Ok, I sense a theme here. WritingForums.com was the next site I visited and the first official “for review” mission. Anyway, Writingforums.com seems to have been around for quite some time, and, honestly, was pretty great.
Social Experience: Jaded from my time at it’s .org counterpart, I prepared myself for delving into WritingForums.com by thickening my skin as hard as I could. I was very pleasantly surprised when the community turned out to be pretty good.
I began, of course, by introducing myself, and got the pretty expected string of helloes and welcomes. Then I moved on to my test question, and was delighted with a series of very useful responces and not a single bit of parroting. I honestly felt bad, getting such useful advice without actually needing it, so I was inspired to go back and add a whole new scene to my book!
This forum does have a good mix of new and old writers, as well as a pretty international community(I had a delightful conversation with a fellow from Britain). The user count is about 16,000, 9,000 less than .org. Apparently that means removing 9,000 parrots and jerks.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say everyone I encountered was awesome, but they were definitely all respectful. Maybe I just came across as more seasoned, but I didn’t see the sort of childishness here that I was worried about. Even the few individuals that I wouldn’t exactly characterize as “nice” were still helpful and communicative.
On the whole, I can’t say I had a single negative social experience. I can’t say you won’t, either, but if I didn’t have a single negative encounter in several days of reviewing, you will probably enjoy your stay there.
Score: 10, and worth every point.
Spring Boarding and Critiques: Really, very good. I was able to get truly helpful advice when asking for suggestions, better than the sort of thing I got from the old Writer’s Club(Sorry, guys, you were good too!). I didn’t see the kind of parroting that got me so fed-up with the previous forum, and really liked the sort of help I got. I will actually go back to this forum next time I’m stuck.
Instead of setting hard and fast rules, WritingForums.com just politely asks that you reciprocate with critiques, and suggests posting critiques before asking for one yourself. As much as I respect .org’s rule system, I find this one equally as appreciable. Given WritingForums.com’s much more mature user base, they can probably get by without strict rules.
Ignoring their suggestions, I went ahead and posted a throwaway piece to see what would happen.
Quality of Information: In a word, really good, if for some reason you hyphenate “really good”, which I can’t imagine why you would. I did encounter a few people with the attitude that there way was the only way, but I’d be surprised if I didn’t. People like that exist and, sadly, are the rule and not the exception. However, those people were promoting reasonable methods and doing so in a polite and adult manner.
One of the users even introduced me to a piece of software that looks very promising. As I tend to write on about 5,000 different computers in a given day and the software is not portable, it probably won’t work for me. However, it is still a gem for anyone else.
In a dramatic improvement over WritingForums.org, the folks over at WritingForums.com actually recognized that query writing and genre fiction are two different disciplines and skill at one does not equate to skill at the other.
While I didn’t spend the time to ask too many questions, over all I felt the information available and offered on WritingForums.com to be very valuable. There were some actual published authors on there and a lot of people just know what they’re doing.
Score: 10, expect some real winners here.
Ease of use/User Interface: Unlike it’s .org counterpart. WritingForums.com appears to be significantly older. It, too, utilizes a fairly familiar vBulletin board, but this one actually looks like it dates from the late 90s, with a bunch of newer features like twitter feeds and face book “likes” just sort of cobbled in. While this does hurt the over-all aesthetic of the site, its honestly hard to hold it accountable. There is a pretty large population and a lot of them are probably old-timers. Personally, I hate it when my favorite sites change, so I can’t fault this one for not updating it’s look. I can, however, fault it for a few poor decisions in layout. I had a bit of trouble getting my bearings at first and actually had to consult the FAQ to figure out how to set my signature(an important detail which no one caught on to).
Score: 8, had to ding it just a little, but very far from unusable.
Over-all User Experience: Positive. Despite a handful of teething problems with the technology and a few forum goers who were a bit rough around the edges, the place was over-all pretty good. Realistically, I couldn’t expect any better, and I honestly have to say that my experiences at WritingForums.com restored my faith in humanity a little bit.
Score: 10, nothing was negative enough to take a point off.
Final Score: 48 out of 50, seriously, this is a good forum!