Monday, January 2nd, 2012
If you’ve found this welcome note or clicked on the link from your “verification email,” you’re probably new to our storytelling community. Whether in 6 or 600 words, that is our passion, our drive: storytelling. Our six-word tagline is “Everyone has a story—what’s yours?” Here’s part of our own story.
The most popular neighborhood in the SMITH community is Six-Word Memoirs. More than half a million Six-Word Memoirs have been written and shared by our members on Six-Word Memoirs and on our site for teen scribes, SMITH Teens. We’ve created and published seven books of Six-Word Memoirs (including a Japanese translation) and are always working on more. (For a history of the project, watch this video from the PopTech conference). Who knows? Your memoir might be included in our next book. And you’ll be in good company, too: some of our favorite storytellers such Stephen Colbert, Frank McCourt, Chelsea Handler, Dave Eggers, Malcolm Gladwell, Sarah Silverman, Mario Batali, among others, have penned Six-Word Memoirs, too.
At the heart of soul of Six Words, and the SMITH community overall, are the regular folks who read and write stories here every day. So what makes a great community? Great community members. Here are six secrets to having a great experience on SMITH.
1) Show and Tell. When you sign up and create a profile (we ask only for very basic, not-so-secret info) you’ll be able to add a photo or icon that will appear with each of your posted memoirs. You can also answer a few questions about yourself that will give others a sense of who you are. Both are optional but recommended to help make the online connection with your Six-Word neighbors.
2) Give More Than Six Words. When members stick around a while and engage with other writers, the site and often the lives of each member get richer. Go beyond posting memoirs. Read others’ memoirs and stories. If it moves you, confuses you, relates to you or astonishes you, leave a comment in the box—one member comments on one new member’s story every day. If you love it and want to save it on your personal page, click on “Favorite.” Or if you’re feeling shy, send a private note to the author via the “Contact Me” box, found under each person’s name on their personal page. Click on their name below the memoir to get to the personal page.
3) Ask For Help. Every community member was once a newbie here. Everyone has grappled with glitches and gremlins yet came out swingin’ with awesome memoirs. Several members have become what we refer to as “power users.” These are the folks who post, comment, question and communicate with other members on a daily or almost daily basis. You’ll have no trouble figuring out who they are. These members possess a varied and useful cache of information about how to navigate this site smoothly. They are usually generous with both their time and knowledge. Use the “Contact me” box or the “Comment ” box (if the question pertains to a specific memoir or story). Asking a question can be a great ice-breaker! For less-than-live help with technical issues on the site, check out the Help page.
4) Civility in the Community. Freedom of speech is a marvelous privilege that, regardless of country of origin, we all share here. “Do unto others” is an equally marvelous rule of thumb, regardless of religious preference, to use around the world and in this space. For specifics please read our Terms of Service, where you’ll find our number-one rule: Be polite. In general, criticism is okay, while name-calling or otherwise trashing someone or their words is not.
5) Spread the Word. Like what’s happening here? Tell your friends, family, co-workers, etc. Keep Six Words infused with new blood and creativity. We have great buttons to click and share memoirs that you love. Email it, Facebook it, Tweet it or shout it from the rooftops—we count on our community to help get the word out. Know a teacher? One of the most wonderful things to emerge from the Six-Word Memoir project is how teachers from across the world have taken the form into their classrooms. In our Six in Schools blog we regularly feature classrooms, from after-school programs to art schools, and even Yale Law School.
Really want to become involved and spread the word? Go live! Organize a Six-Word Meetup in your own community. Pick a place to meet, whether a living room or cafe, and swap Sixes and stories with others near you. We also holdSix Words Live shows a few times a year in NYC and elsewhere.
6) Keep Writing. Many community members have written thousands of stories. Over at Smith Teens it’s not uncommon for some members to write thousands (really) of Six-Word Memoirs. On our blog you might be one of our picks for Memoirs of the Week. And each “Member of the Month” is rewarded with a legendary SMITH tee.
Welcome to our world of passionate, personal and true storytelling. We hope you’ll jump in.
Larry Smith, editor