Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage (a)

#1
So I've been reading lots of comments both in the forum and in the post itself that the voting system is a repeat of the most popular, the biggest stories out there. Which at the first glance seems to make sense because of course, it is. Eyeball = votes and votes = getting listed on the ‘hot fiction list’. 

This experiment naturally followed by (both implicit and explicit) suggestion from ‘concerned users’ that instead of this ‘copy-paste’, the site should focus more on discovery mechanic (people finding new stories by smaller, only seen on latest updates' author).

While I wouldn’t argue about the latter (after all my total view hasn’t even reach 4k yet), and I wouldn’t really mind people taking a look (here a second same link to prove that) from the site perspective I could understand where’s the admin coming from.

TL;DR this new voting system is not about you, authors.

It’s about readers.

Yes, readers. So you see, I’ve been parsing out the Hot Fictions, the Best Rated, the Popular Weekly, and obligatory, the Trending lists. So while the 9 ‘hottest’ fictions are eerily similar to the popular weekly and best rated’ (timestamp 7 June 2021, 4:31 PST), it’s not. 

How?

Well, first let’s look at our most important dataset, The Path of Ascension (number 9 on the ‘Hot Fiction’). By first-page look on all of the reading lists (Best rated, popular weekly, and trending), The Path of Ascension is not listed on either page (we’re talking about page 1), in fact, only when you dig deeper that you could found that it’s listed as number 40 on the Popular Weekly (the 2nd page’s bottom). This is like looking at the 2nd or 3rd page result on Google Search. It’s there yes, but most people would rather change their keywords.

Then we have Wizard’s Tower (45th on Popular Weekly, Trending around 2-3 weeks ago) ranked 10th, Cinnamon Bun (27th on Popular Weekly) ranked 11th, and skipping some A Dragon Idol’s Reincarnation Tale that while listed on 14th on Hot Fiction, was 98th on Popular Weekly (again timestamp 7 June 2021, 4:31 PST).

So what does it mean?

It’s mean that the new ranking reward ‘Active and Current Readership’. It sideline completed stories such as Mother of Learning (42nd Hot Fiction, 1st Best Rated) or stories where most readers could get advanced chapters on the author’s website like Wandering Inn (45th Hot Fiction, 19th Popular Weekly). 

So how could I as an author get on the ‘Hot List’?

Well, besides obviously having a good readership base (a really, really good readership base), there are two ways: asking your readers to do it on the author’s note or passively waiting for people to just vote for your story. While the first one is obvious and could be only done a few times (shamelessness is unsustainable resources after all), the second one required you to have a good reader experience.

Reader experience?

Yes, reader experience. The way the reader feels during and after reading your stories; how their heart jump, how they clenching their fist, how they glued on their seat, screaming why the next chapter button isn’t working. That reader experience.

To read is to feel. That’s why characters have varying personalities that seem to foil each other, that’s why when we author wrote dialogue, we’re told that the good dialogue mimics the highlight of real life, that we should cut small talk. 

Again, to read is to feel.

This means as authors we should realize that stories lacking in reader experience wouldn’t elicit the same emotional impulse in readers to passively vote compared to the stories that do.

So, what’s the end purpose of this hottest list, anyway?

I could at least see four things:
  • Reward active readers, so they could have more say in the rank of a story they like besides just rating/review it once. Now they could have say once every two weeks (which is something I guess, Topwebfiction which operates basically the same listing, refresh the vote every week).
  • Reward authors that elicit a good reader experience, that has the ‘wow factor’.
  • Convert passive readers to active readers (the ones with no accounts. Since to vote you need to be logged in).
  • Create a long-term, healthy, and more importantly, dynamic list that will refresh and refresh again as time goes on.
  • .

