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Writing Community Rules. Your Community, your rules.

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posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 02:17 AM
Okay. We've established the fact that we have a community. The Moddery wants initiative, so we'll give it to them!

This is, of course, our chance to choose how our community will be run. This thread should be a general clearing house for ideas related to the standards, rules, and regulations of the writing forums.Let's get started, eh?

What do you think our grammar standards should be like?

What should it take to be a writer?

Are we going to accept fanfiction as an acceptable form of literature?

What should we do about disruptive influences?

What should protocol be on collaberations?

Basically, what it boils down to is "How should this community be run?"

I will list my ideas once I hear some of yours. Please, everyone, respond. Your imput is badly needed.


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 04:34 PM
A Community Of Artisans

Last night, DeusEx, Springer and myself chatted (in ATS Chat) about what we can do for CF in both the short and long terms.

I asked DE to start this thread both because I was too tired last night (I do occasionally sleep) and because I want to take advantage of DE's help as a well-spoken and passionate advocate for the ATS Writers Community.

I see two main thrusts for improving CF: one is short-term, and knocks out whatever problems we can solve now, and the other is long-term, which involves redesigning CF as part of the coming ATS overhaul.

Springer has asked for a list of specifics we would like, and has promised to discuss it with the other admins. Basically, he's willing to go to bat for CF, and that's never a bad thing, so let's take advantage of it.

Divison Of Labor

My major push at this time is to focus on learning how to move CF into the New ATS Order as quickly and painlessly as possible. But the writers community needs someone to help pull it together for this, and that is where I hope DE can help.

He has done a great job of articulating the needs and concerns of ATS writers, and obviously cares a great deal about the community.

So, to the extent he is willing to do so, I am looking to DE to help prioritize what CF and the writers want and need. In turn, I can take these things to the senior staff and work out a plan for making them happen.

Some things we may be able to do soon, others may well take months. The things we want most may not be what we get first.

Also, I am volunteering CF for use as a test bed for the new forum designs. There are several reasons for this, and one of them is to bring changes to CF sooner rather than later. This offer may or may not be accepted by the staff, but I am making it.


This thread reflects an important part of revitalizing the ATS writer community. While the idea of rules and regulations may seem off-putting, the concept here is not so much one of policing art but giving the writers direct say in how the community will function.

Things to consider are how work will be classified, voting for good art and promoting it to special categories (similar to subforums, but integrated with and part of the main forum), collaboration, workgroups, workshops, editorial assistance and so on.

Different writers will want to work in different ways, but the idea here is that there are some things most if not all writers want from ATS and this forum.

By discussing these things as a community, you can help define how the community will function. In turn, the future design and operation of the forum will be based on what you as writers want.

At least, that's the theory. It needs to be tested.

As a novice Councilor, I need all the help I can get. DE has stepped forward to help, and I hope he won't be alone in this.

As your representative, it's my job to listen to you and represent you to the ATS administrative staff. With DE's help -- and your help -- I am confident that we can make some measurable progress and breathe new life into our humble writers community.

The Details In The Devil

I have summarized a list of issues in the Discussion: The Future Of The Collaborative Fiction Forum thread, and have that handy for reference.

However, improving CF is going to be an iterative process, so the more feedback the better -- especially as we start testing new things here.

So don't be shy. Share your opinions about CF as a forum, and the ATS Writers Community as a whole.

This thread is a place to share your ideas about how you would like to see the future community run. It will largely be up to you, so I recommend suggesting things you really want to see become reality.

We all know there are problems, but we should also remember that we can fix them.

And that's what this is all about.

P.S. As our local goddess and faithful moderator, let's not forget WorldWatcher's crucial role in making this all possible. I encourage her to be a vocal contributor as a member of our community, both as one who knows this place inside and out, and as the person who has to clean up after the rest of us. So WW, please be candid.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:07 PM
I'm thinking more forums. Different contests. CF and SS are a limitted view on writing imo.

An example: Poetry competition.

BTW, I'm glad you brought up WW, that would have been a HUGE ommision.

[edit on 14-7-2005 by intrepid]

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:20 PM
Other things to think about- what about author notes? Are they acceptable in an artistic context, or should they be seperated from the story?

How would you like to see the voting and review systems work?

What about challenges and contests?


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:25 PM
The VERY first thing I just noticed, why can't I "quote" in this forum? OK the hard way.

Other things to think about- what about author notes? Are they acceptable in an artistic context, or should they be seperated from the story?

Difficult question, we're dealling with art here.

How would you like to see the voting and review systems work?

Don't know, don't know how it works now.

What about challenges and contests?

