oh boi here comes a double post (and a LONG one at that, get out ur popcorn kids, it's an old man Uzuki novella rant) because it's nearly 4 am here and in my ADHD fueled insomniac rage i just discovered something
i am absolutely 100% going to regret making this post when i wake up tomorrow I'm just sorta blind with eureka rage rn lol
maybe y'all have already figured this out in which case, leave it to me to be the last horse to cross the finish line lmao
y'all know how on our main comic pages, if we don't have multiple series, it'll show a Trending tab in whatever genre our comic is ? ( so if your solo comic is a Fantasy comic, it'll show Trending Fantasy, if Comedy it'll show Trending Comedy, etc.)
So at first I was like, hmm, it feels like it's doing a lot more harm than good to have it be a system where it's either "recommended series" OR "other series by this author". Because I find the majority of creators on here have at least 2 series, even if their second one is just like, a shitposting type comic or a gallery for their art, etc. or perhaps an old comic that they've left behind to explore new things.
And oh no. I'm vibrating with 'what if' conspiracy thoughts.
It will only show that trending list on a comic page you are now required to go to by default if you don't have multiple series. This much we already know, but I don't know if people realize just how much this could be potentially affecting traffic.
Because if y'all haven't noticed, 9 times out of 10 they tend to be comics that are already on the front flipping page, either free to read or Premium. And if they're not on the front page already, they ... tend to always be the same comics. Like every time I click on a comedy comic it always comes up with Sarah's Scribbles, Erma, Rock & Riot, Brutally Honest, etc. with one or two slots randomized out to some other comic that's equally as popular (ex. theodds1out, Fail by Error, etc.) Now, I've got nothing against these series, I have most of them in my reading list already (to the point that I suspected maybe it was based on reading list? But I'm not subscribed to Erma. So that helped rule that out).
And it seems that how fresh these comics are doesn't seem to matter either. Fail By Error hasn't been updated since October 2019, there haven't been any fresh comments left on the newest strip. But hell, I thought to myself, maybe if Min's updating 300 to 30, that's helping direct traffic to Fail By Error? She does have more than one series after all.
But then I realized it's been even LONGER since 300 to 30 updated. Since September 2019. No comments left since then. Even the first strip where you'd assume people would start from the beginning hasn't been commented on since November 2019.
Obviously I have no way of checking the actual traffic Fail By Error gets because I'm just going off update dates and comment engagement. That being said, Fail by Error's been on and off with its updating for some time (for good reason, Min is a very busy woman lol) and it seems its getting most of its traffic just from being in the Trending tab for Comedy series on just about every Comedy comic out there. It's usually on the Popular page as well, albeit further down, but... still. Still there. Which wouldn't make sense if that Trending tab is based on actual Trending results; and yet it does make sense if they're intentionally putting them on the Trending tab. It's like some paradoxical loop. But hey, Fail by Error was super popular when it regularly updated. Maybe it's getting reposted and meme'ed somewhere. Maybe Tapas posts their older strips to the Daily Feed every now and then, or maybe they have a little blurb on the app.
Rock & Riot is in the same boat though. It hasn't updated since 2017. To be fair, they have Project Nought as well, but it also hasn't updated since 2019 and it was basically a departure post as they got a book deal (like to publish physical copies) so we'll probably never see it free to read online again because they'll be trying to actually sell the physical books. Still, 2019 isn't that far away, and the same can be said about Min's currently quiet series that have both at least updated in the last 6 months.
And then I saw Treehouse in the series landing Trending tab.
Treehouse hasn't updated in five years and neither has the gag-alternative Branches, which is published by the same creator. In fact, the creator made an update post two years ago saying he was working on the next chapter of Treehouse, but a new full time job as a dad was keeping him busy (completely understandable lol). That was two years ago though, and Treehouse has, unfortunately, not updated. I really liked Treehouse so this makes me sad
BUT WHY THE FUCK IS IT IN THE TRENDING TAB /FURIOUSLY TAPS MONITOR SCREEN TAPAS EXPLAIN. YOU'RE RECOMMENDING COMICS TO PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT ONLY INCOMPLETE, BUT WILL LIKELY NEVER EVER EVER FINISH OR HAVE A CONSISTENT UPDATING SCHEDULE EVER AGAIN.
In the comic subpage, Popular and Trending seem to be the exact same thing btw lol like I see some variety, but to no surprise, it's usually the same comics dominating the top rows, just shuffled around in order a bit. I think this much we were already more than aware of though, the Comic section of the website when sorted by Popular/Trending is basically just the front page, but organized into one big list.
Y'know what was really fun btw? It was way more difficult than you'd think to find a Trending tab. Because most series I clicked on in the Comic browsing section were free to read, and surprise surprise, the MAJORITY of free to read creators have more than one series, so voila, lack of a trending tab. Over the years I've always found it to be like, a 75% chance that a creator has at least TWO series under their belt. Obviously that stat is pulled out of my ass, but it's not based on nothing, I just find it to be extremely common, and for good reason - doing multiple comics is easy to do when you're not being paid and on contract to focus on just one story, and for many of us, we enjoy dipping our toes into multiple genres. We also enjoy having a 'side comic' to do when we're feeling artist's block on our main series or just want to catch a break from it, even just for a few hours. Many story-focused creators have dipped into the realm of comedy strips, and vice versa (when I started here on Tapas it was gag strips and now I mainly do fantasy, with some gag strips here and there whenever I'm in the mood). Lots of plot-based creators also like to do little side gag-style mini strips that still use the characters and universe from their established longform series (I'm gonna mention it twice in this post btw, but Treehouse is a good example - Treehouse is the main series with a plot, and then there's Branches, which is a sort of little side series that's not as serious and more just for fun character exploration).
