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For the eagle-eyed among you, you will have noticed a couple of changes to Writer's Circle: Club has been changed to Open from Closed. This will allow everyone to read the forums here. They will still need to join in order to post. Prompts and Sneak Peeks forums were combined to be Peeks & Prompts to consolidate the posting of written works in one forum. When we upgrade to IP.Community 4.5 in a few weeks, we'll be moving the Writer Resources page to the club so that all the useful content for writer's will be in one place.
As we head into Gay Authors' seventeenth holiday season, and the end of the decade, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on our community in this past year. With that in mind, first and foremost, I want to thank all of you for making Gay Authors what it is. We wouldn't be here without our authors writing stories, our readers reading those stories, and everyone talking together about those stories. That is the root of our community, and that focus is what we should keep in mind as we ride the roller coaster of life. I'd also like to make a special call out to all of our Premium members. For a long time now, advertising has fallen well short of meeting the expenses of running Gay Authors. Premium Membership Subscribers keep Gay Authors open for everyone and allow us the luxury of constantly improving the site for everyone. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you, we wouldn't be here. If you would like to join this group, you can click on Premium on the menu in the Store tab. New Authors Over this past year, we were very happy to have three authors promoted to Signature Author: Carlos Hazday Mikiesboy Parker Owens We've also recognized an author as a Classic Author: Mike Arram Last, but certainly not least, we also added a new Promising Author: Northie New Features: We also added some major new features this year aimed at making the quality of life improvements for readers and authors both. Collections - All members can now create collections of stories to keep to themselves or share with the rest of GA members. We also added the option to create Curated Collections. We'll be adding one of those soon for everyone. You can find collections on the Stories page. https://gayauthors.org/stories/browse/collections/ Reading History - Ever accidentally close your browser or forget what story you were reading last week? Gay Authors now has a Reading History option that not only keeps track of what the last few dozen stories you were reading were, they tell you the chapter you last viewed too! This is a completely opt-in feature. You must turn it on to use it. It is technically a special collection so if you click the collection link above, you can turn on your Reading History there. Reading Stats - This feature was requested for a long time by authors. We have always tracked views on stories and chapters, but they were not time-bound. Meaning, the longer the story was on GA, the more views it would have. It wasn't that useful. The Reading Stats feature allows you to set a time to see what people are reading recently. This helps give authors an idea if a promotion you did works or what kind of topics/genres are popular at any given time. There are tons of sorting/filtering options to crunch the data as well. https://gayauthors.org/stories/browse/reading-stats/ Story Goals - Feedback is the lifeblood of an author. Since most online authors are not getting paid monetarily, feedback is the only way they know they are hitting their mark. We added Story Goals to help give a visual kick to people to remind them to write comments and reviews. The goals appear in various places on the site and give a good show of activity in the Stories system. The goals, current and historical, can be found here: https://gayauthors.org/stories/goals/ Tons of small fixes and additions - We continue to add and enhance the Stories system to help give authors and readers what they want. We've tracked down and corrected a few of the more burdensome bugs this year and have hopefully put them behind us for good. In the background, we've added some additional enhancements for authors and the various ways we categorize stories that will be put to good use in the coming year. Site Blogs and Anthologies: Classic Author Feature - Thank you to @Cia for the hard work she does with graphics and feature blogs for our Classic Authors. There are a lot of story gems out there from our 17 years of being online and she helps bring them to the service to get the attention they deserve. CSR- Can't Stop Reading - Thanks to @Cia again for the work she does in writing up the blogs and promotions to highlight authors all across the site. The whole blog is worth hitting the Follow button on so you can keep up to date with all the up and coming stories as well as the classics. Anthologies - A special thank you to @Renee Stevens and her team for all their help in getting our Anthologies going this year (and every year). Also, a special thanks to the authors that took the time to write and submit the 27 stories in this year's anthologies. Prompts - A special thank you to @comicfan for the weekly prompts. Lots of authors have fun week after week with them. Articles - A special thank you to @Comicality for the weeks of articles early this year. They helped promote a lot of discussion around important writing topics. He'll be back in 2020 with more articles for our discussion pleasure. Ask An Author - A special thanks to @Carlos Hazday for his work with "Ask an Author". These interviews are always a fascinating insight to our family of authors here at GA. Author Guess Who - A warm thank you to @Renee Stevens for her "Author Guess Who" features, which provide a series of clues to see how much members know about their authors. Story Reviews - A great big thank you to the review team, for their 15 story reviews and 1 special review they completed this year. Weekly Wrap Up - A very special thanks to @wildone for his great efforts and our weekly wrap up blogs. He adds humor and links to all the fun that goes on each week here on GA. So, once again, Thank You Everyone for making Gay Authors what it is. Thank you to the Staff and Teams for all that you do behind the scenes for your fellow members. The jobs are sometimes thankless things we toil away at, but I'm sure the members appreciate it. I know I do. Without all of us working together, we couldn't keep doing this year after year. To all who celebrate: Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Blessings this Winter Solstice! Happy Boxing Day! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Festivus for the Restivus! Last, but not least, I wish you the very best of a New Year! Myr
