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    How to improve Words? 
    #1
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    Question
    Your friendly Words mods have been in discussion for a while now about making some changes to the Words forum. This thread is for you, the Bluelighters who frequent Words, to make your voices heard. What improvements would you like to see? We are looking to update the guidelines of the forum, so we’re interested to hear what you would like changed, and / or what you would like to keep as is.

    To get the ball rolling, what I’d like to see is a broadening of focus, so that instead of just focusing on writers posting their work and getting feedback, we’d also have more general discussion about writing, writers, books, techniques, literary news and events… and just more discussion in general.

    Therefore Words might have more threads like this one:

    http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?t=267920

    And this one:

    http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?t=268231

    They're just a couple of examples, and the tip of the iceberg. Personally I think broadening the focus in this way would enrich and enliven the forum.

    Now, over to you guys! Thoughtful, constructive responses please!
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    #2
    Ideas.

    -Reduce the number of currently posted works by any given author, I think you're allowed three on the main page now. Perhaps a lower number might encourage people who want to post something to post a discussion thread rather than a piece. But then, it could also backfire and alienate people.

    -Bumping of cool threads like those above and the "Process of Writing" thread (as is often done with great works) to bring them back into people's minds and give the place more of that type of feel. This would hopefully encourage more of the same. The intro to the aspiring writer thread speaks volumes about the perception of the Words sub-forum as a place of self-indulgence, rather than discussion.

    -Invite some cool writers/writing experts to join. Anyone published would be probably lax to post too much of their own work but would be invaluable to discussions of writing.
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    #3
    Bluelight Crew up all night's Avatar
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    Bringing all threads about writing into this forum is definitely a good idea but I think the main thing that would improve this forum can't be controlled.

    When I first started posting in here four years ago it was a really supportive network of people who read and commented on work other than their own. These days there are so many new (and some old) people who don't seem to really want to put in the effort on anyone else's work. I think this is really sad. The forum has lost a lot of the community feeling which I used to value so much.

    That being said, there are many people, like Wordy, who do put in the effort and make this forum worth coming back to.

    I never came here for the quality of the writing. It was a place people could express themselves and find support if they needed it. It was ALSO a place where great writers came to get feedback on their work and that was awesome too. I just don't want Words to become solely about critical analysis/ feedback etc because I think that's intimidating for some people.
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    #4
    Bluelight Crew up all night's Avatar
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    Um, I just reread my post and realised how unconstructive it was. I guess I just needed to have a mini-rant. I Words.
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    #5
    Ok one thing i do on another poetry forum is this, you make it mandatory to respond to one thread everytime you decide to post one for yourself, if you make a thread without responding to another it would be closed for that reason. I think this should apply to all posting besides things like the "write a poem here thread". I also think it should be mandatory in those threads to respond to at least one previous work inside the thread to post in there as well.


    Also the ideas you presented above I don't think would work well, allowing only so many posts from one author per page wouldnt really make a difference, most of the time from what i've seen is that if one author posts too many of the same poems on one page usually only a few works stay on the page before getting bumped down.

    The idea of keeping some threads like "process of writing" and others similar to writing discussions should be kept alive but we should only have one thread for discussion of writing, and another for dicussion of books IMO, otherwise it could get a bit cluttered.

    I thought keeping "The New Rhymes" stickied would be good too it seems to bring in some people that otherwise wouldnt come near the poetry forum.
    Last edited by realm; 09-09-2006 at 12:39.
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    #6
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses so far. Keep them coming, and feel free to post more than once.

    I'll respond to some of the suggestions so far...

    I'd be reluctant to reduce the number of threads per author below 3. I'm not sure that lowering it would actually encourage people to post in other threads. I think there are other ways this can be encouraged.

    The intro to the aspiring writer thread speaks volumes about the perception of the Words sub-forum as a place of self-indulgence, rather than discussion.
    Exactly. This is a perception (and reality?) that I for one would like to shift.

    Invite some cool writers/writing experts to join.
    Interesting idea, but then I can see the other side of the coin, as up all night said:

    I just don't want Words to become solely about critical analysis/ feedback etc because I think that's intimidating for some people.
    Personally I think we can continue to cater to both sides of the coin: the serious writer who wants to discuss things on a critical/theoretical level, vs. the more casual writer who just wants somewhere to air their thoughts. Most of us fall somewhere in between those extremes I guess.

