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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I wanted to resurrect Flashing In The Gutters in some form here from the beginning, but the one feature I wanted for this is still forthcoming (forum moderation). And there are also a number of flash fiction blogs that have sprung up in the meantime. I'll have to check with Ning again.

But, wait, I said I was going to sleep.
I'll have a proper look through all this tomorrow (it's sleepy time Down Under), but you should be able to leave the 'website' answer blank. The only required profile questions are the 'About Me' and 'Books And Authors I Like:' sections.
I didn't put a website address in and it let me join.

I don't have use myspace (except to listen to some bands I like) or facebook. I like how easy Crimespace is to use, enjoy the variety of discussions, and there are some lovely people on here. From the little I've seen of myspace, Crimespace is more like a proper community. I wouldn't like to see it fragmented.

I like Steven's idea of a flash fiction section.
When I first joined, I didn't put anything in the website space either, and I had no problem.
Speaking as one of the readers, I think Crimespace is a great concept. Personally, the last thing I want on here is stories. Right now one of the reasons I rarely participate in the forums is that if the thread isn't all about writing, it doesn't take long for someone to bring up their book. That's not why I came here. I came here because I enjoy talking about books, life, whatever and this was another opportunity to do so and hopefully meet some new people. If you want to talk about stories, maybe it would be good to start providing links to the various e-zines.

Why don't readers post? Well, I can honestly say that many of the topics discussed deal with things that readers know, or care, nothing about, and what's more, I personally have often felt that there really is no point to my posting anything as it often seems that what I do post is ignored. When you add in the occasional hard push sales jobs that come if you don't know to block your email (which by the way, authors, many readers don't appreciate), it's really no wonder that readers have drifted away.

As to getting more readers, I heard about Crimespace through the multitude of blogs I read, which many readers may not do, so approaching readers groups may be the thing to do. Just don't be surprised if they're hesitant.
I came here because I enjoy talking about books, life, whatever

There's the problem right there. I have no life, so there's nothing to talk about. ; )
Norby - I also came here to talk about crime fiction in general, and I certainly didn't come here to talk about my book (and hope that I don't - I occasionally join in the writing posts, but mostly general stuff). I'm a reader and love to discuss books, get recommentdations for yet more books, find out what people like and don't like, share ideas and comments and opinions about the huge range of crime fiction there is.

And I've read and enjoyed all your posts in discussions. I sometimes feel as though I post too much so I tend not to answer everything, but I can assure you, your posts are not being ignored.

I've really enjoyed the forum discussions - whether they are serious, fun, enlightening, entertaining, weird...whatever. I have learned loads, laughed a lot, added to my TBR pile and got to know some extremely nice people. Can't ask for anything more really :o)

I also take your point about not coming here to read stories, and neither do I, but it might be nice as a separate feature that you can click on if you wish, and ignore otherwise.

Sandra - I agree that it might be tough to get actual discussions going about a particular book. And I also agree that it would be best for it to be of authors with a certain number of books out. How about something like August is Raymond Chandler month, September is Jim Thompson month...that sort of thing? And that discussion topic remains on the front page for that month for people to add to as and when. I don't know whether it's possible, or whether it would work, or whether it's even a good idea.
Well... I'd be really interested in giving it a try. I've been meaning to read more classics, for one thing. And it removes issues of angst to start with authors who aren't with us. We could encourage, as you suggested, reading something by the author and then talk about style, influence, impressions. That keeps it from being another book club, where it's one option and if you aren't keen on it (or can't get it) you're out, but does kickstart some chat re: books and reading.

I'm willing to give it a try!

And like you, sometimes I feel I post too much, so I don't acknowledge everyone or everything, even if I find it really interesting. I don't want to post just to say, "me too".
I did make a special category for readers on the forum page, but if people aren't clicking through, they won't notice it. Norby, I'd love it if you started up some reading-specific discussions in either the Reading Room or Main Bar. I'll definitely participate, and I think you can count on others pitching in too.
Thanks for raising this, Daniel. I do know some readers who joined but then stopped coming by. Though I don't think they are bothered by forum topics that are about writing issues, they have come to dominate, and that makes it look like "oh, this is for writers."

That said, we're all readers. Maybe if some of us regulars made a point of starting a forum thread that's of interest to readers (and writers) we could change that inadvertent perception.

Like Donna, I would rather go to one central forum rather than have groups. And it's the forum that makes this site so much more engaging for me than MySpace or even Facebook (which I do use quite a bit - but the membership is so varied having a single forum would be pointless).

While I'm at it, I want to thank you again for starting this - it's a wonderful site and I'm sure it takes lots of behind-the-scenes work.
The forum is the one area that I've put the most effort into, but I think it's time for me to renew that initial energy I had for it. This thread seems like a good start.

Watch me, as I rub my hands in dastardly scheming glee while I plan the heist to end all heists. Oh, I mean 'forum improvements'.
All the writers here are also readers. Speaking for myself as both, I have been picking forum topics that interest me. Strangely, I never pick the "books read" topics. I think the problem is that readers of mysteries/crime fiction generally read in only one or two areas (subcategories), and when we are to pick the best book we've read, we aren't going to be in agreement very often. If you can feature categories specifically in the reading section (but perhaps also in the others), readers may come to look for their favorites or to get suggestions. Right now we are simply a very heterogeneous group.

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