Beginnings of OTW: 2007-08 Comments

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This is a sample of online discussion regarding the beginnings of OTW with a focus on 2007-08.

The goal of this page is to include comments and meta which illustrate and highlight influential discussions while representing as many different viewpoints as possible.

Topics Discussed Include

  • visibility of fanworks is a reality whether there's an OTW or not, and a fan-run project is better than a corporate-run project like FanLib
  • fanworks deserve respect and protection
  • the archive will be tied to an organization that won't back down regarding DMCA notices or C&Ds
  • the archive will be tied to an organization rather than just one person, so it's likely be more permanent; fanworks will no longer be at the mercy of individual archivist's ability and desire to maintain the archive
  • the archive won't be dictated to by advertisers or people who demand that materials they deem offensive be removed; no more pesky ads
  • some owners of existing archives and fan sites were unhappy they weren't consulted more; the main ones cited were Rockfic, Fan History Wiki
  • the archive may include chan, real person fiction
  • using volunteers to maintain the archive may be problematic
  • board members not revealing their fannish identities was problematic
  • some fans felt there was a lack of representation of anime fandom and fanart
  • the OTW's use of academic language could be exclusionary to part of fandom, this included the creation of the academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures
  • some fans believed the fight for legality issue was coming from people who have entitlement and privilege issues
  • fans don't feel they need "legitimacy" or "mainstream recognition" for their works; they enjoyed the underground culture of fandom
  • some fans were unhappy with assumptions that LiveJournal represented all fandom, and that media fandom represented all fandom
  • trying to present personal history as a whole history was problematic
  • fandom doesn't need a spokesperson
  • the archive will preserve fanworks and reduce dead links and reliance on the Wayback Machine
  • OTW will do a better job representing fandom than journalists, media and other outside reporters
  • the language about "predominantly female community" acknowledges that particular types of fannish activity have historically been practiced mostly by and for women

General

Regarding FanLib

It is wise to consider some of the context from which the OTW sprang:

2007: Major Posts

2007

  • Archive: update and first call for volunteers; Archive, post by astolat, May 20, 2007
  • Archives and not wanting to say "but" ("I can see why the proposed new pan-fandom archive fanarchive is not, quite, the one that already exists, ie ff.net. It would, presumably, allow genres ff.net doesn't (eg RPS?) and it would, please god, be better organised and easier to post and edit in - it could hardly fail to be.") May 23, 2007
  • Whether there will be weather; Archive, Archived version, post by whetherwoman ("I am So. Freaking. Excited. About the Organization for Transformative Works. Oh man.") September 28, 2007
  • Cheerio, post by metamiri ("Today, makesmewannadie used the term "Cheerio-pissing" to describe the discussion happening in response to OTW's recent announcement. Meanwhile, cereta posted to say that, from now on, she'd be labeling her posts "squee" to clearly indicate which Cheerios/posts she didn't want pissed on.") September 30, 2007
  • An Introduction to the Organization for Transformative Works (post) ("Hi! Well, we promised more updates, and this is the first of several coming up over the next few days.") September 28- October 6, 2007
  • Organization for Transformative Works: defend fandom!; Archive, posted by Xeni Jardin ("Bravo! I'd dearly love to see an end to the two-tier world we've been maintaining, where a book that's clearly fanfic about the March girls' father from Little Women can win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (March, by Geraldine Brooks), but transformative reworkings of movies, television shows, video games, commercials, and uncountable other sources are afforded neither respect, nor access to commerce, nor the protection of the law. It's the exact equivalent of the system whereby high-end "literary" publishers can publish books in which underage characters have sex, but cheap paperback publishers who do so risk prosecution. The functional status of fanfic right now is that it can be written, and posted to the internet, as long as the author is willing to give up all rights to her (or occasionally his) own work, and accepts that this irregular legal tolerance may be withdrawn in the future. This just isn't fair. Fanfic is a natural human impulse. As long as people care about literature, they'll write fanfic about it." posted by posted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator and "This is such a good idea. When Naomi described it at the WorldCon at a panel that we were on together, I wrote her a check on the spot for $500 to fund the org. I hope she cashes it now that they've formally announced." -- posted by Cory Doctorow) December 12, 2007
  • Let’s Get Transformative, Archived version, post by John Scalzi has 616 comments ("I think this is a very interesting idea, and off the top of my head I think OTW will have a very hard time establishing the legality of all fannish works. Here’s why...") December 13, 2007
  • pjack: Pawthetisome, Archived version, post by pjack ("I can't tell if this is pathetic, awesome, or both. (Pawthetisome!) Is this an honest attempt to establish a legal groundwork for fanfic? Or is this just more fan entitlement wankery?") December 14, 2007
  • Question; Archive, posted by paraka ("So, I've spent most of the day reading up on what people are saying about the OTW are saying. Mostly from non-fandom people, and it's kind of making me want to shoot things, but I was wondering: What do you think about the OTW?") December 22, 2007
  • A little Friday night meta. by (nutkin) ("I don't have any big concerns for the outcomes of OTW, but it's weird to me that so many people are throwing their weight behind this concept of a united fannish front. I'd feel as strange if my stamp-collecting club decided to go all fancy non-profit all of the sudden. Is there really a purpose to it, outside of the illusion of legitimacy? How legitimate can it ever really be?") December 22, 2007,
  • OTW - weighing in on the debate., post by Morgan )O( ("In the past month or two, I've read an awful lot of paranoid nonsense about them, mainly in the comments of their own news posts and then in personal LJ posts by the same people rehashing the same stuff. I've also seen some very legitimate critique of OTW and their aims, some mud-slinging from people who seem to feel threatened by them in some way and, very occasionally wank that makes Harry Potter fandom look sane.") December 27, 2007

