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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.

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.
Tags: , ,

Comments

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!
Love the remix flag idea!
* 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.

Yes, I agree. I think this would add significantly to the work of those volunteering to maintain it, but I think this type of content would attract more people to the site.
Yep, and of course the work is the big trick -- it should be (it *is*) possible to generate a pretty constant stream of ideas without every challenge being a Yuletide-sized project for the mods; OTOH totally canned, automated "this is the most popular thing this week" stuff would just *suck*. The right balance in both the tools and the culture ought to make it possible to do a lot of things to bring people back, without burning people out or reinventing the wheel every time -- which would make it more likely that the community could sustain itself in the long term.

Whatever form it takes, having social things going on seem like a real key. People didn't glom on to LJ because it was possible to post fic -- they came because it's a site we want to spend time on when we're not posting, but reading flists and building communities and rambling at great length on other people's comments pages ;) And I think that's what archives that are just archives really lack, even when they're very good. At best, they're places you go to find a fic, not to hang out.
* Automated rec lists 2.0 - suggestions based on what's recommended by people who share tastes/interests

I heartily second this dream feature!
[[OOC: Please excuse my RP journal.]]

I heartily un-second this dream feature!

Everything else I love, and I'd be totally willing to help out if I had any way to do so, but this particular feature sounds kinda bleh to me. Amazon.com has it, and shoves it in your face every chance it gets, and it's one of the things I hate most about Amazon. "WHAT you bought Furuba Vol 5??? We have to recommend Furuba Vol. 2, cause of course you haven't read THAT one yet!" ugh.

Also, on challenges/communityish things in general: If you don't want to put pressure on the coding/project management people, you could have a few people set aside just for the purpose of creating monthly/weekly challenges. OR you could take suggestions from users.

What I like about this idea (of challengey stuff in general) is now you can have several challenges in different categories per week/month. For example, there might be a slash challenge, a het challenge, and a gen challenge. This makes it more likely that any particular user would come back to check it every time there are new ones, since it's more likely that her particular "kink" will be up there. If all the challenges are on one page, it would also encourage branching out into other fandoms/pairings/genres/styles.

You could also have a seperate page (or a page per fandom) where people can just submit challenges and have this be a constant thing, instead of regulated monthly or weekly. That way it's very little skin off mods' teeth and the kids still get their challengey fun.

Anyway. That's my two cents. If this project ever happens, and you want someone to create challenges (especially of the slash variety) you should find scarlet_malfoy (that's her LJ, I don't know how to link a user) and talk to her. Can't wait to see this project in action.

+1 for automated rec lists 2.0 and turning features off

But, see, for just as many folks who would hate a feature like this, there would be people like me who would LOVE to have it. I've found some of my favorite purchases on Amazon using that feature and it's one of the few things that's kept me using it.

Then again, the way I feel about almost all these features outside of the site's most basic infrastructure is that having ways to turn them off would be ideal. That's what I love about using Firefox--how much I can customize it to my own experience, so instead of being forced to put up with something I don't like, I can find a way to make it work for me. When I envision this site, I can already foresee people writing Greasemonkey scripts to do just that, actually.

Honestly, I think that having only the most basic features be universal with the options of a lot of customizations would make the most people happy. Of course that makes more work in set-up, but then again, that's why I'm not volunteering to make any of these decisions. *g*
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.

This makes me uncomfortable, because it implies that it wouldn't be alright to remix a fic without permission--which is fine when it's just a single archive passing through the night, but if it's going to be as monolithic as it sounds, I'd be made uncomfortable by the fannish power being centralized like that. (Information wants to be free!)

As far as I'm concerned, LJ's fragmentation is part of its strength.
Actually, having thought about it a little more, I agree with you on the remixing question -- ideally, I think fic should always be remixable.

What sparked that suggestion in my mind was some mention (maybe in Ces's LJ? I don't remember for sure) of the irony of the "my fic is mine and you can't touch it" attitude that always comes up when there are remixes at stake; I'd love to find a way to turn that on it's head and really encourage an attitude "yes! run with it! go play and roll around in the mud with text!" as the community norm, while still allowing an opt-out for people who'd be uncomfortable enough with that to avoid the community outright.

Also, as I think more about this thing, I really love the idea of lots of remixing, challenges, games, activities to keep people coming back and really digging into the content on the site. But you're absolutely right that the wording came out more or less the opposite of what I was wanting to push in my mind.

