LitRPG tags: feedback thread #2 - MC's class/role, story elements, genre, theme and tone

Discussion in 'All Things LitRPG' started by Windfall, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Iiiii dunno. =)

    I mean, I'd totally support such a forum (I was a regular poster there, and it was grand!), but nowadays it seems to me that a large chunk of internet users (and nowdays everybody is an internet user) are extremely well tuned to feeling insulted by pretty much everything.

    It's like for every paragraph you write nowadays in places like reddit and such, you need to write another paragraph before it making sure you are not taken wrong, and another paragraph afterwards just to make doubly sure?

    I have a hunch that healthy bitching and ranting ("healthy" as in, allows for purging our systems of negative energies and such, so to speak) has moved to things like Discord and such, which tend to be more private.

    (Even in a public Discord, if I go on a ranting spree, most folks won't be bothered to scroll up after a few hours and be buried there)

    But yeah, would definitely support such a sub-forums myself. =)

    Anyway! I don't think "Ranting" is one of the tags LitRPG needs, so let's leave it a that! :p
     
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  2. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Lol, yeah, I think kids nowadays are just trained to be instantly outraged at the tiniest things. It's one of the unintended effects of the internet: outrage culture, disregard for nuance/context, and the click-bait-y nature of everything, plus regurgitated 'spun' articles are creating so much of junk, empty 'information' -- and it's not even like anyone masterminded it. Sometimes I'm really amazed on what the internet has become.

    That said... we can build cultures. We can build communities. It's the people, not algorithms, that matter. I'm a firm believer in this.

    Oh, wait, this isn't the soapbox thread? :p
     
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  3. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Weeeell... It's not like "soapbox" isn't a well-established tag in more than one genre... :p

    But, yeah: one (the main?) reason I prefer "old-fashioned" forums like this one as opposed to more modern forms of internet public agoras like reddit (which I like quite a bit), facebook or twitter (which I don't like very much, i have to say) is that old-style forums tend to encourage longer walls of text (which I suspect I may be addicted to...), and above all reading things into a bit more context.

    Of course flame wars and nitpicking can be done, but it takes a lot more effort to extract something out of context if it's embedded in a long wall of text, than it takes in venues like twitter in which every tweet is more or less floating out there on its own (and can be replicated with a click without the rest).

    So, yep, I do think we can create culture, although I'm a bit afraid the one-liner culture (I mean in the internet at large) we are creating is a bit... dunno; as you say, perhaps a bit too quick to anger, and a bit too prone of always going for the worst possible interpretation of whatever is written.

    (Which, to be fair, is sometimes really poorly worded because, well, there's little time and we're all tired and everybody can have a brainfart).


    And, here you go...

    **returns soapbox to W.**

    ... didn't mean to steal your ride!! :p
     
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  4. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    We should turn this into THE RANT THREAD! :p

    I've never been on twitter and I'm one of those 'old people' who don't understand twitter. I don't do facebook either, and I really don't know what to think of reddit, since things kinda... disappear so quickly. I love old-school forums, though, for the reasons you have mentioned, and I love how new posts bumps threads up to the top. It's a rather easy-to-understand concept, which I think is so much better than reddit's short attention span. (I think reddit is great when it's used to handle/filter/organize a large number of participants, like 100+, but with only a few contributors per thread, it's kinda messy)


    -----


    Anyway, getting back to our topic, I'm kinda not happy with this:

    Tone: [LIGHT] [HUMOROUS] [SERIOUS] [HEAVY] [DARK] [SOMBER] [EMOTIONAL] [PENSIVE] [INFORMAL] [LITERARY] [SELF-AWARE]

    It's super messy, it's not based on anything. There are too many of them. So let's explore them a bit:

    Light: doesn't take itself too seriously, usually indicates lower-stakes stories
    Humorous: funny stuff
    Serious: a story that takes itself seriously and earnestly (so usually no messing around in the narration)
    Heavy: heavy subject matters, handled solemnly
    Dark: not afraid of the nastier side of things (so a dark comedy can be tagged 'dark' and 'humorous')
    Emotional: what I call weepy-whiny (in the best possible sense -- I love these!)
    Pensive: ?? (no idea why I have this as a tag -- I'm probably going to cut it)
    Informal: maybe 'colloquial' is a better word? for authors who write like they're talking to you
    Literary: well-written lofty stuff written in 'written' language -- or just something with literary value
    Self-aware: tongue-in-cheek, flirting with the fourth wall, etc. Or will 'facetious' be a better word?