So when it comes to the lot of us trying to get into trending in some regards, you'd think the trending tab that's genre specific and right next to other relevant comics would help us out because your genre isn't being pitted up against a completely separate one. But it really doesn't, because it's always the same regurgitated shit, often times with comics that are no longer even showing a pulse, and that's assuming the Trending tab even shows up in the first place. So not only do you have to worry about competing with the comics that are practically automatically pinned to just about every genre-based Trending tab in addition to the front page and Trending vs. Popular categories, now you have to worry about even being seen on the free to read comics, regardless of their popularity, because if they happen to have more than one series, something that's completely out of anyone else's or the website's control, that Trending tab is gone. Kapoot. And even if there is a Trending tab... see above. Now you're gonna get recommended Sarah's Scribbles for the 7834978593th time.
Screw it, with Treehouse in the Trending tab, your alive and well comic that you've been consistently updating for lord knows how long is now up against a dead webcomic that hasn't updated in five freaking years.
And then there's Premium series. Believe it or not I have the least to say with these. More often than not there's usually a trending tab right on their page (as many - disclaimer, not ALL - Premium series are solo), and they're pretty much ALWAYS other Premium OR free to read BUT mainstream series that I just saw on the front page or on someone else's series landing trending tab. So there's a regurgitating cycle of traffic getting passed around like a fucking hot potato, from series that are already prioritized to be just about everywhere.
As people have been reporting dipping traffic since the update, and a now-obviously-messed-up front page with strange, out of wack priorities, I can't help but feel this is just another part of the website that was done intentionally to screw with us lol Call me crabby all you want but I'm legit not accepting "the algorithm does it" arguments anymore because of those dead series showing up and getting re-fed traffic that automatically puts them right back in the tab. I know Fail by Error and Rock & Riot are all popular and great comics, but that popular that they show up in trending no matter what every week, on every single comic that pertains to their genre? Are you guys posting their old strips in the daily feed or something??? If you come at me saying that it's NOT the algorithm then that just makes it worse because that means you're intentionally planting the same rotation of series in there.
Again, maybe y'all have already figured this out. But I'm hoping putting it into words so concise and in-depth it will help us all realize the actual gravity of this new system they've been slowly spoonfeeding us the last couple years (and then with the update they went too far and accidentally choked us with our own spoon lol). Especially for those who haven't actually thought about it or realized it yet.
The more I looked into it, the deeper the rabbithole went and the more I felt inclined to word vomit it here. As I'm sure many of you have assumed from the earlier post where I tagged the admins, I don't want the staff thinking we've just forgotten lmao (especially considering how silently they dealt with that Lost and Found S3 BS a few days ago, which they never actually commented on lol it was proooobably, i say in hopeless denial, just a bug). Because a lot of us are still experiencing the fallout from that frigging update, from faulty - some ripped away entirely - features, to creepy crawly bugs that are constantly breaking social distancing rules by being less than 6 feet away from our business at all times.
Tapas, give us all the Trending tab, and for god's sakes fix it so that it makes sense and isn't recommending us the same series on every page, alongside dead series just because they were household names at one point. That's not cool to the series that are now alive and well and could possibly become household names in their own right.
I'll say it again that I have nothing against the creators or their comics that show up in these tabs, many of them I have in my own reading list and enjoy reading when they update. This isn't a problem I have with the creators or their work, this is a problem I have with you, Tapas. I used to love this place, anyone who knows me well enough can attest to that, and now I'm just feeling sorely taken advantage of. I know many of the devs don't have actual control over what they can do because you have investors and the like who want to see things a certain way, with their money and your future as a company as the hostage negotiation. But this isn't Tapas. This isn't the website I fell in love with in high school all those years ago, with all my dreams and plans for the future just a mere twinkle in my eye. Is it not too much to expect more out of a website that we put our time and effort and work and passion into? (and for some bring heaping pounds of traffic into giving you guys free advertising and clout with our free labor /cough cough) Many of us chose you as our first and foremost exclusive platform. Many of us stuck with you for years (through so much bullshit, from the website creators and the community alike). Don't make me regret standing up for you guys when I did, through all that was high and low. This isn't where I wanted to see you guys when you were still budding and small and I know you have the capabilities to do better because that's what I believed when I first came here - and now that trust and hope is really being worn thin. Give me, and the lot of us, a reason to hold onto that hope and loyalty, to stand up for you guys when you make mistakes, and not regret it.
Thanks for coming to my 4 AM TED rant. Thanks for wasting like a good 2 hours of my life from scoping shit out and mad typing this post at 136 words/minute, Tapas.