Comments: Momwroters

As soon as I am done being eloquently, um, uneloquent about this current assignment, I shall come hop right on the righteous indignation at that pretty little splinter. *snort*

Although let me just say that nothing causes my eyes to roll harder than when the person holding the detonator looks around in surprise and cries because there was an explosion. Because... duh.

Posted by Mir at December 2, 2005 10:29 AM

Mir, I completely agree with you. Hmmm what's this big red button? Holy CRAPBURGERS what was that large BANG?

Anyone is welcome at The Writing Mother. No moderation. No fees. Hopefully no swearing, LOL. Although I don't think CRAPBURGERS is a swear

Posted by Heather Cook at December 2, 2005 10:54 AM

Um...what's OMERTA mean?

(five years online and I still haven't learned the language!)

Posted by Shelley at December 2, 2005 11:15 AM

Now hang on a minute, they want to charge you to be on a Yahoo! list?

Isn't that illegal or something? I mean, won't Yahoo! want some kind of percentage?

I'm not a mom (ahem) and clearly not much of a writer (duh) but I have never, in many years of internetting on an extremely wide range of topics, NEVER paid just to be part of a list serve.

But, hey, I can hear the BOOM all the way over here. Imagine that.

Posted by ben at December 2, 2005 11:30 AM

Good grief, I'm with Ben, I think Yahoo would have something to say about that.

Posted by Busy Mom at December 2, 2005 11:37 AM

Joshilyn, I'm a big fan of your writing and your blog, but there may be some facts you're unaware of.

First of all, what many people do NOT know is that behind the scenes, the list owner has repeatedly paid from her own pocket to give Christmas to Momwriter(tm) children who could not otherwise have a Christmas if not enough donations come in. I've seen the owner have to ask if the members could give just $1.00 to help defray those costs. These are to help children that are not her own and in many cases, she's never even met the family.

The list owner has helped people with groceries, electric bills...when I first joined the list, one poster mentioned she didn't have groceries, couldn't pay her electric bill. In my green-ness, I wrote the owner and asked if we could take up a donation. I didn't know the poster had been helped REPEATEDLY.

The fees are not money for the list owner. It's money for the group. For Christmas, for when they send afghans to welcome new babies, cards, and even 'cheer up' gifts to writers who may be having a hard time in their life.

The owner is a very loving, very giving person and for this fee situation to turn personal is wrong.

In this case, I don't think you have all the facts of what goes on behind the scenes.

Some people are complaining about the fee, yet think nothing about dropping money into a red kettle for strangers.

I didn't want to say anything because I figure I'll probably be flamed for this post. However, what's being said by a handful of people isn't the entire truth.

Posted by Sonya at December 2, 2005 11:38 AM

I know nothing about this and should SO butt out, but Sonya, what you've just described is a CHARITY. Where donations are OPTIONAL. A mandatory fee is quite a different thing.

Posted by Amy-GO at December 2, 2005 11:44 AM

Sonya, there are two different issues here that are becoming confused, I think.

The MomWriters listserv is intended to be a free discussion group. The fact that it has evolved into more is lovely. The fact that some of that "more" may require money is, I suppose, the nature of the beast. HOWEVER, irrevocably linking these two things is where everything went kerflooey. The owner has decided to ask for money for the money things AS A REQUIREMENT OF REMAINING PART OF what is supposed to be a free discussion list. Oops!

Something that should be optional is being made compulsory, within a framework not designed to accommodate it. BOOM.

And as many people have said--although, not that anyone would know this, because all of the posts about this issue have been censored--it is certainly the perogative of the list owner(s) to implement these changes. But I don't think the results are going to be pretty.

Just my $.02. Now I'm going to go enjoy the FREE DISCUSSION GROUP (my, what a concept) where I feel people actually want to talk about writing.

Posted by Mir at December 2, 2005 11:46 AM

I'm glad to know about the new list. Momwriters has lost 30 members since the announcement and whether the fee remains or not, I believe the list won't be the same. There are way too many angry people. I'm very sad about it as I just started a MWCreative Non-Fiction side list and it is going well and who knows what will happen now. I imagine a mass exodus come January. Sigh...

Posted by Tiff at December 2, 2005 12:00 PM

It is personal, S.

And while I think Nikki is RIGHT not to have discussion of the fees on the list -- people are too mad and too hurt and the list woul dblow for sure. I strongly hope all the off list conversation changes her mind, and it does nto blow at all.

But there is going to be discussion elsewhere. I am providing a forum for that. If you get flamed on my site, I will defend you. I hope to God we can keep this civil, while still being allowed to express our feelings.

Posted by Joshilyn at December 2, 2005 12:01 PM

The problem I have with the fees is I feel like it's punative. Nikki has overextended herself - with the best of intentions, perhaps - and now she's angry. But we didn't sign up for "Talk about writing and by the way subsidizing Nikki's pet projects." She's created her own anger. It's not my fault.

Posted by Kira at December 2, 2005 12:09 PM

Hi Amy and Mir,

What you are unaware of is that the list owner made it clear that if people did not or could not pay any money, NO ONE would be kicked off the list. She asked that people volunteer to help out.

I think someone read the part about a fee without reading the rest.

I understand the difference between a charity and a listserv (and I'm not being a snooty butt when I say that).


