I’m going to be concentrating on other things for the foreseeable future but I wanted to leave you with a few ideas for improving the writing experience. They mainly relate to a general theme of ‘lack of information’ which I believe may be potentially deterring new writers and almost certainly discouraging less successful ones. It might sometimes be brutal but some feedback is better than none, in my opinion, anyway. So here are my ideas, for what they’re worth:
- Introduce a counter in the Writer’s Room for Number of Views, ie how many people have read your sub that has no stars? At the moment it is impossible to know whether loads of people have read it and think it’s rubbish, or whether it has been ignored because the headline is poor, or whether it has somehow been missed under the deluge of pun-based one-liners. A counter would enable writers to intuit why their sub failed without someone having to be pretty harsh and tell them it’s rubbish – which understandably no-one wants to do (with the odd exception!)
- Make it obligatory for someone to score a sub once they have clicked on it. I would personally rather have an average score of 2 or 3 than 0 (or 5 because I, and I alone, rate my own work highly!). Neither this nor the point above will work for the one-liners but as I rarely write them I’m not in a position to comment on those
- O’Farrell’s Notes – I have to confess that I am genuinely confused about what works and doesn’t work on the site, and what will make an FP and what won’t, and I think a lot of people feel the same. The current advice for being successful, though well-meaning, boils down to ‘be funny’, and I don’t think that’s enough. Anyway, I wondered about a system where JOF critiques the FPs, perhaps only for a month, so we can understand why it was chosen. They wouldn’t need deconstructing line by line, but if we knew why each FP was considered good enough, over a period of a month we would develop a better understanding of what he believes works, or sees as most important in a sub. If anyone was prepared to subject their unsuccessful subs to scrutiny, that might be even more beneficial but also quite brutal. I would be happy to put any of mine forward if it helps others
- Abandon the three strikes and you’re out rule. I think this is self-imposed by the 3-time WoMs, but they should come back if they want to. This is important for three reasons: quality breeds quality and the general standard of the site will go up; secondly, those of us who don’t have great success can learn from those who do; thirdly, it is much more palatable to not get FPs when the standard is higher than what you can achieve!
- Related to this, I get the feeling there are fewer writers of, and fans of, full subs on here now and I suspect, because I don’t generally score one-liners, that the people who write them may be less inclined to score full subs. So the end result is that most full subs don’t get many scores, which means they don’t get into the Top 10 and therefore are more likely to be missed as potential FPs or NiBs. This is a generalisation as outstanding subs do get plenty of scores, but the point still stands that a culture change is needed where we have a critical mass of writers and readers of full subs. No idea how we engender that culture change but hopefully someone will have some bright ideas
- Coach Trip – Someone had this idea a while ago. I think it was Zadok but apologies if it wasn’t. If you could team up a WoM and a newbie or a non-WoM (for want of a better phrase), you would have a competition which would also act potentially as a mentoring scheme. In time, you would have more writers creating subs to a higher standard, which can only be a good thing.
So anyway, those are my thoughts. Hope you find them useful.
All the best