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Author Topic: What's the Matter with Santharia?  (Read 13998 times)
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Seagazer
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« on: 02 November 2015, 06:47:38 »

Hey all!

I'm a relative debutante to the Dream, but I've been a lurker for far longer than I've posted. The slowdown in development recently has sparked me to start to actually do something to help out. Before we jump into emailing everyone, I think it is worth asking a few simple questions:

Why has the Dream slowed down?
Are the reasons personal feuds between members of the project? (I hope not)
Are the reasons technical?
Are the reasons internal to the project? Do people wish there were more empty spaces to develop? Do they want someone to develop with?

Before we hear the ever-present answer that real life has intruded, I doubt that real life has grown in importance over the past several years for all members. Perhaps the dream is just aging as a project and fewer people with lots of free time are participating.

As I said earlier, I'm just a beginner so, I really would be interested in hearing your answers. Please feel free to just write how ever much you want to. I just want to know what the general vibe is on this.

Thanks,
Seagazer
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Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #1 on: 03 November 2015, 04:25:27 »

Hello there, Seagazer! Nice to hear from you again! wave

Well, to answer your questions - I've mentioned these things a couple of times already, but here we go again. There a multiple reasons:

- There is an undeniable technical problem for one thing. Which is the search engine issue. Even if newcomers show up and many of them disappear again, the fact that they usually generate traffic and interest in the site, is now gone. It's practically impossible to find the site on Google nowadays. For one you'd need to put a lot of effort into search engine optimization in general, and second, frame pages like Santharia (with a fixed menu to the left, fixed top section etc.) are considered "old school" by search engines. That's because they aren't really compatible with newer technology like phones and iPads etc., so they get ranker lower. However, changing a 3000+ pages site to another format isn't easily done. And I have no idea how and time/interest to do it.

- Second, the members' interest has dwindled over time, and people weren't commenting on other people's entries anymore. Nobody really wanted to take responsibility. In a spare time project that is understandable, because the more pressure/stress you have in a project the more you're likely to neglect your "duties", even if they're only self-assigned.

- Key members who wrote many entries or drew pictures, commented on other people's work like Judy, Rayne, Talia, Seeker etc. more and more withdrew over time. So if people who can guide others (because of their experience, dedication and enthusiasm) don't profess their experience, dedication and enthusiasm, there's little to get enthusiastic about...

- Personally I'm not here to mainly maintain other people's work (comment on them, prepare the entries, do most of the administrative/organisational work, try to find artists who allow us use their works, pay the bills etc.) I've done that for more than 15 years practically non-stop. I'm more interested doing something with my own creativity and while I've done lots of very different work (write entries, draw maps, code Santhworld, write stories and so on) the fact that people relied too much on me to keep things going made a continuation practically impossible. Especially as I have a fulltime job, and what I do here is just "a hobby".

Members would need to administer the site themselves to a great degree, take responsibility into their own hands. Manage Forum sections, write to artists if we can use their works etc. However, in a spare time project it may happen easily that real life interferes. It's great to see you taking initiative, Seagazer, and a couple of people showing up as a result, posting entries and commenting etc. We haven't seen that in a long time. The question is, whether the activity is sustainable.

- Members need to be perfectly clear that it is "our project" in every sense. I've written somewhere in the FAQs to answer the question "Where do you gain the energy to work on this gigantic project?" - "From you." Stopping updates is a reflection on lack of activity. And I don't see it as my personal duty to try to keep the project going, because it isn't "my" project, but "ours".

- All these issues are interconnected of course, that's an additional problem. Getting a couple of members back working for example won't help in the long run if we cannot manage to keep a consistent influx on new members going etc.

These are my 2 sans at least :)
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Seagazer
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« Reply #2 on: 03 November 2015, 08:55:30 »

Okay great.

You're absolutely right that I can't single-handedly push forward a project of this magnitude with any sustainability for even a few weeks. I'm no Artimidor!

I'll look into the technical side of things. I'll see if there's some nice way to scrape all the articles and put them into another form. Just to mention something really simple, all future entries could be done in Markdown and then converted into HTML at run-time ŕ la Wikipedia. Of course, converting all the entries over would be a gargantuan task. Hopefully, they'll prove to be some way of doing that in a systematic way. Also, maybe a reassessing of the forum as method of developing entries might be in order.

I'll look into some things and report back soon.

Of course if nothing else works, I can prepare all the future entries if that makes your life any easier.

Again thanks.

