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September 2019



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An Archive Of One's Own

**NEW ETA**: we're going to take a stab at putting this together. For more information and discussion, please join and/or watch otw_news.

ETA: If you are coming to the conversation late, xenacryst has helpfully collected up a bunch of links to a subset of noteworthy discussion threads, over here!

First, why fanfic is not illegal and why YOU should stop saying that it is even if you don't agree, by cesperanza. Please read it.

That said, the people behind fanlib (talked about many places, see astridv here) don't actually care about fanfic, the fanfic community, or anything except making money off content created entirely by other people and getting media attention. They don't have a single fanfic reader or writer on their board; they don't even have a single woman on their board. They're creating a lawsuit-bait site while being bad potential defendants, and they deserve to be chased out being pelted with rocks.

But even if they were, which I doubt is going to happen, because hey, they have people and money, we're still left with this problem: we are sitting quietly by the fireside, creating piles and piles of content around us, and other people are going to look at that and see an opportunity. And they are going to end up creating the front doors that new fanfic writers walk through, unless we stand up and build our OWN front door.

We need a central archive of our own, something like animemusicvideos.org. Something that would NOT hide from google or any public mention, and would clearly state our case for the legality of our hobby up front, while not trying to make a profit off other people's IP and instead only making it easier for us to celebrate it, together, and create a welcoming space for new fans that has a sense of our history and our community behind it.

I think the necessary features would include:
  • run BY fanfic readers FOR fanfic readers

  • with no ads and solely donation-supported

  • with a simple and highly searchable interface and browsable quicksearch pages

  • allowing ANYTHING -- het, slash, RPF, chan, kink, highly adult -- with a registration process for reading adult-rated stories where once you register, you don't have to keep clicking through warnings every time you want to read

  • allowing the poster to control her stories (ie, upload, delete, edit, tagging)

  • allowing users to leave comments with the poster able to delete and ban particular users/IPs but not edit comment content (ie, lj style)

  • code-wise able to support a huge archive of possibly millions of stories

  • giving explicit credit to the original creators while clearly disclaiming any official status

Other dream features of my own, which I throw out in a brainstorming spirit:
  • posting interface that would allow you to post to the archive, to your blog, to your personal lj, and to up to (say) three lj communities you specify

  • making it easy for people to download stories or even the entire archive for offline reading (thus widely preserving the work in case some disaster does take it down)

  • options for people to post podfic or ebook format versions, translations, links to fanart/fanvids, stories inspired by, the original story, all of which would automatically be linked back so you could see the kind of interconnecting 'web' of how our work is interrelated (with the original author able to delete any given link if she wanted to, but not the inspired-by work itself)

  • tagging

  • automatic rec lists (just click on a story to add it to your rec list)

  • charity auctions -- we could do an annual fundraiser and send whatever is left over to charity

  • mentoring: collect up writing advice, fannish history, acafandom, and create a simple FAQ (integrate a wiki?)

  • beta-editing: an interface where you could send your story to selected other readers without worrying if their email addresses had changed (like @livejournal addresses, except everyone would have them, not just paid users)

If I had thirty seconds more time I would just try to do it, but I don't right now, and so I am throwing out this plea into the ether. And I'm putting myself out here right now to say that I would help as any/all of an advisor, a fundraiser, a promoter, and I would archive my own stuff there. I would even take on coding parts; I just can't take on project management.

But I know we have project managers in our community -- and coders and designers -- can't we do this? Seriously -- we can come up with a site that would be miles better and more attractive to fanfic writers/readers than anything else out there, guys, because we actually USE the stuff.

I have to go offline to write now, but clearly the conversation is happening right now, thanks to the fanlib guys, and I really wanted to get this out there.

A couple of quick ETAs:
I don't allow anonymous commenting, but if you don't have an lj or OpenID account and would like to comment, you can get one really quick right here. ETA: sorry, OpenID doesn't work with anon commenting disallowed, oops.

Also, please have no hesitation to have conversations among yourselves in the comments; I never mind that anyway, but in this case would like to totally encourage it. You can use the lj thumbtacks to track everything being posted in a single thread even if you don't want to get inundated with everything posted to the entry.
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This is a wonderful idea, and I think all your suggestions are excellent. Thank you for the timely post. Expect to be deluged with comments!
I have no skills of any kind, unfortunately, so I can't offer much in the way of help – but I think this is a fantastic idea, and long overdue. They think we need a board of male directors and some corporate sponsorship to do this for us? Fuck that. Let's show them what we're made of.

\o/!!! \o/!!! \o/!!! \o/!!!
Sounds all flavours of a groovy thing! I'm not sure there's anything I could do to help but I could ... wave pom-poms, maybe?
I think it's a great idea.
I love this. I really love this.