2008: Major Posts

2008

  • Two cheers for OTW; Archive, post by executrix ("Since I'm Little Miss Late Adopter, I was surprised to see a lot of posts "Who is OTW? I never heard of them," and even more surprised to see a number of extremely hostile posts about OTW... I think Organization for Transformative Works is a *brilliant* name, and I truly wish I'd thought of it myself, because I think that a reasonable legal argument can be made that fanworks qualify as fair use because of their transformative nature as well as their non-profit nature. Which is not to say that it's a legal argument that is guaranteed to prevail in the current court system, and I can understand fans being a lot less than grateful if the present ambiguous status of fanfic were to be clarified by a big honkin' "Get this: it's NOT fair use" amendment to the Copyright Act, or a Supreme Court decision.") January 4, 2008
  • Watch Me Get My Soapbox On; [ Archive], post by Amireal ("And as long as we're being totally upfront, I am currently a metafandom compiler. That means I have read just about every single post that has crossed our little compiler hands. There are a couple of themes that seem to crop up repeatedly. A lot of people seem to think that OTW's focus has changed, that they're stepping where they weren't invited. That they're too academic. That the archive was enough darnit! Why did they have to ruin it?? Okay let's start this off with a quick run down memory lane. Remember strikethrough? Remember strikethrough part II? Remember every time your favorite archive/author/artist/gallery got served and at BEST they had some warning and a half assed explanation and at worst it was bang zap gone? We all remember that right? Because I was starting to feel like that was all a mild hallucination. Who knows I've gotten my hands on some of the good stuff recently. Why do I bring this up? What does it have to do with OTW? (For record keeping, the straw that broke the camel's back was fanlib, if you see the post dates and the incorporation dates, that's the very basic cause/effect. Very. Basic.)") (January 4, 2008)
  • User talk:Sidewinder - Fan History Wiki, Archived version, Laura Hale's comments on Sidewinder's Talk page ("Hey. Had a conversation last night with some one that pointed out that one of the external criticisms was that it is very easy to view Fan History as a personal monograph that too heavily reflects my own personal bias. For me, this seems like a perfectly valid criticism and has some elements of truthfulness. It isn't helped by my own frequent use of the term my when describing Fan History and with other administrators seemingly going to me for the final word on the changes that they want to do. This issue was then discussed with another person regarding the validity. The following suggestions were made and looking for feedback on them so I can figure out how to behave and to help improve the quality of the histories on Fan History by making it more accessible to others...") January 8, 2008
  • Don't Let The Muggles Get You Down, or Why I Joined OTW, post by femmequixotic ("When FanLib raised its head back in May of last year, I thought it was a negative thing, trying to make money off of what we do. But, to be completely honest, though I was aware of the movement to build An Archive Of Our Own and kept one eye on the discussion, I was far more involved at the time in my own fannish world. I'd just found bandom a few months prior and I was into the shiny, and of course, there was the closing of HP canon to both look forward to and to fear. The discussions of a fan-run archive sounded interesting to me, particularly any that would allow me a place to archive my RPS (since neither of my current archives accept it), but they weren't top of my mind. And then Strikethrough 07 happened.") (January 9, 2008)
  • elekdragon: Quick thought on "female space" of fandom., Archived version, post by Elek Pendragon ("I keep seeing people freaking the fuck out over the OTW's comment on valuing fandom as a predominately female community. "ZOMG," they seem to say, "THERE'S PENIS HERE, AND YOU ARE FORGETTING THAT! MY BEST FRIENDS ARE PENIS!! NO MEANS NO, VAGINA!!" Okay, I overstate, but that's the feeling I get in my brain after reading someone's rants/comments/venting over the idea that fandom can be valued as female.") January 13, 2008
  • jassanja: OTW, Fangirls, Fanboys and the Transgendered, Archived version, post by Jassanja ("I haven't really had the time to deal more with the OTW, so for now my stand is neutral. And now I write about female and male behaviour in fandom - quite a thing as I usually skip any meta about male privileges and missing feminism in fandom to avoid death by boredom. I just don't understand the minority that feels unrepresented by them, because they are mostly female based. Yet non of the complains I have seen has come from the few fanboys who are interested in transformative works. (I love that new terminology, I really do)") January 13, 2008
  • Why I Don't Care for the OTW; archive link, post by beckyh2112 ("So, how am I participating in a 'female' side of fandom? How can people even define fandom as being 'male' or 'female'? Dividing it up like that sets an implication that one side is better than the other, especially with OTW's emphasis on examination of the female side of fandom. I believe that approaching an analysis of fandom from an academic-feminist perspective is going to be inherently flawed when you come to such fandoms as Transformers. Just as I believe that analyzing fandom as a whole based on exposures to individual fandoms is inherently flawed. Different fandoms have different cultures. I don't like OTW. I find their seeking for legality to be something to be extremely nervous about. I find the gobzillions of meta posts about why people joined OTW to be intensely off-putting. I dislike them using heidi8 as one of their Intellectual Property lawyers, as she's been a big defender and close friend of Cassandra Claire. I've never particularly liked the academic-feminist form of analysis that they seem to be using, at least not if it isn't in conjunction with another form of analysis.") January 15, 2008
