Hey there. Welcome to the Protagonize FAQ.
This elaborate list should give you an idea of how most of the features work within our writing community. If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please ask them over in our Help Center and we'll do our best to answer them (and update the FAQ as needed.)
If you're looking for a quicker intro to using Protagonize, you might want to try our handy Getting Started guide instead.
General Site Information
Protagonize is a creative writing community dedicated to writing in a variety of formats within a friendly, supportive environment. Our authors participate in both solo and collaborative works ranging from short stories and interactive fiction-style addventures to collaborative novels, poetry, writing exercises, creative writing competitions, and a number of other types of writing.
Curious? You can read more about how the site came to be over on our About Protagonize page. If you want to join in our community, feel free to sign up for a membership and take advantage of all the features we have to offer.
If you sign up for a free Protagonize.com account, several options open up to you that you wouldn't normally have available as an unregistered user.
The site allows registered members to:
- Publish their own original stories, write and share poetry, participate in writing exercises, publish a variety of other types of content
- Promote their writing for free to a broad audience from around the world
- Cultivate a following of dedicated fans
- Engage in conversations and learn from other authors by participating in collaborative stories, writing groups and contests
- Discuss and refine their writing, style and technique via feedback and critique from thousands of other authors
- Show off their best works via portfolio-style author profiles (coming soon!)
- Follow their favourite authors and subscribe to their works with the help of site-wide feeds and personalized activity streams and notifications
- Discover the works of other talented authors in a growing, supportive community
On top of that, we're adding new features every day. We also have a subscription system in the works that will provide additional premium features to those interested. The Protagonize blog describes new features as they're made available to members.
Protagonize has a team of seven dedicated, diligent and generally wonderful moderators. They're all also fabulous authors in their own rights, and long-time members of our community. You can tell who a moderator is by the little green "Mod" flag on their profile images in discussions and in the list of online users, and by the Moderator badge on their author profiles.
Our moderation team discusses every report and infraction that our users submit, and they have the authority and ability to deal with many of the troubles and issues you may experience on the site. They may also contact users directly in moderation-related cases, on behalf of Protagonize.
Here's a listing of our moderators' handles on the site (in alphabetical order!) and links to their author profiles; if you have any questions, feel free to contact them, or to post your site-related questions in the New Members group.
In addition, Protagonize makes use of microdata, microformats and the Facebook Open Graph protocol to enhance the browsing, searchability, and content-sharing experience for both users and tools who support these formats.
From a back-end perspective, Protagonize is built entirely on the Microsoft .NET Framework and sits on top of a Microsoft SQL Server database. Our site is happily hosted at ServerBeach, a Peer1 company.
Protagonize is currently developed and tested on (and officially supports) the following modern browsers:
- Chrome 21
- Firefox 14
- Internet Explorer 9
- Safari 5.1.7
- Opera 12
Protagonize has been previously tested and runs properly (with some potential issues) in the following older browsers:
- Chrome 2+
- Firefox 4+
- Internet Explorer 8
- Safari 3.0.4+
- Opera 9+
Note: If you're a Microsoft Internet Explorer or Apple Safari user, we suggest that you upgrade to the latest versions of those browsers for a better user experience!
Protagonize no longer supports the following browsers — please upgrade to the latest versions, if possible! Be aware that we can't guarantee that you'll see the site as intended if you're still using one of these elderly browsers.
- Internet Explorer 6 & 7 (please upgrade! pretty please?)
- Firefox 3 or lower
- Safari 3.0.3 or lower
We also suggest running at a minimum resolution of 1024x768 pixels to see the entirety of the site's interface properly.
We want to thank the many large and small organizations that have published open-source and free/public domain components that allowed us to make the our site's user experience that much better.
Protagonize makes use of the following 3rd-party components (among others):
- jQuery & jQuery UI
- CSS3 PIE: Progressive Internet Explorer
- jqPlot Plots & Charts for jQuery
- Google reCAPTCHA
- StopForumSpam Anti-Spam Database
- Akismet Anti-Spam API
- jQuery & jQuery UI
If you're interested in contributing to Protagonize's development, please consider upgrading your account to our Protagonize Plus plan. You might just find it worth your while. ;)
Writing Stories, Branches, and Chapters
So, you've been meandering around the site, reading others' stories, and now you want to contribute something of your own. How do you go about doing that?
Well, first and foremost, you'll have to sign up for a free Protagonize membership. Once you've done that, a whole slew of new options will open up to you.
The best place to figure out how stuff works is our new Getting started with Protagonize page. Give that a read-through and you should be set!
Looking for inspiration, or more stories to read? Check out our main reading page.
There are two separate ways to write something new on Protagonize.
First off, you select "Write something!" from the Read menu in the site's main navigation bar. The other option is to click the big green "Write something!" button on the right-hand sidebar. Both will lead you to the same Writing page.
If you'd like to post a follow-up chapter or branch to someone's work, there are a couple of things to be aware of.
First, the work in question must be flagged as a collaborative work (see image at right.) This means that other authors can contribute to the story. If the story is flagged as solo, only the original author can add to it.
Second — and this may not be obvious to authors who've never used the site before — in order to add a new chapter or branch, you'll need to reach the final chapter of the work (if it's a standard, linear work), or an unfinished branch (if it's an addventure) in order to add your own piece to the work. If you reach an incomplete chapter or branch, you'll be presented with the editing form.
Here's an example of an addventure story with an incomplete branch, followed by two completed branches.
Clicking on the first branch, which doesn't show any more branches to read below, will present you with a writing form, like this:
Complete the branch body, hit Post, and you'll be redirected to your completed branch. The same goes for new chapters, although they may also prompt you for a chapter title.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that only new works can be saved as drafts!
Our full posting guidelines can be found over on our Writing page (see the right-hand Need more help? panel.)
