every time I see more of the ‘ao3 is evil’ crap circulating I think, ‘well, tumblr is evil too and I don’t see you stop using it’
|Title:||every time I see more of the ‘ao3 is evil’ crap circulating I think, ‘well, tumblr is evil too and I don’t see you stop using it’|
|Date(s):||October 15, 2016|
|Medium:||Tumblr text posts|
|Topic:||AO3 censorship vs. Tumblr censorship; safe spaces, abuse|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
every time I see more of the ‘ao3 is evil’ crap circulating I think, ‘well, tumblr is evil too and I don’t see you stop using it’ is a one-line text post by Tumblr user tygermama from October 2016.
As of January 19, 2017, the post had 10,155 notes. By July 9, 2017 the post had 31,994 notes. By August 13, 2019, the post had 64,458 notes.
You know, the more I think about this, the more I think the real complaint isn’t that AO3 hosts “evil” content, it’s that it doesn’t allow harassment/dogpiling of “evil” creators as easily as Tumblr. Abuse won’t remove or even re-tag a work except in a handful of very specific cases, but they will suspend or ban users for harassment, including filing repeated unfounded Abuse reports. Authors also have at least some ability to screen/block comments on works, and there’s no direct messaging system outside of commenting on works through which to pursue harassment. You can follow a creator but you can’t block them (much less encourage others to do the same).
Tumblr, by contrast, generally ignores any abuse report that doesn’t involve the DMCA, and aggressive anons can and have driven bloggers off the site entirely. The fact that the same tactics are used by social justice bloggers and neo-Nazis (for instance) doesn’t matter – they’re the affordances of the site, by accident or design, and an entire fannish generation have gotten very used to performing their fannish (and moral) identity in this fashion.(I thinks it’s relevant that AO3 was designed by fandom’s LJ generation and in some respect mirrors the affordances of LJ circa 2010. Tumblr is a very different site and that, moreso than age differences, seems to be at the root of this – though of course age intersect with site experience in a non-trivial way.) 
Police Your Own Consumption
ding ding ding ding.
Ao3 requires you to police your own consumption of content. Ao3 won’t let you destroy someone’s online presence simply because you don’t like it. Ao3 won’t let you impose your own morality on other without cause.If you have issues with this, and the fact that Ao3 requires you to have responsibility and agency, then you seriously need to sit down and have a damned good long hard look at yourself. 
Apart from the fact that there are published works dealing with explicit sex scenes among young adults and teenagers and I never see them brought down for it, which is quite the double standard…
If my grown-ass fandom adult story is properly tagged as a grown-ass fandom adult story then sorry, those teenager OPs should have never read it in the first place and no, at that point their consumption of media not intended for their age-range is not my responsibility.
AO3 has an age policy and even puts up a disclaimer for the casual reader every time they open an adult-rated story. Whose responsibility it is if an underage teen lies about their age and then get upset with the content they actively chose to read despite the warnings?
It’s not my job as an author to make you feel safe by censoring my own content. My responsibility ultimately lies in making you able to avoid my stories, by thoroughly and properly tagging them. Period.
I’m not shoving underage porn things down anyone’s throat. I’m uploading them on a platform based on an efficient tag and filter system.Since we are used to selecting our media everyday (what books we’d like to read, what games we’d like to play, what movies we’d like to see, what kind of legal porn we’d like to consume - all things that come with genres and age-tags and content-disclaimers) I can’t for the life of me understand why fandom as a whole should censor itself and cater to the needs of teenagers who don’t understand that the same rules apply to an archive such as AO3. 
…okay but like. Abuse victims exist. You can’t really say “parents/guardians should be responsible for what minors consume on the internet” when people like me, whose parents do not give a single fuck and whose guardian figure was actually showing me porn at a young age, exist. In a lot of cases the parents are not, in fact, policing this kind of thing.I /agree with your point/ about the main issue here. Just. Don’t pretend a lot of young fans have better, more present families than they do. 
Who Gets To Decide
The question I usually fail to see being answered when people bitch about the content on AO3 is - so who gets to decide?
