Considering Issues

I was cleaning up the homepage today and decided to build a reverse-chronological thread backwards of ‘previous posts’, analogous to the links on or that lead to URLs like “″. (Parts of Locus Online are automated via WordPress and have such links; the main part of the site, including the homepage, is hand-built and manually maintained, with only feeds from the News and Roundtable blogs automated.)

I arranged the previous posts by month, on fixed pages, so that the bottom of the homepage now offers links to archives for September, August, and so on. (I should note that there have been, all along, pages that archive posts by group — reviews, monitor listings, etc. — just not all together in one chronological stream.)

The division by month is somewhat arbitrary, but it aligns with the magazine publication. And it recalls the debate a while back about the distinction, if there is one, between magazines and websites, and how to distinguish between websites that use the issue model, with content posted once a month typically, or the blog model, with continuous posting every day. (On a technical note, I debated how to handle hybrids like Lightspeed in the database where I compile descriptions for the magazines/websites page. Lightspeed does come in issues, but releases parts of each issue weekly, so demands attention more often than monthly. I decided to create a single database entry for each Lightspeed issue, and update that one entry thoughout the month, rather than create a new entry for each week’s posts. You can see that in the descriptions of Lightspeed on those pages, and in how many links it creates on the associated Directory page.)

What struck me in compiling the Locus Online archive pages today, and in tracking the numerous online ‘zines lately, is the difference in volume among them. If you gather a month’s worth of Locus Online posts onto a single page, you get something that looks like this: September 2010. That’s moderately impressive as an “issue’s” worth of material, if I do say so myself — acknowledging of course that 1/3 or so of the posts are material derived from the magazine, while the many News posts (put out by Locus HQ in Oakland) don’t show up in this view at all.

Gather up a month’s posts from or and it would be even more substantial. At the other extreme, it’s remarkable that *most* of the online fiction ‘zines, I would say, publish noticeably less material than the average print mag, per issue or per year. Most online fiction ‘zines publish a couple stories per issue, perhaps four, over the course of a month; those with more than that, like Subterranean or Flurb, publish less frequently. This would be more obvious if everything was in print, in physical form. Seen on the web, volume is less apparent, and what impresses is the design of the site — and of course the quality of the material — more than the volume.


Update Saturday 9 Oct 2010 — On the September index page I’ve tipped in the entire list of News blog posts from that month, replacing the link to the blog archive. I’ll do this on the other pages, and similar lists for the Roundtable posts, presently.

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