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Serial Voting

Merlyn

Hey everyone!

I know this has probably been hashed over and over and over again. But, I'm not sure how I feel about how voting on ongoing serials works... Here's what I have noticed. As I began my story the first several chapters got poor votes probably because it was slow to start (I did tag it Slow), now that the action is happening it is getting much better votes.

So here's my problem. Since the early votes were lower, the average is still low even with the new votes coming in. I understand how SOL finds the median and adjusts vote values accordingly, and I'm not complaining about that. I'm just starting to think that if I'd had it to do again I would not have allowed voting until the story had gotten far enough along.

Has anyone tried that? Can you even do that? Can you turn off voting and then turn it on later once a story has enough content to make it worth it? I know I could have just waited to post until I had more chapters, but I was impulsive and wanted to get it out there. What other things does not allowing voting affect?

Sorry for the rambling, it is early in the morning.

Replies:   Jay Cantrell  red61544
sunkuwan

Ask Penguintopia, he does it in his stories.

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Ernest Bywater

There are some authors who don't turn the voting on until they post the last chapter. The voting can be turned off or on as oftenas you like. The only issue is if you turn it off all the votes and scores made are lost - they don't come back if you turn it back on.

To change the voting you got to the Authors / Editors page, select Manage Stories, then select the story to manage and the page shows the story stats and information. At the top are some button, the second from the left in the second row is Voting, select that and you have a page with a button you can toggle to turn voting on or off, depending on which it's currently set for.

You can do this at any time, and as often as you want.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

The only issue is if you turn it off all the votes and scores made are lost - they don't come back if you turn it back on.


That's not true. The votes are never purged.

Crumbly Writer

Note: If you turn voting off, it affects your downloads from counting towards your complementary Premiere status. Instead of turning voting off, it's often better to release more than a single chapter when you start if the story starts off slow, just to give readers a better feel for the story.

BTW, "slow" doesn't really describe the story pacing, but rather the sexual content of a story. Thus, if you write a "much sex" story, but start with some guy just getting to know his neighbors, you'd label it 'slow', just to warn readers that the sexual activity doesn't start right away. (Many of the story codes you think are straight forward are actually specifically for sexual content.)

But, yeah, a story that starts off with low scores will struggle to raise those scores, as readers often base their votes on the current scores, either voting the current score up or down, rather than voting on the story itself. The scores do rise or fall on their own, but it takes time, as they nudge up incrementally.

However, you generally won't know how well a story is received until several months after you finish posting. Many readers won't even start a story until it's finish or a certain amount of chapters have been posted.

Replies:   merlyn2748
merlyn2748

@Crumbly Writer

Note: If you turn voting off, it affects your downloads from counting towards your complementary Premiere status.


I'm confused by this. I thought the status was given at a particular KB of files (adjusted by score). Is it really tied to amount of downloads? Or is there a separate metric that decides that. I'm not writing to specifically get premiere status, but I will admit since I have paid for it many times over the years, it would be nice to eliminate it from my budget, lol!

Thanks for the advise about not really knowing until it is done. It makes sense, since I myself used to avoid unfinished stories, it just hadn't occurred to me. Maybe it's the programmer/dba/data junkie in me but I feel like I am checking my stats multiple times a day, and that is probably not healthy :).

Ross at Play
Updated:

@merlyn2748

I'm confused by this. I thought the status was given at a particular KB of files (adjusted by score). Is it really tied to amount of downloads?

I think it means your status may be affected if your counting KBs are adjusted by a new scores which are effectively zero.

Replies:   merlyn2748
merlyn2748

@Ross at Play

I think it means your status may be affected if your counting KB is adjusted to a new score of zero.


Ah! That makes sense.

Ross at Play

@merlyn2748

I am checking my stats multiple times a day, and that is probably not healthy :).

