Hey ho, me here. I wanted to revisit two of the most important tools our community has at its disposal when it comes to interacting with stories on this wikia. These are the m4r and delete now tags which flag stories for review, letting admins know that, at the very least, the story needs to be read over for mistakes. They can be used to tell admins that a story needs to be renamed, reviewed (i.e. read-over and errors fixed), or deleted.
These tags are extremely helpful, and without them managing the wikia would be much more difficult.
But these tags don’t just send messages to admins. They send messages to the authors, too. Sometimes that’s a pretty obvious message, something like “you’ve spelt ‘sonic’ incorrectly and accidentally copied half of the nosleep front page in a sad attempt at plagiarism.”
Other times, that message reads a little more as “I don’t like this so I’m saying it should be deleted”. And that’s not a helpful message. It makes this wikia feel elitist, judgemental, and clique-y.
If you don’t like a story, leave a comment. For the most part we haven’t really had trouble with these tags being abused, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep an eye on when and how they’re used. And there has been a slow and steady uptick in these tags being used as a way for users to say they don’t like a story.
So, after speaking to the other admins, I’ve written this blog with the aim to reduice ambiguity in this arena. I think the first step is to clarify our Quality Standards .
Every day we get flak for the QS. It is inexplicably too harsh and too lenient. Users have, in the same breath, condemned us for letting poor quality stories aboard while also accusing us of murdering the creepypasta movement with an elitist stranglehold. I’m sorry folks, but there has to be a line, and it’s never going to be perfect, and it’s always going to feel a little arbitrary. Our line is drawn on a pretty simple basis:
Don’t use blacklisted subjects.
Don’t submit unoriginal stories.
Don’t submit stories that haven’t been proofread.
Let’s go into further detail.
The first point is self-explanatory. We have a list of blacklisted subjects, look at them, don’t write stories about them. Nobody needs stories like Jim the Killer, Battletoads.exe, The Leafblower, or King Kong Sega Genesis. However, video game pastas are not actually blacklisted. Haunted file, and haunted videogame pastas are out, but that doesn’t stop anyone using videogames as a pivotal plot point.
Don’t tag a story for deletion simply at the first sign of a video game. Be aware of why we have the rule, and that should help you quickly tell if a story needs tagging. What we are trying to eliminate are stories that rehash the same plot taken from better known stories without adding anything original.
The second point relates to the first. Stories need to be original. That originality can stem from their structure, plot, presentation, characterisation, prose, or even formatting. The vast majority of stories throughout history will borrow heavily from those that came before them. Most stories are, in their own way, retelling very similar plots over and over again. What matters is that someone puts in effort to make their version worth reading. Always ask, is there anything gained from reading this story, when another one does the exact same job? Are the characters different? Does it have different themes? Does it take a familiar plot and give it a new perspective? A new ending? A new beginning? Does it change up how the story is told?
An original story won’t necessarily be something that has a new plot, but it will almost certainly be something that feels like it was the product of an original, creative thought process, and not a lazy knockoff.
And finally, stories need to have minimal mechanical errors. They need to be formatted correctly, written correctly, and otherwise be the product of time and effort on behalf of the author. They don’t have to be perfect, but there’s nothing like thirty uncapitalized ‘I’s to let us know how little the writer cared.
In fact, almost all of the above come back to the same point over and over again. We want stories where the author has tried. As a community increasingly focused on writer’s and their experiences, we do not want to put our time and energy into a story that the writer doesn’t care about. These three simple checks—read the blacklist, make it original, proofread it—are our safety net to make life a little easier for both the admins and community at large.
Now onto the tags themselves.
We want to see the delete now tag used as an obvious flag for deletion. These are stories that are blatantly below minimum standards, almost always because they are so riddled with basic mechanical errors that simply reading them requires patience. If a cataract-addled dog could spot the errors from a mile away, delete it.
If it takes you more time to write feedback than it does for the author to write the story, tag for deletion. We’re not here to coddle writers, we need them to have, at the very least, put some time and effort into their stories. There’s always an element of judgement here, and we won’t come down on your for exercising that judgement. But generally, focus deletion tags on stories where there is absolutely 0% chance of anyone ever considering it above QS. Plagiarism, walls of text, and endless grammatical errors are all good reasons to tag for deletion.
In contrast, we want to see the m4r tagged in any other situation where you are unsure about the story’s quality standards. But again, tag with the QS in mind. Are you unsure if the grammatical errors are over the top, if you are unsure of its originality, or unsure of whether it qualifies as a blacklist, then you should mark for review.
Here’s what we don’t want.
We would prefer you not mark stories for review without a given reason. This, however, is not an absolute. Sometimes your short on time, and it’s better to have it tagged than not tagged because you want to be on the safe side. Just try to not to make a habit of throwing a tag on a story and leaving it ambiguous. We see a lot of comments where the author is interested in fixing the story, but doesn't know why they've been flagged for deletion.
We do not want stories tagged for deletion if they are grammatically fine and do not violate the blacklist.
We do not want tags that reference ‘feeling’ or subjective opinion. The line has been drawn and the QS is clear. Agree with it or not, that’s up to you. Please do not use the m4r and deletion tags as a way to vent opinions. The comment section is the obvious way to let the author know what you think of their story without needlessly making them feel like they’re at risk of deletion.
To reiterate: the delete now and m4r tags are not the place to vent your opinion. If you are going to provide a reason, provide one that clearly shows how the story has broken a rule and which can be used as a starting point for the author to improve. Otherwise it's not very helpful and will almost certainly turn new users away. Three simple questions let you know straight away if you should tag it:
Does it violate the blacklist?
Is there ANYTHING about it that is original?
Does it look like it’s been proof read?
Like I mentioned above, we are not here to lord some elitist standards over people (despite what many people think). We are just trying to provide a bare minimum starting point for new readers/writers that is unambiguous to both users and admins. Nobody says you have to like it and considering this is a place for non-professionals to hone their craft it doesn’t make much sense for our quality standards to be anywhere near the same standards used by magazines or publishers.
What we are trying to avoid are stories written by people who have put no effort into them. We do not want the tags to be used as a way for you to complain about the fruits of an author’s work, but rather as a way to declare that a story lacks any fruit to begin with.