'Elite' archives?

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Title: 'Elite' archives?
Creator: maeglinyedi
Date(s): March 28, 2004
Medium: online
Fandom: Harry Potter, multifandom
Topic: fanfiction archives, elitism in fandom
External Links: 'Elite' archives?[1]
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Elite' archives? is a 2004 essay by maeglinyedi.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts from the Essay

I was a busy girl tonight. Uploaded a stash of new fics to Diagon Alley and Ink Stained Fingers, submitted them to The Restricted Section, and wrote Remus and Voldemort posts for Unholy Trinity.

But as I was uploading to those various archives, I remembered a few comments I read around lj yesterday. About elite archives and communities.

The complaint basically was that since these people weren't well-known writers they had a hard time getting membership of certain archives and communities.

And that got me thinking. A lot of archives are moderated, but still anyone can submit a story to it. The moderators will then decide if their work meets that archive's standards. This is how we operate the ETC Archive as well. Our standards are quite basic: we expect decent grammar and spelling and proper use of canon names (so while an occasional typo is perfectly all right, spelling Lucius as Lucuis twenty times is not).

But there are also archives/communities out there who work on basis of invitation. And that makes it hard for starting authors to show what they've got, and I imagine it can be quite frustrating for new writers who would like to participate in fandom activities.

As for my own opinion in the matter, I'm kind of stuck in between. As a moderator, I can understand the need for quality-control. One look at fanfiction.net will tell you why. But as a writer, I can understand the frustration of people new to the fandom who stumble upon invite-only or quality standards when trying to post their stuff around the net.

But then again, I started my career as well on fanfiction.net, posting my unbetaed stories there. And I got more and more involved in fandom as I met more and more people, through mailing lists and chatrooms. But had those mailing lists been 'invite-only', for example, I might not have met them, and I might not have improved my writing much this past year.

So it's a dilemma, I guess. The moderator side of me very much likes to see quality-control, as does the experienced reader in me who refuses to read anything on fanfiction.net these days. But there's that tiny voice in the back of my mind reminding me that that's where I started as well, and if it hadn't been for people looking past my poor writing and accepting me into various fandom activities anyway, I might still have been there today.

I would really like to hear other people's opinion about this. How do you feel about it as an archivist, a moderator, a writer and a reader? Is quality control on archives a good thing? How about invite-only?

Excerpts from Comments at the Post

[ mark356: ] Everyone in the HP fandom should operate the way Mark356 did, circa 2002: Personal archives are both archives and recs pages, and they contain copies of the work as well as plugs for them; the archivist reads recs lists, LJs, other people's recs sites and archives, and unfiltered archives like the Schnoogle blog, and pimps the best of it. Anyone who wants onto Mark356's site just emails Mark356 and asks for hosting, and Mark356 will either host you without reccing you on a separate page (which functions like an unfiltered archive, only slower) or will rec you properly on the site itself. Basically, personal archives can be filtered or moderated as much as whoever owns them wants to do so, but there need to be public, less-filtered things as well.

[ vixenette: ]

As a reader, I sometimes like going to invite-only sites and quality control sites. I know that I can find something at least devoid of lots of errors at the Sugar Quill or weird formatting at FA. I know that I can read a well-written Remus/Sirius story at the Howl Kingdom. I know that if I go to Azkaban's Lair or FF.net, however, I might be turned off by the countless of fics that are just terrible and out of character and full of things like "Remy" and a sweet Snape and unbeta'd as fuck.

But then again, I have found brilliant writers at FF.net that were not archived anywhere else or invited anywhere else (like mysid/JKLB, and for that I'm eternally grateful - she's still not archived at any other "invite only" type sites). I have found things that I just hated at some invite-only archives. So I, also, see both sides as a reader. Just because it's invite-only or quality controlled doesn't mean that I'm not going to find complete crap.

As a website owner, I also see your point on both sides. I had one girl ask me if I could archive her fics, and I hated turning her down, but I read something of hers and just literally cringed. I didn't like her characterizations, she had some "Remy"'s and "Siri"'s, and I was all around turned off by her writing style. When I put an author page up, I say something about what I like and why I like them or something. Should I have accepted her and then lied on my own website about how I loved her fics? I didn't think it was the better route to take.

Then again, also as a website owner...who am I to judge? Fanfiction is not published - it's a form of artistic expression for a writer, and it should be written FOR the writer and no one else. Who am I to say if it's good enough or not? I felt bad for turning this girl down (and I came up with an excuse to tell her no without saying that I didn't like her fics or her writing, because that's not what I like to do, and the excuse was a valid one, so it wasn't a lie...I was proud of myself for finding my way out of that one, lmao). Even the best writers in the fandom, I say, have no right to tell the worst writer in the fandom that their writing is "not good enough". Pointing out what's wrong with it in the form of helpful criticism? Sure, if the author is up for it.

*sigh* What am I babbling about, anyway? I did post something about pornish_pixies being invite-only and me being a little frustrated by it, but that was just me snarking. It's not that big of a deal - if I write some smut I'll just post it somewhere else and not there. Really, the person who runs it is a perfectly nice person, I'm sure (is it switchknife?...I think so). I'm sure they waded through crap NC-17 fics everyday until it got frustrating enough to start a new community, one that wouldn't be a "post anything you've got" type. I'm sure people who are invited get a bit of an ego boost. And I'm sure it's so busy running that community that switchknife doesn't really have the time to go out and "find" new authors and new fics. Erm, not really sure of switchknife's gender (but percentages tend to point towards female, right?), but he or she is in the same situation that you are, or that I am, and I do see what she probably has to go through every day. What does she say to someone who sends her a fic of theirs to read, and she hates it? "Yours is not good enough?" I couldn't imagine being as popular as she is, trying to turn people away gently. I actually sort of feel bad that she probably has to find a way to do that to some people.

[ iibnf: ]

As someone who's never invited to join the invitation only communities, they piss me off. Way to make someone feel like crap.

But as a reader, I quite like to have the stories pre filtered for my convenience. I'd rather not have to wade through the really poorly constructed fics to find the tasty morsels.

[ dkwilliams: ] I've never been invited to post at any of the exclusive archives, or to exclusive communities except Pornish Pixies (and I haven't even had a chance to post there). Obviously I'm not running in the "right" circles, but I'm having a heck of a good time writing in the circles that I *do* run in, and not worried about being excluded.

[ lydialovestruck: ]

In fandom terms, I've been everything at one time or other - newbie, BNF, seasoned writer. When I first joined HP, and then wrote my first FQF fic, I didn't have any place to put it *but* the challenge archive. I still wanted more people to read it. I wanted that happy moment of seeing feedback in my Inbox and to know someone had enjoyed the work I'd put into that story. But where was I to submit it?

I wasn't a member of ff.net - and indeed, by that time NC17 stories had been purged completely. I could have made mine an R, but decided I didn't want to have to censor my future stories or worry about the rating, so that was out. I knew of only two possible sites (a shipping site and an adult-oriented HP archive). Both turned me down. The shipping site gave me no reason; the archive simply said my story didn't fit in with the rest of their stories, and that was that.

