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I wish AAR would. . .
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LynnS/AAR



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 116

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With regard to recruiting reviewers, we've done it in various ways. Anything that comes through the "Contact AAR" form comes to me, and we've gotten inquiries that way. Sometimes various folks here have had ongoing books conversations with people online that have ended up with new reviewers coming on. And, we always have a reviewer application link posted on our staff page for anyone who might be interested in reviewing. That link is here:

http://likesbooks.com/reviewsubmission.html
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Jean Wan AAR



Joined: 13 Apr 2009
Posts: 396
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject: Technical changes to the website Reply with quote

[quote="CG"]
Quote:
\
Two things struck me here. First, there seems to be a discoverability issue. My suggestion would be to create tags that can be searched in Power Search. For example, you could tag Monsoon Wedding Fever with multicultural, India, contemporary, reunited lovers. That way these reviews can be found. .


This suggestion, and variations thereof (like adding comment space at the bottom of reviews), have come up a lot over the past year or so. The problem is, this would require completely redoing the website, and I'm not talking about cosmetic changes. From top to bottom, inside out, front back and centre, the innards would have to be stripped, rebuilt, rehosted, and refashioned. What you're talking about is a dynamic website, or an interactive one. What AAR has is a static website linked to an existing database of thousands - literally - of reviews.

I hear you, CG. Personally I'm not mad about creating a category called Multicultural - I oppose the idea on principle (short story: coming from a graduate background in multicultural education, I believe indicators like that and Kimani segregate more than integrate, and the word multicultural itself is starting to raise the hair on my neck) - but I like the tagging idea. It kind of marries the Special Titles Listings with categories/genres.

But as I said, to make the kind of change you, and others, are talking about requires, essentially, re-creating the site and relocating the reviews. All of the them. People make money doing this kind of thing. It costs money. It's money AAR doesn't have.

Now, if someone wanted to volunteer time and effort to do this...
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CG



Joined: 27 Jan 2012
Posts: 64
Location: Central Texas

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
Well, hey, I guess I count as one those "old and stodgier." I suppose seven decades qualifies for the first, but I reject the second. I can still read with some discernment; the brain still ticks relatively well; I can still relate emotionally with perhaps a bit more reason associated with it; I can still get a bit irritated by nonsense.


Actually, I think you were one of the posters I was thinking of (or maybe it was one of the other men) when I stated the reading community here feels older, stodgier and much more set in its ways. I want you to know I donít think thereís anything wrong with being old, stodgy and set in your ways. Your voice and contributions are just as important and valid as the next personís. My concern is that certain voices are not here and if they do show up they may not stick around because they donít see their interests reflected in the reviews.
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CG



Joined: 27 Jan 2012
Posts: 64
Location: Central Texas

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Technical changes to the website Reply with quote

[quote="Jean Wan AAR"]
CG wrote:
Quote:
\
Two things struck me here. First, there seems to be a discoverability issue. My suggestion would be to create tags that can be searched in Power Search. For example, you could tag Monsoon Wedding Fever with multicultural, India, contemporary, reunited lovers. That way these reviews can be found. .


This suggestion, and variations thereof (like adding comment space at the bottom of reviews), have come up a lot over the past year or so. The problem is, this would require completely redoing the website, and I'm not talking about cosmetic changes. From top to bottom, inside out, front back and centre, the innards would have to be stripped, rebuilt, rehosted, and refashioned. What you're talking about is a dynamic website, or an interactive one. What AAR has is a static website linked to an existing database of thousands - literally - of reviews.

I hear you, CG. Personally I'm not mad about creating a category called Multicultural - I oppose the idea on principle (short story: coming from a graduate background in multicultural education, I believe indicators like that and Kimani segregate more than integrate, and the word multicultural itself is starting to raise the hair on my neck) - but I like the tagging idea. It kind of marries the Special Titles Listings with categories/genres.

But as I said, to make the kind of change you, and others, are talking about requires, essentially, re-creating the site and relocating the reviews. All of the them. People make money doing this kind of thing. It costs money. It's money AAR doesn't have.

Now, if someone wanted to volunteer time and effort to do this...


