zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
1. I was reading thefourthvine's review of The Naked Time on my laptop on the bus, and

2. I looked up to see another passenger offering some change to someone struggling to pay his fare. Aw, people are so awesome! I want to edit a newspaper that's all about random acts of kindness. It'd be kind of trite, but then the existing community newspapers are all pretty trite too, and my newspaper would be a happy trite.

3. A shop I walked past has a vivid-on-corrugated-cardboard sign up saying "The Power Shop does not no where Rob's Radios has gone." Okay, obviously someone was pretty frustrated when they wrote that and that spelling is a bit sad-making, but it still made me giggle.

4. Antti-Juhani's done some big tweaks to Verbosify (RSS w00t!), and then I did some small tweaks.

And then I broke it. <looks shifty> That's okay, it's pretty much my job to break things on that site, and I'm sure it'll all be just fine when Antti-Juhani wakes up in the morning and reads all my bug reports. Hyvää huomenta, Antti-Juhani!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
(crossposted to alue.devel)

I've been playing with the css on the verbosify website but haven't touched the fonts at all on the grounds that I'd only make a hash of them. Anyone got any suggestions for what fonts would be appropriate for a) headers, b) regular text, and c) buttons?

Any ideas for how to get the blasted logo to align to the top of the screen would also be appreciated. Not that I've actually tried too hard, I just remember having a similar problem with something else recently where I *did* try for an hour or so without any success.

I'm going to continue fiddling with the css and layout, particularly of the article view, so let me know of any wishlists.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Thunderbirds are go.

More or less: the software remains under construction and so does the layout -- but we have an nntp interface and a web interface and most importantly we have self-registration.

So can anyone who's interested, please head on over to https://verbosify.org/, click on "Register", create an account, and then read and post away to your heart's content via nntp or web or both.

Notes as I think of them:
  • The nntp host is verbosify.org

  • In the sign-up process there's a check-box - that's to do with nntp authentication. If you can't get your newsreader to work when the box is unchecked, then try checking it. (MacSOUP requires it checked, for instance.)

  • alue.* groups relate to the software; verbosify.* groups relate to talk about actual writing, ie our ultimate purpose.

  • Wow, we really need to update this layout.

  • If you see any bugs, or features you'd like, please post about them in alue.devel. If the bug means you can't post to alue.devel, please post about them here or email me.

  • Don't worry if something you do breaks something -- in fact Antti-Juhani gets excited when this happens. (I've managed to bring down the entire server more than once, though I think he's ironed out the bugs that allowed that.)

  • We make no warranty, express or implied, about, well, anything. But it's fairly unlikely that your computer will explode or your cat sprout wings.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
It's not dead, just ticking along quietly. Software being written (usenet-style interface works; web interface in process), website being designed, that sort of thing. (If anyone wants to be a beta-tester, let me know - we're not at that stage yet, but in due course...)

We do, however, have a name. This came about because our tireless software writer said "Zeborah, I need a domain name" (or words to that effect) and I said "Eek. Let me sleep on it" (or words to that effect). So I slept on it, and in the morning I woke up with "verbosity" on my lips. I brainstormed a bit more on the themes of words and voices and diversity and sf, and settled on verbosify.

What we haven't yet settled on is a logo, so here's a [link to a] poll! Choose as many as you like, feel free to comment, submit your own, whatever. Images are a) thumbnails and b) drafts only, so don't let draftish imperfections or bad kerning put you off; that can all be fixed in the rewrite.


Which logo(s) do you prefer?
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Okay, try this one:
1) We will focus on discussing the process of writing speculative fiction (science-fiction, fantasy, and related genres).

2 a) We know that writers write in various genres, at various lengths, on various topics, in various orders, with various technologies, varyingly planned or unplanned, etc, according to their personal style and needs.
  b) We want to share what works for us, and we want other writers to feel free and safe to share what works for them.
  c) Therefore we will avoid implying either that any particular technique is obligatory, or that any particular technique is wrong - though there might be times when a particular technique is wrong for a particular author or for a particular story.

