Feature Request: Lists

Hi! I want to add two quick disclaimers to this feature request.

First, this would be enormously time-intensive to code. I suggest this feature request tentatively, knowing it’s a huge lift. And I suggest it mostly as a discussion of what it’d look like, optimally, if it was done.

Second, I’m presenting this feature request as if it was a full spec for actually making it. Meaning to say, I was thinking about how to balance the ideal version of this feature vs. practical compromises for optimal usefulness. So this feature request has a lot of detail on 'how might it look in action?

LISTS

I propose a capability where users can create curated, themed Lists of existing stories. The Lists would be collected on a new, separate tab on the main page.

Some thoughts:

A. Readers already make efforts to find and share those stories that excel at specific, hard-to-categorize scenarios. Tags are a great filter, but they have limits. And there are many forum threads already with people looking for, and sharing, lists of their favorite stories that do a really specific scenario, and do it well. Making these reader-curated lists easy to share and access would be a great perk for readers. These kinds of lists are fun to browse, and it’s a great way to find stories you’ve missed. And it’s exciting to be able to share your own lists too.

B. Word-of-mouth is a reliable curator. Ratings and badges are great, and a fun part of the site, but they don’t do a good job at showcasing stories that appeal to a more niche demographic, and are stellar examples of that kind of story. Curated recommendations are a good way to let fans of those kinds of stories actually find the stories, and highlight them. After all: there are few things more likely to get you to check out a story than someone whose tastes you trust saying “woah, check this out!”

C. This is a partial solution to ‘my story got lost in the flood of new stories’. There are more active writers and readers on the site than ever before. New stories stay on the front page briefly before being pushed down by waves of even newer stories. I think it is fantastic that so many new writers are sharing their work. (That means there are even more great stories to read!) Still, authors have worried over how easy it can be for their new story to be immediately swept out of sight and off the front page in a tide of new content. Readers do usually find these stories anyway, but stories have less time to shine, and it’s demotivating to authors. Lists could be an additional way for quality stories to ‘stick around’, and a way to highlight overlooked favorites. Plus, it would give readers even more ways to ‘drill down’ into the site’s massive archive, since many Lists will likely highlight neat stories from previous years (or decades!).

BEING SPECIFIC ABOUT HOW LISTS WORK

To avoid abuse or spamming of this feature, I brainstormed rules and limits to how Lists would work. These are mainly ideas on how to maintain a sense of ‘quality’ with the Lists, and keep them useful.

  1. Lists need to be themed. Meaning to say, “my favorite stories” won’t be allowed as a List. “My favorite drone stories” would work, though. Other fine examples for List themes might include “romantic epics”, “Tumblr-style Chronivac stories”, “stories where the bully wins”, or “stories about forced body hair growth”.

  2. Users can only make ONE list… at first. To avoid spamming, each user would initially be only able to make one list. But, six months after they make their first list, they gain capability to make a second list. Six months after the second list is made, they can then make a third list… Etc.

  3. Users need to have had an account for at least six months before they can make a list. This is also to help avoid spamming.

  4. Lists can be Favorited by other users. This is a key part to this feature request. Similar to how stories can be saved as Favorites, there would be an additional new page where readers can access their Favorite Lists. (However, user can’t leave comments on Lists. I thought about it, and allowing commenting on Lists would be way too open to abuse.)

  5. Lists can be sorted by Most Favorites; Most Recent; or Random. On the main Lists tab on the front page, you’d have options of how you want to view the existing Lists. (The option to sort by Most Favorites would theoretically help readers curate quality Lists — aka, if a List is poorly assembled and not useful, readers will be less likely to Favorite it. On the other hand, well-curated and useful lists will have more Favorites.)

  6. List-makers can add a small ‘review’ about each story that they add to the list. This is another key part to this feature request, and which I feel is important. It would give each List more context, and allow readers to comment and explain why they included a story, and what’s so hot about it. It would also be very helpful to other readers who are trying to decide if a List is for them. Seeing how a List-maker talks about each story on their list would gives a window into how the List was assembled. It would give a sense of whether their tastes are a good fit for what the reader is looking for.

  7. List-makers can include only ONE story per author on a given List. This does include the option to include one story that they wrote themselves. I thought about it for a bit, and I think this limit would maximize how useful Lists would be. And it would encourage a broader curation.

  8. There’d be a minimum/maximum of how many stories you can have on a List. This is, again, to avoid spam, and to keep the Lists useful for readers. Lists won’t be useful to others if they’re too short, or too long. Tentatively I propose a minimum of 4 stories, and a maximum of 20. This can be revisited, of course…

  9. Stories included on Lists could choose to have a small ‘List’ badge/message on the page of their story itself. This ‘List’ badge or message would, essentially, mention that the story is included on a specific List. It would not be an additional badge on the main page, or viewable anywhere but on the story page itself. Authors of stories can also choose to opt out of this, if they’d rather not have this badge/message appear on their story.

  10. Negative lists are not allowed. Lists should only be used to share stories a reader enjoys. No Lists can be used to shame stories or authors. This would be a ‘positive review’ feature only.

  11. Similar to stories, Lists need to be approved before they are published. And Approvers won’t be reading every story on a List to approve it — they’d just check over the List to make sure it’s not breaking any rules.

IN CONCLUSION

This would be a strenuous feature to implement.

It would require changing many existing pages, such as the main page (to create the Lists tab); user profiles (to create a space for a user’s Lists); and story pages (for the call-out about a story being included on a List).

It would require building a whole new type of page, too — aka, the Lists page itself. And it would require adding the ‘review’ capability where readers can share why they added each particular story to their List.

I think, though, if it was built and implemented, it would be an appealing and popular feature.

It would be an easy way to share favorite stories that do a particular type of story really well — which is, generally, a huge reason so many of us are on this site. We are all looking for stories that hit our very particular kinks, and do it well.

Many conversations I’ve had with other users on this site have led to swapping and exchanging examples of stories that scratch a very particular itch. Being able to curate and share those lists of stories more widely would just be really fun, and a great way to take advantage of the site’s impressive archive.

I’d be curious to hear what others think about this idea! And again, I don’t really propose it expecting it to be built, because this would be so much work to build. And I’m really aware of that. But I hope it would at least make for a good discussion!

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I’m very much a fan of this idea. I’m always searching for older stories but either my tag game is weak or the things I’m interested in aren’t well covered by the tags, so lists would really help. And I already have some ideas of what my first list(s) would be, if it were implemented.

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Lists of curated stories… hm.

There are things on the site which were WAY more work to implement. What you’re suggesting is mostly UI work (to manage those lists). Storing and displaying these lists is rather simple.

So I’m not against this idea. It’s certainly fresh and I hadn’t considered it yet.

Everyone in favor please “like” the original posting of this thread. So I know how many people would like to see this feature.

Also, Phil suggested a buckload of additional features for those lists. I’d go one step at a time. First implement the lists themselves without much of the suggested functions like reviewing or “liking” them. That should be saved for a later time. If you split up the effort, it’s much likelier to happen.

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