I'll be honest and as humble as I can be. I had *never* gotten that response from *anyone* before. My story was not edgy, did not deal with taboo subjects - there was nothing objectionable about it at all. It was a lengthy, humorous romance with a happy ending for a popular HP pairing. Okay, I thought. The archive site likes darker stories. The shipping site... they never gave me a reason so I still don't know what to think.

I was left with what to do with my story. I wanted it to get out there. I wanted it to have a better chance of being read. I got the courage to self-post it a month later at ISF - but had to fight this horrible feeling that two other sites turned it down, so why was I persisting in forcing my imagination on other people? Feeling a bit singed by my contact with the other two archives, I decided I wasn't going to offer my work anywhere else *but* ISF. After all, they can't turn me down. *grin*

Do I wish things had turned out differently? Who doesn't want to take the fandom by storm with their story? After all, I'd done it once before and knew it was a neat feeling. I simply had to realize that this was not then and it wasn't going to happen that way for me. I think that's something a lot of frustrated new authors have to realize for themselves - not everyone can be a Cassie Claire (for example) and be famous from the start, and honestly - do you really want to be? Or would you rather be yourself and find your own road?

Having done both, this way takes longer, but it can still be deeply satisfying.

[ zerosleep: ]

As a reader, quality control is vital. I have a limited amount of time to spend reading things and avidly dislike having to wade through piles of dreadful work to get to a few good pieces. I'm also less than nice about bad work and if I come across it, chances are I will avoid that writer in the future no matter how much they improve. This is why most of my reading list comes directly from recommendations, or at least it does once I've gotten a foothold on the reading side of a fandom and know where I can get reliable recommendations from.

As a writer, I also think it's important. If my work isn't good enough to be accepted somewhere, then I know I need to improve. Or at least I would if I ever bothered to submit anything. Places like ff.net offer no motivation towards improvement as you can post whatever you like (within the archive rules, of course) no matter how bad it is. A writer needs to earn their place in a fandom, just like anything else.

I'm not entirely sure where I stand on invitation-only archives though. I can see the point in it, after all who wants to wade through submission after submission, knowing you're going to reject a good chunk of them? On the other hand, there's no way an archivist will know about every writer or work of fan-fiction in the fandom and will quite likely miss a great addition simply because they don't know about them and the fact that HP in particular is such a huge fandom makes that even more likely. That can be frustrating from all points of view.

Generally though I think it's up to the moderator archivist and who am I to tell anyone how to run things when I'm not the one having to deal with the workload? If I don't like it, I don't have to play there after all. :)

[ ladyflowdi: ]

Thought I'd add my two cents. :) Submitting to any quality controlled archive yanks on my self confidence every single time. It makes you feel like crap, that someone has read your stuff, judged you to not be "good enough to be part of the group", and has basically said without saying that your fic isn't welcome in the archive. It hurts my feelings, and others like me, who work really hard on this passtime we so enjoy, and then to be told by someone that they don't want it in their archive..it just kinda sucks.

Invite-only is clique-y. I dealt with enough of that in High School, and I'd rather not touch it with a ten foot pole. Insulting, dude.

This goes without saying that it's a lot about fandom politics, as well. Who you hang out with, who you talk to, who hates who, yada yada yada. I have yet to see it in the HP fandom, but I'm so new that I've probably just not realized it.

I like to go to archives that have multi levels of talent in the writers involved. It's nice to read someones work, and watch as they evolve and grow as a writer. I was there myself, once, after all. Still am. Hee.

So it's just a double edged sword. A sucky, sucky double edged sword.

[ jain: ]

If quality control simply means screening stories for proper grammar and spelling or correct formatting, then I'm all for it. I'm sure there are authors who'd find any such enforcement annoying, but the fact remains that all an offending author would need to do in such a case is to reformat the story or spellcheck it or send it to a beta reader...all things, in short, that the author ought to have already done before submitting her or his story to the archive.

If it means rejecting authors on the basis of their stories' plots or characterizations or style--content rather than cosmetic appearance--then my reaction's more divided. After all, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a good story, a readable story, and an unreadable story. I know that a number of the stories I've reread and cherished would be sneered at by other readers, and I've lost count of the times that I've seen intelligent fen--many of them brilliant authors--recommend stories that I thought were utter crap.

On the other hand, I have an account at Skyehawke, and I do appreciate the archive for being a place where I can try new, unlabeled fics (whereas I'll only read recced stories at ff.net and usually only read stories featuring specific pairings or kinks on smaller HP archives) with the minimum of frustration. Part of what makes their policy appealing, or at least acceptable, to me, though, is that: 1) any author can request an account; 2) once an author's been accepted, her or his subsequent stories aren't subjected to a review before they can be posted to the archive (unlike Diagon Alley's policy of approving each story, which to me seems like a situation rife with the potential for abuse); and 3) authors who've been rejected are sent feedback explaining the decision and are welcome to reapply later.

I very much dislike invite-only archives and communities. No doubt part of that is sour grapes--I've never been invited to join one--but a greater part of it is discomfort with the fact that the writers asked to join them aren't so much the best as they are the most visible and/or produce stories that are the most appreciated by the moderator(s).

[ nadai: ]

Quick disclaimer: I read in HP, but I don't write in it, so I don't have to deal with being rejected. That probably skews my perspective.

That said, I have no problem with either moderated archives or invite-only communities. Moderators and archivists are offering a gift to the fandom just like the writers are. I wouldn't presume to tell a writer, "You shouldn't write that; write this instead." I don't see why it's any more acceptable to say, "Mod/archive like this." I can understand why people who're rejected or not invited are hurt, but still, the people doing the work have every right to decide what work they're willing to do.

And it's not like we're running out of Internet. Anyone can set up an LJ community or a Geocities site to feature the stories she wrote, or particularly likes, or thinks are being overlooked, or whatever. It's not even that expensive to buy a domain name and pay someone to host it. Someone who's not accepted at the ETC Archives can still put her work out there.

I might have a problem if the whole fandom went moderated/invite-only, because that would lock out a lot of people. But ff.net is still there, Yahoo has twenty tons of open HP mailing lists, LJ has more open HP communities than I can count, and that's just the part of HP fandom that I know about. There are still plenty of places for new people to go to make friends and improve their writing. Not every place has to cater to the lowest common denominator.

