Not What I Expected



December 31
Still above ground.


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 27, 2009 2:27PM

Getting Unread on Open Salon

Rate: 138 Flag

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

-- Gospel of Matthew

 I think that there are two reasons why people, especially new people, have an increasingly hard time getting posts read on Open Salon.  These are

  • the layout and function of the cover page
  • policies about posting (or the lack thereof) 

The reason why many posts aren't read isn't because they aren't good; it's because of the way that OS is structured.

 As I write this there are ten items listed in the Activity Feed.  One of those items is a sponsored link for Lexus.  So in effect there are nine slots available.  The first of the nine items was posted on 12:50, the last posted on 12:52.  In other words, at this point the activity queue displays two minutes of activity.  In addition, several of the comments and ratings were for the same post.

Also at this time there are ten "New Posts."  The first post came through at 12:29, the latest at 12:50.  So the New Posts section covers only 21 minutes of activity.  

This means that a new post, especially from a recently-added member, typically has only a very short amount of time to create a "buzz" that will continue to show up in the activity feed.  If it doesn't accomplish that, there's little chance that anyone will read it.

Also as I write this, on the rightmost column of the cover there are lists of "Most Read" in the past day, and "Top Rated" in the past week.  In most cases anyone who wanted to read these posts has already read them.  But under the "Matthew Principle," the posts that have already had the most attention get even more attention.  The"Friends" feature also tends to reward those who are already well-known.

Compounding the problem is that there  no posting limit on OS.  Recently one member posted 7 (yes seven) items in the space of 30 minutes, effectively thrashing the New Post list for everyone else.  At one point 6 of 10 posts in that list were from a single person.  All of these posts were single pictures that easily could have been condensed into one post.

Yet other posts are little more than "one liners" -- posts that might take a minute to compose.  These "compete" for attention with posts that might have taken writers many hours to compose. 

Compare this to the layout and policies of the Daily Kos, a venue in which many OS members have also posted.

 As I write this the Daily Kos has 30 recent "diaries" (the DK version of the OS post) displayed on the cover page.  The first and last diaries were published 90 minutes apart.  In other words, as of this moment an OS post would show up for 20 minutes, and the Daily Kos post for 90 minutes, or over 4 times the amount of publicity.  In addition, the Daily Kos list includes the number of comments on each diary.

Daily Kos also has policies that limit the number of posts.  From the Diary Guidelines:

  • All users are limited by the system to one diary per calendar day.
  • New users cannot post diaries for one week after an account has been created.
  • Diaries should be substantive. A good guideline is that if you don't have at least three solid paragraphs to write about your subject, you should probably post a comment in an open thread, or in a recent diary or front-page post that covers a topic relevant to what you wish to write about.

These policies have at least two effects:

  • the number of member posts is reduced.  In effect people are encouraged to write fewer but better posts
  • spam attacks from new members are rare.  On Open Salon a new spam account can trash the New Post list with multiple posts before anyone can do anything about it.

In my humble opinion, the problem is that the layout and policies that worked well in the early days of Open Salon no longer work.  When you have 300 members that is a very different situation from having 3,000 members, but we're still using the same basic layout and policies as in the "early days."  It is now much more difficult for new members to gain a foothold and establish a readership.  With a different layout and new policies I believe that can be changed.

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These are great comments Mishima. I've belonged to blogs that allow one post a day (or sometimes two). It spreads the wealth of readership. I think this analysis of the "problems" with OS, if they result in change, may allow new posters to feel a little more love.
Thanks again.
I would also add that the Cover tends to get pretty stagnant - especially over the weekend - if a post has been on the Cover since Friday, does it still need to be there on Monday?

Yes, the Feed & New Posts are not nearly as useful as they could be. Your suggestions bear some serious thought.
Wow! All good points here, in the post and the comments.

It's amazing how many problems and concerns do not arise when one writes and posts for the sheer pleasure of writing.

My posts originate on my computer, not on OS. OS is but one of several destinations for them. These include other websites, some known friends, and others. Under no circumstances would I consider contributing to the Daily Kos, which features items which make the irrational hatred often expressed on OS sound like love letters.

Blogging about blogging for me is not a fascinating pursuit. When I once made this point in an OS post, the response was so overpowering that it took days to clean out my inbox. I don't do that anymore.
That would explain that "invisible sensation" I've got, yeah.... I think some restructuring is in order.
Cogent analysis, but never techy or bossy. Builds nicely to the recommendations. This is exemplary of posts, the OS style, and a model of the short essay, period.

I design interfaces for big hoo-has. I am working on some OS ideas. More later...
As someone here for under a week, I've been trying to figure out how to keep my little pile of electrons from being swept off the New Post ticker in less time than it takes for me sweat out a paragraph, while carefully avoiding various conspiracy theories, which tend to creep me out.

