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  1. #16
    Shovelly Joe Moderator Jacquin's Avatar
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    A suggestion

    Would it be possible to post up a list of all the books that have been "Book of the month" and make it sticky, it would be simple enough for one fo the mods to update every month.

    That way those of us who haven't been here regularly will know if the book we want to nominate has already been done.

    Ta

    J

  2. #17
    The Doctor... Sammie's Avatar
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  3. #18
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    One thing I was considering, in terms of ammending the rules, is that the book with the second highest vote total automatically receives entry in the next month's poll.

  4. #19
    The Doctor... Sammie's Avatar
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    Hmm...am inclined to think that if the interest was still there then it would be nominated anyway....

    Not sure.....

  5. #20
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    I am new to the book club and was wondering when nominating is there any rule that something must be available in paperback or are hardcovers ok?

    Just wanted to check.

    Thanks!

  6. #21
    The Doctor... Sammie's Avatar
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    Hi Dragonreader - welcome!

    Yeah books nominated need to be available in paperback - helps keep everyone's costs down

    Enjoy!

    Sammie

  7. #22
    Yobmod Yobmod's Avatar
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    From Eventine:

    Out of interest I went back through the past 4 months nominations and threads, and worked out how many of the people who voted for a book actually discussed it:
    Viriconium - 4/15
    Wraethu - 5/11
    Riddlemaster - 5/13
    The Darkness That Comes Before - 5/14

    Not very heartening is it? Actually, I was more impressed by the number of peopole who consistently got in and commented on books they hadn't voted for - give yourselves a pat on the back.

    I'd suggest one of two changes to the process:
    a) You can't nominate unless you contributed to one of the past 2 months. I understand this is not an appealing option as it makes the club less accessible to new people, but we don't see a wild fluctuation in readership at any rate.

    b)Remove the poll. I'd like to see everyone go to the effort of typing out what they want to read, and perhaps a short blurb on why. I have a feeling this would decrease the number of newbies who come straight into the book club (it is at the top after all) and then vote in a poll just because it's there. This unfortunately increases Erf's workload.

    Anyway, just some options for discussion.

  8. #23
    Yobmod Yobmod's Avatar
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    Out of interest I went back through the past 4 months nominations and threads, and worked out how many of the people who voted for a book actually discussed it

    I remember doing this for a couple of months, except i only counted number of voters for the winner and compared the number of posters (for Riddlemaster, 13 voters, 12 posters, only 5 overlap)

    its dissapointing to see so many paople willing to vote for a book and make no effort to participate, but i don't see any easy way to change it without making it to daunting for new people to join.

    I always post something if i nominated or voted for a book. I occasionally join in other discusions; the majority of the times that i don't participate are due to unfinished series being chosen.

    Maybe rewarding participants would help (rather than punishing non-participants?
    Gold stars / cookies for people that post in six discusions? It worked on some people at school.
    Then maybe limiting people to one/two nominations and 2 seconds, with extra noms for those with stars?
    Last edited by Yobmod; March 14th, 2006 at 05:37 PM.

  9. #24
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    These issues are all difficult and all things that we've talked about at length amongst the mods and admins at one time or another. In the past the decision has been to stick to what we have and try to find ways to encourage more discussion. Any suggestions to that effect would be greatly appreciated.

    It burns me up that so many people vote and don't participate, month after month. From my perspective, if I vote for any of the books, I'm implicitly signing up for that month's discussion, whether "MY" book gets voted in or not. So I'll make every effort possible to get and read the books for the clubs even if they're not something I'm interested in or if it makes my reading schedule a little more difficult for a while (Pandora's Star and Wraeththu were NOT a small books in January.) Sometimes I like them, other times I don't, but I always try to get in there and make at least one post.

    That said, every month we get a whole host of people voting who are fly-by-night voters, usually a bunch of people who have never participated in a book club discussion and who have less than 10 total posts (much more a problem in fantasy than in SF). When I first started moderating the book clubs I floated the idea that we either outright disallow these votes or send PMs to the people and make sure they were really in for the long haul. Amongst the mods, we decided this would basically be hassling new members, so decided against it.

    When it really bothers me is when those fly-by-night voters actually bring something up into first that wouldn't be there otherwise, so we end up with the book club discussing a book that most of its regular members didn't vote for. This doesn't happen often, but there have been a few months here and there where it does. One way to look at it is that most of these "noise" votes usually cancel out. Only rarely (A Game of Thrones) are there enough of them to really send an anomaly our way.