[ slytherkins, Diagon Alley mod: ]

And as for my opinion on selective archives, it's all in our Mission Statement (which I personally wrote) and what I expect from fic archived at DA is outlined in our guidelines, which I wrote as well. As you might know, DA came under a lot of criticism for its submission standards...basically that we had them at all...and we were labeled elitists. But, in my mind, we are not elite in the slightest. I don't have to know an author from Jack, so long as their fic meets the standards (which are basic and reasonable if you ask me) it goes in. You don't have to be a big name author. I'm not looking for authors with clout or reputation, I'm just looking for enjoyable fic. Our rejection process got a facelift (We're new after all. I only took charge of the archive Feb. 1st, the same day the site opened, and there was a mad rush to get things posted. But the state of the project was total chaos and some rash judgments were made, as our procedures hadn't been established/fine tuned. Lots of people got upset. I'm sorry. But everything is set now, and we've...for the most part...had a very positive response to the changes.) Basically, we don't just reject a fic. We have the guidelines listed in the rejection letter and if the submitted fic is lacking in any are of them, we explain why/how, and often give the author suggestions on how the problem area could be improved. In the end the rejection is really a detailed critique. I feel in this way, we let the authors know that we aren't ungrateful, and encourage them to continue writing, as well as hopefully (not to sound pretentious) make them stronger writers. We also urge them to resubmit should they act on our suggestions, or somehow alter the fic to comply with the guidelines. We aren't putting a gun to anyone's head and saying 'change this'. And I would never want an author to betray their original vision just to make us happy. If they can't bring themselves to make those changes, so be it, their fic, though not bad or wrong, simply isn't what we're looking for in our particular archive.

This may be the wrong attitude, but the way I see it, we aren't forcing anyone to submit. Apparently, if one submits something to the archive, it's (I'd hope) because they enjoy the archive and would like to be included. I don't owe any of the authors any favors. And I'm not duty bound to accept everything that comes through, perfect grammar or no. There are several other sites that have that kind of thing covered. Though I've personally been attacked for my presumption, that I alone can deem whether a fic is 'good' or not, it really has nothing to do with that. The subject matter, pairing, genre, etc. are not really considered during review. That's why we have such a large team with such diverse tastes. It's not about personal taste. It's about the degree of writing. I just archived Electric Android's 'White'...Now, Vivisection is not my cuppa. I'll admit, this fic deeply, deeply disturbed me. (I <3 ya EA ;)) But the writing was good, so it went in. So again, I really don't think we're elitists. We seriously consider every single fic that comes to us. I've rejected fics from well-known authors, and I've archived authors I've never heard of...a couple of them even wrote to tell me that the submitted fic was their first, or that they were indeed fledgling writers. I'm a novice fic writer myself. I understand the frustration. But what I don't think some people understand is, the rejection/approval is in no way personal, and no one should take it that way....

Even archives that are admittedly 'elitist' do not bother me in the least. They know what they want. It's their webspace. It's their business. They should be able to reject what they want. It baffles me that authors get so upset. Surely there is someplace for their work. If it simply happens to not be that particular archive, dude, they need to get over it. It's their archive, not the author's. If the author is upset by that, there's nothing stopping them from starting their own.

Which is another thing. Running an archive is kinda exhausting. A lot of work goes into just maintaining one, not to mention newbies like us who are still just setting up house, really. Again, since we do all (or most, depending on how the submissions come to us) the work, I don't see why we shouldn't get to decide what goes in and what doesn't. We aren't the fandom's lackeys, we aren't getting paid for services rendered. We're volunteers. And not to sound crass, but we aren't here simply to stroke an author's ego and make them feel welcome and accepted.

I think the thing is, I write fic myself. And I wouldn't be bothered in the least if an archive rejected my submission. I was a writer before I joined the fandom, before I even knew the fandom existed, and that's just the way of things. You write something, you submit it to a publisher. Publishers don't accept everything sent to them. Look at our dear Sushi and how much trouble she is seeming to have getting her original work published. But I think it's a valuable process, it makes us better writers, makes us take the initiative to want to develop our craft. There may be nothing 'wrong' with my story...but if it could be better, I want it to be. And if it takes 60 rejection letters before I turn out something worthy to be published, so be it. It's a learning experience. I frankly don't see why it should be any different simply because we're dealing with online fanfiction.

But that's just me. And I am firstly and foremost a reader. I enjoy fiction, a lot. I joined the DA fiction team because I wanted to help develop an archive that caters to the reader, not the author. Fanfiction, I feel, exists to be read. The writing is satisfying, but if you're only out to satisfy yourself through the writing of it, why share it? If that was the intent, you shouldn't care what others think of it, or whether it's rejected or not. It's your thing, and if it makes you happy, that's what's important. But if it goes beyond that, I still don't see how you can be upset just because not everyone enjoys your fic as much as you do. I don't simply write what I think others want to read, but at the very least I keep the reader in mind. Sorry, I'm so rambling. But yeah. DA is a reader-centric archive. I want it to be a place where anyone can come and find something to their liking, can potentially enjoy everything they come across there. If you don't enjoy one of the fics in our archive, I'm almost positive it's a matter of personal dislike toward the pairing or genre, because the writing is more than likely very good. We try to make sure of it.

[ underlucius: ]

Like you, I'm torn on this subject. As a much newer fandom writer of only six months I've found it a slow progress, almost an evolution to become better known, gladly it seems to be happening now but there's a lot of pressure which has been talked about on other LJ's. I ranted recently about how I'd started down the slippery slope of "writing just to get noticed" here. A Trait I have now stamped out.

I am all for quality control. I have left a lot of yahoogroups recently because of the appalling quality of the writing. Luscious being the way Lucius is spelled a lot of the time, the taking of liberties with the time lines without a warning of AU (such as LM being in the same year as MWPP), Modern idioms, modern songs in MWPP stories, unforgivable Americanisms such as the vile "gotten" that no english person would ever say, cookies, sidewalk, rubber... stuff that a little time, a britpicker and research would eke out. These fics should NEVER be allowed anywhere near a decent community or archive.

Conversely though, the "invite only" communities can cause feelings of resentment. I asked nicely and was accepted into HPChan recently which was lovely, but there are other closed communities where one has to wait to be asked, and one can feel very excluded when your fellow writer friends are, one by one invited in and you are not. I think that instead of invite only, the way that your ETC archive runs is better, a writer submits his/her work and waits to see if it fits the tone of the group, and the exacting standards that make them elite in the first place.

[ contraiwise: ]

Hm... I'm definitely new--I only started reading/writing HP fic after OotP came out. I figure, the mods of archive sites and communities provide a service/gift/resource to the fannish community at large, and they're doing it with their own time, their money, their webspace, etc. They should run their archives however they *want* to run them, and writers can read the rules and decide whether or not to submit. The archivists don't have to accept everything, and the writers don't *have* to submit if they don't like the archive, yo. And if someone really doesn't like it, they can start their own site/comm/what have you--the fandom's certainly big enough to take another site.

Personally, my fannish experience is 90-95% centered on livejournal. I get my recs, new stories to read, and challenges to join all from my flist. I belong to several mailing lists, but I'm no-mail (to avoid filling up my inbox) on most of them, and I find it a bit more intimidating to submit something to a list than I do just posting to my LJ or an LJ community. I have mailing-list shyness! Heh.