OS is interesting in that it's like a giant petri dish full of various strains of writers, to which has been attached various inputs, including technology, human editors, and the biofeedback of the organism itself, in the form of comments and friend networks. I suspect the editors or other PTB (Peanut butter, Tomato and Bacon, I deduce, for those not up on the OS lingo) will probably tweak one or more of these inputs at some point(s) along the way, but obviously a select few have discovered how to work within this system. (I haven't even mentioned the quality of writing, since that's a subjective thing and more difficult to quantify in this experiment.) So until then, I'll keep trying with the tools available, but I do greatly appreciate your post on this subject, without a lot of the baggage and screediness that often goes along with this topic (although some of the rants, let's face it, are pretty damn funny, especially to all of us swimming around in this dish.)
My post on OS originate on my Blogger account and then are cross-posted using the OS "Import" feature. Trouble is, OS only imports once every 24 hours-- and since the time stamp from the Blogger post is picked up by OS, my post ends up getting retroactively inserted in the stream with little or no chance of appearing in the "New Posts" section of the cover. Pretty pointless. I may either start manually posting to OS, or just drop it completely.
Excellent post! I've had many of the same observations and thoughts but have so far bitten my cyber-tongue.

I've been active in online communities for well over a decade and I think some folks post here the way you do in those other types of places that grew out of the old bulletin board format. Their blog posts are the equivalent of email or even text messaging. Sometimes those are fun but I'm drawn more to longer more thoughtful posts, myself. And I also have noticed the Feed and Most Read/etc hogging because of the factors you mention.

I think a good compromise would be the one post a day limit - you can still go short, but you've got to decide what your statement-of-the-day is.

I've barely dipped into Daily Kos. Your post makes me want to go check it out more.
Excellent thoughts. Thanks for having and sharing them.
On Huffington Post you are only allowed to post two a week, max, and then the editors decide if you are featured for a day or so till the post on the left hand column drops down to a line and then off. So everyone moves quickly. There are about 2k featured bloggers there.

Agree that OS is loaded in favor of already popular posts/writers.

OTOH, love this place. Kinder and gentler.
Mish, this is fantastic analysis and I hope it'll result in some changes in the OS architecture.

I'm still hoping for more useful top-tabs on the cover, so if I'm looking for FOOD or LIFE or HUMOR or NEWS or HEALTH I can just click on the damned tab and find the most recent 25-50 posts there.
Excellent comment and observations, mishima. Unfortunately, I don't know that they will be taken into account since Kerry et al really want this site to be "unique" and truly "open".

The other issue with the right side of the page is that their tends to be a great deal of overlap between "most read" and "highest rated". Do we really need two links over there about Amy's missing sperm? For that matter, since Amy's missing sperm tends to be one of the most read, it tends to generate the most activity. So, at any given time, Amy's missing sperm has been listed in 4 places of prime real estate on the cover:

-- The cover itself where she is inevitably featured (did you know she went to Harvard? )
-- Activity feed where someone has just gotten done commenting on her missing sperm.
-- Most read (because she was featured on the cover page -- and because folks who saw new comments posted rush back to their to see if anyone has responded to them)
-- Highest rated (because apparently people love to read about missing sperm).

Meanwhile, the rest of us are reduced to spamming our fellow OS'ers to try to generate a couple of comments and a little bit of buzz.

... not that I'm bitter or anything...
Mishima, What do you think about getting EP a handful of times a few days apart and then suddenly, never again, in spite of the fact that the posts were well received and highly rated?

Your points here are excellent.
I thought your observations were "spot on" and your suggestions constructive. I also admit my bias, in that while I love writing for the sake of writing (it's therapeutic and cathartic), I also love interacting with sincere readers and lively commentators. There are scores of excellent writers and insightful thinkers here on Open Salon. I hope they get more exposure through this forum. Now, back to diving for the jewels to be found in the depths known as OS :)

Thank you for your post!

Churchgoing Agnostic
GordonO writes: "Under no circumstances would I consider contributing to the Daily Kos . . . "
Silkstone writes: "I've barely dipped into Daily Kos. . . ."

Daily Kos is a very different kind of place -- mostly political. I never wrote that much there because I don't know much about politics. But I think they have a better way of presenting posts.

Greg Correll writes: "I am working on some OS ideas."

When you publish please send me a message. I'd love to see them, and since I'll probably miss them in the activity queue . . . .

iron fish writes: "I've been trying to figure out how to keep my little pile of electrons from being swept off the New Post ticker in less time than it takes for me sweat out a paragraph."

You and a thousand others! If posts aren't given adequate exposure, people will be discouraged from taking the time to write quality posts. We'll end up with posts from a few "big names," and a bunch of one-liner, throwaway posts.

Elizabeth writes: " . . . a great deal of overlap between "most read" and "highest rated". "

Yes, the same post shows up all over the place and sometimes gets resurrected day after day. While flattering to the writer, it does take up scarce cover space that could be used for something else.

Susanne writes: "What do you think about getting EP a handful of times a few days apart and then suddenly, never again, in spite of the fact that the posts were well received and highly rated?"

Ah yes, the Great Mystery of the Editor's Pick. Unfortunately that is a theological topic, and I deal only with earthly matters.
This is a top flight post. I've noticed many of the same conditions you point out. Maybe one of the editors or someone will decide to improve the newbie experience, or everyone's experience for that matter.
Rated and appreciated---not just for the facts, but for the rational, calm delivery and analysis.
You are a gentle voice of reason, mishima. Your thoughts, idea, observation and suggestions are more than worth noting. They deserve to be implemented. People? Anyone want to start a little more fire here?
Good suggestions - I hope Kerry et al take them into account.

