Voices on the Web

July 10, 2000: The good news is we have LOTS of good news. The bad news is we don’t have any new poetry posted yet. But we will have. Very soon.

Many of you have written to me over the past few months and already know the story. For those who don’t, I’ll give a brief summary. Very simply, we ran out of disk space. When we moved from a shared server to Ceres, our own dedicated machine, way back last September, we went from 350 meg to 4 gig of disk. Wow, I thought! That’ll last us forever! Those are "famous last words" in the computer industry. Continue reading

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Huge Poetry Update

December 20, 1999:   Finally! We have a new update, with nearly 1,000 new poems added to Passions. Including some real gems!

Yea, I know it’s been a while. Too long! But this update includes a lot of new features that will, I hope, make future updates easier and more frequent. The first thing I’m sure you’ll notice is our new menus. Most have really been in place for quite a few months – you were just getting there via text links before. Most of the really new features are albeit hidden.

Here’s one quick example. Several months ago I put in a More Love Poems subcategory simply because the Love Poems page was getting way too long. Moving several hundred poems to a new section helped make it load more quickly. Trouble is, Love Poems almost immediately filled back up and became too big again. Sheesh, suddenly I needed a Still More Love Poems section! And it takes a lot of my time, time that could better be spent posting new poetry, to create a new section and move poems into it.

So I tried to come up with a better solution, one that didn’t require a lot of time once it was implemented. All of the categories and subcategories will now manage their own length – splitting into new pages when they get too long to load quickly. At the bottom of the Love Poems page, for instance, you’ll now find a link that takes you to Page 2 of the Love Poems section. And Page 2 will take you to Page 3, if necessary (and it is!). The real trick here is that I no longer have to spend my time creating new pages or new categories simply to handle the over-flow. The system will do it automatically!

That’s just one example, but there are many, many more even less visible on the surface. All designed to give me more time to do what I should be doing – posting poetry!

For Poets Only

Until recently, when I became completely deluged, I spent a lot of my time writing to our poets about the status of their submissions. We long ago passed the point where I could "remember" every poem submitted, so it often took me a bit of time to track down the poem. Okay, it doesn’t sound like all that much work. But multiply it by the number of poems we receive and it gets to be almost overwhelming very quickly.

I found what I hope will be a solution. When a poet submits a poem to Passions the system has always emailed them back and, among other things, gave them an URL to a private Poet’s Only section of Passions. There wasn’t a lot there: a few statistics, some simple guidelines, a bit of news not available to general visitors. But I’ve now added to that page a new section called Submissions Report. Yep, poets can now check the status of their poems on-line, from a full database of all poetry submitted to Passions in the past several months (it doesn’t go back to the very beginning, but it does come close).

If you’ve submitted a poem to Passions and it hasn’t been published yet, you can check the status of it at the new Submissions Report section. Uh, you did save the URL we sent you, right? Okay, okay, if you’ve lost the URL you can send email to poetspage@netpoets.com and the system will send it to you again.

Major Talent Alert!

We’ve added a ton of new poets this month, and all of them are really good (or they wouldn’t be here). But two in particular impressed me, so I wanted to point you in their direction. Passions is pleased to welcome Todd-Michael Phillips and Carey Lenehan as Resident Poets.

The Bonding of Passions

I’m going to make a confession to you. This last delayed update to the web site hasn’t been entirely justified. Yea, I really do have a ton of poems to edit. Yea, I did add a lot of new features that will, in the long run, make updates easier and more frequent. Yea, we’re still experiencing technical problems that have continued to eat away at my burdened schedule. And, yea, I even took a bit of personal time to move into a new house. But the truth is, I’ve also been spending an inordinate amount of time socializing with about a thousand other enthusiastic poets.

If you have to ask where, then you simply haven’t discovered the new Passionate Forum yet. Three months ago, give or take, I opened the doors with a handful of our regular contributors and a few poems everyone had already seen. Today, you’ll find over about two thousand registered members, over ten thousand poems (stories, too), and nearly a hundred thousand comments and replies. Can you say "explosive growth," my friends?!

To say I’m pleased with the Forum’s tremendous growth is a terrible understatement. To say I’m proud of the incredible quality of the poetry being posted in the Forum is almost a joke. But the growth, and even the quality, are only part of the story. And they’re only part of the reason I find myself spending hour after hour every day reading the poetry and comments of my fellow poets.

The Passionate Forum has become far more than simply a place to post good poetry, and far more than simply a place to receive feedback on that poetry. Our members do that, of course. They also help each other learn new and sometimes better ways to express themselves. They explore different poetic formats, to the benefit of all. They discuss, often in great detail, their philosophies on love, life, death, anger – all the feelings and intangibles that provide the nexus of our urge to write. They help each other to grow, both in their craft and in their ways of seeing the world.

But underlying all the "activities" we find in the Forum is something far more basic, far more important, far more difficult to describe or understand. Some might call that underlying theme a sense of camaraderie. Some might call it simple friendship. Many of the Forum members have repeatedly called it a sense of family. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, I guess, but I can guarantee you that you’ll feel it almost immediately.

