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Friday, August 17, 2007

What every big sexuality community web site does wrong

It's time for a brief interlude during all my ranting on porn. Let's get back to some of this practical stuff.

This time, because I can, I want to talk about what every big sexuality community web site does wrong and what they can do to fix it. Because, frankly, alternative sexuality organization web sites suck my big fat web developer's dick. (There is plenty, though not an overwhelming amount, of geek-speak ahead. If you want to flame me about that, don't say I didn't warn you.)

Before I rip into these web sites though, let me first acknowledge the incredible hard work that I'm sure mountains of volunteers must put into these things. No one is making money off these sites and, as such, it's understandably a lot harder to spend the time doing things well. The fact that this stuff is even up online in the first place is really a credit to a lot of people's passions and commitment. Three cheers for all of you! (Seriously.)

Okay, now that you know all of this is just a good-natured jab to try and make things better, let's get into the meaty parts where I totally rip your web site to shreds and tell you how badly you're stuck in the last century.

In the true style of proper web copy (more), here is my conclusion first:

Most BDSM organizations' web sites utterly fail in their mission to attract people to their events because they are intimidating, hard to use, and decidedly uninformative.

And, the natural fix for this problem:

Make BDSM organization web sites friendlier, easier to navigate, and immediately useful.

You can stop reading now if you don't actually care about this stuff, but if you do, are at all curious, or—and especially—if you manage one of the web sites I'm talking about, please keep reading. You'll thank me when you're done.

The Design Problem or Don't Scare Away the Newbies, you idiots!



TES's web site serves as a wonderful example of this first point, that BDSM organization web sites are stupidly intimidating. Why? Here's why: when the average kink-curious person is searching for BDSM web sites and they see TES's sad design, here's what they're thinking:


  • It's an inverted white-on-dark design so clearly what they are doing must not be normal or okay. (This person is already probably surfing the TES site under the cloak of darkness in their computer room hoping their spouse or their parents won't walk in on them. Why are you making it seem like that's the normal way to get information about kinky sex from you?)

  • It uses lots of colors intended to signify scary things, like deep red and lots of black and mettalic colors, so they must be really dangerous people. (Do you know how much courage it has taken this person to even consider going to a kink event? Why are you making them feel like their fear is justifiable?)

  • They have really tiny text for things I'm interested in (like all the main event descriptions) and really big text and graphics for the things I'm not (like their own logo and big welcome banners), so maybe they're not actually the group for me. (Don't you get that this person has come to your web site for information about how to be kinky in their own lives? Don't focus on the welcome message, which nobody cares about, focus on the reason they're coming to your site in the first place!)



This is classicly fucked-up design and is unfortunately all too common. The net result is that these types of designs make people feel anxious and afraid and turn site visitors away from the rest of your content pages. Don't do that.

Contrast this general design sense with, for example, the Polyamorous-NYC web site. While it has other problems, design is not one of them (for the most part).

Whereas TES has lots of light-on-black, some horrendous yellow color, and lots of big red headlines and a logo that looks like the blade to a guillotuine, Poly NYC has several pinks, a neutral beige, some blues, and white along with a picture of three people smiling and holding hands on the home page.

Which site feels more welcoming to you? If you were a hot and sexy 18-year-old looking to explore alternative sexualities, which group would you feel safer checking out first, based solely on the web site's design?

I think BDSM people really like to brag about how incredibly intense and perverse they are. After all, we kink hard on danger but this is no excuse for confusing your fantasy with your real-life goals, you morons, so stop that shit right the fuck now, okay?

In fairness, TES is not the only group that suffers from this design problem. Dom Sub Friends, the Lesbian Sex Mafia, and to a lesser extent Gay Male S/M Activists do as well. But TES is by far the worst. Sex stores have the same problem. Contrast something like Purple Passion's web site with, for instance JT's Stockroom. The difference is night and day, literally.

The Usability Problem or Stop Making It So Hard To Browse Your Site, asshat!



This is big, so let's start somewhere that's got a big database. DSF is often cited as having a great database of links. But in reality, it's not great, it's just massive.