I editted my post so you probably missed it. Poetry Comp. I won't be participating, not my thing but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have one.

Hell, what about a Poetry sub-forum?

[edit on 14-7-2005 by intrepid]

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:30 PM
Intrepid, we are getting a poetry subforum. The issue is how will the CF forum as a whole be run?

We have no review system in place, which sucks the big one.

What this thread is here to do is discuss the manner in which the people should run it. We need to organize internally, set standards and rules. Without that, the tools we will be given are pretty sueless. Intrepid, what about my other questions:

What do you think our grammar standards should be like?

What should it take to be a writer?

Are we going to accept fanfiction as an acceptable form of literature?

What should we do about disruptive influences?

What should protocol be on collaberations?

Basically, again, what it boils down to is "How should this community be run?"


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:32 PM
are y'all trying to say y'all don't dig my righteous poems?

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:38 PM
To start with I would KILL for a Quote button, for me #1. Thank god I finally figured out the BB code.

What do you think our grammar standards should be like?

A toughie, is the story "In da Hood". We're dealing with art, so we have to be a little more liberal with the rules.

What should it take to be a writer?

Maybe we should leave this one up to WW? Her forum.

What should we do about disruptive influences?

Same as any other forum, we'll deal with it. It's our job.

The rest is up in the air, debate it. Oops, wrong forum.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 05:44 PM
Reviews would be interesting, and informative, certainly. Assuming you're talking about reviews of published, purchasable works?

If ATS ran some contests and such on a regular basis for a reasonable period of time, you could put an anothology together in a limited run..of say..100 or 250 copies. Other web communities have done this and it worked out fairly well for them, as far as I can tell.

You could separate the commentary from the writing, but I'm not sure that would do anything to a.) increase responses or b.) keep with the style and layout of ATS.

We could do a short-short competition, a non-fiction or historical fiction competition. We could do a picture-story thread, where people post a photo, and write a story to fit it, or, where mods post a picture, and the members write stories to fit.

No matter what, I'm interested to see the evolution continue.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:01 PM
With whatever changes comes, the Terms and Conditions of ATS found Here will need to be addressed and or changed. I point to Rules #4, 6, 8, 18

If you're not clear as to why those rules, feel free to ask.

Is the Terms & Conditions of ATS a blanket for all other extensions of the site? Will they be adjusted for the Fiction forum?

With growth certain boundaries will be pushed claiming "artistic" license and writing creativity.. How far are we willing to go with that? Will someone be able to write a story about a drug user, a sexual encounter, etc, etc,....

As for your questions DE:
What do you think our grammar standards should be like?
I think grammar and spelling is an evolving thing, I don't like the idea of denying a someone from sharing their thoughts because they can't spell well or english isn't their first language.

I feel it should be the job of fellow writers to offer review and critique, guide and provide help to bring new writers up to better standards.

What should it take to be a writer?
Currently, and I wasn't ready to rock the boat by making changes to this yet, it requires a member being here for at least ONE month, and not having spammed and/or trolled in the past.
*I also look for any outstanding warns, take a look at their post history, etc.

I would like for it to be slightly different however, including all of the above, but as to where each person requesting Writer status must submit something in "short story" forum where writer status isn't needed. I would prefer to see something posted in the form of either a poem or short story before upgrading to Writer.

Are we going to accept fanfiction as an acceptable form of literature?
I don't know, you would have to ask senior admin about this, it goes back to the Terms&Conditions and if there could be some copyright issues etc... basically the legal aspect.

Personally I would be fine with fan fiction if there are no legalties involved.

For those who don't know what fanfiction is
Fan fiction (also spelled fanfiction and commonly abbreviated to fanfic) is fiction written by people who enjoy a film, novel, television show or other media work, using the characters and situations developed in it and developing new plots in which to use these characters.

What should we do about disruptive influences?
What do you consider a disruptive influence? Whenever we find something offensive, plaguerized, etc, it has been moved/cleaned up.
Are you talking about other writers perhaps offering unwelcome critique?
I'm not sure I quite understand, so an example would be nice.

What should protocol be on collaborations?
That I believe that should be up to the original author who is requesting collaboration. They accept or deny who they want on their team, or they can make it free for all. They can set the rules on what the protocol should be for each individual collab entry.

[edit on 7-14-2005 by worldwatcher]

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:02 PM
Wyrd, perhaps I need to clarify: By reviews, I mean reviews of peer's work. I mean people criticizing and applauding one another. We have no way to do that right now without ruining the flow of the story. We need to seperate that from the writing itself, and make it public.

The picfic idea is great, I like that.

