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astolat

September 2019

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astolat

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.

cutting for details and brainstormingCollapse )

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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Crossovers and multi-author fic

We're on page seven so I can't say for sure this hasn't been brought up already, but something I'd love to see in a fanfic archive is support for crossover fanfic - specifically in the sense that it would let you post one fic as belonging to two (or more) different series. I can't off-hand think of any other archive that lets you do this, which is a shame considering just how common crossovers are.

A similar issue would be co-written fic, whether in the sense of a stories two people have worked on together or series which multiple writers have contributed different chapters to. Again, there's a lot of it out there, not much in the way of fanfic archives letting you post it as such.

Given, both of these could raise the complexity of putting the archive together quite a bit, and they're bound to come with issues of their own (for example, would a brief cameo appearance by a character from another series be enough for a fic to count as a crossover?), but I think they could be well worth the effort to include.

Re: Crossovers and multi-author fic

I can't off-hand think of any other archive that lets you do this, which is a shame considering just how common crossovers are.

I feel like I'm continually tooting their horn, but again rockfic does this very simply. For "crossover" band fictions (say, Metallica & Leppard), you just select both bands when specifying the band fandom, and the story shows up in both band category listings, characters can be selected from both bands, and it lists both bands in the general description so its easily viewable as a crossover. No multiple-uploading necessary. This seems like something that could be do-able in a pan-fandom sense as well.

The co-author point is a good one -- I definitely haven't seen any automated archive that addresses that issue easily.
Just popping in to volunteer if I can be of any help. I don't have much experience developing a big app. like this from the ground up, and only have minor web-development experience, but I do smaller scale programming and project management for a living, so could possibly help out with basic gruntwork in those areas, at least.

Fundraising - zines, e-zines, premium content for subscribers

Lots of people are in favour of a links-based archive. I'd just like to say that I'd prefer a real archive, so that it could help to preserve fic for the future. The wayback machine doesn't cover everything, and fan's websites are going down all the time as people leave fandom.

Also, someone earlier was talking about fundraising, and I thought, why don't you do a zine or an e-zine? That way people who can't contribute lots of money or technical skills could still help by providing stories or buying the zines. It would also help with the crossover into RL & off-LJ fannishness, and work as a kind of free advertising, too, if the zines had a link back to the archive.

Plus, maybe you could ask creators to lock some of their creations down in the archive itself for a short period of time, and have them only be available to subscribers during that time? (Or even ask all creators to wait a few hours before their stuff becomes available to all.) Then you'd be able to provide a simple premium service, and if you kept the yearly readers subscription below $5, lots of people would be willing to subscribe to get access.

It's just a thought - feel free to ignore it. I have no idea if it would even be technically feasible.
I've gone so far as to register a domain for a similar project, though I haven't done anything with it yet because there's some real hurdles to cover on a technical side.

Programming's one of them. Huge coding job. Easiest way to do it might be to take an existing CMS and modify it-- but it's still a big job.

Second hurdle would be servers, and paying for servers. If this site took off and approached ffnet in size (or even a fraction of ffnet in size) you're talking loadsharing with multiple servers. I have recently learned just how complicated and expensive loadsharing with multiple dedicated servers can be. Think three figures per month for a few servers, go up from there. Bet ffnet's hosting bill is solidly into the four figures per month, if not higher.

Then you have to *pay* for the site. Means, likely, forming a nonprofit to handle the money. Which means a board of directors, and politics, and people who fight with other people, and fans who disagree with the board's decisions, and lots of wanking. Guaranteed. And do you pay your board if it gets to be a full time or even significant part time job, or do you risk having unpaid volunteers burn out spectacularly?

Then there's funding. Either you run fundraising drives or you have ads. Both have some serious issues.

It can be overcome, but eesh, it'll be a headache.

In an odd coincidence I started a different project a week ago, trying to unite Fanfiction Archives.

http://www.fanfiction-directory.com

Basically it's a searchable directory of fanfiction archives that can be regulated through automation (dead links are deleted by a script). It's small now, but it will hopefull grow larger as it gets exposure and I continue to dig up links.

Existing fan archive to consider

(This site has been mentioned before, but I'm posting/moving this topic here anyway.)

There is an existing multi-fandom fanfiction and fanart website, with a very nice forum, that has been running and slowly growing for the past year or so.

.moon

Don't let the name deceive you; it is an all-fandoms inclusive site, and accepts original works of fiction/art if you want to submit them. The site is still in the midst of developing new features (including a graphics archive), but the entire submissions process is very smooth, the staff is quick and friendly, and the site updates weekly.

