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Interesting update on the William Sanders/Helix mess from a while back. A number of authors (it looks like fifteen) have chosen to make their Helix-published work available at Transcriptase. Some have removed their work from Helix, while others have chosen to let it remain (for a variety of reasons, including obligation, Sanders' refusal to remove the stories -- which he is within his rights to do, or because they still love the magazine). The author statements are also worth reading.

Reaction to this mess has been interesting. The blogosphere has been pretty strong in its condemnation. In another area, I've watched discussion begin with "What's the big deal" and devolve into people making slut/ho jokes. And in Sanders' newsgroup, I've seen accusations that the only people getting worked up over this are wannabe losers trying to make themselves feel important. To that last accusation, I think it's worth noting some of the names involved in Transcriptase, including Eugie Foster, Jennifer Pelland, Beth Bernobich, and Janis Ian, among others. The author statements are worth reading as well, and I think it's important to note the range of reactions.

Would write more, but I've got a book deadline in 24 hours.

ETA: First paragraph edited to try to reduce my own biases. Thanks, shsilver.


Aug. 1st, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Re: the "refusal" to pull stories off the Helix website, Sanders does not maintain that website himself; the person who does is a professional, full-time web designer, who donates her time to the mag. If anybody were prepared to pay her for the time and effort to totally delete his or her story at her professional rates, William was willing for that to happen.

As a website maintainer myself ( http://ndpsocialists.ca ) I can appreciate the work involved in restructuring a webzine to completely withdraw a story. It's more than just hitting the delete key.
Aug. 1st, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
On 7/14 at 9:00 pm, Sanders posted in his newsgroup that he would remove stories at the authors' requests.

On 7/15 at 1:00 am, he changed this offer to require $40.

On 7/16 at 8:45 pm, he posted again, saying "It's been long enough ... I don't believe there are going to be any others (the imposition of cash charges seems to have had a distinctly damping effect) but if there are, tough shit."

He provided a 48-hour window for authors to remove their stories, and anyone who missed that window is out of luck.

Given that situation, I feel comfortable naming his "refusal" as one possible reason some Transcriptase authors may still have stories posted at Helix.
Aug. 1st, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
As a former website maintainer myself, I can appreciate that trying to extort money out of the writers by saying that it's incredibly hard to remove files is darn silly. A web dude or dudette who insists that it's going to take a ton of time to remove files is being disingenuous with a blogosphere that comprises a lot of people who know better.
Aug. 1st, 2008 11:27 am (UTC)
I think a lot depends on how the web site is maintained. I'm most emphatically *NOT* a web professional, but what I've gathered is that the work involved could range from a few simple mouse clicks to a fair amount of hunting and manual recoding of HTML, depending on what software is being used. As I have no clue what Melanie uses for the Helix site, I have no way to guess what time or work might be involved. I'm skeptical that it requires an hour per story, but I couldn't say for certain.
Aug. 1st, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
Melanie Fletcher is a regular member of the Helix staff. As such, she shares in all the profits from the donations. Several staff members do return their quarterly shares, I know. You'll have to ask her if she is one of them.

I would also disagree that it's difficult to remove a story. Dreamweaver (which is the package Melanie uses) makes it breathtakingly easy to delete or rearrange pages.


Jim C. Hines


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