burbles Okay was not really expecting so much to come out of this! You people are so freaking cool.
That’s not a bad idea. I suspect that as with many of these things the problem lies with volition rather than venue. Writing a thoughtful review takes time, which makes it an effective if not intentional imposition.
This has I think also been proposed, and probably also falls to a question of volition — I know that that was, as Chipotle says, originally the intent of the SoFurry relaunch from a FurRag point of view. Or at least, the hope was that the Groups functionality would allow FurRag to continue as a subset of SoFurry. The FWG has a SoFurry group, but I don’t know exactly what its mission is.
Fair enough. Perhaps “gatekeeping” was the wrong word to use. I mean that I don’t think that the only reason a divide exists, if it exists, is a bridge on which one side lies quality and the other side lies the shadowlands, guarded by a stern-faced soldier wielding a red pen.
That’s also true, and I tried to get at that. There’s a commitment required one way or the other, which is one reason why I asked what the “best of both worlds” would be — because I don’t know that it is possible to do both — perhaps there is something that I am missing, however.
Also true! To be super clear I don’t think the answer is moving everybody to FA And perhaps it may be that the answer for how to close the gap is so different between the two camps that there isn’t really one “answer” at all. This discussion thread has been incredibly enlightening in helping me to put that all into context.
That sort of dovetails with what Camio said. But there must be a way to close that gap, right? Technically speaking all (most?) printed works are assembled and developed with some online component — solicited online, organized by editors working together online — so it’s not like they don’t have digital footprints. So at least some of those steps (looking up names, contact information, etc.) could be skipped — which doesn’t solve the problem of immediacy. I suppose if something was truly wowing, you’d find a way to communicate that (I have before) but every added barrier is constricting that funnel even further.
That’s true, and I should’ve touched on that. Presumably in a more easily monetisable fandom there would be yet another clearer motivation to separate the two (and for the infrastructure required for effective gatekeeping as Rechan says) and in this fashion a clearer impulse to generate a self-sustaining imperative in terms of quality.
One thing I think wasn’t clear enough in my original post — Ianus was quite direct on this front at AC, so it should’ve been — is that “online” vs “print” does not necessarily mean “free” vs “paid.” We do have vehicles for paying authors who post primarily online (and a number of authors doing so) and it’s probably important that this be stressed, because that is at least part of bridging that gap: establishing, to repeat, the expectation and understanding that writing is a profession and professionals get paid.
There will of course always be people who aren’t interested in being paid, which has been an issue for other creative industries: why bother hiring a photographer for your stock imagery when everyone has a DSLR these days and what you get on Flickr or Wikimedia Commons is probably “good enough”? For that matter, why bothering to edit a general reference when the “wisdom of crowds” will do it for you on Wikipedia…
But broadly speaking I agree with you, particularly at the idea that there is no real incentive to, as you put it, “work at the harder parts of writing” in a complete “everything goes” free-for-all.
Why is that, do you suppose? Just that the growth in creators has outstripped the growth in the fandom overall? Or that the fandom’s writing scene has also become more niche, which I suspect — it’s gotten large enough that you can afford to be selective, in the same way that television these days is able to cater to more diverse interests, more narrowly.
The truism used to be that furry fandom is creative because if you wanted to see something, the odds were you had to make it yourself. I’m not entirely certain that’s still true. I can probably get pretty close — and, of course, it’s a lot easier to find these days… which paradoxically makes any individual story harder to find.
One interesting thing about SoFurry is that it does, at least, make it fairly easy to find older stories. If you take a look at average number of views, for example, average number of views for a story posted in 2014 is 369. For 2013: 641.
… And so on. Rather than older stories simply disappearing into the void, they at least generate consistent views over time. The complete picture is a little bit more complicated and I’m working on a longitudinal survey that tries to tease some of that out, but it’s a key advantage of such archives. That said…
I’ll be honest, NightEyes was the original reason I started thinking about this, but you were a big reason I wrote up my thoughts more formally — I know this is something you’ve thought about before. I’m not smart enough to judge what the practical requirements would be for that. A lot of it comes down to effort; herding writers is probably like herding cats, and I expect many writers understand that any effort that goes into curation is effort that isn’t going into writing, per se.
Why did Alex Vance’s idea for SoFurry groups not work out? In your opinion, that is?
Unfortunately all of these are good points. It would be nice to say that A) is a self-solving problem, because authors who refuse to take criticism are those who, as Rabbit points out, may be by and large authors who are not interested in the hard work of professional development. That doesn’t change the fact that it makes an already grueling task substantially less rewarding.
That, I guess, adds in yet another wrinkle — in raising the bar in terms of quantity of feedback, we have to be effective at creating a culture in which it’s expected, and to be honest I don’t actually think we have it. I don’t 100% know how many authors actually are seriously looking for it, and how many say they are because it’s expected.
I did back in 2012. I wrote about 40,000 words of new content, linked it to a few stories I’d already read, and compiled it into an ebook form (epub/Kindle/RTF/PDF/plain text). I didn’t advertise it outside of a journal entry, and whatever traction I got from the cover artist posting the cover, and probably Twitter. Should’ve done better about that; it was a very ad hoc sort of thing. I literally just wrote a script to validate unique tokens and allow people to download the book, then wrote a post saying “hey, here’s a book; here’s my PayPal address.” Outside the cover art I did all layout, compilation, web backend stuff, etc. myself.
So, no storefront. I told people to pay what they thought was appropriate and took PayPal and Dwolla as payment methods. At the time, I had about 350 watchers on SoFurry; I sold 32 copies, which isn’t a bad conversion rate, at amounts ranging between $5 and $20. I think this is high, and I chalk some of that up to a desire to support furry authors and furry writing — this was before Patreon became a thing — rather than as a reflection of what the market would actually bear, and might bear today.
Anecdotes not being data, take that as you will.