REMEMBER IT IS A WORLD WIDE WEB:
IT IS TO AND FROM THE WHOLE WORLD
Publishing on the World Wide Web is as varied as print publication and growing rapidly. To write about it, is to run the risk of being made obsolete as you write, but here goes:
BEWARE THE INTERNET
Publishing on the internet is a lot like posting your poems at the laundromat. People who are not familiar with copyright law are there in abundance, along with people who know and care about such intellectual property rights. It is not really as bad as it seems, however, because it is also possible to copy anything down at the public library. The difference is that it is already in print and protected by a dated copyright if it is at the Public library.
If you post a poem on the internet and you have not previously had it published in a book with a registered copyright, you might have trouble proving that it was originally yours. One solution to practice is to include notice of your name and copyright claim, and immediately print it out from the net as soon as you post it there, whether at a chatroom, email or posting board. Your printout will have the date on it. If it does not also have the time, it might be wise to write that down on the page as soon as you have printed it out. Such printouts can be kept in a looseleaf book as a future reference.
Many poetry ezines require poets to follow submission guidelines, as do print magazines. An electronic magazine is easier to change and can often be changed to correct mistakes while the current month’s edition is still online. It could conceivably be changed and updated like a webcam on a constant basis. Most ezines are published once a month and edited before they go online. Such a magazine is a large undertaking; and the producers go through the process only once each month.
Poems submitted to an ezine are usually studied by the editorial staff and screened for adherence to the requirements of the publication. Like literary magazines, some publish many kinds of articles and others publish only poems. Some stay online for a long period of time with few or no changes and others die and disappear from the net, never to be heard of again. A web ezine may be as varied as a home page; and the web shows vast evidence how varied a home page can be.
Bulletin boards are web pages where poems may be posted by web surfers. Some are open to anybody, and some require a password and/or permission from a moderator, in order to post poems or comments. Some are very active, and others very slow. They may have regular patrons, or newcomers constantly coming and going. Bulletin boards or Poetry Boards or Posting Boards are a very good way to get to know some of the poets on the net and get feedback on your own poems. Some are friendly and some are not. You can read posting boards for a few days before trying to post your own writing. This gives you a feel for the action before you jump in.
A newsgroup is very similar to a bulletin board with the exception that you always need to subscribe in order to post notices. Sometimes the subscription is simply a matter of telling your computer to list the newsgroup as active on your computer. Other newsgroups require you to write an email to a given address to be able to read or post. You can be a lurker on newsgroups and respond to individual posters by email privately or you can post your own notices on the board. There are poetry newsgroups where you can learn what is being discussed on the internet about poetry. Read the rules (FAQ) of the newsgroup before attempting to post your own notices.
HOME PAGES CAN DISPLAY YOUR WORK BEAUTIFULLY
Many poets have home pages; and they often publish poems by like-minded poets on these pages. Some home pages have sound files that play when you load. If your computer is not compatible with these midi files you may find your internet connection will crash when you encounter such files.
TIPS ON TROUBLESOME COLOR PROBLEMS
Graphics can enhance the appearance of a web page, but may also make it so slow loading that potential viewers will lose patience and go away. Background textures can also be distracting and destroy the readability of the text. Colors must contrast from light to dark to be easily readable. There is a problem called color vibration that can be very annoying. It happens when opposite colors of similar intensity are next to each other. Blue next to orange for example makes the line where the two colors meet seem to vibrate; and the words become nearly impossible to read.
Also, a color like yellow against white can become invisible. You must be careful to not change your colors to white against white or blue against blue, as you can lose a file. The computer will know where everything is but you won’t. Always have your foreground color contrast strongly with your background color. If you don’t understand this, but intend to experiment, be sure to keep a backup file of everything in black and white.
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Some poetry pages are anthologies provided by the people who created the pages. Some are long files of poems that can be read straight through like a print poetry volume. Others are menu driven only; and you have to go back and forth from the menu page to one poem and then back to the menu page to access another poem. This can be very complicated and slow if you just want to read a lot of poetry. The third option is a page which can be accessed from a menu of titles that lead you to any given poem, but in which you are also allowed to scroll up or down from any point through the whole file of poems.
CHATROOMS LET YOU DISCUSS YOUR POETRY
There are several kinds of chatrooms where you can type comments or speak into a microphone to converse with other poets. Some chatrooms update every few seconds and others have to be updated by clicking one link to post and another to read. Chatrooms are changing rapidly; and all levels of the technology are scattered around the net. To learn more about a chatroom, link one and read its instructions or contact a chatroom connected to your favorite poetry ezine or bulletin board.
EMAIL OTHER POETS ON THE WEB
You can contact almost anyone you find on the net by email. There are email links on web pages and ezines. Newsgroups list email addresses routinely so you can contact participants. Poets exchange comments and poems with other poets this way and often develop great friendships with other web poets.