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Vocal’s Lost Communities

Where stories go to die.

By Mark GagnonPublished 25 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - November 2023

For those who are unaware or have never counted them, Vocal has 48 communities available for writers to post their work in. The most popular of these by far are Poetry with 40,097 writers and Fiction with 31,637 writers. These numbers come from Vocal’s website and I’m sure they fluctuate from week to week, possibly day to day. These two groups generate most stories published on the site. What I found fascinating is how many Top Stories these two communities garner in a thirty-day period.

I wanted to be as accurate as possible using the information available to me. Pulling up the Top Story page of the website, I counted each story for the last thirty days, recording which community the story belonged to. It took a little time, but I feel my findings are worth sharing.

The Vocal Judges awarded three hundred-three Top Stories according to my count. Fiction and Poetry each received eighty-five awards totaling one hundred seventy. That leaves one hundred thirty-three awards to be divided among the remaining forty-six communities. Horror was the next productive, with twenty-two, followed by Writers with seventeen and Chapters with twelve. That leaves eighty- two awards to be shared among forty-three communities. Doing the math, it would be easy to assume that each remaining group received approximately two awards each over the last thirty days. This is not the case.

Let me start with Wheel. This was a community that I received one of my first Top Story awards in a little over two years ago. Over the last two years, the creators posting in Wheels have garnered a total of eight Top Stories. The last one was four months ago and the one before that was nine months. With stats like that, it would be easy to assume writers don’t post in this community very often, not the case. I looked at the posts and found a steady stream of stories, not like poets or fiction, but several per day. It’s obvious to me that if you want people to read your work, posting a story in a community that has only been awarded eight Top Stories in two years is not the place to be.

Wheel is not the only community that is suffering a Top Story drought. 01 has received no recognition in three months. This is another place I was fortunate to have won a Top Story two years ago. It has performed better than Wheel over the past two years, with twenty-eight authors receiving recognition. Nevertheless, it is far short of some others. By far, the worst- performing community is Blush. The last Top Story that the group received was nine months ago, and before that, it was eleven months. Writers are posting regularly; they’re just not being recognized. The rest of the low performers are Filthy, History, Interview, Men, Pride, Proof, Serve, Styled, Chain, Trader, and Potent which hasn’t received a Top Story in over a year.

All these communities have similar characteristics. They are all geared to special interests, unlike Fiction and Poets. Each community averages one to two thousand writers, producing stories that are around double their numbers. None of these communities are left dormant without posts for weeks at a time. There are some communities that would have made the list, but they have received a Top Story within the last thirty days. Vocal members are interested in them.

By now, you’re probably wondering why I took the time to research all this. The answer is simple. I feel every community should have their work recognized and the numbers don’t show that happening. Eighty-five Top Stories in one community and zero in another are far from equitable. It would be more encouraging to the writers if someone designated monthly awards for each community. We all know how a Top Story designation boosts our readership. It may also boost the community’s participation.

Okay, it’s time to get off my soapbox. I only have one more question to ponder: what community should I post this in so people will read it? It can’t be Fiction or Poet.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.

I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.

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Comments (36)

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  • Daphne Sampson19 days ago

    Thank you for this detailed understanding of the Vocal Communities!

  • Babs Iverson19 days ago

    Great research and essay!!! Left a heart!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Novel Allen19 days ago

    I am guilty of posting only in a few communities. Lately I posted in Criminal, and I vow to take an interest in the other communities. Some post are way over my head, these guys are geniuses, I still try my best to read, and honestly say that It is over my head. You are so right, it takes a lot of reading to get to all communities. Great article.

  • Dave Wettlaufer20 days ago

    Valid points, I don’t need a pat on the back but writing stories on the “wheels” community without any recognition is upsetting and not worth my time. Like you said, communities should have their work recognized somehow and some way to get mores writers. Thanks for the research. 😀

  • Tina D'Angelo20 days ago

    Mark, that is an excellent idea. Each community calls a particular set of writers to it, so there should be judges in each community. I miss you, my friend. write me and I will share a kindle secret with you! [email protected]

  • J. S. Wade20 days ago

    Three years ago Fiction did not exist as a community and writers were forced to submit to a community that “might” be aligned. My first 3 fiction submissions were to Humans and Futurism. I suspect the great reduction in staffing July 2022 and a greater dependence on algorithms is the primary culprit. I’m betting if you eliminated data from August 2022 forward or when Fiction was launched your numbers would change drastically. Other writers in the past have recommended merging some of the community’s. I don’t know the answer as it’s way above my “pay grade” as a .006 cents a read contributor. Great questions you’ve raised after some hard work. Congrats on TS, somewhat ironic isn’t it. 😎🏅

  • Brendan Donaghy22 days ago

    Congrats on the Top Story award! And thank you for an interesting article. I'm sure it will make more writers think a bit longer about which community they submit their story to.

