Chosen One - purple

Or what's a beta for? And, is there a beta in your meta?

ETA 08/02/13: comlodge just re-stated the point in the convo thread below that I was attempting to make re: beta-readers and meta and did so better and far more concisely than I could ever hope to. I bow to her awesomeness.

I just noticed one more empty "pending" slot in the Beta catagory at the Running With Scissors Awards,  which seems odd to me. Thousands of fandom writers (theoretically) = thousands of betas (theoretically) = unable to fill six slots? Granted a good beta is hard to find - or rather, a successful author-beta partnership based on complete trust and respect for the other person may just be harder to find than a good marriage. The author needs to be able to choose someone who can offer objective, constructive criticism, not flames or insults; who can judge the work based upon what the writer is trying to achieve in the piece and how much it fails or succeeds in that goal; and the beta needs to be someone who can offer  help but then detach themselves and always remember it is the author's story, not their own.


On the other side of the page, nothing is more frustrating as a beta (I speak from experience, of course) than dealing with an author who says they want feedback when what they really want is praise. And this is true of 99% percent of the writers I've dealt with, who say they want "feedback" when what they're really after is ego strokes. Of course every writer wants that, but when an author is entering a relationship with a beta partner they need to be clear as to what, exactly they are looking for: an editor? A cheerleader? A teacher or taskmaster? Someone to brainstorm with? Line by line analysis of plot, structure, etc? Hugs and puppies? I'm not a beta for any writers in this fandom currently but I'm a "Muse" for one of my closest friend's novels (we prefer the title "Muse" to "beta"), and I've always been more than willing to give the writers I've working with the feedback they need, if they are willing to listen to what I have to say. (Why ask a beta for their opinion if you don't want to actually hear it?)

One thing I noticed since I've been a part of this fandom: betas are considered essential to fanfiction, to the point that authors actually apologize for not having a beta; why is it then that "meta" (nonfiction writing) posts very rarely mention the feedback of a beta? The exceptions I've seen have tended to be the more intellectual or academic fan essays and analysis. The other day I asked someone to beta a fanfic I'm working on but it's never occured to me to request feedback on a nonfiction fan essay before posting it.  Is it custom? Habit? Lack of interest in nonfiction writing in relation to fiction?

(ETA paragraph breaks, hyperlinks, and screencap. Clearly, this post needed a beta of it's own.)
I would nominate my beta, the nonpareil lilbreck, but she has already won and is therefore ineligible. *sigh* She's exceptional and I cannot begin to express how appreciative I am for her honesty and insight.


Gabrielle
I cannot begin to express how appreciative I am for her honesty and insight.

That sort of appreciation for your beta partner is part of what makes the experience rewarding for me as a beta - it definitely is a partnership at it's best. I treasure those relationships.

I confess I'd never heard of lilbreck before, but that's no suprise. I hear this fandom is getting "smaller" but to me it's still huge and unexplored.
I love being a beta myself; in fact I am my beta's beta and the fact that we have a relationship of mutual trust and honesty is terrific. lilbreck, by the way, is a truly marvelous writer in her own right and I highly recommend checking out her work, which can be found at eclectic_tongue.


Gabrielle
Thanks for the links, I'll check her out!

And my friend Kendra Saunders and I started out very much the same way over ten years ago, exchanging writing back and forth with one another and critiquing each other's work; I'd easily call her my best friend and that process had a lot to do with it; the trust we place in one another is tremendous.
I think the difference is that a story is generally assumed to be a finished piece when it's posted, and in theory at least as good as it could be, whereas meta is often just a discussion opener where the reaction it inspires is as important as the original text. In a way the relationship between the writer and the people who respond to the meta replaces the beta process.
a story is generally assumed to be a finished piece when it's posted....In a way the relationship between the writer and the people who respond to the meta replaces the beta process.

Huh. That's a good point and I hadn't thought of it that way before. that is, I'm aware that the two types of writing generate very different types of feedback - we're generally expecting or hoping for in-depth conversation from meta as opposed to fics. But that may also be part of the reason that fanfiction isn't as satisfying to me as a writer. Whereas comments to a meta may very well inspire another meta; and replies may in themselves become "metasplurges" of their own. (A term I'm borrowing from the lovely lanoyee.)

