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Thursday News: SFF controversies; Sites make a stand; Suffragette bodygards; DRM...

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“To keep their leaders free as long as possible, as well as to protect them against run of the mill assaults by irate defenders of the status quo, the Women’s Social and Political Union created a secret society known as The Bodyguard. Numbering 25 or 30 athletic and dedicated women, the Bodyguard was charged with providing security at Suffragette rallies throughout the UK.”

“Another standard is to be confident that, if we had to sit down with the person we are writing about and have them quietly read what we wrote about them in front of us—even if the piece was negative to them—we could ask them if they considered it fair and they’d say, “yes.” It is the latter standard that we also expect of readers and will more aggressively enforce.”

“To maintain and improve that, Kotaku writers will more carefully elevate the best discussions and consign the worst stuff to the unapproved commenting queue. We’ll also block the worst commenters from having their replies appear at all. Transgender writers don’t need to be told, as Allen was on our site, that “I like my videogames like I like my women. Without a penis.” Cosplayers whose images we feature don’t need be told how badly a reader wants to masturbate to their breasts. (There are other ways to comment about how terrific a female—or male—cosplayer looks.) Such comments will disappear; commenters responsible for them will see their commenting privileges reduced. If I’m describing your comments, now’s your chance to change things, too. “

Why? Because I want my friends and fans to be able to come to a convention and feel assured that the convention is making the effort to be a safe place for them. I want my friends and fans to know that if someone creeps on them, there’s a process to deal with it, quickly and fairly.

If any other author, artist, editor, fan or human being wishes to borrow this policy for their own: Be my guest. The more of us that make something like this a hard requirement for participation or attendance, the better.

You can read a rundown of the SFF controversies in 2013Whatever

As many of you know, I instituted a more aggressive commenting policy a few months ago to address what I felt was an unfortunate degradation in commenting quality, more designed to harass and intimidate than it was to promote interesting and challenging dialogue.  Running a blog and shepherding a community means leading by example so I’ve tried to do better as well.  Since that time, I feel like we’ve discussed some hot topics while still respecting the other person.  I hope it can continue for the betterment of our whole romance reading community.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

3 Comments

  1. Lindsay
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 10:30:13

    Good news all around.

    Rockpapershotgun (another gaming site) also recently made extremely clear that they are inclusive and will not tolerate hate speech or harassment in their comments.

    I’ve been watching some sites finally realize that excluding over 50% of your membership is a bad thing and try to turn around and become more inclusive, and it’s extremely difficult if after 10+ years of rape culture you’re suddenly telling people to play nice and respectful and act like decent human beings. Some places are more successful than others, but the ones that have been really successful are the ones that have built those communities from the ground up, and made very clear the kind of community they want to have. Arenanet’s two major games (Guild Wars 2 and now Wildstar) have thriving communities I can actually read the comments in, and this is a very new and good experience for me.

    I think that strong comment and community policies are critical to the internet at large as we go forward, because comments and interaction are a healthy thing for a site and we want to be interactive, but at the same time for goodness sake the safety and well-being of the people in the community should never be called into question. You can discuss hard topics and controversial topics with respect and boundaries — and if someone specifically can’t, then they can stop. Or be asked to stop. Then be made to stop. Turning comments off only makes things a passive experience, but I think that is a better policy than letting people shout each other down.

    I think you’ve done just great at leading by example, and I really and truly treasure the insights of the commenters here at the site, to the point where I eagerly look for comments on every post.

  2. Evangeline Holland
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 13:16:18

    The militant suffrage movement was active during the 1900s & 1910s (1906-1914, to be more precise) not the 1920s! :D

    I have a book full of photographs of NYC and its people between 1890 and 1910, and there’s a section about American women–typically those who entered “male domains” of employment, rode bicycles and public transportation, and lived on their own, as no “respectable” female would do–learning to defend themselves from harassment with hatpins and jiu-jitsu. It’s quite topical considering the current conversations about rape culture and harassment in the 21st century…

  3. Christina
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 13:53:48

    Dear Author is one of the very few sites where I get as much from reading the comments as I get from reading the posted articles. Maintaining that atmosphere must take a lot of work, so thank you for making this such a wonderful place.

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