You? Me? A committee of my friends? Of yours? Of those who have the most kudos? Of those who have no interest in fandom, but want to protect other people from dangerous content, whatever it may be? Who gets that power, and how long will they have it? Who are you comfortable with giving the power of regulating all the content? What happens in grey areas? What happens when something you like isn’t liked by the Decider? Is there an appeal? Who gets to make the arguments for and against something?The world is complex and there are no easy answers. 
The impossibility of creating a censorship board that curates based on content is a great reason why those things don’t exist, and shouldn’t.
Certain people are screaming that AO3 is bad because it’s not a “safe space.” The real problem they have, though, is that AO3 was created to be a safe space - for writers. And it does a pretty good job of that. It was designed to be a place where writers are safe from arbitrary content rule changes, random and unwarned deletions, and abuse-report abuse (which is common on ff.net). The Four Big Warnings + CNTW system is beautiful in its fairness and simplicity.Antis can’t take control of it. And because control-freakdom is at the heart of their “movement,” this drives them into frenzies. Good. It motivated me to dig a little deeper into my pocket to donate on the last drive. For all the pleasure AO3 has given me over the years, that’s money well spent. 
AO3 was created by a fandom generation that went through periods of intense censorship provoked by bigotry. Both the LJ strikethroughs and the ff.net removal of the NC-17 rating (and subsequent mass policing/exodus/banning of users) was fueled by religious groups which had targeted fandom. I am old enough to remember the roving bands of self-righteous trolls filing complaints against people posting R-rated stories on ff.net and accusing them of being too “sexual” for their rating, harrassing them in the comment sections, bullying them and doing everything they could to make them leave. And then they pursued them to other sites to continue the harrassment.
I am also old enough to remember Livejournal, driven homophobic Evangelical groups targeting its advertisers, deleting journals and communities which were created with the specific purpose of aiding and supporting abuse victims because it conflated them with fandom writing about gay characters.
AO3 was created as a form of pushback against this shit. It was created by people who had learned to appreciate, cherish and defend their creative freedom while respecting the need to be able to control what kind of fandom content you consumed.Modern fandom generation that grew up on Tumblr, more or less, has never had to fight for its own space, has never had to fight for said creative freedom. I’m going to be brutally blunt here and openly state that this generation has too much freedom, is too coddled, and spoiled, and entitled and thinks that fandom should cater to its fee-fees about fictional characters at the expense of the well-being of real people. They don’t appreciate what they have, and yet they still want more. Some of them have gone full circle and they have begun emulating the aforementioned “roving bands of self-righteous trolls”. I have to say I prefer the ff.net trolls. At least their actions were spurred by a limited view of “morality”, and not by faux-concern about abuse victims. 
AO3's Mistake Was Not Anticipating The Underage Fic
The Ao3 creators trusted people would have the good sense of not writing things such as the graphic abuse of incredibly underage children, and the writers disappointed.
Now their hands are tied about it because they had decided to do a censorship-free website.
The lesson here is “do not trust humans and let’s lay some ground rules next time”, not “let’s shut down ao3 because a handful of pedophiles abuse it”, in my opinion.Also I’m using this example because some people who cry “but censorship!!!” don’t seem to know the kind of fucked up shit that goes on in there. No one is coming at you for your questionable kink, which is what you all seem afraid of. 
Their Second Mistake Is Defending Underage Fic
The posts that I’ve seen going around are not saying “AO3 is evil and should be shut down”. They are very specific. They’re saying “It’s messed up that AO3 was made partially in response to a crackdown on pedophilia in fics, and it is still messed up that so many grown-ass adults” – us, probably everybody on this thread, this problem is us– “are writing porn with underage characters.”
A lot of the OPs of those posts are themselves underage.
To repeat myself: these teenagers are saying it’s messed up that a. adults are writing porn about teenagers, and b. that it’s considered normal.
They are saying that they feel grossed out and unsafe.
And as our response, grown-ass fandom adults’ response to teenagers feeling unsafe, there’s context-less posts like this. There’s shitty hateblogs about how Fandom Isn’t Your, Young Fandom-Goers, Safe Space!, full of stories of adults insisting on their right to post underage porn fic to teenagers asking them to stop.
It’s vile. Not calling each other out on this stuff? Also vile.
And then there’s a really baffling thing, to me: people defending AO3 by saying that ~as a community~ made up of mostly women, we need to defend ourselves and each other against criticism, especially allegations of pedophilia.
