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Does each page (300+) of my comic need its own comments?
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:05 pm    Post subject: Does each page (300+) of my comic need its own comments? Reply with quote

I have finished my first pass revisions of Black Flag, Volume One: Flag in Flames -- all 302 pages of it. Smile

Now I'm wanting some beta-readers to look over it (and hopefully catch any remaining problems) before I start posting it 'live'.

However, at the moment, there is no comment posting ability on this comic at all, and my beta-readers, when I get them, would probably appreciate that convenience. So I'm thinking I should do something about that, before I start looking for beta-readers.

I've played around with comic plugins for Wordpress, but they just got too troublesome during revisions, while I was doing stuff like inserting six new pages into chapter 3, and eleven into chapter 4 which was then split into two chapters... etc. So I just wrote a php script that read my page image file names, and automatically built all the navigation I needed from there. Every time I added new pages, or renamed/moved pages, it would update everything for me. I think it works great, and frankly I'd rather not go back to a Wordpress based comic management system.

I'd still like to use Wordpress for the comments, though, I think. (Why re-invent the wheel?) I can create some blank posts that Wordpress can assign people's comments to, and use those to display the comments on the relevant pages. But creating 302 blank wordpress posts sounds like a pain. Especially since a lot of pages probably won't even get comments.

Do y'all think that having comments be done on a chapter basis would be okay? Showing all comments for each chapter at the bottom of each page in that chapter, or something like that?
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smbhax.com
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if some other modular comment system would be easier to use with that system. There's Disqus, for instance, and eh...oh IntenseDebate. Not that I know the least thing about setting them up, mind you.

If you're posting everything at once though, then maybe you don't really need more than one comment section, really, since people are more likely to want to post when they get to the end, rather than stopping midstream.
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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use Intense Debate, and love it. As long as you use a php script that gives each page a unique URL, ID should be fairly simple to set up. It's nice like that.

As far as having comments each page, I don't know about beta readers, but my experience has been that readers really appreciate it. They like being able to say something every time a page goes up. They like seeing what other people have said/thought/speculated about a particular page. The Internet is a place of the moment, and people like to put down what they're thinking in that moment, and that's what they're used to.

On a more practical note, if all comments for a whole chapter show at the bottom, you will run into the problem of spoilers, which some readers are violently allergic to (I'm one. Razz)

Necessary? No. But if you can swing it I would do comments for each page.
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Er. Spoilers. Right.

I don't want to spoil things for people, so, page by page it is.

If I can't figure out how to do that gracefully with Wordpress (which is already integrated into the rest of my site), I'll look into some of the other comment systems suggested. Thanks for your replies, everyone!

As for the if I'm posting everything at once, question...

The betareaders will have access to the entire thing at once. But everyone else will see the finalized version one page at a time, as per normal webcomic practice.

The current plan is for a two pages a week schedule, starting sometime later this year. That will give me three years to get the next volume, currently at the storyboard stage, finished and polished. (Which would mean nearly doubling my page per week average from the first volume, but between increased skill and better hardware I've been hoping I can manage that, or at least get close enough that there won't be a huge gap between volumes.) ::crosses fingers::

And no, Casual, I didn't plan to make a career of explaining myself. I'm just trying to create the best reader experience I can manage, and make things as convenient as possible for anyone kind enough to try help me improve my product.


Although, I have considered trying to comment regularly on my own pages as they were posted. Not for the sake of explaining the story, which I have been doing my best to get to stand on it's own, but to promote reader/author interaction, which some readers apparently appreciate, and to show that I am still 'engaged'. (If I'm working on the second volume I don't know how I could be un-engaged, but I have been told that this is something that some readers will want to know.)
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ttallan wrote:
Congrats on finishing! 300+ pages is quite a feat.


Yeah, pretty cool, hunh? Woohoo! Happy dance!

...only I don't want to celebrate too much, until I've had more feedback from people who aren't members of my family, and therefore didn't know all about everything before they read it due to my inability to stop talking about it for the past six or seven years.


The beginning got extensively revised, due largely to helpful comments from people like you. THANKS! But just because I made changes, doesn't mean I actually fixed things. ::rueful::
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apparently my husband thinks I shouldn't have comments.

Not on the beta version, he can see where it would be a convenience for betareaders, but on the 'live' one page posted at a time version.
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Metruis
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, personally, I think he's a moron: comment sections provide an easy way to build your own personal community around your webcomic, and that community is a critical process in potentially monetizing your comic, as well as providing a way for fans to talk to each other about it and squeal over your latest update.

People are MUCH more likely to comment on a commenting system (like IntenseDebate) than they are to join a forum or even worse, personally email you. I only privately contact people if they really look like they need it, or I have fanart for them or an invitation or something.

It's a convenience for alpha readers too and it gives them one more reason to stick around for a few more pageviews for the ads, one more reason to come back between updates (to discuss the update)...

Now if you have reason to not want that experience, by all means. I don't see why you wouldn't want to cultivate your own personal fanbase (my own tiny fanbase even bought things from me!) but if you have reason to not want to...

