FanFiction.Net

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Archive
Name: FanFiction.net aka FF.net and FFN
Date(s): October 15, 1998–present
Archivist:
Founder: Xing Li
Type: Fan Fiction Archive
Fandom: Multifandom
URL: http://fanfiction.net
Ffnet logo.gif
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Contents

Fanfiction.net is the largest fanfiction archive on the internet. It is a multifandom archive and includes several thousand fandoms with several hundred new stories being uploaded daily.[1]

FF.Net has features beyond story archiving that provide tools for readers and writers, some simply useful, others giving the site a social side that lets fans connect. The site allows readers to assemble lists of their favorite stories and authors, which function as public bookmarks and rec lists, similar to Delicious social bookmarking. It has also convenient story and author alert features to keep up with new chapters of WIPs and new stories from particular authors. Users can also collect stories in community lists based on the interests of the community maintainers, a function often similar to thematic lists which makes it easier for readers to deal with the large number of stories, especially in popular fandoms. Another useful feature is the stats page, where users can see how many people opened their story and where these readers come from.

FF.Net also allows readers to post reviews on stories, a community building feature that other automated archives lacked at the time when FFN was first established. FF.Net also has a public message board system, an online dictionary and beta reader services.

Despite its huge popularity, large user base and wide ranging fandom representation, FF.net has a reputation for being indiscriminate in story quality among members of many different fannish circles. Large portions of LiveJournal-based fandom, mailing list-based fandom, the Television Without Pity forums, and Godawful Fan Fiction have all been known to look askance at the site. Because of this reputation, FFN is sometimes referred to as "the Pit of Voles"[2], "The Pit", or other derogatory nicknames. There even exists a hate community for the archive, established after a change of ToS in 2004.[3]

However, FF.Net's absence of quality control is viewed by many as a benefit; it gives everyone a chance to express themselves. Unlike moderated archives, FF.Net does not employ any active means of assessing story quality. Its guidelines do require basic spell-checking and grammar quality, but the site does not enforce these requirements in any comprehensive way. The Archive of Our Own, which came along many years after FF.Net, doesn't make even these minimal attempts at quality control.

Types of Fandoms

Total number of fandoms by media type in 2010[4]
Total number of fics by media type in 2010[5]

FF.Net is popular with fans from many different communities including anime fandom and media fandom. The top ten most popular fandoms by story count as of 2013 are:[6]

Harry Potter alone accounts for nearly 14% of all the fics on FF.Net, with Naruto and Twilight making up 7% and 4% respectively.[7]

Anime/Manga

Naruto is the largest fandom in the anime category, but dozens of other popular anime series have sections with at least several thousand fics. Hence, while anime makes up only 19% of the fandoms on FF.Net, it accounts for 31% of the fic.

Books

FF.Net users can specify whether they are writing for the book or movie version of a canon, but each fandom only appears in the index page for one media type. 80% of the fics in the book category are for Harry Potter, Twilight, and Lord of the Rings.

Cartoons

Avatar: The Last Airbender and Teen Titans have particularly large sections.[8]

Comics

Most of the comics fics are for US superhero comics, many of which also have separate sections for cartoons or live action movies. Some less mainstream comics also have large sections: The Jhonen Vasquez (author of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac) section accounts for about 5% of comics fic.

Games

The Games category includes a wide variety of computer, video, and role playing games, but the majority of the fics are from games like the Final Fantasy franchise and Kingdom Hearts, which are associated with anime fandom.

Misc

The Wrestling section is the largest.[9] The Misc category also houses a variety of crossover sections and things like radio dramas and mythology.

Movies

FF.Net lists many fandoms under their book format, so the movie category is relatively small. Some of the bigger fandoms in it are major franchises like Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and High School Musical. Some older or less famous movies like Newsies and Labyrinth also have large sections. Films from outside the US are not well represented.

Plays/Musicals

RENT fic makes up 40% of this category, Wicked fic another 21%. Most of the fandoms are for Broadway productions, but Shakespeare also has a large section.

