Fanfic is becoming more and more mainstream while still remaining largely transgressive.

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Title: Fanfic is becoming more and more mainstream while still remaining largely transgressive.
Creator: ao3commentoftheday
Date(s): March 2021
Medium: Tumblr
External Links: OP on tumblr, Archived version
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Fanfic is becoming more and more mainstream while still remaining largely transgressive. is a post at AO3 Comment of the Day.

As of mid-May 2021, it had 11,495 notes.

The Post

Somewhere in my notes in the last few days I saw someone add some tags that I’ve been thinking about ever since. I wish I could find them again (or that I’d just saved their post at the time) because I think they made a lot of sense.

They were talking about how fanfic is becoming more and more mainstream while still remaining largely transgressive. It’s such an interesting dichotomy to think about!

On the one hand, you have sites like AO3 and realities like widespread high speed internet access being more and more accessible to larger and larger groups of people. This makes it incredibly easy for anyone at all to find and read fanfic.

On the other hand, you have the roots of fanfic. It was born out of marginalized groups such as women, people of colour, and members of the queer community deciding to take the stories that had been aimed at a largely male, white, heterosexual audience and inverting them into something they could enjoy and relate to. To this day, fanfic is a place where people write the kinds of stories that don’t get made into movies and TV shows. The kinds of stories that don’t get published or end up on the New York Times bestseller list.

Fanfic used to be written and shared in secret. People used to hide it. People still do hide the fact that they read or write it. But it’s becoming something that more and more people are becoming more and more aware of.

So now there’s a spotlight starting to shine on fanfic. People who aren’t looking for transgressive works are finding them where they always were. People who think the status quo is fine are getting upset when they enter a place where the status quo is constantly being upended.

The tags on that post that I can’t find made the point that popular media is curated and sanitized and stripped of most of its controversy in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. But that also makes that audience expect all media to be curated and sanitized in the same way. When they encounter the messy, controversial, ugly, radical, difficult things that people write in fanfic, they’re unprepared.

Fanfic isn’t big media. Fanfic authors aren’t being edited and filtered and polished - and nor are their works. The clash between the expectations of people new to fanfic and accustomed to popular media and the realities of what fanfic is and what it’s being written for - that’s part of this struggle that fandom is going through right now. It’s been going on since the beginning of course, but it’s getting louder every year.

I’m still thinking my way through this, but it really does make a lot of sense to me. If those were your tags, please let me know so I can credit you with the ideas at the core of this post.

And if you have any ideas for how we as fans can better introduce the newbies to the culture and expectations in fandom, I’d love to hear it. The better we can guide people into our space, the better they’ll fit in when they join it.

Fan Comments

Suggestions On How To Introduce Fans To Fandom Culture


While I’m not entirely sure how, here are a few what ideas. If you’re coming into fanfic new, here is what you need to know. Perhaps other folks can think of more diplomatic ways to frame these thoughts.

  • Fandom has historically been dominated by the weird. Weird people, weird stories. That isn’t a bad thing. A lot of folks in fandom wear weird as a badge of honour, something we reclaimed from bullies and other abusers who slung the word and related ones at us. We are not normal and do not seek to be normal. If that idea bothers you, you are still welcome, but know that you are a guest. A lot of folks in fandom have been burned by aggressive normalcy, and start baring teeth when it intrudes into our spaces.
  • The author is dead. All this means is that the original canon author or authors can tell you their interpretation of the story, but they cannot control your own interpretations or imagination: their interpretation is no more or less important than anyone else’s. Something being noncompliant with canon does not make it badly-written.
  • Alternate universes exist. If someone wants to write characters from a serious crime drama in a sitcom, they are allowed to do that. If someone wants to explore what would happen if that horrific mass murderer was redeemed or never evil, they are allowed to do that. If someone just really likes dragons and wants to write about everyone being a dragon, they are allowed to do that.
  • If you write fanfic, you are also an author, so you are also dead. Once you release your ideas into the wild, other people can and will do weird things with them. The sooner you accept that, the better.
  • You will find porn of it if you go looking. If you don’t, some folks will take that as a challenge and go make some. As long as good-faith efforts are made to keep out people who shouldn’t or don’t want to see it, there is nothing wrong with this.
  • A canon being made for kids and teens does not mean that all sections of the fandom are for kids and teens. Adults can be into works for the younger set, and as long as there are clear boundaries between work that’s appropriate for kids and work that isn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and absolutely nothing wrong with adult or dark works based on those stories.
  • Some people will really hate your favourite characters. Some people will think your favourite pairing is gross, or boring, or that the characters would be better off with someone else. Some people will think that show or game or book that got you through the roughest moments of your life is absolute trash. And that’s okay. Not everyone has to like your favourite things.
  • Someone writing dark stories about terrible things happening to your favourite characters, even dark stories that may mirror some trauma you’ve been through, are not writing about you. They’re not. It is none of your business why they’re writing it. Their only duty to you is to make sure you can avoid their work if you want to. Again, the sooner you accept this, the better off you’ll be.
  • It’s okay if you want to write something dark and depraved. Lots of people do, and if it’s weird, well, fandom has historically been dominated by the weird.
  • It’s okay if you want to write nothing but fluff.
  • It’s okay, no matter what you want to write.
  • Just be courteous and tag your work. Even if all you want to tag it with is “this may contain dark topics.”