But I donít think you would have to create a dynamic website. Adding one more search field (such as tag or keyword?) to Power Search and then putting keywords somewhere in a review would do it. Admittedly, I know nothing about website design so there is the possibility Iím wrong. Has anyone looked into if this is a possibility and how much it would cost? Because I think if AAR wants to stay relevant you need to be prepared to update and/or redesign the site fairly regularly. Itís the nature of the internet. If I knew how to do this I totally would.

And yeah, I get the hesitancy to use labels and segregate, so to speak. Iíve heard arguments both for and against shelving African American romance in its own section or integrated into the general Romance section in bookstores and I think both sides have valid points. I personally think until non-white and/or LGBT individuals are no longer seen as Ďotherí and there are as many romances about non-white LGBT characters as there are white straight characters thereís a need for books that feature these characters to be shelved in places they can be easily discovered; which may mean shelving in both a dedicated space and within the general Romance section.
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CG



Joined: 27 Jan 2012
Posts: 64
Location: Central Texas

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LynnS/AAR wrote:
With regard to recruiting reviewers, we've done it in various ways. Anything that comes through the "Contact AAR" form comes to me, and we've gotten inquiries that way. Sometimes various folks here have had ongoing books conversations with people online that have ended up with new reviewers coming on. And, we always have a reviewer application link posted on our staff page for anyone who might be interested in reviewing. That link is here:

http://likesbooks.com/reviewsubmission.html


This seems like a very passive way to recruit. Have you considered putting a ďCall for ReviewersĒ on the Homepage as the need arises? Or perhaps contacting smaller bloggers directly to see if they'd be interested in contributing certain reviews and thereby increasing their own internet exposure?

I realize all this probably seems like a lot of criticism, but it comes from a place of wanting to see AAR stay relevant and attract a diverse, vibrant readership. Let me take a moment to say I appreciate all the hard work all of you do here at AAR.
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Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1018

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CG wrote:
...The ďreading communityĒ here feels older, stodgier and much more set in its ways...

Funny but I was feeling the reverse. Just my perspective but at times it seems to me that folks are more interested in other types of books than I am, books more currently popular or what's hot such as paranormal, fan fic and so on. And I can't count the number of times posts have lambasted what's happening now with historical romances in general. My personal reading taste is primarily in history, both in romance but also non-fiction. So I am limited in my thread choices by my own reading tastes.

As for reviews, funny but I had been wishing there were more reviews for historicals and then I read your post making me realize how hard (impossible?) it is to please everyone. So I guess I agree with the position that it really is up to the posters to introduce books or topics they'd like discussed. Perhaps some prefer to lurk or to respond to already posted topics??

Would AAR object to this? What about posting more links to topics discussed elsewhere for discussion on this board? It has been done before (see Miranda Neville in Let's Talk or Two Recommendations here on Potpourri) and it's a fast way to introduce another topic if it has caught your interest.
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Lea AAR



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 415
Location: Oklahoma

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eliza wrote:
CG wrote:
...The ďreading communityĒ here feels older, stodgier and much more set in its ways...

Funny but I was feeling the reverse. Just my perspective but at times it seems to me that folks are more interested in other types of books than I am, books more currently popular or what's hot such as paranormal, fan fic and so on. And I can't count the number of times posts have lambasted what's happening now with historical romances in general. My personal reading taste is primarily in history, both in romance but also non-fiction. So I am limited in my thread choices by my own reading tastes.

As for reviews, funny but I had been wishing there were more reviews for historicals and then I read your post making me realize how hard (impossible?) it is to please everyone. So I guess I agree with the position that it really is up to the posters to introduce books or topics they'd like discussed. Perhaps some prefer to lurk or to respond to already posted topics??

Would AAR object to this? What about posting more links to topics discussed elsewhere for discussion on this board? It has been done before (see Miranda Neville in Let's Talk or Two Recommendations here on Potpourri) and it's a fast way to introduce another topic if it has caught your interest.


We don't have a problem with links to other sites if someone wants to inform our readers of some event. Well, that is except for any sort of self-promotion, which is not allowed. But we prefer to keep the discussion here if at all possible.

Eliza - that sounds good. Along the lines of "Just saw this discussion at SOME AUTHOR's site (give link) and want to pose a similar question here."

