LESSON R U Litrate? Why the Term "Literate Roleplayers" Isn't the Best

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY SKILLBUILDING' started by Turtle of Doom, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. Hey there, folks. I’m Turtle! It’s great to see you--and you-- and I appreciate you checking this out. Now first and foremost I’d like to point out that this article is, in its entirety, an opinion piece and should not be taken as word of law. I know that the red name might seem to carry some weight, but that’s why I felt the need to clarify this before getting further into this article. Thanks! I hope you enjoy, and take something away from this.

    “Literate players only please”

    “Don’t reply if you aren’t a literate roleplayer”

    “Literate only”

    How many times have you seen this in interest checks or partner searches. So many times, am I right? Is it wrong? Well, no. Not exactly anyway.

    Dictionary.com defines literate as “(of a person) able to read and write.”

    We’re all here because we want to read and write. We want to tell stories; we want to get better. No matter the little reasons about why we joined this particular site, the fact of the matter is: We’re here to write. We’re a writing site. So, asking specifically for people who are able to do these things is redundant.

    For example: An illiterate person wouldn’t be able to read your request or respond, unless they had a Speech to Text program. And if they did would that be so bad? I mean, if they could tell a story would you even know the difference?

    The biggest problem with asking for literate players is that it’s too general of a request and you’re liable to get people who aren’t quite what you’re looking for.

    How do you get what you’re looking for? Well, I’m super glad you asked.

    First of all be specific about your abilities and expectations. Tell potential partners what you’re capable of and then let them know what you expect of them.

    Below is an example of how this can be done.

    See how much more information I gave. I’m not just looking for someone who can read and write; I’m looking for someone to help me tell a coherent story and build a believable world for our characters to create shenanigans in.

    Using the term literate roleplayers is ultimately your decision, but I hope that you’ll add more to your expectations than that. Remember: The more specific you are about what you expect, the more likely you are to find the perfect partner for you.

    Happy Roleplaying!
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  2. Can I also point out, english is not my natural language, and instead of being corrected or helped around it, i have received backlash for failing to be an "Academic" expert in the language, my mother language is spanish, and i've been called a bad writer simply because i did not know how to translate a phrase or word from spanish to english (sometimes vice versa which confuses me but okay).

    It's exhausting to go through the emotional labor of being put down for not being a Perfect:tm: english writer and then having to explain it's not my first language then being told "maybe you should LEARN IT before writing with others then!" i have spoken this language since childhood, it's tiresome, and implying someone is a "bad writer" because they failed to understand one of the ridiculous many intricate english language rules is also kind of terrible. That's just my two cents.
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  3. @Turtle Knight tis is good opinion piece :) .
    @AngelSanto I am sorry to hear that, I am not native in English too although gladly I never been called a bad writer. It just that there are times when people do not understand what I am trying to say and we have to chat to clears it up or compromise when it is minor stuff. I use Grammarly to at least stop me from again and again keep typing something with 's' when they do not need such and other small tidbits. Only a few times people try to correct me and they are mostly being nice, the one that doesn't, well... I joke them with saying I do not speak or write English, I speak and write EngRish or Singlish (which both are a mockery with how Singaporeans speak English in their dialect. I am still south east Asia so I felt this is fitting for easing up the tense). If they decide that me mocking myself while apologizing I am not native in English is not enough, then I will lashes out at them. With a breath of flower petals. I would not mind to roleplay with people that have worse English than me, although my interests are specific, I do not fit in with most Iwakuans (but you all cuddly).
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  4. This is a good post with good commentary.

    If I may add my own two cents: I always thought that the phrase "literate RPers only" carried the implication that those who weren't up to the "literate" seeker's standards may as well be unable to read or write. (Since that's what it means to not be literate.) That, and how unspecific it is, makes me feel like the phrase is less meant to express expectations than to insult people.

    I'm not trying to call people out - certainly, not everyone who uses it means to be rude or divisive, and I hope my reading bad intentions into it is done in error - but the term has always rubbed me the wrong way because of what I explained above.
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  5. Why call someone illiterate?

    The correct method of demanding "superior partners" is the requisition of individuals with a verbose lexicon, an exceptional understanding of syntax and grammatical conventions, the capability to formulate and follow through upon expansive literary themes, plots and subtext, the proficiency to develop and maintain dynamic characters, and the corresponding cursory knowledge of the designated genre.

    TL;DR - If you're going to be an elitist douche, do properly present <3
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  6. My thoughts ...

    I think the term "literate RPer" is a euphemism that is unhelpful, primarily because it is vague. This site toys with labels of writing levels, but no "standards" for what qualify for those levels exist -- nor will they ever, unfortunately. A discussion thread about what constitutes "Advanced Writing" once popped up, but was shut down ... presumable to not hurt anyone's feelings.

    The result is a thread like this, which comes across as didactic and must ask the question of what is a "literate" writer. The terms seems to suggest grammatical competence, but does it really?

    Folks who are on this site, I presume, can read and write. That should be a given. The origin of the term might lie in the lack of writing standards mentioned earlier ... one writer cannot abide by improper grammar from a prospective, while the other is insulted by the sense of judgement. People never take being told they are not wanted, or good enough well -- I know I do not. The unspoken variable in all this seems to be the disposition of the writer requiring that their partners be "literate" :: they could be genuinely open to writing approaches or they could be an elitist ass.

    I think this hits the nail on the head. Be honest about your own abilities and shop your prospective partner's abilities as well. If they start sound like an ass, then you probably won't enjoy writing with them in the first place. Attitudes about standards (in my experience) transition to planning -- a partner who disrespects your abilities will likely disrespect your contributions to the RP.
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  7. Or you could read the FAQ provided to describe just what you asked about.

