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I'm baaaaack :)

Hi Everyone, I've missed you. I've been away for far too long, taking an 10-year detour doing the tech startup thing in Silicon Valley, with some hits but many more misses.

Throughout my detour I've remembered how good I had it here at my first real website success, and I'm super happy to announce that I'm back and will soon be working on improvements to BookCrossing.

Actually, I just made the first change today.. the web server was set to block requests if your browser made more than 5 concurrent requests, or more than 10 requests in half a second. That was not a great configuration, as most browsers, especially on a fast connection, will exceed those limits. Symptoms of hitting that block include random broken images and broken scripts on the site. I was seeing those problems in Chrome, which is why I dug into it today. Changed the settings and voilà, fixed. :) Let me know if you notice the difference.

Moving forward: I'd like to hear from you all what you think the biggest (fixable) problems are with BC currently. You can use this thread to post your thoughts.

Please understand that one thing I will be particularly focused on is Growth. If a website isn't growing, it's dying, and BookCrossing has been on a slow downward slide in active members and revenue for the last several years. I have to be completely honest: if the course isn't significantly changed, BC has a real chance of going under.

I'm committed to doing everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen. It would be helpful if, in addition to letting me know what BC's problem are, what your ideas for member and revenue growth would be.

I'll wrap this up by telling you the priority of the first three things I plan to tackle:

1. Site performance (starting with change I made today)

2. Site design (It's 2017 forgoshsakes. BC should have a clean, modern design that loads fast and is completely responsive on mobile.)

3. Revenue flow tweaks. It should be far fewer clicks to join Wings, and we should have recurring membership plans and clear benefits for being a Wings member.

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A few items

When I click on the main menu options (Home/Info/etc) I expect to go somewhere--probably the first item in the menu should be the default. One hovers to bring up the submenu, but I expect clicking to do *something*. I finally figured out what was being weird and wrong as I tried to navigate--and that's it. Clicking on what appears to be a link does nothing.

The store....the store is very frustrating. I'll leave it at that since it sounds like you are aware of the problems. It's never been very good, and it has aged very poorly. It's frustrating. I have been trying to buy wings for a week. I really hope you revamp it!
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RE: A few items

The store....the store is very frustrating. I'll leave it at that since it sounds like you are aware of the problems. It's never been very good, and it has aged very poorly. It's frustrating. I have been trying to buy wings for a week. I really hope you revamp it!

The Store has been fully replaced less than two years ago. So whatever is wrong with it is not really a matter of aging.
But we did have a specific problem with buying Wings during a couple of days, and that was resolved a few days ago. So if you're interested in trying again, you'd have better chances. Sorry you had problems!
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The store....the store is very frustrating. I'll leave it at that since it sounds like you are aware of the problems. It's never been very good, and it has aged very poorly. It's frustrating. I have been trying to buy wings for a week. I really hope you revamp it!

The store works perfect! They have sorted out the items that never really sold, so you can buy only the really necessary things. Wings for a week have never been available for at least the last seven years. Is it really to expensive to spend a few Dollars to buy wings for a month?

And how do you hover on a Touchscreen? The way to open a dropdown menue is to click on it.
Do you really think the Default for the community Dropdown menue should be "Artists" just because it is the first entry there? I think the default (if a Default is necessary) shoud be the German forum for it ist the most active forum of this community.
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" I have been trying to buy wings for a week"
thats a problem with the english language :-)
ich glaub es war gemeint "ich versuchte eine Woche lang Flügel zu kaufen"
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" I have been trying to buy wings for a week"
thats a problem with the english language :-)
ich glaub es war gemeint "ich versuchte eine Woche lang Flügel zu kaufen"

But then one should write step by step what he/she did and what was the result of every single step, particularly if an error message occured.
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When I click on the main menu options (Home/Info/etc) I expect to go somewhere--probably the first item in the menu should be the default. One hovers to bring up the submenu, but I expect clicking to do *something*. I finally figured out what was being weird and wrong as I tried to navigate--and that's it. Clicking on what appears to be a link does nothing.

