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Dear Everything2 and the users within,

I am a graduate student in a class on computer supported cooperative works. In this class, we discussed Everything2. Now, from first glance it would seem that joining Everything2 would be a great outlet and excuse to work on some creative writing that I don't really have time for. So, I joined (obviously).

How mistaken I was! I submitted a poem, complete with pipe links (which I was quite proud of) and the very next day I had such negative feedback. Wait, I shouldn't say feedback. Feedback would imply some sort of suggestions or critique. This was not the case. Instead, it was just that some of you, decided that my work was not good enough. And in fact, felt so deeply on this matter that you desired to negatively mark my poem. Now, I am no Emily Dickinson but this particular poem I wrote in a creative writing class during my undergrad. And this particular poem has already gone through many peer critiques and edits. And you know what? Those critiques made that poem pretty decent. Do you know what doesn't? Giving my poem a negative rating and not even bothering to justify it. What, were you having a bad day? Exactly what makes you think that you are so "all knowing" and magnificent that you know what does and does not deserve a negative score? Giving someone a positive rating is one thing, because it is like giving someone a compliment. And giving compliments is something people do in real life all the time, because it makes others happy. But would you go around calling strangers ugly to their face, when you are walking down the street? Probably not. Just because you are basically anonymous shouldn't change how you treat people, should it?

The email that Everything2 sent me when I first signed up said "It's a place to grow and learn, both to showcase your writing and about each other." But then people go around and delete or give negative points to perfectly fine work. How does this help me grow? This did not give me any suggestions on how to make the poem better. In fact, all it really made me want to do was quit the site. And then the site wonders why new users don't stay around long. Perhaps some users like asserting their power? I only wish I could be there when a person gives this post a negative rating. I think it would go something like:

"*whispers under breath* I don't care about asserting power! *disgruntled look on face* What a bitch. I'm gonna show her! *gives negative rating* Yeah, like she knows. I know. I know! showed her..."

That's just my guess.

Anyway, after being upset by this site and how I don't think it fosters creativity at all, I went and talked to the professor who teaches the class where we learned about the site. And he told me, that if I want to get positive ratings on the site, I need to look at the work that has positive ratings and write things like that. Hmmm...so, not only does this act of negative rating not encourage creativity, but it actually encourages conformity? He also said that some people just don't like poetry. Or, that they saw my poem and noticed it was short and probably thought some 12 year old wrote it without even reading it. If you don't like poetry, fine. Then just don't read my poems. If you think short form is dumb, fine. Then don't read my poems. But take your power struggle out on someone else. In my opinion, something needs to change. And I plan on sticking around, at least for a little bit, just to spite you.

I had a similar event take place when I submitted my first work: it was rated poorly and then marked for deletion. I have not used that user account since. I did, however, spend much of my time reading various writeups. I tried to find out what made a good writeup and what did not. That said, I do not believe, however, that reading others' works in order to write your own promotes conformity. Do you not read Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe to learn how the great poets of yesterday wrote poetry? Do you not experiment with using techniques similar to theirs in your own works? Everyone is copying from someone, everything is inspired by something that came before.

Do not give up. Perseverance is the key. I do not doubt that your poem was good. That it was reviewed and refined only strengthens my belief that it was a solid poem. All too often do I find that people use the rating system here (and on other sites such as Slashdot) to voice agreement/disagreement with a node or a comment. It is an inherent flaw in mankind: if you do not like something, it must be wrong.

I consider myself a new user still, despite that my homenode says I signed up almost three years ago (I have only submitted four writeups). I have written many things since and even received praise on some of them (from a poetry teacher about an analysis paper), but only two things found their way here. You might find that if you submit your poem to a more tangible forum, that you will still get "marked down," so to speak. But, as you stated, these forums would also provide feedback to allow you to grow as a writer. The main difference between a writing class and Everything2 is that Everything2 users consist majorly of the common everyday person. Your writing class is filled with students that are trying to learn how to write well and a teacher or professor that has dedicated this portion of their life to fostering potentially great writers. These people will rate your work not on what they think of it, but on your style and word usage and diction and other aspects important to aspiring writers.

Please do not give up. You will find that there are nice people on Everything2 willing to help you out and explain what may or may not be wrong with your writeup.

Sometimes I also wonder if people downvote based soley on the fact that someone is new to Everything2.
I want to write something.

But I remember the last time I submitted a writeup, it didn’t work out too well. However, I think it’s better to have a rep of +5 and -12 and one person who bookmarked it than to have no +reps or bookmarks at all.

