Some great points from Kirsty.
Some quick thoughts...
I think a free site might encourage plagiarism
A very good point, but I would hope even if this was a free site, it would still be password protected, if it wasn't i'm sure most people would leave immediately....
and there are issues around putting a piece of work up on an open website for criticism and then submitting it for publication as an ‘unpublished’ piece of work.
Again, I would hope whatever happens, this will always be a password protected (therefore closed) site. But Kirsty's makes a very good point that a fee stops certain people using the site for the wrong reasons. (not that this stops trial members of course...)
I think a facebook group would be a good compliment to this site, it could be used to draw attention to the site, and anyone there could answer questions, tell people what they get for the fee, etc.
I also agree there could be more site experts, but of course, if people don't volunteer for the role, there's not much that can be done...
(And could someone sort out the gremlins on this site! Each time I post in this thread it tells me there's an error, when the post has gone through fine...)
Edited by Bazz at 14:16:00 on 17 June 2015
I think that site experts are hard to come by that aren't paid to do it - Are they paid? - Is it enough?
Relying on someone volunteering is dodgey - if one of us non experts who have by default found ourselves chairing a group drops out someone else gets shoe horned in it makes no real difference - if a volunteering expert gets busy it gets tricky if folk are depending on their advice regularly and feel they are owed a replacement to continue their project as if it was part of their sub I can see that getting tricky
I sometimes wonder if some kind of sideline 'expert' Course/'How To's /FAQ with follow up/guidance with ref to a member's particular project that they pay for separately might work out - but then again that would be no diff' from paying externally for editing or formatting advice etc - sadly I think the world has moved on and any form of guidance is an industry in it's self now.
Any chance of polling any recently/long departed site experts of old and finding out why they left - burn out? feeling used? Or found they enjoyed it so set up in business? Great teachers let students flourish they don't prescribe ways of doing things - I like the idea mentioned above of guest site experts in terms of invite famous author/editor etc to do it for a month and they get the qudos of advertising they are doing it and we get experts? No one gets over commited then if it doesn't work... and when they advertise they are doing it we get free advertising too...
= new members.
The US site I use for training and courses Holly Lisle is trying to get a site for readers to meet and help writers off the ground and new soft ware and it is frankly chaos - folk volunteer then don't follow through, legal issues on 'swapping skills' occured and shot that idea down in flames ( Obviously famous bank digital eagles haven't heard of the tax offices) On that thought though - re the experts too - she does - like a lot of them do - Live Q and A so may be Live Q and A - with chosen expert for an hour or so ?? you sign up for and you can get advice on a project etc if the expert / or an expert is available 1/month say and the content available for those who can't be there that would be neat and useful - you might not feel as exposed to plagerism either as the one's I have done are basically closed classroom groups chatting about what ever - some have a chat line going as well but that always feels rude as if chatting in class. I don't get the feeling the back room soft wear for this is difficult or expensive to run.
Either way if raising the issue of site experts is important then raise it - they are important - the rest of us are just trying to actively do something by stepping into the vaccum the others left or the groups just stop functioning. Best Wishes MC
Thanks everyone for your thoughts, we are digesting them, and will respond soon.
Bazz - I am looking into the error you mentioned, thanks
Here are the thoughts that occur to me on this question:
- Paid vs. free membership: I agree with those who think paying for membership means the people who are here are pretty serious about writing. Removing the fee might just result in lots of trolls getting onto the site and spoiling it for everyone. I also disagree with the suggestion that simply keeping the site password-protected would prevent plagiarism. If joining were free, why wouldn't someone join if that gave them access to free material to steal? On most free sites, it takes seconds to sign up.
- The posting gremlins are a bit of an issue for me, too. As a software developer myself, I appreciate the technicalities that must lie behind the site, and I have some sympathy with the difficulties of tracking problems down. But visible bugs give a negative first impression, and for that reason alone, they need to be fixed. (By the way, there's a glitch with using numbered lists: each time you hit to get the next number, the cursor goes back to the top of the edit box.)
- Activity on the site. I have always been a heavier user of the forums than of the writing groups, mainly because I don't have the time to reciprocate with any critique. The forums are noticeably quieter now, than they were a couple of years ago. You only have to look at the dates of the most recent posts to see that (and a prospective member will notice how long the interval is between postings). Maybe we should actively recruit a few argumentative types, to spice things up a little . That, or start some kind of "current affairs" or "celebrity gossip" forum.
- I like the idea of publicising the site via Facebook, Twitter and other means. Websites need publicity just as much as any other service. People don't magically turn up at a site just because it happens to be online (contrary to popular myth).
- I think a lot of the former members left en-masse because they started using Facebook, in fact. Maybe, if we had a page on there, they might be lured back. Or how about LinkedIn? Quite a few organisations use that, nowadays, for keeping people in the loop, and it has a more up-market appeal than Facebook. It might be just the place for attracting more serious writers.
I hope we do keep going, whatever happens. And I hope we find a way of keeping the trolls out.
Wow! No glitch!
Edited by alexhazel at 22:00:00 on 17 June 2015
This is a wonderful site, extremely welcoming and helpful. I found it by accident had a quick look and liked what I saw.
I was quite serious about it so wanted to join straight away and actually, I thought the fee was extremely reasonable. I joined a couple of free sites, mainly US based and don't use any of them now. Perhaps I was unlucky but one didn't really seem to offer anything except adverts for on line writing courses and the other was busy but not particularly helpful - everyone loved everything that anyone ever wrote and there was no constructive critisism at all.