Actually, that was one of the changes implemented in the last big update (before this new one) which made the site more usable for mobile phones and tablets where one cannot hover to open menus. And while it may be a bit weird on a computer to have a link not lead anywhere when clicked, it makes perfect sense for touch screens as you cannot hover on them to open a menu, you have to tap (click).

So "home" used to actually lead somewhere - to your own profile if I recall right - but to make the site more usable on touch screens it was changed so that tapping on home opens up the home menu and keeps it open.
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The site is looking very nice. Love the six books on the recent activity bit.
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I appreciate your candor, Reno, and I like the new look.
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Welcome back! The place hasn't been the same without you.
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Welcome home, it's great to hear some improvements are in the works. My number one issue (and I'm sure this has already been mentioned in this thread) is that the site is extremely difficult to use in mobile devices. Honestly, I don't use a PC much and lack of an app or at least a mobile optimized site has kept me away. The less time I spend here, the less money I tend to spend.
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the site is extremely difficult to use in mobile devices.

Does that refer to the new site as it is now or does that refer to the old site like it was before Reno returned?
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Good news!

Welcome back!)
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I'm a long term BCer (& former support team member, so high five to the current team!) who's activity has dramatically dropped off in the last few months... To the extent now that I wild & controlled release books often without bothering to register them or anything. A big part of this was because of feedback that I'd had over the years from friends I tried to introduce here who talked about how difficult the site is to navigate initially - having controlled released books, people fed back to me that using the site was "a chore" and "full of unexplained jargon". A lot of friends - reasonably savvy types - didn't bother finishing the process... I can only guess that strangers with a wild catch must give up even more often (as they are potentially less computer literate, and have neither the guilt of letting down a friend, nor said friend nagging!) ... and so I started to feel bad, like directing people here (with stickers in the books, etc) was actually going to lessen their joy at finding the book in the first place.

Making a journal entry as a newbie (newly signed up, or AF) is pretty cumbersome. I just did a brief reccy and it still seems to be that way; obviously you can't fix everything in one go, but if we're making pleas, I'll add that one of mine!
Thanks

PS loving the styling you're using for the re-design
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Sorry if any of these are already in place. I, too, have been away for a while and just now getting back into the site. I would hate to see this site "die." (And with it, the ability to follow the books!) Even though life pulled me away from participating, this concept/site is still very loved by me.

How about QR codes, or something else simple/scan-able on the labels for easy journaling?

Buying app add-ons seems to be a decent money maker for may companies. I wouldn't want to pay for the app initially, (At least offer a free trial version! ::hint,hint WG::) but upgrading to enhanced features (like a Go Hunting map, etc.) would probably be very enticing.

I would like to be able to sort my bookshelf by number of journal entries.

I don't want tp feel like I'm missing out of the real BC experiece by being wingless. However, little buttons saying "You could _____ if you had wings!" could be used any place it would be appropriate without detracting from the free experience. (Like: You could sort by number of journal entries if you had wings! & You could print pre-numbered labels if you had wings!)

I have no idea what $% sites gets through affiliate programs, but referral links to Amazon, Office Depot, etc. for basic supplies--like Avery sticker sheets, unlabelled plastic zipper bags, acrylic sign (OBCZ) holders, etc. could probably be integrated into the site unobtrusively.

Logoed swag--like tshirts--could be outsourced and added to the store along with the nifty bags, jewelry, etc. already there.

I do know there was some time I wasn't using a desktop or laptop often, and using the site on my phone was awkward. I see a BookCrossing app in the store. But, do I remember correctly it is a "fan project," and not official? I know it has been addressed, probably a million times, but I'll just use this for my, "me, too."

Sort-of big & a bit far-fetched: Being able to print labels via my phone would be cool--I have a Zip Printer which prints sticker photos. The blank stickers are pretty costly, (at least .50/photo) but if there was some kind of partnership formed, it might be doable.

