Hope the New Year has been really exciting and full of new possibilities. I have been working on WatStory over the last few months and we had been conducting a public beta since September’2015. I would love to get your feedback on WatStory. Some information on who we are below:
What is WatStory?
WatStory , is a Multilingual Community for Writing and Reading. It has a native content editor and currently supports content writing and blogging in English, Hindi and Bengali. It easily extendible to other Indian and Global languages as well. We offer users a seamless and immersive transition across content creation and reading in different languages by just clicking a “Change Language” button, which changes the site copy, the content shown and even the language used for writing.
WatStory is for people who are at various stages of writing ability to create without limitations, encourage each other and grow together as a community. Many people using WatStory are new to writing and enjoy writing and reading. There is no limitation on kind of content people write. It could be fiction or non-fiction, long form or short form, prose or poetry etc. People can read and share content without registering or logging in. Content creators own the copyright to the content they create. Both reading and writing are free. We have no ads shown on site.
How the idea came about
WatStory was started as we as co-founders wanted to write stories and share our experiences about travel, about other things. We looked at a lot of blogging platforms and writing focused sites on the internet and did not find what we were looking for such as support for writing in Indian languages. Even the largest writing communities and blogging platforms, including the ones with a big Indian audience provide no to limited support for Indian languages.
While going through a few existing platforms we observed the following: many people would create a blog for example but then not publish anything, many people stopped publishing after a few times perhaps due to lack of engagement and even those people who were publishing regularly had limited to no engagement. The situation was worse if you are creating in a language other than English.
Also while looking for Hindi and Bengali content on many digital publishing and e-commerce sites a major portion of the content listed was from pre-independence, the stories by Prem Chand, Rabindra Nath Tagore. The lack of regional language content has been cited as one the biggest hurdles in Internet adoption in India as per a joint report by IMRB and IAMAI report (Financial Express). The sheer lack of regional language content can also be seen by comparing the number of Wikipedia articles in Hindi versus say Swedish (100,000 in Hindi versus 2 Million+ in Swedish) (Wikipedia), particularly considering the huge difference in number of people who use Hindi as native language versus Swedish (260 Million in Hindi vs. 9 Million for Swedish; Data from Ethnologue).
Problems solved, what the users get
For the experienced and new writers, WatStory provides a seamless content creation interface to write great stories and articles comfortably in English and local languages. WatStory offers a platform to test new stories, experiment with creative process, engage with a highly encouraging group of readers, gauge reader interest in new ideas and build an audience.
As per our own experience and talking to new writers we understand that even if after lot of effort you end up writing something substantial a book for example, it is hard to get published. WatStory helps people to test the concept, build an audience and by the time they finish or are ready to publish, the story has been crowd-curated and can be used to market the book if you decide to publish it in print or digital. Also the writer’s current audience on WatStory can help evangelize the book, considering they have been with the writer in the entire journey of writing.
For the readers, WatStory offers free reading access to an extensive collection of stories and ideas in English and local languages. Plus readers themselves are getting encouraged and inspired to write and share their stories and ideas.
WatStory Current Status
We already have 140+ content pieces (stories, poetry…) across English, Hindi, Bengali.
How WatStory has helped its current users
Over the last few months, we observed the following about the people using WatStory:
- They are writing and reading more regularly because of the encouragement they are receiving on WatStory
- Their ability to communicate and write is improving as they progress to write longer content and stories
- They are getting introduced to new ideas and content forms all the time. I, for example, learnt about Bizarro Fiction, a new emerging genre by reading stories of a WatStory user
- Their attention span is increasing as they spend more time reading and are not shown ads at all
- They are experimenting across languages by writing not only in English but also in Hindi and Bengali
Equally important is that the content people create in Indian languages has been useful for a lot of people who are multilingual or like reading in Indian languages.
Useful Links and WatStory’s Social Media Co-ordinates
I look forward to your feedback.
My email address (firstname.lastname@example.org)