1. By “defending ourselves as a community” without further thought, we are defending actual pedophiles. We are.
There are absolutely people, and women specifically, who come into fandom spaces to prey on younger fans. Attitudes like “oh this person’s only writing pedophilia, that doesn’t mean they support it” makes them normal, and makes it harder for anyone being harassed or abused to speak out about it.
2. A lot of the younger fans who are speaking up about this are also?? girls??? We can’t say that we’re defending ourselves / our expressions as women and ignore the younger women telling us that what we’re doing hurts and endangers them. Either our feminism accounts for everybody, or it’s shitty and there’s no point.
I post on AO3. I think it’s a useful site. But it has a lot of problems, because fandom has a lot of problems. Shutting down people who are telling us there’s a problem isn’t the way it gets better.Saying “I should be able to write explicit porn about anyone I want, whether or not they’re old enough to consent” is not a hill worth dying on. 
Okay, friend, I respect you very much, but I have to seriously disagree with you here.
# Adult fans are not responsible for teenage fans. Their parents or guardians are responsible for them. If they are not mature enough to self-regulate their content consumptions, they aren’t mature enough to be on the internet unsupervised.
# If teenage fans feel uncomfortable in adult fandom spaces, they should leave. Those spaces are not for them. They should find or make their own spaces and communities. When I was a teenage fan I hung out with other teenagers and read fanfic by other teenagers. We can all create our own networks and communities to interact with people we feel safe and comfortable around.
#If adults are posing as teenagers in order to infiltrate these teenage fandom spaces for the purposes of targeting children for abusive purposes, that is illegal. And it’s a whole different issue from an adult openly writing stories for other adults, regardless of the content of those stories.
#AO3 is not a haven for real-life pedophiles. It is VITAL that we draw a line between fictional content and real-life actions. There is also not a huge body of massively underage fanfic being written. Censoring AO3 to protect “the children” is a fake problem.
#Strikethrough ‘07 was not “about” underage fanfics. It was a censorship effort from an outside religious group who didn’t like teh gay, more or less. I have searched up and down and cannot find the post that explains this in detail. I believe this whole current drama springs from younger fans learning about Strikethrough without understanding its context.
#There is nothing wrong with explicit underage fanfics. Fictional characters do not exist. They do not have a body, or feelings, or thoughts. The concept of consent of fictional characters is meaningless. And adults can write stories that are ABOUT teenagers but not FOR teenagers.
#Appropriate tagging of content so that we can all find the things we like and avoid the things we don’t is a much better system than censorship based on arbitrary moral rules that will never please everyone. There is no perfect system, but this system protects all of us from attacks from outside interests who don’t like fandom because it’s full of queerness and sex.#It doesn’t make me a bad feminist to refuse to kowtow to people half my age when they express opinions based on an incomplete or incorrect understanding of the facts. The definition of feminism isn’t making all content appropriate for children’s consumption. 
Are…are you really defending pedophillia? The fetishization of underage people absolutely is a problem.
Real or not, fiction does have real life repercussions and does not exist in a vacuum. One of those is criticism from other fans calling out your work for something harmful. That’s not censorship. That’s other people telling you that your thoughts on the subject are bad and you should feel bad. When you write about horrible things and don’t make it clear that behavior is not acceptable, you are complicit in furthering that maybe it’s okay to fetishize said bad thing.If you post something harmful in a public space and get “harassed” because of it, it’s because you’re a shit person. You’d get the same reaction if you flashed a minor in public. Also, you’d get arrested, and I’m fairly sure that even fictional works fall under child porn laws. 
AO3 Is Still New, Finding Its Way
I think another thing people forget is that AO3 is still in its infancy. It not run by any company and has its bugs and issues. They hold donation pools every so often as to raise money to keep the site running. Systems are being worked on and improved over time, gradually, there might just be a way to block specific people and tags that you don’t want to see. And there are people who will also move around that system by: not tagging/forget to tag/ or using misleading tags. So it’s still up to each person to police what they THEMSELVES read.
If you don’t like a: fandom, specific Au, character, character interpretation, head canons, smut, violence, gore, etcetera. Then don’t read it and don’t try to stop others from reading what they enjoy. Sure there’s some fucked up shit, there always will be. But remember that you are not required to look at it and its existence will not kill you.
