(Or, "Longest comment ever".)
My first attempt at a K5 article submission was more or less an attempt to get people to come read an article on my own website. It wasn't too well received by the moderators, but might possibly have made section because I guess some people did go read my website's article and thought it worthwhile.
But I didn't want my first article here to be received so poorly so I canceled it and wrote a whole new article which was meant to be a summary of the one on my website, but which I think stood very well on its own:
Musings on Good C++ Style.
(Note that I changed my username from GoingWare to MichaelCrawford - the old account is still around but I don't use it anymore. I did that at slashdot and advogato too.)
I worked so hard on Musings on Good C++ Style that I injured my hand by staying up all night in a marathon writing session. I felt very good about what I accomplished, and in the end felt glad to have canceled my first mediocre submission.
I've since got a number of articles posted here. Most of them made front page.
One thing that was readily apparent to me was that working hard to do a good job on an article made a lot of difference in the likelihood the article would make front page. I was disappointed that If Indie Musicians Wanted Their Music Heard... only made section, but then I just kind of tossed it together and submitted it in one evening.
Despite the fact that moderators are often blunt and sometimes downright rude, I found what they had to say quite helpful most of them time.
I felt that what I had to say in
Living with Schizoaffective Disorder was so important, not just to me but to others who might read it, that I was very determined that I would make it the best thing I have ever written.
To ensure that, I posted the rough draft on my personal site, and emailed a number of friends to ask them to critique it. Eventually I posted the link in my diary and asked K5 readers to critique it. (My older diaries seem not to be found by k5's search. I hope they're still there somewhere.)
There was some possibility it might not be accepted by the moderators as it was so long, I think much longer than any article ever published here.
When I finally submitted it, I was appalled to find that Scoop has a hard limit of 64k of text for article submissions - my initial submission was truncated. Rusty's advice was to submit it in three installments, which I finally did, despite my reluctance to have any portion of what I wrote taken out of context by someone who might only read one installment.
My hard work paid off - each installment flew to the front page in just a few hours of voting. Not everyone approved, but here's what one moderator
had to say:
How can people vote against this article?
After its run at Kuro5hin, I fixed up the copy of
Living with Schizoaffective Disorder that's on my website so it has nicer presention (and split it into over a dozen HTML pages) and have been very gratified that after a few weeks it moved into the top ten at Google for the query
You wouldn't know a good article if he wrote it on a brick then threw it in your face.
The copy on my site gets about a thousand readers a month now, slowly but steadily growing. Very commonly I get email from people who were just diagnosed, or from their loved ones, and who turned to the search engines to understand their condition, only to find my article very first thing. Here's a letter typical of the many I have received as a result:
Mike, my son, 16, has been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. We are
devasted for him, but relieved to have an answer for his misery, and a way
out via medication and treatment. You online article is truly, truly a
wonder and gives us some insight to our son'd condition. We will point him
to your notes, and use it as a discussion guide. Fabulous!! Thank you,
thank you, thank you!!
(Obviously I can't say who wrote that.)
It is very gratifying to me that I am able to touch the lives of so many people in such a profound way. I am very grateful to the kuro5hin community for having helped me achieve that. I think in the end I achieved my goal, that it would be the best thing I'd ever written.
If only there had been such an article around for me when I first got sick. One reason I wanted to write it, and why I felt it so important to do a good job, is that when I got sick in the mid-80's, no one around me had any understanding of mental illness, or what to do about it. I found it very difficult to find out anything of substance about schizoaffective disorder. It took a long time for me to put the pieces back together.
Writing that indie music article got me more interested in the music downloading controversy, and I began to wonder why there was little mention in any of the debate, of a third option - a way to get free music without infringing copyright, the option being to download the music many musicians provide for free as a way to promote themselves. I compose for and play the piano, and offer such music myself.
The recording industry, and the movie industry too, has been spreading a lot of disinformation for years now. It seems to have been forgotten by most - and the RIAA is not reminding anyone - that copyright is a relatively recent invention, and in fact, in the US, copyright is NOT a Constitutional right. Copyright could be eliminated, in the US at least, if one could get enough votes in Congress to pass a law to repeal it.
