As I should have expected, our readers were more than happy to take the time to tell us, in great detail no less, what we were and were not doing right with the blog. Not wanting to waste the time and effort people put into these responses, we all took a quick study of the responses and have already started rolling out some changes to the blog, such as Ryan's recent addition of images to his reviews and Eric's new Manga Monday column.
However, much like the What is DC Doing Wrong? and What is Marvel Doing Wrong? series of posts, we've taken your praise and criticisms and compiled them into a post where we attempt to address them in a sort of state of the union type of format. Hit the jump for more.
To start, we wanted to thank everyone again for their continued support of the blog. The interactions with the readers is what makes this blog fun to do and is the main driving force behind just about everything we do to improve it. Writing reviews and the various other columns, editorials and think pieces are fun and it's great knowing that people are actually reading what we write, but the best part is that we get to discuss them with you, the readers and commenters, hear your side of the story and what you think about the biggest news and comics that come out. It's also the reason we host contests every so often - to give back to the people that make the blog what it is. Without that interaction, this wouldn't be a blog to me and would just be a void and for that, we thank you all.
With the Two Year Later contest entry questions asking people what they liked or what we could to do to improve the blog, we received a lot of positive and constructive feedback, far more than just the typical one line answers. We compiled all of these comments and made our way through the huge list, looking at what we're doing right, what could use work and, in general, finding out a lot about what you like and dislike about what we're doing here.
Aside from reviews, the most popular thing people seemed to mention was the Moments of the Week as one of their favourite things about the blog. Other popular posts/formats mentioned were the recent additions of the 'conversation-like' posts, such as our War of Kings Speculation and the monthly Thoughts on Solicitations posts, and primers for big events, like War of Kings and Blackest Night. These and many more were mentioned as favourites for commenters and we're looking into doing more of these types of posts in the future, which I'll touch upon in a moment.
However, our past also had a lot of constructive criticism aimed at what we've been doing, many of which amounted to people simply wanting more of certain things, like Eric's Soapboxes, or lamenting the lack of Top 10 Tuesdays over the past several months. A major omission from the site that people picked up on was our lack of indie coverage.
All these and more were listed as things people would like to see added/remedied and few, if any, were what I would consider outright problems with the blog or our writing - merely a desire for "MORE, MORE, MORE", as Travis Waltz, and others, put it.
While looking at all of this feedback is good and all, it means nothing if we do nothing with it. As such, we've already begun implementing sublte changes to the blog that you may or may not have noticed. Ryan recently started using images to go along with his Power Ranking reviews each week, Eric began a new column highlighting manga and even the Top 10 Tuesdays posts have started trickling out at a steady rate again.
We're also trying to post more news related articles, with our own opinions and thoughts on them of course, such as the recent Disney/Marvel Buyout. We don't intend on becoming a news outlet, but you can look forward to more of this opinion based posts on the current big news in the future.
While I've listed a few changes we've already implemented above, that's not all we have in the pipeline. We have several new columns and regular features planned for the blog that are set to go live sometime this month (still working out some details on potential posting schedules and column names/format).
One such column is an Art Appreciation post, similar to those found on Robot 6, Major Spoilers and other blogs. These would be short, simple posts with an artist's work spotlighted and some general information on the artist and work in question.
More Moments of the Week
Another column we have planned is something I mentioned on Twitter recently in regards to a Random Moment of the Week-like post. As the MotW proved to be one of the most popular posts, we figured more of it, this time spotlighting older 'moments', think five years or more, in a single image moment post, not unlike the style of the Art Appreciation above, would be a great way to give more moment goodness to people while introducing them to older comics at the same time. One such example of a 'moment' I highlighted on Twitter was Magneto ripping Wolverine's adamantium out back in X-Men #25.
The final new feature we were planning to roll out was creator interviews. We're still working this one out and it's tentative, but we feel we've grown to the point that we can start reaching out to the creators we've made contact with and requesting interviews. To differentiate them from the standard event-related interviews on the bigger sites, we were thinking more conversational, get-to-know-them style interviews where we ask them questions related to favourite comics, dream projects and other, non-information sensitive questions that result in non-answers they can't or aren't allowed to answer. This way, people would learn about the creator, their backgrounds, likes/dislikes and other information that gets lost in translation as people typically view creators as faceless machines that either are gods or screw ups that 'ruin their favourite character forever'.
Verdict System Changes
Other related changes in the works include a reworking of the Verdict System we use for reviews. As David Warren (no relation, for reference) put it, with so few ranks to the system, the Must Read verdict is starting to lose it's impact. We're still hammering out the new verdicts, but look for a five tiered system to roll out at some point in time and Must Reads will be held in reserve for true must read books moving forward.
There's also the increased indie coverage in the works, although we're still working out details on this. We all read indie books, but mostly in trades. This is where I'd like some more input from everyone. You all want more indie coverage, but how would you like it implemented? Picking it up in singles is a tough proposition for most of us since we trade wait them. Would you like more trade reviews? A series overview/primer-like look at older/established books, like a Y: The Last Man or Fables? Let us know in the comments so we have a better idea of what you'd like for this. As it stands, we have some more reviews in the pipeline, but no concrete plans that wouldn't involve shifting of funds/priorities in trade/singles buying.
This is a longterm goal of my own and it would include paid hosting and a proper database backend that would allow for so much more functionality to be added to the site, from rotating banners (currently have to manually change), user profiles/friends lists/nested commenting with Digg-like promoting, a proper archives that automatically updates with new posts, a Danbooru-like image board and faster loading with a sleaker design. Again, this is longterm, but I've already begun working on some designs and backend stuff with an offline server. I'm hesitant to mention it, as this is at least a year's way away, but archives and redesigns were mentioned in the things people wanted addressed, so I just wanted to let everyone know that these are concerns we're looking into and that they aren't being ignored.
There it is, everything we've got planned moving forward, all based on feedback from you, the readers. These are some exciting times for us and I haven't seen everyone this fired up since they first joined the blog. I hope the enthusiasm and this little State of the Union address have properly conveyed that excitement to you while giving you a solid outlook on what to expect from us moving forward.
Also, please note that we're going to continue delivering the same quality content we've always been giving you, from reviews, previews and MotW, to the various OP/ED posts, like Eric's Soapbox and Matt's weekly editorials. The only thing changing is that you'll be getting more of everything you liked about the blog.