Granted, massive can be a facet of usefulness. After all, eBay is fucking massive. You can find just about anything you can kink with on eBay. (Or Amazon, by the way.) However, the distinguishing factor between eBay's database and DSF's database is findability, not size.

To an untrained eye (by which I mean, evidently, by DSF's web site administrator's eyes), findability just means "use a search engine." (DSF doesn't use a search engine on all their resources pages, just some of them, by the way.) This, unfortunately, is totally missing the boat.

Why you need to think about what you're doing or Obviously you're too busy jacking off at the computer



First of all, how do you think search engines work? They work by analyzing structured data to produce information that is ultimately relevant to the user's needs. Do you think all that data just structured itself? No, someone had to structure it, someone had to think about how to present it, and someone had to think about how to do all of that in a way that meets the user's goals.

Taking this out of the theoretical and back to the practical, let's take a closer look at DSF's resource pages. First thing you notice is that they have a "BDSM Resources" page on which there is an incredibly strange, unnatural distinction between "Organizations and Forums" and the rest of their "BDSM Resources". Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you consider organizations and forums to be BDSM resources on a BDSM resource page? Why the separation? What's the point?

It's pretty common knowledge that only the most persistent users will click through a web site to find what they're looking for. Most users will click on one or two links and if they haven't found what they're looking for, they'll go back to their search engine of choice and try all over again. Then lather, rinse, repeat. As a web developer, every decision you make impacts your users, so you damn well have a good reason for doing something. If you don't, you're doing it wrong.

Of course, this problem is much easier to tackle when the volume of information you have isn't as large. Look at NYBOL's web site to see the complete opposite spectrum of the very same poor architectural problems. What is that? An entry for the "let's see who can make an entire web site on a single web page" contest? They don't even have a lot of information and they have given absolutely no thought to how their content should be structured.

There are two primary navigational modes users are accustomed to on the web. These are search and browse. Listen closely because I'm only going to say this a hundred billion times: users search when they are answering a question or trying to solve a problem. Users browse in order to learn about a problem or to gather information. When you think about how to structure the content on your web site, you need to think about how users will interact with this content in those two modes of navigation.

As an example of a web site that does this relatively well (and which took me a grand total of maybe three or four hours to implement, literally), take a look at the way Conversio Virium organizes its content.


  • Main navigational tabs provide hierarchical structure to the content of the web site. The constitution is in the about CV section, the presenter guidelines are in the meetings and events section, and information about specific leadership positions are in the membership section. Makes sense, right? (Admittedly, it's not always so clear moving forwad, but hindsight is always 20/20.)

  • The single search bar in a prominent position at the top of every page searches all the content on the site. (Being objective, I will also note that the serch results page for CV does need a lot of work. I did only put about three hours into the implementation of this site, you recall.)

  • Content is organized according to strict guidelines using categories and an events calendar, allowing faceted navigation so that users can either search or browse the site and end up at the same content by following a variety of paths.

  • Finally, the content itself cross-links to other relevant contents. Posts link to other posts. Events link to previous posts. News items link to events. Static pages link to each other. The more links you have, the easier it is to find what you're looking for.



These days, this sort of thing is actually pretty easy to do at least decently well. Simply knowing how to make good use of a content management system helps a lot. TES uses Mambo, but they failed to provide the kind of faceted navigation of their site that CV provides for their's, and so their CMS isn't as useful to them.

I could get all technical here and start talking about why these sites should be getting rid of their URL cruft, why they are browser-hostile (fucking overuse of frames and JavaScript), and a dozen other topics, but you'd all be bored and obviously no one is reading this anyway. So, hoping that we've got this point down, I'll just move on.

Make Yourself Useful or Stop Trying to Top Your Users, you freakin' sex addicts!



If all of that isn't enough already, let's talk about one last point. (I promise this'll be the last point I make and that you can all go back to jacking off at your own brilliance soon, as I too will do.) Usefulness. This is the most important point out of all three of my points today, so if you're scanning this post and want to read just one point, I hope it's this one.