Here's a high-level glance at the general posting guidelines, though. Make sure to stick to these, because not following the rules may result in a moderator getting involved.
- All authors are responsible for their own content. We don't write this stuff — you do. So feel free to use a little adult humour, but please don't go overboard, or we'll have to flag the story as containing mature content.
- If you're adding to an existing story, try and stick to the theme, back-story and characters of the original story as much as possible. Often, the original author will provide guidance, which you can see in the yellow box to the right of the story in question.
- Posts need to be at least 140 characters long. That's about three average sentences, not too painful, but it prevents spamminess.
- If you find a problem somewhere, or see a bad posting, click the red Flag button on a story or user profile and report it to us!
- Note: Please be careful if you spent a long period of time writing the same branch. It's entirely possible that someone else is completing the same branch as you, and in that case, since we don't lock posts while you edit, whoever posts first will "win" and you'll have to move your post elsewhere.
Editing works slightly differently in solo and collaborative works:
- In solo works, the author can always edit their content, at any time.
- In collaborative works, the poster of a work, branch or chapter can edit their post for up to 24 hours after creating it, as long as no one has followed it up with a new post yet. If someone's already posted a follow-up, you can't edit it anymore; we can't have people changing parts of their collaborative stories after the fact. :)
Pro tip: In a collaborative work, the original author has the option to make the work Always Editable, in which case you won't run into the limited editing time window (barring a follow-up post.)
To edit a story, just click the "Edit work" (or chapter/branch, depending what you're looking at) button below the story title the content you've just posted:
If it's the first page of any type of work, you'll be able to edit everything, including tags and categories. If it's a branch or chapter, you'll have the standard editing options.
If someone's followed up on your post, and the story isn't set to be Always Editable, the edit link will no longer show up — so if you need to edit, try not to wait too long before doing so!
Note: The site's moderators may also edit posts here and there (not often), mostly to correct markup glitches that can sometimes break page layout, when authors copy-and-paste works from other text editors (particularly from Microsoft Word.) This is just general clean-up, and is in no way intended to cause harm to or modify the meaning of your work.
We suggest that when writing fiction (typically in the Stories section) on Protagonize, your chapters (or branches) are the most readable if they're approximately the length of a page in a typical novel, 250-300 words. This will allow your readers to have a comfortable amount of text to read before having to click to the next page. It also allows the reader to mark a specific page and easily return to where they left off.
While it may be tempting to post an entire short story into a single Protagonize chapter, reading 1,000 or more words on a single page can be a little tough on the eyes. You'll often find that stories posted as one large chunk into a single chapter are skipped over by readers, in favour of more evenly spaced, readable stories. We suggest breaking up longer posts into manageable pages, even if it's only breaking your story into two or three sections. Believe us — your readers will thank you for it!
Pro tip: When you're writing on Protagonize, you can keep track of the character and word count in the bottom right corner of the text editor window.
I spent a long time writing this incomplete branch or chapter, and when I posted it, someone else had already written it! What gives?
Please be careful if you spent a long period of time writing the same branch or chapter. It's entirely possible that someone else is completing the same branch or chapter as you, and in that case, since we don't lock posts while you edit, whoever submits their post first will "win" and you'll have to move your post elsewhere.
We're looking into a better solution to this problem, but the options are limited to either locking branches and chapters for editing, or adding some kind of background check every few minutes to see if someone's posted your branch or chapter. Locking posts for editing seems a more likely option, but we won't be adding that until we can afford to have pages locked off for editing for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, once the site has been up a little longer.
While Protagonize itself does not have a built-in spell-checking tool, you have a couple of options if you don't have a spell-checker handy when writing.
- If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, the text editor that you use for writing on Protagonize should offer you a spell-check option. It'll be on the right side of the editor's toolbar. The IE spell-checker uses a 3rd party tool called IESpell to handle checking and will require you to install a plugin.
- If you use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, things are a little simpler, as both Firefox and Chrome come with built-in spell-checkers. Using either browser, misspelled words will be underlined with a dotted red line in your editor.
- If you use Apple Safari on Mac OS X, you should be able to harness the power of the built-in OS X spellchecker. You can find out more information about enabling this tool here.
While we encourage folks to write collaboratively on Protagonize as a social undertaking, we recognize that many authors just want to write all by their lonesome. With this in mind, we've added the option to publish solo works. You can find this option on the Writing page (see image below), or in the Work Options panel after you've published your work.
Solo works only allow the original author to add new chapters to them, as you would expect. You can also switch the work back to collaborative mode if you so desire. The only catch here is that if you started a work in collaborative mode and someone else added a new branch or chapter afterwards, you can no longer convert it back to solo mode. If you're the only author in your work so far, though, you can switch back and forth at will.
One of the awesome things about Protagonize is that people are constantly come up with new and creative ways to write on the site. While much of the work you see on the site falls under the general "Stories" breakdown, we've seen lots of non-prose content being contributed recently, including other formats such as poetry, music and lyrics, screenplays, and fun, collaborative writing exercises such as roleplays.
We've seen so much interest in these writing formats that we've decided to create new areas to post them in, separate from the main prose area. If you're interested in finding out more about our new Read area and the new sections for Stories, Poetry, Writing Exercises, and Other Works, please check out the related post on our blog.
Special note regarding roleplays: We've had a number of authors ask us to define the term roleplay in order to help them decide whether or not their work is a roleplay or simply a typical collaborative story. In order to help folks decide, here's a definition for the term that was generously contributed (and mildly adapted) by one of our authors, aryst0krat:
Roleplays generally involve each contributor to the work writing only their own character (and NPCs), thereby piecing together a story. On the other hand, a collaborative story involves each participating author writing segments of the story, regardless of the characters that they write in doing so.
