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We have been vindicated!! - Disgruntled Artists

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From:outofpatience
Date:May 7th, 2004 07:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes, it is a bit laughable isn't it?

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Socar, dear, I have to give you credit for being loyal and giving the argument the "old college try." You are one of the few staff members of Epi who can be counted on to stay on top of a problem and assist when possible. But from your examples listing "constant improvements" how do they help the old problems. You stated before that the last posting of Kay's comments in "Anything goes" was left up for possible NEW concerns. How can Epi think to deal with new issues when the old ones are not being cleared?

"We make constant improvements based on member suggestions, including a brand new site for avatars, the Epilogue Showcase, new reject messages, a contact form so people CAN get specific replies from editors on rejected work, addition of new forum categories, and constant touchups to the backend to resolve technical bugs."

I understand the Avatarsite, was developed per request of your members to possibly circumvent art thief from your galleries for this purpose, so that is a good example of improvement based on membership imput. The technical bug issue is something that all sites must deal with and isn't included in this argument at present since most Internet users understand the problem.

But the new rejection messages and a new contact form, I and I'm sure others would like a bit more explanation about. Will these new rejection messages be more detailed in why the piece is being rejected? Will it also include, since it is an automated email notice, a comment section for the mods/editor such as EW mods have to write in and explain the problem a bit more to the members? This new contact form for the editors, is their response going to be more timely given and helpful or the same snarky comments of those who occasionally received a reply in the past? The past has proven that the editors are not reliable in this area as witnessed by the repeat out cry by your members for so long. What reassurances will they receive that this will solve the problem?

And finally the Epilogue Suggestion forum. It received approval during the conception of the ideal in our forum with promises from Chad and the other Editors of its value to your forum's general moral and membership satisfaction. So where did the ball drop? What was the deciding issue that let the ball for this project be dropped? Could it be Chad's opinion that anything showing a possible membership disapproval or disagreement with certain issue within Epilogue, would look unprofessional to the famous companies and artists of the world and scare they off?

Professional of all fields have disagreements within their ranks but it a mark of professionalism in how those groups deal with the issues. Obtaining feedback whether you like what that feedback represents or not and working to meet a consensus on the issues satisfactory to both sides is the true mark of professionalism.

Until the "old issues" are resolved I fear your members will continue to find fault and seek action for them or simply give up the desire to belong to your forum. Word of mouth from the disgruntled can be more widely spread and damaging to a business, nonprofit or not, than almost any other form of bad press. The reason being bad press is seen today and forgotten tomorrow by the newest scandal or issue. But the opinions of the disgruntled continue to remain and they will spread the word to any within ear shot till that opinion is changed.
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From:socar
Date:May 7th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes, it is a bit laughable isn't it?

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(Answer, part 1)

How can Epi think to deal with new issues when the old ones are not being cleared?

--Unfortunately, because we have only one programmer, issues have to be prioritized. Believe it or not, many of the improvements you are just seeing now have been on the agenda for years, and are not new issues at all. The concerns raised by members of this LJ are relatively new, and have only really become major issues now that Epilogue has begun to grow exponentially, and more and more artists are trying to make their homes there. The Epitome magazine, for example, has been in the works since shortly after I became an Epilogue member. At that time, there were very few concerns about the forums, rejected images, or communication with the editors. Improvements to the editorial process ARE in the works, but there are a lot of other issues being dealt with as well, so we do have to ask for patience.

Will these new rejection messages be more detailed in why the piece is being rejected?

--Not in and of themselves, but we are constantly adding new messages/amending the old ones in order to make the intent behind them clearer, and cover every possible contingency. We have also added (and recently amended) the Reject Message Page (available through the FAQ section) to further elucidate.

Will it also include, since it is an automated email notice, a comment section for the mods/editor such as EW mods have to write in and explain the problem a bit more to the members?

--Sorry if I made it sound like there'd be an automated notice via e-mail--there are no plans (that I know of) to start sending out e-mails. However, the contact form for the editors, as I understand it, will send a query to all the editors, allowing EVERYONE to see what you are asking, and raising the likelihood of your getting a reply from the actual editor who did the rejecting. We will not be typing in personal notes for every rejection, because rejections based on quality tend to be much, much more complex to explain than Elfwood's rejections, which tend to be based on genre or very simple quality issues, such as lined paper or poor scan quality.

