I’ve seen my share of sites that prompted poets to come online, share their poetry, and interact amongst the community. Some have been good and some have been bad. What separates the good from the bad, in my opinion, comes down to how the site founder handles a small set of criteria (in top of my head order):
- Site design
- Community involvement
- Showcasing poems and poets
- Providing incentives to poets to comment on other’s poetry
Hello Poetry does a great job in all these areas. Lets hit each of these specifically to explain further.
I know. This can’t be the most important thing to look at when reviewing a poetry site. But it is very important. You consciously evaluate whether a web site is good or bad with the first few seconds of the home page loading. It’s a fact.
The web design crew at Hello Poetry have succeeded in creating a beautifully minimalist web design devoid of heavy graphics, banner ads, and the gaudy colors that we see on many poetry community sites (I’m guilty at times, too). The first thing you see center page is a short description of the site with an immediate call to action to read a featured, random poem. Nice.
Click on the “Community” link at the top of the page and you are taken to a page split into a few different sections:
- “Suggested Poems”: Featuring two poems from users (not sure how those are chose)
- “Poems by recent interest“: Appears to use recent comments and views to showcase
- “Members most active this week“: A list of hyperlinked poet names. You can click the poet’s name to go to their profile page which contains a great deal of info about him or her:
- Short bio
- Newest poems
- Top poems
- Words used ~ Shows, in tag cloud format, the most used words by the particular poet. Cool! This is helpful for the poet and for the reader to gauge the basic mood of the poet’s writings
- Groups they are a member of
- A poet Q&A created that is pulled from questions that the poet chooses to answer in the “Discussions” area of the site.
All these areas practically beg the reader to explore, comment, and contribute to the site without being too overbearing.
Shocasing Poems and Poets
Hello Poetry has enabled an automatic background process they call “Exposure” to promote poets and poets throughout the site. Here’s how they define it on a recent blog post:
Keep in mind that even though exposure is now handled automatically, the same ideas apply as before. Your work will be exposed more often if you read and give thoughtful reactions to poems, and do other positive interactions on Hello Poetry. This keeps everyone on a level playing field and gives something in return to those contributing the most to the community.
So, the more you are involved in the site, the greater your chance of poetry being exposed. I have read discussions both pro and con of this technique, but it seems to work overall.
Providing Incentives to Poets to Comment on Other’s Poetry
This goes hand in hand with their “Exposure” algorithm. That along with creating a very good user experience and generally open and encouraging community of poetry lovers, seems to be keeping the site updated with fresh and interesting reading.
I do have some concerns as the discussion forum that I thought was there a month or so ago seems to have disappeared. This could be because the creators thought it took away from the pure poetry aspect or because of some of the grumblings I saw as some of the new features were being implemented. Or both.
All in all, I would recommend Hello Poetry to poets as a place to share their poetry and to read and encourage other poets.
What do you think about Hello Poetry?