As for the exclusive or invite only thing, well, it's the archive/comm mod's decision as to how it's run, IMO. There are a few exclusive archives out there that I have no interest in trying to get my stuff on, partly because I know my stuff isn't a good match (I'm not really familiar with sugarquill, but I doubt they'd want the things I write. *g*), and partly because I'm lazy and I don't really care about jumping through a bunch of hoops just to post a story, not when I could post it on LJ, skyehawke, Ink Stained, FA, etc. There are so many places to post your stuff beyond ff.net, it's not even funny. If there were only one or two archives available, then I might have a different opinion about the exclusive/invite only thing, but when there's a million places to post? Nah.

I joined skyehawke (I did the apply thing on the forums) because a) I like a lot of the authors on there and b) I like the clean design (it's important to my eyes! *g*) I am a member of pornish_pixies, but I think how I got invited was just dumb luck--I wrote a bit of porn and switchknife happened to read it (maybe because Marks mentioned it in her LJ? Something like that...).

[ electricandroid: ]

I do not suffer from (or I try not anyway) this horrible "Self-entitlement" which I find cropping up everywhere. Bluntly - people who archive your stories are doing you a favour - not the other way around. If they decide that they don't like one because it takes place on a Wednesday - and they hate Wednesdays (just to be facetious) - it is their right. There is nothing which says that just because person A writes a story - they will suddenly be lauded as the most brilliant writer in fandom. And it upsets me quite a bit to see people ranting on about Elitist Standards (not you - in general) because if you have such a great problem with the archive concerend, or with the concept as a whole, Just do not submit your stories. End concept.

Closed communities - well as both a reader and a writer I appreciate them. It is hard writing something which you know is going to push the bounds of all you have written before, without a target audience in mind. Since pornish - I have much less of a problem - because I know that the audience expects a certain level of peversion from me. I don't need to worry so much about it being stumbled across by people who I really would not like to read it - you either know and like places like pornish and hpchan - or you steer clear. Yes, it is elistist - but even within the hardcore catagories there is some obnoxious writing - and I'm using the word obnoxious advisedly. It is harder to treat incest, D/s, non-con, and the myraid other kinks out there tastefully, and hence poor writers (and I'm not a politically correct person who is going to say that all writers are created equal) are incapable of dealing with the subject material in a tasteful way. I'd rather see the people who are able to handle it encouraged - than to have every tom, dick, and harry writing hardcore non-con - because of the effect it can have on fandom as a whole.

[ madilayn: ]

I truly believe that all writers have a duty to their fellow writers to nurture new writers so that they become known and their work improves.

After all, I can name a number of well-known sci fi and fantasy writers who started off writing fanfic - and who would have gone nowhere without the support of other writers.

I do object to some archives out there that are invitation only - but who refuse to accept recommendations from readers/writers (who they already archive).

Have you ever noticed, though, that the really restrictive archives tend to fail? Again - there's that support and nurture thing.

I really think, though, that new writers have to be invited and encouraged - otherwise we are reading the same fics in different places (and I do include my own writings in that!)

[ ellensmithee: ]

This probably sounds a bit harsh, but HP fandom is the most elitist, cliqueish fandom I've ever encountered in my 8 years of online fandom. It's all about being accepted into the right archives and comms, having the coolest flists, being in the right rpgs, liking the right pairings, having the right opinions - a good preparation for RL, BTW, so I'm not actually knocking it, just recognizing it for what it is. ;-) It might just be the microcosm of LJ, however, but somehow I doubt it. I imagine it's backlash to all the unadulterated crap out there - there's also more wank, badfic, and hysteria in HP than in any other fandom I've been involved in. Recently, someone on fandom_wank actually demanded that HP fandom be "voted off the island" because of all the wank.

That said, I don't mind having certain places I can go to where I know the quality of the fic is acceptable and there'll be no Mary Sues and badfic. As for archives being invite-only and having quality control... *shrugs* The archives (or mailing lists, or comms) belong to the archivist. They determine the rules. As someone above said, however, over 90% of my fannish activities take place in LJ, and I'm not really interested in expanding to the outside world, even if only a few hundred people are reading my stuff here. I want control over where and how my stuff is archived. If the thought police suddenly starts cracking down on fanfic, I can locked it down pretty quickly in LJ. I don't have that control if someone else is archiving it.

I'm also insecure enough that I don't want to put myself through the agony of waiting for someone I don't know (who might have something against me for something I said in passing in a comm or whom I might have slighted years ago in a past fandom) to decide whether my fic is good enough - or cool enough - to be archived.

[ uknosila: ]

Quality-control, I think is a good thing, and I'm thinking of the way FA does it. You send them your fic, and if they don't like it (for whatever reason) they'll tell you why, so you can change it and resubmit it. Or that's the way it's described in the FAQ, I don't know if it actually works. But all they check for (I think) are big canon errors, and spelling/grammar mistakes. And that's all I think they should check for.

I really don't like invitation only sites. To the point that I won't actually read from them. I find many of them quite boring - all the fics tend to reflect the moderators taste, which is fine, but I normally don't share the moderators taste. I don't like reading tons of fics that are all the same, and that's what these elite archives often seem like to me. The other problem is that you find the same writers and stories on them - the BNF's. If you want to read new, original stories, you have to look else where.

[ heidi8: ]

You send them your fic, and if they don't like it (for whatever reason) they'll tell you why, so you can change it and resubmit it. Or that's the way it's described in the FAQ, I don't know if it actually works. But all they check for (I think) are big canon errors, and spelling/grammar mistakes. And that's all I think they should check for.

Actually, we also check for "originality" and need a fic to have 75% original content before we host it and that's mostly to prevent things like what happened last week, when someone submitted the script from Beauty & the Beast with only character name changes. Now, I'm not saying that putting HP characters into other universes is inherently bad - I did it myself with Pride & Prejudice [in Homages], and I've included a lot of lines from Emma in my fic Guileless, for the CCC challenge, but if we allowed people to upload things without having that "original to the submitter" marker, we'd end up hosting a lot of those "search & replace" scripts. As it is, we allow people to use the plot and a lot of dialogue, as long as they change enough to hit that 3/4 mark.

We have been criticized over the years for being too harsh, for not being harsh enough, for allowing Mary Sues, for not banning silly romances and "uncanonical" things like "Remy" and "Siri" and snogs between Harry and Draco and the like, so we're used to not being able to please everyone, but we were the *first* archive in the fandom to have any minimum standards for grammar & spelling, while not placing restrictions on plot. When we started FA, the only archives in the fandom were ffn (which was down for most of the summer of 2001 (which is one of the reasons why FA was founded in the first place)) and Sugarquill, which placed restrictions of plot and characterization on the authors they hosted - I think that given their current structure, they probably qualify as an invitation-only site [Sugar Quill] which is very different from the structure on FA, and possibly closer to the way DA is now (and I notice I'm no longer hosted there; should probably pop over and ask the mods why).