Wait until you're still doing that long after new scores have stopped rolling in, and you're just hoping for any shift in the download count. :(

Replies:   Merlyn  Crumbly Writer
Merlyn

@Ross at Play

Just out of curiosity, has anyone asked Lazeez if there can be a Stat History readout that could list, possibly weekly, where the overall stats are on each story. I know we have chapter by chapter downloads, and on the title tag for downloads a tooltip that shows previous weeks downloads. But, I'm more talking a table that would list how many votes and the adjusted scores at the end of each week just for that week. My thinking is I could use that to see if adjustments in style/editing/etc had a net positive impact or not on the reception of my stories. Otherwise I would need to start a pretty complicated excel sheet to track the changes.

Just a thought.

Replies:   REP
robberhands

I think there isn't much use in being cautious. The nasty One-Bombers will always be the first to vote on a new story. It's unavoidable. The same with people abandoning your story, they also vote before most readers will who stay with your story. Over time, your scores will adapt, slowly.

REP

@Merlyn

Personally, I no longer worry about the 1-bombers who bomb every story.

The number of people who 1-bomb every story posted is small. Their votes may initially have an impact on your overall rating. However due to the 5% rule, their votes are likely to be dropped out of the rating calculation as your number of votes increases. I would be more concerned about why your readers feel they have a valid reason for 1-bombing your story.

awnlee jawking

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

The votes are never purged.


As I found out with 'Gay!'. I tried to switch off voting from the outset but something went wrong. By the time I noticed, someone had 1-bombed the prologue.

I switched off voting until readers had an idea of where the story was heading. When I switched it back on, the 1-bomb was still there. I suspect it's still present today, although it's not visible because I don't have access to the raw scores. Its only current impact would be to knock out a 10.

AJ

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Its only current impact would be to knock out a 10.


You are going to lose 5% of your high scores regardless of how low the 5% of the low scores are.

Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

That's not true. The votes are never purged.


My mistake. The one time I turned voting off on a story the votes vanished. However, I didn't turn it back on, so they're gone as far as I'm concerned.

Ernest Bywater

@merlyn2748

I'm confused by this. I thought the status was given at a particular KB of files (adjusted by score). Is it really tied to amount of downloads? Or is there a separate metric that decides that.


The note beside the figure is explained as:

This number is the size of text qualifying for premier service. If it is over 500, then you should be getting premier service on the site, or you will after your next post. It's calculated from the regular size and the score. Better quality stories are worth more. Stories with multiple authors are divided among all the authors.

As you can see the number of downloads have no direct affect. However, since experience has shown the more downloads you have the more votes you get, and the more votes you get the higher the score you have, there is a tenuous link there.

Jay Cantrell

@Merlyn

I wouldn't be overly concerned with scores for your first few stories.

After a few consistently decent works, you'll develop a loyal following here and your scores will increase as a result (or at least that's what happened in my case).

Your core group of readers will offset the 1-Bombers. Your scores will improve.

The middle-of-the road reader often won't give a vote that's significantly lower than the story's overall score and your scores will improve slightly more.

The snobs who won't open a story unless it's above a certain score will find you. Since they have impeccable tastes, they won't score you lower than their threshold ... and your scores will improve again.

Then they'll go back and find your other works (and those scores will see a marginal increase as a result).

The key to scores, at least to my thinking, is to develop your readership.

There are some writers here with very loyal followings. I'm fortunate enough to be one of them.

My old friend BlackIrish used to tell me that I could post a book of recipes and still score pretty well because I've delivered enjoyment to people in the past. There are a host of people who inflate my scores because of previous successes (and I'm OK with that).

For now, I would suggest forgetting about the scores and work to gain a solid following. If you can get a consistent group of people to stick with you, the scores will take care of themselves.

richardshagrin

Even if scoring is turned off, somehow stories without scores when you look them up turn up in some kind of order when you search for stories in score order. Usually the unscored stories turn up towards the end of the list, but when falls between stories scored 6.13 and 6.11 you get an idea it is probably pretty close to 6.12. As an example, I can't say this has happened to any particular story, and often the stories that surround the unscored story are in the four and five range.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@richardshagrin

There are two ways for a story to get to not having a score.