I also agree w/ Ms Knitter that prominence paid to she who has scored most read (ie, most page hits) is creating a cranky undercurrent. Few OSrs comment, having sworn her off, but she still gets EPs and cover placement. Is this who we want representing our town? I don't think so.
cartouche, I have learned my lesson about pouring gasoline on a fire. That said, I think mishima66 and others make some good points for change.
Interest can be incremental over time. For example, when I found your workplace revenge story, I learned your blogging name. Then, because of that, I followed a link to your cell phone photos and have looked for them ever since, even if I'm a day or two, or a week late. Then you put your systems analysis hat on and there's yet another facet. The give and take here is that with ever more elaborate ways to avoid missing out on some posts, you miss out on a lot of posts. I like the mix of friends, feeds and lists and I have become accustomed to the phrase "I missed this one." I'm not offended by the generic "thank you one and all" I often wind up included in. I'm glad you focused on the role the architecture plays for the sake of the talented newcomers who may have second thoughts about signing up. Letterman's gag, "this is not a competition - please, no wagering" seems less of a non-sequitur in this context. I have no other blog sites to compare, so thanks for the insight.
This post is right on the mark. I do believe The Daily Kos rules for posting are vastly superior but I like the look of the posts here better. I like both sites. You better know what you are talking about at the Kos . The one post rule per day is one that OS could amend, to say two or three max per day. But I am in the minority in that opinion, evidently. I get way more attention over there than here. I am here for the fiction and humor and daily life stuff. Some of those work over there but must be issue based. This is generally a nicer, friendly place . To get knocked off the feed so soon, sometimes in minutes is discouraging and very tough on new people. I support the efforts to make lists of posts that several have tried and that I always read.
Hey! I fall under the "but whosoever hath not" category ! Does this bible quote mean I am going to......"from him be taken away even that he hath. " Ain't got much left to take 'cept Love it seems anymore ! And that I can't even seem to give away now-a-days. OHHHH except to bleeding, starving, sick stray dogs and cats who visit me frequently here where I mistakenly moved to in NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA ! WHaaaaaaa I know no one want to hear it, I'll stop.
Interesting comments.

Ironically, now you are being read (and not unread.)
Sorry but I suspect I will be in yet another minority here. I resonated most closely with what GordonO had to say.

"It's amazing how many problems and concerns do not arise when one writes and posts for the sheer pleasure of writing."

When I was first recognized by the Daily Scrawl for having written something that someone liked, I was thrilled. Now, I am equally thrilled when I find comments from others. If I am ever the recipient of an EP, I will also be delighted, but I have learned not to base my own assessment of what I wrote by such external measures of acceptance. If I had to choose recognition with no feedback or feedback with no recognition... I want the feedback every time. I think OS works in that regard.

Certainly all such systems can be improved, but I am hoping that the pending changes being considered won't change things too dramatically.
Good analysis presented in a logical manner. Thanks.

I have to say that if you truly believe or want us to believe that you write "only for yourself", you are not being completely honest. If you really had no care or desire to be read, they why not leave the posts that originate on your computer... well, ON your computer. Why post (by your own admission) to MULTIPLE websites? Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

I also have another blog that I will often compose on. However, that blog is completely (at least in theory) private and password protected. I do not open it up to anyone and it is, for me, a private journal. The reason it lives on "the internets" and not my computer is for one reason only: accessibility and backup.

When I post over here, it is usually because I have something that I would like to get others opinions on... a reality check, as it were. (Y'all are my vast army of unpaid therapists!).
I would take it one step further. I would like to see a separate page just for new members. Either the first post they put up or first two would go on that page. After that, their posts would show up on the "main" page.

My rationale goes back to tarheeltoker's analysis of who was posting. Some huge, huge percentage of all posts (at least at that point) were produced by people who had never posted anything before. These are as much a factor in the "speed of the feed" as the multiple posts on a given day by one person. My guess is that upwards of 75% never post anything else, and not just because they don't get any ratings or comments. I think a lot of folks give it a try but aren't really that interested in becoming a regular. If you had a separate stream for those just giving it a trial run, it would greatly reduce the number of posts the rest of us have to "compete" with for readers. And I can't believe anyone would be terribly offended if they had to wait until their second or third post to make it to the "regulars" page. Besides, we would all still have the opportunity to read and comment on the first (first/second) posts by just going to that page.

Not that any of this will ever happen. I've been waiting and waiting for those "big new changes" that were coming at the beginning of the new year... As far as I can tell, that turned out to be a spam folder for mail and more "friends' new posts" on our pages. Both good things, but hardly revolutionary.
All great points. I'm not one in favor of an abundance of rules like DailyKos, but certainly some further guidelines would be in order.

I don't see why the cover page could be less static. Why can't the editors select triple the pieces and rotate the covers over the time period? Certainly, there's enough quality material to do that.
Great points! Thanks for moving things forward.
"I think a lot of folks give it a try but aren't really that interested in becoming a regular. If you had a separate stream for those just giving it a trial run, it would greatly reduce the number of posts the rest of us have to "compete" with for readers. And I can't believe anyone would be terribly offended if they had to wait until their second or third post to make it to the "regulars" page. Besides, we would all still have the opportunity to read and comment on the first (first/second) posts by just going to that page."

