By popular request, I am creating this list of bad author stereotypes in order to enlighten the community. If it's not clear enough by the tone of writing, you do not want to be one of these. :)
Disclaimer: This document is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek analysis of common types of bad newbies. None of these are targeted at any particular person, and is meant to be entertaining, not offensive.
I do not and will not condone the use of these stereotypes against site members. If you do so, you will likely be reprimanded and/or banned by staff for rudeness towards other members. Again, this is not intended to make fun of specific people or groups, and is intended expressly for humor.
The Emo Teenager
I suck at writing, but it's the only thing I can do. I hate my life.
Emo Teenagers appear in all forms, from the obvious to the subtle. While a SCP based on Linkin Park lyrics is pretty much unmistakable, this stereotype generally applies to any author who positively oozes depression and angst. Emos will often times try to draw sympathy by demeaning themselves, or claiming that no one understands them or their horrible, horrible life situation. When their site submission bombs out, you'll also generally see something along the lines of:
I'm sorry I suck so much. I'm gonna go kill myself now.
There's something to be said for being honest and humble when you first start writing in a community with such high standards as the SCP Foundation, but there's a limit to how much of this you can get away with before you start annoying everyone. As I've mentioned in my Documentation Guidelines before, the SCP Foundation's authors tend to be on the mature side, with the average age of authors well over 20. If you are a teenager (and especially one suffering from angst issues), this is probably not the site for you. We aren't here to listen to your whining, and you're not going to find sympathy by telling everyone how awful everything is.
Note: Yes, I have actually seen someone threaten to kill themselves when their SCP got downvoted. If you are in this boat, then you need serious help. Immediately.
Empathy Level: 3/10 - A lot of us have been there before, but that doesn't make it an excuse.
Annoyance Level: 5/10 - Those of us who have been there don't like to be reminded of it. Thankfully the rule "Don't Feed the Trolls" works just fine here, and will eventually drag themselves to more sympathetic environments once you starve them out.
Redeemability: 1/10 - You generally can't do anything about them. They'll either grow out of it (making it a self-fixing problem) or go elsewhere. Like MySpace.
The High School Science Dropout
Why can't we just use an antimatter-powered titanium magnet to keep it contained?
Not every member of this community is a renowned rocket scientist or biologist. However, most of us are college students or college graduates, and are therefore fairly intelligent. Most importantly, those of us who write here have a pretty good grasp of basic mathematics, scientific process, and how to do research on a topic when we don't fully understand it. The Dropout is someone who is not only determined to write a speculative science based SCP despite being horribly unqualified, but has not done any of the homework either. The following are fairly good indications that you may have stumbled onto a half-baked abomination left behind by such an author:
- Using Imperial units
- Having a horrible grasp of SI units, such as obviously converted Imperial values or nonsensical measurements
- Having a poor understanding of basic science or completely false assumptions about how certain things function
- Using excessive amounts of technobabble and/or not understanding that "clinical tone" doesn't mean "use as many big words as you can"
- Presenting pseudoscience as true
- Not understanding how Intelligence Quotient (IQ) works
- In the case of biology, not understanding that Mother Nature got there first, and she's a much better horror writer than you'll ever be.
As a corollary, a Dropout may also be someone who believes that domain knowledge is somehow genetic:
My father is a physicist, so I obviously know what I'm talking about.
Empathy Level: 2/10 - While sometimes honest mistakes slip through, most of the things on the list that qualify you for true Dropout status are completely mindbogglingly inexcusable.
Annoyance Level: 9/10 - Few things shatter suspension of disbelief more reliably or completely than bad science.
Redeemability: 2/10 - Very, very rarely these kids can be taught some real science, but more often the only solution is to wait until they actually graduate from school.
Hey guys, I just got accepted to the site 15 minutes ago, so here's my first SCP.
We here who are major contributors to the SCP Foundation understand and enjoy the fact that people get really excited about the Foundation. After all, for some of us here, this is practically our major obsession and we love that other people love it. We love to see people speculate, and we love to see people come up with more ideas on how the site and the community can be contributed to or improved.
What worries us, however, is when a fresh newbie barrels down on our site, heedless of advice, and slams into the community with a poorly conceived, poorly written and usually error-filled piece of writing that looks like it fell out of the Tree of Bad Ideas and hit every branch on the way down. If you are imagining a bullet-ridden Zero with its pilot screaming "BANZAI!" at the top of his lungs at this point, then you are getting the right idea.
The moral of the story is that the Foundation values quality over all else. Please take the time to read through all of the required and relevant guides and essays that relate to your idea. Bounce your ideas and drafts off of the community first, and above all take their advice when given, especially from established authors. We are more than willing to help you get off the ground, but you have to help yourself as well.
Note: As I like to say in the discussion threads of failed articles, "When you post to the main series you are asking for summary judgment, not feedback." Feedback is what happens before you post a final draft.
Empathy Level: 1/10 - Before you were accepted to the Foundation, you should have read all of the guides first. This level of haphazard writing is inexcusable.
Annoyance Level: 6/10 - Thankfully, people who fly their work into the site at top speed rarely come back for a second round.