Posted by Sonya at December 2, 2005 12:10 PM

The list owner didn't create 'pet projects'. People came to HER.

And she explained why she didn't want the discussion onlist but rather, would e-mail anyone who had questions or comments privately. Not everyone can remain civil. Rather than have name calling and see people get hurt, it was to be discussed off list. Because people are on both sides of this fence.

The Christmas fund was because there were people who came to HER asking for help. When people ask, she gives. And she's asked for help in the past with this 'pet project' that she did NOT start.

When people are gung ho about a project but then their enthusiasm wanes or they can no longer afford it, rather than have kids disappointed, she stepped up and gave her own money.

That's what this whole thing has been about.

As for the list owner making money, I know she puts the money back into helping others.


Posted by Sonya at December 2, 2005 12:23 PM

Sonya -- I'm glad you're here, making sure the other side of the story gets heard. That's what I want here, open discussion.

I do not want this to turn into THE LIST MOM IS THE DEVIL---LET'S EAT HER BRAINS! I do not doubt that she's basically a good person, but I think she is a good person who has chosen to do something wrong. It's a bad policy that is making the best list I have ever been on go BOOM.

And in case she decides NOT to change the policy and rectify the situation, I want refugees to NOT lose touch with each other, but instead to find a fee free list where we can contribute POSTS, and share info and support and make sure everyone gets those VITAL updates about whether or not my cat has lost enough weight to be able to clean his backend, which do, you know, make the world go round.

Because that is what is going to get lost in this decision: a LIST SERVE of friends in similar industries, exchanging support, advice, and encouragement. That's what I gave and ALSO what I took, and that's what I am trying to salvage here, by posting a place to discuss this and linking to a new list that doesn't have fees, and where info exchanges and interview info etc ARE considered contributing, not draining.

Posted by Joshilyn at December 2, 2005 12:44 PM

It's sad to see it go this way. I've posted a few things on the subject and I've been flamed off list. I am an MW volunteer for two sub lists and I've seen people unsub the last two days. For the most part I don't participate in many of the side projects, because I am writing but I do participate on the main list and it makes me sad especially since I've been with MW's for almost 7 years.

I wrote to Nikki and said I thought the fee was too high. I've let some association memberships of mine expire because the fees were getting out of hand. But my suggestion if I could get it through to any of the mods would be to just cut the extras. After this year maybe there shouldn't be any sub lists or special funds, just go back to what it was 7 years ago, a group where we talked about the highs and lows of being a mom and writer.

I'm actually unsure of whether I'll be welcome at this new list especially since I seemed to be considered one of the elite and trust me folks I'm not, I'm just a mom, writer and caring person who likes to give when and if I can.

Posted by Linda D. at December 2, 2005 12:55 PM

See, I didn't know there was an elite, which probably means I am either too stupid to live OR I am actually considered one of them and hated and reviled. Probably BOTH, depending who you ask...Want to come redecorate my office, Linda? I'd sit at your lunch table any old day, elite or not.

Sorry you got flamed. It's a very volatile issue -- everyone is so upset.

Posted by Joshilyn at December 2, 2005 1:03 PM

While I'm not flaming anyone, I do think she was wrong to require fees, and am one of the 30 who have already left the group. I will not (cannot!) pay for the "privilege" of writing and reading emails. Nor do I have the time to volunteer to help run her site - like many current and now ex- momwriters, I have too much on my plate already. (And really, how many volunteers do you need before arranging the volunteers becomes more work than doing it yourself?)

Also, while I don't have $60 a year or more to spend on an email list - that's two pairs of jeans, or three well-baby visits, or several canvases - I'm also not about to email her and ask for her charity in order to stay on the list. I'd much rather leave the list than become a "charity case."

So I left, without even being able to post a "good-bye." (Referencing the fees, of course, even politely, means that your message will never make it to the list.)

So, yeah, while I'm a little angry, I suppose she is within her rights. But... the list will be a much different place, and I predict many of the people who need it the most will leave. I'm guessing she'll end up with less than 300 members (which may be what she wants) and almost no one new will join.

So be it.

Posted by Laura at December 2, 2005 1:08 PM

First they charge for tv, then radio, now e-mails? Hmmmm.....

It is a lot of money from a lot of people. And although I do not believe that Nikki would ever intentionally rob someone of their money, by asking for donations and for paying for this, she is creating much more work. You thought trademarking (still questioning that) and legal expenses with that were expensive (a bit unnecessary if you ask me) now you have to hire an accountant and provide proof to the members for every transaction made. In some cases, one must get approval. It has gone from being a group where people get together, help one another, and share with each other and has turned into a business venture.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by One Mad Mommy at December 2, 2005 1:27 PM

Sonya, I really don't want to pick on you, and I PROMISE not to eat your brains (thanks, Joss). But I have to respectfully disagree with something you said.
"The Christmas fund was because there were people who came to HER asking for help. When people ask, she gives."
That? The giving? Is still HER CHOICE. It may be a good choice, or it may be one that leads her to resentment and burnout. But I don't think it gives her the right to call those of us who don't participate in her choice "Takers." I know how much I can give, and give to the best of my ability.
Ultimately, this feels like an effort to weed out the people who aren't in the inner circle. I think that's why it's so painful for so many.

Posted by Kira at December 2, 2005 1:30 PM

I'm not on MW, but I'm sorry about the boom since it's always awful when an online community becomes an angry mob.