Susan, I LIKE this idea.
way to go. I agree with Verbal Remedy. If people simply clicked on a "subject" on the front page that can provide us with a list of headlines about it, that would most certainly help. That way if newbies/unknowns passed their 2 minute window of opputunity for fame, there's still a chance later. Highly rated.
An awfully sane, well-stated and civil observation. should be interesting to see how it plays with the management.
Thank you. I posted something. A few days later I removed it. I assumed that OS thought my post was stupid or useless. I'm glad to see that other factors might have been at work--not to say that the post might actually have been stupid or useless.
I don't disagree with any of your points, however, I'll add that I think that some of the responsibility rests with the readers themselves. People can make the effort to dig around and search out the hidden jewels.

It's like shopping at a book store: you can go straight to the best seller shelves and pick something out and buy it and leave pretty quickly. Or you can carefully hunt throughout the entire store and spend a little extra time looking for something that really interests you.

I personally haven't put a great deal of effort into my own posts for two main reasons: (a) I don't often have the time; and (b) I don't want to put a great deal of effort into writing something nobody's going to read AND that I'm not going to get paid for writing. I'd take one or the other happily, but if I know I'll likely get neither, regardless of the quality, then fuck it. More often than not, the stuff I've written that I'm even slightly proud of was basically ignored, and the stuff that I quickly dashed off as a lark got a lot more attention. But as it is, since I admittedly don't put a great deal of effort into my own posts, I don't get upset when they don't get read or rated. It's not a big deal to me in the slightest and I don't take it personally or seriously.
Thank you for your many contributions to this community. I agree the most read and highest rated are redundant.
Good analysis, and good suggestions for improvement, mishima. Of course, you know what happens next...
Damn you're smart! I was blind, but now I see.
Mishima this is well thought-out and you offer elegant solutions. I agree with you that the community here has gotten too large for the existing front page format. Limits on the number of posts per day seems to be fair. Perhaps a column for new posters would be in order. The Activity feed has become a joke, especially if someone is importing ten posts from another venue.
One post a day doesn't allow for immediate news events and responses. Maybe if there was a section for posting just once a day and another for whatever? I do think the feed is a little fast. Maybe if the EPs were in the left hand column and the feeds were in the middle?

OS is supposed to cater to the arts (music, video, pictures, etc), not just writing - substantive is subjective.

I think having sections, like in a magazine, would be good.

Since I'm not getting paid, or any kind of lucre for my postings here, I don't really worry about the getting read stuff. Yep, I'm talking to myself...
You have a beautiful mind.
Interesting thoughts. Coming from the desert of blogspot, OS seems like a godsend to me. There is community here. So I haven't been too criticial of the layout but I'm always open to improvement.

One thing I disagree with is censorship of postings. I can spend two days creating a haiku that can take more creative effort than a rambling twenty paragraph posting. "Open" means some abuse but it also allows far greater strengths to thrive. I quit commenting on HuffPo because of capricious censorship and would hate to see that happen here.

My pet peeve is I would like to see a greater history of my comments. It's sometimes difficult to once again pick up my trails of pithiness. Hopefully they are listening to all this.
Thanks Mishima666 for showing a newbie like me how things work here. "... well done, good and faithful servant."
"Diaries should be substantive. A good guideline is that if you don't have at least three solid paragraphs to write about your subject, you should probably post a comment in an open thread, or in a recent diary or front-page post that covers a topic relevant to what you wish to write about."

Don't agree with this one, for a few different reasons. The first being that I would never be allowed to post.
As a member for only 2 days I was amazed and gratified to get my first contribution published and the also Editor's Choice. Is this because it was my first post? Was I more likely to get read because it was my first time? I suspect that it is more to do with :a) the time of day and b) the title.
I have been conducting an experiment today with the time. I have posted several contributions from my own blog, onto OS to see what the uptake is. I shall return with the results, unscientific as they may be.
Blake writes: "I don't want to put a great deal of effort into writing something nobody's going to read AND that I'm not going to get paid for writing. I'd take one or the other happily, but if I know I'll likely get neither, regardless of the quality, then fuck it."

I suppose there isn't any system that could guarantee that any particular post would be read. But -- everyone's post should have at least a decent chance of being read. To the extent that the current structure of OS minimizes that chance, that's a problem.

My fear is that more and more people are going to start doing the math, and wondering if they really want to spend four hours researching and writing a great post only to have it displayed for 20 minutes -- if they are lucky.
Great post, Mishima. Thanks for bringing up this issue. I think you've done a wonderful job of identifying the problems.

I'm in the camp of those who would LOVE to have some easy way to find recent posts on a particular subject matter. Tags aren't working very well for that purpose. I'd like to see a radio button system (multiple choice, only one answer permitted) where bloggers would be required to designate a subject area (politics; anecdote; fiction; poetry; humor; etc.) for each post, and then the "recent posts" area would have tabs for each subject - or something like that. The ability to subdivide highest rated and most read by subject would also be helpful.
PS to those who have commented on the Editor's Pick issue: My observation has led to the theory that the editors try to give one or two EPs to each new member early in their OS "career" - perhaps to encourage them to stick with it - and after that they are ignored in favor of the tried-and-true, supplemented the other new members who appear in their wake, and who each in turn receive their newbie quota. So to those who (like me and so many others) got one or two EPs early on and none since : Don't take it personally - it's just the way the system works.
You have some good thoughts. I'm new here and was wondering how one gets read with such a short window of opportunity.
"I suppose there isn't any system that could guarantee that any particular post would be read. But -- everyone's post should have at least a decent chance of being read. To the extent that the current structure of OS minimizes that chance, that's a problem."

