The Book-House on The Piazza

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The Book-House on The Piazza

Postby Ashtagon » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:26 pm

http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/shop/doku.php/

It's now live.

This is a soft launch. There are obviously hundreds of products still left to add to these pages. I do intend to eventually get every gaming product ever listed on that page.

If there is a gaming product you plan on purchasing in the near future that does not yet have links, please let me know, so I can prioritise it.

MODERATOR NOTE (by Big Mac): Thread renamed, as the Amazon Associates site is now called "The Book-House on The Piazza" and will also include links to legal PDFs, in the future.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Havard » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:39 pm

I buy alot of stuff through Amazon. But mostly its RPG stuff. Usually Classic D&D, AD&D 1st Ed and 2nd Ed, and some 3E stuff. I'm thinking this could apply to mant others around here too. How specific do you have to be when you list such items?

Also, wasnt there some sort of technical issue about amazon listings? I vaguely remember ENWorld getting rid of them because they caused the site to crash? Could be misremembering though...

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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:42 pm

I plan to have it on a separate folder. It will be running off dokuwiki as a backend. That has so far proven remarkably stable in many situations.

I think enworld's problems stem partly from trying to use a single sql db and login for absolutely everything. And partly because they are bigger than me.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Havard » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:44 pm

Okay, sounds good to me :)

D&D and Pathfinder would be solid bets for the listings I think. Maybe also things like the DCCRPG and Green Ronin stuff.

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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:47 pm

Ashtagon wrote:I have decided to make a web shop using amazon associates.

Obviously, I need to create links for buying through amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. Are there any others i should consider high priority? I don;'t want to spread things too thin, because they only send money when the commission hits a certain threshold, and the more it is spread across, the less chance of that threshold being reached.


You need to do the Canadian Amazon (amazon.ca) too, at the very least. (They are the three that Dragonlance Nexus gets funding from.) Amazon also has some European shops. They might be used by our users that speak English as a second language, but it is hard to judge how many people we have from those places. (I know, for example, that Mystara is said to have a large following in Italy, so maybe amazon.it could be added later on, when you have the basic system up and running, especially if you design the webstore in a way that other Piazza staff members can update it to add more links. Protected pages on a wiki would be one way to go.) I'm not even sure of how many Canadian users we have. Maybe we have more Canadians than Brits. :?

It isn't really a matter of spreading things too thin, because Amazon customers usually (but not always*) end up getting cheaper deals from their local store, because of the international shipping prices. So while you won't get payments from Amazon.ca until enough people have bought from it, if you don't have Amazon.ca, you just won't get the credit in the first place. But if most of our users are from the US, Canada and the UK, and that would be my best guess, those would be the three Amazon Associate accounts that would yeald the fastest return.

* = There are some Amazon Affiliates (the third-party retailers that sell things on Amazon) that use algoritms to set prices. And Amazon Affiliates are playing the same, multi-national game, and setting up retail accounts in different countries. This means I can buy from a US retailer on Amazon.co.uk and pay Amazon.co.uk shipping charges or buy from a UK retailer on Amazon.com and pay much higher US-UK shipping charges. That sounds insane, but that is the way it works. The shipping is set by what Amazon you buy from, not from the actual distance. I've occasionally seen someone price-boosting in the UK and price-slashing in the US. I'm sure it happens the other way around too.

When I was more active on the Dragonlance forums, I had a few conversations with people about checking various Amazons to help them track down DL novels that were starting to be hard to get at sensible prices. So what you are proposing to do is not just a way for forum users to help provide The PIazza with a trickle income — at no cost to themselves — it is also a way for forum users to quickly check multiple Amazon pages to check that a high price in their own country can not be beaten (by more than the shipping charges) elsewhere.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:05 pm

Havard wrote:Also, wasnt there some sort of technical issue about amazon listings? I vaguely remember ENWorld getting rid of them because they caused the site to crash? Could be misremembering though...


Dragonlance Nexus used to do something that caused problems for me. Instead of providing proper links, directly to the Amazon page for the product, they wrapped it up in a Nexus frameset.

That tripped of the anti-phishing alarms on my browser (as it thinks that Dragonlance Nexus could be attempting to steal my data). I don't think they were doing that, but I'm not turning off my security settings, just so that I can help out Dragonlance Nexus.

I'm smart enough to hack links and add an associate's ID myself, so I tried copying their Associates ID a few times. But I would often forget and I know they lost out on commission over this. I think the frameset thing also caused the process to be a lot slower than it needs to be. Normal links are both easier on the server and faster for the user.

EDIT: I want to reply to this here:

Ashtagon wrote:I plan to have it on a separate folder. It will be running off dokuwiki as a backend. That has so far proven remarkably stable in many situations.

