I can fly in my dreams. I remember the first couple times it happened. The funny way you learn things in dreams without realizing you’ve learned something new — the same way you understand the situation without any narration, without anyone explaining it to you
So begins Crunchable’s very first “Snackable” post, published Dec. 24, 2004 and written by Chris Klimas.
The start of Snackables was part of a new concept for Crunchable. Chris had always solicited and edited all of the articles, which were published weekly, or even twice weekly at some points. This was a grueling schedule. But switching to WordPress opened up some new possibilities — namely, that trusted Crunchable contributors could start publishing their essays on their own, without Chris having to do anything.
I wasn’t there for the decision, but in retrospect I’m sure Chris wanted to make the publication process as easy and frictionless as possible for the writers. Because he desperately needed to do something that might get people to start writing for the site again. We writers were growing up, settling down in lives and careers, and getting us to keep Crunchable supplied with content was becoming harder and harder. (This would become a recurring theme, as you’ll soon read.)
So Chris gave each writer a login to the Crunchable WordPress setup. And when we signed in and poked around a bit, we saw two main categories:
Edit Me Please: Material ready to be looked at by the editors.
Snackable: Stuff that you write on the fly; isn’t edited; appears instantaneously.
It was a really good idea, actually. Rather than having writers e-mail their stories in, possibly using attached files that might or might not open on Chris’s computer, all contributors could write all of their stuff directly into the content management system! And for short, bloggy writing, they could even publish it themselves, right onto Crunchable’s homepage, and get the instant gratification of seeing it online immediately.
It was a really good idea in concept, anyway. Despite setting Snackable up to work just like a group blog, few of us writers took to it that way. Despite a strong start, Snackable submissions dropped off precipitously within about three months.
I’m also not sure how many people really took advantage of the type-it-yourself format. I know I submitted my first Snackable that way, but at the time I bet Chris almost wished I hadn’t — I vaguely recall e-mailing him in a panic because my essay somehow went live to the site before I was ready, and then the title was wrong, and then there was something else. I hope most writers didn’t require as much hand-holding as I did, but I doubt I was the only one who needed some help.
So Chris ended up killing off the Snackable concept after about half a year, when he switched Crunchable to a new content management system and a whole new publishing format, in the hopes of finally remedying the dearth of submissions.
But Snackable didn’t die completely — when I ended up in charge a little later, I decided there were things about Snackable that were worth resurrecting. (More on that soon.)