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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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wendyw
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:47 am    Post subject: Re: Does each page (300+) of my comic need its own comments? Reply with quote

Lavenderbard wrote:

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?


The problem with that is surely anybody reading through the start of a chapter be able to see the comments for later in that chapter as well meaning possible unwanted spoilers?

Also, if people think they're commenting on a particular page not a chapter, they might make some comment about someone's expression in panel four, only for someone else who's looking at a different page to get confused because their panel four is a picture of someone's foot or something like that. It could get even more confusing if the comment for one page almost makes sense for another, but not quite. You could end up with some really weird crossed wires.
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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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Casual Notice
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless you're planning a second career (like William Faulkner) explaining your work to gullible co-eds, I feel like any literary work should stand onits own. Comments should never be necessary, either by page or by chapter.
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katastrophe



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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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ttallan
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

Also, add my vote to the comments section on each page. It really helps build and sustain your readership, even though the percentage of people who use it is usually pretty small.

Casual Notice wrote:
Unless you're planning a second career (like William Faulkner) explaining your work to gullible co-eds, I feel like any literary work should stand onits own. Comments should never be necessary, either by page or by chapter.

While I agree there is truth to that, I've found in webcomics-- or at least, long-form webcomic-- author comments are often necessary. Or at least very helpful. Although I do my best to make each single-page update stand on its own, the fact of the matter is my comic is really best read all in one sitting, or at least in chapter chunks. At the week-to-week pace readers forget things, like key plot points, and I try to throw in gentle reminders or links to pages worth re-reading in order to help orient people as they go. Too much of that kind of thing in the comic itself and it'll ruin the flow for readers who are taking it all in one go, so the commentary below the page seems the proper place. Having a "Story So Far" page also helps, but the commentary is more immediate and doesn't require an extra click.

(I suppose one might question why, if my comic is supposed to be read in chapters, I'm posting single pages. The answer is because online, the regular updates are necessary to build readership. If I went and published a graphic novel out of the blue, no one would know what it was and I'd only sell a small handful. If I only posted chapters once every few months, my readers would quickly forget about my comic. This way, at least my name and my comic stays out there and by the time the books are ready to print, I have an audience ready to buy.)
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Casual Notice
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah. my bad...skimmed while reading and mistook your meaning. You were asking about comments as in a section for your readers to comment, and I took it for some reason as comments as in the author comments offered on sites like Direman and Penny Arcade.

My apologies, didn't mean to insult in any way. I simply misunderstood (as I said, because of my own laziness and no fault of yours).
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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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wendyw
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.

Anyway, on the subject of successful comics and commenting systems Scary Go Round had comments for a long, long time. It was only once the comic was already very successful that the comment system was taken down.

Just taking a quick look round there's quite a few comics that do pretty well and have comments on the comic pages. All of the following have comments enabled and are in the top 50 highest ranked webcomics according to one or more listing site.*

Gunnerkrigg Court, Templar Arizona, The Meek, Shadow Binders, Everblue, Pictures of You, Romantically Apocalyptic, Sandra and Woo, Spinnerette, The Phoenix Requiem, Out At Home, Two guys and Guy, Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Mokepon, Curvy, House Pets, Errant Story, Weregeek, Loading Artist, The Pocalypse, Underling, Wapsi Square, Gaia, Off White, Greg, String Theory, No Need For Bushido, Go Get a Roomie, Manly Guys Doing Manly Things and Exiern.

From the ones I checked there were about an equal number that didn't have comments, so basically there probably isn't any link between the likelihood of success and whether or not you have comments, in which case do whatever you're happiest with.

(*Yes, I know that comic rankings aren't a perfect measure of success, or well, anything other than the popularity of a comic with users of the listing/ranking sites, but they make a pretty good place to start.)
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ttallan
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I were to look at an unknown comic that didn't have any comments, I would more often than not assume that's because there aren't enough fans to make it worthwhile. Pretty cynical, but there it is. And I would probably end up judging it unfairly and thinking it likely wasn't worth my time, either. Seeing comments from other readers works a bit like sheep mentality for me-- if I read about how much other people are enjoying a comic, I'm more likely to give it a chance.

But that's just me. I'm a webcomic creator, and I'm sure my view of webcomics is coloured by that. Your husband makes a valid point, and I'd be interested in knowing how many other readers share it.

If you do choose not to have comments, though, you're going to want to come up with some other method to build a fanbase and community.
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