I’d say that giving them a primer on the basics, what certain tropes are, what tagging etiquette goes around a certain fandom, what is expected of them and such. Here’s some stuff that I, personally, would have told my fandom-newbie self:

1. Not everything is for you, and you need to curate your experience with the archives to get the best out of it. Tags are there for a reason, so please read and ask if you have questions, most people won’t hate you for it (do read the room, though, people are different and complex, and someone may not know the reasons why they do the thing).

2. Just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean you’re in danger, buddy. There’s a difference there. Keep yourself out of places where you might find upsetting content, and filter, as always.

3. Play nice with everyone, even those you dislike. No threats, no insults, no harassment. Pick and choose which battles you’ll fight, because always arguing on the internet is a waste of time.

4. You’ll have to be aware that there are tons of adults in fandom, and all of them are different, with varying expectations on how behavior should be. Keep that in mind when interacting.

5. Don’t be afraid to lurk and try to figure out the mood in the room. How people in different fandoms have very different customs w/rt tagging, AU preference and ship population (which do vary between sites and spaces) is something you should take the time to understand or study, if you want.

6. Do have fun, though. Make whatever makes your little heart happy. It may seem scary at first, because it’s new and it’s a TON of people, but I’m sure they’ll like you, and they’d want you around them, so don’t be afraid to share the weird fic (if they want to read it, ofc). [2]



  • Sometimes, you will really hate a characters. Sometimes, you will think a pairing is gross, or boring, or that the characters would be better off with someone else. That’s okay. But remember: these characters and ships will still be the favourites of someone else. You have no right to attack them for that.
  • Sometimes, you will think that show or game or book is absolute trash. That’s okay. But remember, they might still be what got others through the roughest moments of their life. You have no right to attack them for that.
  • Not everyone has to hate something just because you hate it.[3]

[demonicangeling]: I love many things about this, but this: “People who think the status quo is fine are getting upset when they enter a place where the status quo is constantly being upended.” Let’s think and talk more about how to enter and join spaces, especially when these have been safe spaces with history and culture. And what the difference is between expanding and making things palatable for a bigger audience?[4]

[fluencca]: To elaborate on one of the bullets: it’s also really okay to think a pairing/theme/character/relationship is stupid, wrong, gross, poorly written, or toxic, as long as you think it inside your head. Everyone judges, and that’s normal. But in fandom spaces in particular, where creators are volunteers who are sharing their work for free, there is a huge weight on the JUST SCROLL PAST ethos.

You’re not condoning it, you’re not giving up your values by letting it exist in peace. The rules of the format aren’t those of Twitter or Facebook—you don’t get rewarded for outrage.

And ao3commentoftheday asked how we teach this, and the best I have is by example, and some fandoms are better at it than others. Support the author when you see hateful comments on a fic. If you’re the author, delete them. If we each curate our space to exclude the Outrage Police, regardless of whether we agree with their particular point, they’ll eventually realize they’re unwelcome[5]

[foxinstrazt]:I remember being sent a link to a forum by someone who had read one of my fics and was very upset by it(and they were attempting to prove that no one would enjoy my work). I just remember the post asking ‘who would write something like this?’ And all the answers were about how messed up I must be except one who correctly said ‘looks like the author is working through their depression’.

