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How do you feel about page buffers?
https://www.well-of-souls.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2385
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Author:  Arioch [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:32 am ]
Post subject:  How do you feel about page buffers?

I'm curious to know how people feel about page buffers in webcomics: whether they would prefer to see pages released in batches as they are finished, or whether they would rather have extra pages go into buffer and be posted at weekly intervals. Please feel free to post any comments you have on the subject.

Disclaimer: I just want to get a sense about how people feel about it; I'm not "putting it to a vote" so to speak.

Author:  dragoongfa [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Buffer for weekly releases, in order to at least combat my main page refresh habit.

I would still like to see the pages on Patreon as they are done but for some reason I still constantly refresh at the main page :P

Author:  icekatze [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

hi hi

I think it really depends on how often pages are released. When pages are being released frequently, there isn't much urgency to see new pages immediately, but if pages are being released infrequently, there's a lot more urgency.

I can wait to eat lunch until a given time each day, but if I didn't eat for a day, I'd be wanting to grab a bite the very first chance I could.

So I'd say that at a pace of roughly one page per week or more, having a buffer and not releasing pages immediately would be great. As pages get more infrequent than that, the desire to have them immediately goes up proportionally.

Author:  Zorg56 [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Page buffer?

No, it is a bad thing.

* BERSERK FLASHBACKS *

Author:  Arent [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Arioch wrote:
I'm curious to know how people feel about page buffers in webcomics: whether they would prefer to see pages released in batches as they are finished, or whether they would rather have extra pages go into buffer and be posted at weekly intervals. Please feel free to post any comments you have on the subject.

Disclaimer: I just want to get a sense about how people feel about it; I'm not "putting it to a vote" so to speak.


Try to keep a regular schedule, so people know when to come back. You can also update once every 2 weeks or once per month. Just a regular schedule.

Author:  HedAurabesh [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

I can only say:
  • Definitely keep a buffer. Reliability is an extremely important thing in audience retention.
  • If you have a buffer, steady-trickle is much better than "all-at-once" mode -- unless you don't particularly care about the growth/retention of your audience.
  • Chaotic releases (as you currently use) are audience-poison, unless counteracted by other strong factors.


To expand on that:

I read about 100 different web comics nowadays (it used to be more).

About 20 are published daily.
Another 30 are tri-weekly (usually Mo, Wed, Fri).
Another 40 are robustly weekly -- or at least bi-/tri-monthly.

The remaining 10 are "whenever it's done" or even on sporadic hiatus. Outsider is currently one of those (if it weren't for Patreon, that is).


From my experience (and the statements of its creators, if given) the groups of comics in order of the healthiness of their fanbase is:
  1. The daily and tri-weekly ones are the healthiest in terms of audience retention and growth.
    They also tend to be the comics that eventually finish (or go on forever). (e.g. "Girl Genius", "Schlock Mercenary", "PVP Online", "Freefall")
  2. The always-weekly ones are usually more artistically involved (e.g. "Bicycle Boy", "Sammy", "Drowtales", etc.). Those artists basically all use generous buffers.
  3. The "whenever they're done" style come in three flavours:
    • The buffered "weekly" style, which have hiccoughs when their small buffer is used up. (like "No Need For Bushido").
    • The buffered "dump all the pages at once" style, that release monthly or even in yearly mode (like "The Wormworld Saga" or "Ava's Demons")
    • The "no-buffer" chaotic release style.
      "Megatokyo", "GrrlPower", "Dresden Kodak", "Mare Internum" -- and of course your very own "Outsider" fall into that category.

The (1) group tends to have pleased audiences, returning every day to get their fix.
The (2) group usually have equally pleased (if often smaller) audiences, that also return reliably.

The third group is where things start to grow pear-shaped:
(3a)'s unreliability is often the start of audience loss, but usually quickly recovers once the pace resumes.
(3b)'s almost never garner big audiences in the first place. Usually people only check the page every few months. But many of those artists do it because they like it that way, not because of pleasing their audience.

And finally group (3c) is where it greatly depends on the merits of the comic.
  • MegaTokyo's popularity stems from when it was mostly-daily. Still popular, but fallen far from its hey-day.
  • Dresden Kodak has a sizeable fanbase due to its uniqueness, but most readers agree its release style sucks cyborg balls. Got into some hot-water with unfulfilled Kickstarter promises, too.
  • GrrlPower has occasional gaps, because the author does not keep a buffer at all, but has a huuuge fanbase because he still manages to release nearly always tri-weekly.
  • Mare Internum is beautiful, weird and basically only has an audience left because of the author's other comic (The Meek) which has an even wonkier release cycle.

I guess for your own comic, you know your audience data better than plain-old me. :lol:

Author:  Krulle [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

I agree with a small buffer.
Post them weekly, or every two weeks.
Gives people a chance of telling people to check you out, as you'll publish a bit more.
If we're lukcky, you'll get another page done while the buffer runs....

Personally, I'd love to see them all in one go, but for audience retention and moith-to-mouth propaganda, a bi-weekly or even weekly update is better than stackwise publishing.

