Writers for popular satirical journal ‘The Spoof' are threatening strike action after a dispute over how their stories are being rated.
Spoof writers' union representative Jerry Taggart said that his members were concerned that the five-star rating system which Spoof readers use to rate articles was being abused.
"We've basically had enough," he said. "It's soul-destroying to discover, after a few hours of hard graft, crafting cutting-edge political satire, that some 14-year old Harry Potter fan hasn't understood your witty story and awarded it just one star."
One writer said she feared that the Spoof readership had been ‘polluted' by ‘intellectually challenged minors' who had become aware of the Spoof website after believing some of its stories about a popular children's author.
"They are coming onto the website in droves, reading the first sentence of stories and then giving up and awarding them one star because they contain too many words of more than two syllables," she complained.
Taggart, who claimed some writers had already received verbal warnings, said his union was now lobbying the Spoof management to install a new system whereby readers have to pass an online intelligence test before being allowed to vote on stories.
"You only have to look at the discussion forum to see the questionable intellectual level of some readers," he argued. "If it doesn't stop, we'll be taking industrial action - writer's livelihoods are on the line here."
However one reader disputed Taggart's claims, "If Spoof writers only get one star for their stories, it means just one thing - that they are shit," he said.