Now that we've reorganized things, we ask our authors to properly categorize their works using the Category option while posting, so as to not confuse readers. All of the aforementioned types of works have their own set of categories dedicated to them, so please be sure to use the option when writing.
When reading works on Protagonize, you may notice a link entitled "Click to view author guidance" to the right of the chapter you're reading. Author guidance allows the original work's author to describe their plot outline, setting, characters, narrative mode, intended length, inspiration, or any other notes they'd like to add about their work. The entry area is free-form, and entirely optional.
The purpose of author guidance is to allow the author to communicate some guidelines about how they'd like other participants to follow up on what they've started. The original work's author can update the author guidance block at any time after their work has been posted, so that they can follow up on further posts with notes or changes to the way they see the narrative going.
One thing to keep in mind is that author guidance may contain spoilers for the story you're reading, so unless you're planning on contributing a new chapter or branch to it, you may not want to read it right away.
Due to general spamminess and abuse in the past, we at Protagonize decided to implement a 140-character minimum to all written works.
Why, you ask? Because it keeps people from abusing the site with tiny scraps of spammy content, and trying to artificially boost their post counts by posting chapters shorter than a typical text message on your phone. We're all about promoting good, quality content here on Protagonize, and we'd love for our authors to buy into our plans. If that means a little more heft to your stories (and really, 140 characters isn't much to ask), then so be it. It spares everyone else from being subjected to reading ridiculously short chapters, right?
We've seen a number of requests to lower or remove the limit for poetry, though, so we may consider doing this down the road.
And yes, if you're curious about where that number came from, it's the maximum length of a tweet. We figure that anything you write here should at least be a little meatier than that.
This is a quick list of useful tips and tricks for using TinyMCE, our rich text editor:
- You're limited in formatting to the options we've enabled — if you try and paste in huge purple bold text in Comic Sans from Microsoft Word, it'll still be formatted on the based on the rules and styles we've allowed. Sorry!
- Writing something long and worried you might lose it accidentally? Feel free to write it in an external editor (Notepad, Microsoft Word, etc.) and paste it into our editor. If you're prone to accidentally hitting the back button in your browser, this may save you some trouble.
- You can't create hyperlinks in your post. This is on purpose, to prevent spamming. Down the road, however, we may tweak it so that it will auto-link URLs that refer back to Protagonize. That way, you'll be able to link to other pages on the site easily.
- Pro tip: If you hold the shift key when pressing enter, it won't double-space the next line, it'll single space it.
If you'd like to delete a work that you've posted, you can do so via the Work Options panel. You can call up the Options panel by clicking the "Options" button directly below the work's title, and selecting Actions:
If your work is flagged as solo, you should be able to delete it right away.
If you want to delete a collaborative work, you'll only be able to delete it if no-one else but you has written in it yet.
If you want to delete or modify a chapter you've written in a collaborative work, please hit the "Flag" button on that specific story segment, select "Request item modification or deletion" as the report reason, and explain why you need it modified or deleted in the comments box. Our moderation team will review your request and get back to you as fast as we can.
We've recently added a couple of new tools to help manage your works, the first of which is the ability to delete an individual chapter or branch that you've posted.
When you're in the Work Options menu for a chapter or branch you've written (see above for information on locating the menu), if you're able to delete the page in question, you'll be presented with the Delete chapter (or branch) option in the menu.
Deleting the page will remove it permanently! This can't be undone, so make sure you're certain before proceeding with the deletion.
There are also a couple of things you'll want to keep in mind when trying to delete a page:
- You can't delete the root or "head" chapter or branch of a work. Instead, you should either delete the entire work, or edit the contents of the head chapter or branch and change them to something different.
- If you're deleting a chapter from a standard work that has a direct follow-up chapter, it will be re-connected to the previous (parent) chapter, so the flow of the work is retained.
- If you're deleting a branch in an addventure that has one or more completed child branches, the post contents and any reference to you as the author will be removed, but the branch itself will remain — wiped — and re-assigned to the original author of the work. This is so that we don't break the flow of the addventure; if the original author wants to update the chapter to have new contents, they'll have full control over it.
The second new feature we've added to the Work Options menu is the ability to split a chapter, effectively allowing you to create an entirely new work with that chapter as the starting (root) page.
When you split a chapter, a new draft work will be created with identical settings to the work you're altering. The chapter you're splitting will then be moved to the new work, and at the same time removed from the old work. You will then be redirected to the Edit Work page to make any necessary changes to the initial chapter. If you're not ready to publish it, you can simply continue to save the new story as a draft for the time being.
Again, keep in mind that splitting, as with deleting, will remove the chapter in question entirely from its original work. Any following chapters will be re-connected to the previous (parent) chapter. Additionally, any comments, markers, ratings, or reports associated with the split chapter will be moved to the new work, as well.
Note: For the time being, this option is only available on standard works (not addventures.) We're working on adding the option to addventures, down the road.
It is now possible to complete a work on the site, by marking the final chapter or branch (or more than one branch in the case of addventures) as an ending via the Work Options menu.
Only the work's original author can mark a chapter or branch as an ending. In addventures, all open branches with content will need to be flagged as endings in order to mark the entire work as complete. Completed works can then be filtered when browsing listings around the site, and carry a small check-mark icon in listings, denoting that they are complete.
Note: If you accidentally mark a page as an ending, or if you decide to re-open a story, you can simply un-mark the ending page via the same menu.
Here are a few terms you might see thrown around on Protagonize that you may not understand at first glance. Not to worry — we were all new here once!
