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Something is wrong with new user registrations.

Site Trajectory 2 charts arguably the most significant barometer of E2's progress: "New users (contributing)". The decline here is shocking. Up until 2009 this number was comfortably into the dozens per month. Now it is single figures and still dropping. So far in May 2013 only one new user* has contributed nodes.

This drop is not consistent with a natural ebb and flow of users arriving and leaving - something is wrong.

To see how bad this is, take a look at the "Sign up" page. Here is what it says at the time of writing:

Enter new account details

Please fill in your user name, real name (optional), email address and password:

  • Username:
  • Real name:
  • Email address:
  • Confirm email:
  • Password:
  • Confirm password:
  • I am an evil robot spammer

Oh my goodness. When did E2 start asking for both an email address and a real name at signup time**?

Here's what this thing should look like, in its entirety:

  • Username:
  • Password:

I'm deadly serious. The signup form should be two fields. No additional text is necessary.

What's wrong with the way things are?

  1. There's no need to say "Enter new account details". The user has clicked the "Sign up" button. The page says "Sign up" at the top of it in big bold letters. It's extremely obvious what you're supposed to do with this form.

  2. There's no need to say "Please fill in your user name, real name (optional), email address and password". All of that is already covered either by the "Sign up" title to the page, or by the labels next to each form field. Nobody is reading this part. Nobody needs instructions to fill out a web form.

  3. Saying "real name (optional)" in the opening instructions but NOT next to the "Real name" field itself is stupid because, as I said, nobody is reading the opening instructions. This is a very important piece of information which everybody needs to know - put it where it'll be seen.

  4. Do not, do not, DO NOT ask for the user's real name. The need for a real name is a huge, huge turn-off for the vast majority of potential new users. This is especially true for the kind of intelligent contributor which E2 presumably wishes to attract. Anonymity is incredibly important right now. Give it to people by default, and let them surrender it voluntarily later if they want to take that extra step.

    Look at how many of E2's greatest contributors are anonymous.

    It doesn't matter that it's optional; it wouldn't matter even if the fact that it was optional was actually obvious. Simply being asked is a problem. Look at the uproar that Google Plus had. Fix this now. This is maximum priority.

  5. Being asked for an email address is a turn-off as well. It doesn't matter that there's a section explaining what E2 will or will not do with that email address. An email address is only required for one step: the account activation email. E2 should dispense with that step if at all possible.

  6. Even if the email address field is still needed, there is absolutely no purpose for the "Confirm email" field. Why is this here? Who thought that this was a good thing to have?

    A "Confirm password" field is sometimes a good idea because password fields hide what you have typed, so the site needs some way to make sure that you didn't make a typographical error. But an email address field does not have this issue. Users can see what they typed! All this field does is make the form even longer and more tedious to fill in. At six text fields and one check box, it's a tax return.

  7. As mentioned, a "confirm password" field is sometimes a good idea. But if you rely on your users to be able to type confidently, you could omit this. If you're looking at streamlining the signing-up process, as we are here, it can definitely be removed with prejudice.

  8. The "I am an evil robot spammer" check-box, which I assume that new users must uncheck before they can sign up, is actually kind of cute and worthwhile, if it actually works. Does it? Is there evidence that it does? How about removing it and seeing.

What about the essays?

The essays need work too:

Email Privacy Policy

We will not send you junk email "member updates", sell your address to spammers, or show other people your email address. We use it to send you an account activation email and for any other email services that you request.

As I mentioned, the need for an email address can/should be dispensed with, but even if it's kept, this essay should be boiled down to one sentence (no title):

Your email address will be used solely for account activation and password recovery.

Next:

Spam Policy

We neither perpetrate nor tolerate spam.

If you plan to use our site to promote your web site, business, or what-have-you free of charge, please don't. It's not worth your time and it wastes ours, too. All it does is annoy the few people who see your post during the five minutes that it takes our staff to notice it and delete it. We will also not hesitate to ban you for plugging your goods on our site. New accounts advertizing any product, service or web site (including "personal" sites and blogs) in their profile are subject to immediate deletion. Their details will be submitted to public blacklists for the use of other web sites.

