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On site messaging system to land Saturday (finally!)

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

As promised a long, long time ago, I'm practically finished with the on-site messaging system. It will replace all the current facilities that readers can use to send messages to authors and will allow authors to reply to readers on the site.

Pros:
1 - This will help avoid using emails for feedback with whatever drawbacks email has (messages lost to spam filters etc...).
2 - It would allow authors to report abusive messages.
3 - It allows authors and readers to stay private while facilitating communications.

Cons:
1 - Due to the volume of messages flowing from the site currently, messages will have a short lifespan. Messages will be deleted from inboxes after one year.
2 - There will be bugs that will need squashing, so growing pains at the start.

So, don't be surprised when as of Saturday June 3rd, 2017 feedback by email dries up. The messages will be accessible on the site.

I would need everybody to report whatever bugs they encounter so that I can address them.

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Will we be notified of a message (say via email) or will we have to go to SOL and check to see if we have one?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Switch Blayde

You'll be notified on the site only. There will be an icon in the navigation bar and it will be highlighted when you have unread messages.

Replies:   grisbuff
Capt. Zapp

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Will there be an option to have any messages forwarded or CC to our email?

Grant

@Capt. Zapp

Will there be an option to have any messages forwarded or CC to our email?


Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster) ‎2‎/‎06‎/‎2017‎ ‎8‎:‎34‎:‎53
You'll be notified on the site only. There will be an icon in the navigation bar and it will be highlighted when you have unread messages.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@Grant

Grant 6/2/2017, 5:04:39 AM

@Capt Zapp
Will there be an option to have any messages forwarded or CC to our email?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster) ‎2‎/‎06‎/‎2017‎ ‎8‎:‎34‎:‎53
You'll be notified on the site only. There will be an icon in the navigation bar and it will be highlighted when you have unread messages.


Just because you are only notified on the site does not eliminate an option to forward.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Capt. Zapp

Just because you are only notified on the site does not eliminate an option to forward.


Switch Blayde ‎2‎/‎06‎/‎2017‎ ‎7‎:‎46‎:‎20
@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)
Will we be notified of a message (say via email) or will we have to go to SOL and check to see if we have one?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster) ‎2‎/‎06‎/‎2017‎ ‎8‎:‎34‎:‎53
@Switch Blayde
You'll be notified on the site only. There will be an icon in the navigation bar and it will be highlighted when you have unread messages.

I think someone asking about being notified by email, and a response saying "You'll be notified on the site only", pretty much rules it out as an option at this time, don't you?

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Capt. Zapp

Will there be an option to have any messages forwarded or CC to our email?


I might build that, or an archive function.

However, an archive or a forwarded message won't have the user's email, so you won't be able to reply by email.

Not_a_ID

Since it's technically email, I'll add this here. Just tried to get a kindle version of a story and wound up with a direct download? IIRC old behavior was to email it to the specified kindle device in account settings.

I can work with it, but kind of preferred the old way. As this change adds some steps to making it convenient to read. Although I will say it does provide better anonymity this way, as Amazon can now be cut out of the loop.

Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

Since it's technically email, I'll add this here. Just tried to get a kindle version of a story and wound up with a direct download?


If the Kindle, or E-pub copy of the story doesn't direct download from the site to you, how do you expect to get it?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Not_a_ID

I can work with it, but kind of preferred the old way. As this change adds some steps to making it convenient to read. Although I will say it does provide better anonymity this way, as Amazon can now be cut out of the loop.


This has nothing to do with it. You must have changed your preferences.

Go to the 'My Account' page and check your download preferences.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

If the Kindle, or E-pub copy of the story doesn't direct download from the site to you, how do you expect to get it?


If you choose, the site can email kindle files directly to your kindle when you click the download button for it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

If you choose, the site can email kindle files directly to your kindle when you click the download button for it.


Thanks for that info, I didn't know it. I don't have a Kindle, so it's not possible to do that for me. However, I have accidentally activated the wrong download on my tablet because on that little thing with my big fingers it's too easy to get the button beside the one I want. Thus I ended up with a MOBI file on the tablet instead of the E-pub I was after to read later once away from the wi-fi at home. It downloaded OK and the Tablet had a program to read it, so it wasn't an issue

Replies:   Friar Tuck
Capt. Zapp
Updated:

@Grant


I think someone asking about being notified by email, and a response saying "You'll be notified on the site only", pretty much rules it out as an option at this time, don't you?


No, it doesn't. It just means that you will be notified that the new message exists on SOL.

(Edit to correct terminology from mail to message)

Think of it like getting an email at your yahoo address. Yahoo notifies you that you have a new email. You read it and find that you want to forward it to your gmail account. It doesn't happen automatically, but the option to do so is there.

Since he had previously stated:


Messages will be deleted from inboxes after one year.


I was concerned about being able to access the feedback later.

His response to my question was:


I might build that, or an archive function.

However, an archive or a forwarded message won't have the user's email, so you won't be able to reply by email.


Having an archive on SOL would be good, but I still prefer having it available in the email and archive I set up to use with SOL. I don't mind if I can't reply via email, it's just a matter of having it all in one place.

Capt. Zapp

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

However, an archive or a forwarded message won't have the user's email, so you won't be able to reply by email.


I don't mind if I can't reply to the user via email, it's just a matter of having it all in one place (at the email I created specifically for use with SOL).

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

a forwarded message won't have the user's email, so you won't be able to reply by email.


That's fine. I just need to be told I have a message waiting so I know to go look for it.

Zom

Is it fair to assume that the Feedback Copier also dies with this new system?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Zom

Yes. You'll have access to your 'sent' messages, so the copier isn't needed anymore.

