January 17, 2008

Caveat Emptor: National Storytelling Network Directory Listing

There are two online storytelling directories out there.
For years, I have used the one on Storyteller.net.
It's gotten me business, it's a bargain, and it's easy to use.

The other one, at the National Storytelling Network's Storynet.org is not a bargain. Or wasn't, until recently. In what I presume is a need for a fast influx of cash, the last quarter of 2007 introduced a fire sale and dropped the price below Storyteller.net's Premium option. I bought one, partly because it makes business sense, but frankly, also out of a charitable impulse, since the Executive Director put out a call to "help out" the organization.

Caveat emptor.

I purchased a page in the NSN Directory in December with the understanding that the site would not go live until January. When I made the purchase, it was explictly stated that I could modify and update my listing in December but it would not go live.
After five business days without a word from NSN (save for my receipt saying that I would receive my purchase withing two business days), I complained to both Board and Staff at NSN. I did not expect a response, as I knew the office was shut for the Christmas holidays. But someone at customer support picked up my complaint, and promptly changed the NSN web site to say that you could purchase a listing in December, and wait until January to modify and update it. I also received an email saying that I would have to wait until January to modify and update it.

On Dec. 28 I got the go ahead to create my listing. On Dec. 30 I logged in to play around with it. There was not any guidance on how the page would be formatted or any allowable html, so I cut and pasted some dummy text to try it out.

Jan. 2 I got an email from NSN who were surprised to find my directory listing in Latin. (I wasn't surprised, I had entered it in Latin.)

So I spent nearly an hour on Jan. 2 re-doing my entry in English... I would enter data, and then preview the page, but when I tried to correct my entry, the site usually discarded everything I had entered. After my third time, I figured out I needed to save first, and then attempt further editing. I did, even got a confirmation that I had updated my page.

And I waited for my page to go live. This week, I searched, it wasn't there. So I logged in... my page was back in Latin. It had reverted back to an earlier iteration that NSN was loathe to publish.

For the life of me, I don't understand WHY the National Storytelling Network has to have a live human being review my page before I publish it.

The whole point of the Directory re-launch, I had thought, was that "the new Teller Pages allows storytellers to manage and maintain their own page."

Apparently not storytellers who use Firefox as a browser.

And apparently "manage and maintain" means "with the approval of one of our staff members."

Is NSN worried that someone is going to enter a naughty word or an inappropriate photo?

I could see that happening on a free site (although, looking at Storyteller.net, I don't see that it does), but who is going to pay for a directory listing in order to hack the directory?

(Hmmm. A disgruntled customer might....)

FYI: on Storyteller.net, when you make a change on your page, it appears instantly (well, as long as you refresh your browser/reload the page). No one has to "approve" my changes.

Here's a tip for both storytelling directories out there:
You need disclaimers on them. Like the one here.


About Sean Buvala said...

It's not enough to have your own site. Tellers need to be in a directory or two.

Storyteller.net: We have a disclaimer. Look at your page. There is also more in the privacy/copyright link at the bottom of every page, but you have gotten me thinking. Sometimes, bad words do get through but I correct them. I get a note everytime a new page goes up. So, it is moderated in some sense, although you can see your pages directly and instantly. BTW, I have never had to cancel a page.

There are people out there who dislike storyteller.net, too, for whatever reasons they have made up.

"It's not secure" The online store is. "You are a money monster." No I am not. "I can't get my stats" For the nearly no $ you paid, you are right. You can't. "You are destroying storytelling with this computer stuff." What? "You don't post things fast enough." Storyteller.net, on the 'net side, is a one-man operation who travels. A lot.

I have found that Storyteller.net is often a lightning rod when folks aren't getting what they want out of life and need to gripe to someone. I usually get it. LOL. Also, storyteller.net is often the first real Internet marketing experience that most people have, so I do a lot of gratis training and have to soothe people through their fears. It's an interesting role to be in.

Yet, I still spend $$$ of my money to subsidize the tellers who are on the directory.


When the tide comes in, all the boats rise.

Thanks for the post.

About Sean Buvala said...

I was advised today that one of the reasons that the directory has to have every change approved was because "someone uploaded everything in Latin."

Cart, horse.
Horse, Cart.