I have tried so hard, over and over again, to get re-engaged with this once fine site – but alas, most of us more mature writers have gone on to other places. It has become a chat room for middle schoolers.
Sad to see your hard work end up this way.
While I’m sorry to hear that some authors are no longer finding the site to their liking, I don’t see our current membership in quite the same negative light. As anyone who’s run a large, thriving community site knows, it’s an unavoidable fact that reputable, long-time members will come and go as your site evolves. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of growth, and one that I’m quite familiar with.
As a community manager, having poured your heart and soul into a project, it’s easy to become disheartened or frustrated when presented with comments like these. It’s easy to get rattled. It takes a lot more effort to keep the confidence you had when you launched your product and stick to your guns. But anything worth hanging onto is going to come at a cost.
With enough experience, however, you’ll understand that it’s all a part of the way things work. Without an influx of new members and a little displacement of existing members, a community’s population can easily stagnate. And a stagnant community is a dead community, which is why I try not to let this kind of sentiment get me down. It’s a by-product that anyone who runs a community will have to come to terms with eventually.
There’s another thing to keep in mind here: what was once a shiny new toy does lose its sheen after a while, no matter who you are. I’ve participated in many a community, whether it be in the social media arena or in the hobbyist or gaming worlds, where I’ve lost interest after being heavily involved for a lengthy duration of time. In any kind of closed system, particularly on free sites where no financial involvement is required, burn-out is not uncommon. Social network fatigue has been edging towards the forefront for at least the last couple of years.
To address the commenter’s point more directly, I’m quite aware that there’s been a definite trend towards a younger population here in the last year or so; I’ve given it plenty of thought. By younger, I’m referring to budding writers in the range of 13-to-18 years old. From my perspective, and from my experience at various technology and literary events throughout 2009, it’s a very telling statistic. It goes to show that there is an underserved market that needs to be addressed.
Although there might be a bit of clutter in our stories section right now, I’ll be introducing a number of ways to segregate and aggregate content into various areas so there’s a little less overlap between genres (especially roleplays.) The addition of dynamic content recommendations (particularly the subscription version) will also help to filter and personalize content to a level that individual authors are more comfortable with. And while it’s perfectly understandable that some of our existing membership may become a little disenchanted with this youthful trend, I think there’s a lot to be said for those who do stick around and help our younger members mature and grow into their writing ability.
As we all know, kids do grow up eventually (and I can say for one that I was once like them, not so long ago). I see offering them a creative outlet and being a positive influence in their writing as a valuable endeavour. And I’m going to keep doing it.