- Pages: When you see the term "pages" used on the site, it generally means every chapter or branch of a work, aside from the first root or "starter" chapter of that work. So if you're looking at an author's profile and it says they've written 20 works and 80 chapters, that means they've written 20 starter pages and 80 follow-up pages, for a total of 100 pages in all. Clear as mud, right? :)
- Markers & Faves: The distinction between markers and favourites may not be clear to a new user, but they are quite different. A page marker lets you jump back to a specific page in a work that you were reading. A listing of your markers in whichever work you're currently looking at will show up beneath the author guidance in the right column while reading. A favourite lets you flag the entire story or work you're reading as something that you'd like to follow later on. By default, you will be automatically notified (both on the site and be email) of new updates to your favourite works. You can also opt to receive email notifications about follow-up chapters after your page markers, but that's turned off by default. You can configure these notifications from your Profile menu.
- Orphans: An orphan, or orphaned work, is simply a collaborative work with only a single chapter or branch. This means that the original author is the only author to participate so far, and they're waiting for other collaborators to join in. For the most part, orphans are in need of love and attention, so if you see an orphaned work that you find interesting, be sure to jump in!
- Flagging: This is just shorthand for reporting content or using the "Flag" button on a work, author profile, or discussion topic in a group. Flagging brings up a menu that lets you notify the moderation team about a potential problem with a piece of content on the site, or lets you tell us about a change you need made to a specific item.
- Guidance: The author guidance, as described in this FAQ, is a spot that lets a work's original author add information about plot, characters, setting, or anything else that strikes their fancy. Guidance is just like it sounds — helpful tips to give other collaborators a nudge in the right direction when adding to a collaborative piece. For solo works, the guidance may be used to give information about the piece that may not have been appropriate to include directly in the work. Note: If the original author takes the time to post guidelines about participation in their guidance, it's considered good form on Protagonize to follow those directions when participating in a collaborative work.
How Protagonize Works
Features and Editor's Picks on Protagonize are selected subjectively by the editorial staff (primarily the site's administrators, with input from our moderators.)
Featured authors are selected based on the the quality and volume of their activity for the week; whether it's commenting, providing feedback, writing new works or pages, participating in groups, or how long they've been a member on the site. If you're an active user for the current week(-ish), providing great feedback and generally enhancing the community, there's a good chance you'll be in the running to be featured. It's pretty subjective, unlike the top rated authors and other elements which are voted on by the site's members.
Also, bad behaviour in the eyes of the moderators means that you're unlikely to be selected, so keep that in mind before doing anything questionable. :)
The Editor's Pick and Featured Group are selected in much the same way, although popularity is considered a little more for these two. If your work is gaining a lot of traction, or your group is particularly interesting, you'll be considered for a feature for the week in question. We also try and feature written works that we consider to be pretty awesome, but may have been overlooked by the users amongst the torrent of new postings we get every day. We figure this will give the users the opportunity to read works that we think are cool and merit being shown off, that may not have been noticed otherwise.
Pro tip: The last few featured items are always listed on our Weekly Features page.
A basic search tool is available from the top of the right-hand navigation (see image at right). It's based on Google's index, and not directly on Protagonize's database, so it may not always be completely up-to-date.
Not to worry, though. We're working on a better search tool that will be available down the road!
In the meantime, you can also find works on the site by popularity, rating, tag or category, and you can find authors by browsing by rating, influence, or by filtering by the first letter of their names.
Unlike many social networks where you explicitly add people you know as mutual friends, Protagonize works in a slightly different way.
While we do allow folks to be friends on the site, the mechanism is two-way. In order to someone as a friend, you'll need to first become a fan of their work by clicking the (appropriately named) Become a fan button on their author profile.
When that author "fans" you in return, they will show up in your friends list (and vice-versa). Until then, you will be listed on their profile as a fan. This allows members to be fans of other authors on the site, even though they may not be friends.
So, if you do want to become friends, it's just a matter of being mutual fans.
A recently added feature on Protagonize is the ability to recommend works. Recommendations are different than ratings, in that you're limited in the number of times you can recommend items per day, based on your account type.
- Users with regular (free) accounts can recommend 1 work per day.
- Users with Pro accounts may recommend up to 2 works per day.
- Users with Plus accounts may recommend up to 3 works per day.
Recommendations were developed with an eye towards letting our members highlight what they believe is quality writing — and also, to give an alternative to purely looking at ratings. Limiting the number of recommendations a user can issue per day is a way to make people really think about what they're recommending before they do it, making each recommendation worth more.
It also allows us to give our subscribers a boon for helping to support the site, as a little thank-you.
The simple answer: becoming a fan of active authors on Protagonize will improve the quantity and freshness (and, hopefully, quality) of your recommendations.
This is especially true for authors whose work you enjoy, or who have similar views to yours (or not, whatever you prefer!). The reading recommendations displayed on the homepage, if you're logged in, will be tailored to you based on users you follow.
You can always tab over to entire site mode using the recommendations filters to see what everyone else is recommending. By default, though, you'll be presented with recommendations from authors you're a fan of.
A page marker is exactly what it sounds like — each story, poem, writing exercise, etc. is made up of a number of pages, often referred to as chapters or branches. Adding a page marker is basically just like adding a bookmark for that specific page in the work you're reading, so you can come back to it again later easily.
You can keep track of them in your Profile menu; in addition, when you're looking at the work in question, you'll see a listing of markers you have in that work. Clicking the marker will take you right back to where you left off.
In case you're curious, author and work stats (including cumulative totals for views, markers, favourites, hot stories, "top" author rankings, etc.) are not re-calculated immediately. Doing it that frequently would be a massive drain on our database server, so we try and keep it to a reasonable amount of updates a day (normally every three hours or so).
Also, view count totals exclude views by the original author of that piece, so you'll never see your own page views included in the view total on a branch or chapter you've written. What you see are the views by other users on the site, not your own.
Editor's note: These are a little (okay, a lot) out of date. Please bear with us until we get this section updated!
Well, all of the icons on the site should have tooltips explaning their function if you mouse over them, but in case you're having a hard time figuring out their individual functions, here's a brief overview:
- Write something new!
