From the Editor: Your Place in 311,183

If you had just six words to share with the rest of Mensa, what would they be?

Illustration: Your Place in 311,183 superimposed over archived Bulletin covers

In the trailing year’s worth of Bulletin issues, we’ve published exactly 311,183 words. (Count for yourself if you don’t believe me.) That’s a little less than six words for every member of American Mensa. If every member had something published. And everyone was allocated the same number of words. But obviously, that’s not how this works.

The most laughable rant I hear from members whose content isn’t selected for publication is that they are being “censored.” The complaints are predicated on the mistaken notion that everyone is granted a platform in the Bulletin. We could extend this assumption to the absurd and land in a scenario where your member magazine is just a string of classified-ad-style agate type full of anything and everything everyone wanted to see in print. More productively, let’s nestle into reality: There’s limited space in the magazine, and anyway, we’re trying to curate the most compelling content for readers.

Those limitations make publishing a zero-sum proposition — if we run this, we can’t run that. We make the best decisions we can, but, staying in reality, nobody bats 1.000. To the complainant who wants to knock another member’s published work to ex post facto make room for their own: Sorry, we still think your submission … is not suitable for publication is the nicest way to put it.

Besides writing, members contribute art, photography, and other media. Still, the number of contributors and letter writers each issue can usually be counted on an editor’s and art director’s hands and toes. Regarding oneself a rejected Bulletin contributor is akin to me saying I’m a rejected NBA player. We have more voices in this magazine than ever, and we strive for a diversity of insights and expressions, but we’re playing in a necessarily small sandbox.

Of course, there are Mensa platforms beyond the Bulletin where members can share their work: Local Group newsletters, Mensa’s myriad Facebook Groups, the online message board Mensa Connect, and Annual and Regional Gathering talks, to name a few. Many Mensans, however, find prestige in being published in the Bulletin. Good. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

You’ll always have the opportunity to have your creations thoughtfully considered for publication. Our processes are such that rejected works typically receive more eyes than selected ones because we want submitters given the benefit of doubt and don’t want to chance losing out on good content based on the whims of one or two people.

Publication is an honor, and the Bulletin is honored to have so many great works to choose from. I am curious, though. If you had just six words to share with the rest of Mensa, what would they be?

Email me with the subject “six words,” and you’re liable to join an exclusive, yet growing, club.


Chip Taulbee headshotChip Taulbee oversees American Mensa’s magazine, the Mensa Bulletin and its digital edition. He directs the editorial aspects of the magazine, including material selection, editorial themes, and risk management issues. He also works with a team of associate editors, columnists, and contributors. Chip also writes and edits for other print and web-based publications directed by the Communications team.