I'm excited about the new version of Lit.Org! Since I've been back at Lit I've been looking at the site with fresh eyes to get an idea of where we are and where we are headed. I also combed through years of old notes and looked at existing writing sites out there to see what others are doing. So I have a plan for the site and I've already started working on it.
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First off, here are some details on what's happening. Most of you should know that Lit.org is currently powered by custom software that we wrote for the site specifically. When we build Lit.org there were very few software packages that did anything like what we wanted and they would have needed heavy customization to work. So we built our own and served us very well. But now the software is dated. There are other things I'd like to do and even making basic changes requires me to do major coding sometimes and this slows progress down on the site. So I've decided to move the software that powers the site from Vorpal to WordPress. I'm a professional WordPress developer and I've worked on over 700+ WordPress powered sites, so I know it very well. WP (WordPress) isn't perfect out of the box for what we need so I'm writing a plugin called "Vorpal 2.0" that will add all the features we need and I'll get into those in a minute. WP is easy to use and will give you much more control over your work with some style options and other formatting options I think you'll all love. The transition won't be perfect and I'm sure we'll have a hiccup or two but we'll fix any problems as we go.
As for the transition process, I'll outline that in detail as we get closer. But the basic plan is for me to build the beta site and once it's close enough for testing I'll import the existing users and content from Lit.Org into the new system. This should work for 99% of users and their content. We may have to manually move over a few due to certain conflicts (for example, if a username has an odd character that's not allowed in WordPress - these should be rare because Lit.org also uses a similar rule). When I import the current users the new system will send out a new password via email so you'll need to make sure you're email address is up to date before we make the move.
I'll be sending out an email to all users of the system a couple of times during this process as needed. I'll email the basic plan and any steps people have to take, along with reminders and updates along the way. I'll also post these updates on the site and our Facebook page. The process will be straight forward and simple but I'll keep people posted and we'll help anyone who has trouble.
As for what's changing specifically, this is where things are really exciting for me. I took a look around the site and I've talked to several current and former members and a few other writing friends asking what they needed in a writing site. The site has always been focused on writing and we plan on expanding on that to add forums to discuss broader topics, articles on writing from business to craft, a podcast, a blog and more to focus on some of the other aspects of writing besides the stories themselves. Speaking of the stories themselves, right now we have everything basically in one big pot. Some people are looking or very specific feedback, while others are looking for an audience and any feedback is fine and both are equally important to the site and to writers. The plan here is to make 2 sections for posting writings. One will be much like it is now. Simply post your work and let people post comments. The new type will be for Critiques only and the author will have the option of giving some instructions on what type of feedback they want. For example, you might post a fight scene from your book and ask if the combat works. Or you might post an article you're working on and you want to know if it's logical, makes sense and the grammar is ok. This are is about the writing and not the content. The Critique section will also work a bit different than the regular section in how they are shown etc, but more on that another time.
One last thing I want to touch on is Moderation. Lit.Org has always been moderated. When we switch to the new version, this will change. The way we moderate will move more in line with how it's done on bigger sites like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Much like I have Lit.Org setup now, you'll be able to delete unwanted comments and critiques and control your own works as you see fit. We will still keep an eye out for rules violations such as posting spam or pornography etc. And when you run into trouble with something you can't handle on your own, we'll have report user, report posts, report comments and those types of tools so you can report an issue to a moderator who can help you out.
Now, over to you. What tools what you like to make you a better writer? What kind of changes or features would you like on the new site? We won't be able to use every suggestion and I know the new version may not be what everyone will want. My goal isn't to please everyone, but to make the best writing site I can with the resources I have available. I think change is exactly what the site needs now. A fresh start.
Make sure you Like us on Facebook. I'll be posting updates there also.
Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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