Just a reminder that automatic validation is given to those authors who have consistently met the minimum required standards of the archive, have complied with the archive rules and who are adept at using the software (i.e. don't submit stories without paragraph breaks, put things consistently in the correct category, don't submit sequels as standalones etc.) over a long enough period of time that it finally dawns on us that 'oh, that person can do it!'
So there will still be some stories to read, hopefully. And those authors who aren't quite ready for automatically validated status can still read and respond to reviews.
Leah is currently on holiday and I'll be leaving for mine this weekend. Both of us will have either no or intermittent internet access, so unfortunately I'm going to have to turn story submissions back off again starting this Saturday. Please submit any stories that you were planning to before then. Unfortunately, the alternative is to have most of them sitting in the queue until we get back.
This means you will not be able to add or edit stories.
Story submissions will be turned back on when either Leah is back, and thinks she can cope, or, at the very latest, when I'm back, which is the 14th of August.
I'm going to try and set the archive up so that those people who are already on automatic validation will still be able to add stories and have them show up, but I may not get a chance to do that or it may not work. We'll see.
I'll make another announcement when I've turned them off, so watch this space.
Point the second: The archive does allow drabbles, which is why we have that as a genre. However, a drabble is a story of exactly 100 words. Recently we've had an upsurge in the number of stories submitted that don't even manage 100 words so we're introducing a cut-off point. Stories with less than 100 words will not be added to the archive. If you want to submit anything shorter than that, please save them up and post several at once.
Please note that this is not a retrospective change, i.e. stuff that's in the archive already stays in the archive, regardless of length.
Point the third: READ THE FRICKIN' RULES, PEOPLE!
Yes, I know, you're all bored now. But it is something that creates unnecessary work for Leah and I. This means please make sure that you put things in the right place (note: it's not gen if two characters have sex half way through the story); please do not include story title, author, rating, summary in the story text box (it's already automatically displayed on the story page so doesn't need to be repeated); please do not request feedback in your author notes - there's a standard link and the rule is there to prevent people from demanding feedback or indulging in emotional blackmail, which means it's unfortunately an all or nothing ban and is not open to negotiation; and, most importantly, be polite. Be polite both when drafting your author notes and be polite when leaving feedback.
That also includes being polite to Leah and I. We let users get away with a hell of a lot worse in respect of their behaviour towards us than we would do if it was aimed towards any other person on the site, but even so there's a limit. Don't push us over it. I have an Army of Flying Monkeys here and I'm not afraid to use them.
I'm also perfectly capable of banning IP addresses and I won't hesitate to do that if you start behaving in an unacceptable manner towards other users of the site. Even though the flying monkeys would be cooler.
Please don't ignore these letters. If we point out that you have particular issues in an area and you continue to submit stories where those weaknesses haven't been addressed - for example, consistent problems with punctuation - there will come a point where your stories are rejected and it may well happen sooner than you expect.
And in the vein of 'beta reading good, unbeta'd stories not so good', I'd like to bring to your attention SGX Beta: The Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis Beta Directory. It's a beta database set up by a couple of the members of the Wraithbeta mailing list, to provide yet another mechanism to help you find a beta reader.
So with this new directory, Wraithbeta and sga_beta on livejournal, you now have lots of places to find beta readers.
We encourage constructive criticism, but flaming other authors will not be tolerated and may result in you losing your account.
While Leah and I are firmly in the camp of believing that constructive criticism can only benefit both writers and readers, we have had some instances recently where the criticism left has skirted close to flaming so I wanted to remind everyone that rule 10 also goes on to say:
'I think your story sucks...' is not a flame, as it is talking about the story not the author, but it is still rude and not constructive, and we're no more fans of rudeness than we are of flaming. Be polite.
Let me re-emphasise that: be polite. In fact, I'd say that the more critical the feedback you are leaving, the more essential it is that you are polite about it. If you're leaving criticism because you want to help the author improve, then the more politely you word such criticism the more likely it is that the author will listen to your points and take them on board.
That's part and parcel of the whole 'constructive' bit of 'constructive criticism'. Being rude isn't constructive. It's behaving like an ass. If you're leaving criticism because you want to behave like an ass in public, feel free but go do it somewhere else.
What I truly find boggling, though, is comparing those who leave constructive criticism to 'nazis'. Yes, because pointing out grammatical mistakes on the internet makes you part of a regime that murdered millions.
Needless to say, that comment's gone bye bye.
In response to several requests, we've added a Lorne/other category to Slash Pairings. In order to do this, we've also added Major Lorne to the list of characters in all categories, as we will not add a character's name to a pairing category unless the character is also listed as a character within the archive character list.