OTOH, I find for myself I've been very anxious (read: terrified) when I've posted meta here on my journal - not short off the cuff posts like this but the longer ones (as for The Big Damn Love Fest). I wanted them to be as good as possible, to be readable and accessible, to strike an emotional chord; any of the things I would want a story to do. So far I've been extremely gratified by the responses, but I have no idea what effect it will have until the comments come in.

I still think of myself as a storyteller, but using nonfiction rather than fiction, so there's an art and a craft to it. Are we perhaps unintentionally "downgrading" the art that it requires? Does it depend on what the writer wants to achieve and what style they use to do it? Is it a matter of confidence in one's audience/flist, or rather experience in the fandom (having developed a "network" so to speak?)

I have never had any of my fan fiction, or my original fiction for that matter, beta'd. I just haven't found someone that I trust that much I guess. I write differently than most writer's i have come across. Spelling and grammar really doesn't matter to me as much as the character I am writing about. I can always go back and fix that stuff later. Which means my poor Beta would have to be a English giant. :) It's also hard for me to express what i want from a story at an particular time. I will write paragraphs at a time just because I though up a cool line. I am very chaotic when it comes to writing. So my Beta would need to be able to deal with me being all over the place 90% of the time.
I just haven't found someone that I trust that much I guess

That's definitely a key issue, and the trust goes both ways of course. It's extremely difficult to find. (And being friends in other areas doesn't guarantee a good author-beta partnership.)

Which means my poor Beta would have to be a English giant.

Heh. I tell authors who want me to beta that I am NOT Grammar Queen. ("I before E except after C" is about the extent of it.) I'm always straight-up with what I can and can't do. I'm all for originality of style, poetic forms in prose, etc as long as I understand what the author is trying to convey. Does the style contribute to or impede the story? Which gets back to, what do you want a beta to give you or look for? that's a negotiation between the two people involved.

I will write paragraphs at a time just because I though up a cool line. I am very chaotic when it comes to writing. So my Beta would need to be able to deal with me being all over the place 90% of the time.

Are you me? ;-) this is why I always carry notebooks - and why most of what I write goes unfinished. Nifty idea - and then I loose the energy and interest. I should probably write more drabbles. (I tried long-form, multichapter fic once - ate up years of my life and was a complete disaster.)
Are you me? ;-) this is why I always carry notebooks - and why most of what I write goes unfinished. Nifty idea - and then I loose the energy and interest. I should probably write more drabbles.

LOL, I do this all the time. As for writing fan fic...if you notice the only stuff I write are about 100 words...I did try a 500 word one recently. :)

Edited at 2013-07-28 05:18 pm (UTC)
That should have been spelled "LOSE the energy" of course *ahem*

I haven't read your fics yet *note to self* - I'll have to amend that. My one fic in this fandom is about 640 words and for me is really short and spare. (Compared to any one of my replies in a convo thread.) But I didn't even count the number until about three weeks ago, and I wrote it half a year ago.

I HATE counting words. I'd be the person who tries to write a drabble and comes in at 105 works then racks my brain as to which five to cut.

As to losing interest in a fic - the minute I know the ending in my head (not of a drabble but a longer story esp something that might be multi-chapter) I immediately loose all interest. It's suddenly "done" in my head and I mentally walk away. Definitely lack of discipline.
That's a good question. Though in a way, when people comment on meta, especially if they disagree with it, the discussion can turn into a sort of open beta as the author clarifies and defends their thesis.... ETA: And Ruuger already said exactly that. Never mind! /Emily Litella

Edited at 2013-07-28 02:35 am (UTC)
Never mind! /Emily Litella


Excuse my fangirly squee for a moment (*SQUEE!*) I am constantly referencing Emily, she's practically one of my avatars - love that woman. Loved Gilda (*sniffle*).

the discussion can turn into a sort of open beta as the author clarifies and defends their thesis

No worries on "restating" the idea, b/c repeating it actually pushes me to further clarify and parse out the idea in my head. You got me thinking about how we traditionally have an image of the "lonely writer" by themselves in their room with no feedback, nothing but the company of their pen/typewriter/computer and their own imagination to guide them; but this description seems to me a better fit to the process of writing meta than fiction, at least in fandom.

