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Section I

Note! To complicate things, a few of the forums have their very own specific guidelines in addition to those listed here. Read all about it:

General Poetry
General C&C
Scansion Mansion
Charon's Leaky Schooner
High Critique
Merciless and Possibly Painful

Welcome to the FAQ. How nice to see you here. If you haven't visited the "Newbie Stretching Area" yet (in the "Not Really Poetry" section), please go there (when you're finished here) to test the various forum tools, introduce yourself, and so forth.

Note: In an effort to encourage a greater number of visitors to read these guidelines, we have added the following hot and sexy content as an incentive: pant pant bellow shriek. We now return you to the posting guidelines.

Another Note: If all this structure isn't your bag, you may prefer our recently-launched sister site, the Pink Palace of Poetitude

Herewith, then, our "Frequently Asked Questions", throughout which we have used the subtle attention-retention technique of labeling particularly pertinent passages baboon-buttock red:

1) Someone called my poem pointless piffle, foul-smelling fluff, a wanton waste of bandwidth, or otherwise drove the spike of an unkind review through the oh-so-tender tissues of my ever-so-sensitive heart. Also my soul. What do I do?
2) Where should I post?
3) How many people will read my poem?
4) How do I register?
5) Where do I send money to help express my boundless thanks to the owners and operators of this wonderful poetry extravaganza?
6) I keep reading the phrase "Read more poetry". Just where do they get off with attitude??
7) OK, I'll read more poetry. Errr. What should I read?
8) Do you publish poetry?
9) How do I post a poem?
10) What is the point of poetry?
11) Some suggestions on critique.

The following, #12 through #16, are to be considered Guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. We have found, though, that observance of these guidelines leads to a considerably more productive and equitable atmosphere for all participants. Please be so kind as to follow them:

12) One new poem per forum per day
13) Three comments for every poem
14) Maximum of two forums per poem
15) One personality per personality.
16) Replies should be directed at feedback


1: Someone called my poem pointless piffle, foul-smelling fluff, a wanton waste of bandwidth, or otherwise drove the spike of an unkind review through the oh-so-tender tissues of my ever-so-sensitive heart. Also my soul. What do I do?

1: Thank them. Always.

2: Think about why the poem elicited a negative reaction. Do you value the judgment of the person who offered the negative review?

2a. If so, thank them for taking the time to read and comment, pay attention to whatever specifics they may have pointed out, think about what went wrong, and try to write a better poem that will elicit a better reaction next time. Reading a few hundred poems can't hurt, either.

2b. If you do not think their opinion is qualified, ignore it. Thank them politely, and pay no attention to whatever it is that they said. If they are unqualified to judge whether your poem is good or bad, why should their opinion bother you?

3. Do not, under any circumstances, repeat, do not respond with abuse, threats, or other absurd kindergarten antics. Do not spit and pull hair. If you choose to make an ass of yourself after an unpopular review, you will have a maximum of one opportunity to rectify your behavior, after which you will be banned permanently. We have an extremely low tolerance for abusive behavior. We reserve the right to ban anyone at any time without notice.

4. If you do choose to ignore your better nature and respond with remarks that constitute an unseemly display, the moderators will likely remove them, remove the thread from the forum, or delete it altogether (with an audible squish).

2: Where should I post?

The descriptions of each forum should provide a pretty good clue as to which is best for the particular poem you are thinking about posting. Generally, it is good idea to read a few dozen posts in a given forum, getting to know some of the personalities and some of the forms of poetry represented there, before posting. Much as one would likely not plonk oneself down at a table where several animated conversations are already in progress and proceed to unburden one's soul at the top of one's lungs, it is best to listen quietly for a while first.

If the moderators feel that you are clearly out of your depth, or have paid no attention to the forum descriptions and the intentions behind them, they may move your poem to a lower critical forum or request that you do so yourself.

All of the forums are for critique, more or less. If you'd like to post in one of the categorized forums and wish to encourage constructive criticism, simply indicate so in your post ("please comment", or "C&C" (for "Comments and Criticism") can be helpful guides for your readers).

3: How many people will read my poem?

At the moment, around 5,000 people visit the Poetry Free-for-all every day. The more active poems get read around 100 - 150 times a day. Particularly if the word "sex" appears in the title.

4: How do I register?

Find the "Register" link and click it. Registering will enable you to post poems and replies, edit your poems after posting, and receive email notification whenever someone replies. Very useful feature.

5: Where do I send money to help express my boundless thanks to the owners and operators of this wonderful poetry extravaganza?

Funny you should ask. Click the Make a Donation link on the forum pages, or this link right here, to make a donation to and help keep the PFFA chugging merrily along. Donations of any size are welcome. How about five bucks a month?

6: I keep reading the phrase "Read more poetry". Just where do they get off with that attitude?