I'm with Shelley-- what does OMERTA mean? I hope I won't have to bang my head on the keyboard when I find out...

Posted by Elizabeth at December 2, 2005 1:32 PM

OMERTA is the mob's code of honor thing -- I meant, you know, how on lists that are about to blow secrets and factiosn build up? It was silly hyperbole, as I have YET to be on a list that offered cement shoes to blabbermouths -- or I would be SUNK ages ago.

Posted by joshilyn at December 2, 2005 1:38 PM

I agree 100 percent with you, Kira. Getting involved with charity-esque work was a choice. People may have asked, but it's still a choice.

I do *a ton* of volunteer work IRL. I'm also a relatively minor participant in MWs (I'm most active on side lists). I won't really be missed, except by the friends I've met through MW -- and I won't really be losing them. I've contributed at least as much as I've taken from MWs, even if it's behind the scenes.

Momwriters (TM) is not my life, nor do I want it to be. It's unfortunate that some people have let it take over theirs, to the point that they see it as having much more value than it does.

I'm burying the lead here, though, because I did some looking into yahoogroups Terms of Service, and look what I found:


"You agree not to reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, trade, resell or exploit for any commercial purposes, any portion of the Service (including your Yahoo! ID), use of the Service, or access to the Service."

Posted by kathleen at December 2, 2005 1:49 PM

This was actually the first group I've belonged to that didn't allow discussion of policy. I run three groups myself, and while I do have the final say, I welcome input from everyone, onlist. It seemed strange to me to be silenced, and the end result is that we're discussing it elsewhere. Here, on other lists, and on other blogs. I've finally blogged about it, myself. Respectfully, I hope, even though I'm fairly indignant about the whole thing.

(I'm kinda embarrassed to admit it, but the first thing that popped into my mind when I learned no discussion would be allowed was Bush having non-supporters ousted from his speech in Denver several months ago. And no, I'm not comparing Nikki to Bush, just my mind's strange free association.)

Posted by Laura at December 2, 2005 1:52 PM

Being the former listmom of a flame-free list (QuiltMavericks) to which Joshilyn ALSO belongs, I hereby lay down the rules for keeping flames away: 1) Listmom is IN CHARGE and has absolute power to behead any troublemakers, no questions asked, no protests allowed; 2) Ban religious and political talk unless you are a religious or political list; 3) Mentally ill people of the unmedicated sort are given a second chance and lots of sympathy, but the third crisis - POOF! they're gone; 4) Anyone who does not buy in to the basic concept of the group, and keeps trying to question it, gets ONE kind explanation of the group's mission and purpose, then if they keep it up they are advised to find a list more in line with their thinking and if they don't leave and stay to make more trouble POOF! they're gone. In other words, one must be ruthless about putting together a group whose members can disagree like Civilized Persons. Many would say this is Not Egalitarian. That would be correct. But - My List, My Rules. CAVANAUGH'S CORELLARY: Listmom must be a kind, civilized, compassionate, ruthless person who is willing to be wrong and say so.

There, I have spoken. Of course, I may be wrong, and I'm willing to say so.

Posted by Jilly at December 2, 2005 2:01 PM

I couldn't help myself.

The omertà is a popular attitude, common in areas of Italy where the Mafia is strong, that implies never collaborating with the police. It can be intended also as a vow of silence among mafiosi.

It is common, in such areas, that after a Mafia-related murder no one will be able to remember hearing or seeing anything, and no one will be willing to talk to the police.

The origin of the word is often traced to Spanish, meaning manliness; ironically, most people conform to omertà out of fear rather than courage. In English, it is often misspelt omerta, without an accent.

Among Mafia members, it means that they will not involve the police or the government in the affairs of the Mafia, and will deny its very existence. Joe Valachi was the first person to betray the omertà when he publicly spoke out about the existence of the Mafia, when he testified before the United States Congress. Within Mafia culture, breaking the oath of omertà is punishable by death.

More at the link.

I'll go away now...

Posted by ben at December 2, 2005 2:05 PM

Kira, as for eating my brains, I'm not worried about that. I have teenagers. : - )

Yes, Nikki made a choice. A good choice to help needy kids when she was asked. And if you've never experienced an empty Christmas, you don't know what those kids go through. I 'know' you from your posts and I know that you wouldn't want needy children doing without. Nikki doesn't either. That's what brought up the whole fee thing.

It wasn't discussed on list because unfortunately, not everyone can be civilized when there are disagreements.

I'm glad this hasn't turned ugly.


Posted by Sonya at December 2, 2005 2:17 PM

Hi Joss,
I blogged about the issue here:

The comments section here has been really interesting and I'll probably go back and add to what I've said. Thanks for providing the forum,


Posted by Martha O'Connor at December 2, 2005 2:31 PM

Okay, one last nitpicky point (and I too, do solemnly swear not to eat your brains, Sonya). ;)

I am not saying "OHMYGOSH MONEY I DON'T HAVE MONEY!" and ignoring the rest and running around proclaiming that the sky is falling.

The fact that I'm given the "option" to volunteer in lieu of dues is not the point. The point is FIRST that this isn't supposed to be a venture where money is central (and I think others have touched on this, but: charitable ventures are choices, for one, and even things like legal fees for trademarking... maybe I haven't been on the list long enough, but it seems to be hardly anyone cares whether it's a registered trademark or not), and SECOND that in asking for that money or a solid giving commitment the implication is that just being on the list and participating therein is useless.