One is for the author to turn voting off on the story.

The other is that stories that have votes, but not yet enough votes to have a top/bottom 5% as a whole number (minimum of 20 votes) won't display a score.

I would expect that stories that turn up in a search for stories scoring between x and y but don't display a score fall into the latter category rather than the former.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
helmut_meukel

@Dominions Son

There are two ways for a story to get to not having a score.

One is for the author to turn voting off on the story.

The other is that stories that have votes, but not yet enough votes to have a top/bottom 5% as a whole number (minimum of 20 votes) won't display a score.

I would expect that stories that turn up in a search for stories scoring between x and y but don't display a score fall into the latter category rather than the former.


If I understood Lazeez statement correctly

That's not true. The votes are never purged.

there are two possibilities for stories without visible votes
1) votes were never turned on. These stories can't have votes.
2) the author turned votes off after some time. Those stories have retained their votes they are only hidden. Question: will the search engine ignore the hidden votes, treating those stories like stories without any votes or would it use the votes/score but display the stories without votes/score?

HM.

Michael Loucks

@sunkuwan

Based on earlier experiences, I turn off voting when I start posting a new book, and then enable it when I get to a point I believe people have a good sense of how things are going. In one of my earlier books in the series, the MC had a fairly complete meltdown and became more of a jävla idiot than normal. I didn't turn on scores until we were well past that point. I endured the hate mail and the story ended up scoring very well.

If you do turn off scoring, nothing is purged. But I simply turn it off when posting the first chapter. It's worked well for me.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

omehow stories without scores when you look them up turn up in some kind of order when you search for stories in score order.


That's more likely a case of a story with scoring on with some votes, but not yet enough votes for it to be visible. There is a low limit before votes and scores are visible to everyone, but the scores are still kept by the system and used in sorts etc.

red61544

@Merlyn

As I began my story the first several chapters got poor votes probably because it was slow to start (I did tag it Slow), now that the action is happening it is getting much better votes.

Remember, those who do not like your story will probably read a chapter or two, give it a poor score, then quit reading. Those who are still around after six or seven chapters like your story and grade it higher. Scoring isn't really a magic trick or some complex algorithm which you can bend and twist in your favor. It's simply an opinion of people who read or attempt to read the story.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@helmut_meukel

Question: will the search engine ignore the hidden votes, treating those stories like stories without any votes or would it use the votes/score but display the stories without votes/score?


There are two different reasons why a story might not show a score.

1 - Author turned off voting.

2 - The story doesn't have enough votes yet. The system doesn't show a score for a story with less than 15 votes.

Stories that have voting turned off don't show up at all when the reader selects to sort by score.

Stories with hidden scores (less than 15 votes) do show up where they fall in the list, so you could guess what the preliminary voting for those stories is.

Crumbly Writer

@merlyn2748

Thanks for the advise about not really knowing until it is done. It makes sense, since I myself used to avoid unfinished stories, it just hadn't occurred to me. Maybe it's the programmer/dba/data junkie in me but I feel like I am checking my stats multiple times a day, and that is probably not healthy

That's why many of us (try to) ignore the total score entirely, and mainly focus (like any good statistician) on the percentage change). If you compare the change in scores between each chapter, it'll alert you to anything you didn't anticipate, like an unhappy response to a new character, or how excited readers get over an particularly exciting chapter.

The total score, alas, only tells you how it does against every other story posted on SOL for that time period, which is not always a fair comparison.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Wait until you're still doing that long after new scores have stopped rolling in, and you're just hoping for any shift in the download count.

I've noted before, and you'll notice as you continue posting, Merlyn, that you'll see a very brief boost (to the true score among the early readers), once it completes, before it almost immediately drops (within a day or two) as a flood of new readers, who weren't interested enough to read it while it was posting flood it with new 'Eh!' scores. The true scores, as I said, you'll only see after it's been completed for a couple of months and the scores settle into their final numbers.