You need to make your web site useful, or no one will use it. Well, duh, but what does that entail? Here's the process, broken down into really simple steps:


  1. Find out what your members want to do.

  2. Make it possible for them to do that thing they want using a web site.



I swear, that's all there is to it. Let me give you some examples.

The BDSM calendar that no one uses



Almost every single site I linked to above has some form of events calendar. TES and DSF both have so-called "dynamic" calendars. GMSMA, LSM, and Poly-NYC, among others, have so-called "static" calendars, which are really nothing more than unchanging pages that have some information about their next event. The problem with all of these calendars is that they are either totally useless or not-as-useful as they could be for the following reasons:


  • You can only view them on the page they're published on. If I am interested in DSF meetings and GMSMA meetings, then I have to make my own page or my own calendar that combines both of these group's information.

  • You can't safely link directly to events because the location they are published on eventually changes (such as when being archived). If I want to link to an LSM event, I can't, because the event itself isn't a permanent fixture anywhere. Instead, I have to link to their events page and hope that my site users find the event on the page, if it's still there.

  • Moving data out of this calendar into any kind of actually useful form is nearly impossible. Copy-and-paste is a waste of everyone's time (computers were invented in order to obviate the need for humans to perform repetitive tasks).



The group with the absolute worst calendar scheme has to be OneTaste NY (and why is a fucking MySpace profile the thing that comes up on Google when I search for that phrase, by the way?), which—despite having a relatively decent calendar on their web site, actually—chooses to email me a massive hunk of HTML vomit every few weeks with their entire calendar for the month stuffed into it. Yuck! Why don't you promote your web site calendar instead and offer an iCalander subscription feed or something like what CV does? You have the technology! You can rebuild it!

The only people who use these calendars are either devoted members of the club already, in which case you could probably force them to jump through rings of fire and they'd still do it just to get a look at the calendar, or are the people creating the calendar, in which case why do you even need a calendar since you already know what's going on when? Answer: you don't. You just suck at web development, is all.

(As an aside, there are a number of email-only subscription newsletters dealing with alternative lifestlye events. These aren't really web sites so I didn't say anything about them, but a word to the wise: please stop writing out these emails as though they are really long love letters. If you're going to put out a newsletter in plain text as an event listing, for god's sake, use some kind of convention to indicate the thing is actually a list, okay?)

A final note: all your print calendars need to have your web site's calendar address on them, and you do actually have to change your web site calendar once in a while to keep it up to date. What's the point of a calendar with the wrong information on it? Sheesh.

Anyway, moving on….

Other Web Sites Are Your Friends or The point of a link is to link you to something, dimwit!



The mentality of "stay at my site longer" is sooooo 1995. I'm serious, there's nothing you can do to prevent web site users from going to another web site. Just give up the whole idea that your one site will ever be the be-all and end-all of information about any topic in the world right now, because if you don't you'll never be able to make a good web site for as long as you live.

Instead, actively embrace the idea that the more outbound links you have that go to good places the better your site will be. Why is this so? Because users like being linked to good, interesting information. They appreciate a useful service, whether that be in event information, educational material, or whatever else you can offer them. The way to do this is with links. So for fuck's sake, link liberally!

In the BDSM community world, this means you need to link to other group's web sites! Why is it that the only community web site I know about that links to other organizations on every page is Conversio Virium? (May, you made the CV web site. Oh, right, thanks. I forgot.) Seriously, why the fuck does TES not link to DSF? Or to LSM? Or to GMSMA? Or to MaST? Why does GMSMA not link back to TES?

Why are all you arrogant fucktards so concerned with recruiting members instead of actually being the useful, educational, supportive organization you so proudly claim to be? None of you are actually doing what you so nobly claim to do, and it's about time you got off your high horses and started actually doing it. And you know what, the best tool you have to do that with is your web site. So come on, GET ON IT!

And by golly, I didn't even get into the really fun bits like implementation and search engine optimizations. I mean, seriously, why is CV's site the number one hit on Google right now for the search query "floating world bdsm"? That should be embarassing.

