The Curious Tale Home


Adventure #2

Programming Note: There will be no Community Service in two weeks (on Nov. 20), due to Desert Bus. Community Service will return as usual on December 4.

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DeviantArt is well-known to me. I like the site very much; I've found all kinds of awesome artwork there over the years. Even the stuff that's not awesome is genuine, and I admire that.

This week for Community Service I spent a couple of hours exploring DeviantArt's pages and terms of service through the eye of an aspiring entrepreneur. Generally speaking, the prose offerings at DeviantArt are poorer in quality than the illustrations, a testament perhaps to the difficulty belied by prose's structural simplicity. It's hard to write well. One of my biggest reservations about investing energy into DeviantArt is that, unlike with the graphic arts, the community doesn't seem to have a reputation for high-quality niche writing. If people aren't expecting to find good writing there, they're not likely to look.

Another factor is that there's a whole lot of fanfiction, although unlike AO3 (which I reviewed last time; see below) there is original prose too.

In short, I could try to establish myself there. However, the negatives are significant enough that instead I'm ranking it in the second class: I'll potentially try DeviantArt as part of a more mature, farther-along audience-building strategy, but I don't want to make it one of my opening gambits.

Nonetheless I don't want to give the wrong impression: I like this site. I like its quirky character. I like the community too, at least to the extent I am aware of the community. If I were doing a graphical project I would easily choose DeviantArt as my first winner of Community Service; indeed I wouldn't even need to have this series.

Archive of Our Own

Adventure #1

I began my biweekly Community Service series by investigating a community that several friends and fans of the Tale have recommend to me: The Archive of Our Own.

I'd already read quite a number of works on the site, so I was familiar with the site layout and so forth. Instead, my purpose was to investigate the community—if a central community existed—and the feasibility for helping me promote the Curious Tale brand.

If you're familiar with AO3, you'll know what I found: There appears to be no central community there. Instead, community (where it exists at all) is clustered around specific fandoms and individual writers.

That by itself isn't a problem, though it does make AO3 less appealing as a brand-building waypoint.

The real problem is its feasibility: I specifically explored the site FAQ and TOS FAQ, and discovered this:

[W]e concluded that it was better to draw a line between fanworks and non-fanworks and only host the former, in order to avoid becoming a general repository for all sorts of creative works. In addition, we will enforce the noncommercialization policy strictly, including a ban on works posted to promote the sale of the author's other works, even if those are not hosted on the site.

This applies explicitly to my case. If I were to establish a presence on AO3 as a part of Community Service, it would be exactly for the purpose that they're forbidding here.

Unfortunately, that means that my first Community Service outing turned out to be a failure. That's not a bad thing; it's bound to happen, after all. But AO3 seemed like low-hanging fruit on account of how well-recommended it was, so it's fair to say I am disappointed.

(Mind you, I'm not disappointed at AO3 itself. It's a great site! My disappointment has no object. It's simply there.)

Join me in two weeks, when I look elsewhere and try again.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!