Member Rara Avis
The main site came by its moniker, Ed, in part because it's quite a bit busier than the forums (over 100K visitors yesterday alone), but mostly because, well, it was created first. It was started almost a year before the forums were. A lot of the readers we get in here (as opposed to the writers who join and participate) are directed here from the main site.
As for breaking into our showcase site, 100-Poems.com, your logic sounds good but I think it has a flaw you will readily see when we compare a category at the main site, say Love Poems, to one of our forums here, say Open #36.
Which do you think is more likely to be read and attract comments: a new thread on page one of Open, or a poem posted last month and sitting way back on page 25?
The individual poems at the main site are listed, within each category, by their original date of submission. Unlike a poem here, they can't even be bumped. Just as in our forums, it's only human nature for the main site visitors to start on page one in a category and work their ways backwards. Only a relative handful (which is still a big number at these traffic volumes) ever make it back to one of MY poems posted back in 1998.
I'll grant that the early poems have a huge lead, but that's a problem not because they were early but rather, I think, because they've been alone far too long. Had new poetry been added regularly, as we do in the forums, those early poems would almost certainly have fallen out of the top 100 long ago.
There is, however, a corresponding offset to that. We didn't always get two to three million visitors a month, and a poem added to the top of a category today is going to very quickly get more reads than a poem at the bottom of the category got over its whole six year tenure. The older poems have a head start, but once that lead begins to evaporate they will never have a chance to regain it. In that sense, I think they have a disadvantage much greater than their advantage, though I'll also admit that remains to be seen.
When new submissions open at the main site, I fully expect to see yet another dramatic increase in traffic. It becomes a bit viral as a newly published author sends ten or twenty friends to see their new poem (and vote for it!), and if only two or three of those email the poem to their friends, which then come to visit the site, yada yada yada. We already send tens of thousands of emails and ecards every month, and every one of those is essentially an invitation. Were I to post a new poem on the main site tomorrow, it would get a truly tremendous amount of exposure. I think a really good poem, one that connected strongly with our readership (most of whom know very little about the craft), could possibly find its way onto a Top 100 list in a matter of weeks.
Unfortunately, I probably won't be posting a new poem on the main site tomorrow.
Some small part of the success at the main site is due to an almost anal attention to detail. I wrote many of the early descriptions, have written almost all of the one- or two-line teasers, have spell checked every poem, edited grammar and punctuation when it was clear the writer couldn't, and generally tried to perform the same duties one might expect from a magazine or book editor. I have read and edited as necessary nearly 100K comments, just as I'll soon do to the new 15K, not for spelling or grammar, but just to insure there's no profanity or endangering personal information. Even already posted, done and finished, material often comes back for yet more attention. I just got off the phone with a Resident Poet who was recently promoted to a very prominent position and concerned that a Google search for his name reveals a bit more of his life than he wants, thanks to a single poem he published five years ago. Tonight, I'll be updating half a dozen pages to reflect his new pen name.
I'm certainly not complaining, because it's all very much a labor of love -- but I'm not always sure if the emphasis should be on "love" or on "labor."
Just as I've been trying to better automate the forums and make them less dependent on me, I've been trying to do much the same for the main site. I have several thousand poems already edited, formatted and ready to go (the ones Marge mentioned), but want to get the comments up-to-date first. I have software in place to help automate new submissions, but want to get the existing backlog of already edited poems cleared first. I even have a new web server, with a new subdomain, to help offload the expected increase in traffic, because I know our existing servers can't handle more. The pieces are there, but like a jigsaw puzzle, I need to put them in their proper places and in the right order.
I know it's very difficult, sometimes, to see progress being made, and that's true even from my vantage point. I often feel that I take two steps forward, only to slide three back, and every time one thing is finally finished a changing world demands that five more be added to the list. But things that happen slowly nonetheless DO happen, and sooner or later, we'll get there. It may not be the destination we envisioned, and it will never be a final destination, but with any luck at all it'll still be something recognizable as a milestone.
Did I mention that our Admins have already kicked the tires on a very early, very unfinished version of our new software for the forums?