What do you want to see more of at Flayrah?
Posted by GreenReaper (Laurence Parry) on Mon 15 Nov 2010 - 09:58 —
Edited by crossaffliction as of Mon 10 Aug 2015 - 02:00
52% (23 votes)
7% (3 votes)
0% (0 votes)
5% (2 votes)
11% (5 votes)
2% (1 vote)
9% (4 votes)
Photos and videos
0% (0 votes)
9% (4 votes)
5% (2 votes)
0% (0 votes)
These comments are directed at Green Reaper, since he pretty much the furry journalist.
Hard news-Nah. It's a furry news website. By definition, furry news is soft. Multiple definitions, actually. Fluffy cat pieces should be the norm. That being said, if something big happens, don't be afraid of hurting feelings. I really liked your piece on the Anthrocon gun banning. You did a good job on that.
Reviews-Yes, but scary territory. Amateur reviews often turn into book reports. Or whatever reports.
Practical guides-Well ... depends on what you're practically guiding me on.
Interviews/profiles-Yes. Definitely needed. Unfortunately, this one's going to be like belling the cat. Interviews and profiles take time to do right; and that's just the interviewer's concern. Also, would need some editorial control. I mean, someone needs to actually say "this person is important. Let's interview them."
Topical cartoons-Yes. Almost got my vote. I mean, it's not like cartoons aren't important to the fandom; no problem finding someone to draw them. The thing is going to be, once again, editorial control.
Editorials-Opinion pieces open up a ball of wax. You may just want to write your own, or "assign" them (which would basically be "ask someone nicely to write something"); perhaps set a day when opinion pieces are ran so that they don't monopolize the "news" pieces (even if they are only fluffy cat pieces).
Fiction-No. Maybe if ... no.
Photos and videos-Yes. If you've got them, post them. Once again, editorial control.
Con reports-Sure. Cons ought to send them to you anyway. Just edit them to "furry press style," or whatever.
Advertisements-I voted for this. Get whatever you can, man. If you can make money off this thing, good on you. More realistically, sites don't upgrade themselves. Maybe go for non-furries, too? I mean, avoids "conflict of interest." You'd know better than me if site traffic is actually feasible.
Something else-A reward system for contributors. Maybe "furry press passes" for, like, 50 story contributors. Just something they can put on their lj or facebook or whatever, you know? I mean, don't actually pay anyone (duh), but if Xbox gamerscores teach us anything, people will actually work for a couple of pixels.
I don't think furry news has to be soft news. This and this, for example – and a lot of our coverage of websites. Of course, much of this is not specifically about anthropomorphic animals, but the community, which is my own area of interest. I aim for hard news style on most coverage because I think it's useful and relatively rare in the fandom.
The Chained Wolf has some experience in the area of reviews. I tend not to do them because I don't buy or watch a lot.
Editorials and other opinion pieces tend to be popular but are often dramatic in the comments. There's also the question of whether it compromises the non-editorial news reporting; the Washington Post and New York Times have separate editorial and news boards for this reason. Often I express my personal opinion in the comments, but some might be better-suited to a full editorial.
Practical guides would include articles like "Latin Vixen shows us how to build a fursuit head", or PK's tutorial on the use of color in artwork. Edutainment. Either original material exclusive to Flayrah or brought in from elsewhere.
Interviews are a little more complicated to arrange than the average coverage, and having been on the receiving end a few times I appreciate they can be a little stressful. As we are a community, though, I know they'd be popular. I don't think we're short of options.
I threw advertisements in because it might be a way to encourage companies and freelancers who value the site to donate to it in a tax-deductible manner while gaining some benefit. I don't foresee a huge amount of money being made, especially considering how many furs use ad-blockers; probably not even enough to cover hosting costs. We'd probably use Google AdWords, which would handle fairness; the people who paid the most and were most interesting to readers would be shown auotmatically. But donations might work better.
The term "con reports" was intended to refer to material tagged con report – opinions from attendees. Closing figures and suchlike are welcome as well, of course, though I might not write it up myself unless I thought it was newsworthy (like TaniDaReal's tablecloth).
Topical cartoons was my vote. I would be glad to devote a side block to them if a reasonable update schedule can be maintained. Perhaps you or others have some suggestions as to suitable artists?
Flayrah's contributor page, author panes and the new "Recent contributors" front page block are there to recognize our volunteers, but there is always more that could be done. I'll investigate further options, such as user badges.
After much wrestling, we have a sidebar box ad. If you want to give it a whirl, you can enable it by editing your user options (you need both the main block and the loader). I don't know that it's worth keeping, though.
For a start, the ads lack relevance. This isn't that surprising when you consider the small scale of furry businesses. Anthrocon's had ads for a while, and sometimes you see costuming ads, but in general there's just not much out there.
There's also a noticeable delay while it loads the ads. I've tried to improve this (which is where the wrestling came in - Opera didn't want to cooperate), but it's still there to an extent.
