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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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It would be tough. I know from trying to retool Heliopolis (SG-1 and SGA gen and het archive) all by myself. I think the hardest part wouldn't even be the work involved, but no one would ever be happy. They would complain about this fandom, or this ship or whatever taking over the archive. I get complaints along that line even now, with the one fandom archive, and I have an open submission policy.

Maybe we could start with a central archive or archives - lists of major archives with open submission policies, sorted by fandom (and character/ship, if specific).

My negativity aside, I like the idea, and would be willing to help impliment it (as soon as I finish tweaking Heliopolis).
Some things to consider;

You will need to have policies implemented for flaming and trolls. Negative reviews versus constructive criticism, also needs to be addressed because if you look at other fic archives this is where people get upset.

People dislike it when say on fanfiction.net people create false accounts so that their flames can not be deleted.

People dislike it when say on mediaminer.org Authors abused their power to delete any fic that contains the slightest element of criticism.

You'll also need to be able to handle SPAM-Bots, not just for advertisement, but an example that has occurred on adultfanfiction.net recently - An author was spammed by the same review over 200 times, forcing them to no longer accept reviews for that fic.

I believe that the most significant problems for most fanfiction archives are related to publicity and people skills.

You will also need to get people to participate into making the site, from an archive into a community. I believe this is the only way you will be able to keep the site going for a long period of time - you want people who won't just be there when you start, but will be there the day after that and the day after that and give people reasons to keep coming back.

Forums may help, regular challenges may also help with that, but encouraging people to review and recommend fanfiction on your archive will also be a good idea.

http://www.ficwad.com also has a very interesting feature in that users are able to flag stories that contain elements that they like and elements that they don't like.

Ficwad has a lot of the features you spoke about as a must have, other than the advertisements. It is currently facing problems due to heavy load.

It may be worthwhile having an opt in, opt out type feature with advertising because I do not believe it is possible to keep a large site running solely on donations... Unless you have a membership base that is phenomenal rather than large - like say 4-chan. Generally you can only expect around 5-20% of your userbase to donate, and even then it may only be small amounts.
*People dislike it when say on mediaminer.org Authors abused their power to delete any review that contained the slightest element of criticism.
Isn't that was this place does:


Or have I missed out on some key point. : )
That one is invite only, not an open archive, also e-fiction based so the search functions are kind of lacking.
I'm more than willing to support this project with donations, but the only way I'd be willing to post my own fiction to it would be if it had total freedom of content.

I do appreciate that US child pornography laws have taken a turn for the moronic (and frankly immoral and thought-police-y if you ask me) in recent years, but my only interest in a central archive as a writer is in having one place to post absolutely anything I will ever write. If there are content restrictions, even if they aren't things that would normally affect me (I'm thinking chan and RPS here), I just won't be interested in archiving my work. Host it somewhere strange if you have to, set up some kind of legal dodge if you have to, but don't promise a central archive if you can't actually deliver on that.
might be smart to get hosting outside the US, to put it at one remove from the puritanical laws
regards to fan history and creating an archive that will be the be-all and end-all of fanfiction archives, something I haven't seen brought up is the question of 'lost' fanfic and dead fandoms. There is a lot of great work out there that isn't really archived at all - it's lost in the depths of usenet, on the pages of zines or only viewable by getting lucky on the wayback machine because the authors' sites are now defunct.

Likewise, there are fandoms out there with few to no people still actively participating in them, where the established bodies of work are slowly being lost through disuse and disinterest. Few fandoms are lucky enough to have something like the alt.startrek.creative archives, where for 15 years work has been continuously captured and preserved for posterity.

Would it be worth the time and effort it would require to reach out and try to collect and preserve at least some of this work that will otherwise be lost?
You hit one of my big concerns lately. I deeply care about all fic that's been lost in broken links and old link-based archives. I can't find the stories I used to read back in 1996. They're gone, the sites are gone, and the emails addresses of my old friends have changed.

I wish some site would try to preserve more fic, but one of the problems is authors need to volunteer their work for archival. I can't imagine people would be happy if we load their stories to an archive without their permission. If we're able to get permission by some method, then I think it's a good feature to include in the new archive.

Save the fic! There's a lot of good stories being lost.
Oh god.

I like what you're saying, I really do, but I think it's actually impossible to achieve. The biggest problem is the revenue, and after that, there's the content issues, and the structure issues, and the fact that it's not possible to make every fanartist happy -- there have already been a number of objectors for whatever reason. And then just the simple reality that it would probably take a huge amount time away from anyone who took it on, and those who would have the time don't have the money, and those who have the money will want something right away and won't allow for teething.

Fandom as a whole is just too anarchaic to allow something like this to last -- it would dissolve into wank. There have been attempts at central archives before (some single fandom, some pan-fandom), and either they sit nearly empty, or they do dissolve in wank.

It's lovely, it's a lovely thought, but it would never work.
I don't know - a massive, multi-fandom archive has actually worked before. For all its many faults, fanfiction.net stands as an example of fandoms getting along, to a greater or lesser extent, by completely ignoring each other while being housed in the same place. Call me an unrealistic optimist, but, while a fan-run archive would be open to a lot of wank because it's fan-run, it might actually be possible to contain the wank if we recognise and plan for the fact that some level of wank will always be present.

But you're correct in that it's impossible to please everyone. The aim, therefore, should be to define a target market and then try to please as many people from it as possible. Once that market is established, you can look at branching out.
I was thinking that I didn't have the computer skills to really be helpful, but then I thought about something else that might be lots more helpful.

In my real life job, one thing I do is advise small nonprofits on startup. How to set up a board of directors, how to create bylaws that work, how to get articles of incorporation, whether to seek IRS tax exempt status and how to walk through the process of getting it, etc. I've been working with small, volunteer, donation supported non profits for nearly 10 years. I would be happy to put any of those skills at your disposal.

