Extra reading is something I rarely need, but I got an email from a research group, and I thought I’d pass it on to you. As if getting through my review list to fit one book in every Saturday, or checking out the question of the month wasn’t enough 🙂

Insecure Writers Support Group badge

This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

Janet Alcorn, SE White,Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

New Zooniverse project – extra reading

Zooniverse has for years been an online portal for people willing to use some of their spare time to help research projects. Sometimes it’s looking at photos taken automatically in the field to monitor specific species, sometimes pictures taken in space to classify what’s out there. I’ve done both of those, anyway. Other projects included transcribing letters from soldiers, transcribing handwritten data from weather stations, and other historical documents. This is more on those lines. I’ve copied the email explanation in its entirety, so if you’re interested, follow the link.

The Lives of Literary Characters

Calling all readers — we’re excited to announce the launch of The Lives of Literary Characters! We need your help for the first-ever citizen science project to study the wealth of human storytelling. How does it work? Volunteers will assist us by annotating stories to better understand the complex lives of fictional characters. Characters are the backbone of storytelling. With your help, our aim is to build AI models to better understand who characters are and what they do within diverse narrative worlds to address one very big question: why do human beings tell stories?

The proliferation of stories today is astounding. There is simply no way to account for the breadth of human creativity without relying on AI. But these systems are often trained in biased or unknown ways. By enlisting the help of readers like you, we can build better, more transparent AI systems to surface the intricate patterns upon which human stories are based. All of the data and models we generate will be open to the public, setting an important standard for transparent and inclusive AI. Our goal is not to build robot storytellers. With your help, we want to gain a deeper understanding of human storytelling.

Come get involved and give the project a try! Our first goal is to understand how characters interact with each other. You’ll be asked to read short passages and help us figure out how characters are connected. We’ll be rolling out new projects in the months to come but please come help us get started! If you’re a passionate reader of stories, we’d love you to join our group!

Citizen readers for citizen science: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/citizenreaders/the-lives-of-literary-characters

Question of the Month

What turns you off when visiting an author’s website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author’s books? Constant mention of books?

IWSG Feb 24

The first thing that puts me off is a pop-up. If you have a pop-up, either turn it off, or set the timer for when I’m about to leave. Especially if it’s asking me to sign up to your mailing list. Why would I sign up to anything when I haven’t had a chance to find out who you are yet?

Generally what I find off-putting is not finding what I’m looking for. Websites and blogs come in so many shapes and sizes, but if the author has tried hard to present him or herself and their work in a sensible way, I’ll find what I’m looking for. Unless I have to scroll down half a dozen pages of extra reading to get to the latest post. Never heard of a Menu button? There are IWSG members who make it very hard to find their IWSG post each month!

It also makes sense to have a good sprinkling of your work so I see the titles and get an idea of what you like writing (or reading). But NOT all Buy! Buy! Buy!

Updating my websites?

The White Water Landings website landing page looks much like this – 7 years on!

I admit my sites aren’t perfect. I think they are beginning to look a little old. I’ve been looking at new layouts. I know I prefer to work on a full desktop screen, but I’ve seen people at my book fairs who check out my blog on their phones. This system is adaptive – it automatically changes for phones and tablets, and orientation, too. But there’s more I could do to make it easier to find the content they’re looking for. And because I want to keep all four of my sites (Princelings series, Viridian System series, White Water Landings and this blog) looking like they belong together, I’m doing some testing of new layouts with one of the other sites. So, if you’re willing to give it a go, please pop over to the Viridian series and see if it works okay. (I like this one dark – it’s in space…).

What turns you off a website? And would you do some extra reading for the Zooniverse project?

Fancy some extra reading? #IWSG
Tagged on:             

18 thoughts on “Fancy some extra reading? #IWSG

  • 7 February, 2024 at 12:12 pm
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    I agree with you on the pop-up windows. I need to work a bit on my blog’s design too. I need to hire someone to customize my header.

    Reply
    • 7 February, 2024 at 12:46 pm
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      Depends how complicated you want it. I’m a fan of using photos of my books and photos from the books. Although some of those covers came from pixabay.com!
      Smashwords has a list of ‘affordable’ specialists for authors on their Author Info section. Smashwords.com and don’t worry if it comes up as Draft2Digital.

      Reply
  • 7 February, 2024 at 12:35 pm
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    Pop -ups ? No thanks., buit this year, a real website, not just a blog.
    The calendar I bought yesterday might help me to achieve this –
    allowing sixteen months instead of a mere twelve.