That was the end, but here is an outtake for humor's sake



Let's start with none other than The Eulenspiegel Society, the self-proclaimed oldest and largest BDSM education and support organization in the United States. Smack-dab on the top of the home page, TES proclaims their web site to be, and I quote, the official TES® web site. As if there are hordes of unofficial TES web sites out there on the Internet. They even italicize the word "official" to make it stand out more, to remind us that we are actually at the center of the BDSM universe. Please, get over yourselves, TES web site committee members. Neither you nor your organization (and especially not your web site) is that impressive.

While we're on the topic of italicizing things, by the way, take a look at how they've italicized it. Do you know what this code is called?

<P ALIGN=Center> <FONT SIZE=+3>Welcome to the <I>Official </I>TES</FONT><FONT size="6"><B><SUP>®</SUP></B></FONT><FONT SIZE=+3> 
Web Site.</FONT>


No? It's called HTML vomit, that's what it's called. font elements have been deprecated since HTML 4.01, which became a W3C recommendation on the 24th of December, in 1999. Did you hear that? Nineteen-ninety-fucking-nine. What the hell are font tags still doing on your home page? Has it not been updated since 1999?

To be fair, this exact problem plagues pretty much every web site built by people who don't actually know how to work with the Web, which includes the vast majority of every so-called self-proclaimed "web designer" out there, which is also, coincidentally, apparently pretty much every tech-savvy kinky person in existence.

Morale of the story? Get someone who knows what they're doing. And yes, they will either be very generous or they will charge you through the nose—and yes, you're gonna like it.

31 comments:

Tam said...

This was cool techy stuff. I have no immediate use for it, but just wanted you to know that it is possible for a human person to read that entire post and get something out of it :-)

Boymeat said...

SM organizational websites are always a challenge because we have to get them done on the backs of volunteer efforts. No group will spend the money to hire a professional, not when the money is better served elsewhere, like rent, programs, or scholarships for members to attend stuff like LLC. So, yes, many people have been unhappy with TES' website, for example, but... we work on it when there are sufficient volunteers.

As for the official tag, there is some forgotten history there. I won't go into the story, because it isn't worth repeating, and you're right, that word just doesn't fill any purpose anymore. At one point it did. No longer. Instead, it simply was text that was copied over from website to website, resulting in it still being there. Silly, yes.

tom allen said...

Ooh, may!

*bats eyes*

I. . . I think you just gave me a woody.

maymay said...

Tam, I'm glad this wasn't so completely drenched in geek-speak that it was unreadable. As you might be able to tell from the outtake at the end, the first version was decidedly more geeky.

boymeat:

"SM organizational websites are always a challenge because we have to get them done on the backs of volunteer efforts. No group will spend the money to hire a professional, not when the money is better served elsewhere"

That's completely reasonable and understandable, and is why I commend volunteer efforts no matter what the outcome. TES is better off for having a web site, even if it is horrible (and I don't hear you denying that's it pretty miserable), than not having a web site at all.

That said, I would challenge those in TES who think their money is better spent elsewhere to re-examine their budgetting priorities for precisely the reason I describe in my post: the TES web site is the number one communication tool TES has to just about every potential member, i.e., non-member, in the entire world.

Show me one person who doesn't think it's being shamefully underutilized and I'll show you an idiot.

Tom:

"I think you just gave me a woody."

Good. I like giving devastatingly handsome older men woodies. ;)

Bitchy Jones said...

Seriously if they could just do some basic readability assessment on font sizes and colours that'd do me.

See my blog, I know it's hardly a resource, but it does look nice. And I'm a volunteer. No one pays me.

And how much html do I know?

About enough to do this

But I do have eyes. And I look at it in another browser once in a while.

Bitchy Jones said...

I think there might be a whole 'nother issue about 'real life' organisations thinking their website isn't important because they are *real* and not *cyber*.

I know that's a stupid attitude ('shop window' etc) - but I wouldn't be surprised given how 'real life' people sometime talk about kink and the web.

Richard said...

I promise I will trim down my sidebars.

Having actually read Jacob Neilsen and Jeffrey Zeldman I agree. Even if I never live up to this stuff.

Many of these sites probably suffer from legacy issues. The site was designed by someone who vanished. And - skills aside - the task of moving all that old content to a totally new site is formidable.

