Attracting readers and making Crimespace a special place for them was always something I wanted out of this virtual bar of ours. I began with a starry-eyed vision of authors and fans mixing it up in the stalls together, united in a common love of all that is crime fiction.

But it doesn't seem to be working.

I've noticed that there a number of readers who have joined up who aren't quite as vocal as us writer types. I think this is partly the nature of the beast -- writers write and readers read -- but I'd like to see if I can do something to improve on the situation.

One of the features of this site that I've been reluctant to add is that of Groups, a way to band together with like-minded Crimespacers. Groups can exist within Crimespace and have their own Forum and list of members. I've had a number of ideas for particular Groups myself, but I won't mention them just yet.

Have a peek at Library 2.0 to see what I mean by this whole Group thing. You may see that my reluctance towards the feature comes from the fact that most of the Groups only have 1 or 2 members.

Still, one good thing about Groups is that I can choose which ones to feature on the main page, so at least this way I can pick the more useful or popular groups to put the spotlight on.

If this all this talk about Groups is just gobbledy-gook to you, then if you have any other suggestions for changes to Crimespace, feel free to drop me a line in this thread, or send me a message with your thoughts. This site has a limited set of features, so it may not be possible for me to fulfil your requests, but I do want to make Crimespace rock even harder than it does already.

Yes, I grew up in the 80s.

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Maybe a regular site to post book reviews? Or a book club site, where people nominate and theen pick a book to read, and then talk about it later? Or a ranking of the most-read books for any one month--our own bestseller list? I think the trick is to put something permanent up because, like you say, readers are not doing enough writing here on their own.
Jack, these suggestions are in line with some of the talk below. I can already feel a change coming on. :)
Speaking as a reader, I think Crimespace is great. I'm not sure how that Groups things works, but what I like about Crimespace is that the Forum topics are all there in one place. If there's anything I am not interested in, I can just choose not to open it. My problem with having lots of different forums to visit is that I'm not going to have time to do all the clicking involved :o) The way it is now I know that I'm not missing anything. Is there any facility whereby some forum topics could be made to permanently show? Or show for a certain length of time and then be archived? General topics such as "What did you read last month?" or "Have you just read a really great book?" Could topics like that be 'fixed' to the front page for a while?

Maybe one/some reader members who are interested in doing so could come up with a specific topic or two each week so that there's always a reading specific topic on the go (even if it's repeating one which has gone before - because the answers are always going to be different)? I know that when a topic has fallen out of the ones that are listed on the front page I forget it's there and sometimes don't click on 'More Discussion' unless there is a discussion that I particularly remember and want to see recent comments. I'm prepared to put my money where my mouth is and volunteer to do regular reader specific topics if you think that would be useful.

Or how about featuring a writer on a regular basis and having a topic dedicated to their body of work. Not a specific book, but where people could read, say, one book by James M Cain and post about it and other people who'd chosen to read a different book by Cain could talk about that, and people who had read loads could comment...etc, if anyone's seen a good article on or interview with that writer they could post it there...

Don't know, just thinking off the top of my head.

I really enjoy Crimespace :o)
Not a specific book, but where people could read, say, one book by James M Cain and post about it and other people who'd chosen to read a different book by Cain could talk about that, and people who had read loads could comment...etc, if anyone's seen a good article on or interview with that writer they could post it there...

This was what Kevin was thinking, and why he started the thread on Jim Thompson. If we selected someone and did this, it could be good. My concerns fall under two points - on some online discussions they don't give enough time to get the book. If it's a classic it often has to be ordered in. If we picked authors for say, three months, decided in the next two weeks and had our first discussion starting late August that should work for most people. But we definitely need at least a full month where we live.

The other concern is to determine how to pick authors. Face it, there are a lot here. And I wouldn't want it to feel like people are campaigning for their own books, or for people to have hurt feelings if their books weren't picked. I'd suggest a limit to authors with more than 6 books published, available internationally, in order to make them accessible to everyone. People could nominate for a set period of time, then perhaps there could be a poll and the top two or three could be set for specific months.

Just thoughts.
Just thoughts, but good ones. I'm happy to add polls on anything that people are interested in. I actually really enjoy polls. Instant gratification could be why.

This sounds like a Crimespace book club in the making. I'm loving the idea. Motivation to read some of the classics or anything that I've missed--and everyone thinks I'm stupid for missing--is always a good thing. And your scheduling sounds spot on: are you a Virgo?

I'll start up a nomination post shortly and then I can collate the data from that and create a poll.

Mmm, collating. Sounds sexy.
Donna, it is possible to control the posts that end up on the main page. I can change it so that it only displays 'featured' posts, which I have to go through and choose as such. Maybe if I do this, people will be forced to click through to the Forum page to check out all the other discussions.
This seems to me to be the most feasible, workable of all the suggestions so far.

Dianne Day
It seems to me that there are two different problems to be address (thankfully by you and not me). First, how to get readers to know about crimespace because it is likely that only a small percentage of readers who hear about it will want to join up. Second, how to keep them interested and get them involved.

The advertising bit is hard to say, but I think I have an idea that might kill both birds with one stone...Well, not kill, perhaps only irritate.

Crime fiction readers may well be bothered by the lack of crime fiction available directly on this site. Sure many of the writers have sites of their own where they may have a chapter or a story available, but that content isn't here. Maybe a space for flash fiction or a contest for short stories where the readers get a chance to comment or vote. The way this helps to bring in readers is that it is to be expected that the authors will promote the fact that they have a story up or one waiting for votes through their own channels. Even just soliciting reprints from some of the authors here might help on that score - Bruen, Lippman, Steinhauer, Parker, et al. I'd read'em.Anyway, this is about all I've got on the subject.
Love this idea of real fiction content being posted.
If crimespace members are members of book discussion groups, it would be good for them to talk up crimespace to other readers in their group. I'm going to start doing this with members of the Hard-Boiled Discussion Group at my local mystery book store, the Poisoned Pen.
We do mention it quite a lot on 4MA :o)
Wait, are you talking up Crimespace or the Poisoned Pen?

Ooh, I'm off to search...

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