I was looking at a wip that I really enjoy and everyone was getting up in arms that it hadn’t been updated in a while, now most of these comments were totally respectful and not at all pressuring the author but allot of folks still got offended and their posts taken down, now on one hand I understand why the rule about asking when will you update? Is there but on the other if your being nice why can’t you ask those questions?
Ok since the topic got closed () I just want to thank everyone who contributed and say we are all pretty awesome a topic like this could have easily gone downhill and it didn’t really virtual cookies all around!
I edited the title of your post from So anyone want to rant? so that we could discuss this important idea here because it’s a reasonable thing to talk about, and it doesn’t need ranting to make the discussion a useful one. I’ve also edited out the call to rant in general. Let’s not do that in this thread.
I guess I would say, for starters, that some authors are OK with it, and in those cases, I (as a moderator) tend to let the author of an established thread call the shots about these things. The default is to not ask though, which comes as a surprise to many new posters.
In general, we’ve found (and I personally have found as an author) that being asked about updates is extremely stressful. Speaking solely for myself, I ask myself “when is this part going to be done?” about four dozen times a day with various levels of intensity, but I usually don’t know the answer, and being asked it by others if anything makes me less productive. I imagine other authors have similar thoughts. For me, the answer is always “when it’s done and perfect, and I’m not sure when that will be.”
However, I also know that “when will the next part be out” can often–usually?–mean “I really love your writing and want to see more.” I get that, and I appreciate it. That’s why this particular forum norm sometimes hits people a little weirdly. Like you say, what if you are “being nice”?
At the same time, I often see people haranguing authors, nudging them, bumping old threads repeatedly, “joke-bullying,” and badgering them with requests for updates constantly in ways that not all WIP authors are prepared to deal with. Therefore, this rule is meant to put a gate around the issue, so to speak. One person’s “being nice” is another person’s nagging reminder. Individual authors can announce that they are cool with it, so in the absence of that explicit permission, don’t mention it.
To my mind, there is nothing inherently wrong about asking if/when an update might be coming, and what it may contain when it does come. People are interested in the work, and this is their way of showing that, and that should be welcomed. But this isn’t always the case when people talk about possible updates.
Problems tend to arise when one of two things happen. The first is when the thread becomes dominated by people asking when/if it will be updated. The thread stops being about the actual content, and, as mentioned above, leads to people just bumping threads without contributing at all. It can be a bit annoying to see. I myself get quite tired of seeing WIPs I like get activity, only to find it is just the same question over and over. Not everyone needs to post a comment like “is this dead” or “I hope it gets updated soon”. It is tiresome, and I am not even an author. I can’t imagine what it would be like for them.
The second issue is when people start requesting an update. By this I mean that it is no longer wondering when an update might come, but demanding they get something soon. This just puts added pressure on authors who may be struggling with issues behind the scenes that these comments just exacerbate. It also tends to spur other people to demand the same as well. Sometimes it is phrased more nicely, other times it can get quite aggressive, but neither is constructive for a WIP or the author’s wellbeing.
I think people forget that authors are real people. They don’t just exist to write WIPs for our benefit. Any number of things can stop an author from updating, from minor delays to serious health issues. And even if there is nothing actively preventing an update, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day because we have no way of knowing for sure.
The point I am trying to make is that wondering about updates is perfectly fine. But an audience isn’t owed anything, and believing such just causes more problems that authors shouldn’t have to deal with.
I’ve also noticed that out in the larger gaming world - and I imagine in many other industries - when folks feel pressured to give a deadline, give one, and don’t meet it, even more pressure is the result. The fans can be perfectly nice about it (though they often aren’t) and yet the devs still feel like they’ve let everyone down and the time pressure builds. That’s not a fun spot to be in. In the case of CoG games, I get the impression that the “dev team” is usually one person, so there’s even less surface area to spread the pressure over.
Because writing is difficult and as others before me have so wonderfully articulated, it takes time both creatively and emotionally to put out a finished work.
I think many people on the forums understand this and give authors the adequate grace in that regard and I think it’s wonderful that there is an unspoken agreement among forum users to remember the person behind the screen is laboring to provide you entertainment out of their own time, for free at least for some part.
