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women friends talkingFor Websurfers: if you just stumbled across this post, it pertains to the World Building Academy  launching later this Fall. If you also create fictional worlds and are interested in getting in on the ground floor and initial discussions about your world-building needs, please join the WBA list at this page.

For WBA List Members:

As I mentioned in earlier email, I want to hear more about what your needs are in regards to world building. Not just generally (though that too) but also in regards to solutions I’m developing that I want to make sure are of real use to you.

Now, I could just post an occasionally query in a blog post (like this one) and point you to it via email, and then read your responses here. But from some comments I’ve been getting, I have the impression that you might be interested in a bit more interactive discussion than that.

This brings me to my question: what form of discussion group/area/platform would you prefer if you really want to share your thoughts about the world building challenges you’re dealing with?  What are you most likely to actually use?

I have some business considerations that incline me one way or the other, but I’ve narrowed my choices down to three approaches. I’d like to hear your take on these options before I implement anything.

1.  Blog posts and comments – like we’re doing here. I can add a comment threading function so it’s easier to find things by subject or subhead and so on, if chat goes on for a while.

On the plus side, it’s easy and we’ll probably see some incidental newcomers from websurfing. On the downside, it’s not the best way to manage ongoing discussions.

2. A forum. This would be a forum here on this website (will be moved later to the World Building Academy site when it goes live).  It would have both public and private levels of access–I expect private would be used for discussion of webinars or workshops put on by WBA, and so on.

Plus side: Forums are convenient because message boards let us sort things topically and keep a history of discussion that can be easily reviewed.  They can also be more private – no drive by snark and so on from ill-behaved netizens. Downside: it takes a little more effort on the user’s part to register and participate.

3. Facebook (Group and Fan Page). This would be a convenient discussion area for many, since so many hang out at FB.  I’ve seen a lot of groups on FB with active discussion traffic, so clearly it’s working for some interest groups. It’s not the best way to organize info, but it’s good for quick hits of commentary on the fly when you happen to be online there.

Plus side: ease of use, and it’s where a lot of people hang out anyway. There’ll be incidental visitors there too (also interested in world building). On the down side, I know some G+ers refuse to use FB (they’ve even closed their accounts), and if there is a requirement to go there to talk about wb topics, they are less inclined to do so.  Like a blog, also not optimized to manage discussion threads, but ease of access encourages more participation. (Does that balance out? Hm…)

I know there are other alternatives but for various reasons these are the approaches I need to focus on right now  (or one of them, anyway).

In the Comments below, please let me know your thoughts on what would work best for you, and why. 

(Or if you don’t care to comment on this blog, you’re always welcome to just send me an email to:  worldbuilding [at] deborahchristian [dot] com)




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14 Responses to Question About Discussion Areas [WBA]

  1. I would prefer G+
    I like the way it works better than Facebook by far. Also we could use Hangouts.

  2. The Crone says:

    Sorry, Moe – G+ is on my list of “places I can’t go right now for various business reasons.” Eventually, probably (especially when there are, like, workshop break-out groups who could confabulate really well in a hangout) – but for now, it’s not on the menu.

    As a second choice, which of the three options I listed would you be most happy with?

  3. Hilary says:

    I like forums – tend to use a lot for ferret info. You can get to know people, chose which topics to contribute to (sci-fi versus fantasy vrs other) and generally a more inclusive area. Doesn’t need to be fancy.

    • The Crone says:

      Hi, Hilary! Nice to hear your voice from across the pond.

      I like the ability of forums to clump things by topic as well. I agree too that it helps foster getting to know others.

      Ferrets, huh? And I have my mouse forums I frequent. That’s a good example of interest-group communications, for sure.

  4. Charles says:

    I prefer forums.

    Yes, I like seeing links in G+ and the sheer volume of awesome folks there makes it a compelling choice. Blogs are great if all content begins with the creator. But if Teramis doesn’t want to be the only starting point, then forums edges blogs out.

    But at the end of the day, world-building is something that takes time. And I often want more time to think up a response than a social network site gives me. Or more importantly, I want some ability to go back later and easily add to or find an older post. Archives are much easier to browse through or search in forum sites than in G+ or other network models.

    Plus, forums let you organize posts into topic areas that, again, make it easier to browse as content grows.

    Maybe forums with link-posts in G+ and/or blogs to help trigger “hey go check out this awesome thing that this person posted!” from time to time, or weekly summaries of the types of discussions most active in the forums?

  5. Anthraxus says:

    I would suggest forums as well, specifically SMF (simplemachines.org) as it has a very nice built in template uploader and numerous other easy add-ons that could be useful. You could also setup a simple IRC server to allow for real-time communication in conjuction with the forums. (Unreal IRC). I’ve had extensive experience with both of these platforms if you want further details.

  6. The Crone says:

    @Charles – totally agree with you about needing think-time to respond and then the complete hassle of attempting to re-locate a comment to reply to in a social media chat stream.
    @Anthraxus – if we go the forum route (and early voices are certainly leaning that way!), it will be a simple Worpress plugin for now (bbpress). If I decide to move to a more full-blown forum like SMF that will happen after the World Building Academy site is live.

    Developments like this will have to wait until my current book-frenzy is past, but thanks for your offer of expertise. I’ve administered SMF before but it can be a PITA especially in regards to dealing with spam. If I go that route, you will no doubt be hearing from me. 🙂 Thanks.

  7. I like the forum idea best. I prefer turn-based communication. It gives me a chance to collect my thoughts and then use spell-checker! :mrgreen: Also, a forum is 24/7, instead of a scheduled hang-out.

  8. DeAnna says:

    You know, all of the above work for me. But G+ is spiffy, too.

  9. Peter Borah says:

    Like the others, G+ would be by far the best. But if that’s out, then a forum would be second-best.

  10. ok, since G+ is out of the door (which it also has the same problems as the blog, only you could begin any thread, even with a specific page/user for the Academy, and I do believe google politics could be a bit strangling) I would say forums for all of the above reasons, but also because I like some privacy in all this topics, I know that while we all pursue a similar objective, we might be a bit protective of many ideas.

    I am in FB, but not as often and usually just to check on my sister and a a couple of friends, FB is too cluttered these days.

  11. Tim Loya says:

    Forums. Easier to compartmentalize, organize, and reorganize information; stay current with questions and responses; and create a place where people will tend to refer to for years instead of just months (opinion on blogs anyhow, unless their referenced via link continuously). And Facebook, to easy to get lost, stolen from (IP wise), and trolled.

  12. The Crone says:

    Well, that’s a clear consensus. Forum it is, then. I’ll have one up pretty soon.

    It will probably be at world-building.com, which is the home of the World Building Academy. It’s not ready for prime time until we are closer to launch, but I can make the forum available on the home page. That way I don’t have to worry about a data migration thing later on.

    At any rate, I’ll let you know where the forum can be found when it’s online.

    Thanks for your help!

  13. chris says:

    Well, I seem to be late (on holiday)…but as I was going to vote forum anyway…LOL.

    Looking forward to world building.


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