Most importantly, our on-site traffic is still too small for ads to make much sense. A fairly large portion of our audience is based on LJ, Facebook and RSS, which means we don't get to serve them ads here most of the time.
Oh well. At least I learnt some jQuery while working on the loader, and upgraded our version of it (JS should be a bit faster now).
I think the point I was trying to make about hard/soft was that you shouldn't feel bad that there's usually not a "hard" news piece on the front page. Furry is first and foremost "entertainment;" furries are furries because they want to be, not because they have to be. Basically, Flayrah's readers, for the most part, don't want to read hard news (a statement that this poll could make very wrong). Sure, if something comes along, somebody should write it up in as professional manner as possible (nevermind we're all amateurs), but there is not going to be a lot of hard news coming out of a cartoon animal fandom.
As far as opinion pieces, if you've expressed an opinion on a story's comments, you've picked a side. Basically, you're Green Reaper; whether you want it or not, you're a "face" of the fandom (or at least your avatar is). As you've stated, you have been interviewed yourself. Lucky for you, you're a face people trust. I don't think anyone here will doubt you "journalistic integrity;" most of your readers won't be aware of it. You can go ahead and feel guilty; that's a point in your favor. But don't lose sleep over it.
The problem, of course, will come from anonymous posters. I don't know if it's feasible, but if you could possibly block anonymous or not logged in posters from opinion pieces, thereby forcing users to "sign" their "letters to the editor;" in other words, be as unanonymous as the Internet allows. Of course, opinion pieces should be clearly marked as such.
I've got a different kind of suggestion for a possible cartoon. One of my favorite things about Flayrah is the link at the bottom to new ArtSpots submissions; it puts a focus on a very important, but often under-emphasized, aspect of the fandom. Perhaps what you could do is choose a new artist for each cartoon, as kind of a showcase. Obviously suggest an issue or even joke, but if they've got their own and it's funny and timely, give them the go-ahead. Or even ask for submissions like the news stories; just a little more editor time on them.
Anonymous posters really haven't been a huge problem so far. I'm willing to delete comments if they get truly abusive.
If there's no hard news or in-depth feature up front, I do feel a little bad, because I think those mark us out from the competition, and I'd certainly like it to be the reason readers come back to us.
Part of why I'm less interested in the softer news is that it's often regurgitated from other news sources. Flayrah will always have its share of rehashed stories, and I'm sure some readers enjoy them, but my heart is in the original work. In that respect, today's Flayrah deliberately departs from Aureth's vision of a "furry Slashdot". I admire Slashdot, but it's limited by its format.
[Science-based stories often have their own issues, not least that the original stories are usually based on press releases.]
The cost is reduced participation. If you try to write up each story professionally, you end up not being able to write many stories – and many people, right or wrong, feel they lack the skill to help out at all. (They may also have better things to do with their time.)
Showcasing new artists is a good idea, and ties in nicely with some of my wider goals for Flayrah, but I suspect it will take some time to get to that point. It took almost half a year for the site to return to regular posting by non-staff, and even now it's shaky.
After thinking it over this morning, I decided that Flayrah's former tagline – "unusually good information" – really doesn't communicate what's distinctive about the site. In particular, it fails to identify the content as:
* primarily for furry fans
* intended to make you think and respond, and
* reasonably fresh and original (if not always "news")
The new tagline – "fresh food for furry thought" – is meant to communicate all of these, while still tying in with the original meaning of flayrah: "unusually good food". It may not be perfect, but I think it's better.
Hopefully this change (along with our new box shadows) isn't too much for our regular readers. :-)
Edit: On further reflection, the tagline's still not quite there. I'll keep tinkering.
Well, I don't know if the voters agree with your definition of "hard news" or not, but they definitely seem to want more of it, whatever it is. :-D
I've slipped a few Google ads into unobtrusive places. They're not that relevant, unfortunately, and haven't earned anything yet, but maybe someone wants a stuffed tiger . . . or perhaps we'll get more furry advertisers dropping by.
I find it hilarious that fiction is currently second. Not a very close second, but still second.
Eh, if it bleeds, it leads ...
Well, it's not statistically significant, but I suspect they'd like something more like ANTHRO (or The New Yorker).
I don't have the ability to organize a 'zine like that right now, but if people want to submit occasional fiction pieces to share with us, I don't see a problem with that as long as it's good. Readers can skip it if they don't like it.
I just like incongruity, Green Reaper. That's all.
I figured that's about what you had in mind.
you might want to look into Project Wonderful for ads, if you want them to be better targeted. PW is also more accessible to small businesses, and you can pre-approve ads if you like. my company would be interested in advertising here but we don't do adwords - it just hasn't proved to be worth the expense for us. feel free to contact me about this if you like.
I initially looked at Project Wonderful, but I've heard bad things about the return vs. other options, as well as their general overhead, and I found their user interface frustrating as an ad buyer. I'm also a fan of the idea that ads should be relevant, and Project Wonderful just doesn't have the ability to do that. Whoever is willing to pay the most wins.
