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Monday, April 11, 2011

Ruminations of an Old Goat

There has been a lot of speculation and discussion concerning the future of the Friday Challenge site recently. I'm going to sum up the issues as best I can remember them then discussion where we may go from here.

The biggest issue from the point of view of the ruling Troika is time. It takes a lot of time to provide daily or almost daily content for this site. Each of the three of us have tried to provide at least one column for the FC each week. Many times, one of us has provided two or three or even four columns in a week. We're all writers here, so you already know how long it takes to bang out 800 to 1000 words when you're writing a story. Non-fiction columns tend to take longer to write than fiction. Figure at least a couple of hours writing time for each column, more if it's something complicated such as some of Bruce's Splattering Guts columns or, say, an in-depth review of Avatar. Another consumer of time is keeping up and responding to the comments we receive. Many times this can be done during lulls at work and comments are virtually never as long as actual columns, but this still takes time. We haven't had any Friday Challenge judging, recently, but it's probably the biggest time sink associated with the FC. While you readers can choose to skip entering, reading, and judging on any given week, the ruling Troika must create the challenges, read all of the entries, write useful comments on the entries, and make a final judgement.

Let me be the first to say, this is exactly what I agreed to when I moved from being a Challenger to being a Judge. I have enjoyed everything associated with my roles here. But on a slow week, keeping up with the site takes a lot of time. On a busy week, there are times when it feels as if keeping up with the site is the only thing I do. Add in a very eventful (and not in a good way) last year for some of us in the Troika and you've got something that's supposed to be fun slowly changing into something that's a chore.

There are other issues, such as trying to come up with topics to write about, but time is the really big issue.

Conversely, the universal point of view from you Challengers is a strong desire to keep the site going. That's good, because I feel exactly the same way! Fortunately, your desire includes a willingness to work through some changes and, we hope, start providing content, as well. I have discussed this in very general terms with Bruce but haven't had a chance to discuss it with Kersley. Please remember that this is a proposal. It's subject to change or scrapping all together. It is definitely open to criticism and revision.

In general, what I'm proposing is this:
  1. Anyone who wishes to provide content for the site will be granted Author access to the Friday Challenge. Author access will allow you to create, schedule, and delete your own columns. It will not allow you to edit or delete columns written by others.
  2. I will take on the role of coordinator of the site. I hope Kersley will also stick around and act as a coordinator, too, but that's up to her. Coordinators will grant Author access to those who request it and enforce the few rules we'll have concerning posting to the site.
  3. Anyone who posts to the site will maintain copyright for the their own work. If you write a bunch of columns and, later, decide to gather them into an electronic book and sell it, you don't owe anyone associated with the Friday Challenge royalties. We'd like to get at brief mention as the original publishing source of the material, but that's all.
  4. Failure to abide by the rules of posting will eventually result in having Author permissions revoked and all of your material deleted from the site. Since the rules essentially boil down to asking everyone to keep things at a PG-13 level, it shouldn't be too tough. Requests for changes will normally be given if there are potential problems. Only the most flagrant of rules violations will result in revoking of permissions without warning.
  5. There aren't any restrictions on the topics about which you write, but keep in mind that this is a writing site, first and foremost.
  6. We can still run Friday Challenges. Anyone who has a topic may propose and run a challenge.
  7. We can still have the Friday round-up, including a listing of stories posted to the Friday Challenge Yahoo Group for reading and comments.
There you have it, my proposal for the future of the Friday Challenge. What do you think? It's in your hands, now.
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