They were absolutely right, and that was the first time the idea that people unfamiliar with fanfiction are entering the spaces of fanfiction unprepared entered my mind. But it’s also fascinating that there was someone who was obviously familiar with the concept enough to cut right to reason I was writing a dark AU of a mostly(at that point) upbeat show.

I curate my feeds so I don’t come across a lot of people like that, I never enjoyed the discourse surrounding what was approved vs disapproved because it’s so obvious that if we start qualifying what is allowed and what is excluded with hard lines through our community we make ourselves vulnerable to, as was said above, aggressive normalcy. I’m glad to see that people have begun talking about educating those coming into our spaces about why these spaces are the way they are, it’s how we keep our hobby and passion from being twisted away from us.[6]

Disproportionate Impact On Queer Voices

graphs by olderthannetfic

I love almost every point here, but if there’s one thing I would tell new fans, it’s this:

Most fanfic is straight.

These are the best hard numbers I have (with multi/other including all fics labeled as more than one of m/m, f/m, and f/f along with ones labeled as multi/other):

[see original post at olderthannetfic for graphs, but they break down into 4 pie charts.

AO3 Ship Types - 2020: 42.2% M/M, 20.5% Multi & Other, 17.4% F/M, 14.0% Gen, and 5,8% F/F.

FFN Ship Types - 2020: 42,8% F/M, 35,8% Gen, 17.1% M/M, and the remaining split between F/F and Multi & Other, with a wider slice for F/F.

Wattpad Ship Types - 2020: 46.5% F/M, 26.4% Gen, 23.1% M/M, and the remaining split between F/F and Multi & Other, again with a wider slice for F/F.

Big Three Archives - 2020: 37.7% F/M, 26,2% Gen, 26.1% M/M, and the remaining split between Multi & Other and F/F, with Multi & Other having a wider slice Source:thespacesay[7]]

AO3 is the gay porn bookstore, so AO3 is the site that cares about:

  • Being free from corporate overlords
  • Not monetizing your data in creepy ways
  • Minute and detailed kink labeling
  • Protecting the freaky content

If you hate Bad Kinks, that’s fine. Just know that you will never get the kind of labeling AO3 has from the people who pander to the mainstream. If you want to get rid of The Bad Stuff, the kind of websites you’ll end up with are a sea of nigh unsearchable het, like Wattpad. And the same kinks will be there. They just won’t be labeled clearly.

People imagine that fandom is mostly queer because their own bubble is, because queer stuff sticks in their mind more as anomalous, making it seem more frequent than it really is, and because the only places that label clearly are the queer ones.

If you want to tear down the places with queer+freaky content, you will end up tearing down the only places that protect queer content at all. [8]


Let’s shout it one more time for the people in the back: the only places that label clearly are the queer ones.

Most fandom (for anything mainstream, anyway) is straight because most people (statistically speaking) are straight, and straight is still the “default” in many spaces. Younger people in fandom may not know what it was like back before we had our own clearly defined spaces–there’s a reason AO3 means “Archive Of Our Own.”

As an almost middle-aged queer neurodivergent fanfic writer/reader, I remember the days when queer shipping in and of itself was openly considered “disgusting” by huge chunks of fandom. One person’s sweet slash fic was another person’s “eww gay stuff is gross.” At the very least it would get laughed about or mocked; I distinctly remember dealing with endless Kirk/Spock jokes as a young queer Star Trek fan. It took me decades to realize that, yes, I read that relationship that way, because I tried so hard to pretend that I wasn’t reading anything as gay, because the sheer idea of gayness was so roundly mocked in my personal fandom circles.

It was a huge and blessed relief to find AO3, to find a place where I could so easily dig through content to find what I wanted and I liked, and could so easily boost and comment on things to support the authors I liked. And as a writer, it’s been great to know that with the tagging system anybody reading my work has fair warning of what they’ll find there.

So if you don’t like a thing, well, that’s fine. There are some ships that really, really upset me, and kinks that really trigger me, and on AO3 I can just… avoid them. I know I’m not going to accidentally run into them because everything’s so well-tagged. And there’s nothing wrong with talking about, say, having issues with glorifying abuse or villains or whatever.

