I'm sure some of you may be thinking “Oh, great, here she goes again about groups, will she ever stop??”. Well I guess I am a bit obsessed with “fixing” or improving things, I also like to find things that will help me procrastinate (focusing on dA helps me avoid all my real life responsibilities )
Now before anything I'd like to make sure everyone knows that I don't claim to be “all-knowing” or to have the answers on how to perfect anything, I don't claim to know how to fix or perfect a website or community, all I want is to be of help in some way, and this is one of the only ways I know how! (That and, if I feel that some of my suggestions hold ground, I'll try and post them to the suggestion forum, so if you think anything I write in here makes sense and sounds plausible, let me know! And if it doesn't, let me know why and what could be more plausible instead! ) Also please so I can hopefully get as many views and opinions as possible!
Also, this journal was excessively long when I first wrote it, so I tried to shorten it by being extremely brief and cutting out some of the more minor suggestions I had. I'd be glad to expand upon anything if need be and share my other suggestions if asked.
Also! If I suggested something that already exists or that is pending creation, please forgive me though I'm fairly sure nothing I suggested already fully exists on dA.
1 – How “we” (group members and admins) can improve Groups, pending future changes DeviantArt will instill.
Let's be less lazy as a whole – We're all busy with other things, but to improve a community takes efforts from everyone. If you add something to your favorites, try to also add a comment! If someone comments on your deviation or page, answer them. Show people that their art is appreciated, and when people do the same for you, show them your appreciation for them! I think it's important to pay attention to your watchers, and those who take the time to tell you how they feel about your work etc.
Let's control our egos/temper/attitude – We all have a certain sense of pride and an ego when it comes to ourselves and our work. Art can be a very sensitive topic for some people. Some get hurt when someone doesn't like their art, or decides it isn't “good enough”, but when your work has been declined from a group you should NEVER fight with the group administrators for simply doing their job. Just take a deep breath, and accept the rejection with grace because I hate to burst your bubble but the world of art is harsh, critical, and cold the majority of the time. My point being: treat others as you'd like to be treated, respect group admins and their decisions, be polite, calm, and understanding, and this goes for admins as well. We all have room to grow and improve personally and artistically, let's keep that in mind. Every community is bound to see fighting and clash between groups of people, but we can all try to avoid it as much as possible.
Admins: Talk to your members, be open with them about what you want for your group, and how you'd like things to go in the group overall. Depending on the theme of your group, it may even be relevant to try and get to know your members. A community is built through communication, creating ties, sharing ideas, getting to know each other. It proves to be so rewarding to make some great friends in an online community. Groups can be the perfect place to meet people with the same taste as you, admins should promote a sense of community to their members if it is relevant to the purpose of the group as a whole. (by this I mean that in some cases, groups can be more “rigid” or “professional” and aim only at showcasing work or resources rather than necessarily creating a community)
Members: Help admins out, when journals are posted asking for opinions or advice, give yours! Make life a bit easier for the people running the groups you so eagerly submit your work into. If you help them run their group smoothly and perhaps make improvements, you are also helping yourself, and your other fellow members! It takes a lot of work from admins to run a group, host contests/competitions, feature artwork etc, the least you can do is meet them halfway and help the workload be worth it by participating in projects, communicating with the group, and being supportive.
Try to remember that groups shouldn't always just be about getting yourself noticed, but also noticing others.
Group admins, remember that your group shouldn't be a glorified way to publish your entire gallery and only showcase yourself. Self promotion is fine and great, but a group should be more than just that.
I've shortened this section tremendously, because honestly I could go on forever about issues in groups due either from members or admins or both, but most have already been addressed on many other occasions, therefore no need to just repeat what's already been said a million times.
2 - Suggestions for the DeviantArt staff on improvements/new features for Groups.
Create a group forum, a widget for ALL groups (super or regular) like the forums on DeviantArt. This would be life changing for groups, there could be a suggestion thread, a complaints thread, a general discussion thread, etc. It could also be personalized, each group could select maybe at least 1 or 2 of their own personalized thread topics, for example “Photography talk” for photography groups or “Your favorite manga” for manga/anime groups, etc etc.
