This is my first attempt to assemble a framework and some procedural stuff for an HP fic discussion comm. I expect it will undergo a few more drafts before I'm ready to set it loose on the world, but I'm overdue on my promise to get the ball rolling. For the time being, I'm going to leave this up as a sticky post on my journal so that suggestions can be added and revisions made.

Please point out errors, contradictions, overlooked items, and anything else that will give shape to this rough beginning.

1. What I have in mind is a community fueled by authors and open to anyone who wants to discuss and analyze individual works of Harry Potter fanfiction submitted by community members. This doesn't have to be a hard limit, but I see this as a forum useful to writers and encouraging to interested readers. So I expect the majority of stories under discussion to be chosen by writers from amongst their own works. Which means the writers will be part of the discussion and welcome to participate as equals. Non-writers can propose stories they'd like to talk about, but only if they secure the permission of the author first, whether that author chooses to join the community or not. (It's not mandatory for an author to participate if the community still wants to discuss the work, but I'd give precedence to stories submitted by participating authors.)

2. This isn't a beta community. No drafts or unfinished works will be accepted. We'll be looking at completed fics chosen because the author wants to discuss certain aspects or is curious about public response or – well, for any reason, really. I would urge that writers consider carefully whether there's enough interesting material, subtext, technique, etc. to provoke lively conversation in the works they bring to the table. It's doubtful that a PWP, for instance, will spark much in the way of wide-ranging discussion. (Although don't hold me to that; I'm sure someone could prove me wrong.)

3. Discussions need to stay within the bounds of civility. I'm not interested in people bringing shipwars or bad manners into the community. If I think the debate is getting overheated and approaching the inappropriate, I'll point it out. If members persist, they may be asked to retire from the conversation. Ad hominem attacks are grounds for instant banning. If I overstep my authority, I'm open to community feedback and will be happy to admit when I've goofed.

4. We'll open one post a month per chosen work (unless the community thinks two a month is doable). I'd like to solicit stories from authors who sign up for the community, and once we have a reasonable number, post a schedule so we know in advance which story is on the roster. This will give people plenty of time to become acquainted with each fic, mull over possible discussion points, and consider the best way to address sensitive or confusing material. (Note: should participants submit questions to the moderator in advance, in order that that month's moderator can vet a variety of talking points?)

5. Each discussion must have a moderator, someone who has thought about the story and has ideas about where to lead the conversation. Moderators will be there to spur conversation, propose topics, and make sure participants treat one another with respect. The mod may be a champion of the fic or a fan of the character/pairing or a faithful reader of that month's author. What they should not be is a dictator; just because someone is in charge doesn't mean they get to drive the conversation or drag subthreads back to their own viewpoint or hobbyhorse. What we hope they are is articulate and passionate. It will help to make a numbered list of talking points to act as icebreakers, point of reference, and launching pads (see participant contributions above), but none of these will be set in stone. Members are always welcome to add comment threads. Mods will volunteer in advance, and their names will be added to the calendar alongside the story they've asked to moderate. (Note: I'm happy to play moderator for stories I feel strongly about, and I'm fairly good at coming up with topics. However, I won't always be able to do that, and in instances where I'm not a natural fan of the character or pairing, it would be preferable to find someone who is.)

6. Once open, discussion posts remain open. The conversation can just keep on going. I highly recommend tracking each post that interests you so as not to miss any follow-up comments (I expect authors have already thought of this).

7. Please participate. I can't stress this enough. The community will thrive only if people are enthusiastic about sharing their opinions. Seriously, don't be shy. Wade in and tell us what you think. We're not looking for agreement here (unless we really do all happen to agree). There are all different levels of engagement and degrees of love and hate. Confusion is okay. Confusion is an excellent reason to ask questions! Heartfelt love is good, too. So is dislike. In all cases, I'd ask participants to elaborate. Have reasons for your opinion. Have a measure of tact as well.

Authors who submit a story and don't bother to show up for any discussion but their own will not be accepted back for a second go (barring extenuating circumstances). The heart of the community is the desire to read good fics and get together to talk about them.

8. What constitutes a topic? Practically anything. Narrative technique. Questions of craft. The plausibility of time travel. The culture of house elves. What makes a relationship dysfunctional. Whether that scene was out of character. What does "in character" mean. How much you love Minerva McGonagall. Why all the Hogwarts staff deserve to be fired. What role magic plays in any given fic. How this story deconstructs the idea of "the hero." Whether this relationship reproduces a harmful social stereotype. How beautiful the prose is. Why you gravitate toward hurt/comfort tropes. How debunking authority in HP requires the adults to behave stupidly. How well this works as a romance. The choice to make the wizarding world an LGBT utopia. Why this is erotic and that isn't. What makes AUs persuasive. Whether or not certain characters can be redeemed. And so on.

