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A Writers Co-op Forum?

In last Monday’s post, Carl E. Reed was wondering if there were any other forum where writers could interact besides social media. I instantly thought of Book Country, Penguin’s old site where we posted multiple threads about any aspect of the writing life, including current works, requests for critique, thoughts, ideas, and general tomfoolery. The point is to allow for discussions beyond a single weekly blog.

Googling for possibilities, I came up with bbPress, a project of WordPress.org.
It is a plugin that adds a forum to an existing WordPress site. You can take a look at it at:
https://bbpress.org/

We may need a domain name and a hosted WordPress website. I already have the domain name, WritersCo-op.com, and website hosting is cheap these days.

The forum would be easy to add. We simply log in to our WordPress admin area and go to Plugins » Add New. Search for bbPress and then select bbPress from results. Install and activate the plugin. Upon activation, the welcome screen for bbPress comes up.
https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-add-a-forum-in-wordpress-with-bbpress/

Do you think we might benefit from having this? Members could post threads for open discussion whenever they liked. A forum would allow members to post excerpts from their WiP for critique, Carl’s poetry to flourish, Mimi’s drawings to delight & entertain, facilitate Tom’s anthology updates for Rabbit Hole 4, etc. and ect. It’s an idea worth kicking around and I for one am all for more general tomfoolery.

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24 thoughts on “A Writers Co-op Forum?

  1. Great idea, GD! Love it. PS. Many of those old, free-wheeling Book Country threads are still accessible. They make for fun, fascinating reading at this late date–a nostalgic glimpse into the past. I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t replicate some of that old magic here! (We just need to get everyone into the pool, starting new threads and contributing comments on a regular basis.)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Good question, Mike. Right now people can comment on the sole weekly blog. Adding bbPress would change our strictly blog site into a true discussion forum. The forum would allow any member to post whenever they wished. We could have multiple posts throughout the week. And people could choose to comment on any posts of interest.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The one possible drawback I can see, GD, is site traffic: Book Country had 30,000 active members (I believe) at one point; and even given those numbers, many threads had but a dozen or so contributors to the discussion.

      Also: as regards reviewers, how will we ever function w/o humorless, stern Jay Greenstein to relentlessly intone re: every writer’s WIP: “Fiction writing is a learned skill. It is not simply reciting a series of events on paper, as if you were writing an essay on what you did on your summer vacation. My critique should not hurt your feelings if you are serious about turning pro; nevertheless you may want to brace yourself. Here it comes: The words you utilized to tell this “story” are sadly colorless, inappropriate and woefully insufficient to the task of sustaining a narrative. You have much to learn and sadly, I cannot offer you any words of encouragement based on the writing sample you’ve proffered. At a bare minimum, you need to immediately order and read the following “how-to” books on fiction writing . . . Good luck. You’ll need it. You understand, I trust, that you are not alone–you are, in fact, the 657th person on Book Country I’ve had to spank for daring to air their drivel in public. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some mirror preening to do. Must perfect my “smoldering look of intense gravitas” for my next book jacket photo.

      Liked by 3 people

        • mimispeike says:

          Remember Amber Jean? She moved with us from Book Country, then vanished. I’ve always wondered if it was because she took Jay so seriously, while the rest of us were laughing at him. I seem to recall she had health problems, but I think that when she finally realized what a clown he was, she was demoralized.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I do remember Amber Jean, Mimi. As I recall, Amber didn’t have a computer at home. She used one at her town library to write, post on Book Country and do emailing. I know she supported the idea of this Co-op. She is thanked by Curtis in our very first post, APRIL 26, 2016. “So thank you, Amber, Atthys, GD and Mimi….”
            Amber declined because she had to stay home and care for her mother.
            I’ve wondered how she is doing but lost her email address when an old computer died.

            Liked by 2 people

      • Jay! 😆 Yup, every serious critique group needs a Jay Greenstein! He told me, “No, I will not read your fucking book!” But, he did, after I agreed to read his, a very Heinlein-esque novel. Not “bad” -it was grammatically correct and included many acceptable formulas- but it was dull and uninteresting reading. Turns out, Jay lacked the imagination to create.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Book Country did have thousands of active members but, I suspect, site traffic works two ways – on the back end, Book Country also had publisher representatives to encourage participation and techies to maintain the forum.

    We would need a writer-techie to set up bbPress & maintain it if a problem develops, and, moderators to help users whenever reasonable-&-feasible. If we have a forum that is consistently up and people here who respond to posts in a helpful manner, we could probably build a community of writers, editors, BETA readers, publishers, marketers, etc. It would take time but I for one would have fun along the way.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I recommend starting out simple. Perhaps focus on just the people currently on this forum. See if we use it before making a huge investment of time or money. If yes, then put the word out and draw in others.
    Besides moderators and techies, we’d need advocates–cheerleaders, boosters, energizers–to keep things moving.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    Bear in mind that there is a multi thread discussion site: Scribophile.com

    Is it still there? I haven’t been on there for a couple years. There is an overload of info there. It’s too much, it’s exhausting.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Maybe… Why not? It’s worth a try. The question of traffic is the main one, especially with a wordpress.org site, which doesn’t show up in the reader. But perhaps through Facebook groups it’s possible to indicate threads which might be of interest to enough people, such as threads devoted to a specific genre or technical writing question or promotion issue. If there’s a way of making it somehow different from Scribophile, kboards, AbsoluteWrite or others, that would be a help.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Sounds good.

    As far as Book Country – if I remember correctly it was the idea of one of the editors at Penguin (don’t remember her name), and worked well until she left. Then there was a change, they started pushing self-publishing through the Penguin group, although they offered no editorial advice, etc. I think that someone upstairs just decided that it wasn’t generating cash for Penguin, and decided to cut it.

    Liked by 2 people

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