(I'm not too concerned about centralization of power, otoh -- I've been reading all of the comments as this discussion has developed, and people continuing control their own stuff looks like a pretty unanimous desire, whatever other features people agree or disagree with.)
I'd love to find a way to turn that on it's head and really encourage an attitude "yes! run with it! go play and roll around in the mud with text!" as the community norm, while still allowing an opt-out for people who'd be uncomfortable enough with that to avoid the community outright.

I don't disagree with you in the context of a subcommunity of fandom, but I find problematic when it becomes embedded into the infra-structure of a centralized archive; at that point, there is no way to opt out of the opt-out structure. I much prefer the "there is no governor anywhere" situation of LJ.

I'm not too concerned about centralization of power, otoh -- I've been reading all of the comments as this discussion has developed, and people continuing control their own stuff looks like a pretty unanimous desire, whatever other features people agree or disagree with.

I'm currentlly most of the way through the last page of comments, and much of what I've read has actualy confirmed my fears.
ideally, I think fic should always be remixable

Yeah, well I don't. Don't get me wrong, I'm running a remix challenge right now, but at least for me, there's a world of difference between a reciprocal remix challenge and a free-for-all. With a remix challenge where all participants are also going to be remixed, I feel "safer" because I know that the person remixing my story is making themselves just as vulnerable as I am, running the same risk of someone doing awful things to "their children", and also that they're likely to have some sort of empathy about the process of remixing, because it will be happening to them too. But with a free-for-all remix, those doing the remixing are taking no risks, and I will never participate in such a thing.
But what is odd is you already do. Fandom is a free-for-all remix. It's what fanfiction is. It's taking the original - be it Harry Potter, Smallville, or real life - and remixing it. Taking the words straight from remixredux, "Ever read a fic and think, wow, what a fascinating story, but if I had written it, I would have... ". Replace "read a fic" with "read a book/see a movie/watch a tv show" and isn't that why people write fanfic? They see the original idea, get an idea of their own, and write it. This argument happened (more than once) in several fandoms, but I will use an example from the Harry Potter one simply because this is the one that I still have the original transcripts of. It took place around the story Pawn To Queen (which had already had a year and half long fandom war surround it once). Someone "rewrote" the story - remixed it - and this time the story was going to be finsihed (the original was at 30 chapters and never was). The part of fandom involved went haywire, because, apparently, it's wrong to use other peoples ideas like that. Allow me to explain: these same people thought Anne Rice was wrong to hate fanfiction. These same people wrote their own fanfiction - and lets put the point out there that this part of the Harry Potter community was the Sanpe/Hermione part, which many many people find wrong because of the Student/Teacher aspects. So these people think it's wrong for people to tell them they can't write fanfic. They take someone else's idea and write what they see happening. They laugh when an author gets mad because he published work is being used in fanfiction. But then they get upset with someone for writing a fanfic of a fanfic?

Forgive me, but I don't see how fanfiction of fanfiction is any different than fanfiction of the original product, except in that the author of the first piece of fanfic is more likely to read the second piece. Don't get me wrong. I love remix challenges, where you remix and they remix and the end result isn't mass hysteria. But I don't think it's how it should have to be. Yes, that story I wrote is my story and I love it. But as long as no one is using it word for word, I don't have a claim on it. Even if they just wrote something like it, I really have no room to protest, not if I am originally writing fanfiction.

(Forgive me for butting in, but this is something that has always struck me as odd. And a double standard.)
Oh! And since I apparently forgot to mention it, I can volunteer to help make these things (web and database dev skills, including some IA and usability-type experience), and I'm more than happy to donate when fundraising time comes around.

Okay to remix?

(If remix is a specific fannish convention and I've misunderstood, I apologize - I'm still trying to grok 'wank' as it's used round here.)

I don't think that 'remixability' should be the author's call. After all this is a *fan-fiction* site and the original authors didn't get to vote on whether they liked us taking their ideas and playing with them.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel that a condition of submitting something to the archive should be granting others permission to remix/re-use/be inspired by the original bits in your work. Something along the lines of Creative Commons, perhaps? (I know the present CC licenses are only suitable for wholly original fiction, but I like the idea that if it's morally okay for me to write stories about, say, Legolas or young Mr. Potter, then I should grant the same rights to other people over what I produce. It just feels honest.)

This would create a role for original fiction submitted to the archive - as seeds for future fandoms that fans could play in without the threat of corporate lawyer-bots behind every bush.