1) What are Subtopics?
Subtopics are the different general types of posts that can be found on Superguy. As Superguy is no longer a single Shared Universe, we make specific distinctions between the different universes and storylines to make it easier to organize, and to allow people interested in one specific subtopic to single it out quickly. Subtopics are kept separate by headers in the Subject Lines of posts to the list. Therefore, if Chris Meadows ("Robotech_Master") were sending out Episode #57 of his Superguy series "Team M.E.C.H.A.," his subject line would look like this:
Subject: SG: Team M.E.C.H.A. #57
On the other hand, if Gary Olson ("the Swede") were to post Episode #23 of his Sfstory series "Renegade Anarchists II," his subject like would look like this:
Subject: SF: Renegade Anarchists II #23
At a glance, one can tell which is the Sfstory post, and which is the Superguy post. As we have had some crossovers between topics, we have decided that each Subtopic (with some exceptions) is a separate Alternate Universe (or Altiverse, see below).
2) What are the Subtopics currently in use on Superguy?
The following Subtopics currently appear on Superguy:
SUPERGUY: This is the primary topic on Superguy. It is at heart a Super Hero list, and primarily it is humorous. This humor can vary from dark humor and black comedy to satire and parody to light humor to out and out slapstick. There has been some completely serious fiction appearing on Superguy of late, but it is expected that Superguy plotlines should at least begin with humor in mind, and gradually evolve towards seriousness (or not). New series that start off serious belong on the Metaworld subtopic. Superguy's subject header is SG:
SFSTORY: This is a humorous science fiction storyline in the tradition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." It is often all but missing from the list, with occasional flurries of great activity. Sfstory is a Gestalt Interactive Fiction Story, so new writers should have some idea of the past. Sfstory's subject header is SF:
METAWORLD: This is a serious paranormal fiction topic. This is a place where people can write stories about their own paranormal type characters, both in the house shared universe (The Metaworld Project), or in their own universes. All characters written about in Metaworld are assumed to be copyrighted and unavailable for use without express permission of the author. Metaworld's subject header is MW:
AUTHOR'S ALTIVERSE: The Author's Altiverse is the place where the All-Powerful Authors of the various storylines of Superguy live and hang out. They are omnipotent beings who live a hedonistic lifestyle and spend the majority of their time drinking and plotting nasty pranks on each other. Oddly enough, Authors Altiverse Posts seem to be quite popular, despite the fact that they're really unplanned expressions of narcissistic fantasies and cheap, cliche humor. But hey, what the heck? The subject header of Author's Altiverse is AA: (which itself might be Freudian)
ROUND ROBIN: Round Robin refers to the Round Robin Altiverse, which is formed of various stories in a shared universe. Round Robin's plotlines are entirely made up of Consecutive Interactive Fiction stories. The Round Robin Altiverse is copyrighted by its initial Authors (in alphabetical order: Eric Alfred Burns, John Bankert, Gary Olson, Bill Paul, and Evan Pongress), and Authors who have been allowed in, who then share Copyright on the stories they contribute to from the point of their contribution (including, alphabetically, Ben Brown, William R. Dickson, Rob Furr, and Dominic White). Other authors cannot post stories in the Round Robin altiverse without permission, but are encouraged to create their own Round Robinesque Altiverses and give it a whirl. The subject header of the initial Round Robin altiverse is RR:, and subsequent Altiverses created for Round Robins should have a number added (e.g. RR2:, RR3:, and so on).
LEGION OF NET-HEROES LOONIVERSE: This isn't really a Superguy subtopic at all. There is a Usenet Newsgroup called alt.comics.lnh which has material which is similar in many ways to Superguy (both the LNH Looniverse and other net.groups), and different in many ways. Both Superguy and LNH recognize that their respective audiences might be interested in each other. Thus, there is some reposting of LNH material here, and some reposting of Superguy material there. However, Superguy isn't the place for new LNH stories, and alt.comics.lnh isn't the place for new Superguy posts. The subject header for LNH reposts is LNH:
Note: The Legion of Net-Heroes Looniverse is not a separate altiverse in the Superguy Multiverse as of this writing.
