Greentown, I think everything you say is very true and sensible but I do think it's up to the site owners/ administrators to get it going rather than the members, precisely because it is a paying site rather than a free one.
Yes, there are alternatives.
You don't need to go generalist either... Scribophile, Authonomy, Truecrit, Writers cloud, Critters and the Water Cooler are all free, specialist writing communities. There are probably _hundreds_ of others and they all have their pros and cons based on what you're looking for. Thats before you start getting into the paid writing communities, of which there are also many, and which have even more pros and cons.
I agree with you that what is visible to your trial is of limited value if you are not looking for crit, but then crit and crit groups form a very major part of what WW is about... Based on what I've seen elsewhere, WW crit is pretty good, as is WW advice, as is the WW community culture.
Is it worth the fee? My personal opinion is that, if you are not looking for critique, then to pay any kind of membership to get to gossip pages is less than a good investment and I would try one of the freebies first.
That said, I have been a paid member here for a number of years because, if you are actively working toward improving your writing, there is a wealth of knowledge and advice and good crit available here.
And, as a closing shot, I would suggest you look at why you are willing to give critique but are so adamant that you don't need or want it yourself? Just... you know... seems a bit... well... like me a long time ago... before I realised I was wrong.
Thanks Steerpike's sister,
Absolutely, I hope the site owners are reading this too and feel there's some merit in opening things up.
You know, I've just scrolled back over the Newcomers board for the last few years and there are literally only two or three threads that have generated a similar amount of replies to this one.
I'm not 'bigging myself up', I just think that's a level of activity that would defintely be better if it was bigger.
A lot of writers are reclsive creatures and seem to crave isolation - but not when I come on the internet!
Whoa there GaiusCoffey.. hold your horses pardner...
Please don't read me saying I don't want crit to mean I think my writing is perfect! No siree - couldn't be further from the truth.
Each to their own - some people feel they will benefit from that but I've been down that road and decided I was happier trusting my own judgement for the time being.
When I have stuff I think worth punting for publication - then an agent or publisher will decide - and I'm totally cool with that.
Sometimes you can have too much feedback - and if you take too much on board, and chop and change to suit people - in the end you can lose sight of the thing you originally had.
|hold your horses pardner...|
What an interesting thread (thanks for starting it, greentown).
Another couple of things that give the impression of a dead site are the fact that when you go to the forums page, the threads from the private members' forum aren't listed - you have to go to the sidebar and click on that particular forum to get the list up. Also, unlike many other internet forums, it's not apparent when someone has posted a new response to a thread. So this thread, for example, has had lots of replies but you can't tell that by looking at it (unless replies have run onto a new page) or see when there's something new to read.
And a third thing! If you just come and have a look at the forums, the invisibility of the private members' forum altogether and the dearth of activity on the forums you can see means that there's a bit of a question over whether to even go to the trouble of registering to be a trial member.
I understand the need for certain conversations to be private - when named authors are discussing their agents for example - but I'm kind of amazed that by paying £20, which is no indication of good intent, anybody can read all that stuff. Isn't a private mailbase rather than an open (paid for, but open) forum the place for that? And a forum for open discussion?
Totally agree with the points you made.
I don't think I would ever discuss (in anything but the most abstract terms) any relationship I was having with a publisher/agent or even any kind of work colleague on the internet - I mean, you just don't know who people really are and privacy from Google doesn't get you privacy from all the other members.
I wouldn't imagine myself 'immune' from observation on an internet forum - the place could be alive with 5th columnists!!!
There are issues with this forum in the way the threads are presented and how you can't see new posts.
It definitely does seem slightly dated and a bit anti-intuitive - the user is obliged to make at least a couple of extra clicks to get up to date.
I suppose a lot of people like the exclusivity of 'paid for' membership and it may well have a certain cachet.
Sometimes these things mirror a movement in wider society - perhaps this is a web version of a gated community.
And I think it's fair enough in some ways. People having critiques on their work can feel vulnerable, open to attack and want to have some sort of armour.
But barriers in themselves don't guarantee an ideal society - you can't choose your neighbours even in a gated community - and you can end up with a self-selecting community which perversely works against itself.
But perhaps the feeling of being part of a group is more important to some people and the risk of being criticised is increased when you open up that group and the desire for safety outweighs the creative imperative to take risks.
No doubt, someone's done a thesis on the psychology of groups and the importance of this when selecting your internet business model.
I do think getting more bums on seats in a 'free/open' section of the site would be a real plus.
At the moment, I would say the 'community' is definitely being undersold and what you don't want is the visible stagnation on the 'trial' pages to seep through to the rest of the site.
Hi greentown - I agree with all that, and am coming to realise, as I try to get accustomed to the site, that there's a ton of stuff I'm not noticing as activity because you've got to navigate to different menus to see it. For example, the groups are separate from the forums so you can't see that they might be lively while the forums are quiet.
This is a structural issue that the site admin could fix but I'm not sure if that would involve migrating to a different system such as vBulletin.