    And I agree with this:

    These days there are so many new (and some old) people who don't seem to really want to put in the effort on anyone else's work. I think this is really sad.
    I'd like to encourage people to give more feedback on other people's work. I think you get out of the forum what you put in - or at least, that's how it should work. I'm open to any ideas people have for encouraging this.

    realm, your idea for mandatory responses is interesting, but in practice I think it would be too strict and too hard to police, with several logistical difficulties for the moderators. Maybe we can use that idea as a starting point, and brainstorm our way towards something that most people would be happy with?

    "The New Rhymes" thread is now a sticky.
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    #7
    im actually a member of some other forums just as big as this one, and from what i see the poetry section isnt that big on this particular website. do you really think it would be that hard to police if people already knew the guidelines? basically the way it works is like this: if you post a thread you have to post the name of the thread of which you responded to and you cant just do one word responses. i see what you're saying about it being strict though. i defenitely agree that it could discourage others who just want to post a poem.

    from what you guys have seen, do the people who post here normally post frequently or do most just post one or two poems in their time here?

    and thanks for making it a sticky i hope it brings alot more traffic to this part of the forum, im going to try responding to as many writings as i can in days to come, we have some good artists here
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    #8
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    Don't get me wrong, the idea does have merit. Although I guess the other thing I don't like about the mandatory responses is the fact that it's mandatory, and people wouldn't necessarily do it because they felt like doing it, but out of obligation. Granted some people would see the ethical reasoning behind it, and respond thoughtfully to other people's work. But I fear that others would just respond to other people's work without giving it any thought (or who knows, without reading it?!). And like you say, it may discourage some people from posting their work if they think, "Oh, I can't be bothered responding to anyone else today, so I just won't bother with the forum at all". And on top of all this, I'd like to keep rules and regulations to a minimum, because I see this as a creative, free-spirited forum.

    I'd be interested to hear what other people think of this kind of idea though, and whether we can come up with a way of adapting the "Do unto others" principle into the guidelines.
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    #9
    Bluelight Crew up all night's Avatar
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    ^ I'm with you. I also think realm's idea has merit but something just doesn't sit right with forcing people to comment. It totally defeats the purpose of commenting on someone's work.

    As for the three threads on one page rule, I wouldn't be against making that only two, but I can see why people want three. I have to admit if I see someone has mass posted all on the one night (without commenting on anyone else's work) it's unlikely that I'll open any of them. Lame reasoning, but still.
    Last edited by up all night; 10-09-2006 at 17:14.
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    #10
    Bluelighter Raz's Avatar
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    I'm not huge on the idea that you have to respond to a thread to post one - I can definitely understand the reasoning behind it...the only problem is that bluelight as a site isn't something which is purely writing/creativity/arts focused; people may not want to or have the time or inclination to spend that much time in critique of others' works.

    The other reason is from a purely selfish point of view....sometimes I don't feel like reading other pieces. I'm not saying I don't ever respond to others - there are days when I'm quite happy to go through and read and comment on people's work without posting anything myself, or to bump stuff that I liked ages ago. I'm with Yarni though, I don't like the idea of being forced to comment..

    Regarding the limit of 3 threads per person...I think it's good to have a limit because it maximises exposure for everyone equally, but making it a lower limit would feel restrictive. Words does move slowly sometimes, and stuff can sit on the front page for a while. I would hate to have to feel like I couldn't post something for ages because I'm just waiting for something I wrote 2 or 3 weeks ago to drop off...

    I like the idea of encouraging threads about the actual process of writing, discussing books we like, etc. Stuff like that or the collaborative threads like the 60 second poem thread shouldn't count for the 3 thread limit.

    Something else that just occurred to me...I think you should put something in the forum guidelines which promotes the forum being used for more than just posting poetry or responding to poetry. I think it can be intimidating for people to post stuff which is more discussion-focused because there's a perception that Words is just a stage for creative writing.

    I will go away and brainstorm now, see if I can come up with anything else to contribute..
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz
    Something else that just occurred to me...I think you should put something in the forum guidelines which promotes the forum being used for more than just posting poetry or responding to poetry. I think it can be intimidating for people to post stuff which is more discussion-focused because there's a perception that Words is just a stage for creative writing.
    great idea, i'd love to see words have some writing discussions! and i agree that even when i first came here i saw strictly poetry and no discussion based threads.

    i also agree that it can be a bit much to force people to respond to others threads. come to think of it, it really does discourage some new comers to not post because they either dont have the time or dont feel like responding to another work before posting their own.

    ill try to brainstorm like Raz said
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    #12
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses so far... some good points raised. Raz, I pretty much agree with everything you've said.