True. But I'd also like to reiterate that I think there's a certain amount of "lowest common denominator" effect going on here, where it's the readers' tastes dictating what is being read and what is being ignored. Nearly every day I'll click on a top-rated post only to be amazed that more than 50 people thought to respond and rate a perfectly pedestrian post. Or even more common, a shamelessly provocative post that is really little more than infantile flame bait. But like others have said, this is all fairly subjective.
Well, I don't know how many excellent pieces are flying underneath the OS radar but, as someone who's been here since April, I have to say I haven't had any trouble finding new people to read and correspond with and make friends with on nearly a weekly - and if I'm in full-on OS Bender mode - a daily basis.

Which is not to say the OS format and policies are beyond reproach or review, but I kind of think no matter what you do, someone will wind up disapproving.

Mariner Software has a different take on the whole deal, called Writers Pub, where you have to actually review others’ work, post comments and contribute to the site to "earn points." When you earn enough points, only then can you post your own stories for review.

One feature Writers Pub has that ought to be easy enough to implement at OS, and something I think would be pretty cool, is one that lets you see who is online at any given time.
I was just discussing this issue with another blogger here. I would be highly in favor of limiting everyone to three or maybe four posts a week. Any chance of that catching on?
Some commenters have pointed out that there is a wealth of value here if we, as readers, go beyond the Cover Page. True that (as my 12yo would say...) but...

if we return to Blake Mitchell's analogy of the bookstore -

there is the third way, which is how most of us shop - it's NOT dash & run, but it IS browse in some kind of orderly fashion. And yes, I admit to a certain amount of shopping ADD, but I do pay more notice to the books that are on the TABLES, the shelves lined - EMPLOYEE RECOMMENDATIONS or NEW BOOKS, and the Endcaps. Yes, placement matters. Here on OS just as much.

Not to mention - I'm usually in a SECTION labelled either fiction, cookbooks, Travel, Technology, Young Adult, Kids, I have a reasonably good chance to land on something that was in my sphere of interest

I don't mean to pick on the analogy - I think it's actually a good one and has some seeds for organizing this whole OPEN business a little more to allow people to read and be read
I'm can't for the life of me get my noodle to wrap around the point of "Most Read" when "Highest Rated" is there. I also have a hard time with the commented on when we could have a longer listed of new posts.
Excellent analysis, Mishima-san. But waiting for change to come from the top is futile, I fear. Lots of reasons, many of them financial and corporate, as I'm sure you are aware. And being an old geezer from the 60's and harking back (or is that barking back?) to my old anti-establishment trouble-making roots, I am actually encouraged by the many efforts I see going on here to, in essence, community organize and try to alleviate the issues you mention.

Dorinda, o'stephanie, Critical Mess, Monte Canfield, Lisa Kern and others (I'm sure I've missed some - Caruso used to this on the Batz posts) have been doing an admirable job getting lesser known and newer posters increased exposure. I've done a few of these types of posts myself, many trying to expose the new OSers to the earlier group of writers. If there is to be a future here (and assuming the systems are scalable), these community based organizational initiatives are where I am hanging my doggie hat.

Excellent post very insightful. You have really points here. I hope they listen to you and make some changes.
Thank you
Some excellent ideas here, both yours and some of the posters. I'd like to see a way to keep track of more than five comments I've posted, since I have the attention span of a gnat and forget ...
I agree that the frequency is an issue. The first day I signed up I accidentally flooded the feed when I moved some stuff from another blog. I was used to having my own blog and not istantly affecting others. It is difficult because among the very good writers there are also many people who really just use this as a diary. (Anyone remember diaryland?) I have no argument withthat, but I think blogspot or blogger would be better suited.

As for me? Sure, I would like to be read, but I also post becasue I just want to, and , if someone discovers me, great. I can't really complain becasue the company around here is much better than the company elsewhere.
i select 'topic', look at 'open call', select 'politics' and have all the posts i am interested in.

perhaps the format can be improved, but the tools to find what you want are there. if, of course it's on os.

and people can find you, if, of course, they think you're interesting.
Excellent points and suggestions. I hope your microphone is turned on.
You have such a calming, rational 'voice'.

All wonderful ideas - I hope the editors are paying attention.

Even if they dont want to limit the daily posts, they could limit the ones that appear in the feed to one a day.
7 posts in 30 minutes. I assume they were spam?

Good suggestions and points.

Excellent analysis, Mishima. Until the site changes the way it is set up to allow for more time in the feed, I think that a great way for new members (or anyone) to get read and noticed is to read and comment on other blogs. In my opinion, it's the fastest possible way to introduce yourself and your writing to the OS community.

Commenting on other blogs not only helps a new member to become a part of the community, but most likely the person on whose blog you've commented will check out your blog as well.

