Absolute Write

18 03 2007

I’ve been a member of this writer’s message board community for a couple of months now, and it seems worth mentioning here on the blog. The Absolute Write Water Cooler is a privately owned message board community of writers at various stages in their careers, from aspiring to professional. Membership is free, but you do have to register if you wish to post in the forums. I highly recommend this site, albeit with a few reservations that are discussed below.

AWWC’s primary value is in the sheer magnitude of useful information that it contains. If you are a beginning writer you would be well served to make full use of the site’s “search” feature, and as far as I know this site can be searched regardless of whether or not you choose to become a member of the community. Virtually any question that you may have concerning writing has already been asked (usually several times), and as near as I can tell the people who come forward to provide answers are quite intelligent, accurate, and helpful.

Of special interest are the “Writing Poetry,” “Share Your Work,” and “Mentors & Writing Partners” forums. In these areas, you can post your work (or portions thereof) for critique, and find people willing to “beta” read your manuscript. The critique forums are password protected so as to avoid any widespread Internet exposure that some editors might consider a “first rights” problem, but it should be noted that there are conflicting views on this subject–particularly among e-publishers.

Outside of these areas, there are a wide variety of forums covering an even wider variety of topics. No matter what you write, you are bound to find a forum or a sub-forum devoted to it.

On the downside, AWWC suffers from all of the same sorts of problems that you will encounter in any other online community. The problem is perhaps magnified here to a certain extent in that AWWC has such a large active membership of highly creative–and highly opinionated–people. A substantial portion of AWWC is set aside for the discussion of non-writing topics. One non-writing forum, “Take It Outside,” is set aside for the express purpose of allowing debate on topics unrelated to writing. The forum description says: “Sometimes we all need a spot to let off steam. Here’s the place for controversial subjects, debates, and arguments–but please remember that even here, the rule is “respect your fellow writer.” This is in addition to another forum set aside for “Politics & Current Events.”

Predictably, these “off topic” forums become the focus of a lot of controversy, conflict, and “board politics,” some of which would inevitably spill out into the more useful portions of the community but for the rather heavy-handed (and in some cases seemingly arbitrary) manner in which the board is moderated. You’ll note that these particular forums are kept hidden from the casual observer, and are only visible to registered members. I think they would do well to eliminate them entirely. These forums offer nothing that isn’t readily available on a multitude of other message boards, and I think they distract from AWWC’s main purpose. AWWC is no worse than any other message board in this regard, but–at least as it concerns these issues–they certainly aren’t any better either.

By all means make use of this resource, but proceed with caution. Unless you have nothing better to do with your time than spar with keenly articulate and sometimes passionately vindictive people, I would recommend that you avoid the non-writing forums entirely. It is time that would probably be better spent availing yourself of the vast treasure-trove of writing knowledge that this board has amassed.

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2 responses

28 03 2007
poetinahat

Hi, Scott – I’m enjoying your blog; well written, well-thought-out piece on AWWC.

It’s good to read an objective view, which is difficult to get from within the forum. (Disclosure: I’m a mod there.)

If you’d like to discuss any of your concerns about the AWWC boards, I’d welcome the opportunity.

I’ll link to your blog from mine; nice to see you in blogland!

28 03 2007
SK

Hey Rob! Thanks for the link, and I linked you back. No concerns. I love the place. Just took me a while to sort of find the best way to make use of it. With a few little slips here and there, I now spend most of my time in the poetry forum (mod there is pretty cool, so I’ve heard 🙂 and SYW. Those forums are invaluable. Thanks for stopping by!

Scott

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