Well, anyway, it's your webcomic, not your husband's. You make the decision.
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Metruis wrote:
Well, personally, I think he's a moron: comment sections provide an easy way to build your own personal community around your webcomic, and that community is a critical process in potentially monetizing your comic.


Not only is he not a moron, he also reads more webcomics than I do, and is far more likely to spend money than I am.

It is his impression that the more financially successful a webcomic is, the less likely it is to have the ability for people to comment directly on comic pages. As a result, as a webcomic reader, his emotional response to webcomic comments is... well, not complimentary, not at all what y'all have been describing to me above, and not how you want your readers to be reacting if you are are seriously attempting to convince them to cough up some cash.


Which makes me wonder... how many potential readers out there are like him, and how many are the ones y'all have been describing to me? And which group of readers would I personally be better off catering to?


BUT, either way, my betareaders have enough to suffer from as it is without me putting barriers in the way of them communicating with me. So I have created a commenting system that appears to be working on my home machine, and I will hopefully have it up online tomorrow. Smile
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Traegorn



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See, that has more to do with the older webcomics (which tend to use older comic systems) being the profitable ones. Those older comic management systems didn't support comments, and that's it.

Sites are less likely to switch, and those that have (like Shortpacked) didn't lose readers when they started supporting them.


Correlation is not causation in this case.
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smbhax.com
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a great list, wendyw! I would add, though, that the mega-big webcomics (xkcd, Achewood, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Penny Arcade, PvP, Order of the Stick, SMBC, Questionable Content) by and large don't have comments, at least not directly on the comic page. I do think there comes a point where they become entirely impractical for management reasons--not that most of us have to worry about reaching that level, I suppose. :p

... Hm, but The Oatmeal does. Okay, I take that all back.

For myself, I have comments on my mirror sites (ComicFury, Smack Jeeves, Drunk Duck) but not on my main site. I guess I didn't really want to have to manage them, and I kind of like not having a huge amount of noise level there, but just the comic; I get comments here and there on the mirror sites and social networks, and that's about enough feedback to satisfy me, without having to worry about flaming, spam, etc going on below the comics on my main site...and without being distracted with refreshing the comments page every five minutes, which I would probably do if I had one on my main site. >_>

I thought I saw language in the user agreement for some ad services that seemed to discourage having unmoderated comments on pages where you'd be showing ads, but that doesn't seem to be stopping Gunnerkrigg, for instance, so I probably read or remembered that wrong.

I'm a *little* skeptical of the "building community" notion of comment pages. Sure you can build a small community of regular posters, but it's still an extremely small fraction of your actual readers. I think most authors just have them because they like getting feedback. But I don't think they're necessary for building an audience; advertising on PW has been far more effective for me, I think, than having comments would have been. And when your readership does get big they have the possibility of becoming troublesome or distracting. And I think they can be a sort of false measure of success; like I see comics with pretty low PW numbers but huge comment sections, and if that was me I think I'd be tempted to think 'ooh look at all these comments I get, I'm successful and can go get rich selling books or something now' and be lured into not putting as much effort as I should into expanding my actual readership numbers.

Well basically I guess I'm saying it really just comes down to author preference.

(And as a reader, I kind of like *not* having them there, I think, because if they *are* there, I somehow feel obligated to page down and read them all the time instead of just going through the comic. ;)
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Metruis
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wendyw wrote:
Just a suggestion, but I think we should probably refrain from calling forum members' significant others morons, regardless of whether or not we agree with them.

All right, let me rephrase that to "I think that idea is moronic." instead. Him being entirely stupid is not what I meant to imply, but rather that the idea seemed to me to be something pulled out of the ass of someone who doesn't enjoy commenting and doesn't think anyone would, and I wonder if the people who agree on the notion of 'commenting systems aren't worth it' are also inclined to not comment on comics, and those of us in favor are, because it certainly seems that way. Given a day of thought I still think the idea of not having a commenting system because a few well known comics don't have one... is really stupid. Choosing whether or not to have a comment system should be related to whether or not you want feedback from your readers when it really gets down to it. But if Lavenderbard is personally offended by my judgement of his analysis, I'm sorry that my choice of words was problematic. Though I've certainly seen members here use language I would consider to be far more inflammatory, I think I'll go back into the woodworks for now.

I fling money at the webcomics where I've gotten involved in the community and fandom to some extent and I absolutely allow the ability I have to communicate with the creator to color my willingness to put money out when push comes to shove. I'd rather give my money to a person than a company, just saying.
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katastrophe



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

smbhax.com wrote:
That's a great list, wendyw! I would add, though, that the mega-big webcomics (xkcd, Achewood, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Penny Arcade, PvP, Order of the Stick, SMBC, Questionable Content) by and large don't have comments, at least not directly on the comic page. I do think there comes a point where they become entirely impractical for management reasons--not that most of us have to worry about reaching that level, I suppose. :p

... Hm, but The Oatmeal does. Okay, I take that all back.