    Anyone else?
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    #13


    if people are gonna post other stuff (not poetry), then why have a 3-post limit?

    some people read 4-5 books a week!
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    #14
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    That's a good point.

    But I think the 3-thread limit should still stand for your own work. This might be slightly more difficult to keep an eye on if there are more discussion threads, but it shouldn't be too much of a stress. As it stands, discussion threads, stickies and bumped threads aren't counted towards the 3-thread limit. And posts in threads like "Post a poem here" or "Post a haiku" (or whatever) aren't counted towards the limit either. So for the more prolific amongst us, those kinds of threads offer another outlet, without hogging forum space.

    I'd still like a few more responses to this thread before revamping the forum... Anyone?
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    #15
    i was thinking that maybe there could be a thread run by _____ (mods maybe), that could highlight a certain author each Xperiod of days.

    kinda the way wikipedia does its daily random articles, we could maybe have a weekly featured author.

    ...or something
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    #16
    i like that idea^

    and the post limit is a good idea also wordy, i think it would work well that way
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    #17
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    Ok, changes have now been made to the Forum Guidelines. Issues brought up in this thread have been taken into account.

    Comments and constructive criticism welcome.
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    #18
    Bluelighter Raz's Avatar
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    I like the highlighting a certain author idea, how would it actually work though?

    There used to be a poem of the week kinda thing here a while ago which got a lot of interaction, I think that'd be something cool to bring back..

    Also, I reckon it would be a cool idea to have something in the thread title which indicates whether it's a piece of creative writing or not....then again, I guess it's not that hard to preview the first bit of text before diving in as it were so maybe that's not such an issue...
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    #19
    i think it's a good idea to add the writing type in the title. it would make it alot easier to distinguish threads in here, and you know what you're getting into before you open the thread.
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    #20
    Angry
    I used to visit daily. I used to write daily in words, or every other day.
    I don't frequent as much as I used to. Not hardly at all, so I don't know how much influence my input actually is, BUT

    - I personally think that if this became a discussion forum also, it would 100 per cent absolutely suck. I don't mean that harsh in any way, but plain and simple - suck.
    The Words forum was the only forum I used at one time. And I love it because it gave people the opportunity to just get out everything they needed to get out. if you identified with the writer then you posted a reply, if someone wanted to give constuctive critizism, the posted a reply. If someone just wanted to read, and not reply they didn't have to.
    I find that, in let's use the Lounge for example, it gave people more opportunity to throw in their two cents whenever the fuck they felt like it, whether it be completely assinine (sp?) and not worthy of anything else but a smart-ass answer to piss off as much people as possible. Trust me, I was very, very fluent in being an asshole responder in the forums such as the Lounge.

    I stopped visiting the Words forum much when the newer bluelighters starting flooding the pages. There was a time where some had more than ten threads started on the front page- and that was annoying.

    If this thread is open to every sort of topic under the sun, then it is going to give someone the advantage of making a post about every dumb book they read.... and ask, what do you think? When that starts to flood the front, then many new word posts are going to be pushed to the second and third pages- and let's face it, I really don't have time to sit here and try to find posts that are ten pages back but only 2 days old. I'd get annoyed with that, and frequent this page less and less.
    I used to absolutely love this forum.
    Not saying that I don't anymore, but it's changing.
    Sometimes change is good, BUT sometimes it isn't. Sometimes I would just like to come in here and poor my fucking guts out and know that in a few days, my avid readers, my friends, would post a reply telling me they totally 'got what i was saying' and tell me how well they could relate to my articulate words, and that made me feel awesome.
    It was like a little tight-knit family.
    An open forum like that takes away, the umm, personal level, and intimacy that makes this forum so unique and different from the rest.

    I could visit this forum everyday and make my presense unknown. I could not post anything for 7 or 8 months, and the second I do, I get responses from the same bluelighters who were posting in my threads 4 years ago.

    Perhaps, I'm looking to far into this, but if you are going to consider 'something new', consider all the aspects of it. There are some real cons to that idea if you ask me. But that's just my goddamned opinion.
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    #21
    Professor Emeritus TheLoveBandit's Avatar
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    ^^^I was pleased to see you offer input - you've been missed in more places than just this forum

    One thing that struck me about the way the forum has been (pretty much exactly as you described it) would be a duplication of a journal (which we have). You've got an established group of friends, and you pour your heart out whenever you feel like it - those same group of friends respond if they want, comment on what you expressed and how you expressed it. But for the most part, the forum looked like a stack of diaries or creative-writing notebooks left on a table waiting for passersby to stop and read then comment or refrain from commenting (if they didn't already have some connection to the OP) I understand your point about everyone under the sun throwing in comments, even when they aren't wanted - but that's part of what kept this forum like a library, very quiet and not much interaction beyond "nice post" or "I've been there, and felt that".

