Message to our Readers

Posted by on February 19th, 2010 at 3:27 PM

We’d like to thank tcj.com readers for their patience during the bumpy first couple of months of our expansion. It’s been a steep learning curve and we’re still making our way down the list of bugs that need ironing out. We’re aware, of course, of the viral critiques that have popped up recently, which run the usual gamut from serious, well-intentioned, and productive to snide, resentful, and supercilious, but rather than take the time to respond to each and every one, we need to focus on fixing the technical shortcomings and glitches, which is precisely what we’re doing. There are plenty of things about the site that still need to be de-uglified and kicked into working order, but one new weapon we’re going to have in this continuing struggle is production assistant Tony Remple who will help with day-to-day postings, so that we will have more time to concentrate on developing new content and realizing our long-term editorial plans.

Cosmetic shortcomings and functional glitches aside, we set our sights very high and some of the major initiatives we had planned are going to need further tinkering before we’re satisfied that they’re ready to be unveiled. For example, we don’t want to fully launch a regular news posting until we know we can deliver the kind of regular, in-depth journalism that has long been missing from the Internet’s coverage of the comics field.

Our primary aim, however, was to channel the range of thoughtful, confrontational, probing voices that make up The Comics Journal into a site that is true to the magazine’s sensibilities and unlike any other place on the Web. We wanted to take both the magazine and Internet comics coverage places they’ve never been before, and that is a goal that we are proud to see taking clearer and clearer shape every day.

We want to reassure readers that we are aware that there are technical, navigational, and other problems with the website, and that we are working nearly 24 hours a day to fix them. Rest assured that we’re just getting started. One day, not only will this all look prettier and be better navigable, but we have some ambitious features in the works that are going to shock and amaze you.

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17 Responses to “Message to our Readers”

  1. One little glitch that needs to be cleared up.

    I’m glad to see that TCJ is now using Twitter and Facebook to promote the site. However, when you send out alerts for new posts , please make sure the link takes the person clicking it to the relevant piece on tcj.com. As it stands, when I click a link from the Journal’s Twitter feed, I get taken to a Facebook page which features the tcj.com link. And you can’t click through from there without first going through a page that notes the danger of clicking Facebook links and asking if you want to continue.

    It’s not a dealbreaker, by any means, but it’s annoying. The link should take the reader right to the post.

    The tinyurl.com Web site is best for creating compressed URLs for use on Facebook and Twitter. If you need any help, my e-mail is in Michael Dean’s address book. I’ll be happy to offer any advice I can.

  2. Rob Clough says:

    Thanks for this post, Gary, especially in the face of the “sneering and snarking” from various corners of the internet. I’ll be curious to see what features you have in mind.

    While a lot of the criticism of the site was presented in rather juvenile fashion, I did like the suggestion that the editors use the bloggers and other freelancers for the occasional theme week or wider roundtable. The quick turnaround of the web offers a chance for writer interaction that wasn’t possible in the print version–and would also allay the fears that I’ve heard from some readers that certain TCJ writers are saving their good stuff for the print magazine.

  3. patford says:

    Amazing, It would never cross my mind to complain about “free-stuff.” and you say there’s more?
    What is this “ugly look” that seems to be a topic of discussion? I guess I’ve visited several hundred sites, and never seen even one that would cause me to think in terms of it’s visual appeal? It’s all a visual abomination. Am I missing something here? There are sites which are attractive?
    I like the Comics Comics site. It’s said the the new one is better looking?
    Well, anyhow…bring it on. I’m all in favor of more free stuff, knock yourself out.
    I love the site as it is, if you can make it more “attractive” that would be a first. A good looking web page?
    Remember that show, The Prisoner? Remember the guy that would intone, “Information, Information, Information?”
    Give me more of that. This notion of attractive web sites…a web site that is “good-looking?” That’s funny, funny stuff.

  4. Noah Berlatsky says:

    Thanks for responding, Gary. This all sounds like great news. I’m looking forward to eating my words and/or bytes in the near future.

  5. Sean Robinson says:

    Gary,

    Thanks for addressing these points. One thing I’d like to chime in with- one of the main differences in new media versus old is the ability to respond to articles, and the possibility of those authors responding back. Take a look at some of the recent HU posts that generated a lot of heat- someone responded, Noah posts and eggs them on further. This might be useful to make explicit to some of the other writers.

  6. […] (2/20/10) Yesterday, Gary Groth posted a response. “We want to reassure readers that we are aware that there are technical, navigational, and […]

  7. Noah Berlatsky says:

    Patford, the point isn’t that people want the site to be aesthetically beautiful. They want it to be easy to use. If you find it easy to use, that’s great. Many others, unfortunately, do not.

  8. patford says:

    The site is very easy to use.
    I looked at a few of the comments, and couldn’t make heads or tails out of them.
    For example I have no idea what an RSS feed is (I assume it’s a way of being sent articles in e-mail form as they are posted rather than going to the site).
    Is going to the site really that difficult?

  9. Theorah says:

    Your content has beenm top notch so far, Its been really refreshing to get my teeth into some decent comic-philosophies instead of the usual stuff :)

  10. joshfitz says:

    Nice to see this being addressed. People are really missing out on some terrific content right now. How many other comics sites have a five part interview with Kevin O’Neil. The amount of overall changes that have taken place, and I can imagine it’s been quite daunting. I do applaud Noah for bringing it up, and will note that some bloggers attitudes about this issue have been overblown.

    I do agree that the internet while a powerful tool, it is not utilized well by many. (Except for Tom Spurgeon, as well as the folks at both ComicsComics and Robot6). Most sites are bitch fests for people to whine about their cause or opinions, or more importantly just a PR dump for Marvel or DC.

    Looking forward to the changes that are to take place, and keep up the great content.

  11. […] Blogosphere | Gary Groth, executive editor of The Comics Journal, responds to growing online criticism of the recently relaunched TCJ.com. [TCJ.com] […]

  12. patford says:

    I was wondering if Gary could point my penis for me when I take a pee so I don’t miss the toilet?

  13. Noah Berlatsky says:

    Patford, obviously you aren’t employed by TCJ, and have no obligation to help them win friends and influence people. However, on the off chance that, as seems to be the case, you would like TCJ to be a success, you might consider whether juvenile insults directed at folks who have problems with the site is really the way to go.

    Again, if you like the site design, that’s great. Many people don’t. Telling these people they are stupid is not going to cause them to want to use the site. It is more likely to make them go away permanently.

  14. steve block says:

    Hi Gary et al. Seeing as you’re on facebook, which is a good move, you might want to have a read of http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/09/14/how-to-integrate-facebook-with-wordpress/

  15. patford says:

    A bit of levity is hardly an insult is it?
    Not being in the least tech minded, having reviwed the various complaints I can’t even figure out what it is most people are unhappy with.
    My assumption is that if I can find things with my very limited knowledge of how web sites function then anmyone ought to be able to do the same.
    My assumption isn’t that people aren’t smart it’s that they want more foam on their free cappuccino.
    Aside from the initial couple weeks with the cookie problem I see things evolving in a reasonable way. No one is going to leave in a huff and never come back, not with the high level content.

  16. Noah Berlatsky says:

    I’ve talked to a number of people who have been driven away by the site design.

  17. patford says:

    They’ll be back.
    Be completely honest. Do you really think they’re gone for good?
    And remember what you told Fiore about finding science fiction on the web?
    Come on it’s not that hard.
    Great food, but it’s self service, no tablecloths, and paper napkins. On the other hand the chef is Thomas Keller, it’s all you can eat, there’s a huge selection, and it’s free.