It's worth checking out.

ALSO: Even if this fan archive project takes off and a new site is created, affiliations with existing sites like these could benefit both sides. People go to different sites for different purposes and experiences, and while someone might go to an archive site like this to expose their stories, they might also go to a site like .moon to also dive into the forum or post artwork. Everything has something different to offer. At the very least, a lot of linkage would be very cool to see between all of these projects!

volunteering

I realize I never really said anything concrete in my original comment.

I know basic html and CSS and the like, so I'd be happy to help people get fics ready for upload or other gruntwork. I also know Japanese (some) and Spanish (a lot) if that would be helpful. I spend far too much of my time poking at lj as it is, so I'd also be happy to mod forums or the lj community or anything like that as well.

Dream features - search / meta site organization.

I didn't see this mentioned yet (though I'll admit I gave up at some point)

One thing that always drives me crazy is that I can rarely never do a cross fandom search. E.g. for a theme.

Another thing I hate about a lot of search functions on various sites: tons of options.
Some of them I hit every damn time anyways. Something like a quicklink in the user area would be nice. Like, predefining search patterns, that I can add to as needed.

(if that is even possible and/or doable. *sends a little prayer out*)


And this probably has been mentioned...
In keeping with the theme of really close ties to fandom, how about organizing the individual fandom sections pretty much like lists. With a group of volunteers taking over the day to day management. Making sure tags and what not are up to standard. Keeping the peace in interactive features.
With an overseeing panel taking care of the general rules and standards, looking at snafus that are bigger than the fandom panels, etc.

Re: Dream features - search / meta site organization.

Oh, man, I would LOVE a cross-fandom theme search. And not just fannish themes like h/c, things like "redemption" and "betrayal" and "sacrifice" etc. Maybe a tags system so users could tag their stories as they saw fit (otherwise the theme list would always be inadequate)?

Actually, tags in general would be handy.
Wow, I know it's up to 8 pages already and you're probably under a deluge, but I had to add to the Fandom Hive Mind and say "OMGYES!!". I saw the FanLib wank around but have been busy and didn't quite get what was going on until I hopped and skipped around a bit and ended up here. So many fabulous ideas!!

I'm particularly enamored of the tagging, rec list creation, mentoring, and beta stuff because they're community building blocks and would be very cool if developed. It has a personal connection: when I first entered fandom, it was largely an accidental trip into the Smallville Slash Archive. I spent three months reading a huge chunk of fic without ever commenting primarily because the notes begged for comments right after naming off these mystery beta readers. It was obvious there was some kind of inter-web in place but because I had no idea what LJ was then, I felt like an outsider looking in. Why would they care what I, a stranger, thought of their stories?

Archives are wonderful, but it's often how things interweave and connect that make things really spectacular and something that marriages both would be fantastic. Like non-profit Flickr for (♥) Fandom. *g*

ideas & volunteering (part 1)

(Apologies for the recomment!)

Although I have no leet coding skills or nonprofit experience, I would like to help in some way.  At the very least, I can contribute with the brainstorming and organization of ideas.   And I can definitely volunteer to be one of the people who occasionally summarizes discussion, because I had to do it just now in order to organize my thoughts. :)

I've read all seven-- make that eight pages of comments, but without rereading as I type this, here's my rough summary...  (My own opinions & questions in boldface).

  • Archive project proposed as an alternative to FanLib
    • Main goals:
      • Become a top search result for journalists, newbies, and others trying to get a vague intro to fanfiction
      • Make it easier for people to find the fanfiction they'll like (the "good" fic, for differing values of "good")
      • Create a platform for fans to take a more active role in shaping the reputation and written history of fanfic fandom?
        • (Am I right in thinking that this is part of the coming-out of fandom?  Some people have expressed distaste for the idea of greater visibility, but I think They [potentially everyone from culture studies professors to the MPAA's lawyers] are coming for us whether we want it or not, and I don't see how our archive can compete with FanLib without some attention whoring.  So, in order for the archive to be attractive to writers, it will need to offer some support for the more shy/closeted, but the overall design philosophy needs to reflect openness and accessibility, yeah?  And here you can count me an enthusiast for the idea of allowing writers to lock certain stories so that they can only be read by people who are logged into the site.)
      • Prevent newbies from being taken advantage of (having their fic published for profit without their knowledge, explicit consent, or compensation) or put in the kind of awkward legal situation that we fear the FanLib TOS could lead to
    • </li>

ideas & volunteering (part 2)