Also, when we started, we were closer to Skyehawke in that when an author's fic was submitted and had reasonably good grammar & spelling, we'd upload the rest of that fic regardless of the SPaG. But that grew into an untenable situation, as people had one chapter beta read, and then gave up, which is why you'll see a lot of the fics from 2001 and early 2002 with dialogue punctuation, use of "Hermoine" and other misspellings, etc. We don't do that any more, and haven't in almost two years, but we got a lot of grief when we changed to require reasonable SPaG in all chapters.

When it comes to canon coherence, if you slap an AU label on something, we'll let you get away with anything, But the original inspiration for the requirement came from me seeing a fic where James, Sirius, Remus, Severus, Lucius and Tom Riddle were all the same year.

Basically, we needed a way to try and cause authors to be familiar with the text of the books, either by reading or listening to them, themselves, or using the Lexicon or another resource as a guide. It's not hard, and it helps to weed out the I WROTE THIS FIC IN 4 MINUTES IN MATH CLASSSS WHILE HIGH ON MOUNTAIN DEW WHEEEEEEEEEE submissions.

[ isiscolo: ]

Maeg, I am really glad you posted this right now, because next weekend at ConneXions I'm moderating a panel on internet archives, and this is one of the issues I want to raise! So I'm really enjoying reading through the responses and making notes.

HP is really splintered, archive-wise. There are a dozen or so fairly large and general archives, there are pairingwise archives, there are "elitist" archives, fest archives, and individual web sites. According to some people I've talked to, this isn't the case for many (most?) other fandoms.

To me, the fact that there are so many archives available makes the existence of invite-only archives not so much of a big deal. On the other hand, if the invite-only ones are popular and frequently pointed to, and the general archives disparaged, beginning authors will certainly get less exposure than established ones. You can already see this with ff.net's reputation. But I think you have to make a distinction between invite-only elitism, and minimal-standards elitism. And even then there are many archives (deathcurse.com, ff.net) that don't impose any standards at all.

I think part of the problem is that HP is such a big fandom that things get lost in the big archives such as ff.net and FA. Pairingwise archives such as WTP and Moonshadow really help readers zero in on what they're looking for, at the expense of broadening their fic-horizons.

Finally, I agree with contrariwise about the tendency of things to go livejournal-centric lately. And that points up the problem that ellensmithee and ladyflowdi mentioned, of cliquishness, because if you've got a large flist (or really, f-of-list) more people will read what you write, but people aren't going to friend you unless they know who you are, and therefore we all get bit in the butt by the vicious circle. When I started writing fic (and using lj, pretty much at the same time) I posted pointers to my fic in communities, and friended lots of people whose fic I liked, and built my flist that way. But at this point in the development of lj-fandom it's probably harder to do, because all the MNFs have huge flists already, and one really needs to make a splash to get noticed, or luck into being recced by a popular reccer.

[ electriciandroid: ]

I started posting to my own LJ - and before I wrote for pornish a small number of people did know me as "The nutcase who wrote Lucius/Dudley". I'm of the firm opinion that those who are good will get recognised - the world is not easy. You work for what you get, and you gravtitate towards what you enjoy to write and read.

In all honesty - I don't give a flying fuck about my reputation in HP or any other fandom - fandom is peripheral - I do it for fun, and I write whatever I feel like writing. If I want to take my writing seriously - I'd write a book - all fandom is is a way to zone out for a few hours and not be thinking of engineering or architecture. The fact I'm noticed is nice, but it is not the be all and end all of my day. My first class degree average is a lot more important, as is my real life, my real friendships, and my family and significant other.

If I wanted to make the perfect fandom reputation - I would stick to safe topics which are just a little naughty, risque enough to attract the masses - and not post comments like the ones you linked too on quickquote. Seeing as I do not really care - I do what is best for me, not for fandom. Yes, I'm no altruist - but frankly I can see no reward in being someone who I am not.

If I wanted to be the perfect fandom girl - I probably would not let my mouth run away with me and post comments like this - it is no direct attack - more a minirant of the insane sort :)


[ gmth: ]

If I wanted to make the perfect fandom reputation - I would stick to safe topics which are just a little naughty, risque enough to attract the masses - and not post comments like the ones you linked too on quickquote.

I see... so those of us who don't write about vivisection are copping out, somehow? 'Cause that's pretty much what you're implying here. Or at least, that's what I'm inferring. Some of us write on those topics because we *enjoy* them. It has nothing to do with wanting to build a reputation in the fandom.

I have to agree with Isis... I'm not sure I'd want people to remember me because I wrote something that squicked them. The piece you wrote evoked a strong response because of the subject matter, not necessarily because you've "arrived" in the fandom. I'm not saying you haven't, mind; I don't keep that close an eye on what's going on with your fics. But getting three or four dozen comments on a fic (which is really all you ended up with, since the bulk of the remaining comments were discussions with those who left feedback) doesn't really mean much when the piece is as edgy as that one. It just means you managed to shock a bunch of us out of our usual porn daze.

[ anehan: ]

But at this point in the development of lj-fandom it's probably harder to do, because all the MNFs have huge flists already, and one really needs to make a splash to get noticed, or luck into being recced by a popular reccer.

I'm now going on a tangent, but I've noticed that it's even more difficult to 'get in' if you are like me and don't write fiction. This fandom, and I imagine any fandom, is so much defined through fanfiction that being a non-writer is really a disadvantage. If you don't write, you must be more aggressive and for example in LJ comment other people's entries a lot to get noticed. (Come to think about it, that's what I'm doing now. *g*)

That said, I don't think cliquishness is a completely bad thing. The HP fandom especially is so huge that it's inevitable. You can't know everyone and it's quite understandable that once you've found the people who you like to talk with, you're going to stick to your own circle. You just have to make that break-through to form your own circle. I've been in LJ for two months, and I've already started to establish the connections with people I like. It's comforting to have a circle of friends (or acquaintances) who value same things as you do. I don't mean everyone must be similar to each other. I enjoy the company of several people who like different things than I do, but ultimately we have similar values.

[ darthalia: ]

Speaking as a fellow non-writer, I agree with you on both counts. It is a little harder to make friends without the instant recognition that comes from posting a story, but, to me, that just seems like life. I've never quite understood those people who get into a fandom and expect to have an instant group of friends. (And I'm not saying you're like that, since I don't know you from Adam; it's just something I've noticed around HP that completely baffles me.)

And I think cliques are inevitable in any large group--even in fandoms smaller than HP. People are always going to hit it off with some friends better than others, and they're always going to tend to hang out with those who they're closest to. And that's fine. When I got into TPM, my first fandom, it probably took a year before I had really made any friends, but now those are some of my best friends ever. And I think that's a fine trade-off. [next post]

My first two fandoms, TPM and Sentinel, both have big, central slash archives that the vast majority of slash stories are stored at. So I'm used to doing all my reading in one place, and I mostly use recs from people I trust to decide what to read--or, if I'm feeling daring, I'll do some searches based on categories and see what comes up.

