Many thanks to everybody who took the time to read about the recent changes and who provided their feedback. I'd like to address some of the most common questions and concerns:
LotRFF is now under new administration. Technical responsibilities and planning have passed hands, but the core focus and values of the site remain unchanged.
Who is the new owner?
That'll be me, Keith Mander. I formerly worked at both Google and Facebook and now dedicate a majority of my time to building web communities. My expertise is in reinvigorating websites and managing the process. I deeply care about the communities too and actively engage and partake in them. An example of this action can be seen on Just-Pooh.com and BusSongs.com. I recently took on the baton for managing the popular Twilight Archives site and aim to make significant improvements to it also.
Is Adora still involved in the site?
Absolutely. Adora has voiced that she would still like to be actively involved in the management of the website as a moderator and founder. You can still contact Adora using the LotRFF email address. Her new address is email@example.com. The old address (firstname.lastname@example.org) is still active and all messages are automatically forwarded.
What does Adora make of all this?
Adora and I spoke at length about the site and the plans for its future before the agreement was made. During this time we were merely discussing possible terms and conditions and making sure we were on the same page at every level. It wasn't a definite thing until really just a few days ago. We wanted to make sure everything was fine on the technical end, ensure a smooth transfer and as little downtime as possible before we made any announcements. Adora has been very supportive of the plans and has confidence that the site will continue to prosper. Of course, you'd better ask for her opinion! She did leave some comments on the original announcement, which I'd encourage you to read.
What is the future of LotRFF?
The future is bright! In the immediate period, I will be looking to understand the features that you'd like to see in the new site and begin to plan the rollout of a completely new design, backend and set of features. It'll take around a month or two before the new site goes live and I'll be sure to communicate updates with you. Work is currently underway on the new Twilight Archives site, and you can take a sneak peak at it's new design to give you a flavour of what is to come.
What kind of new features?
I have a long laundry list of ideas which include notifications, a messaging system, profile badges, easier story submission, character selection, ebook exporting, and challenges. The focus will be on improving the user experience and to foster engagement. Of course, it is you, the users who will help decide what it is that you want to see improved.
What are the long-term plans for the site?
The intention is to continue to develop the underlying fan fiction platform that runs the LotRFF site and leverage that technology to launch other fan fiction sites. Twilight Archives is another early part of this vision; in the near future you will be able to have a familiar experience across sites, use your same login and build a more complete profile. Our intention is not to take on FanFiction.net, but have a small knit group of popular, beautiful and deeply engaging fan fiction sites.
Will the site continue to be free?
You bet! You'll forever be able to add, edit, comment, review and read stories on the site. Everything you see today will remain free.
Will user data, or the stories be sold?
Definitely not; we respect your privacy and will do whatever we can to keep your data secure. Your data will never be passed onto a third party.
Is the site going to be plastered with ads?
First and foremost, we care about the community and the user experience. We'd never jeopardise that with the overuse of advertisements.
But your intention is to make a profit?
This, I'm sure, is the issue that causes the most concern amongst users. The site costs money to run through hosting costs and domain renewal. Moreover, I'm pledging several thousand dollars into the new revision of the site, hiring professional designers and developers. Further investment will be made into marketing efforts to encourage more engagement on the site. I'm also dedicating a substantial amount of my time as a self-employed person. Without any income stream, simply none of this would be possible. Some of the most high profile and engaged fan fiction sites (including fanfiction.net, twilighted.net, and harrypotterfanfiction.com) all generate revenue and have used that to grow and improve their sites. The site will never become a cash cow, the intention is only to cover costs and facilitate future investment into the site. It is absolutely the content that drives traffic and in turn, potential revenue. However, consider revenue being generated from the platform and facilitation of a place where users can share their fan fiction, rather than any single collection of stories. The alternative path is that there's no innovation, the site perishes and the owner bares the cost of running the site; this doesn't seem fair or progressive.
I want to out - can I delete my account and my stories?
Sure, they're your stories and you're welcome to do whatever you wish with them. Of course, I hope that you continue to visit the site and that you might reconsider your membership in the future.
I hope that you'll appreciate that I've tried to be very open and honest with you. We could have done more to better communicate the changes and for that I'm sorry.
I'm really excited about what we can do together with the site and I hope that you'll join me.
Please use the comments functionality to join me in this dialogue. You're also very welcome to email me directly.
--Keith Mander on 29/06/11 - 02:35 pm 60 Comments