An article written for the 13th birthday contest, sharing 13 reasons to love WDC.
|On August 30th 2000, Stories.com gained its first members. Thirteen years later, and the site is almost unrecognisable in comparison to that first version. Not only has there been a name change to the more encompassing Writing.com, but it looks different, feels different and is utterly addictive! Every year has brought significant improvement to the way the site works and what it offers to its members. On the occasion of the site's 13th birthday, we look at 13 reasons why the members of Writing.com love this site so much.
One of the first things a newcomer to the site (affectionately known as a 'newbie') is advised to do is review other people's work. Many people are drawn to the site by the promise of receiving honest feedback on their work, and if you visit the "Noticing Newbies" forum, you'll find experienced members teaching the newbies that the best way to receive reviews is to give reviews.
In "Guidelines To Great Reviewing" , The StoryMaster notes that 'Reviewing is an extremely important part of the Writing.Com community. Helpful, honest reviewing helps our authors improve their talents and is beneficial to everyone involved!' He mentions the benefit that the reviewer receives, not just the person whose work is being reviewed. '[Reviewing] will expand your own analytical skills allowing you to regard your own writing from another viewpoint.' The StoryMistress expands further on this in "Reviewing On Writing.Com" , saying 'Remember, reviewing grows your own writing skills unlike any other writing tool. Critically analyzing and reviewing others' writings makes a writer stop and think about what works and what doesn't. Putting that into words and communicating that to another writer, ultimately helps the reviewer to improve his or her own writing skills. So while reviewing is about helping others, it's also a valuable way to help ourselves!' A E Willcox agrees and states that 'Reviews are invaluable. They are such a good way to learn. Reading, analyzing and commenting on other peoples' writing is a great way to learn what works and why and what doesn't work and why.'
SirSchemingSerpent sums up the benefits of reviewing and being reviewed very succinctly - 'Either way, your own writing skills improve.' And it seems the vast majority of Writing.com members agree with him. At the time of writing, there were 8,314 recent reviews on the public review page. More than 100 members had done 20 or more reviews in the past month, with some writing literally hundreds of reviews. The site rewards all reviews with an automatic system that pays out 'gift points' (the site equivalent of currency), but valuable, thoughtful, in-depth reviews are rewarded on an ad-hoc basis, by the site owners and other members on the site. As well as gift points, the providers of quality reviews can also be awarded merit badges (virtual symbols of recognition, custom-designed by The StoryMistress to reward a particular trait, specialty skill or theme). The StoryMaster gives out 100 Reviewing merit badges each month to those who have earned a place on the Most Credited Reviewers list by providing quality reviews. Reviewing is definitely rewarding on Writing.com, in tangible and not so tangible ways.
LinnAnn nano 10 winner and Angels in my Ear have both found unusual rewards from reviewing. LinnAnn nano 10 winner notes that reviewing makes her feel like 'I'm needed somewhere. I like that I have a purpose again. Being disabled and not being able to work made me feel worthless. Now I don't feel that way.' For Angels in my Ear , doing quality reviews attracted the attention of an outside publishing company. 'They could assess my knowledge of the art through my advice to others and were able to see that I could apply my skills to not only my own work but to others as well.'
Friends and the WDC community spirit
The Writing.com site has a real sense of community, and many people consider their fellow members to be friends, and even meet up offsite. A few have even met their soulmates on the site, prompting lazymarionette to comment that 'I'm not surprised so many people have found soul mates on this site. The people are incredible and I know I've found someone special.' For those who aren't looking for true love though, there is a real wealth of friendship available here.
IntueyRIPmySIL says that throughout everything life throws at her, 'WDC friendships were always there - they guided me, they let me know I was never alone and most of all they just listened, without passing judgments of any kind. We are truly blessed on this site to have some of the most generous, loving members (and owners) anyone could hope for.' She is not alone in her sentiments, far from it. LinnAnn nano 10 winner considers her Writing.com friends to be a very important addition to her life, because 'My family doesn't care to read or be involved in my writing. Here I can ask advice for troubled spots. I feel the sense of community, people I have something in common with, and love it.'
Rhonda believes that the community spirit on Writing.com is unique on the world wide web. 'I have met some of the most amazing people and made some good friends in a very short time. The number of people who reach out to new members, welcome them and tuck them under their wing is amazing. I have been part of many other on-line communities but this site by far has the most social members and greater sense of belonging to a community than any other.'
'Some people discount online friends and say they aren't real, well, I say different', insists blue jellybaby . 'The friends that I've met on here have begun through a small correspondence, sometimes a review, sometimes through an activity, but as I come to know each and every one of those people, I can appreciate how different our lives are, yet how similar. We will always have one thing in common, two actually, our love of writing and our love of Writing.com. There are friends I have here now that I feel I can be truly open and honest with, not something I can always do in the 'real' world. So for those many friends I have made along the way and hopefully the many more I will make as my time here goes on, I thank you for your warmth, compassion and understanding.'