I guess I think of a beta vs "general reader" as analogous to a production crew member vs studio audience. Of course I'm thinking of more "formal" metas (essays) rather than off-the-cuff entries like this one. Fiction & non-fiction are treated like apples and oranges in terms of purpose and expected engagement, but in terms of the actual WRITING PROCESS, are they really so different from one another as that?

A beta helps determine if an author is communicating the story they actually think they are and how effectively before it's let loose on the unsuspecting world. So that includes the technical aspects and style, even if the beta is not a Grammer Cop: Do words/sentences/images follow one another naturally, is there a flow and logic, what's missing, is there too much description, etc?

with meta the discussion definitely pushes the author to clarify further, or deepens understanding of an issue, but the reader is engaging with primarily with the issues and ideas rather than they style. But I think the same issues apply in non-fiction writing: do the words and ideas have a logical flow? Too much verbiage? Not enough? Is the point of the meta in clear focus the entire time, or is the writer all over the place?
I used to beta for spikesfool for a time. I can't say I caught every grammatical error, but I read the chapters thoroughly, and thought about them, and visualized everything. I never tried to steer the plot, but I pointed out when something seemed out of context or if I couldn't picture an action sequence in my mind. We had a really good partnership while it lasted.

I have to be honest, I don't know the exact definition of meta. (And I don't think I really enjoy it) But in my limited knowledge, it seems like it would lose something if it was beta'ed. It seems like it needs to come unfiltered from the writer.
I never tried to steer the plot, but I pointed out when something seemed out of context or if I couldn't picture an action sequence in my mind. We had a really good partnership while it lasted.

That's very much what I've done as a beta-reader for my friends; I let them know right up front I'm not about correcting grammar unless it's glaringly obvious even to me. But I look for the things you do - characterization, flow, readability, logical progression. I had a friend whose work I'd read and I'd ask every once in a while "How did this character get from point A to point B?" She'd say she saw it in her head, but as a reader I can't see what's in her head.

We all do that as writers, don't we? Is there such a thing as a writer who is able to reread their work and spot every error, or every place where they forgot to state something because they saw it in their head and assumed the reader would too?

comlodge just mentioned on another thread here the fact that they had a "beta" for one of their banners who spotted what was missing in the visual story. So not just writers - artists who tell a story regardless of the medium.

I don't know the exact definition of meta. (And I don't think I really enjoy it).

So you dislike all nonfiction writing about btvs (in this instance) and/or it's fandom? *pouts* That's the best definition I can come up with based on how I see the word used in this fandom. (Prior to joining fandom "meta" to me referred to a work of art or culture that is self-referential, that acknowledges itself as a created product, and acknowledges the existence of the audience.)

But in my limited knowledge, it seems like it would lose something if it was beta'ed. It seems like it needs to come unfiltered from the writer.

So you do have a definition of meta - a journal entry, an off-the-cuff or stream of consciousness observation. that's a very specific criteria. And it works fine IF that's the writer's style. It doesn't work if the author is going for something else. Meta can range from very informal and off-the-cuff to very academic and anything in between. And even the best nonfiction authors miss things and make errors just as fiction writers do.

Ex: I know with the Xander meta I wrote many months back, I cringe when I look at it now. Another eye looking it over would have been invaluable in shaping it. It never occured to me to ask anyone; now I wish I had. It's ok, but nothing I'm proud of.
I had a friend whose work I'd read and I'd ask every once in a while "How did this character get from point A to point B?"

Oh yes, I would do that too. Sometimes I would say "how is that character suddenly sitting down? Last time I pictured him he was standing on the other side of the room" LOL But truly, it was a gift to take part in her creative process. I've written a couple of things before and I was pleased with them, but she was the real deal.

So the thing about meta. Hmmmmm. I will try to explain my feeling about it. Please don't think it is about you at all. This is just something I feel in general and it comes from my experience on LJ over the years.

The simple answer is yes, I dislike all nonfiction writing about btvs. That's not completely true, of course. But when I hear the term meta, I envision someone who has an opinion about the motivation of a character or the meaning of an episode, and they write a post to explain their opinion and make their case. Then people on their flist join in the discussion. So what's so bad about that? Well, nothing really. And my hat is off to everyone who posts meta and participates, as long as it stays respectful, because that is a really important part of the fandom. But there are few reasons it’s not my cup of tea.

