Don't Like, Don't Read

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Synonyms: DLDR, DL;DR
See also: Disclaimer, IDIC, Your fandom's ok, my fandom's ok, Ship and Let Ship, Your Kink Is Not My Kink
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Don't Like, Don't Read or DL;DR is a phrase used to warn against complaints about an aspect of fic or meta.

The phrase's meaning has shifted over time, but the common thread is a "live and let live" philosophy of fandom, which places the responsability for avoiding content one doesn't want to see on the side of the fanwork consumer, rather that on the creator's.


Originally, DL;DR was used as a disclaimer warning in the header of fiction that portrayed a same sex relationship (usually slash). This sense is older and not widely used in most fandoms anymore, though it survives in some corners.[1][2]

To the amusement/bemusement of some older fen, the term seems to be in use again as of 2016, either in its original sense or to try and avoid other complaints, such as objections about a fic's cast, ship, tropes or kinks, lack of beta, or about unpopular opinions in blog posts.[3] In that sense, it is a synonym of Ship and Let Ship.

In this newer sense, the phrase is sometimes used as a widely-held fandom etiquette rule which protects fans against purity culture and the "Fandom Police." See for example the 2016 meta essay The Three Laws of Fandom, of which DL;DR is the first, and the discussion that ensued about whether fics containning incest, underage or other "problematic" tropes, kinks and plotlines should be exempted from DL;DR.

In more recent discussions relating to racism in fandom, fans of colour especially have highlighted that Don't Like, Don't Read can be weaponized to shut down legitimate criticism of racist tropes or trends.

Some Examples of Use

Slash Warning

  • "[I remember] really aggressive disclaimers on slash fic (GAY STUFF IF YOU DON’T LIKE DON’T READ etc), and a general terror of homophobia. So many people were genuinely frightened of what would happen if their story about Trowa and Quatre kissing got into the “wrong” hands that it seems unimaginable now." [4]
  • "Also pairing wars could be a whole new ball game - if the mod didn’t like your pairing or thought it was Not Safe For Kids because it was gay, they would ban you. That’s what eventually [led] to the Don’t Like Don’t Read disclaimers, and later, endless arguments about warnings. (One thing I will never miss [from the past]: the people who thought queers should warn for all slash content, but noncanon het pairings were aokay.)" [5]
  • "Man, I just remember songfic and FFNet’s ‘Don’t Like, Don’t Read’ messages. And getting into LJ culture as a bebe!fan just as LJ was dying." [6]

Other uses

  • "#incoherent rant, #opinion tag, #sorry the guy just drives me crazy, #in the words of an ancient fanfiction proverb, #don't like don't read"[7]
  • "With a side of Eleanor (don't like, don't read)"[8]
  • "Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings, Fang (BoBoiBoy), BoBoiBoy - Character, alternatif reality, based on ep 23 part 3, Friendship, Angst, kinda OOC, DLDR"[9]
  • "No Archive Warnings Apply, Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson, [...] Infantilism, Non-Sexual Age Play, forced age play, Forced infantilism, Diapers, bottles, More tags added soon, dont like dont read"[10]
  • On the Virtual Wrestling board on (home of WCFL), there was a so-called promoter known as Jason Ray Hough who posted several shows of his TXCW promotion, all of which were riddled with horrible spelling (often mangling words and names and starting every word with a capital letter), grammar and sentence structure, with no properly explained storylines and nothing which properly resembled a wrestling promotion. His concept was mixing the legends of the past with the stars of today, even including wrestlers who are actually dead, as well as using fictitious wrestlers and venues. On January 4, 2011, he announced a TV taping. The negative responses he received led to this response, which summed up much of what was wrong with his work.
Lister Here I Am New Here If You Got A Problem And Dont Look At TXCW Results I Am Get Sick And Tried I Am Try My Best On My Spelling And Grammar If You Dont Like And Dont Look At It I Am Get So Tried Of This I Got Another Problem That Is From You Old School Wrasslin, And Anybody Else Ok I Am Working On Buliding Storyline To Make TXCW Total Xtreme Championship Wrestling Will Not Like WCFL Or Anybody Else TXCW Like WWE Meet TNA And NWA Legends Ok If You Dont Like And Dont Look At Ok I Try Make A Point Here You People Judge Me And Promotions Go And Pick On Somebody Else Ok[11]

DL;DR vs Silencing Anti-Discrimination

The limits of DL;DR have been discussed when it comes to criticism of discriminatory or stereotypical portrayals of minorities in fanworks.