Perhaps I was off to a good start and got scared off by feeling inadequate. I know that e2 is unfriendly to new users. Perhaps it takes persistence and an immense amount of effort to expel in a writeup for it to be accepted into the database. E2 a community that I love being an observer of, but not a participator. Thing is, I’m like that about most every group I’m in. A classroom, group discussion with acquaintances, projects… I almost never participate unless I’ve got something really important to say.

The one time I wrote and got nuked, I backed off due to some downvotes. However, I am very happy that some people actually took the time to give me positive votes. The only people who can vote are the ones who have a certain number of XP (points that one gets from writeups or “Ching!s”, I think). Perhaps the ones who liked what I wrote couldn’t vote because they didn’t have XP (like myself, who wishes that s/he could upvote people).

New users would definitely benefit from having actual feedback. /msg, perhaps? But then again, it may be best for a user to roam around e2 for a while before contributing anything. It may take some time and nuked writeups before the user finds out exactly what writeups would actually make it. I've yet to find out what writeups e2 would accept, for only this and one other writeup was ever submitted by myself.










Why does it matter so? Just shut up and write! --sam512
I sympathize with you guys, and your negative experiences. I first came to this site a couple years ago, wrote a few nodes, all of which were deleted (None were perfect, plenty were fun). I left the site and have not returned until now, on an account I made just for the sake of posting this one account of sympathizing with you. It turned out at least one of my original writings was undeleted, but I was long gone. You're not alone, and the fact is for every noder who has remained and tells you it can work if you remain, there are probably 10 who left and whom you will not hear as they didn't stumble upon this node.

My suggestion: Don't use this site. It brings out the exhibitionist and competitive tendencies in us. The objective voting system that comes up with a quantifiable "approval number" of every writing tempts human nature to get competitive and rank your own self-value based on the opinions of others.

I actually started coding the material for a site like this that would allow subjective preferences. No nodes would be deleted, they would only be classified as people who liked node A usually like node B, therefore people who like node A will be shown node B. If you approach things subjectively it'll be much easier to feel good about yourself.

Whatever, the point is love yourself no matter how well or poorly you are rated by others. And don't look down on those others, on matter how much they seem to admire you. Most of all, do not let yourself be bitter at those who dislike your writings.

Ask yourself why you write. If it's to boost your ego, then you shouldn't expect any more approval than you give, particularly with something extremely subjective like poetry. If you write to meet friends, then I'd say college is probably the most practical place to do that, or maybe local poetry meetings. If you write to please yourself, then it doesn't matters what others think, so don't publish.

Just trying to help a disconcerted stranger out of a burst of compassion. (P.S. If you respond I'll never see as I'm done). I'm sure this post will get deleted, as it surely violates some rule, and I am happy with that, I just hope you get to read it first.

Alex Rohde
Everyone on E2 was at one time a new user. I've been around for almost a year and have learned a lot about what survives in this universe. Read the Quick Start and Everything FAQ. Doing so will save you a LOT of needless grief.

The tutorials are very important for having your projects survive. Most write ups get nuked for failing to follow proper formatting. I bumped my nose on these requirements in my first attempts at posting, had a couple destroyed. I almost took a hike, thinking to myself "Yeah, that's what I really need, having to learn all this to simply post a write up." Well, yeah, that's right, you actually DO have to learn a few things or the powers that be will weed out your efforts. It's a pain in the posterior region but it's also the way things work.

My failures were balanced out by some fellow noders attempts to get me on track. These are real flesh and blood humans who gave enough of a damn to help me past my birthing pains, held my hand until I could take a few steps, and have clapped their hands in glee to see me run.

I've posted something close to 150 write ups in less than a year, had some success, wrote some abject failures. I've made a few friends, tried to help a couple people newer than myself. It's been a give/get relationship. It's been a lot like real life in that way.

There has been a lot of bewailing the shortage of new talent these days. I can't address that, my track record is far too short. What I can address is my own experience. It's a community, and in every community there are angels and devils. People will help if you ask. People will volunteer even if they aren't asked. What is required is that the one being helped take the advice, not as a personal criticism, but as a critique on your work. The thin of skin won't deal with it in a graceful fashion.

There are some GREAT writers who put their work on E2. You can benefit by association, if nothing else. What will generally not happen is people will not kiss your derriere, no matter how lovely it may be, for the privelege of your company. It's like a bar. You can come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable, have a good time. You can meet people, learn how things work in this bar, find your niche. Start a stink and the bouncers will show you the door in one way or another. Maybe you'll get dumped on your ear.

It's a fun place to play, really it is. I've enjoyed my time here and my wager is you can also. It takes a little time, a little effort. The effort is worth the candle. Stick around, give it a go...if after a year you've not seen the value of this playground feel free to call me a big fat liar.

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