TV

No one fandom predominates in the TV section. There are similar numbers of fics for a wide variety of mainstream American TV shows. As of November 2013, there were over 18,000 fics for each of the following shows (in descending order): Glee, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, NCIS, Vampire Diaries, Stargate SG-1, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Criminal Minds, House, M.D., Bones, and Stargate Atlantis.[10] Some British TV shows also have large sections: Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Merlin. Series from other countries, including fan-favorite Canadian series such as due South, popular Asian dramas, and tokusatsu, are not especially well represented, considering the size of their fandoms outside of FF.Net. Anime is in a separate section.

Languages

The bulk of the fics on FF.Net are in English, but it also has fics in a variety of other languages. For example, in early 2010, the Harry Potter section had approximately 440,000 works in it. These break down by language as follows:[11]

  • 80% - English
  • 6% - Spanish
  • 6% - French
  • 3% - Portuguese
  • 3% - German
  • 1% - Other
    • >100 works - Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Italian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Finnish
    • >10 works - Danish, Turkish, Czech, Norwegian, Hebrew, Catalan, and Filipino
    • 0-10 works - Greek, Japanese, Romanaian, Bulgarian, Korean, Croatian, Scandinavian, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Latin

Naruto shows a similar pattern: around 85% of the fic is in English and only a handful of stories are in Japanese.

Membership Size

Estimating the user base of ff.net is difficult since people use their accounts in different ways and many accounts are completely inactive. The blog, FFN Statistics is a group project that attempts to collect and analyze account statistics gathered from the archive. The blog is a project of the Literate Union[12]

They collected account data and produced a table which shows that while ff.net had ~2.2 million accounts at the end of 2009 and is growing—gaining more accounts than are deleted each year—that growth rate has slowed in recent years.[13]

Additional Statistics

Les statistiques de fanfiction.net on La fanfiction: Etude sociologique has extensive additional statistical data, in French.

Content Guidelines

FF.Net provides content guidelines for users that include some slight efforts at spelling and grammar compliance, explains the ratings allowed, the fic formats allowed and provides a list of authors/publishers that have requested that fans not produce fic for their works.[14]

The list of authors/producers is effectively a blacklist of fandoms that are not allowed on the site.

(details needed about the deletion of stories that have been flagged as against the rules over the years and the process that takes place when that happens)

Controversies

Over the years in operation, FanFiction.Net was the center of many controversies from copyright issues to service instability.

Glitches

FanFiction.Net is notorious for occasional breakdowns when a part of its users are unable to access certain features of the site. These breakdowns were termed "Glitches" by on-site forum communities. At times, the circumstances in which a glitch would appear are strange:

  • A public announcement about an older glitch, now fixed.
  • A completed "successful database upgrade".
  • An uninformative staff service announcement with typos.

Most glitches are not announced and take up to two weeks to fix. They are rarely fixed over the weekend and continue till the next week.

Glitches affect different parts of the site. Depending on severity, they may involve:

  • The statistics feature: fanfic writers would see they have zero readers, but still receive reviews.
FanFiction.Net goes into read-only mode.
  • Beta Readers: members cannot browse for beta readers, and get a "FanFiction.Net Error Type 1" window.[15]
  • Site content: story chapters, reviews and forum posts submitted after the glitch started would flash, appear and disappear during page reloads. Forum communities know it as "the post eating glitch".
  • Story submission: writers cannot post new chapters or stories in certain categories. It was called a "type 2 error" by site staff in March, 2011, and lasted since March 18 till March 31. Tech savvy members found a way around this glitch.[16]
  • Login area: members are unable to login. The site goes into read-only mode. Most recently, it happened from April 9 to April 10, 2011.

Formatting problems

The uploading software of FF.Net strips stories of certain elements, such as hyperlinks, indentations or double spacing. This forces fans to create creative line breaks, such as repeated pairing acronyms. Other fans post tutorials for inserting the desired characters into the text.[17] In 2004, the site was criticized for eating words and making whole sentences disappear in uploaded chapters due to bugs in the site's QuickEdit word processor. Since then, the editing software has been updated several times and renamed to Document Manager.

In 2007, FanFiction.Net's document manager did not allow creative separators. Only the site-default horizontal line was accepted as a separation technique between parts of a chapter.

Changes in software up to 2010 applied only to works submitted after a certain date. The changes also used to impose restrictions such as removing square brackets and asterisks from stories and summaries. As a result, older stories could have different, more varied formatting (classic with indentations instead of block) and bigger character sets. In 2009, FFN even imposed a technical ban on repeating numbers in reviews. This caused confusion as numbers like 100 and 1000 would show up as 10.