And that is just insulting. I have loved the list so far, because people are just there helping others out with common interests and project help and whatnot. I have asked questions and answered them; I have volunteered for interviews and helped where I could. Now I'm being told that's not enough to make me valuable to the group. Ummmmm. Okay. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Posted by Mir at December 2, 2005 2:35 PM

I'm at work; I'll be back later with a lengthy comment. Thanks for this! Thank you, thank you. xo

Posted by Brenda Clews at December 2, 2005 2:41 PM

WRONG link, I screwed up Blogger somehow.

HERE is my post:

I talk about what happened in relation to my Parents of Children with Diabetes support list, which NEVER asks for money, for charitable purposes, web hosting, nothing.

Posted by Martha O'Connor at December 2, 2005 2:52 PM

I am adding my own thougths as a soon to be no longer MW if the fees continue.

First, Sonya, it is wonderful that Nicky is a charitable person, but her accusing me of being a "taker" because I do not volunteer or give tons of money to the list is hurtful and wrong on her part. I have never asked for money from the list. I have participated in a few writing events and given back as part of it. I am not a "taker" on that list yet she accuses me of being one because I do not officially volunteer.

Second, I only have so much money and time to donate and it is full with my Synagogue, sons school, and a few other local and national groups.

I did read Nikki's post and heard both sides and I still think she was wrong to decide to start charging fees.

Posted by Dena at December 2, 2005 2:58 PM

Holy moly, I missed this event completely because my hotmail was bouncing. Now that I've caught up, I'm a little peeved. The list-owner huffily explained that she and a handful of volunteers have been doing all the work for rest of us ingrates. But she never asked for more help. That's like telling your kid, "I'm going to start charging you rent because you haven't been mowing the lawn and painting the fence," when you never told the kid to do those things. And, 5 bucks a month for a listserv? Not bloody likely. I'll be unsubscribing.

Posted by Jodi at December 2, 2005 3:26 PM

As the creater of the group Joshilyn referenced. ANYONE is welcome.

If Nikki or Carma or Big Bird or Santa Claus joined, they'd be welcomed.

Here is my take. I have stuck my hand up to volunteer *several* times for several different projects. I have not heard back from the group. I've tried to make my contribution through positive feedback, interview responses and roars. I've tried to be encouraging and supportive and have donated money where I could and when I could.

Volunteerism cannot be legislated. At what point to you take away the free MW membership from a volunteer if they are not doing a good enough job or reneging on their promises? It's happened before.

I've joined every Birthday Card list and Secret Friend program (except once) that I could since my first post in July 2003. I feel pretty confident that I'm a giver... and yet I'm told I basically have to prove it. Well, hello, I'm pregnant. There is no way I'm going to committ to volunteering for something that I may not be able to follow through with once Bean#2 arrives.

There was a post to the Novel Writing sub-list that detailed all the wonderful things about the list. I agreed with all of them. *Except* the fact that hardly any of them will be valid after January 1st.

I know that there have been people who have offered to host the MW web site for free. I know that there have been people who have offered to help out on the moderator team. I know that there was at least a $50 donation to the Crochet List to help with postage last year. The help and assistance has been there.

People just need to ACCEPT the help.

Posted by Heather Cook at December 2, 2005 3:32 PM

Hi Dena and Jodi,

The list owner never accused anyone specifically.

I've been part of groups before where I didn't agree with the changes, so I left.

And I think that's what will happen here. Those who don't agree will leave the group. Each member will weigh the benefits of leaving or staying.

Jodi, she has asked for help in the past and if you'd like, you can look it up for yourself.

As for me, I have friends who've left and friends who've chosen to stay. And I'll remain friends with both sides.


Posted by Sonya at December 2, 2005 3:46 PM

Joshilyn, Thanks for starting this forum. For me, having a fee imposed was enough for me to ask myself, What is the product being sold? Is it posts to read? Is it friends?
I've been a member for about 7 years, although very quiet of late as I have had publishing deadlines all year.
But am I the only person who would NEVER be writing monthly checks to someone's HUSBAND to pay for a listserve? Perhaps if a checking account had been set up in the name of "Momwriters" and the money was being treated as business income (which it very well may be, but it is odd how this is being done).

Posted by SusanLudwig at December 2, 2005 3:57 PM

I'm only subscribed to one listserv, DorothyL (named for mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers). There are roughly 3500 DLers--fans, librarians, authors, reviewers, and publishing pros who want to share thoughts and peeves about the genre.

The list was founded by a group of women librarians in 1991, and despite countless spectacular flame wars since, DL has remained a thriving community thanks to its "very Friendly, Incredibly Brave" moderators--Diane Kovacs and Kara Robinson. The two of them embody all of Jilly's gorgeously articulated criteria for successful listmomhood, no matter how thankless.

They rock, and I couldn't begin to repay them for the bounty of splendor their hard work has afforded me--great friendships, constant entertainment, and a remarkable education on topics ranging from date-rape-drug toxicology to the revelation that even fans of the most explicitly grotesque serial-killer narratives are likely to kick in a writer's teeth for putting a fictional cat in jeopardy ("Cat-Jep")--harm to dogs being even more tantamount to career suicide.