Though if folks like you raise awareness possibly some groups have members with the skills and willingness to donate time to take them to a better design, navigational structure. Ideally the sites would be moved to something like highly customized WordPress or other CMS sites so new content could easily be added within a structure.

Viviane said...

Hi Maymay:

I've been enjoying your writing so much.

A very perceptive post. The usability issue is paramount. And linking indicates community.

The calendar issue is very interesting to me. Boymeat and I talked about this once and there's just too many events.

So wow do we integrate or make these sites more compatible with Web 2.0?

How do we make it possible for more users to create their content on these sites?

How do we get them to start using RSS, FFS, instead of email?

I started listing a number of
events on Upcoming.org, since it is both a listing site and has social bookmark aspects. Several of my friends have followed.

One blogger I know was working on a website like this, but it hasn't been launched yet.

fswerk said...

aaaarrrgggghhhh....
someone just had to go and use the words "Web 2.0".

maymay said...

Bitchy:

"I think there might be a whole 'nother issue about 'real life' organisations thinking their website isn't important because they are *real* and not *cyber*."

That's a very good point. I've heard this exact remark time and time again, and not just from kink communities but from brick-and-mortar businesspeople, too. This is sad, but not surprising. The sooner people start to understand what a powerful tool a web site can be the better off they'll be, but there's no reason to waste our breath even talking to these people. Better to lead by example, I think, than to pound on their deaf ears day after day.

Richard:

"I promise I will trim down my sidebars. Having actually read Jacob Neilsen and Jeffrey Zeldman I agree. Even if I never live up to this stuff."

A blog is a very different kind of web site than a BDSM organization. You're really not that bad in comparison, and I think you're at least aware of how you can do better, which is more than I can say for a lot of these other people.

"skills aside - the task of moving all that old content to a totally new site is formidable."

That's very true, but frankly, if you build it right from the start then this task isn't actually that big a job. The whole point of digitizing information is so that it will be easy to manipulate, alter, and exchange with others. A lot of people seem to forget that.

maymay said...

Hi Viviane! Thanks for the kind words on my writing. :)

"The calendar issue is very interesting to me. Boymeat and I talked about this once and there's just too many events."

The calendar issue is really the primary issue of kink communities because, as Bitchy said above, a kink community's primary interest is in meatspace events, not cyberspace events. Bemoaning the fact that there are "just too many events" is, I think, missing the point. If only all minority communities had the problem of too much activity, Viviane!

"So wow do we integrate or make these sites more compatible with Web 2.0?
How do we make it possible for more users to create their content on these sites?
How do we get them to start using RSS, FFS, instead of email?
"

I think one of the major problems our community specifically faces is the fact that many of the members are actually, and I don't mean to be ageist when I say this, older than the 'net and thus don't understand what it can do, how it does it, or why it should be used. Most of these people don't even know what RSS is (much less what the iCalendar standard is, which is much more vital to calendaring than RSS will be), and they still think email is a "private channel." Over time, the more young people who find the community (and stay), the more technologically capable the community will become.

So how do we fix all these problems? Well, people need to start doing the things I'm talking about in my post. Again, leading by example is the way to do it. (I've liked your recent posts about switching to WordPress, by the way.)

Perhaps in future posts I'll get into technical specifics, but certainly not in these comments. If you'd like to talk to me about specific issues with web sites, yours or otherwise, I invite you (and anyone else reading) to email me directly.

fswerk:

"aaaarrrgggghhhh....
someone just had to go and use the words "Web 2.0".
"

:) Thanks. I didn't want to go and say that myself….

Lolita said...

I think you make a lot of really great points, May. I have posted a link to this post on the TES Staff list.

As far as TES linking to other groups: when you are on the main page, click on "Resources" and then "Other orgs" for a listing. http://tes.org/beta/content/view/39/85/ It's a messy page, I know, but it is there.

As far as being the official TES website, there is some ugly history here. Back in 1994 or 1995, around that time, websites were new. Leonard built a website for TES under a subdomain of his site. Not many people or orgs had domain names of their own. Some of the people on the TES board were not online and unfamiliar with the web. They were suspicious and paranoid. There was a big political argument with Leonard digging his heels in and then finally being forced to take the site down. TES then put up its own official site. They never took the word official off.

