Writers University

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Community
Name: Writers University
Date(s): original site (September 2000-December 2000), new site (January 2001- sometime in 2004)
Moderator: Laura Hale
Founder: Michela Ecks
Type:
Fandom:
URL: Archived website 2001-2004 & Archived website 2004-2005
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Writers University was an online resource website that offered centralized discussions of fan fiction. It was the precursor to Fan History Wiki and a lot of information was copied from discussions on the FCA-L mailing list but the essays were mostly written by Laura Hale.

In addition to IRC chat, there was a forum/message board and mailing lists along with featured articles and essays about media fandom.

Some of the mailing lists listed on the websites front page in 2001: wuannounce (general announcements), wugeography (find out about conventions), Over 20 Club (For the mature discussion of all things fan fiction.), Slashers-Unite (Slash discussion list about handling flames) and sfsters (Science fiction discussion list for teens and college students).

"Writers University's" forum is Fan Fiction Ethical & Legal Discussion Board.

Origins of the Site

From the front page:
Have you ever wondered about the history of fan fiction? Have you run across a post about fan fiction and wondered what half the terms meant? Are you looking for a beta reader? Need ideas for stories?

Fan fiction is written by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. Fan fiction is read by millions. With the advent of the internet and its permeation deeper into our society, it is no longer something locked into paper zines. Fan fiction is something with a history and culture all its own. Fan fiction is about writing and kinship with people. It's a method of connecting to others who share your interests through writing.

Writers University seeks to help people connect through fan fiction. Writers University seeks to inform people about fan fiction."
On the About Page the site goes into greater detail about its origins:
Writers University was founded in September of 2000. It was orginally housed at FanFiction.Net but because of personality conflicts, went looking for a new home in early January of 2001. It was down till about February 11 when parts of the site went up at its new location http://writersu.s5.com/ with a new layout and new look. It has yet to have all its original contnet put back up.

Writers University came into being after repreated posting by Michela Ecks to the FanFiction.Net forums and mailing lists with such useful information as the history of fan fiction and a dictionary of fan fiction terms. This was augmented by "The Over 20 Club." Steven Savage and Xing Li asked Michela to create a site for fanfiction.net for that sort of information to help lend credibility to the site(FanFiction.Net).

Michela agreed and brought in to this project one of the nicest and most helpful people in all of fandom, Haven (real name is Niamh) who had helped Michela with such projects as Truth in Feedback and the b5teens.

One of their first goals was to create a list of beta readers who were willing to beta read for fan fiction writers at FanFiction.Net. Because Haven and Michela have pretty high standards, they required that all applicants take a test before being listed. This was a really popular and hlpful feature. (This feature is down at the current time because of time cnstraints and changing interest on Haven's part but will be back up soon.)

Writers University grew and grew content wise. The dictionary had over 500 terms in January, four academic essays on fan fiction, seven essays on beta reading, five Mary Sue Litmus tests, over 200 beta listings.

With the move to the new address and by disassocaiting [sic] Writers University with FanFiction.Net the staff was given a much needed break and the site was given a fresh new look. The stress levels of those on staff dropped. All is good :o) though they really need to update more.

The driving force behind Writers University has been and always will be Michela Ecks. She is currently a senior at Northern Illinois University. She has been involved in fandom for about six years. Her goals for the site are to get more content on the site, add more articles, essays and to recruit writers who are interested in actively submitting material to Writers University. [1]

A 2002 Description

In 2002, Hale described the site in a paper she wrote about FanDomination.Net:

Writers University will be and is a resource for fan fiction authors of all levels who wish to publish their fan fiction at FanDomination.Net. Writers University, at the time of this paper being written, currently has two features created.

The first is a dictionary of fan fiction terms. Members can join and add comments about the definitions, links to more information about the topic, dispute the definition, and comments about how this has effected their fannish experience. This is helpful for fan fiction writers and readers because it helps them become more fluent with the nature of fandom, and more familiar with the terminology used at FanDomination.Net.

The second feature that is currently up is the Fandom Policy page. This page is a very important resource for authors of book based fan fiction because the Terms of Service for the site resource for authors of book based fan fiction because the Terms of Service for the site stipulates that authors must include in their disclaimers what the author policy of the material from which their fan fiction is derived from is. If an author does not include this information, their story will be deleted. Writers University is one of the only sites on the Internet to have this information.

In addition to the pre-existing features, Writers University will have several new features. These features will be the ability to upload articles into specialized subject areas. The topics will be divided by Communications, English, Foreign Language, Geography, History, Law, Philosophy, Science and Extracurricular Activities. The resource for authors of book based fan fiction because the Terms of Service for the site stipulates that authors must include in their disclaimers what the author policy of the material from which their fan fiction is derived from is. If an author does not include this information, their story will be deleted. Writers University is one of the only sites on the Internet to have this information.

