I've added a new feature to the site to allow a group of authors to collaborate on a story, each posting their own chapters.
Previously, you either kept the story private so that only you could post chapters, or opened it up for any member of the site to make additions. Now you have a third option: you can specify a list of pen names for people who are allowed to add chapters to the story. After the chapters are added, everything works exactly as it used to for multi-author stories regarding who can edit what, reviews, etc.
And to make some use of it, we have the "Two heads are better than one" challenge: team up with a friend to write a first person story with chapters from alternating viewpoints. Pick a crossover pairing, then one of you writes a chapter from the BtVS character's perspective, and the other follows it up with a chapter from the Crossover character's point of view.
Whether you tell each other in advance what you are going to write... that's up to you ;)Add your challenge responses here
Firstly, we have a few minor new features:
- The main menu now has drop-downs to make navigation more efficient.
- The category listings for Movie and Television now highlight the top 15 sub-categories.
- Internet Explorer 8 is fully supported without needing 'compatibility mode', and pages with tabs on work better in all browsers, particularly when wrapping onto multiple lines.
- Several fixes have been made to the advanced search page, and in most browsers your search settings will be retained when you press the back button after reading a story (doesn't work in IE).
Secondly, we have decided to remove the option to post essays to the site as stories, as this was rarely used (only 9 times in 6 years), and often generated negative feedback to the moderators. Essays can still be posted to the 'Writing Advice' section of the forum. We have updated the wording of Rule #1 to reflect this and to clarify the existing policy that we only allow fan-fiction, not original stories.
Thirdly, we'll be upgrading the server in the very near future with more RAM and a second hard drive. We've also reduced the rental price we pay, which means our running costs have now been reduced to just under $1,000 per annum. We haven't announced a donation drive since June 2007 as since then regular unsolicited donations have been enough to more than cover the costs; our huge thanks to all those who have contributed. We've now re-organised the donors page so that donors will keep 'current donor' status for at least one year (longer for those who donate larger amounts) rather than icons being assigned to donors based on the 'drive' in which they donated. Currently we have a reasonable surplus, so don't feel pressured to donate again immediately because your coin has stopped spinning.
As you may already have heard, sadly Andy Hallett who played Lorne in Angel the Series died at age 33 from heart disease last Sunday. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. In tribute, it has been suggested we run a Lorne-based challenge, so we present the Karaoke Challenge:
Write a short story about the crossover character of your choice visiting Caritas to sing, the subsequent reading they receive, and its consequences.
Please add your responses here
Hear ye, good reviewers, pay attention:
an event of renown, I must mention.
It’s most vital you should know there will be
just another week to go till when your re-
views will need far more thought and invention.
The fourteenth is when we give our salute,
toast an undead author of low repute.
So won't you join our celebrations of
poetic abhorations, take time to
give your thoughts in rhyme and thus contribute!
“How come it’s taking you so long? Neo didn’t take this long when he entered the matrix. It’s been three weeks! We’re starting to receive more complaints to the help desk. People are getting worried.”
“If certain people would stop pestering me, I would have had this fixed by now. Fred was good, but not that good. She won't be expecting a hack from the future through a wormhole in space-time.”
“Willow,” Andrew said seriously, “the possibility of successfully navigating all of Fred’s blocks is approximately 3,720 to 1.”
“Never tell me the odds,” Willow all but growled.
Andrew moved up behind Willow and whispered, “You must unlearn what you have learn--"
“Andrew, if you don’t want me turning your cardboard cutout of Princess Leia in her slave costume over to the baby slayers for target practice, go do something other than annoying me. I’ve almost cracked the last layer of encryption she put on it.”
“Yes Mistress Willow. Anything you say Mistress Willow,” Andrew mumbled as he wondered off. “Maybe I can do the test run on my lightsaber prototype.”
----Thirty Minutes Later----
“Almost got you Fred. You might be smart, but I’m smarter. I just need to upload the new files to the server and--"
Just as Willow started to push the upload icon, everything in a fifty mile radius went dark. Willow followed the only light source she could see into the room next door and found Andrew staring in awe at his green glowing lightsaber.
“It works,” he said breathlessly. “I’m a Jedi Master.”
Willow tipped her head back and cried out, “Noooooooooooooooo!”
After several moments of silence, Willow looked back at Andrew who thought he saw a bit of black in her gaze. “Now I can’t open another wormhole to the same point in time. We'll have to wait for the turbulence to die down. That means it will be another week for them!”
Disclaimer: The Watcher’s Council wish it to be known that the characters of Willow and Andrew are owned by Joss Whedon and his corporate masters. They are fictional characters. Their conversation and work is simply a creative approach for announcing the approaching end to the February site challenge. Andrew also wishes for it to be known that Star Wars belongs to George Lucas, his personal God among mortal men.
It is with regret that we have to announce some changes to the CoA winners in two categories. After a careful review of the stories that were given awards this year, it has been discovered that two are ineligible to have received the awards they won. 'Sunnydale Beserker' by MrMiklos won the Best X-Men crossover category, but was ineligible as it was a multiple crossover story. 'The Key to Byzantium' by Marcus Rowland won the Best Portrayal of Fred/Illyria story, but was ineligible as Illyria was not the central character. For more details, please use the comment link below to access the forum. And congratulations to our new winners:
We've recently had a few headaches caused in part by poorly written disclaimers, so we felt it was time to clarify the reasons why we have this rule, and to update the wording slightly.
So why do we insist on disclaimers?
a) Contrary to what is probably your first answer, it isn't to make the story "more legal". Although not a lawyer, I believe the generic wording in the site footer is enough to comply with trademark law: it states that we are not trying to pass off stories as genuine products by the trademark owner, and that is the only legal requirement. I also believe that a disclaimer isn't going to make any legal difference on copyright law. If the world does eventually get around to deciding in a court of law whether fanfic is legal or not, the decision is unlikely to be based on whether it has a disclaimer and how it is worded.
b) A good disclaimer helps us maintain the site, especially if the story is not in a category where the category name tells us what fandom(s) it is using. Take for example the "Anime - Other" category. This had nearly 40 stories in it this morning, so I decided it was time to separate them into individual categories. However, due to a minority of poor disclaimers along the lines of 'I don't own anything', I spent more time Googling to try and work out how many fandoms they were crossovers with than I did actually moving them. Similarly, it helps us during the Crossing Over Awards to determine if a story is eligible in a particular category.
c) A disclaimer is plain courtesy to the owners of the characters we are borrowing. Although it might not make a legal difference, it might make a difference to whether a copyright holder elects to try and enforce any legal rights they may or may not have over fan fiction.
d) On rare occasions, we have to remove all the stories that use a particular fandom. In this case, a disclaimer that lists the fandoms used allows us to find them all.
Many authors complain about being forced to include a disclaimer, and over the years we have become quite lax on how they are worded, but we have decided to update the wording of Rule 10 to explicitly require that they list the fandoms that appear in the story. We aren't going to require that you spend time researching which corporate entity is the legal copyright owner, but in the case where there is an obvious author/creator, they should be credited by name.
Also, we aren't going to require that all existing stories have their disclaimers updated; that simply isn't practical. However, if you do have any existing stories in a category where the category name doesn't make it obvious. it would help us if you did make sure you mention what you are crossing over with.
We've also made a couple of other minor updates to the wording of some rules, but nothing that is a change of policy.