From all the comments here, it sounds as though Momwriters has been a similar haven and source of sustenance for a great many people, and I'm so sorry to hear that's at risk. We need all the camaraderie we can get, online and off.

Posted by Cornelia Read at December 2, 2005 4:07 PM

Cornelia said:
"From all the comments here, it sounds as though Momwriters has been a similar haven and source of sustenance for a great many people, and I'm so sorry to hear that's at risk. We need all the camaraderie we can get, online and off."

I agree with you especially the part about it being a haven.


Posted by Sonya at December 2, 2005 4:19 PM

Regarding Jill's rules for List-momhood. This is EXACTLY the attitude that got MWs in trouble. On MWs, you can't disagree, all dissent is stifled. You can't settle arguments like adults, because nothing can be discussed. I've been on the net since 1988. I've been a member of huge communitities which are self-policing and self-moderating. I've been on forums which discintegrated (sp?) into flame wars and then rose from the ashes, stronger and MORE vibrant, which withstood yearly troll attacks and was only killed by AOL dropping their usenet feed.

I've been on 2500 member communitites where the list owner is a barely visible presence, dealing only with obvious trolls. Where seldom is there and infraction and where the community COMPLETELY polices itself. Where we discuss tough issues all the time. Where we fight and occasionally flame eachother, but mostly don't. The list doesn't devolve into chaos if there's not a dictator at the helm! And it's STILL a nice place with people that you care about. The vast majority of people are adults and treat eachother with respect.

MWs does not HAVE to be like it is. Successful communities that respect the right to dissent succeed all the time. In fact, nothing seems to kill them... except when they start suppressing certain subjects and opinions, and suddenly if you don't like it, you have to leave. Because then what happens when the dictaor pushed people too far, pisses them off too much? They leave.

How many will leave remains to be seen.


Posted by Dejah at December 2, 2005 6:48 PM

I know that there have been people who have offered to host the MW web site for free. I know that there have been people who have offered to help out on the moderator team. I know that there was at least a $50 donation to the Crochet List to help with postage last year. The help and assistance has been there.

Yo and yo again. I can't really see what I'm going to say - I've volluteered for everything that has come up, and never recieved replies either. My company recently offered to donate hosting too - and that offer has been made yet again. Whether its taken up is a different matter - and as an FYI that offer stands for ANY group I or my freinds are involves in. I have a whole freaking server to fill - what's a few writers groups going to do to the space and bandwidth? (don't answer that).
Anyway - I'm staying. I may or may not join other groups later, but for the moment, I'm througly peeved that all this has happened, just when selfishly, I need the group most.

I'm sure if the peeps ON momwriters think about the bombshell my ex gave me recently, they'll understand - anyone that wants to know cause they missed it, its on my blogs and available in and out of email.

Life, basically sucks, I agree - but we can make it unsucky. I'm just not sure that the things we're doing are the solution.
I dunno. I'm hurting far too much to think straight.

Posted by Kai at December 2, 2005 8:43 PM

My first thought was this is has got to be a wrong. Calling it $5 a month seems less that $60 a year. That is more than most professional sites that have a plethora of resources beyond messages. But honestly, for me that is a small point.

I have been on MW for a while. I have asked questions when I have had no where to go and have never been turned away. Seeing as I am new to this whole publishing world, I have had more questions than answers. I have, though, volunteered to help with interviews or answer questions that I may know. Yet, I am not someone who will respond to any and all messages just to say I am active. I won't post a message to say "I agree" just to claim activity. So, I suppose I am a TAKER. (Though, I have stepped up and asked if I could help more than once and was never contacted again.)

Honestly, I am shocked that this is happening. Regardless of how you color this or put a charity label on it, the bottom line is we are being charged for something that had been free, should be free and was active and had involvement because everyone was accepted. I get a bit steamed that the fee is being hidden behind charity. That, to me, is equivalent of saying, "You are free to do what you want, as long as you do it my way."

(No hard feelings to the listmom or anyone who chooses to stay. None. I just don't agree with the method, the policy or the way it has been handled.)

Just my two cents.

Posted by Jenn at December 2, 2005 9:06 PM

I'm not sure if it's good or bad that I've had a whole 24 hours to digest all this since the bomb was dropped. I've been a MW for, not sure, about six years.
When I first read the message, I thought $5.00 a month wasn't much. Then I thought more, did some math, did some more math. Lots of numbers. Suddenly MW's had become about numbers and volunteering and proving one's worth.
I thought some more and wondered what I was - a giver or a taker? I've been both. Should I figure out how much I've given and subtract what I've taken, multiply by my years onlist, divide by the number of OT posts, and round off to the nearest decimal? Or is it the other way around?
I thought some more. I tried to give Nikki the benefit of the doubt. Where is all the money going to go? No answer.
The list stopped dead. No messages were coming through. They were being censo.., um, moderated. No opinions were worthy of sharing on list, it seemed. Might upset someone or something. Heaven forbid.
I stopped thinking and just got ANGRY. I don't get angry - that's why I'm in therapy. Really. I almost can't wait for my session next week to talk about my ANGER. My shrink will say I'm PROGRESSING. Maybe I can stop my MEDICATION. My mental illness number will LOWER. The anger dissipated (sp?), after yelling back and forth on the phone with Heather C. for a while, and then I just felt sad, really sad, almost like crying. Grieving.
Now I'm sad and angry. MW's was part of my life every day. Yes, that is past tense. It can just never be the same. I could never trust it again, fees or no fees. The issue of charity - well, so many have said it best - it's all about choice. Sometimes it's even about saying, "NO". Even Oprah does that. You cannot and should not legislate volunteerism or giving. It feels like my heart has been blackmailed.

