This is the longest-researched post I have yet written. It began some time ago and I will be gathering a fair amount of information. Using a screen name that does not resemble any of my normal SNs, I have gone undercover to infiltrate several online creative writing forums.
Before I launch into the actual reviews, I am going to open with an outline of exactly what I’ve done. The reviews themselves will also link back to this article. So get ready, and away we go:
I spent some time as a new member in each forum, learning the rules and getting a feel for the population. Each forum has been ranked on the following key areas:
Social Experience: how accessible is the forum to new members, what sort of rules are enforced? Are the people friendly, are they assholes? Am I going to be glad I didn’t use my standard screen name?
Spring Boarding and Critiques: how well does the community kick around ideas, are they helpful? How about critiques, how hard is it to get them?
Quality of Information: is the forum populated entirely by morons? Are people actually paying attention to the questions being asked and providing relevant information(E.G.: asking a question about genre fiction and receiving information about non-fiction).
Ease of use/User Interface: how hard is the technology to use? Does it stick do basic forum conventions. As a long-time user of web boards, am I going to have much trouble getting my Barings here.
Over-all User Experience: when all the pluses and minuses and happy-face stickers are counted, how was the site? Did I throw my hands up in disgust? At the end of the day, how does the final experience rate?
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible score of 10(10 being the best). The overall score is based out of a possible 50 score (50 being the best).
In order to fairly rank each forum, I have carried out a series of standardized tests based on my experiences at the first forum. I started in each forum by writing a brief introduction for the “introduce yourself” page, this was kept to a minimum and included no personal information or details beyond the fact that I was a writer. I did mention “having books out” but that was it. From there, gauge the responses. I then found the appropriate section for suggested reading and recommend people read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Finally, I headed over to the general writing discussion section and posted a question asking for help with a character. This was actually originally helping to develop Sig Vetta from The Next Progression, but I got such a bad response on my first try that I decided to repeat it to see how each community would react.
Stay Tuned for the first review!