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(( VaginaPagina Public Correspondence ))
Partnership with LJ / Seeking feedback about VP's layout 
21st-Dec-2011 01:28 pm
Hi, fellow superstars!

We have some exciting news to share. VP has partnered up with LJ to become a super community, a la ohnotheydidnt. In fact, your very own rockstarbob is headed to San Francisco in February for an LJ Leadership Summit, so it's getting real up in here. We're excited about how these changes could make VP better for all of us.

Never fear--the VP Team remains in charge all the way (with your guidance!), and VP's mission and policies will remain the same. The bulk of what is going to change, however, is the way VP on LJ looks and how we operate in the social media world. We expect the partnership to bring more visibility to VP, too.

With that in mind, we'd love some input from y'all as we begin work with the LJ folks on our site redesign:

  1. What elements/features in the current design at vaginapagina do you like and want to keep?
  2. What would you like to see changed, assuming the sky is the limit (which it may or may not be)?

We have our own thoughts, but now it's time to hear yours. You're also welcome to share any other thoughts/concerns/questions and we'll do our best to answer with what we know. We're still in the preliminary stages here. :)


For the VP Team
21st-Dec-2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
A SUPERCOMMUNITY! How exciting! I am juuuust about to leave for work, but I'd like to say that I would love to see a 'comment vote-up' added to comments on posts. (Not a vote-down option, those are just depressing and I think they discourage people from speaking their minds). This way, posters and commenters can give "thumbs up" to particularly helpful or insightful comments by VP's wonderful users.
Also, perhaps, an option so that people can make anonymous posts without having to be LJ users or emailing maintainers with queries.
21st-Dec-2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
I love the Vote-Up idea; it would streamline things a bit more, instead of having a bunch of +1/This/I agree comments. Nothing wrong with those comments, just saying that it would create a cleaner look.
22nd-Dec-2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
And it would add to VP's usefulness as a resource - so many people come here when they're distressed, and I can imagine it being really helpful to be able to skim an old thread for voted-up comments (so the voted-up status would need to be visible whether a comment/thread is expanded or contracted); if you're new to VP (or indeed to LJ, or to this kind of discussion/safe space in general), it might be less overwhelming than having to read through 50+ comments in detail.

Also, in light of the debacle over LJ release 88, can I request that VP please, PLEASE keeps a layout that includes subject lines and allows people to preview their comments?
21st-Dec-2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
I would like to vote-up your comment, heh. This is a great idea.
21st-Dec-2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Congratulations to you, rockstarbob!

I know ONTD has their own community userhead. That would be cool if VP could have one too!
21st-Dec-2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like this idea!
21st-Dec-2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
+Subject lines in comments enabled for whatever the community's new design will be, assuming LJ doesn't rollback that lovely ~improvement~.

+For the search function to be updated and made working again.

+For tagging to be used more often. Perhaps assign a group of people to be taggers, so that doesn't eat away at the mods' time? This could even be done in lieu of fixing the search function, since it would also help users find relevant posts.
21st-Dec-2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
Subject lines, YES PLEASE. And if you can find some format/style/whatevertheefftheycallit that gives me back my dropdown icon menu instead of this [not safe for even semi-safe-space epithet] of a "click on your icon, which we show in order of upload, not alphabetical" nonsense...

I mean, how can we put in TRIGGER WARNINGS without subject lines?
21st-Dec-2011 11:00 pm (UTC)
I don't see what was wrong with the icon selection system before. Hell, being able to open a little window [which had adjustable viewing sizes for the icons!] to select an icon from an image instead of text was one perk that made me always pay for my LJ account[s].
22nd-Dec-2011 12:14 am (UTC)
For me, it's a real pain to have to scroll through my over-100 icons to get to the one I want. I would just click on the dropdown, type the first few letters of the one I wanted, and presto! I could then navigate a tiny bit to get to the exact one, in the case of my multitude of WoW icons, or I could just do a single "return" and have exactly what I wanted, such as in the case of my Eye-con here.