- View entire work / View all works by author
- Add (or remove) a favourite
- Add (or remove) a page marker
- Jump to latest branch/chapter in this work
- Share this item with a friend
- Edit a work, branch or chapter
- Edit my profile
- Contact this author
- Report this item
As an aside, if you see the same icon graphic on a different coloured background button, there's a very good chance that it has a similar function in both cases, related to the context.
There are a few things you may have missed when glancing at Protagonize the first time around. We figured we'd let you know about a few of these nifty yet unobtrusive features before you find out accidentally:
- Most work and author listings throughout the site will allow you to subscribe to their specific RSS feed by clicking the icon beside the title of the control.
- When you're several posts into a written work, and you've forgotten where you're at, or you just want to print the whole thing out, click the icon to pop up a window displaying the entire story path you've taken to date, in an easy-to-print layout. This option is only available to registered users!
- As a registered user, looking at "My Page Markers", "My Favourites" and "My Top Rated" will not only list the works you've read in a variety of different views, it'll also let you know which of your favourite/marked or top rated works have been updated recently.
- When reading a work, the icon at the bottom of the reading pane will jump you to the latest branch or chapter posted in that work.
- Additionally, clicking the "branches/chapters" link below a written work's name in list views will generally take you to the latest page posted in that work.
- There are a couple of ways to see all postings be a specific author: you can click the "works + pages" link under their name in author listings, or you can click the "See all works" link from "The Goods" panel on the right-hand side of their profile page.
- This FAQ is actually quite informative, if you read it through entirely. :)
Branches and chapters are voted on directly by registered users, and this rating is the basis for all generated ratings throughout the site, including written works and authors. The rating you see for any specific work is an average of all votes for each post in that work, out of 5. User ratings are an average of the ratings of all works and branches or pages posted by that user.
A few notes about the Top Rated Authors listing on the main Authors page:
- Users who have a report filed against them within the last 6 months (verified and resolved by a moderator) will not be displayed in the Top Rated Authors lists on the Authors page, even if you happen to have an excellent rating this week. Unfortunately, this is one of the downsides of having a verified report against you (be it due to your profile's content, one of your works, your comments or treatment of others, or just general bad behaviour.)
- There is a minimum number of ratings required before you will show up in the Top Rated lists. It varies depending on the list, but in most cases, it will be at least 5-10 ratings for the weekly lists, and at least 20-30 ratings for the all-time lists.
- The Top Rated lists (and Popular Works, Most Influential Authors, etc.) are updated several times a day. Please don't expect them to update immediately when you do something that might get you listed.
User rankings, or P-ranks, are based entirely on the amount you post. Similar to how you'd be rated on message boards, the more you post, the higher your ranking. We also have some special rank icons for subscribers and community supporters, as you can see below.
Your P-rank icon is just for fun, and is unrelated to your author rating, which is explained here.
Lackey = <10 posts
Hothead = 10 posts
Gambler = 25 posts
Daredevil = 50 posts
Mercenary = 100 posts
Adventurer = 250 posts
Swashbuckler = 500 posts
Argonaut = 1,000 posts
Hero = 2,500 posts
Legend = 5,000 posts
Immortal = 10,000 posts
Community Supporter (any non-subscription donation)
Plus Member ($5/month, or $50/year - a 20% discount!)
Try not to take these rankings too seriously — they're just a fun little measure of how much content you've posted on the site, nothing else!
The Influential authors list is something that we've introduced recently to replace the old Top posters listing.
We discovered that a number of our users were attempting to manipulate the top posters list by posting many times in short burts, simply to increase their post counts, with no regards to the quality of their contributions to the site. This isn't something we wanted to encourage, so we decided to take action and remove the list before the negative behaviour got out of hand.
We've replaced it with the new influential authors listing, which more accurately reflects (not perfectly, of course, but it's a lot better) which authors are participating in the site in beneficial ways. Post count still has a little to do with how influence rankings are calculated (a relatively small percentage), but a number of other factors come into play as well.
Think of it as a measure of an author's reach in the system, combined with the quality and volume of their work, weighted on certain factors.
Popular works are determined using our special sauce™ (ahem) algorithm. It's not all that elaborate (for now) — a combination of several weighted factors, including frequency of updates to a certain story (i.e. new comments, branches/chapters, favourites, and markers), the story's overall rating by readers, and the "freshness" of the story. And we tend to switch it up on a regular basis, to keep everyone guessing.
On top of those factors, if a story hasn't been updated in over 31 days, it won't show up in the popular works list.
While it's probably possible, with some effort, to "game" the system right now, we'll work on making that a little less obvious.
Top rated stories are calculated in a pretty simple fashion. They're the highest rated stories on average, with a fixed number of minimum votes required in order to qualify. You're not allowed to vote on your own works or pages, so you'll have to count on others for your ratings.
By default, Protagonize will send you email notifications about updates to your content, or comments on your works or profile. There are also a number of additional email notifications that you have the option to enable or disable via your profile (see below). You can also disable email notifications completely, if you like, and rely entirely on our on-site notifications system (see the My notifications option in your Profile menu.)
Having trouble receiving email notifications? Make sure that your email address is set correctly in your author profile, and be sure that your spam or junk mail filter isn't accidentally filtering our emails. All email notifications sent by Protagonize will come from the address
You can disable specific types of email notifications in your user profile: go to your Profile menu and select Configure Notifications. From that screen, you can disable whichever email notifications may be bothering you.
There should also be a link that you can click to reach the configuration page at the bottom of any notification email you receive from the site, as well as on the bottom of the menu on the left side of your personalized Notifications page (see image at right.)
You can customize the site interface to your own liking (slightly) by changing the number of items that display in all listing controls throughout the site. The default setting is 5 items per listing, but you're welcome to set it however you like.
