Author Topic: Enhancements to Reading Excuses  (Read 2317 times)

Chaos

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Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« on: June 02, 2009, 08:40:08 PM »
So, June 1st came and went, which means that Reading Excuses has been in existence for six months! Give yourselves a pat on the back for making this so successful.

Silk and I have been talking about a few small enhancements to Reading Excuses. My main goal is to make the pinned topics clearer and more coherent. Those were written six months ago, when we really didn't know what we were doing. They could use some streamlining. Now, this is not terribly exciting, unless you are really excited about having one or two less pinned topics. However, this might make you a bit more excited:

Silk was telling me of Jason's suggestion to move the Email List to a Google Group. By the way it was described to me, it appears to have very little change to the way Reading Excuses currently works, except that the email list will be on a Google Group instead of on the first page of Email List + Submission Dates (Silk liked this part of it, because she wouldn't have to keep editing that post for new members). Each RE member would join the Google Group and we would approve you to join--so it is secure on the level that no one can just randomly join without approval.

Here's the best part: I'm being told that posts to the Google Group will stay there for all group members to see. The default setting is for posts to forward to your email, but this has one huge advantage I've been wanting for a long time: the ability for new members to look through old submissions without having to re-email them. The way I understand it (which could be wrong, because I'm getting this information on a third-hand basis), each submission won't just get lost in your inbox, they will also stay in the Google Group. Ostensibly, new members could view old files from there, hassle-free. If this is how it works, I will be excessively pleased!

If we got the Google Group working, I'd like to periodically introduce an all-encompassing archive file which would have essentially all the submissions packaged into a .zip file. At the moment I have a very large Reading Excuses folder on my computer which has separate folders for each member. Anyone who has submitted has their stuff in a file there. Ideally, I'd like to put that into a .zip file and we'd be set.

Thoughts?
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Silk

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2009, 08:48:43 PM »
I don't believe you need a gmail account to sign up for Google Groups either, so moving the email list over shouldn't be too onerous.

Frog

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2009, 08:51:35 PM »
The only problem I see with that, is that I personally wouldn't see it as helpful for people to critique my old stuff (it was so six months ago  ;) ) and like some of the control of being able to email it to individuals. Other then that, I think it's great and should be fine with whatever the group decides.  :D
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Chaos

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2009, 09:01:04 PM »
The only problem I see with that, is that I personally wouldn't see it as helpful for people to critique my old stuff (it was so six months ago  ;) ) and like some of the control of being able to email it to individuals. Other then that, I think it's great and should be fine with whatever the group decides.  :D

Well, my thought was less that they would actually critique the old stuff, but if there was a long running thing (say, Crystalheart), they could at least get caught up.

I also worry about the lack of control regarding that, though. That's a definite concern.
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RavenstarRHJF

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2009, 09:01:55 PM »
Tentatively, I like the idea.  "Tentatively," because I haven't really had time to think it over and get used to it.  

It would make things much easier for new members, to just be able to read the old submissions instead of having to request- but it also ups the potential for plagiarism, should someone be so inclined.  As for the critiquing of old stuff- we could post a time limit on what can be critiqued (say, one or two months after initial submission), put that in the "Rules" thread, and let it go at that.

I've actually been thinking about changing the email I use for this, just because I get so much junk at the old address.
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Renoard

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2009, 10:40:29 PM »
Tentatively I like the idea.  I have to admit I am using a listserv (mailing list like google lists) to send out my submissions because having so many recipients was giving my providers spam filter fits.  It's a full featured listserve that includes subscription management and archives, but does not include the integrated forum listing the archives.

I didn't mention it before because I wasn't really wanting to volunteer to manage it.

but [email protected] (note no underline between reading and excuses) allows anyone currently on the list to mail to everyone on the list. :/  We are all in there as subscribers. :P
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Chaos

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2009, 01:36:05 AM »
I was interested to see how the Google Groups thing would actually work (that, and I'm avoiding writing), so I created a test group. From a purely preliminary basis, it looks quite positive. Google will host files (however, a group's quota would end at 100MB), so the archive feature will work exactly as planned. A member, once accepted, could make a Page which could contain the exact same information as the submission emails do, and just have the file linked from that page. From there, members receive an email saying that there is a new page.