Replies:   Zom  REP
Zom

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

isn't needed anymore

At the risk of being frowned at, or repeating someone else, can I ask why this change wasn't made as an opt in/out? I understand that would be more complicated, but I rarely access any part of the site other than the forum or my reading list. Other interactions have until now been by means of email links, or by RSS links. Needing to regularly access the site speculatively is probably not going to happen for me. At least that is my experience on other sites that have gone to site messaging only. Perhaps I am just an old fuddy-duddy set in his ways, but we do exist :-)

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

At the risk of being frowned at, or repeating someone else, can I ask why this change wasn't made as an opt in/out?


I may be wrong, but I would assume the messaging system opt in would be activated by the same opt in button the authors currently use to allow for email feedback responses to the author. Send that to not allow emails and you're opted out, is my guess.

All that's changed is the system has an on-site message as against sending you an email.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

messaging system opt in

My understanding is that there is no opt. Email is no longer, and messaging is all, period. Hope I'm wrong.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
REP

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I may have missed it, so to clarify my understanding of this function.

I have to check the site to determine if I have any feedback messages - that much is clear.

But if a reader sends me a feedback message and I respond to that feedback, will the new feature send the reader an email or will the reader have to check the site to see if I responded to their feedback.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@REP

But if a reader sends me a feedback message and I respond to that feedback, will the new feature send the reader an email or will the reader have to check the site to see if I responded to their feedback.


The reader will have to check the site for the reply.

From this point on, email addresses will remain private unless specifically disclosed by the their owners.

I already added reviewers to the list groups getting messages through the new messaging system and soon editors too.

For now the messaging system is complete as that, delivering messages.

Over time I will add convenient features to flesh it out and make it more useful.

For now there is no opt out yet like before, but this will be coming soon.

Replies:   Zom  docholladay
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

My understanding is that there is no opt. Email is no longer, and messaging is all, period. Hope I'm wrong.


As an author I can opt to allow people to send me feedback or not - that's the opt in / opt out side of it.

Previously the feedback was sent to me by email. In future the feedback will be provided to me via an on-site messaging system.

What's changed is how the feedback reaches me, that's all. There only needs to be one feedback system, not two, so when the new one comes into action the old one closes down.

Replies:   Zom  Capt. Zapp
Switch Blayde

@Zom

but I rarely access any part of the site other than the forum or my reading list. Other interactions have until now been by means of email links


Same here. That's why I brought up the email notification.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

Same here. That's why I brought up the email notification.


I'm waiting to see how it tells me there's a message. I use the Forum a lot, but I also use other parts of the site to post and manage my stories as well as find and read stories by others. I would expect, like most such systems, a little icon will appear on the toolbar and have a read spot with a number in it for the number of messages I've not yet read.

Zom

@Ernest Bywater

that's the opt in / opt out side of it

Yep, got that. I was asking about the change being opt in/out.

Zom

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

but this will be coming soon

Excellent. I shall wait patiently.

Jay C

I don't know if this will be great or horrible but I am thankful Lazeez is always looking for ways to move the site forward.

My main concern is that I do most of my email replies from my phone while I am supposed to be working because that is where I can manufacture free time.

I can access my email account but cannot access SOL (for obvious reasons) from work.

I already do a shitty job of answering email and I don't want to get worse.

I doubt I am alone in this predicament so I thought I would toss it out there for consideration.

Capt. Zapp

@Ernest Bywater

Previously the feedback was sent to me by email. In future the feedback will be provided to me via an on-site messaging system.


I foresee a lot of copy pasting in my future.

docholladay

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

From this point on, email addresses will remain private unless specifically disclosed by the their owners.


Will this remove the email link some writers have on their SOL blog pages.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@docholladay

Will this remove the email link some writers have on their SOL blog pages.


No, those links will switch to the new system.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

And it's ON.

Ernest Bywater

May I suggest the icon beside the sign out link be made just a little bigger, say the same size as the sign out text, I had to check the page real hard to find it.

doctor_wing_nut

@Ernest Bywater

Ditto that, not as if I will get many messages but the message icon should be larger.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

And of course, it's not working on SOL yet. Some configuration problem with allowing secure resource from cross domains.

I'm working on a fix.

ETA: Error Fixed. System online and working.

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

You are probably the most patient person I have ever encountered online!

Zom

@red61544

You are probably the most patient person I have ever encountered online!

We are VERY lucky to have Lazeez managing these sites. He would have to be the most laid back Webmaster/Systems Administrator I have ever had the good fortune to come across, myself included. Either that or there is lots of Prozac in the diet :-)

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@red61544

You are probably the most patient person I have ever encountered online!


I'm patient, although not as much as you guys seem to think.

You only see/read what I post here, and that allows me to think things through well while composing my posts. Also, considering how busy I am with running a business and having a busy family life (young children can keep anybody very busy), I seldom get the chance to compose a post in one uninterrupted session. Being interrupted forces you to re-read what you wrote and that helps with mood projection.

For example, between the "It's ON" post and the final 'It's fixed now' post there was a crap ton of #$%@3(*U*#(!!!!!!!!

Replies:   REP  Capt. Zapp
REP

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I checked out the new feature.

1. I didn't see any announcement to readers and Authors who do not participate in the Forum that there is a new messaging feature. There is also no explanation of where the icon to access the feature is located.

2. The new screen does not include a new message button. No messages in my inbox yet, so I have to assume there are features that allow me to initiate a response to received feedback. However, what about when I want to initiate a comment to a reader regarding prior feedback?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@REP

1. I didn't see any announcement to readers and Authors who do not participate in the Forum that there is a new messaging feature. There is also no explanation of where the icon to access the feature is located.