    Zooniverse would be of interest to my IT department, currently teaching and training computers.

    Reply
    • 7 February, 2024 at 12:49 pm
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      Glad you found the right calendar!
      Zooniverse hosts projects needing citizen interaction… but look at the project details there and it will lead to the researchers doing the work. I think it was a couple of US/Can unis in partnership.

      Reply
  • 7 February, 2024 at 1:12 pm
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    There are several sites where it’s difficult to find the latest post.
    Pop-ups is a big one today.

    Reply
  • 7 February, 2024 at 5:32 pm
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    That’s how I feel about pop ups as well. I’m more likely to consider joining something at the end of my visit instead of the beginning.

    Reply
  • 7 February, 2024 at 9:13 pm
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    Seems like we are all in agreement about pop ups. Just another distraction in an already distracting world.

    Reply
    • 7 February, 2024 at 9:23 pm
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      Thinking about it some more, I wonder if this is something about being writers – we don’t need pop ups to make us follow other writers. As you say, the pop-up is a distraction. I do tick the box to follow other sorts of sites I like (food, horses), but actually the only pop-up I signed up with was our local zero-waste shop.

      Reply
  • 8 February, 2024 at 1:21 am
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    I’m not sure I believe those AI people’s assertion that they are not trying to create a fiction writing robot. I think they are. And I don’t like the idea. Not one bit.
    As for old-looking websites: not sure if I’m on the same page as you. I like familiarity, like recognizing a site as if it is an old friend. When writers change their websites, half the time the new design is less clear, more baffling than the old one. It takes me more time to navigate. It requires a learning curve. So why would I want it? I want the old and familiar one.

    Reply
    • 8 February, 2024 at 1:54 pm
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      Those are very good points. I’m not sure Zooniverse would host it if it had any doubts to the honesty of the purpose, but I don’t want to do it anyway.
      And familiarity is an excellent point. I think my prompt was seeing people at my book stall taking a look at my online presence on their phones. Of course, they might have googled it on Amazon, but if they went to my site, I’d like it to show them what they want without scrolling down forever. Then again – you need to find my IWSG post straight away, too!

      Reply
  • 8 February, 2024 at 3:16 am
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    Good thoughts about web site and blogs. I can’t say I had a great success when I tried to update mine, but I do realize that there is content that certainly needs updating! Also hate pop-ups, and on some blogs I can’t find the comment box.

    Reply
    • 8 February, 2024 at 1:56 pm
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      Hmmm, all valid points. And sometimes what you see as the owner is not what a newcomer to the site sees…. Hard to test that.

      Reply
  • 8 February, 2024 at 6:43 pm
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    You are so right, Jemima. Some IWSG members do make it very hard to find their IWSG post each month.

    So I see what you’re saying about having a few blogs and how to organize them onto one site. I only have 2. Adventures in Writing and Camping with Five Kids. Using a drop-down menu helps clean up a busy-looking website. All the best with your writing endeavors.

    Reply
  • 11 February, 2024 at 11:57 am
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    That sounds like a really neat project! I’m going to look into that. I agree with your website thoughts, pop-ups are the worst! I don’t have any of those, but I’m sure my site could use a refresh, too.

    Reply
  • 15 February, 2024 at 3:56 pm
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    I hadn’t heard of Zooniverse, so thanks for sharing info about it. I don’t have time to participate now, maybe when I retire.

    I agree with all your points re: annoying websites. I feel bad that my IWSG link goes to my site rather than my blog. That happened when I turned my blog into an actual website. I don’t think there’s any way to update my link on the blog roll without creating a new one at the very bottom. At least I have a clear Blog link in my menu.

    Reply
    • 19 February, 2024 at 9:25 pm
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      Yes, I have that problem. I try to remember to pick the Name/URL option to comment with, but when that isn’t available and it’s got my blogger link, I try to remember to add this one.

      Reply
  • 19 February, 2024 at 7:34 pm
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    I agree with your list of things that are irritating about certain websites. I’ll probably have to go and check if all my settings for mine are still what they’re supposed to be — the AI updates seem to mess with everything. LOL.

    Ronel visiting for IWSG day Ronel’s Top Ten Indie Publishing Tips

    Reply
    • 19 February, 2024 at 9:26 pm
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      Sometimes it’s worth giving ones website a spring clean 🙂

      Reply

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