I made a mobile version of the web site. It's basically just the same as the traditional version, but stretched out and enlarged, and with the side bar replaced by a top bar with a button to open a menu. The font size's larger with it. I didn't make it the default for anyone yet, even though I see from the web server logs that I have plenty of mobile users. I'm going to ask for feedback before I do so. I'll make sure that there's always the option to switch between the layouts seamlessly. There's a link on the side bar for switching to the mobile version if you're using a mobile device.
Nobody's requested for a mobile layout yet. It's not something I'd see myself using, I like to stick to my desktop computer and laptop for my own web comic consumption. I know Google's penalizing Piperka in the search rankings since it's not mobile friendly, as they measure it. I hope I didn't end up implementing this just to placate Googlebot. Let me know what you think! The list size in the mobile layout is fixed at 18 elements and it's likely to only work sensibly in portrait mode. All the external links open in new tabs in mobile mode. I'll make changes to the layout yet, this isn't going to be the final version of it.
Another feature I implemented (based on a request) was to add personal blacklists. There's a button on the comics' info pages now to mark that you're not interested in that comic. It'll render them differently in the comic lists with a blacked out subscribe/unsubscribe button. It won't directly affect the results on the recommendations page but it'll filter out blacklisted comics. I hope it's useful for those cases where you've already decided that you don't care about a comic and end up running into it again and again, regardless. Rejected comics still aren't marked on the related comics list on info pages as those are currently statically generated and that'd need to change first before I could make user specific changes to their display code.
I have been making other changes to the listing code lately and it was easy to add this feature to it now. I'm not considering adding ratings for comics anytime soon but this is more of a feature for users to classify the comics for their own consideration.
I've been thinking about Piperka's user base. Piperka's peaked in 2015 and has been in a slow decline ever since. For much of that time frame, Piperka didn't see any new developments and the database was filling with cruft as I was busy reimplementing the backend. During the late 2018 I started to see some real benefit from having a new code base and got many comics' updates running again and cleaned up a ton of dead comics from the lists. Piperka's in a better shape than ever but I couldn't really tell the difference if I looked at my user stats. I suppose I would have bled more users if it was still stuck in the state it was in 2015. There's always going to be some rate of attrition but the rate it's getting new users at is quite anemic. Currently, Piperka gets something like a dozen new users each month and I'm lucky if a quarter of them sticks as active users.
I know Piperka's a niche site and it's going to remain as such. I reckon that my users are generally happy with what I'm doing. Some of them take the time to tell me so and I'm grateful to you for the encouragement. Still, what I'd really like to see as a validation for the effort I'm putting towards Piperka would be to see an inflection point in my user stats.
I suppose I could try advertising. At one level it's just about informing people about things they might care about. The people who never even hear about Piperka are never going to use it either. If I told you that My Life at War is a well drawn comic about a war (heh) between an ultra capitalist society where everything is about investments, property and debts to be paid and the other side is a hereditary nobility. That it isn't just about the war itself but also about how the different societies have a hard time even understanding each other's motives. That it's got mechas with diesel engines as well. If I wrote that on my development blog and you didn't even know about the comic and it would be something that's match your interest then you might start reading it. But who'd go and mention Piperka anywhere. Not many web comic sites even link back to Piperka.
I'd still like to think that marketing and advertising is needless and SEO is a three letter word, that by just running the best site I can people would naturally recognise it and come. That success would follow from having me just doing what I do best. And it's mostly worked for Piperka, so far. Up to a point. I suppose I should take a step from my lofty heights and get some dirt on my feet.
This is my blog, I'm entitled to ramble on it. I know I'm not entitled to gain hundreds of new users just due to putting effort towards something. For all they care, I could be digging a ditch and filling it again, every day. It takes effort even though nobody benefits from it.