If someone tells you to "Read more poetry", rest assured that they mean well. If you desire to write poetry, one of the best ways to learn is, naturally, to read everything you can get your hands on. This applies universally to every single art form known to mankind, and poetry is absolutely no exception.

7: OK, I'll read more poetry. Errr. What should I read?

Glad you asked. We're currently building a reading list for poets of various skill levels. Just a collection of recommended texts, some of our favorites, and where to find them on the net.

8: Do we publish poetry?

Not really. The poems posted here are visible for quite some time, and currently reach a potential audience of around 100,000 a month, so in terms of outreach we compare to a rather large poetry magazine. However, since there is no editorial control over which poems get posted, there is, of course, a great deal of junk mixed in with the literary gems that you yourself are contributing. We may, sometime in the future, develop a literary e-zine in conjunction with the Poetry Free-for-all, with editorial review. If that happens, we'll be sure to let you know.

9: How do I post a poem?

Strangely enough, this one pops up a lot. To post a poem, just navigate to the Forum in which you'd like to post, find the "Post New Topic" link or button, and click away! You may edit the post after posting and may elect to receive email notification when someone replies. You must, however, register first. The process is free and painless. Out of courtesy to the other posters, please post only one new poem per forum per day.

10: What is the point of poetry?

We'll get back to you on that one. Somehow, we suspect it could require a somewhat lengthy reply.

Some behavioral guidelines:

11: Some suggestions on critique.

If someone is clearly out of their depth with a posting, such as someone who posts a cliché-ridden bundle of platitudes in the "Merciless" forum, a suggestion is that you try to diplomatically steer them in the right direction. Suggest they read the FAQ, suggest a different forum may be more appropriate for them, suggest they read a few volumes of poetry, but try not to unnecessarily rile people up. Many people are not only beginners to poetry, but also beginners to the special vagaries of Internet interaction. The combination often results in avoidable unpleasantness.

While you're at it, please comment on the poem, not the comments. It is a breach of etiquette at the Poetry Free-for-all to attack or defend someone else's critique. If your ideas differ, simply post your own review. And please try stay on topic. (Moderators may step in from time to time and comment off-topic if the discussion in the thread needs to be directed back toward the topic, or if the remarks made are decidedly uninformed.)

12: One new poem per forum per day

Please post only one new poem per forum per day. Each poem you post bumps someone else's off the bottom of the page. Please be considerate.

A few of the many charming and delightful visitors to the Poetry Free-for-all are so overwhelmed (and rightly so) with poetic enthusiasm that they post whole reams of poems at once. While the thought is commendable, the practice is a bit unfair to the more restrained posters who restrict themselves to a more moderate and equitable one new poem per forum per day.

Would everyone be so kind as to post new poems at that less frenetic rate. You will find that you will receive more comments on each poem, and that the other visitors to the forum are less likely to become irritated.

Note further that this restriction is a good deal less restrictive than it may appear at first glance. There are 16 forums for poetry and one for prose, so you could conceivably post 17 insightful, compelling, precision-crafted works of high art every 24 hours, or one every 85 minutes, provided you don't sleep.

13: Three comments for every poem

One can learn as much or more from commenting on others' poems as one does through writing one's own; plus, we all crave the reasoned feedback of our worthy peers. That's most often the reason we post our poems here. Please do yourself and everyone else a favor by reading and commenting on a minimum of three other poems for each one you post.

14: Maximum of two forums per poem

We've been juggling this issue, but the general consensus seems to be that it is fine to post the same poem to a maximum of two forums, as long they are not the three critical forums ("General C&C", "High Critique" or "Merciless". "Charon’s Leaky Schooner" has its own criteria for posting). In other words, it is considered reasonable to post the same poem in, for example, "General Poetry" and "Love", or in "Experimental" and "High Critique", but not to both "High Critique" and "Merciless, Bloody Ego-Twisting Carnage" at the same time.

15: One personality per personality

Frankly, we find it exceptionally bizarre that this issue even needs to be addressed, but humanity will never cease to provide cause for pause. You may register and post using a maximum, grand total of exactly 1 ("one") user name. Don't use multiple user names to post glowing replies to your own poems, create general confusion, or pursue whatever other questionable agenda may have inspired you. When you are discovered, aside from the fact that you will have defined yourself as an exceedingly ridiculous person of zero credibility, all of your personalities will risk banishment and may be left with only each other for support and feedback. Sort of like a pair of talking hand puppets.

16: Replies should be directed at feedback

Another odd one. It appears that some members of the PFFA have a tendency to post replies to their own poems for the sole purpose of lifting the poem back to the top of the stack, as it were. Out of courtesy to your fellow posters, please refrain from any such practice. On the other hand, please be sure to acknowledge any and all replies which you happen to receive on your poem. This will encourage others to provide feedback in the future.


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