Redeemability: 3/10 - Once in a blue moon you can calm one of these kids down, but the degree to which their asses are on fire usually causes them to either burn out or crash hard.
Hey everyone. I'm a fantasy writer and I think that SCP would be so much cooler if we changed the format and tone around a bit.
An interesting twist or unique hook is one of the best ways to make your writing stand out and give it the best chance of sticking. Being different in this regard is anything but bad.
However, that doesn't mean that there aren't universal, inviolable rules when it comes to writing SCPs. Writing completely out of format (when there isn't a legitimate reason for doing so), implying a completely different organizational structure for the Foundation (such as Class-Ds being something other than death row convicts who are used as cannon fodder), or completely failing to follow the clinical tone and technical writing that is the trademark of the Foundation is a sure sign that someone simply does not know where and when to conform to the collaborative project. When someone does this, this breaks the tone of an article (and subsequently the reader's suspension of disbelief).
A Type I Non-Sequitur is someone who is a victim of simple naivete, and doesn't know any better. A Type II Non-Sequitur is someone who knows the difference and where they went wrong and simply does not care; they want to "reform" the site for the "better" and doesn't seem to care what anyone else thinks.
Empathy Level: 5/10 - This is apparently surprisingly easy to do when you have looked at hundreds of failed submissions. The best solution to the problem is to simply read more of the site before trying your hand at contributing.
Annoyance Level: 4/10 - Most people who make mistakes like this are simply ignorant of the standards, and are usually pretty civil when informed and corrected.
Redeemability: 6/10 - A Type I can be redeemed with a decent amount of work, but Type IIs are generally completely unrepentant and their short career with the SCP Foundation will generally end when they quit out of frustration or are summarily banned.
The Special Snowflake
Everyone I know says I'm a great writer.
A close relative to the Emo Teen, the Special Snowflake has been told by everyone that they are an awesome author. This includes their teachers, their parents, their friends, all their followers on DeviantArt… Does anyone else see the problem here?
The best kind of feedback is the kind you get from people who are not invested in you. Your friends and teachers are there to support you, do you really honestly think they'll be brutally honest when something you write is truly terrible? Coupled with the aforementioned high standards of the Foundation community, this is a disaster waiting to happen that usually ends with this:
Why are you guys being so mean? This is good stuff, it's just a little different.
You may also see gems like this once in a while:
My [high school] teacher says I write at a college level. I can do just fine without your help.
Finally, when confronted with the reality that their SCP has tanked well below -30, we get to see the Rage State of the Special Snowflake:
[expletive] you all! I'm going back to [insert amateur art/writing gallery here] where they aren't assholes.
Empathy Level: 4/10 - When you're young and you haven't taken hard hits yet, it's not easy to know the difference between friendly sympathy and true feedback.
Annoyance Level: 7/10 - Unfortunately, these kids tend to stray just shy of the line at which actual administrative action can be taken against them. Thankfully, these kids tend to not come back unless they are malicious at heart, thus making them a one-time problem.
Redeemability: 3/10 - Sometimes you can convince a Snowflake to take a deep breath and learn to take honest feedback, but they usually wander back to the holes they crawled out of. On the plus side, Snowflake Rage States are hilarious to watch.
These stereotypes aren't significant enough to warrant their own heading, but still merit mention.
Yeah, well… I’m gonna go build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers.
— Bender, Futurama episode #2, "The Series Has Landed"
Named for the character from Futurama, a Bender is someone who, after failing repeatedly to successfully contribute to the SCP Wiki, decides to create their own offshoot site (with or without blackjack and hookers) and invites everyone else to join and contribute to it.
The SCP community is one with a long, storied history, built on the shoulders of administrators and staff who are not only great writers, but who are dedicated to keeping the site running smoothly. It takes a lot of effort to keep the system going, so it should go without saying that someone who is too impatient to meet said standards stands little chance of making an offshoot work. Most of these crash within weeks if not days, as the people involved decide it's not worth the effort.
The Coat-tail Rider
Here at the SCP Foundation, being a writing website, we encourage newbies to be inventive and creative. If you've been here any amount of time, you'll have noticed that SCPs that are too similar to existing ones tend to be panned. We want to see new things, unique takes on the paranormal, and most importantly SCPs that stand on their own without leaning on existing canon.
The Coat-tail Rider takes two forms. The first is the author who has literally never written anything on their own. They will go on for hours about new and inventive ways of killing SCP-682, exciting things to do with SCP-914, and debate endlessly about how we could decommission or at least make SCP-173 safer. The first type may even go as far as writing a tale based exclusively on a popular SCP, but never comes up with their own original content.
The second form is the author who writes a mediocre SCP, then immediately cross-links it to no fewer than half a dozen other SCPs. This usually takes the form of "suggest testing against these SCPs" or more rarely "never let these SCPs come together". A more extreme version is the author that actually edits the existing popular SCP without permission and adds a backlink to his own article.