Authors: be aware that you may read overt or implied criticism of your work. You may also encounter what you consider wrong interpretations. Readers may not care what you intend; their main concern will be whether or not they find support for their interpretation on the page. Discussion and debate are our meat and drink, and you don't have to meekly accept everything said about your story. But remember that you must abide by the same rules as everyone else. Please have reasons for your opinions or rebuttals (it makes life more interesting!), but please don't attack commenters no matter how much they persist in not getting it. However, this is meant to be helpful and illuminating for you, so feel free to seek out interesting threads and request elaboration. NOTE: AUTHORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FEELINGS. If negative feedback affects your ability to write or does damage in any way, don't subject yourself to the risk of criticism. Nothing here will be malicious (on pain of banhammering), but it may still be hurtful. We don't want this to be a bad experience.

Question: should there be some policy about author participation? Should authors respond only to points and questions addressed directly to them? How should that be handled?

One final question, at least for now: what shall we call ourselves? ETA: [ profile] dbassassin suggested hp_salon. I like it. I've grabbed it and created a community page, which is still in progress.

New question:
what should the word count limit be? I'm inclined to think short fic - even a couple thousand words - is fine because it can still inspire strong responses. Drabbles, no. Should there be a cap on the upper limit? 50k words? Less? More?

Note: I've removed a question based on a different community's rules because the assumptions within those rules muddied the waters. This community's goals are different, and I'd rather have our interactions evolve organically. Thanks to those who shared their thoughts and pointed out ways in which those rules would stifle conversation.
ext_1581797: (Default)

From: [identity profile]

I would definitely participate in this, although I don't think I could really offer a fic up. I would, however, adore giving feedback and discussing all things writing in relation to each fic.

As for the question of those two rules, I would think that the first rule is a given. What's the point of commenting if it's only SpaG and copy editor stuff? I don't understand that.

In terms of the second rule, that's the type of rule I detest. It feels like a way to force people to be "adults" and "civil" and "okay" with being critiqued. It assumes that a writer will only be okay being critiqued if they have enough good things said about their work. Honestly, critique and discussion is about getting better. It's about figuring out how things work. Sure, there's always going to be things that are good, but then the question is why are those things good and how they can be better.

Additionally, the entire idea of "good" and "bad" is problematic. In the first place, everyone has different preferences in terms of what they find "acceptable" and "high quality". Stylistic preferences are different, some people hate plot holes while other people argue that stories with plot holes can be just as good or even better (I would argue the latter and point people to a couple of novels, but that's a different conversation). And, of course, the term "bad" being used at all just gives me the shivers. Something isn't "bad". You can't decide what is bad. You can decide what could be improved upon and what could be developed. Saying "bad" is like saying there is only one good type of cheese and that type of cheese is cruddy American shit. What if I like blue cheese or provelle?

Anyways, I could go on and on but I don't have time to write about everything, so I'll leave this comment by saying I don't agree with the "bad and the good" mixing rule.

From: [identity profile]

I would be delighted to have you jump in! I'm fairly confident we can find authors willing to submit fics and less certain of attracting people willing to talk passionately about fanfic. Having you there would be a blessing.

I grabbed those rules off the hp_concrit_fest profile page just to test the reaction here, and I'm actually pretty pleased that you and [ profile] dbassassin concur in thinking it's condescending to pad corners and bend over backward to avoid giving offense. I'm so used to encountering the opposite reaction in fandom! So I assumed people would balk if there weren't some assurance that a balance would be struck.

I'm not entirely in agreement that discussion is always about getting better. Critique, yes. But as a discussion comm, I expect people will want to talk about conflicting headcanons and interesting sidelights and authors who influenced them and anything else that strikes their fancy. This isn't solely meant to be a concrit community, so commenters might go off on tangents related to the fic and interesting in their own right but not purely applicable to the writer's intent and achievement. We'll see. The comm's personality will evolve over time, depending on who participates and what they enjoy and see as a contribution.

the entire idea of "good" and "bad" is problematic. In the first place, everyone has different preferences in terms of what they find "acceptable" and "high quality"

Exactly, and this is the sort of fruitful tension around values and definitions that can lead to conversation. Especially since many people have been taught to use the terms "good" and "bad" and assign objective qualities to them. Often when someone says, "This is bad," they obviously mean "I don't like it," sometimes followed by, "And here's why." It's a common terminology, and I wouldn't disallow it as a response, but I want a description of what didn't work. Depth, not dismissal. "Here's why" is more useful and interesting than a label that divides stories according to one person's unspecified criteria and accumulated reading experience.

