(There are three writeups.org donation drives a year – February, June, October.)
I’m a bit late since I only just realised that we are, indeed, in February. I kinda missed the first 10 days or so.
I’d love to tell you that it’s because I was on a fabulous brand-sponsored vacation with my young, blond, attractive influencer friends. But no, I was covered in electrodes and other sensors in a hospital.
Oh well, that meant more time to read.
So, let me tell you how the writeups.org (worg) project is going. No, no I insist.
1/ A list of who’s been naughty
The demise of comicbookdb.com (my habitual comic book character appearances list site) has led me to redo from scratch my list-of-entries-wot-need-to-be-done.
The emphasis was on weak/old entries that *need* to be replaced. And stuff whose absence feels off-putting.
As of this writing, the list has 1730+ names. Big laugh ! Of course, that’s not counting the hundreds of writeups that have *already* been remade.
Mostly it’s stuff that needs to be entirely redone. Ironically, most of these were originally done as a perceived “quick win”. Quick wins seldom are long-term wins…
2.1/ Likely consequence
This is going to push back the next evolution of the site.
Especially since WordPress is still chasing the white stupid elephant that is Guttenberg rather than solve speed, bugs and mobile-friendliness issues. I’d prefer to update writeups.org once the underlying tech has tackled those weak points.
But I don’t see it happening in 2020.
You might also have noticed that recent updates had two fully revised entries each. This’ll continue until I run out of juice.
But do note that for chronological series this means that I replace the old, bad entry with the first chronological chapter then *move on* to the next.
With the recent v2s (the Owl, Kate Waynesboro, Cornell Cottonmouth…) I had time to pump out a series of entries. But this is slower, and I’m ashamed of how bad some of the older entries are, so I need to go faster.
So for instance, when I replace our bad Annihilus notes, it’ll be with a fully redone Annihilus part #1 – 1960s/1970s. But I have yet to work on Annihilus part #2. Because my goal is to crank out good things to replace the bad things I want to get rid of.
Of course, that in turn means too many chronological series that start, and have yet to go anywhere. But at least the article that’s online isn’t embarrassing.
3/ To be found
When this site started, it was the 1990s. Your ways of discovering it included directories (like Yahoo!’s), webrings and keywords-centered search engines (primarily Altavista). So discoverability was about content (and less than great).
During the 2000s, your way of discovering writeups.org was primarily Google. In vintage Google logic, to be seen you must be popular. And popularity is produced by people linking to your site.
So discoverability, for niche sites, was about bloggers doing hyperlinks. Big sites weren’t too likely to cover niche sites, so it was an ecosystem of people writing online. Content still mattered, but there had to be popular people writing about your stuff.
During the 2010s, the discoverability engine became social media. Mind, Google is still huge. But by the close of the decade most searches on Google do not result in visits on non-Alphabet websites.
Social media diffusion is different. Many people are reluctant to post stuff that’s unlikely to get enough likes and comments. Most links are shared without actually reading the article. And what gets shared has to complement the image the sharer wishes to project about themselves.
The content doesn’t count that much, except for the title and the picture.
4/ Don’t forget to like and subscribe
Now, writeups.org is built for ultra-low costs and resilience. And anyway, as noted in a previous article, in-depth info such as ours finds about 5% of the audience of clickbait and shitposts. So we don’t need or expect much traffic.
But death spirals still exist. Now, it’s *definitely* not as bad as, say, the sprint-forever-or-die logic of Twitch. But lack a little growth for long enough, and visibility will keep diminishing. Again, the whole system is meant to reward those who are already winning.
So a bit of social media button-pressing by regular readers *does* help. And heh, it marks you as a connoisseur who needs more depth and analysis than in a Fandom page, right ? RIGHT !
(Incidentally, the social media buttons we use are “inert”. That is, they don’t track everything you do on the site, like the standard Facebook buttons do. But once you click on one, it’s no longer inert since you’re now communicating with Facebook.)
(I’ve added these buttons at the bottom of this post, if you wanna have a look.)
5/ I hath yon pagespeed right here, varlets
I’ve also finished some page load optimisation work.
I was previously reluctant to monkey with this, but there are now WordPress semi-idiot-friendly tools to do this.
So after some deferring, inlining, combining and the like, a typical page on a typical computer on a typical connection snaps to useability within less than 1.5 seconds. However, on a typical phone on a typical connection I’m still a bit above 4.5 seconds, because of the size and quality of the pictures.
Pages with videos also now load significantly faster on slower connections. Which is good, since so many recent entries have a video or a soundtrack.
Diminishing load times isn’t just good for people with slower devices on slower connections. The pagespeed number also determines how much contempt Google has for us.
These fixes further mean that the current version of writeups.org can last longer before we have to crank out a new version. Since it’s now acceptably fast.
6/ Mo’ money, less problems
A few days after I made the status update/donations call of October of 2019, I learned that the Green Ronin forum was down due to an attack. This impacted me since our M&M work normally gets prepublished there . This may have impacted you.
I mention this as an example of *why* we’re paying a small subscription to a security service. To prevent this sort of crap. Especially since historically, writeups.org has been hit by an abnormal number of attacks (none ever worked).
The operational word being “paying”. It’s the sort of expense we need adverts and donations for. If not, well, eventually, you get what happened to GR. Bad hack, and more than a month of downtime. Not many web sites will emerge unscathed from being down for weeks.