Where is everyone?
not even blogging was as detrimental as facebook!
I plead not ordinary
I came to add my twopence-worth because I received the email invitation. I've read through what everybody has to say and one person's comment stood out enormously for me. The person was Gee and the comment was:
There was always a kindness about this place, a humour, and that seems to be missing. I wish I knew why and how to get it back.
That's it in a nutshell. It just doesn't feel like a very nice place to be any more. It seems to be full of barbed comments and people confronting one another, both here in the forums and in the comments under the stories as well. I may be paranoid, but I feel, as someone else said, that honest comments on stories and thoughtful discussion of writing are no longer what the site is about. It seems to have turned into a dangerous place, full of snipers and traps for the unwary. I don't think the fall off in submissions has anything to do with facebook or technical aspects of this site. It has to do with the culture that has developed, which, to be brutally honest, I no longer feel that I want to be part of.
I used Forward Poetry but it was destroyed by trolls. It was never as good as UKA, but it served its purpose. I'm also a member of an American site Deep Underground Poetry. This site seems to be going the way of UKA. Lots of reads, especially if the story or poem is about sex, but very few comments left. There were some very skilled writers and poets on there but they gradually fell away.
I have been away from the site writing a novel, now complete and published on Amazon, so I've popped back.
One of the reasons I left was because of the lack of comments, which I find demoralising. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not looking for praise for my writing, just honest crit so that I may grow as a writer.
I often left comments myself but rarely drew any although the indicator for 'reads' grew steadily. If people can't be arsed to drop a brief comment then why bother?
I learned so much from the crit I received in the early days so much so that I have been published in two American on-line mags and have won a prize and been published in Lancashire Magazine.
I will try again by submitting stories and poems and commenting on the work of others. But as to the cause of the lethargy? I am at a loss.
Question: Who uses another writers' site rather than UKA? And what are those sites?
I've tried both Creative-Poems and All Poetry. I gave up on both of them. I found they cater more to the showcasing crowd, and although I'm all for showcasing your work, I also want constructive feedback to help me polish that work. I've found nothing in that regard, which comes close to UKA. I find the comments here very helpful. I also enjoy the social interaction with others in the forums and through the submissions commentary. No, my primary struggle isn't with this site, but with myself. I feel I've lost my mojo (motivation to write) these past few years and that has curtailed my participation in both the forums and the main site. I will, however, overcome my inertia with a little help from my friends (you guys).
What I want: a place to both showcase my work and get, as well as give, constructive feedback, a lively forum with a diversity of opinion that can be expressed provocatively but with respect, all within an atmosphere of camaraderie and common purpose.
(I think discussions like this one is one way to clear the cobwebs and articulate more clearly what it is we want from this site. We can't accommodate everyone, but that doesn't mean we're doomed. There's no reason why we can't work together with what we've got and have a site that we can be proud of.)
PS - I've just thought of an idea for a new forum: Writers Who've Lost Their Mojo.
Instead of trying to undo the biting of the old apple/I bite a new one instead/And with a toothless grin/Become a Dionysian among Christians.
Ukauthors is fine. We live in very weird times. Things have changed. The Internet. Society. Bigger problems everywhere.
I like UKA so I will stick with it till the very end.
I don't care who argues with whom and what kind of misunderstandings may still exist or are being created right now. Good luck with them. It is none of my business.
I understand some people's frustration due to lack of comments and new work or new members, but I think we must all not expect anything at least for a while. Again it's none of my business.
Post, whenever you can
Comment, whenever you feel like it.
Donate if you can
Buy a copy of the anthology
Participate in a workshop or challenge on and off
that's my list.
and it's a winner.
I plead not ordinary
I'm on ABC, as an editor, as I was for most of my time as an active-ish member of UKA under the name Nomenklatura. I left - to be honest - because I could not reconcile myself to E-griff's treating the site as "his personal fiefdom" as someone else actually put it. I'm still a member because it's convenient to have what I wrote on UKA available to me in the archives. I do miss the critique of the likes of Sirat, Franciman and others. ABC most definitely isn't about hard or penetrating crit. Mostly it's just encouragement. The current hierarchy endeavour to keep spats, trolling and so on off the open pages. Obviously that means that sometimes people are less than critical in what and how they comment. Even so I have had real fly-off-the-handle borderline abuse from a couple of people. I do not comment on their work although I have given them the cherries which equate to UKA's nibs since. As here (is this still true?) the awards are generally anonymous apart from the special weekly or monthly ones for which I'm not responsible. I would say the two sites have an overlap of possible users, or at least they did. In the past, if I wanted really detailed crit I would post on UKA and I frequently got it. There is no question of considering myself too good for this or any site. My reasons for departure are detailed near the beginning of this post.