Unless something on that site is directly bringing harm to you or someone else, it’s not that big of a deal. Learn to recognize the difference between fiction and reality. And monitor what you expose yourself or (if you’re a parent of a young child) monitor what they come in contact with on the internet. It’s not hard, just ignore it or keep your kids away from it.And be patient, eventually a system to block tags/people might be implicated into the system if they have the ability to. It takes a lot to run a website and keep it in proper order. 
AO3 Fosters Community, Tumblr Fosters Bullying
I remember, years and years ago, when I first tried to get into Tumblr. I left because of the dogpiling, and only came back because there was almost no one left in my old fandom environments on LJ.
There is a LOT of content policing on Tumblr, and most of it seems to becoming from the kind of people who have no idea what Strikethrough is, or who have no idea that FFN used to host “M+” content - and why it doesn’t, anymore.
I’ve said before, Tumblr is the platform of BNF’s, and is very anti-community. It’s strength lies in things like sharing and discoverability, but the fact of the matter is that compared to previous fandom forums - listservs/mailing lists, message boards, forums, journal comms, etc. - Tumblr’s design put the kibosh on fandom communities. It became a website centered around individual people, and BNFs thrive here for a reason.
There’s a reason why the term “BNF” became in insult in Ye Olden Days of fandom - it was associated with bullying and prostelyzing.Tumblr is a website that not only allows bullies, but enables them. AO3 makes bullying extremely difficult, if not impossible to sustain, and that’s why so many people on Tumblr hate it. 
Branding Everyone Who Disagrees Is Just Picking On Other Marginalized People
AO3 isn’t anyone’s thought police and the internet should not be treated as daycare. I absolutely loathe some types of content myself, e.g. noncon being treated like it’s not a bad thing, but AO3 doesn’t actually stop me from criticising those things. And I understand, unlike the antis, that writers don’t owe me, a complete stranger, a full personal history to “prove” when they are in fact using it as a coping mechanism. You are not entitled to that degree of personal surveillance and you should in fact be alarmed that’s becoming the norm.None of this means you can’t criticise or reject specific content. You can and there are many situations where you should. But this current climate of arbitrarily picking unspeakable topics and branding everyone who even tangentially disagrees with any part of how this policing is done an apologist for that topic isn’t how it’s done. Context exists and you should exercise enough discretion to tell whether you’re genuinely helping anything or just picking on other marginalised people who aren’t in a position to do any harm to anyone in reality. 
“For whom is this space safe and why?” is a much better question to ask than “How do we make this space into a thing my ideology defines as ‘safe?’” 
If you want a good look at what a ‘safe space’ can look like when well-meaning censorship steps in, go take a look at the history of fanfiction.net.
Back when it was the biggest, shiniest archive around, a controversy arose over if mature content should be allowed, and if slash should be allowed. The people who were demanding the ‘safe space’ in this situation wanted a space free of homosexuality and sex, because that was their picture of ‘safe’. That is what they fought for, and that was what they got.
Anyone who posted content this righteous minority didn’t like were trolled and flamed and reported out of fandom, or at least off the site. A lot of the writers and their allies went to AO3 for the–as vulgarweed said–safe space it offers for writers. Which is why there are authors to this day who won’t use FF.Net (Even though it’s not near as bad as it was back then), and who swear by AO3.
The instant you try to add any amount of censorship–even in the event that you are well-meaning and have only everyone’s safety and best interest at heart–you automatically assign your own ideology as being better than the one that came before.In a world where AO3 drives to be a complete and inclusive archive, the addition of even well-meaning censorship is destructive to the good that comes from the site, too. 
A 2000 Word History Of Fandom Spaces
the history behind this discussion really interesting, because there are two things that stand out to me. One is the thought AO3′s culture is equivalent to LJ circa 2010. This is almost true, except you actually have to go back further. Ao3 and Dreamwidth are both specifically trying to recreate the fan culture of Livejournal from 1999-2007, and I can say that with some authority because A) I was there (olllld) and B) both were founded in 2008/09 as a direct response to the shit happening on LiveJournal and Fanlib. The other thing is the idea that anon-harassment culture started with Tumblr. Because, kiddos, did it ever not. Tumblr is very much Fanfiction.net circa 1998-forward. (That’s right, FF.N was basically always awful.) But how we got from there to here is actually really interesting And tangly. And long.