Another partnership kind of thing: Are any hotels officially partnered with BookCrossing? I know many already have "share-a-book" bookshelves, and some signage at each location of a hotel chain could be great advertising. Panera Bread in Jacksonville, Florida used to do something like this by having a labelled OBCZ basket at every restaurant. Maybe they still do, but I'm not there anymore to check.

I hope these ideas aren't crazy or too much--just throwing out a bit of everything!

Moving forward: I'd like to hear from you all what you think the biggest (fixable) problems are with BC currently. You can use this thread to post your thoughts.

Please understand that one thing I will be particularly focused on is Growth. If a website isn't growing, it's dying, and BookCrossing has been on a slow downward slide in active members and revenue for the last several years. I have to be completely honest: if the course isn't significantly changed, BC has a real chance of going under.

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You could sort by number of journal entries if you had wings! & You could print pre-numbered labels if you had wings!


Just checking: you know that these are both actually the case, right? I agree that it would be good to point out Wings features more clearly.
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You could sort by number of journal entries if you had wings! & You could print pre-numbered labels if you had wings!


Just checking: you know that these are both actually the case, right? I agree that it would be good to point out Wings features more clearly.

Thanks! I knew about the numbered labels, and was guessing about the # of journal entries, because it seemed like something I used to be able to do. (Back when I had wings, probably! :) )
On that (bookshelf) page, there is a "Print BookShelf?" option with wings on both sides, which is basically what I mean by the buttons. The link is unobtrusive, yet easy to see, and intriguing enough to make me wonder about how to access that feature. But clicking that link takes me to the front page of the store, so I don't think it would be clear to most people to purchase wings to be able to access that feature.
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I think it's cool to read all of the potential improvements, but the site as-is is just fine for me. I was happy to find my bookshelf and other information saved when I came back to the site, and each occasional journal notice I got while I wasn't actively participating was like a surprise gift.
The navigation of the website is very intuitive, and even if some of the things are a bit old-fashioned, they aren't so outdated that I feel like I got sucked back in time. (Like some local store websites--imagine midi music & dancing baby animations. Haha.)
I really hope the site stays afloat. I could guess and speculate about possible reasons for declining use, and possible ways to get people back on board, but they are all from my POV with no outside research.
Anyway--I realized I had rattled off a list of could-be improvements/changes in my previous answer, and I don't want ot to sound like I hate the site! So, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of the employees and volunteers who make/keep this site functional. Thank you!! :)
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White text on light grey buttons, and light grey text on white background, are very hard to read. You should change this in eighter case.

Furthermore, it would be nice if the small buttons which indicate the book's status could have different colours again like in former times: yellow for TRAV, green for AVL, grey for PC, pink for RES ... I forgot which colour was TBR.
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While we're on the subject of the buttons indicating a book's status, they are a real problem as they're too easy to hit accidentally when scrolling on a mobile, and there is no way to undo a change. Because of this I don't use bookcrossing on my mobile. Is there any way this could be fixed?
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White text on light grey buttons, and light grey text on white background, are very hard to read. You should change this in eighter case.
Furthermore, it would be nice if the small buttons which indicate the book's status could have different colours again like in former times: yellow for TRAV, green for AVL, grey for PC, pink for RES ... I forgot which colour was TBR.

I disagree. I like that only the active button is coloured and that the others are greyed out. Please leave as is!
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Furthermore, it would be nice if the small buttons which indicate the book's status could have different colours again like in former times: yellow for TRAV, green for AVL, grey for PC, pink for RES ... I forgot which colour was TBR.

The statuses still have colours. They are colourful on books that you cannot set the status for, they are grey or yellow for books that you can.
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White text on light grey buttons, and light grey text on white background, are very hard to read.

Agreed: these are difficult to read, especially since the light gray text is often small as well.
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congrats

congrats! Good luck!
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RE: congrats

congrats! Good luck!

Why do you have a link to a Dutch site in your profile? Can you read Dutch?
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So glad to have you back! I am getting more active here as well. I put my money where my mouth is and purchased annual wings today! Going to have to go to the Bookcrossing store soon because I also need more swag.

