What is this place, anyway?

Hiya! My name is Mark Kéy-Balchin, the main developer here at The Usual Spot, and I’m writing this to give you guys a sense of what this website is going to be about.

Origins

Now, webcomics have been a thing since basically the beginnings of the Internet. They were, after all, a natural extension of print comics. But being online meant they could take advantage of many things traditional comics couldn’t – for example, near instant feedback, which means webcomic writers could change or improve their story much faster than once a month.

Naturally, this lead to webcomics that took this formula and ran with it.

Askblogs are webcomics or blogs that have a constant “fourth wall mail slot” with their fans, where the characters react directly to fan questions and comments. These may be used merely to add flavour, or they may steer the course of the plot themselves, or there might not even be a plot and the characters are just fielding questions. But the important part is the interactivity between reader and character.

So… why does this site exist?

Basically, this site exists because I saw a niche that wasn’t being filled and decided to fill it. ^^

So, obviously “The Askblog List” is a list of askblogs. It splits up askblogs into different categories, so people can drill down to the ones they want – but each level shows all blogs for the levels under it, so people just looking for a general view are catered for as well.

The Askblog List is about three things:

No. 1: Visibility and Discoverablity

Tumblr has no directory, and it’s pure luck whether or not anyone will be searching for “ask blog” when you post your latest update. There are lists, but they tend to be hard to find as well. And as much as we like our friends at sites like Top Web Comics, the culture there is more aimed towards traditional webcomics, and askblogs, as numerous as they may be, are still a niche.

So, first and foremost, The Askblog List is about askblogs getting the attention they deserve.

 No. 2: Organisation

Even if you have a unique idea for an askblog, or you’re the only one in your fandom playing as the character of your choice, you might not get any attention if we did things as a pure list format. The more popular fandoms would drown out the unpopular ones, and the most popular blogs would drown out practically everyone else. People not into those things would give up in frustration.

That is why the second tenet of The Askblog List is providing the ability to drill down to the bits that they like.

No. 3: Popularity

(<insert song here> because I can’t resist. ^^;)

Of course, we want to surface stuff that people like! The Askblog List will work primarily with votes – one vote per IP address, once every 24 hours.

I do hope to introduce some other methods of gauging both popularity and quality after the site is launched, but for now I think that’ll do.

Wrapping up

So, I hope you’ve gotten a good sense of what this site is all about. Next post I’ll talk about the road to launch. Toodles!

-Mark Kéy-Balchin

2 thoughts on “What is this place, anyway?

  1. Don’t you think visibility or discoverability is quite a challenge? It takes a hell lot of time and effort. But I am sure there are ways to enhance it . Thanks for sharing this informational post, it was glad reading

    1. Hiya! Thanks for the reply!

      For content creators? Absolutely! Webcomics is a hugely crowded field, and sadly it’s no longer sufficient to just be a good artist and/or decent writer. There’s plenty of amazing webcomics that don’t have the audience they deserve, and it’s often not their fault. As things are, you’ve really got to be in it for the art of it, or because you’ve got a story to tell, because otherwise you’re going to be disappointed, sadly enough.

      But that’s actually one of the reasons I started The Askblog List – askblogs were getting lost, not only in the sea of webcomics but in the sea of Tumblr’s “ask blog” search tag, and absent Tumblr organising some sort of directory, relying on that isn’t going to help people get an audience. I wanted to make sure people could find what they wanted precisely, both the askblog omniglot and the niche collector – too many webcomic sites cater to the former but forget about the latter, and because there’s a lot more niche askblog fans that I’ve observed in the community than in general webcomics, that’s something I wanted to get right off the bat, thus the ability to drill right down to characters.

      As for ways of making discoverability better? I’m absolutely sure there are ways of doing it. A Reviews feature, for example, perhaps with a ‘well-reviewed askblogs’ or ‘recently reviewed’ section, is one that I’ve been planning, but I want to implement it in a way that compliments the website.

      But it’s not the only thing! In fact, I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve with respect to discoverability – but that’s for the future! 🙂 Hopefully I’ll have those ready soon enough.

      Till then, ciao!

      — Mark Kéy-Balchin

      (Oh, by the way, nice website! 🙂 I took a brief look over it – it’s not so often I see a webcomics site with style.)

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