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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.

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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Amen. I want a site like that. I'd pay money for an archive like that, and I'd invest time and effort to make sure it's as great as it can be. And I'd probably kill for a good search engine - LJ is great and all, but unless you know where to look for it, who wrote it and when it was posted, LJ is rubbish at helping you find things. Even with memories and tag features.

But then I hit the realism switch in my brian and it goes 'splodey. Because sadly it's not a very realistic concept.

The "possibly millions of stories"? Make that definitely millions of stories. If the archive should be a true anything goes, all fandoms, all stories type of archive for the whole world, there'd definitely be millions of stories. Just take five of the larger fandoms here on LJ and browse the interests. I'm surprised there isn't a Harry Potter/random household items OTP fanfic community (yet). If you go early ff.net style and allow anyone to post anything in any fandom, everyone and their neighbour will want to put their stuff up.

Donation-supported. I don't say I know everything about websites and what all is involved in having and maintaining one, but to operate based solely on donations is never easy. Ads would solve that problem and add three others.

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

People have mentioned the chan/child pornography thing. Well, I don't care. They are probably right, but whatever. I like this point. I want a fanfic archive where I will not be reminded by pop-ups that this is porn I'm about to read. I know it is, that's why I'm clicking the link. Also, those nice pop-ups are usually accompanied by that loud dinging sound, enticing the whole office to turn around and look at my desk and my computer (on which I am reading porn, obviously, and now my boss knows it). So yeah, I like this point. An archive without pop-up warnings is my utopia.

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)

I really like this one, too. I have a crapton of fanfic saved to my computer and I continue to save stuff that I like or want to read later. I hate archives that have the kind of layout that makes saving a fic extremely difficult.

And automatic rec lists! Oh, you want to make me hate livejournal for not having those features, don't you? That's your cunning plan, I can tell.

So, maybe I really like the specific points of this planidea, but I still think it's unrealistic. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time fandom did the unthinkable.

~ sera
I'm still at work here on the left coast, so I haven't read through everything here. But I just wanted to pipe in and say that I'm more than happy to lend coding ans syadmin skills -- perl, php, databases, APIs, and general architecture brainstorming.

FanLib irked me as something put over on us from outside the community; I'd much rather have this come from inside, and I know we've got the ability to do it if we want to.
Oh, I love this idea so much. I've been wanting something like this for a long time, and I would so help with it if I had, you know, any actual skills that would help. But since I don't - OMG, I would so buy a charter membership in this.

It is really past time for fan fiction to stop hiding and start being, and I think this would be a huge step in the right direction.
I've been wishing (and asking) for an archive like this for almost a decade now, but it's always seemed too much for anybody to handle. Maybe the times really are changing?

*crosses fingers*

I'll certainly do anything that's in my slightly limited capacity to help, but meanwhile, I don't know if you've ever taken a look at The Archive at the End of the Universe? It's a member invitation site (so...theoretically open to everyone, although in practice not), but apart from that, it offers much of what you've mentioned. Any chance of adapting the Archive's code or is there still too much that would need to be changed?
That archive looks pretty awesome to me in a lot of ways, less awesome in others. It's using efiction, which has a too-limited search interface (they've made it more flexible than most efiction archives, but you still can't choose more than one character, more than one genre; you can't easily exclude just the few things you don't want, etc) and the formatting is awful and unreadable -- the tiny fonts and the purple background for the actual stories. And yeah, I think the restrictions on membership limit its relevance. A lot of HP archives seem to have spun out in reaction from the total lack of filtering at ff.net, and I think they went too far in the other direction.
Wow, I just got home and the Internet exploded while I was at yoga, but seriously, count me in in any personal or professional capacity you think would be helpful (I'm guessing you have a rough idea of my skill set *g*). I have been against the whole concept of FanLib from day one as it's just a prelude to The Man selling us back our own work at a profit, and I'm sick of a group of boys who can't even be bothered to punctuate claiming to be collecting "the best fanfiction out there" and trying to become the public face of our community.
Of all the archives I post to, there is one that stands out as a potential template for this kind of endeavour -and that would be a BtVS's crossover Archive, called Twisting the Hellmouth It is easy to navigate, for both the reader and writer, and doesn't have that awful, and inadequate, eFiction coding that drives me batty! Plus, no advertising :-)

I really do love Twisting, true.
I haven't the time to help run this kind of thing - but would happily donate money - as long as it's not one of those paypal buttons which are a rip-off.

Fandom van feel so fragmented at times - it would be brilliant to get our act together and organose as only women can. :-)

Thoughts on a fic-ranking system

I've been tossing this around in my mind on and off this afternoon, and looking over comments, it seems like a bunch of other people are thinking along the same lines --

* people want to be able to find the good stuff, not just a lot of stuff;

* ranking just on popularity isn't going to work, because that way lies the unmanageable mass of adolescent badfic;

* active moderation at the submission level isn't going to work either, because of posting delays, too much work for mods, and most importantly, my bad isn't the same as your bad (this doesn't rule out moderation at the "this violates the TOS" level where there's a real legal need for it).