Just remember that your personal squick might be someone else’s coping mechanism, and in the case of stuff that isn’t inherently ethically bad, it might be that it’s just your personal squick and you should leave people’s kinks well enough alone.[9]

[greyias]: "Most of fanfic is straight" -- just because something is tagged as M/F doesn't make it straight. The characters within the M/F pairing can be queer -- one or both of the characters could be bi, be trans, or any permutations of queer. Do not assume straightness and conformity because of a category tag.

ledbythreads: Yes my queer RPF discord server were talking about this in the context of why hetfic is often not tagged. Queers invented tagging because we know the rainbow. We know there are many ways to be queer, to like sex, to not like sex. It is just information.[10]

shakespeareintellectualbadass Notes: #representation #i will fight for the rep that fanfic is and allows for til the end of time #representation in media

[the-not-tamed Notes]: #thank you for all your points #please let's protect our space #destroying the best thing queer fandom has ever created is not gonna help any of us #I hope The Children will read this post and understand[11]



so okay all of this I am mostly on board with but this statement

It was born out of marginalized groups such as women, people of colour, and members of the queer community deciding to take the stories that had been aimed at a largely male, white, heterosexual audience…

is a real misrepresentation, and this

The tags on that post that I can’t find made the point that popular media is curated and sanitized and stripped of most of its controversy in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. But that also makes that audience expect all media to be curated and sanitized in the same way. When they encounter the messy, controversial, ugly, radical, difficult things that people write in fanfic, they’re unprepared.

really sanctifies/hagiographizes fandom in a way I find really irritating.

fandom had and has a HUGE problem with racism, and just like in other subcultures, people of color were and are often shut out, whether intentionally or carelessly. just because “people of color” in the broadest sense are a marginalized group doesn’t mean that you can throw that phrase in whenever you’re talking about something that a certain number of marginalized groups did. women and lgbt people/sexual minorities, absolutely! but presenting fandom as this paradise outside the mainstream spearheaded by people of color, when fandom content is still dominated by pairings consisting of two white guys, or white guy/reader, even in the relatively rare canons where female characters, lgbt characters, and characters of color have been richly developed and given screentime… like the two random white guys who share 5 seconds of non-speaking screentime are grabbed into thousands of fics… this presentation is just not correct.

second, vast amounts of fanfic is formulaic “two people one bed” or “fake dating” or “slow burn romance coffeeshop AU and then they consummate their love as the appropriate top/bottom role based on their personality” stuff. many, many people come to fanfic to be comforted and lulled, not challenged or made to think. I’ve also seen daring, radical, controversial, and freaky-extreme-sexual content that I would never see in mainstream media. but fanfic is not INHERENTLY the messy game-changing antithesis of mainstream media. it’s just as much a comfort food factory and unchallenging-trope-heavy content churner that perpetuates/celebrates a stagnant culture, as it is a breeding ground for avant-garde transformative literature.

now, I love me some weird kinky fanfic. I think that is not that new readers raised on marvel and cw pap are freaking out because fanfic is just sooo transgressive and tells radical queer stories. it’s this concept of purity culture as has been discussed elsewhere at length, which makes people believe that there’s a 1:1 relationship between the type of fiction you consume/create and the acts you want to do (or will be brainwashed into doing by reading about it) irl, and then rout out any type of fandom behavior or creation that has been judged as ideologically impure. that’s where this is coming from.[12]

In Response to the Claims That AO3 Hosts Child Porn

Tumblr 8acd315cacc2ed84b3009dd532c669c5 c8cab4f2 500.png
[olderthannetfic]: No, literally no one missed that. For you, the big thing is underage. For someone else, it’s RPF existing at all. For someone else, it’s rape-as-kink.

I reiterate: If you hate Bad Kinks, that’s fine. But AO3 looks how it does because it’s opposed to censorship. A site less opposed to censorship would also be less into this type of metadata and would have less clear labeling.

Perhaps Wattpad’s terms of service would be more to your taste.[13]


fictional content of fictional children. Why don’t you get upset about other fictional violence? I mean, personally, I think genocide and murder are worse than two consenting fifteen year olds bangin’. But you don’t care about those things when they show up in art, because…?