I'll make an announcement.

2. The new screen does not include a new message button. No messages in my inbox yet, so I have to assume there are features that allow me to initiate a response to received feedback. However, what about when I want to initiate a comment to a reader regarding prior feedback?


When you view a message you can reply of course.

There is no way (yet) to initiate a direct contact with a reader. For now you'll have to start with an existing message from the reader.

I think I should add some contact management functionality in the future to allow a reader or author to keep a list of known contacts to be able to contact directly.

Things that are on the to-do list already, not yet done:

1 - private messaging from the forum.
2 - move editor contacts to the new system.

Reviewer contact so far is the only place where a non-author can contact a non-author.

Replies:   docholladay  REP
docholladay

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Reviewer contact so far is the only place where a non-author can contact a non-author.


After reading this forum, I have decided to use the feedback message form for messages I don't need a direct answer to and the email links for things I desire an answer for.

Of course I will also include my email address as a part of any feedback type messages. I have a funny attitude: if a writer is willing to share their work. They have a right to know who I am when I send a message about it.

EzzyB
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I like the idea of a simple script that sends me an e-mail telling me I have new comments on the site. Doesn't have to be fancy, just "You have new comments on Storiesonline."

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@EzzyB

Or do you think that defeats the purpose?


Yes, I think it does.

Replies:   EzzyB
EzzyB

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Bah, you beat me to the edit. We already have an e-mail link on our homepage.

REP

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

There is no way (yet)


I understand, one step at a time.

Replies:   EzzyB
EzzyB

@REP

I understand, one step at a time.


I was just thinking this as well. Let the update go in, see how it works, then let's talk about it.

Replies:   REP
REP

@EzzyB

I was just thinking this as well

Right. Try it out, and work to improve it before we start complaining and tearing it apart. It will probably follow the usual pattern: some love it, some hate it, and the rest accept it.

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Will there be a block user feature?

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Will there be a block user feature?


How about a smite user feature? :)

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

How about a smite user feature? :)


I'd like to be able to request an orbital kinetic strike. ;)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

I'd like to be able to request an orbital kinetic strike. ;)


I was thinking more along the lines of a lightning strike. :)

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Switch Blayde

Will there be a block user feature?


There is a 'Report' message feature. If a reader gets reported more than once, then they'll be blocked from sending to all authors.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

If a reader gets reported more than once

More than one time in total, or by more than one author/reader?
Some people here seem to take things the wrong way, no matter how you try to phrase it. Then there's someone who's having a bad day & gets upset/takes offense at something that normally wouldn't be an issue to them.

For someone that has a history of being a problem, another complaint and they should be blocked, certainly.
But for a first "offence?" 2 strikes or even a 3rd strike you're out would seem to be more appropriate IMHO. First time a heads up. 2nd time is a first and final notice. 3rd time, gone.

Will the blocking be permanent, or for a set period of time? 1st time 1 week, second time 2 weeks, 3rd time 4 weeks, 4th time 8 weeks etc.

grandad_rufus

@REP

I checked out the new feature.

1. I didn't see any announcement to readers and Authors who do not participate in the Forum that there is a new messaging feature. There is also no explanation of where the icon to access the feature is located.

2. The new screen does not include a new message button. No messages in my inbox yet, so I have to assume there are features that allow me to initiate a response to received feedback. However, what about when I want to initiate a comment to a reader regarding prior feedback?


I just had to come here as I knew there would be discussion on it. I will now look for the button on my main page.

Regards G_R

Replies:   REP
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Grant

We don't have the rules hammered out yet. But I don't think a first offence will result in permanent block. Probably couple of warnings before blocking and then block for a period and after more offences permanent block.

Also depends on the kind of offence it is. Some authors are very thin skinned and would be offended over minor things.

For now we'll play it by ear.

Replies:   Grant  Ernest Bywater
REP

@grandad_rufus

I will now look for the button on my main page.


Top right between Sign Out and Webmaster.

Grant

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

For now we'll play it by ear.

Good to know.
Thanks for all your efforts.

Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

We don't have the rules hammered out yet. But I don't think a first offence will result in permanent block. Probably couple of warnings before blocking and then block for a period and after more offences permanent block.

Also depends on the kind of offence it is. Some authors are very thin skinned and would be offended over minor things.


I think you need to be considering two criteria:

1. The number of reported posts to the same author,

2. The number of authors reported posts were sent to,

before you block a user.

I've a few readers who object to present tense stories, which is most of what i write, they read every story then object to the tense. I smile, respond nicely, and move on. However, I can see some authors not be as accepting of such criticisms - some of the posts I've received haven't been nice about it. So if a person is only bitching at the one author, then you may need to consider a way to stop them sending to that author or have a higher number before an all author block, while someone bitching to a number of authors may need to be blocked earlier. - just a thought for consideration while you think on the rules.

Zom

Will the message icon be somehow different when you have unread messages? I see that is already follows the normal link behaviour and changes to a followed colour once it has been clicked the first time.

Clicking on that link speculatively to see if I have new messages probably won't happen for me unless I get a visual clue of some type. It's not belligerence, it's just the way my head works. If I can't rely on email prompts then I need to be slapped some other way.

Also, I can't see such a link on the forum page. Is that planned?

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

I was thinking more along the lines of a lightning strike. :)


I want the mushroom cloud though.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

So if a person is only bitching at the one author, then you may need to consider a way to stop them sending to that author


That was what I asked about. Not to block someone from the site or messaging. But for an author to block an individual from sending them messages.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

So if a person is only bitching at the one author, then you may need to consider a way to stop them sending to that author or have a higher number before an all author block


The new system has provisions for permissions, I might add a user-to-user/user-to-author block list. One of the advantages of this new system is that all messages will be available for reference, so if a user gets reported, we can easily tell if it's a one-off thing or a pattern.