Welcome to my little potpourri of updates. It has been a little while again. As it happens, I get way too busy bouncing all over the place with all the stuff I'm doing. Some personal stuff first... the project I started two years ago with my mother after dad died is now pretty much done. We converted the back porch of the house into a very nice family room that is pretty much all windows. (There are 15 windows in the room). It turned into a great place for me to write and to read when I stayed there during my vacation from work. Mom is also very happy with it, which is the most important part, of course. I can also report that the mancave I built in the barn at moms is also finished stage 1. Aside from the nice Phillips Hue lights in the room, I have some black lights mounted on the back of the projection screen. There are no windows, so this room can truly be a cave. As for the site, we have worked out the majority of the bugs from the transition to the new software. Just in time for the next transition, it seems. Forum software 4.2 is in Beta 8 and is scheduled to be released in the first week of August or there about. We will be waiting until 22.214.171.124 or so before we upgrade if we even have our software update ready for that. Stories do work with the update already, but some new features aren't integrated yet. We hope to have that all set by the time the software is ready to upgrade. The upgrade to the new version should not cause all the issues we just went through, as the hardest parts are now behind us. I am also in the process of writing the specifications for the next feature update to stories that focuses on adding the "Reading Lists" feature into stories. This will also replace our dodgy "Favorite Author" and "Favorite Stories" list with something much more useful and obvious. In addition to that stuff, I have also been researching business and marketing stuff. With our business model, we need a constant flow of new people and new material and the success of eBooks has taken away a lot of our feeder streams. These means that we have to take more effort, time and resources in order to further develop our own stream. We are working on a bunch of stuff that's more long term development in nature. It is exactly what the revenues from Premium Content gets sunk into. If you don't already subscribe, doing so keeps this train moving: In addition to all of that, we are also working on developing more writing resources for our authors. Comicality has been very kind in helping me out with articles for a new feature that will be coming later this summer. I hope to get that set up so we have regular articles and other helpful material to be released on a regular schedule. I've also been making an effort to write something every day. None of it is worthy of you guys seeing yet, but it will be when I get back into the regular swing of things. I promise. That's all for now. I'll try to do this more regularly, even if it is just to bs a bit.
Thanks and Introduction So, right up front, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to do the survey. I would especially like to thank the kind words that many people left in the comments. They meant more than you know. In the rest of this blog, I'll go over some of the feedback and offer advice as well as covering the open bugs. Bugs So, yes, there are still a few active bugs: Chapter comment notifications are not being sent. We missed this one in the original bug hunt mostly because Story comment notifications are being sent. This will hopefully be addressed this week in a bug patch as we get ready to upgrade the forums to 4.2.2. Some combinations of Advanced search options are not working consistently. Specifically, combining Status and Genre seems to cough a hairball about half the time. There are other combinations that don't quite work as expected every time as well. Top Reviewed Stories link is listing all the completed stories that have reviews but is not ranking them properly. (Highest Star Average with most votes. This means a story ranked 4.7 stars with forty votes is ranked higher than a story ranked 5 stars with one vote). This feature will probably take a couple of patches to correct. Those are the bugs that we are aware of that are open. If you are aware of a bug that is not listed here, please open a topic on it in the Help forum. Survey Results I'm going to give general results of the survey now with fuller results most likely at a future date. There is a lot of data, and I've read it all, but it is going to take some time to compile it. I'm also using it as a basis of some articles and blog posts in the future. What is the most important feature that brings you back to Gay Authors? 90% said Stories. 8% said Community. 1% said Blog. 1% said Other. On the question of registered membership, 81% of the people responding to the survey were registered members. On the questions on Social Media, 85% (or more) do not follow us on Social Media. On the question of the newsletter, 40% of those surveyed subscribe. On the Premium Content question, the answers were all over the place. 25% were subscribers. 