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Discussion: The Future Of The Collaborative Fiction Forum

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posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 02:28 PM
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www.abovetopsecret.com...

Here is a thread devoted to internal, member based policy. Please read and respond. This seems important.

DE




posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:05 PM
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The Short List

Springer has asked for a short, concise list of things we want most. He will, in turn, work with SO and the admin team to get things rolling.

For my part, most of what I have seen requested or pointed out as problems will require some sort of interface changes to the forum. SO has mentioned ATSNN as a model, and I think it's a good place to start.

That does NOT mean I am suggesting we just slap the ATSNN front-end on CF and call it good.

Rather, the work that was done on ATSNN allows a forum to be managed in much the same way writers want to see CF managed.

Also, though I am only speculating at this point, I suspect that an improved version of the ATSNN sort of front-end is going to be used on other forums, and thus see an opportunity for CF to get the jump on the new setup.

Doing this may help us get what we want sooner.

What I Want

Here's a short list of what I want most for CF. Please feel free to comment candidly on it:

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.

These are the top five things I would like to see. Your list may differ, which is fine. Let me know.

Please bear in mind that most of what I want will take some major code changes and admin time. The availability of such things is uncertain.

However, I can't see a way to get what we really need without them, so that's the course I am plotting.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.



posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:18 PM
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Those seem like a reasonable beginning, though there would have to be discussion on the nature of the voting system. The only other thing I can think of for now is to have the edit functionality back in Short Stories, so we can at least tinker with what we've got.

Once we have those things, it's on us. We, as a community, need to establish what kind of conduct is acceptable, and internally start contests, challenges, etc.

From there, we can grow and expand. I for one would like to see a weekly challenge issued, perhaps even the formation of subcommunities should we reach that size.

DE



posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:51 PM
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Moved to Board Business so that all member and future writers can have some input into the changes.



posted on Jul, 15 2005 @ 10:00 AM
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I have been reading through the discussion here and I have seen a lot of things that make sense.

I would care to disagree with a common sentiment among the active writers in this discussion. The idea of making the CF forum a "buy-in" forum where points are needed to be a part of CF. In my opinion this would make CF a clique not a community. Granted I haven't been around that long and I'm not the prolific writer that some here are, but never the less it's a community and participation by even some of the most inept is required. Every village has their idiot(s) and making CF a "buy-in" forum is not going to guarantee that CF won't have one or two. The only thing it would do in my opinion is make it a clique. There are plenty of sites on the net for that and turning parts of ATS into one is a bad idea.

The one thing I strongly agree with is adding a sub forum for discussing and sharing tips on writing styles, software for grammar checking, and other things that go along with the writing process. Maybe an FSME for that type of sub forum would be appropriate, I'm sure there's a qualified candidate or two lurking around the CF forum already, unless WorldWatcher has enough time to be a Mod and FSME then it's a moot point.



posted on Jul, 15 2005 @ 06:53 PM
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Originally posted by looking4truth
I would care to disagree with a common sentiment among the active writers in this discussion. The idea of making the CF forum a "buy-in" forum where points are needed to be a part of CF. In my opinion this would make CF a clique not a community. Granted I haven't been around that long and I'm not the prolific writer that some here are, but never the less it's a community and participation by even some of the most inept is required. Every village has their idiot(s) and making CF a "buy-in" forum is not going to guarantee that CF won't have one or two. The only thing it would do in my opinion is make it a clique. There are plenty of sites on the net for that and turning parts of ATS into one is a bad idea.


Looking, I have addressed this. The buy-in makes it so that we have less asshats, not no asshats. We're trying to do something we enjoy, and if you look up 'Today, I' among other things, you'll see why we need to restrict membership just a tad. The whole free-for-all idea clearly isn't working out. the CF forums won't be a clique, it'll be a subcommunity of ATS.


The one thing I strongly agree with is adding a sub forum for discussing and sharing tips on writing styles, software for grammar checking, and other things that go along with the writing process. Maybe an FSME for that type of sub forum would be appropriate, I'm sure there's a qualified candidate or two lurking around the CF forum already, unless WorldWatcher has enough time to be a Mod and FSME then it's a moot point.