First of all, I do like to get into a discussion about the show and the characters on occasion. But when it gets too analytical, I don't want to experience btvs on that level. It's not an academic endeavor for me. It's an emotional, gut level experience. Maybe it's because I'm not really a writer, but I am more of a visual artist. Too much talkie no good. But that's just my thing, it's not a statement about the value of meta.

Also, I have seen some of these posts turn into serious unpleasantness. I've been on LJ in the Buffy fandom off and on for about 7 years, and I've seen some truly awful fandom free-for-all's that have started off with someone posting their big fucking opinion. It's pretty tame around here these days, but sometimes I click on a link from su_herald under the heading "fandom discussion", and I end up being sorry.

And as far as meta being beta’ed… it just seems like it should come directly from the writer without intervention. It should be, as you say, a stream of consciousness from the writer, not a collaborative creation. But again, this is just how I see things. The great thing about being involved in the fandom is appreciating the show with so many different people who are approaching it from different angles.
Edited, Ignore earlier version of this reply, please.
ETA: I just hit the reply button and THEN I read comlodge's reply down thread and she's stated the heart of my argument re: meta but more succinctly and a lot better than I could. http://red-satin-doll.livejournal.com/20858.html?thread=466298#t466298 *bows to comlodge*

BTW - I hope I didn't offend you! You certainly didn't offend me at all & I apologize if my words came across as a bit brusque. Words on the flat screen (or page) don't always capture tone or intent. in I mentioning my own stuff, it's meant as example only. Anyhoodle...I have NO idea why I had to unscreen this to reply btw; I didn't the last time, I haven't changed my settings and I just commented on one of your posts successfully. Weird.

Sometimes I would say "how is that character suddenly sitting down? Last time I pictured him he was standing on the other side of the room"

I've had those moments. Currently I am a (sometime) Muse to my best friend and it's been less about "how did they get to point A to B?" more brainstorming on themes, plot, characterization, which is a lot of fun. If I really don't feel I can offer advice because she's written something that I can't connect with for whatever reason, she's got other people she can rely on.

I've written a couple of things before and I was pleased with them, but she was the real deal.

Know that feeling all TOO well.

And thank you for laying our your argument/opinion to me; it makes sense to me where I didn't understand before. I can respect that - not your thing. I guess it's the same idea as when I come across fics that contain ideas or tropes that don't appeal to me.? The back button IS MY FRIEND.

someone who has an opinion about the motivation of a character or the meaning of an episode

I think fiction does the same thing in a somewhat different way. Nonfiction is more "this is what I see"; fiction is more "this is what I would have liked to have seen" but that's not true in all cases.

It's not an academic endeavor for me. It's an emotional, gut level experience.

For me ithe emotional level definitely came first. And there are plenty of intellectual essays that go over my head in terms of academic language and I really can't participate. I'm not their audience in those cases. (So I tell myself, to keep my "I should be at that level" feeling of failure from taking over. *lol*) The funny thing is, some of the most intellectual/academic fandom writing to be just as emotional as any other; sometimes the author is clear about their feelings but other times the language serves as a mask, pretending to be objective. We're all fans at heart.

some truly awful fandom free-for-all's

Definitely so. people forget to be civil and respectful sometimes. Again, the back button and "agree to disagree" both come in very handy in such cases. I've slipped up a couple of times and gotten embroiled in heated arguments or said things I regretted later, almost always because emotions took over from sense. Or I've been on the receiving end of someone else's emotional issues (not fun). My Rule #1 - don't reply when I'm tired, angry, depressed, sick, in pain, etc. Rule #2 - I'm not obligated to reply esp if on hot-button issues. I have friends in this fandom I adore and we disagree on what I consider some fundamental issues and I have to ask myself, What's the point of going there? If I'm worried things will get heated and/or I know we're not going to change each other's minds, I try not to go there. I do slip up.

It should be, as you say, a stream of consciousness from the writer

Again, comlodge just said it better than I can. I'll try a better example (hopefully?) of what I mean: lostboy_lj's post "The Monomythology of Buffy" is fanart as meta. He edited it from his original version because of a point that bone_dry1013 made in the convo thread. It wasn't about changing his premise but a single detail that made that premise clearer. If Lostboy had Bonedry look at the post beforehand, might he have saved himself the trouble later? Possibly.


