A Ficly Farewell

This isn’t going to be easy to write, but it’s time to write it and time to give everyone fair warning for what’s going to happen. It’s time for Ficly to go away. I found out last week that Google is sunsetting their OpenId service – and that’s the last straw for a decision that I’ve known has been coming for months.

Ficly has always been a passion project. Jason, Owen, Joe and I built it to keep the ficlets community alive and give them somewhere to go. That was over five years go – doubling ficlets’ lifespan – and resulted in over 30,000 stories added to the world. I feel pretty good about that.

I don’t want those stories to disappear. Just like with ficlets, I’m going to keep an archive up of all the stories. The URLs to your stories and your author profiles won’t change. They’ll be here for as long as I can keep them up (which should be a good long time). But, around September 14th, you won’t be able to log in or create new stories. The site will be completely static and point somewhere else.

Why shut it down now? The main reason is that I don’t have time to keep it going, and I can’t bear to watch it slowly decay anymore. Jason and I had big plans for Ficly, but life kept getting in the way. But, that’s an excuse. Ficly just wasn’t a priority, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s also so old now that adding features to it would require an almost complete rewrite – which sounds like even less fun. I love the community that’s formed here. I love that this creative outlet existed and am proud that we were able to build something in our spare time that served the community this long and resulted in so many stories. But, when Google shuts down OpenID, you’ll be locked out and I don’t have a solution for that.

What happens next? Here’s what’s going to happen between now and the time I shut the site down, and what I need from the community.

Kevin’s list:

  • I’ll create the static version of the site so the transition from the current site to the archive is straightforward and seamless.
  • I’m going to remove all the passwords and other incriminating personal information from the code and put it up on github so if someone wants to use it, they can. It’s over four years old, so be prepared to battle some dragons.
  • I’m going to create XML and JSON archives of all the stories and put them up somewhere so the community can do something interesting with them if they want to.

The community’s list:

  • Publish any stories you want to make sure are included in the archive before September 5th.
  • Help me find spam so we can remove it before we put everything in a glass case for posterity. You can report it on this GetSatisfaction thread.
  • Back up your stories if you want.
  • Share your favorite Ficly memories in the comments.
  • Call me dirty names under your breath.

And in closing, I want to say a huge thank you to the Ficly community for hanging out here and creating things on this little app we built. It’s brought me a lot of joy over the years, and it hurts me to shut it down, but it’s time for me to stop feeling guilty for it and make room for me to be guilty about all new stuff.

Keep writing, and be happy.

Thanks,

Kevin Lawver

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Comments (62 so far!)

  1. Avatar Kevin Lawver

    I’ve heard of another community member working on something as well. May a thousand flowers bloom!

  2. Avatar HSAR

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen comments spill onto a second page.

  3. Avatar Kihd

    Wow. This is sad. I feel like this website was the backbone of my adolescence. Maybe this is a sign. I love you, guys. Thanks for everything.

  4. Avatar Kihd

    Please, add me!!!
    https://www.facebook.com/alexis.holdaway

  5. Avatar Jae

    Farewell to you, fellow writers. I have remained loyal to this place through much adversity, and I will always think fondly of the years I spent here, developing the crafting of words.

  6. Avatar JonB

    Good God, I turn away for five minutes to make the tea and do the washing up, and they close the effing site down!

    What on earth are we all supposed to do now? Get on and do some proper writing, I suppose. But, you know, doing proper writing was never so much fun as Ficly: those little flakes struck from the creative core, stories half-finished, stories barely started, narrative splinters, crumbs, fragments. For me, using this site felt rather like going through one’s kitchen cupboards and using up all those odd and obscure ingredients that one can never remember buying, or the reason why they were needed, and yet have been lurking at the back for years. Many well past their use-by date perhaps, and ordinarily not ingredients that one would normally combine (custard, quince jelly, cajun spice; theology, noir, Edwardian ghost stories, etc) and yet Ficly was a place where one felt comfortable to do just that, and not care too much about the consequences.

  7. Avatar JonB

    Of course, I’m spilling over into a second comment here, which is probably a bad sign – but an apt demonstration, nonetheless, of the mischief that occurs when I am not confined to 1024 characters, and have had a glass of wine.

    I’ll miss the place and the people, I really will – especially my collaborators (THX, 32 ^2, August 2nd, HSAR, Pabo Vilas, Drake West), but all the other fine writers on this site. I’ve loved reading and commenting on your work (though some of you may not have like me doing so – but hey, that’s criticism for you) and am deeply perturbed that I’ll now have to find other things to be generally positive but mildly critical about (but I live in the UK, so really, this won’t be a problem). Thanks Kevin, for creating and supporting this wonderful thing for as long as you have – here’s hoping that the boffins get it together and launch a new site without (much) delay. I hope to see many of you there and in the meantime, of course – keep on writing.
  8. Avatar RoseTone ~LoA~

    I feel only a brief modicum of regret for the blithe way this may come out, but it’s not going to be that rough since I’ve got about 12 ficly members within an hours drive….

    It’s been good. Contact me at: stoneflowersofautumn@gmail.com

  9. Avatar ethelthefrog

    Since Kevin made the announcement that Ficly is stopping, I’ve been working flat-out on coding up a replacement site. It’s ugly as sin and not quite ready for you yet, but I’m hoping to have something that is just-about usable going live in the next 24 hours.