Believe it or not, the kind of fic you’re talking about doesn’t normalize child abuse and pedophilia any more than guns in video games lead to violence. (Which they don’t.)[14]

[emptysurface]: ‘child porn’ involves actual children, and Ao3 has no such thing, bc it is literally illegal everywhere. Stop treating fictional characters as real people, bc real people (including kids) are harmed by that attitude[15]


I appreciate @olderthannetfic’s response but I think they’re missing something:

there is not child pornography on ao3. There is explicit content depicting fictional minors.

If people actually upload photos or video or content involving real children nude, or being sexually abused or molested, or honestly any photographic content of minors (who can’t consent to its publication), ao3 takes it the fuck down, because that shit is not only illegal, but abusive, exploitative, and wrong, because it abuses and exploits children.

What the person in that tags is talking about is explicit content that is drawn or written about or of fictional minors. Who cannot feel, or think, and have no need of protection. If you are deeply disturbed by people drawing or writing porn involving, like, I don’t know, Steven Universe or Katara or Ginny Weasley or (what are people watching these days anyway), you can: 1) exclude those things from your tags when you search, and 2) write your own fics which just say: “and in this universe which I consume [character] has no sexuality and will never be sexually active with anyone, and retroactively has never been depicted as such,” and bam. You have created a new reality where that porn doesn’t exist, and you’re fine. Because Steven Universe doesn’t exist, and your reality is exactly as impactful on his fictional feelings as the porn was.[16]>

[kurara-black-blog]: By the way, if what AO3 is hosting really is child p/rn… They wouldn’t be hosting it. The mods are not there for decoration, neither is the TOS, if someone upload something illegal (by the US laws since that’s what their TOS is based on), they will take it down.[17]

[darthlenaplant Notes]: #do people not realize children are becoming aware of sexuality as young as 13/14? possibly even before that #we had sex ed for the first time when we were 12 #or 11 #i legit forgot #do you believe children to be innocent and asexual till they turn 18? #they have questions #they see things #they engage with said things #and fanfic is a safer space for them to explore it than like. going outside with people who might want to take advantage of them #so yeah #childrens media will have possibly adult content simply because children want to know what's up with these adult things the adults keep abou #so they emulate the adults #child vs adult is a set of categories but where is the line actually? #when is a child a child and an adult an adult? at age 24? at age 16? depending on the country and time in history it can be either #please remember that history is important[18]

[ohhlookitsthepizza Notes]: #okay i love all of this #and #i’m so sick of ppl saying stuff like #‘ao3 should stop hosting child porn’ #cos like #DO YOU ONOW HOW MUCH SHUT 13-15 YEAR OLD ME READ WHEN THEU WERE QUESTIONING THEMSELF? #AND FIGURING THINGS OUT??? #and also i think a lot of the ppl advocating against it are unaware that for a lots of them (the fics) are written but actually children #who are projecting and trying things out in a safe way #anyways #long post[19]

Fandom As a Generational Conflict

[calmshejaguar]: Something that’s struck me as I’ve ventured into more modern fandoms is how divided a lot of it is. Despite now having a centralized hub to put all our works, there is almost more hatred towards younger folks and those new to fandom. It’s rather saddening to see these divides appear in fandom as those who remember the older fandom days and those from more mainstream fandom come together.

Especially since, unlike generation divides, there isn’t always a clear ‘modern day fan’ so to speak. For me, despite being younger, I hung around a lot in forums dedicated to older forms of media, which gave a different perspective from someone who only engaged in the more modern fandoms. It’s weird to be grouped with people who don’t know the older styles when I do.

Fanfiction really isn’t a censored art form. It should never be. We shouldn’t hide it. It’s a way of coping, it’s a way of learning, it’s a way to simply enjoy who we are as fans of a media. We have to share the traditions and ways of the past to the newer and young fans, while also being open to the new ideas and trends that come our way.

And thank gods for ao3, where at least we can feel relatively secure and know that our fic won’t be disappearing when changes its policies.[20]

[chaos-monkeyy]: I suspect that a lot of this comes from an influx of people who have grown up excessively sheltered by society, helicopter parenting, all of that. Cries of “someone think of the children” and “teachers can’t give failing grades” and “no my child is perfect”.

They’re coming in from an entire world that has been “curated and sanitized and stripped of most of its controversy” because that’s what sells.

