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19 September 2014 @ 07:12 am
Changing the Date as Fest Stories Release  
[personal profile] skieswideopen shared a brilliant idea, which has come as a relief to me for hopes of perhaps successfully holding another FKFicFest again next year.

While the 2014 FKFicFest wonderfully brought us 9 writers re-energizing our favorite characters in 9 bright-new stories, I've been worrying and failure-analysis-ing over declining readership in general and a precipitous drop from the beginning to end of the fest in particular. The first few stories released easily garnered over 100 hits each; the final few stories released just crept over 55 hits each. The 2 most commented-upon stories won 6 unique-reader comments each; 3 got 5; 1 got 4; 3 got 3. Again, there's a distinct bias toward the earliest stories released. And all forms of acknowledgment are down overall from previous years.

I want every FKFicFest writer to be read and to know it, to be appreciated and to feel it!

So I've fretted over whether I'd put the stories in an ineffective order or made impossible matches, or whether we should switch from an over-time release schedule to all-on-one-day. (And of course this year saw the fewest players yet, with all the many possible reasons for that.) Every factor may well have played a role, but the over-time release seemed the most telling. On the AO3, many readers seem to skim the latest "Recent Works" across fandoms only; they don't, naturally, continue scrolling down to discover later releases with earlier dates. I mustered all the FK-specific readers I could with promo posts on other communities and ForKni-L (and here), but it just doesn't compare with those eyes across fandoms. Must we switch to all-on-one-day release? It looked like it.

Then [personal profile] skieswideopen shared her observation that some other ficathons that release stories over time have begun urging their writers to update the publication date from the loading date to the release date on their stories as soon as they're released! This bumps the later stories to their rightful places on that vital AO3 "Recent Works" list, giving every story a fair shot at those cross-fandom eyes. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! I backdated all my own fanfic to its genuine original antique email-list-posting dates (more or less) when I loaded it to the AO3, but it simply never occurred to me to forward-date anything. (Indeed, forward-dating made things invisible on f-lists on LJ back in the day, so I'd learned a lasting lesson to never, ever forward-date.)

So we'll want to consider both of those possibilities — all-on-one-day release, and forward-dating from posting date to release date — if we do decide to play again next year.

(I'll keep fussing about how to improve the rest, but it's very nice to have a way to address that factor, at least.)

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Leelaleela_cat on September 19th, 2014 03:15 pm (UTC)
Another option, which I've used successfully in fests, is to let writers post their own stories on the day they're to be released. That can be less successful with an exchange fest, but...

I know that I was completely confused by the date on my gift story and thought that it had sat for days without me noticing that it had been posted. I also didn't get a "gift story" notification from AO3, but I'm not sure that was a consequence of the date or not.

On another note, sometimes I think, with older fandoms, there are just fewer people reading and writing overall as people's imaginations are taken up by new characters and 'verses.
Amy R.: Winbrightknightie on September 19th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you for pondering this!

>"let writers post their own stories on the day they're to be released"

That is very enticing. I've thought a bit about some scenarios like this in recent weeks, and across all the pros and cons, I do think that it would be great to have writers pick their own posting dates. (First come, first served, for date choices within the set fest duration.)

But I haven't yet been able to puzzle out a satisfactory way of addressing defaults and "tardies" in an exchange. Late stories would leave a gap in the fest for readers and then double-up on another author's big day (or extend the fest indefinitely on the back of an incentive to be late). Missing stories would leave no time to muster a pinch-hit. Maybe that's a risk worth taking, if everyone understands it up front? Or maybe not.

It wouldn't be as big a deal in a challenge-style game... but, year after year, I've been about the only one to vote for challenge-style in the pre-game poll; everyone else votes for exchange-style. :-)

Perhaps people will have ideas!

>"I also didn't get a "gift story" notification from AO3, but I'm not sure that was a consequence of the date or not."

I'm sorry. That was my fault. I made a mistake in setting it up.

No one mentioned that the notifications were missing (at least not in a way that I understood), and the story written for me was released last of all, so I didn't know that notifications had malfunctioned until the very last day of the fest.

Next year, if we play, I'll know to double-check this setting, and to ask the first player if she got her notification.

>"On another note, sometimes I think, with older fandoms, there are just fewer people reading and writing overall as people's imaginations are taken up by new characters and 'verses."

Yes, very true. Only a very few universes are eternal in broad fannish imagination. FK doesn't appear to be one of them. ~wry~

I'll keep looking avidly for ways to help keep interest in sleepy older fandoms breathing, and to help that interest blossom at least a little, at least from time to time. :-)

(I don't know why all those that I personally love best are long out of production. I've tried to love new ones, but I haven't really fallen deeply for anything new since Young Blades. I quite like a lot of in-production shows, but... I don't love them. They don't love me? I don't know. They're all different from each other, as well as from what came before...)

Again, thank you!
greerwatsongreerwatson on September 20th, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
"Only a very few universes are eternal in broad fannish imagination. FK doesn't appear to be one of them. ~wry~"

And yet, even after so many years, I still have no trouble coming up with ideas. Obviously, you don't, either. *sigh*
greerwatsongreerwatson on September 20th, 2014 01:53 am (UTC)
"Another option, which I've used successfully in fests, is to let writers post their own stories on the day they're to be released."

Which would not have worked for me this year. I posted my story long before the deadline because, that very weekend, I was to fly to England—and I knew that I had a conference paper to write as well.

(That RL intervened and the paper had to be finished once I was over there is irrelevant. My intention had been to go with a clear slate, all ready to enjoy two weeks off.)

Seriously, I would not have fancied going over with my story on a data stick, hoping that nothing happened to it en route. I wanted it safely up on AO3.
Amy R.: Winbrightknightie on September 20th, 2014 03:05 pm (UTC)
I think that the two approaches aren't necessarily incompatible.

A fest could still have the filters on and still have the mod release stories, but each author could nevertheless have up to a certain hour on his/her appointed day to load his/her story, so that the mod could release it at that hour.

Or a combination.

And definitely, from now on, everyone should update the date on stories to match the actual release date, whenever possible. That's going to make such a difference, I'm confident!