I only have one thing to contribute to have you consider. Working on the website is nice but quite frankly, if numbers are lowering it's because less and less people are sitting at their desktops and more and more are becoming mobile. The Bookcrossing APP for IOS and Android is long overdue. I think that if you want to catch up to today's world...the app is a must.

My 2 cents!

Flyinfox
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So glad to have you back! I am getting more active here as well. I put my money where my mouth is and purchased annual wings today! Going to have to go to the Bookcrossing store soon because I also need more swag.

I only have one thing to contribute to have you consider. Working on the website is nice but quite frankly, if numbers are lowering it's because less and less people are sitting at their desktops and more and more are becoming mobile. The Bookcrossing APP for IOS and Android is long overdue. I think that if you want to catch up to today's world...the app is a must.

My 2 cents!

Flyinfox


hear hear!

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What is the Advantage of an App compared to a mobile website?
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What is the Advantage of an App compared to a mobile website?


An App is a self contained application with all or most of the controls you would see on a desktop website. It does not require a Browser (an extra memory resource) to run.

A Mobile Website is just the opposite. It requires a Browser to run. That means that you would be subject to all of the rules of the Browser. For example, if your Browser print is small, you would need to re-adjust your settings, or on a mobile device, use your fingers to spread the browser so that the print becomes bigger. Much like you would have to do on your mobile phone now to use Bookcrossing. Especially when you need to type things in like your password or a BCID number. You would not need to do things like this if you had an app. With an App, all digits would look the same size, as any other app on your phone would.

I hope this clarifies.....

Flyinfox
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On the other hand a properly designed mobile website would have all the advantages that you described for an app.
And with the modern html5 capabilities a mobile website would have access to camera, geolocation etc., too.

Plus a mobile website would work on any modern device with a browser but you would have to create an app for each different platform - and still those might not work on all smartphones.
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Thank you, Ardik, I absolutely second that.
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What is the advantage of not being able to zoom the text?
Apps usually have a standard text size that usually cannot be enlarged even if it is to small for some people. And apps have to be programmed for each platfprm separately while you need to program just one mobile website. I think it would be a lot of unnecessary upheaval to program bookcrossing apps for all platforms.
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Zooming text

What is the advantage of not being able to zoom the text?
Apps usually have a standard text size that usually cannot be enlarged even if it is to small for some people.

This is a big deal for a lot of people: it's frustrating not to be able to zoom the text to a size you can actually read. I"ve been without a computer at home for over a month now and I find apps that don't have a zoom funtion extremely annoying. I'm sure that having a specifically mobile website could simplify things, but I've managed to do quite a lot using the regular website on a mobile device. And I've found other mobile websites limiting at times, so even if my device defaults to the mobile site, it's always nice to have an option to switch to the full site.

And apps have to be programmed for each platfprm separately while you need to program just one mobile website. I think it would be a lot of unnecessary upheaval to program bookcrossing apps for all platforms.

Seems like a valid point to me.
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A few days ago I took a few books into town to release them at the local OBCZ, but I didn't have the time to make release notes ahead of time.

Before leaving the books at the OBCZ, I sat down to make release notes on my mobile. I entered the BCID into the main field expecting to be taken to the selected book's page, but instead I was channelled directly to the Make JE page.
On one hand, this makes total sense in order to facilitate easy journalling of found books. On the other hand, as there are no links to other options (edit book details | make release notes | update cover) nor are the title or image clickable to take one through to the selected book's page, it means one has to then go to the book search page, make extra taps to enter as many details about the book as possible in order to not get the timeout error for the search, click through from the results page to the book's page, tap on make release notes, and only then can you make the release note. This takes time, eats up data, and, most importantly for me, it drains the battery.

After the first book is released, the rest are a breeze thanks to the "release to the same location" feature, but that first one... It took me around 10 minutes, and I'm not a newbie on the website.