I'm prodding suspiciously at S2 layouts to see if there are any that don't make me want to metaphorically cause self-harm to my eyeballs and not quite metaphorically cause other-harm to the people who are taking away functionality.
21st-Dec-2011 11:00 pm (UTC)
+Being able to preview comments again before posting them.
21st-Dec-2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
Re: tagging. As I understand it, the idea is to have just a select few posts tagged so that it's easy to find the most helpful ones? But I think we could definitely stand to have more tagged entries. For instance, for all the posts we get about Plan B, it's a bit shocking that the tagged entries for emergency contraception are over four years old...there's a lot that has changed with regard to laws and research and, heck, ulipristal acetate, since then.

Would it be possible to have some sort of weighted system for tags? Where the best posts were sticky at the top of the category or something? So readers could have the best of both worlds?
22nd-Dec-2011 12:29 am (UTC)
This might not be a bring-to-LJ thing, but I'm wondering if it might be worthwhile to put up intermittent posts here asking members which recent posts they'd like to see tagged.

I think part of the issue is, yes, that the maintainers are sometimes busy (and I know that when I'm busy, I read VP with tagging as a lower priority). But I also think that sometimes we see posts at a certain time, maybe before a lot of good discussion has happened or whatever, and so we don't see the post in its "tag-worthy" form.
27th-Dec-2011 05:35 am (UTC)
I know that was the original idea behind only letting the mods tag, but I definitely think it needs to change. I've actually been meaning to ask about it in contact_VP for awhile. It is frustrating to be looking for something and only find 4 or 5 year old posts, especially if I can think of a more recent, more helpful post on a subject but just can't find it because it's not tagged and the search function doesn't really work, and there are too many posts in the community to go through them all. I've certainly had that experience more than once.
27th-Dec-2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for flagging this up. What we've done in the past clearly isn't working for us any more; we're now having a conversation among the maintainers about how to set up a system that we can manage, independent of any potential collaboration with LJ. Watch this space! :-)

For the VP Team
27th-Dec-2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
Awesome, I will look out for changes!
21st-Dec-2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
I'd like to +1 that comment up idea. Also, I've always loved the way Livejournal threads comments into conversations, and don't want that to change.

Is there a way to improve searching or sorting of archived posts? Tags are only so complete, and Googling only works on public posts (which is okay by me, because that means locked posts aren't visible to Google).
21st-Dec-2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
+1 for threaded conversations.
22nd-Dec-2011 04:09 am (UTC)
I don't really know much about all of this. I did read something in that article about ads though, and the owner of ONTD being a paid staff member of LJ...which made me think that it would be really good if this community could be monetized a little bit so that the maintainers could get paid. (I know this might be a controversial suggestion!) I know you all work very hard, and I always think it's good to get paid for your hard work.

I agree that the way comment threads work is really good and should be maintained.

Congratulations VP team! This seems very exciting, and it makes me happy to know that there will be someone from VP represented among the LJ leaders! So cool.
22nd-Dec-2011 06:43 am (UTC)
As for ads, I was hoping we could get some health-related ones. PP [do they advertise?], meds, doctors, programs for loving yourself/body. That kinda thing.
26th-Dec-2011 10:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, PP does advertise, on Google AdWords and other places!
22nd-Dec-2011 02:11 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of VP staff getting something back in return for the good work they do. But if there was health-related advertising, I'd want the ads to be carefully screened, and for VP to have an opt-out option if it turned out that advertising harmed the community.

Advertising of specific medicines or doctors seems like a potential conflict of interest that would need ethical consideration before being implemented in a setting where vulnerable people come for advice. Maybe this is a cultural difference - I'm in the UK, and because of the NHS there is less of a sense of healthcare as a marketplace (though our government is currently trying to change that for the worse :/), so the culture around it is quite different, and I'm always uneasy when I come across US-style advertising of prescription-only medicines in mags and online, especially if it involves a blurring of the lines between "source of information" and "selling a product", e.g., a drug company making a mini-documentary about a condition their drug is sold to treat.

Private medical practitioners can advertise (though I don't know the ins and outs of this), and the times you come across ads for doctors tend to be ads for cosmetic surgery clinics or alternative health practitioners in the back of magazines aimed at women. And that in itself always seems hypocritical to me, when the same magazines so often run features about the problem of body image.

