A Modest Proposal
Just in case I haven't made it clear elsewhere, I have posted a proposal for Collaborative Fiction (CF) in the ATS Member Council Forum.
Here's the link, for those who can follow it:
Proposal: Collaborative Fiction Forum Improvements
For those who can't access the forum, I'm including the entire text of my proposal below.
The deal is that yes, CF can't be at the top of the admin work list. ATS is a very dynamic site that is constantly growing. There's a LOT
admins need to worry about before they get around to revamping CF.
As a Councilor responsible for representing our wonderful community of writers, I certainly want to make sure they get all the love that can be given.
But the site administrators can't reasonably drop what they're doing and rush to make changes to CF.
So it's an ongoing process of represen'in' all up in there and hoping the admins can work in some upgrades to the CF forum as they do other things.
At least, that's my pitch. The next DISC Councilor may have a better angle, and frankly, I'm kind of banking on that.
what the writers bring to ATS. Yes, maybe it's an afterthought. Yes, there are other websites for this kind of thing. Yes, ATS is a
conspiracy site, not a writer's workshop.
Nonetheless, of all the forums I represent, CF has gotten the lion's share of my attention, because I recognize the value of a creative cadre of
content creators when I see one. And because you guys complain the most.
Improvements will take time and can only reasonably come as part of other ATS upgrades. During the interlude, worldwatcher
is simply an
moderator who will do what she can to help writers out.
Talk to her. Work with her. No matter what the admins do, worldwatcher
can really walk the extra mile for you if you're a writer who needs
The changes I want to see happen in CF will not occur during my term, but I am hopeful that they will one day be implemented. I will pass this hope to
my successor, and urge my fellow writers not to be discouraged.
You do good work.
Having said all that, here's what I posted in the Council Forum:
Proposal: Collaborative Fiction Forum Improvements (posted to Council 9/10/2005)
Distractable boy that I am, I'm late in beginning the proposal process for improvements to the Collaborative Fiction forums.
I know CF isn't at the top of the ATS priority list for several good reasons, but as the Councilor charged with representing the interests of the
Writers, it's still my duty to push for whatever improvements I can get for them.
Because CF is pretty far down on the food chain, my angle for getting improvements to CF is to offer it as a “test forum” for changes to the ATS
forum interfaces. By this I don't mean radical alpha testing, necessarily, but rather tests that would benefit from having members bang on them.
Anyway, I want to get rolling on this at long last because I owe it to the writers to do what I said I would do.
I know this whole business is rather vague right now, but the only way to nail things down is to discuss them.
The Short, Short List
gave the word publicly that CF is not Priority One, which the writers grudgingly acknowledge and which I consider to be frankly
a no-brainer. We know that already.
So it's understood that any changes which are made to CF are on a “when time permits and don't hold your breath” basis.
Also, it's understood that the needs and desires of the CF subcommunity will change over time, and that not all of what it wants is necessary, just
If there's any better way I can make the point that I am proposing these as “back-burner” projects, I'm looking for it. That said, I consider
back-burner better than no burner, and if it takes months or even years to get these changes in place, at least that's a plan.
Here's an abbreviated short list of things I've hammered out in discussion with the writers, cut-and-pasted from my earlier proposal drafts:
1. ATSNN-style front-end customized for and tailored to CF's needs.
I see this as the first step toward real progress for CF. We need this to
give us a foundation for the features we want.
2. Workshop functionality so writers can “talk shop” without messing up the art threads.
3. Classification of the work into at least three major categories (Collaborative Fiction, Poetry, Short Stories) and provisions for easily adding new
categories or subcategories.
4. Voting functionality so writers may rate one another's work. This can feed directly into contests and awards.
5. Access control for threads. This can be a bear in straight XMB, but with a custom interface, it may be reasonably easy to have WW and maybe writers
themselves control who can add to their threads.
Another change I'm considering is having point awards be at the discretion of the CF forum moderator (currently worldwatcher
This could be done using the existing applause system, with a default case of a single applause for acceptable posts, or perhaps a modified version of
The automatic point award for the CF forums would be reduced to a smaller amount, maybe 1, or maybe 10 or 25 or something as a bone thrown to the
writers, but definitely much less than the automatic 250 points per post now. As it is, I feel like a major schmuck for forgetting about that and
starting discussion threads at 250 a pop in CF (thankfully, WW noticed this and moved them to BQ&B)
The reason for changing the CF point system include:
1. Allowing the CF forums to be used as workshop spaces.
2. Eliminating members posting crap to automagically get the 250 points for each post.
3. Encouraging higher-quality submissions.
4. Increasing the CF moderator's editorial power over the forums. For example, crap gets zero applause, good stuff gets an applause, and really good
stuff can get multiple applauses.
The writers have expressed various desires for gaining some sort of specific recognition for their efforts. I think increasing WW's ability to
provide that recognition as part of the way CF is set up would be a positive and reasonable way to get started on that.
Back And Forth
I'm trying to keep all this brief while still presenting the basic ideas.
Even if none of this is accepted, at least getting some discussion going on it would be a step in the right direction.
I'm hoping to hammer out some
sort of plan for CF before my term as a Councilor ends. It may not be much of a “legacy”, but if I can at
least get something started for CF, I'll be pretty happy about that.
While I'm looking for some feedback from the senior staff on this, I also encourage any Councilors who are interested to comment as they see fit.