You might think that pretty unlikely, but consider - as I was very vividly aware - that there are more Americans sharing files via the peer-to-peer networks than voters who voted for George Bush in the 2000 Presidential elections.
Right around this time a friend of mine back in Maine, who I was discussing music downloading with, told me that she paid a small fee for a subscription to a program that offerred unlimited music downloads. It was her understanding that her subscription fee went to compensate the musicians whose music she was downloading. Imagine my surprise when she told me the program she was subscribing to was Kazaa.
So the problem I saw here was that, although the p2p network users had sufficient numbers to shake up the elections, I saw good reason to believe that most of them were not very sophisticated politically.
My aim in writing
Links to Tens of Thousands of Legal Music Downloads was, I am happy to admit, shameless propaganda: by offerring the reader lots of ways to get music for free, yet without risking legal trouble, I aimed to educate them about copyright law, and incite them to take political action.
Again I had the objective that my legal downloading article would be the best thing I had ever written. And again I depended on kuro5hin to help me achieve that. And again one way I made that happen was to post the rough draft on my website, and
ask for help in my diary - several times, as I made more revisions.
(Most people do this by putting their full article text in their diaries. I prefer to put the draft on my own website, and link to it from my diary, because one cannot alter diary entries after they have been submitted. I don't like to have half-baked drafts lying around for posterity.)
I worked really hard on this article, and spent a lot of time researching links on the search engines, and getting comments, and again my hard work paid off, as the article made front page. 110 voted for the article (85 front page), while only 15 voted against it.
I'm not trying to brag here, about how great my articles are, so much as trying to point out how kuro5hin has inspired me to work hard at my writing, in a way I really hadn't ever done before, and helped me in that many k5 members helped me to do a better job on my articles than I think I ever could have done on my own.
As it's my objective that this article should bring about political upheaval, I've been
tracking its progress carefully and
promoting it shamelessly.
The copy on my website quickly became the #1 hit at Google for the query
legal music downloads (with k5's copy being #2). It ranks highly for hundreds of other queries. Right now - in part as a result of my googlebombing effort - it is the #4 hit at google for
free music downloads.
I have been astounded at the response to this article. Lately it has been served to over 2000 unique IP address each day. About 800 of those are search engine referrals for the query "free music downloads", and about 200 for "music downloads".
I was very well aware that much of what I had to say would be old news to k5 readers, such as my discussion of Richard Stallman and the GPL. But my real intended audience was the p2p network users, and I was fairly certain my article would be the first introduction most of them would have to the concept of Free Software, and how copyleft might apply to music.
I get a fair amount of email from readers who were completely unaware they were infringing anyone's copyright. There's no way to know how many of those who hit my page read the whole article, but here's an email I received recently:
JUST LET ME DOWNLOAD MY MUSIC NOW! Please:)
I like to think I'm contributing to a general raising of consciousness.
It remains to be seen whether my article ever will have any political effect, but the upward trend in the article's traffic and search engine placement is encouraging.
It's been too long since I've published an article at k5. I've been all tied up with selling my old house and moving to a new country (I used to live in Maine, USA, now I live in Nova Scotia, Canada - not a long distance in miles, but quite a profound change in culture.) I did submit an article a little while ago, but it was one I didn't put much effort into, and so it was not approved.
I have a couple ideas fulminating in my mind. I can't say when, exactly, but I expect I will submit an article sooner rather than later.
I will work hard to do a good job.
One way to bring back the k5 of old, is to encourage people who take their writing seriously to publish here, and to help such writers to do the best job they can, just as k5 has helped me.
One other thing K5 has been doing for me... for some time now I've been feeling like I've gotten too old to be programming computers anymore, and sometimes I think of changing careers. Look through my diaries to see my thoughts on this - I haven't been happy, although I would say it's getting better lately. There are different things I think about doing - going back to school, going back into physics - but what I think most of all that I might like to do if I weren't programming any more, is that I would like to write professionally.
If that were ever to happen - despite reams of articles I've published on the web, I've never been paid to write - Kuro5hin would have played a significant role in making me a professional writer.
Thank you for your attention.
Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way.
-- bride of spidy