FAQ: The FAQ subtopic is for the series of Frequently Asked Questions lists, one of which you are reading now. These are for information only. The subject header for FAQ posts is FAQ:
ADMINISTRIVIA: General information posts that deal with the Mailing List (that aren't Frequently Asked Questions lists) fall under the heading of Administrivia. It's header, of course, is ADMINISTRIVIA:
3) In my old edition of the FAQ (pre-may, 1994), I see some other subtopics. Whatever happened to them? Can I post to them?
At various times in Superguy's past, there have been subtopics created to serve other needs. They included Star Wrek (a Star Trek Parody subtopic), Gameworld (a neo-Dream Park type world that allowed people to publish Fluff (game related fiction) in the context of the ultimate live-action role playing game), Crossworld (where subtopics merged), and others. However, due to lack of interest, they have been discontinued.
There is nothing stopping a person from posting in one of these subtopics, but it is not particularly recommended. There's a reason they were never that popular. Authors who are still set on doing so should discuss it on the Superpen Superguy Authors Mailing List.
4) The stuff I'd like to write doesn't fit into any of the above topics. Can I create my own?
If you mean, 'are you allowed to,' then the answer, more or less, is yes. Superguy is not a moderated mailing list. However, in the interests of continuity, any new subtopics should be hashed out on the Superpen Superguy Author's Mailing List. If you're not subscribed to the list, you haven't been a Superguy Author for very long, and therefore it is strongly recommended that you hold off on creating your own subtopics. Get the feel for what's here before you jump into a completely new direction.
5) I'd like to start writing for Superguy. What do I have to do?
The short answer is, have some ideas. We love new writers -- the average Superguy writer writes two or three posts and then disappears forever. New authors who stay the course add diversity, creativity, and fun to the list.
Further, no one except Tad Simmons (the Superguy Listowner) has the power to prevent you from posting whatever you want. And Tad has, to date, never restricted anyone's access. We are something of an anarchy, and we like it that way. That having been said, here are a few recommendations for new writers:
6) I think the hero Ramrod/MeltDown/Spandex Babe/She-Devil/!/whoever is a great character -- can I use him/her/it in my storylines?
Not without permission. All characters on Superguy (with some exceptions, see below) are assumed to be protected under Copyright laws. They are not in any way part of the Public Domain. If a character is actively being used by another Author, you must ask that author for permission to use the character. If not, you are breaking Federal Law (and some Authors might even register a complaint). However, most Authors are willing to loan you the use of a character for your post, depending on the circumstances of it. This does not in any way compromise their rights with the character, of course. The thing to do is to send e-mail to the Author who controls the character and request it.
The Author will most likely say yes, but might say no (most often because of wide-reaching changes the author plans for the character, continuity, or what have you).
You may, however, refer to other characters within the Subtopic when it is appropriate to do so. For example, when Radian nearly destroyed the Earth in the "Songs of Darkness" storyline, most every author made reference to Radian and to the catastrophe in their separate plotlines. This was a wide reaching event, and therefore it was appropriate for almost everyone -- involved directly with Songs of Darkness or not -- to refer to it. This does not mean every Author could have Radian appear in their stories. Just that references could be made.
7) I think Flatphoot/the Skeptic/Egoiste/Badsport/whoever is a great villain -- can I use him in my stories?
If another author is not using a given villain, then yes, you can. This is an exception to the rule stated above. When you stop using a villain, you implicitly are stating that it is a character which can be used by other people. This is one of the oldest conditions of Superguy.
However, it is always a good idea to check with the last Author to use a villain and the Author most associated with that Villain, to make certain that they really are finished with the villain. They might be working up a pretty deep plot, for example. A simple e-mail letter should be enough. If the reply comes back "No, I have plans for that character," then you can attempt to negotiate a loan of the character for your plot, but otherwise the character should still be considered 'in-use' and therefore out of bounds.
8) I saw Galaxy Hunter/Captain Idaho/Walking Disaster Area/Whoever in the archives and loved them -- but his/her/their authors are gone from Superguy. Are they forever out-of-bounds?
