Part one of this essay appeared in a previous post.
When setting up, consider:
Members do not need access to the membership roster, as this only invites spamming. Tick items that improve the privacy of your member information. Each member can easily decide on his own to share or not share whatever information he chooses. While Moderator rights need to be reserved for your Moderators, if any, just ensure members have rights to post, to manage their file spaces, and up/download ability.
Do write a mission statement to head your site. Be plain and direct in it about:
The rules of etiquette.
What activities your group will encompass.
What age group, Genre, and work lengths you will support.
Crit sites aren’t all about rules, regulations and Policy. However, preformatting a few simple documents to keep in a maintenance folder right off will save you time and bother later. Consider a formatted (and polite) dismissal letter; a stock welcoming letter; perhaps a simple guide to creating personal sub-directories and getting around on your site, what file formats are best to put up work in, and so forth. Not all writers are computer hackers, ex-technicians, etc. nor should they need to be.
Members should be encouraged to use the list, talk to each other, understand who their reviewers are, and their proclivities. Be prepared to exorcise members who do not understand the purpose of your group.
Groups are not Blogs, and the members must be able to work together and have a focus, or it will quickly go silent, or become a general chat site.
Be sure members understand what polite means regarding critique etiquette, if not a particular format. Members need to understand that rewriting or ghostwriting others’ work, or just panning / lauding it, does not constitute any kind of critique. Corrections or suggestions need to be neutrally presented and suggestions tagged as to type, whether opinion, grammar, spelling, formatting, style or preferences. (see the article previously posted on crit techniques here) Authors should not have to be affronted by another’s attempt to change the individual growth of personal style, or be castigated for experimenting. It is OK to express an opinion, but mark opinions as such. Be sure your members thank every criticizer for each effort. It’s sweat equity, just as if a neighbor decided to mow a lawn for someone, out of the goodness of their heart. A good Idea is to make tit-for-tat critique a firm policy in your mission statement and stick to it.
All groups will need a little janitorial work from time to time. Be sure to designate a moderator as soon as possible to help members out. Encourage members to place useful links up in the link library area, and check these from time to time to be sure they are correct and work.
Public or Private?
Private. Period. Work held within a non-public group is not accessible by Googling, so forth, and is therefore not at risk of exposing work to copyright or sale problems, sex advertisers, trolls, fly-bys, so forth. Besides, ‘Public’ groups tend become fright-mares within days, and unsuitable for any serious purpose. Having only ten participating and motivated members is preferable to having a thousand trolls, advertisers and lurkers, so you do not need to “Go Public” to attract a good mix of active, mutually useful, participants. If your site is online to advertise, then of course, the opposite may be the better option, but you will not get much work done there, and everything posted will need watching.
Tick the maintenance Item that places New members on temporary moderation. This will allow you to preview what they wish to post, until you are happy they will be a good community member. You, or your moderator can rescind this feature for the member at any time.
Otherwise, dictate nothing, and be happy to have helped provide a stable and useful tool for your community.
Thanks again, Floyd! More of Floyd’s posts can be found by hovering over the ~Writing tab on the page list just below the banner picture at the top of the page, and clicking on the Floyd Hyatt link that drops down.
WRITING PROMPT: Rewrite the story of Jack and Jill in your own style.