It's really good to get this level of response and such a variety of feedback on my thoughts on the trial view of the website.
Clearly I'm not the first person to take out a trial and then wonder where everything is happening and I would hazard a guess that a lot of potential members are walking away without ever realising that there's anybody here!
For me, I'm not looking for critique and while I would be happy to give feedback to others - I definitely wouldn't be willing to pay to do that.
I understand what people are saying about the publishers/agent gossip stuff in the Lounge and not wanting it to be Google searcheable and so on.
But, as we all know, this is the web, it's anonymous unless you use your real name, if you use a different username, nobody knows who you are anyway and of course, your agent could be signed in anyway as a member - none of us know who's really there so the whole privacy thing is kind of an illusion anyway.
I take on board too that a 'writing' site is probably going to have to really work hard to support itself entirely from advertising so it might seem a good idea to charge membership.
But if potential members walk away because they can't trial the 'paid for' content - then it's self-defeating, there may never be enough members to entice extra advetising.
The problem a paid-for site has with 'punters' like me is the diversity of free sites offering at least some 'writing' content.
I mean, I can look on entirely generalist free sites like Mumsnet or Netmums or the TES and there will be at least a couple of book and creative writing threads on each. Okay, I may not be getting the expert feedback I could get here (I don't want critiques) but without better trial access I have no way of knowing at just what level or how expert the debate is here anyway.
It's quite likely too, that on some of the sites I've mentioned, there will be professional writers just dipping in and offering advice while they're being Mums or being teachers.
If I could give one suggestion that one make this site more interesting then perhaps it would be to open up the busy/gossipy boards to trial members (why not just be totally public?) but give members the option to click a thread as private for critiques and personal stuff.
Surely not all the treads in the Lounge need privacy.
Of course, I don't know what's in the Lounge, but maybe there could be stuff like - Do you write in a shed, if so where did you buy it and does it work? How do you heat it? - What's the best TV portrayal of a writer you've seen? If there is a car that screams WRITER - what is it? What should you wear to meet an agent at The Ivy? Have you sacrificed your art for love?.... and so on.
Now that kind of stuff is fascinating - it generates replies - it makes the site seem interesting - it will bring new members making the site more diverse/more interesting - bring more advertisers - but by golly - it sure as hell doesn't need to be Private - does it?
I'm only a triallist and as people have said, sometimes full members are reluctant to put the effort in with posts from trial members but if there were, at least some, public boards you'd probably find more people answering queries anyway, taking the pressure off full members.
Well hey, those are my thoughts so far. At the moment, on the basis of what I can see on the trial pages, I feel more inclined to stick with other more general websites - where you get a bit of everything - but I wish that wasn't the case - I would like to be able to come here and know I will get a proper writer's view of best sheds