I found AdWords worked well for WikiFur when we were advertising, but you have to spend quite a bit of effort into targeting individual sites and crafting good messages. It is easy to spend a lot of money without a reasonable return.
I'm sorry to hear that. Bunnywarez would LOVE to advertise here, but our experience with adwords was that it cost us a small fortune, the price kept going up, and we had very few results. If you have some insight as to how to get a better return from adwords we would love to hear it!
And while we're talking, thank you so much for this great site. What I most want to see more of here is postings! ;-)
It is tricky. It's best if you can be very specific in your call to action. For example, if you say "make a custom bunny suit now" and link to the relevant page (or a page also demonstrating some of the suits), that's a lot better than "bunny-shaped things you might like". You might get traffic with that but they probably won't be interested in your product.
Where you advertise can be as important as how, of course. There are a lot of AdSense sites out there, and you have to be a little ruthless about cutting off those which are sucking away money without a reasonable return.
I will be reviewing the return and if it doesn't work out, I'll probably look into other options - perhaps just direct solicitation of adverts.
More posting is difficult - I'm an admin on three sites, plus a developer, so there's only so much time to do it myself. I'm sure there are others out there who could help if they put their mind to it, though.
Thanks for the advice! BTW if you do go to direct advertising (more work, but probably more money for you) Bunnywarez would be very interested! I check this site pretty regularly (and will try to find things to send in!) but just in case, if you do go that route, please feel free to contact us.
I would like to see more of the "submit" link... I'm trying to send you something and can't seem to find it! I feel extra dumb because I managed to do it before! derp derp derp.
Well, you aren't logged in, which is probably a big part of it . . .
The button's not there because the submission page isn't accessible to anonymous users. I should probably hookup some kind of fake-submit that at least lets visitors know submissions are welcome.
You can also use the contact method to submit tips, but that's non-obvious and we'd prefer people wrote stories.
I'm a fur that's been living in the Mountain states region most of my life. The fandom is scarce here (as are people in general), but it still lives on! As such, being a professional journalist, I would love to contribute something to Flayrah, but I have no idea what I could submit that would be worthwhile, short of visiting the annual con in Denver. If you have any ideas, I would be more than happy to have them!
As for the site itself, the big thing with "news" is, "How does this relate to me?" Being as how that's an awfully broad question to wrap one's self around, I think it's what should be considered most when deciding between hard and soft news being the most important thing covered. Fiction can be found around the Internet easily enough, but locating well covered news that's actually tied to the fandom is hard to find (unless you're looking up something like Alan Panda). Guides, reviews, con-reports, cartoons and art seem (to me) to fall into relevance. I believe they should exist, but ultimately the amount of emphasis these articles would receive would be directly related to their saturation/location (meaning if they're easy to find, furs will probably read them - if they can't be found, who will?).
As for adverts - there is absolutely nothing wrong with making Flayrah a self-sustaining entity without turning the site into an ad-whore. I'm sure that there is a way around this mess. I would be happy to invent ad-copy for Flayrah, if asked about it. I've been doing PSA's for local non-profits for a few years now, and have had good return from my work.
Finally (last but not least), there is the matter of the tagline. Just a suggestion, but how does "Flayrah - exceptional food for furry thought" strike you? Figured I'd throw in an idea for you to bounce off.
Thanks again Green Reaper, for all you do here!
We can never overcome that which we never attempt to defeat. Power to the furries!
I don't live near a lot of the stuff I report on! A little research and chatting to the right people can go a long way. Often you can come across news when you're not even looking for it.
There are relatively few stories about furs in the media, it's true. But the sort of journalism I'm trying to focus on isn't based on talking about already-well-covered stuff, anyway. Like WikiFur, it's more for "stories by, for and about the fandom". Unfortunately there aren't that many fans with the time, skill and interest to write them.
Money is not a huge issue. Flayrah takes up relatively little in the way of resources; the time people volunteer to post stories is far more important. I considered ads as I know people like to support the site and I support furry commerce.
I like the idea of our work being exceptional, but I know it won't be all the time, and I want the tagline to be a fair description. It'd work well for our vision statement, though. :-D
It's good to know that money is not a big issue for Flayrah at the moment. The more time I spend wandering this site, the more interesting things I find - would hate to see such a resourceful site fold!
I will keep my ears to the walls and my eyes on the horizon for news (so to speak). If anything of interest comes up, I'll be sending a full report of events.
Thanks again for all you do Green Reaper! *hands him a baby-loaf of Tillamook cheese and a bundle of carrots* Here's some compensation for you efforts. :3
We can never overcome that which we never attempt to defeat. Power to the furries!
I tend to prefer the 'hard news' since a number of the other items can be found in abundance elsewhere. Not that I would skimp on relevant items, I tend to be of the philosophy that if something is out there worth reporting or mentioning then it should. I think the news you don't see reported elsewhere (assuming it is worth reporting in the first place) should be the focus - and hard news tends to fall into that category more often than not in my opinion.
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