This entire section can be cut. Everybody knows what spam is, including spammers. A stern written warning isn't likely to cause a spammer to think twice, particularly if (as in the case of 100% of spammers) the spammer is a robot. The fact that E2 doesn't tolerate spam can, and will be, assumed.

Underage users

Everything2 may include member-created content designed for an adult audience. Viewing this content does not require an account. For logged-in account holders, Everything2 may display text conversations conducted by adults and intended for an adult audience. On-site communications are not censored or restricted by default. Users under the age of 18 are advised that they should expect to be interacting primarily with adults and that the site may not be considered appropriate by their parents, guardians, or other powers-that-be. Everything2 is not intended for use by children under the age of 13 and does not include any features or content designed to appeal to children of that age.

Firstly, yawn! Secondly, users don't need to register to read E2, so while the warning itself might be worthwhile, placing it on the registration page is very puzzling. And what's all this about age ratings?

Who even needed this warning to be put here? Don't give me hypotheticals about what people might want. Which of you, reading this writeup, is in the intended audience for this warning? Who read it and found it useful?

If this was actually necessary, which it isn't, one could do like The Onion and simply put this statement in the E2 footer:

Everything2 is suggested for mature readers.

In conclusion, a user who reads all of these essays is bored stiff by the end of it. They get the impression that E2 is stuffy and waffly and humourless. Yikes.

*

This is everything I noticed after looking at the sign up page for five seconds. This is first-hurdle stuff, before even trying to enter information and actually register. I don't know what the account activation process is like.

The real name field must go. No arguments. I'm willing to believe that June 2009, when the number of contributing new users visibly cratered for the first time, was also the month when the real name field was introduced.**

But but but what if we get thousands of new users?

/drops monocle

But but but what if we get spammers?

Then any or all of these changes can be reverted immediately. Immediately! It's called website administration, baby.

It's infinitely easier to raise barriers to entry than it is to tear them down.


* Actually the figure is zero. The sole new contributor, invicta, is an alternate account belonging to established user arcanamundi.

** Several people are reporting that the "Real name" field has been there forever. Okay, but it's still a problem.

My routine the past few days has been to listen to the @sullybaseball daily podcast every morning. I like baseball, I love hearing how Sully describes what happened with hitting and pitching, and I enjoy having that time to do something for myself that I enjoy. Today would be the fourth consecutive day that I listened to the podcast, but I watched a Jamie Oliver TED speech last night, and it got me thinking. This morning, I found that I still had YouTube open in the Jamie Oliver tab, and I decided to listen to a woman who was speaking about adversity.

In a former life I sold shoes to diabetics, some of whom were also amputees. I learned to talk to these people, to work with them, to appreciate the things they could do, and to reserve judgement about their physical bodies because some of them lived lives that I could only dream about. At the Brewers game on Wednesday, a friend of mine asked me if I had found out anything new with regards to some of my health issues. A while back I had some testing done, we discovered that I have some fairly severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and I've been taking supplements irregularly since a lot of them are hard on my stomach.

Although E2 has an entry on celiac disease, I want to add my side of the story to it, because I think it's something that I can share with others. When I first heard that I had a disease, I pictured a grotesque inner decay that would gradually manifest itself outwardly. Essentially I was handed a diagnosis, some medication, and the woman who informed me that she thought that I had this initially was actually very reassuring although I didn't see that at the time. After I had an ovarian cyst that burst, I was sent on to a rheumatologist, and eventually an oncologist. These people weren't really interested in me, or my condition. They told me that I was making a very foolish decision by refusing to take the medication that they prescribed, my oncologist told me that I could be crippled in two years without these meds, and I walked out of that hideous appointment clinging not to her words of doom, but the phrase that I ate better than she did.