    But now... technically stories that are written the 'normal' way (not exactly light, not exactly serious, not exactly dark) will have no tag. I'm kinda okay with it, actually. If something doesn't stand out, don't tag it (?)
     
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  5. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Maybe something more descriptive...

    ... like "Grumpy Old Folks Complaining 'bou Them Kids These Days"? I mean, that's yet another genre that can be traced at least as far back as Roman times, although it's probably as old as mankind... :p

    But, yeah, pretty much my views. Reddit is great, for me, to read after a few days (as in: when I check reddit, I tend to read threads at least 2-3 days old), since by that time most conversations are sort of finished and I get to check the whole discussion (when I find it interesting), or just skip it (if I don't). But the fact that each reddit thread is pretty much a separate conversation kills, methinks, the magic of threads in traditional forums like this one, in which is a thread is a single ongoing conversation that anybody can jump into if they want (not that most would dare in a thread like this, but that's another discussion! :p)


    I'm fairly certain that the above should be true in general, to avoid having the square peg in round hole problem.

    On the one hand, there are gonna be some areas in which there's a clear default for the genre; that's why I tend to think that something like a previous tag like "Provoking" perhaps doesn't need an opposite (which would be something like "Comforting") since the majority of LitRPG would fall into the non-provoking camp.

    Specifically for "Tone", I'd go for less tags, and specifically when it's super clear, and accept some (a lot?) of stuff will fall outside and not use the tags.

    Top of my head: [LIGHT] [SERIOUS] [Colloquial rather than Informal] [LITERARY] [SELF-AWARE]

    Those are tags that methinks everybody would have a sense, at first glance, of what they mean (even if we'll never exactly agree on every case for each tag, but that's something that the "wisdom of crowds" should take care of, as we chatted previously).

    I think some of the others (like Dark), at least how you describe them, seem to fall into something like "Subject matter" maybe?

    But, yeah, these are all highly subjective to begin with, so really hard to encapsulate.
     
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  6. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Yep! And I love epic 'thread-necromancing' that traditional forums allow! :p

    Yeah, totally agree with this.

    Now that I've thought about it.... I think it's actually something along the scale of: <---- pulp --------------------------- depth ----> that I'm trying to capture. If people go into something expecting fast fun and they get some thought-provoking heavy stuff instead they're going to rage. The same goes for people expecting substance and getting only pulp. But [pulp] and [depth] come with their own negative/positive baggage, (and something deep doesn't always have to be provoking, since it can be depth of character or something else)



    Yeah, I agree that [Light] should definitely be one, and maybe 'dark humor' can be taken care of by [Satire] in the 'genre' category. I agree that most stories won't need a 'tone' tag, if it's just... normal. Despite personally wanting to have a [Serious] tag, I still haven't found one LitRPG that fits. Even Way of the Shaman, which kinda takes itself seriously, isn't... serious per se.

    [Dark] I agree is super ambiguous and will be problematic. For example, people say Awaken Online is dark just because the MC controls zombies, but I don't think it is at all.

    I kinda want to keep the [Emotional] tag for my favorite series Sicora Online. (And this will warn readers who hate emotions away) I feel like I need to read more, though, since I have a feeling that Life in the North might also fit this to some degree, and maybe Alpha World. Definitely Continue Online from what I've heard.

    Agree with [Colloquial] rather than informal. That was the word I was originally looking for but couldn't find.

    I wonder how many LitRPGs would fit [Literary]... Again, I put this in just for Sicora Online. But surely the genre can grow!

    Next step: I think I need to read more LitRPGs for more data. If I make it my goal to read at least 30, while I slowly write my stories and start coding the trial version of the tag system... I think that will make a lot of stuff clearer.
     
