Let's spin up scribe.works

Here is the living doc on scribe.works. If something looks wrong; fix it!!


  • It an experiment in modern story-telling
  • Fiction, poetry, podcasts, videos, music; anything that tells a story or is related to story-telling is welcome.
  • All content published is licensed under CC0
  • Single site WordPress.
  • Contributors are brought in via invite.
  • Exit plan is we promise to notify users by email if it’s decided to retire the site, and everyone gets 30 days to download their data.

The Schedule

  • It has an release calendar.
  • We schedule content to be published in releases, once a month.
  • There are no consequences to “missing” a release; not having your content ready in time, etc.

Well, I was thinking we could host it in my managed WordPress environment. That way we can focus on developing the site, and less on server maintenance.

Here’s what I am thinking: let’s ideate here a bit, and figure out what this is going to be, at least what a “launch” would be for us. I want to run it like a client site, except I want to take more time setting it up so we can document everything. I’ve been looking for stuff to write about, and this could be something that generates a lot of posts for me, ya know?

Also, it might be helpful for other folks here, since I am gonna tell all my secrets. :slight_smile:

Whatcha think? Also, what is the site(s) gonna be for? Throw out a high level idea (character concept!), and we can go from there.

Your hosting plan sounds fine to me! I’d also enjoy writing my experience on helping with this; my blog is dusty cobwebs mostly.

OK, time for a couple stubs to get started:

What is scribe.works for? It’s a place to post ones fiction (stories, poems, novels) and journaling.

For launch I am thinking: Info page on index explaining what it is. Simple getting started section. Account creation ability.

Okay, so why do we want to do a multi-site? Do we want folks to have access to their dashboard? Segregate the blogs from each other? Here are some options:

  • One site, moderation queue for either posts or user accounts (whitelisted so they just post), and use the theme to differentiate between posts
  • Multi-site, each person gets one or more sub-sites, they can control some settings
  • Multi-site, each person gets one sub-site, but they are all standardized

One versus multi

Pros for one site: easy to maintain, easy to admin (moderate either users or content), can build everything in the front end, easy to dictate new features, easy to test assumptions, easy to license, easy to aggregate (inherent to singleness)

Cons for one site: not as flexible, no user options

Pros for multisite: each user can have their own site(s), capable for lots of customization, vastly different sites can live in one data- and code-base

Cons for multisite: harder to maintain, sites can quickly become restrained by network and risk not being useful versus having too dissimilar sites

Fiction or Journaling, choose one

We use our sites to post whatever, but I would say that the usefulness of scribe.works should focus in on one primary feature. Of course folks are going to use it for whatever, but if we set this boundary, we can support the site in a specific direction, and won’t get pulled off course.

For instance, if it is a fiction-focused site, that means we have expectations and tools to make posting fiction easier. On a single site we might have categories for different genres or worlds, or custom post types for different stories. On a multisite, we might load up page-builder themes to tell stories with visual elements, and focus on documentation for how to use them.

For journaling, a single site would be a group blog, but might have more social elements, with emoji and commenting heavily featured, or a timeline and easy tools to find and reuse tags. A multisite would have themes and plugins that help capture and share one’s thoughts, and maybe an onboarding process to help families blog together.

Now of course anyone writing fiction will share updates that are not fiction-related. Ours is not to prohibit or discourage, but rather set expectations on where we will expend energy and what our vision/roadmap is moving forward.

Who’s content anyways?

Then we get to the business of hosting. We are not interested in owning anyone’s stuff, but if we are hosting it, we have certain obligations, and have to set some ground rules. Why? Because the internet has all kinds of people, and setting rules help us all get along and understand what happens when we have to refer to the dice. :slight_smile:

A few considerations:

  • How is the info licensed? Do we want to impose a copyright/left restraint on fiction? Journals?
  • What is allowed to be said? Do we want to use this site to protect free speech for any person wandering by, or do we just want a place to blog with friends?
  • What is the exit plan? I know this sounds like a worst-case scenario, but you know you think about what happens when a service goes down, right @tim? So if we all suddenly become Luddites, what happens to content? Do we have an obligation to keep the site running for 60 days while folks figure out how to get their content moved off?

Now, a suggestion

Okay, with all that in mind, here are my suggestions, of which a couple things are interesting to me.

