Writer’s Digest’s new Online Content Director

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 11 months ago.

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  • #346516

    Anonymous

    Hello all.

    I believe Brian Klems, the former Online Content Director, may have addressed this before, but he has left Writer’s Digest in order to spend more time with his family and work on a novel. I’m Jess Zafarris, the new online content director who is stepping into his role. Brian spoke very highly of the WD community at large and those who post in the forums in particular, so I’m thrilled to get to know everyone.

    A bit of background: I have a master’s in digital and investigative journalism and a bachelor’s in literature. I am a digital native with nine years of professional experience in digital media and writing. I’m formerly the editor-in-chief of HOW, a graphic design magazine, and the online content director of two graphic design news websites. I have a peculiar flair for experimental and interactive online journalism. In my previous jobs, I’ve written, edited and published work for TV, magazines, and newspapers, as well as short stories, blog articles, and more.

    Do please let me know if there are specific topics you’d like to see addressed, or if you have any questions about WD. I’m especially looking forward to our upcoming website redesign of Writer’s Digest—the current wireframes look wonderful.

    A fun fact about me: I have a particular passion for interesting and humorous word etymologies, and I’m working on compiling a book on the topic. I’ve written about 70 blurbs for it so far. Here’s the latest:

    “Squid” is thought to be a sailors’ variant of “squirt,” referring to the ink ejected by the cephalopods. Commonly used as the name of the fried culinary dish, “calamari” is also the name of a specific genus of squid and comes from the Latin calamarius, literally “pertaining to a pen.” The Latin predecessor calamarius is from calamus, meaning “a writing pen,” and literally “reed.” When used to refer to an entire animal, the word “calamari” most often refers to the genus Sepioteuthis, commonly known as reef squids or oval squids, but once prepared as the common fried dish, many species of cephalopod can be referred to as calamari. Cephalopod ink is primarily composed of melanin. Octopuses generally produce black ink, while squid produce bluish-black ink, and cuttlefish produce brownish ink. Formerly, from the 1560s, “calamari” was also used as a common name for cuttlefish due to their pen-shaped internal shells and their ink.

  • #654619

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    Welcome to our happy home.

  • #654620

    Anonymous

    That certainly matches the email I just got from WD.
    I wondered about someone thinking Jessica had taken over from Brian and was getting ready to note that email said otherwise:
    Jess Zafarris is an energetic multimedia journalist with more than 7 years of experience writing and editing, and the online content director of Writer’s Digest. Thanks for confirming what I think the WD email had said.

    You have an interesting background. As to the forum we hope the rumors of getting better software are true.

    The immediate problem I have is that my pc slows to a crawl and at times I see messages on the bottom saying loading ads and doing other things that I wish I could block completely. Only happens here at the WD site. I dont see any ads. But I do see that my pc is limping slowly and not running which interferes with trying to type a post.

    I suspect that the WD website has a bot virus. I will be scanning my pc again to be sure it is not hosting itself here too.

  • #654621

    Anonymous

    >we hope the rumors of getting better software are true.

    @deddmann_writing That is certainly my desire; this forum is a wonderful resource… with some serious technical issues.

    As far as I am aware at the moment, the broader WD website redesign will happen first—I believe before the end of the year. I do not have any additional information specifically about the forum functionality, but if I am guilty of anything it is doggedness, so I’ll continue making inquiries and keep you posted as I receive information about it.

    Edit: Also, thank you for the information about the ads slowing things up; I have similar problems on my Mac and may be able to address this in the short term.

  • #654622

    GidgetLindley8
    Participant

    Welcome Jess Zafarris.

    And hi T.A.Rodgers, this topic should be moved to the “Writer’s Block Party” so more readers can see it, if it stays here in “Introductions”, the spam will quickly push it to the back pages.

    🙂

  • #654623

    Anonymous
    Jess Zafarris wrote:
    >we hope the rumors of getting better software are true.

    @deddmann_writing That is certainly my desire; this forum is a wonderful resource… with some serious technical issues.

    As far as I am aware at the moment, the broader WD website redesign will happen first—I believe before the end of the year. I do not have any additional information specifically about the forum functionality, but if I am guilty of anything it is doggedness, so I’ll continue making inquiries and keep you posted as I receive information about it.

    Edit: Also, thank you for the information about the ads slowing things up; I have similar problems on my Mac and may be able to address this in the short term.

    ===========

    Either the code is very buggy or you all have been infected with scumware.
    I keep getting messages at the bottom about some ads.tv ad. It looks more like you are being used by scumware to use my pc as a bot to push ads out to other pcs. Now if you all actually are putting ads here from some other folks not just WD then you need to make sure their code is compatible with your platform. And if you are not pushing those ads then do some serious scumware removal. malwarebytes aka mbam is the platinum standard.