No. If an author is truly gone from Superguy, it is permissible for another author to pick their characters up, so long as that Author did not specifically refuse to release the character. However, the original author retains all rights to that character -- should you wish to publish your story later in another format, you cannot use the character without the original author's express permission. If the original author actually publishes that character in another format, and it comes to your attention, you must cease use of the character immediately -- it has been taken out of Superguy.
For example, Ken Cooney ("Duke da Duck") is part of a new project to publish some alternative comics. One of the strips he's publishing in this project is Stan the Toilet Man -- which was a Superguy character before. As a result, no one can pick up Stan. Further, if an Author returns to Superguy and wants his character back, he can have it back. Period. Any other plan is illegal.
Finally, if a writer picks up an Orphaned Character, it is customary to lend the same courtesies to the new Author that the old Author enjoyed, in the old Author's absence. Thus, when Gary Olson ("the Swede") picked up Galaxy Hunter and Max Vax as two of his supporting characters, the other authors did not use those characters without his permission as a courtesy to Gary. Gary's legal rights to the characters are nebulous, and their original authors could take them back, but as far as the rest of us are concerned, by tradition and etiquette, they're Gary's.
When a subsequent author re-orphan's a character, it again can be collected by someone else. For example. Ken Kadet (no nickname) was the creator and original writer of Ignorantman. He graduated during a crossover, and gave Bill Dickson ("Pickle") permission to use the character to finish the crossover. Bill did, and then let the character lapse. Some time later, Bill Paul ("The Man with Two First Names") used the character as a guest star for a couple of Awesome Force posts when he was writing the Awesome Force, and then made him a member of the Defense Squad. By convention, Bill Paul had 'control' of the character. After a while, Ignorantman left the Defense Squad, and the character again became an Orphan. Eric Alfred Burns ("Lord Sabre") then began using Ignorantman, eventually making him a co-star of a third series. By convention, Eric Alfred Burns has 'control' of Ignorantman, and can't lose that control unless Ken Kadet returns and reclaims the character. In a related topic, an Author can willingly give up one of his characters -- either giving the character to another author or just letting them go for anyone else to pick up. For example, Eric Alfred Burns gave the character of Mighty Guy (which he created) to Gary Olson. In this circumstance, control is assumed to be vested in the new author, and tradition does not support the old author reclaiming it (although the original author retains the legal right to do so). For example, Dominic White ("the Artiste") gave Bill Dickson the character of High Jinx. Dominic could, if he wanted, take the character back -- but it is assumed he would not do so over the objections of Bill.
9) I see a lot of real people being used on the list. What gives with them?
Real people can and are used on Superguy as parodies or satire. There is a legal right to do this -- assuming that the author does not cross the line into actual libel. As long as you are not claiming a given character actually is what you portray, you should be all right. However, it is important to note that the Superguy Mailing List as a whole, Tad Simmons, and the University of Central Florida do not take any responsibility for what is posted on the list. If Tonya Harding sued over the character of Badsport (though she would likely lose), the legal culpability would be vested only in the Author who used Harding, and not any other Superguy Author. If you want examples of this legal principle in action, watch any given episode of Saturday Night Live. Or listen to the Rush Limbaugh Program.
For the most part, real people are fair game. The only time a real person could be said to be 'controlled' as a character is if the character undergoes a transformation that separates the character from the real person. For example, the character of Smartman (who was based on J. Danforth Quayle) is now separated from the real-life Vice President enough so that Bill Paul could be said to control him.
10) I have a great idea that involves blowing up the United States. Can I?
Only so long as you can put it back, afterwards. No author can intentionally screw up the plotline of another author, or do something that affects that other plotline directly. Period.
Unintentional screwups are usually okay. For example, if Bill Clinton appears in CalForce when Dominic White ("the Artiste") planned to use him in Andy Awesome and the Awesome Force, Dominic is out of luck. Gary Olson ("the Swede") would have no way of knowing Dominic was planning to use Clinton.
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