To change this setting, simply scroll down to the bottom of a page that contains several listing controls (such as the homepage, or the Authors or Read pages) and make a new selection from the "showing ... items per category" control:
Your selection should stick for the browser that you're using. If you switch to a different computer, or to a different browser on the same computer, or if you have your browser set to delete cookies when you close it, your selection won't be saved and you'll need to re-select it the next time you visit.
We're not perfect, and Protagonize has gotten pretty big, so it's entirely possible that some bugs have made their way through onto the site. We appreciate all bug reports — please send them to us via email (or by using the "Flag" button on a buggy item on the site) and we'll address them as fast as we can.
Please take a look at our detailed feeds listing for information on subscribing to the various feeds spread throughout the site.
While Protagonize doesn't offer an explicit way to export your writing from the site just yet (coming soon!), there are a couple of ways you can extract your work in the meantime:
- PDF: Click the PDF button at the bottom of any of your written works to export that entire work in Adobe PDF format.
- RSS: There are a couple of different ways to export your content via RSS. First off, you can export your latest works in plain text format by clicking the "Subscribe to Author Feed" link in the top-right hand corner of your author profile. In addition, you can subscribe to any story's feed by clicking the "Subscribe to (Story/Poem/etc.) Feed" link in the top-right corner of any written work or page. Both of these options will allow you to browse the latest contributions you've made to Protagonize in a feed reader like Google Reader, or export it to other formats.
Groups allow Protagonize authors to mingle with like-minded folks, participate in discussions, and even submit their works to user-created groups around the site, if they so choose.
You can browse the group directory via the Groups menu on the site's main navigation bar. There are a number of "official" Protagonize groups, such as the Protagonize Pub and our New Members group. These groups are moderated by the Protagonize staff, and are denoted by the Protagonize lightning bolt symbol on their images.
To join a group, simply go to its Overview page. This is normally the home page for any specific group; clicking a group's name in listings around the site will always take you to its Overview page. On public groups, or groups you've been invited to join, you'll see a big green button labeled "Join this group" on the top right of the group details. Click that, and you're in!
Note: You'll (obviously) need to be a registered, logged-in member of Protagonize see the "Join" option. For Restricted Access or Private groups, you'll need to be invited by a current member before being allowed to join. You can also join groups directly from the group browse pages (i.e. by popularity, newest groups, etc.)
To leave a group, do the exact same thing in reverse. The join button will have been replaced with a "Leave this group" button in both cases. Keep in mind, when you leave a group, any works you may have submitted to it will also be removed from the group.
Yes! All Protagonize members create their own groups, in addition to joining existing groups. Regular members are limited to being able to create 2 groups, whereas subscribers can create more (up to 20 per account, depending on their subscription level).
Groups are very customizable — each group can have its own specific rules, permissions and privacy level. The group creator, as the group's primary manager, is able to control all of this via a number of handy tools accessible in the Manage menu inside their group. Primary managers can also promote other members to either manager or moderator roles within their respective groups.
There are three levels of group privacy: Public, Restricted, and Private.
- Public groups are visible to everyone and allow all users to join.
- Restricted access groups are also visible to everyone, but you must be invited by a member in order to participate. Managers of restricted groups can also hide their discussion areas from non-members, optionally. Restricted groups also automatically limit contributions to collaborative works to the members of that group, unless the work already had more than one author before being added to the group. In that case, existing participating authors will still retain the ability to add to the work, whether or not they are members of the group in question.
- Private groups (and their contents) are only visible to invited members, and are hidden from all global site listings. Membership in Private groups is hidden on user profiles. As well, if you add a story to a Private group, it will become invisible to non-members.
Pro tip: Each group can only have one primary manager. In order to delete a group, you must the primary group manager. Primary managers can always promote another manager in order to replace themselves.
Yes, you can, within certain limits.
- Public or Restricted Access groups can be swapped back and forth. You can make your Public group Restricted, and vice-versa. You can also make either type of group Private, but that can't be reverted.
- Private groups can't be made public later. Once your group is private, it stays private, unless you delete it entirely and re-create it from scratch. Please choose this option with care!
Pro tip: Swapping between privacy levels will not remove existing content or members from your group, just as switching between different group rules won't, either. You'll need to remove any members, works or topics you don't want in your group by hand. The updated privacy level will, however, affect any new submissions to the group after the change is made.
In order to submit a work to a group, you'll first need to be a member of that specific group. If you are, and the group allows content submissions (an option that group managers can enable or disable) you'll see a new option in the Actions menu when looking at one of your works, "Add to or remove from group". You can then click the + or - icon beside the groups in the listing to toggle that work's membership in various groups.
You can also post a brand new story, poem or other work directly into a group. To do so, go to the group in question's Read page, and click the "Submit a new work" button to write your work. The writing form will inherit any restrictions the group may impose on submissions, as well.
Notes about submitting works to Restricted and Private groups:
- Individual works can only belong to only one Private or Restricted group at a time. If you add a story, poem or other work to a Private or Restricted group, you'll have to remove it from that group in order to submit it elsewhere.
- If you add your work to a Private group, it will automatically be removed from any other groups it belongs to. Keep this in mind when submitting to Private groups!
- A work you submit to a Private group will be hidden on Protagonize, aside from within that group. It will continue to be accessible by both you and the members of the Private group, but no one else will be able to see it in global site listings — or view the actual work — until you remove it from the group.
Within your group's Manage page, you'll see a number of options, including a link entitled Manage Users. On that page, you'll see a number of options for managing your group's members:
- You can promote a member to various ranks within your group, including Moderator, Manager, or Primary Manager. These "officer" ranks have special abilities within your group, which you can see by hovering over each rank's name.
- You can demote members the same way. Demoting a user will drop them down one rank at a time until they reach regular member rank, which has no special abilities.
- You can remove a member from your group who may not be active, or may not be contributing in a way fits with your group's requirements.