So for me, I love the site and applaud and appreciate the work that goes into it but I fully understand the concerns if it has got so much quieter.
I do believe Facebook is a way to go. It would provide a more immediate forum and the ability to chat if need be. Posting about competitions and invites for submissions, writers groups, residential courses etc, would be welcome too (as on some other literary FB groups).
Both Facebook and Twitter tend to work well as a form of advertising too as more and more posts get re tweeted and "liked". Twitter is a bit beyond me to be honest, I still don't really get it! Although I did follow a friend's band recently and you'd be amazed at the amount of people who now follow me to get their music/music lessons/gigs out there to my network. It does work.
I'm not altogether sure about Linkedin but perhaps that's because I'm so used to having it as a business tool. For example, would I have to create a different account for writing? I can't see you all being interested in my career in Supply Chain and I'm pretty sure my Linkedin network would be completely confused if I added "aspiring poet" to my CV when they're trying to find out if I've got experience with third party logistics! My husband is a comedian and I know a few of his colleagues have opened accounts but it doesn't seem to have taken off. No reason at all why it shouldn't for the arts but to me, it doesn't fit there.
Hope we can sort it and get the word out on what a great site this is.
For example, would I have to create a different account for writing?
My suggestion was for WriteWords
to have a LinkedIn account. Lots of organisations do, including various groups and departments within, for example, the University of Birmingham. People participate in various discussions and postings that they make, and it gives them another forum in which they are publicly visible. I think that sort of additional contact point for WriteWords might help to raise its profile.
Ahhh, now I see. In that case then yes, possibly a Linkedin group would work. Apologies, wasn't joining the dots there
There seemed to be a mass exodus at one point and I don't really know why that was
Facebook! And members behaving like sheep and following each other ... to Facebook.
The Facebook idea appeals to me too although I'm not a Facebook person these days. Thanks MC and Pen & Ink. That immediacy and extra intimacy does offer an alternative
Yes, but I wouldn't join it, because I really, really, really hate Facebook (I profoundly disagree with the way they collect and use personal data). I think it would be a good idea to advertise on Facebook, but maybe not to start doing some of the business/work of WW there.
Paid vs. free membership: I agree with those who think paying for membership means the people who are here are pretty serious about writing. Removing the fee might just result in lots of trolls getting onto the site and spoiling it for everyone
Totally agree. The membership fee is quite low ... although that said, I'm only here on the lower-price membership, and I'd love to see all the 'Professional' stuff I'm excluded from by that ... the full membership price does put me off, to be honest.
I've been a member of WW for 12 years. I was going to leave this year but my yearly fee got auto-paid so I'm around for a bit longer.
As with many things, the early years of the site were probably the most interesting, if not explosive at times! Lots of critiques and lengthy forum discussions. But over time it's become much quieter; probably just as supportive but then warm support isn't always what a writer needs.
I think there are two main reasons for the site diminishing. One is that it hasn't really developed; hasn't changed. Writers who improved their craft had to go elsewhere for the next stages of their journey.
The other reason has been present from the beginning but perhaps has become more of a blocker to growth in recent years, particularly with the rise of other writing sites, and that is lack of transparency. Earlier in this thread, someone asked if the Site Experts got paid, for example. The question wasn't answered and hasn't ever really been fully answered by the site owners.
Similarly, we're not told what the membership fee is for. I don't recall the accounts ever being published, unlike with all the other fee-paying writers' associations I'm a member of. There may be a grey area here, it's true. For instance, you can pay a fee for a site that provides a service - like Duotrope - and they don't need to show you the books. But, again, I think the site owners need to clear this up: are we paying for membership of an association, in which case we should see the books; or are we paying for a service, in which case what exactly does that entail?
If I bumped into this site new today, I would want to know exactly what the membership fee is for. But after 12 years and several requests for the information, I still don't know.
Interesting discussion. It's been a long time since I popped my head in; I've moved on to other hobbies and I doubt I'll be back here any time soon so maybe it's time I was honest about why I, and friends on mine, left. Two words: Terry Edge. And David Bruce's refusal to rein him in because his 'expertise' was deemed more valuable to the site than other people's. There are/were long ten members here who were not doing the site any favours by remaining. Unfortunately you live by the sword of membership fees and 'Site Experts', then you die by the sword of fees and no experts. If you don't have a Unique Selling Point of good, welcoming experts, (as opposed to toxic experts who drive members away) then new members aren't going to see the point of joining.
Im on a forum with no fees, but 'experts' are valued and there's a sliding scale of titles depending on how many posts you make (no useless points counters). Then you may be voted by fellow Consultants to be a Consultant if your contribution is deemed worthy enough. It's a much fairer system, and despite the lack of fees we have no trolling problems.
Hi, Naomi. I won't rise to the bait although I am rather flattered that my name alone has apparently become the cause of people fleeing the site, although not permanently in your case it seems - clearly I must work harder on my toxicity.
(Seriously: I'm not really flattered and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself for this.)
Personally, I think Terry is a great site expert. Every post of his that I've seen has been highly intelligent and very helpful.
Thanks, Catkin. That means a lot to me. But despite what Naomi seems to believe, I haven't been a Site Expert for many years!
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Although our paths haven't crossed much Terry, you have my support also. I've never had cause to regard your comments to me as anything other than constructive and positive.