I think enworld's problems stem partly from trying to use a single sql db and login for absolutely everything. And partly because they are bigger than me.


To be honest, people don't really need to log into a forum to see a shop. They only need to log in, if you want to give them edit access.

I would guess you would want to build up a team of wiki-editors, similar to your moderator team. They could even have a separate login, rather than the sort of phpBB wiki interfact that some websites attempt.
Last edited by Big Mac on Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:35 pm

Ashtagon wrote:What products should I prioritise for the list? Ideally, I'll eventually have everything up there of course. In the meantime, what items are on your wish lists, so I can add them first? Preferably items that you might realistically choose to buy through an amazon associate site of course.


The Piazza's niche area is campaign settings, and I think that this is the best target for this sort of thing.

I'm currently trying to complete my third-edition Forgotten Realms collection. There are also a few Eberron books I'm monitoring, and I'll buy them if they are cheap enough. World of Warcraft RPG and Scarred Lands are also something I'm interested in, but I'm still not totally certain if Warcraft RPG is better.

However, Nentir Vale (being a 4e product) is still in print. And if rumours of low-prices for early 4e products turn out to be true, Nentir Vale might become a much more attractive purchase in the run up to 5e.

I don't know what sort of thing you are planning to put up, but I think it would be possible to give punters more than just a link. If you make the page for each product into a more useful resource, people are more likely to go to look at it, than a "please help The Piazza by buying X" page.

A description of the product, with a checklist what is supposed to be in it, could help anyone who wants to buy a second-hand D&D boxed set.

A list of related products could help someone work out the minimum "buy in" for that product and also help them work out what optional extras can go with it*. You could even give people links to fan-resources that "enhance" the product**.

* = To use SJR5 Rock of Bral, as an example, you need the core 2e books and the AD&D Adventures in Space boxed set, but you might also get more from the product if you own SJA2 Skull and Crossbows. And one of the Cloakmaster Cycle novels and Endless Quest: A Wild Ride both give more background information on the Rock of Bral.

** = Again, using SJR5 Rock of Bral, as an example, no GM should try to run a Bral-based campaign, without looking at Paul Westermeyer's write up for Bralspace (aka Spiralspace). Paul has done a ton-o-research — so you don't have to — and created plot hooks that give you the best from the scattered canon, as well as some new fanon.

All of this takes time, of course, but if you make it something a team of editors can add too, then your wiki-staff can help build each page into something that is so good, it comes up on the first page of a Google-search for the product.

One final thing that I think might be good, is a link to the forum for the setting a product is designed for. (That will make the pages help to recruit fans of that product, as well as pay for the rent.) I would even argue that it might be worth starting an "official thread" for a general discussion of each product, where people can ask questions about what is in it. (Moderators could always split off any discussion that went on for more than a couple of posts, to keep the thread on-topic. And any "official threads" could link back to the product page on the wiki, where we could use the thread to build up an FAQ over time.)

Again, time is involved, and you probably couldn't do all of this right now, but I see a way that you could make an Amazon Associates site that is a win-win deal for everyone, even for non-members that want a bit of advice, from The Piazza, before they buy something.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Azaghal » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:20 pm

I think basically Big Mac is right, the niche campaigns are what makes the Piazza the Piazza. My 2 cents is that those are the most important products to sell. Following that would be products by our members and other settings.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:21 pm

Azaghal wrote:I think basically Big Mac is right, the niche campaigns are what makes the Piazza the Piazza. My 2 cents is that those are the most important products to sell. Following that would be products by our members and other settings.


You spell The Piazza with a capital "The". ;)

I would guess that a set of Mystara links (including all the sub-settings) would support our biggest forum and that Spelljammer would do our second biggest (and also be faster to compile — as here is less of it ;( ).

I know that someone grabbed Echohawk's lists of products, a while back (and we got asked to take them down), but if we included some sort of categories, both for the campaign setting something was in and crossover categories, for material that helps with crossover gaming, we could make it a lot easier for the people that come here for the settings to decide what stuff to buy. (And deciding to buy and clicking an associates link would seem to be things that you want to happen together.)

An example would be WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk, which I would categorise as [[Category:2e]],[[Category:Greyhawk]] and [[Category:Spelljammer crossover]]. (With [[Category:Spelljammer]] having a "See also [[Category:Spelljammer crossover]] link.) I would also suggest that Spelljammer products like SJR7 Krynnspace could be put into [[Category:Dragonlance crossover]] (as they are the "way in" for a Dragonlance GM, that wants to dabble in Spelljammer).

One thing that I think might be important to helping people work with Mystara (and I'm not sure if this exists yet) is to have cateogries of any internal-crossover material that links both the Known World and one of the sub-settings. I would say the same applies to Forgotten Realms and its subsettings, Dragonlance and its subsettings and Greyhawk and its subsettings. (Perhaps you could have [[Category:Known World crossover]], [[Category:Faerun crossover]], [[Category:Ansalon crossover]] and [[Category:Flanaess crossover]] for subsetting products that linked back to the main setting.