Seagazer
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Ta`lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #3 on: 03 November 2015, 17:11:58 »

Seagazer, I'm sorry you are working fairly alone here, that is really a pitty. I wished I had known you while I have been active.

There are many reasons why the Dream is slowing down, but one is surely that Artimdor misses often/sometimes .. is sensitiveness the word, or empathy? I don't think he does it on purpose.

Example? Shabakuk is coming back after a long time. The email notification lures me to the thread. And Coren too I supose.

Whom does he greet? Just Shaba, for Coren and I had quarrels with him in the past. Not a single "Hey, Talia, Coren, nice to see you too.." or something like this. Why should I spend my time on a site, where I'm not welcome? I miss Shaba, Coren, Altario and many others very much, but not so much that I will risk again getting hurt. I'm sorry.
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« Reply #4 on: 03 November 2015, 18:27:41 »

I can't help it if you take everything I post (or not post) personally, Talia. I recommend not to do that, because you're likely to misinterpret things. I took the time to answer the key question here, because it is the issue at hand and is of importance for everyone I think. And I congratulated Shabakuk on a great event in his life, which I thought is due in these circumstances. And that's all.
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Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #5 on: 04 November 2015, 01:38:32 »

Hah, well, Talia, it appears that a garden of Lavender has not softened those jagged edges of yours. hug

**Eyes soapbox with trepidation.  Do I still know how to do a soapbox rant?  It has been so long.  More, can I still get up on one?  I'm not as young as I used to be.**

**Climbs up on rickety soapbox**

A bunch of us together again, and sadly it starts out with hurt feelings.  Not how I hoped it would be.  I had hoped for laughter, and hugs, and music.  Perhaps a couple of semi dressed dancing nymphs.  But that just might be me.

Arti, should you have given a shout out to old faces?  Probably.

Talia, should you feel insulted that he did not?  Probably not.

Come on guys, we are family.  Seeing you guys here feels like home.  It's comfortable.  It's run around in my underwear comfortable.  We don't need big shows of cordiality between us.  We just are.  I've been here almost nine years, you guys even longer.  If the implied, "I'm really glad you are here" doesn't exist, it never will.

Arti, I'm glad you are here.  This site is my second home.  You're like a dad around here.  Speaking of which, can I borrow the car Saturday night?  I have a date with Val.

Talia, I miss you.  No one shreds my work the way you do.  I want to learn more about the Shendar and your help with the north.  Mostly, I need my Nemesis.

Coren, I miss your large (huge, grand, ambitious) works.

Val, I miss... no, this is still a PG site, so I can't say aloud what I miss about you.

Shabby, I miss your great sense of humour, your intelligence and great writing style.

And to those of you I don't know well enough to have missed to this point, I look forward to getting to that place where I will miss you.

You know, up on this soapbox after all these years, I only have one last thing to say.

Hey, you kids, get off my darn lawn!  **Shakes fist**

**climbs off soapbox**
« Last Edit: 04 November 2015, 01:49:31 by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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Seagazer
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« Reply #6 on: 04 November 2015, 04:21:25 »

Looking over it, I don't think they'll be an easy way to convert the current project into a more mobile friendly format. There could be a big effort to convert it, but I don't know how much there is worth there.

Also, I guess there are personal schisms among the "leaders" of the project. I'll leave you guys to that.

Thanks for a wonderful project.
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Val O´Neil
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« Reply #7 on: 04 November 2015, 14:19:25 »

Well... I wrote a couple long winded posts to share my thoughts. But instead I think I'll just look around for areas to perform CPR on.

*turns and shuffles off, a swarm of butterflies trailing behind her as she scribbles furiously in a tiny notebook.*
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« Reply #8 on: 05 November 2015, 04:25:27 »

@Val: Ah, I must have happened to read one of those long winded posts in the morning, Val, as now you've substituted it with this shorter one... Anyway, I get your point - and great to see you get to work and help someone else out with commenting! Very much appreciated!  thumbup

@Alt: Well, it's true that I tend to take members for granted and as pieces of Santharian inventory. Like others tend to take me for something like the Santharian spirit that is ever present on the Forum and can be summoned in a jiffy. Thus I don't necessarily make great welcome gestures, after all many of us feel pretty much at home here. Especially as my presence here might be fleeting, so I mainly came here to answer questions. (See answers above, this all still applies.)