- Coming soon: We'll be adding the ability to ban group members soon, but it's not quite ready yet.
Yes, you can configure what types of submissions your group accepts on the Group Rules page. You can get to this page via the Manage link on any group you own. You must be a manager of the group in question in order to make changes to its rules.
Here are the current user-controllable submissions options (more may be added in time):
- Enable or disable group submissions for the group
- The types of works that can be submitted (i.e. stories, poetry, etc.)
- The writing modes allowed (solo, collaborative, or both)
- The writing formats accepted (all, standard/linear, or addventure)
- Whether or not mature content is allowed (set on the Edit Group page)
There are a number of other settings, as well, including setting the group's global content license, whether or not the profanity filter is always forced on, which user roles can rate or recommend works, and more.
Has someone submitted a work to your group that you'd like to remove? It could be inappropriate, spammy, mistakenly submitted, or just plain old not related to the group's subject matter.
Removing it is easy as a group manager:
- Go to any of the Browse filters (i.e. Popular, Recommended, etc.) on the group's Read page (not the overview, any of the others.)
- If you're a group manager, hovering over any work in the group will show a little "X" icon in the top right corner of that work's listing.
- Click the "X" to remove the work from the group.
Note: This won't prevent the author from adding it again unless you remove them from your group, but consider locking down your group's submission options via the Group Rules panel in order to prevent it from happening again.
You can delete a group that you've created as long as you are that group's primary manager.
To delete a group, go to its Manage page, then select Edit Group from the left-hand menu. You'll see a big red "Delete group" button at the very bottom of the Edit Group page. Click that, and you're all set.
Note: If you've given over primary manager rights to another member of your group (even if you're still a manager), you will no longer have the option to delete the group.
Your Content & Site Policies
By default, all content published by individual authors on Protagonize is protected by and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
You also have the option of selecting a different Creative Commons license when posting new works of any type. In addition, Solo works may be set to have no license, effectively making them "All rights reserved" by the original author / copyright holder.
The basic gist of our default license is that (to quote Wikipedia):
- Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these.
- Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
- Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.
For the legally inclined, a more detailed version of the license is available for your reading pleasure here.
... and no, we won't sell your email address! :)
All authors are responsible for their own content. We don't write this stuff — you do. So feel free to use a little adult humour, but please don't go overboard, or we'll have to flag the story as containing mature content.
Basically, if your story or poem wouldn't qualify as "PG-13" (under the MPAA's movie ratings scheme), you should probably flag it as mature. If it contains profanity, the writing interface won't let you post it unless you flag it as mature. Sorry, but that's just the way it is; we have kids reading this site, too.
If you're not sure, and your work has mature themes but doesn't contain any profanity, the safest bet is to post it as mature, then hit the "Flag" button on your work to ask a moderator to review it for you. If they come to the conclusion that it's fine for everyone, they'll remove the mature flag for you.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that if a story is flagged as mature, every branch or chapter under that story is also considered mature, even if it may not contain mature content. Mature works are also ineligible to be featured, and will be excluded from certain areas of the site that are easily visible to the public.
Items containing mature content should be marked as mature. Items flagged as mature will not show up in many areas of the site (for instance, on the homepage), so be sure not to flag an item as mature by accident. Author profiles or comments containing mature content will be edited by Protagonize staff as necessary.
Although Protagonize has a moderation team, we're not physically able to read every item that's posted, so we count on users to report content that is either not flagged or is inappropriately flagged as mature, or goes beyond Protagonize's normal "mature" rating in terms of content.
We hope that mutual respect will enable everyone in the Protagonize community to work together to handle policing the site and making sure content stays at appropriate levels throughout. At the bottom of each work, branch, chapter, or user profile, you'll see a button entitled "Flag".
Please use the button if necessary, but don't abuse it! If you see an item that is not flagged as mature, but should be, you can let us know via a report. The "Flag" button should also be used if you find anything from the list of disallowed content below. Keep in mind that abusing the reporting functionality may result in negative consequences for the reporter, at our discretion.
While we do allow specific types of mature content on the site when properly flagged as such, we don't allow any kind of hate speech or content that would be in excess of an "R" rating, in MPAA terms. If you want to post obscene, pornographic, or X-rated material, there are plenty of other sites on the internet that cater to that sort of thing. Protagonize isn't one of them.
Here's a brief (but not comprehensive) listing of the types of content that are not permissible and will likely result in the aforementioned content being removed immediately:
- Content containing hate speech or inciting hatred in any way.
- Obscene content, or content containing overly pornographic, violent, illegal, or aberrational elements.
- Libelous or slanderous remarks towards real people or legal entities.
- Copyrighted material not owned by the poster and not available in the public domain.
- Attacks on other site members, be they unprovoked or otherwise.
- Advertising, marketing, or spam of any kind.
In addition to the removal of the offending content, members found posting content of the types listed above may be banned or have their accounts permanently removed, at our discretion. This includes all of the written works, comments, branches or chapters, discussion topics, or groups created or posted by a specific user, so please think carefully before posting anything that could be construed as overly offensive.
The "reported" text on an author's profile (in the Author Popularity section) displays the total number of times a profile, written work, page, or discussion topic by the author in question has been reported to Protagonize staff, and that report has been verified and resolved. This means that they've engaged in conduct that goes against our site's rules in some way, shape, or form, as decided by the moderation team.
However, that resolution (assuming the report was not frivolous), if it's against a specific author, will remain on that author's profile as a warning to other readers and authors. The moderation team may (or may not) decide to remove that "reported" flag in the future, but it's a safe bet that it'll be there for a while if you do cross the line.
Your Protagonize Account
We'll be adding the option to delete and/or de-activate your account yourself very soon. In the meantime, if you'd like us to remove your account (including all of your posts and comments), please login to your account, go to your Profile page, and "Flag" your profile (the flag button is at the bottom left corner of your profile box.)