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  7. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    He he he... fan of Awaken Online, I guess??? :p


    Well... certainly two decades ago, and probably just one decade ago, I would have said that "pulp" still had too many negative connotations for it to be a tag that authors would be willing to proudly wear as a badge. But, currently, I'd say that has changed and the majority of authors, and readers (or at least self-published authors and their readers) wouldn't be ashamed at all to aim either way.

    (and I fully agree that, when I want to read pulp, it's pulp that I want; it's just like movies, sometimes I want a lot of pew pew and kaboom with just a few dialog lines, sometimes I need something a lot more soul-searching and realistic. I mean, it's not that different from food: sometimes we want pizza, sometimes we want barbacue, sometimes we may be in the mood to taste something we've never eaten before; as long as the label matches the content, it's all good =)

    In short: I'd say Pulp // Depth is a good scale; perhaps "Fun Romp" // "Serious Stuff" could be alternatives that don't convey so much pre-judgement?



    Yyyyep... I'd be willing to bet "Dark" is the kind of tag that means too many different things (and sometimes wildly different) for too many people, so I highly doubt it will ever be a useful tag. =)

    I have a hunch the same would apply to Emotional, too; then again, should this system ever see the light of day (fingers crossed!) I guess some tags will find their own use, so to speak.

    IMHO, this would somewhat included in the Pulp // Depth scale. Theoretically, they are not the same thing (Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" is without a doubt a love song to pulp, yet from the point of view of cinematic language it's as Literary as movies can get, and had an influence in cinematic storytelling that in the 90s only The Matrix could be argued to have surpassed), but for all intents and purposes, I think what such a scale tries to capture is "I had a terrible day at work, I need something relaxing to read", versus "Alright, I'm all rested; my brain needs a solid workout"; or, if you will, "Brain Needs Spa" versus "Brain Needs Crossfit", if that makes any sense. =)

    Whatever word you can come up for "Brain Needs Spa" would cover, methinks, everything from "a style that's easy-going to read" to "characters I can easily identify with" to "happy endings" to, ultimately, "my worldview has been supported, so even if my day was shit I can go to sleep knowing tomorrow will be better", while whatever word you can come up for "Brain Needs Crossfit" would cover, again always in my typin'-'cos-it's-free opinion, everthing from "a style that takes as much effort to read as it took to write, and such effort is its own reward" to "characters that do things I would never do, yet I understand why they do it" to "I have the nagging feeling this ain't gonna end well..." and then it doesn't end well, to ultimately "I've had a good enough day, so let's look at this world in the eyes so we can perhaps come to terms with what we don't like about it, and somehow even add our tiny grain of sand to make it better."

    I mean...

    **looks at feet**

    ... damn.

    I stole your soapbox again, didn't I? :oops:

    Anyway!! :D

    Just thinking that perhaps a bunch of tags could be summed up in just a couple that, without sounding derisive, somehow convey "Brain Needs Spa", versus "Brain Needs Gym". =)
     
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  8. SideKarakterGendut

    SideKarakterGendut Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Personally, I'm totally against tagging story. Because I've seen how tags can alienate non-genre stories and multiply the risk for authors who don't wish to follow the crowd in the current Asian web novel scene.

    I've got a story on Qi's Web Novel Inkstone for a while, but later deleted it, because readers asked my story to be tagged. I've been quitting on web novel scene and focus on Amazon for funding my own web novel platform since then.

    Though I admit it, your tagging system way better than theirs. But later when the tags going to be compromised for readers' convenience, that's when I'll fly far far far away in search of other community. Sorry, but I've learned the hard way before.

    Cynical opinion aside, if you really looking for a filtering system, I'll suggest a more organic, auto-suggestion and non-direct design nudging is the way to go. By I mean organic, we should search for a way for curators and critics to monetizing their articles for readers and find a way to organize them (a la tomatoes or IMDB). By I mean auto-suggestion, we should less depend on the categories and learn how to optimize statistical data (which would very hard to do) to make next-read suggestions to readers. And by I mean non-direct design nudging, well, basically covers have been doing the job--but surely we don't need put every novel with "tone" tags if we can personalize the novel page with colors that associated with the desired tone (that psychological nudging, btw, I've read an article about web design talking about this somewhere). After that, even if you go wild with tags, go ahead. I'll support you.
     
