Moderators: engage brain before applying rules!

July 16, 2017


Just over a week ago I posted a comment on an interesting article in The Bookseller entitled "When does a writer become a professional?".  My aim was to provide some evidence to back up what the author of the article was suggesting about how you don't necessarily need to be earning a living from your writing in order to feel OK about taking it seriously - for me, it all depends what your criteria for success are.  

I explained that I had decided to offer my work for free (because getting readers was more important to me than making money) - and that I had been pleasantly surprised at the number of downloads so far.  I also observed that I was not the only writer who had gone down this route, at which point I seem to have committed a heinous crime in the eyes of the website moderator - I linked to the page of my website (Free Fiction Review) which contains my own recommendations of free, self-published fiction by other authors (my aim being to demonstrate that I was not alone in having gone down this route and that other writers have achieved success - of sorts - with this approach).

This link to my own site is the only reason I can think of why the moderator deleted my post as "Spam".  I can understand why websites have rules on this, particularly in relation to self-promotion.  But if he/she had bothered to read my comment properly and visit the page, it would have been clear that I am not in fact promoting myself at all - that page is entirely devoted to encouraging people to read free books by other authors, not me.  No one pays me to write those reviews, nor is there any advertising on my site - so I have nothing to gain financially.



Now, in case you are wondering, the relevance of the Stalin photo is that there are 2 versions of it - one with Nikolai Yhezov (to the right of Stalin) and one without (above).  Because not content with purging Yhezov, Stalin tried to have him airbrushed out of history.  Ok, I admit it, this analogy is probably pushing it a bit.....

But I have had similar experiences when commenting on similar issues on The Guardian website (motto:  "Comment is free" - hmmm, not so sure about that) and on Reddit.  The Reddit forum I posted on specifically asked for recommendations of free books - so I provided a couple and then, not wanting to bore people with a long post, provided a link to Free Fiction Review.  Result?  Deletion of post and very sniffy comment from the moderator suggesting that I read their guidelines more carefully.  I had read them in fact - and they permit linking to relevant external websites, including your own material provided you don't make a habit of it (which I had no intention of doing).  But when I made the point that  my page was relevant to the question they had asked on their forum, they were not having any of it.  I came away with the strong impression that upholding the rules was more important than what people actually had to say on the topic in question.

So I suppose I should not have been surprised by the deletion of my post on The Bookseller article.  I accept that websites need to have rules about what is acceptable and that moderators do not always have an easy task (although with a grand total of 10 comments on that article to date, the moderator can hardly claim to have been overwhelmed by the amount that needed checking).   But it strikes me as a depressing state of affairs where rigid adherence to a set of rules seems to have become more important than what people might actually have to contribute to the very debate that the comments section is (presumably) there to encourage.


 

Fedorov's dust

April 30, 2017



Having written a novel which draws quite heavily on ideas about the "Technological Singularity", I thought I knew a fair amount about it already.  But a recent article in the The Guardian by Meghan O’Gieblyn entitled “God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism” exposed some gaps in my knowledge and encouraged me to revisit the subject – which I haven’t really been back to since I self-published the novel in 2012.

The Technological Singularity is an idea most closely as...

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Ship of Fools

March 26, 2017
Went on the pro-EU march in London at the weekend - which may be something of a futile gesture, as Theresa May seems set to give notice to leave under Article 50 this week.  But if it helps to deter some of those in government from pursuing some of the more extreme forms of Brexit which are being seriously talked about (such as walking away without any sort of deal at all with the EU - absolute madness in my view), then it will have been worth it.  There were quite a few good placards but my ...
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Single to Morden by Spike Evans

February 27, 2017



As regular readers of this blog would know (if only there were any), I like to maintain the pretence of being a reasonably conscientious reviewer of free fiction by self-published authors.  This normally entails doing a review that consists of several paragraphs (at least).   And more often than not, it affords another unmissable opportunity to give commercial publishers a bit of a kicking for not doing a better job of finding (and publishing) new fiction (happily allowing me to extend the re...

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Google ate my story!

December 18, 2016




According to a report in The Guardian, Google has recently attempted to improve the language capabilities of one of its Artificial Intelligence programs by feeding it over 10,000 free ebooks downloaded from Smashwords (out of a total of well over 50,000 free ebooks).  Apparently the idea was to help the AI produce more natural-sounding sentences.

Being The Guardian, the report was a bit po-faced about the whole thing and the journalist seemed to think that the authors ought to have been remune...

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Stumps of mystery

October 31, 2016



“Stumps of mystery: stories from the end of an era” by Susan Wickstrom describes itself as “a novel in stories” – and it’s certainly true that it occupies a space somewhere in between a full-blown novel and a book of short stories.  Structurally, it’s similar to some of David Mitchell’s fiction, where you get a series of separate but linked stories - I am thinking in particular of “Ghostwritten” and “Cloud Atlas”.  

But whereas Mitchell tends to leap around a lot in ter...

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Inselaffen!

June 27, 2016


Some thoughts on the EU referendum result.


Now we know why, when they are feeling frustrated with us (as well they might right now), the Germans refer to us as “Inselaffen” (island apes).  Here’s a picture of one of those island apes watching a graph of his currency dropping to a 30 year low against the dollar (having at long last managed to switch on his laptop).

If you have read any of my previous, rather geeky (and evidently totally ineffectual) posts on Brexit (they start here and the...

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Can't decide about Brexit? Read this

June 20, 2016


Unsure about which way to vote in the EU referendum?  Well, who can blame you given that debate on the subject has descended into an unedifying slanging match.

It’s hard to feel enthused about voting to remain because the EU is not a particularly lovable organisation – and it’s going through a particularly bad patch right now with the euro and migration crises, which highlight the fact that it is far from perfect.  So your heart may be telling you we should leave, buoyed up by stirring s...

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Is the EU a giant squid?

June 12, 2016


In this post I’m going to look at whether the EU is so dysfunctional and plagued by major problems (e.g. migration, the euro etc) that it has become like a giant squid, threatening to drag us down into the abyss – so the safest course is to disentangle ourselves and leave.  For me, geography means that this “safer out” argument doesn’t hold much water (excuse the pun).  This is because, if we leave, “the squid” will still be sat there right next to us, with all the same problems...
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Brexit: a broader perspective (3)

June 6, 2016


Having discussed security and trade in previous posts, I’m now going to look at the impact of the EU on the domestic economy.  Maybe I should retitle this “Boring for Brexit,” as I suspect most people are sick of hearing about it – but it’s also hard to find much in the way of reasoned analysis of the issues, hence this series of posts.

Anyway, my starting point is the argument of pro-Brexit campaigners that since the vast majority of UK businesses don’t export, the Single Market i...

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About Me


Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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