Things have been fairly quiet on the Editorial front this month, so I’ll use this space to observe one of our recent successes that doesn’t get much conscious notice, and then announce another Web site enhancement.
First, the success. It doesn’t sound very impressive, but we are producing more DargonZine issues more regularly than ever before. This may not sound important, but five years ago it was one of our readers’ biggest criticisms. From 1991 to 1993, we put out only 13 issues, but worse yet, the publication schedule was wildly unpredictable. In five of those instances we went more than five months between issues, and in another five instances the lag between issues was less than two weeks! 1993 is particularly noteworthy in that we distributed five issues, with the average time between issues being 12 weeks, plus or minus 13 weeks! Think about what *that* says about the predictability of our publishing schedule!
Justifiably, our readers weren’t very happy with that situation. The first thing we did in response was to post a publication schedule on our Web site and do our best to meet or exceed the dates listed. Since then, things have improved dramatically. Now we are putting out nearly three times as many issues, and the last time we went more than two months between issues was in 1997, nearly two dozen issues ago. This year we’ve continued to reduce our average time between issues (down to four weeks), while putting out issues more regularly (varying only a week and a half from the average).
We’re very proud to have made such a substantial improvement in both the amount of prose we produce as well as the predictability of its delivery schedule, and want to make sure that it doesn’t go unnoticed.
And speaking of improvements, I want to mention another improvement that might seem minor at first glance, but whose significance I hope you will come to appreciate. In brief, we’ve converted the DargonZine Online Glossary to use a MySQL database.
Doesn’t appear to mean much, does it? First, if you’re not familiar with the Online Glossary, it’s a facility on our Web site which allows you to look up an encyclopedia-style definition of any person, place, or thing in the Dargon milieu. It’s a very handy reference to have around, and one of the most popular parts of our Web site.
If you are familiar with the Glossary, this change comes with a few minor enhancements. The Glossary itself includes more information, the search function has been improved somewhat, and we cleaned up the layout of the pages.
But most of the changes are all behind the scenes. The Glossary is really only one small part of a large database we maintain which contains information about all our issues, stories, writers, and Glossary items. Over the past half year we’ve been working on making all that data accessible via the DargonZine Web site through a database system called MySQL.
The transition of the Glossary is a major step toward making all this information available to our readers. In the near future we’ll roll out additional services which allow you to get at more information, such as how many stories we’ve printed each year, which stories are in which issues, which writers have printed the most prose, what the chronological order of stories is, and so forth. In addition, the new database will help us develop new interactive features, like giving you the ability to rate all our stories, or cast votes in story contests and see the results immediately.
All these things are planned, and will be made possible through the implementation of the MySQL database which we are rolling out in a limited fashion today.
Whether through programming new services or making more information available to you or just through putting issues out more predictably, we are doing our best to make reading and participating in DargonZine a great experience. If you run into any problems with the new Glossary, or if you have any ideas about how we can improve our Web site or any aspect of what we do, please don’t hesitate to let us know by sending email to us at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.