Site Improvement Ideas

There's a magical period of time coming up that will be after my kids begin school and before my job starts back up. Since that means I'll have some free time, I thought I'd see if there are any requests/suggestions/comments about the technical aspects and features on the site. Is there anything we don't have that you'd like to see? Any ideas on how the site could be more user friendly? Please submit your thoughts in the comments below, and try to be as specific as possible.

The other mods and I will take all the suggestions under consideration, but please keep in mind that we may not be able to make them all happen. We are restricted somewhat by the software that powers the site and database usage considerations, so there are some limitations. However, we promise we'll do our best.

Thank you! Blow Kiss

--Susan on August 12, 2013 11:59am 25 Comments

Susan, do you think there's a possibility of creating something that lets a reviewer know when an author has responded to their comment? I realize we can see it underneath the review on the reviews page, but I didn't think we get any sort of notification unless we go back and check. Just wondering. 

Many, many thanks for all you do! I hope you get to relax anf enjoy some of your downtime!


-- sweetprincipale on August 13, 2013 10:38am

Hi, Sweet! That one's easy since it already exists. It was a new feature that came along with the site update a few months ago. I either forgot to mention it when I listed the new features, or it just got overlooked since there were a bunch of changes. Anyway, to set your account to receive email when an author responds to your review, go to edit preferences in your account info and check the box that says, "Contact when author responds to review:" That should do the trick.

-- Susan on August 13, 2013 04:27pm

You probably did mention it and I didn't pay attention (I'm bad like that). Thank you so much for this quick fix! Love it.


-- sweetprincipale on August 14, 2013 02:14am

I got a suggestion in chat (via the ever-awesome spuffy luvr) about members being able to mark where they've left off while reading a story. I messed around with the bookshelf feature, and from now on it will keep track of the last chapter you clicked for every story that you have on your bookshelf.

If you add a story to your bookshelf by clicking the [Add Story to Bookshelf] link on a story's table of contents or from the story listings (e.g. the most recent page or titles page), the story listing will show, "You added this story to your bookshelf on (date)." since you haven't viewed any of the chapters yet. Once you click on a chapter, or if you add the story to your bookshelf while viewing a chapter, the story listing will show, "You clicked (chapter number) of this story on (date)." The chapter number will also link you directly to that chapter so you can pick up where you left off. As you continue to read, the story listing note will update to reflect the last chapter you read and the corresponding date. It will always show the highest number chapter that you read, so if you click on a earlier chapter to catch up or re-read something, that will not affect the note.

Since this is a new feature, it wasn't saving the last read chapters previously. When you look on your bookshelf, all the stories will show the, "You added this story to your bookshelf on (date)." note even if you have read chapters in the story. As you continue to read from now on, the story listings will update properly.

Let me know if you have any questions or if any thing seems glitchy. 

-- Susan on August 15, 2013 09:38am

This isn't a big deal, but I was looking at the listings for an author that has a lot of stories, and was thinking that it would be useful to be able to sort them by a couple of additional criteria, like complete vs. incomplete, or by length. 

I can't tell you how much your changes have improved my reading experience! Just the fact that I don't get logged off so frequently has been wonderful! Go you!

-- Rebcake on August 15, 2013 10:36pm

Something I would like to see is a list of published authors. It would be nice to easily see if an author you really liked has published anything and under wich name. I realize that this is information you mostly don't have, but it would have been nice though. 

-- magnus374 on August 16, 2013 09:22am

Somebody on LJ made that list, magnus.  I can't remember who off the top of my head.  Ladypeyton, maybe?


And I second Rebcake on complete vs incomplete if you can.

-- Baphrosia on August 16, 2013 10:03am

Magnus, that's really up to the authors themselves. We certainly don't mind if they link to their original/published fiction in their profiles, but we have no idea who is or isn't published. Also, if they're published, we have no idea if they want their original works tied to their fanfiction. Sorry I can't be more help with that one.

Rebcake (and spuffy), this one's easy since it is already available. In the top menu, if you click on the Authors tab, it takes you to a master list of authors with links to their profile pages. However, if you instead click on Browse By:, it takes you to the main browse page. From there, you can choose to browse by authors. The list of authors this leads you to looks identical to the other list, however, the links don't lead to the author profile pages, they lead to a listing of an author's stories which is sortable by categories, characters, ratings, genres, warnings, word count and complete/wip.

