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Oct
20
2013

The first ten years -- by Jon Bjarnason

Critique Circle celebrates its ten year anniversary on monday Oct 21st! Congratulations, everyone!

It's hard to believe it's been this long. Ten years is actually a lot of time. In that time Sigrún and I have gotten married and have had two baby girls. Hulda and her husband have had two baby girls. We've seen the rise of Apple and the iPhone, the downfall of Microsoft and the Blackberry. We've survived the collapse of the Icelandic banking system as well as Paris Hilton.

In this blog I'm going to rant on a bit about this and that which comes to mind at this juncture. If you don't want to read the blog, at least scroll down a few paragraphs and check out the birthday gifts we've got for you guys. smiley

How it all began

CC started as rithringur.is, a small Icelandic writing website that Sigrún and I thought up. The site launched in Feb 2003 and a few months later Hulda (my sister) asked me "Why not also do it in English?"  We all thought this was a brilliant idea since we had been on critters.org and the Online Writing Workshop before and really believed the feature set we had developed for Rithringur was something that no one else had.

She came up with the name Critique Circle and I set to work on turning the website multilingual.

So, on October 21st 2003 we opened our doors not knowing what to expect. We were all amazed by the response and are continually amazed to this day. The site was way more successful than I imagined and it quickly buckled from the stress and I needed to do massive rewrites to caching and the database layer (pro tip: MS Access databases are not a good choice for a big website).

This all went fine though and I quickly added some important features such as the custom queue system and private forums, which were bundled into a premium system. Now, we had no idea whether anyone would be willing to pay for these extra features but knew that we couldn't continue running the website without some money coming in. We were pleasantly surprised (not for the first or last time, mind you) to see that people wanted to buy premium subscriptions, not just to get the features, but just to support CC.

We now had a very solid foundation to build on and the rest is history. This was absolutely amazing start and we're extremely grateful.

A fantastic community

We (all of us) have managed to build up a fantastic community on CC. Sure, we've had our ups and downs with huge dramas and major blowouts, but that can be said of any family. wink

The community here on CC is something that we didn't plan, we just built the tools and were fortunate enough that people wanted to use them. The awesome community sprouted up from like-minded people who were reaching for the same goals converging in one place, and that community is the true magic of CC.

Hulda, Sigrún and I didn't do this alone. We've been lucky enough to have had some great people helping us as moderators. There is no way we could have managed the website all by ourselves for all this time if it wasn't for these wonderful people. They have a thankless job and they do it just because they believe in what CC stands for. The next time you see a moderator, please give him/her a nice virtual hug or a pat on the back.

The next ten years?

I hope we'll be around in another ten years. This journey has been absolutely fantastic (and terrifying sometimes) and we've met some amazing people. We hope that people will want to continue using this website to help with their stories. Even though you guys need to do all the work it makes me proud have some minor role to play in you reaching your goals.

I never, in my wildest dreams could have imagined that our little website would be the most successful writing website on the web. I can't wait to see how far we can come in the next ten years!

It's true that I will need to put effort into modernizing the site so that we remain relevant but I don't ever want to move away from our core, which is to provide a platform where people can critique each others' work, and I know you'll keep driving us in that direction. Thank you for that!

Birthday presents

Buy Premium, get Premium Gold!

We want to offer you guys, the people that make CC what it is, a special gift to mark the occasion. For a period of one week, until Oct 28th we are offering 1 and 2 year Premium Gold Subscriptions for the price of a normal premium subscription, which translates to a rougly 50% discount on gold subscriptions!

Click here to take advantage of this offer

But but but, I'm already a premium subscriber??? Not to worry, people who are currently premium subscribers with a 1 or 2 year subscription have a special upgrade offer with a 50% discount as well which the link above calculates for you.

Premium Gold members can do Paragraph edits while the story is up for review

Not only this, but starting now Premium Gold members get a special treat. They are now able to do paragraph edits to stories while they are up for review. Premium members are still able to change the story before it comes up for review and anyone can change their story after it finishes the crit cycle but no one has been able to edit the story while it was being critted before.

A paragraph edit is a minor edit to text which does not change story structure (no adding or deleting paragraphs). You can use this to fix those typos and minor issues that make you want to pull your hair out when the nitpick crits start rolling in. To access it click 'revise story' in your story page like before. I've also jazzed up the feature a bit to make it more user-friendly.

If you edit the story while it is up for review a little icon appears next to the edited paragraphs when people are critting the story to tell them there was an edit, so that people don't get confused if the text changes in the middle of their crit.

We hope you'll like this feature. I'm sure it will be very useful to some of us. wink

Some numbers

I love numbers and stats. Here are some straight from our trusty ol' DB:

In our ten years 12 thousand people have written 420 thousand crits on 88 thousand stories written by 8500 people. Combining stories and crits people have submitted half a billion words through CC, which is something like a thousand bibles.

Those are some huge numbers. smiley

For funnsies, here are the top words from all the story text that has been submitted to CC:

and here are the top words from all crit text:

In conclusion

I'd like to thank you all for being here with us, and also those that have come and gone. I hope we'll be here ten years from now, and I hope you'll be here with us, along with some new friends.

Now go write something! cool

Nonni

Posted by Jon Bjarnason 20 Oct 2013 at 13:02
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