Although let's be honest here, I've had no problems chucking certain books across the bed and snarling, "That sucks." In company, though, I'd be prepared to explain what I mean by "sucks."

Beyond that, I don't want readers bound by rules of "discuss what needs improving or what technique the author used to construct that scene." For one thing, not all participants will bring analytical skills to the table. I'm all for a discussion that bounces around among a variety of topics, including character love and comparative interpretations and disagreements about magic systems and so on. The story will be the common ground, but the participants can play different games according to their inclinations.

I have no problem dispensing with the "mixing" rule, but I'm curious to hear other potential participants weigh in first, particularly since the two of you who reject that rule so far won't personally be submitting stories and won't be on the receiving end. But thank you, this is the kind of honest opinion and clarity I was hoping for.

ext_1581797: (Default)

From: [identity profile]

I would put in a fic if I had anything of any good length to put in. But I really don't.

I don't really have time right now to respond to each part of your comment in detail, but I understand all of your reasoning for things and do agree when you describe it in such a way.

From: [identity profile]

I'm so used to encountering the opposite reaction in fandom!

Ah, yes, The Cut of Squee. One of my least favourite aspects of fandom, and one of the principal reasons why I've always been of two minds about it.

Beyond that, I don't want readers bound by rules of "discuss what needs improving or what technique the author used to construct that scene."

From what you say here, what you're trying to build isn't so much a crit community but an on-line salon of sorts. Which I actually find more attractive than something purely about crit, because I'm not one of those literary analyst types.

Oh, and hp_salon appears to be available as a comm name.

From: [identity profile]

from what you say here, what you're trying to build isn't so much a crit community but an on-line salon of sorts.

You've put your finger on it, and by posting rules taken from a concrit community, I mistakenly implied that I was aiming solely for critique when what I really want is a place to hang out and talk.

I was smitten with your suggestion, so I sallied forth and nabbed the community name. Thank you!

Afterthought: I was totally confused at first by the different attitudes in fandom around writing and feedback and concrit. Early on, I hurt some feelings and received a few dressings-down in return. I actually do understand if fic writers don't want negative feedback, because not everyone in fandom is writing for the same reasons or with any standard but "it's fun!" in mind. However, I do want balance. It would help if everyone stated their preferences upfront and there was no stigma attached to treating fanfic as something worth discussing. Or perhaps I should rephrase that: discussion, even disagreement, is one way some of us have fun. Thus the idea for this comm!

From: [identity profile]

Well, I figured hp_salon was more your thing than crit_bitches, which is what it would be called if I was running it. ;)

From: [identity profile]

Heh, 'crit_bitches' definitely has attitude. If the community were aimed at whipping original work into shape, I think I'd go for it. It does have a certain je ne sais quoi. :P

From: [identity profile]

I would gladly offer up fic for feedback, though I''m uncertain how much I could actually contribute to the discussion. I have zero, nada, no training in literary analysis and I'm unlikely to find subtext if it was highlighted, italicized and displayed in 36 pt type. I'm fairly certain I could articulate what I did and did not like about a particular story in a rambling, incoherent morass of words (rather like this comment), but it wouldn't be a paean of academic buzzwords by any stretch of imagination. In other words, please don't ask me about deconstruction. I'm not even sure what it means!

I absolutely love the topics suggested in your 8th point, especially if it leads to 'why' questions (or 'how' questions) for the author to answer. I could see the right questions sparking a 20-comment thread about house-elve magic v. 'regular' magic, which would be glorious! I seldom get to nerd out with anybody over stuff like that.

As for the policy about author participation, how about a thread that's just for questions for the author and limit participation by the author to that thread alone? That way readers could pose questions and the author would know to reply only to those comments. I've never defended a dissertation (or thesis), but I would imagine the questions might be similar. In that vein, I would hope participants would couch their comments so that it's clear that the story is being discussed. 'What sort of idiot would think Harry would do X?' is helpful to no one.

Now to find the courage not to delete this comment...