This has changed in 2010 when the editor became less restrictive. Special characters like the asterisk were allowed again and the review issue was resolved. Also, 2010 was the first time a change in editing software affected older works. Stories using indentations were reformatted into block style, misshaping some of them[18]. Certain characters such as square brackets ] disappeared from all story summaries while they remained visible in the author's login area.

In 2011, FanFiction.Net kept updating the hyperlink filter, with mixed results. Links to the site's forums were not automatically deleted from messages and reviews, while informal references to the site such as FanFiction.Net became impossible, with text being changed to include a full hyperlink to the main page.

(needs citations, any problems since 2004?)

Staff problems

FanFiction.Net is considered understaffed by many users who try to reach member support but fail to receive any replies to a query. This is influenced by the amount of traffic the domain receives daily, including requests for new categories, inserting canon characters and questions about the site and abuse reports. Another image of the workload was the ticket-based support system in January 2005. Support answered every question sent, but the queue was two months on average. James is the only known staff member, who responds to emails and deals with abuse reports.

(needs more details here)

2001 RPF ban

Once upon a time, FF.Net allowed fanfiction about real people. In June 2001, there were more than 5,000 'N Sync stories on the site. In September 2002, an announcement was made disallowing Reality TV RPF (along with the NC-17 fic, see below) as of April 12, 2003. Actor RPF had never been allowed on the site. [19]

"Many months ago FanFiction.Net introduced a form of ban for real-person based stories (RPS): actor fiction. After evaluating that ban and receiving many responses as a result of that ruling, it has been decided that we need to extend the rule to all real-person stories to keep it consistent. The affected categories are:
All Music Groups
Misc >> Sports
TV Shows >> Big Brother, Survivor, Who's Line is it anyway?....
Please note that all the stories effected by the ruling above have not been removed. They will be retained until October 12th, 2002. If the changes apply to you, please login and use the backup feature to create a personal copy on your local computer."[20]

However; as early as 2008-2009, RPF experienced a hidden resurgence. The fics, mostly J-Pop and K-Pop, are posted in the Screenplays subcategory. Unlike the rest of the site, where English dominates most categories, these undercover RPF fics are more likely to be in a language other than English. Indonesian fics number around 1,400 (almost all of them RPF) compared with 1,300 fics (mixed, mostly non-RPF) written in English.[21]

Recently (July 2011), actions have been taken by a few Indonesian authors to rectify this problem by notifying RPF writers of their violation of rules, posting examples of 'right' fics in the Screenplays subcategory, and notifying the support staff. The actions are met with fierce resistance from established RPF authors. However, a few RPF writers relented and, as of writing, had begun deleting their RPF. [citation needed]

The ban has never been 100% effective, and it is easy to find RPF hiding in plain sight in various fictional fandom categories.[22]

2002 NC-17 ban

In September 2002 FF.Net announced that it would disallow NC-17 rated stories beginning in April 2003, giving users time to prepare archiving those stories elsewhere. One of the reactions was the creation of AdultFanFiction.Net by other fans.

(needs more details here)

2005 Songfic ban

Because of copyright worries Songfic was banned in 2005. At this time, German intellectual property organizations demanded from $1000 to $5000 remuneration per lyric they owned rights to found on unlicensed domains. [citation needed]

(needs more details here)

Conflict, Defamation, and Flaming

FanFiction.Net has long tried to reduce user complaints caused by their peers' aggressive behaviour. Users are now able to report signed reviews for abuse and block unwanted users from contacting them.

However, the site removed "libel" as a forbidden practice from their ToS in 2008, and would not endorse petition movements such as letting writers delete offensive signed reviews on their own.[23] The staff took an idle stance during the flame war concerning The Author Alliance in 2004, when several thousand stories were removed in Sonic the Hedgehog and Pokemon fandoms, a deed Xing Li noticed in the site's article on AllExperts.[24] It refused to delete the account of Flame Rising in 2008, a site-wide flamer, who hosted a 700,000 post flamer forum, The Fireplace. As of 2010, the site takes no action against The Literate Union despite phone calls to the site's parent company to delete the LU members.Citation Needed