50% felt they could not afford it and 5% didn't know about Premium. The remainder felt that Premium Content, despite keeping the site open, provided them no value. Feedback from Comments This is the one that will take the most time to formulate data from the survey since it was completely open-ended. There was a lot of feedback in this section, and I've read it all and will work on addressing a few things. To state a few obvious things right up front. No, we are not going back to the old site. No, we are not deleting everything except stories. No, we are not going to make all authors the same. Homepage This is a tough one. Every homepage is a compromise between three competing purposes. One, the homepage must provide enough details so that search engines know the purpose of your site. If you don't provide the details, then the site is not listed on the search engine results page where it will do you any good. (top three results, typically). Two, the homepage must provide an explanation of your site to new people that are arriving from search engines. You have about 1.5 seconds to catch their attention, or they hit the back button and tracking software counts this as a Bounce. We're about half the average bounce rate, which is really good for us. Three, the homepage must provide the gateway to returning guests and members so they can jump off to wherever they are going. A LOT of members never even bother going to the front page after getting used to the site. Given these partially overlapping and partially competing purposes, we have to strike a balance. The homepage we have now is striking that balance and hitting our needs as far as tracking is concerned. I have added a small section called "Quick Links" to give members a direct link to three different story options. Newest Stories - The latest stories updated on the site. Completed Stories - The latest stories updated on the site, listing only completed stories. Most Reviewed Completed Stories - Completed stories with reviews. You can also click on the "Story Updates" link which is listed on every page by default and show the Latest Stories Activity Stream Enough people asked for story listings, or reviewed stories, or a list of completed stories that I provided those links directly. If you want to make it easier for yourself, select the listing you like best and then bookmark it. Then go straight to that page and don't bother with the homepage at all. If you struggle with using your computer, here is a nice video on how to use bookmarks. These links should help address the biggest items that were mentioned most often in comments. We focused on making the front page as fast as possible, and that is why we don't list stories there. There are several other places better suited to that listing, as the links above all show. Reviews As I mentioned in the announcement that is showing everywhere, we have not emphasized reviews much with all the other changes. As of the updated version of Stories, only completed stories can have reviews. A review consists of a star rating of 1 to 5 stars and commentary. Please see the announcement for more details, including a YouTube video on how to leave a review. I'd like to ask everyone to take the time and go back and review the completed stories that you've read. This helps both the authors, who want your feedback, and the readers who are looking for new stories to read. Be sure to be constructive in your feedback and your review is likely to be found to be helpful and marked as such by others. The system shows the most helpful reviews on top by default. As more reviews fill the system, a list of curated stories will automatically be created. We have a LOT of really great stories on the site that tend to get buried because they aren't being actively posted. Check out the completed story list and dive in! Or check out the reviewed story list and weigh in yourself. Thanks again! We'll continue to work hard to improve Gay Authors!
Well, it has been quite a month. I want to thank all our members for their patience and understanding. I'd also like to take the time to address some of what I'm hearing through side channels and from a handful of people directly. To start, contrary to the apparent popular belief, I don't change things to change them. I know a lot of you DO. NOT. LIKE. CHANGE. It has been made abundantly clear. We went for a very long time with very little change on the site. The system had it's quirks, but we lived with them and moved on. However, to put this into perspective, Facebook went from thefacebook.com to the Billions of Users per month during the same timeframe we were just plodding along. Sure, we saw some of the innovations of social media sneak in here and there. (hello Likes and Tweets). But that functionality was just basically strapped onto the software and we kept moving forward. Also in this timeframe we went from Microsoft Windows dominating computers to the PC market in an outright freefall as more and more people switch to Tablets and Smartphones. Google searches went from over 90% occurring on PC's to over 50% occurring on phones. 60% of all new users coming to Gay Authors now come from a smartphone. So the world changed around us. We were running Invision Power Board software version 3.4.9. The last release update on this software was over a year ago and was only a patch. In the meantime, they wrote the 126.96.36.199 version from the ground up. It was designed to be mobile friendly and take advantage of all the underlying improvements of software in the 8 or so years of the 3.X lifecycle. We were aware of these changes and held up originally waiting for our original programmer to be available to do the software update. That fell through due to family emergency on his end and I was forced to find a new programmer. Our Stories Archive software is written as a Module of the forums. Much like Gallery and Blog are modules. This allows you to share a tremendous amount of code, have common core features and have nice uniformity of how things work. The downside of being a module is that you must operate within the framework of a module. (This is where the long time to fix some bugs comes from.) By