This new contact form for the editors, is their response going to be more timely given and helpful or the same snarky comments of those who occasionally received a reply in the past?

--I haven't been witness to any snarky comments, but if it helps at all, you will be getting responses only from the editors, not from Chad, the forum mods, or anyone else. If you don't like a specific editor, or consider them snarky, you are welcome to note in your query that you'd like to hear from a specific editor. Personally, I answer all queries within 1-3 days, depending on workload, and I should imagine it would be roughly the same for everyone.
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From:socar
Date:May 7th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes, it is a bit laughable isn't it?

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(Answer, part 2)

The past has proven that the editors are not reliable in this area as witnessed by the repeat out cry by your members for so long.

--I'm not sure this is quite right--we DO answer all the questions we get. One tip: please don't write to us from Hotmail accounts. Because Hotmail boxes tend to be full, and to use the SPEWS spam filter which deletes mail from a lot of domains, we may not be able to reply to Hotmail addresses. Same goes for a lot of the major freemail services, and we are not responsible for that.

With regards to your earlier comment about inactive editors, all inactive editors have been removed from the roster as of last month, so you should not be getting ignored by anyone. Chad and Mark are not editors, and probably can't answer rejection-related queries.

What reassurances will they receive that this will solve the problem?

--We will never be able to make absolutely everyone happy, unfortunately, but most of the feedback we've been getting about the improvements we HAVE made has been very good. The better the site in general becomes, the more resources we'll have, and the faster we'll be able to tackle new problems.

Obtaining feedback whether you like what that feedback represents or not and working to meet a consensus on the issues satisfactory to both sides is the true mark of professionalism.

--Epilogue agrees with this statement, and we're always glad to follow up on suggestions. However, our forums aren't there for that purpose--we ask respectfully that you take your concerns to us via e-mail. You may not see instant results, but you should see the length of the discussions we have based on your suggestions! We really do have some great plans in place...but, again, just the one programmer.



We do take stop-gap measures to resolve immediate concerns, but a major overhaul of the editorial process is going to take a complete restructuring of the backend. To give you an idea of what's involved, as best I can (sorry--I'm not a programmer), our current system is designed in such a way that reject messages and acceptance states are attached to images. Removing, altering, or otherwise tampering with that system is very difficult, because it would cause "objects" (your images) to become misplaced. I'm not sure what the exact result would be, but it would involve Epilogue crashing. Thus, in order to implement things like multiple-editor approvals, custom notes assigned to rejections, et cetera, the entire architecture of the site would need to be rewritten, and then all the current database would need to be converted. Because it is a custom database (man, I'm so out of my depth, here), I believe we would also need a custom conversion tool. So, while these things have been discussed, our current projects need to be dealt with before we can think of getting to these issues (which are, although they may seem old, comparatively new).


With regards to the Epilogue suggestion forum, I think the problem was a lack of manpower. I'm taking the time to answer this because I do believe it's important that you get an answer, but we simply don't have enough people to answer every single concern personally, especially if many of them are simply rephrasings of the same thing. If we were officially supporting a suggestions journal, we'd pretty much HAVE to reply to absolutely every thread, and at the moment, it would be very difficult.

The best I can do for now is to promise to keep checking in on your LJ occasionally (and you can e-mail me if there's an issue you particularly want looked at), and answer any e-mails you want to send me. I can also discuss anything with Chad and the other editors that you want me to, but I absolutely can't guarantee instantaneous results, unfortunately.
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From:outofpatience
Date:May 7th, 2004 09:45 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes, it is a bit laughable isn't it?

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I'd like to thank you Socar for your time and patience in responding and giving the explanitions/answers for my questions. It does sound like Epi is attempting, if a bit slowly, to make changes. We will be anxiously waiting to see the outcomes of your planned interventions in the future.

I'd like to add that in all who I have talked to and read their comments regarding Epi staff, you of all editors seem the favorite of your membership due to your level headed and reasonable approach to problems. You do have a real knack with customer service and I for one applaud that. For this reason if I ever have need to contact the Epi staff in the future, you can be sure to hear from me.

It is also reassuring to know that someone like you will be keeping an eye on activities here in this forum. Have you ever given thought to becoming the public relations coordinator for Epi? I think you would make an excellent person for this job. We welcome your input and look forward to hearing from you again soon. Thank you.
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