Read and comment. It's simple advice but it works.
"My fear is that more and more people are going to start doing the math, and wondering if they really want to spend four hours researching and writing a great post only to have it displayed for 20 minutes -- if they are lucky. "

This certainly describes my feeling of having spent a lot of time posting only to feel that my efforts are wasted short of having to pimp it out in personal messages or wait for it to die an eternal death by inattention. It's frustrating.

I've spent six months here now. I have listened to what Mishima & Rob & CCC & Kent and many other helpful souls have had to say about how the design of the site works. Verbal Remedy wrote an excellent post on writing good posts that made some valuable points about readability on a screen.

I have closely observed the writing styles, illustrations and just plain old 'what works,' but it seems like it comes down to using words like porn, ass, boobs, etc. & that just doesn't fit into what I like to write about or read.

I don't respond to the open call posts for the most part because I am too busy with my day job to write on demand for free.

And while Mishima says that EP's are a theological subject, I think that it is more likely to be purely capricious & heretical.

Wonderfully civil conversation here.
i only joined this site a few months back and i come here for the reading only..i don't post so you folks are charged with entertaining me - and boy oh boy, give yourselves a hand..the writing here is uncommonly good ...every day brings new thrills to me

but i do wonder sometimes when i come across an exceptionally fine piece that inspires me to comment glowingly to the author and then come back a few days later and see that my response is still sitting there all alone

then my heart breaks a little for the author who is probably questioning his/her competence as a writer and i feel the urge to comment again and tell's NOT you...your post just slipped through the crack..that's all...keep 'em coming

a few people had the right idea..they send out posts just to address this problem - recommending pieces that may have gone by unnoticed the first time around

something for me to consider

anyway, thanks mish for bringing this to our attention
Great choice for a quote, and I believe it inspired this from Billie Holliday:

"Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible says
And it still is news
Poppa may have
And Momma may have
But God bless the child
That got his own
I got my own"

If you check out the front cover, you'll see I did get my own. And if you check out my blog, you'll get some idea how. I may just post an expose of myself one day soon. Till then, this will have to do:
Great comments here.
I believe that the PTB do look at these threads. Who doesn't listen to users?
Kos is interesting. Just looked at their FAQs. Pretty serious over there. No pictures, no blog sites to speak of--nothing with a banner by Ric!
I do like what they do with trolls. They post recipes on their posts. They have put books together out of this for a benefit. Now, that's cool.
Some good commentary on the subject, for sure. I think there should definitely be some rule tweaking, but I'm not a big fan of the one post a day limit. There are days I have where I'll write something in the morning and post it, then come back 8 hours later with something else. There are many days that go by when I post nothing. I would hate to think I was unable to put something up, especially if it were related to something like breaking news.

Perhaps if there were a limit of three or five per day or a limit of one per few hours, that would be helpful.

One of the other issues I'm sure with trying to regulate and structure a site like this is in the amount of people available to decide what shows up on the cover, what exactly an "editor's pick" is (I am in no place to discuss such theological matters either - but I am happy that the all powerful editors have picked a handful of my posts...don't want to offend the all powerful pixel lords). I'm sure if there was a way to get more people involved in these matters, things could potentially look different.

Something else for newer folks to keep in mind is just to keep reading and keep writing. One of the biggest things that drives traffic is commenting on others posts. I found it extremely frustrating for the first couple months I started writing on here that I'd barely get any views. But the more I read and comment, the more traffic that pops back my way. Not a great solution for people, but it's at least a place to start.
Very sensible post. Thanks, Mish. I've been suggesting for a while now that people should be limited to a few posts a week or something. Anyway, I hope someone is listening!
I have registered on this site mainly (aside from a healthy dose of paranoia) because I want to view and respond to the core sample that this site caters to and shelters.
As a closet spiritualist I have encountered an a scenario that Heaven is merely a haven where those who are 'well with their soul' can be distinguished by their footwear, giving rise to an alarming supposition that we are rewarded for our travails with a metaphore, and yet notwithstandingly I perceive that Grace exists and it is to these learned, sheltered, coddled, & unfortunates that I am drawn, not so much as to acquire comfort, or to give, but perhaps to perceive the Light channeled thru their own eyes, with whatever cast of dissillusion, hope, or wisdom Time has wrought upon them.
Thanks for the helpful comments. My only concern - the gazillions of unread OS contributors (like me) will now flock to Daily Kos. See you there!
ElizabethMcDonald Designated Knitter - re the doctor's copious sperm - I agree, too many money shots on the OS front page.
Harry Homeless - I agree. I'd like to keep a longer list of my comments so as to check back on posts I found interesting, to see what else got said. Someone mentioned bookmarking, and now I have an OS file in my bookmarks to keep track of those posts I want to go back and look at long after they've had their 15 minutes in the feed and are gone...
Blake Mitchell - I have written a few posts, nothing *great*, but ignored, or garnering 1 comment, and then tonight posted something silly and deliberately provocative (sort of), and suddenly have lots of comments and even hit the Most Rated column. It's hard to resist the carrot and go back to addressing my linty bellybutton...
compelling points, mish. I honestly hadn't thought about it, beyond sort of thinking there is just too much to possibly read.
I like Verbal's idea about tabs with lists. It seems like there could be ways to keep up the links longer by having some kinds of menus that pop up. So instead of lists you'd have lists that lead to more lists.