I've written about this in the past, but it bears repeating. This woman with advanced medical degrees had dry skin, lackluster hair, she was kind, but I would say she was malnourished. Her job is stressful, I was the patient who went against her medical advice, and I believe that she was genuinely concerned that in twenty-four months I would be a mangled twisted version of my former self. Since some of the conditions I have may attack internal organ systems I had to have testing done to assess my lungs, heart, and overall eye health. This was done to get a baseline of where I was at so when I started deteriorating they could..., do what? There was no game plan for me to prevent further disintegration of my eyes. When I called in a panic because my third finger on my right hand was white, no one really took me seriously. I felt like I was a page of terms that didn't really address who I was as a person, and there was nothing other than drugs for me to turn to, not in the hope that I would some day be cured, but that my pain might be somewhat alleviated by this regimen.

When I was in my twenties, I mentioned to my doctor that my arms and knees really hurt. She said I had classic tendinitis symptoms, and told me to take ibuprofen. That didn't really help, and now I know why. I didn't go back and complain when the pain didn't go away because I trusted her as a medical doctor to know what was best for me as a patient. A lot of people have told me that I eat better than most, and it's an argument in my house because I believe that diet is a critical part of what makes people healthy as individuals, people point to me as someone who eats a lot of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, they see that I quit my full time job because it was too much, and I work a few hours a week for not very much pay. In the eyes of the modern world, I probably seem like a failure. I have some native intelligence, people skills, and I was exceptionally good at selling shoes for the company that employed me.

Hearing Aimee Mullins talk about language, and how it can be used to color people's perceptions of themselves really helped me. When someone suggested I join a celiac forum, I found a chapter in my area, and read what the leader had posted. I read that she congratulated people who were newly diagnosed, and I remember thinking to myself, this woman is nuts, and I don't want to have anything to do with someone who congratulates people like me. Now I want to write a new post for celiac disease, and I want to share the idea that you can congratulate people who have a diagnosis they didn't want to receive, because it is a blessing to have an answer, and ultimately solutions for things you've been living with previously.

I didn't see a disease state as beneficial, I doubt that many would. Today, I can look back, see the changes that I've made, look into my mirror, and love the person who has forged a new path that led me to the Jamie Oliver and Aimee Mullins TED talks. Adversity is a part of our lives. You can choose to wallow in self pity over how difficult your life is, I've done that in the past, or you can choose to view adversity as a way to shape your character, and possibly reveal parts of yourself that you maybe didn't know you had.

Jamie Oliver wants to teach every child how to prepare 10 recession proof meals. Cooking is a life skill. The ability to go into a kitchen, assess what is there, and create a nutritious balanced meal really is a gift. What struck me most when he was talking about his overweight friends in the community he was visiting was his kindness, empathy, and compassion coupled with solutions that he presented to people. He didn't lecture people, he presented the solution, and offered himself as an agent of change. Obesity is a killer, and it's so uplifting to hear that there are solutions out there. Simple, cost effective solutions that bring local people together, where the goal is to educate and embrace healthier futures.

Previously, I thought that celiac disease meant I had to give things up. The truth is, I've never liked pizza, I hated french fries, and I'm still angry with myself when I choose a gluten and dairy free chocolate chip cookie over any of the better choices in my kitchen. Today my message to anyone who has been told that ingesting gluten will harm them is that the only thing I had to give up was the idea that I was giving things up. Yesterday we went to see my sister who is getting ready to move. I layered steamed zucchini strips on a plate, added some asparagus, put cauliflower chunks on top of that, and poured spaghetti sauce over my creation. This morning I made a smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and a big handful of spinach. Both of my children drank it, they're going off to school to eat hot lunch which will be a lot of processed food, regular milk, and neither of them took a water bottle today so now I'm going to be concerned about their hydration.

I've learned so much about food, cooking, nutrition, and self love and self care over these past few years. My body is missing a lot of the rashes and eczema that used to plague me. Very few people guess my real age when they meet me, and even people who know me well tell me that my skin is youthful looking. I have some gray in my hair, it doesn't bother me because I'm viewing this as a process which takes time. I'm so much better off than I was, my Twitter following is evidence of that. The interactions I have with other people, last night I missed most of an End of Life discussion, that would have terrified me in the past. But now, I know I will die, I don't fear death, I won't seek it out, but I won't shy away from it either. I'm not crippled as my oncologist predicted, my mind is better, I work with children, and I've learned how to be an effective After School Care employee in a few short months.