Up to the late 1990s, fan communities were often small and decentralized because there was a huge fear that fans would be targeted by content creators if they drew too much attention. Since several authors (Anne Rice, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffery) actually DID issue cease&desists to fan creators, it’s kind of understandable where the fear came from. It’s also why you still see fanfic floating around with disclaimers, something young!tumblr loves to mock. Harry Potter changed *everything*. Like, I really can’t emphasize how much. Fanfiction was always there, being shared on email lists or privately hosted or literally mailed cross country. But Harry Potter hit BIG in 1997. It had a massive crossover appeal that hadn’t been seen since probably the original Star Trek, and the baby Internet was all. over. it. If you weren’t there, imagine Twilight. But bigger. And J.K. Rowling stood out from other creators by condoning fanfiction in her very early interviews. Not to mention there was a lot of down time between books and, as you might know, the fans do not do well unpoliced.
This led to, I’m not kidding, an explosion of sites like FF.N. I don’t think a lot of younger users get how revolutionary AO3 is: not just because it created a safe space, but because of how much it’s done to centralize fanfiction on the internet. We used to get our fix through webrings and e-serves, so in the late 90s/early 00s we thought nothing of having dozens of scattered fanfic sites.
At the same time, the Digital Millennium Copywrite Act was coming down. The legality of fanworks was getting more and more complex. And no one knew how to handle these questions, because they had literally never come up before. When it was just authors going after individual fans, things usually went quick and brutal. Fans had neither the money nor the legal teams to stand up to creators, even if (as we were slowly beginning to realize) we had a strong case to create and share fanworks. So, if you got hit with a takedown notice, you took your fic down and laid low, hoping to avoid any further interest. But now the legal burden was shifting from individuals to well-funded corporations. Fanfic.net and LJ didn’t want to shut down their fan-contributors, who were creating a huge stream of free content and bringing in advertising revenue. At the same time, they didn’t want to get shut down by a lawsuit if Lucasfilm found Han/Chewie smut and decided to go after the real money. The next 10 years were basically all of us – authors, fan creators, website executives – stumbling through brand new legal territory and figuring it out by trial and error. FF.N erred on the side of caution by becoming more and more restrictive. They shut down the entire Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice sections, and eventually banned “pornographic” fanfiction from the site in an attempt to cover their legal rears. (It backfired, unsurprisingly, because say what you will about fandom: we like our smut. Also, FF.N had other issues that we won’t get into here will discuss shortly.) A bunch of other sites folded or waned in popularity as fandom wars divided the fan population. Authors scattered to the winds, and a lot of them ended up on LJ.
LJ started out very user friendly. We’re talking an open source code, an almost entirely volunteer staff. Even after it was sold to 6Apart in 2005, LJ was pretty permissive. A lot of that had to do with the aforementioned DMCA, which protected ISPs and hosting corporations. Like I mentioned above, a lot of the migration from FF.N to LJ (as a place for fanfiction SPECIFICALLY) came when FF.N started banning explicit fanworks. Why? Because FF.N targeted these fanworks based entirely on user reports. “Tell us if you find porn,” FF.N said, “And we’ll take care of it.”
Backup real quick. LJ, in many ways, set the standard for online privacy in a way that was far ahead of its time. Friendslocked journals were the norm rather than the exception and many, many communities disallowed anonymous commenting. (I’m not saying LJ wasn’t toxic as fuck, by the way. It is 2017 and let’s all have a moment of acknowledgement for how terrible LJ culture actually could be.) But LJ, on the whole, was much, much better at self-policing than FF.N. On FF.N, all of your stuff was out in the open. It was just there. Anyone could read it, anyone could report it.And these two sites coexisted. All BNFs had a private journal and a public FF.N page. So if I hated someone and I wanted to harass them off the internet, on LJ, I’d have to make multiple sock puppets and concoct elaborate multi-journal ruses to do it on LJ (haha, who would do THAT?). What am I to do? Simple: Head off to FF.N and anonymously flame them there!