    The last one particularly important because of what I call ‘front page economic’. As for now, Royalroad’s visitors exposed on their first page the following:
    .
  • Patch Notes (a no-brainer).
  • User ad (have to keep the site alive somehow)
  • Recommended for you (A discovery mechanic! How it works still elude me though. Perhaps tag similarities, chapter count, ongoing/complete status, ratings, stuff like that.)
  • Hot Fiction (Reward to the Active Readership. However both on web and mobile this REQUIRE you to click the arrow buttons to parse).
  • Latest Updates (Most authors discovery mechanic. It’s a list type as to expose as many as story as possible. Remember people are lazy. It took an effort to click stuff. I mean it’s like a super-duper, literally one click effort, but yeah, you know what I mean)
  • Trending (Reward to those new authors that took ‘Royalroad by Storms’. Great or sometimes infuriatingly bad fictions are listed here. Updated periodically. How to get there is a secret of algorithm that only (chosen) few managed to crack).
  • Popular Weekly (Traffic-based. Reward passive readership. Also balanced by requiring you to click the same as hot fiction)
  • Top Reviews (Reward to those who managed to review well! Or at least rewarding those who have eyes that could discern which fictions from the latest updates that going to trend *ahem*. Also a click-type. But this one is worse because on mobile its first page obscured by ad and unlike ‘recommended for you’ doesn’t automatically scroll).
  • Best rated (because why not).
  • .

    My prediction is that the hot fictions (if successful in its experiment) will eventually replace best rated on the home page to users who already have an account. New users perhaps could still (reasonably) be shown best rated in list form.

    That’s my two cents. What do you guys think?
     

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #3
    Not sure how I feel about this.

    I honestly don't think it'll do much for discovery or anything like that, considering everyone probably just went to vote on the stories they already all like. Feels like it'll be another number for authors to over-worry and over-think the value of.

    Then again, it's an experiment. It could be gone by the end of the week, it could be here forever. I don't have the data, and neither do the admins. We can only go off conjecture and personal opinions for now.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #6

    meteoraguy Wrote: So...to get on the Hot List you need active readers, but many of us are wanting to get on the Hot List to gain readers. This just means serials that are already popular will gain more exposure and become even more popular. And the unseen will remain unseen. I don't see how this benefits readers looking for something that's not already on Trending or Popular This Week or Best Rated.

    Why not a Hidden Gems List?
    That is not a bad idea, one more thing that can work. Is if there is every day rotation on a separate list. Dividing it into view categories. Books with less than the amount will cycle through. Once they pass a certain amount, they will then go onto a higher list, etc. Eventually, it should be able to challenge those other lists.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #7

    CookieCrumble Wrote: Again, to read is to feel.


    I thought this was a thread about the voting system, what is this pseudo intellectual bullshit that i'm reading?
    DrakanZip

    But yeah, no. You failed to mention that literally all the stories you listed as examples have posts begging for votes, and that's why they're so high. If a series that's more popular right now begged for votes they would be higher and those there right now would be shoved below. 

    Issa popularity game. Slightly different to ongoing and popular this week, but only barely. 

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #8
    tl;dr - I don't like the new feature because it's inherently biased, forces authors to beg for votes, and forces readers to support their favorite fictions repeatedly, instead of just a 1-time review/rating. It feels like a worse Popular This Week that rewards begging for votes instead of created/consumed content. Fuchsia said it's "Slightly different to ongoing and popular this week, but only barely" - I say it's just a worse mishmash of them both. 


    When I opened up RR today and saw the new voting system, I was disappointed. 

    This voting-based Hot Fictions list seems to be, at best, a replacement for either the Popular This Week or the Best Rated lists. At worst, it will turn into the list that features authors most willing to beg for votes with every chapter published - that's what it is as of this post. Right now we can re-vote every two weeks, so it's upsettingly likely that authors will be adding posts to their notes that people will ignore, burying important announcements even more in favor of begging for votes and exposure. 

    This feature also inherently disadvantages authors who post larger updates with lower frequency. There is an inherent bias towards smaller chapters on RR already, and this will only reward this trend. This will also force publication cycles to match the voting cycle to some degree, which may be hard for some authors. 

