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Author Topic: Armchair Philosophical Musings on Audience Reach Problems  (Read 1008 times)
Junebug
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« on: May 09, 2024 @79.66 »

When creating my fansite, I have two problems to contend with.

The first problem is technical. Is my CSS stylesheet styling the webpages in the way I want them to? Is there a forgotten tag in my HTML element that's making the typography look wonky? Did I forget a tag entirely, or misspell br as b so that the whole section is now in bold?

But the second problem is social. Making a fansite in the current year is a different thing from when I visited such sites in my childhood. Back then, people on the internet visited websites, because websites were what the internet was for. But these days the typical internet interaction is through social media. And I can get why that is. Building a website from scratch has a learning curve and involves effort, even if you don't bother with CSS. It's no wonder to me that people would choose social media sites instead, because what you lose in customizability you get back in convenience, in a "good enough" look and feel for your self-expression online. Not to mention the power of social media's network effects. This brings me to the crux of the second problem with regard to my website.

My fansite is dedicated to the manga The Case Study of Vanitas, which is niche in the west to say the least. There's a decent number of fans, but in terms of manga popularity it's on the small side. The majority of the fandom's online presence is on Tumblr and X, but mostly on X. The intended audience of the fansite is for those hardcore fans who've read the manga already and care about such things like how the symbolic meaning of a flower on one of the volume covers foreshadows the plot of the story ten chapters later, and things like that. But the frustrating reality is that most of the people who'd even begin to have an interest in something like this are unlikely to ever know my website exists, let alone consider visiting it. I have gone out of my way to join fanlistings and webrings that look like the appropriate place for a fansite or shrine, in the hopes that general manga fans will see it. But it's a bit frustrating to know that because of the incentives of the modern web, most of my intended audience will not interact with the website despite my efforts to spread the word on those very social media sites. People want to be where the action is, even if being able to convey my manga analyses in an artistic way is important to me. I can't really blame people for this, but it's a challenge when I have a fervent wish for more people to at least know my site exists.

So I was wondering how you guys felt about such things. Do you have a hard time reaching the intended audience of your website too, or is it that you don't have an intended audience so it's no problem? Do you create your website solely for yourself and are indifferent to visitors, or do you hope to have a particular outcome from what you've built? How do you treat your website given the current state of the web?
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2024 @137.22 »

I don't think too hard about my audience at all, which I think is the real answer. Getting visitors or comments on my site is nice, but because it's kind of detatched from everything it's easier for me to just focus on creating as opposed to who is going to visit and how they're going to get there, etc. My favorite project on my site is extremely niche and for the most part it exists for me, because I wanted to make it and had fun doing so!


So I say: post the niche analysis, make as many weird niche pages as you want, and try not to sweat it on views and visitors. I think focusing too hard on engagement is itself a holdover from social media culture  :ok: I might even go so far as to say niche-ness is what makes fansites and fanpages good
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2024 @198.14 »

i don't have an intended audience! there's no one i'm especially looking to reach. i have some stuff on my site that's meant for other people to use, but it's not especially urgent that people find and use *my* collection of tiled backgrounds instead of any other person's, yknow?
i have a website because i enjoy making it! my website is designed to be a fun website for me and if other people like it that's a bonus. if only one other person visits it and it brightens their day or they find something useful, that's plenty!! one whole human being who i don't even know is a lot for someone as unsociable as i am.

sometimes i think it'd be nice to have a big reach or a lot of fans of my site or whatever, but that's just an abstract desire for lots of compliments and not because i'd actually enjoy having a lot of people try to talk to me haha.

i think that social media makes it really easy to think about numbers just as numbers and not as, like, representations of other people. i saw a tweet once that basically said something along these lines; a tweet with 10 likes isn't a "hit tweet" by any metric, but imagine having ten people in your house right now! that's a lot of people. i don't even own 10 chairs!
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2024 @540.30 »

Agreed with the above ^^

There are certainly things you can do to make your site a more fun destination for people to visit (have a cool design, useful info and games or things for people to do) - but none of that is really about "audience building" - the basic fact is that even the most high traffic sites in web revival spaces only get a tiny fraction of the viewership that a modest YouTube video might get. So if your goal is to build an audience in terms of numbers, you are in the wrong place!

What you get with a website is a slower-paced and in-depth experience; a website is not about 10 minutes of engagement, it's about 200 years of potential archives and re-discovery. Websites are best when they are made to be forgotten and found again  :4u:

So I love when people enjoy my sites today, and I'm glad that they can get value out of them and we can collaborate together on discussions like what happens on this forum; but in the back of my mind, I'm always thinking that the real audience I'm working for is a world I'll never see and a time I can never imagine  :defrag:
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Junebug
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2024 @38.97 »

These replies make sense, particularly since Web Revival places in general have given me the impression that there are many website builders who on a philosophical level oppose the values modern social media is built around. I don't actually have a problem with these values, though, and websites were invented as a technology specifically for the purpose of communication.

