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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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Comments

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Definitely a cool idea. I'm not much of a feminist, but seeing a group of men try to take over what has been a comfort zone for women to express themselves is really disgusting. I don't know any coding, but would love to have a Paypal subscription!
Sounds good :) I'm useless, but I'd like to see this happen :)
I have zero coding skills, but I would be very glad to donate money and time to the creation (and continuing maintenance) of an effective, inviting central gateway to fanfic.
I think this sounds amazing and I'd be interested supporting it, mainly in a monetary way right now since I'm busy with baby, but I'm definitely interested!
I love this idea. I particularly like the option of linking in other art forms, as well.

How fabulous is that!?!?

I have no coding skills and it is a bad idea to let me organize anything. I do, however, have a pretty fast internet connection and am quite capable of doing incredibly tedious data entry.
*drifts off happily thinking about this* Sadly, I lack technical skills but I would happily donate money! *waves pom-poms!* \o/!
I don't know how exactly I could help, since I can't code and the only projects I've ever managed were mine, but this is a good idea. FF.net is too unwieldy, true, and I don't know how, or even if you should, try to keep out badfic.

But this is a terrific idea, seriously.

badfic

My feeling is the gatekeeping needed to keep out badfic costs more than it is worth. I think if you provide filtering mechanisms that let people find manageable lists of stories they are really interested in (narrowing down by fandom, pairing, category, particular features), and sort them by (admittedly imperfect) criteria like #comments/recs/hits, while ALSO providing mechanisms to give exposure and encouragement to new writers so those imperfect measures don't bury new people, that really, any quantity of badfic can be managed.

Also, frankly, I suspect that the presence of higher quality fanfic as examples within the archive would all on its own help badfic/newbie writers improve rapidly. The problem with ff.net is there are no real mechanisms for winnowing out badfic.
First, it's important to note that capital is coming for this space whether we're here or not. I agree with you that it's worth staking our claim to it, but don't think that'll stop the FanLib's or any of the major entertainment companies my firm works with from trying to figure out how to "monetize user-generated content," and doing a better job of publicizing their version of it than we could.

This doesn't mean I don't think it's worth doing -- I've been frustrated by how little the media fan community has done to claim its own space in the face of this onslaught. Just a caveat.

Second, I did information architecture for another fannish project and it was the most insanely frustrating project I've ever been on because while design is at its best collaborative and iterative, it's *not* a community process. Regardless, I'm willing to be a resource in feature scoping and interaction design for this, because I'm clearly insane.

The two pieces of advice I would take out of that for this venture are (a) open-source tools, now and always -- there's no reason to reinvent the wheel, and it lets you route around divas or people who can't work on it for offline reasons all of a sudden; and (b) whoever takes on managing it needs to also let people take leadership of their own areas.

And third, although I cannot take leadership on a project like this now, here's what I'd do -- start by identifying a manageable set of use cases (5-10); build those out into scenarios; come up with a feature set based on that; and then figure out what the code/backend requirements would be based on that. Based on resources and OSS availability, the team might decide to stagger releases of features over time, but you'd get to see which features would be most used, and which functions should have similar/related interaction patterns.

(hey, wasn't this supposed to be a break from proposal writing...? *g*)

*leaps on you*

Everything you are saying here: YES. (and you are not insane, you are awesome!)

This sounds fucking fabulous.
And I mean, ALL of it.

The whole "free" culture of fan fiction just absolutely does it for me in a way no commercial enterprise seems to do. I'm there on my own time, creating solely for pleasure, sharing, communicating, leaving profit motive behind. And I find that simple fact immensely stimulating and joyful. As long as it doesn't infringe my ability to do this, I don't at all care what other entities do about it, except for being of the opinion that the new fanlib thing may cause us a lot of problems.
As to the quality question, I've been pondering a Digg-like system, or at least an enjoyment-rating system of *some* sort. eBay lets people rate buyers and sellers. Why not ask readers to say if they enjoyed a story unreservedly, with some objections, or not at all? Correlate with number of ratings, and you could probably eliminate at least some of the FF.net-type objections as to quality (the lack of a search engine is the reason I usually don't go over there, personally).

I would happily archive my stories. No coding skills to volunteer, but I think there would be a market.
an enjoyment-rating system of *some* sort.

this is an excellent idea. i would definitely consider using the archive if this were a feature.
(reposted to fix the coding, yikes!)

I very much love the idea of a central fanfiction archive, with people submitting their own stories, even managing their own 'pages' (because if you signed up and got your own little page or directory to host your fic, think how much easier it would be for readers to find all your stuff!). This might also help authors who are worried about casting their beloved story out into the void of a really big archive. I also adore the idea of automatic rec lists, and having every single possible type of fic eligible for archiving.

And I really kind of hate fanlib. Wow, what a fugly site. And they don't have a "slash" subcategory, darn them. Heh.

