So, like you all, of late we’ve had a little more time on our hands than we might have ordinarily; doing our bit in stopping the spread of this dreadful virus by staying at home, out of the way. Sadly, we know from our own experience that this situation is not to be taken lightly and we are truly with everyone who has been directly affected by the current crisis and with all of those currently on the front line.
We speak for ourselves ( although we're sure we're not alone) but we've found keeping positive when such horrors are unveiled each day is less than easy. We also speak for ourselves when we say that in our experience trying to seek out the smallest glimmers of light wherever possible is most certainly the key to dealing with this situation. Trying to look at things in a different way has been key for us, for example, realising that prolonged time spent at home can be well spent. This, for us, has been an essential frame of mind. We've come to realise that at a time such as this, the things that truly matter come to the fore. Staying safe is clearly the priority but as well as that it's things like having time for quality communication instead of rushed conversations wedged into the end of a busy day. Having opportunities to actually exercise, spending quality time with the most important people in our lives - either in person or via virtual means. Reading the books we've been wanting to read for ages but for which we've always been too tired to concentrate. Binge watching shows that genuinely make us laugh and elicit good feeling. Making do with what we have. Being less throw-away. Reassessing priorities; what's important and actually what's not. Forget your designer this and that, 'celebrity' nonsense, good wine ( OK, so maybe not the wine so much). As far as we are concerned, if we're going to emerge intact the other side, this is a time to reflect, realise and ultimately an opportunity to reset.
With that in mind, and with some of the time that has been afforded to us, we've been thinking about how we might improve Platform. If you have visited the site recently you will have noticed some changes. The format remains largely the same ( if it ain't broke don't fix it) but there are elements which on reflection we thought needed a 'make over'. So, in summary we've done away with the vault as it was, tidying up our past publication page, made changes to the way that readers leave comments on writing, replaced membership ( for now) with an option of subscribing to our blog instead and we are going to introduce new features such as Editors' Choice and a Readers' Favourites Leaderboard in the coming days. More information on each of those things below...
Current and Past publications
With over 70 pieces of flash / shorts / poems on Platform we decided to tidy things up a bit by replacing the 'vault'. We think it looks much better as a result. All writing on the site can now be accessed through the listings on the 'writing' page. Each listing contains details of title, author, type, the year on which it first appeared on Platform and the name of the collection it appeared in. Click on the title of each piece and it takes you directly there. Once you're there you can read the piece and see any previous comments made by readers.....
Reader comments and reviews
We have revamped the way readers comment on our contributors' writing. Over the years there have been so many fantastic comments left by visitors but they are largely 'invisible' unless you happen to stumble across each individual story ( and who has time to do that?!) Part of the purpose of Platform is to share good quality, short fiction but also to celebrate the art and our talented contributors which is why we introduced the comments facility in the first place. With that in mind we have put the comments box on the home page. Once you read something you like, something that resonated with you, whether that be the style of writing, content, or, let's face it you just liked it, you will be able to hit the 'Liked what you read tell the author' button right there, which will take you directly to the Home page, to the comments facility. That way all comments can be seen by any visitors to the site and hopefully make stories from previous collections more 'visible'. The key to this working is reviewers ensuring that they include the name of the author or title of the piece in the comment so we know which piece they are referring too. All comments are monitored by Platform HQ and we are confident that the constructive comments that we have seen over the years will continue ( although we have posted a small reminder just in case). So, get reading and reviewing!
No more members - subscription only!
So, for a while, Platform had an option for contributors where if they signed up for membership that they could then expect an expedite response for any submissions. Nice idea in theory but we are aware as much as any of you, that fulfilling that was becoming more and more difficult due to the number of submissions that we receive. (By the way, we never wanted not to respond to contributors whose work we had not selected either but had no choice given the hundreds of submissions we receive on a regular basis). So we've scrapped signing up for membership. Of course we may reinstate at a later date if we can see a reason for doing so, but right now, all our content remains free and accessible and we are doing our best to respond to our contributors whose work we've selected in a reasonable amount of time. We couldn't actually see the point of anyone signing up to be a member so we got rid of it. What you can so instead, is pop your email address into the subscribe box on the news page. This means you will be emailed an alert when a new blog entry is made for example to tell you that there is new material on the site. We promise we won't be bombarding inboxes with tat - we know what that is like - a real turn off!
Having the opportunity to look back through all the fantastic writing we have here on Platform lead us to the conclusion that we need to be celebrating it even more. So, we are going to be resurrecting some of our favourites from the first and second editions through an 'Editors' Choice' feature, (weekly to start with and we'll see how it goes), where we select a personal favourite of ours and once more bring it to the fore alongside any current collection we are running.
Readers' Favourite Leaderboard
It's not a competition, right? Right. But we wondered what it would look like to highlight which Platform stories have in their own right attracted the most favourable attention from readers. They'll be called the Platform 7 and we'll review them monthly to see if the most popular retain their spot on the leaderboard through the number of reviews they receive in their lifetime on Platform. Exciting, eh?
We hope that these changes go someway to improving things on Platform. If you have any suggestions we would be glad to hear them. You can still contact us on the About Us page so do let us know if you have any ideas or if you have any feedback on the changes made. We are always open to suggestion. It goes without saying but we are so grateful to all our contributors without whom Platform wouldn't even exist so do keep the submissions coming and spread the word amongst any writer friends you may have. We're also grateful to our reader and supporters over the years again without whom Platform wouldn't have reached its five year milestone.
Stay safe everyone,
The Editors, Platform