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For the fancraft, see Bookmark (fancraft).
Related terms: Kudos, Feedback, Delicious
See also: Keeping Track of Fanworks on the Internet
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Bookmark or Bookmarking refers to a series of tools, often platform specific, that allow their users to store website URLs for later reading or reference.

Bookmarks were introduced into graphical browsers in the mid 1990s such as Netscape, Internet Explorer and Firefox. WebTV also had this capability in 1997, but it was limited. [1] These bookmark tools were for private use and were usually stored inside the browser located on a single desktop or laptop.

When the Livejournal blogging platform grew in popularity, users were offered the ability to create public bookmarks that could be stored within their blog space. This was often referred to "adding a post to one's memories". Livejournal "memories" fell out of favor once "tagging" was introduced to the Livejournal platform.

In later years, platforms emerged solely for the purpose of bookmarking, such as Del.ici.ous and Diigo. These bookmarks could be made either private or public and the links were stored on the platform's server.

In some instances these third party bookmarking tools were integrated back into the web browsers, allowing them to sync from the desktop to the cloud and vice versa.

Created in 2003, Del.ici.ous became a popular bookmarking platform for fandom, with elaborately tagged fic recommendations. Many of the Livejournal fandom newsletters made use of automated tools that allowed them to bookmark blogs and stories from multiple platforms in Del.ici.ous and then create a daily or weekly automatic post to Livejournal. This enabled fans to keep track of fic, vids and other events across the increasingly fractured fandom spaces.

In 2011, Del.ici.ous was bought by Yahoo who promptly disabled many of the useful features, causing fandom to look for alternatives such as Pinboard. Around the same time, other social medial platforms emerged such as Twitter and Tumblr, both of which offered few bookmarking tools. As a result, bookmarking began to be less used by fandom as a social interactive tool and returned to it more private function.

Archive of Our Own gave users the ability to create links to external stories since its open beta launch in 2009.[2]

Fandom's Contribution to the Shaping of the Tool

After the acquisition of Del.ici.ous several articles were written about fandom bookmarking innovations.

A 2013 comment by Maciej Ceglowski, the developer of Pinboard, during a talk about fannish bookmarking practices:

"We were talking one day a couple of years after the Yahoo sale about tags on Delicious, and she said “you should look at the fanfic people, they're doing crazy stuff.”

My response was something like "fanfic? come on, LAAAAAAME!"

She smiled her sweet smile and said, "I know you think it's lame. But why don't you go take a look at what I just said?"

And she was right. The fans were doing something incredible.

This morning I pulled up my tag cloud from Pinboard. My tags are pretty typical of a long-time bookmarker. Tags accrue over time like barnacles, and unless you scrape them off, you end up with lots of oddities and cruft.

Some people are very focused taggers. They treat tags like folders; they may only have ten or twelve tags that they bin everything into. I'm not disciplined. I just type what comes into my mind.

But the fanfic people were doing something very different. They had converged on a set of elaborate tagging conventions that allowed them to turn Delicious into a custom search engine for fanfic."[3]

Private vs Public Bookmarking

To some, the act of making their bookmarks publically available is seen as being detrimental to fandom. Often tags are used that are at odds with the author's intent or the reception of the story by other readers. Some bookmarking services allow comments or notes to be added, which can also be seen as derogatory or offensive.

"someone bookmarked my fic with the tags of “Needs a beta, doesn’t quite hold together, but great elements.” and i’m like ?? ? ?????? ???? ? ?? why don’t u say that to my face

i am super pissed lmao if you’ve got shit to say come to my face? that’ s just kinda rude imo sorry my fanfiction lacks too much fucking class for you and that i need a beta? i don’t fucking need a beta go fuck yourself

I WROTE THIS. FOR FUN. I DON’T GET MONEY OUT OF IT. why do y’all take other people’s work so DAMNED seriously it gets me so mad

and when i write something for real? when i write fanfic and put all my heart and soul and energy into it?! NO ONE FUCKING READS THAT SHIT. i’m so piSSED OFF."[4]

This can result in fanfic being removed from archives:

"I just went through db2020′s bookmarks and some of my favorite cherik fics had horrible had not-at-all-correct comments in the bookmarks. The cherik fics that db2020 decided *didn’t* deserve negative comments seemed completely random to me. And, at least two fics have been taken down off AO3 completely because of this person’s horrible comments. I can’t believe that AO3′s stance that allowing these kinds of bookmark comments to remain isn’t damaging to fandom."[5]

Not all fans feel that public bookmarking is a bad thing:

"I just learned that when people bookmark a fic sometimes they’ll leave a little comment and now I’ve just been sitting here grinning at my phone like a doof because these are so nice “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up because of this fic” is my personal favorite"[6]

"someone bookmarked my fic and added a little summary of it and did a better job than i did omfg"[7]

Meta/Further Reading


  1. ^ An X-Files fan wrote in 1997: "I started bookmarking my favorite stories, but since the WebTV favorites capability was only 32, I decided to start posting stories on my page and began a FanFic page of my own." -- XF FanFic Links: Featured Page, Archived version
  2. ^ Archive of Our Own (rev. 1585) Archive FAQ, Updated: Sun Oct 18 07:58:37 -0400 2009. (Archived 20 October 2009 by the Wayback Machine.)
  3. ^ Fan is A Tool-Using Animal, Archived version (2013)}}
  4. ^ those near and far wars, Archived version
  5. ^ Loud and obnoxious - There’s a jerk on AO3 and their name is db2020, Archived version
  6. ^ "I just learned...", Archived version
  7. ^ * P r i n c e, Archived version