I recently posted an article about the importance of community and not being isolated into a readership of one. One of the sites I mentioned was SFFChronicles, shortened by its frequent visitors to the Chrons, possible the largest online SFF Forum and rapidly approaching 2 million posts!
I took some time to speak with Brian Turner the main site administrator on SFFChronicles, a strong online presence creating and steering the site content and day to day management of the web space.
Here is what Brian had to say:
SilentRoamer: When did you launch the Chronicles as the site looks well established?
Brian Turner: I set up a website to support my writing in 2001. I’d already come to the net via Microsoft’s MSN Communities, and been presold on the idea of having a support forum for fans of my writing. Unfortunately, that was also the year I realised that I really didn’t know how to write, and that it would take me years to even begin to learn it. Because of that, I detached the forums and made them into a general SF/F forums.
SR: What inspired you to launch an online forum dedicated to SFF?
BT: I could see huge potential in bringing together people from all around the world to share opinions. SF/F used to be seen as a far more niche interest, so is was good to have somewhere for those with similar interests to hang-out. It’s ironic that forums have never been valued for the social media that they are. Twitter and Facebook IMO are just giant forums, with all the same advantages and disadvantages.
SR: What difficulties do you have managing such a large online forum?
BT: Luckily, very few, and they all tend to be technical issues. Moving servers, backing up, running software and keeping it patched. The community itself is usually the easiest part – the people on it are usually so chilled and relaxed.
SR: And to go with the difficulties, what do you find the most rewarding?
BT: It’s great being able to more easily make contact with people who share similar tastes, regardless where they are in the world. For example, one of my favourite writers is David Gemmell, but aside from the chronicles forums there are few real places in which Gemmell fans can actively discuss his novels.
SR: There seem to be many aspiring writers in the forum, alongside some already published. What would you say to those aspiring to write or even those just wanting to break into the industry?
BT: I’d say come to chrons and get third-party feedback. It is a wonderfully valuable resource, even though it can really sting at first. I’ll never forget posting up my first piece for critique, only for someone to ask if I knew what POV use was. I didn’t, so I had to learn. Critical feedback is so value for writers, and we have a great crowd for that who are understanding about the process.
SR: Finally what are the plans for the site in the coming years?
BT: Simply to keep it growing steady, and keep the community together. Who knows, one day I may even have something published that at least some members would like to read. That would certainly be an achievement!
A big thank you to Brian for taking time for a few questions and for his work on a fantastic online community, I recommend any SFF fans head over to the Chrons. There should be another Chronfest for the Northern England Chronners in the coming months so watch this space for another Chronfest post.