Members and Contributors of the SCP Foundation come from all over the world and from all walks of life. It's not unreasonable that everyone has different tastes and favorite things. What is annoying, however, is when your major obsession is the only thing you ever talk about.
Hey, did I mention that I really love [insert fandom here]? Is anyone else a [insert fandom here] fan? Why isn't there a [insert fandom here] SCP yet? Someone should write one.
These newbies can range from specific fandoms to broad genres, but either way will eventually get on everyone's nerves with their incessant talk about nothing but their particular obsession. If you see a SCP that is a magical extradimensional phone booth or a bunch of spheres that can summon and unsummon monsters that fight for you, then you are well within your right to be suspicious.
A sub-type of the Fanboy/Fangirl is one whose fandom is directed at a site member. These are the ones who think that Bright/Clef/Kondraki is the most awesome person in the history of ever and who cannot and will not fail to brown nose their idol at every opportunity. While not nearly as directly annoying as a normal Fanboy/Fangirl (except maybe to their idol), they are still nonetheless awkward to deal with and leave you feeling dirty afterwards.
Writer-Clef here, just wanted to chime in: I've encountered several Character-Clef fans before, and almost without exception, they are all incredibly annoying. Usually because they a. confuse me with my character and gush about how awesome I was in blah blah blah, or b. end up Draco in Leather Pantsing Clef to the point where I don't even recognize the character they are writing about.
If you like my writing, then by all means, compliment it. If you want to give feedback about my writing, then by all means, tell me what rules and what sucks. If you just want to gush about how cool it was when Clef and Dmitri hit the road and show me your fanart of your OC and Clef in their love nest, then keep it to yourself, deep in the secret corners of your heart where true love blooms and I don't have to see it… unless it's really funny, then you can send it to my Tumblr.
The Horror Snob
From the page About the SCP Foundation:
- Observe preternatural phenomena and develop new theories of science based on their observable behavior.
- Contain potentially dangerous phenomena
- Develop safety procedures for dealing with all future phenomena
- Observe, detain, and destroy any one or any thing preventing us from accomplishing the above-stated goals.
One of the most obnoxious types of newbie is the one who's strongly opinionated and is determined to downvote anything that isn't "scary" or "creepy". While it's true that the ones that stick with you the best are the ones that make you a little nervous at night, there's nothing that says a SCP has to be creepy. Some of the best SCPs on the site are simply inexplicable; we don't understand how they work, and they leave you wildly speculating. Don't be the annoying person who automatically downvotes something just because it doesn't scare you.
Here at the SCP Foundation, we value honest criticism from all members, whether you are an author or not. Obviously if you've got a few popular SCPs under your belt then people are more liable to respect you, but you don't have to be an artist to be an art critic and even newbies can have good advice sometimes.
What does not go over well is when someone drops really, really bad advice and makes it look like it's an authoritative opinion. Something like:
This is okay, but what it really needs is some cross-testing with SCP-173 and SCP-682 and a couple of test logs. You need to put in some humor to contrast the seriousness too, maybe have someone accidentally kill a bunch of researchers.
Note: If you don't know why this is bad advice, then you really, really need to go back and read the guides again.
Closely related to the Coat-tails Rider, the Outsourcer is the same problem from a different direction. Rather than simply ride on others' work, the Outsourcer writes the bare minimum of what's necessary to create a SCP, leaves it in an unpolished state, and expects the community to finish it for them.
Contrary to popular belief, the SCP Foundation is not a wiki in the traditional sense, where every article has a dozen hands in it. We want to see your writing, your vision, and if you don't have a fully fleshed out article, then we'd prefer that you keep it to yourself until it's ready for prime-time.
Signs of an Outsourcer include:
If you have any ideas on how to improve this, feel free to edit it.
As well as:
I like that idea. Could you write that in for me?
To reiterate: A collaborative effort is one in which one or more people have established a firm foundation for a concept that could be expanded upon within the framework that has been established. If you don't even have anything to stand on in the first place but you want others to finish it for you, that's flat out laziness.
Closely related to The Bender, The Visionary is someone who doesn't just want to contribute to the Foundation, but wants to do so in a way that no one else has done before. Writing a SCP or crafting a tale isn't enough; they want to go big or go broke: books, movies, video games, or other major projects involving multiple people, hundreds of hours of effort, and often times even publishing deals.
The problem is, these are people who can't write, and these project proposals are their last-ditch attempt at stirring up enthusiasm after their first (or even first several) writing submissions are panned by the community. They often have little to no experience in their supposed field of creative expertise, have nothing other than the most rudimentary of teaser material if at all, and in the most blatant cases, don't even have a plot or story in mind; in these cases they may even ask for ideas.
Now, this isn't to say that it's not possible to make off-shoot creative projects based on the Foundation; there is a long and storied history of such projects receiving — in some cases — more attention than the Foundation itself, such as the SCP Containment Breach computer game. In almost all these cases, however, there are skilled pilots at the helm of the projects, and they know better than to sell vaporware; that is, to show off their projects before they have anything to show. The Visionary specifically refers to individuals who are quite blatantly simply talking the talk in order to draw attention to themselves (and away from their lack of writing ability).