2010 Forum and PM Purge

On the night of November 25, 2010, FanFiction.Net purged its forums, deleting threads not updated for 9 months. This was announced less than 10 hours before an automated engine mauled through forums by creation date. During the night after Thanksgiving, while most of the site's chiefly American population slept and was away from a computer, over 60,000 forums were affected. As a result, 22 million posts (66% of all posts ever made) were deleted during the purge. Instead of "reducing clutter", the intent posted on the front page, the event resulted in thousands of completely empty forums with no archive or backlog of any sort. Important forum discussion, sentimental and cultural value formed in forums since they were introduced in 2005 was lost. Only forum subscription statistics showed there used to be content.[25]When the purge completed, 90% of the General forums were empty.[26] The site took no action about forums with no posts prior to the purge. It completely changed the way users viewed their forums, from a safe heaven, to something entirely temporary.[27]

On the same day, the site announced purging Personal Messages. This process took more than two days to finish, and some users were able to feverishly back up their old correspondence. After the event, users expected better service, or another type of compensation, but received none. The site is yet to keep its promise made on November 26 to bring mobile forums "in a few days"[28] {does anyone know if this refers to the PM updates announced May, 2011?}

2012 M-Rated Purge

SupprFfnet 052012.jpg
Suppression mai 2012.jpg

In late May, 2012, Fanfiction.net admins suddenly started deleting of stories, (together with their reviews and comments), they considered too mature to be on the site. Reports in ffdotnetrants on LiveJournal and the fanfiction.net M-Rated Story Purge forum say that a "swear word" in the title or summary of a gen story was enough to get a story deleted without warning.[29] Author Hannah Ellison called it The Book Burning That Wasn't in the Huffington Post.

On June 4, 2012, a notice was posted on the front page of FanFiction.net:

Please note we would like to clarify the content policy we have in place since 2002. FanFiction.Net follows the Fiction Rating system ranging from Fiction K to Fiction M. Although Fiction Ratings goes up to Fiction MA, FanFiction.Net since 2002 has not allowed Fiction MA rated content which can contain adult/explicit content on the site. FanFiction.Net only accepts content in the Fiction K through Fiction M range. Fiction M can contain adult language, themes and suggestions. Detailed descriptions of physical interaction of sexual or violent nature is considered Fiction MA and has not been allowed on the site since 2002. [30]

The numbers of stories involved is not clear. Early analysis overstated the deletions[31], revisions indicate that the numbers of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Naruto stories dropped by one to two thousand, while smaller fandoms lost a few hundred: it's not clear how many were deleted by the admins and how many by the authors.[32]

See also The Book Burning That Wasn't: Thousands of Works of Fiction Destroyed and No One Pays Attention.

Meta/Resources

Many feel that FF.Net is under appreciated among the fan community:
"And contrary to the prejudices held by the outspoken LJ lot, not everything on FFN is shit. Most of it, sure, but I developed a keen sense of judging a story by its summary and never had the problem of accidentally reading badfic. Sure, you'll usually have to slog through pages of trash before finding the good stuff, but there are jewels on FFN and I was frequently annoyed by how fic that deserved attention didn't get it because people convinced themselves that only idiots posted to the pit.

I know that there are people who have legitimate issues with FFN and their policies. That's fair enough. I know that there are people who are on AO3 mainly because of the politics behind it - in which case, rock on! But then there is the crowd that won't go near FFN because it's allegedly a simmering pool of fourteen year olds and all the fic is shit, and that - that is patently untrue and incredibly annoying. FFN has a much bigger and much older archive than AO3, it is easier to navigate and - this is an important part - it's got open registration. The only time I can remember FFN being somehow hostile towards its users would be when it moved to ban smut and some other genres of questionably prosaic nature.