Edited at 2013-08-02 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Edited, Ignore earlier version of this reply, please.
comlodge has an amazing way with words, doesn't she?

BTW - I hope I didn't offend you! You certainly didn't offend me at all & I apologize if my words came across as a bit brusque.

Gosh, I'm trying to find where you might have said something offensive, and I can't find it. Funny though, I wrote my last response late at night, and then I wondered if I had said anything offensive. LOL. Well at least we care. I don't know you very well, but I've seen your comments around LJ, and I get that you are very passionate about the show. And I think that's wonderful. A passionate viewpoint would NEVER offend me.

I've slipped up a couple of times and gotten embroiled in heated arguments or said things I regretted later, almost always because emotions took over from sense.

Oh yeah, I've learned that lesson so many times, it should be tattooed on my forehead by now. And I think that is at the heart of at least part of my reluctance to get involved in "fandom discussions". When I first got on LJ, I thought it was going to be lots and lots of fun and we would all hold hands and talk about how much we loved the show. But there was so much more to it, both good and bad. The good part was incredibly joyful and almost the most fun possible. But I think I'm still a little traumatized by some of the bad stuff that happened. When I came back on LJ this time, I promised myself I was just going to work on my Photoshop skills, enjoy worshiping Spike and basically stay out of trouble. I really don't get too wound up about anything anymore. The only thing that really gets to me is when people post to make fun of what they see as others’ writing mistakes. Especially when they try to post as though they're adding something informative or helpful. And then the rest of the herd joins in, because you know, you don't want to be on the outside. When I click on something like that from su_herald I'm just always so astounded. The funny thing is, it's usually from a writer. I find it depressing. So I stay in my little bubble and make pretty pictures.

So now I've shared my deep thoughts with you, and you don't even know who I am. That's one of the things I love about LJ! :) If you don't mind, I will friend you. As I said, I don't respond to meta too much, but I'm sure on occasion there will be a post that peaks my interest, and I will feel compelled to add my $.02.
Re: Edited, Ignore earlier version of this reply, please.
Gosh, I'm trying to find where you might have said something offensive, and I can't find it. Funny though, I wrote my last response late at night, and then I wondered if I had said anything offensive.

Honestly that seems to be my M.O. esp when I don't know someone well. I say something and THEN worry I said the wrong thing or read too much into what they say. And most of the time that's not the case at all. After years online I still have a problem with sussing out "tone". I love the internet and the people I get to talk to but I also miss the face-to-face interaction.

So no worries *hugs*

I get that you are very passionate about the show. And I think that's wonderful. A passionate viewpoint would NEVER offend me.

I accept the compliment and thank you for it! (I would have said "stubborn, opinionated and occasionally tactless" but I like your version much better!)

When I first got on LJ, I thought it was going to be lots and lots of fun and we would all hold hands and talk about how much we loved the show. But there was so much more to it, both good and bad. The good part was incredibly joyful and almost the most fun possible. But I think I'm still a little traumatized by some of the bad stuff that happened.

*nods* I've experienced much the same on both ends, definitely. And screwed up royally myself.

Getting into conversation or not depends on a lot of factors. I do really enjoy conversations analyzing BUT certain conditions that tend to be in place: there are other people who I at least partially agree with and/or am probably already comfortable with (I'm learning - hah - that if everyone thinks in one way and I totally disagree - back the hell off, because I'm not going to change anyone's opinions and will probably only offend someone), the language isn't over my head or already taking an unpleasant turn. Civilized exchange is good; arguing for it's own sake is not. I don't like being patronized, talked down to or having my entire opinion dismissed out of hand.

When I first got on LJ, I thought it was going to be lots and lots of fun and we would all hold hands and talk about how much we loved the show. But there was so much more to it, both good and bad. The good part was incredibly joyful and almost the most fun possible. But I think I'm still a little traumatized by some of the bad stuff that happened.

Oh same here - see comments above.

I really think more people could stand to use the term "agree to disagree" when things get heated. In my experience it really helps folks step back, laugh a little, and let go of the need to "be right".