My website really is about engagement. A conversation with your self can only be fulfilling so far, and I'd like to converse with other people at some point. Oh well, maybe the average web user will get into websites again one day...
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2024 @464.38 »

Just as a very practical suggestion: maybe occasionally posting on traditional social media about an update on your fansite and including a link might bridge the gap a little? People might start to notice and maybe it will spawn some discussion, or even get people to check on it on their own from time to time.
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2024 @523.60 »

A conversation with your self can only be fulfilling so far, and I'd like to converse with other people at some point.

That is fair! I think I just view web crafting differently. For me it's more like making a painting or a book, rather than a conversation... I always use the metaphor of a house to describe it, too... So for me a website is more like a personal space where part of the appeal is getting to spend time on something for myself. If people want to come visit the house/see the painting/read the book that's just a nice bonus, but for me the appeal of having a site is the process of creation itself!
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Junebug
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2024 @16.11 »

That is fair! I think I just view web crafting differently. For me it's more like making a painting or a book, rather than a conversation... I always use the metaphor of a house to describe it, too... So for me a website is more like a personal space where part of the appeal is getting to spend time on something for myself. If people want to come visit the house/see the painting/read the book that's just a nice bonus, but for me the appeal of having a site is the process of creation itself!

And this doesn't surprise me, since I think people use websites in many different ways. It's also possible to make a website and restrict visitors to whatever degree you want to, so the possibilities of its uses are very high. This means people come to web crafting for a large variety of reasons.

In my case, I think some context will give a better picture of what goes through my mind when I create my fansite. I most certainly get a lot of enjoyment just from it existing: seeing it take shape fills me with joy, having my ideas come together, adding things and removing things like it's some kind of cyber bonsai tree... it's one of my favorite hobbies at this time. But also, the fandom has a curious composition at this point. A year long hiatus really reduced the readership, and most people actively talking about the story are the really hardcore fans who are still genuinely excited for each chapter despite the plot being in the doldrums (the calm between arcs really gets stretched out in a manga with a monthly release schedule, and one with frequent hiatuses to boot). I have bumped heads with many of these people, but they're also the ones who kind of "get it", who feel in some ways that VnC is one of the best mangas ever and that Mochizuki is a genius. I'd like the fansite to be a part of that discourse about the story. And it may be the case that, aside from putting links everywhere and just joining the usual listings/webrings, there's not much more for me to do. In the end, I'll probably just accept that.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2024 @747.48 »

For what it's worth, I hadn't heard about this manga (I never read Pandora Hearts, either, which is Mochizuki's other big manga) until you brought it up here, and now I'm kinda intrigued. You might grab people's attention enough that you've introduced the series to newbies who've never heard of it (like me). So that's some food for thought- maybe the hardcore people on social media won't necessarily click through, but is it possible you could have an untapped group of people who are looking for something new? They might see your nice-looking fansite with the eye-catching art and click through out of curiosity.

I think if you're not exclusively active on social media services, you'll have to recognize that personal websites/shrines/fansites are an extreme niche. A lot of people won't click links even on profiles on Xitter/Reddit/etc., because they're fine sticking with their social media bubble. I think it's great if you are still active on those services to share links to your site.
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Junebug
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2024 @765.76 »

For what it's worth, I hadn't heard about this manga (I never read Pandora Hearts, either, which is Mochizuki's other big manga) until you brought it up here, and now I'm kinda intrigued. You might grab people's attention enough that you've introduced the series to newbies who've never heard of it (like me). So that's some food for thought- maybe the hardcore people on social media won't necessarily click through, but is it possible you could have an untapped group of people who are looking for something new? They might see your nice-looking fansite with the eye-catching art and click through out of curiosity.

I think if you're not exclusively active on social media services, you'll have to recognize that personal websites/shrines/fansites are an extreme niche. A lot of people won't click links even on profiles on Xitter/Reddit/etc., because they're fine sticking with their social media bubble. I think it's great if you are still active on those services to share links to your site.

