Ficlets Est Mort

It was announced on AOL’s People Connection blog today, that ficlets will shut down for good on 1/15. I’ve known for a couple weeks that this was coming, thanks to some advance warning from friends still there. Here’s the comment I posted on that entry:

I knew this was coming, I just didn’t know the day. I tried, with the help of some great people, to get AOL to donate ficlets to a non-profit, with no luck. I asked them just to give it to me outright since I invented it and built it with the help of some spectacular developers and designers. All of this has gone nowhere.\
I’ve already written an exporter and have all the stories (the ones not marked “mature” anyway). I have pretty much all of the author bios too. Since I was smart enough to insist that AOL license all the content under Creative Commons, I’ll be launching a “ficlets graveyard” on 1/16 so at least the stories that people worked so hard one will live on.\
I have mixed feelings about ficlets’ demise. On the one hand, I’m proud of the work we did on it. I’m thankful that AOL allowed me to build it with a truly amazing group of talented folks. I’m humbled by the community that ficlets attracted and the awards that ficlets won.\
On the other hand, I’m sad that I wasn’t allowed to keep working on ficlets. I’m disappointed that AOL’s turned its back on the community, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.\
So, to all the ficleteers out there – your stories will live on, and there may be a couple more surprises in the works before 1/16 if I have my way. Be on the lookout… I’ll post any news to my blog.

I’ll do my best to keep up with the stories as they’re posted so none get lost. If your story is marked “mature”, I haven’t figured out how to crawl it yet. I also haven’t gotten stories’ tags yet, but I have gotten all the author bios and have preserved the prequels and sequels as best I can. I have a little Rails app already done to display everything, and will be providing a downloadable feed of all the stories I’ve scraped so anyone’s free to re-purpose the stories for their own mashups.\
I still have a lot to say about AOL that I’ve been ignoring since I left back in June. I’m not sure I’ll ever write publicly how I feel about the company – because I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, AOL gave me a career. I started there in tech support as a 20 year-old kid who had no idea what he wanted to do. I left as a 33 year-old System Architect, leaving to go run a team of developers and build really cool web apps all about music (that we’ll be launching soon). On the other… well, let’s just say there’s a lot of “other”.\
If I have my way, there will be more news in the short fiction department in the next month or so… let’s just see how things work out.\
Also, I should have known the ficlets community would do something so kickass it makes me cry… check these out:

Categorized as AOL, ficlets

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. Kevin – I posted this in the Facebook group ‘I Write Ficlets’ –
    “But Kevin, if you read this – thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating Ficlets for all of us budding authors a place to learn, and a place to grow as writers. Even though it will live on as a sort of graveyard, I’ve missed it terribly (login issues for months) but will always be glad it existed. It was a wonderful experience.”
    I can’t get on Ficlets to write a tribute story, but wanted to say thank you to you somehow.

  2. Well you (should) know how I feel. I’m not in a position to say any more than that. But I can say I’m sorry I couldn’t anything to bring ficlets back to you or to the non-profit. It wasn’t for a lack of trying… You and ficlets have a great fan base so I look forward to seeing what you have in store for it on my birthday ;-).

  3. This is so sad. I know I only wrote one very flaky ficlet to test the site for you (and managed to break it by posting one that was exactly the limit of characters long) but there were/are may other writers that used the site – I cannot see how AOL thinks this makes them look good.
    As it was your idea, do you retain any intellectual property? Could you start up a new ficlets site in some way? Would there be any programmers, etc. out there that would help? I would offer any time that I could (around being ill lol) for testing/breaking the new site…

  4. :_(
    sad news. I wrote a few ficlets pieces but haven’t given the site enough of my time in the last few months. I don’t want to see all the creativity disappear, so thank you Kevin!
    I do more writing on another site called storymash which is also fun. I wonder if ficlets work could be ported to another site like storymash?

  5. That’s unfortunate, but typical. I played around with ficlets when you guys first launched it and really enjoyed it. I hope you are able to make something of it. If anyone can, I’m confident it’s you.

  6. Kevin,
    Sorry to hear about the sunset of your product. I imagine it’s upsetting, but as you mentioned, the community is strong. There is no reason AOL deserves to have such a loyal, well-connected user base, let alone have the ability to kill a good product just because Conroy couldn’t sell enough Ads on there.
    I want to suggest for you to launch an evolved story-telling Web site, that is so much better than Ficlets. As the curator of Ficlets, I suggest leaving it up to users to pick the new name of it, and incorporate their suggestions for the evolved version of it.
    A great tool to collect user-input, prioritize it and communicate with the fanbase is to use UserVoice. ( It’s free and from my experience, most people get the concept of it.
    I would love to see AOL send you a DMCA/IP violation claim. I doubt it though, the legal folks are probably too busy scrambling to offer pro-bono legal help in VA.
    I wish the project and you all the best.

  7. “Hi and welcome back to Fox News. All around the country, people that call themselves ‘Ficleteers’ seem to be walking around in a zombie-like state. Our reporter Tim is out on the streets, talking to one of these ‘Ficleteers’, Tim?”
    “Thanks Bob, I’m here with a man that seems to insist his name is ‘THX0477’.. how are you holding up?”
    “That’s all we seem to be getting, Bob, back to you.”

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