We have noted this, and that is where the 'Writer's Workshop' suggestion comes in.

DE



posted on Jul, 18 2005 @ 07:55 PM
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I was thinking today (always a bad sign) and came up with the thought that the writing community should also share ideas on the varius competitions we come across online. Some of those competitions even pay.

For example: A site thats local to me, www.indianbaypress.com is always looking for good poetry and pays 10 bucks cash for each poem you write and it accepts. It's still a local setup but growing fast, and it's mainly looking fro writers from the southern US, but its still something to share.

As a community we can give each other tips and insights into such sites and help each other get published on an even broader scale.

Now, I consider ATS to be my home on the web, but i also like to travel the web in search of other exciting things. Right now I have three stories in the current competition and will always find time to write for this site.

I'm just saying as a writing community we could also become a formidible force on our own, taking competition after competition where ever we find them.

Its something to think about.

Wupy



posted on Jul, 18 2005 @ 08:03 PM
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Very interesting point mrwupy...

ATS could muster an easy average of a half-dozen responses to any given contest or submission call.

The site would, in no time I'm sure, find itself in need of a special section devoted to the achievements of its many fine writers...

I for one will share with the group the next time I find somewhere good to send my scribbling.



posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 10:27 PM
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The Plan! The Plan!

Sorry to disappear right when this was getting interesting. Life happens.


I want to keep writers up on where I'm at with all this, so here's a very brief summary, with more details to follow later.

First off, as SO has made clear, CF is not the center of the ATS universe. It is a specialty forum which offers something extra for ATSers who want it, but it is not the “main draw” for our community.

So the bottom line is that no, CF is not going to be what SO spends all his time on.

That said, I was elected, among other things, to represent CF and, by extension, the ATS writers community. And that's what I intend to do.

I have heard what you have to say and will keep listening.

My advice to writers is to not get too hung up on the fact that CF may seem to be left adrift for a while. That's just the way reality works as ATS' chronically overworked admins prioritize their work.

As you have probably already figured out, they are not idle. This will become even more apparent in the coming months.

So where does CF fit into all this? It has a place. It may not be at the top of the stack, but I consider this a marathon, not a sprint, and as long as I represent CF, I will make sure it is not forgotten.

Collaborative Strategery

So what's next? As I've mentioned before, I have some homework to do regarding how to get new “public works projects” into “the system” so they can eventually be completed.

As with real life public works, things don't happen magically nor instantaneously. Changes take time, have to be worked into the overall ATS admin budget, and not everyone gets what they want.

I remain optimistic, however, that we can get what we want for CF -- and more. It's just going to take time.

Here's a quick outline of what I intend for CF:

1. Interim Plan. Let's see what we can do with what we have. The writers community is small. We can gripe about that, or take advantage of the fact that small groups can manage themselves with near autonomy. Anyone who has an us/them attitude regarding staff, I recommend leaving it at the door. We have worldwatcher, and she's an asset to writers. She's one of us. As a small group, we can work a lot of things out without admin help, and with WW by our side, we'll be okay. More on this in the coming weeks.

2. Long-Term Plan. Given my list of forums, CF stands out as the one in most need, so I will continue to make it my personal focus. Using CF as a “training forum” will help me learn more about how to get public works projects done, and I am convinced CF will benefit from being the “test case”. In other words, if we can accept being beta testers for some things, we may get changes we might have to wait longer for. This approach may not work, but I still think it's the best call for CF. More on this in the coming months. This initiative may well be handed off to my successor, because it's very long-term.

Patience is a virtue, but virtues are rare in this world.

Nonetheless, if you can hang in there, I think you'll be pleased with where CF is going, and the part it will play in the future ATS community we are building.

Geez, I sound like such a politician. May Mod have mercy on my soul.



posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 10:50 PM
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Plattitudes. More plattitudes.

Quick, do what you can...with nothing! Lean on an overtaxed mod! It'll only be months before we could possibly see a possibility of negotiations for any minimal changes!