  • Archive project proposed as an alternative to FanLib (cont)
    • Picky detail-type goals and issues that have been mentioned:
      • Policy re types of stories that should perhaps be banned or made less accessible (e.g. should only verified adults have access to adult-rated stories? should VampChron specfics be banned?)
        • (Obvy, we need legal advice here, but I think also we might need to do some polling to find out how many people will be actively turned off by inclusiveness vs. actively turned off by exclusiveness; and also what the breakdown is for diff kinds of controversial fic-- chan, RPF, etc.)
        • (Would people who are concerned about getting fired for having an account on a site that hosts chan be protected if they could check a tickybox for "never show me chan"?  The "never show chan" option would be chosen by the user at the time of account creation, and impossible to change except by cooperation between user and sysadmin; changing the option could also create a record of the change.)
      • Easier to upload/control one's fic than on existing fic archives
      • Easier to navigate site
      • Rating, commenting, favoriting, tagging
        • (Fannish tag clusters !  Because Fraser/RayK = Fraser/Kowalski and crack -> mpreg, wingfic, etc.)
      • Integrating with del.icio.us, LiveJournal, and other sites that fans already use
      • International support
      • An API
      • Readability issues, making the site skinnable, accessibility for small-screen browsing devices
      • Future-proofing issues, scalability
      • Organizational structure, nonprofit or LLC status, ownership of the domain name & servers
      • Revenue stream & tax/accounting issues
        • Bandwidth, dedicated servers, etc
        • Paid employees?
        • Legal defense fund?
          • (We have to assume that there will be C&D letters, at least.)
          • (Speaking of legal issues, is anyone here involved with / in touch with CreativeCommons.org?  I've never been able to figure out if it's okay to put a CC license on a fanfic story.)
Great idea! I am willing to help in any kind of editing or sorting...I can't do code, but perhaps you can find a job for me. :-)
No one is saying that all fans personally approve of all types of fic, but RPF is a big part of fandom. We shouldn't leave it out of a supposedly all-encompassing archive just because some of us don't like it. Looking through the comments, I see that, so far, people have objected to RPF, chan, incest, and rapefic. How do we choose which ones to leave out?
I really love this idea. I don't have any useful skills, but I would donate money! :D
I haven't read through all the comments, so I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but I'd love to have an archive with something akin to the 'alerting' system that LJ recently introduced. I'd love to be notified when an author I like posts a new story.

Likewise, if I do a search for a type of story (fandom, rating, pairing, whatever), I'd like to be able to flag authors whose stories I don't want to see. Say, if I've read something they wrote and didn't care for it and don't want their stuff clogging up the search results

volunteering + suggestion re. quality control

A suggestion in re. quality control (which may have already been mentioned?): implement invitations. Give each user a finite but not small number of invitations (like, 20 or something) and make sure that in the profile page of each user is a link back to the person who referred them. That way, invitations are given to people who already have someone willing to back their work. It plays into the reputation aspect of fandom, while maintaining differences in taste.

The obvious problem, though, is that this could lead to a somewhat elitist vibe or trading invites for favours, and I'm certain that's not what you're going for. :/

Alternatively, the previously mentioned digg-style ratings system would be a good way to both keep track of readers who might not necessarily comment as well as rate a story for auto-reccing purposes. Actually, a digg-style archive (functioning as aggregation, as mentioned upthread) would be pretty handy also, since that way authors could control their stories much more closely, while allowing for tagging/categorizing/etc. anyways.

Also, I know that there are a ton of volunteers already, but I figure one more can't hurt. :)) I'm not a developer, but I am extremely tech-friendly and familiar with interfacing between the geeks and the laypeople, beta testing, and reviewing applications in regards to overall flow and cohesiveness. I'm also a student, and I have plenty of free time until September.

:))!

Re: volunteering + suggestion re. quality control

A suggestion in re. quality control (which may have already been mentioned?): implement invitations. Give each user a finite but not small number of invitations (like, 20 or something) and make sure that in the profile page of each user is a link back to the person who referred them. That way, invitations are given to people who already have someone willing to back their work. It plays into the reputation aspect of fandom, while maintaining differences in taste.

The obvious problem, though, is that this could lead to a somewhat elitist vibe or trading invites for favours, and I'm certain that's not what you're going for. :/


And as soon as you implement any kind of "quality control" from the outside in, a lot of people will eschew the archive out of principle. I think it's probably best to go with a melting pot approach, the way fandom itself has been running for years, and let people sort out what they do and don't like or want to read on their own. The idea is to make it available and central - not to try to control some never-to-be-agreed-upon ideal of quality control. (Big picture.)
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