    So far, I’ve got user registrations, stories and comments, a little bit of blog, and a front page. I hope to import all of the stories and comments from Ficly once Kevin releases them, so we can carry on the conversation with as little disruption as possible. Kevin did tell me that doing an import like that was going to be very difficult and I can’t promise that it will work, but I’m going to try.

    As Kevin said, Ficly used Google and other providers for user registration and password management. My platform has its own user management, but that means that you’re going to have to register an e-mail address with the site and click on a link that you will get in an e-mail when you register. Sorry about that: there’s no real way around it.

  10. Avatar ethelthefrog

    As I said, I’m concentrating on basic functionality for now, which means that the site is currently looking like a steaming pile of spaghetti and meatballs after the enthusiastic intervention by a four-year-old with a fork and nothing to lose. On the upside, once the functionality is in, making it look pretty is quite easy.

    I’ll announce the name and address of my site as soon as it is open for registrations. I’m hoping to get that done within 24 hours, so there is at least something for people to use before Ficly goes static.

    Ficly may be going quiet, but the creativity can live on.

  11. Avatar HSAR

    It’s this kind of thing that makes the Internet special, I think – little niches of shared interest, carved out by the brave and the daring. Tiny havens of creativity and happiness. The Internet brings us together in a way that could not happen in real life, for so many mundane and social reasons.

    Never stop writing.

  12. Avatar ethelthefrog

    Right. The site is up, albeit on a server in my house. Please don’t mind the dust on the piano as you fly past. I’ve got some proper hosting in the pipeline, which will improve things in the next few weeks.

    http://ficlatte.com

    is where it’s at. Please do join in and help me to keep the Ficly flame burning brightly in this wonderful community that Kevin worked so hard to create. I love you all, and look forward to seeing you for a latte.

  13. Avatar JonB

    It works! I’m there. Congratulations ethelthefrog. I knew the scientists would save us in the end.

  14. Avatar HSAR

    I love that name. Signed up myself, although I can’t seem to add comments yet.

    Got source? After my internship finishes and I’ve tidied away Airships, I can come help out.

    Never stop writing!

  15. Avatar ethelthefrog

    Sorry… A little difficulty sending to gmail.com addresses. Should be fixed now.

  16. Avatar ElshaHawk (LoA)

    Great work, ethel!

  17. Avatar Murj;

    I feel bad that I didn’t take advantage of this place while it was up. I’ll admit life got in the way (as it does to all of us) but I did like writing my nonsense on here for people to see. Is anyone else here on reddit? I’m MeowyTheCat, in case something similar to Ficly pops up some time.

    I’m going to try and post one more story before the ship sinks. It was nice writing and talking to you all, as briefly as I was around.

  18. Avatar signed, poet

    poetry

  19. Avatar ...Still BARomero

    So this is goodbye for the second time. I’ve loved reading and sharing with you guys these many years, although I’ve been notoriously sporadic about it, and I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys again, whether it’s at another writing site, or just on Facebook.

    Keep on writing, everyone!

  20. Avatar Princess Binky Lemontwist (LoA)

    Well I am officially depressed

  21. Avatar Garsecg

    I haven’t been into ficly in ages but I’m still going to miss it.

  22. Avatar Tad Winslow

    Todd Dowey from Portsmouth NH. Find me. Friend me. Let me know who you are :)

  23. Avatar Iris...Alone

    This is the place that I came to heal myself. I used this site to vent and feel what others felt. It’s so sad that it’s really the end. I’ve learned so much from posting stories on this site and reading what others thought of my writing. Reading the stories of others helped contribute to my own writing. And many times I would read something that reminded me I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t alone in the way I thought about certain things. I would want to cry, and then I would get on Ficly and soothe all my pain. This was a beautiful website. Thank you for everything.

  24. Avatar ElshaHawk (LoA)

    Many of you have ventured over to Ficlatté, which is still under construction, but full of FAMILY and LOVE, which feels good.
    I am no longer saddened.
    If you friend me, and please do, but you change your penname, tell us in your bio who you were.
    Unless you wish to have a new start. :P

  25. Avatar HSAR

    Having finished Airships, I feel that I can finally say goodbye to Ficly.

    I love you all as much as I love writing, for the two are forever intertwined.

    Never stop writing.
    ~HSAR

  26. Avatar RoseTone ~LoA~

    Well… That’s it then.

  27. Avatar Princess Binky Lemontwist (LoA)

    The suspens is killing me. Like standing in front of a firing squad that are still cleaning their guns

  28. Avatar Kevin Lawver

    The site won’t go away – it’ll just be completely static soon. I’m having “issues” backing things up and creating the static version, so you’re stuck with this half-alive thing.

  29. Avatar Tad Winslow

    Haha, half alive. I love how brutal that is, ficly, my old friend. This will always be alive to me no matter what it’ll become.

  30. Avatar ethelthefrog

    Ficlatte development continues, and everyone is welcome to join in the fun at http://ficlatte.com

    It’s not nearly as pretty as ficly at the moment, but I’m working on it.