That being said, I think authors have a responsibility at least morally, to give their readers assurance too and tell them if they’re still working on the project or not.
When people show your work love and support, give feedback and encouragement and report bugs and typos basically doing the job of an editor for free, the very least you can do in my opinion is to give them a bit of respect for their time back. People give fan theories and make fan art, ask questions and engage with your work essentially keeping it alive which I know as an author can feel really rewarding.
Authors are people too yes, but so is your audience and it’s outrageous to expect people who have invested themselves into a story to not get a bit frustrated when they’re essentially left hanging for months or years.
I’ll assume that if someone posts a WIP they intend to finish it (sometimes things may change but the in that case let your readers know.) By posting something on a public forum and encouraging feedback on it, you are essentially raising the hopes of the people who engage in your work…don’t do that if you know you can’t deliver.
This doesn’t mean pester the author but like criticisms levied towards people that write are valid in my opinion and shouldn’t be put aside because they’re providing content. If you encourage hopes and make promises then fail to deliver, people have a right to be upset. And creating a space where you can’t even question a writer no matter what is a disservice to those who engage with WIPs.
I understand the intent, but I would love to not have a thread for general complaining, ranting, and venting, because that kind of thread deteriorates super fast. I think it’s a good idea to have a focused discussion instead. I hope you will forgive my editing the thread’s focus; experience tells me this is best for the thread.
Respectfully, I have to disagree with you here. I would guess that many, many authors who begin works here are not aware of whether they can or cannot finish, what precisely scope creep leads to, or how long a quality product takes to finish. They may not know they can’t deliver, and they don’t know that they don’t know, sometimes for quite a while. I want people to post WIPs, period, and if they can’t finish, that’s how it goes. That’s the nature of WIPs, and my perspective is that it’s part of a process of learning how to write in this weird art form. But I totally hear you.
I can’t disagree there. I want Book 3 of the Kingkiller series too. I’ve been waiting a long time.
I take from your words that you care very much about these works, and I assume your desire to want to be informed about progress comes from a good place, but the use of “outrageous” and “frustrated” and “can’t deliver” and “a disservice” in your post suggests an emotional relationship between author and reader of a work-in-progress that not all authors are prepared to be part of, and not all authors would agree that they are agreeing to that particular social/artistic contract by posting here. Some totally are, or course, and even thrive on the energy from posters. But for some, that would be so stressful as to choke off productivity.
I’m comfortable with the opt-in policy. It’s tricky to moderate, and I know I can’t keep the different wants of all the WIP authors out there, but it at least gives me a really clear way to know what’s cool and what’s not. If an author is cool with it, I am too, and if they aren’t, I want to help them maintain that policy on their thread.
Once discussed this topic with my friends… Our opinion is like this: Authors don’t have to tell their readers when to update.
Most wips are, let’s say, authors’ self-entertaining work----they don’t charge readers for its content. So legally authors don’t have to update on time or even update at all or inform their readers about it, since readers don’t pay them anything materially (however I image the situation to be a bit different if you’re a patreon). Also they have the right to request readers not to ask about them since this is their work.
But pay attention to the word “materially”. In most situation, the auther and their readers will form some sorts of emotion bond. For example, readers become happier because of author’s work, and author become happier too because they feels they’re approved. As I said before, authors don’t have the obligation to update their work or tell readers anything about it, they can just walk away. As a reader, I value the bond I formed with the authors and thus accept the fact that some people may not be able to continue their work. In this respect, readers and authors are more than “business”. We are like pen-pals communicating through wips. So it’s fine that the author can’t continue this relationship. And if they decide to stop for a while or quit, we readers can understand and wish them better. It’s also OK that the authors just, “walk away silently”, but we readers will feel more at ease if they can tell us about it–“what if there’s an accident happened to them?”
I myself played many wips. Many of them are…in indefinite extension. “Maybe he’ll never be back. Maybe he’ll come home tomorrow.” So, it’s OK we don’t ask things, just let us know you’re out there safe.