    Eventine's B solution, actually having to narrate your vote, physically typing out the words, might be something worth doing. People see a poll, they click it, and never think about it again. If they have to type it out, maybe we'd get fewer fly-by-nighters. Maybe that's one to think about.

    (Incidentally, have I mentioned how grumpy I am at the whole GoT thing? There were people who threw fits about us talking about not having that book be allowed and then ONE person who voted for it shows up? I have choice words I will not utter, as I'm a mod.)

    There was also a suggestion for a time that if someone votes for a winning book and doesn't participate that their voting privileges are suspended until they participate in some other month. This seems like it could unnecessarily deter people who for some reason or other couldn't get a book or who had life come up or something to that effect.

    Basically, we want people to feel like they can participate and that it won't be a chore to do so. Every obstacle we put up means fewer and fewer people who will be willing to jump through the necessary hoops to participate. I haven't found an adequate answer to the problem of people voting and not participating.

    As far as rewarding participants, we've decided that, across the board at SFFWorld, we don't want to do that. In rewarding someone, we may be slighting or intimidating someone else. However, there might be some sort of idea there about earned credits or some such...but it would require long-term bookkeeping that I'm not sure we have the ability to deal with at this point.

    We have a core group of very dedicated book club people and then another group who come and go depending on whether we're discussing a book they like or not. Then we have people who vote, but never participate. The key is getting more people participating and getting the general level of the discussions raised somewhere above high school book report (which is something we all tend to fall into...it takes a lot of time and energy to type up discussions around here.)

    So quality of discussion? Eventine is grumpy about it. I get grumpy about it. What can we do to raise the level? Again, we've batted around ideas, but haven't really come up with anything that seems really workable. At one point I thought about coming up with "discussion points" for the books, a series of thoughts or questions that can be used as a jumping-off point for discussion. We decided that, coming from us, that seems a little too much like homework. We want the discussions on the books to be spontaneous, not just answering questions we put forth.

    I've also thought about the possibility of having "discussion leaders" each month, probably whoever nominated the book. The discussion leader could work to delve out interestingt hings from other people's posts and get some more discussion going on things. Jack's been doing some of this sort of thing with Wraeththu and Viriconium these last two months. But a lot of times even this falls flat. He's trying like hell to stir things up and people, rather than discussing, will sometimes just give a crisp answer or not respond at all.

    Well, that's all sort of rambly. Ideas are welcome, but no promises that changes will be made.

  10. #25
    And sleep deprived... starry-eyed's Avatar
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    About the nomination and inclusion of aGoT in the book club:
    Although I didn't vote for aGoT in the poll I did second the nomination (and so read the book and participated in the discussion) as I thought it would be interesting to have the book club take on a much hyped novel. Regardless of the whys, though, we (at least the mods) decided it was going to be a book club selection. I thought it a shame that so many did not join the discussion as a consequence of it having originated from outsiders. Still, that's their perrogative. The mods, however, decided to include the book. I advocate no special treatment for books selected by regulars verses those selected by the hoi polloi. As far as I'm concerned that means GRRM should be out for six months just like any other author whose book has been previously selected.

    If we don't like our rules, then we might as well change them. I doubt that having to type out or PM our votes will discourage new members any more than rancorous infighting over nominations.

  11. #26
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    Well I tend to vote, and used to always participate, but not anymore. If a book gets picked that I am not interested in, with this 2 vote business, then I feel no obligation to participate. It was supposed to open up the options and bring in more people - while they may vote they are not participating. I am fine with 2 votes, but feel no obligations to the outcome.

    In SF, regardless of the number of votes, if they are reading an oldie then I probably won't either. I may vote for a newer book and hope it wins. If it doesn't then I usually don't join in. I have read enough old SF, and old authors to know what I like and what I don't and most of it I don't.

    And though I probably voted in the recent Peter Hamilton poll, and it isn't old, it was huge, and several people in my RL discussion group read it and said it was laughably bad. Not going to torture myself over a large bad book.

    I didn't participate in the Viriconium discussion because I think the books sucks. I couldn't read it, and never finished it (a couple of years ago). I don't really have anything worthwhile to say. And can't remember much of the details of the various stories. I just didn't like the writning, the lack of plot and the flat characters.