They’re coming from a world that is afraid of letting children and young people think for themselves, that refuses to acknowledge that sometimes (often) things aren’t black and white, or easy, or painless. They have no concept of how to think critically because popular media and the news and their parents and school has fed them opinions they’re supposed to have. They can’t fathom that good people can think about bad things. They don’t know how to process the unsanitized stuff because they’ve never had to.

Life is “messy, controversial, ugly, radical, and difficult” and a lot of people are so woefully unprepared for life that they don’t know how to process these concepts in (fan)fiction, let alone the real world. Which is… a bigger problem than just ‘how do we welcome people into fandom’. We’re not just welcoming people into fandom, we’re trying to do the job of teaching people how to deal with a world that suddenly isn’t always pleasant and clean and pretty, and doesn’t fit into the neat and tidy boxes of good and bad that they want it to.

But fandom spaces and fanfic and art are now easy to find and access, and these people feel perfectly entitled to come into those spaces and immediately demand that fandom change to suit them better, because the mere idea of stopping to think that they might be wrong is just… too alien and scary. And the concept that not everything has to be palatable to, and aimed at, them personally? Forget about it.

Or maybe I’m just getting old.[21]

[jannahfinnhux]: Having more discussions between older and younger fandoms, that can help prepare people. I used to watch this YouTuber who would talk about all the tropes and common themes in fandom works, specifically shipping. Though I’d say I was already into messy and controversial stories, it was nice to get the run down on what is this trope? Where did it come from? Why do people like write about it?

I can think of another way to help guide and prepare new people, but it would be a pretty rude awakening. Whenever it comes to creative mediums, whether its art, music, videos, and fanfic’, people become so entitled. They need to throw that entitlement out the window.

With newcomers, I feel they’re used to everybody on the internet being a content creator trying to make things for other people, specifically for money. They set that as the standard, though many need to understand this isn’t place where people are trying to meet standards. They’re here to have fun! Maybe there are others how take their works more seriously, that’s great! Stop applying that rule to everyone else. Fanfic’ writers aren’t trying to make things for the masses, they’re really making stuff for themselves. We’re just lucky that they decided to share it with us.

Fanfiction is an artform, and like all art things can get weird real fast; that’s okay. There are really no limits when it comes to making stuff it art! If you can think it, it’s most likely going to be there. I mean it’s the internet! I feel just saying that will tell you what kind of stuff you’re going to find; everything. Not to say we can’t have discussion about controversial themes, but everyone won’t agree with you. Don’t try to control them, and focus on what you like in fandom.

Remember that there are people behind these stories being made; be respectful. The community aspect of fandom seems so lost to me sometimes. We may not agree on everything, but at the end of the day we should try and find ways of accommodate EVERYBODY. So we ALL can have fun and participate in Fandom.[22]

[avidrambling]:I was thinking something along these lines a few nights ago. I have been in the world since the time of ‘Zines. I have some really old fanfic that will never get to be seen by others because it was all hand written and died in a fire. I have 'Shipped Couples and Throuples. Now that I am grown and in my own poly relationships I search for those fics even more.

I am thankful for those FanFiction breeching those lines and helping me see other parts of people interacting. Other possibilities.

I admit that sometimes I still get a little embarrassed to state that I am reading facfiction or that I am writing. But I am getting better and better about stating it. And even excited to explain Ideas running rampant in my head. I have one that I am currently plotting and planning that has MMF, MM, and MF relationships of the main characters. And it makes me so incredibly happy.[23]

[ginnyzero]: I don’t really have an answer. I got into fandom back when Yahoo Groups were a thing. And one of the BNFs in the group worked IT. And what they told me back then stuck w/ me the entire time I’ve been in fandom. It doesn’t matter what you do, someone can find you. Anonymous doesn’t exist. Adjust your behavior accordingly. Don’t be an asshole. If you can’t say it to your grandma, don’t. We learned about ratings and YKINMKatOK (and how this applies to race and everything else respect wise) and the damage “For the children” cries can do. And since then, we have had so much fandom history through what has happened in, and LJ, and the Feds passing Section 203, and even here on Tumblr and there is no singular one place to go like Yahoo Groups and Forums where the older BNFs have this huge voice to go “this is how we act, and this is why.”

At some point,maybe trad publishing or Hollywood will get interested enough in the history of fandom to put something out there about it that’s not… half mockery. (We’ve seen the mockery already lots of times.)

