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War of the Wor(l)ds
October 6, 2011 4:42 PM   Subscribe

As part of a test of the beta version of a Web project I've been working on, MeFites The Whelk and robocop is bleeding are going to throw down in a half-hour no-words-barred fiction writing battle next Tuesday at Fiction Fights!

I've been working on the site for a while -- well, when I say "working," I mean "planning and fretting while MeFite chrillsicka does the programming", and we're finally at the point where it's live for some beta testing. The site concept in general is that it allows writers to get into "fiction fights" -- half-hour short-story challenges where both fighters share the same randomly generated premise. One important stress test is the live-spectator function: the ability for anybody to watch a bout in progress, while it's being written, via a live-update function.

To test it, I need spectators. Dozens of 'em.

So I've asked two of MeFi's finest confabulators to have a go at it: next Tuesday (October 11) at 7 p.m. ET, The Whelk and robocop is bleeding are going to square off for their very own Fiction Fight! You don't have to register to spectate, and it's, well, free, so swing on by the site and watch the stories get written before your very eyes!

A few quick notes: stories are anonymous as they're being written, and until judging concludes. Judging can be done by anyone who has registered on the site, and continues until 33 votes (or 3 days) have passed. There's a bottle of home-made hooch riding on this, so both competitors are keen to see who pulls off the best story in 30 harrowing minutes!

The site's obviously under development -- I'll try to keep an eye out for any problems, and if you have any questions about it, feel free to MeMail me or contact me via the site. If you want to create a user and invite some friends to have some bouts, please do -- just don't be shocked if there are some minor upgrades to site texts or the admittedly kinda shoddy design. Just bear in mind that this is beta in the classic sense of "expect problems, and please report them."
posted by Shepherd to MetaFilter-Related at 4:42 PM (64 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Sounds fun. Can't wait.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:44 PM on October 6, 2011


I am excited about this thing
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:53 PM on October 6, 2011


It sounds like fun, but when I looked at the site about 5 minutes ago there was a match going on but I couldn't, uh, spectate it. I didn't register, the match was in its last couple of minutes, and I'm using Safari 5.1. So, bug report, I guess.
posted by Quietgal at 4:56 PM on October 6, 2011


*hits contestants with folding chair*
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on October 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


As a heads-up: I'm going to MeMail people who report issues here. If I don't reply in-thread, I'm probably doing it directly to avoid clogging this up with (multiple, inevitable) bug reports.
posted by Shepherd at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2011


Is this the same rules as "Write Club?"
posted by cjorgensen at 5:05 PM on October 6, 2011


No, this is bad. Fiction isn't about fighting and competition, fiction is about bringing us all together in love and peace.

Nah, I'm just fuckin' witcha. I really want the robocop and Whelk is Bleeding to beat the shit out of each other with their words. May the best typist win.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:19 PM on October 6, 2011


As far as I know, Write Club is two people who are given opposing subjects beforehand, and show up somewhere with seven minutes of prepared material on the subject, then deliver their material to a live audience; kind of like a prepared debate without the moderator or rebuttals.

This is an Internet-driven thing where two people are given an identical challenge and 30 minutes to write a short story based on that identical premise, while a (theoretically unlimited) number of people spectate and then vote on the story they like best.

Important and unrelated note: Fiction Fights is hella broken in Opera.
posted by Shepherd at 5:20 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


He can beat most men with his breath.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:26 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


jonmc: "*hits contestants with folding chair*"

No no no, we hit contestants with verbs, not chairs.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:31 PM on October 6, 2011


I chair the contestants.
posted by hippybear at 5:33 PM on October 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am going to verb you both so hard!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:41 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Will there be shit in mailboxes afterward?
posted by valkyryn at 5:52 PM on October 6, 2011


Anybody got odds? Who's taking bets?
posted by jabberjaw at 6:04 PM on October 6, 2011


Are you kidding me? It's seasonal gift catalogue time, again (already). There's shit in everybody's mailboxes!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:04 PM on October 6, 2011


This seems sort of like a post that should have gone to Projects, but you wanted to get more eyeballs on it. Seems like a bad precedent for MeTa.
posted by misterbrandt at 6:55 PM on October 6, 2011


You're right. Move it to Projects, have the mods close this up, and then open a fresh MetaTalk about "Why was that post moved?" DOUBLE-EYEBALLS!
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:56 PM on October 6, 2011


can I nominate shakespherian as the next contestant?
posted by desjardins at 7:03 PM on October 6, 2011


can I nominate shakespherian as the next contestant?

you have no idea what you are asking for.
posted by The Whelk at 7:09 PM on October 6, 2011


I want to battle someone in this right now.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:06 PM on October 6, 2011


Oh yeah. This is awesome!
posted by mothershock at 8:39 PM on October 6, 2011


For what it's worth, Shepherd did ask for our opinion and as kind of an odd one-off we said this was okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:45 PM on October 6, 2011


Ah, fair enough
posted by misterbrandt at 8:48 PM on October 6, 2011


ima gonna bring all teh words
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:13 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is an awesome idea, but the site isn't super clear about how everything works.

Can I read the results of fights that have already happened or is this the first one?
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on October 7, 2011


Also, suggestion for an add-on at some point down the road:


Something like "Fiction Tennis" where two players write sections of the same story in turn, reacting to twists and turns introduced by the other, etc...
posted by empath at 6:41 AM on October 7, 2011


Added to the calendar.
posted by cashman at 7:07 AM on October 7, 2011


(Replying to a few people via MeMail; thanks for any observations about problems or lack of clarity to date. I'll be working over the weekend, and updating the site on Monday).
posted by Shepherd at 7:19 AM on October 7, 2011


Ah, I'll be at work for this contest... but I'll keep my eyes open for future contests because I am so looking forward to seeing how this works.
posted by patheral at 7:23 AM on October 7, 2011


I will try to remember.

And in my opinion, 30 minutes is fun but not long enough.
posted by dobbs at 7:54 AM on October 7, 2011


robocop is bleeding: "ima gonna bring all teh words"

Bringing all the words is a big responsibility, such as making sure the gerunds are securely fastened into their five-point harnesses.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:58 AM on October 7, 2011


Don't forget to cross your T's and dot your I's and good luck to both of you.
posted by Sailormom at 8:30 AM on October 7, 2011


Is this where we trash talk pre match?
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on October 7, 2011


No, apparently it's here.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:48 AM on October 7, 2011


Love the fiction tennis idea above, but I'd go for Pong rather than tennis as the analogy.

You could have Prose Pong and Poetry Pong, with limericks and people trying to cheat by throwing in lines ending in "silver" and "orange"!

Another pony request: transcripts of previous fiction fights. Maybe you could put them in ebook formatmand sell them if this is getting overwhelming.

Did I mention I'm really excited about this?! Because I am. Been a fan of RIB taut prose for years, and then tnis promising young buck, the Whelk comes along, with his pithy observations, and now we've got a Battle Royale on our hands!

Can we handicap 'em, just to make this harder?

We need airhorn mp3s to sneak in at the opportune moment!

Mine the playing field with hardcore taters!

Put 'em on iPhones and pre-load the auto-correct with expletives!

Take away all their Os and As! Three Js and two Xs per paragraph!

Make 'em write with a pen between their teeth!

Have ColdChef waiting in the wings to cart off the loser!

I may be getting carried away here.
posted by misha at 12:41 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A quick reminder to recent-activity-checkers that we are still go for this evening -- I've taken a lot of comments on board and made some upgrades to the site for clarity reasons over the weekend (anything requiring "real" programming will have to wait for, well, the programmer). Fingers crossed that this will all work.
posted by Shepherd at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2011


TRASH TALKING TRASH TALKING
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on October 11, 2011


So do the spectators get a chatroom to be all like 'o no he didn't just split that infinitive!'
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:42 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a comment function for post-match judging, and the site forum, but I figured live chat would default here. If anybody else is actually watching.
posted by Shepherd at 3:55 PM on October 11, 2011


And we're off!
posted by Shepherd at 4:01 PM on October 11, 2011


Not exactly the most innovative of all possible premises, sadly, but I didn't want to rig anything.
posted by Shepherd at 4:02 PM on October 11, 2011


YOU NEED A NATIVE SPELL-CHECKER
posted by The Whelk at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2011


Noted! I've never used them, so I never noticed the absence. Is it somehow overriding the native browser spellcheck? Weird.
posted by Shepherd at 4:23 PM on October 11, 2011


(and don't forget, robocop and whelk, that nobody can see who wrote what until judging concludes. We'll only see who wrote which story after 33 votes or 3 days, whichever comes first).
posted by Shepherd at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2011


Yeah it is, I wasted 3 minutes porting it over to spehllcheck.net
posted by The Whelk at 4:30 PM on October 11, 2011


Ahhhhhh
posted by The Whelk at 4:31 PM on October 11, 2011


I had native browser spellcheck for a bit, but it went away.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:31 PM on October 11, 2011


my story is just two guys talking cause I have no sense of drama
posted by The Whelk at 4:32 PM on October 11, 2011


I included a role for Samuel L Jackson.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:32 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll have to bounce that off chrillsicka and see what's what. He's the heavy lifter when it comes to the smart-type stuff.

If any MeFites were spectating, and stop by this thread, I'd love to know if it went seamlessly for them. Everything seemed to work fine from home.

On preview, I can see that the "bouts are anonymous until judging concludes" feature might be a fool's errand.
posted by Shepherd at 4:33 PM on October 11, 2011


If these two could be counted on to keep their mouths shut, they wouldn't have been such perfect candidates for your site. It was fun. I enjoyed reading.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:14 PM on October 11, 2011


Hm. Judging seems to have locked after 3 votes, not 33. There's a bug somewhere in the system...
posted by Shepherd at 5:54 PM on October 11, 2011


Maybe the 3 days has somehow been coded for 3 votes instead, she sqys, knowing nothing of how actual coding works.
posted by misha at 6:02 PM on October 11, 2011


your anon feature is ruined by our excessive blabbermouths
posted by The Whelk at 6:15 PM on October 11, 2011


Oh god I literally did not notice the left/right confusion until now cause I was panicing about not having a spellchecker. I am a victim of my tools.
posted by The Whelk at 6:36 PM on October 11, 2011


Testing setting that didn't get reset, I think. Resolved now!
posted by Shepherd at 6:46 PM on October 11, 2011


everyone go vote now and read the story I had in my head not the one I wrote.
posted by The Whelk at 6:55 PM on October 11, 2011


That one is much kinkier!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:42 PM on October 11, 2011


The Whelk, I am afraid to put myself on the line like you did without a spell-checker on hand! I can only imagine how many typos and descriptive errors I would have.

I distinctly remember a timed writing assignment once where my main character somehow ended up with three arms at one point.

You both are amazing writers, and fearless ones, too!
posted by misha at 7:47 PM on October 12, 2011


I like how you can totally see our first approaches to ideas VERY CLEARLY
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 PM on October 12, 2011


I am laughing so hard at the irony that my comment about distracting typos was itself filled with distracting typos!

I blame my iPad, but honestly I might have typed that comment on my laptop.

And even though I should know better, I am really tempted to challenge someone over at FF. But you two certainly set the bar high. Anyone who follows will surely be intimidated.
posted by misha at 7:54 PM on October 12, 2011


we rule teh skool
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:28 AM on October 13, 2011


Man, I don't know how you guys were able to make so many excellent words and interesting things in 30 minutes. That was super fun MOAR PLS.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:30 AM on October 13, 2011


I'm not gonna make a new MetaTalk thread or a Projects thread or anything, but I am going to try to put together a low-key ad hoc 16-person league on the site, managed via its forum and challonge.com, over the next week or so for a four-round elimination ladder in November. If you're into giving this a try, and can commit to a half-hour bout every week, MeMail me!
posted by Shepherd at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2011


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