  • #654624

    Anonymous

    I’ve filed a ticket with regard to the ads and the errors we’re getting on the forum—will keep you posted. Thanks again!

  • #654625

    Anonymous
    deddmann_writing wrote:
    Either the code is very buggy or you all have been infected with scumware.
    I keep getting messages at the bottom about some ads.tv ad. It looks more like you are being used by scumware to use my pc as a bot to push ads out to other pcs. Now if you all actually are putting ads here from some other folks not just WD then you need to make sure their code is compatible with your platform. And if you are not pushing those ads then do some serious scumware removal. malwarebytes aka mbam is the platinum standard.

    You might want to give your pc a check – I haven’t seen any ads (but then I have a couple ad blockers, too).

  • #654626

    Anonymous
    ostarella wrote:
    deddmann_writing wrote:
    Either the code is very buggy or you all have been infected with scumware.
    I keep getting messages at the bottom about some ads.tv ad. It looks more like you are being used by scumware to use my pc as a bot to push ads out to other pcs. Now if you all actually are putting ads here from some other folks not just WD then you need to make sure their code is compatible with your platform. And if you are not pushing those ads then do some serious scumware removal. malwarebytes aka mbam is the platinum standard.

    You might want to give your pc a check – I haven’t seen any ads (but then I have a couple ad blockers, too).

    =========

    I have checked my pc. It is clean. I have multiple scumware blockers and removers.

    It only happens when I am at WD forum and not other sites. Unclear if it is related to my browser and opsys or not.
    It is intermittent but when it strikes the pc barely crawls and does not run fast.

    The messages fly by a bit too fast to read them. Maybe I can put my camera on burst mode and possibly capture them so they can be read.
    But it sure seems like third party ad serving sites unless they are a cover for trying to inject scumware. So the question is: is WD serving external ads or are they infected with a bot that is trying to spread. Or could it be related to forum software bugs. No problem at other parts of WD.com.

    It appears to be trying to load something for a pdf file (!) as i also get an error message that it is out of date do i want to update it.
    That sounds like a sign of a scumware trying to infect my pc when they want to update things or talk me into doing it.
    I killed flash as that is a big security risk and I have to tell a program to run PDF files as they do not show up automatically with content just a note to run my PDF viewer.

  • #654627

    Anonymous

    I wondered about it being your pc because I wasn’t seeing them and I didn’t recall anyone else mentioning it (although they may have in another discussion).

    Weird.

  • #654628

    Anonymous

    There are architectural problems with this site. But this is @jess Zafarris’ welcome thread. I’ll save reiterating those complaints for another time.

    Jess, we need to hear from WD. Writers Digest itself. I guess that’s you (as far as this forum is concerned, anyway). We’ve been enduring problems since some time in 2016 (arguably further back than that, if you count the spam waves we experienced for quite some time), and Writers Digest has been essentially silent to our complaints. Just TALK TO US. Please. The thundering silence from WD leaves us no option but to think that we are not a concern (much less a priority) to WD.

    Welcome, Jess. I look forward to seeing what’s to come from WD. But not all of the problems are technical.

  • #654629

    Anonymous

    I hear you, RobTheThird, and I’m 100% interested in seeing that these problems get fixed. The first thing on my to-do list is making the main WD site redesign and relaunch happen as smoothly as possible, which I’m told will wrap up sometime in the next two months. In the meantime, I’m finding out from our IT group if anything can be done in the short term about the errors and such that recur on the forums, as well as the problematic ads that seem to be slowing the WD site down.

    Edit: In that vein, is there anywhere wlse in the forum you’d recommend I post to introduce myself and announce updates as they happen?

  • #654630

    Anonymous

    @jess Zafarris

    Unless that function starts failing, I’m used to using the “View New Posts” function on the main forum page, so I should see your announcement wherever you put them. I would suggest making a “sticky” thread in the Writer’s Block Party subforum. Then edit the first post as updates become available, and add a reply that the OP (Original Post) has been updated.

    I know that most forum software has a news/announcements function, but I’m guessing that’s not an option here.

  • #654631

    Anonymous

    Roger that, thank you for the tips!

  • #654632

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    I moved this thread to Writer’s Block Party.

  • #654633

    cypher
    Participant

    Hey, welcome Jess! It’s very nice to meet you on the boards, instead of just seeing a name in blue at the bottom of the page. I’m looking forward to reading your reports. 🙂

  • #654634

    clareantoinette
    Participant

    Welcome, Jess. You give us hope, which is something that’s been missing around here the last few years.