the time we had something working, Invision had the forum software at 188.8.131.52. This represents over 50 software version changes, by the way. (we are on 184.108.40.206 as I write this). The software is updated frequently to fix bugs and address changes in other software. Leaping from 3.4.9 to 4.1.19 was another source of unexpected issues. Bearing in mind that the software originally started here at version 1.1 and we've been updating it it since July 2003... This puts a lot of variables in place that have to get addressed. I would have to love dearly to continue to work out bugs on our test server, however, there were multiple problems with doing so. First, the Forum software itself was no longer supported as of March 31. We upgraded on March 18. Second, PayPal had made changes in the background that required changes on our end that were no longer supported on the old software. Third, Google has changed its search to prioritize SSL sites. That is to say, the little padlock indicating a secure connection. Fourth, Google also changed its search to prioritize mobile-friendly sites. Fifth, Google is switching to "mobile index" very soon. To vastly oversimplify this, Gay Authors pays the bills by showing ads to large amounts of traffic and through Premium Content. Change 1 above left us open to security issues. Change 2 cut off the ability to sell Premium Content through PayPal. Changes 3 - 5 would eliminate traffic. In other words, had we not upgraded when we did, then we would have had to close Gay Authors. We don't usually talk about how we keep the doors open, but due to the size and traffic Gay Authors gets, we are on a dedicated server. Those are not cheap. For those of you thinking "I can get cheap hosting with X.", let me clue you in. Shared hosting, which is dirt cheap, has many many sites on one server. Just the size of our stories text VASTLY exceeds the storage space you get on those types of accounts, to say nothing of processing power. We're going to have to upgrade our dedicated server soon (and we have Dual Quad Core beast too) because things have slowed down on a periodic basis. So we made this big change to the site because we had two choices: Upgrade or Close. We didn't do it because I like change. (I curse as much as the rest of you when every time I go on Facebook and something is different). I don't sit in a dark cave laughing manically as I insert sinister bugs that causes you to be confused. I don't sit here and move menus around to "Make things hard to find" or "Make navigating impossible". I don't randomly ban people because they disagree with me. (I'm positive that every single person on this site disagrees with me about something...) The staff has taken a fair bit of abuse. We've dismissed most of it as frustration with the changes and some of the lingering bugs. We apologize for those and ask for continuing patience. We're also limited because some things we just can't change because they're part of IP Board's programming (like not being able to delete notifications) and not bugs.We have only the one programmer, and he's in Australia. That makes it more difficult and causes longer delays simply because our sleep/work schedules are exactly opposite. Going forward from here, we ask that if you are having a problem with something, please post in the Software Upgrade Questions forum. Please post 1 question at a time so that we can make sure they get answered. We are also working on updating the FAQ today to ensure as much of the new information as we can is covered. We'll add new questions and answers to the FAQ as needed. I'll make more videos as needed. I've found, with the opportunities I have to interact via PM and other places like Support Requests, that we have publicly answered 90% of the issues that get brought up, but people just aren't finding them. We're working on trying to make information more obvious and easier to find. For Authors trying to add a new story and having issues, please see the YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC24R2wGvfokple9CobsusIQ The basics of the Menu structure have not changed. You can still find Stories by clicking "Stories" at the top of any page. There is a working search box on the top right of every page. There are quick author and quick story search boxes as well. See the YouTube Channel link above to see a video on how to use those too. Now that we are on the modern forum software, we can add the upgrades as new features are released by IP Board. They have a new one called "Clubs" coming in 4.2 that I'm really excited about. Think something like a Reading Circle or a Writer's Club or maybe fanclubs for your favorite authors. (I suspect that author specific forums will get rolled into this in some form). Thanks everyone for understanding. A special thanks to our Authors as well. I know it has been a pain not being able to see page 2 and beyond on story comments and the odd issues with notifications, but we'll get there. Soon. Myr
I'm fed up with constant demands by Adobe to update its software and then insist I waste my time rebooting my PC - probably not every day but it seems like it. I don't have / want a smartphone so I don't know if it's the same with them but I guess it is - eating into your data allowance, ESPECIALLY expensive if you use it in other countries. It's as if some software companies become so big they forget why they're there - to serve and please their customers, not annoy the **** out of them. The same with Norton, a big pile of **** that just eats more and more system resources. They behave as if web device owners exist just to satisfy the likes of Adobe's and Norton's voracious demands and that we're somehow privileged to be their customers. No we're not and that's why I ditched Norton for excellent free anti-malware programs. Now I'm looking for an Adobe Reader alternative. Suggestions anyone? Btw it's not just me - stumbled on this spleen venting Adobe forum http://forums.adobe.com/thread/558198 *goes to have a little lie down ... *