Also, Rebcake, thanks for the feedback. It's always nice to hear that the changes are making a difference.


Edited to add: I changed it from Browse by: to just Browse so that it would be more obvious that it's linking to something.

-- Susan on August 16, 2013 10:47am

Magnus, I have a list of fandom names linked with published names on my LJ, though most if the info is still in the comments since I haven't had time to update the entry lately. I won't link directly but my LJ anme and my EF name are the same and I have the list publicly pinned to the top of my journal.

-- ladypeyton on August 17, 2013 12:13pm

I would love it if the story pages kept the summary as part of the top banner (or whatever you call it, the text that stays the same for each chapter and appears above the main body text. Something to remind me how many words and chapters, what the story is about, for those times when I have multiple fics open. 

-- PeaceHeather on August 22, 2013 12:17pm

PH, that's technically possible, but I'm not sure about the look of it. It's fine when a summay is short and just a sentance or 2. However, a lot of summaries have extra spaces and/or images, and they would push the actual story text way down the page. For example, if summaries were added to the top of Distress Signals, it would look like this:

Personally, I don't like the look of that. When I click on a chapter, I want to get right to the story and not have to scroll past a bunch of text, space and images. That said, if enough people chime in and say they'd prefer it that way, I'll add it. In the meantime, you can always right click the Table of Contents link and open it in a new tab. That way you'll see the information you were looking for without having to close your current page.

-- Susan on August 23, 2013 05:00am

I probably should have kept better track of the changes I've made since now I'm trying to remember them, and things are a little hazy {#Smile}. Because of that, I may miss a few items, but I wanted to list some of the new/edited features so you all would be aware of them.

  • I fixed a bug where you had a link to add author/story to favorites even when that author/story was on your favorites list. The link will now say remove author/story from favorites instead.
  • I created a new list for the top lists page. You can now view the most prolific authors by word count (I know you were all curious about this).
  • Nothing big, but I added an OK link on the confirmation page that you're taken to after adding a story to your bookshelf or read list. The link will take you back to the page you were on before adding the story to your list.
  • If you're an author, when you view your story stats, you can now see how many members have your story/stories on their bookshelves.
  • I added some new sort/search options to the browse pages (this includes most recent, titles, bookshelf, etc...). You can now narrow down your results by min/max word count and in addition to the most recent and alphabetical sort options that used to be there, you can now also choose to sort the results by word count, read count and review count:

That's all I can remember for now. If you have any questions or additional comments, please let me know.


-- Susan on August 23, 2013 05:55am

Based on a suggestion from PeaceHeather in chat, I added a section to the browse pages and search page where you can choose categories to exclude from your sort/search. Also, I changed the search page around a little and added the ability to order results by word count, review count and read count as well as the old options of alphabetical order and date updated.

-- Susan on August 26, 2013 03:52pm

One thing that I have wanted for a long time is having a Holiday Stories in the Categories.  Right now that category only shows two stories and I know that there are a great many more.  Anyway that a Holiday Stories could list a complete listing?  It would really be helpful to have a good listing of the holiday stories.

On the new feature of listing stories by word count - that is one of the ways that I search for works - so great big thanks for this new seach tool.

-- nmcil on August 30, 2013 07:27pm

It would be nice, I think, with a feature where we can leave a "review" on the beta/s we work with. This not only allows the beta to get some feedback, but also allows EF to know how things have worked out. I've used Perfect Imagination a couple of times, and they had that feature, which at least I as a writer felt was an extra security.

-- chocoholicannanymous on August 31, 2013 08:56am

@nmcil, I can update the stories that Pfeifferpack listed in her Holiday fic recs from last year, but I don't know all the stories well enough to go through the entire archive and label all the holiday stories. If someone wants to volunteer to compile a list of the holiday stories we have, I'd be more than happy to use the list and update accordingly.

@chocoholicannanymous, I can definitely see how that would be useful, but the way the site is set up, I just don't see it becoming an option here since it would require a complete code re-write. I know that some sites have tests for members who want to become betas, and people can't be listed until they get a certain score. However, we don't have such a test because we don't really have the extra time to be beta gatekeepers. I think at this point, all we can offer are the beta profiles. It's pretty clear by what each beta has written (or not-written) if they would be of some help to an author.

Thanks to you both for your suggestions!