Well, as Traegorn pointed out upthread, those are all older comics that existed back in the Stone Ages, when blogs were only just becoming a thing, Keenspot didn't suck, and we were all stalking the rare Webcomic through the jungles of the Internet rather than checking RSS and going "man, how am I ever going to read all these things?" No offense to the poor, undoubtably paraphrased, not-even-present-to-defend-himself husband of the original complaint, but saying comments are a bad idea because successful comics don't have them is a bit like saying you should never use Wordpress or the like because successful comics all have homebrewed systems. It's not because they're successful: it's all -- including the success -- because they're old.

I should also point out that most of these no-comments comics have off-site places where readers can interact: forums, Livejournal communities, Facebook pages, etc. Giving your fanbase a place to play is just a lot easier now.

That said -- the decision as to whether your comic has comments is entirely yours. I would not base it on the activities of successful comics, for the reasons stated above, but also because the chances of your comic becoming (financially) successful enough for any of this to matter are slim. Base your decision instead on whatever non-financial metrics of success you have.

For myself, my comic has always largely a place to play and improve my storytelling abilities, and hopefully to provide someone with some entertainment in the meantime. The comments section has been shockingly helpful in this sense. My novel-writing experience was largely one of being told what readers wanted, liked, would not tolerate, would be confused by, would ignore: an endless, often contradictory stream of dictates which I tried my best to meet. Having access to actual readers -- even the slender cross-section of readers who leave comments -- has been eye-opening.

If this sort of feedback strikes you as stifling, unnecessary, or a chore, however (and given that you have a finished product to present I can see where it could), then a comment section isn't going to be valuable to you in the same way. We've all got different measures of success. If comments aren't a tool that moves you towards yours, then by all means avoid them.
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lavenderbard wrote:
So I have created a commenting system that appears to be working on my home machine, and I will hopefully have it up online tomorrow. Smile


Naturally, it did NOT work when I put it up online.

I think I have it working now, though.
In theory Metrius and charliemack who already have accounts on my website can head on over and check it out. If anyone else wants to look I will need to set up an account for them. I'll put a slightly more detailed post asking for betareaders in the Dogpile.

katastrophe wrote:
but saying comments are a bad idea because successful comics don't have them is a bit like saying you should never use Wordpress or the like because successful comics all have homebrewed systems. It's not because they're successful: it's all -- including the success -- because they're old.


I think you missed part of the point of what I said. I said his emotional response to seeing comments is negative. Whether or not he has a valid reason for his emotional response is really beside the point. The question that matters, (and which is probably going to be very hard to get much hard data for), is "how many other people feel the same way?"

Emotionally I think I'm in smbhax's camp. I don't tend to comment myself, and I think comments look cluttered and can be irritating, because I keep ending up reading them, when I'd really rather not. Likewise, I think that the people who are into "community" themselves tend to put a higher value on various community features than is actually warranted on a straight-up financial basis.

Personally I was comparing my vague irritation to other people's "community mindedness" and figuring that community mindedness was probably winning... but that was before my husband told me that his negative reaction to comments is stronger than mine. Now I'm not so sure.

Especially since my husband has been talking about turning micro-publisher, and taking over all of the business end of marketing, promotion and sales of my creative output for me. He has a degree in English (with a history minor) and 20 years of retail experience. I think he's as likely to do well at micropublishing as anyone, and much more likely to be successful at it than I am.

So, if the price I pay for having him taking over all that for me is the loss of the comments... I think I'm more interested in coming up with other ways to foster community than I am in convincing him to keep something I myself don't much care for.

Although I can't help wondering if some compromise can't be achieved instead.

What if I leave the reply box, but only show the comment count with a link to a comment page, instead of the actual comments? That way you still have your quick convenient feedback, my own personal problems with clutter and unwanted distractions are covered, and the rest of the community type advantages are only one click further away, instead of missing altogether.

ttallan wrote:
I wonder, though, if your story is already finished and if you were not interested in encouraging a comment section, is there any advantage to publishing it in webcomic format?


I believe there is. Serialization has been a valid marketing technique for narrative for pretty much forever. I don't see how a lack of a comment section changes that. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lavenderbard wrote:
What if I leave the reply box, but only show the comment count with a link to a comment page, instead of the actual comments? That way you still have your quick convenient feedback, my own personal problems with clutter and unwanted distractions are covered, and the rest of the community type advantages are only one click further away, instead of missing altogether.

Yeah that's pretty much how Gunnerkrigg does it, from the looks of things--well except without leaving the reply box. It's also *kind* of what I do on my blog updates, although my "discuss" link just goes to a particular thread on my forum, and people don't really post on forums anymore. ;)
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Lavenderbard
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wendyw wrote:
Intense Debate allows you to have just a small box that tells you how many comments there are, which you can click and only then will it expand and show you all of the comments and it has threaded comments and support for OpenID, Gravatar and Facebook accounts, which is always nice to have.


I checked out the Intense Debate site, and it didn't look like something I would be able to open up and muck with the innards of.
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