I don't know if "duck-ho wiki" supports categories, as standard, but I'm guessing that we could add them manually, assuming you are not doing all the work yourself, Ash.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:36 pm

duck-ho wiki


It's "ducky wiki". :P

And yes, there is a plugin to tag pages with one or more tags.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:57 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
duck-ho wiki


It's "ducky wiki". :P


LMAO! "Cute and yellow and chubby!" :lol:

Ashtagon wrote:And yes, there is a plugin to tag pages with one or more tags.


Do tag pages act like categories (and have content) or are they just a list?
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:04 pm

Ashtagon wrote:And yes, there is a plugin to tag pages with one or more tags.


Do tag pages act like categories (and have content) or are they just a list?


They can be either, or both.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:11 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
Ashtagon wrote:And yes, there is a plugin to tag pages with one or more tags.


Do tag pages act like categories (and have content) or are they just a list?


They can be either, or both.


Both would be good, as the text at the top could include links to related tag pages. That would allow you to have a "Spelljammer" tag page that links to a "Spelljammer crossover" page, a "Spelljammer downloads" page, a "Spelljammer websites" page and also a direct link to the Spelljammer forum at The Piazza.

EDIT: We might want to do pages for magazine articles, too, at some point.

Slowly slowly the content could be added, both to pages that bring in revenue and pages that provide links to free additional content. It shouldn't be too hard to make it the must-bookmark place for fans of out of print campaign settings.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:41 am

Do we have any UI designers up to the challenge of making a dokuwiki template that will give dokuwiki a similar look to the main Piazza forums?
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Jargal » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:00 pm

Where can I look at example of template? Can't find it at dokuwiki.com :( Maybe I can help.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:46 pm

Jargal wrote:Where can I look at example of template? Can't find it at dokuwiki.com :( Maybe I can help.


http://www.dokuwiki.org/template has a list of already-written templates that could be used as a model.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:03 pm

We have two templates for the forum. Would we need two templates for the wiki?
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:05 pm

Big Mac wrote:We have two templates for the forum. Would we need two templates for the wiki?


The forum has two - one is the "out of teh box" template that I left as an option for users. The other is the house style for The Piazza, called "Softwood".

The wiki will only need a single template for "Softwood". I don't plan on having the "out of the box" style visible on the wiki.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Jargal » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:18 pm

Ashtagon wrote:http://www.dokuwiki.org/template has a list of already-written templates that could be used as a model.

Do not look too complicated, but requires familiarity with the dokuwiki. Over the weekend, try to install and see what it looks like inside.
Do you have a picture showing how you imagine the final appearance?
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Jargal » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:08 pm

BTW, we use unmodified "Softwood"?
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:10 pm

Give me your email, and I can send you a zip file with the modified softwood
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Sat May 05, 2012 6:22 pm

A little testing has determined why the test Amazon links weren't working.

The standard distribution of ad-block plus (a downloadable plugin for Firefox which stops most adverts) will, by default, blocks the Amazon adverts from appearing.

I can see a number of points raised by this.

* It is an advert, and the filter is doing exactly what it says on the tin.
* The ad blocker is not "out of the box". As originally intended, these adverts do appear on a vanilla installation of Firefox and all the other common browsers.
* If I were setting up a PC for a novice user, I'd install this blocker as an automatic decision.
* The instructions to enable the adverts for this website are reasonably simple (specifically: Menubar -> Tools -> Adblock Plus -> Disable on thepiazza.org.uk).

I want to avoid having too many images in the wiki. There is a performance issue once you get about 400-500 images in a single folder. Taking advantage of the Amazon adverts automatically serving an image seems like an easy way to save bandwidth and show images.

Thoughts, everyone?
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Wed May 30, 2012 7:25 am

http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/shop/doku.php/

It's now live.

This is a soft launch. There are obviously hundreds of products still left to add to these pages. I do intend to eventually get every gaming product ever listed on that page.

If there is a gaming product you plan on purchasing in the near future that does not yet have links, please let me know, so I can prioritise it.
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Big Mac » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:58 am

Ashtagon wrote:A little testing has determined why the test Amazon links weren't working.

The standard distribution of ad-block plus (a downloadable plugin for Firefox which stops most adverts) will, by default, blocks the Amazon adverts from appearing.

I can see a number of points raised by this.