Edit to add:
Book Search by BCID was my first stop after the main field, as that does offer an option to release the book as well as to view the book's page, but those options did not work for me, only the New JE option worked, and with quite a bit of delay.
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I entered the BCID into the main field expecting to be taken to the selected book's page, but instead I was channelled directly to the Make JE page.
If you only enter the last 8 BCID numbers...the ones after the hyphen, leaving off the first 3...you should be able to directly access the selected book's page with other options, vedranaster. I am not "mobile" savvy from a phone standpoint, but the same thing happens for me (being taken directly to the "Make JE page") on the computer when I forget and enter the entire BCID number. Hope this helps. ; )
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I entered the BCID into the main field expecting to be taken to the selected book's page, but instead I was channelled directly to the Make JE page.
If you only enter the last 8 BCID numbers...the ones after the hyphen, leaving off the first 3...you should be able to directly access the selected book's page with other options, vedranaster. I am not "mobile" savvy from a phone standpoint, but the same thing happens for me (being taken directly to the "Make JE page") on the computer when I forget and enter the entire BCID number. Hope this helps. ; )

Thanks for that tip! :D Indeed, it works.

And it also highlights my point - there are so many non-obvious ways to get a desired result on the website, plus various workarounds for bugs, that make the website highly unintuitive for newbies, and sometimes frustrating for BC regulars, which might be discouraging members and potential members from interacting.
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Thanks for that tip! :D Indeed, it works.
My pleasure! : D
Happy I was able to help. ; )
Pass it on...so no book is left behind!!! ; D
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If you only enter the last 8 BCID numbers...the ones after the hyphen, leaving off the first 3...you should be able to directly access the selected book's page with other options


I had no idea! I've been a Bookcrosser only almost 15 years!
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If you only enter the last 8 BCID numbers...the ones after the hyphen, leaving off the first 3...you should be able to directly access the selected book's page with other options


I had no idea! I've been a Bookcrosser only almost 15 years!
Oh my...I had no idea I was harboring a deep dark BookCrossing secret!!! ; D Sure am glad I visited this Forum and peeked into this thread (I don't always) when I did and read vedranaster's post so I could let the cat out of the bag so others will have an easier time with this issue. ; ) I'm happy to have helped!!!
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Quite a few of us from the earlier days are back having a party over in ChitChat. You should stop by if you get a chance. It's good to have you back and it's a hoot connecting with each other again.
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I weave in and out and don't always check the forums anymore. Welcome back, Reno!

I think we've lost a lot of participants because we're not as unique as we used to be. There are so many other sites where books are traded and shared now. And, while none of them want to make the world into a library, I'm not sure we do, anymore, either. It seems like that goal gets lost in everything else, to me.

I still advertise for BookCrossing, still release books, still do major giveaways at Halloween. Once in a while I get a catch, though usually second-hand. I know the books are taken and read and, as always, that's more important to me than getting tallies on my bookshelf. I can't say it's politics because the slowdown began quite a while ago, but maybe the anti-intelligence atmosphere affects reading books?

I was entranced by BookCrossing when I read an article, just a short piece, in Book Magazine, back in 2002. Have we had much media attention lately? I'm out of the loop enough, you could have an article published today and I wouldn't know. But, did you? And, lack of advertisement - well - that could cause a slowdown. Also, let your people know how they can help - you have a huge force at your disposal.

Glad you're back.
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All good points 4libros for sure.
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I've been on BC since April 2003, and I must say that the Internet has changed over those 14 years. It's really difficult to escape the Facebook juggernaut. Practically all the mailing lists I was on in the 2000s have migrated to Facebook, for example. Younger adults seem to hate email with a passion -- it's for their parents and grandparents!

Perhaps some targeted ads for the BC Facebook page would help bring people back here and generate some new buzz?
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... Younger adults seem to hate email with a passion -- it's for their parents and grandparents!

Perhaps some targeted ads for the BC Facebook page would help bring people back here and generate some new buzz?