From: [identity profile]

Hey, opinions are welcome! And thank you for being willing to offer fic! I want this to be a comm for discussions of all kinds - lit crit, outpourings of love, character analysis, complaints about the woes of writing, disagreements over the meaning of moral choice, emotional reactions, pros and cons of tropes. So bring it on! There will be people here with lit crit backgrounds and people who just love to read and write and other people who are fans (or not) of the characters and the story. People who have something to say and are willing to speak up - that's what I'm looking for. So don't worry about buzzwords. When I say "deconstruction," I don't really care what the official theory is. I personally mean "Let's take this idea apart. What qualifies someone to be a hero?" Et cetera.

I could see the right questions sparking a 20-comment thread about house-elve magic v. 'regular' magic

Yes, this! I want to encourage a community freedom that allows for tangents, for people wandering off into thread discussions for the hell of it. The monthly story might start out as the focus, but members will be allowed to pursue spin-off ideas as well. We're all nerds here.

I like the idea of having a separate thread to address questions directly to the author, although I think the author should also be free to participate in general discussion. As with most things about the comm, I suspect we'll just wing it and adjust the rules as we go along.

And yeah, civility is the bottom line here. I'm all for passionate defenses and disagreements, just not personal snobbishness. The real people are more important than the fictional people. That will be on me and the monthly moderator to deal with, although I tend to think comm members will most likely be more cautious because they know the author is right there, reading every word.

Thanks for chipping in (and for not deleting your comment)! It feels like we've actually got enough interested parties to get this community off the ground. :D

From: [identity profile]

I would probably sign up to participate in discussions, but I'm not sure I would be interested in submitting fic as all my fics have been taken down and I'm not making them public again for this purpose. Though I might approach other authors of a few fics to see if they would be willing to have them discussed.

As to the rules: the first (esp. comments re: low-level betaing and copy editing issues) is obvious.

I'm much less comfortable with the second rule. Actually, if the "we must all make nicey-face" rule is brought in then I wouldn't participate at all. The reason is, if I have a comment to make on a specific point, and the comment is critical (though it would of course be civil in tone), the last thing I want to do is then have to wrack my brain to come up with a token "positive" comment for "balance". This policy presumes that the writer is a child who won't take their medicine unless it's mixed into a spoonful of sugar. It's patronising to the writer and wastes the time of the people critiquing and gives the enterprise a Stepford wives kind of vibe that, frankly, would creep me out.

And I won't suggest any names because I've always been crap at coming up with names. Unless they're rude or have "bitch" in them, which I'm assuming isn't exactly the tone you're going for. ;)

From: [identity profile]

I'm glad you pointed out the dampening effects of the concrit rules. It clued me in to the fact that I was setting up the wrong expectations. I want a broader, more inclusive space for conversation, something that will be interesting to the writer but not solely in a context of critique and improvement. A lot of my feedback tends to fall into the category of "Excuse me while I run off at the keyboard about every possible thing that entered my head while reading your story," much of which isn't in any way crit-oriented. And I don't want commenters to feel constrained by the sense that it's their duty to always bring the discussion back to the story. The fic is the catalyst. Conversation chases fireflies all over the field.

For someone who's crap at names, you did a pretty smashing job there. Thanks for recognizing exactly what I was going for and expressing it better than I did!

From: [identity profile]

Note: should participants submit questions to the moderator in advance, in order that that month's moderator can vet a variety of talking points?

I’m firmly in favour of keeping things as transparent as possible (call it a professional deformation), especially as the goal is to incite conversation. If you are concerned about threads with similar questions or topics being started, I suggest instead a rule requiring people to check other topics before starting their own. This way, you can justifiably close down threads, and redirect people to the appropriate thread in order to contain topics.

4/5: I may be confused, but the discussion points participants come up with (4), are they in addition to the topics proposed by moderators (5)? Are both moderators and participants allowed to start threads? Or must a participant's question fit into the thread started by the moderator?

8. Why all the Hogwarts staff deserve to be fired. - HA! I've been chuckling at this one for over 10 minutes, now. :D

The two rules:
I agree that comments need to go beyond spelling and grammar. However, (and it may simply be that my understanding of criticism is different than yours) requiring criticism could stunt discussion. Do you require that every comment point to a specific aspect of the story, or is broader discussion of a trope featured in the story, for instance, be acceptable? Such a comment may not offer direct criticism of the fic, but could easily crop up as comment threads grow longer. I suppose my questions boils down to: will the focus be on story-specific criticism or the story as the incarnation of broader fannish propensities?