More dream features.

* Automated rec lists 2.0 - suggestions based on what's recommended by people who share tastes/interests

* Okay to remix? - allow posters to flag their fic as remixable or off-limits according to their comfort levels; then generate frequent remix challenges using whatever's remixable in a fandom, theme, tag, etc.

* Lots of insta-challenges in general - keep people coming to the site and exploring, not just sticking things in an archive, by using community data to identify good challenge ideas, underappreciated fandoms, or whatever else can be mined.

* An API.

* A pony.
These are all AWESOME. I love the okay-to-remix flag! And YES YES to the API -- let people build whatever clients they want!
This sounds like a dream come true and I haven't been writing much fanfic for years (long story).
Am rather internet-stupid these days, but I think it's something to be involved in.
I believe the slash city folks were trying for something like this years ago with SlashFanFiction.Com. Of course, it doesn't fit the "allow anything" requirement because it is/was slash focussed. Still, Robin and ZR have done a lot for facilitating fan-content (e.g., fanfic-friendly webhosting and journalfen), and might be willing to provide resources or advice.

(too busy with RL and the Fem SF BookSwap to work on this, m'afraid)
I would donate -- money and possibly services, if I could be of use.
Thank you!!!!

I really like that idea so so much!!! Since I started talking with "the guys," I've started to realize how we're simultaneously complaining that they don't know our stuff yet make it quite hard to find. Several of them told me that they'd love to teach it if it were more easily accessible, if they knew what to do with it.

And while we might answer that it's their responsibility, I still feel there's something to be gained by showing them the way :)

I just gave one of them a brief and dirty current interesting vids 101 just drawing from imeem, and it was marvelous. I could show him what was considered worthwhile and why, and didn't feel horribly guilty sending him to d'load in 15 different places (problematic for both sides).

And he used it that same day in his class and told me how well it had worked (after he initially had feared that teaching vids would be near impossible, not knowing the community, aesthetic, and all). So, speaking from my personal interest of how this stuff can be taught, I think it'd be a great thing to have a more central place that'd be easily accessible and usable without sending people to personal LJs, web pages etc.

As a user, I *miss* central archives with good search functions (damnit if I want that 300+ K AU epic with BDSM but without partner betrayal, I could find it :), and I especially *love* the interconnectedness sugestion (intertextuality all the way baby!).

We've already talked about the Wiki part, and I think that's definitely something to consider connecting. And I certainly am happy to help on organizational and anything aca sides (after this summer :). Just don't make me code!

I've been struggling more and more with the whole issue of publicity vs. hiding what we do. I spend a lot of time teaching people to remix and transform and appropriate (and vid, for that matter), but from a place of "these are incredibly culturally powerful tools, but I can't tell you where I learned them...."

Every time I see big shiny celebrations of fan culture that completely ignore 40 years of women's creative work, I want to not only let my freak flag fly, but march up and down the streets with it -- and then something else (lately fanlib, but it's far from the first) reminds me that getting out there without doing it on our own terms is only a small part of the battle. It seems like a fan-culture site that gets our culture while really making the most of the internet as it is now (as opposed to publicizing fan work just for the sake of ad dollars or eyeball-share or whatthehellever)... oh, yes.
I would be delighted to help out on something like this, but I don't think I'm qualified to handle the coding/setup. It's a brilliant idea, though.
When you want to start planning this, like actual nuts and bolts who-do-we-need-and-how-do-we-get-them stuff, just say the word, I'm so serious.

archive engineering issues

I don't disagree, but I would say that much of the reason that fanfic.net is a badfic haven is because the interfaces and design are bad and not satisfying for the picky readers that most of us are, once we get through the first rush of "omg my fandom!" I know that when ff.net was first launched, I wasn't inherently avoiding it; I avoided it because it was just terrible to use.

I *do* think that in order to be successful, an archive has to be someplace where you yourself want to live -- it has to be a place where you want to read, or else you are not going to bother posting there, and that if you make a site that the most demanding readers are satisfied with, that is kind of the key. For instance, I feel that LJ has beaten out the fandom-specific central archives because it has MAJOR advantages for anyone who is multifannish or social, despite the lack of searching capabilities.

I don't want to try and duplicate the effort of LJ, but I think something like the "post here AND to LJ at once" tool would be a great way to keep people posting to the archive because it would have zero cost (possibly negative cost if you also add in automatic lj community posting) for someone posting a story to LJ. Especially with an API as gchick suggested above, so for instance someone could create a client that would support both LJ posting and posting to the archive.

I think this would qualify as a charitable activity. I'd make room in my budget to contribute if this can actually get off the ground.
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