Any of you who already follow me here on Inkitt heard the news two days ago that I'm officially leaving Wattpad six years after I first joined the site. It was the first writing website I joined, and where I published all my first stories, hitting some major milestones.
The question is, why? Why would I leave six years, many books, many memories, and over 630 followers later?
Now, I want to put a disclaimer on this chapter saying not to assume that just because this my experience that you will have the same experience. Everyone goes through different things on this site and this is me addressing what's recently been going on in the community plus why I left and what ultimately led to such a thing.
Let's start with my Wattpad journey. I first got on the site in middle school when I found a really interesting book cover when searching for a new lock screen for my iPod. After reading two chapters, I made an account to finish reading the story and uploaded my own the same day. Before taking it down, it amassed over a few thousand reads and spawned two spin offs. Not kidding. And I really enjoyed the app. Only took one break and that's where my first novel, Fanfictionalized started. I met some great people on there and even inspired a few to write their own novels plus one of my stories ended up on someone's 'favorite book' list book. Even placed second place in my first Wattpad Contest with How to Love the same day I found out about everything going on with it.
To start, what recently popped up is two different things. The first is Wattpad is doing yet another story purge where they randomly delete stories. Well, the deletion isn't so random. Most of the stories targeted are those labeled as mature or need to be labeled as mature, but it goes deeper than just that. Specifically, those stories getting removed are those who glorify certain topics that absolutely shouldn't be. (I'm not naming them because you guys should already know which topics shouldn't be. Though, apparently some people on here might need a refresher, from what I've heard.)
The other stories targeted are those who suffer from too many reports. Plus, there have been some reports that it's targeting pure erotica. Being any story that's just a compilation of sex/smut scenes without any substantial plot. One thing I read said anybody who isn't 18 but is writing certain themes are also going to have those stories taken down and those stories who depict people under the age of 16 involved in sex scenes are going to be taken down.
And by 'taken down' I mean those stories are going to be full on deleted, not simply stuffed back into the drafts. There might be a way for those authors to get their stories back, but there isn't anything concrete I heard of.
There's also some reports Wattpad might be taking down all fanfictions in general. Which would be horrible for their buisness given most of their authors and readers live off of fanfictions. Wattpad is known for their fanfictions more so than many sites. Obviously, their latest phenomenon After started out as a Harry Styles, One Direction fanfiction. Some of their most popular authors and 'Wattpad Stars' are fanfiction writers. But, that part isn't fully been confirmed, but just speculated given most of the removed stories fall under said genre.
Some people who had their stories removed by Wattpad are trying to start and sign petitions to get their stories back. But, what they fail to realize is the fact that by signing said petitions, you're supporting some really fucked up glamorizations of such topics like in****, r***, ab***, kid******* among other things. And, do not uncensor these words in the comments.
The other controversy deals with something that's plagued Wattpad for almost as long as I've been on the site, issues with plagiarism. In this case, people are actually making money off of their plagiarism. People are taking stories written on Wattpad, even their covers, and using the author's name to sell these stories on Amazon. I learned about this issue through @CLBrierley wall post and was absolutely floored. There's been issues of people plagiarizing Wattpad stories on Wattpad and even taking popular Wattpad stories and putting them on other sites like Quotev. But this is just next level. This was the main reason why I was done. If I can't feel safe with having my stories on a site, then why have them there at all?
At this point, you may be saying: but SteelerHeart, you take that risk on most sites. Why would you leave over that?
But, you see, dear inquisitive reader, this isn't the first time I've felt unsafe keeping my stories on Wattpad.
It started a few years ago, around three or four years ago, when I first began to notice a glaring issue with Wattpad. Many authors I followed found their entire stories, chapters, or just part of a chapter deleted by the site. And it wasn't just 'no name' authors, but some of their biggest names. One of which is now a Wattpad Star and Watty winner, another runs her own start up cosmetic company and pin company. I thought it was just a bug until it began happening to me.
