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An archivist is a person who runs and/or edits a fannish archive. Archivists may work solo, or in teams on bigger archives. There are about as many types of archivists as there are archives... which is to say, many. Although most archivists preserve collections of fanfic, a wide range of fanwork can be preserved for posterity through archiving (fanart, mailing lists, fansites, vids, etc).
What They Do
Before the development of auto-archiving software packages like Automated Archive or eFiction, many archivists hand-formatted all stories submitted to the archive (this sometimes included converting plain text files to html) and manually added them to an index, usually alphabetized by author.
Auto-archiving software packages can be non-intuitive to fans who haven't used them before, and so it was also an archivist's job to fix (again, usually by hand) stories with messed-up formatting, or delete so the author could re-upload.
Whatever type of archive is being run, the archivist's first job (after getting everything up and running) is usually to draw up a written FAQ to describe the archive's policies.
Topics which may or may not require a written policy include the following:
- What ratings or genres the archive accepts. For instance, some archives are all-ages, while others might be adult-only, and different archives might have differing policies on posting chan, RPF or WIPs.)
- What needs to be included in the story header when it is posted to the archive. For instance, some archives require warnings, while others require legal disclaimers on each story.
- Age statements, for archives where fans need to be a certain age in order to access the content.
- Whether stories are required to be betaed before posting.
- The consequences for plagiarism, if the archivists determine that plagiarism has occurred.
The archivist is usually the final word on these matters.
The role of the archivist has sometimes been contested. Some archivists, in their attempts to clean up formatting, have been accused of rewriting the stories. People who archive stories without the author's explicit permission are often looked on as having 'stolen' the story, sometimes even if/when credit is given. A similar issue exists when an archivist puts up a copy of a story the author has chosen to take off the Internet entirely.