We'll play it by ear and see what's needed.

Capt. Zapp

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Also, considering how busy I am with running a business and having a busy family life ...


Considering those additional factors, it is even more amazing that everything is so well run here.

Awesome Job and Thank You!

Michael Loucks

@Zom

Will the message icon be somehow different when you have unread messages? I see that is already follows the normal link behaviour and changes to a followed colour once it has been clicked the first time.


I've had three messages and indeed the icon changed to indicate I had unread messages waiting for me.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Michael Loucks

indeed the icon changed

Thanks.

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Will this remove the email link some writers have on their SOL blog pages.

No, those links will switch to the new system.

Wait, you'll also remove my listed email address?

As others have noted, I'll often go a LONG time without checking the main page, so I often miss admin messages and only respond weeks or months later. Even fewer authors will check FS or Sci-Fi main pages, so I'm guessing the majority of 'messages' will be missed by either author or reader, and when they DO eventually respond, the other party will have already forgotten about it.

While it might work for an ongoing story, since many only read completed stories, few authors will know when readers read a particular story.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

May I suggest the icon beside the sign out link be made just a little bigger, say the same size as the sign out text, I had to check the page real hard to find it.

I couldn't find it at all until you posted this message. It's disguised as a faint 'envelope' symbol. No one's used it on any of the three SOL sites so far.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

I couldn't find it at all


When I looked and saw it, I thought it was a separator. Then I remembered there hadn't been a separator there before. So I clicked it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@REP

Just got my first 'private messaging' message—Whoa Hoo! (on Sci-Fi of all places). Still, it reinforces the limitations for those who rarely visit the lessor used site's main page when they're stories aren't actively posting. In short, authors are unlikely to ever see it, and if authors don't respond shortly—readers are likely to either forget it or take it personally.

That's why I like the earlier suggestions about a possible 'email notification' of existing messages on the site. That way, if the author is still visiting SOL, they'd be warned to visit the off-sites. Or if they only visit the 'Series Updates' page, they'd know to visit the home page to view messages after they've arrived. But I'd make this an 'opt-in', rather than an 'opt-out' option, and I'm also sure that it's low on Lazeez's 'to do' priority list.

oyster50

I'd like the option to opt out of on-site messaging in favor of messages going to my regular email.

this works, but I preferred reading and replying in a regular email app.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@oyster50

preferred reading and replying in a regular email app


Same for me, but the reason is not just inertia. I use my email as the central point of contact. All the MANY forums and lists I subscribe to have replies or simply notifications by email. And my RSS feeds also arrive in my email client. That means that I only ever need to go to one place to stay current with ALL my involvements, except SOL. I do have to go to most sites to interact properly, but only as required. I don't have to go speculatively to dozens of sites and apps each day, which would never happen.

aldo

Just my 1 ⅝ cents:

As the SOL conglomerate has three separate sites with three home pages and consequently three message indicators it would really great if the author or indeed the reader as well could see a combined indicator. That way one would not have to (speculatively:) check all three sites for possible messages. -- Maybe it already works this way and I just didn't know?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Paw Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I'm not an author, but as a reader, I use the RSS feeds to get notifications by email about New Stories, Favorite Authors New stories & Active Serials chapter. Maybe you could use the RSS feeds to give the Authors notifications that there is feedback?

grisbuff

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

"There will be an icon". Sigh. What's wrong with some textual indication? Text is a far better system than iconography... or do you prefer to read things in Chinese? It actually took me about 30 seconds of looking to find and then parse the silly little envelope as the icon in question. We folks with various visual impairment exist. And read.

Replies:   Lumpy  Crumbly Writer
Lumpy

@grisbuff

My guess wold be there is a limited amount of room, and icons allow you to put a lot more options in place than text. At some point, the UI becomes to cluttered if its all text.

Ernest Bywater

I worried about how small the icon is. However, when I finally got some messages via the new system it showed with a large red number beside it and a coloured surround to make ti stand it. Thus it's small and easily missed when you have no unread messages, and stands out like a sore thumb when you do have unread messages.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Ernest Bywater

Thus it's small and easily missed when you have no unread messages, and stands out like a sore thumb when you do have unread messages.

Sounds good to me.

BarBar

Hi Lazeez
Thanks so much for all of your work on this fantastic site.

The new messaging system is good.

In the future, would you please consider some sort of flag for the messages that have been replied to. Even with only a few messages in my in box, I've already lost track and have to go into the outbox to check what replies I've written.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@BarBar

In the future, would you please consider some sort of flag for the messages that have been replied to.


I select and archive a message after I've replied to it.

Although I'd like to be able to archive the sent reply with the inwards message as well.

GrumpyOldSquid

Lazeez,

I appreciate the SOL website and all the great stories I can read through it. I frequently send feedback to the authors of stories I read and while I don't expect all the authors to respond to my feedback (I wish they would) I do get responses from many of them. How am I going to know when a response has been made to the feedback I've sent? Will I get a notification somehow and if so where? Where will I be able to see the response? Will my feedback be available for other readers to see? Will I be able to see feedback from other readers? Will the feedback I send for a chapter only be able to be accessed through that chapter or will it be able to be accessed from the menu for the whole story?

Thank you for all you do for the SOL community.

~ Stay Safe & Stay Well ~

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

I select and archive a message after I've replied to it.

Although I'd like to be able to archive the sent reply with the inwards message as well.


When I have the time I'll add message threads. The system already saves the reference data for messages, so in the future, when you view a message, you'll see it in context of a conversation.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@GrumpyOldSquid

How am I going to know when a response has been made to the feedback I've sent? Will I get a notification somehow and if so where?