FF.N became synonymous with anonymous hate long before the anti-smut censorship came down. But once those rules were in place, the system was rife for abuse by the Purity Police or grudgewankers. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay before it was cool to dm “kill urself” to someone on tumblr, it was happening on FF.N. All you, the early internet user, had to do was post a report link for your rival’s FF.N account on your LJ. Hate a pairing? A kink? Why not post a scathing rant, link included, to this captive audience of ALL YOUR FRIENDS.
Yeah, this system had no room for abuse.So. FF.N opened the door and fandom came rushing through like the raging assholes we are. Certain Fandoms Alluded To Previously got so deeply divided that they split and formed their own fanfiction archives that occasionally rained hate on each other. Everyone else slowly withdrew to LJ, where locked communities offered some level of protection. Then, irony of ironies, fandom as a whole got targeted by the purity wankers. And of course, of course, it came back to Harry Potter.
It’s 2007. Things have quieted down since 2001, when certain unnamed people’s fics were targeted for plagiarism and deleted from FF.N even though, just to be clear, they actually were plagiarized and, while there was an element of mob persecution, the actual fact remains that the work in question was legitimately in violation of FF.N’s TOS.
Ahem. It’s 2007. And everyone’s fairly chill. Creators are far more comfortable with fanfiction and fan creators are confident in posting their work so long as they aren’t profiting directly from it. Hosting sites, meanwhile, are profiting from fanworks, but they’ve got the legal shield of the DMCA to hide behind, so they’re feeling A-OKAY. And then Warriors for Innocence appears. WfI existed before strikethrough, and they existed after, but they made their mark on fandom when they reported upwards of 500 journals, most of them fan journals and communities, to LJ. The theory runs as follows: 6A, the company who’d bought LJ 2 years prior, realizes that the DMCA didn’t protect them if the fan works in question are “indecent”. Compounding this, 6A is already trying to clean up the famdomier aspects of LJ. Either they’re looking for a sale, or sites like ONTD are bringing in massive amounts of hits. WfI brings 6A a perfect hit list, and 6A goes to work.
So one morning we all wake up and find that hundreds of journals, including the pornish_pixies community and several BNF’s personal journals, have been deleted. Literally gone: a lot of the media stored on these communities has been purged forever. Hope you had backups. Also gone: large swaths of the Pretty Gothic Lolita community, Lolita book discussion groups, and rape survivor communities.In a quest to rid LJ of “pedophilia,” 6A wiped out a large swath of ethically questionable fanfic, and woke a beast. Again: We like our porn. 6A took a step back and restored some of the deleted journals, but the damage had been done. AO3 was already being discussed as a response to Fanlib, a hosting site that wanted to charge for access to fanfiction. (Yes, if you’ve been following along, that was a terrible idea. But that’s a post for another day.) But as AO3 began to change and grow, creators specifically wrote provisions into the TOS that guaranteed a strikethrough-esque event could never happen on the site. A specific kink or pairing would never be considered a violation of the TOS. The onus was on the reader, not the author, to protect themselves with the information given. Basically, AO3 took the early fandom nugget “Don’t like, don’t read” and made it policy. When peole say AO3 grew out of Livejournal, they’re specifically referencing this. One event that proved ALL OF OUR LONGSEATED FEARS WERE TRUUUUUUUUUE.
Rising from the ashes of LJ, you also had Dreamwidth. I’m actually kind of surprised DW wasn’t mentioned in the OP, since it grew out of the same ideology as AO3. Run by fans, for fans, because LJ (which at this point had been sold to SUP Media) had no idea what it was doing. Also like AO3, DW went to extreme lengths to make a safe fan culture inherent to the structure the site. Stay within the law, and DW and AO3 will back you up.
It’s worth noting that Tumblr actually predates Strikethrough. But Tumblr, unlike DW and AO3, wasn’t designed for fans. It didn’t carry the legacy of Strikethrough with it the way AO3 and DW did. So I guess– I have no evidence, but I’m surmising – that’s how it fell into the role of Natural Successor to Fanfic.net and Livejournal. It’s kind of inevitable, actually, that since neither LJ nor Tumblr was made for fans, they ended up falling into the same black hole of fandom collision. Kinkshaming people off the internet for literally as long as there’s been an internet. And then, on the other hand, you’ve got DW and AO3, who’ve watched fandom rip itself apart AT LEAST 3 times and are determined not to let it happen again. DW and AO3: We haven’t cared about the filthy shit you’re into since 2008.That’s it, folks. Fandom mom wrote almost 2k words on early fandom and now she needs a nap.