A show character is added to the list if they meet the following criteria:
--The character is in several episodes (as in, at least five) of Stargate: Atlantis, where they make some kind of significant contribution, rather than just being the same face in the background or with the occasional line.
--The character must have both a first and last name in canon. (An exception was made in the case of Major Lorne, because he has been in several episodes of Stargate: SG1 as well as SGA, and has made significant contributions, despite never being given a first name.)
--The character must have had a number of stories submitted to the archive that feature him or her in a significant role.
I hope that explains the process. As usual, if you have any questions about this or anything else to do with the archive, please don't hesitate to contact the archivists. :)
And given that we're benevolent dictatorial types, we've added another warning to the list of available warnings, so that, if you wish, you can let your potential readers know that there might be something in the story that has them sucking on their teeth and flailing for the back button.
Use it wisely, Padawans. Besides, you know what they say. One fan's squick is another fan's bullet proof kink.
There are only ten Rules, and most of them concern how to categorize fic. It's pretty simple stuff, but can--and does--make the difference between seeing your work on the site right away or getting a rejection letter.
So please, take a few minutes and read the Rules if you haven't. They're interesting, comprehensive, easy to understand, and may well save you (and us) time in the future. Thank you. :)
There was some criticism of the way that the Awards engaged with the Atlantis fandom last year, and they've taken great pains to address it this year. Given this, and the fact that since Wraithbait won last year we cannot be nominated again (no ulterior motives here ::g::), I'd like to take the opportunity to spread the message about the Awards and encourage Atlantis fans to participate. In particular, one of the things I love about our fandom, and one of the issues last year, is the sheer variety of fic out there, and I'd therefore like to encourage people to nominate all sorts of stories. In other words, the Awards Team are trying to make sure that all elements of the fandom are represented, whether you're a McKay/Sheppard fan or whether you only read gen or het or ship a rare pairing like Parrish/Lorne or Weir/Zelenka or like threesomes, cross-genre or other types of fic that we, as a fandom, seem to specialise in :) The more of these sorts of stories are nominated, the more likely it is that they will merit a category of their own and the less likely it will be that rarer pairings will have to compete for votes with the most popular pairings or that stories that don't fit neatly into either het or slash will have to be squished into one or the other.
In other words, the awards are going to be what you make of them :) If you think a story is wonderful, go forth and nominate.
Nominations for the 2006 Stargate Fan Awards are now open and will remain open until April 30, 2006. The nomination form link can be found on their home page here. The rules for nominating can be found here and the FAQs here. Please bear in mind that the number of nominations per author will be limited on the final ballot, so nominating an author's entire body of work will not be of any benefit.
The bandwidth issue mentioned last month was due to one particular individual, who unfortunately was using offline reading software that resulted in them downloading the entire site multiple times a day. I had hoped that this was a temporary glitch - someone being a tad overenthusiastic - and that by redesigning the skins, I'd be able to offset their usage.
Equally unfortunately, it wasn't sufficient to cope with their bandwidth usage and I ended up having to ban them from the site until they've figured out how to fix whatever they were using (which is not, by the way, something that Leah or I would ever do lightly, which is why redesigning the skins was our first step).
So, to make up for having to change the skins, I've implemented a modification that will allow people to change the skins even if they haven't registered with the site.
However, I will be monitoring bandwidth closely, and if it looks like it's going to be an issue, we'll go back to the minimalist skin for everyone not logged in. But I thought it was about time that we gave our many lurkers (and anon feedbackers) something nice.
Don't forget that you can preview the skins here.
This will not change your personal skin. When you log in, you'll still see whatever skin you've personally chosen. All of the other skins are still there so please do not panic.
Unfortunately, it was this or risk the site disappearing for part of the month, as it almost did last month.
It lies, man. It lies like a dawg!
If you're one of the authors who has been having problems with losing line breaks in stories, and you are coding your stories like this:
This is the first paragraph.[br][br]This is the second paragraph.
that might explain the problem. The software removes all the [br] tags and instead puts its own in wherever you've hit return instead. Because the above example doesn't have any hard returns in it, it ends up looking like one paragraph when it's added to the site.
If you're coding them like this:
This is the first paragraph.[br][br]
This is the second paragraph.[br][br]
then it will still look fine, because although it takes out the [br] tags, there are hard returns between paragraphs, where it then puts its own [br] tags. [p] tags will also work fine, but again if you are leaving space between paragraphs as well, you'll end up with extra break lines between paragraphs. Because it's just awkward like that. Apparently.
This is why we suggest that for preference you use text files (with some amends for italics and bold) all the way, baby! And Notetab, because it rocks like a rocking thing.
