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All SE sites have a short blurb that appears on network profiles and the list of all sites. Here are some examples:

Cross Validated

English

Board Games

Ours currently is:

Writers: Q&A for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers

That feels weak to me. First off, I think "professional and aspiring" goes without saying on Stack Exchange these days, though it probably didn't back when this was written six years ago. Lots of sites span the gamut of interest from casual hobbyists to seasoned professionals. We don't need to expend valuable character count on that.

Meanwhile, the only specific type of writer we call out is reviewers, which wouldn't be my first choice among all the kinds of writing we cover. Further, I've gotten hints recently that while we know that "author" is an appropriate term for any kind of writer, many people hear "novelist" (or fiction more broadly). Fiction will always dominate and that's fine, but I've run into people on the network who think that academic, scientific, and technical writing are off-topic here.

So it seems like we're not doing a great job of conveying the range of our scope, and we also have room for a few more words.

What should our network blurb say? I'll propose an answer, but please share yours too. (I'm a technical writer; marketing is not my specialty.) I'd like to arrive at a consensus and then make a feature request to change it.


For reference, in our tour we say:

Writers Stack Exchange is a question-and-answer site for authors, editors, technical writers, reviewers, bloggers, journalists, and other professional and aspiring writers. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about writing, copywriting, publishing or editing.

And in the "ask about" section farther down that page we say:

Ask about...
- Non-fiction, technical, or scholarly writing
- Writing fiction, poetry, song lyrics
- General copywriting
- Professional-level blogging
- The publishing and editing process itself


Update: I asked SE to make the change and learned that "Q&A for" is baked in -- we can't change that part to "Q&A on" or "Q&A about" or anything else. We need a string that starts after "Q&A on". (SE calls this string the "audience", by the way.)

  • I don't think reviewer refers to someone who writes reviews, but rather someone who reviews writing for any purpose -- be it for publishing, printing or academics. – Weckar E. Jul 17 '17 at 11:09
  • @WeckarE. ah, ok. I see that as part of editing and/or publishing, so didn't realize it might be a "process" step rather than a content type. – Monica Cellio Jul 17 '17 at 13:28
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I think it would be useful to indicate something of the approach and the limits of what is on topic. I am thinking something like:

Q&A for professional and aspiring professional writers, with a focus on the crafts of writing, editing, and publishing as they apply to fiction, non-fiction, technical documentation, scholarly articles, business materials, scripts, and other written works.

I think the emphasis on craft and professional intent is important because these are matters on which it is possible to ask and answer answerable questions. Writing as a hobby, or a therapy, as ars gratia artis, is a fine and good thing, but it really is not possible to ask and answer SE-style questions about these things.

However, we can ask and answer questions about the craft of professional writing, no matter what the field, because the things you do as a professional writer have measureable outcomes and therefore questions about it can be answered with an appeal to facts.

EDIT based on Monica's comment:

Shorter version:

Q&A on the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, stage, screen, and business writing.

EDIT based on Lauren's comment:

Q&A on the craft of professional writing, editing, and publishing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, stage, screen, and business writing.

FURTHER EDIT based on comments:

Q&A on the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, and commercial writing.

YET ANOTHER EDIT because the first two words have to be "Q&A for";

Q&A for the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, and commercial writing.

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    "Craft" -- nice! This looks like it would be too long for the blurb (look at the examples in the question); can you think of a way to make this more compact without losing important information? I'm wondering if we can rein in "professional and aspiring professional writers" somehow while still keeping the "professional" angle. (Maybe it can move -- "crafts of professional writing..."?) – Monica Cellio Jul 14 '17 at 13:16
  • @MonicaCellio Edited to a similar length to the samples given. – user16226 Jul 14 '17 at 14:27
  • Looks good -- thanks! – Monica Cellio Jul 14 '17 at 14:30
  • ooh, stage and screen! go you! :) Although we really do need "editing" in there still. – Lauren Ipsum Jul 14 '17 at 18:09
  • @LaurenIpsum, yes, but it's a bit of a head scratcher because editing is also a thing in its own right, as is publishing. Are we for people who do nothing but editing or nothing but publishing, or are we only about editing and publishing vis a vis writing? In the latter sense, I think (in so brief a statement) we have to take editing and publishing as part of the craft of professional writing (which they are, of course). In the former case, though, we can simply list "professional writing, editing, and publishing". – user16226 Jul 14 '17 at 18:17
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    I have asked "questions from the perspective of an editor," so an "editor-only" question, and we have lots of self-publishing questions. I think "professional writing, editing, and publishing" covers it. – Lauren Ipsum Jul 14 '17 at 18:56
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    Edited accordingly. Hoping that does not put us over the word limit. – user16226 Jul 14 '17 at 19:21
  • @LaurenIpsum, Mark -- the expanded version is much longer than the descriptions for other sites, so I fear it'll be rejected. Would "professional writing and editing" (without adding publishing) be sufficiently evocative of "all stages", and would dropping either screen or stage still convey breadth of types? Or maybe the "shorter version" is sufficient if we make clear in the tour and help that editing, publishing, and marketing are also in scope? – Monica Cellio Aug 1 '17 at 14:38
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    I think editing and publishing are reasonably viewed as part of professional writing and that stage and screen are simple media for fiction and non-fiction, so "Q&A on the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, and commercial writing." still covers the bases. I think "commercial" covers both business and marketing writing. We can, of course, expand in the tour, and certainly should. – user16226 Aug 1 '17 at 14:44
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    @MonicaCellio If you want to trim even more, drop the second "writing" (since the parallel grammar implies it). I'm fine with leaving stage and screen out of the pitch and keeping them in the tour. – Lauren Ipsum Aug 1 '17 at 15:11
  • @MarkBaker I made the request and learned that "Q&A for" is baked in; we need a string that can be appended to that. So "Q&A on the craft (etc)" won't work. Can you think of a way to tweak this to fit that constraint? – Monica Cellio Aug 15 '17 at 1:25
  • Well, "Q&A for the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, and commercial writing." works fine. It treats "craft" as a collective noun, which is certainly one of the ways in which it is used. – user16226 Aug 15 '17 at 2:26
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How's this?

Q&A for people interested in writing, editing, and publishing fiction, non-fiction, technical documentation, scholarly articles, business materials, scripts, and other written works.

Instead of listing kinds of people, like our current blurb (authors, editors, etc), I want to show two orthogonal dimensions:

  • phases (writing, editing, publishing)
  • types of written works (I tried to choose a wide but representative set)
  • Does general non-fiction count too? that is, can we say "fiction, non-fiction, technical..."? – Lauren Ipsum Jul 13 '17 at 14:58
  • @LaurenIpsum yes! Biographies, textbooks, histories, essays... all that's on-topic too. Does the fact that non-fiction includes tech doc and scholarly articles bother you? (I guess fiction includes scripts too, so I'm already on that road...) Can you think of one or two words that don't include "non-" to add, and maybe we should change "fiction" to a specific form like "stories" or "novels"? – Monica Cellio Jul 13 '17 at 15:07
  • Tech docs and scholarly articles are very specific things. "Non-fiction" overall means something else — it could be a biography, a how-to, philosophy, history, etc. A script could be fiction or non-fiction; the differentiator is the format. I feel like "fiction, non-fiction" is both sufficiently broad and carefully targeted. I'd rather not use "stories/novels" because that's somehow too limiting. – Lauren Ipsum Jul 13 '17 at 15:25
  • Separately, I might also suggest "business writing" as a term to add, because that can include marketing text, ads, memos, and code variables (as we memorably demonstrated). – Lauren Ipsum Jul 13 '17 at 15:25
  • Business writing -- good point! I'll make an edit to add both your suggestions. Do the products of business writing have a concise term? (I'm not keen on "writing" as a noun here. Would "marketing materials" be sufficiently evocative?) – Monica Cellio Jul 13 '17 at 15:42
  • "Marketing materials" focuses more on ancilliary items like brochures, ads, flyers, and email copy — literally what you use to promote an item or service. That might be too much in the weeds for this pitch. "Business writing" means reports, white papers, survey analyses, and maybe internal stuff like corporate style guides and memos. How do you feel about splitting the difference and saying "business materials"? too vague? – Lauren Ipsum Jul 13 '17 at 17:25
  • Rather than going the exhaustive list route, would "written works of all kinds" or something similar not be both snappier and more complete? – Weckar E. Jul 17 '17 at 15:02
  • @WeckarE. I don't want to be exhaustive but we've found that some have a perception that this site is only for fiction, so I'd like to include some representative examples right up front to combat that misunderstanding. I worry that people looking for, say, technical writing won't make the connection from "all kinds"; they might just think "oh, poetry too" or something. – Monica Cellio Jul 17 '17 at 15:11
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Writers Stack Exchange is a question-and-answer site for authors, editors, technical writers, reviewers, bloggers, journalists, and other professional and aspiring writers. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about writing, copywriting, publishing or editing.

Could be rewritten as:

Writers Stack Exchange is a Q&A site for anyone who is interested in refining and expanding their technical knowledge of writing. We discuss a wide field of topics such as editing, publishing, fiction, non-fiction, technical documentation, scholarly articles, business writing, scripts, and the literary devices that they are comprised of. Come on in! Your next adventure story is one question away!

Okay, maybe my last sentence trying to ask people to join seems a little too gimmicky but in the end it is a sales pitch and you always ask for the sale!

Ask about:

  • Non-fiction, technical, or scholarly writing
  • Writing fiction, poetry, song lyrics
  • General copywriting
  • Professional-level blogging
  • The publishing and editing process itself

I don't see any need to change this though it does feel redundant to state. Unfortunately though, we do need redundancy as some people do need it in plain English listed off.

What I would like to add in if it is not already is a blurb about what we cannot answer! Just a quick list of things such as critiques, how to's, specific content pertaining to their writing etc. Right now in the ask a question page, they don't really specify that in the "How to Ask" section. If we can provide some where to bring the main off topic subjects to the front, it may help alleviate some of our bad questions.

Right now, someone has to be willing to drill through links and faq pages to find the list and let's be honest, most people are lazy. If it isn't right in front of them, they are not really going to bother looking for it. Especially if they don't know they need to read through it.

In our high level "off topics" section, we can provide the direct link to the page which discusses in detail what is on and off topic. I feel it would be beneficial to provide a simple high level on and off topic list up front, we can hopefully see better formed questions and not close as many either.

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    The tour includes, as part of its format, that introductory paragraph (I like your rewrite!), the "what to ask about" list I quoted, and a "what not to ask about" list that I didn't bring in here (not so germane to my current question). The help center pages about what's on-topic and off-topic go into more detail, but the tour does give both the "do" and "don't" lists at a high level. – Monica Cellio Jul 13 '17 at 16:54
  • @MonicaCellio thanks! I was trying to see how I can view the tour page, I suppose the only way for me to do this is by logging out so I had to go based off memory and what you had listed. – ggiaquin16 Jul 13 '17 at 16:58
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    I linked to the tour in the question. You can also get to it by clicking on "help" in the top bar. – Monica Cellio Jul 13 '17 at 17:56
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    I made some adjustments to the introductory paragraph in the tour based on your suggestions. Thanks. – Monica Cellio Jul 17 '17 at 15:16

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