    I think the Lounge is a poor comparison for any other forum on the site - it is an animal unto itself (and you are spot on with the smart ass and asshole fluency remarks regarding that forum). That forum is intended to host that sort of behavior, whereas I believe the mods intend for this to foster more intelligent and respectful (and ON TOPIC) discussions related to words. Really, how many forums are like the Lounge?

    I respect your opinion on a lot of things, and I especially appreciate a differing point of view that can shed light on an aspect that may be overlooked. However, I don't think a stack of journal entries makes a forum. I think a forum like WORDS can offer a lot more to our members in terms of discussions on writings, and I trust they'd not let it turn into the Lounge v2.0 where you've got 3 pages of mindless dribble to sift thru for the things you'd find worth reading or commenting upon.

    Still, these changes aren't my mission - I have no agenda other than to challenge the mods to best understand the wants and needs of the members. Then I consider it my responsibility to help them implement changes (if appropriate) for the improved enjoyment of their members. Even if that means not going in certain directions - so all voices and opinions are welcome and wanted.
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    #22
    Bluelight Crew (Wordy)'s Avatar
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    Thanks, definitely some good points raised.

    iLoveYouWithaKnife, I can definitely understand your concerns, which I think TheLoveBandit has addressed pretty well.

    One of the most important things (to me at least) is to maintain the supportive and free-spirited vibe of this forum. I'm confident that it'll be possible to maintain this, while at the same time stimulating more general discussion, making the place more vibrant and readable, and increasing the number of regular and occasional visitors. To pick up on TLB's metaphor, I'd like to see the place transformed from a quiet library to a vibrant cafe - a place where writers, readers and word-lovers in general can chat, compare notes, show/perform their wares, share knowledge, and develop friendships. But I can see the need for moments of quiet and solitude in this space too; and for seriousness, openness, and pouring out feelings without fear of judgement.

    It's becoming clear that reshaping the forum and letting it evolve will be something of a balancing act. I really hope that the "old school" Words folk aren't driven away by the changes. They've been (and I hope they'll continue to be) the lifeblood of Words.

    Re: categorising threads... I'll give this some thought. I can see a few potential issues with it. I can't see a problem with categorising threads about books (in the same way that the Film & TV forum categorises films and TV shows). We could instigate a category for creative writing, but I think some members might object to their work being categorised, even as creative writing (for example, if they're writing what amounts to a journal entry, or a true story from their life that they'd like to share). Sometimes it might be hard to tell whether it's creative writing or not. And I kind of like clicking on a thread without knowing what I'm going to find inside, other than the hint of the title (which might be a red herring! ). As Raz said, there is the option of previewing the thread (by hovering your pointer over it). Also categorising threads would amount to another layer of strictness / organisation, but if people are convinced it would improve the forum, then I'm prepared to listen to their arguments.
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    #23
    Bluelight Crew L2R's Avatar
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    I would consider the potential for the words forum to be similar to that of film&tv, except with the additional ability to post your own work as well.

    With recognised prefixes on the subject header, one could easily distinguish book and author reviews and discussions from original works or writing techniques and resources, etc.

    I've tried to post a few things in the words forum and replied to a few threads, but the almost extinct discussion gave me little incentive to come back.

    I think these changes are long overdue and can only make the place more enjoyable, attractive and productive.

    Quote Originally Posted by (Wordy)
    We could instigate a category for creative writing, but I think some members might object to their work being categorised, even as creative writing (for example, if they're writing what amounts to a journal entry, or a true story from their life that they'd like to share). Sometimes it might be hard to tell whether it's creative writing or not. And I kind of like clicking on a thread without knowing what I'm going to find inside, other than the hint of the title (which might be a red herring! ).
    How about "Original work" or simply "Original" as an ambiguous title? All it says is that the content in not in relation to anyone else or anyone else's work.
    Last edited by L2R; 25-09-2006 at 06:17.
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    #24
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    "Original"... yeah that could work as a tag - I like it!
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    #25
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    Folks, in oder to help manage the changes to the forum, we're looking to recruit a third moderator.

    For more info and how to apply, check here:

    http://www.bluelight.ru/vb/showthread.php?t=271608
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