Around me, I see life, beauty, joy, possibility, challenges, opportunity. I've always had the ability to make friends easily, now I'm more comfortable with admitting that I'm not perfect. I have some weight to lose. I'm making better choices, but there is much room for improvement in most aspects of my life. I think it's incredible that the most significant strides I've made towards financial freedom came after I quit my job. I'm not mad at myself for spending money unwisely. I can forgive myself for a lack of understanding because I needed a different way to think about and use money. Yesterday I put money into the bank. I pulled some cash out, and I have a plan for how I'm going to spend it so it doesn't disappear without me knowing where it went.

I want to take Jamie Oliver's idea about the ten recipes for recession proof cooking, I'm going to work with my girls, and I'm going to see if we can come up with ten gluten and dairy free meals that they can prepare when they leave home. My youngest used to be very into smoothies, and my oldest is already better at making scrambled eggs than she was. The idea that people can't eat well on a budget is crap. It's a mentality fostered by fast food, you're too busy to cook food at home, and groceries are more expensive than eating out. I don't believe that, and I know that I can teach others how to become better bargain hunters.

At the bank, the branch manager greeted me with a bright smile that held no warmth. She offered my kids suckers, a woman I know had already asked discreetly if she could offer my girls a treat, and I smiled at the obese woman in front of me as I told her that I didn't want my children to have suckers because I didn't think they would be good for them. The girls had already pulled a pail of suckers down from the counter, my children aren't very good at brushing their teeth, and they can't see that the bank doesn't really care about them, they want young customers to associate the bank as a place where they can get that feel good sugar fix. Companies that prey on children upset me, advertizing is everywhere, I can't protect my children from marketing aimed at destroying their health and finacial wealth, but I can show them that I have no problems refusing things that I do not believe are in their best interests because a lot of people depend on your reluctance to look like a fanatic nutrition nut instead of buckling under because it's only a small sucker at the bank.

I'm tired of people saying that their children won't eat a well balanced diet or get enough exercise, because I believe that this undermines children's belief in themselves, that they can face adversity when it comes into their lives. Money and candy do not go together. The bank wants to sell me and my family financial products, and they want to encourage children to see it as a place where they are rewarded with sweets every time they walk through the door. Wouldn't a better approach have been to ask my children how they were, and to inquire if they had savings accounts at my bank? They don't, because they have a different bank, but that woman missed an opportunity to talk my children about money, and to possibly pull some business away from her competitor down the street. She wanted to give my kids candy instead of sharing some of her knowlege. Maybe she thought I didn't look like a very good customer. I wasn't dressed particularly well, but I drive a luxury car, my home is valued at over $200,000, and she has no idea what those girls are capable of earning someday.

I am a fabulous networker. When I believe in a person, product, good, or service, I let others know about it. I broadcast and amplify brands I trust and believe in, that branch manager had a small minded goal, to offer my kids candy instead of talking to me about services she could be offering. I no longer have my savings account at her bank, I'm going to pay off my credit card, and leave that bank. She could have talked to me about service, or my day, I'm not really sure why she chose to treat me the way that she did, most of her tellers talk to me about products, and they've been good when there have been issues with my account. My husband pulled our mortgage away from that bank, she could have talked to me about that, and I guess my point here is you don't know who you might be talking to, so why are people like her unable to see a larger picture?

I don't know, but I don't want to be like that woman. I believe that children can learn about money without bribery. I think they can make healthy choices, I've seen them do it. I believe that authors and people who write are tremendously creative. I believe that everyone is creative in a manner that is unique to them, and sometimes just believing that a creative spirit dwells inside of someone is enough for a bond between me, and them. I read an article about kindness, and what a beautiful gift that can be to give to another person. Those who are wealthy see the world as a treasure trove of interesting people, with an unbelievably diverse pool of talent. I agree with Aimee Mullins when she says that the only disabled people are those whose spirit has been broken. I changed after I was handed a disease diagnosis. Today I can prepare anyone a raw gluten, dairy, nightshade, soy, wheat, shellfish, corn free meal. I've opened up food for others, and given them new ways to think about how they spend their food dollars.

