as far as the eye can see. Even if you do take the jump and ask for help with your story, you'd be lucky to get anything, and if you do, then you go ahead and start your thp writing career.
So there. What the fuck do I want to say with all of this?
The barrier to start writing on the site is quite high. If we lower the barrier, we will get more writers and consequently more activity. I think this is the second easiest way to increase activity, after simple promotion.
I came up with one proposal to accomplish this. Interestingly, one surveyee wrote up the exact same idea independently from me on the comment section after I thought this up.
It's quite simple. The idea is to make a new "writer's workshop" board.
The purpose of the board is self-explanatory. Here's some examples of what would go in it:
Posting a scrap for open critique anonymously without having to commit to a story.
Posting plot ideas for discussion, building upon and sharing as a community.
General writer's resources and advice threads.
Having an easy way to get tips on getting started writing and writing in general anonymously would make it hugely easier to start a story. I speak from experience on this one.
I would also suggest removing /blue/ and transferring all /blue/ material to /gensokyo/(mostly metathreads and misc. site stuff) if this was done, since nobody wants to see the number of boards go up.
Okay, I think that's about as much as I'm willing to write up in one sitting. Here's some notable comments. You can read all of them if you want to in the link at the start of the post.
>site navigation is a bit hard. Please put a link to storyboard on the front page. If possible, also put a hard link to all the boards on the news page. If I get to the site through direct link, It's hard to get to read a story.
Would be true, in my opinion. Needs some bigger links.
>Being a lurker for about a year now, I believe that the community should try to be a little more forgiving of errors. Of course, they're not relentless, but sometimes seeing the ferocity with which they attack some writers makes me doubt how much I actually want to write a story, despite me having three ideas for stories. But that may be my imagination telling me that "ANONYMOUS IZ BADD HURRDURR". Also, I do have a desire to vote on stories. I'm not entirely content on being simply a reader as the question above implies. I'm just not very pleased with the idea of getting flamed because of a bad vote or something. Otherwise, I believe that you all have a nice thing going on here. Keep up the good work.
Disagree with 'attacking writer' point, agree with 'attacking voter' point. I honestly have not seen any writer being attacked unless their writing was REALLY bad, in which case they were informed, more or less politely, or they were huge assholes. On the other hand, people need to stop going crazy because some guy forgot to sage or used a ^^. Really guys, a pointer to the /gensokyo/ thread is enough.
>Seriously, keep up the good work. Been visiting for a while now, and I plan to continue doing so in the future. I'd like to ask if it's possible to make it more mobile friendly, though. It's annoying coming back to the frontpage whenever I take a 5 minute break from reading on the go.
I don't know how easy a mobile thing would be to implement, but there you go.
>Throughout the site's lifespan, it's had one major, persistent problem - a lack of drive for quality. Most of the populace, both writers and readers (and admins!), have aimed for an attitude of "eh, take it easy, if someone enjoys it, that's enough, right?" As a result, the writing on this site has been stagnant. The average quality hasn't improved since ... maybe ever. Things like RaAN and HY's stories are still held up as legends, years after they stopped and their creators vanished, not because they're amazing timeless classics but because nobody's ever gone "Hey, I want to write something as good as or better than this" and put in the effort to do so. Oh, sure, there've been a few more great stories over the years, like The Game or Glasnost's stuff or Favors Owed right now. But one good story a year, give or take, is still kind of a sad rate, and it seems like nobody wants to do better. The last question here was about the archive, with "yes I've read most stories there" as an answer - as if that's somehow preferable?! Why would anyone WANT to read most of the stories in the archives when most of them are terrible? I wonder if this survey might be the start of a change? It certainly indicates some desire to improve, so I guess I'll soapbox it up. The site's priorities need to change in some big ways. Encourage excellence and honest criticism. Reward stories with a lot of quality and effort. Maybe sticky some threads now and then, or let (known, respected, quality) authors embed music for their threads. Make an actual devoted writing workshop and/or critique board or IRC room or both. Maybe have periodic contests with actual prizes at stake (and free critique for those who don't win), and use an actual judging panel instead of popular vote. Most of all, the site needs to move away from an attitude of democracy and towards an attitude of meritocracy. Quality breeds quality, improvement breeds improvement (and Ditto breeds everything). This will be unpopular and probably has a low chance of happening, but if you actually want better writing, better reading, and a less toxic community, that's what has to happen. The 4chan/reddit model might be beloved by idealists, but it only works on sites like those, with a huge user base and broad enough subject range to actually *consistently* hit some diamonds in the rough. On a site like THP it just gives you... a lot of rough. "Anon" does not know jack shit about writing, and that needs to be taken to heart, all opinions are NOT equally worthy or valid. Ok soapbox over. Good luck in the future.
