Writing on B/R Without Reward: Could You? Would You?

L.J. BurgessSenior Writer IMay 3, 2009

Yeah, I'm in a crap fight again, but hell, that's my unofficial job here on B/R, and it's always led to some higher level of understanding for everyone involved, so saddle up.

This particular tete-a-tete involves the writer's rankings, the score, or the carrot-and-stick system that either pleases us to no end or plagues us to terminal vexation, depending on which end of the stick you're looking at.

There has always been a monthly debate on the merits of rankings and the mission statement unique to B/R.

This debate has always been a passionate one, and because of that passion, a number of potential POTD articles have fallen by the wayside while we spend two or three days trying to "fix" B/R.

That has always been my complaint when I weigh in on these arguments.

The "competition'" here on B/R among the top dawg writers to be No. 1 detracts from those potential award-winning works of art.

This not to say that competition isn't a good thing, it's just not a good thing for B/R. It's become a distraction from the art form we work hard to master.

I myself am an incredibly competitive participant in my chosen field. They call what I do an art, but it's really a war that has to be won every 15 minutes for hundreds of times in a 12 hour day.

I truly believe that I have the chops to go up against any competitor I meet...although I have been wrong on occasion.

I have nothing against competition as long as it's competent and fair. Writing is an art that has been tarnished and sullied by Dan Brown, Stephen King, Tom Clancy types that pump out quantity and formula.

"The Da Vinci Code'"? Great story, horrible book. Anybody can write "Indiana Jones", give it a new perspective, and hit the N.Y. Times best seller list, or worse, the Oprah Book Club.

The worst of the worst competitive traits on B/R are as follows:

POTD slideshows of half-dressed women?

That's not fair, and it sure as hell ain't competent. It's trash journalism at it's worst. That sort of thing is for the hack administration at Sports Illustrated and blogs just to pump up hits and traffic.

The money-hungry admins here might love these trash pieces, but it denigrates those of us who want to...write.

Another trap that we fall into is the spamming of bulletin boards.

I fell for this out of pure hubris. I thought that writers valued MY opinion, therefore I felt "obligated" to award POTDs by the truckload.

All well and good, until I found the same spam on another account that I moderate, a private account for an online sim game that B/R has sponsored. We only have 20 members and we're not working the writer's angle there.

I realized that these spammers didn't give a squat what I really thought...if 1,000 spams net you 10 POTDs, then the work was worth it. Now, I completely ignore the dozens of read requests that I receive every freakin' day.

Saddest of all, some of the best writers on B/R are guilty of this...and they don't really need that strategy to rise in the rankings. Their work, if left to stand alone, would achieve the end game regardless.

Let's not stoop to that level anymore.

POTD articles on improving B/R's rating/ranking system will ALWAYS get the most intra-site traffic, comments, and stars. That's not fair competition either.

We need to whack that mole every time it pops up, too. Those pieces of work always bring out the worst in us as members of B/R because we are invested in the process. We are weaker writers because of it.

The last sin we commit is the old quantity over quality game. This one has been talked to death, so I leave this one for the Jackals to pick over...again.

So, the question is: Has the B/R rewards system brought out the worst in us solely for the sake of "achievement"? In the majority of cases, yes it has.

I put forth this solution: end the writer's rankings, the POTDs, and star system completely.

Let the best writers succeed as they did prior to the Internet...by word of mouth, by loyal readers who promote their favorite writers, by "MUST READ" lists passed from member to member.

That's how the cream will truly rise to the top...by public and peer recognition and those will be the writers that move on to real jobs in real journalistic environments.

The Bard, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Hemingway, et al, they didn't write for rankings, stars, or POTDs...they wrote for you.

Could you do that? Would you do that? Would you stand in here, toe-to-toe, with those giants of literature and write for no tangible reward?

B/R is a gift, so let's not turn it into a cheap reality show like "Survivor"...or more aptly, "Dancing With The Stars".


David Arreola

Julian Johnson

Ray Boguz

J.A. Allen