"When it comes to Royal Road, if you're looking for any specific tropes or elements outside of the narrow selection available in tags here, you have to simply hope that said tropes/elements are directly given in the name of the work, because that's all that RR's search checks—it doesn't even check the story description."
A writer's wet dream is some sort of system where a searcher hits a button and their specific title pops up. Unfortunately that's not possible for anything but an author name search. A good deal of wattpad's woes start with authors who miss-tag their work, They might not write Sci Fi really, but decide that's the audience they wish for so slot the work there, (not a great example, but an example). And yes, that site features a lot of broken and ineffective programming, which does not help. As with any library, you are not going to find books indexed by tropes. Or hair color of protagonist, or be able to assume some specific other feature is always going to be in the blurb, which is after all, writ by the author to attract interest to the story, not to detail a search item list. Tags are supposed to ameliorate this, but seldom amount to look ups that might occur to more than the imagination of the particular author, or in this case, reader. Such lists that are useful are usually created after the fact by someone who has the time on their hands to go through a pile of work and typify it according to there own lights, a sort of massive one word critique. The problem with such custom lists becomes the fairly narrow audience to whom they are useful. People can Bing on very specific and individual things.
Part of the adventure of reading is delving into the unknown, and the excitement of discovering something new. Something - thank God - indexing will likely never totally strip from us. Bing and Duckduck Go aside, its not a terribly great idea for a literary site, in my mind. If you have that specific of a book in sight, write it.
Anyway, I don't think the lack of a commercial grade search engine would bring girls a-running to RR's door any more than it keeps them off Wattpad.
RavensDagger Wrote: Let me play devil's advocate here.
Is the male to female ratio an actual issue?
Don't get me wrong, the moment the site starts acting against anyone of any gender, I'm going to be one of the first to complain, but is the site attracting more male readers a problem?
If men want to read a certain kind of story, and they know that RR provides that kind of story, then what we're seeing here is a free market, where the abundance of a certain kind of story is attracting reader of that kind of story, so more authors write that kind of story, which attracts more readers... and so on. It's the invisible hand at work.
The same thing tends to happen on every writing site. There will be a niche that the site fills initially, people will think of that site as the place to go for that kind of work, and that will become a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy.
Royal Roads is a site that happens to have a lot of stories that attract a specific viewership, and that's perfectly fine.
I've yet to see any reader-based segregation (Only boys are allowed to read this!) or any push-back against a specific genre. There are just some genres that aren't suited to the audience that's here.
I'll add that yes, there definitely needs to be a system in place that promotes stories past their first two months. As it is, if your story doesn't make it to trending on month two, you might as well write it off. Getting any viewers past that mark is an uphill battle since there's not system of promotion in place (other than Popular This Week, but getting on there organically is... good luck).
A staff's pick would be... meh, I never liked those. Too much of a risk that nepotism sticks its nose in it. Maybe a 'If you liked X you might like Y' list tailored to each account?
I would see it less about reader segregation and more about breaking up the tyranny of various flavors of litrpg that dominate the site. Yes, RR is always going to focus on litrpg and I love those stories, that's why I came here in the first place after all, but there is a lot of other work that has a much more difficult time here just because of how the system works.
'Staff picks' might not be the perfect solution for a large site, but RR is small and the number of reasonably good stories that aren't on trending or the toplist isn't so terribly large. Obviously it does invite some clear opportunities for corruption, but it's also a really easy thing to implement (at least probably much easier than reworking the whole site's algorithm or adding elements to it) and I think its better to have an imperfect solution that is feasible over a potentially better one that is less so.
Plus, while I get that corruption and such is potentially a thing, I think it's a pretty easy to monitor issue since there'd only be a few articles coming in each month. That and the system is already open to abuse by simply creating fake accounts or abusing review swaps, which on the whole don't seem to be a real problem atm so I'm skeptical this would be abused. Essentially, I don't think this would add any new means of abusing the site that don't already exist for the dedicated unscrupulous author already. As well, the mods and staff here have a really good history of avoiding problems, I would be pretty confident in their integrity to begin with.