I also prefer historicals and would love to see more discussed. I hope our readers realize that any reader can start a thread on a romance - it doesn't need to be reviewed first. Before joining AAR's staff, Leigh often posted a review of a book she had recently read (usually it had not yet been reviewed at AAR, IIRC) on the Let's Talk board, thereby starting a thread. I believe Maggie did the same before joining the staff.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2481

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@cg,
Quote:
Actually, I think you were one of the posters I was thinking of (or maybe it was one of the other men) when I stated the reading community here feels older, stodgier and much more set in its ways. I want you to know I donít think thereís anything wrong with being old, stodgy and set in your ways. Your voice and contributions are just as important and valid as the next personís. My concern is that certain voices are not here and if they do show up they may not stick around because they donít see their interests reflected in the reviews.
Quote:


Damning with faint praise? Actually, I don't think you've demonstrated that my responses are either "stodgy" or "set in my ways" than other posters'. Since when does "conviction" equate with either of those terms?
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1463
Location: America

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eliza wrote:

Funny but I was feeling the reverse. Just my perspective but at times it seems to me that folks are more interested in other types of books than I am, books more currently popular or what's hot such as paranormal, fan fic and so on. And I can't count the number of times posts have lambasted what's happening now with historical romances in general. My personal reading taste is primarily in history, both in romance but also non-fiction. So I am limited in my thread choices by my own reading tastes.


You sound like me. Laughing

I'm finding the romance genre to be the thing that's stodgy and set in its ways, not the readers. And even then, back in AAR's so-called heyday, most of the controversial threads and ginormous discussions centered around older books (Gaffney's To Have & To Hold comes to mind as a book that continues to stir the pot).

If AAR seems "irrelevant", it's only because the site is one of the Grand Old Dames of the online romance community. Look at the topics mined by LLB in her ATBF column--they remain superbly written and groundbreaking, but the column ended four years ago, so it's just another static page. Other places may appear more "relevant", but to my mind, it's because they are more specialized in voice/tone/agenda (i.e. new fave blog Wonkomance is devoted to discussing romance novels and types of romance novels that rarely meet mainstream tastes), and because their "ATBF"-type columns, so to speak, remain current.

The only disconnect I see with AAR and the rest of the online romance community is the decline in the presence of authors and readers on the site. I probably sound like a broken record right now, but I miss all of the columns and insights from the "writer's side" and "readers speak" sections. All AAR provides these days are reviews and blog commentary--that isn't really something that entices the average visitor to stick around and browse for more content.
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CG



Joined: 27 Jan 2012
Posts: 64
Location: Central Texas

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
@cg,
Quote:
Actually, I think you were one of the posters I was thinking of (or maybe it was one of the other men) when I stated the reading community here feels older, stodgier and much more set in its ways. I want you to know I donít think thereís anything wrong with being old, stodgy and set in your ways. Your voice and contributions are just as important and valid as the next personís. My concern is that certain voices are not here and if they do show up they may not stick around because they donít see their interests reflected in the reviews.
Quote:


Damning with faint praise? Actually, I don't think you've demonstrated that my responses are either "stodgy" or "set in my ways" than other posters'. Since when does "conviction" equate with either of those terms?


I donít believe I said I view you as more stodgy and set in your ways than other posters. I said you were one of the posters that came to mind. Furthermore, your post titled Well here goes... does actually demonstrate what I consider to be pretty stodgy (read- old-fashioned) thinking when it comes to gender and LGBT issues. The responses to your post by both Linda, "Oh Dick, we've had this conversation before!" and Cora, "We already had this discussion. Exhaustively." indicate youíve repeatedly gone over these topics with no meaningful growth or change in your thinking as far as I can tell (I may certainly be wrong about this); hence the set in your ways.

None of this is meant to be an insult or attack, simply observation.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2481

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, the "well here goes" post was a response to this very thread, in which a number of people lamented that there were very few discussions of the type that thread elicited. So if it appeared to be dull and tedious, which is what I understand "stodgy" to mean, it nonetheless accomplished what I intended.
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bookmark



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 321

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eliza wrote:

Funny but I was feeling the reverse. Just my perspective but at times it seems to me that folks are more interested in other types of books than I am, books more currently popular or what's hot such as paranormal, fan fic and so on. And I can't count the number of times posts have lambasted what's happening now with historical romances in general. So I am limited in my thread choices by my own reading tastes.


I'm with you.

