A Word on our New Features (or: teh shiny—let me show you them!)

As you may have noticed, Tor.com has been going through some changes recently. After our initial roll-out in July, we realized that some things were working, others weren’t, and that there were more things we wanted to do. We are, after all, still in beta (hey, Gmail’s been in beta for how long now?). So we put our heads together, and after we all regained consciousness (gettit?), we came up with some things that we wanted to add to the site, particularly the front page. Since the changes are all in place now, I figured I’d run you guys through everything.

First off, we’ve added an extra space to the Featured Story Widebar (right up there, above the posts), so that we can showcase more of the fantastic stories and comics that we’re constantly bringing you.

Starting on the left sidebar, we’ve added a Bloggers module, where you can see the bloggers who have most recently posted on the site. If you click on their name, the front page will be automagically reconfigured to only show you posts by that particular blogger—go ahead, try it!

Next up (or down, rather): our “Hot Bookmarks” module on the sidebar is now reflecting the things that have been most recently bookmarked by all users, instead of just the product of an arcane and indecipherable algorithm which involved eldritch incantations, ravens’ feathers and molten lava. It’s easier for you, easier for us, and certainly easier on the ravens.

Over on the right-hand sidebar, we’ve added a “Featured on Tor.com” box, where we’ve been showcasing some of the posts and free eBooks from authors and guest bloggers, as well as other things we want to do a little hand-waving about, like our Saturday Morning Cartoons series, for instance.

Below this, we’ve implemented categories, to make it easier for you to find the things you’re interested in. Just click on a category, and you’ll get the front page to show you only posts within that category, just like with the Bloggers module.

Below the Categories is our own little shout-out to Making Light, the “Of Interest” section. This is where we’ll be posting quick little links that may not warrant a full blog post, or a mention in Torie’s Web Roundup posts, but still deserve some sort of link love.

Following the “Of Interest” module, we’ve got the “Featured Gallery” space, where our Art Director extraordinaire, Irene Gallo, has been and will continue to showcase some of her favorites from our ever-expanding artists’ gallery. Do yourselves a favor and check it out—there’s some amazing work in there.

And last, but certainly not least, our Events Calendar, which you can get to by clicking on the new “Events” link up on the top navigation bar, is now live. This is a user-generated calendar, where registered users can submit SF/F related events in their area, such as cons, readings, book store events, exhibits, meet-ups, frak parties, clam-bakes, you name it (submissions are thrown into a moderation queue before they are posted, but this is only to ensure that no one posts anything that shouldn’t be there, like, say, pr0n shoots, or their two-year-old’s birthday party, or both at the same time—hey, you never know). You can also register to attend events, as well as leave comments on a particular event, in order to facilitate event planning and logistics. We’re pretty big on community around here, so we figured that having a community-generated events calendar would be much more useful than simply handing down a list of things to do from on high. This way, we can also have a place for independent booksellers and any and all publishers to post up SF/F-related events in a central place. Our hope is that everyone will use this resource, and it will become a clearing house of sorts for SF/F-related happenings around the world.

As ever, we’re open to feedback and suggestions (the occasional egoboo doesn’t hurt, either). Feel free to leave some comments on this post, or email me at pablo [dot] defendini [at] tor [dot] com with any ideas. We may already be working on them (the site, as always, is a work-in-progress, and as soon as something is finished, we usually find twenty ways in which to make it better); we may not have thought of them and have a head-slapping moment; or we may think they’re a horrible idea—regardless, we always love hearing from you guys and we try to be as open and forthcoming about our behind-the-scenes machinations as possible. So: please to enjoy our new features, and fear not: this is hardly the last of it. We plan on bringing some serious ruckus starting next year—but that will have to wait for another post….



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