In the menu bar there is now a 'Mail' link. When you have unread messages it will be highlighted in yellow with the number of unread messages displayed.

Where will I be able to see the response?


Click the link and you'll be taken to the messaging system where you'll be able to manage the messages and reply to them.

Will my feedback be available for other readers to see? Will I be able to see feedback from other readers?


No. Messaging that way is not public, it would be private between you and the author or the other site user. Some authors allowed public comments on their stories, but that's a different system.

Will the feedback I send for a chapter only be able to be accessed through that chapter or will it be able to be accessed from the menu for the whole story?


It's like email. It's not attached to a specific chapter.

Ernest Bywater

Empirical observations of the new message system.

1. As Lazeez says, when you get a message the Mail menu item is highlighted and has a number to show how many messages.

2. Once you've responded to a message you can tag it and archive it so it's out of your 'In box.'

3. Both the above work for all SoL members, authors and readers alike.

4. Your 'Sent Box' will show the message in it. I've noticed if the recipient hasn't read the message yet it shows in bold text, but once they read it the text drops back to normal text.

TeNderLoin

How do I delete what I've read, which do not want to keep?

Ernest Bywater

Messages in the in-box have a square on their left, you click on that and it becomes a check mark (well it did for me), and there is an action box on the right upper corner of the list where you get a drop down list of actions. Select the action you want, and when you click on it the message is actioned accordingly. I selected the read messages, then selected the 'Archive' action and when I clicked on it the messages moved over to the archive.

s the original post says, messages in the in-box will be deleted after a year. I don't know if this applies to the archive box.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@TeNderLoin

For now there is no delete. It's not as simple as delete from database. so it will take some time but it's coming.

desktop

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

How do i delete them after i've read them?

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@desktop

How do i delete them after i've read them?


You must have missed the reply just before your question. There is no delete at this time.

At least I am not the only one who misses things at times. I also forget things at times as well.

Replies:   luvsdogluvnwmn
DaveT

I understand the new messaging system, I think. I don't understand why this is necessary, and understand even less why it is desirable. More to the point, I don't want a different mail system for my SOL comments; I want to send and receive the thread in my normal email at my normal email address. Several reasons for this:

(1) I prefer dealing with messages in my email client. Not only am I used to it, but I have a folder structure that allows me to file and retrieve stuff later, and I can do searches. I could go on, but let's just say: I have the full power and convenience of a long-supported and well-supported message system in my email client. You won't EVER get to that level of functionality.

(2) Messages do not magically disappear after a year. I have had to go back several years in my SOL folders, and I can in email.

(3) I don't have to log into another application (SOL on my browser) in order to deal with the messages. They show up where I expect messages.

Bottom line: Please reconsider doing away with email. If I were given my druthers, I would use ONLY email and never go into my SOL message box.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

the original post says, messages in the in-box will be deleted after a year. I don't know if this applies to the archive box.


Yes, everything will be deleted when it's older than a year. The system has been online for 5 days now and there are already thousands of messages and megabytes of space used.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@DaveT

Please reconsider doing away with email. If I were given my druthers, I would use ONLY email and never go into my SOL message box.


This system is necessary and won't revert back to email. I didn't spend hundreds of hours coding and testing this to simply revert it because few members prefer the old way. For those asking for it to be optional, can't. Running two parallel systems is cumbersome and would be buggy.

This change is necessary and provides so many advantage to the site over email.

1 - Privacy: readers keep their emails private and authors keep their emails private.
2 - Security: we do away with the necessary periodic email address verification, which allowed phishing from nefarious parties.
3 - Nastygram blocking: with the messages saved on the servers, we can figure out those who routinely send offensive feedback and block them
4 - Enable reader to reader private messaging from the forum.

Yes, it's not as convenient as regular email, but it's much better in most other ways.

I will enable messages exporting soon. But even then, it won't contain email addresses, just pen names and nicknames.

docholladay

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I will enable messages exporting soon. But even then, it won't contain email addresses, just pen names and nicknames.


For anyone who wants to share their information it is probably as simple as including the email address in the message. A copy and paste can add any information to an email address book. Not perfect maybe but a way to work around the message format rules. Of course there will be a risk involved, but I for one do not mind giving my email addresses to writers I communicate with. I will just have to remember to start adding that to any messages I send.

Replies:   REP
solitude
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Hi Lazeez,

This change is necessary and provides so many advantage to the site over email.


I understand that you believe the new system provides so many advantages... for you. From a reader's viewpoint, there are a number of disadvantages, as covered by earlier comments.

May I respectfully suggest that a system such as that used by Amazon and eBay might be advantageous to all? Basically, as well as caching the messages for some time on your server, forward them to the last known email address for the recipient, with a reply address that will (a) route the messages through your system, and (b) hide the originator's real email address. So, yes, a hybrid system that allows you to monitor all messages as needed, that hides everybody's email addresses, and that allows you to block messages from a reader both selectively and in a blanket fashion as needed. It also allows users to use either your web-based form to read and write messages, or their favourite email programme, and to keep those messages as long as they like.

Maybe the furore will die down and everyone will end up living your new system, but it would be nice if you left open the possibility of extending it to a hybrid system in due course

Having got that off my chest, in the overall scale of things any detriment resulting from this change are very minor compared to the fantastic service provided by your site's!

(Edited to correct format error.)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
DaveT
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Thanks for the explanation. I still disagree, but I understand. And the hundreds of hours are already spent. (I spent 8 years of my career writing email software, so I understand.)

Guess I'm going to be giving a lot less feedback in the future.