Posted by Carolyn Hueston at December 2, 2005 10:13 PM

Ok, I have not been a momwriter for years and do not know all that has happened. I only know what has been talked about since I joined a little less than a year ago. In the time that I have been here, I have made some wonderful friends and learned so VERY valuable resources.

When I first joined momwriters, I was a "rookie" writer (still am in a certain sense)and I must admit I was a bit imtimidated to be around so many published writers and such. But, there has never been a moment when I have not felt welcomed.
When I first read the e-mail about charging, I was angry. Here we have been talking about the holiday program and those in need and now we turn around and charge them to be a part of the group? That did not set well with me.

Then the next e-mail comes through that if you volunteer then your fees are waived. Yes I know the group can't work without the behind the scenes and no I do not know all of the money that Nikki has had to dish out for the group but is charging a fee really going to help? No, it is going to run people off and apparently that is not a big deal. That saddens me. I have always thought of momwriters to be a wonderful family and that is dissolving quickly and right here at the holidays.

We are all struggles in some way to get our writing careers started or to keep them afloat. Within momwriters was a strong support system that will no longer be available to many rookie writers such as the one I was when I joined.

Thank you Joshilyn for posting about this, I think we all need a place to discuss it and feel free to state our opinions openly.

Posted by Shellie at December 2, 2005 10:29 PM

Ok excuse me for having a brain bubble moment, I saw mention of a group that Heather has started. What is the link to it? I have read the comments and maybe my brain is just sore from trying to absorb it all.......

Posted by Shellie at December 2, 2005 10:53 PM

and one more post to link to my blog about this

Posted by Shellie at December 2, 2005 11:10 PM

I've already been informed that I won't be charged because I'm on the crochet list.

My original post, which was angry but short and tactful, less inflammatory than many that did make it through moderation, never made it to the list. It said I'd be leaving.

I could pay $60/year if I had to. We're scraping bottom, but our budget would adjust. Lord knows we've spent that on dumber things than a mailing list membership.

But I completely concur with the people that said charity should be optional. Hey, I like charity. I crochet. I have made hats & scarves and baby blankets for MW's. I don't care if Nikki pays me back for my yarn or postage. I did it because I wanted to. If I didn't want to spend that $5 for postage, I wouldn't have.

You are being charged, according to what I have recieved from Nikki, so she can reimburse the Crochet Moms for postage in addition to not charging us for membership. You're being charged so that some "mom who writes" can get $20 ostensibly to pay her electric bill.

Yet there are no qualifications to join. She's said it herself, everyone gets the benefit of the doubt.

So...ANYONE could join MW's, post a couple of times about her kids who might even be fictional, say how broke she is and how they're about to switch off the heat...and get MW charity.

This is not the kind of group I want to join.

I have signed up for secret friend programs and got NOTHING. Or worse, just enough for me to admit I did get something, so Carma wouldn't feel she had to placate me. I don't want to be placated. I've had the person running a program - was it Linda D., one time - send me a gift from her own household because the raffle donor never donated.

The thing is, I don't care about getting stuff. I like the contests. But I don't care about the prizes. I just like the community and I will miss the people in it. I don't want charity crap to bog us down. Charity should be optional, from the heart.

I have volunteered to be a mod. I tried to get a chat room going but nobody (except Kai and a couple others) ever came, or they all went to the Yahoo one despite my mentioning the other and complaints about Yahoo. Nikki made it "official" but Karen never linked it from the website. I tried to set up a site for the crochet moms to blog and display projects but that went over like a lead balloon too and I swore I'd never volunteer again.

I predicted the group was about to self-destruct months ago when I commented it "wasn't the same..." Key members were MIA. The FITS was canceled. The MBA was defunct.

Well, I'll probably unsub soon. I'll stick around to watch the implosion. And if there's a good splinter group, maybe I'll check it out.

Posted by Pam at December 3, 2005 3:54 AM

Im not gonna comment too much on this due to the large amount of pissed of women involved but Yahoo is a free email service, duh.... WTF?

I say... screw em

Posted by Bookseller to the Stars at December 3, 2005 6:53 AM

As someone who has been with MWs since Dec. 1999, I was getting ready to send in a celebration e-mail...when I noticed a message from Admin. The one where she has been called names, etc. I went back in time (I've been No Mail) and found the reason why. All I could think was "Well, there's the end of MWs." And I'm not PAYING for being able to hang out with folks. I've donated plenty over the years. My stand on this is, when you decide to do something and you volunteer to do it, it's a kick in the teeth to later demand someone pay for it to help you keep doing it. Ask me for a donation and I'll help if I can. I might have even been willing to pay a small fee for a whole year, to help out, but don't demand I must pay every month or I'm kicked out. If I wanted to pay what I don't have for something I don't use that much, I'd show you all my iron and ironing board ;) I wish them luck, but I left. It's sad to see it come to this. I've made lifelong friendships there and met wonderful writers... But as you said, all good things do come to an end eventually.