I'm finding this really quite an effortful site to navigate and the lack of a "new messages" board is already making me adopt a strategy of posting a message and going away for the day so that I won't waste my time endlessly going into threads to check fruitlessly to see if anyone has responded or if a discussion I'm watching has moved on. It's a real disincentive to post.
| posting a message and going away for the day so that I won't waste my time endlessly going into threads to check fruitlessly to see if anyone has responded or if a discussion I'm watching has moved on. It's a real disincentive to post.|
If, when you post on a thread, you check the box "Email notification of replies" (located below the box in which you type your comment) you will automatically be notified of any additional posts on the thread.
That's exactly it Toast.
I've been looking on the 'logical' page for thread updates - i.e. the Writewords Forums page - and what I see is maximum two active threads per day!!! In the whole of June.
It makes it seems as though the site is run by about three people.
Then when you select Newcomers you get a date of last activity but not a time! So, you ask yourself - was that me, was it someone else? But you then have to click through to find out.
And then when you login in to reply to a post, you're taken to a personal homepage and have to click your way back to the original thread.
It's certainly not easy, user friendly or designed with me in mind. It has a creaky feel of the early days of the web and creates an impression that the members might be a bit creaky too!
As a business person I would want to knock it into shape.
As a potential member, it makes me want to go elsewhere.
Sure you can sign up for email notifications but - to me - that implies that I shouldn't expect a huge response.
You know, it's like saying - we'll write to you if we hear anything.
I would want a lively, zippy, hapening board. I don't want to have to check my emails to see if anyone is posting. If I'm at work - I don't want these emails so I can't check until I'm on my time.
I want to be able to flick open the homepage and go yeah! - lots of stuff happening! Ding Dong - what have people been saying? Let me check out the opinions of these creative writing folks.
Instead, I open the Forums homepage and think Oh
nobody's been here today!
Greentown, you raise a lot of good, practical points. WW has been around for quite a long time now (in internet terms) but hasn't really changed that much. Or at least, any changes that have taken place seem to have developed more from just the general direction the majority of the membership want it to go in. Which is fine, except I'd say on the whole that has never been much of a conscious decision - let's all decide what we want to be and where we want to go - more a kind of majority unspoken settlement that's comfortable for most members.
As has been said here, one of the clear differences between WW and other sites is that you have to pay to get the full benefit. In the past, one or two brave souls have questioned why this is the case . . . I'm not going to do it now, but feel free to try yourself!
It's true that more activity goes on in the PM and Lounge areas. But if we're honest, most of this is from the usual suspects and - as we've acknowledged - this can be somewhat daunting for a new member, even if they want to join the club. One obvious imbalance, I'd say, is that the vast majority of posters are women. That's no one's fault, of course, but you wonder if something could be done to encourage more male writers to take part; but that raises the question again of who's responsibility is to grow the site?
I guess what I'm trying to say is that all your suggestions make perfect sense for a site that wants to grow and develop, but may not be workable for one that's comfortable with what it's become.
Hi Terry Edge
I think that kind of sums it up for me. I get where the members are coming from. People like me come along (I guess quite often) and say this looks interesting but you know, I can't actually see what I would get for my money - what's the 'value added' bit?
Some of the posts have alluded to the 'members' deciding on the site direction yet others have indicated that there's a desire for change - which isn't happening - so there's defintely a disjoint somewhere there.
And if people have been asking in the past 'Why should I pay?' then that would tell me that it's not obvious why people should pay and if it's not obvious, then that's something the site should look at - but that would be something for the site owners or the members and is that something they don't want to do?
Which brings it back round full circle to me as a trial member - where I sense people are saying - this is what we are (although as a trial member - I can't see what you are!) - we are justified in charging because? - well because we say we are! - we're not going to give you an opportunity to verify our claims and if you don't like it - well, we're happy as we are anyway and we won't miss you!
Fair enough I suppose. As you say these thing only matter on a site that wants to grow and develop - which would be the kind of site I would think a lot of people want to join.
Perhaps it's a generational thing? I don't worship at the temple of youth but nor am I ready for my pipe and slippers yet.
So there we are - I guess we'll not see eye to eye on that - going by the numbers of views, it certainly seems this debate was of interest to people - members and all, and maybe that means there's something here for the relevant powers to chew over.
I think that's all very true, greentown. There's a tension between having a private, safe place to discuss things and having an open forum that is geared up to attracting new members.
As a new member, I don't expect to have a vote on how things go but I think that the honest feedback that greentown is giving about his/her experience as a trial member is gold. My experience as a trial member was identical but I wasn't sufficiently motivated to speak up - I would just have gone away, if it hadn't been for a friend telling me that it was worth joining once you were a member.
Like greentown, I'm not saying that the site should go this way or that but I think it's important to know that, by default, it may already going in a certain direction that hasn't been consciously chosen.
|Like greentown, I'm not saying that the site should go this way or that but I think it's important to know that, by default, it may already going in a certain direction that hasn't been consciously chosen.|
I think this is true and key. No clear direction has really ever been set by the site owners, so the site's reason-to-be stems more from what the established members want from it. That, inevitbably, is a mixed bag. Which is fine for those of us who've been here a long time and have our own reasons for sticking around, but it's not really conducive to growing new membership.
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I hear what you're saying about threads not needing to be in the private forums. But quite often a thread will start off about one thing, then wander off on all sorts of other, unanticipated tangents. I guess people just post things in PM and the Lounge because then they don't have to worry about self-censoring if a thread skirts towards something where they might not want the whole web having access to their opinion or experiences.