I think this is entirely workable from a financial point of view, with the right structure. One componant of which is a diverse and representative board of directors. So if there is anything that I could be helpful with (I have sample bylaws for small nonprofits, for example) I would be delighted!
I think this is a great idea! Something like FF.net only better. Which makes me think that perhaps it ought to have reviewers as well, or some kind of voting system in order to allow the reader to check for quality. To get round FF.net's problem of having so much crud that it's not worth wading through it to get to the good stuff.
Okay, I'm running on 20+ hours awake, so firstly I apologize if this comment degenerates into incoherency halfway through.

That being said:

YES, PLEASE. PLEASE. I've been lurking around various art sites for a few years, and every few months there's a big explosion of dumb, and then I remember how much less crazy Fandom-run sites are.... But that's not my point. My point is that yes, this would be awesome, and I'll join the ranks of people pitching in their meager skills. My skillz are: Web designer, up to HTML 4.01 strict & XHTML 1.1 strict, CSS 2.1 (and I guess CSS 3.0, but), a fair amount of pre-5.0 PHP, some SQL knowhow... etc. I actually wrote a fic archive from scratch once, but it sucked and, uh, really sucked.
Here via cofax7

Being somewhat of an oldschool type fan (I came in when TXF was going out, which I know makes me a knock-kneed newbie compared to some) I have a high emotional attachment to central archives. I love them. I find them very useful. I've missed them in every fandom I've been in that hasn't had one.

But the idea of "an archive where you can post anything" is not something I want to be part of.

I won't have my stuff on an archive that keeps RPS.

I have serious issues about putting my stuff on archives that include chan-as-kink.

(I think that, my ethical issues aside, as a part of an international community, putting chan on the archive is going to be a huge issue for people in places with less liberal freedom-of-press laws than the USA. As people point out, we're not talking China here, we're talking oppressive regimes like Australia and Canada.)

I'm really not happy about archives that are incest-happy, or rape-fic happy, or the like. I think that making an archive that collects Anne Rice fanfic is begging for trouble, of the legal, archive-shutting down sort. And so on.

It was said up thread that people can come up with reasons to keep off everything. And that's true.

But, if one of the stated purposes of this archive is to show the non-fannish world what we have, to gather and promote our hobby, to make people take us and our hobby seriously -

- then what are we gaining by putting hottopic/questionable/illegal content on the archive? Is chan, rps, and nc-17 (however you define nc-17) what we-as-fans want as part of "our best face forward"?

*waves hands* I am well aware that what different people think of as 'quality' varies, and that is going to be an issue. But I'm thinking that any attempt to include 'everything' is going to result in something that few people will want to be associated with, not more.

The old line goes - If you try to please everyone, you'll end up pleasing no one.

*shrugs* It'll be interesting to see what comes of this.

- hossgal
I am interested in your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Don't have much to offer by way of coding, but can certainly pimp, offer fic, flash boobies for donations, yadda yadda.

Also I'm one of the ones who dealt with a C&D from Anne Rice, for whatever use that experience might be worth to you.
I think this is a kick ass idea, and would love to see it happen. I was wandering about ff.net before it went stupid about NC-17 stuff...it wasn't the be-all-end-all then, but it hadn't come what it did after that happened...or at least my new!girl brain didn't think so. ;)

I'd archive my stuff there...mine's floating about in random places at the moment, and it'd be nice to collect it all again. Fascinating...definately worth it, I should think.
This is definitely much, much more than the archive I showed you, and -- given the sheer number of comments -- very likely to happen. Wonderful. If this archive I appears, I will not only upload my stories, I'll upload all 200 of them, the Harry Potter fics included.

This ties into a discussion princessofg and I have been having in response to her "Why Fanfiction Makes Women Poor," concerning taking fanfiction seriously and preserving our fandom history.

Icarus (Hm. Have tried to post this three times now....)
Work has been crazy this week, so I haven't had time to continue our discussion about archiving, which has been very frustrating as it was interesting to me. It seems a little moot now, anyway, but I did want to say that I keep forgetting that a small amount of money, in combination with just doing it (as you said), does make things happen. I've been so poor for so long, I tend to forget how even a small amount of seed-capital makes certain problems non-problems. So I think I was a little too concerned with certain types of questions when I first responded to you; I do still think that some of the problems won't just be solved by people actively doing the work, and that there will never be fannish concensus about them. But this archive astolat has proposed will be about "voting with our feet" in a way; we'll either support it or not, depending on our individual ideologies. The hope is that more people than not think it's a good idea. I certainly do.

Anyway, as I won't get a chance for a proper reply until our earlier conversation is too out of date to worry about, I just wanted to say it seems that you have been proven mostly right about archiving, so far, and that I was far too conservative. :)
You know, ficwad.com has pretty much all of that except for the google ads at the bottom of the page. To read the R/X rated stuff, simply register, then change your filter. Period. Done.

Downside is that it's run by just a few fans who don't really keep up with adding categories/characters. BUT. It's simple, self-maintaining, and pretty much runs on autopilot, without the Powers That Be mucking with what the writers are doing.

I'm not sure you could have a major-sized fic archive without any ads. Something has to pay for server costs.
I say this is a fabulous idea! A couple of ideas:

It would be even more useful if you could offer ficathon and story exchange hosting, because hand archiving for those things is a HUGE pain in the ass.

Another is to allow RSS subscriptions so people can automatically see new fic, set by author name, pairing and fandom (up to a max, not all of HP for example).

A third is an XML display option, so people can integrate their stories with their web sites.

I am also volunteering to help, especially with site search but also some information architecture.
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