The Forum has become a place where the optimist can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the pessimist who sees the world through a shadow of depression. It has become a place where the perfectionist craftsman can share space with those more interested in conveying their deepest emotions. It has become a place where the distinction between humorous and serious subjects becomes blurred, where meter and rhyme can coexist with free verse and prose. It has, in short, become a place where differences matter far less than commonalties, where respect and tolerance have become foundational pivots for all we do and much of what we may become.

There are no color barriers in the Forum, no generation gaps, no divisions between the educated and those still learning. You won’t find national borders separating us, even though membership encompasses virtually every English-speaking country in the world. There aren’t any lines drawn in the sand between religious groups, nor walls built between creeds or economic classes. There are only people, brought together by a common love of the written word and a desperate need to express themselves and be heard.

And those common bonds, strengthened by the foundational pivots of respect and tolerance, have evolved into something much more than simply a large group of really good poets. The Passionate Forum has somehow developed an almost tangible feeling of belonging. There’s a deep-felt sense that each and every member of the Forum, no matter how diverse or different, is accepted for who and what they are. And very much appreciated for all they have to offer.

Friends? Yes. Family? I believe so. And maybe, just maybe, a harbinger of what this whole world can become when love and respect are permitted to gain a foothold within our hearts.

Major Talent Alert!

In addition to new poets, we also welcome back some of our oldest and dearest friends – and encourage all to enjoy their marvelous poetry. Don’t miss the new poems by Poet deVine, Michael Anderson, Lia Fail, Faye Jones, Ted Reynolds and Tim Chambers (among many, many others).

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June 14, 1999:   Many of you will see today’s update of the web site and say, "Well, it’s about time!" And rightfully so, too. Passions has been plagued by a rash of technical problems in the past sixty days, some of which we’ve talked about on this page, and some of which would only bore you. Suffice it to say, it’s become increasingly difficult to get new poetry to you in a timely manner.

And that is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to me, and judging by the email I’ve been receiving, it’s unacceptable to you. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any easy solutions.

There are over 300 new poems on the site today. I have about 2,000 more that are still unedited and unposted. Some of our poets have been waiting six weeks or more for their work to be published. I’ve decided it is completely unfair to those people to continue falling farther and farther behind.

Effective immediately, Passions will no longer be accepting new poems.

This was a very difficult decision to make. And I recognize it isn’t a solution, but only a temporary breather. Hopefully, a very temporary one.

The good news is that you can expect a lot of new poetry in the next few weeks. I am completely freezing development of the web site and concentrating all of my efforts on getting the backlog of poems posted. So, get ready for a concentrated deluge of great new poetry.

I have hopes that our temporary suspension of accepting new poems will be short-lived. A couple of weeks, a month at the most. And during that time, I’m going to be looking for permanent solutions to the problems that have plagued us, ways to increase the efficiency of what we do. I would certainly welcome any suggestions from you, our loyal visitors and poets.

New Stuff

Enough with the depression! In spite of the difficult changes, there are also a few new features in this latest update that you should know about. Our next update will bring you new menus that incorporate a lot of the changes we’ve made in recent months, but until then you can access the new features from the text menu at the bottom of every page.

First, we now have a FAQ page. For those of you don’t know, FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions and it has become a staple on the Internet almost since the web’s inception. And for good reason. Up until about a month ago, I was spending at least an hour a day, often several hours, trying to answer all the email I receive. Often, I was answering the same questions over and over. I haven’t been answering most of those for the past month, because I thought it more important to get the site updated. So, if you’ve written to me to find out what happened to your poetry, you now know why I haven’t been able to answer. But that is just one of the many questions that I’ve tried to cover extensively in our new FAQ. Please read it.

We also have a new Search facility available. Again, up until recently, I was spending a lot of time tracking down poems for people. To be honest, it was something of an ego trip for me. Someone would write, looking for a poem for a certain occasion or person, and I could almost always direct them to three or four that would suit their needs. It made me feel good to think I knew our database of poetry so well that I could find just the right poem out of thousands. But it was an expensive ego trip in terms of time. Now, with just a little effort and thought, you should be able to find those poems yourself. And you won’t risk me forgetting the perfect one for you, either.

The Best Is Yet To Come

On July 3rd, Passions will celebrate its official six-month anniversary. It’s been an incredible six months. We’ve gone from half a dozen pages with just a few of my personal poems, to over 5,000 web pages representing the work of almost a thousand wonderful poets. We’ve watched our traffic grow even more quickly, watched as thousands of people spend hour after contented hour reading poetry every day. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve made a lot of great friends along the way.

Our road has not been without a few bumps, of course. But every single problem we’ve experienced has been a direct result of our very success – and those are the kind of problems that are always solvable. Passions is still a child, learning to walk. We’ve got a few skinned knees, but like any child we’ll continue to try. Like any child, we’ll learn.

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