I very much with HP had the same system. I'd be ecstatic if every single HP slash story ended up at Ink-Stained Fingers. It's searchable enough that you can find what you're looking for, and it would be so much easier not to have to keep track of dozens of sites. I'd be happy with pairing-specific archives, too. I just want everything to be available in a small number of places.

Alas, that's not the direction the fandom has gone. Personally, I've been managing my reading by pretty much only following recs. I'll read stories anywhere someone points me to, but I don't go browsing the archives for stories. So I totally don't care whether a particular archive is completely open or moderated or invitation-only; if someone tells me there's a good story there, I'll read it.

If I were a starting author--and since I don't write, you're welcome to take this with a grain of salt--I'd try to get to know some good, well-known writers before I even posted anything, and I'd see if I could get one or two of them to beta my story. I'd hope that if they thought it was good they'd help spread the word, and if they thought it was crap I wouldn't post it anyway. I think a lot of new authors don't understand the value of getting familiar with the community before they inflict their un-beta'ed stories on the world. But that's why I'm a curmudgeonly old cow. [g]

[ bzzinglikeneon: ]

Not being much of a fic reader (Okay, okay... Make that not being a fic reader almost at all. :oP), and only a mediocre writer who has never presumed to try and post work anywhere where it will actually be read (Paranoia much? HAHA), I don't really feel like I have the intimate point of view that most people responding here have. However, I do have the unique perspective of being the admin of a large site which hosts one of the so-called "elite" archives.

First, I should say thank you for posting this topic, as it is something that I have recently had myriad issues dealing with, and it is refreshing to see civilized debate encouraged rather than a free-for-all wank (What was that about out fandom being the wankiest? Uh, yeah. I could talk about my disappointment in that fact all day, so will refrain).

Now, I am naturally going to agree with slytherkins, because in effect, while many wonderful people maintain the DA fiction archive and I hardly look at it, it is my archive. I am responsible for it at the end of the day. Top of the ladder, as it were. However, her attitude is one that I have always advocated for the site, which is why I trust her to run it properly.

I'm a writer and an artist. I understand the disappointment that comes from someone telling you your work isn't quite up to par. Actually, I am notoriously bad at taking con crit the way it is intended. But that is what helps make us better, and when all is said and done, it is something to be thankful for.

Many different points have already been brought up which I won't revisit. However, as an admin I have to confess that quality is key for me, because I want to build a site that I, myself, would want to return to. Where I know that I will have a satisfying experience every time. That is what our site is about. It's made quite clear in plain text. Which is why I cannot fully understand the negative reactions we have received from some authors when their work is declined. As Tara said, it's not personal. I don't think anyone who looked around DA even a little bit would think it was run by someone who only wanted to archive BNFs. Additionally, my experience helping maintain our art archive only serves to increase my bewilderment, as we never - and I mean never - receive that sort of reaction from artists. It makes me wonder what the difference is there. I think perhaps part of it is that our fandom is so bizarrely fic-centric (something I am attempting to remedy) rather than there being a vast fundamental difference between authors and artists. The biggest BNFs are authors. They are touted as fandom heroes, and endlessly lauded and fangirled. I know I'm rambling, but boy does it ever frustrate and perplex me.

All in all, the idea that "we're doing authors a favor/it's my archive I can do what I want" is the one I am sticking to, regardless of criticism.

[ fernwithy: ]

I'm all in favor of quality control.

I don't know much about invite-only archives--as a webmistress, I suppose I have one, in that I don't take submissions at Vader's Mask (that way, I don't have to send back an e-mail saying essentially, "Are you kidding?"). Of course, I also haven't updated in fifteen months. Major drawback.

I was one of the founding editors at theforce.net's fanfiction archive, which has a fairly rigorous procedure for getting in (every story must be beta'd by two people, then goes through a reading by the staff before being accepted). I like that kind of set-up. It's strict, and not much junk gets through, but the rules are perfectly clear and applied evenly. Yes, there's some subjectivity, since different staff members may have different reactions, but the double-read by staff and the required beta reading help a lot. Clear guidelines are the best way to go, something that says, "This is what we're looking for. If that's what you're selling, then by all means, submit. Here's how. If you don't like them, there are other archives." In essence, that's what magazines and book publishers do, and I think it's a good model. You don't submit a little artsy poem to Playboy, or a smutty porn scene to Highlights for Children.

I don't buy this "It's their artistic expression!" argument, largely because anyone who is serious about his or her art doesn't want it to be easy. I mean, sure--I have a dumping ground account on ff.n, like most people, but having something there doesn't mean anything, except that I cleared a few minutes to upload it. Getting stories through the process on TFN or having a NEWT from Sugarquill, though... that means something.

If you want to write carelessly in your journal--even in public posts on your LJ--then by all means, do so. But when it comes to putting a story together for general web publication, then... well, yes. I would expect it to meet the standards of whichever site is publishing it.

[ amanuensis1: ]

Invite-only communities that invite me "have an eye on quality standards."

Invite-only communities that don't invite me "suck muchly, the elitist bitches."

And that's the difficulty that'll never be resolved. Sigh.

[ prettypuddle: ]

I both love and loath quality control. Over the eighteen months or so I've been a reader/lurker in the HP fandom, I have learned that a lot of time can be saved in hunting out a good fic to read by heading straight to one of the more selective archives/communities. No complaints from me here, not even now I'm trying my hand at actually writing a few things - I know I'm a little fry spewing out mediocre fiction (if that).

No, where I loath selective communities is on the subject of feedback. My first ever attempt at writing was posted to ff.net, and it didn't take me long to realise that the feedback I was getting was far from helpful. V. depressing. I began to wonder if it was not the case that the more elite the site that a fic is posted on the more elite the feedback. I have no idea if my thinking is correct here or not, but it has lead to me getting a bit annoyed at the 'big fish' communities at times, especially when I'm feeling totally starved of constructive criticism. Ha! I find my self slipping into a strange mood somewhere between bitterness and dreaminess, wishing there was somewhere us fandom newbies could go to be pampered with criticisms from seasoned readers/writers.

[ igtow: ]

I find this whole discussion interesting because I "own" one of these "invitation only" websites. I'd never really thought about it, one way or the other, because I am very specific about telling people up front that it is by invitation only and in the 8 months I have had it up, I have only had one person requesting to post and, although their story was immensely popular at the time, I turned them down because their story was not as well written as the ones I have posted and the storyline was "not my cup of tea."

I have my site, "Turn of the Page", up on the web for my pleasure; it contains the stories I like and spans several fandoms. It also houses my work, even some pieces I wouldn't dare submit anywhere else (they are so bad). I realise it is very small right now and I don't post there as often as I should, but time is time and I can only get to it when I am not writing (or feeling incredibly guilty at ignoring it.)