When the Report this profile window comes up, select "Request item modification or deletion" and in the description, let us know if you'd like your account de-activated (which is reversible) or permanently deleted. One of our moderation team will be sure to process your request promptly.
There are a few caveats to be aware of when requesting account removal or de-activation. Please read the following to ensure that you understand exactly what you're getting into. These issues are specific to collaborative writing and prevent us from deleting some content entirely if others have contributed after you, so as to not destroy entire stories with the removal of posts willy-nilly. It's important that you're aware of these limitations.
Account deletion is permanent and cannot be undone. Deletion results in the following:
- All of your works, chapters or branches that have no follow-up posts will be permanently deleted.
- All of your works, chapters or branches that have follow-up posts will be shown as posted by Anonymous.
- All other content associated with your account (groups, topics, comments, markers, favourites, ratings, profile images, etc.) will be permanently deleted.
- Your user profile is permanently deleted and your former username/handle will be made available to everyone.
Account de-activation is reversible if you so choose, which means that your content and user profile will remain on our servers, although invisible to other authors. De-activation results in the following:
- All of your works, chapters or branches that have no follow-up posts will no longer be visible to users.
- All of your works, chapters or branches that have follow-up posts will be shown as posted by Anonymous.
- All other content associated with your account (groups, topics, comments, markers, favourites, ratings, profile images, etc.) will no longer be visible to users.
- Your user profile will no longer be visible to users, but your username/handle will remain assigned to your account.
Please note: If you happen to email us regarding deleting or deactivating your account, be sure to contact us using the address associated with your account, or we won't be able to help you!
While it's possible to change your username (handle) on Protagonize, we don't allow users to do it themselves. If you've made a typo while registering, or you just don't like your handle anymore, you can request a username change by hitting the "Flag" button on your author profile (it's on the bottom left corner of your profile box.)
Fill in the report and let us know that you'd like your handle changed, as well as what you'd like it changed to. One of our moderators will deal with your request as soon as they can.
It happens to all of us — we're on so many sites, with so many different login combinations, that we forget our passwords.
Fear not! If you happen to have misplaced your password, we have just the thing for you! Our handy new Password Reset Request form! Check it out. It'll save you time and money (okay, maybe not money), and it's absolutely free. :)
Changing your password can be done from the Edit my profile page (found in your Profile menu).
You should see a link that says "Change your password..." under Account Details about halfway down the page; click that link. You'll be asked for your old password, a new password, and to confirm your new password.
Once you're done, hit Save profile, and you're all set.
You can block a user by clicking on the Options menu on the offending user's profile and selecting Block this user.
Once a user is blocked, they will still be able to see your profile and your content, but they will no longer be able to interact with you in any way (i.e. via comments on your profile, works, or discussion topics; using the contact author button; joining or submitting works to your groups; or adding page to your collaborative works.)
Note: You can always unblock a user by following the same steps and clicking Undo.
Keep in mind, if someone is bothering or harassing you and it's interfering with your use of the site (or that of other users), we encourage you to report the author using the "Report inappropriate content" button on their profile and we'll deal with them accordingly.
To hide your online status, simply edit your profile, and under Privacy & other options, check the "Hide Online Status" box. Once you save your profile, you should appear as an anonymous registered user. This will also hide your profile from showing up on the Online authors page.
If you get tired of being invisible, you can switch back at any time by unchecking the same box and re-saving your profile.
Note: Please keep in mind that this does not hide you from the site's activity list, or prevent notifications of your actions to other members.
To disable the profanity filter, you need to edit your profile. Under Privacy & other options, un-check the "Enable Profanity Filter" box.
Once you save your profile, the filter should be disabled. To re-enable the profanity filter, just check the box and re-save your profile.
While the site is currently ad-supported, we at Protagonize are in the process of developing a new subscription system to provide our members with some cool additional features. Don't worry — everything you see today on Protagonize will remain entirely free; subscriptions are completely optional. If you're not interested in subscribing, you can still use the site just the same way you do right now. You'll just be missing out on new subscriber-only features.
Subscriptions will be split into two tiers of accounts: Pro accounts ($30.00 CAD / year) and Plus accounts ($60.00 CAD / year). We're still in the process of establishing our subscriber feature matrix, but suffice it to say there'll be some pretty awesome stuff in there. :) We'll be sure to update this FAQ when more information becomes available.
For the time being, if you'd like to get a sneak peek at the subscription system, remove the advertising from your account, and get a nifty badge for your author profile, please can check out our Protagonize Plus page!
Beta testers are users with special accounts that allow them a sneak-peek at new features on Protagonize before they're released to the rest of the site's members. They're also privy to discussions about new features, and we often ask them for feedback about upcoming changes.
In exchange for this advance access, beta testers provide the Protagonize team with valuable feedback and detailed bug reports. It's a win-win situation.
We don't advertise these beta accounts because we've already got a good stable of testers, but when we're looking for new testers, we'll definitely let you know. We typically also post updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages when we're looking for new testers.
Advertising on Protagonize
Protagonize is currently completely advertising-supported. We don't make anything off of user accounts, so we depend on advertising to support the site for the time being.
We're also in the process of implementing an optional subscription system with additional features over your base account, but for now, we'd appreciate it if our users keep our sponsors in mind. If you find any of our ads of interest, please check them out. Every ad you click helps us to keep developing Protagonize!
If you, your company, or your organization is interested in advertising independently on Protagonize.com, please take a look at our advertising information page and let us know. Protagonize supports many industry-standard ad formats and we're always interested in discussing potential advertising opportunities.
We can always work something out to suit your needs. Additional traffic and demographic details — as well as our rate sheet — will be provided upon contact.
Please see our advertising information page for more information on sponsoring contests and groups on Protagonize.