I’ve been thinking about whether I should write this for a while, but in the end, I couldn’t hold it in.
Yes, it’ll be a vent. Yes, it was inspired by the latest “developments” on the web version of Wattpad.
To start with something positive, I write the things I think would make the site actually better.
- Better discovery function. If I want to read a brand new story, that has few reads, I have no chance to find it, as even when I choose the stories to be sort by New, I receive ones with several thousand reads. I’m not expecting your site to promote new writers, I’m expecting it not to set readers back from finding them. Maybe include a Vote/Individual readers option, as that is the closest thing to quality measurement on stories here.
- Unfollow tags, hide stories from Top Picks, and Trending sections. I understand that writing an algorithm that actually finds stories that match the reader’s taste is hard. What I can’t understand why don’t you help your job by giving the reader at least some control over their own main page feed (not the Newsfeed of course). I’ve read a K-Pop story exactly once in my life for a book club, I’ve never read an anime story, I’ve never read a fanfic, I’ve never read creepypasta, I’ve never read gay porn (read all kinds of LGBT+ stories, except for pornographic gay stories) and those take up about 80% of the stories Wattpad recommends me.
- Justify. Seriously, how can justified be missing from text-alignment options? That should be the default setting, and it isn’t there even as an optional thing.
- Separate Author’s note field. It would be useful, if Author’s notes, or notes in general would have a separate space from the body text. Maybe even footnotes could be an option too.
- Book club function. Book clubs here are getting more and more popular, yet the site doesn’t have a proper way to help them in their work. That way clubs shouldn’t organize their work on books. It could have a membership application, a club newsfeed, club conversation threads, member list, assignment list, strike system, visibility state (whether the inner conversations, assignments, member list be visible to non-members).
- Awards function. Pretty much as with the book clubs. There are lots of community-run awards here, and their work isn’t helped by a proper function.
- Select to comment. Even with the right-click prohibition, you could make a select-to-quote function work. It could appear among the paragraph comments, with the selected part quoted. The selected part would never appear on the user’s clipboard, so it couldn’t be used to get around the right-click prohibition (which is by the way extremely easy to get around)
- Comment types. As there are writers here, who comment on each others’ stories, and there are regular readers, who comment only on stories they like, there should be a way to tag our comments if they are fan comments or constructive criticism. It could be used to filter editing-related comments from regular reader comments.
- Remind to vote. As writers like feedback, that many readers forget, I think it would be a nice thing to remind readers to vote after they read several chapters of a story. I don’t talk about reminding them after every chapter, but if someone read five chapters of a story, they probably liked it enough that would worth a vote.
- Better search function. I’m Hungarian, so it’s probably because of my language settings, but I can’t find English stories with the search. Even if I enter the exact title of an English story, it doesn’t show up among the results.
- Don’t count own reads on a story. I think it’s clear. When we publish a chapter, it immediately receives a read, so it’s likely that the system counts (at least some) reads from the authors themselves.
Better DM layout. I think this one speaks for itself. I have a FullHD laptop, yet when I view a DM thread, vertically speaking about usable space under the site header, around:
-15% of the screen is the Send button
-20% is the message box
-15% is the header with my conversation partner’s username
Send button and message box shouldn’t even appear unless we are in writing a message, or scrolling down to the bottom. The header with the conversation partner’s name is pointless to be that huge. It’s pointless to be there at all. It could be in the left or right column, so it wouldn’t steal space from the important content (the messages). Or it would be enough if the name was mentioned only under the avatar of the conversation partner.
It would also be better if the layout of the messages would tell by itself whose message we see. The partner’s messages would stretch till the right side of the content area, and our messages would stretch till the left side of the content area instead of both having the same boundaries. Maybe even give them slightly different colors.
These changes would greatly improve the DM experience.
Now the things that are atrocious:
- Login. As I use the site from work, I meet this problem daily. When after I entered my username and password I hit the Enter on the keyboard, it makes my password visible instead of initiating the login process. It’s both annoying, and quite an ugly security flaw (I can show my password accidentally to anyone who sees my screen). I can’t even understand why you thought I would need my password shown more times, than initiating the login.
- Notification bug. Another bug I can’t really comprehend. How could you make the notification system in a way, that sometimes notifications appear hours later? It’s a very annoying bug.
- Real-time notifications. In 2019 I find it very baffling that I don’t get notified immediately as soon as some notification event happens. It’s even more baffling that notifications sometimes don’t appear when I load another page, only after I hit the refresh button to get them. It’s even-EVEN more baffling that often when I go to the Notifications page because I got a notification, it doesn’t appear there until I refresh the Notifications page too.
- Main page feed. It was a very useful feature that from the main page I could reach my latest reads directly, so with the redesign, of course, you took that function out.
I love Wattpad in general, but it’s mainly because of the community. The technical quality of the site is below standards.