To return to the lady introducing the muggles: I wanted very badly to ask the reason why she was so studiously avoiding FFN. Not linking fic there could be coincidence, but talking about AO3 but not even acknowledging where AO3 came from (FFN's smut ban, as an extension of Strikethrough) - that's a boycott, and I'd go as far as to say that it is unfair to the very muggles she sought to invite to the club. Because dear madams: You're missing out if you never go to The Pit."[33]

References

  1. Numbers based on freifraufischer's data (Accessed 6 December 2008)
  2. . According to the pottersues FAQ the term was coined in January 2002 in this blog post by Mooncalf/tsukikoushi when the site decreased its minimum age requirement from 18 to 13 as well as banning the NC-17 (MA) rating. (Accessed 2 November 2008)
  3. Anti Fanfiction.net on LiveJournal (Accessed 15 September 2009)
  4. These figures are based on the index pages as of February 22, 2010.
  5. These figures are based on the index pages as of February 22, 2010. Percentages may be skewed by large fandoms like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Twilight having both their book and movie forms listed under books.
  6. These figures are based on the index pages as of 29 November 2013. The top four places remain unchanged since 2011, but Yu-Gi-Oh, Lord of the Rings, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have fallen off the top-ten list completely, to be replaced by Glee, Hetalia: Axis Powers, and Pokémon. See Top 20 Fandoms of 2010: Table 4 (Accessed February 19, 2011). As of 2013, story counts for the top ten are as follows: Harry Potter (665K), Naruto (348K), Twilight (214K), Inuyasha (111K), Glee (100.0K), Hetalia - Axis Powers (96.0K), Supernatural (88K), Bleach (75.6K), Kingdom Hearts (70.4K), Pokémon (67.1K).
  7. All figures in the Types of Fandoms section are compiled from viewing the site as at February 2010.
  8. As of 29 November 2013, the top five cartoon fandoms were Avatar: Last Airbender (37.2K stories), Teen Titans (35.4K), Transformers/Beast Wars (23.1K), Danny Phantom (16.8K), and My Little Pony (16.8K). Cartoons index page.
  9. As of 29 November 2013, Wrestling had 35K stories, almost twice as many as the second largest category, "Misc. Books" (19K). Misc index page.
  10. Fanfiction.net TV shows by popularity (Accessed 29 November 2013.) As of November 2010, there were over 12,000 fics for each of the following shows (in descending order): Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Stargate SG-1, NCIS, House, M.D., Stargate Atlantis, Gilmore Girls, Bones, Glee, One Tree Hill, and Smallville. Fanfiction.net TV shows by popularity (Acessed 2010-11-23)
  11. These figures were generated on February 23, 2010. The number of fics visible when viewing the fandom doesn't match the total listed on the index page, and new works are constantly uploaded, so the totals and percentages are approximate. Language names are taken from the FF.Net dropdown.
  12. Welcome (Accessed November 21, 2010)
  13. FanFiction.Net users (Accessed November 21, 2010)
  14. Content Guidelines (Accessed July 18, 2011)
  15. Solution to Story Updates (Accessed 10 April 2011)
  16. FanFiction.Net Error Type 2 Workaround(Accessed 10 April 2011)
  17. Fanfiction.net Symbol Solution by Toboe LoneWolf on Geocities. (Accessed 15 September 2009) via Wayback.
  18. Misshapen Story (Accessed February 19, 2011)
  19. See Talk Page Discussion referring to email correspondence from the time.
  20. One of the many FanFiction.Net Petitions; reference link. See also Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Choice?; reference link.
  21. On July 18, 2011, filtering the Screenplays category to Indonesian returns 1,335 results out of 2,515 in total.
  22. A look at the Supernatural category on July 18, 2011 showed a J2 story on the first page of results.
  23. Forums » Writers Anonymous » Petition: Deleting signed reviews (Accessed 11 Aug 2010)
  24. AllExperts > Encyclopedia FanFiction.Net (Accessed 11 Aug 2010)
  25. Empty forum with Subscribers (Accessed February 19, 2011)
  26. Empty General Forums (Accessed February 19, 2011)
  27. Reaction to the Forum Purge (Accessed February 19, 2011)
  28. FanFiction.Net Front Page (Accessed February 19, 2011)
  29. Experiences with Purging personal reports of stories being removed due to certain words, ffdotnetrants additional reports], accessed 2012-06-02
  30. FanFiction.net home page accessed 2012-6-4
  31. How many fictions have been deleted? posted 1st-Jun-2012 08:57 am by alixe75, accessed 2012-06-02
  32. ERRATUM : number of deleted stories on ffnet posted 2012-6-4 accessed 2012-6-5 (imaged used with permission)
  33. http://daysofseptember.livejournal.com/28510.html dated Nov 29, 2013;reference link.
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