I originally started the site for my use, a back-up if you will, certainly more convenient than keeping stories on my hard-drive. Then other people found it, some of them children, so up went the password protection. I have over 1,200 registered users, so I guess there are some who like the concept. Small I know against the likes of ISF and others like it.

I look for new authors. I like their fresh perspective. I pursue more established writers, ones whose stories I like, and you would not believe the number of them who have turned me down because my site is not large enough or important enough to warrant their attention (and the two who "reconsidered", I derived great pleasure turning them down flat). I have a list of over 60 more authors I want to contact to post their stories, if they'll have me, but am trying not to ask more than I can post at a time (and yes, dear Lydia, I am almost ready to post your Trixie Belden Fics).

I would like to say that my site is there for "quality control", but the reality is the only quality I am controlling is the story itself. I have a couple of authors who couldn't 'grammar' their way out of a paper box, but the STORY is amazing and worth slogging your way through every misspelling and misplaced comma (like I should talk). And, as a rule, they get insulted if you offer to help them "fix" it. I choose the stories I want to post based on the story itself; generally I won't read it if it's not well written. So, if you ever go there, you'll find everything from the "classics" to the "newbies". As we say in Hawaii, it's a real "mixed plate". And I like it that way.

And I suppose, at the heart of it, that's all that matters. I didn't make my site to please others, although there are obviously some who like it well enough. I don't worry if I don't get invited to those other sites (and I don't) and I haven't had anyone turn me down to post, so I guess I'm just lucky in that. However, I don't think I've ever asked a site I thought would turn me down--I'm such a chicken.

As to FF.net and others like it, I am grateful they exist. I got my first readers there and despite the dross one must wade through to get to the "good stuff", it does exist. With its open architecture, the ratings don't bother me--in fact, I am surprised they have not down-graded it to PG-13; my daughter, a minor, reads there and some of the stuff she has found is pretty scary.

[ spare_change ]:



I think enthusiasm is fabulous. I think the whole point of the internet is democracy. I would rather have to surf through a hundred poorly-written fics to find one I feel like reading, than to have the newbie author of just *one* great story be turned down by an archive and get discouraged and decide not to bother with fanfic anymore. You know, confidence and talent don't necessarily go hand in hand. I like *encouraging* people. It makes me feel good.

Just as a vote for the opposing opinion.


IMHO, spelling, grammar, and canon basics are one thing. They're annoying, and they're also easy to fix. But anything beyond that is up for grabs.

Some of the most popular fics in fandom are, in my humble opinion, horribly written. But this means nothing except that it only demonstrates that "quality" is subjective. So anytime people start talking about quality in fic, I start to yawn, because usually the fics they are holding up as examples of excellence are ones that other folks think are absolutely stinky. And vice-versa.

For me, the whole point of fandom is democracy. So while folks can do whatever they want with their own websites, the ones I spend time at and archive my own fics at are the ones that have a democratic approach to fanfic. I mean look at Skyehawke: they say that "Quality is subjective" in their *TOS*! *loves* Their whole archive setup encourages a mentoring relationship between more established and experienced writers and new ones. I think it's fabulous, personally, 'cos I think it's great for folks to try to help beginning writers. Everyone has to start somewhere and a lot of really fantastic writers start out REALLY SUCKING. One author I really like wrote just about the STINKIEST FIC EVER when she first contacted me. So does that mean we should discourage them? Shouldn't let them in the clubhouse? That doesn't seem very nice. *shrugs*

You know, most of my RL friends are writers and/or editors, many of them very successful, and they do not pull half as much attitude as I sometimes see in the HP fandom. So I just can't take all this talk of protecting the reader from poor-quality fic very seriously. Quality is in the eye of the beholder. And thank goodness for that. :D

[ scarah2: ]

This is going to sound hella evil. Welcome to Slytherin house.

The fandom is not Communist. The fandom is not Socialist. When it comes down to it, the person who started the LJ community or hosts the archive can call the shots. And in turn, the author/artist can decide if they want to be a part of it.

If an author is opposed to invite-only communities, and they are invited to one, they can turn down the invitation. It is their ultimate right and privilege to do so. If a reader objects to QC-ed archives, they don't have to read it. I promise not to force them. In fact, I staunchly defend each person's right to have their work published only where they want, and to read/view only what they want.

Am I happy that places like ff.net exist so that anyone can post work? A resounding yes! Do I want to host it? No. Sorry.

[ subtle_science: ]

I'm torn on this issue, but I'm a Libra, so that shouldn't be surprising. *g* I like archives such as FF.net simply because they aren't moderated in the same way as other sites, and I'll tell you why. Anything I post to FF.net I still consider to be in a rough draft form. I do a lot of self-editing before I ever send a chapter to my betas. When I'm looking at the text in one font in Word, I get used to the pattern of the text on the screen and I can't find my own mistakes. Uploading to FF.net affords me a different format in which to read the same text, and more errors catch my eye.

Generally I have no problem with moderated archives, other than they're a pain in the arse to edit mistakes that you find somewhere down the road. So I tend to avoid submitting to those until after I've self-edited and given my betas a crack at the work. On the other hand, I think "quality control" on such archives is highly subjective. For example, I tried to upload Staffroom Seduction to one such archive. The first chapter was submitted to my assigned beta and uploaded immediately, so I submitted the second chapter. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Two months later, I finally wrote the beta and asked why it was taking so long, and she said she thought she'd sent me the suggested changes. Well, she hadn't, so she sent them then. I started reading them, and I disagreed with nearly every change.

Some of the suggestions were a difference of stylistic opinion, which I can understand, but others were flat-out grammatically incorrect, contradicted canon, affected or were explained in later chapters, or were — IMO — OOC, or at least inconsistent with the incarnations of the Snape and Lupin I had developed throughout the remainder of the story. Instead of refuting each of the suggested changes with references from the books or excerpts from later in the story, I finally decided to take the fic down off that archive. I didn't need that kind of headache for a story I'd finished two years earlier, and she probably wouldn't have even suggested many of those changes had she read the remainder of the story already. Plus the archive has a limited number of beta-readers; hence the two-month delay in getting back to me.

[ dkwilliams: ]

I've been around, Will Robinson, and been in many fandoms. Some, like X-Files and Phantom Menace, have a large central archive *but*... In the X-Files case, Gossamer is a pain to navigate through, and at the time I was just starting to write slash, which was vociferously denounced just about everywhere. So most of the slash authors posted just to their sites or formed small group archives. When I discovered the Sentinel fandom next, I thought I was in heaven, having all the slash stories in one central archive, 852 Prospect - and then I nearly burned my brain out reading through the sheer volume of stories (good and bad) on the archive. I got as far as the H's and bailed, relying on recommendations from then on. In Star Wars fandom, there's a lovely big archive for Phantom Menace - but it's a OTP archive, and you have to go elsewhere for Han and Luke stories. Highlander fandom surprised me even more: although 7th Dimension exists, when I joined, it hadn't been updated in a looooongggg time, so we were back to author sites.