Posted by *AGK* at December 3, 2005 7:18 AM

Hey Joss! Well, I am a SF so I am at least staying to finish being a good SF. I am hoping whoever got my name and is my SF didn't jump ship, cause I still haven't heard from them.

It's not an expense I can justify next year, and I already volunteer 5 billion in person ways. I don't know that I want to add any online responsibilities outside of my small business.

Maybe I will join the splinter group. I sure would miss MW.

Posted by Heather at December 3, 2005 8:35 AM

This is one of those things I have had to play catch-up on this weekend after an insanely busy week. I am thankful you offered this discussion on your blog and the info. here has been helpful.

Posted by Pattie at December 3, 2005 10:12 AM

Having been a part of Momwriters for years, I made the decision to leave a while back. I felt that MW brought me down more than helped me, and this is something that I have not voiced, simply because I didn't want it taken the wrong way. I left quietly and joined ACFW, a group which I felt would better serve my needs as a growing writer.

That being said, I can't say that I am surprised this has happened. My advice to those who leave MW is this: search for a group who targets your genre. Do your research and find out everything you can about the group before joining, especially if it's a paid membership situation.

There are some terrific writing groups out there that can help boost you to the next level in your writing. But then, there are also the "wanna be" groups out there, too. Be cautious in your choosing!

Posted by Hope Wilbanks at December 3, 2005 11:29 AM

I am not a member of MW, although I know many who are. I am a one list person, and happily stay where I am. So the only reason I am popping in here is to correct something that was said about certain things we now pay for that originally were free.

Radio was one of them.

Radio, folks is still free (that's why we have commercials.)

Sattelite services like XM are paid services that are commercial free. Sattelite service is a choice you make. Your local radio station is on your radio dial for free.

Posted by Cele at December 3, 2005 12:13 PM

Hmmmm...big hubbub. Which is why I typically avoid joining this sort of thing.

So. Two things.

1. Yahoo will likely put the kabosh to this anyhow, so List Mom will likely need to find a different server and pay for that hosting, etc. on their service. And, as seems evident here, her numbers will drop. So, her "profit" or whatever, is not going to be as much...still quite a lot, I would think, for what is essentially a part time job.

2. If there is info or a "service" that she is providing, like keeping the riff raff and flaming to a minimum, well, that does take some time and effort and may be worth a couple dollars a month [probably not five, but you know, to each her own] to some folks...just to know they are not going to have to be part of all that drama.

Anyhow...good luck to all of you...hope everyone finds a splinter they can be happy with til the next boom.

Posted by Cyndi at December 3, 2005 1:09 PM

Lots of good points. I'm mainly a MW lurker or reply off-list because even my few "go get 'em" posts have been rejected it seems. I was about ready to unsubscribe actually because I didn't feel like I was contributing--or getting much. I have my own charitable causes nearer to home that I work with in terms of both time and money. I wasn't looking for a place to send money when I joined the list, just a place to talk to other moms that write. So if its focus is now charity to needy moms, then I'm done. I've never done the SF program or any others, although I did offer e-books for the raffle. I want more and less than that: more connection, less material stuff.

Posted by Ellen at December 4, 2005 1:59 AM

Well, I am one mom who probably could get MW charity. But I'm not going to ask. The whole thing is wrong, as so many of you have so eloquently stated. I haven't unsubbed from MW yet, but it looks like I won't have to... they'll do it for me. I joined the group Heather started, tonight.

Posted by Willena at December 4, 2005 3:21 AM

Well, I blogged it, but skipped most of the controversy, since I haven't been a member long enough to have my feelings hurt by the change.

I look forward to seeing a bunch of familiar names at The Writing Mother.

Posted by Dyanna at December 4, 2005 4:43 AM

My thoughts on all this - too long to post here.

Posted by Jensgalore at December 4, 2005 9:23 AM

I just learned about this blog here from someone who wrote and said she hasn't seen me lately at MW's. I was pretty surprised at the $5 thingy and thought I'd misread it at first. Sometimes for us, $5 isn't much and sometimes it's gas until payday.

But, that's not the point. For one thing, MW's has become different than what it was when I joined several years ago. More about personal issues and home life than writing. That's fine, but I'm on lists for writing discussions, I'd rather do the personal stuff off-list.

And for another, I'm on about 25 lists. If each one charged, which I can't imagine would be legal if it's not set up that way like a class or something, it would be a pretty penny.

Since I've lately deleted more MW posts than I've read due to the fact I spend most of my online time dealing with writing issues and researching, I just can't justify paying to do that.

Plus, it's just annoying to try to remember that I have to pay this fee every month.

Though I'm always sad to see a good thing go, I can't say it'll change my life. There are/have been many wonderful people on MW's that I've enjoying getting to know and talking with off-list, but, I don't need to pay to have friends or talk about writing. I can get that for free on the other lists I'm on and in my reality world.

I'm not angry at the list owner, just a little shocked at the suddeness of this and sad to see the imposion of something I've known a long time happen.


Posted by Kathryn at December 4, 2005 2:15 PM

It's been an interesting weekend in reading blogs and listservs! I have been on MW's for a few years, but in the last 6 months I've only read my digest sporadically. I happened to peek in and catch onto all the stuff that's happening at MW this weeekend, and then read a few blogs, joined the "other" group, etc.