  • My Thoughts on Yaoi/the OTW, Archived version, post by doro_chan ("This flexibility is one of the things I admire fandom for, but my admiration never stopped me from wishing there would be no more migration, that we would all live happily ever after in our own perfect place. And that, in essence, is what the OTW offers. That does not mean that I agree with all their ideas, but I realised that I did not improve things by quietly whining in my own little corner of fandom, but that I have to work with them to make sure they take the direction I want them to. I have seen a lot of people criticising them, but only a few of them made an effort to talk to them.") January 13, 2008
  • How not to appear on Fan History » Fan History's Blog, Archived version, posted by Laura Hale ("Fan History’s advice to those in fandom who want privacy, want to avoid the possibility of ever being mentioned on Fan History or want to never have people link to their work outside their control...") Apr 28, 2008
  • sl_walker: Pride: Or: Why Steff Isn't an Admin on Fanhistory Anymore, Archived version, posted by SL Walker ("Many people have called Laura crazy. I don't think she's crazy, I think she's impulsive. I think she's insecure, and doesn't like it when people haul her up for her behavior. I think she has a martyr complex -- yes, you can go ahead and say I am right now, too, but fuckall... my journal here -- and that she ends up hanging herself by acting without thinking. Finally, I think that there is some truth that she drives away otherwise sensible people and then can't fathom why she isn't getting a fair rap in different places. Or why OTW (even if I'm not big on that) wants to set up their own wiki.") May 5, 2008
  • And one more thing!, posted by ethrosdemon ("I think to some extent that the issue for me in the OTW thing (aside from fandom politics which just does not get addressed in this whole brouhaha) that bothers me about the aim to have fanworks respected as owned in some way by the fans who generate them is that it's just naive and likely to bring a shitstorm down on *all of us* and not just the naive people who advocate for it.") June 17, 2008
  • post by slwatson at Fandom Wank, Archived version, ("Long story short? She's crazy, or at least acts so crazy that you can't tell if she isn't. Here's how working for her went:"), posted July 20, 2008
  • Dare I Call This A Meta Post About Sand-Castle Building? - Morgan Dawn Livejournal:The Here And Now, Archived version, post by Morgan Dawn, ("Worried that the OTW will provoke TPTB* into cracking down on fandom? Fandom has been playing on the beach for decades, building our sand castles in the sun. From time to time an individual wave (TPTB) washes up the beach to sweep away a few sand castles. Fandom scurries further up the beach for awhile until it forgets and then edges back closer to the water.") July 20, 2008
  • Sometimes a brain can come in quite handy., post by Dejana, July 21, 2008
  • about the outing; archive link, posted by Astolat ("It is pretty clear that partly_bouncy is deliberately fomenting this wank, in what is a remarkably shortsighted attempt to drive hits to her wiki. So, if you want to discourage this behavior, please don't link to her site or her lj, as otherwise you're giving her a Google boost. That's why I'm not linking any lj names etc here. The fanthropology mods have now gotten the post down, too, for which I'm very grateful to them. About me personally, I am completely open in my public RL bio and my pro LJ about being a fanfic and slash writer; that is not a secret at all and can be easily cited from public information under my RL name without ever linking to my fannish pseud/journal. I keep my fannish pseud/url private in order to protect my fun happy space, not to hide any factual information. I do ask (as I have every time I have posted the information) that people who know by virtue of being in fannish circles not post my RL name linked to my fan name and especially not in googleable locations. I don't care if you share the information with other fans privately, just please mention this request to them too. No one but partly_bouncy has ever not respected this wish, because, you know, most people aren't jerks. The worst thing really about partly_bouncy's wiki is that it is useless when it is not worse than useless. It has very little actual information, much of what information it contains is bad and inaccurate, many policies are poorly designed where they are not thinly veiled excuses for abuse, and partly_bouncy has repeatedly used her administrative powers over the wiki as a tool in personal grudge matches, thereby destroying its credibility and ensuring that even if someone really wants to help preserve fannish history, they don't want to contribute to the site. Fundamentally, partly_bouncy has made the mistake of valuing the wiki and some hypothetical future payout over the community the wiki is about. But that community is also the audience and the pool of potential contributors for the wiki. You can't build a site that is dependent on people contributing without people, and no one is going to come to the table if they feel that they are giving their time to someone who is looking to exploit them and who will deliberately hurt them or their friends or their larger community to do that. And you can't build a successful wiki without contributors no matter how many short-term hits you drive to your site by starting wanks. It is a real shame because this could have been an invaluable service to fandom and instead it's a waste of time."), July 22, 2008
  • my .02; Archive, posted by Svmadelyn ("The thing that not many people have really brought up during this "FanHistory outs fans!" mess is that...well, it's pretty obvious that Laura Hale/purplepopple/partly_bouncy is, rather than being in it for the lulz, in it for the pagehits."), July 22, 2008
  • Calling out Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale/Purplepopple/Partly_Bouncy, posted by ithillana, July 22, 2008
  • untitled: "That took TOO LONG, fandom.", posted by ethrosdemon, July 22, 2008