Ernest Bywater

@solitude

Basically, as well as caching the messages for some time on your server, forward them to the last known email address for the recipient, with a reply address that will (a) route the messages through your system, and (b) hide the originator's real email address. So, yes, a hybrid system that allows you to monitor all messages as needed, that hides everybody's email addresses, and that allows you to block messages from a reader both selectively and in a blanket fashion as needed.


A hybrid system like that will require a hell of a lot more coding, but even worse, it will require a lot more time to maintain properly and a lot more bandwidth to work.

If someone wants the recipient to know the email address they can simply include it in the message.

Every time I post a new story I get hundreds of messages, and about 98% are a simple 'Thanks for the story.' I keep them only until I respond to the sending, then they usually get deleted, since they aren't needed in the long term. The new system allows me to do the same thing, but with less effort by me, and I won't be automatically providing the sending with me email address.

Ernest Bywater

@DaveT

Guess I'm going to be giving a lot less feedback in the future.


Why, the authors will still see it? So why not still send it?

I know this system will encourage some authors who are security conscious to allow messaging through this system because their email address isn't involved in it.

REP

@docholladay

I for one do not mind giving my email addresses to writers I communicate with.


Actually, under the old system we were making our email addresses available to each other.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

Actually, under the old system we were making our email addresses available to each other.


which was why some authors didn't accept feedback. They didn't want to give out their email address.

docholladay

@REP

Actually, under the old system we were making our email addresses available to each other.


There are risks involved in doing that on both ends. Some readers as well as writers just do not want to take that risk. I can understand and respect their choice.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@docholladay

there will be a risk involved, but I for one do not mind giving my email addresses to writers I communicate with.

It was just an observation on exchanging emails under the old system.

there will be a risk involved, but I for one do not mind giving my email addresses to writers I communicate with.

SnakeEater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

One thing that could cut back on some of the complaints I've run across regarding the new comment system found at the end of some of the stories. If you limited just how many would display immediately at the bottom of the most recent chapter before rolling over to another page it could eliminate some of those complaints. In some of the stories the length/amounts of comments are larger & longer than the new chapter is leading to some disappointment to the reader who expected more of the new chapter & finds that the notes take up most of the page. "Winds of Change" by 'The Scot' would be a good example.

Michael Loucks

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I don't prefer the new system, but I understand why you felt it necessary to implement it. If I could change one thing, it would be to have the notifications appear on my author page, or at the top of the Forum page, or preferably both. I spend far more time in those areas than anywhere else.

Thanks for the consideration.

SnakeEater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

One thing I'd like to see in the SOL mailbox is the ability to forward the messages. I've been saving my copies of feedback I send out & the replies from the authors on my feedback. In the last 4 years since I started saving my copies I've sent over 5700 feedback & gotten 2500 replies from the authors, it helps me keep track of what I've read & liked.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
madnige
Updated:

Looks to me as if all the concerns I've seen here (notification and archiving) could be addressed with a checkbox in the user profile:

[] Send a copy of messages I send or receive to my email address as well.

- with a wrapper in the email round the message saying something like 'Copy of message from/to , do not reply to this email, use SOL message system for replies' and the sending address being a bit-bucket on SOL, so replies are disallowed or discarded; all communication will still go through the new SOL message system. Conceptually not much more than a tee into a named pipe into the back end of the old email sending mechanism.

ETA: sort of like the old system's feedback checkbox

[] Send a copy to my email address

but as a one-off in the profile

Replies:   REP
Jay Cantrell

I don't know if this has come up (I didn't read every reply in the thread) but I just got 70 emails in an hour because I goofed up the posting of a chapter.

I would love to see a "Move to next message" button without having to go back to the Inbox. Or, if it exists already, I would love for someone to explain it to me.

Also I think it would be helpful if we could "reverse" the queue so older messages are on top when necessary. I went to the end but it sent me back to the beginning when I returned to the Inbox for the next message.

I finally just gave up on replies, marked everything as "Read" and went on with my life.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@madnige

The point of the new system is for SOL to not send messages via email.

Lumpy

I however am looking forward to an option to be able to still receive email. It's easier for me, and I refer back to suggestions from months previous, which is much harder to do with the new system (especially when it removes old emails)

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay
Updated:

@Lumpy

One method is to give your email address as part of the statement at the end of a posted chapter. I don't know the name of that segment but many writers use it. Just add your preferred sol email address in it as a method of receiving feedback. But you need to know that the sender's email will not be verified by sol.

edited to add: I think the site admin's just got tired of being blamed for all the bad ones getting though. This will mean its up to the writer to manage and not the site.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

I don't know the name of that segment but many writers use it.


End Note.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Thank you Ernest.

Friar Tuck

@Ernest Bywater

I find the Kindle app (free) on my tablet to be more useful than my actual Kindle. And with the app, you can read the story, and if you find words you want to look up, you can just touch them on the screen and pop up the dictionary entry for them.

luvsdogluvnwmn

@docholladay

...and I thought Doc Holliday always hit his target ;>)

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@luvsdogluvnwmn

...and I thought Doc Holliday always hit his target ;>)


As long as I could use my favorite weapon. I always preferred a 12 gauge sawed off to about 12-14 inches using hand loaded ammo. Sure was a nice persuader.

Dual_Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Need an a method to delete the message. It will go away (sometimes) if selected and marked read. How about just plain delete

Crumbly Writer

Been away (on the road) for the past week, so I'm WAY behind on messages here, but: just checked my messages, received one (I never noticed, despite visiting the site) from five days ago.

There's apparently an unspecified size limitation, as the original message was cut off because I included too much in my reply.

May I ask what the size limit on messages/responses is, so we can potentially avoid going over?