The calendar thing is difficult. I put together a weekly list of Leather/BDSM event for the five boroughs and post it on my blog and on The Sex Carnival. It takes a bit of time to gather the info and sometimes I miss stuff. But I try.

maymay said...

Hey Lolita,

Thanks for the kind words and the link on the TES Staff list. Hopefully this will start some discussion and maybe even light a fire under someone's butt.

"As far as TES linking to other groups: when you are on the main page, click on "Resources" and then "Other orgs" for a listing. "

That's all very nice and well and all, but there are two points to be made here. First, how findable is that page? Not very, since I've spent quite a bit of time on the TES site and never knew about it. You might have written down the meaning of life on some web page, but if no one can find it, it's kind of pointless to be publishing it.

Second, as a visitor looking for information, there are no metaphorical signposts that tell me why I should click on one link versus any other. The names of the groups tell me very little about what they are. Ironically, the link on that page with the most helpful supplementary text is Conversio Virium's, which has the text describing it as Columbia University's Student BDSM Discussion Organization. My point is that this list of links adds very little value to TES's site, and thus isn't very usable for visitors. It would naturally be much more beneficial for all involved if the right users found and followed the right links; it would make TES's web site better, it would make the other organization you link to happier, and most importantly, it would please the user.

"They never took the word official off."

Fine, fine; you're talking to a web developer. Believe me, if anyone's going to understand the nuisances of dealing with legacy issues, it's going to be me. That said, especially since that splash page is obviously a static HTML document, how hard is it to change over the years? Don't you think now's about time to give it a makeover, even in incremental stages?

"The calendar thing is difficult."

Yeah, the calendar thing is difficult. I don't believe this issue can be solved by any single centralized source--ever. Instead, if we take a look at how similar problems have been dealt with before (DNS is a perfect example, by the way), I think that delegating responsibility for each group's events to each group's own calendar server (in whatever form that is manifested) is the way to go. That way any central repository that wishes to do so can aggregate and republish calendar information in whatever way they like, while each group (TES, CV, GMSMA, whoever) is still responsible for publishing and managing their own event information.

Soulhuntre said...

It's just easier if I link to my response :)

http://www.soulhuntre.com/items/date/2007/08/24/constructive-and-not-criticism/

maymay said...

Soulhuntre, my response to your post:

I never felt I had the respect of anyone with any "status" in TES. Why else do you think I felt comfortable posting what I did?

Also, you seem to agree with me on most (if not all) of the technical points that I made, saying in not so many words that they are technically sound but that the problems are "inherited" and thus not your responsibility.

This is exactly the attitutde of "oh well, it's so broken and I didn't make it so it's not my mess to clean up" that's kept the TES web site so completely awful for so long. And further, as the IT Committee Chair for TES, I'd say that's a pretty uninspiring attitude to have. It would even be politically suicidal if TES politics weren't the isolated popularity contests that they are.

Finally, might I point out that a URL pasted into a comments field as a string is not actually a link. If I were you, my comment would have been:

"It's easier if I just link to my response. :)"

Soulhuntre said...

"I never felt I had the respect of anyone with any "status" in TES. Why else do you think I felt comfortable posting what I did?"

My point was not whether you thought did or didn't have any status... my point was that the only circumstances under which your attitude would make sense as anything other than a pointless flame is if you had any status.

"Also, you seem to agree with me on most (if not all) of the technical points that I made,"

The few actual objective points? Sure.

"saying in not so many words that they are technically sound but that the problems are "inherited" and thus not your responsibility."

You are incorrect. I said specifically that as IT chair the responsibility chain stops with me.

My point about their status as "inherited" issues was simply that your a little off base when you consider them representative of the skill level of anyone currently involved.

"This is exactly the attitutde of "oh well, it's so broken and I didn't make it so it's not my mess to clean up" that's kept the TES web site so completely awful for so long."

I can only gather that you did not actually read my response. At least I hope you didn't rather than that your comprehension of what I wrote is this poor.

