B’Ware of W-Beginning Writers’ Publishing Platforms?
Good things saying farewell is something which saddens us. Author-friendliness is a good thing about publishing sites. They provide authors with good publishing interfaces and provide many other supportive things like lengthy and links-full Author Bios. In return they get data, information and pages which no other way they will get except by employing highly paid staff. But when enough data has been accumulated, there is a tendency to oust writers from the site and escape with the materials.
Wiki Answers did this and Wikinut may do this.
What will happen if a good publishing site turns sour, angers its contributors and gradually begins to fail in fulfilling its responsibility to writers and their readers? Such things usually happen- not rarely- in the publishing world. Publishing world here means publishing platforms, not book-publishing companies. Because Writerly Words also begins with a W, I think I have to mention by name two fine publishing platforms which recently either turned hostile to writers, or ultimately closed door to them. They are Wiki Answers and Wikinut.
First step is providing writers with good intellectual challenges and keeping them writing.
Wiki Answers, or Answers Dot Com was once described (by themselves?) as the fifth-largest website as regard to knowledge accumulation and dissemination. Formed following the patterns of Wikipedia, ten thousands of students asked questions and thousands of contributors answered them. These contributors worked on a Voluntary Basis and were not paid for their time and services, but were allowed a Profile Page in the site. There they could display a few lines about themselves and provide links to their own sites, blogs and portfolios. Many of these contributors worked as Supervisors also, devoting their precious little time to enlarging and refining this useful unique answer bank. There were also Halls of Fame- monthly, yearly and all-time- where the names of the foremost answerers in each category were displayed. In place of an incentive, and also as an encouragement, supervisors were sent gifts each year. Sometimes it would be a bag, and sometimes it would be a blanket. I don’t know about Category and Higher Supervisors: I was only a Floating Supervisor and a long-standing contributor.
Second step is kicking writers out and escaping with their materials.
All things were going well till some changes in policy took place. This may have been due to new brats entering the Board. Old Hats won’t do such rash and ugly things. Or some large corporation which is least concerned about free knowledge gathering and its free dissemination may have taken over. Anyway, one day, the contributors and supervisors were told by e-mail that they were not any more contributors and supervisors, they were not to log-in anymore, and that their profile pages have been taken down. So also were their names removed from where they appeared alongside the answers they composed. So, this once-prestigious knowledge bank and free answering platform escaped with everything contributed by thousands of writers to merchandise their creations where else at will. It was plain piracy.
Another good publishing site turning the same path.
The same kind of brats-take-over is happening in Wikinut too. It is considered one of the finest writers’ publishing platforms in the world. In fact, as regard to resources offered to writers, theirs were excellent. Their publishing interface also was one of the finest in the world among those freely accessible to writers. For years they paid writers in proportio to the advertisement revenue their articles generated. I don’t know how much, because I never even once clicked the ‘Your Payments’ link during my years writing there. (I still enjoy writing there, and the best of my writer-friends were gained from there). In 2017, they stopped paying writers, saying they are thinking about shutting down unless they stop paying writers. They lost hundreds of fine writers as a result, along with thousands of articles they contributed through years. A few remained, including me, for the sole reason that all articles are open to everyone including students, free. Then they limited Author Bio to 400 characters which meant just two or three lines. It was like ridiculing writers and challenging them to leave. Now they have introduced another policy change- writers cannot include their names in the titles of their articles- a change which achieved nothing and sure insisted by someone who never has been able to put down in words what he has in mind in the form of an article. That means, if I intend to publish an article titled ‘New Books From P. S. Remesh Chandran’, I have to title it as just ‘New Books’ which would be meaningless. More writers are sure to leave Wikinut, but not me, yet. But what will happen if they gradually kick out writers and escape with their creations like Wiki Answers did?
Will the new Writerly Words also go this way?
The point is, brats may come to the Board, and the Administration. Uncouth changes may be introduced by the unripe in the information and publishing field. Larger corporations and companies may come with takes-over or mergers. Policies may change. History shows every such thing have been discouraging and disappointing to writers in those platforms. The last to come to the publishing world is Writerly Words with its comparatively good interfaces and supposedly assured writer-friendliness. But ‘Writerly Words’ also begins with a ‘W’ in its name. What will come of it in the future?