I also tried experimenting. Html commands (like italics, bolding and links) are NOT allowed, unlike the earlier email system! Something else authors and readers alike should be aware of.

Sorry if this has already been discussed, but it'll likely take me several days to read through all the messages I've already missed! :-(

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

One method is to give your email address as part of the statement at the end of a posted chapter. I don't know the name of that segment but many writers use it. Just add your preferred sol email address in it as a method of receiving feedback. But you need to know that the sender's email will not be verified by sol.

edited to add: I think the site admin's just got tired of being blamed for all the bad ones getting though. This will mean its up to the writer to manage and not the site.

That's a useful suggestion. Starting with this Tuesday's post, I'll start listing my preferred email address in my End Notes (even though they use different emails for different pseudonyms on different sites). I'll also post a warning that I don't always manage to catch messages right away, so readers CAN expect immediate answers via traditional email, but NOT if the use the SOL messaging system!!! :(

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

One method is to give your email address as part of the statement at the end of a posted chapter. I don't know the name of that segment but many writers use it. Just add your preferred sol email address in it as a method of receiving feedback. But you need to know that the sender's email will not be verified by sol.

edited to add: I think the site admin's just got tired of being blamed for all the bad ones getting though. This will mean its up to the writer to manage and not the site.

That's a useful suggestion. Starting with this Tuesday's post, I'll start listing my preferred email address in my End Notes (even though they use different emails for different pseudonyms on different sites). I'll also post a warning that I don't always manage to catch messages right away, so readers CAN expect immediate answers via traditional email, but NOT if the use the SOL messaging system!!! :(

Crumbly Writer

@Jay Cantrell

I don't know if this has come up (I didn't read every reply in the thread) but I just got 70 emails in an hour because I goofed up the posting of a chapter.

Nothing reminds you that fans read your stories like mistakenly screwing up a post! 'D You can post for years and nary get a message, but screw up once and you'll get 30 or 40.

Crumbly Writer

@SnakeEater

One thing I'd like to see in the SOL mailbox is the ability to forward the messages. I've been saving my copies of feedback I send out & the replies from the authors on my feedback. In the last 4 years since I started saving my copies I've sent over 5700 feedback & gotten 2500 replies from the authors, it helps me keep track of what I've read & liked.

Please, Snake, let's start a new thread (in the authors or story description forum) where you can kindly tell everyone which authors respond to messages (and corrections) and which don't. This is a point which continually comes up, so I'm sure there's a real need for this information (i.e. so readers can keep their own lists of which authors NOT to send corrections or suggestions to).

Crumbly Writer

By the way, when did the "envelop" icon disappear and the text "Messages" take it's place? Was this a announced here?

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

There are risks involved in doing that on both ends. Some readers as well as writers just do not want to take that risk. I can understand and respect their choice.

I can understand readers not wanting to offer their private emails, or writers not wanting to make their emails available to Spambots, but personally, I'm proud of what I write, and I'd rather be held responsible if I write something objectionable, rather than 'the authorities' protecting me from offending someone with extremely thin skin.

Crumbly Writer

@DaveT

Guess I'm going to be giving a lot less feedback in the future.

Please, leave any 'undeliverable' email for to me. I'll transpose the story name with one of my own and pretend it's for me, even going so far as correcting my own stories, just so you'll know corrections are truly appreciated! ;D

Ernest Bywater

One huge advantage this new system has is it means the reply will get to the original message sender. I have a serious on-going issue with some US Telcos who block all email from my ISP. This is because I'm with the largest ISP in the Asian Pacific Area and that includes some spammers in Asia. Due to the spammers the US Telcos block all emails from the ISP and kill off about a third of the world by doing so. Some of them go through an extensive verification system that results in me having to send two emails and use a special website code to get the message through their security system. Even then, there's a lot of emails that still get bounced by the US Telcos.

I've even had some readers send follow up emails wanting to know why I don't reply to them, and when I check I find every single reply has been bounced by their Telco, but I get the abuse for it. I've been mentioning it in my blogs for some years.

The new system means the replies get to the readers, and it's an easy system for me without extra aggravation and work.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Was this a announced here?


I saw a post about the icon being different from the other items on the line and posts that said it was hard to find. I noticed the change yesterday, so Lazeez probably defined it as a problem and fixed it.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

One huge advantage this new system has is it means the reply will get to the original message sender.


I concur.

Microsoft doesn't seem to like the freebie e-mail provider I use for this identity and bounces my replies more often than not.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

This change is necessary and provides so many advantage to the site over email.

1 - Privacy: readers keep their emails private and authors keep their emails private.
2 - Security: we do away with the necessary periodic email address verification, which allowed phishing from nefarious parties.
3 - Nastygram blocking: with the messages saved on the servers, we can figure out those who routinely send offensive feedback and block them
4 - Enable reader to reader private messaging from the forum.

Yes, it's not as convenient as regular email, but it's much better in most other ways.

Still catching up, but ...

Yes, it appears the new system is more advantageous, however, for us old-timers, who've kept all of our emails, including the infamous smiley faces, we'll probably post our email addresses in the End Notes anyway. That way we can retain the information, as well as send additional information the new sites don't allow.

For authors, the system provides less, not more. It offers the site all sort of advantages, and it offers readers person-to-person on-site messaging and privacy protection, which they've never had before, so we authors need to suck it up. But it's still a loss for us.

