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Make it easier to see Member's books

Discussion in 'Ask the Staff' started by BWFoster78, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    First of all, keep in mind that I have no idea how difficult it is to make changes to the forum software or what's involved in running a forum. I understand completely if what I'm suggesting is too difficult or too expensive.

    I was just thinking that this is a forum for writers, and I'm starting to see more of us transition for pure hobbyists to people who are actually publishing stuff. It'd be neat if there were a better/easier way for us to display our books.

    I love how they do it over at kboards. Thumbnail images linked to your books Amazon page are displayed in your sig file.

    Again, I have no idea how difficult stuff is to implement, but hopefully this is a good suggestion at least.
     
  2. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    How do they do it at kboards? Do authors upload images to their signatures, or is there an automated process for doing this?
     
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    It's an app. Basically, you enter your book's Amazon number, and it grabs the cover for you. Super easy and cool. Fantastic presentation.

    EDIT: Here's a link about the "KB Author Signature Tool."

    KB Author Signature tool
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  4. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    It looks like they had custom software made to do this. I'm afraid that it is far above my skill level (or budget) to accomplish something comparable.
     
  5. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    You know, this could easily be done manually--just grab the book cover, resize it to a consistent thumbnail and make the image a link. Maybe there could be a "service" thread where somebody/multiple somebodies could do this for anyone who asked, and output the result in a code quote box so it could be easily placed in the signature? I do like the idea of being able to see peoples' books at a glance.
     
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Black Dragon,

    As far as I can tell (and I'm not very savvy with this kind of stuff), the software simply simplifies the process of generating code. For example, this is the code that it generates for my sig file:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [br]Brian W. Foster | Website | Newletter | Facebook

    Would this code work in my sig file here? If not could it be made to work?

    Seems like all that is really needed is someone to figure out a) what code is needed and b) write a primer on how to generate that code.

    EDIT: Okay, the images won't work in the sig file (but I like how clean the links appear :) )

    Here's the line of code used to generate one of the thumbs. I made minor modifications to make it appear as code (inserted "_"):

    [_url=http://amazon.com/dp/B015XAJR1Y/?tag=kbsig-20][_img]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51edLQhfcHL._SL125_.jpg[_/img][_/url"]"
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I (or another mod) could start a Member Book Store thread in one of the forums, and have cover images and links to the books in that forum. Any time a member has a book published, it could be added to the thread. Having one place like that would probably be better than having thumbnails in member signatures.
     
    Nimue likes this.
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Steerpike,

    That's better than nothing, but I have to say that clickable thumbnails in the sig files is a really, really neat feature. I can't tell you how many books I've checked out from fellow kboard members because of it. I'll be browsing threads and a cover catches my eye. Much more exposure on every single post than a page you have to deliberately go to ...
     
  9. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    I like the single thread idea because I feel like the sentiment is usually "I want to read more books by MS authors, is there a place to find them?" and because I like minimal signatures on forums. But that's definitely from the member perspective, not the published author perspective.
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think it works well from that perspective, and kboards is largely focused around that kind of thing. But I think thumbnails in member signatures here would look a bit...well, gaudy...and these boards have never been primarily a marketplace, which is why there are limits to signature files and where you can self-promote etc. Of course, if it is doable and Tony wants to go that route, it's his call. I'm just envisioning what the boards would look like if everyone had a thumbail or two or three in their signature block.
     
  11. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I guess part of the question is, "What is MS and what does it want to become?"

    If it wants to be a place where published writers hang out, I think this is something that needs to seriously be considered. If it's a place where writers begin their journey or for writers who are primarily focused on writing for fun, then it's not really necessary.

    When I go over to kboards, though, I love seeing all the thumbnails for a lot of reasons:

    1) It leads me to check out books that I might not have ever noticed otherwise.
    2) It's incredibly motivating. If those people can put out all those books, so can I!
    3) Each of those authors put a ton of work into each of those books. I like that they can show them off with pride.

    Again, if it can't be done or if that's not what MS wants to be about, I understand.
     
  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    A few things.

    I'm a big fan of letting people promote themselves in their signatures. I think that signature now looks very professional and neat, BWF, and I agree that it's inspiring to see members promote their accomplishments.

    We have to be reasonable in what we attempt. If we were going to put money into something, I could list a half dozen things that would have a bigger impact on the community. We are not amazon.

