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populace-as-gatekeepers

It's a common idea. It makes youtube, digg, etc. And I know people have tried it for fiction. But I'm in a weird mood.

(and no, this has nothing to do with GUD, I promise)

Thought: open up the slushpile. First N of the story (half of what anyone could consider as making something "published") free, as soon as a person submits it (maybe vetted by an editor, but probably can make do without that). Anonymous. Rights remain with author entirely at this point.

Anyone who votes for the story gets to read the next N of it (so we're still calling it unpublished... just a longer teaser for the piece).

If there are enough votes for the piece, it's considered published, released on the main page, comments allowed + voting ala EDF ... and the submitter is cut in for a slice of the pie (advertising + any micro donations).

Micro-donations: for fifty cents, you can drop more love on a piece == more votes on it == more likely to be published.

The submitter could even pick how long they want the piece "considered for publication", and pull it at any time.

[[thoughts sparked from a conversation over at freakangels' whitechapel]]

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
davien
Jul. 31st, 2008 10:36 am (UTC)
I have no idea what people have tried in this vein. But it might make more sense to have a hit/search indexer rank things with an optional people vote. Require registration to read the whole piece. Make registration free or cheap and renewable (you can rely on ad sales for financial support).

In my experience, the more of a pain in the ass you make ranking a piece (by associating it with a user required input of voting), the less likely you are to get real results. Although this does imply more intelligent effort to make the ranking algorithm smart.

If a story ranks above a certain point within a certain amount of time (as an adjusted percentage of actual readership for all titles submitted within that timeframe, sorting out spiders, etc) then they are paid a certain amount of advertising or membership revenue.

Kind of a crap shoot for an author, but hell, there's always lulu.
kaolinfire
Jul. 31st, 2008 10:45 am (UTC)
hit index sounds good, but I kind of do want to make people jump through hoops a little just to have the validation. The hook would be getting readers interested in "the whole process". The danger would be folks would get uninterested very, very quickly, as slushing is hard work. ;)

And also the danger is it wouldn't pick up the caliber of writing necessary to keep people reading the feeds. It is a tough crapshoot for contributors (but then, many do it for nothing ... so a "next to nothing, but we'll do our best to do good by you" with a respected helm ... could mean something).

There definitely needs to be a time element involved in ranking--sleepers would be rejected within n months... and popularity would have to be a relative thing--the # of yes's required to publish something would need to grow with the site.

I'm also picturing something like a month to get the ball rolling with entries and slushers with nothing published...

One biiiiiiiiiig problem I see is stories that work well technically at the beginning but then completely flop at the end. That could even be gamed by submitting authors...
davien
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:04 am (UTC)
The danger is always the worst part. If no one participates because it's too hard (or even if not enough people participate) your whole scheme falls apart at the beginning. That's why you do both. You get the encouraged involvement, but you also have a realistic ranking even if they don't participate as much as you want. You have to have a registration to control voting anyway, or else you end up with an invalid vote due to stuffing.

I'd worry less about the caliber than about getting the interest at all. YouTube didn't start by only getting high quality stuff, but now it's pretty darn popular. If you're only interested in high caliber writing, then stick to a standard magazine subscription format where submissions are editor selected by someone with taste. I honestly don't see a way around the quality issue in an "everyone can submit and be read" format. It's really up to you as the site owner to generate the kind of quality interest that will hold you up.

You may want to shorten the window as the rate of submission increases, for space and copyright if nothing else. One month might be too short for a site that is only generating a handful of hits per month. But, in the same token, a site that is generating a billion hits a month might make one month too long to weed out 100 submissions. YMMV.

As for the bad finish - sure, that's an issue, but that's why you let the ranking happen after they've read instead of ranking only the beginning of the story. Registration should be the key to access the whole piece, and the ability to vote should allow users to organically balance the hit ratio for a bad finisher.

A more interesting problem is how to enforce copyright on the Internet. Anyone can copy the text and run off with it. They can do the same thing from a printed magazine, but ease of access for Internet stuff makes it more probable. So, if someone comes to you with a warrant to determine date of publication on your site and which registered users viewed it, are you going to have logs/backups to provide it?
davien
Aug. 1st, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
I was thinking more about this today and pairing this with online text for purchase. Have it be people's choice book review, have a certain number of stories/votes/rank allow promo/sale of other works by that submitter via the site? iono, there are a lot of auxilliary avenues for community involvement.
ken_schneyer
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
This would be a "people's choice" site/mag. Not a bad thing, but that would have to be its entire editorial policy.

There are some popular "self-publication" sites, especially those devoted to fan fiction, in which a people's choice model can be observed. Frequently the most popular choices are not able even to follow the rules of grammar.
blueblindbee
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of maybe one special story in each issue. Like a "People's Choice" story that you'll have every/every-now-and-then an issue.
indomitability
Aug. 1st, 2008 08:01 am (UTC)
Admit it--you just don't want to slush. :-D
kaolinfire
Aug. 1st, 2008 08:07 am (UTC)
It would be nice to have a more self-sustaining system... :)
indomitability
Aug. 1st, 2008 08:08 am (UTC)
I used to have the same exact thought about grading. :-D
zotsf
Aug. 2nd, 2008 02:06 pm (UTC)
I like the idea. I think you definitely have something here with reader read publishing push through. Make the consumer the publisher. It makes a lot of sense to me.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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