Evolution only happens when it driven by other forces, Wyrd. Your imput is greatly valued, keep speaking up.


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:15 PM
WW, I believe we have butted heads over the grammar issue before, and I respect your opinion. Two of my personal areas of contention are grammar standards and writer status.

I have stated before that I take particular issue with the FFA nature of the Short Story section. In fact, I would prefer that there be a sort of 'buy-in' to become a writer- that is, a u2ued story to you in addition to your previous standards. Then, should they fill those conditions, they should be award writer status. Yes, there should be a sandbox for one-shot writers, but I would prefer to see the establishment of a more serious writing community, with regular members.

As for grammar, it's not terribly hard to turn your spell-checker to 'English'. Nor is it terribly hard to ask someone to edit your work. If you can't -or won't- take either of those steps, maybe you should stick to the sandbox, neh?

As for disruptive influences, I left it deliberately vague. Some writers have glass egos, and a frank discussion of their work leaves them shattered. This quality is particularly irksome, as writers who are seeking to improve their work must learn to accept that yes, there are things wrong with it.

Other writers -myself included- have slight issues with the concept of subtlety. Also, with the collaberation, FFA is not particularly desirable. Look what happened in Today, I due to a combination of loose writer standards and FFA collaberation rules.


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:29 PM
Standards, Voting And Access

Something to consider is that we may be able to design the new Fiction forum so that there's a virtual place for everyone.

For example, we can have the baseline, anything goes category for beginning writers and people who just want to write fiction with no strings attached.

For writers who want to go farther, we can create categories (virtual subforums) that reflect higher editorial standards or specialized genres (such as fanfics or sci-fi).

If the interface supports it (I don't think straight XMB does), access to these categories can be controlled, and thereby help WW in the task of maintaining order amidst the inevitable onslaughts of chaos.

Some of these categories may be restricted to “senior writers” and/or entries that have been voted up by the writers (and perhaps non-writers, as well).

Doing this will take coding that we may or may not be able to get. I'm pushing for us getting it, but the admins must decide what's feasible, and they know much more about it than I do (though I'm willing to learn).

That said, it's still important for us to decide what the ideal system would be, so we can work toward it.

Agreeing on such things here is an important part of that process.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:32 PM
Okay, I misunderstood. We could take inspiration from these people and have an ongoing rating system where the votes are averaged.

The above link leads to a site for reviewing painted miniatures, the rating system is well organized and quite effective.

If we did something like this, we could have a top ten section for short stories, poetry, colab, etc..

I'm also interested in talking about the boundaries, maybe nudging them a little to make more room for folks like me, born a boundary pusher, raised a rule breaker.

My work is exemplary of the kind of stuff only barely suitable for ATS currently, and I've only posted the timid stuff I know will fly.

I think art should be excluded from free speech issues, from censorship, and from the distinction 'pornography.' The supreme court agrees with me, incidentally.

But the American laws are really of no consequence right? This site is based in the UK, so I'm not sure what the protocols are exactly.

I had a discussion on this topic with SO, John Bull 1, and Banshee a while ago. They were all very reticent to draw hard lines in the sand, so I simply ran the stories by a super before I posted.

I understand this site has to be kid friendly, which automatically precludes certain subjects, like explicit drug use, explicit sexual situations, and 'sailor-mouth' author syndrome.

Perhaps we could start a sub-forum for 'extreme' literature, the same way as AtomFilms has an extreme film section? Post a parental advisory, and make people click through an agreement not to be offended. Just a thought.

I have a couple of stories I'd like to post, but currently can't, one about an alcoholic whale pirate nearing the end of his rope, one about a child murderer who gets his just deserts when the remains of his victims attract something worse.

The subject matter and language is not suitable for children. Snickers (the whale pirate) fires a harpoon at the Greenpeace boat and swears constantly. The other story takes place after the murders, when the guy is freaking out in his house, but it's nonetheless quite disturbing for everyone who has read it. I only barely got it published, so that should tell you something.

I've also got a story about a remote mountain town falling ill with a mysterious disease after a local hunter tracks, slays, and returns to town with the corpse of a wolf. The townsfolk, hungry in the middle of the winter, gather in the church and butcher the wolf to eat it. That scene is not something I'd tell as a bed time story. The third act, where the town preacher becomes the first vampire, leading a pack of wolves town to town, so he can lure their prey out into the open and feast on the leftovers, that's pretty bad too.

I've got tons of stuff I'd love to post, if the restrictions were lifted, but I'll understand perfectly if that doesn't happen.

