I just sent an email pretty much like this: “Is unnamed literary journal that’s small yet enticing now a closed project? If not, you should know that Duotrope has noted it as ‘believed defunct.’ If it is true, I regret it since you have a good concept that others are not doing. You still have poems from me with no decision made and I believe you may have others as well. If the mag is indeed defunct, it would take just a moment to craft a goodbye page for your site and send a generic email to all submitters. It’s sad when a project ends, but things happen.Please let people know one way or another. Best wishes…”
I am all but positive that Duotrope is right and this journal gave up the ghost. However, as an editor, I can’t understand how one can decide to close down a journal yet not let that journal’s readers know. That is a wasted opportunity for future goodwill since people who start journals tend to do it again, but it is also a good opportunity to be a nice literary community member and use that goodbye notice on the site to note a list of where you would send now that your very special journal is gone. Typing a textbox and making that last announcement on the site takes less than a minute. Especially if the site is on a free-hosted site like WordPress.com or Blogger.com, that dead journal could be up for another year or more before WordPress or Blogger notices the tumbleweeds rolling through and takes it down. A final notice is needed.
Most if not all editors who start literary journals are also writers themselves. That is why I am especially disappointed that an email was not sent to all current submitters. That would take one group email (bcc). If they did not have a database for the submissions, there must have at least been a submissions folder in email so that pasting the email addresses would not take a lot of time.
It may be that I’ll get an email saying they are alive and kicking much like the one I got from them this summer when I sent a status request two months past when they said responses would be made. I do that more now since the time when I had poems accepted and a journal neglected to tell me. Mistakes happen. My record for time span is for a journal that took my poems, sent a contract (always good), then did not put out an issue. That was in 2013 and they are certain that it will be out this month. Gosh, I hope so. I have reasons to be forgiving in this case, but that is not always true. Reputations are easy to make and to lose. I hope things turn out well for this journal, either way–live or die.