    And frankly the Margaret Atwood discussion is just too pointless/embarassing to join in the last time I looked.

    In any event I think some people vote and truly mean to participate, but they are not good at planning and things come up and the month starts and they give up. I am sure some also just vote for the hell of it.

    Don't know what the answer is. Maybe if you say that if you want to nominate a book in say May, you must have participated in the April discussion. That might discourage newcomers from sticking around which is not what you want either. As a regular I wouldn't mind having to sit out of nominating now and then if I miss a month. It might be a way of only getting books that people are really going to read and discuss, and of making those who vote participate. Though you might just get a lot of 'it sucked' or 'it was great'. Of course it would also require some mod book-keeping.

    One of the issues about the book clubs is the requirement that the book be available in paper in North America and Europe and hopefully Australia. I don't have a problem with it, and even think its a good idea. But it means that we aren't able to read the hot new books that are just published (HC or in only one place) that might attract and keep participants.

    In one of my RL book clubs we pick books 6 months in advance, so that way everyone has time to get and read all the books. So in January and July we pick books for the next 6 month cycle: January = (March, April, May, June, July, August), July= (September, October, November, December, January, February).

    Of course that also means newcomers will have to wait for the next cycle to vote and nominate. Our RL group has been meeting with pretty stable membership since 1996, so it is workable, but might not be right here.

  12. #27
    Yobmod Yobmod's Avatar
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    At one point I thought about coming up with "discussion points" for the books, a series of thoughts or questions that can be used as a jumping-off point for discussion. We decided that, coming from us, that seems a little too much like homework. We want the discussions on the books to be spontaneous, not just answering questions we put forth.
    I would like to see discusion points - its not like we have to answer them, so don't think it would discourage most people.
    Unfortunately, i was never any good at English Criticism at school, so i don't think i could do a good job of thinking up questions
    It also means someone has to read the book by the beginning of the month.


    Another idea - is it possible to have the current months discusion in the bookclub forum AND the main forums, with the same thread?

    For the first 6 months here, i don't think i ever clicked on the bookclub.
    It may result in an increase in innane responses, but it would also remind / encourage discusion from people who had read the book previously.
    After the month was over, the discusion of it would naturally fall from the front page, but late posting could bump it again - this would also make the fact that the discusions are never closed more meaningful, and reduce duplication of discusions in the main forums (for example, there are threads on Hyperion in SF that regularly get new posters, but the SF bookclub discusion is never bumped).

  13. #28
    boss of several cats... Severn's Avatar
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    People are funny creatures...'club', in our culture, generally implies exclusivity. I remember when I first joined I was too scared to go near it - I thought it might be something only for the 'club' people. And who were these 'club' people exactly? And how did I get to be one? What is also amazing is how much you actually miss when you're new to a place; how much detail glides over you - it takes awhile to wear in new carpet. It took me a long time to figure out the bookclub, and I tiptoed in.

    It's possible that there are those out there, even people who have been here for awhile, who are honestly nervous about joining. Perhaps there might be a way to make it more visible, and welcoming, to the fantasy forum-goers. Yes yes, there it is...as a link...right there. I know. Like I said. Club = exclusivity. I think some fly-by-nighter voters voted and...ran away. Or forgot as Erf alluded. And perhaps some said 'Oh poll! I get to click some buttons...lets just...screw up that vote...there...hah' and stood back to snicker at their handy work. There is no way of avoiding random voters unless serious strictures are set in place, which would be limiting and potentially dangerous for the club itself.

    A small idea, a compromise between doing nothing and hard-lining: If a member votes for a book that gets through, and then doesn't discuss it, perhaps a system could be in place where a clear expectation (remembering how things glide over people) is established that that person says why. This would demonstrate good faith, and show the rest of us that the person is still around. (I did that with Viriconium this month). If that doesn't happen a gentle reminder/request could be sent - email or pm. If this happens 3 times in a row with no response, then perhaps voting privileges could be revoked for a short time.

    Shrug. A hasty, sketchy idea; it does provide the basis for some form of control though.