The Words Blog

  • Single site, CC0, just our peeps (including new peeps we meet through the site)
  • Focused on language, literacy and the evolution of thought
  • Word of the Day, but really interesting and obscure ones
  • Recommendations for reading, based on our current fancies, with small reviews and maybe a directory
  • News round-ups for interesting articles, with break out discussions here on talkgroup
  • Customized to make it easy to write, with smart forms that create interesting content
  • Example for Word of the Day: fill out a form, and it creates a post that does auto-markup for definition HTML elements, adds metadata
  • Markdown all over the place
  • Embed other posts with shortcodes/links
  • Concerted effort to aggregate on social networks, giving equal effort to federated nets and non-corporate media.

The Fiction Network

  • Multisite, open license required, anyone with a world to build or a poem to share
  • Focused on storytelling, roll out tools specific to sharing and expressing
  • Aesop Engine
  • Anthologize
  • Central hub for resources and maybe discussion (talkgroup might be a better place for that)
  • Light social networking on main site, smart directories that support writing, like a smaller scale NaNoWriMo, with shorter feedback loops so we create real value for everyone, including us

The Minimalist Journal

  • Single or multisite
  • Not sure about license
  • Excellent theme(s) for reading short or long form pieces
  • All text; no images
  • How crazy would that be?!

In conclusion…

Think about that for a bit, let me know where you are coming from. I don’t have much to assert, because I will eventually get around to trying out all of the things I listed. I am more interested in drilling down what the project focus is. :slight_smile:

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@maiki thanks for getting into such detail on this. I wasn’t thinking this out fully, and this really helps.

… So all 3 of your suggestions sound really great, and I want to try all of those. :slight_smile: Doing a minimalist journal is totally something I hadn’t thought of before, but I want to do that eventually now.

Your breakdown of multisite raised some concerns. After thinking if over, I definitely want a single site installation, fiction-focused.

Here is what I’m thinking:

  • Single site, open license, just our peeps (including new peeps we meet through the site)
  • Minimalist layout
  • Use Aesop Engine or something similar to handle people writing in various formats, chapters etc.

Fiction Destination?

Your post fired off this idea of scribe.works being a fiction destination. Like, a periodical where new content is posted every x weeks by the writers. Home page is a 2 column collection of stubs of the most recently posted content for that issue. Clicking on the articles/posts/chapters/poems take you to the full content, and you can also filter via normal methods. It would be a structured way to help encourage me to write out chapters of a story on a semi-regular basis. To be clear I wouldn’t be thinking everyone must commit to x postings a week or anything, it would be entirely voluntary. I am not committed to this paragraphs musing however, it’s just an idea.

Something that has value for me is not letting me tweak or change my posts (or site) settings. I am very good at wasting my time I should be writing fiction with tweaking endlessly some config instead. So a locked down theme for the entire site would be great for me.


  • One site, no moderation queue just whitelisted users.
  • Fiction focused
  • Licensing is the same across all content on the site, (CC?) Just seems simpler that way.
  • Any kind of fiction is fine, any topics. Almost anything can be said. Well, anything - hate.
  • Exit plan is we promise to notify users by email if it’s decided to retire the site, and everyone gets 30 days to download their data. I imagine there are plugins in WP to help with that.
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Cool, now we are drilling! :slight_smile:

Counter-riff: let’s focus on story-telling! Since the project will get really meta, really quick, we can call it an experiment in modern storytelling. That will provide both a focus and a comfort zone to leave; how many of us are creating podcasts and videos? Interactive fiction or visual novels? We can bring anything to the table, as long as it has to do with story-telling, including stories!

I also propose that we structure it around an assumption that a website is more than a set of documents online, and hold ourselves to an editorial calendar. We won’t have any consequences to not following it (and I justify that wish-washy statement by knowing how we are =P), but the format of an issue is certainly interesting, and that could be our first experiment in modern storytelling and publishing: how much effort does it take to publish a collection of stories at any given interval?

For licensing, I think the freer the better, and there is a ripe niche to be fulfilled for stories being created and shared. And my experience is that it can easily shift into a little to a lot of monies, if a person is willing to invest in a community with their effort. So my vote is CC0, and I will be available to discuss that at length (and it would make an excellent inaugural podcast!).

Let’s document layout and IA ideas, but leave it until we get to that part. I mention this only because I suspect that my ideas that I visualize more often than not work against my effort to implement a website. At this point, too, I am confident that I can figure out and iterate on that aspect on the fly, since the tools are so sophisticated. I’d rather look at what we came up with and then layout a few designs and pick one the weekend we launch, so we can spend more time figuring out how our mobile app works, for instance. :slight_smile:

Hey @tim, since the first post of this thread isn’t as relevant, let’s turn it into a wiki post and start building the spec sheet there, ne?