Writing.com currently has a massive 82,225 registered authors as at the time of writing. Even with the best sense of community, it would be easy for such a large volume of individuals to get lost amidst the chaos. This is where the Group function really enables members of Writing.com to create smaller communities within the large Writing.com site. Whether members band together on genre, interest, newbie status, common goals or even disability, it allows a smaller group of members to create a mini-community where they feel like they belong. 'It is these groups that allow for members to become part of the larger community and to meet new people. I think for a sense of community this is number one,' says Rhonda . Angels in my Ear thinks that 'Groups are valuable in that they can unite people with the same interests and help to promote friendships and learning.'
Many groups are for writers of a similar interest or goal to work alongside each other and provide encouragement and support. SirSchemingSerpent suggests that these 'Are an essential extension of the main reason most of us came here to WDC - showing our work, collaborating with others, and working together on our shared journey.' A E Willcox adds that with so many different types of writing, in so many genres, 'It is helpful if you can join a group which is dedicated to a particular genre. You can learn a lot from other like-minded writers in that group by having discussions about the various needs of the genre.'
As A E Willcox commented above, there are so many different ways to express your writing and so many genres you can do it in, yet you can find them all here on Writing.com. For some people, this diversity might seem overwhelming, yet for many it is a real blessing. The chance of finding someone living nearby with the exact same taste in writing as you is extremely slim, yet there is bound to be someone here on Writing.com with that same interest, no matter how left-field or bizarre! abcoachnz-NaNo Author 2019 says it 'Gives me the ability to identify the genres I am interested in and focus on those without having to wade through a lot of items that do not interest me.'
For those looking to step out of their comfort zones though, the diversity at Writing.com offers a unique opportunity. express believes that 'WDC's diversity is its driving force. It is a honor and a challenge to share with so many people. WDC's diversity enriches my experience greatly.' Some of us may not have even considered some of the less popular genres, or we might not view them in the same way as someone from another age group or another country. LinnAnn nano 10 winner writes that 'To be a well rounded writer it's important to be open to many different genres. There are all ages here as well. I can choose poetry when I'm in the mood, and when my health is better can choose short stories of various genres. I meet people from all around the world so I learn different lifestyles, customs and lingo. There is no reason for boredom here at WDC.' A E Willcox expands on the idea by saying 'Everyone is different. The wonderful variety of people, cultures, genres, life experiences makes the site such an interesting place. WDC gives you the opportunity to learn from so many different people.'
The E-XGC rating system
With such a wide range of ages, tastes and genres, it would be easy to suggest that there could be material on the site that is not appropriate for everyone. This is true of course, but the site cleverly caters for it with an excellent rating system. The youngest members of the site can be just thirteen years of age, and would be expected to have their content filter set to show them only items rated E for Everyone. Other content ratings include 'ASR' which indicates adult surpervision is required, '13+', '18+', 'GC' for graphic content, and 'XGC' for extreme graphic content. An adult is not required to have a content filter that allows items of any rating to be shown and can indeed set their filter so they only see items at a rating they are comfortable with. LinnAnn nano 10 winner does this and says she is 'very grateful for the rating system as I do not read racy stuff.'
For some it is a personal choice that allows them to relax and browse with leisure through all the site has to offer without worrying about being shocked by something they might deem crude or 'offensive' but for parents and teachers recommending the site to younger members, this ability to filter the content can be a lifesaver. Sparky comments that he would 'feel no hesitation to recommend this site to my 15 year old daughter, and further, to any children a lot younger.' Rhonda agrees, adding that 'It is nice to know before I even begin reading or reviewing a piece that I am not going to be shocked. With my kids near by I won't read/review anything over a 13+. I will save the adult content to read/review when I am on my own.'
For those who are interested in writing (or reading) things within those top rating levels, the filters are still more of a help than a hindrance. abcoachnz-NaNo Author 2019 thinks 'The ability to rate something in terms of its appropriate audience level is fabulous. The main advantage here is that, as an author, you can really go out and try anything you like and know that only people interested in seeing that content will see that content.' There is definitely something to be said for knowing that you can write adult material and know that only those who have chosen to have their filters set to allow such material will see it, and you won't be shocking any innocent minds!
There are other ways to limit your reading audience though. You might wonder why indeed anyone would want to limit their reading audience, but it does happen. The first and most common reason is when an item is still very much a work in progress and the author is not ready to make it public. There is no point seeking reviews before you have even done a first edit or proofread yourself.