I am disappointed by the fees charged by MW's now. But really, I haven't been getting much out of the group for awhile. It's TOO big... I didn't feel like I was connected to people on the list, if I posted I never heard any responses, I still felt disconnected even tho I participated in SF programs and chats and writing contests and gave to the Holiday fund, etc.

IMHO, MW's is too big, is trying to do too much, and is too controlled. I know it has done some wonderful things for a lot of people, but is all this extra stuff really what a group of mothers who write needs to be doing? It's almost like what started as giving a little here and there has become a full time job for some of the people on the list. One person puts their hand out and then more and more and MORE people keep putting their hand out, saying "I need, I need, I need..." And when you have a group of 1500, how many of them can say "I need."

And gee, it's a very nice idea, an altruistic idea, to help as many of the people as you can, but then, perhaps, you want to really make it a charity organization. How about getting back to the basics. Mothers who write. We can support each other in doing that. Supporting each other is helping, too!

I've been on another listserv (devoted to fans of the Betsy-Tacy books and children's lit in general) for 10 years. It is unmoderated and has had it's share of flame wars and such, but whereas they used to be bigger and cause more problems and people leaving, now we can get through them pretty quick or cut them off right away.

And we help each other in our own way. But it is individual helping, like when a memeber told us about her 20 year old neice who was sick with leukemia and needed blood. Some members in that location actually went and donated blood for her. Things like that... but nothing organized, and no person on top trying to make others participate.

I know this is long... thanks for hearing me out. I'm glad there is some kind of little renegade forums to talk about MW's and what's happened there!

Theresa in Minneapolis

Posted by Theresa at December 4, 2005 7:19 PM

I am so impressed at y'all MWs and former MWs for having this civilized discussion about your disagreement. I never should have butted in with my Listmom rules, since I am not on MWs. But Dejah misunderstood them, so I need to post a clarification. Dissent is never stifled on QuiltMavericks, and disagreements are discussed and settled (or not) much as you have here. What IS stifled is the questioning of the basic, basic ideas of the list - for example, we cuss like sailors, and it clearly says so in the list description. If people join and object to that, they are told That's The Way It Is, and politely advised that challenging it is not going to happen. If they persist - they're gone. We are not a list with any interest in debating the reason for our existence - we want to discuss quilting. Allowing discussion of our reason-for-being is simply a huge waste of time, creates stress for all, and could GO ON FOREVER unless we put our foot down. Now, if you want to tell me that my Civil War quilt could use more yellow, and I don't think so, we'll debate color theory forever.

People who join lists because they are dying for attention, or they are crisis-creators and it's just another venue for creating them, or who don't know how to disagree honestly while remaining friendly - why put up with them? Life is full of those annoying people. A listserv is a place you don't HAVE to put up with them.

Now, as to the Listmom making a decree about money, without discussion allowed, is a Whole Nuther Thing. Very hinky.

Just clarifying.

Posted by Jilly at December 4, 2005 8:02 PM

I've been a member of MWs since sometime in 1999. I'm also a moderator, and I used to be a frequent contributor to the MBA posts.

Nikki has rescinded the fee and opened the list back up to the members (no moderation!).

As a moderator, I knew Nikki was considering a fee. I can't say I'm opposed to it, although the fee in my understanding, was supposed to be for a member-only part of the Web site.

As for Nikki's tendency to offer charity to members, the woman has a huge heart. I tend to be of the "teach them to write (fish), and you'll feed them for a lifetime" idea.

I don't have anything more to add. At one time, I had a very active online life and this kind of thing would have rocked my world. In the last two years, I've tried to take more of my life into my real world. Yes, I still go online and I have a number of friends who I only know online.

I would only add to give MWs another chance. With open discussion, I think it can once again be the list we all knew and loved several years ago. A time when you could post "meet me in the chatroom" and it'd arrive on the list immediately.

Posted by Linda Sherwood at December 5, 2005 9:53 AM

I have been on the MW list for years, but rarely even skim it anymore. Too much chit-chat; too much OT stuff.

I was appalled by the post demanding money. Why should folks pay for the privilege of doing charity work? There are way too many "projects"; it's all become ridiculous. Folks in dire straits can get help locally; what's to stop folks from fraudulently requesting "gimme gimme" help?!

Mehinks Nikki might have retracted her "pay up or you're out" statements because it was pointed out to her that Yahoo specifically prohibits that.

I am thoroughly disgusted with MW....and still wonder if it's even going to survive.

Posted by Deja at December 5, 2005 10:42 AM

I completely agree with your blog post. I actually left the group a while back because I got so tired of all the OT crap. It was more about women's personal lives than their writing. I guess some like that, but I was in the group to discuss writing. I heard about the fee thing and was very surprised! It's absolutely ridiculous to charge to be a part of a e-mail discussion group. It's almost laughable that someone would even think they could get away with something like that. Wow.... the majority of us writers don't make much money to begin with. I couldn't fathom the idea of paying to talk to each other. Crazy! I will sign up for the new group right now though. :-)

Posted by Jacqueline at December 5, 2005 11:26 AM

Did I pick the wrong week to "take care of stuff" or what? It's taking me all week to catch up and I'm still a little confused about all the anger and hurt feelings.

I'll try to blog about it tonight ... if I get some mommy-time, that is ...

Posted by Patti at December 7, 2005 3:49 PM