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  9. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This is very interesting! Thank you for your feedback! Would you mind elaborating a little how tagging increases risks for authors? I think what we're trying to do here is aim for tags that are 'neutral', and of readers want to read a certain kind of story, they have a quick way to get a whole list of recommendations without having to post on reddit, or facebook. (And usually people mostly recommend stories they like, not what the poster is looking for)

    For example, I've seen readers looking for "MC that is a summoner" -- and there's no way to really find that. Or maybe readers really love stories where the MC has a familiar, or maybe they want something dark and gritty to suit their current mood, etc. I don't think that tags will ultimately be very accurate, but will at least guide readers to things they like and maybe even help lesser-known stories gain visibility.

    I agree that I would prefer a much more organic way to organize recommendations, but that would most likely involve investing in complicated and most likely expensive software that I have no idea how to do. Tags, at least, I have an inkling how to handle and I have some very basic knowledge of database management and the codes that will pull data from the database. This is meant to be a "community service" kind of thing that will help the genre grow. At the very least, if new readers can filter out 'harems' if they don't want harems, I think it will make it a lot easier for them to find things they enjoy and stay in the genre.


    (The rest isn't a direct response to your post, so I'll put in a new post, but it's something that sprang from your response, so thank you!)
     
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  10. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This is off the top of my head on what I wish we have for the tags system:

    Tagging
    1) Authors tag their own books
    2) Readers tag books they review (optional)
    3) Users can 'filter' their list of recommendations using 'author tags', 'reader tags', or 'mixed' (based on some algorithm that combines the two)

    Story info
    1) Cover photo
    2) Title
    3) Series name
    4) Order of the book in the series
    5) Commercial blurb
    6) First 1,000 words or so
    7) Random 1,000 words (selected by the author)

    Reviews
    1) Users sign up
    2) Users can leave reviews -- once there's enough reviews (maybe 5 stories by different authors, etc.), they may choose to become a "Reviewer" and their reviews become visible to the public
    3) Users can choose to 'follow' a Reviewer they like
    4) Star-ratings appear under each book entry, separated into "public score" and "score by Reviewers I follow" (this is to allow readers to only get ratings based on those given by reviewers they choose to trust)
    5) The 'public scores' are weighed based on (secret) algorithms to ensure that 'unreliable' users' scores are given less weight (like those who give only 5 stars to everything or only 1 star to everything)
     
  11. SideKarakterGendut

    SideKarakterGendut Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    If you really interested in making tags heavy-relying website for databasing, then I suggest you go study case how novelupdates.com works. There are some drawbacks from tags depending system that I found, but most notably is the excessive unpopularity of tragedy genre (poor me write tragedies since high school...), the tendency to rate 1 stars based only from novel tags, and underperforming statistic of an award-winning novel.

    the award-winning novel I'm talking about is this:
    Crime Thriller "The Sketch Artist" Receives 2017 Shanghai Cultural Development Foundation Grants

    but somehow it performing very poorly on NU:
    The Sketch Artist - Novel Updates

    Note that the kind of novels that got high rating usually those that "done it right" crowd, despite they're being inferior quality from few critical-acclaimed novels. Even A Step into the Past only got so-so rating because it the NTR tag has some serious number of haters.

    Edit: I'm not sure if A Step into the Past really got bad rating from mainly its tags, but seriously, getting on a project of a novel that contains hated tags (like NTR) is very very risky there.
     
  12. SideKarakterGendut

    SideKarakterGendut Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    A well-maintained algorithm is a must since toxic internet users and trolls are everywhere. And I suggest using 1-10 stars rating system since Amazon already use 5 rating systems, and I'm sure you want to database stories instead of products. For the tagging system, I still think you shouldn't make it as main feature because no matter how neutral you trying to be, internet users will always make roundabouts for their convenience, thus creating unintentional trends (like voting system in reddit and sometimes undesirable effects as well, which nobody realizes until it was too late).

    I've been thinking about making wordpress theme exclusively for novel reviewers, complete with a feature to easily put affiliation links for amazon ebook so they can make money and thus the incentives to bring more influential curators to the scene. I don't know if that would be enough though.
     