But in the end, whatever makes you feel more comfortable, as you are the creator.

Also, thanks!

Author:  Vyrnie [ Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

None of these options are drastically better/worse if you look it purely from the point of view of Patreon subs since given that we get to see the panels as they get worked on each step of the way, when exactly they ultimately get released is pretty irrelevant. So I ended up voting for the "buffered weekly release" option purely based on what I think will be in your best interests in terms of fan retention/growth.

Author:  Zarya [ Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Am one of the two that voted ‘other’.

Probably a good idea to create a modest buffer in Patreon? This allows the fans to support the project and have a ‘premium’ experience by way of thank you. Might also be a good way to build a better yield per published page (although I am not that familiar with Patreon, some users might cap the monthly payment which would be less rewarding for the author even if he is highly productive).

The catch is probably how buffer pages (on Patreon) will work out with the discussion board. It would have to be an unwritten rule not to spoil the fun for non-Patreon readers. At the same time the regulars could advertise and refer to the buffer pages on Patreon if there are any curious questions on what’s going to happen next.

Author:  CF2 [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

I put my vote in for Other.

Updating with a page a week to build a buffer is good, though spending some of that buffer to update with more than one page during action sequences, or more frequent updates throughout the week (so that the pacing feels closer to what you'd want as the author) is good too. The author of Unsounded follows this flexible model to great effect, even going so far as to announce up to half-year update hiatuses periodically in order to build up their buffer in preparation for large fight sequences.

Author:  Werra [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Ashley Cope exists on another level. She must be the best webcomic artist on the web. She even posts in the regular 4chan threads for Unsounded.

Author:  Arioch [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Werra wrote:
Ashley Cope exists on another level. She must be the best webcomic artist on the web. She even posts in the regular 4chan threads for Unsounded.

Yeah, she somehow manages to post 3 pages per week of a super high quality full-color comic, and from what I understand that's in addition to her regular full-time job.

Author:  halftea [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

I don't have a preference, I am committed to following the story until you finish it as I've been here since around 2004 or so. :) I wouldn't turn down more frequent updates, but as long as you keep working on it I'm ok.

Author:  CF2 [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Werra wrote:
Ashley Cope exists on another level. She must be the best webcomic artist on the web. She even posts in the regular 4chan threads for Unsounded.

True, she's pretty amazing. My point was just that Arioch shouldn't feel like he needs to limit updates if he thinks a multi-update would serve the in-the-moment reading better.

Author:  Krulle [ Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

But on the other hand, experience of other authors have shown, that a small buffer takes a load off their minds, and it makes the creation of new pages flow more freely.
Others get more done if the update time is this afternoon and there's no page in the buffer. (Because it also curtails their need for perfectionism.)


It depends on the personality.
And however much Outsider may tell us about Arioch, it does not tell us if he's working faster under pressure, or when the mind is free of time-pressure.
(Honestly, I'd guess the latter for passion-projects. Projects-for-a-living is something else again.)

Also, it's far better mouth-to-mouth propaganda if a comic updates regularly than "mostly not but if then one or even more pages".

But, as most readers pointed out, whatever Arioch feels comfortable with is the way to go.
And he may need to experiment himself.

So, a question now: How did you, Arioch, experience the knowledge of having a small buffer ready for the updates?


NB: Not that impressed with the art of Unsounded. Haven't read it, just looked at the images.
Update frequency is impressive, though (and thus implicitly the art completion, too).
The style just doesn't seem so extraordinary. (to me)
But three pages a week?
Even though that's not my style of art, that's impressive in its totality.

Author:  Arioch [ Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Krulle wrote:
So, a question now: How did you, Arioch, experience the knowledge of having a small buffer ready for the updates?

Having a buffer is the ideal situation, since it allows some flexibility in how time is spent, and it seems pretty clear that readership increases substantially when there are regular updates. It's been pretty good for me over the past several weeks, being able to work on the script and some designs not directly related to the very next page. We'll see how it goes, but so far it's looking good.

The reason I floated the question is that I have been operating under the mindset that especially when there have been delays, I owe it to people to post whatever pages are available. But if people are fine with me posting only one page then they know there are four more on Patreon (and it seems overwhelmingly that they are), then it's a no-brainer.

If there's a case where there's a crucial sequence that will work better posted as a group, and I have available pages to do so, that's an option.

Krulle wrote:
NB: Not that impressed with the art of Unsounded. Haven't read it, just looked at the images.
Update frequency is impressive, though (and thus implicitly the art completion, too).
The style just doesn't seem so extraordinary. (to me)
But three pages a week?
Even though that's not my style of art, that's impressive in its totality.

I think it's rare to find a webcomic created by one person that has both quality art and quality writing. Unsounded has well-realized characters and some heavy-duty worldbuilding. I think the story gets off in the weeds now and then, and the exposition sometimes comes up a little short, but it's still the best webcomic I've ever read. And the fact that she cranks it out at the pace that she does just makes it seem more impressive.

Author:  Krulle [ Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Thanks for the answer.