    K

  14. #29
    Registered User Katya's Avatar
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    a) You can't nominate unless you contributed to one of the past 2 months. I understand this is not an appealing option as it makes the club less accessible to new people, but we don't see a wild fluctuation in readership at any rate.
    I understand the premise behind this, and support it fully, one has to realize that not all members have access to all books. For example: I could not find Viriconium in any of the major book sellers in Canada. Sure, I could get a used copy for about $100 (if that was even the book), or I could order it from the States. Once I had roughly factored in the exchange rate and shipping (not to mention any duties that might apply when crossing the border), it came close to $30 or $40... not worth it in my opinion!

    I am really new here and this community is VERY intimidating. I don't post much because I don't want to be the noob that everyone hates. I did participate in the SciFi book club last month, and enjoyed the selection.

    The only thing that I have to say about HOW the book club is run is that it's kind of boring. In other online book clubs that I have been involved with, there would be a "host" for a month. The hosts would be preselected from a group of volunteers and would be announced in advance. (ooh, side note: You could have your recommendations come in, then have the hosts vote and make the final decision - then you get 12 different people's ideas and tastes) The host would be responsible for coming up with the questions, discussion points, whatever, and he/she could post them in a sub forum within the book club forum. Then the participants could add other discussion points/questions as they like. Participants can then discect the book as much as they like or as little as they like.

    *shrugs* That's the best way I've seen book clubs run online.

  15. #30
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    Regarding nominations/votes:

    Quote Originally Posted by starry-eyed
    I thought it a shame that so many did not join the discussion as a consequence of it having originated from outsider
    Actually, I didn't participate as there are thousands of posts of discussion on the book over in the Martin forum, and I didn't see the need to add to that at all. For me, the book club is about discusssing something that has not been widely read or discussed on this site. My decision had nothing to do with it being voted for by non-regulars. I'm guessing that's the case for most of the others here as well judging by the discusssion when it got nominated.

    That was pretty much the only time when I haven't discussed a book lately by choice. Generally, when I don't participate, it's because I couldn't get hold of a book (at a reasonable price). Now, the main reason the whole fly-by-nighters thing annoys me is when a book I do have access to gets edged into second by a book I don't have access to. You'd be surprised how much it happens. It's even more frustrating when there's not much discussion of the book that did win.

    I want participation to increase - it's frustrating (I'm using that word a lot!) when the nomination threads are longer than the discussion threads.

    Maybe on top of my idea about manual voting, if you've posted in any of the last 3 months discussions your vote counts double - you have to point it out though (to save Erf the work). This way newbies get a vote, but are also encouraged to join the current discussion. It's probably getting to be too complex a system though.
    I'm paralysed between my want to discount the votes of those who are new (and probably won't stay around) and wanting to make things as easy as possible for them.

    I am really new here and this community is VERY intimidating. I don't post much because I don't want to be the noob that everyone hates
    Wow, I didn't realise it was intimidating at all. The only way I've ever seen to be the "noob that everyone hates" is to be close-minded. If you display a thought out opinion you'll go a long, long way here, even if people disagree with it.


    Regarding the actual discussions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael
    At one point I thought about coming up with "discussion points" for the books, a series of thoughts or questions that can be used as a jumping-off point for discussion. We decided that, coming from us, that seems a little too much like homework. We want the discussions on the books to be spontaneous, not just answering questions we put forth.

    I've also thought about the possibility of having "discussion leaders" each month, probably whoever nominated the book. The discussion leader could work to delve out interestingt hings from other people's posts and get some more discussion going on things. Jack's been doing some of this sort of thing with Wraeththu and Viriconium these last two months. But a lot of times even this falls flat. He's trying like hell to stir things up and people, rather than discussing, will sometimes just give a crisp answer or not respond at all.
    Whenever I nominate a book that gets through, I always try to do this. I'll even try and contact the author and get them to participate.
    I like the idea of the person who initially nominated the book (and perhaps even those who seconded it) coming up with a few discusssion points - maybe nothing too formal or homeworky, but at least something that might get the ball rolling with discussion/debate. I can't see any of the regulars having a problem with that, and it wouldn't be too hard to send a PM to a new person whose nominated book has won the vote saying "Congratulations! Book X that you nominated will be our June book of the month. I'd appreciate if you could put together a few discussion points beforehand, it really helps get a strong conversation going." I don't think there's anything too hassling or intimidating about that.

    (On a side note, my copy of Anansi Boys actually came with a reader group list of discussion points. I had no idea what I would write for some)

    Sorry for the long winded and rambling post.

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