I find it depressing. So I stay in my little bubble and make pretty pictures.

And that's just fine - if you're not having fun what's the point? I used to be the moderator of a forum in a completely different fandom and the administrator, a friend of mine, said that over and over - there was no point sticking around if it wasn't fun because it was FANDOM. It was supposed to be fun. But then again the forum was invitation only, so people mostly knew one another and we mods watched the board and were willing to put out flare-ups, which rarely happened. And we used "agree to disagree" a lot.

And pretty pictures? DEFINITELY a legit expression of creativity and fannishness, as much as meta or fiction. In fact I think fanart doesn't get the kudos it deserves.

As I said, I don't respond to meta too much, but I'm sure on occasion there will be a post that peaks my interest, and I will feel compelled to add my $.02.

Please do and I hope I post some things you enjoy now and again! Infinitewhale expressed a desire to see more "fun and shallow" fandom posts, but those sorts of things may be found more readily on tumblr nowadays? I'll definitely try to post some fun things but we'll see how well I do with that.
I feel really blessed to have strong relationships with my betas. I really feel like velvetwhip and snowpuppies have helped me excel as a writer and I'm deeply appreciative to both of them for that.
Well you've got two of the best writers in this fandom as betas (yeah, I said it), so I'd imagine that definitely "ups your game". Obviously not all writers make good betas, and not all betas are "great writers". (I'm speaking of myself in this instance.) That's true in any field of course. (I have second-hand experience in this via my sweetie's four years in art school.) In fact quite a large percentage of visual artists in the US turn to teaching because they can't make their primary living from art, no matter how good they are. Some of them are great teachers - and some need to get their heads out of their big fat egos.

The old saying "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" is utter bullshit IMO. Those who can, teach; those who can't, criticize teachers.
An interesting conversation. I'd never come across the term 'beta' til I came here. Perhaps it is a fanfic thing. For me 'beta' always meant a release eg of software, that was not final - it was past the design stage but needed to be tested further, usually in a live situation, to find and fix the final bugs.
Here I assume the word is used instead of editor. Editors are, apparently the bane of writers. Always changing their work. Except there are different types of editing - for grammar, punctuation, sentence, paragraph construction as well as continuity. It is not an editors job to change the story because the story is the author's job.
So at the very least all of us could do with a beta to fix our spelling errors and basic grammar and construction. But a beta could also perform the task of pointing to a more structured, cohesive plot, pick up charachter portrayals/developments that are incongruous with preceding parts of the stories and or canon charachter traits, time lapses that aren't explained, suggest the correct genre, etc. I'm sure we've all read a story or a meta, loved the basic plot, or idea but the grammar and or spelling mistakes drives us batty and sometimes drive us away.
I think I would be a dreadful beta. I'd be wanting to rewrite the story, I'm sure. Having said that I'm also aware that a beta would save me the countless edits I make to something I've posted just for grammar and sentence construction. A beta could also suggest a different way to say something that would give the story, or at least, that part of it, more impact. Even a very good writer needs the services of a good beta/editor.
A good working relationship between a beta and a writer, or in RL an editor and a writer, should produce a story fiction or non fiction that will have the readers come back for more.

FYI I edited this post to add a link to your reply because you said what I was trying to but a lot better and with fewer words. & I was hoping you'd stop btw here especially after our convo yesterday re: having someone spotcheck artwork because it's the same idea.

In short, I humbly bow to your way with words, my Queen. And true to form I respond with - a lot more words.

I'd never come across the term 'beta' til I came here.

Neither had I. I'd not come across the term meta in this context either - I guess it's meant to me "all nonfiction fanwriting"? Which could include stream of consciousness or off the cuff observations, very academic analysis, fangirl (or boy) squee, even fiction or artwork (I mentioned Lostboy's "Monomythology of Buffy" as an example. But I guess some of your own artwork could be included, making ties between Anne Pratt and Dawn/Buffy for example.)