  • I have posted in every community and wrote on this subject several times. Basically, poetry is the easiest one for a lot of people, especially with the short form and when Vocal keeps giving them Top Stories then people will keep doing it/. Challenges are almost always Fiction or Poetry so that is going to increase entries.. Some excellent observations

  • Mr Ahsan22 days ago

    📊 Insightful analysis of Top Stories distribution among Vocal communities. Advocating for equitable recognition encourages diverse writing engagement. 🌐✍️. I just say thank you.

  • Shirley Belk22 days ago

    Very interesting facts. Thank you for researching and sharing, Mark.

  • This is all backwards, as I find Poetry to be the least interesting category (sorry everyone), Fiction to often be so-so, but all those specific categories not receiving TS to be the most unique, interesting and often educational reading. If someone simply tells us something interesting about their life or a favorite topic, it almost always works, but fiction & poetry are more of a complicated art form where the best stories can be totally amazing, but average-ish ones can be a slog. (this is just my personal opinion, i realize many/most people will have a very different opinion)

  • Atomic Historian22 days ago

    A man after my own heart with this research. I post a lot in Poets, because that’s what comes to me most. I can sit and write a 100ish word poem in a matter of minutes, versus something like Phantom Shift, which lately has required me to go back and edit several things, tighten up the continuity, and plan out the overall plot before I continue. I think Venceremos Brigade getting chosen as a Top Story for the History community was due more to me publishing it at the time the community started. I should probably write in the other communities, but I usually only write outside of my usual ones when I have something particularly inspired that fits those communities or I write something specifically planned for that particular community

  • Yayyyyy I'm so happy this got a Top Story! Congratulations!

  • Judey Kalchik 22 days ago

    Chapters was the right choice!

  • JBaz22 days ago

    Congratulations You put a lot of work into this and deserve a Top Story

  • Gerald Holmes22 days ago

    Very informative and surprising. I thought that Vocal had said they were looking at spreading Top Stories through out the communities? I hope this Top Story wakes them up a little!! Congrats.

  • Mackenzie Davis22 days ago

    Very interesting. This definitely raises some questions. I've been wondering about the specifics of the community categories; perhaps we have too many? I almost want tags to take precedence and let the communities dissolve away. The platform isn't really designed to have them anyway and they seem to function as another kind of tag as it is. They have the potential to be separate forums, though, with people interested in specific topics able to stay and remain in their chosen community. If we could use our profiles to choose our *current* community/ies, it could make it easier to invest in those communities. For example, wouldn't it be cool if we all had a customizable homepage, based on our community choice, our subscriptions feed, and "read later" list, even "playlists"? Kinda like YouTube. Right now, the design of the site makes it difficult to want to click into the communities tab and peruse the stories because once you read one story, you either click the author profile and enter a different community altogether, or you click the homepage button and exit community-focused browsing. I, too, would like to see those numbers you researched shift a bit. I suppose they might follow the mathematical ratio of the number of writers in each community, but it seems like quality writing worthy of Top Story could be found in all communities here on Vocal. Sorry for the ramble, Mark.

  • Worth noting that the Horror numbers are probably an outlier given October and spooky season leading to an emphasis on scary stories. Fortunately, that should all be in the rear-view mirror now:

  • Rachel Deeming22 days ago

    I think this is a great thing to be highlighted, Mark. I have to admit that I rarely have an excursion into other Communities on here but I think that I would if more Top Stories were taken from them. I read one from Filthy today which I may not have if it had not been made Top Story so there is some validity to this. I have written in Unbalanced and Wander as well as Cleats but I get recognised more for Fiction and Poetry when it comes to Top Stories. There must be a reason for this. I wonder what it is?

  • Donna Fox (HKB)22 days ago

    I was wondering how this wasn’t marked a TS!!! Congrats Mark, I was hoping you’d get it!! 🎉

  • Zara Blume22 days ago

    I’ve only published in Poets, but that’s not all I read. However, I couldn’t care less what makes TS and what doesn’t. There seems to be such an obsession with that on this platform, to an unhealthy degree. If you want to read more than poetry and fiction, you can always dig through your favorite creator’s stories. Unlike me, most have published a range. Or you can go to the communities that interest you, and read. I mean, when you go to a book store, do you need to be told by an algorithm which books to buy? Serious question. Some people only read what critics say to, or what is already selling well. Personally, I browse the sections I’m in the mood for. As far as rewarding good writing goes, is that not what the challenges are for? I’ve seen some phenomenal stories place in challenges. So maybe this should be about asking for challenges for other communities. I just don’t see how fretting about Top Stories benefits anyone, as a reader or a writer.

  • Annie Kapur22 days ago

    This is really well researched. I think the possible reason for this might be algorithm based thing. I'm glad you have researched this though because it might seem skewed, but maybe vocal have published something on how they award the top story. I would like to see some actual criteria for it though. Congrats on your top story by the way :)

  • Sorry thought I'd already commented and liked! TBH think the categories are a bit limiting and confusing-I never know quite where to post stuff, I'd rather just have fiction and non fiction. I'd get that more 😁 Congrats on TS also!

  • Cathy holmes22 days ago

    Wow. You put a lot of work into that. Congrats on the Top Story. I kind of agree that other communities should be promoted, but only if the writing is good. Now i'm off to find out what 01 is, since I have no idea.

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