Or maybe some way to use Twitter to announce a release or catch. There is already a bookcrossing Twitter account/link, but release activities are not connected to it. Releasing and hashtagging the location may generate some more hunting and attention.
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Or maybe some way to use Twitter to announce a release or catch.

Oh dear Lord, no.

According to the Go Hunting page, there have been over 30,000 books released in the past 30 days. That's an average of about 1,000 books per day.
http://www.bookcrossing.com/hunt/

I follow the Bookcrossing/Ballycumber account on Twitter. As much as I love Bookcrossing, if I started receiving 1,000 Tweets per day from that one account, I'd be immediately unfollowing it!
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Or maybe some way to use Twitter to announce a release or catch. There is already a bookcrossing Twitter account/link, but release activities are not connected to it. Releasing and hashtagging the location may generate some more hunting and attention.


I post my releases to Twitter sometimes (actually that's the reason I signed up on Twitter to begin with) like this:

https://mobile.twitter.com/---/856708365002649600

"Wild released 14 #BookCrossing books @ Village Laundry Cntr, So Portland ME USA 4/21/17 http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/355497 … for Int'n BookCrossing Day"

or

"Wild released 16 #BookCrossing books at Chowderheads, Scarborough ME USA on 12/28/16 http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/170424 … for Release Challenges."
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Or maybe some way to use Twitter to announce a release or catch. There is already a bookcrossing Twitter account/link, but release activities are not connected to it. Releasing and hashtagging the location may generate some more hunting and attention.

There is a Twitter BC account especially for releases. It's a bot account that automatically retweets any tweet containing the hashtag #bcrelease
https://twitter.com/bcrelease
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Or maybe some way to use Twitter to announce a release or catch. There is already a bookcrossing Twitter account/link, but release activities are not connected to it. Releasing and hashtagging the location may generate some more hunting and attention.

There is a Twitter BC account especially for releases. It's a bot account that automatically retweets any tweet containing the hashtag #bcrelease
https://twitter.com/bcrelease


I must be missing something because I don't see that hashtag in the tweets...
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There is a Twitter BC account especially for releases. It's a bot account that automatically retweets any tweet containing the hashtag #bcrelease
https://twitter.com/bcrelease


I must be missing something because I don't see that hashtag in the tweets...


It probably stopped functioning with some site update (either theirs or ours). The last tweet I see from that account is May 2013. It's probably not high on the To Do list, or might not even be known that it's not working.
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And it seems the last retweet it did was back in 2013., which is definitely NOT the last time the tag #bcrelease was used. I guess it no longer functions.
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Like release alerts how about signing up for new member alerts for close by towns? I could then offer a book, mentoring, or details on local meetings.
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Like release alerts how about signing up for new member alerts for close by towns? I could then offer a book, mentoring, or details on local meetings.


I like it, as long as it is opt-in.
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Like release alerts how about signing up for new member alerts for close by towns? I could then offer a book, mentoring, or details on local meetings.

Thumbs up!
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2. Site design (It's 2017 forgoshsakes. BC should have a clean, modern design that loads fast and is completely responsive on mobile.)


I'd love to see accessibility be considered within the new implementation too. I could probably name 15 accessibility issues to address on the site that would help make the site accessible to those who use assistive technologies (i.e. remove a barrier to growth). Most of them would be easy fixes as well.

Another thing to consider would be to separate out the concerns, and have them in open source repo(s). Get them up on GitHub, track issues in the open,
and let developers in the community help when they can.
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1. Site performance (starting with change I made today)


On the front-end, a manifest and service worker for some offline support would be nice, but even fixing up the internal JS (move to external files that can be cached), and using a newer (faster) version of jQuery would help. I can see some CDNs being used, so that's a good thing.

On the back-end, it's.... unknown. There are lots of ways to improve performance, none of which is likely to be a quick fix, but if that's deemed to be the bottleneck, then totally worth the investment.
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What about all the improvements Reno promised? When will they be implemented?
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When will they be implemented?

I don't know any more than you do, and I don't like that, either. :-/

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