I noticed some things this past week, though...while the community is still generating 25-30 entries a day, 60% of those entries get no comments. Of those that *do* get comments, another 25% get 2 comments or less. For those of you playing along at home, that's 85% of the community entries that get get less than 3 comments. You only have a 15% chance of posting an entry to this community that will evolve into anything approaching, in the most liberal sense of the word, a discussion. To me....well, that's not much of a community. Isn't the entire point of the community *discussion*?
Why is this happening? Well, I have a few theories. One is that the sheer size of the community and volume of posts has driven the community off of most people's Friends Lists. That means that although a lot of people are participating by *posting* entries, very few people are *reading* those entries. Another thing that has become apparent to me as I've been forced to review each individual entry in the moderator queue is that a large percentage of the posts I see are what I think of as content-free.
How do I define content-free? Lists. Entries that consist of nothing more than a list of what you've read (often with a progress meter tacked to the bottom) with no descriptions of the books read, commentary on whether you enjoyed the book or not, etc. are useless from a community standpoint.
Please don't get me wrong...I in no way want to discourage people from participating in the community. In fact, the changes I'm making are intended to produce the exact opposite result. I'm not expecting people to write a master's thesis on the content of every book that they post to the community. However, the honest truth is that entries that simply list the books you've read with no other content A) take up room on people's FLs and thus force them to drop the community from their reading list and B) are rarely actually read by anyone who *is* following the community. I'd like to start seeing entries that people feel that they can participate in instead of yadda yadda scroll scroll right past. If the quality of the entries improves, I'm hoping that people will find it worthwhile to add the community back to their regular reading list, and we can get some discussion activity going rather than just lonely entries.
Where am I going with this? Well, I'd like to try to raise the awareness of what sort of entries are appropriate to post in a community and what entries are best left to your personal journal. One of the other issues I've noticed is that because so few people read the community in its entirety, many of my moderation posts go unnoticed/unread by a huge segment of the community. I've decided that now is a good time to head in this new direction, since the community is on moderation and I'm in position to force people to listen to me. ;)
In case you aren't aware, moderation in a community has an option to release members on a one-by-one basis to unmoderated posting privileges. This is going to be the new world order in 50bookchallenge. In order to be released to unmoderated status, you will need to submit an entry that meets the new standards that I'm going to lay out below. Entries that I think no longer meet the parameters of where I'd like to see this community head will be rejected (and invited to repost, of course!) with a link to this entry explaining the new guidelines:
Posting guidelines - Effective 7/26/07:
- Before you post, ask yourself this question: Is what I'm about to post potentially useful/interesting to a good portion of 6,000 people?
- You are still welcome to post updated lists of your progress to date, but I ask that you place lists of books you're not discussing in the current entry behind a cut.
- For the benefit of the community readership, please include some detail on the current books that you're posting about. As I said above, I don't expect a full dissertation in every entry, but at minimum, the following would be helpful:
- The book's genre. I still encourage tag usage, but if you review 5 books in an entry and have 5 tags, it can be difficult for anyone unfamiliar with your books to know which tag goes with which book.
- A brief description of the subject matter, preferably in your own words, but you may link to someplace like amazon.com or C&P an outline from another site as long as it's credited as such.
- Whether you enjoyed it and/or recommend the book to others.
- Entries consisting of lists only with no other discussion/content should be posted to your personal journal.
- Plot spoilers must still be posted behind a cut, regardless of the age of the book.
- While plot spoilers must be cut, try to avoid cutting the entire review of your book simply because it contains a spoiler. Doing so prevents people who might have otherwise been interested in the book from benefitting from your review. Do your best to put only the specific spoiler details behind the cut.
- Tag usage isn't required, but it is appreciated, as it increases the utility of the community for other members. Please note that if you do elect to use tags, only include tags that are relevant to the current books that you're reviewing, not tags that relate to prior books in your list (provided you're including that sort of list behind a cut in your entry). Tag links only pull the last 100 entries that used that tag, so using it on an entry where there's no discussion of a book in that genre decreases the usefulness of that tag for people looking for book suggestions.
If you're confused by the "lists behind a cut" requirement above, here's an example of how I see this working:
Hai guyz, I haven't updated in a while, here's what I'm up to!
1. Book Title/Author
2. Book Title/Author
3. Book Title/Author
4. Book Title/Author
5. Book Title/Author
6. Book Title/Author - [genre] - [plot summary] - [personal thoughts]
7. Book Title/Author - [genre] - [plot summary] - [personal thoughts]
8. Book Title/Author - [genre] - [plot summary] - [personal thoughts]
ETA: To sum up, I just want to be clear...the above guidelines are what I would *like* to see in your day to day posts. I will not, however, be moderating every single entry in perpetuity. Once a member has submitted an entry that demonstrates to me that they understand what an appropriate community post is, they'll be released to unmoderated status and all of their future posts will post directly to the community, bypassing the moderator queue. What this means to you is that I'm trusting you to make *future* posts in the same manner. I don't want this to turn into an overly regimented "So and so didn't include the genre on his 25th book!" sort of environment. I don't have 12 hours a day to spend here watching every single word that gets posted, and I don't think YOU guys want that sort of oversight. This community has always been relatively drama-free, and I hope it stays that way. :)
So...what do you guys think? Too odious? Too restrictive? Utter genius and you love me forever? ;)