I haven't much to tell about new site features at this time, but I thought it'd be a good time for an update, nonetheless. Most of the time I've used on Piperka during the last couple of months has gone on plain old maintenance. I've improved the crawler health page to reveal more issues from the crawl log. Consequently, I've reindexed and/or unstuck a bunch of comics (I didn't try to count how many) and removed 296 stale entries since the last time I wrote on the blog.
I've joined Discord. I'm not one to care much about social media, but seeing how actually meeting people has been a scarce occurrence this spring, I gave in to it. I set up a Piperka server if anyone'd like to talk about comics with other Piperka users. I've tried to offer IRC as a contact option even before and I used to have a mailing list but those have never had much if any participation. Emailing me still works and I'll admit that if it's about something that'd need coding or otherwise accessing the database then nobody but me would be doing it so it's not wrong to do so in that sense. But it'd be an improvement if discussions about Piperka weren't always one to one. Also, Gitlab issues is another place to talk about bugs, features and ideas. If it's not something I'd start working immediately I may file it away on Gitlab.
I've finally removed the blurb for logged in users using a mobile device who haven't explicitly chosen to use the mobile site version about having it as a new feature. I meant to have the message up there for a couple of months at most but it fell off my mind and I only came across it almost a year later, when I logged in to Piperka with a new phone. I think you know it has one by now.
I've been thinking about how Piperka could do a better job about helping users find new comics to read. Ads work, seeing how running one for a few days on Piperka can easily bring one a dozen new readers. But I've been doing some occasional and unintentional comic promotion myself. Sometimes, I miss that a comic was already on Piperka and end up making duplicate entries. When I merge them I usually see that it has gained a number of readers. Like God-killer which was initially added in January and got reintroduced in May. It had 8 readers initially but it increased to 13 after spending a few days at the top of the new comics' list before I merged them. Foxy Flavored Cookie went from 5 to 8 readers after a similar treatment.
I suppose I could try to improve Piperka's recommendations. I would have liked it if it had listed these two comics near the top for matching users already and they would have picked them from there already. Instead of running into them due to a mistake I made. Years ago, I used to show at random the banners that have been submitted to Piperka on the header ad slot and I suppose that had helped someone find a comic as well. In that vein, I've added a button to view a random comic to the recommend page. I know that it's not a terribly original feature. It selects comics that are either actively updating or have been flagged as complete. That's 1566 comics out of 5083, as of this writing.
One further thing I would like to do is to finally run some tests and evaluate different recommendation algorithms. The one in use currently is pretty much the default one from a library. It works reasonably well but I'm sure it has some alternatives and knobs I could turn. Working on recommendations always makes me hope that I'd have more users to turn into input data.
So, if you like, drop by and come say hi on Discord. I've added a link to the footer a while ago and wrote about it on the about page but nobody's joined with those yet. All the server has currently is a bunch of Finns but (like all Finns) we'll switch to English as soon as anyone who doesn't speak it comes forward.