2010

  • FanLib, OTW, and learning to not care...; Archive, by Jane Carnall (January 15, 2010) ("While recognising that many of my friends who have a different experience of OTW from me would not agree with this, my experience of OTW is that OTW is not willing to listen - and my limited experience of interaction with Astolat / Yuletide is that A / Y perceive me as an exploitable resource: a provider of fiction as a work for hire, not a member of the community of yuletiders. FanLib was scary. (From nearly three years ago, a post I wrote because it seemed urgently to need writing: FanLib/Fandom: non-con, and not in a fun way.) OTW is not scary. Astolat is not scary. I had originally written a post at much more length about OTW, but it mostly amounted to: OTW make grandiose claims which they fail to live up to. And so what else is new? Fandom is full of things begun with big ideas that fell over a bit in the practice: with mission statements that make claims that go kinda sorta completely unfulfilled. That I was once interested in OTW, and had my interest thoroughly rebuffed because I didn't have a livejournal and OTW weren't interested in the interest of fans without livejournals, was - still is, as a matter of fact - quite annoying. It is always annoying to have a gate slammed in your face. But that gateslam was two years ago. Long time in fannish terms. You shrug, you move on, you do the occasional quiet sneer in the general direction, but hey: they're not scary people: they're fans having fun who didn't want me to play because it was too much trouble to include people off livejournal, and that is also nothing new or unique to OTW.")
  • Ravings of an emotionally unstable fan.; archive link, by merricatk (2010)

References