Furthermore, you can comment on the pages within the Group, but it appeared to be slightly onerous to me. Any discussion posts are also forwarded to your email. So, if we were to switch entirely to a Google Group, it would be akin to receiving an email whenever anyone replied to any topic on this board, which does not sound particularly appealing to me. If we did Google Groups, it should be as a submission mechanism only, not a discussion mechanism. Discussions would still go here. I like TWG quite a bit, so let's stay here.

"Managers" (in other words, admins) can also invite new members to the Group. Unfortunately, this was my primary issue with the Google Group: I could send invitations to my non-Google email addresses, but in order for them to actually access the Group's content, they would have to get a Google account. I do not see a way around this, because the Log in screen says "Sign into your Google account". This would mean every Reading Excuses member would be forced into using Gmail (not that I'm opposed to that at all, but some people might :P) for this. I did not see a way in your membership info for the Group where you could send the notification emails to an email other than your Google account. I'm not sure if some members would like forcing people into using Google. It could limit off some members in the future.

Other than that, there isn't much to report. It's a really easy to use interface if you know how to navigate TWG worth anything :P.

For the security front, members can delete their uploaded files if they choose. If we implemented this, I would probably want to place a disclaimer in the Rules thread "Users beware", or something to that regard. I'm not immensely worried about theft, because it's a private group and people would need Manager approval to join. If anyone joined the group and stole stuff, that means there would be a limited amount of culprits. And besides, if a theft DOES happen, then we have massive evidence (the discussions) and witnesses (every critiquer) who would say that that content was the rightful author's. Yet, it is still a risk, so a disclaimer will be necessary.
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Renoard

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2009, 02:22:16 AM »
Quote
and just have the file linked from that page. From there, members receive an email saying that there is a new page.

I'd be opposed to having the actual content archived on Google servers or being visible to anyone outside the group.

Quote
Unfortunately, this was my primary issue with the Google Group: I could send invitations to my non-Google email addresses, but in order for them to actually access the Group's content, they would have to get a Google account.

Yeah I seriously would not want to open a gmail account. :/
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Chaos

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2009, 02:38:11 AM »
Quote
and just have the file linked from that page. From there, members receive an email saying that there is a new page.

I'd be opposed to having the actual content archived on Google servers or being visible to anyone outside the group

The files themselves are indeed hosted on their server.
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Flo_the_G

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2009, 07:34:01 AM »
As far as I know, a Google account isn't necessarily tied to a gmail address, unless they've changed that recently. So you'd have to sign up for the account, but could keep your regular address.

Renoard's thingy sounds like a far easier solution, though, the main problem being that you'd still have to manually update the list. On the other hand, I can't imagine that being much more time consuming than the Google thing. :-\

Silk

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2009, 07:43:20 AM »
Just a point: You would have to have a gmail account to log into the google group, but not - so far as I know - to receive email from it.

ryos

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2009, 08:33:40 AM »
I'm pretty sure (but not 100% sure) that a google account is not synonymous with a gmail account, but the gmail account may come part and parcel with the creation of the google account.

Personally, I don't get what the big deal is with opening a gmail account. It's not like it costs anything, and it's not like you're obligated to use it. Google Groups is perfectly content to send emails to any addresses you give it; you can even have multiple addresses on file if you so desire.

I like the idea of the Google Group. My one concern is accidental publication: can we make absolute certain that this stays private so we don't end up inadvertently giving up our rights?
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Chaos

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2009, 08:47:53 AM »
Well, if anyone requests to join the group, we would surely check TWG to see that they are actually a member, not a manuscript-thief. Above that, no one can see the group except for approved members. The only way you would lose your rights would be if someone stole it and posted it somewhere else.
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ErikHolmes

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2009, 09:32:15 AM »
Even then, you wouldn't lose your rights. You'd still be protected by copyright laws since they posted it without your permission . . . a publisher might not want to publish you because of it, but its a little different then willingly putting it on the net.
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Chaos

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Re: Enhancements to Reading Excuses
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2009, 07:39:51 PM »
Google Groups is perfectly content to send emails to any addresses you give it; you can even have multiple addresses on file if you so desire.

I'm sure you're right about this, it's just in my preliminary look at Google Groups I didn't see it.

In other news, the new Welcome thread is up and pinned.

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