Editorial: Some Thoughts On New Features For The Site

While the poll regarding Daily Snapshots is still open, it’s clear that the majority of respondents like the format. It does indeed make it easier to post multiple news items per day, as well as update posts daily, but it makes for a dearth of differentiated content on the site.

The solution to this is to  moving OSRToday towards not just reporting to pointing towards community content and news, but also to provide more original content. Part of the design and philosophy behind the side was always to create a platform for the OSR community to be able to find new and interesting content “for the community, by the community”. OSRToday has in the past accepted submissions, but this has used a shared revenue model, which generates revenue based on the number of eyeballs viewing content. This works, and does generate revenue for those who create, but it also suffers from being a more long-tail approach to generating income for those that freelance.

A solution to this is to pay specific freelancers to write specific articles that the community desires to see written. The problem with this solution is paying for it on an ongoing basis. The revenue generated by OSRToday is not enough to subsidize the large amount of content that would develop and grow the site, as well as offer freelancers and creators opportunities to generate content that people are actually asking for rather than writing what they hope will sell.

This is where something like Patreon can be beneficial, and is being looked at as a possible way to help grow the site. Using Patreon and the patron model, patrons would be able to fund content on the site as well as direct what type of content is created and request specific freelancers to write it. This content would include interviews, monsters and creatures, adventures, new rules, setting content, etc. and be for multiple types of game systems. Content would be organically generated based on the wants and needs of the community. Patrons would be able to receive additional benefits, such as print-ready PDF versions of articles created. Freelancers would retain copyrights on their works. Compilations of articles could also be sold in digital and print form (which freelancers would also earn from). Patron support would generate the content that people want and reward those that create the content desired. It’s a win-win.

Another element that is being looked at again is providing reviews on the site. Currently OSRToday doesn’t provide reviews of products for a number of reasons. In the past the plan was to provide a structured review process that provides objective reviews of products across multiple dimensions, with editorial oversight. Creating a strong bank of reviewers who can write objectively and well is key to developing a review system that creators and publishers trust and want to be a part of. A key criticism of much of the community is that there’s a lot of “inside baseball” and many people doing reviews only focusing on the subjective good of a product and not being critical enough. But being critical requires setting up appropriate boundaries and a rubric that everyone who reviews grades along to while still allowing a reviewer’s individual voice to come through. Personal opinion is also a part of this puzzle , and tastemakers are often the ones who make or break a product or draw attention to it. Writing a good review is challenging, and setting up a fair and balanced system that others use needs to be done carefully. There also needs to be proper compensation for those that write the reviews. And creators and publishers need to be sure that the products they submit are going to get a fair shake. There has to be some transparency, but there also has to be integrity and standards adhered to.

Soon, we’ll post another poll asking people to grade a number of types of content that they’d like to see on the site, and that will help us work out where to go next.

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