(I'm tired--you people are keeping me from doing my taxes!)

Great post! I'm still pretty new and I don't get much traffic.
In the effort to "get read" I posted a response/solution

- I do believe the restructuring and rule things are all good suggestions, but would like the community to get a say in the EP's and cover articles by having a guest editor from the community once in awhile. Maybe that might be a way for some of the undiscovered to get a little recognition?
There is a feature on the front page, Most Recent, and it seems to go back in time to when the waters parted and, well however that Genesis stuff reads. So those new posts that appear so fleetingly on the feed can be looked over at leisure... That particular item should be more prominently featured, maybe with special direction to seeing what was posted in the other -- hours (fill in your own figure) one wasn't glued to the screen. And maybe on the front page there could be an item - newcomers and their posts. It's newcomers who are particularly baffled by the set-up and distressed that nobody reads or comments (unless they were prescient enough to put SEX in their title).
I find it relatively hard to see what everyone has written. If something gets posted, doesn't get editor's choice and or the front page, then it might be gone before I'm aware it existed.

I'm sure the same happens to my posts.

It would be nice to customize what we see. For example, know what friends post and be able to avoid the tedious. Like pictures of your pets, cute or not.
I agree that the way Open Salon is set up makes it hard to break out as a newbie. The rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Even the good Doctor had a post the other day that got hardly any comments - I guess she posted it at the wrong time or something, plus she failed to put sex in the title, and it didn't reach the critical mass necessary to stay afloat.

I wouldn't want to be limited to a single post per 24 hours, but two seems reasonable. I don't think that's a big issue here, however. Apart from the 7-post-streak you mentioned the other day, I'm not seeing a lot of people who are spamming the feed. It's just that there are a lot of people here.

The problem is that unless something is currently on the feed, there's zero chance that anyone will ever see it unless that person is already in your friends network. What OS needs is more and better ways of getting to posts. I tried looking at the "People" list once and it simply never loaded - does that function even work? I've also used the search function, and it brings up stuff that doesn't make any sense given what I searched for. If I sort it by date, I get a long list of people's names, not posts, and if I sort by relevance, I get year-old posts.
Great post. Rated
I'd like more "random" functions. Randomly select and present a list of posts from the last 30 days, for example. Or randomly present a list of tags to select from. Right now it's only the "most popular" tags, so all you see is the same kind of stuff over and over.
I posted about people posting multiple posts a day , and questioned the quality of multiple posts that are typically borrowed info from other sources,rants, one liners ,etc.
The backlash was brutal. I took down the post as I got hate mail.
I feel that limiting individuals to one post a day would make posters much more careful about their one shot a day than they are currently. It would improve the quality and variety of OS as a whole. You use your one post any way you like, but you'd have to at least ponder a bit.
I suggested this to the editors, who were very nice , and said that people use OS for many different uses. Yes, but once a day is enough, anything more is selfish, to me. No offense, multi-posters out there. I hope you forward your suggestion about a "post a day" to the editors , as I did,Mishima.
I ,also, agree with your well-thought out notes on the homepage. I agree with you completely
I wonder if the editors have read these posts, comments. If so, they are awfully silent.
William writes: "I wonder if the editors have read these posts, comments. If so, they are awfully silent."

Good question. Since there are no pictures here or stories about sex I suspect not.
Different layout and new policies. Hmm. What do you recommend? Everyone wear cheap sunglasses and ride around town on their Vesper?
I'm new so in an effort to get somebody here at OS to read me I've been searching for posts worth reading. This has proven quite difficult. This one and one about Michael Phelps so far are it. On the subject of Michael I say keep the money and tell the tabloids to take a flying leap. I realized I haven't read the language rules for OS. I tend to write about poitics. However, I have opinions on other segments of society too. While posting on KOS allows me to speak my political mind I hope I can find an audience on OS for other subjects. That doesn't mean I won't trash conservatives here too but I like the freedom of content. Now I hope some people will read my stuff.
Wow, I just rated this - and made it 100!

I agree with everything you've said. I have also been trying to figure out how to be more read, and how to find other good pieces to read. I hope the editors take heed and change the format.
I'm a newbie here (day old) and just realized: Wait a minute, getting readership isn't as easy as I thought! Thanks for taking the time to analyze and write about this.
As usual, Mishima, your analysis is cogent and your ideas reasoned and well thought out. I also have a problem, in that I tend to post in the wee hours. I'm a night owl, work in the day, doing other stuff...

I also thought verbal remedy's solution, regarding topics and seeing posts that fall under those topics, as brilliant.

I will also add my voice to those who would like to see our individual comments archived, so I can check back on a post I was interested in. Often, I forget the name of the poster or title of the post. Because of the 'creative' way tags are used, I often can never find that post again.

One other thing I'd like to see: sometimes, from the comments, I follow a link within them. When I come back to the page, I lose my place in the comments. This isn't a problem when there are just a few comments, but it is frustrating when there are as many as, say, are in this post.

