This review probably doesn’t help anyone, since Authonomy.com is no longer in existence, but for a long time it was my writing home. I met a lot of people there and learned a lot. This review is in part for me, to set a bar of some kind to compare other writing community sites with, and for my ol’ “Autho” friends who may read these reviews, to grasp that bar to be able to understand my views on the other sites I review.
For those who never partook in Authonomy, you should probably get the scoop on why it failed–or at least this writer’s opinion of why it failed…an opinion that was commonly shared by many.
I’ll give you a second to read that.
Done? Good. Or perhaps you don’t care. That’s fine, too :).
So with that in mind, here are two simultaneous reviews of Authonomy.com before it was taken down. One was the revamp version, which was terrible and drove down activity; the second was what was in place before it, a site that wasn’t perfect–it certainly had its problems–but was innovative and very addicting. They had a system in place where you were always competing, which sounds awful and people did complain sometimes, but–love it or hate it–it sure did motivate. You could put up to five books on your “shelf” and, depending on how much you reviewed (and perhaps some other factors) your “shelving” gave that book an unknown score that affected a race to the Editor’s Desk. Every month, the top five books by this formula earned a review by one of Harper Collin’s editors. Some people weren’t so happy with the review they received, but mine was really helpful and a great experience getting there.
So anyway, without further ado…
Audience & Features
The audience changed at Autho after the revamp, or at least that’s how it seemed. Part of the problem was that they went from a simple, easy-to-navigate layout to one that caters to the younger generation: busy, flashy and full of glitz. And maybe that’s the way to do it. Maybe the newer generation of writing sites has it to a T. But it isn’t for me. It’s all flash, less function, and I feel like that’s how the more experienced writers there took it, as well, like we/they were getting pushed out of the way for a younger audience.
That said, the features were still in place and very effective to a point, but much less so for whatever reason. Or at least that’s how it seemed. Some of the things that didn’t work hadn’t been addressed or had been addressed, but in a way that worsened the problem (I’m thinking of the rating system and some other things) in spite of the constant feedback of users. It was clear their intention of the new direction didn’t mirror what the current users were looking for from there–and that’s OK. Only, what they did come up with clearly didn’t work, and now Autho is sadly no more.
Ratings: Old Autho–Audience=5, Features=4; New Autho–Audience=3, Features=3
Community & Review Traffic
This is a tough one, because there was always SUCH a great community in place on the prior version of the site. It’s hard to assess the revamp version, because it felt as though there was huge fall off with this after the revamp as users seemed to leave by the droves. Now, had the site had more time to settle, things might have been different, but as it is, I’d have to say the community element worsened after the revamp. Also a factor is the trolling that when on there. Part of it was the competition aspect with folks trying to reach the Editor’s Desk, but there was more trolling there than I’ve seen anywhere else.
The review traffic was excellent. Again, you could expect some worthless feedback from time to time, but there were enough experts there to make it worthwhile. This aspect seemed to worsen after the revamp, and I’m not sure why, to be honest.
Ratings: Old Autho–Community=3, Review Traffic=5; New Autho–Community=2, Review Traffic=4
Technical Aspects (Site Navigation, Control, User-Friendliness, Portfolio Organization/Management)
The site navigation was much cleaner, simpler on the old version. The new version wasn’t so much. Again, Autho went to more of a modern style that I don’t get. Think of Netflix, for those who have it. The browsing function has gotten better, I think, but it’s still kind of cluttered. It’s like they think they’re a grocery store and want to make you sift through all sorts of crap to actually find what you want. This might work for Netflix or a grocery store, but for a writing site that should want to put its best foot forward? I don’t know. I suppose I could come up with a good argument for why they’d do this, but it made it much less user-friendly and more frustrating.
You actually had more control over uploading in a lot of ways in the newer version, and your MS might have even been more protected, but uploading files to read and review became much more cumbersome.
Profiles also became a bit busier.
Ratings: Old Autho–Site Navigation=3, Control=2, User-Friendliness=4, Portfolio Management=4; New Autho–Site Navigation=1, User-Friendliness=1, Portfolio Management=2
No cost, so that was a boon for the site.
Ratings: Old and New Autho=5
I really liked the professional development opportunities on the site. There were LOTS of articles covering various topics and genres and they were really easy to navigate. I kind of wish I would have saved more of them before the site went under.
Ratings: Old and New Autho=4
In my humblest opinion, the older version of Authonomy.com kicked the new version in the tale, with a score of 3.92 to 2.75. I’ll just say it: I thought the new version was terrible. They took in a lot of feedback, and it wasn’t terribly hard to gauge the consensus on certain things–folks were all to eager to share their thoughts. Yet they didn’t really listen to their users, and it begs the question if that was intentional. It seems like they were trying to redefine themselves and, in doing so, alienating the core of their user base. It felt like a slap in the face, because so much was made of the revamp that was coming, and a few months into things got so bad that HC announced they were dropping the site altogether. That’s a pretty bad revamp. Again, there was probably more to this story, but on the user end it stunk to high heaven. It had its faults, but the older version of Authonomy was a wonderfully unique experience for writings.
- Score: 3.92 out of 5
- Strengths: Audience, Review Traffic, No Cost
- Weaknesses: Trolling, Limited Control of MS
REVAMPED VERSION OF AUTHONOMY
- Score: 2.75 out of 5
- Strengths: Review Traffic, No Cost
- Weaknesses: Trolling, Site Navigation, User Friendliness