Stitch's Teen Vogue article about the need for criticism in fandom summarizes the issue in this way:

It’s not censorship or bullying to point out that there are issues in different fandom spaces that require some updated approaches. For example: "Don't Like, Don't Read" and “Your Kink Is Not My Kink” are phrases used in fandom to let people know that they should take care of themselves by not reading content they find objectionable based on a matter of different taste. But neither of those phrases are good responses when fans come up against bigotry in fanworks. Telling someone to “just ignore” transmisogyny, ableism, or open antiblackness in fanfiction isn’t just unhelpful; it’s unkind.

On Fanfiction, Fandom, and Why Criticism Is Healthy, Feb 10, 2021

One example (among many) of such discussion within fandom can be found in the Top!Joe controversy which erupted in The Old Guard fandom in the Fall of 2020. One Tumblr thread is representative of the argument:

[...] People naturally like the one they [headcanon] as a top to have be (sic) bigger and domineering. It’s really that simple. it has nothing to do about his race. you can see the same thing in white/white ship, this thing is RAMPANT. [...]

We all know the rule is:

don’t like, don’t read.

don’t like, don’t look.

really hate it, just block.

I talked to people, and they said this fandom is the most toxic they ever had and the fandom is TINY. I would have thought everyone would just get along and support each other. But nope! [...]

karanoidandroid's reply to shadowhannibad's Tumblr post (deleted, preserved)

OK, I am a huge proponent of “don’t like, don’t read.” But I am also a huge proponent of “stop dismissing the reasons why fans of color have been unsafe and uncomfortable in fandom for decades.” Go read some of the many, many posts and essays on why certain *trends* and *patterns* in fandom rise from, and reinforce, racist tropes. Stop pretending that extremely thoughtful, reasoned arguments from fans of color who have spent hours and hours observing, researching, and thinking about the larger societal patterns that influence fic don’t exist. [...] Stop pretending that the racial stereotypes that harm us in real life don’t also make their way into fanfiction and fan art. [...]

You want fandom to be a safe escapist place for you? Guess what? SO DO WE. [...]

lazeafair's reply to karanoidandroid

i agree with @lazaefair​. everyone has kinks and tropes they like, but you can do that without being racist. a lot of the main discourse has been backed up with precedence, and there are patterns of behavior that exist. acknowledging they exist isn’t policing. [...]

it’s one thing to say “write whatever you want” it’s another thing to say “write whatever u want without anyone calling u out on ur ignorant bullshit bc creative freedom” as if ppl have to keep their mouths shut when they see racist, transphobic, sexist bullshit bc we shouldn’t infringe on everyone’s creativity.

mewbotz's reply to lazeafair (deleted, preserved in the main thread)




  1. ^ also wattpad has 100% become the new : copy/paste bios, 'don't like don't read', etc. it's incredible. Tweet by @roxychaun, May 4, 2016.
  2. ^ me: well there's at least a few good kpop fics out there me: *remembers kpop fans still write "boy x boy don't like don't read" me: nevermi Tweet by @battalioned [Dead link], Apr 23, 2016.
  3. ^ just saw a fic, in the year 2016, whose summary contained "don't like, don't read" Tweet by @musicspeakstoo, May 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a Tumblr comment by alittlethor, January 26, 2015
  5. ^ a Tumblr comment by buckyballbearing, Archived version, January 25, 2015
  6. ^ a Tumblr comment by gen-is-gone, January 25, 2015
  7. ^ On the subject of aou, feminism, and why I’ve got a problem with Joss Whedon. Tumblr post by the-movie-that-was-never-made, June 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Don't Forget (Larry Mpreg) by bae_1D_directioner, WIP posted to Wattpad, updated Jul 16, 2015.
  9. ^ duìbùqǐ by Arisa_Morishita, posted to AO3 Apr 22, 2016.
  10. ^ This is your fate by iLouisLube, posted to AO3 Dec 3, 2015.
  11. ^ This Friday Night TXCW Presenet TXCW TV On Mav TV Taping
  12. ^ again if you don't like it then don't read, don't like don't read, DL;DR, DLDR, Do NOT damn read it if you don't like it, Do not read if you don't like it, Don't like, don't like don't read simple as that, Don't like it then leave, Don't like it?, don't like it? don't read, don't like then don't read, Don't like then Please don't read, Don't like. Don't read., Don't Like; Don't Read, Don't like|Don't read, Don't read, don't read if that bothers you, Don't read if you are sensitive, Don't read if you don't like, Don't read if you don't like it, Don't Read if you Don't like., Don't read if you're easily offended, don't read it if you don't like it, dont liek dont read, dont like dont read, Dont like dont read...unless you really want to, dont want dont read [...]