What about a disclaimer,"the opinions and ideas expressed in this forum are not necessarily the opinions of the Above Top Secret owner/administration."

But if it's a moral issue for Simon, then no amount of legal insulation, no disclaimer, is gonna change that. If the owner simply doesn't want that sort of writing on the site, that's his perogative.

But in any case, I'm thrilled that you (World Watcher) are interested in exploring the question of censorship.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:39 PM
To start, i'd like to see a new thread started called "writers tools" and have it flagged so that it stays near the top. We could then include links to our favorite tools and proggys and especially any free tools we run across. It would eliminate the use of mispelled words and bad grammer and bad punctuation. If you offer someone a free spellchecker, free grammer checker and free punctuatuion checker and they don't use it, they deserve to be ignored. There's lots of really good, free software out there and we should make it available to all those who wish to be writers.

Now, On to your questions:

"What do you think our grammar standards should be like? "

This question is a lot tougher then it looks. If your character has a boston accent and a lisp, your spell checker will be having palpatations. If your character is in 17 century London then your grammer checker will be going nuts. This is really something that has to left up to the writer and viewed in the context of the story. When it doesn't work, the reader knows it doesn't work. When it does work though, the reader knows and the story becomes a favorite.

"What should it take to be a writer? "

Besides the rules already in place, I think a writer should at the very least use spellcheck, grammer check and punctuation check, unless those tools interfere with the flow of the story being written. (See answer to above question) If someone is not willing to take the time to properly fix up the story, then they are not a writer, in my humble opinion.

"Are we going to accept fanfiction as an acceptable form of literature? "

I don't write it and really don't care one way or the other. I would rather create my stories from my own imagination then go traipsing all over someone elses property.

"What should we do about disruptive influences?"

Thats what Mods are for. It's not my place to answer this one, it's WW's.

"What should protocol be on collaberations? "

Thats up to those doing the collaborating. I suppose there should be some flexible guidelines in place. Think on this I will.

Love and light,


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:39 PM
Oh I am willing to explore, but I need clear directives from Admin before laxing on my interpretation of the current T&C's. Like I said, How far are we willing to go with this?

many of my stories are currently not suited for ATS so I understand but I simply adjusted my writing style when writing for ATS vs. elsewhere.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:51 PM
We are willing to do what we must, for the good of the community.

Majic, what I would like to see for subforums would be an all-access sandbox for the less-than-serious writers to post in, and proper forums for the more serious members of the community to post in. In the more serious areas, it would be writer-only post restrictions, and there we would have the SS, Poetry, Workshop, and Collaberative areas.

From there, we would have a review and rating system, for critique and feedback. After that, it would all be member-based initiatives.

And that's what we're here to talk about, right?


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:52 PM
moved to Board Questions & Business so that all members and prospective Writers can have a say in their evolving community.

posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:56 PM
Watching The World

Originally posted by worldwatcher
Oh I am willing to explore, but I need clear directives from Admin before laxing on my interpretation of the current T&C's. Like I said, How far are we willing to go with this?

My impression is that there's a lot of support from the brass for the emergence of what might thought of as semi-autonomous subcommunities within the ATS community.

The writers are a natural example of such a group, having specific interests and needs.

As our beloved moderator and editor-in-chief, your role in defining and managing this subcommunity is obviously vital.

Admins will definitely need to approve anything which may run afoul of the T&C. The reasons for that are numerous, and you are absolutely right to not make any changes in how you do things without being sure it's the right thing to do.

Also, my opinion is that you should never feel compelled to do something you don't want to do. If you don't want to do something, there's a good reason for it, and any plans we make should take that into account.

In this thread, we won't be setting ATS policy. However, what we can do is decide what policies we would like to have, and see if we can get them approved.

In other words, this is our way of discussing our future utopia.

Once we have the vision, then the fun part comes: making it a reality.

Talking The Talk

Originally posted by DeusEx
And that's what we're here to talk about, right?


posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 07:15 PM
If you really wanted a forum that pushes the limits then we could think along the line of RATS where to be a member or even read the subject matter you actually have to buy in. Only those truly interested would be willing to shell out 1000 points a month to read other peoples personality disorders made manifest in words. Plus it would give the writers something to spend their hard earned points on and also incentive to keep earning them.

They would not have to spend them on this, they could just as easily keep writing on the light and funny side of our existence.

If they want to contribute or read of the dark side of ATS writers though, they would have to pay.

Another idea is for WW to create an invitation only area that is restricted to those writers who have not only shown themselves to be serious, but also have proven their age or maturity. That way the writers could at the very least share amongst themselves and the community at large would be left to their innocence.

Just some thoughts,


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