That's kind of the nice thing about websites as the unit of, how to put it, stuff?, on the web. You never fully know what you're in for when you click a link, and the discovery is exciting. This is why I got interested in joining manga fanlistings, mainly for the scenario you've just described: general fans of manga would get something out of it, too. I've actually read people's thoughts on mangas I've never read just because it's fascinating to see what are considered the controversial questions about the story in that fandom, or what kind of inside jokes they ended up with and what that might say about the characters. My plan is to just join as many fanlistings and webrings that my site would fit in, just so more people would learn that this manga exists. Perhaps I have some Mochijun evangelism going on with me, but for the cool website for Pandora Hearts I'd just point to Twilight Visions' shrine and call it a day.
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2024 @770.75 »

That's kind of the nice thing about websites as the unit of, how to put it, stuff?, on the web. You never fully know what you're in for when you click a link, and the discovery is exciting. This is why I got interested in joining manga fanlistings, mainly for the scenario you've just described: general fans of manga would get something out of it, too. I've actually read people's thoughts on mangas I've never read just because it's fascinating to see what are considered the controversial questions about the story in that fandom, or what kind of inside jokes they ended up with and what that might say about the characters. My plan is to just join as many fanlistings and webrings that my site would fit in, just so more people would learn that this manga exists. Perhaps I have some Mochijun evangelism going on with me, but for the cool website for Pandora Hearts I'd just point to Twilight Visions' shrine and call it a day.

That's a great idea! :D And I'm gonna click through that Pandora Hearts site, 'cause it looks neat and the art is pretty! My friend was all about Pandora Hearts back in the day, and somehow, it missed me...dunno why that was because it was pretty popular! (And I think still is)

I enjoy reading people's anime/manga reviews, too. I especially like seeing them on a standalone site rather than somewhere like Reddit. It's weird, but something about seeing one person's personal tastes and what they like/dislike rather than just a single post in a subreddit somewhere is appealing.
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Paprika
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2024 @854.33 »

Absolutely not looking for an audience either, already spent too much time and thoughts about it. Now that I'm older and (I hope) wiser, I made my website for me and for whoever will stumble upon it, like some kind of hidden treasure. People won't look for me anywhere, the will look one day on internet, make some searches and see my website in the result. They'll probably click and yell "WTF is this lmao" and then explore it.

I have a Mastodon account where I talk about comic-books most of the time and I sometimes post updates about the website but that's it. The best approach I can see for you is to have your website somewhere in a bio/signature and have a couple of visits from this. Other then that it's the usual "sell yourself !" strategy, whic isn't optimal (to my eyes).

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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2024 @181.82 »

Though I agree with what most people said about not necessarily seeking a ton of engagement or internet fame, I do find myself craving friendship from & connection with like-minded people in the web-crafting space. My site is very personal to me, and maybe it's a bit of a self-centered ask. But my group of online friends don't really "get" the whole web revival thing, and despite me showing them when I make a new page, their interest in what I do on my site is minimal. I'm not expecting huge amounts of praise or anything, and I get that it isn't really their thing, but it is nice to be acknowledged by your friends. So it would be cool to have someone with whom I can bounce ideas back and forth. Creative community is super fun and rewarding; I'm glad Melonland fills that niche somewhat for this hobby.

For your manga site problem: are there any discord groups that you could join that allow self-promotion? You could create an RSS feed for your site, and a tumblr blog or twitter, and update each whenever you update your site. Do you have anything useful or unique on your site that will get people to come back? (Homemade graphics, rare facts, analysis, etc...) Is your site more focused on your own personal relationship with the series (a noble endeavour, but will it attract other fans), or is it more informative/general (can they get the same content elsewhere, and how easy is it to navigate/access)?
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2024 @762.06 »

For your manga site problem: are there any discord groups that you could join that allow self-promotion? You could create an RSS feed for your site, and a tumblr blog or twitter, and update each whenever you update your site. Do you have anything useful or unique on your site that will get people to come back? (Homemade graphics, rare facts, analysis, etc...) Is your site more focused on your own personal relationship with the series (a noble endeavour, but will it attract other fans), or is it more informative/general (can they get the same content elsewhere, and how easy is it to navigate/access)?

You know what, I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to create social media accounts specifically for the site, as opposed to just mentioning it from my personal accounts. I should try that avenue at some point. My site is for analyzing the manga, specifically reading the symbolism the story is using and explaining what's going on during certain arcs that the story leaves implicit. I know for sure people are into this kind of thing, so I'm not worried about whether it's interesting or not. (Lord knows this is a whole lot more interesting than my highly specific Sir Thomas Browne AU fanfiction of this series, and that has somehow gotten bookmarks, kudos, and comments...)
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2024 @805.86 »

I agree with most of the people here for my personal site, but I also run (and sadly neglect) a fan site for my favourite k-pop group---the only one, to my knowledge. I've had some people visit it and comment on it, but not much else---I think message boards would help, but I have no clue how to do those on Neocities and they'd probably die quickly anyways. It's really sad trying to run the only fansite for a small fandom! :(
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