Good luck to everyone here, it's a good site, but it's not for me.
Apathy, lack of good will, lack of caring, laziness, pandering to fragile egos, selfishness and self serving by some to a dertimental degree... the list goes on.
What to do? Sorry I'm all out of trying. I lost my enthusiasm when I saw the way things were heading.
It saddened me greatly but in the end unless people learn to contribute and have basic good manners / goodwill, there's not a lot to be done.
Like you Bro, I have lost my mojo. I think it became detached trying my best to contribute to WABD to try help get it off the ground...
Then bringing up the subject of the lack of comments and I still agree with what Archie said. He contributed greatly to the site. Not just with very talented work but also with valuable crit but in the end he could not stand to see certain things transpiring and neither could I.
So in effect, failing to grasp the nettle has resulted in loss to the site of several people.
Well, I'm still here that is still one of the guys in the band. OK I haven't submitted anything since 2011 but that was for totally different reasons than anything I've read here. My husband Wyndham AKA the SOF got very poorly and I had to look after him until he finally gave up being sick and died in October 2014.
So that's my excuse from 2011 to 2014 and maybe to 2015 while I was sorting out his humungously complicated estate.
But after that I suppose I do concur with others. The site has changed and not, in my opinion, necessarily for the better. I can't comment on the 'personalities' others have mentioned. I haven't been around so I know nothing about that but really hasn't it ever been thus. I can remember some really 'interesting knock down drag outs' on the old UKA site which to the neutrals were great fun.
There have always been cliques and precious people. They come, they go and that's life. Right? Ofcourse right.
I do have reservations about this site. It's not as friendly as it was, nor as intuitive as it was. I had to change my user name to even get reregistered and I do feel rather unhappy with having to trawl through the options to find my 'archived subs' which incidentally only gets me access to one page, that feels a bit locked away in the dusty store room to me and if I have problems getting to my work who the hell else is going to be arsed to go looking for it.
I think basically people don't like change. They don't trust it. They like things the way they were.
If I do get time - which is unlikely at the moment 'cause I've just taken on a new puppy - but like Arnie said 'I'll be back.'
One more thing I noticed a comment that remarked on the response to the e-mail. Perhaps that's a clue as to where the problem lies. It's not personal enough anymore.
Good day and good luck.
Do no harm.
I think that Franciman summed up the situation very well and I have nothing to add. I have been a UKA's member since 2003 and by now my opinions should be well known, so there is no need for me to reiterate what I think.
On the technical side it is evident that the website is not user-friendly and new members may find it difficult to navigate for the lack of proper instructions.
The front page lacks variety and can be a bit boring. The content re. articles etc. is always the same; it should be changed from time to time.
The private messages systems is confusing: is the sender's name to be included in the 'Conversation Members' box? And is it also meant to be addressed to more than one person?
As an after thought, I also agree with Gee and David about there always being a kindness and humour here which seems to have dissipated. Yes, there's been some squabbles in the past, families always fall out now and again but there was always (well mostly as far as I could see) goodwill.
Personally speaking, I have lost some very dear people, who I used to enjoy but I still have many on the site I have become fond of over the years. Through reading, commenting and sharing we developed bonds. We became real people to one another and I certainly felt that we were a source of support and comfort too, if needed, when someone was going through a tough time. That is what occurs when people share and give of themselves not take take and give nothing.
Somewhere along the line a rot set in..such a shame. You could argue that is not what a poetry or writing site is all about and you may well have a point but it was what made this site precious to me.
I also agree with Luigi. I really do not like the layout at all, (sorry) It is confusing and not at all user or reader friendly. It used to be so easy to see new posts but now it's horribly confusing and takes an effort to try to find out who has written what when!
I never wanted to complain because I am very aware how hard the management have worked and I did bot want to discourage them. However, I do think it is a big problem and does not entice me to read anything.
We used to have fav authors and I think we still do but I lost all the ones who had nominated me and all the ones I had nominated. It was a bit precious to me actually...strangely but it was. I know there are still buttons we can push but never got the hang of them nor understood half the numbers under our profiles.
I used to have some great laughs on the forum. It was stimulating, thought provoking and entertaining for the most part.
Read through the responses so far and a lot of good points have been raised. (I'll thank Steve for the namecheck here, while I'm thinking about it. I hope life's being kind, mate.)
I agree with Gee's comment (and David's 'seconding'): there was a special atmosphere around UKA. I'd even got to a point where I felt I had to get something written and subbed every week, not because of any back-prodding behind the scenes, but because it was good to share and I welcomed the comments/crits i) because they helped me improve, ii) because thought had clearly been given to even the more negative ones, which in turn demonstrated support. I don't think I ever received an overly snarky comment or one along the lines of a simple 'Didn't like it' or, worse, 'Crap'. If a story didn't work for a reader, or they took issue with the subject matter and/or my treatment of it, the comments left didn't hold back...but they were constructed in an intelligent, mature way, e.g. 'This didn't work for me because' + explanation. 'I found this character two-dimensional', and so on.
I agree with Steve that there were occasional 'disruptive elements' - some intentionally so; others, I would say, not. That's going to happen from time to time. People will sometimes disagree (especially over something like Brexit) and will vehemently state their opinions. That's good. I've been a member on some sites were groupthink takes over and they've generally not lasted too long once the lead sheep bleats and everyone immediately and automatically follows with 'baa'. There's a world of difference between expressing a strong (adverse) opinion and outright trolling, though, and Andrea and the community generally did an OK job of sorting one from t'other. The occasional troll member is part of the nature of the beast, however.
@franciman: You make some good points and I agree with you on many of them. What I would say, though, is that UKA is a teaching medium to some extent. I certainly improved thanks to the comments left by those Stevef names as well as many others (including Steve himself). But you are right when you say that not everyone learned or honed their craft here (or here alone).
Personally, I stopped subbing not because I felt I had outgrown the place and/or the other writers on it, but because of an issue I've raised before, namely that I was told, perhaps unreliably, that anything posted here was considered to have been published due to the fact that works were openly accessible by non-members (i.e. content was not locked away). That in turn meant that I could only offer limited rights if I submitted to markets, or remove the work in question from old UKA and inform the target market that it had appeared on UKA in X form between dates Y and Z. In that sense, and that sense alone, UKA was indeed beginning to hold me back, and it was a wrench to delete everything and move on because I owe Andrea (in particular), Richard and several former and existing members here a hell of a lot.
Which brings me to another point re: why I stopped subbing. It's already been addressed by others, but it is pertinent: lack of reads and comments.
I'm no poet. I'll read more of it, these days, where I wouldn't go near it before, but when it comes to writing it? Forget about it.
The problem was - and my lurking tells me still is - UKA became very poem-heavy. That's not having a go at poets and, yes, the remedy is in prose writers' own hands (literally) - at least to an extent. That argument, though, tends to ignore the reason why prose writers tended to fall away in the first place, and that reason was lack of reads. Well, there was a second reason - specifically that anything longer than flash fiction came to be deemed "too long" even after the setting of an unofficial limit of 2,000 words - but lack of reads was the real killer, even over a lack of comments. There's nothing worse than beavering away on something, submitting, then getting to watch it being ignored.
So UKA became poem-heavy and prose writers drifted away, to where I know not. Perhaps nowhere. I've certainly not signed up to any other group nor have I been tempted to. I'm not on Facebook, and besides that isn't really the kind of platform writers can use either as a workshop or a showcase AFAIK.
I know the call has gone out several times for the prose writers to come back, but what is the point if you submit only to receive 2-3 reads and no comments at all? Speaking only for myself, I'd neither improve by it nor learn anything about the work and how I might improve it. Throw in the 'it's been published' issue mentioned above and the game ceases to be worth the candle.