And also, @kevin, we will find a place for your word-a-day stream. Maybe this, maybe somewhere else. :slight_smile:

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In my physical journal, I have “research what people use to write their NaNoWriMo novels” written down as a todo item. I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, and it’s December now, but I could continue to meta-participate by writing down facts about the world I want my story to be in, which is a dystopian future where scientists who were originally studying the eradication of alzheimer’s disease have accidentally figured out how to write to a human brain, and made the knowledge available freely, but then it was co-opted by corporations seeking to get over the problem of everything requiring more and more data storage to move away from huge warehouses with giant air conditioning monster units in Arizona and geothermally-powered centers in Iceland and floating data barges on the Pacific towards using meatspace brains instead, because there’s a seemingly unlimited amount of brain being created all the time, and it doesn’t take up more space, and they feed themselves. They use tahoe-lafs-like technology to set up massively redundant memory banks where you sign up for the service of unlimited, undeletable, self-healing storage in exchange for allowing your own brain to hold some of other peoples’ data. I don’t even have a story or any characters yet. But maybe there are competing corporations who come up with different standards, like one focuses on “safety and data integrity” and is more expensive and their API is much less open but another one that focuses on “rapid growth of their platform” and has pretty open APIs and is more focused on “the developing world” but turns out to lock people to their stack just as much, or something perhaps less starkly obvious, but also why not. Then of course people all over the world start having strange dreams and the corporations deny that there are any vulnerabilities in the technology and then it’s just like all the other dystopian future scifi stories and also the matrix, except different, because this one is mine. Basically I am obsessed with collective/concurrent consciousness right now.

All that is to explain that I am +1 on experimenting with modern storytelling.

May I invite my roommate’s landscape art and scifi/fantasy writing to participate too?


Does this include ascii art? ^^

Yes! I like this. Anything to do with storytelling.

I am totally on board with this. It will be interesting to journal our experiences with this too.[quote=“maiki, post:6, topic:107”]
For licensing, I think the freer the better, and there is a ripe niche to be fulfilled for stories being created and shared. And my experience is that it can easily shift into a little to a lot of monies, if a person is willing to invest in a community with their effort. So my vote is CC0, and I will be available to discuss that at length (and it would make an excellent inaugural podcast!).

Paint me intrigued! I am fine with CC0 license, and I’m interested in your experience in how this could shift into potentially making some monies.

Good idea.

Whaaa?!? O_o

@maiki if you tell me how to turn this first post into a wiki I will gladly do so sir.

I am pretty excited for this, I can’t wait to start creating. I actually started last night. I’m working on some storytelling music.

/me waves at Judy. Hi! I remember you from Eudimonia in Berkeley. Learning Navii at the time I think. I can’t wait to learn more about this world you’ve made. Maybe it can be a serial on scribe.works!

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It seems the next steps are to look around at WP plugins and see what is out there for our idea of scheduled issues coming out. We could always do it manually, which maybe would be simpler to start.

Other than that, I don’t see much holding us back to start on this, from a technical standpoint. Are there other elements of a non-technical nature we want to flesh out more before moving forward?

@maiki what are your thoughts?

Welp, we could talk about the editorial process a bit more. Do we want each person to do their own thing, or would we like to plan out a schedule, and help each person hit their deadlines? An editor can do a lot to drive a story forward, someone to manage all the ins and outs, like storyboarding, tracking down additional assets, etc.

Now, none of us want to be just an editor, so maybe we can do it as s group. Something as simple as a weekly check-in, and then task tracking (at guild.works or elsewhere, such as the issue queue of a repo, if one happen to keep their notes that way).

It’s like this: imagine the site is already up! How do you start your first story? Because it isn’t on the site. What kind of process and support do you want? What do you want to offer others?

I have been thinking about this ever since you posted it. Initially, I hadn’t thought of offering support, editorial or otherwise.