Eliza wrote:
As for reviews, funny but I had been wishing there were more reviews for historicals and then I read your post making me realize how hard (impossible?) it is to please everyone. So I guess I agree with the position that it really is up to the posters to introduce books or topics they'd like discussed. Perhaps some prefer to lurk or to respond to already posted topics??


I wish regular readers who like doing reviews just do them on their own instead of having to rely on reviewers admin-appointed. I guess for me, I'm not much into detailed discussion about an individual book. I'm more into the general discussion of the genre, tropes, themes, etc. Some people can wax on and on about what they like or what they don't like. I'm not that way. Maybe I'll post my likes and dislikes in a post or two and be done with. I'm the same way with movies/tv shows. So yes, everyone is different and we can't all be expected to be satisfied 100% with what's given. It's a give and take.
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Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 321

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just have to say again because this isn't the only site I've seen happen. If whatever a person complains about and it can be fixed or helped by the complainer, then he/she should take steps to do it. For example if you want to see more posts on what's interesting, start it. What's interesting for one person may not be for the other. I don't think it's fair to for someone to sit back and complain that there's not much discussions about certain topics without trying to start one him/herself. It's like saying you're bored and do nothing but complain about it and expect others to entertain you. It doesn't matter that the person may be a lurker or responder only, because if you are that type of person, then you have to accept that you rely on others to dictate what you get. So in my long winded way, I'm trying to say that I believe in accountability and not blaming for focus on others on what's not being done.

And I think what's great about any site is the diversity of posters' opinions, views, and interests. Any place that has only one type of opinion, whether it's everyone gushing or dissing as a group is not a place I find interesting. Unless you're talking about a lover or hater of certain topic, then one view or type of poster is acceptable. Conservative, moderate , and liberal views are all interesting to me even if I lean a certain way myself.

And I realize that in life, everything evolved and so there are always new things to talk about. Having said that, I can understand that posters who have been here a long, long time and have had discusions, heated or not, about all topics related to romance books, would obviously expect the same or more similar type or become easily bored because they've discussed that. Keep mind, though, that there are new readers and posters joining the site at different times and what may be redundant for some are interesting (new) discussions for others. It may become interesting with new opinions by new posters on an old subject.
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Katie (kat)



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 254
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CG, I do think you are being rude about Dick's posts. Neutral Just my observation. I like reading his comments which I find pithy and clever.

I'm very opinionated and have entered into a few lively discussions here (Death Angel, Linda Howard criticism, Passion and so on) but I haven't cared enough about a romance lately to bother.

I like the old books. I want my romances to be the equivalent of a box of chocolates not a head of broccoli. Very Happy I love books like Heart of Fire (Linda Howard), Gentle Rogue (Johanna Lindsey) and Saving Grace (Julie Garwood). The last romance I really loved was Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan which was years ago.
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CG



Joined: 27 Jan 2012
Posts: 64
Location: Central Texas

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Katie (kat) wrote:
CG, I do think you are being rude about Dick's posts. Neutral Just my observation. I like reading his comments which I find pithy and clever.


I told myself I wasn't going to keep posting under this thread because I don't want to hijack the topic, but I really want to know in what way you think I've been rude about Dick's post as opposed to opinionated? Sincere question.

And since I'm here-

Quote:
If AAR seems "irrelevant", it's only because the site is one of the Grand Old Dames of the online romance community. Look at the topics mined by LLB in her ATBF column--they remain superbly written and groundbreaking, but the column ended four years ago, so it's just another static page. Other places may appear more "relevant", but to my mind, it's because they are more specialized in voice/tone/agenda (i.e. new fave blog Wonkomance is devoted to discussing romance novels and types of romance novels that rarely meet mainstream tastes), and because their "ATBF"-type columns, so to speak, remain current.

The only disconnect I see with AAR and the rest of the online romance community is the decline in the presence of authors and readers on the site. I probably sound like a broken record right now, but I miss all of the columns and insights from the "writer's side" and "readers speak" sections. All AAR provides these days are reviews and blog commentary--that isn't really something that entices the average visitor to stick around and browse for more content.


Excellent points. While I've perused many of the ATBF columns, they are over four years old so they don't feel current in the sense that I've a desire to comment on them even though I do agree many are superbly written and groundbreaking. Same goes for Writer's Side and Readers Speak.
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