  13. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I think things of artistic value or things that are controversial in nature are most likely always going to be less popular than crowd-pleasing 'pop' stuff, and if an author feels uncomfortable about having their story listed then I'll make it a possible option to request the story to be removed from the database. I think a neutral database will help obscure stories gain visibility, as well as help readers manage their own expectations, which leads to people being happier with their LitRPG experience in general. The database should aim to serve readers first and foremost, because with more readers in the genre, the more "readers who like a certain kind of story", which in turns mean a bigger market for all authors.

    A Step into the Past was actually one of the reasons I quit recommendations. I actually bought the books, based on raving reviews from multiple sources, plus the fact that it got a tv adaptation. Personally, as a female reader, that one made me feel... insulted, and the whole set of books immediately went into the recycle bin. I wish I had been warned in advance this was a male fantasy OP harem kind of story.

    I don't think this database -- if it ever gets created -- is going to get that many reviews anyway, which will make it possible for humans to monitor it and look for suspicious behavior. How it's designed to work is probably not going to make creating multiple accounts in order to mess with the star ratings a worthwhile thing to do.
     
  14. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I'm afraid will have to disagree with you on the tagging, since it's these tags that I feel will be extremely helpful for readers. I will need to make sure that it's as airtight as possible and can't be abused by bots/haters (like, maybe for each account to become a public reviewer, it needs to be first 'approved' by a human).

    Maybe we need to build in a system where reviewers are properly incentivized to create good-quality review content as well.
     
  15. SideKarakterGendut

    SideKarakterGendut Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    If you offended by A Step into the Past then let's don't talk about it again. Don't think I want to point out the controversial matter when I talk about "multiple risk", I only pick it since it's one of most well-known professional edited (I reckon...) in seas of amateurish junk novels listed on the site I mentioned before (and I admit it I haven't read it either).

    I'm not saying is if you really create the database it will overwhelmed by abusing users. In fact, the novel database I mentioned does its job very well in keeping rating and review abuse, and there are several cases of removing ratings due to translators asked their readers for 5 stars in return for more content. And there are several lots of tagging problems from trolls that rapidly solved by the well-intentioned community. That's not exactly the warning I want to give you.

    And yes, I'm myself have the experience of getting my readers from databasing website. It's helping me and also has helped lots of readers searching their favorite novels. I'm all for a better environment for readers and authors. If you really planned to create it I also can help since I also know a little bit of nodejs and a javascript framework and still learning my way to make a web app.

    But tagging, after all, is a shortcut. It's a shortcut for readers to know what is the content of the novel they looking at. It's like genre, people invented it so readers can a rough idea about the novel they're going to read (or not). But the litrpg community itself has received a backlash from readers who don't get the story they're expecting, thus the gamelit parent genre was born. I think I don't have to say this since currently I'm not a litrpg author myself, so I haven't faced a reader raging over my novel because it's not "litrpg" enough. Can't fulfill readers' expectation because one classification is hard enough; can you really imagine the horror of ten of them? Or more? That is the current unintended trend I'm talking about reign over the web novel scene that relied too much on tagging right now--people raised their expectation over tags. It's not only used on database website, even royalroad starts using it.

    In case of the award-winning novel I mentioned before, it's not only unpopular because it being artistic novel. In fact, from what I read it's not too much relying on purple prose and the story itself easy to digest. The main problem is, because it's non-genre, it doesn't have many tags on it in comparison of generic novels. And since the lack of tags, people usually dismiss it for being "second-rate" novel in their tagging-relied community (seriously, I've read someone in a forum wrote this despite he/she talked about another novel). Thus the non-genre novel doesn't gain any credibility it deserves whatsoever, because people think tags and general-user generated review (which aren't that good anyway) is enough to judge a novel.

    And as I said before, I know your tagging concept actually better than theirs. I know you're making a concept out of well-intention to help everyone. And I think the web novel directory I'm talking about also the same few years ago--and he acted on it, and his website already become IMDB for web novel right now. But now, if a non-genre author from outside tries to break inside the scene, even if he/she's not listing his/her novel on the databasing website, then the author's going to has a hard time--because the tagging trend already mandatory even in other website.