  • #654635

    Anonymous

    Hello, Jess and welcome aboard.

  • #654636

    GidgetLindley8
    Participant

    Hi Jess Zafarris. 🙂

    I’m just happy that the forum is still here for us.

    I realize that Writer’s Digest is a business and that the company needs to focus on the aspects of the website that will provide more profit and stability, thus keeping the company going. And the forum probably isn’t the most profitable part of the website.

    I hope I am not intruding by giving my thoughts on how to make the forum better. But the forum is becoming less active than it used to be and it is probably because of a number of factors, but one factor may be because the forum is losing members to competing forums.

    There are two forums that I think are more active than this one and I think they draw a lot of members who actively post because they allow members to put their book covers in their post signature. I know that Writer’s Digest doesn’t want to let authors advertise their books without being paid for it, but it would draw more members who actually make posts and that might be more attractive to third party advertisers who cater to authors.

    But as I said earlier I’m glad the forum is still here such as it is. 🙂

  • #654637

    Anonymous

    One thing I think we’d all love to see is fixing the spam. Paul was able to do a semi-fix in that they all end up in Introductions (rather than scattered throughout the forum) until they can be gotten rid of, but obviously they still show up on the forum pages. If there could be an additional fix so no one can post PERIOD until they’re approved for membership, it would be a real godsend.

  • #654638

    Anonymous

    Hi all—thank you for the warm welcome. I’m honored to be here.

    A bit of news: I have confirmed that updating the forum will be part of the Writer’s Digest redesign and relaunch process. If I am understanding correctly, the plan appears to be to run it using a newer forum platform with easier maintenance and better functionality—and this ought to fix some of the errors and performance issues that we’re running into. Notably, it should solve a lot of the access issues that our dev team has been unable to solve. Ads should also be far less cumbersome and intrusive on the main site as well. Note that there may be a period of transition while everything is reskinned and reworked and we make adjustments, work out kinks, etc. I would estimate that the relaunch will occur in early to late December.

  • #654639

    Anonymous

    Jess Zafarris wrote:
    > Hi all—thank you for the warm welcome. I’m honored to be here.
    >
    > A bit of news: I have confirmed that updating the forum will be part of the
    > Writer’s Digest redesign and relaunch process. If I am understanding
    > correctly, the plan appears to be to run it using a newer forum platform
    > with easier maintenance and better functionality—and this ought to fix some
    > of the errors and performance issues that we’re running into. Notably, it
    > should solve a lot of the access issues that our dev team has been unable
    > to solve. Ads should also be far less cumbersome and intrusive on the main
    > site as well. Note that there may be a period of transition while
    > everything is reskinned and reworked and we make adjustments, work out
    > kinks, etc. I would estimate that the relaunch will occur in early to late
    > December.
    This.

    This is all we’ve been needing for months and months.

    COMM-UNI-KAY-SHUN

    Thank you, Jess.

  • #654640

    Anonymous

    Very happy to oblige @robthethird.

    In defense of my predecessors, it seems to me that the timeline and logistics of this project have been an enormous question mark for the past two years, perhaps more. And for all I know I may end up putting my foot in my mouth when the launch date is pushed back another month. But based on what I saw last week and today, the project seems to be trotting along as expected, and I am very optimistic about the quality and usability of the finished product.

    And, should things get pushed back further than expected, I will certainly keep you posted.

  • #654641

    Anonymous

    Jess Zafarris wrote:
    > Very happy to oblige @robthethird.
    >
    > In defense of my predecessors, it seems to me that the timeline and
    > logistics of this project have been an enormous question mark for the past
    > two years, perhaps more. And for all I know I may end up putting my foot in
    > my mouth when the launch date is pushed back another month. But based on
    > what I saw last week and today, the project seems to be trotting along as
    > expected, and I am very optimistic about the quality and usability of the
    > finished product.
    >
    > And, should things get pushed back further than expected, I will certainly
    > keep you posted.

    Minor apology first: I’m speaking for myself. I have no authority to presume a “we” as I stated in my last post. I doubt it’s a big deal, but it’s a presumption I don’t like in others OR myself.

    I’m an I.T. guy. I’m used to the fact that project dates are etched in warm butter. In fact, I personally don’t really care about such details. I just want to know that someone is paying attention, that my experience as a customer matters. Silence tells me no to both points.

    Look, I’m a nagger. But I know that. I don’t expect you to hop to every single time I complain. I know I can post as if I do expect it. I try not to, but… Like I said, this. Just communicate. Please don’t force us to feel disregarded. I don’t want to be “that customer” telling you to do it how I want to the letter. Just make the effort, as you’ve been doing.

    Again, thanks.

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