This 2,000 word essay generated numerous responses. Below are a few:
So much of my history as a fan is summarized in this post, and it helps me contextualize why I was on the sites I was on. As a long time lurker and author follower, following the content generators as they negotiated here murky waters was always a murky task. I can only imagine how many of these issues acted as catalysts for them to jump between sites.
The last addition really captures my thoughts, since the early era they refer to (or earlier era) was my era of fanfiction really, and I remember Strikethrough and I remember friends crying because of what they’d lost and could never get back and I remember and still deeply feel how much of a godsend both AO3 and Dreamwidth are.
But have never quite seen a great speculation on why Tumblr is such a fucking walnut of a place for fandom discussions aside from just formatting, and this does a pretty reasoned job of looking at that too.FF.net is a hellhole, lol."
Man I love it when people use act acronyms and assume everyone knows them!
this post is a Masterwork of Fandom Historical Context and is one of tumblr’s few Must Read posts.
And this is part of the legacy of why so many older fans in particular are against the anti movement and the extreme censorship for which it advocates.
Because we’ve been victims of extreme censorship before - and are against that censorship happening again. Strikethrough was the LJ equivalent of an overnight book-burning - and the books contained not just stories. We lost, I’d wager, many MILLIONS of words of discussion, fiction, support, friendship, creativity, and personal growth and struggle (remember, the deletes included personal journals and survivor/support groups).
For MONTHS (and probably even years) afterwards, many users feared to discuss certain topics in case it got them deleted/reported. I, myself, contacted the LJ support team before discussing my abuse in a friends-locked post because I wasn’t sure if it’d get me deleted to talk about it, even though my journal was marked as one that could contain adult themes and the post could only be viewed by people I’d friended. (Not even by friends-of-friends, like on Facebook - just friends.)
So be damned glad you have a site like AO3 - because otherwise you might wake up one morning and find all your writing purged because someone somewhere decided that it was too much like something they don’t like.#ao3 #fandom history #strikethrough #censorship #anti shipping #replies #accuracy is important #2007 was that msscribe or Cassie Clare #i can't remember it was too long ago #long post is long
This is actually really interesting as someone who had absolutely no concept of any of this happening while an LJ user at the time. I remember strikethru as a whole whack of breastfeeding support communities going up in smoke, because that was basically my life at the time.
so ao3 was made to protect rapists and pedophiles because you guys really like smut? seriously? all complaints of flaming go down the drain when you bring incest, pedophilia, and rape into the mix and consume it because its your kink or something? #RAMBLES #LONG POST #HISTORY LESSON FOLKS #FANDOM HAS ALWAYS HATED VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE #PEDOPHILIA #INCEST #CSA #RAPE
I so rarely see an accurate, non-rose-tinted-glasses mention of how fandom history has always been a bitty shouty and full of wank, of the purity variety and others. As someone who discovered fandom through Harry Potter in the early 2000s, I can never get behind posts about, “Tumblr is awful because of this brand new anti, purity wank thing!” I remember entire communities on FFN dedicated to mocking people for writing “bad” fiction, which at the time mostly meant slash fic and/or defending the “wrong” characters, which where almost indistinguishable from today’s tumblr antis, except that mocking people for slash is replaced with calling people homophobes for writing the “wrong” slash. People getting called pedophiles and abusers and everything else evil under the sun for writing stuff some rando didn’t like was also always a thing
read your fandom history research
AO3 was created to be a safe space - for writers
Kids read your fandom history research goddamit. Here are just a few, and these are not hard to find. We’re the internet generation - use a search field and read multi-source history checks, okay?