Previously "meta" meant to me any cultural product (art, media) that is self-referential, that acknowledges the fact that the product is just that, a created product made for an audience and acknowledging the audience's existence. Or a particular example of winking at the audience. ("Dawn's in trouble, must be Tuesday" is a reference to the day of the week Btvs aired at the time. Or callbacks to "Nightmares" in Restless and Bargaining, etc.) I'm pretty sure that's the basic definition in literary and media studies? It's considered very "post-modern" but writers and artists throughout history have done that, inserted themselves as narrators/characters and spoken directly to the audience; put self-portraits into landscapes, devotional pieces commissioned by a church or portraits of patrons, etc, recognized only by those "in the know". We tend to think of it as modern I think because nowadays it's done by pretty much everyone.

In any case I dislike both the terms "Beta" and "meta" in this context. They seem a bit cold and clinical to me and meta seems vague to me, but they're what's used in these parts. When in Rome...bitch about the train schedules and the feral cats. (*lol*)

Here I assume the word is used instead of editor. Editors are, apparently the bane of writers.

Mostly writers who think their every word is precious I should think - or perhaps in response to tactless and egotistical editors? I'd imagine there's a difference between those who are paid to do it and have a boss and a market to answer to, vs those who do it for love.

But a beta could also perform the task of pointing to a more structured, cohesive plot, pick up charachter portrayals/developments that are incongruous with preceding parts of the stories and or canon charachter traits, time lapses that aren't explained, suggest the correct genre, etc....I'm sure we've all read a story or a meta, loved the basic plot, or idea but the grammar and or spelling mistakes drives us batty and sometimes drive us away.

EXACTLY THIS. The basics of writing are the same regardless of style, genre, etc.

I think as a beta it's really my job to offer to the writer what they want from me, and in return let them know my limits, what I can't do (I'm good at characterization and the flow and logic of the story, of tonal shifts etc), and when I really don't feel I have anything to offer for whatever reason. (horrible at grammar or maybe it's not a genre or story that speaks to me.)

And I have to remember that it is not my story. Mutual respect, communication and clear expectations/boundaries are essential.

A good working relationship between a beta and a writer, or in RL an editor and a writer, should produce a story fiction or non fiction that will have the readers come back for more.

And that's ALWAYS the bottom line, both in an individual work and in terms of the creator's total output.
I wondered, at some stage way back when, if meta and beta came into being because fanfic is using others ideas so we should use something other than RL titles for things. I wonder a lot of silly things really, lol.

When I go to Rome, I shall eat pasta and pizza and bitch that they're not authentic 'cos they are nothing like back home in Oz!

I have to remember that it is not my story

And this is where I would fail, I'm sure. I would want to rewrite it. There is a genre here called 'remix' where authors rewrite each other's stories, with permission. Of course, fanfic is a 'remix' of canon.

You may prepare my breakfast now, my handmaiden. I'll have it in bed because it's too early and cold to be sitting here at my little desk. :D
And this is where I would fail, I'm sure. I would want to rewrite it.

I have no problem with friends who've asked me to beta but I had a friend I tried writing a collaborative fic with and - that didn't work in the long run. I always thought of myself as a good collaborator, a good follower but in this case it was like two queen bees in the same hive. And I think in the end it may have cost me a friendship. I have no idea, they stopped talking to me one day after promising they'd never do such a thing. :-(

Of course, fanfic is a 'remix' of canon.

YES, exactly this. And it's not limited to fandom at all. Michael Cunningham's novel "The Hours" is a remix of Virginia Woolf's "Mrs Dalloway" (esp the first chapter).It's fanfiction (he's a great fan of Woolf) albeit professionally published.

You may prepare my breakfast now, my handmaiden

Does Her Majesty prefer her grapes peeled or unpeeled?
Friendship can be such a fragile, fleeting thing, dependant on things we never realise until we've broken it and even then, sometimes, still unknown. I'm quite a bossy bint. Always have been though I can play with others when I have too, lol.

I suppose that most writing is a remix these days. I know that what I write here must have elements of the hundreds of stories I read before I even thought to begin writing my own.

Peeled and seeded please. Hate grape seeds in my teeth. :D
Friendship can be such a fragile, fleeting thing, dependant on things we never realise until we've broken it and even then, sometimes, still unknown.

One of my favorite quotes is from Virginia Woolf: “I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability to cross the street.”