"And further, as the IT Committee Chair for TES, I'd say that's a pretty uninspiring attitude to have."

I suppose it would be - if your mis-characterization of my comments bore any relationship to my actual attitude.

Since however they do not bear any relationship to reality whether or not they are inspiring is unimportant.

"It would even be politically suicidal if TES politics weren't the isolated popularity contests that they are."

And of course if they were true. Then again you generally seem to be an "attack first, think later" kind of guy so why let reality get in your way? :)

"Finally, might I point out that a URL pasted into a comments field as a string is not actually a link."

My you really are trying so hard, aren't you? What's your implication here - that I don't know how to use the link tag? It's all very puffer fish of you - you try so hard to come off big and it's really just air inside.

Generally speaking in a world of blog comment spam it is often a courtesy not to embed a link into a comment but to past the text of the URL.

Then again, courtesy isn't your strong point either, is it :)

maymay said...

"Generally speaking in a world of blog comment spam it is often a courtesy not to embed a link into a comment but to past the text of the URL."

No it's not. That's what the rel="nofollow" attribute was invented for.

Soulhuntre said...

LOL. You try very hard. It's so cute :)

p.s for any observers - there is a lot of debate on the NoFollow attribute so you might want to check into it (and everything else) if you are on this blog looking for technical information.

Anonymous said...

I'm a newcomer here.

Soulhuntre, I don't know you, but, since you state you are a representative of TES, I am embarrassed for the organization.

devastatingyet said...

soulhuntre:

My point was not whether you thought did or didn't have any status... my point was that the only circumstances under which your attitude would make sense as anything other than a pointless flame is if you had any status.


Wow. Criticism is pointless if you don't have status? Who are you, Dick Cheney?

Soulhuntre said...

Wow. Criticism is pointless if you don't have status? Who are you, Dick Cheney?

Reading - it's a good thing :)

You will note that I specifically mentioned (more than once) that Maymay made some good technical points and that those considerations were already being dealt with.

The portion of my post you quoted was dealing with (as it said) Maymay's attitude - one of pointless, insulting flamage.

In fact, the portion you quoted was one where I was trying to consider alternatives that didn't involve Maymay simply being a puffed up pain in the ass... but rather that maybe he was trying to be funny and that his tone was meant in a humorous way. My comment then was that such a tone (insult intended as humor) usually only works when the author and target have some prior connection that would mark such an attack as humor.

Then again, you certainly don;t have to let any of that get int he way of you being upset. If you would rather respond to an interpretation of my remarks that has nothing to do with what I said - you are welcome to do so :)

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Funny, the only response I have to Soulhuntre's post (which I only bothered to read when there was an actual link posted) is, "Wow. Shame this dude doesn't understand that in order to be successfully condescending he has to have some status."

devastatingyet said...

Criticism is hard to hear. It usually takes me somewhere between a few seconds and a few hours to accept the assault to my ego and listen to actual content of the message. It can take longer if the message is delivered harshly, but ultimately it's the content that matters.

Soulhuntre said...

Criticism is easy to handle. The core points (that the design needs help, the calendar is obsolete and the code is ugly) are not only not in contention but points that we ourselves have brought up both internally and externally ourselves.

There is nothing about any of those points that causes any distress to me or anyone else in the IT group.

When it is delivered in a fashion so obviously condescending and insulting by someone who is trying to fashion themselves as a sort of blog hero figure it becomes laughable.

There is no reason to forget that the form of a message is part of it's content.

Sir Viktor said...

Greetings Maymay....
Thank you for taking your time to honestly criticize of my/our website.... Obviously, it seems you're "The MAN" when it comes to this stuff, while I'm an amateur....
When I took my website design course, I was thought to "KISS" (keep it simple and stupid). Hence, the website is just that. I'm in kindergarten when it comes to this stuff; while you already have your masters...

If someone expects flying dragons throwing out "DSF" fire letters, they won't get to see it on the DSF website; or at least not
yet :-)......

Am I looking to impress someone by creating "The BDSM Website?" The answer is No...

Could the website be better? Of course...

