5839 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Donation calls and situation report — October, 2018


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

(There are three writeups.org donation drives a year – February, June, October.)

Let me tell you how the writeups.org (worg) project is going. No, no I insist.


Donation page.

The publication of new articles has kept steady – 5 every 10 days. It used to be a bit more, but the low manpower means this has been our cruise speed for a while.

Over the last few months, the content was, mmm… diverse ? I’d almost say “random”, but it’s a bit of everything that readers mentioned they like. 1940s comics, older Francophone comics, obscure oddities that work well in a superhero RPG, good LGBT characters…

But even when we try to play up our strengths, it looks adventitious. I’ll give you that. 🙂

Big Sweep and HD pictures

The Big Sweep (bringing all profiles to certain standards in terms of features and phrasing) continues to nibble past the “⅔ of the entries done” threshold. Like a determined arthritic mole.

It doesn’t progress too fast since it’s the same time budget as redoing illustrations in HD, usually from digital reissues of comic books. Redoing illustrations makes the site prettier, and draws traffic from search engine images searches and images collection services.

However, it also takes quite a while. Especially since so many images see significant rework to erase the background, correct small colouring issues, reconstruct art over the tail of word balloons and the like, etc.. The images that see the most editing work are reposted on Pinterest .

Redoing old stuff

A fair chunk of the time that could go to the Big Sweep is also eaten by redoing older profiles. Some are redone from a tabula rasa, some instead go through a process of rewriting, updating, upgrading the illustration and (often) adding M&M stats.

This can chiefly be seen on the site’s homepage. With all the articles that include a mention such as “as of July of 2018, this profile was redone blah blah blah”. There were a *lot* of overhauls during the Summer.

This efficiently raises the average quality of profiles, since it both remove an old and less-good one and adds a new and better one.

One side effect is that it mechanically means doubling down on the same publishers and eras. WORG already has, say, a lot of 1970s Marvel material. So redoing stuff that already exists is good, but it means even more time spent on 1970s Marvel material. See the issue ?

The more material one has, the harder it is to move into new and fresh territory. Unless you can simply forget about your older material, but this isn’t our case. It’s an encyclopaedic site, not a news site. The article do not become less relevant.

As journalists say, they’re evergreens. So we can’t abandon them in a ditch and move on.

Still, I’m glad I was *finally* able to work on redoing some favourites, such as Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, or the Pfeiffer version of Catwoman. I’d been wanting to do that for many years.


Donation page.

HTTPS, y’all

In late June, the entire site was switched to HTTPS + SSL. This is unnecessary since we don’t buy or sell anything, don’t store personal data, have no user profiles or login, etc..

But Google and the like have been really insistent about it. So the main benefit for writeups.org is to avoid the increasingly visible “NOT SECURE” messages in browsers, which people routinely misunderstand.

This meant some routing issue over the month of July, particularly for people attempting to access the site without the “www” prefix. This took a while to fix since it was… weird.

Running a website sure is more involved than it was 20 years ago… WHO KNEW ?

Security ramped up

Our improved ads income (stemming from better positioning the same 0-3 ads per profile), and additional donations, were used to purchase a cloud-based security solution in late June.

As previously mentioned, writeups.org gets a strangely elevated number of attacks. Having a paid security solution lowers risks. More importantly, having it run by a servers farm means our own server no longer has to assess every request for security risks, bad bots, fake crawlers, penny-ante injection attempts, etc.

FWIW, even after hundreds of thousands of attacks writeups.org was still 100% uncompromised. So all of you we feared that their credit card number may have been compromised by the attacks on writeups.org take heart. If only because nobody never gave us no credit card number. We don’t sell anything.

Improved caching

As of early July, a greater percentage of the content is served over HTTP/2, and writeups.org is now cached by a CDN.

The goal is to serve pages server, by duplicating them in a web of servers strategically placed worldwide. However, this web seems to have holes, and the site got noticeably *slower* for some regions, particularly Western Europe.

I haven’t had much time to fix that, but I’ll get to it when feasible.


Donation page.

Traffic ranking

We were briefly among the top 55,000 web sites in the US since the last donations call. Which is pretty silly for a web site about a long-since-out-of-print 1980s super-hero tabletop role-playing game. But heh, what can you do.

The traffic has since calmed down. Especially since the new firewall blocks hostile “visitors” upstream. But this high water mark might be an indication of what writeups.org can achieve in the medium term.

Still, I’m wary about it. Once you have a popularity number, a common instinct is to want to make the number bigger. Which would avail us to… very little.

We still act as evangelists of sorts for tabletop superhero-ish role-playing, but it has become clear that YouTube and Twitch are far better at this. So a big reach is less important nowadays.

(Incidentally, if there are groups who stream/vlog/whatever M&M, DCH or FASERIP, game sessions and want writeups.org support just let me know. I can almost guarantee I won’t rip your femoral artery out with my teeth.)

Instagram

We have a basic social media presence (Twitter , Facebook , Tumblr , Google Plus , with the more useful one likely being Twitter). But there’s no genuine #promotion, #engagement, etc.. It’s just there for convenience, as an information feed.

On the images-centric social networking front, Pinterest  (and the smaller WeHeartIt ) have been good for us. That is, it interests a fair few people without any serious work on my end.

As a consequence, I’ve been considering using Instagram for a while. But their interface makes things complicated. Especially since it’s physically difficult for me to use a smartphone.

However, the Marvunapp.com colleagues launching theirs (https://www.instagram.com/themarvelappendix/ ) gave me the last bit of impetus I needed, so you can follow https://www.instagram.com/writeupsdotorg/  if you’re on Insta. As you can imagine, it’s almost 100% pictures of characters with a WORG profile.

Hopefully I can post every other day, using a few hacks and a script to post from a PC and process the images.

Pinterest

I finally remembered to enable the “rich pin” functionality on Pinterest. I guess I spaced out and forgot last time.

This just means that when somebody pins a picture from writeups.org, the pin imports context data from WORG. Nothing huge, but it gives that Big Site Energy aura to those pins.


Donation page.

Sharing buttons

Since we’re talking about social media stuff, the sharing buttons were overhauled. Now there are more services (Tumblr, Pocket, Reddit…), and it’s updated.

But it’s the same principle as before – a simple, inert link that takes you to a separate page. So there’s nothing on writeups.org that identifies you until you click on these buttons (since they need to know what your account is so you can post).

The tech’s called Shariff .

Links to previous “state of the WORG” posts

I’ve added tiny posts to my Patreon page  with the links to the old site updates & donations messages.

These are public posts, accessible to all. So if somebody wants to read through the site’s evolution… The pre-WORG-2016-overhaul history is expounded upon in the FAQ – History of this site article.

Donations

So, anyway, you can donate here. Yes, *I know*, people researching and writing and extracting illustrations and running a website and so on is less exciting than a blond YouTube man tasing rats or something. But it still carries costs.

As usual, the money :

  1. Pays the site’s bills and keeps stuff running, especially now that we’re adding security expenses.
  2. Gets saved for big site overhaul. Since the site is non-commercial, saving enough to do these takes years.
  3. Helps with me morale as I slave away on some damn grind or the other so the site doesn’t look like a pigsty mating with a MySpace page.


Donation page.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .