Community: Writing with a Social Component

Jim Stitzel

I dabble a little in a lot of things — writing, webcomics, gaming, photography, web design, music, and more. I’m a full-time code-wrangler with far, far too much to do.


I want everyone to go take a look at their profiles. Go on. I'll wait. In particular I want you to pay attention to two specific numbers -- your total story count and your total comment count. How do they compare? Do you have more stories written than comments posted? More comments than stories? What's the ratio?

We've always had an unspoken rule on Ficlatté (and its predecessors) -- well, less a rule than a standard convention of interaction -- that for every story you write, post at least three comments on other people's stories. Yes, Ficlatté is a writing site, but what makes this place a community is our social interactions with other members. Many of us have become online, if not personal, friends, thanks to the critiques and feedback we give each other and the Notes we send each other. If you're not commenting on other stories, then you're missing out on a key and important part of what makes this place so special.

And if writing a comment scares because, for example, you don't know what to say, it can be as simple as, "Hey, dude, I really enjoyed this," or "Keep writing!" There's no requirement to go into an in-depth breakdown of style, theme, or analysis, and honestly not everyone is looking for that kind of interaction, anyway. We're all here to write. Our stories are our babies, our children, if you will. They're the spawn of what's in our hearts and minds, and this is a safe place to get those words out into the world and practice our craft.

Taking the time to read and comment on other stories is also a great way to welcome new members into our community. We suffered some attrition to our membership when Ficly shuttered its doors. So, if you see a name you don't recognize and realize they're new to Ficlatté (or a returning member who's been away for a while), that's a great opportunity to drop a comment (and maybe even a personal Note) to say, "Hi, welcome, we're glad your here. Keep writing. We want to see more from you." Doing this one, simple thing can be enough to keep those people around and helps encourage a sense of community, of unity, of camaraderie, and encourages mutual feedback on your own writings.

I urge everyone to get out there and read widely. Dig into the archives, even. Resurrect old stories from the past. Every time you refresh the front page, the 'Golden Oldies' column randomly selects ten stories from the archives to read. Or click the 'Read a Random Story' button to be taken to a random archive that may have been buried for a while. There's nothing wrong with commenting on any or all of them and pushing them back up into Active Stories column. There's a rich wealth of writing here, both fiction and non-fiction. Interaction is the heart of what Ficlatté is about. This is a community, and every community lives and dies based on the participation of its membership

So, get out there and interact. Comment. Drive your comment count up, not for the sake of the count itself but as a measure of your activity in the community. Extend that comment-to-story ratio and see how it improves and extends your sense of family here.

Keep writing (and commenting)!

Comments (2 so far!)

HSAR

HSAR

I've always disliked the idea that there should be a ratio. We should be encouraging people to both write and comment lots.

  • Posted 1 month ago
Jim Stitzel

Jim Stitzel

Yeah, mostly it's a suggestion and an idea for "best practice," if that makes sense. Everyone comes here for different reasons, but it's that interactivity that keeps things fun and fresh, I think. There's never been any official hard-and-fast rule about comment-to-story ratios, nor should there ever be. I use my own ratio more as an interesting metric of how active I am.

  • Posted 1 month ago