This guy has some valid points, but... lofty goals, I suppose? Some of what he proposes is out of reach. I fully agree that there's not enough criticism. I feel like I'm the only one trying to improve or trying to get others to improve sometimes. In my story thread, I post something to the effect of "TELL ME IF SOMETHING IS WRONG!!" in every update, but there's nothing. Last time someone tried contests or any mod-stuff like that, faggot IRC drama queens made a huge stink about it and tried to fuck things up for no reason though, so I don't know if that would work. Will think of some way to encourage people to criticize stories later (or you do it). Also I think this is YAF.
>I personally think the site needs a fraction of authors with the POV that votes are suggestions, and they have the final say. The author simply knows and thinks more about the story and characters than the readers have seen, and democracies are emergently short term thinkers. Long form stories must be planned in the long term, which is the realm of dictatorship, not mass opinion. Take a look at some of the votes in Stove's RTD in Eientei as an example.
Valid (and somewhat popular) opinion. I have no strong feelings one way or the other.
>I've been more active. I stopped voting and taking parts in discussion when I got banned. Before that, I was on all boards, and was following roughly ten stories, voting on everyone of them.
Poor hartmann, if only he wasn't a dick.
>There seems to be a bit of a pressure nowadays to make the stories fully-fleshed out, making updates a bit sporadic, It could be from people getting older.. or having less free time but updates used to be consistent that there would be an update every 1-3 days at minimum if you followed a couple of stories. Now to hit that you'd possibly have to follow at least 5. Compared to the short but multiple per day updates of old.. or multiple walls per day in the case of HY or Fell its a bit of a contrast. If you want to find that shit nowadays you have to find quest threads on /tg/ [I've heard of spacebattles after some of their writers decided to pop up here, never checked it out though] Also, because of that said pressure... Its a bit intimidating for new blood to jump in, especially those without prior writing experience at all, A lot of the alive-veteran writefags right now are on break too [Owen, YAF, Fell, of the top of my head.. HY maybe?] which leads board activity to be a little slow. Maybe a Bi-Monthly or Quarterly writing contest of sorts could spruce up activity? The last one with the Vet and Amateur categories called up a few lurkers from the woodworks, and I think at least one is now running a story [That being meiling guy] just a quiet lurker that grew up with this site saying words, hope it helps.
Someone else's opinion to corroborate my point of more writers = more activity.
>Readers should discuss more. Anon seems very reluctant to even say a word, when he is unsure or lost about the plot. Even a pure question post is good if it is organized and shows some thought: it can serve to elighten the readers and give a guide to the writer on what the readers are confused about. A dedicated stories ideas/concepts thread would be great. You see echos of people's ideas in various threads. It would be nice to see what has been done and what hasn't really.
Agreed, as mentioned previously.
>It would be great if the story list finally got the auto updater, and if it was possible for authors to tag characters in a story. Getting a separate feed for each thread would be nice, though I imagine resource consuming.
Yep. Pipe dream, I 'spose, but a tag system would help a lot. We don't happen to have any enthusiastic young coders, so this has to be shelved for a while.
Anyway, that's about it for now. I'm tired so I'll give this shit a more careful look later.