I know, I should back up my stories, but then I really had no way to. All I had was my iPod and limited space in a notes app. So, only certain stories could be backed up.
I was going through and checking something on my then most recently completed story, Drunk Messages, so it also matched up to its spin-off, You're On! That's when I found out every single chapter of the story was blank. I freaked out. Like freaked the fuck out. I skipped out on the app as fast as I could and refused to open the story until I got back online. You see, these were the days you used to be able to read online for free and they used to let you write offline and they would sync the stories back when you got online. Thankfully, most of the story reappeared when I got back online. Except for two chapters. I had to rewrite those, but they turned out pretty freaking good when I did. But that isn't the point.
I lost two chapters for no reason.
And that wasn't a lone experience.
Multiple drafts got either deleted in its entirety or half chapters, leaving me with only part of what I had to begin with. I lost some really cool stories and chapters because of that. One of my favorite chapters of a crazy ass story got deleted and I legit almost deleted the app because of it. And, it still happens. When I was going through my stories to put them on Inkitt, three chapters were missing. One half chapter of a latest story I started, the entire draft except for the titles of another were gone, and the third was an entire first chapter of one of my favorite older drafts. Thankfully, at least one was backed up since it was newer when I actually was able to. The other is gone.
Moral of that story: back up your shit, always.
Anyways, it's not just the technical issues and the risk of horrible shit happening that detracts people from the site. There's also the deteriorating sense of community and rise in almost a sense of elitism plus a rise in trolls/bullies.
Wattpad took away their community tabs long ago. I didn't have the chance to use it, but people raved about how many great people they met through there and how they had a chance to get advice and grow their readership through said clubs and communities. Along with that, they took away the feed where authors and readers alike got to see what the other enjoys like their comments, reading list adds, votes and along with their wall posts. With all of that gone, many have said it feels more lonely. And wall posts have since become obsolete because you can't even tell if people saw them since there's no like button, only a comment section.
But on that note, there's been a rise in many acting like they rule all and their word goes. I haven't seen much of this, but I've heard from others that they've seen such.
On that note, some people use their wall posts for good. One talented author uses it to help eliminate bullying and report stories that promote things like romanticizing serious and illegal and fucked up things. Like One person who bullied another and released a minor's information, leading to them deleting their account. But there was one person who kept commenting on their wall posts saying what they're doing was wrong and didn't matter. Saying that they only followed them as a payment for a contest and didn't want that on their feed.
My point is, it's been harder to break through their algorithm unless your cover and title is cheesy but also mentions bad boys or billionaire CEOs immediately. Or you write a fanfiction. I've touched on how hard their algorithm is to break before. Plus the fact they mostly promote already established stories or paid stories or Wattpad Star stories. Ones that aren't labeled mature as well.
And when you report issues to their support, it takes forever for them to respond, and many won't respond without screenshots. Like when I reported them deleting parts of my chapters or whole chapters or whole stories. I never got a response. Years later when they replaced one of my drafts with someone else's uploaded story, they got back to me quicker but didn't do anything because of the fact I didn't have screenshots. It eventually fixed itself and they said they were looking into it, but nothing after that. Ever since then, I've been slowly getting off Wattpad until I saw the wall post @CLBrierley did on the newest debacle.
There's some good people on there and some of my stories got some reads over the years, but I don't like not feeling like my work is safe.
Through years of dealing with not feeling like my stories are safe but also the questionable ethics were major factors. But also it began to feel like a chore on there because my stories were just hidden under so many others. And their support team not being the most proactive when it came to dealing with issues. But the Amazon thing was the final straw. Besides, my stories get a lot more traffic on here and I've met some awesome people on this site. It's easier to create a community through the groups, the genre groups and even using your wall posts to update people and interact with them. There's some issues, but Inkitt has a lot of great stuff.
Also, always backup your stuff. No matter what.
Hope This helps you guys any. If you have anything you want covered potentially on here, let me know. Happy reading!