Surfing the Blogs

I don’t often post, yet this blog averages close to a thousand page-hits a day. My biggest referrer is TGComics, but a strong second is “Search Engines” (from terms like “forced womanhood” or “tg fiction”). That tells me that I’m near the top of some of the more common TG search results, and that a lot of people are clicking my link. (Thanks!) It also suggests that this blog is becoming a portal to the TG world, where people arrive here and then click through on an outbound link.

Why does this matter? Simple: portals are important.

Here’s how I surf. My first port of call is TGComics.com (only partly because the name is easy to remember). I check out the Forum to see what’s up, then pop over to TGcaps to see what’s new. Then I hit the links page. Sometimes I check out Rachel’s Haven, but I always end up at the two big link collections: TG Central and World of TG. This probably sounds familiar, which is exactly my point; these websites are all portals to the TG world.

Let’s face it, we all surf for new TG stuff on a regular basis, but there are way too many blogs and captions out there to just hunt around for it. That’s why a date-sorted list (on time of last update) is essential to finding what’s new in a reasonable amount of time. (The link collections list blogs, while the Haven has a “Last Uploads” command in its Gallery.) I know, a lot of blogs have date-sorted link lists, but most of them are short. Most of us don’t want to clutter up their blog with dozens or hundreds of links, or put in the work to keep them up to date. That’s why the big link collections are important: they’re just links, and keeping the links up-to-date is the whole point.

So let’s not take these portals for granted. We all use them, so we should all be helping the owners, especially Viola at World of TG and Suzy X at TG Central, to maintain and expand their websites.

Case in point: One blogger lost interest in captioning because her blog wasn’t “picked up” by World of TG. But how could it have been? No one told Viola that the blog even existed! And it shouldn’t be up to her to find it; the blogger, or someone else, should have brought it to Viola’s attention.

I’ve corresponded with Viola on the changing design of World of TG. My big concern is that the site be easy for her to maintain. She’s tried to categorize and comment on the links, but that’s a big job. It shouldn’t be up to her to research the content of all these websites. We should be telling her whether our blog is a caption or story blog (or like mine, both), a shemale blog, an art blog, and so on (maybe via an on-site form). All she should have to do is ensure that the link is correct and safe (i.e., not a pay site, or illegal, etc).

The simple design of TG Central is fine for two lists, but World of TG is trying to be much more comprehensive. Multiple categories are necessary because of the sheer number of links. This is where the design can contribute to ease of maintenance. Adding a new link should mean changing only one list and not having to move it again.

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not a website designer by trade. I hope many of you will help Viola by telling her how you use her website and what sort of design would work best for you.

Here’s my two cents. Splitting the site into tabbed pages is good, but having the same links on different tabs isn’t. There should be one location for caption blogs, one for story blogs, and so on. (Some blogs, like mine, can appear in more than one list.) Caption blogs are a problem because there are more of them than the maximum size of a link list. Splitting it into two or more lists is a must, but on what basis? A random split, or alphabetic, or older to newer? The point is to avoid having to move links around. Also, I don’t think a “What’s New” (or “shout-out”) list is too useful, because what’s important isn’t that a link is new to the website, but whether or not it’s new to the reader.

I’m sure Viola would love to hear whatever feedback you’d care to provide, either at World of TG, her blog or the Forum at TGComics.

Amanda

5 thoughts on “Surfing the Blogs

  1. Hi Amanda. Don’t know rightly where to write this, so I’ll write it here.

    Big fan. Absolutely can’t get The Crossdresser’s Wife out of my head (as nigglingly mind-blowing as Niffenegger’s The Time-Traveller’s Wife – any relation?) Love it. Hope to see more.

    • Glad you liked it, hon. I thought it was one of my better efforts, until the latest story kind of overshadowed everything that went before. I’m pleasantly surprised to see people still reading and enjoying the things I wrote even several years back!

      PS. The title of the story probably derived (at least in part) from the book you mentioned, but I haven’t actually read it myself.

  2. Hi Amanda,
    First of all, thanks for writing such a huge and important article over the tg link collections. Suzy X mentioned a lot of what I would have commented.
    It is true, that we/I hardly get infromation about new TG blogs, and it is also true, that TG blogs closed because I didn’t list them immediately (how if I don’t know about them?^^). I am no godess, that sees everything and every new found blog immediatley, so I please the people that do the TG community such a favour to please tell me about it. I even created a contact formular for this, which is, sometines, but rarely used.
    Also thanks Susy X for letting me know this cosmetic advice concerning the info boxes. I’ll try to change this now just like you sugessted. Thanks a lot for that.
    Maybe we can even find a way to link our two works together, so that it becomes one major cooperation project, which is made of two parts and maintained by two people. I’d please you to contact me concerning this via the formular, if you are interested.
    And thanks again, Amanda, it was a great idea to write such a post.
    (Sorry for the bad English).

    Viola

  3. Hi Amanda,

    Thank you for mentioning my blog TG Central in your post. You are right in that its impossible for us to be kept up to date on whats new when it comes to TG related blogs and we rely on people letting us know whats new to make sure the lists are up to date. And this is a massive issue because I rarely get messages with any suggestions or to tell me about any blogs to add. Plus the only messages I get are about adult and fiction blogs, im really interested in expanding the lifestyle side of things (entertainment, transition blogs, etc) but dont get any feedback about them at all.

    I had 2 clear goals I wanted to work towards when setting it up. First I wanted to make a portal website which would have up to date links to everything TG related from fiction to fashion tips. The second was ensuring that it would be clear and easy to read and search through. There were a few websites I used to use as portals before I set up TG Central which were great but it used to annoy me sometimes as some of them were made up based around the blog owners interests, there was no definition between fiction or information, or they wouldnt tell you if the blogs had been updated or not which could mean a bit of searching before actually finding new material.

    When I was setting TG Central up, I tried to fit all the categories I wanted onto one page but found the blog just looked overloaded with information, so I took the decision to simplify the categories and then setup a few blogs and tie them together through links. The individual blogs were ‘themed’ (I cant think of a better word) so they would group common categories together. It was a little bit of trial and error to find the right combinations but I think what ive got now works great (although im always open to suggestions!). I didnt want to end up going into too much detail with the categories as sometimes blogs can sit between several or change category from post to post, and I didnt want to add blogs to more than one list or have to spend time doing admin swapping blogs around after they were added. I dont have a lot of time free to spend updating the blog or searching for new material to add so I needed to strike the right balance. The idea is if someone is looking for fiction (for example) it is all in the same place whether its written or caption, adult or non adult, and the user will get used to seeing the blogs that appeal to their interests and skip over the ones they know dont.

    Ive got big respsect for Viola and the amount of work that has clearly gone into World of TG, from the way she wants the information categorised I cant really see a way of making the blog better to use. One thing I can think of from a cosmetic perspective is on every page the 3rd column has some kind of news or information on it, causing it to take up quite a lot of screen space. If she sets up another tab at the top for a news/how to use the website/update (for example) page, or if its just a bit of information specific to that page maybe setup a text box at the top of the page that goes right across the page (maybe under the links), she can then move the text and shrink the third column down which would give the other columns space to breathe.

    I would just like to say if anyone is reading this and youve got a blog or know of a blog that isnt on any of the portal websites you use, please tell us so we can add them. We want to make sure that people who add to our community through fiction or opinion have a way of being found, and that new people who are discovering themselves have a way of finding the information they need.

    Suzy X

    • Excellent post, Suzy. Thanks for the info, and many thanks for the work you’ve put into your website. I know it’s appreciated by a lot of people, even if they don’t often get around to saying so. 🙂

      Amanda

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