While a story is posting, you'll also see changes as many of the voters vote 'per chapter', voting a story up when something exciting happens, and voting it down when something unsettling happens--which is another reason NOT to get too caught up in the overall score.

But, alas, as REP will tell you, that's just a reflection of MY scores, and isn't a scientific standard reflective of every story ever published in the entire history of mankind!

Crumbly Writer

@Jay Cantrell

The snobs who won't open a story unless it's above a certain score will find you. Since they have impeccable tastes, they won't score you lower than their threshold ... and your scores will improve again.

You (merlyn2748) should also bear in mind that longer stories almost always score higher. Thus a 20 chapter story will score higher than a 3 chapter story, just as a 50 story will score even higher—everything else being equal. Readers enjoy stories they can sink their teeth into, plus after that many chapters, you're eventually left with ONLY those who're already invested in the story, and THEIR scores will entice others into giving it a shot who might not otherwise.

That's why you'll notice that many of the 'all time high ranking' stories are long-running series (50+ or 200+ chapters).

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

You (merlyn2748) should also bear in mind that longer stories almost always score higher. Thus a 20 chapter story will score higher than a 3 chapter story, just as a 50 story will score even higher—everything else being equal.

You really have a delicate way to formulate your opinions. However, the second part of your statement made sense, so I'll view the first part as a play on words.

sejintenej

@Jay Cantrell

My old friend BlackIrish used to tell me that I could post a book of recipes and still score pretty well because I've delivered enjoyment to people in the past.

That does not say much for the readers if he is right. Yes, you write a good story and I WILL check each of your new stories and I will score on that story and on that story alone for the overall from chapter 1 to the latest chapter. The next story may get a better vote or nothing - I reckon a five for the worst story I will even consider finishing: I recognise that others have different tastes and to them the story might deserve a ten so I am not going to punish an author where our tastes do not concur..
On the concept of an author not allowing scoring on early chapters - it makes a lot of sense because all too often at least the first chapter is merely scene setting.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

On the concept of an author not allowing scoring on early chapters - it makes a lot of sense because all too often at least the first chapter is merely scene setting.

I've discovered, that for stories that start slowly—as virtually all of mine do—it's often best to post multiple chapters up front. However, for me it's a conflict, because my main followers all frequent the 'Series Updates' page, thus I like to post a single chapter, just so the next post will go directly to the "Updates" page. However, the drawback to that is that the 'New Stories' followers will often give it a low score, which will stick with the story for much of its posting life.

I really wish there was an option to post directly to the "Series Update" page when the story launches, rather than frustrating readers looking for short stories and are stymied when my stories don't 'get to the point' right off the bat.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I really wish there was an option to post directly to the "Series Update" page when the story launches, rather than frustrating readers looking for short stories and are stymied when my stories don't 'get to the point' right off the bat.

I would guess you could achieve that effect provided you start with a post of more than one chapter. Simply include a special instruction that chapter 1 is posted and immediately followed by a post of the other chapters you kick off your story with.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I would guess you could achieve that effect provided you start with a post of more than one chapter. Simply include a special instruction that chapter 1 is posted and immediately followed by a post of the other chapters you kick off your story with.

That's entirely up to Lazeez, as to whether he'd do as requested or not. If it's a matter of policy, I'd guess not. Though I also got a private note that new stories updates and series updates flag the story title in different ways, so doing that might change how readers identify stories.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I'm not confident that gaming the scoring system is in the best interests of SOL's readers. If readers trying a story from the 'new stories' page don't particularly like a story and mark it down, I think it's useful information that should be available to potential readers.

If the majority of CW's readers access his stories from the 'updated serials' page, will they be deterred by a less than stratospheric score by the time the story impacts their consciousnesses?

AJ

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