    If we really wanted to, there are ways to try and raise money for a project like this. One of the sites I follow is a tabletop game review site called shutupandsitdown. Four times a year they run a fundraiser where they put together "gold club bags" and sell them for $20 each. That specific tact would be challenging because we're all in different locations, but I mention it because there are possibilities.

    But aren't there other places on the site that we could host the information? For instance, what about a spotlight widget that displayed different member books every time you pulled up the page? The programming on something like might be easier.
     
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Like I said, I have absolutely no concept of what would be required to make such a change. It doesn't look like generating the code (meaning the "bbcode," whatever that is) is a big deal at all, so the issue seems to be if the system will allow images in the sig file?
     
  14. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    If you go to the signature editing page and look below the text box, you see what BB codes are allowed. Image codes are turned off.

    The chief problem that could arise if images were turned on would be moderating those images. People could post objectionable images.

    I do like the clean look of MS. If there were a way to limit the size of the images in sigs, that might help. For instance, if instead of the images you posted above, they were 1/2 that size or 1/3 that size, the site might still look somewhat clean.

    Edit: Just wanted to add, for clarity, that I suspect turning on image BB code for signatures would be very simple. Other sites using vBulletin allow images in signatures. I do not know whether size limits can also be set for those images; apparently Amazon's own images for links only come in three sizes. Also, as for moderation, I don't know, but wonder, whether member privilege settings can be set for allowing images in signatures—so, say, after so many posts, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Since images are allowed in posts now, the same "problem" currently exists. I'm assuming that the chief problem has something to do with storage space or something?

    I think that if you reduced the covers much smaller than that, it would be kinda pointless as you wouldn't be able to read the title or discern the image at all.
     
  16. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    BWF, I wonder if you saw my recent edit. I'd just made it, clarifying what I suspect to be the minimal effort required to turn these on.

    Yes, current moderation for images already exists. I don't really know how big a deal that would be for images in signatures, but only that allowing images in signatures could increase the number of images appearing, and places images would be appearing, dramatically.
     
  17. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I didn't see that, so I'm glad you called my attention to it.

    I don't know about moderation issues or "clean looks" or whatever else. I really think, though, that, if this is doable, it really makes a lot of sense for a site for writers to give its members the ability to post thumbnails of their covers. Again, if it's not doable or too expensive or difficult for whatever reason, I understand completely. It would seriously confuse me, however, to not allow it for reasons other than expense/difficulty.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I also wanted to point out that there's another link on KBoards that allows generation of BB code for any given book: Amazon Link Maker.

    So I could enter the book title and it will generate various BB code for various links, like

    [​IMG]

    This doesn't generate a full signature like the link Brian previously posted; but, it's usable by anyone to generate a quick link.

    I would note however that all those links have "kbpst-20" appended. This is an Amazon Affiliate ID. Basically, when someone clicks on those links and then makes a purchase while visiting Amazon—it could be a purchase of anything, not just the book featured in the link—then the owner of KBoards gets paid a small sum. (Actually there may need to be an accrual to a certain # before payment happens.) I only mention this because going to KBoards to quickly generate the link will lead to the generation of links with their Affiliate ID. If you are an affiliate, you can just as easily go to Amazon to generate your own image links with your own ID. ("Affiliate ID" may be the old name for it; I'm not sure if they've changed it.) Using another's ID on sites not owned by that person could potentially cause some problems, I think?
     
  19. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    FifthView,

    Just to be clear (which I'm sure you probably understood but I wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page), I don't think that we should use KBoards to create the BB code. My thought was that it looks like the links are fairly easy to create (though I could be wrong about that). If that is the case, we figure out how to generate the code and develop a brief tutorial that we sticky, kinda like what we do now with image files.
     
  20. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I'm also a member of kindleboards and used to use their sig files to flash up book cover images. However I pulled them all down about a year ago. The reason was that kindleboards (like I assume this forum) has a lot of traffic - not all of whom are members, and some of whom are anti certain authors. One of the things I found was that whenever I posted something that someone disagreed with I ended up getting objectionable reviews on some of my books the following day. And reading through the threads on KB I was far from the only author to have that happen. (I assume that those doing this were lurkers not members.)

    To me the single thread idea makes sense more so than having images in sigs which people can just click and go to your book the instant they read something in one of your posts that they disagree with. And really the idea of putting cover images in your sig line strikes me more as a marketing tool than anything else. One of the things I like about MS is that it's more a place for writers to hang out and chew the fat, pubbed and unpubbed, rather than a place like KB where its more about marketing / selling.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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