I agree with notearchiver and dbassassin; the rules about being civil, and forbidding personal attacks should ensure a good atmosphere as is. Then again, I'm nowhere near ready to submit a story, so...
Edited Date: 2015-05-01 11:24 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile]

If you are concerned about threads with similar questions or topics being started, I suggest instead a rule requiring people to check other topics before starting their own.

*nod* I imagine we'll have a couple of reminders per post so people can review guidelines without having to open a separate window. Although I hope participants will familiarize themselves with the rules before diving in.

I shouldn't have used the word "vet" there. My train of thought was more concerned with having enough thread topics to get the conversation started rather than with weeding things out. Until we know how bold and opinionated our motley crew are going to be, and how confident about starting threads, I'd like to make sure the mod (which might be me or me plus a monthly moderator) posts a few icebreaker topics. Not standardized discussion questions, either. Threads need to reflect familiarity with the fic and an interest in things specific to it.

What really prompted that question was my uncertainty about how often I'll end up being the sole monthly moderator and whether I'll have to host the conversation even for stories that aren't my usual fare. I actively want participants to pitch in and submit topics. If the comm starts percolating right off the bat, I won't have to worry so much about the extra work involved in close reading and carefully tailored thread topics. Mostly I just want each month's post to be as vivacious and keen as possible, with as much equal attention as we can muster, given different tastes in pairings and styles.

Anyway, in case it's not clear from my rambling, participants are more than welcome to start threads. Post, post, post! Don't hold back! I don't foresee an issue with this, because realistically speaking, I don't expect the comm will grow large enough to engage in a thread-tangent free-for-all. ;) My relatively small experience with discussion comms is that the challenge lies in keeping everyone from drifting away. I want as much curiosity and passing fancy and sudden thought as possible. The more participation, the merrier.

As for the concrit_fest rules: they have now been flung away on the grounds of irrelevance to the presumed point: lively, unfettered discussion. Thank you for reinforcing my sense that I ought to trust writers to be open to feedback in all its myriad forms, without modly intervention (except in cases of genuine offense) or thread nannying. :P

From: [identity profile]

Agree with previous posters regarding "good" and "bad" comments. The word critique now seems synonymous with wank, at least in LJ. A critical analysis isn't good or bad, it's an analysis of themes, tropes, plot, characterization, pacing, etc. It's an in-depth look at a piece. Personally, I would appreciate an honesty opinion as opposed someone saying something insincere for the sake of the rules.

From: [identity profile]

I made a mistake, I think, in erring on the side of old LJ feuds. This comm isn't purely for concrit but for conversation, which will, yes, sometimes involve critique. I misled everybody by borrowing rules from a concrit fest; I absolutely don't want us locked into that concept. It's limiting. But after years of having it hammered into me that fandom doesn't welcome critique and that it genuinely hurts people who are just here to enjoy their hobby, I assumed participants would be expecting some sort of reassurance. This may, of course, mean there are writers who will never feel comfortable submitting work here. But I agree that members shouldn't have to water down their opinions or carefully package their comments in soft tissue.

Therefore, those examples have been chucked. Better to figure it out as we go along.

From: [identity profile]

Long comment is too long - pt 1

I'm sure you'll be not at all surprised that I've spent a fair bit of time pondering the possible logistics of this enterprise instead of working on my exchange fic with the horribly short deadline.

Anyway... I have a lot of questions and a few suggestions, on issues big and small.

1. word limit: I agree a word limit range is a good idea to start. Minimum 1000, maximum 50,000, perhaps?

2. variety: I suspect that most of the people who make up the initial participants will be folks from your flist (entirely reasonable), so my suspicion is that most of them are Snape fans and so pretty much all the early submitted stories will be Snape-focused. So, how do we ensure there's variety in the stories up for discussion? I'm not sure I have a potential solution for this issue. Actively solicit participants further afield to broaden the subject base? Ensure rotation of types of fic? This might have to be a "play-it-by-ear" situation, at least for the first few rounds. I just don't want the comm turning into an "all Snape, all the time" scenario. Not that I'm interested in reading Harry/Draco fic, but variety might help draw in a larger number of regularly-active participants.

3. I'm a little confused by what you say here re: the proposer of the fic vs. the moderator of the discussion thread. Should these not be the same person? Also, it's a little unclear about what the moderator's role would be beyond keeping an eye on behaviour on the discussion threads. I think if someone proposed a fic (most likely their own), they should be willing to put in the hours to moderate the threads or you could end up with a situation where you have alot of fics being proposed and the moderatoing burden falling into a small number of people. And I think they should be coming up with a few questions or discussion points to at least get the ball rolling at the beginning.