Will the website be improved in the future? For sure....

For now, the DSF website, serves a purpose. Quite a few novices had their genesis to the SM community by visiting it. We have approximately 10,000 visitors per day on average....

The calendar:
If an organization, munch group, or other fetish/adult party organizers haven't posted an event on their own, I often go to these local organizations and clubs websites (TES, LILNR, KFE, GMSMA, LSM, Westchester Munch, Apple Munch, Paddles, Pro mistress events, fetish events, and the gothic community) and put up their meetings and parties on our calendar......

I always believed the more of us are out there educated, it is better for the entire community. As Sy Syms said, An educated SM'er is our best customer.

As per BDSM resources...
Since I'm the one doing the website, I use my scene experience in what I feel is the most important thing for visitors to know......

But again, thank for taking your time for an honest criticism...

Sir Viktor of www.DomSubFriends.com

maymay said...

Hi Sir Viktor,

Thanks for reading (and commenting) and also thanks for noticing that I do actually have professional experience with this sort of thing.

It's clear to me that most web sites, even honest-to-goodness businesses that expect to make money, are made by amateurs. That's okay, and expected, and there's even a formal interaction design term for it: satisficing.

However, while the DSF, TES, and other BDSM organization web sites were probably satisficing in the past, I contend that a better solution would now more than justify the costs in modernizing these and other sites. This is even more true now than it was several years ago with a new generation of youngsters who were socialized from birth in the Information Age becoming legal adults. To this new generation, put simply, a bad web site makes you look bad.

Finally, I really do commend you for your time and effort in creating the BDSM resources you have on the DSF site. Yes, they can be substantially improved as with the TES web site and others, but it is certainly better than what came before it.

Your commitment to the diversity of the calendar you host is also inspiring and especially commendable! I would very much like to see that calendar make use of today's modern PIM applications.

Also, while I have been trying to do something similar with CV's calendar as a stop-gap measure for folks in my demographic, I recognize that a single organization can't be expected to keep a single BDSM calendar of events with any global accuracy, so I'm inviting anyone with knowledge of events to contribute to it until a better solution presents itself.

Ropenuts and other canards said...

Hey May absolutely well said on the technical side and modus operandi of the existing webstite for TES.
But missing a lot in history Lolita filled in a nice chunk but really only skimmed the surface.

Kens responses, well I hate to say but you have nailed it on the head.

Give me a call sometime and I can fill you in on the history and problems of running the site as long as I did.

Sadly the real culprit in the TES website saga has been the boards involvement which has chased away anyone willing to volunteer and put the time in.

maymay said...

Hi Ropenuts,

"Hey May absolutely well said on the technical side and modus operandi of the existing webstite for TES.
But missing a lot in history Lolita filled in a nice chunk but really only skimmed the surface.

[…]

Sadly the real culprit in the TES website saga has been the boards involvement which has chased away anyone willing to volunteer and put the time in.
"

Thanks, and I'm sure I missed quite a bit of history. It's such a shame that this history is undoubtedly filled with battles of ego rather than battles for web site hits. Not only do they discourage volunteer efforts, as you mentioned, but what amazes me further is their obvious utter inability to get anything substantive accomplished on their own.

The TES board has long since been a largely dysfunctional mess of stupid political infighting, but that is kind of off topic and is best left to another post entirely.

"Give me a call sometime"

Well, I might do that if I knew who you were. I have an educated guess but no proof. Why don't you email me instead? :)

maymay said...

Random note of hilarity I just gleaned from my server logs: Conversio Virium's web site is now the number one Google hit for the phrase "TES meeting". After CV's hits, DSF's calendar shows up, then some Finnish site and a MySpace page, followed by the AppleMunch's (new Google) Calendar, followed by (at last) TES's own (outdated) FAQ page.

mundens said...

I loved reading this post. I just wish I could speak that way to the people I have to deal with at work who just don't get it.

Icehawk said...

Hi Mayma,

Well structured and some valid critic, perhaps you would review our site and subsequently assist in improving it in light of your views.

The Ice Castle (UK)

http://www.the-ice-castle.co.uk