I can see a few potential pitfalls with a massive, all inclusive fanfic archive, though. One is fandom participation (as mentioned above); I've noticed that most of the authors I 'regularly frequent' have their own sites (or archive their fic through a livejournal system of some kind). Whether that be because they tend to be more mature (and have the income to pay for a website/paid LJ account/hosting), or because they have written enough fic to justify that kind of labor and expense, I don't know. The question is, would they go through the extra steps to post their stories somewhere else in addition to their own sites, which they're already devoting a lot of resources to? Even if they start out strong, are they liable to stick with it?

The second reservation I have is about the sheer quantity of fanfiction being produced these days, especially in the high volume fandoms. That would need a LOT of space, and a LOT of bandwidth. User donations are awesome but tend to be sporadic; my time in the dotcoms taught me that every time your site goes down you lose huge number of viewers and participants. The logistics of such a site would be pretty extreme. Keeping it to text only would definitely help, but if it really gets flying, I can imagine that the costs might get pretty big.

And third, I love fangirls, I love FANDOM, but there are a lot of people here who...how do I say this delicately?...are less than entirely responsible and reliable, and don't necessarily play well with others. In the event of some explosive drama or wank, would there be a system set up of people who would make sure the archive kept running? Would there be a person or people who would make the day to day decisions about this archive, or would it be run by committee (and what happens if two of the committee members start feuding)? Who makes the decisions about look and feel, access policies, IPs to band and not to ban? What would happen when someone pitched a huge screaming fit about [issue x] as it related to the archive? Because I almost hate to say it, but if there's one thing many fangirls are good at, it's pitching huge screaming fits about their fandoms and events going on therein.

Between for-profit Real Person Fiction hitting the mainstream these days (the book Starfucker, for example), and the fair usage language I've seen thrown around pretty strongly, I believe that we SHOULD take a stand on the legality of fanfiction. And this would be such a great way to do it. I would definitely support it financially, if it got up and running!
I think this is a great idea in theory, but I have many of the same concerns as apetslife.

especially this: The question is, would they go through the extra steps to post their stories somewhere else in addition to their own sites, which they're already devoting a lot of resources to? Even if they start out strong, are they liable to stick with it?

I can't even be bothered lately to keep my website, which I pay for, updated. Having the ability to post to the archive and to my own LJ (and [x] number of LJ communities) would be a serious plus in its favor.
That sounds like a great idea (I miss central archives!), but you'd need someone to put herself on the line legally and financially in a big way, and that could be tricky. If you don't limit which fandoms people can write in, you're volunteering to be sued, sooner or later, and I'd hope that no one would go into that blindly. The technical side, I'm sure people can easily cover, although I suspect you'd have problems with donations after a certain amount of time had passed.
It totally ate my comment. Damn it.

Points.

1. Some features of this archive exist: Skyehawke.
2. I think there needs to be some level of quality control, because that, more than anything, seems to be what dragged ff.net under. I was willing to ignore bad interfacing for good fiction, but bad interfacing combined with 80%+ of what was there being utterly horrible was beyond horrible. I think what fandom needs is an opportunity to prove itself as a valid artform: fanfiction is art, just as writing is, and just as you wouldn't showcase fifth grade paintings of apples in the National Gallery of art, I think putting together a free for all fandom archive is a bit quixotic - a really great idea, but liable to turn around in bite when talented writers won't touch it with a ten foot pole, as has happened with ff.net. I think this is true with published authors as well, and makes a point - I think I would be a lot more willing to tolerate fanfiction as an author if it were well-done. I think there are given values of good, but possibly the solution to this is to have an archive of user-recommended stories. With a ranking system, a story (or authors) could be kicked over into a second archive. My main problem with rankings is that in every archive I've ever seen, you can search for the content *or* for the ranking, not for both. For example, I could search for John/Rodney fiction where aliens made them get married, but I can't then rank those results past looking at rankings myself, which is frustrating as all get out.
3. Regarding tags, brilliant, but standardization is important - perhaps users can select from a list of tags, and if those tags aren't what they need, they can submit a request for an addition which can easily be approved.
4. Perhaps another "author auction" - like the one recently done for charity - would be a feasible option for startup costs?
5. I would be happy to step in - I'm useless at coding, but good at organizing things and people. :)
It's an awesome idea. I don't have coding skills enough to try and write the thing or hell - fit together already working open-source. Just the regular HTML to run websites and my own VPS - so not sure I'd be of any help.

I'm just wondering about the bandwidth and power this baby would need. For ex I run a website gallery (using Coppermine) and the CPU/Memory/MySQL Usage can be quite huge when occasional days of 8000 visits/day. I can only image what a website like this would use up with all the choices and interfaces. If it's something I learned in webhosting is that php/MySQL scripts drain a lot of power and it tends to mean expensive hosting if you don't want your site to crash.
I love this idea so very, very much. Visibility is exactly what we need, and I'd definitely be willing to help in any way I could.
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