4. I have concerns about the "threads stay open forever" proposal. It puts a considerable burden on the moderator, especially over time if a person moderates more than one discussion over the course of a year, for example. In this scenario, the moderating burden continues to grow. And what would happen if threads stay open "forever" and the moderator of that discussion leaves the community/fandom? I'd recommend closing all threads on a post after 30 days unless the threads continue to be regularly active (as defined by a certain number of comments per week, maybe?).

5. Moderators and on-thread behaviour: I'm assuming that you'll be the only maintainer of the comm, and so would be the only person able to ban users and freeze threads (if my understanding of how LJ comms work is incorrect, please disregard this comment). If that's the case, how do the moderators maintain control if things get unruly and you're not around? Especially if this takes place at a time when you're not available (such as the middle of the night in your time zone)?

6. Would you be open to the idea of discussion posts that aren't based on a specific fic? Meta discussions, in other words? These topics could be submitted in the same way as fics and the discussions organised in the same way as the fic discussions.

... to be continued in part 2

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 1

Heh, this is how my mind works, too! Only your mind's is faster; or perhaps less fragmented at the moment. It's amazing how procrastination can be a goad to production - on anything other than what you *should* be working on.

Thanks for chiming in, because this is exactly why I put up a discussion post. I'm fishing for advice and feedback before writing up the community mission statement.

1. Those word count limits feel right to me, and I'd be surprised if many of our entries manage to get anywhere near the ceiling.

2. Once the community goes live and I open it up for submissions, I'm going to approach various communities to see if we can post announcements and through their membership fling the net wider. Other participants can do the same so we're not drawing from a closed system of only those people who know me. There's a reasonable spectrum of folks still poking their heads into my journal; maybe they can help spread the word. Although I'm actually fine with my flist getting in on the ground floor. It's populated by good writers and pretty articulate readers, and not all of them are Snape-centric. We'll see what the first submissions look like, and I'll do my best to alternate characters and pairings, depending on what I have to choose from and who's available to help moderate.

3. I'm not in favor of fic writers moderating discussion of their own work. It puts them in a tricky position and runs the risk of overshadowing conversation, because modding implies control over topics and behavior. IMO, there needs to be a little distance between the writer, the work, and the people leaving feedback so no intimidation (or perhaps inhibition) creeps in. I also don't want writers being put in a bind of using their modly powers of intervention and getting backlash for it. Besides, I want the writer to be able to move freely through the conversation as appropriate, and it remains to be seen whether a moderator will have that flexibility.

As of this writing, I see moderators serving three purposes: 1) getting threads started with pertinent topics and doing the needful to keep the conversation rolling, 2) overseeing community standards of civil interaction, and 3) being available to answer questions. Mods are also encouraged to join the discussion as much as they can and as much as they want. We'll know how feasible this is only after we've put up a fic list and posted sign-up sheets.

I'll also try to be involved as a co-moderator as much as possible so that whenever I can arrange it, there will be two moderators for each fic discussion. On the occasions no one else volunteers, I'll be sole mod until such time as I decide that plan isn't working.

Whoever proposes a fic not their own (after securing the author's permission) will be expected to lead the discussion. So saith I.

4. My experience with discussion comms suggests that the greatest activity occurs within the first week. After that, people may have good intentions, but they often fail to follow up. Plus the next discussion post will suck away participants, and what free time they have will go to that, not to mention all their other online activities. People don't have much mental energy to spare for fic discussion, and once the group has decamped and the enthusiasm waned, there's not a lot of incentive to hang around old posts.

I intend to track all discussions, so any johnny-come-lately remarks (or spam) will hit my inbox. At month's end, the signed-up moderators will have fulfilled their commitment and I won't expect them to keep an eye on the discussion unless they're personally interested.

5. Yeah, this is an issue, but possibly not a big one. I'm adopting a "wait and see" attitude about a lot of things because hell if I know how to throw this party. Some rules will be retroactive. It's hard to predict what kind of mix we'll get, although I can vouch for most of my flist being cool-headed and non-confrontational. I won't deny it might be frustrating for non-US folks.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 1

Long reply is too long…

6. I would love discussion posts distinct from the monthly fic entries, although I probably won't be all that keen on running them myself. Unless it's a favorite topic of mine and I proposed it, that is. Trying to organize meta convos can be worse than herding cats, because a lot of people are burnt out on HP meta by now. If you're thinking more along the lines of general writing posts, I'm totally up for those. But this would definitely follow the rule of "You want to talk about it? Then you're in charge."