@Seagazer: The mobile friendly thing is very complicated, difficult to realize and even if the site is in a way made mobile friendly it is not guaranteed that the search engines pick up on that properly. Which is the key thing here. For this generates more traffic, more interest, more works, comments etc. I'm no expert, so I don't know if there might be other ways to improve search engine ranking with a frame page. At least the front page is not a frame page, so there could be some serious optimization possible there - if one knows the trade... Unfortunately this has turned into quite a science, so I don't know what is all required there nowadays. At least only Google is left, so it's basically a Google optimization that would be necessary. But yeah, I don't know anyone who could help out there.
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Val O´Neil
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« Reply #9 on: 05 November 2015, 13:03:33 »

Hm... I would like to note that I'm on the site via my cellphone today without any wifi, and the last couple days I've been accessing it via an iPad. I haven't had any trouble navigating any part of the site on my phone, even doing HTML codes in posts on the iPad was- a little tedious at first- but ultimately rather easy.

This brings forward a thought. Could an app be made?

I think this is worth looking into, which I will start doing. I'll post about it again when I've learned more about apps and what it takes to make one.
« Last Edit: 05 November 2015, 13:11:33 by Val O´Neil » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: 05 November 2015, 15:54:13 »

Good to see some brainstorming there, Val :) But it's all definitely not easy.

Well, it's of course not impossible to view the site on, say, an iPad. Though the menu structure which is currently fixed (that's how frame pages are designed) and takes away space makes it difficult to navigate. And on a mobile phone navigating the site becomes quite hazardous. Well, maybe the supersize iPads that are in the works turn out to be a hit and the problem solves itself and mobile surfers are happy with the current menu structure... :D Well, I doubt that however, because mobile devices need to be handy, so smaller sizes are preferable. It might be that larger iPads once substitute desktop PCs and notebooks however.

Anyway. I fear we won't get that far with an app in general. :/ Because the main issue is to be found via the search engines (regardless how you view the site) - that's primarily why the site would need to be mobile friendly. An app doesn't solve that problem, it would (maybe) only make the site more user friendly. Aside from that apps definitely aren't that easy to make, so we'd need coders and ideas what exactly we want to have it look like and how it's different from the site. Lots of question marks and no easy answers. And if the app would basically display webpages with a different menu structure, then it's more or less a page re-design, which could be done with regular means as well. So yeah, unless we have a sort of an epiphany, this is all very tough to accomplish.
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« Reply #11 on: 05 November 2015, 22:16:55 »

I think I got a little burned out after rushing to get the Volkek-oshra language finished before the end of last year.  I was going to get to work on Xaramon right after, but just couldn't get motivated.  And with things slowing down on the site, I started visiting less, I guess.   :(
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« Reply #12 on: 07 November 2015, 06:17:54 »

Thanks to Seagazer for lighting the spark that got half a dozen old scribblers back to the compendium's halls. Nice to see Altario's soap box is still intact, nice to hear that love for the site and memories of each other are still alive. I'll hang around for a bit and see where this takes me.
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« Reply #13 on: 12 November 2015, 04:40:33 »

I don't have a solution to the recruitment problem, I'm afraid.  undecided
 
When I thought about hanging around in Santharia once again, one question came to mind. It's for Artimidor Federkiel:

Arti, are you still interested in maintaining the site at all, preparing entries and announcing updates, etc.? I think it would be great if you were! Even if current activity is modest in quantity, it can still be fun and high in quality! But I thought I'd ask. I'd understand if you felt like packing it in, although I hope you don't and won't. Looks like you've been keeping your own Santharian writing up - with that Duel story for example - so I hope there's still something in this project for you?
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« Reply #14 on: 12 November 2015, 05:43:01 »

I will update the site if there's enough stuff to put up, Shabby. But basically at the moment the members have to make sure there is enough themselves, because I have limited time resources. And of course I don't know if people will stick around and be able to manage the site together by writing entries and commenting on each other's work. But I'm there and will prepare site updates, yup, don't worry.

Personally I keep my own Santharian writing up as well, yes. If there are creative ideas I need to get out of my system, I'll write that story or realize the idea, whatever it is. Like "The Duel" recently. My life's work is "The Ring" however, where I'm constantly revising/linking the Chapters I-IV in various ways. I also gather inspiration for Chapter V which slowly is forming in my mind. That poetical novel is the most challenging work I've ever done and is meant to be written over a lifetime, so I won't let go of that one for a while methinks.  grin
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"Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a mediator, and this must be the heart." -- Maria (Metropolis)
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