Hi there, folks!
This is going to be a long read, so grab your popcorn and drinks! (Or head up to the TL;DR at the end of the post.)
I’m Vivian, Community Support Specialist here at Wattpad. But if you’re reading this, you probably know this already. We might have spoken through tickets or you might have seen me post here in the forums about tag rankings. And the reason why I’m usually the go-to person to talk about this issue is that I’m the Support Champion for the Content Discovery Squad.
If that doesn’t make any sense to you, here’s a quick explanation:
- Wattpad is structured into Squads.
- Each Squad is responsible for certain areas of the platform.
- For instance, the Writer Success Squad takes care of everything related to writing on Wattpad: publishing a story, writer analytics, story covers and so on.
- Content Discovery, on the other hand, is the squad responsible for everything related to how readers find and read content on Wattpad: library, reading lists, recommendations in the homepage and, you guessed it, tag rankings AKA the Hot lists.
Each Squad has a Support Champion. A Support Champion is a Community Support Specialist that focuses on helping users having issues with the particular product areas that their Squad is responsible for.
If you ever wondered why I’m the one who usually answers your tickets regarding tag rankings, that’s the reason. I’m Support Champion for Content Discovery.
Now that we have some context on how the work is split within Wattpad, let’s get to the point.
At the end of May we released a survey to better understand our community’s expectations around tag rankings, their biggest pain points, and how can we improve them. The groups that we surveyed were:
- A random selection of Readers on Wattpad Readers
- A random selection of Writers on Wattpad Writers
- Wattpad Stars
- Writers in the Community Forum (that’s you!)
So what did we find out with the survey?
- Readers and Writers on Wattpad have a very similar perception around tag rankings. The majority of them are either neutral or mildly satisfied about the tag Hot lists. Only a small percentage answered saying they were very dissatisfied.
- This was very different among the Writers in Community Forum and Stars. Results show that the majority of writers in Community are either very dissatisfied or mildly dissatisfied. For Stars, results were pretty consistent among all answers (except for very satisfied, which no one answered.)
- Another thing we learned is that, overall, readers and writers find the Hot and New lists more useful and easy to understand. The Rising list seemed to be the one causing the most confusion, while not offering enough value. Based on this finding, we decided to remove this list from Wattpad. If you’re using the app on an iOS device, you might have already seen that.
OK, so what does that mean?
- Wattpad is a data-driven company; we make strategic decisions based on data analysis and interpretation. That’s how we build a platform that can add the most value to the most people. We use both quantitative and qualitative data, such as surveys, interviews, feedback from this forum and Support tickets, as well as analyzing pure data based on all our users say and do at Wattpad.
- The tag rankings survey definitely showed that many users are not satisfied with the current system (mostly you and Stars; and, to be honest, we’re not satisfied either! But that’s because we’re always looking for better ways to do things). But it also showed that most users are not that dissatisfied with it and that most readers are still able to use the current system to find stories they like. This was crucial information for us to decide to not drop everything to completely rebuild tag rankings immediately.
- That being said, we know this is important. Because this is important to you, it is important to us. And we truly want to give the best experience possible on Wattpad for you. And yes, we would love to have the capability to work on everything, but just like in any other company, we need to make strategic decisions and prioritize certain things over others. And how do we make these decisions? Again, data!
- Also, remember that little context intro that I mentioned at the beginning of this post? The Content Discovery Squad is responsible for many areas of our product. In a way, we can say they’re responsible for one of the biggest features of Wattpad: the homepage. And as you probably know (if not, check it out here!) they’ve been working on a new homepage that looks absolutely amazing and addresses many of the things the community has been asking for (block tags, improving recommendations, just to name a few). Creating a new homepage from scratch is an enormous endeavor and due to our limited resources, we couldn’t tackle both new home and tag rankings.
- However, we have done some progress. From a user perspective, it might not be obvious or even visible at all, but from an engineering perspective, we’ve definitely advanced towards a better functioning system. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The code for tag rankings is quite old, from a couple of years ago and is a kind of Frankenstein code that’s been added to over and over again over the years, so it’s not super easy to work with.
- We actually tried many fixes for tag rankings in the first 6 months of this year but as we tried a bunch of stuff, we realized that it’s a larger undertaking than we expected, hence the other reason we haven’t been able to just get to it.
- We didn’t want to try to do some imperfect band-aid fixes that may fix one thing but might break some other things. We want to do this right, and that requires the time/space/research to do this well. We started some of that work with our survey, but there is a lot more to do!
So what happens now?
Tag rankings were not our priority this quarter. However, it will be our priority sometime soon.
Unfortunately, we don’t have that answer. However, we’ll likely be working on this next quarter or the following one. I know this is probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but I can assure you: it’s on our radar for the near future and we do hear you!
In the meantime, we’ll continue to listen to you and take notes of every single feedback we receive around that topic. That way, we hope to build a new system that can be as exciting as the new homepage for you!
I hope this clarifies a little bit better what is the status on tag rankings — and my apologies for the long post. If you still have questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.
So stay tuned! We’ll try to update this thread as we learn more.
TL;DR: Fixing tag rankings involves a lot of work and moving pieces. Even though we’ve tried many different solutions throughout the year, we had to pause that work to focus on other endeavors (e.g.: new home). However, we’re avidly listening to your feedback and will most likely be able to redirect our attention to tag rankings in the next quarter or the following one.