Ok I see your point there, I just remember my mom would talk about when forums first became a thing and in her day there where some that where all about venting about whatever the thing may be and while allot did do go bad most others you could let out the negative energy without it being bad… Am I making sense?
I personally don’t have an issue with it provided the tone is respectful. If anything it is kind of nice to know someone is keen enough to see more to let me know, and leaving people hanging is not something I’m intentionally ever going to plan to do. Most authors don’t write full time and can have a lot going on off keyboard, so if something I’m writing is slow in progress or on hold I’ll just say so if asked to prevent frustration for anyone waiting for a quick update, or thinking something is totally abandoned when it its not. I know not everyone feels the same way though and takes it as pressure to get more out. Sometimes we don’t know when an update will be expected, it depends on external pressures and how co-operative our imagination appears to want to be at a given time.
It’s not that I want to be informed about progress per say, my thing is, is the author showing as much respect to the reader as the reader is showing to the author? Or is it just a one way thing where you should respect the authors time and works and effort (you should) but you shouldn’t consider the readers time and investment?
But that’s my point exactly, if you’re not ready to make a commitment to your writing, or if you don’t feel like you can or if you fully intended to deliver and things changed then just let people know. I don’t expect that every WIP will be finished, but I would hope an author would let us know if they can’t do it anymore or if they’re crumbling under the pressures that you mentioned.
Catering to a audience you build by sharing your writing is a lot of work that some writers aren’t even aware they’re getting into much less consenting to, I absolutely agree with that. But if it’s a likely result of posting your work, I don’t think it helps anyone to not at least mention it.
Things happen, it’s not a big deal and I think a lot of people on this forum are the understanding sort but a light handed “let the author do what they want and the readers are not allowed to have a human reaction to it,” approach is a disservice to the readers. I’m sorry if it offends but I really don’t think I can put it any other way.
I totally get where your coming from there are some wips on here that I freaking love but they’ve disappeared with no word and I would have just appreciated if the author had said something not even anything big I don’t need a life story all I need is a ‘sorry bro’s can’t anymore’
In my experience as a longtime lurker and reader, most Authors are only doing WIPs as a hobby or a passion project. They have the same obligations as everyone else and then decide to add on more to that by opening up to others who get invested in that hobby and want to see it completed just as much as said author. The caveat being that only the author can make that happen. It might take us a few hours to get through a lengthy demo but for the author it almost definitely took 2Xs more than that and that’s a very genrous estimate.
When sharing a work with the public there’s some level of obligation more than working on it privately but it’s still very loose. There’s no contract for a WIP so they aren’t required to ever update it but people will still expect it. When people start asking for specifics on updates it implies that authors are completely obligated to update in some time that is subjectively considered mannerly to the person asking. It also fosters a bad sense that an author has enough time to work on the project regardless of their actual situation.
As a person who makes and uploads music as a hobby I know that it’s really hard to:
A. Find time where I can work on stuff.
B. Decide that time is better spent on this hobby than any other activity.
C. Feel creative and have ideas worth pursuing during that conditional period.
D. Feel like what I’ve made is at a place where it can’t be further improved.
If I added any amount of people to that asking me when certain projects are coming out that I’ve teased, but haven’t felt good enough or been productive enough to finish, then I would feel way worse. At the end of the day the author doesn’t actually owe us anything so I feel like it’s very reasonable for people to be stopped from expressing their expectant feelings to the author despite the lack of obligation.
Release dates aren’t in the author’s control typically, so there is no real issue with asking. It certainly isn’t pressuring them or anything, especially given the writing and coding would be either finished or nearing completion, with just editing left to go. At best you get an estimated time-frame, at worst the author just says they don’t know.
So don’t get me wrong I agree with a lot of what your saying and you pointed out a couple of things I didn’t think about, what I will say though is that if someone has decided for whatever reason to not finish a wip they should just say so or if they can’t finish it in a timely manner but still want to eventually finish it they should be upfront and just say ‘sorry folks can’t’ because yeah as most have pointed out the writers don’t owe us they don’t need to finish if they can’t, while I’m sure it can suck to not finish a project and you can get shit for it most people can understand and even if they don’t isn’t it better to be honest?