From: [identity profile]

Long comment is too long - pt 2


7. I think the comm will need a rule that states explicitly that the person who runs a discussion post and threads do not have the right to take them down; posts and threads are owned by the comm and only the maintainer (you) have the right to do so, regardless of who makes the initial post.

8. Once fics have been submitted and the schedule for the first few discussions has been decided (and the moderators for those discussions are known) then I think perhaps you and the other moderators should have some sort of conversation about behaviour and responses in various situations; I think it would be good in the beginning for the moderators to discuss this just to make sure everyone is coming from the same place when it comes to what's considered acceptable and what isn't. Everyone's standards in regards to this will be different and it wouldn't help the intentions of the comm if participants don't have a clear idea of the boundaries. Just saying "behave like an adult and be civil" doesn't really help either participants or the moderators, because everyone's definitions of those terms will be different.

9. Date and time of posting discussions will have to accommodate the moderator's schedule. If the moderator is expected, on their own, to run the discussion, participate in various threads, and oversee behaviour... this is could end up being a considerable time commitment, especially in the first day or two after the initial post goes up, which would most likely be when the bulk of the conversations take place. So it would have to take place when the moderator has the ability to put in the time. Considering that there, presumably, will be participants and moderators in a wide range of time zones, I think there will need to be some flexibility in regards to scheduling the posting.

Anyway... some thoughts on logistics. Please feel free to disregard, especially those based on any (entirely possible) misunderstanding of your intentions.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2

I'm finding this "rules" discussion a little intimidating, to tell the truth. Not that I particularly object to any one of them, it's just that I have to keep checking back to see what rule 7 was or exactly what the parameters of discussion are supposed to be. I have a feeling that "it'll be all right on the night"--that once we get started, people will be pretty good about tone and topic, and other members will say so if they think a comment is out of line or OT. Otherwise, I'm willing to go with whatever standards Fearless Leader thinks would be advisable.

I do have one process question: how do moderators get paired up with fics? You say they'll be volunteers, and should have knowledge of and interest in the piece under discussion, but also that authors should propose their own works for discussion. So do we come in with our own moderator already signed up, so to speak? It strikes me that this could be awkward. ("Yes, I know I said I liked your sad little offering, but I was just trying to encourage you, and in any case I have no intention of spending four weeks talking about it.") or are you thinking that there'll be a list of proposed fics that moderators will choose among? In that case, what if there are some that everyone vies for and some that languish unclaimed? Or have I missed some obvious point?

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2

It certainly wasn't my intention to intimidate anyone with the posts and I apologise if you found the tone off-putting; I did wonder whether I should email my comments to PI instead of putting them up here, but I thought I'd give others the opportunity to rebut/comment/offer other suggestions as they saw fit.

Nothing I've said here is meant to come across as "rules", but discussion points around the logistics of posting, discussion threads, etc. There's only one person who decides what the rules of the comm are going to be and it's certainly not me.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2i

Whoa, I by no means meant my comment as a criticism or reproach of you, just an expression of my own sense of feebleness in this area. Which I guess illustrates how careful we'll all have to be in what we say and how we say it. I was interested in your take on things and assumed your good will in sharing it. I just found the whole conversation--not just your part of it--a little baffling (rather than off-putting). Please don't feel that means I think you should take it private or curtail it. I was primarily explaining why I wasn't putting my two cents in, since PI had asked us all to participate.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2

Sorry for the delay in responding! I've been out interviewing for jobs and *cough* not getting them. :(

Please don't feel put off by all this talk of rules. As someone who's never run a community like this but who has run afoul of fandom etiquette, I thought I'd doublecheck with interested onlookers and maybe rustle up some advice. Rest assured, the rules will be boiled down to a much cleaner version than you see here.

I have a feeling that "it'll be all right on the night"

I think so, too. Oh! The other missing piece as far as all this prep is concerned is that I'm trying to devise a framework that can function without me, because I won't always be available to moderate. Furthermore, for certain stories and pairings, I'm not the ideal cheerleader for conversation. So I'm trying to work out ahead of time how the responsibilities for this comm can be juggled - with the understanding that "all this" may not amount to very much work in the end. We'll see. I don't know yet!

As for pairing moderators with fics, this is how I hope it will go:

1. I'll open a post for submissions, and there will be time for spreading the word and making announcements in other comms.