    What are the "Posting Expectation" levels?
  8. My point was that people (typically) don't observe the criteria listed that differentiate the different levels. That frustration gives rise to a generalized concept of "being literate" which does little good.
  9. I actually wrote those Posting Expectation Levels myself, specifically to give people some clear guidelines to use and because I saw people using "literate", "semi-literate", and "advanced literate" all the time (which were primarily defined by how many paragraphs you typed rather than anything useful, when they were defined at all).

    People don't use them because they don't know they exist, I think, rather than just "no one observes them".
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  10. No. I am not literate. The meaning of these lines confounds me. The joy of being able to pass an unspoken message to another person, through various mediums of transportation, eludes me to this day. Never have I lain eyes upon a book without forming an opinion based entirely upon its outer shell, where the pictures are. I believe Tom Clancey is a good author because his books have pictures of army guys on them and he makes the shootey games, and the books are very thick and masculine, and not at all too focused on pointing out minute details that have no forbearing on the plot at large. The bad guys lose. BANG BANG BANG!
  11. I really just want to post this link every time I see the term literate...
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  12. Honestly, I haven’t seen the phrase “literate writer/role-player” in about seven plus years. This was a systematic definition that was used on a few early internet sites to defer to writing levels (similar to the casual and advanced terms but with a more condescending tone) rather than actual literacy. I’ve always found it disingenuous and I’m a little surprised the terminology is still used to this day when Iwaku has different denominations.

    In fact, the only website of recent memory that uses semi-literate and literate as a barrier that I am aware of is Gaiaonline’s role-playing forum.
  13. I can't think of any website that still uses it officially (even Gaia never did, to my knowledge; it was/is just rampant there). But it's been thrown around on just about every site I've been on in my roleplaying career (and I've been bopping around since '99, though I don't think I saw "literate" until maybe '02 or so). It isn't usually an official term, actually, most sites DO officially use things like "casual" and "advanced".

    I've been on Iwaku since 2011, and while it's always been a discouraged term here, I actually do see it often enough. Like I said, part of the reason I wrote the Posting Expectation Levels was to give people something to use, since we don't and have never separated the forums by writing ability in any way, and people were labeling their RPs as "literate". I actually have seen two new threads using "literate" in the last week. It's certainly never been as... culturally universal as places like Gaia, though, that's for sure.
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  14. Yeah, I think it was just the “nomenclature” of the people and times. I wonder who started it and how it caught on since it’s so unbelievably stupid. It is really bizzare that the terminology survives; especially on a tolerant writing community like Iwaku.
  15. Once a thing catches on, it can be super hard to kill it. It's easier to use terms that everyone already knows and is using, even when they're dumb as hell.

    I remember when there were entire "advanced literate" sites. The terms ended up getting associated with specific posting lengths somewhere along the way (except these lengths varied depending on who you asked, so people still needed to specify length and etc. in parentheses next to the term. Because that makes sense and is convenient). I was actually on one of those sites in my edgy elitist phase and it was what broke me of giving any fucks about post length. I got sick as hell of reading and writing ten or more 5-sentence-plus paragraphs full of fluff and irrelevant nonsense.

    You can give me a one-liner as long as it's interesting or moves the story along, I don't care. I'd rather that any day.
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  16. I’ve always prescribed to the idea that detail is important, but being concise is a well-needed skill you need in your wheelhouse as a writer. There’s actually a quote I still prescribe to about it, actually:

    Roleplaying should focus on developing interesting and complex characters that become part of plot-lines which catch the imagination and inspire the writer behind them to exercise creativity. It is mature, humorous, imaginative, tragic, terrifying, passionate, and rife with descriptive language and characters with real personality and relatable cares. Quality posting is far better than needless novels, yet one should never neglect detail when one feels the need.
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  17. I've only been here a short time but it's clear there's a lot of snobbery and clear clicks on here,( not saying all are like that because that's not true but the ones that are tick me off). I'm not a mega poster as a rule because i write as the mood or and conditions are met and it's hard for people between writing stages like to join many rps. Personally i like it when not everyone knows each other it gives me something to make more story out of. I'm not saying people shouldn't rp as friends and such to a point, however i do feel there is a point which it's very much indirect or direct bullying.
  18. On occasion i don't mind short stuff but if i've put in a decent amount of effort i would like something i can work with in fair terms. I even cringe when i make bad posts that aren't much of anything and i welcome ideas, granted some rules and so on are key but if you don't allow flexibility it just makes you one an ass and that's one thing i try not to be.
  19. Snobbery and cliques happen everywhere and are impossible to avoid in a community that grows beyond a certain size. We absolutely discourage snobby behavior, but some people aren't comfortable playing outside of their social group or have an idea that they came up with bearing a specific group of people in mind, etc. And that's totally okay.

    If you ever feel like people are being mean or hateful about it, though, you should report it to Staff.

    I absolutely get what you mean about feeling like you're not getting effort back. Having something to work with is the most important part, which is why when I say one-liners that are interesting and move the story along, I don't mean this:

    I mean this:

    Both include dialogue and action. The first one technically gives an answer to the (imaginary) previous post, but is devoid of any details about how the character is feeling and could be inserted just about anywhere in a conversation. While the second one could be expanded to include more detail, it shows the character's emotional state and clearly illustrates the context of the situation. It also poses a question for the next post to answer (verbally or otherwise), keeping the scene going rather than letting it roll to a halt and leaving the other person to come up with the next move on their own. It's like the difference between tossing the ball to your partner and them dropping it for you to go pick up again, and having them toss it back.

    That's all a post needs. Anything else is window dressing, and if the window dressing isn't interesting, it's better left off.
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  20. Just a small note – descriptive writing, and having expectations or preferences is not inherently elitist nor is it snobbery. There are facets of people who use their ability to put down, condescend, and patronize others but they are just that, facets.
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