Now, Leah and I pride ourselves on getting to and validating stories as quickly as possible, despite the fact that we both have other commitments like jobs and families. It's very, very rare that a story is in the queue for more than twenty four hours and where they have been it's been unavoidable - either we've not been able to get online or there's something that Leah and I need to discuss before we can validate it. And even those stories are usually validated within 36 to 48 hours of submission.
Unfortunately, Leah and I still regularly receive mails from people wanting to know why their stories have not been validated, even though their stories haven't been in the queue a full day by that point. For some reason 16 hours seems to be a favourite length of time between submitting and chasing us. I have no idea why. I assume it's one of the unknowable mysteries of the universe.
Maybe there's a rip in the fabric of space and time.
I'm not actually singling anyone out - because as I said this happens a lot or I wouldn't be saying anything :) - but can I please ask people to be a little more patient about the whole submission process? While I'm thrilled that you're all so keen to have your stories added to the archive, mailing us so soon after submission is not going to get your story validated any faster. All that happens is that when we finally get a chance to get online in the evening and check our mail to see if any new stories have been submitted, your mail is sitting there right alongside the new submissions notification. And we can't validate it any earlier than that because neither of us has a time machine :) (although that would be really, really cool).
So, please, give it at least three or four days before you mail us. That way I won't have to release the flying monkeys and frankly that just gets messy for everyone :)
We've had some issues with authors not receiving mails, including rejection letters, because AOL had misidentified them as spam.
As an archive, we understand that the works we host are derivative and may infringe upon copyrights that are held by others. This is a risk that we have accepted. Most TV and Movie copyright holders are aware that fanfiction is not for profit and is written from love of the show rather than a desire to infringe on something to which they hold the rights. We are not, however, prepared to accept the risk that comes with authors quoting directly and extensively from copyrighted works, with or without disclaimers in place. Such quotage is in direct competition with the copyright holder's ability to sell song sheets, etc, and may be perceived as a threat to their income, with predictable results.
We don't, however, want to follow other sites in banning songfics completely. In fact, we haven't to date included anything in the rules about songfics at all, trusting to the judgement of our authors on what is, or is not, 'fair use' of lyrics (i.e. permitted quoting without infringing on copyright). Unfortunately, we have had a number of submissions recently:
- that have quoted most or all of the lyrics of a particular song
- where a large percentage of the story - in some cases more than half of the content - are actually directly quoted song lyrics written by someone else and are not the fanfiction author's own work.
In these cases we have had no choice but to reject these stories as it falls well outside our understanding of fair use, and we will continue to do so.
Could I therefore please ask all of our authors to be more careful about the stories that they submit and ensure that:
- the quoting of song lyrics is kept to a minimum. Consider them the fanfiction equivalent of hot chilli powder and use sparingly :)
- the vast majority of the story should be in the author's own words (and this would include not submitting stories that consist largely or significantly of dialogue from the shows themselves rather than the fanfiction author's own words).
This may mean a delay before dealing with submissions, so please be patient. And by patient, I mean 'please do not mail me within hours of submission wanting to know why your story has not been validated yet.' I do occasionally need sleep, you know :D
Just some advance warning :)
If you've read our rules when you joined the archive, or whenever you've uploaded a story (and we would hope you have :)), then you will be aware of the fact that while works in progress (WIPs) may be posted to the archive, we do say that in order to stay there, they should be regularly updated (Rule 7).
Now that the archive has been open for a year, we thought it was time to review the stories archived with us and ensure that they comply with this rule.
What this means is that starting after the holidays in January, Alyse and I will be and I will start identifying languishing WIPs.
Languishing WIPs mean all stories not marked completed where a new chapter has not been added in more than four months (which is a month longer than the rule). This does not include series made up of individual, completed stories (though we urge you to mark such series as 'Complete,' since each story in that series is complete).
Once we've identified these stories, we will mail the authors. The authors will then have two weeks to mark their stories as completed (if they are, but weren't indicated as such) or add a new chapter. After that, the WIPs will be removed from the archive. With the holidays, this should give authors an extra month to work on their stories.
(Please note: If we remove your WIP, you are more than welcome to resubmit it once you have added new chapters or completed it. We will be happy to re-archive them.)
So, this is a very, very good time to make sure that all your finished stories are marked 'Complete,' so they don't look like WIPs. You can do this by logging in, going to Your Account, and clicking on Edit/Delete Stories. Once there, you'll see 'Completed: no' (or 'yes) next to the title of each story. Click on the 'no' and it will become 'yes,' indicating that your story is complete.
Alyse and I will be doing this periodically from now on, so please be sure that you update your WIP stories regularly, and mark finished stories as 'Complete.' If you need any help with this, there are some instructions on the help page.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact myself or Alyse, either via e-mail or by leaving a comment for this news item.