There's something to be said for all types of archives. The large, multi-pairing, multi-rating archives like Ink Stained Fingers (shameless plug - I'm webmaster there) provide variety so that I can just skim the surface of what's been posted in the last week and read what appeals, or I can almost be sure to find old favorites there to re-read instead of hunting them down. On the other hand, when I'm in the mood for Snape with just Harry or just Remus or just Albus or just Hagrid (yes, I'm a Snape-slut, big surprise), then I'll pop over to WTP or Moonshadow or The Headmaster's Study or Sweet and Sour, and glut on my preferred pairing of the moment. Yet again, there are times when I read a story on an Author's site and I end up exploring other stories he/she has posted in other fandoms, which is quite delightful. If a story is in an exclusive archive, I'll generally find out about it from one of the rec lists I'm on, but I don't tend to cruise those sites in particular, usually because I find them hard to navigate and I like to graze when I'm reading. (grin)

[ musesfool: ]

There have always been 'elitist fic bitches' and there will always be 'elitist fic bitches' and the thing is, if you (generic) are not the one shelling out the cash for the archive and spending the time maintaining it, you have no say in what gets archived there.

This is the internet. Anyone can (and will) open up their own site and ask to host their favorite authors, and they can make it as stringent or as lackadaisical as they like.

That Dobby/Lucius epic that Archive A rejected will be lavished with attention at Archive B, while my short RL/SB fic will be immediately accepted at Archive A and rejected as pretentious wankery at Archive B.

It all evens out in the wash.

And believe me, I *know*. I'm archived at Henneth-Annun, which has to be the most ridiculously pretentious and wanky LotR archive out there, where you get *canned* responses from the reviewers telling you whether or not your story will be accepted (and some of the stories I've heard about the way they review... they have very definite tastes and won't archive fic that doesn't suit them). I went through it twice before deciding I didn't need that anxiety, my LJ and my website (and the two multi-fannish sites I'm archived on) were good enough for me.

Maintaining an archive is *hard*. I tried and failed miserably. It costs more time, money and energy than most of us are willing to give, even in this day of autoarchiving software. And those who do it are providing a priceless service and all they ever get for it is grief.

That being said, meh. I've been invited to one invite-only archive, and it's password protected, so I'm not really interested. I can't be bothered to read fic at password protected sites. It's annoying.

The thing is, fandom is cliquish because people are cliquish. People prefer to hang out with people they know and like. I don't see why people (generic, still) think they can show up to the party with nothing and expect everyone who's been there a while, and who've contributed already (sometimes repeatedly) to fawn over them and invite them to do stuff. It doesn't happen like that in real life, and online life is a mirror of real life, except with more boysex.

God knows, you've (personal this time) heard me bitch about my own perceived lack of recognition - I suppose I could do more, try to get archived in various places, but it's all so fatiguing and my laziness always wins out over whatever small ambition I have (which is why I will probably never rule the world. Sigh.).

There will always be places for new writers and there will always be new writers who break through immediately and get taken up by 'the cool kids' and there will be those who toil in obscurity for a long while, slowly building a reader base, and there are those of us who have been in numerous different fandoms and have to start all over again, but who have the cushion of those other fannish friends.

I mean, when I started writing HP, I knew one person who was active in the fandom. One. Who, btw, actively loathes SB/RL as a pairing, iirc, and so she hasn't actually responded to any of my stories (though my first HP fic was, in fact, about Snape). But because I knew people in other fandoms who knew people in HP, I managed to build onto my flist with people who liked the same things I liked, mostly, and I'm guessing the people who add me now know what they're getting into, because they can read the LJ before they add it.

Which is perhaps delving too far into the specific.

To sum up:

1. money talks, bullshit walks
2. people suck, online or off, so fans just need to deal with "the mean girls" or "the elitist fic bitches" or whatever
3. network, network, network
4. never expect anything and you'll never be disappointed
5. worship me like the goddess I am... whoops... how'd that get in there?

[ copracat: ]

One fan's quality is another's fear and loathing, of course. The exclusivity works both to attract readers who agree with the curators and warn off readers who think the curators are crazy people with taste up their arses. As others have said, this is human nature, not behaviour exclusive to fandom. Remember that guy who was cranky about being selected by Oprah's book club?

I don't care if people set up invite only or curated archives as long as there is one well organised, easily searchable main fandom archive with near as humanly possible everything on it, regardless. If I have to look to hard I won't search it out. I'll wait till it comes to me via recs from fans I already know.

HP seems to be a huge fandom though and clearly this culture of multiple archives suits most fans involved in it. It doesn't suit me so I read very little HP, and mostly from fans I know already from other fandoms. I'm not quite the representative HP fan!

[ shezan: ]

Ah, but all this "making your name" in the wilderness of archives is excellent training for the real world of publishing, where you start writing for small magazines/provincial papers and work your way up. The growth of HP archives and fandom is organic, and I wouldn't change a thing - talent will rise to the top. And if it takes time, again, that is a very salutary lesson for the real world.

[ ficangel: ]

I'm a bit like you in that I wobble back and forth on the subject. On the one hand, one look at FF.net (or its porny cousin, Adultfanfiction.net) should be an adequate example of why some sort of quality control is neccessary. There's something like 100,000 HP stories alone on FF.net and the vast majority of them are written by kids who are having fun with their friends and are interested in writing to produce stories for a wide audience. I don't have time to wade through all of that to find the gems. On the other, not being chosen for an invite-only archive stings and can certainly raise some self-esteem issues, especially when you factor in the fact that fandom is predominantly populated by people who identified as outsiders during their school years and may still have knee-jerk issues surrounding that fact. But, when you think about it, regular publishing works much the same way. A person who truly loves writing and wants to succeed at it finds ways to improve until they are good enough and develops a fairly thick skin in the process. Meanwhile, most responsible mods are going to be able to set their personal opinions of what makes "good" fic aside and stick to basics (spelling, grammar, adjectives that don't outnumber the nouns), and those that don't? Well, fandom is still a fairly small place. One good fic on an LJ finds a way of being recced to the moon and back; just check out what happened to invisibletosee.

[ lizardlaugh: ]

I think if I were a serious OTP'er of a popular ship, I might change my mind on the whole 'invite only' specialized archive. For instance if my two main ships (H/R/Hr and Harry/Tonks) were popular enough, I'd like that filter as a reader. As a writer, well... because those two ships are so small, I am relatively well known within those ships. That probably wouldn't be the case if I were writing Harry/Draco. I'd be nobody, because I am just not that talented. Yet.

I am one of those fanfic writers with ambitions of being published someday. In fact, that was my main reason for writing fanfiction in the first place (practice). I know that later on I will have to face rejection after rejection. That's just part of the process. Being rejected by fanfic archive, well, no biggie. I don't think I'd take it personally. I know I need to improve -- that is the reason I am writing fanfiction in the first place.


  1. ^ archive.is captures, 08 July 2016: page one, comments page two.