    TL;DR:
    I've seen how the Asian web novel scene (and other scene that influenced by it), relied too much on tagging, indirectly favors generic novels but at the same time dismiss a non-genre novel. It's the unintended side-effect of their system. Just be thoughtful about it if you really make the website database.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
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  16. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Yeah, I understand what you're saying, and I think this is what I'm trying to get at and trying to get feedback on: do these tags work? I'm trying to go for tags that affect enjoyment, and tag categories that seem to come up a lot in recommendation requests (like the MC's class), as well as several technical things like POVs. For 'genres' (or 'tones'), I'm currently going with the common 'genres' like action/adventure/comedy/mystery, which are pretty content-based. If a story doesn't exactly fit any of these, there is no need to tag it as such. I think ultimately we would end up with only 4-5 'prominent tags' per story -- so we ask the authors to think about what really captures the spirit of their work, and assign the appropriate tags.

    Yes, and I understand the anti-tragedy trend. Even in LitRPGs, I feel like I've seen stories getting bashed because MC loses a fight/ loses levels, etc., which is entirely silly, but it makes some readers uncomfortable, and I can understand why they react so strongly. For some people, in certain times, reading is their comfort zone, so when something breaks that, they feel horrible. And even if I wrote a very thought-provoking good book, but the reader is going through a rough time in life and heartbreak is the last thing they want to read about right now, I would want that particular reader to stay away from my book, because it's not what they need at the moment, and reading experience is something I hold very sacred. Ideally I want some sort of a "safe" tag as well, which means happy ending, no one dies, etc. -- currently captured in [FUN ROMP], I think. So if a book does not have this tag, readers are automatically warned that 'bad things' might happen.


    This I haven't heard before about how untagged novels are considered second-rate, but I see your concern that if we use tags, untagged novels will show up in fewer searches and therefore get less visibility. I think I'm going to try to get the "reviewers I trust" feature up as well, so users can identify reviewers with similar tastes and choose books based on their review scores.

    Anyway, thank you for your input. If you do have feedback on the tags themselves, I'd be very interested to hear as well, because, like I said, I was aiming to be as neutral and unbiased with the tags as possible (with the help of various other people on the forum), so if you feel that any of the tags can be abused in ways I haven't thought of, please let me know!

    And I'm one of those people who actually choose to read stories based on negative, biased, toxic reviews, my logic being: if this story made a toxic person feel uncomfortable to the point that they have to lash out, it's probably going to be for me.
     
  17. SideKarakterGendut

    SideKarakterGendut Level 8 (Thug) Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Eeh, anti-tragedy trend stems from people think tragedy is for masochists I think, not something like Breaking Bad. I don't know if it's a good idea to separate serious novels and escapism novels. Wish-fulfillment is kinda sounding negative (?), won't it be a problem later if an author doesn't want to tag it as such but readers found it, then they demand it or put it themselves? Beginner authors tend to write Mary Sue and Gary Stu novels after all, even if they don't want it and lack of exercise to write what they really want.

    The tags relying I'm talking about is different from Wattpad's tagging system. Apparently, they function more than just keywords to help people searching for their cup of tea novels.

    My feedback on your tagging system is, when putting classifications on novels--yes, less is more. We want readers to get their novels but at the same time won't restrict authors who want to explore the genre--litrpg still young after all, there's much unexplored ground to mess at.

    I guess for putting MC's class is okay, that's what litrpg is all about. But again, oversimplifying it as "Fighter" and such is kinda unfair for authors. Maybe if there's a section for describing MC's class by readers (who actually read it), saying things like "MC is a fighter with kamikaze style who too emo and cool to be your typical party's tank! 11/10!", then many other readers agree, it will help a lot. And (a plus suggestion) when user wants to initial searching, don't overcrowd them with MC classes to choose at. Start with few broad playing style like "Melee" "Range" "Magic" "Support" and such, then branching them accordingly in search page. Actually, designing how the UX (user experience) flow for the database website is the crucial thing to keep the unintended trends from happening, something that many novels site is ignoring right now.

    For story element tags, these are the kind of tags I'm worried about. They don't speak for story substances, but sometimes speak louder than they should be. You should make them more organic, like, instead of making them labels, accompany them with simple-to-use user suggestions like this: Anime Recommendations - MyAnimeList.net

    And for story tone, I still prefer "indirect suggestion", by using design to nudge users about the tone of the novels. Personalize every novel with simple color theory is enough, I think.