It seems to me that when there are such well-reasoned points that are, judging from how many comments are here and how many times this is rated, considered important to the writers and readers of open salon, that it would be good to get some feedback from TPB (I really don't know what that stands for), open salon management on how they are receiving this and whether any of these suggestions are being seriously considered.
Rated for truthi-tanya
im new. thanks 4 the info
All excellent suggestions. I have not added more posts since joining because no one was reading the three I started with. I even tried commenting on other blogs, adding friends so to speak, to see if that might generate more interest, but that garnered limited results.
I've been writing just for the pleasure of it since I was five years old. But if no one else is reading what I write, how can I get feedback?I think the idea of limiting the number of posts each user can make per day is a great suggestion.
My dear M. Mishima ~ This submission, which I just noticed via the Activity Feed and which was probably posted during one of my hiatii, is superb! One simple solution might be to label the right hand column "Popular Posts", instead of the "Most Read" and "Top Rated" breakdown. That might diminish doubling the attention brought to certain poster's submissions. It would, however, require some kind of editorial equation which combined ratings and page loads.
I love you too Dorian/Homer Simpson/Kalvin
Kalvin, people wouldn't be all up your ass, if you weren't such a little brat all the time. Do you not have ONE kind thing to say to people? I deleted your "cut and paste" from my blog because you are harassing MY friend and I do not put up with that.
thoughtful and helpful mishima... its even hard for me to find good posts because of the system you have analyzed so well. i actually gave us for a while.

Hope you come see mine and leave a message. Nobody much has and I feeling so alone... Thanks for sharing. Totzaon
Now I understand this better. Thanks. I posted a nice article (my opinion) yesterday at about 2:19pm (The Long and Winding Road) "No comments" at all. Invisible. Then after 3:03pm, a similar, well done and thought out post by dcvdickens (Casting Stones: Who Is To Blame For This Mess?) 42 comments so far...
I didn't really understand and shrugged it off, til now.
Now I know that she's a rated and great poster, and I like her stuff alot, so I wondered maybe it's because I'm relatively brand new here and I needed to get established with folks first. Never thinking it may be just a timing thing. (or maybe my post just sucked, period!) nah... not that bad...
That's a great post and I agree. I like OS because it's oriented toward longer, essay-type entries, but getting people to read what you've written is a challenge. I've held off on a new blog all weekend for fear it would be lost. Friending people doesn't increase your exposure and I have no idea how to attract the editors' attention except to write the very best post I can write and hope for the best. At the same time I'm not sure what I would suggest to the OS editors to "fix" the problem.
Thanks Mishima - especially for the analysis and link of the alternate writing venue...
thank you for your insights...i definitely agree some tweaking is necessary--just wish there were a mechanism by which the members of this community could propose a suggested change and then simply vote--govern our own country, as it were (no offense to Kerry intended), at least on some of these structural issues...also, i agree with Organian--my experience is that newbies seem to be tossed one or two EPs at the beginning, maybe as encouragement...anyway, i appreciate your (and everyone's) reasoned and caring analysis
These are great points. Since you've already made them so well, I'll add a few from a different perspective.

I'm a recent arrival on OS who showed up to read and write, but as a professional geek, I've been as frustrated with the tech as I have been pleased with the quality of the company.

The site's implementation of the TinyMCE editor isn't what it might be, posting entries is cumbersome, and no stand-alone blog clients appear to be supported. Importing feeds from other sources seems unreliable. The FAQ page is rudimentary and I've been unable to get a response emailing for support.

I'm here for the content and find it worthwhile, but I can't help but notice the environment itself could be better designed and supported. No offense, but it's kind of web 1.999 around here.

So... what shall we do about it? Your post has a large number of positive comments. As a software developer, I'm often aware of how hard it can be to communicate with end users, and far from being arrogant, feel something akin to despair when my work fails to hit the mark. Creating interactive online environments is like city planning. It's not always easy to anticipate how inhabitants will live in a designed space, or understand what's happening or how to adapt to it once they move in.

How 'bout we go on the assumption that the powers that be would love to improve matters? How do we communicate?
This are excellent and sensible suggestions. Since there seems to be a lot of agreement with most of your points, I wonder why the editors don't appear to be listening.

Although it's nice to be all pure and "I only post because I love to write", I can't think why anyone would post if they didn't wish to be read.

In particular, to limit posts to once a day seems reasonable. Really, there's nothing so compelling, that it couldn't wait until the next day to be posted. Also, there's no reason why a post needs to be listed in more than one category on the right.

I think your recommendations would be of as much benefit to readers as writers. When I come here, I'm frustrated to see
the same posts I've already seen and often read on the front page and listed on the right. Of course, I look at the feed, but there are relatively few items shown. On occasion I look at posts listed on the Most Recent tab, but it is slow and cumbersome; I'd prefer to see a more compact list of the last 100 or so posts.

It's a shame that a small number of people always get enough exposure to get high numbers, regardless of their quality. (And I don't mean Dr Amy, who I like to read.)
Excuse me... "this are"??? I thought I'd checked enough.

As a new member, I am grateful for articulating every frustration I am feeling.

Thank you
OS 101. Good stuff.
i didn't see this when it first came out. i guess i wasn't here at the right 20 minutes. it does seem like the daily kos has a structure that could benefit os.

i don't see where much has changed here since this post.