Fan Etiquette: What Not to Do

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Title: Fan Etiquette: What Not to Do
Creator: site administrators at The Less Than Legendary Journeys
Date(s): May 2, 2002
Medium: online
External Links: the site: The Less Than Legendary Journeys: Guide to Writing in the HtLJ Universe, Archived version, link to the post: The Less Than Legendary Journeys: Web Site Fan Etiquette: What Not to Do, Archived version
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Fan Etiquette: What Not to Do is an essay by the site administrators at The Less Than Legendary Journeys.

It was posted in 2002 and was advice for the many new fans in light of the increasingly availability of online access.

One interesting thing to note is how some things continue to be issues today, while some are issues of their time.


Posting Images, Graphics, Screen Captures, Video, Sound Files or other content without permission or credit: Lately I've seen a number of new sites online that are made up entirely of other people's sites, including banners, adoptions, tags, episode guides and everything else. It takes a lot of hours, a lot of hard work, and a lot of often expensive computer equipment to scan photos, make screen captures, video and sound files, and if you take them without permission or without even crediting the site you took them from, you are stealing that person's time, effort, and money. It also takes hours of time and effort to write an episode guide and to make original wallpapers and graphics. Taking those without permission is not only stealing someone's time, effort, and money, but his or her creative energy too.
Stealing Bandwidth: If you use another site's images by linking directly to them in order to display them on your site, you are stealing their bandwidth and many web site hosting services will cancel your account or delete your site without notice for doing it. Your site has to contact their site every time the images are loaded, slowing down their server. Many web site hosts charge sites extra fees for using up more bandwidth than they were originally allotted, so you may be costing the person whose images you love a lot of money. Posting an image on a bulletin board or a forum by linking directory to it causes the same problem.
Linking or Archiving Fanfiction without Permission: Many large fanfiction archives include a place at the top of the story file for the author to state whether she wants her work copied to other archives. If not, the archive will usually include a statement that the authors should be contacted individually for permission. It is always a good idea (and will save you time and trouble in the long run) to contact an author first before linking to or archiving her story. If the author does not respond to your request, then the answer is "no." Many authors want their fanfiction linked to as many sites as possible; others want their stories on only one or two sites. Please respect their wishes.
Requesting Awards, Links, or Other Favors over and over again: If you send an email to a web site asking for an award, a link, or another favor and get no response, assume the answer was "no." Sending emails over and over again, when the person running the site may be swamped with anything from real life work to sick children or relatives to personal illness is a form of unintentional harassment. If you do it often enough, the person may decide they don't have time or energy to run their site anymore and shut it down.
For Web Site Visitors: Even if you're impatient and frustrated that your favorite site hasn't posted anything new in a while, please don't email the site administrator with a complaint. Fan sites are hobbies; the archivists and writers aren't paid for their work, and they have real lives and jobs and families that have to come first. Sometimes the site hasn't been updated because there are simply no new stories or images to post. No one likes to receive unpleasant email, and I've seen sites shut down because they got too many emails complaining that they haven't been updating fast enough.
Giving Fannish Material to Actors or the Production Company: There's been a string of incidents lately where fans have taken material such as vids and slash art produced or written by other fans, and without permission, given that material to actors or representatives of the show or movie's production company. There are several situations that can result from this: the writer or artist's site where the material was originally posted will be deleted from the internet by the hosting ISP for copyright violation; the writer or artist will be sued by the production company; the writer or artist will be sent a cease and desist order from a lawyer instructing them to delete the material immediately. The very least that will happen is that the writer or artist may remove their material from the internet to prevent one of these alternatives. In this case, the material was given to representatives of a Fox show, a network which has been very active in shutting down or attempting to shut down fan sites which it saw as violating copyright.