Everyone has a story to tell, and I'd like to close with something I read on Twitter the other day. I see people as a walking library of sorts, with stored information, and stories that I have yet to unearth. People are living manuscripts, and the quote I read sums up how I feel about people who put others down because they are dreadfully insecure. The tweet said that there are worse things than burning books, and that is to not read them at all. Those who shut other people out, or fail to seek out the good in others are only shorting themselves, and those are the people I really pity.

Take care, have fun, believe in yourself and others.

With love,

jessica

Oh, gosh. HTML editing right off the bat. It's been a while. Bear with me. does the text go to the link pipe?

I woke up today with every intention of rowing for a good 5000 metres, doing some yoga/body weight exercises, reading about communism, finishing my essay on Dracula and rifling through papers on sperm-egg interactions in Australian hopping mice. Instead, I saw a single gif of Prince Nuada and decided to watch Hellboy one and two. It's the end of the term, the list of things I have to do is exceptionally long, but all I've managed is several hundred words in the fantasy novel I'm writing.

Oh, I know. How original. How unique. A fantasy novel.

I didn't quit writing when I quit this place. I kept writing, but I wrote bigger and longer and more obscene. I wrote for audiences not welcome here, and I am not critiquing that, but I wanted to get into the habit of writing every day, and writing a story from start to finish, and here does not cater for that so well as the realm of fanfiction. Fanfiction allows crappy writing and thoughtless writing and it allows strange ideas and strange combinations, and it allows the exploration of areas that other types of writings do not.

Sometimes those areas are plain disturbing (rape? fish porn? wing kink? underage? it's all there). Genderswapped highschool AU of Sherlock? Hells to the yes, and after eighty thousand words of that I turned it into parentlock (where Sherlock and John (Joan, in this case) have had a kid), and it fell into something akin to a Harry Potter crossover, and there was BDSM and bloodplay and eating disorders and it was all very strange and nothing that I would have considered writing otherwise. It was a stretch, and it was fun. Overall, between that and another that I wrote, and all the other pieces of stories I wrote in between as I learned how to become deeply uncomfortable with a single day not writing, well. Three hundred thousand words since October last year, and I can look back at something I wrote a month ago and know I have improved.

When I have the motivation to properly sit down and work, I'm reading about the Maoist insurgency in Nepal and it's helping me form problems for the other story I am writing (sci-fi dictator-Australia). I'm learning about Classical Mythology and that's helping me with my fantasy story, and I read about feminism and racism and ableism and terrorism and it helps me to write.

(The dictatorship was meant to be a crappy easy erotica that I could sell with the plan to go to Sydney in my second semester holidays, because I've not yet managed the concept of dying my hair a respectable colour and giving up swearing long enough to find a job. Alas, it spawned incest and murder and wide-spread chaos, and I am so over sex, y'know?)

Tomorrow, hopefully, my stomach will have healed enough that I can row again, because although I can run a decent distance rowing has a completely different muscle set (hence the abs that have been giving me pain for two days after scarcely 20 minutes on the ergo). I prefer running to erging and actually rowing to both. Though rowing is hell. I know why they made the slaves row, and let rich people recline or travel on horseback.

My friends are the type of people who are happy to listen to me rant and rage about the Supernatural season finale and then slip into a mad rant about how absolutely brilliant Hannibal is (interjected with complaints on the latest Star Trek). I am into feminism and pink hair and soul music and the smell of wood fires. I am uninterested in straight boys and gay girls or monogamy, and most of what I want is to be left alone to read about every revolution that ever happened without having to write a paper on the possible future of South Asia.

My politics teacher thinks I'm a Marxist. My mythology teacher thinks I'm angry about everything. My English teacher cannot say my name right, and I am constantly angry at her. My fourth teacher, who teaches anatomy, touches me too often, on the shoulder or arm or knee as he exclaims some exciting fact or consoles me that I have searched through another hundred slides with nothing to show for it. He does it in an innocent fashion, with no harm intended, but I dislike it. Most days I cannot cope with even my mother brushing past me in the kitchen.

This is me. I am becoming.

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