I know it’s been a hectic month; I’ve been chatting with users on Discord about their views on the recent shift towards a site that is more focused on authors and away from exclusivity/gate-keeping. A lot of people have had good ideas about how to approach this situation and the admins have been listening and discussing amongst themselves. We ultimately decided as this is a matter that will influence people’s contributions and attitudes, that it needs to be put to a group vote. First though, we do need to explain a bit about what went wrong and how we want to proceed with this discussion.

How was the deletion tag mis-used?

The deletion tag was originally made for stories that were either spam pages, trollpastas, violated our spinoff rules, were unfinished, or violated the wiki’s terms of use. These are stories that, like the name suggests, should be deleted right away. An admin (should) be able to look at the story and immediately identify the issues and delete them after evaluating them for the claims made. This classification has not recently been the case and was mis-used to try and delete stories for subjective reasons. This is not an attack on any user who has ever used the template ever. When I took a break from being admin I used the template to point out mechanical and plot issues when I should have used the M4R template. This has been a problem that is rooted deep in our community and now we have come to the point when we have to decide if it deserves to be removed as a feature due to the nebulousness of the term.

How should the M4R tag be used?

This is for stories that have a large number of mechanical issues (i.e. dozens that would require time/work to fix. Examples of this would be coding and formatting issues.), the user is suspicious of its source (possible instances of plagiarism of either the premise or outright wholesale theft of a story) that need to be investigated, or that there are other pressing concerns (the story was posted from another site and authorship is unknown or permission has not been verified, the story tows the line between our Terms of Use and what is acceptable on the site, etc.)

Why Talk About All of This Now?

We’re talking about this because we’re on the precipice of a choice that will impact our site’s mechanics. Do we want to continue with this system of M4R and Delete Now tags with the caveat that these points need to be backed up with explanation and that problem users (i.e. people marking multiple stories for deletion with subjective reasons (creepiness, plot points they disagree with, etc.) will be warned and/or banned depending on the severity of their actions. Or do we want to shift to another system? Here's some possible solutions we've discussed in the past few days.

Only the M4R Tag

Do we want a system that only features the M4R tag? We would likely subsume issues like blatantly stated trollpastas, spinoff violations, and terms of use issues under its banner, but it would require people to explain their reasoning for why they’re marking something for review. Nebulous terms led to a lot of confusion and perceived gate-keeping. While this is a literature site first and foremost, I also loved the fact that it helped me improve as a writer by pointing out my failings (overuse of ellipses, reliance on tropes, flat characters, etc.). I want this site to continue to help out authors, we will not tolerate it becoming a place of exclusion, dismissal, and subjectivity. Authors deserve better. Our community deserves better.

Keeping Both Tags

Do we want to continue with the current system of having both Delete Now and Marked for Review and tighten down regulations on the usage of the delete now tag to what was discussed above? This would likely mean that users who mis-use the template (i.e. marking stories for deletion due to either subjective reasons) would be contacted and that continued mis-use of those templates might result in a temporary ban.

A New Template

There is another option. Do we want to shift to a system that allows for marking stories for review (under a new template that possibly explains the possible reasonings clearly to the author), but restricts users from explaining their decision for using this template. This could help restrict subjective explanations from coloring users' interactions with authors ("This story feels like it's missing something", "It wasn't very creepy to me", etc.), but could also result in more work to figure out issues (As it could be mechanical issues, coding, source material, ToU violations, etc.) to properly evaluate stories which would result in longer review times. It would also likely result in our user base losing a bit of its agency to explain issues to writers and would result in admins acting as the mediators to explain what has happened.


On a final note, we are in the process of re-working the templates to make the Writer’s Workshop more visible in our welcome message, deletion messages, and front page. Unfortunately the coding was made by people smarter than me, and needs time so I can properly reference the WW without breaking the system. It will be done, as soon as we’re able.

So, how do you feel? Please feel free to discuss it in the comments and offer your own solutions. Our ultimate decision may be impacted by how you argue your case and the points you give. We want the best for this site, and we hope you’re able to discuss it in the comments reasonably because you want that too and will be respectful of other users' opinions. Thank you for your time.

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