2. Once I have enough story entries to cover a six-month period - presumably six fics, since no one spoke up to say they preferred a more frequent rotation - I'll put up a calendar listing titles, authors, pairings and/or characters, word count, and a link to the fic. At that point, I'll solicit volunteers to pair with each fic and moderate the upcoming conversation.

3. The volunteers and I will email back and forth about the best date to start (because they need to commit to being available on that day) and compare notes on what constitutes unacceptable feedback or behavior. We'll also whip up a few thread topics to help launch the conversation.

4. I'll add the volunteers' names and the start date to the calendar so people are aware in advance that the time is approaching and they'll have plenty of notice to prepare.

5. The post for submissions will stay open, with regular reminders to members to please submit fics. At the end of the sixth-month period, another calendar will be posted and we'll start the process over again.

So, no, I don't expect writers to produce moderators to represent their stories. A calendar of proposed fics seems the only viable way, IMO. I'm hoping other members of the comm will step forward to volunteer their services and choose a fic from that calendar, although I realize this will depend on the breadth of membership we can attract. It's likely that some fics will have several people vying to moderate, while others won't. In which case, I'm happy to take up the mantle and nudge the discussion forward. I just want to provide variety and fresh perspectives wherever I can, and to prevent the full weight of moderation from falling on my shoulders. I love talking about fanfic and the craft of writing, but I'm probably not the best choice to lead a discussion about, for example, Harry/Draco.

Does this sound less muddled? I'm actually grateful to have friends speak up and point out any confusion I may have perpetrated. It will help me pare things down so I can write up a nice, simple rules summary, and it will ensure I have a firmer grasp of the community's structure and expectations.

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2

That's very clear, and seems quite reasonable, thank you. And please understand, I'm not complaining about the rules discussion, only making excuses for not contributing to it. 😉

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2

Oh, yeah, I knew you weren't complaining. And you did contribute - questions are good! My brain is discursive, and I can use all the help I can get to be precise. :)

From: [identity profile]

Re: Long comment is too long - pt 2

7. Hmm, yeah, if that's a risk, we'll need that rule. I believe I've set it up so that posts are moderated and have to be cleared through me. Which means the temporary mod won't have the ability to delete the post anyway.

8. Oh, yes, definitely. I'll email all the fic mods and keep the lines of communication open so we can check in with each other when specific problems arise. I'm still not 100% sure what the standards of behavior are myself. No personal attacks, no temper tantrums, no kinkshaming (this may get tricky), no character bashing (ditto), no generalizing about anyone's morals based on their fictional tastes.

But unless we get a large influx of total strangers, I'm not too worried. My comm, my rules. If someone pisses me off, they're out. I don't want to spend a lot of time hashing out questions of behavior that suck energy away from the actual discussion.

9. I'm waiting to see the outcome of our first try at fic submissions and volunteers, because the concept of regular vs. flexible scheduling may be a sticking point. At the moment, I have no idea how to address this. Until I find a job, I actually have no idea what my schedule's even going to be. We'll have to muddle through on this one for the time being and trust that the main discussion bubbles onward for a few days rather than depending on that first 24 hours. (If this sounds like jovial, overconfident handwaving, that's because it is.)

Again, thanks for joining me in bouncing ideas back and forth. I can't claim to possess the most organized brain in fandom, so having other people speak up to point out logical fallacies or blind spots or responsibility overload is immensely helpful.

Meanwhile, damn that ticking clock. I have to force myself to go to bed soon in order to be up at 6 a.m. to prepare for an hour's drive (at minimum) to interview for a part time job. "Fucking hell" is all I have to say about that.

From: [identity profile]

I thought of you today and logged into LJ for the first time in far too long and immediately saw this -- what a splendid idea! I can't wait to see this take shape, and although I may need to be poked to remember to take a dissertation break, I'd love to participate in the discussions. I've missed them, and the pleasure of talking to lovely, brilliant people like yourself about texts.

From: [identity profile]

How absolutely lovely to see you here! I've wondered how academic life was treating you and whether you were ready to chuck your dissertation out the nearest window yet - or if it had you excited and up to your ears in books, reading All The Things.

I've been tripping and stumbling my way toward getting this comm up and running, because RL keeps sticking a leg out. But the guidelines should be posted soon, and then we'll have a call for submissions, and then - well, I really have no idea. I hope people show up bursting with opinion and eager to engage in lively discussion. It would be fantastic to have you drop in and share your wit and intelligence and literary perspective. So, please, do keep an eye on the comm, and if you need an occasional gentle poke, I'll be happy to provide it. :)


perverse_idyll: (Default)

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags