Burning Question

Burning Question

I have an editorial up on Fantasy today that I think you’re all qualified to discuss :) It’s about the lack of comments on fiction in this here Internet age:

I’m really happy we have such a high level of participation from our readers, but we can’t help but notice that the comments section of our fiction is sparse or non-existent in many cases. We know you’re reading the stories (I’m obsessive about stats), but you rarely comment on them.

This is not limited to Fantasy, I know. Most online magazines offer a way for readers to comment on stories, whether on the page itself or in a forum topic. The only place where I see consistent commentary on stories is the Escape Artists forum. The audience there is vocal and brutal, but very engaged (which is awesome).

Recently, Sheila Williams mentioned that though the Asimov’s forums are very active, readers rarely discussed the stories.

“…mostly they get on there and argue politics; we call it the basement. …they hardly ever talk about the stories. There are a handful of dedicated readers that talk about the stories, but they are the minority. What I have seen in the past in the ’70s and the ’80s, there were dozens of letters coming in a month. We don’t get the letters anymore. I think back in the ’80s we had more correspondence coming in on the stories than I see in the comments on the forum.”

You would think that there would be far more commentary on stories on the Internet, considering how easy it is to broadcast your opinions to the world. Yet in the case of SF/F mags, we seem to see less.

This doesn’t include comments that happen elsewhere. For instance, last week I got several comments on my post pointing people to SH plus some emails and IMs (all of which I appreciated a lot, thanks!), but no comments on the SH forum. No idea why. I also found, through the magic of Google Alerts, some comments here. Again, yay for me! But I wonder why they didn’t also comment in the forum. ‘Tis a mystery, but one I’d like to explore (over at Fantasy, not necessarily here).