There are levels of privacy available on the site. As well as having an item private, you can give it a 'passkey' which acts like a password, allowing access only to those you have given the passkey to. SirSchemingSerpent likes this option because 'It allows me to show something to a single member, without making it public for all the world to see. Very useful for plot outlines, rants, etc.' A E Willcox adds that 'Sometimes you have items in your portfolio which you want to share with just one or two people, or just store privately in your portfolio (such as a story you want to send off for publication) as a way of keeping a back-up for the file on your hard-drive. Also, the privacy option is useful when you are creating something like an auction or group and you want to make sure that your public page looks as good as it can before you reveal it to the public.' Rhonda agrees, stating that 'The privacy options allow me to control my work and who I choose to have access. It is great that I can work on a piece, give someone a pass code so they can assist with editing before I make a piece public or enter it into a contest. It allows the writer total control of their work and that is a very important feature.'
There is also the ability to have the item visible by just members of a certain level (such as registered members, registered authors, preferred authors, etc), or by just the members of a certain group. LinnAnn nano 10 winner likes having a backup of her work online in case of a computer failure or similar, but says that she sometimes chooses to have her work visible only to a certain level of author because 'I want people that will be serious about writing to review my work.' Many of the groups on Writing.com have items that are visible only to members of the group, particularly on the administration side. As A E Willcox puts it, 'There are occasions where you want to create something which is accessible only, or relevant only to those who belong to a particular group.'
Blogs and books
There is a wide range of items that an author can create and store within their Writing.com portfolio - 22 if one doesn't include the multitude of different Static Item types available. Some are restricted by paid membership level and many are accessible to all levels. One that is becoming increasingly popular is the book/blog function which is available to Upgraded members. There are 422 blogs on Writing.com at the time of writing, and 4,176 books. Blogs and books are both created using the 'book' function, and are designed to keep writings grouped together within a single item, but they work quite differently. A book contains the various chapters and allows readers to review individual chapters whilst the entire novel remains a single document. A E Willcox says that 'It enables you to keep all the entries or chapters together in a cohesive document and helps cut down on the clutter in your portfolio.'
With blogs, readers gain the ability to comment on individual entries, and can 'favorite' a blog so that it shows up in their 'favorites' list when a new entry has been added. Some of the bloggers on Writing.com are old hands at blogging, but some do not discover the joys of blogging until they arrive here. Finding a receptive audience can be a wonderful ego boost, as Sparky discovered after starting his blog "Shouts From Down Under " on the 22nd July 2013. 'People tolerate my blog...so that gives me a boost that I don't get in real life.'
For many, reading the blogs of other Writing.com members is as rewarding as writing their own blogs. Rhonda says it is 'Again, the greater sense of community and reaching out to others in a more personal manner than just our writing. It invites people into our lives and brings others to WDC if the blog address is shared.' For LostGhost: Seeking & Learning agrees, sharing that 'More than writing, I enjoy reading them. They make me feel as I'm a part of everybody's life, more like I have an extended family. The first thing I do when I get online is go to the blog page and read the blogs.' The ability to comment on blogs is such an important aspect of the item that the creators of Writing.com's "30-Day Blogging Challenge" made it a mandatory rule for their monthly challenges. The comments allow people to know their entries are being read and enjoyed.
Like blogs and books, some item types are only available to certain levels of paid membership. There are five levels of membership, including the free level and four paid levels. The paid levels are Basic, Upgraded, Premium and Premium Plus. While some might chafe at the restrictions of requiring paid memberships to use certain aspects of the site, most are not just accepting of this, but encouraging. A E Willcox notes that the site needs paying members to be able to function, and 'Because running this site can only be a full-time job, I think it is necessary to charge for certain membership benefits.'
Not all who have a paid membership need or want the highest levels, and many choose the level that suits them best function-wise, as well as budget-wise. LinnAnn nano 10 winner notes that 'At this time I have no need to have a top level of membership, and the basic is too low. I like that I can chose a level that meets my needs and ability to pay level.' abcoachnz-NaNo Author 2019 agrees, and he wrote 'The main thing, personally, is the ability to pay only for that stuff that I would use. At the moment my membership level is adequate for my needs'
LinnAnn nano 10 winner also pointed out that she likes 'That I can earn points to pay for the upgrade.' Yes, paid memberships can be paid for with gift points earned by doing reviews, winning contests, etc and many people pay for them this way.
Rhonda believes that 'Paying for a membership of any kind is a commitment to your writing and our community,' which is another thing to consider. Sparky agrees, commenting that 'I've just bought my first ever 12 monthly premium membership. That says it all.'