3 a) We know that society in general and speculative-fiction in specific contain many stereotypes and biases that are racist, sexist, homophobic, ablist, and/or intolerant of people in non-nuclear family structures, people of different religions or of no religion, and others.
  b) We don't want to unwittingly perpetuate such stereotypes and biases in our own fiction. We also don't want to unwittingly perpetuate them in real life and/or hurt a fellow human being.
  c) Therefore we want other members to feel free and safe to point out to us if we've said something that accidentally perpetuates stereotypes or biases or is otherwise hurtful; and we will take it as a favour and learn from it if they do.

4) Therefore, on-topic discussions will include but not be limited to:

  a) dragon biology, alien speech patterns, how horses differ from motorcycles, ways to show/confuse chronology in time travel stories, etc;
  b) outlines, punctuation, use of themes, infodumps, RSI, pen porn, etc;
  c) cultural appropriation, sexist language, homophobic tropes, depictions of religion, etc; and
  d) pun cascades, cats and chocolate, etc; because frivolity is the mortar that binds together a community.

5) The group will be moderated by a panel in order to keep it friendly and safe for all members.

If you're still not happy with it, it would be of great help to me if you could note precisely what you disagree with and/or offer alternative wordings.

But please note that I consider it very important to explicitly include:
a) the groups that have been implicitly sidelined by the sf community in general and rasfc in particular; and
b) the topics which were theoretically allowed on rasfc but which in practise more than one of us was afraid to talk about.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Following on from part 2, so far we've got a pretty clear consensus that it should be:
  • spec-fic focused;
  • publically readable and easily joinable;
  • a mailing list (which can be forwarded to a web forum and to nntp);
  • "rushing in".

So let's rush in: Brooks, what would it take for you to set up a mailing list with web and nntp interface? What moderation possibilities would it allow, what issues do we need to know, and what questions do we need to decide?


Regarding the 'vision statement' (original here), would the following be better, worse, or the same?

2 a) We know that society in general and speculative-fiction in specific contain many stereotypes and biases that are racist, sexist, homophobic, ablist, and/or intolerant of people in non-nuclear family structures, people of different religions or of no religion, and others.
  b) We don't want to unwittingly perpetuate such stereotypes and biases in our own fiction. We also don't want to unwittingly perpetuate them in real life and/or hurt a fellow human being.
  c) Therefore we want other members to feel free and safe to point out to us if we've said something that accidentally perpetuates stereotypes or biases or is otherwise hurtful; and we will take it as a favour and learn from it if they do.
[please see my latest post.]


My general plan for a timeline from now goes:
  1. get the technology set up;
  2. get the word out among people and groups that might be interested;
  3. nominate moderators and decide on rules.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
(For reference: part 1 was the vision statement thing.)

One thing that I want to bear in mind through all this is that a new group will need a critical mass of members to start with, and will need to keep attracting new members once the initial "Whee, new group!" buzz wears off, and also will need to keep attracting new members once for replacement purposes since people will drift away due to Real Life. This doesn't mean it's the only thing to bear in mind; but it is relatively important.

What I don't know about, don't mind about, and would generally welcome input on:

* Genre. There'd be more potential members if we open it to all genres; otoh limiting it to speculative fiction might focus discussion more productively.

* Publicness. A private community would be more of a safe space; but a public community would facilitate getting continuous new membership because it'll show up in web searches and people can try before they buy.

* Moderation. Should it operate on a "You're moderated until you've proved yourself" basis or a "You're unmoderated until you start being a jerk" basis? Should it be on a "Nothing gets posted until a moderater says so" or an "Everything gets posted straight away but may be removed if a moderator says so" basis? (Some technologies allow some of these but not others.)

* Technology is possibly the trickiest question.