I'm not sure I've ever gotten the balance quite right. I am mostly very yielding, cooperative, supportive but I have a core of stubbornness and anger and hurt that gets in the way many times. The worst of course is as you say the "unknown". It may have had nothing to do with me, so in absence of evidence I'll blame myself anyway.

BTW - I wish we had a word like "bint" in the US. it seems quite a bit less harsh to me than "Bitch" although maybe it means the same thing in the end?

Hate grape seeds in my teeth.

*sneaks out and buys seedless grapes*

Just so long as you don't expect me to de-seed the raspberries. (I tried making raspberry jelly one year instead of jam at my sweetie's request - never again. Easier to just buy the stuff.)
Oh I like that quote - spot on.

I am mostly very yielding..

I think this is actually a trait of many women in general. I think it is the result of living in a patriarchal society, dealing with men under their rules. I often complain to myself that I allow my friend to 'push' me around, ie I follow her ideas even though I don't quite agree. She is actually quite manipulative in how she goes about getting her idea to win the day. I've told her this sometimes, when I've got quite fed up with it and she smiles and then we laugh. I think this behaviour is another consequence of living in a 'man's' world. We women, frequently, have to resort to manipulative methods to get our way in dealing with the men in our lives, who look condescendingly at us as though we could not possibly know.

We are all of us, works in progress. We hopefully change and grow as we age, making big and little mistakes along the way and hopefully finding one or two true friends to stay the journey with us. :D

Don't like rasberries that much so you're safe there. Mulberries on the other hand - hmmm.
I think this is actually a trait of many women in general. I think it is the result of living in a patriarchal society, dealing with men under their rules.

It's definitely a pattern I learned watching my mom while growing up. the irony of course is that she is a very strong woman, but in fact so are a lot of abused and oppressed women (people.) strength through endurance and sheer survival. And she learned it growing up and so forth.

I used to tell myself I'd "never do that" but then - did just that. In my case the irony is that my partner is another woman. She doesn't mean to, but she's an immovable force. I'm not going to change that. but I regret how often I've "given in" because it feels like giving up pieces of myself over time. (It's one of the reasons that I don't hate W/T that way a lot of people do, even though I hate Willow's actions that season - or at least, the fact that women do hurt other women, that lesbians do abuse their partners, is something that resonates with me as being very real and true to life. It's the "dirty little secret".)

But my partner learned her behavior as another method of survival - she was once the one who yielded to an older partner when she was young. She learned it from her parents but also as a single woman who had to survive in the '70's & '80's being the only woman in many job settings: carpentry, auto repair, etc.

We women, frequently, have to resort to manipulative methods

Confession: I have on a couple of occasions resorted to tears to get my way or more often to extract sympathy and end an argument. Granted I cry easily anyway, but then I always feel awful about it afterwards. I'm supposed to be a feminist, I'm NOT supposed to behave that way. Ugh

We hopefully change and grow as we age, making big and little mistakes along the way and hopefully finding one or two true friends to stay the journey with us.

That's all we can hope for isn't it?

Mulberries - the first time I had them was in North Carolina from someone's tree 15 years ago - big, fat, and juicy. Our tree only yields pathetic scrawny things but the tree is rather wild anyway (and this summer was horrible.) the best ones in the neighborhood are on the trees that line the road so I wouldn't dare eat them thanks to car exhaust.
We've got horses - arabians, lots of mare. Had this sweet little mare that never said boo. Loved a pat and do whatever was asked. She was bottom of the peck and every day had to wait till everyone else had finished at the water trough. Some of the others would just stand there quite a while after they'd had their fill. Making her wait for her turn. I thought what a bunch of bitches.
One day we put three young fillies, almost two into the paddock with these mares. The old mares put them in their place immediately - bottom of the peck. Then I watched the usual routine at the water trough. Except now my sweet old mare took her turn being a bitch to the babies.
Moral - we are a product of genetics, environment and our own innate insecurities. We act as we have learned, unless we make a conscious effort to change ourselves; to recognise a pattern that is not healthy and a way we could do it better. No sense beating ourselves up over it. No sense beating up those who won't change either.

Mulberies - they need lots of water before they begin fruiting to get big fat juicy ones. Car exhaust. The Lockyer Valley (where I live) is a big provider of vegies. Vegie farms line the highways and major roads around here. So much for 'healthy' vegies! :D