I'm trying to work out why this bothers me so much and where my personal line in the sand is - after all, VP commenters can and do suggest "you could ask your doctor about [drug name]". But maybe the difference is that we may generally assume the VPer has nothing to gain from that recommendation. VP's strength is the trust between members - we believe that we're talking to people like us; people independent from other information sources. In extremis, that matters a lot, especially for people who've had bad medical experiences. Whereas if there's a financial relationship between VP, LJ and a drug company... that doesn't seem right.

There's also the issue of how ads would be chosen/triggered. In Gmail, the content of your email is analysed and ads are triggered to match. If you don't like that, you can choose not to have a Gmail account, but do people necessarily want the content of their posts here analysed by some algorithm that perhaps throws up insensitive combinations of content and ad? I remember getting abrasively-phrased ads for diet products on my personal LJ. That was pretty hurtful, considering that I was having body image issues at the time.

Advertising just seems like a minefield that would not improve VP, whereas VP always has the option to link to resources like Planned Parenthood that could be helpful for members without there having to be a financial relationship...
22nd-Dec-2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
Don't worry--we share your concerns completely about advertising. It's not mandatory for us to partner with LJ, thankfully, and if we did decide to allow it (a big if!), I think everything would have to be carefully hand-picked by us for it to work. And you're right--it's hard to think of very many products or companies that we'd feel good about giving advertising space to.

As with all things, we'd bring this specific topic to the community for discussion before going forward. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
22nd-Dec-2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks; that's very reassuring to hear! :)
26th-Dec-2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
VP, for advertising totally orthogonal stuff! Scarves, perhaps. Maybe knitted penis cozies. Fiction books...


(Well, it would at least avoid the landmines of advertising the "logical" stuff! O:> )
29th-Dec-2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
I like this idea. Health-related advertising sounds way too delicate an scenario, at least not when advertising is commonly driven by keywords.
26th-Dec-2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
I think ads for menstrual cups, cloth pads, and woman-friendly sex-toy shops would be perfectly appropriate!
22nd-Dec-2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'm also a Brit and totally agree that the idea of advertising prescription medicines makes me very uncomfortable! Thank you for articulating all of this very clearly, so I didn't have to think about how to express it.
23rd-Dec-2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Same here (though I'm not British, but in a European country where advertising for prescription meds is prohibited). I actually shuddered the first time I saw a voucher for a week-long free trial of a prescription medicine in an American magazine.
cloudsinvenice: Thank you also from me for raising so many important points and putting them into coherent words.
24th-Dec-2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Are there other supercommunities we could see? I looked a bit at ONTD. I guess I'm not sure what the possibilities are, which is hindering me in thinking about what I would like to see for VP.
28th-Dec-2011 06:40 am (UTC)
As far as I know, ohnotheydidnt is the only one.
27th-Dec-2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
Mostly I would like to see LJ keep their goddamn hands out of the actual running of the community. I have seen the crap they pull and enable people like brenden to pull over in ONTD and it's mainly because they are partnered they feel... well. Anyway. I will try to keep my profanity-riddled screed out of here as it's not appropriate.

I'm really glad VP is getting this opportunity, though. I think it'll be interesting to see how we grow and change because of this.

Oh, I just had an amazing thought. Sky being the limit for suggestions, I'll throw out this: a way for people to make anonymous posts without the "emailing a mod" thing. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but having an alternative posting method would free up mod time and probably make some people feel more confident about their anonymity and/or reduce people feeling they have to create throwaway gmails just to email a question.
28th-Dec-2011 06:33 am (UTC)
Omg! Congratulations! This is so exciting :D
28th-Dec-2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
Oh! Another thing, but not Livejournal, that I just thought of. Maybe open talks with Dreamwidth about making a sister VP community there (if it's not already present!) with the option for posters there to crosspost to the LJ-VP somehow? I do not know if they have any kind of way to do that for a community (for a private journal, you have to have your LJ-PW for the LJ crosspost to work), but it might be a useful thing to put on DW's radar for utility for their folks -- a way to set up the crossposting so that members of hypothetical DW-VP can just click the tickeybox and it'll show up on LJ-VP with a footer that the person posted from DW.
30th-Dec-2011 02:06 am (UTC)
I would like to keep the "new comment" function that points out the (duh) new comments! I find it very handy.
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