    I guess this could be useful for people new to RR, but for those of us who have been around for more than a few months (I've been here for 3+ years now), it's just going to be another feature to ignore. Or hate. I'm leaning towards hate because authors I respect have already started asking for votes. I don't even feel like I can just ignore the feature altogether because I see fictions that I view as of lower quality ranking higher than better stories simply because their authors asked for votes. I feel responsible for supporting fictions that are good, and seeing lower quality work as representative of this site is painful. 

    A sidenote: how hard is it to create a bunch of RR accounts? While that type of abuse is as equally detectable and punishable as with mass account creation and reviewing/rating, it seems like it could be a much larger, repeated issue with this system. 

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #9
    All systems can be gamed. If Votes are to be treated as precious, people ought to have to earn the right to be able to Vote -- like how you earn the right to give more than one Rep Point. Also like Rep Points, Votes could be restricted to only one Vote per day or per week, or no repeat Voting on the same story after the two week expiry date. 

    Stuff like that. ❤😸❤

    More important than ever -- and this is something Admin should seriously do something about -- advertising the same story twice on Royal Road's home page is a waste of valuable space.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #10

    Fuchsia Wrote: literally all the stories you listed as examples have posts begging for votes, and that's why they're so high.
    I understand that authors need to grasp every chance they get to get readers, but publishing a chapter that has nothing in it, but guide how to vote will not make me vote. It will make me annoyed at the story. At least bribe me with some pretty picture (super effective), or maybe publish a chapter ahead of schedule and ask there, especially if you have backlog (less effective but still good).

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #11

    meteoraguy Wrote: So...to get on the Hot List you need active readers, but many of us are wanting to get on the Hot List to gain readers. This just means serials that are already popular will gain more exposure and become even more popular. And the unseen will remain unseen. I don't see how this benefits readers looking for something that's not already on Trending or Popular This Week or Best Rated.

    Why not a Hidden Gems List?



    100% support this. It will give smaller stories a better chance.  The worst thing that can happen right now is for the site to end up in a youtube style problem were smaller authors are buried and have basically no chance without help.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #12

    Artim Wrote:
    Fuchsia Wrote: literally all the stories you listed as examples have posts begging for votes, and that's why they're so high.
    I understand that authors need to grasp every chance they get to get readers, but publishing a chapter that has nothing in it, but guide how to vote will not make me vote. It will make me annoyed at the story. At least bribe me with some pretty picture (super effective), or maybe publish a chapter ahead of schedule and ask there, especially if you have backlog (less effective but still good).
    Well, it works with a lot of people. If they like the story, like the author and want to see them succeed, that's enough to say "Sure, I'll vote :)" 

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #13

    Ararara Wrote: Well, it works with a lot of people. If they like the story, like the author and want to see them succeed, that's enough to say "Sure, I'll vote :)"
    Yeah, I shouldn't be grumpy. In my head everyone went and voted for what they wanted already. It was the first thing I did when I found about the system. Then I've gotten bunch of updates for votes in follows. Which was fine, and in some cases entertaining. Today, it is starting to annoy me a bit. I still thing that it would be more effective if you bribed people with something. Give me a cute cat picture at least. I'm easily bought.


    I wonder what would have happened if it was revealed that you can vote, but list would appear after a week or so.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #14
    I think this is a great system because the votes expire two weeks after they are given. Most stories that currently update will only get votes when releasing new chapters. This is evidenced by the fact that despite mother of learning being really popular, it isn’t topping with vote because its one of those stories that has just been sitting at the top with no active readership. 

    This is a discovery feature for readers not authors. It’s not a system that will help the “little guy” author, but it will certainly help readers find stories that bring readers back time and time again without fail. After all, are you really gonna go though every two weeks and vote for stories you like that haven’t updated in years?