    [Edit] For theme tags, they should be handled by reviewers or critics. Like "final verdict" kinda of things. It's too complex to give it raw to readers, explanations with context are needed. And for giving reviewers/critics/curators incentives to write more quality review or critics, I think helping them set up their own affiliate link and community-based rewards or badges will help, apart from more features to help readers identify reviewers they can trust like you said.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  18. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it.

    That's why I think I'm going to try to implement "author tags" and "reader tags" -- and this will serve as a huge blind-spot check for authors as well.

    I think I want it to be detailed enough so that it's actually useful, so enough to capture the common elements (that may affect enjoyment). These tags were compiled from about 1-2 months of reading "Looking for such-and-such LitRPGs" threads. Most of the time, these people are looking for something rather specific (like stories with or without base-building), so I believe the tags need to be

    I'm thinking about adding a section that says: name 3 best things about this story (or why you think other people might like this story), or name 3 things you think won't make people like this story. So all reviewers list pros and cons of each story regardless of whether they liked the story or not. I think it makes readers stop to think and urges them to be a bit more objective and self-aware in their reviews as well.

    The thing is, users do not need to input the MC class as one of the search criteria if they're not specifically looking for something. I suspect most users will only use one filter at a time, like "female MC" or "Non-harem" or "magic" (if they just want the MC who's a magic user), etc. or even filter out "dark magic" if they don't like MCs who use dark magic. Selecting multiple tags might yield no results. But I'll make it clear from the beginning on how it's supposed to be used. I have not seen a single reader looking for something as specific as "MC who uses elemental magic, can shape-shift, and has a dragon-like familiar, and who has a glass-canon playstyle". Most of the time readers just ask for elements they either want (but will take anything similar/close), or want to filter out.

    How I'd like the user experience to be is that they have a bunch of tags at the top of the page, and then when the 'click' on one tag, it gets highlighted, and all stories that match that tag show up in a list [listed by 'star rating' or 'random order'] (and the readers can look at the cover/blurb/etc. plus other tags that particular story is tagged with)

    The whole thing is aimed to give more stories visibility -- since a lot of decently written LitRPGs are relatively unknown at the moment.

    The main feature will most likely be for readers to identify and 'follow' other readers with similar tastes. And if they select no tags at all, they can see a list stories ranked "by average star rating from reviewers I follow" to get basically a list of recommends from people they trust.

    I'd like to make this as organic as possible as well, but what I've found with these "If you like X, you might like Y" are actually most of the time not true for me. For example, I might like Story A "because of element #1, and despite of #2", but the other reader enjoys "element #2", and therefore also recommends Story B because it has element #2, and I go and read it and absolutely hate it. I don't think most readers are even aware of their preferences, as they tend to stem from something deeply rooted in their personality, and that is why anything that doesn't conform is judged "bad".

    At the same time, I think "if you like X, you might like Y" posts problems for really unique stories because they will never get recommended, because they are not similar to anything else.

    Most of the time the 'tone' tags will remain unused, I think, unless something is obviously light/comical, or if the authors would like to tag them as something else. I'll add an info box where the author can give "the skinny" of their story (not a marketing-focused commercial blurb), and people can give it to the readers straight what they can expect, like "Heavy scifi action with lots of stats, and a bit of romance on the side"


    Yeah, this is a really good idea, especially the rewards/badges!

    I really appreciate your comments, but if this thing is going to get created at all, I think it's going to be something more like a personal project, so a lot of more advanced features are currently not really doable for me, especially if I'm going to be the main coder for this system. (Unless someone wants to pick it up, of course!) I think we'll learn as we go along if the tags work the way they should, and make adjustments so that they're as helpful for readers as possible.
     
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  19. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member LitRPG Author Shop Owner Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I might be interested in helping. I'm sure Drupal would do a great job at something like this...
     
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  20. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Honestly if you want to incorporate this into your LitRPG Reads website I won't mind at all. Or do you think we should have a dedicated web address for the filter tool/database?
     
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