Critical Mass

Making webfiction explode

Saturday, January 26, 2008Filed in 

Standards & Practices

This is not a scholarly journal, nor should it be; it would not be read by much of the intended audience if it were. That being said, the basic standards and practices (S&P) of good scholarship still apply. I hold myself to these, and I will not approve any submission which does not, in my view, hold to them as well. They will be updated as is necessary and reasonable.


The most important S&P have to do with responsibility. They are as follows:

  • All articles, editorials, and reviews will be bylined with the author’s real name. In other words, you must take responsibility for what you say. It is not feasible to hold comments to this, although we do require that they be attached to a username, but you cannot evade responsibility for anything that you have said just by changing your username.
  • All quotations and other non-original work will have adequate citations. The <cite></cite> tag is recommended for enclosing the citation if it is not part of the main flow of the text (e.g., if it’s in a footnote or parentheses). An adequate citation is one that allows the reader to quickly and easily identify and look up its source. A link is generally adequate for citing a website; links will be presumed to be valid as of the posting date as I will be checking them before approving the post.
  • Posts will not be taken down or modified so as to change the meaning. Again, you’ve said it, others may have cited it, and you can’t run away from it. You are free to retract part or all of something that you have said and even to write an editorial or article repudiating and arguing against your former position, and an editorial note may be added before the body of your previous post linking to and explaining your change of opinion, but the post itself stays up. Please note that this does not prevent you from updating links, correcting typos, making factual corrections/updates, and making clarifications, although the latter two updates must be marked as such, enclosed inside brackets, italicized, and dated. Example: “[Correction: Oops! It turns out that there were three stories on that site, not two. This doesn’t change my overall opinion of the author’s productivity, however. —19 January, 2008]” The one exception to the “posts will not be taken down” rule is if you break either of the other responsibility rules.


  • The Templates category has templates, including code that you can (and should) copy and paste, for articles, editorials, reviews, and database entries. Everything on those templates is incorporated here by reference (translation: it’s too long to copy here, but it’s still part of the standard).
  • WordPress has a wonderful tendency to try to guess what sort of quotation marks you want to use and failing. If necessary, resort to “&ldquo;” and “&rdquo;” for left and right quotation marks.
  • Review grades are based on how close the webfiction has come to what it wants to be. A romance can’t be criticized for a lack of action scenes, but a story about fighting on the front line of a war certainly can be. By the same token, while good writing always counts, it’s more of a problem if a scene that is central to the story gets messed up than if a minor side-scene does.
  • Reviews should contain some level of critical thought as well as general entertainment concerns.
  • Anything having to do with a particular story should be tagged with the name of that story. Story database entries also have tags for many of the values for the different fields. Other relevant tags are at the author’s and editor’s discretion.
  • There is no editorial “we” here because the editorials are not representing the view of an entire editorial board; rather, they are more like opinion pieces.
  • All internal links should use the URL formula “/categoryname/page-slug” to avoid creating trackbacks on internal pages.
  • Critical Mass is italicized. Post titles, when referenced elsewhere, go in quotation marks.
posted by CrazyDreamer  

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