Revamp the Affiliates widget. It should be more than just groups icons or names. I'm not exactly sure about the logistics or layout for this, however I'm sure that there's a more efficient way of promoting affiliates that could be instilled for group's through a new or revamped widget. Also perhaps add a method for groups to receive notifications about what their affiliates are up to, like their latest journals etc, so that group admins wouldn't have to click on each and every one of their affiliate groups to see what's up, or have to send out hundreds of notes to each other to announce contests, projects or other happenings.
Give members the option to explain why they left, when they leave a group. It could get nasty, but it could also be very helpful to admins in order to better understand what they might be doing wrong.
All administrators of a group have full control in the Manage Members section. If a founder wants to hire new admins, there should be a sense of trust. And if the founder is hands on, he/she can very easily survey what other admins are doing and whether they are changing settings etc. But this change would be put in place in order to avoid what has been going on: founders disappearing or going inactive, and groups being unable to keep on going, and therefore becoming dead. With all admins being able to control the manage member section, if the founder went missing and contributors didn't have the rights to invite new administrators into the group or post journals, they could change this, and be able to keep the group running for example. (there could obviously be better solutions to get rid of this problem, feel free to let me know what you think)
I think groups should have the option to change their name. This option was recently added for Premium members, and I think it would be great to expand that option for Super Groups or just groups as a whole. Sometimes people may want to change something about their group, and the name doesn't follow with the new changes, or maybe the name has grown old or a new founder comes into “power” and wants a fresh start, etc etc.
Make the interface of the admin center -more specifically the manage members section- more basic. I think a lot of new founders/admins get confused with it, heck I still find it confusing almost 4years later. This can create a lot of issues, and prevent groups from running efficiently. Either making it more basic, or creating new FAQs and Help options explaining how group functions work, would greatly help.
Super Group status needs to either be more affordable, or offer more perks. It's ridiculous how expensive it is, and therefore how difficult it is for so many groups to obtain and re-purchase a Super Group status...and what do we gain from it? Honestly, practically nothing in the end, but we're reeled in because the few things we do gain, are very necessary and helpful to improving a group. I understand the need for money to be made, however now that the group system has aged it's time to add some new perks, or readjust the price.
Groups that have been inactive for more than 5-6 months (?) should be deactivated, or temporarily closed. Inactivity would mean that admins have done nothing in regards to voting, posting journals, etc in that amount of time, and deactivated or temporarily closed would mean that just like when you deactivate an account on facebook or hotmail for example, you can reactivate it again when you're ready and everything will still be there the way it was left, but until then it will not be accessible to anyone. I think this could help clean up the group system from all the inactive groups that still popup in the Groups list/search. (I wasn't really sure about the timespan)
There are over 20,000 pages of groups to browse on DeviantArt. I think that the criteria you can browse through need to be expanded in order for a group search to be more effective. Perhaps more options can be given to groups in order for them to differentiate themselves from others. Just depicting a focus, media, and which part of the globe you're focused in, isn't necessarily very helpful. Browsing groups is currently a real pain in the butt, the results aren't great, and it'd be a lot nicer if searches could be more detailed.
When you select the "Add to a Group" option on a Deviation, there should be a list of all the groups you're an admin in. It's annoying to have to type in the name of your group until the system adds it to that list. I know you can drag a photo into your favorites folder, to send them to your group, but it only sends them to the "Featured" folder of a group, so if that could be changed as well, it would be nice.
Have a better "Invite" option for groups. Perhaps when you visit a deviant's page an invite button appears, and when you click on it, it lists all the groups you have the right to invite members into. This would honestly save admins a LOT of time in my opinion, and make it a lot simpler and easier to invite new members into groups.
A way to prevent submissions to the wrong gallery folder. Perhaps admins would have the power to change the gallery folder a submission was sent to, during the voting process, rather than the time consuming alternatives we've been stuck with so far.
3 - A few suggestions that would help improve both Groups, and DeviantArt as a whole (in my opinion).