Clearly, then, one way to 'fix' UKA is to get people commenting again. That, almost by default, means doing away with the 'no crit/comments' option. And seriously, if you can't handle criticism you're in the wrong game in the first place: if you write purely for fun, it shouldn't hurt you at all (and you have the freedom to point out that you're a hobbyist/'fun' writer) while positive comments will still put you on Cloud 9; if, on the other hand, you are or want to be 'professional' (in the sense that it is serious work you're about, you are a Writer, rather than being professional in the sense that it's how you earn all or part of your living)...as someone or other once said, "You ain't seen nothin' yet". Better get used to the summer rain before you brave the monsoon.
Anyway, sorry to waffle on. You can all wake up now. 😉
I also use PostPoems it was the first site I found when I finally got a computer eight years ago, until then no one had read any of my poems let alone given me any feedback / advice. I was advised to try UKAuthors by a fellow member ( can't recall who it was though ) which made a huge difference to me. PP's is a good, basic site very easy to use, but UKA is far superior in its knowledgeable and helpful critique which has brought me so far along the poetry path. If I had to give one up it would be PP's. As far as I am concerned joining UKA is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Thanks for all the replies so far! Lots to digest, absorb and consider.
To bullet point some of the things that stick out for me and which I think needs serious consideration:
- Not enough prose and poetry dominated.
- Not as friendly as back in the day.
- New site design and layout confusing and poorly presented.
- PM system confusing
- Serious lack of commenting.
For me, personally (and this is my opinion NOT Andrea's), I am not a fan of publishing days. I think we should do away with the scheduled format of publishing writing twice a week and allow instant submissions. I think we can then get a more dynamic frontpage of 'picks, editors choice, promoted subs, trending etc.' which might encourage members to interact more dynamically with the new writing and other members of the site.
Also, I agree that the various choices of commenting and critiquing should go. I would opt for comments ON or OFF and that's it.
I know that I (Richard) run hot and cold when it comes to faffing with this site. I am sort of manic when it comes to UKA - I get a period of 110% webmastery where I change things, fix things (and often break things!) and then I lose the urge and sink back into the shadows. This has happened over the last 3 months (sorry). ALSO, and equally my fault, Andrea has been forced into a less active role because she can't get used to this WP system and really struggles to edit the site and add her stuff via admin - She resisted the change from old UKA to this new version and it was me that convinced her it was the right thing to do! She was a master of phpnuke (old UKA backend) and thus she kept the site much more up-to-date and engaging.
Oh, something else I just thought of that might be hindering us... moderation, spam, and security! We now have some much of that on this site that I think it is stifling us all. We (admin) do need to have checking in place to help combat all this shite spamming, hacking, netbots, and hijacking attempts (by bots AND real people) and this has caused no end of problems for the site. The site seems to be in permanent lockdown and is more successful in blocking new users and disallowing current member's notifications than allowing the emails and communications to get through.
So we need to fix those things above if we can.
Not sure how but at least we can all Knowledge that things need a shake up!
If consensus says lack of comment is to blame for falling numbers, I fail to see how removing the no critique /no comment button will help?
Critique is a bit like antibiotics. Use it sparingly and it's very effective, but overused it is onerous and Impotent. To overplay the medical hyperbole, if you have contraindications you don't receive antibiotics... . Same with critique for me. I welcome it but respect the wishes of those who don't. On the subject of disruption, dissent and unkindly sub-cultures, I believe we are mixing 'critique' and writing related discussion with the contentious issues on the forums. The people I have contact with reside on the main site. They are a friendly bunch in the main; helpful and kind. However, as with all associations, it is a case of evolve or dissolve, and current members do not wish more of the same, obviously. We need to listen to their concerns; something we are not yet very good at.
David (Sirat), I refer you to your remarks (Now unfortunately removed) anent the people with concerns over the latest anthology picks. Not only unkind, but pejorative in the labels you used on your fellow members. It is ok to feel threatened by change but not to strike out, as you are still doing, in your most recent post. The diminution in your contributions to the site is not a new phenomenon based on a dislike of the current culture. It has been in decline since I arrived some seven years ago.
I apologise it this seems personal. It isn't on my part. I am just heartily sick of hearing about a club I was never a member of, or a culture I don't believe was markedly different from the one you are all so wistful about.
Less forums, more friendly dispute and discussion on writing and being writers. That is my proposed partial solution. We have lost any number of quality members, simply because we fail to listen to their legitimate concerns. We can't afford the losses if we hope to continue.