In addition to the pre-existing features, Writers University will have several new features. These features will be the ability to upload articles into specialized subject areas. The topics will be divided by Communications, English, Foreign Language, Geography, History, Law, Philosophy, Science and Extracurricular Activities. The audience does not understand the context. The Geography section will contain information on conventions, advice on attending conventions, and pictures of people at conventions. This important because it helps give fans a scope of how large fandom is, gives fan fiction writers important information on convention behavior, and encourages authors to intermingle with other fans who may be of help to their writing. The History section will contain essays on the history of fan fiction, interviews with Big Name Fans, Mary Sue essays, and Mary Sue Litmus Tests. This will be a valuable resource to authors because it will offer them a historical perspective of fandom and their place in it, and it will help authors avoid writing stories filled with Mary Sues. The Law section will contain information on the legality of fan fiction. This is an important resource for authors so they can be aware of some of the risks of writing fan fiction. The Philosophy section will contain academic articles covering fan fiction. This will be a resource for authors that will help them understand that fan fiction is something that should be taken seriously as many academics take it seriously. The Science section will contain information on research, how to do it, and articles on canon information. This will be helpful for authors because it will supply them with necessary background information and teach them the skills on how to research to find that information. The Extracurricular Activities section will contain miscellaneous information. This section will provide such information as pairing codes that will enable authors to better find the stories they want to read. [2]

A November 2000 Plug

This is one of those blatant plugs and I know those generally are frowned upon in most circles but um... away I go anyway :o)

www.FanFiction.Net is a large archive of fan fiction from a bunch of fandoms. It's really easy to submit stuff there. If you want to broaden your reading audience, then I highly encourage you to join and post.

Writers University found at http://www.fanfiction.net/university/ is a writers resource with a history of fan fiction, fan fiction terminology, beta readers, information on law as it pertains to fan fiction and more. :o) I highly encourage you to visit and use the beta reading section. I also encourage people to go there and apply for listing on the beta reading page. It's really hard to find a good beta reader and we want to make the easier... There are a lot of budding authors on FanFiction.Net who could really benefit from having a good beta readers so if nothing else, please do that :o)

Thank you for Reading. [3]

Entwined with "FanDomination.Net

"Writers University" was closely related and entwined with FanDomination.Net, Laura Hale's fiction archive.

In 2002, Hale explained:

Writers University will remain a separate and distinct part of FanDomination.Net. This is being done to afford Writers University a certain legal protection should FanDomination.Net face legal action. Another reason Writers University will be a separate site affiliated with FanDomination.Net and not located on its server is so that both sites can support fannish activities with out alienating people who are ideologically opposed to either sites's policies and views. Among the planned projects that will be resources for authors is a scholarship fund for fan fiction authors going into college, and a site with information on the legality of fan fiction with contact information for fannish lawyers who can help fans deal with Cease and Desist letters. [4]

A Predecessor to Fan History Wiki

From Fan History Wiki's blog:
Fan History is an outgrowth of Writers University‘s history department. Writers University was founded back in 2000 on FanFiction.Net by Laura under the nome de pume Michela Ecks, moved off about six months later, spent several years at writersu.s5.com, on its own domain and otherwise in a state of flux. The site eventually folded, with some of content being moved to FanWorks.Org, a precursor to this wiki found on another site and in an unpublished fanzines. During this period, Laura‘s research into the history of fan fiction and fandom continued. [5]

Site Organization

Laura Hale later made links to some of the essays below at Fan History Wiki Blog; WebCite, last updated in 2008.

In 2001, the site was organized in the following areas:

Laura Hale and the Split

Laura Hale and Writers University left fanfiction.net in January 2001 on bad terms, with Hale posting a long farewell letter to various ff.net forums detailing her reasons for leaving, including repeated mentions of the fact that she felt she had been lied to and that some of the people she'd been involved with had proved untrustworthy. [6]

Reactions and Reviews

Writers University was regarded by some fans as a valuable resource:
According to their own mandate, "Writer's University seeks to help people connect through fan fiction," and I'd say they do a tremendous job of it, too. This site is huge, contains dozens of resources anyone who writes or reads fanfic would benefit from reading, and (always a major personal interest for yours truly) is set out in a user-friendly format with solid links and navigation. I especially recommend their section on Mary Sues.[7]
Other fans had issues with inaccuracies on the site, however. Discussing the article on Mary Sue Whipple, Alice Karvonen Allonway (MSW's creator), said:
Telling people how she was born is extremely cool (especially 'cause, y'know, my name has to be plastered all over the story). Telling people lies and damned lies is a bad thing, especially when you know the truth of the matter. Here, I refer to the Writer's University website, wherein a false history of MSW simple beginnings is given (and her creation story is not one I'm shy about—I give it any time anyone asks about Mary Sue in my hearing).[8]

References

  1. here; WebCite
  2. FanDomination.Net; WebCite
  3. Michela Ecks at alt.startrek.creative, November 22, 2000
  4. from Design and Implementation of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning: FanDomination.Net; WebCite
  5. undated; WebCite
  6. Michela Ecks FF.net Resignation Statement, posted to Fanfiction.net Liberation Front. Accessed November 30, 2008.; WebCite
  7. MetaFic, Writing Resources, accessed November 30, 2008.
  8. The How and Why of Mary Sue, by Alice Karvonen Allonway, posted July 15, 2001. Accessed November 30, 2008.