Great. Welcome back to the bottom of the list, everyone.

DE



posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 11:18 PM
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Platitude With An Attitude


Originally posted by DeusEx
Plattitudes. More plattitudes.

Granted, this all may seem hollow, but CF has something it didn't have before, which is a plan for improvement.

What comes of it remains to be seen -- and tested -- but I think it would be wrong to despair over the fact that CF must get in line like all the other forums.

I don't discuss it here because this is about CF, but I see what goes on in DISC and the Council with respect to other forums, including the "hot forums" and "big draws".

CF is not alone in desiring major changes, and the competition will likely prove fierce as many interests vie for limited resources (ala Peak Oil).

However, we do have at least two loud voices on our side: yours and mine.

While that may not seem like much, it's better than having no voice at all.



posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 11:31 PM
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Originally posted by Majic
Platitude With An Attitude


Originally posted by DeusEx
Plattitudes. More plattitudes.

Granted, this all may seem hollow, but CF has something it didn't have before, which is a plan for improvement.

What comes of it remains to be seen -- and tested -- but I think it would be wrong to despair over the fact that CF must get in line like all the other forums.


Well Majic, we've been in line for awhile. It doesn't help that no matter what, we're at the end of a very long list, one that keeps growing. Plenty of new forums lately, huh?


I don't discuss it here because this is about CF, but I see what goes on in DISC and the Council with respect to other forums, including the "hot forums" and "big draws".

CF is not alone in desiring major changes, and the competition will likely prove fierce as many interests vie for limited resources (ala Peak Oil).


Yes, other forums desire major changes. But are they cosmetic? Are they as vital? I doubt it.


However, we do have at least two loud voices on our side: yours and mine.While that may not seem like much, it's better than having no voice at all.


We can scream as loud as we want, they're just not listening. So plans and protests and voices do us not a damn bit of good.

DE



posted on Jul, 21 2005 @ 11:37 PM
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Deus Ex

Could you please put your righteous anger into a work of semi-fiction, that addresses the issue of overcoming perceived helplessness and impotence?

The pen is mightier than the sword, and all that.

Creative fiction is not about rules at all, unless you're in a deadbeat multinational publishing house producing nothing but formula-driven stuff.

"Collaborative" fiction needs just a few simple, easily digested rules on the "collaboration" element.



posted on Jul, 22 2005 @ 12:44 AM
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Originally posted by MaskedAvatar
Creative fiction is not about rules at all, unless you're in a deadbeat multinational publishing house producing nothing but formula-driven stuff.

"Collaborative" fiction needs just a few simple, easily digested rules on the "collaboration" element.


You're right. Creative fiction is about sharing stories, and having other members of the community help you make your story better. But we can't do that here, can we? Between the lack of facilities (for lack of a better word) and the lack of drive in the community, really - why does ATS have a writing community if you're not going to support it?

Collaborative fiction needs a root canal, period. Hell, this whole writing thing needs a rethinking. There's a graveyard of good ideas because of various persons, we can't even edit the short stories we post, and have two ancient forums that really aren't helping writers.

No tools. No drive. No reason.

You wonder why the writing community is dying on the vine?

DE



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 03:06 PM
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Dues, I'm pleased to see someone who's so...determined is a good word to put it...about the fiction forum, I havent stopped by to the old place in a while but I think I will sometime soon, but the issue I wanted to bring up was this;

You and I both know what this site was created for and it certainly never started off to make a writers club as I remember. That being said ATS is certainly not what it started out to be but SO is no super hero and certainly cant spend all his time in the CF forum. He's...busy to say the least at the moment and what with the podcasts and stuff its probably getting hectic on his end, you have to wonder where the line stops at "job" and "fun" in what he does for the site. Anyhow, Its nice to hear a voice like yours every once in a while and its certainly refreshing, keep up the work mate but take it into account, k?

PS,
Do you have stories on the go? Its difficult to keep track of whos doing what at the moment..



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 07:05 PM
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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 the 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.

I love 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 awesome 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 help.

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

SkepticOverlord 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 desired.

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.

CF Points

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 it.

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.




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