Yes, running this site must be a full time job, but for whom? There are three staff members. The driving force behind the site comes from husband and wife team The StoryMaster and The StoryMistress , and they are ably assisted by Diane . The Storymaster is the genuis behind the all the coding and 'technical stuff' that the website consists of. He runs a variety of helpful forums where those having technical difficulties can seek his advice. The creators of many websites sit behind the scenes and never interact with the members, but the Storymaster is highly visible on Writing.com and he is adored by many. A E Willcox comments laughingly that 'Without the StoryMaster there wouldn't be WDC! He works tirelessly (or so he leads us to believe) to keep the site running smoothly.' Rhonda adds that 'Storymaster makes all of this possible and the gratitude I feel for the community he has created is enormous. He makes everything we do that much easier. Always working on our behalf and staying highly involved. His dedication to his "baby" and community is inspiring.
The other half of the dynamic duo, The StoryMistress is the creative wonder behind all the imagery and artwork on the site. She creates all the awardicons and merit badges, all the emoticons and everything else, earning her loads of gratitudes from members who appreciate these neat additions to the site. A E Willcox says 'The site wouldn't look half so good without her input.'
Rhonda believes the real Storymistress is much more than the images she creates. 'I simply adore her! She goes out of her way to make the customer service portion of this site above and beyond what anyone could ask for. She is warm, fun and goes out of her way to welcome and show her appreciation personally.'
Part of the reason the Storymaster and Storymistress are so highly visible on the site is that they are constantly working to improve the site. It's not continuous radical and dramatic changes, but little improvements all the time that make life easier and more interesting on the site. As technology grows, and as the members grow and change, so the site grows with them.
Rhonda says that it's because 'SM and SMS are always listening to their community and improving where able. It keeps the site exciting and new.' abcoachnz-NaNo Author 2019 adds that 'The main thing about having continual updates and upgrades is that you know that as technology changes, so is the functionality of the site. This allows you to also experiment with the new technology and features and keeps the experience of the site fresh and current.'
For many, it is a real treat to see what the next improvement might be. 🦄🏳️🌈Sapph wrote that 'One thing that I always look forward to when logging in is seeing what The StoryMaster has come up with to make WDC even better and fun. It's not all the time there's new stuff, but when there is it's always fantastic and makes the site even better.'
Preferred and Moderator Statuses
There are a number of different levels of promotion that a member of Writing.com can reach, that have nothing to do with paid memberships. The initial act of registering on the site creates a 'Registered Member' who have grey suitcases, and the moment they add an item to their portfolio, they become a 'Registered Author' with a black suitcase. There are other levels of promotion, which include 'Preferred Author' (yellow suitcase), 'Moderator' (blue suitcase) and 'Senior Moderator' who have purple suitcases. The staff are differentiated by their red suitcases. Staff are the only ones who can promote a member to a new status level. The criteria include quality writing and community involvement on the site, as noted in "Promotion to Preferred Author" . Many newbies arrive at the site eager to receive feedback on their writing, but a site like this one requires everyone to chip in. If no one gave reviews, who would receive any? So the desire to be promoted encourages members to play their part and participate in the community. For most, this becomes an unbreakable habit and promotion, while exciting and rewarding, is just a bonus.
For some, the recognition of being promoted is a real accomplishment that stays with them for a long time. LinnAnn nano 10 winner wrote that 'I have to admit, my self esteem has taken a nose dive since my strokes. When I was promoted to Preferred Author it thrilled me.' WebbingThroughThe Snow-Witch says she never forgot the thrill of being promoted for the first time. 'Being promoted, on WDC, is an unforgettable event!' She recalls that she was 'So surprised and felt like I was floating on a cloud for quite sometime afterwards.'
There are a wide variety of contests on Writing.com, including both official site contests and those run by other members. There are one-off contests and daily, weekly or monthly contests. They cover a range of genres and types of writing. For many the prompts inspire works of creativity and for others the deadlines are the real motivation. Some people enter for the feedback and others are looking to win. Regardless, the contests on Writing.com offer something for everyone.
abcoachnz-NaNo Author 2019 says that 'Entering and being successful with any contest is a fabulous motivation for your writing. You feel validated when someone else comes back to you and says your work is worth being recognized.' Marci Missing Everyone loves the contests, writing that 'One of my favorite thing about writing.com is the contests. The prompts, pictures, genres, etc inspire an enormity of my writing. It is so wonderful the way SM has set up this community. We are continuously challenging and inspiring each other, and at the same time, holding each other accountable for our writing.'
Annette wrote that 'Having the option to work on stories in contests that are run by members of all case colors and with different rules and requirements makes it easier for writers of all levels to have the chance to win and actually feel good about their writing. Member to member contests are what separates Writing.Com from those industrial writing sites run by magazines. We get to be closer here and really help each other to become good writers instead of getting no reply or just a message that the entry didn't make it.'
There is so much to love about Writing.com. What's your favourite thing?