* It is an advert, and the filter is doing exactly what it says on the tin.
* The ad blocker is not "out of the box". As originally intended, these adverts do appear on a vanilla installation of Firefox and all the other common browsers.
* If I were setting up a PC for a novice user, I'd install this blocker as an automatic decision.
* The instructions to enable the adverts for this website are reasonably simple (specifically: Menubar -> Tools -> Adblock Plus -> Disable on thepiazza.org.uk).

I want to avoid having too many images in the wiki. There is a performance issue once you get about 400-500 images in a single folder. Taking advantage of the Amazon adverts automatically serving an image seems like an easy way to save bandwidth and show images.

Thoughts, everyone?


I've had a similar issue with the Amazon links on another RPG website. In that case it was Dragonlance Nexus hiding their links inside an iFrame instead if providing a link directly to Amazon*. And their problem was that it made my browser security suspect a cross-domain attempt to hijack HTTPS information.

* = I've wanted to support Dragonlance Nexus, just as I want to support The Piazza. It doesn't cost me anything to help a site I love, so yes I'll do it. I worked out a way to hack their URL out of the HTML for the iFrame and get the affiliate ID that I need to shop without my browser going nuts. But the reality of it is that doing that is such a pain in the arse that I've not actually bought anything that way and Dragonlance Nexus has lost out on all the commission that they could have got from the books I bought. (I have informed Dragonlance Nexus about this twice, but have had no response about it. I'm hoping that Nexus 2.0 fixes this bug.)

I think the shop pages for The Piazza are currently making the same mistake that Dragonlace Nexus's pages made. Like their pages, your pages are getting in the way of the user's ability to shop and your solution is to expect the user to modify their browsing behaviour to suit your needs, instead of modifying your page to get it to work for all users. I think that is a mistake. You both have a great idea, but you need to make a design that works for all users.

With your existing setup, not only are you going to have some visitors that don't turn off their ad-blocker (either because they don't trust The Piazza, because they can't be bothered or because they are not a computer expert like you are and are scared to fiddle with things) and you are going to have some visitors that don't ever realise they are blocking the links that provide The Piazza with commission.

It is your shop - not the visitor's browser settings - that needs to change. Because a change at your end will fix the problem for all users (with no action required on their part).

Don't forget that these pages are going to attract external visitors as well as members of the forum. Each page on your website is crawled by Googlebot and has its own listing. So if someone searches for "Ghostwalk" the could come to a page on your store without ever seeing anything else here. If they decide to buy the Ghostwalk Campaign Option book and you don't enable them to surf onto Google from your page, they are going to go back to Google and try another link. You need to make things as easy as possible for the user, so that their ease of use encourages them to buy via your links.

There is a solution to this that The Piazza (and Dragonlance Nexus) should apply and that is to give the end user the simple link with the Amazon affiliate ID that they offer. The simple links do not detect as adverts when an ad-blocker looks at them, as they are regular links (and they don't look like a "cross domain hijack attempt" either - so they would solve Dragonlance Nexus's issue too). They work for the end user, so they do the job better. They might also get crawled by search engine bots and good-quality outbound links could help raise the page rank of individual pages within the shop.

Having said that, your existing (ad-blocked) links look good and are useful to those people that don't block ads, because they show the current price. So I think you should keep those too. On some pages you have a set of links at the left side of the page and standard Amazon links (with affiliate IDs) could slot into there nicely. But an alternate way to do it would be to have the standard link underneath the appropriate Amazon advert, so that they are seen as one thing by people without an ad0blocker and so that the text links are there if the adverts are blocked.

As for images causing problems, perhaps you should consider opening an image shack account for The Piazza, and hosting a collection of images there.

On another note (and you are still building the store so might already have a plan for this) I don't see any links from the store back to the forums. If store pages attract drive-by visitors interested in specific D&D products, we have a chance to "sell" them the community at The Piazza, as well as a book. The book will get you cash to keep the community going, but new members can help the communtiy grow. (And newbie members for the more obscure campaign settings could be especially useful as one of them might be the "Michael Knight" figure that can help us become the world's leading community for some or all of the minority settings.) Gaining new forum members will in turn bring people back to the forums and they will then be more likely to return to the shop, if they need to look up product information.

I know that we already have several threads on the forums where experts in various settins are helping confused newbies (including me in a few cases) to work out how some fairly confusing product lines work. I think that if the shop and the forums can work together, they can help dispel confusion about different campaign settings and help D&D fans (both members and non-members) to make a confident purchasing decision. Do that, and it will help people to know when to buy and when to avoid buying. Ultimately it might help RPG fans avoid buying the wrong thing by mistake and that will save people cash. So I think the shop is going to be a valuable public service, as well as a way for members of The Piazza to help pay towards the hosting fees. :cool:
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Re: Amazon Associates site

Postby Ashtagon » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:32 pm

Update: Over the last few days, I've added a lot more entries to the list.

If you have any items that you want prioritised, please do let me know on this thread.
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