When you hover over a deviation, a little box comes up automatically giving you the option to type a comment on said deviation. The point here being: you would be able to comment on a deviation in a matter of seconds, without leaving your current page. (there could be a certain amount of seconds until the box pops up, and it could be optional if some members find it annoying)
Change the DeviantArt watermark option. Many groups decline works with that huge ass watermark stuck right in the middle of each deviation, because it's unappealing and distracting. Give us control over the size and placement of the watermark.
Add a “Deviousness” type award for Groups. Weekly/Bi-Monthly/Monthly, give a specific Group an "award" or officially "showcase" them somehow. This is done for members who help in the community etc, so I think it should be done for groups as well.
A way to browse deviants. Browsing deviations is continually being improved, with new options like “What's hot” or the Beta “Undiscovered”, however what I find myself doing is clicking on deviations I find interesting, in order to click on who the deviant is, to see more of their work. As an admin in multiple groups, and an overall curious deviant continuously looking for new artists to showcase or watch, I would LOVE it if there was a better way to browse the members of DeviantArt! We were given the option to say whether we are “Photographers” “Writers” “Hobbyists” or “Professionals”, so let's use those categories, and create a browsing system where I can go and look for “new members”, “hobbyist photographers”, etc. Furthermore, add an “activity” aspect to it, so we can weed out inactive members in our browse/search. (Like “active in the past 24hours” “active in the past 3 days” etc). You could add an age range, an option for where the deviant lives, people could be able to search for other deviants that live in the same country as them, I think it would be good. The “random deviant” is completely useless when you're trying to look for a specific type of artist or person.
About the “Today” page. I'm sorry, but the today page is a bit ridiculous in my opinion. I understand the concept and think it's great, but holy moly it needs to be expanded. You can only see 20 new deviants, which well, if you follow my idea for a new way of browsing deviants, this could be ameliorated by creating that system and therefore giving us the option to click on “New Deviants” on the “Today” page in order to see a more expansive list of new deviants, not just those from the last seconds, but from the last hours, days, or weeks. I don't get the point of the “Community mood” it is pretty much EXACTLY the same every day, it honestly serves no purpose in my opinion. Under “Newest Critiques” there's this HUGE gap with NOTHING there...which means to me there are more things to be included on this “Today” page. What exactly? Anything! It just seems like such a waste of space right now.
The “Critiqueable” page. When I came back from being absent for a little bit and saw that many changes had occurred, I was praying something had been changed with the Critique system...but nope. I am always looking for cool stuff to write a Critique for, but the “Critiqueable” page is completely useless in helping me because it doesn't let me select if I want photography, traditional art, digital art, literature, etc etc. So I'm just left with a bunch of stuff I have no interest in, when it could be so simple for me to be able to better browse the Critiqueable works so that I'd actually be able to find stuff I want to critique...which I thought was the point of this page.
This is minor, but major in my opinion: give us the ability to empty/delete our favorites as a whole, instead of having to remove each one individually...which is maddening when you have thousands.
More categories under "Journals", I didn't know which folder to submit this to, for example. More options would be beneficial I think.
I decided to use the community relations skin to show that despite maybe sounding a bit harsh or critical, I do love DeviantArt (I mean why would I bother writing this ridiculously long journal if I didn't)
Please feel encouraged to comment with your own ideas, or your opinion of mine, just please let's all stay polite. And once again if you enjoyed
I also wrote:
Is dA and its Group system slowing dying out?Hello everyone!
Before you read, please keep in mind that my intentions are not to blame, insult, criticize, or say anything harmful about anyone! The intentions of this feature if anything, is to motivate us all in improving the group system and dA as a whole! ALSO this is focused more largely on photography, digital art, and a few other mediums, but I don't claim to speak for the cases of other mediums and types of groups that I am not familiar with.
EDIT: To make things clear, I don't believe dA or Groups will ever be "dead" in the sense of them not existing anymore, or members in both factions not existing either, I'm using "Death" more metaphorically perhaps, in saying that the way the group system is intended to be working, has been failing, and needs improving in order to not fail its purpose, and that dA needs to do something to strengthen the community sense and interactions between members both in groups and in the dA com