Some thoughts:

  • Our issues could come out on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month
  • It would be great if our contributors would… er contribute for every issue. A free for all; anyone can put in a story/poem/music/etc in any unreleased issue.
  • Maybe a contributor is chosen as the ‘lead’ for an issue, just to keep an eye on it before it’s published.
  • ‘lead’ contributor could suggest to push off content for later issues, if things are too heavily weighted to one issue. (For example, I go nuts and write 15 poems and put them all in the same issue. The lead might gently suggest to me that I put some of those in later issues.
  • We send an email reminder to our contributors.
  • I like the idea of being able to take some content and put in an editorial queue, a “please read over this and give me notes” or some such
  • Task tracking is interesting. I could see that being useful for some forms of storytelling. It would also be easier to push off email reminders of general issue deadlines to a task tracking system.

For my workflow, I was planning:

  • Working on most of my writing non in WordPress, but in Evernote.
  • When I have my work complete, I cut / paste into a New Post in scribe.works, choosing the issue I want it to appear in.
  • Try to get at least a couple poems in every issue
  • Start a short story serial and get that in every other issue.
  • Hop on regularly into our ‘editorial queue’ if we have one and help out by offering feedback if that is what is wanted.
  • Post up things of my own in ‘editorial queue’ if I get stuck on something, or something doesn’t work well.

Most of what I’ll be creating stories etc via text, so my process will be different I’m sure from others.

I’ll have more to discuss about the editorial side. For actionable items, I created a Scribe Works project on guild.works. We aren’t there yet, but we will be soon.

Also wanted to point out that a new theme dropped recently, and I am looking forward to playing with it, and we could possibly use it for SW: http://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/theme-releases/extra/

That seems very aggressive. I believe in a release schedule, and was inspired to read about how GitLab shipped 49 monthly releases. Main take away: shift objectives, not deadlines.

So all that said, I am not personally interested in fortnight storytelling sprints! :slight_smile:

And I bet you aren’t, either, @tim. This gets kinda personal, so everyone put on their compassion caps.

Tim and I love world-building, and we have great ideas for stories. And generally we are good at organizing projects in our personal and professional life. But publishing fiction isn’t an area where we excel. And I have a theory about that: it is a lot harder than it looks, with moving parts from a large, invisible machine.

This is a large part of why I want to do this project, so we can explore more of what storytelling is, from an academic side, but all meta at the same time. Because I know that happens to be how Tim and I learn new systems. :slight_smile:

Also, “issues” are kinda weird outside a printed, physical medium, but that is an aside; we can style “releases” however we want.

Kinda related, I realized that part of the reason it is taking a lot of activation energy for me to reply here is because I am not 100% behind this project as a storyteller. I am more interested in building of such a site, and having it available when/if I need it later. I think it is a neat idea, but I am not sure if we are building anything groundbreaking, but again, this is how I learn stuff, so if I can focus on that portion of the project, I think it will flow a lot more with me.


@tim, here is a spitball: let’s do a monthly release.

A release is essentially a post-mortem for the last interval, reviewing the roadmap, and confirming the next intervals release manager. Whaaat?!

Now what is a post-mortem? It is essentially your issue, but with more than just stories, while also being told as a story… whoa!

Say you are managing the interval. You would be following progress on the tools we are building. You’d also be checking with with the editors, to see how their stories are coming along (and note that a release manager, editor, artist, writer and developer can and probably will all be the same person a lot of the time). But the role of release manager would be responsible for documenting our release, ya know… scribing.

Feedback is most welcome. I just see that as being more experimental and opening us up to thinking about these ideas from a place we know, in order to learn the things we don’t.

We kinda glazed over this, but of course the invites will be open. It is kinda a scaling issue, rather than an open invite to the world, we dogfood the site, and existing project members will feel out who they want to join up, without any other qualifications (or maybe we will, but they will be set by editorial standards [and maybe they won’t, because fuck all that jazz, sounds like an -ism, ne?]). :slight_smile:

For us not hanging out in a while you still really know me well, man. :smile:

I am 100% ALL for this. I think it’s a great idea.

I also have some activation energy on the scribe.works thread. I am not sure why exactly. I am definitely wanting to do the storytelling.

I read recently that if a side project takes more than 10 hours to get started, it won’t work. So let’s get started!

I really like the idea of trying out PHP 7 and Let’s Encrypt to get a cert, but let’s ship this idea, and just get a managed host and regular cert, yeah? I’ve been wanting to try a new managed host, and this is a good opportunity, so I will get that setup, and will send @tim the info for pointing the domain appropriately.

Tim, start working on a post about what scribe.works means to you, @kevin and @judytuna do the same! That can be our first “issue”. :slight_smile:

Hiya! Are people still interested in doing this? Wanted to be sure before I renew the domain on the 22nd.