I'm also looking forward for the email notification of new messages, as I've already 'missed' a couple messages on the different systems since I don't check each site every single day. :(

Crumbly Writer

@DaveT

I understand the new messaging system, I think. I don't understand why this is necessary, and understand even less why it is desirable. More to the point, I don't want a different mail system for my SOL comments; I want to send and receive the thread in my normal email at my normal email address. Several reasons for this:

(1) I prefer dealing with messages in my email client. Not only am I used to it, but I have a folder structure that allows me to file and retrieve stuff later, and I can do searches. I could go on, but let's just say: I have the full power and convenience of a long-supported and well-supported message system in my email client. You won't EVER get to that level of functionality.

Your best bet is 1) either send your email address via the messaging system, or respond via email, 2) copy the messages into email and email yourself in order to retain the records indefinitely and retain the more advanced email options.

Just make sure you SAVE your old email, otherwise you'll lose EVERYTHING the next time you do a system restore or reinstall!

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@GrumpyOldSquid

I appreciate the SOL website and all the great stories I can read through it. I frequently send feedback to the authors of stories I read and while I don't expect all the authors to respond to my feedback (I wish they would) I do get responses from many of them. How am I going to know when a response has been made to the feedback I've sent? Will I get a notification somehow and if so where? Where will I be able to see the response? Will my feedback be available for other readers to see? Will I be able to see feedback from other readers? Will the feedback I send for a chapter only be able to be accessed through that chapter or will it be able to be accessed from the menu for the whole story?

Lazeez answered this, but I figured I'd add a more specific message.

Since you already have most author's email addresses, simply respond to the author's through their private email (that's what I'd prefer, anyway).

When you write, specifically list the chapter, otherwise the author (or reader) won't know, and it may be days or weeks before they notice the message.

For public comments, comments to the story itself (if it's enabled) as that's public, while neither email nor messages are.

Crumbly Writer

@grisbuff

"There will be an icon". Sigh. What's wrong with some textual indication? Text is a far better system than iconography... or do you prefer to read things in Chinese? It actually took me about 30 seconds of looking to find and then parse the silly little envelope as the icon in question. We folks with various visual impairment exist. And read.

After having gone away and come back to the new system, I noticed the new text icon right away. While I had trouble finding the icon, after seeing both, I actually prefer it. For those who've never dealt with it yet, the icon is harder to find, but once you know what you're looking for, the text seems like overkill.

Do with that what you will, as both work fine.

Crumbly Writer

@aldo

Just my 1 ⅝ cents:

As the SOL conglomerate has three separate sites with three home pages and consequently three message indicators it would really great if the author or indeed the reader as well could see a combined indicator. That way one would not have to (speculatively:) check all three sites for possible messages. -- Maybe it already works this way and I just didn't know?

Nope. It doesn't. Take it from me, since I'm currently posting to all three sites twice a week, I have to check each site every single day or risk missing messages. And I can't JUST visit the site, I instead have to visit the home page JUST to check for messages before returning to the page I'm interested in.

While minor, and a coding pain for Lazeez, it means authors and readers are unlikely to check for new messages and you can't expect immediate responses like you COULD on the old system (whether or not authors ever responded).

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

One huge advantage this new system has is it means the reply will get to the original message sender. I have a serious on-going issue with some US Telcos who block all email from my ISP. This is because I'm with the largest ISP in the Asian Pacific Area and that includes some spammers in Asia. Due to the spammers the US Telcos block all emails from the ISP and kill off about a third of the world by doing so. Some of them go through an extensive verification system that results in me having to send two emails and use a special website code to get the message through their security system. Even then, there's a lot of emails that still get bounced by the US Telcos.

I've even had some readers send follow up emails wanting to know why I don't reply to them, and when I check I find every single reply has been bounced by their Telco, but I get the abuse for it. I've been mentioning it in my blogs for some years.

The new system means the replies get to the readers, and it's an easy system for me without extra aggravation and work.

It does that, and if either you or the message sender prefer, you/they can STILL use your private emails (addressed above).

The other notorious problem this addresses are all those readers who post questions but leave invalid emails due to typos. The only way (in the past) to address those was in blog posts, but often, the posters wouldn't check the blogs, and just mark the authors off as 'non-responsive'. :(

I personally think using a combination system (messaging email addresses) is the best solution, as it corrects most everything while still keeping the old-school functionality. :)

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

There's apparently an unspecified size limitation, as the original message was cut off because I included too much in my reply.

May I ask what the size limit on messages/responses is, so we can potentially avoid going over?


That's not a limitation that I imposted. The database field for a message is indeed limited to 65 KB or about 12,000 words.

It seems there is a bug somewhere in the code that wraps and quotes the text. I'll look into it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, when did the "envelop" icon disappear and the text "Messages" take it's place? Was this a announced here?


Actually that was a bug. 'Mail' was supposed to be for the desktop version and the envelope for phones. I fixed two days ago.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

That's not a limitation that I imposted. The database field for a message is indeed limited to 65 KB or about 12,000 words.

It seems there is a bug somewhere in the code that wraps and quotes the text. I'll look into it.

My message was nowhere near that large (more like 12 to 15 lines), thus I suspect something else happened. I can forward you the message (it was on my FS message board).

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Actually that was a bug. 'Mail' was supposed to be for the desktop version and the envelope for phones. I fixed two days ago.

Thanks. That clarifies things. Since I like both, I can now choose which I use. :)

REP

@Crumbly Writer

best bet is


One of the problems with the emails I received in the past, is that I have changed email systems and my new system will not open the old emails. Extracting the email content and saving it as a text document is a pain when you have a thousand or more emails to do.

I'm thinking of extracting the content of this system's messages and adding it to a Word file with other identifying data such as sender and date. In my current email system, I sorted my feedback by story or other topic. So I will create one Word file per story. That will simplify my finding a specific something with a keyword search of the file.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I updated the system:

http://storiesonline.net/d/s1/t2473/messaging-system-update

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