Also, thanks for letting me know you consider Unsounded well written.
Currently, I'm spending too much time online already, so I'm avoiding reading further webcomics.
Maybe I'll start reading Unsounded when one of the other comics I read ends.
(Dilbert, Garfield, SchlockMercenary, LoveNotFound, Outsider, OrderOfTheStick, XKCD, SMBC, Freefall)
LoveNotFound will be replaced by whatever Gina Biggs starts next, so likey Unsounded will have to wait for the end of Outsider for me to read it.
And then I fear the Archive will be so big that I won't start getting into it.

Author:  HedAurabesh [ Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Krulle wrote:
(Dilbert, Garfield [...])

Heh, Dilbert will end (according to the words of its author) exactly the same way that Peanuts ended: A few days before Scott Adams will venture into the great beyond.

As for Garfield, I presume not even the death of Jim Davis will be able to end it. Cats and their 9 lives, I guess. :lol:

Author:  cacambo43 [ Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

HedAurabesh wrote:
Krulle wrote:
(Dilbert, Garfield [...])

Heh, Dilbert will end (according to the words of its author) exactly the same way that Peanuts ended: A few days before Scott Adams will venture into the great beyond.

As for Garfield, I presume not even the death of Jim Davis will be able to end it. Cats and their 9 lives, I guess. :lol:


Sure. But this is WAY better:
http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/

:-D
CJSF

Author:  Krulle [ Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Yeah, been reading Garfield minus Garfield for a while too.

And indeed, since Jim Davis doesn't do much of the drawing himself anymore, his "franchise" could go on forever....
I don't know what and how he planned something, but the current "storyline" (Liz finally being his girlfriend) could be a first step towards ending the comic.
Likely he has planned it out, and even ready, so that when he dies, the last ones will be published and that's the end of it.
(My guess, Liz and Jon marry, and in reference to the first comic strips, the cartoonist Jon will state that he won't have the time to draw Garfield anymore. This is already my guess since Liz agreed to become Jon's girlfriend.)

Author:  Excellion [ Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

Late to the party, but i would say i find myself agreeing with HedAurabesh observations: Having a (semi) regular update pattern for a webcomic tends to increase its reader base health. If i were to venture a guess as to the why i would would assume a regular interval encourages people to check back at this set pacing, thus keeping them engaged.

I never really checked this before but i note my own list of read webcomics contains about 30 entries. Out of these a total of 28 update at a semi-regular schedule ranging from daily to bi-weekly (Alongside a couple of manga that post entire chapters on a monthly basis). The remaining 2 that have no set schedule are Outsider and Galaxion (The latter currently being on an 8 month hiatus as of writing). Outsider is an exception mostly because it ticks a whole lot of boxes on my "Things i like in a webcomic" list. Space opera? Complex world building with a lot of background information (The Insider)? Following a specific cast of characters to keep the story focussed even though there is a larger world? Hard Sci-Fi basis? Yes, Yes, Yes and another Hell Yes to that!

That said: If my mind is somewhat similar to that of other people i suppose other readers enjoy Outsider as well, yet eventually end up pushing it onto the "Binge read or forget" pile the same way i did with other comics that updated infrequently. Looking at the forums i believe i can see some signs of this: Outsider seems to have gathered a large base of hardcore fans over the years it has been publishing, fans that don't mind waiting for new pages even if it takes months. At the same time the amount of semi-long term fans seem to be lower than average for most comics i tend to frequent.

And since i am already digging around the forum for "proof" for lets try some more shall we? If i take Graphtreon's historical Patreon data and compare it to the Outsider RSS feed i believe there is a relation between Patreon growth and the frequency of pages published:

  1. In 2017 a total of 10 pages were published at mostly irregular interval. Patreon saw a small spike in June (3 pages were posted at once on the 29th of May). Beyond that the graph was fairly stable.
  2. In 2018 we had almost weekly pages spree between the 23th of April and the 9th of July. This coincided with the largest bump in patrons and donations on the graphs history, alongside Arioch being a "Hot Creator Jun 2018" on Graphtreon. The next three pages were all-at-once in September and resulted in a bump, which while noticeable was clearly smaller than the "3 pages spread 3 weeks" bumps.
  3. This month (3th of April) we had three weekly pages in a row, and again there is a noticeable bump in the graph. Ignore the drop on the 1st of April: That happened to every patreon i know of.

So what does this all indicate? Well, mostly that Excellion likes playing around with statistics that likely have an abysmal credibility interval due to being too small in size while likely ignoring a lot of other factors that may apply. Also, that staying on topic is hard: Writing "If buffer pages work for Arioch it seems like a great idea, as it will also likely increase readership" was all i wanted to do until i noticed a post with numbers and observations. O well. Brevity was never my forte.

Last thingy: The last few page releases consisting of a sketch / early draft on Patreon followed by a finalized page some time afterwards were great. I like to read the story earlier, and then seeing the page "ripened" into its final shape over time.

Author:  cacambo43 [ Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How do you feel about page buffers?

I can only say, anecdotally, that the few people I've introduced to Outsider, shortly after I "found" it, have not visited in years, even when I told them there were updates. Their comments are noncomittal and the long hiatuses turned them completely off to it. To each their own, I suppose, but I can't blame them either.

CJSF

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