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #15
    I wish it was easier to vote.  Near the next chapter button I want the vote button (if I haven't yet), that way I can decide if the book is worth my vote or not.

    I think the discovery should be based on number of people who have read/number voted.  So if you have one reader who votes that is better than 10000 readers with 9990 votes.  The latter should be high on the other lists, and doesn't need votes, while the books with just one reader needs to be discovered.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #16
    JHawk55 Wrote: This voting-based Hot Fictions list seems to be, at best, a replacement for either the Popular This Week or the Best Rated lists. At worst, it will turn into the list that features authors most willing to beg for votes with every chapter published
    A replacement for Best Rated? No. Best Rated placement is a result of both "likes" (in the form of ratings/reviews with 5 or 4.5 stars) and "dislikes" (in the form of 0.5 to 2.5 stars), with a "neutral" zone in between around 3-4 stars, details depending on the current rating. While popularity = number of ratings has a part in it, it is a smaller part. A story with 100 reviews which are all glowing can get into Best Rated, while one with 500 glowing and 500 scathing reviews will not. 

    A replacement for Popular This Week? Yes, and that is what I hope for. Because it ties into this next issue, the unfairness of chapter length vs number of chapters: 

    JHawk55 Wrote: This feature also inherently disadvantages authors who post larger updates with lower frequency. There is an inherent bias towards smaller chapters on RR already, and this will only reward this trend. This will also force publication cycles to match the voting cycle to some degree, which may be hard for some authors.
    Only when you count "lower frequency" as slower than once every two weeks. Sure, there are stories who post that slow, but they are a minority. Many more stories post weekly or twice a week. The great advantage the new Hot List has over Popular This Week is that it disadvantages those stories that spam a very short chapter every single day. The bias towards smaller chapters right now is because of PTW, which counts one 10000-word chapter as one view and 20 500-word chapters as 20 views, intentivizing authors to post lots of tiny chapters. With only one vote every two weeks, a story with one long chapter every one or two weeks is finally not penalized any more, because the chapter-spammer story will also only get one vote every two weeks. It is still very much a popularity contest, but at least one way to game it is removed. 

    You do not have to match the voting cycle closely with your publication cycle. Votes expire after two weeks, but not all at the same time (except for those votes that were done in bulk yesterday and today, but that effect will blur over the next 1-2 months). While it would be unfavorable to post every 13 days (because then the readers have already read the next chapter by the time the old votes expire and they will probably only vote on the following chapter, another 13 days later, losing out on 12 days of vote visibility), it makes no real difference whether you post daily, every two days, once a week or exactly every two weeks. The only relevant difference in those cases is whether the reader has to vote every 14 chapters, every 7 chapters, every other or on each chapter. 

    ArDeeBurger Wrote: All systems can be gamed. If Votes are to be treated as precious, people ought to have to earn the right to be able to Vote -- like how you earn the right to give more than one Rep Point. Also like Rep Points, Votes could be restricted to only one Vote per day or per week, or no repeat Voting on the same story after the two week expiry date.
    Yes. A limited number of votes would hopefully lead to readers using them on the fictions they consider best, not on each story they find remotely interesting. A story with 100 readers who all are thrilled would get 100 votes, but one with 1000 readers who all only consider it "nice-ish" would get perhaps 50, because the other 950 readers would say "I like this story, but I like a different story better and that other one gets one of my only three votes". 

    meteoraguy Wrote: Why not a Hidden Gems List?
    Great idea, but that would be very difficult to implement. It would probably be necessary to use an algorithm similar to one of the other lists, then remove the "non-hidden" stories from it. E.g. the story would need to have less than a certain limit of followers or views per chapter (meaning it is not "popular"), have a certain minimum rating (meaning it is a gem, not a turd), and at the same time cannot be in the top X of Best Rated (meaning it is not visible there).