- Mailing list - easy to set up through Google or Yahoo or custom, allows moderation, easy for users, low bandwidth - but it's private.

- Usenet is great (plus I've got most of a year's subscription still to use...) and a moderated group would be possible but as many ISPs aren't providing Usenet services it's not so easily accessible to many people, especially to newbies, except through Google Groups which is clunky as heck.

- LJ is very popular but I know more than one person who've got reasons not to post to it, and it would be horribly clunky for the kind of discussions that I'd like this group to have.

- A lot of webforum software has RSS feeds, so that could be syndicated to LJ for reading (though people would still have to go to the forum to post). Still doesn't have Usenet-style threading, though if you read by RSS you never miss a comment or have to hunt to catch up.

- Social networking places like Ning are another option. It's got email notification and I think RSS feeds can be set up. I've found it a bit clunky myself but probably on a par with other webfora.

- Another social networking site is Friendfeed (already has a fantasy writers group but it has little activity; cf an active group in... action). We could set up a "room" where members can post links to blog entries, photos, videos, etc, or just shortish messages (about twice as long as Twitter). Others can then 'like' or comment on any of these. Every time something gets a new comment it moves to the top of the page. Good for conversation - but not for long posts/comments; and threading within conversations is non-existent. Also archives are iffy.

- Michelle Anna FDD (sorry, not sure what I was thinking!) has some webforum-type software which I've poked at a bit but not a lot yet -- Michelle Anna, do you want to talk about whether or not that would be suitable and what features it has?

- I know someone who may or may not be able to create webforum software that could be, IIRC, web-accessible, RSS-accessible (thus syndicatable to LJ), and even accessible via Usenet. I think he's not yet able to talk about it in detail though.

* Details of rules.
I'm inclined to talk about this more after we've got the technology sorted out.

* Timeline for deciding/doing stuff
Rush in, or fear to tread?
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I was going to jump in with my full proposal which included an introduction to me, how I'm going to approach this, what I know for sure and what I don't know for sure, a request for discussion and a note about commenting -- because I was planning on being ambitious, bold, and likely clueless, and contacting groups who might be interested with the link to here so they can take part in the discussion of shaping it.

But then I got cold feet due to potential for cluelessness, so here's the short version, and I'll post the long version if it meets with general approval.

Basically, I'm going to set up this group even if it consists of me, myself and I, because if those are the only people who turn up then it's not much work and if more people turn up all the better. And I'm going to do it by acting as Benevolent Dictator (ie listening to all opinions and then choosing the path that seems likeliest to make the most number of people happy) for goals and technical stuff, and then turning it over to a moderation panel (which may or may not include me) for rule-making and maintenance.

So, the group will be:
1) focused on discussing the process of writing. In the interests of discussion (and because it's true) members will always acknowledge that there are many ways to write: none are obligatory and none are incorrect.

2) a space where members:
a) respect women, members of the LGBT community, people of colour, people with disabilities, people with non-nuclear family structures, people of different religions and of no religion, and others;
b) acknowledge that these groups are often not respected in our society and thus in fiction, both in obvious concrete ways and in subtle abstract ways;
c) may sometimes be clueless, but will always be open to correction about their cluelessness being pointed out, and will endeavour to respond respectfully and learn from correction this;
d) will undertake to correct point out when other members display cluelessness in order to keep the environment friendly.

Thus, discussion about plotting, RSI, pens, outlines, punctuation, etc will be on-topic; so will be discussion about cultural appropriation, sexist language, homophobic tropes, depictions of religion, etc. Also cats and chocolate.

It will have to be moderated in order to be seen as something safe enough to put effort into; I think probably best by a panel of people from different groups.

Is this a satisfactory vision?
And if so, is it best to get a basic group structure in place before putting the word out (in which case we need to start talking about technical details and moderation), or is it best to get the word out so everyone can take part in creating it and feel like they own it (in which case we need to do that first)?

(And anyone who can help me not be clueless, much appreciated.)

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