2 August 2010 - 3:10 pm

Reactions wanted!

I’ve often said that I’m a feedback-whore – I love hearing from readers. It makes me happy.

I try to keep as many avenues for feedback open as possible, and am always on the lookout for new ones. With the Apocalypse Blog, it was emails from readers. With Starwalker, it’s comments on the blog, and then the forum. On the weekend, I added a new way for readers to give feedback to Starwalker.

First, let me explain how I got there. I was doing my semi-regular poke around the Web Fiction Guide forums, when I came across a thread that started out discussing weblit and traditional publishing, and wound up pondering the familiar question: why don’t more readers comment?

As it happens, one weblit author did a survey into exactly that, and her results are interesting. Not entirely unexpected, but it does have some great insights – I recommend that any weblit authors take a look.

It’s also worth taking a skim over the comments on that page, as that’s where I found the suggestion to add reaction buttons. Thanks to another helpful weblit author, I discovered that there is a handy WordPress plugin that adds reaction buttons to posts.

Commenting takes time and effort on the part of the reader. There might be many reasons why someone chooses not to comment: some readers don’t want to take or have the time to do that; others may be looking just to be entertained; and others may simply have nothing to say. That’s all fine! I know I’m often too busy to fill out a comment form when I’m going through blogs, and most of the time I wouldn’t have anything particularly interesting to say beyond ‘I agree/like this’. Sometimes I make the effort, but often I don’t.

Having a button to click is much easier. One click and there, feedback given. You can indicate an opinion without filling out a form or trying to formulate actual words. Quick and easy, so even a busy person won’t feel held up by it.

It’s not intended to replace comments at all – I still love and encourage comments. I do adore it when readers cheer on my characters, just let me know they’re reading, and all the other fun stuff I get in comments. Keep it coming! But now you can click when you’re not feeling so chatty.

I had a bit of a headache over what to put on the buttons. This particular plugin is very configurable – you can have as many buttons as you like with any labels on them. Awesome! Wait. What do I want people to click on, now? Um.

I wanted a negative-reaction button, because it feels weird to me not to give someone the chance to give negative feedback. I struggled with finding a label, though – I started with ‘sucks’, and then downgraded to ‘needs work’, and gave up because I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t troll-bait. So right now, there is no negative option (though there’s always the comments!). I might rectify this if people want it and I can think of something to put on it.

So, there you have it. A new avenue for feedback – click away! Tell me what you think! Suggestions for more/different buttons welcome. And the buttons are on every post, so readers can go back and click on favourite ones if they want!

Have fun!

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