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #17
    At this point, while I'm half-heartedly following what's happening, I've discarded any belief of it being of any use to me - as an author or as a reader. I'm not going to argue about the admins having the right to do what they like with their own site, but I don't have much doubt about the results of the experiment, since having a large audience you can ask to vote for you will give you more votes, period.

    As a reader, I prefer to seek out the stories that fit my particular criteria, with a bias towards those that are less visible and less well-known. If they become better-known while I'm following them, great, I'm pleased for them. I tend to actively avoid anything that has thousands of followers and millions of views. I don't like crowds, even virtual ones.

    As an author, I have no hope that it will gain any visibility for me. Since what I write falls outside the overwhelming dominant trend of RR, no matter how well I write or how loyal my wonderful readers are, I'm not going to be on the home page, ever. I completely understand readers not wanting to create an account just to vote, and I refuse to ask them to. If every one of my official followers were to vote at every opportunity, the intention would be flattering but it would have no hope of ever taking me to the front page.

    People keep saying that it isn't for authors, it's for readers. I have two answers to that. The first is, if you have too many discouraged writers, you get an ocean of stories that had promise, but the writer gave it up as a waste of time. The other is, having a home page that is full wall-to-wall of nothing but LitRPG, isekai, and/or harem becomes a self-fulfilling state. I considered putting my work on Royal Road a couple of years back, and decided against it then because that was all I saw on the home page and I concluded that there was no point to hanging around, as a reader or writer, because those do not interest me. I can't help but wonder how many others choose to close the window and look elsewhere because of that, without bothering to look for the lower-tier stories that are not in those genres, some of which are of amazing quality. Another system that will almost certainly lead to yet more of the same on the home page doesn't strike me as all that useful to anyone.

    I know I'm already long since fed up with YouTube creators doing the "Don't forget to like and subscribe and hit that bell button!" thing, sometimes multiple times in a video. We can already see the constant vote-begging starting here. The most votes will not go to quality - they'll go to whoever has the largest pool of readers already and the least shame in nagging them to vote. Popularity begets popularity.

    But, whatever. It won't help me, or help readers who would enjoy my work find me, but it probably won't make it significantly harder for me to get views or for readers to find me, so I plan to basically just ignore it at this point - other than dropping any followed authors who nag excessively, regardless of their work.

    Re: Experimental New Voting System; A Glance toward Royalroad Homepage

    #19
    ArDeeBurger Wrote: More important than ever -- and this is something Admin should seriously do something about -- advertising the same story twice on Royal Road's home page is a waste of valuable space.
    Not that related to the OP, but I cannot believe I have not seen this mentioned anywhere else (including by me)! Though I am not exactly a marketing expert and maybe it makes some sense that I am completely missing, but now that you have mentioned it, it does seem pretty wasteful and it is not like they only have one advert to pick from. 

    Prysmcat Wrote: I know I'm already long since fed up with YouTube creators doing the "Don't forget to like and subscribe and hit that bell button!" thing, sometimes multiple times in a video.
    Good point. Though frankly it is easier for me to skip reading those requests, versus the verbal requests on youtube videos.

    KoboldPatrol Wrote: Great idea, but that would be very difficult to implement. It would probably be necessary to use an algorithm similar to one of the other lists, then remove the "non-hidden" stories from it. E.g. the story would need to have less than a certain limit of followers or views per chapter (meaning it is not "popular"), have a certain minimum rating (meaning it is a gem, not a turd), and at the same time cannot be in the top X of Best Rated (meaning it is not visible there).
    I made a suggestion to have a list of stories with the most upvotes but weren't already featured on the home page. Not entirely sure that would require anything too complicated to code, but I am not exactly a coding expert.

    But if anyone is interested in supporting that suggestion please view and like it here: https://feedback.royalroad.com/i653-hot-fictions-featured-on-home-page-should-just-show-stories-that-are-not-already-on-the-home-page

    Alternatively, please feel free to add further suggestions/variations to it in the comments section of that suggestion.