-- Susan on August 31, 2013 12:11pm

@Susan, well, I can how the coding might be a valid reason for this. Still, this is something I would love for you to store in a "maybe bank" just in case it does become a possibility one day.

Now, the girl that offered to beta for me was a dream to work with, and so I 've told her, but if she hadn't? I couldn't find any information on what to do if that hadn't been the case. It's such a vulnerable position, and I know that there are people out there, offering beta-help, who are not so easy to work with...

Idk, I guess I'm just looking at horrible possibilities here.

-- chocoholicannanymous on September 01, 2013 03:04am

Is it possible to have the "holiday fic" or "holiday story" added in the "summary" description for the search process?  This would be an easy way to gather the holiday stories.  another way is to ask the writers to send you the info. 

Also would like to add my PLEASE to the complete incomplete search process - this is a huge time saver for readers.  I always want to know the status of a story. 

-- nmcil on September 17, 2013 03:36pm

I just tried again to use the "search" process with "summary" using holiday stories and holiday fic and both results were failures. 

-- nmcil on September 17, 2013 03:38pm

nmcil, I'm confused. If I do a simple summary search using the word holiday, a number of stories show up. I'm not sure why you're saying it's a failure.

Also, I don't get this, "Also would like to add my PLEASE to the complete incomplete search process - this is a huge time saver for readers.  I always want to know the status of a story. " You can search for only completed fics already in the advanced search page, and you can choose complete only or work in progress only in browse pages in the drop-down that is labeled all stories.

-- Susan on September 17, 2013 03:55pm

I used holiday stories and holiday fics - I will try using only holiday in the summary see what happens for me. 

Thanks for checking it and all the effort all of you put into running the site.

-- nmcil on September 17, 2013 07:50pm

I think it would be a great idea to add a "Recently Completed" list on the sidebar of the main page, near the "Recently Updated" and "Featured Stories."


Well, I don't know about many of the other readers here, but I know I often click through from chapter to chapter on a sort of auto-pilot, just trying to find out what happens next.  I can't tell you the number of times (probably in the hundreds, or even the low thousands by now) that I've come to the end of a WIP, accidentally closed the tab/page/window/whatever, and completely forgotten about the fic for months (or years) simply because it was SO GOOD THAT I FORGOT TO PUT IT IN MY FAVORITES.

It would be really awesome if there were a handy list on the front of the site that could tell me if any of the fics I'd forgotten about (i.e. fics that weren't originally posted as complete one-shots--with the "Yes" checked for the Complete? question--and had multiple chapters) had been finished since the last time I'd visited the site.  If it was sorted by date of completion, that would be good as well, so I'd know where to start reading the updates list based on when I last saw the site.

-- DSDragon on September 20, 2013 01:38pm

DSDragon, I've kind of run out of room on the front page of the site. However, you can very easily see a list of recently completed fics. Click on Most Recent and then change the last dropdown menu from All Stories to Completed Only and click Go. That will change the most recent list to only show fics that are completed and will still have them in order of completion.

-- Susan on September 22, 2013 04:04pm

Hi! First of all, I really love your site and thanks for all the work. I love that you started archiving the good older fics so that they don't get lost when other sites are taken down.

Here's my suggestion. I came up with a challenge for the first time. This idea just wouldn't leave me alone. When I posted it, though, I couldn't find it again because the challenges are sorted alphabetically and there are only certain criteria you can search for. Also, many people use symbols to propel their challenge to the top of the list, which makes it kind of difficult to find what you're looking for. I think it would be more user-friendly if the challenges were posted by most recent. That way, we could check regularly and see which are the new ones. Maybe there should be a category in the advanced search so that you can search not only for challenge responses but also for the challenges.


Thanks, have a nice weekend and I hope this helps!

-- ammun on October 25, 2013 09:20am

ammun, thanks for your suggestion. I looked at the challenges and noticed all the spaces and symbols people were using to put their challenges at the top of the list like you mentioned. I changed the default listing so that it will now show the newest challenges at the top, but there's still a sort drop down where it can be changed back to alphabetical in case someone prefers to look at the list that way.

Also, now when you do a search, before the story reults listing, you will see other results (series and challenges) that fit the criteria you searched for. The other results listings were part of the orginial software the site uses, but it was really glitchy and didn't work properly. Your suggestion prompted me to mess with it and get it to properly show the series and challenges results. I think I've got it working well now, but let me know if you see anything amiss.

-- Susan on October 29, 2013 06:42am