So on my walk home, I was trying to work out some kind of algorithm to allow automated recs while also favoring the kind of social connections that people really depend on for fic recs. As a *complete* straw-person proposal...

* Let people rate fic. 1 to 10, 5 stars, or whatever, based purely on whether they liked it.

* ALSO, let people give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down rating to reviews and/or recommendations -- sort of like the "this answer was/wasn't useful" that you see in techie forums where the assumption is that there's a concrete question at stake rather than a social bond. Reccers who are highly trusted have more influence on the overall ratings; people have a built-in incentive to recommend fic, and thus to stay engaged in the community.

Then, make my recommendations based on something like the following -- Highly rated stuff gets points. Stuff that's highly rated by very trusted recommenders gets bonus points. Stuff that's highly rated by people that I've friended (or whose recommendations I've consistently agreed with) gets extra-special-bonus points.

The more I participate, the more my recs are tailored to my tastes (predictions based on my past preferences get the most weight); among the stuff that's new to me, there's enough extra weight given to trusted reviewers that the amazing unpunctuated Mary Sues of the world drop lower on the list; since things aren't excluded up front, I can still search for whatever obscure thing I have a weird hankering for (and maybe even bump it up a few notches, when it would be off the bottom of the last page if the ratings were just based on popularity).

Re: Thoughts on a fic-ranking system

You also see that sort of rating of reviews on, I believe, Amazon.

I don't know if people would go for it, but, on a user profile page/author homepage/whatever, it might be useful to have a "stories this person liked" section. If we really want to go into "Lord Help Us" land, put a "discuss this story" option under each one, to start conversations linked to that reader and that story. Would help with the community aspect.
I've got no experience with project management (this kind of project management, anyway), and my coding skills stop at html 3.2, but yes, count me in with anything this idea needs that i'm capable of providing.
I likely don't have much to offer, except to post fic, which I would certainly do if such a site existed. This is a brilliant idea.
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

I'm the only person in fandom totally turned off by this idea, I guess? My gut reaction, however, was to be completely surprised both that you suggested it, and that other people are embracing it. After reading the comments, I guess it really is just me. Which doesn't change my mind at all, but what this does tell me is that I'm out of synch with fandom at large, and that's surprising to me, too. And kind of sad. Ah well.


Like you, I positively hate the idea of anything getting tracked by search engines, simply b/c then it's not in your hands any more and on archive.org forever! No way to delete down the road without traces.

But several people have brought up the idea that the user can control what level of security her stories will have (public&googable, public&robot/spider blocked; community only), so that every contributor can decide herself (just like we can here on LJ except for the community option)

I think that might be a compromise???
Re: ads

I don't know if anyone here remembers diaryland (ah, my love before LJ!), but they used to (maybe still do) have a kind of 'plus' membership where one of the perks was being able to run a banner ad in the member area advertising their own diary. Maybe some feature like that where people could purchase ads for their stories to be run in the member area/control panel/thingy?

back in the day, man! i totally had one... probably for image hosting or something, and then had an excess of banner ads about the time i moved to lj. they were absurdly fun to make, though.

it'd be fun to run them to get the word out on challenges & such as well.

...says the girl who adblocks anyway.
I think the ability to backup (ensuring there are many copies) needs to be in the necessary, not the wish part, but otherwise I totally agree with you, and would also support such a venture. I don't have the time or skills to run it, but I would be willing to help in other ways.
As a reader I'd love all these cool features you propose in an archive! Especially the tag and search functions and options for easy download. One of my main annoyances with many archives is that I can't easily save a story in a single file to read. I'm okay with chapters when I read online, but sometimes I like to read on a PDA and while converting a single plain html file for my (elderly) PDA is really quick and easy, having to c&p twenty chapters isn't, also saving fic in general is much easier in one file.
I haven't read all the comments, so please forgive if this repeats what has been mentioned elsewhere; also, I have no coding background, so ignore this if it's stupid.

Wouldn't it be easier, instead of creating an archive, to create a fanfic search engine that connects to all the sites that already exist?

I don't know that it's possible to do searches across multiple sites -- I have no idea how google works -- but maybe we could generate a list of index terms tied to the address where the story or whatever happens to exist, which would come up on a list for the searcher. So if you typed in "Rodney Atlantis transformation fic," you'd get a list like google with stories in which he's turned into a dolphin or a dinosaur or a baby turtle or a plant, wherever those stories happen to be -- FFN or an LJ comm or the author's personal website. The listing would include information like author and title, when it was first posted, gen/het/slash, ship, any warnings, and so on.

Reasonable? Dumb? I just think it might be easier in the short run to try to do it more organically, and with all our eggs spread out, rather than to try to cram them all in one basket...
I think the main problem with this would be getting people to include the correct metadata in their site - without good metadata, you can't return good results. There are also a number of fanfiction authors out there who, for one reason or another, deliberately post so that their material is not indexed by search engines.
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