(almost all of these are linked from my personal reblogs, because i know i won’t change my username meaning the links will always work)
Yes, fic writers were harassed, sued, sent C&D letters - we published underground
Here is Some Fandom ‘Oral History’ for You Guys @copperbadge
The Places Fandom Dwells: A Cautionary Tale @mizstorge - so many must read links - our whole LJ-and-on online history is here
‘Intellislash’ [or ‘Your Fandom Culture of Origin Matters’ @copperbadge
History of Ancient Fanfiction (no really)
We started on Geocities and del.i.cio.us - then Yahoo came…
a brief history of the LJ strikethrough and subsequent fan migration @stardust-rain
Very First Star Trek Fic Published - 1974
What JKR and SMeyer did for fanfic
some good fandom knowledgebase specifics:
bangpaths - when you see slutty!Snape, for example
Squicks and Triggers - not the same thing (multi-thread)
Fandom-wank (what is it)
AO3 says descriptive/story-telling tags are a-okay
all the crap about policing fanficition for any reason:
Fandom and fac can only be a healthy outlet if it stops policing shit - be it taboos, dark sides, gender, orientation, kink, etc. (multi-thread - @televisiontelepath )
“Ship means something you want to see happen.” Bitch, no it don’t. @pyrebomb
I’m Done Explaining Why Fanfic is Okay @bookshop & others + links
I think fanfiction is literature and literature, for the most part, is fanfiction, and that anyone that dismisses it simply on the grounds that it’s derivative knows fuck-all about literature and needs to get the hell off my lawn. @inkandcayenne (my reblog link in case this ever disappears)
Do Fangirls Always Make Them Gay?
The Importance of Mary Sue unwinona
random fan history fun reads:
Fangirling after 30 (multi-thread)
Older fans run our Infrastructure (also, 90+ year old author who writes darkwing duck slashfic how awesome is that (multi-thread)
we built this kingdom, motherfuckers, with the trekkie zine housewives before us (multi-thread) older fans fun tories
STRAIGHT DUDES OF THE WORLD [in which @fozmeadows explains the best way to learn about female desire…is to read words written by actual females :D]
On Fanfic & Emotional Continuity (multi-thread)
my odds and ends cause i have actually been here a whileWe made AO3 TO PROTECT WRITERS WHO WERE BEING SUED,AND HARASSED,AND ATTACKED.,you don’t wanna read something? check the tags and move on,that’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO YOURSELF,not our responsibility as the writers, as the fanartists,as the vidders,as the content creators of all kinds,ARTISTS MAKE ART,YOU DON’T LIKE THAT PARTICULAR ART? MOVE ALONG. THERE’S PLENTY MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM.,and for FUCK’S SAKE read the GOD DAMNED TAGS,we the writers TAG OUR SHIT TO HELP YOU KEEP YOURSELF SAFE.
- I think the general mindset and culture of Tumblr is effecting what people choose to write about in fic (2015 post)
- Fandom is not your safe space (2015 post)
- AO3 & Censorship (2016 post)
- AO3 Content Discussion (2016) (post)
- The Three Laws of Fandom (2016 post)
- Like, i’m not saying that adults don’t have a place in fandom. they can and they do, and many are perfectly great people. (2017)
- List of Content Banned by Archives
- ^ Wayback Machine copy, 13 August 2019.
- ^ madmaudlingoes.tumblr
- ^ fluffmugger.tumblr
- ^ julesdrenages.tumblr, Archived version
- ^ cyrefinns.tumblr[Dead link]
- ^ hiddenlacuna.tumblr
- ^ vulgarweed.tumblr
- ^ halcyoncoast.tumblr
- ^ thesweetpianowritingdownmylife.tumblr
- ^ capslockdoesntexpressmyjoy.tumblr, Archived version
- ^ ifshehadwings.tumblr
- ^ alittlebananaz.tumblr
- ^ ivanadragmire.tumblr
- ^ nyxelestia.tumblr
- ^ oudeteron.tumblr
- ^ fierceawakening.tumblr
- ^ nightrhain.tumblr[Dead link]
- ^ kaciart: rocket-sith:... - writings and ramblings, Archived version
- ^ comment, Archived version
- ^ Adventures in Fandom., rapacityinblue: kaciart: rocket-sith:..., Archived version
- ^ Back Again, rapacityinblue: kaciart: rocket-sith:..., Archived version
- ^ , Archived version
- ^ holy synthesizer, Archived version
- ^ A Wild Trash Blog Has Appeared, Archived version
- ^ AO3 was created to be a safe space - for writers, Archived version