Fandom and Indie publishing is very important in order to address the needs of people who do not see or cannot find what they want on the big screens or in books. Personally, I cannot find HEALTHY relationships in fiction contrasted with unhealthy relationships. (The closest I got was Lackey and even then, sometimes, YIKES.) So, I try to write them myself. And fanfiction is kind of a way for me to test how characters work/interact with each other before I take what I learn and apply it to original fiction. And I do this in a fantasy/sci fi setting which are highly dominated by white men! (Outside of Urban Fantasy, but much of Urban Fantasy is closer to “paranormal romance.” Even then, the big name in UF is a white guy.)

So, fandom mentors, I dunno if they were a thing back then, but there were people doing it. Now everything is fragmented and it’s hard to be heard in the echos of every media site.[24]

Fandom is Transgressive

[purlturtle, responding to honestlyvan notes]]:
honestlyvan notes

It was born out of marginalized groups such as women, people of colour, and members of the queer community deciding to take the stories that had been aimed at a largely male, white, heterosexual audience and inverting them into something they could enjoy and relate to.

This, by the way, is also how Bering and Wells came to be. The character of (female in this show) H.G. Wells was brought in as an antagonist, and originally as someone the male protagonist Pete would flirt with. The two actresses (Jaime Murray, who played H.G. Wells, and Joanne Kelly, who played the female protagonist Myka Bering) decided it would be a much better story to have the two women fall for each other a little bit (I think one of them said that verbatim, but I don’t remember who, and I’m too lazy to google…)

They have stated, specifically and repeatedly, that they didn’t want to create yet another story in which women are pitched against each other (to compete for male/the male protagonist’s attention, usually). Thankfully, their idea found (somewhat) fertile ground within the show (the Powers That Be still didn’t dare to make the relationship canon, for example, but on the other hand, no gays were buried either!), and so we get a Ship with two active and outspoken Captains and an honorary lieutenant (in Drew Greenberg, one of the show’s writers).

We need to push for these stories to be told, and reward the people who decide to tell them. As story creators, as readers and watchers, as amplifiers on social media, whenever we can make a decision to support these stories, we need to do that. And yes, it is still a radical act.[25]

Fandom is Neither Transgressive Nor Progressive


you think the wank coming up now is due to new fans who aren’t used to or comfortable with fanfic’s transgression? New people who don’t like fanfic don’t come back or engage, they just leave

the people invested in fandom and fanfic are the ones that discuss and fight about it

there’s nothing new to any of these aspects of fandom wanks over fanfics so far as I have seen

fandom and fanfic might be written mostly by women but it remains mostly misogynistic and racist and homophobic and many people fetishize things such as incest pedophilia or abuse or do things like write slavery AUs

there are legitimate reasons for people to be offended by these fics and trends because they’re NOT transgressive, that’s the problem, they’re reinforcing mainstream/popular media, and they’re harmful to other fans same as they would be if done within published works

fanfic actually is curated usually by popularity same as pop culture more generally, you’re more likely to read things that are highly kudos’d and commented on than not, some fics make it on to rec lists and others don’t

the stuff that becomes popular is what’s comfortable and easy to write for like outside of anime/manga, all the really popular fandoms and ships and so on are all about white people for example, you see star wars bending over backwards to make white ships popular despite a black and a latino main characters in the new trilogy

imo the only significant changes in modern fandom are this insistence on making fanfic more than it is as in acting as if it is political or giving representation while not wanting to take authorial responsibility for what you post rather than treating it as a fun hobby (fandom used to be far more apolitical) and because it’s on the internet and internet porn is more easily found and unfortunately becoming more acceptable in some corners you’re getting shitty porn fics that are extra demeaning and misogynistic

I don’t think these changes are due to new fans as in fans entering in the past couple of years more like fans of the last couple decades happen to all be people who are terminally online and this is what you’re seeing from all people who are terminally online, weird performative political shit and way too much contact/comfort with internet porn despite its clear harms[26]

[meritjubet Notes]: #slashing two white dudes isn't exactly 'progressive' #fandom<ref>The Social Obsession, Archived version </ref>

Fandom's Cringe Factor

['megagingertron]:It’s funny when ppl think fanfic is cringe when any reboot or book/movie based off real life is fanfic in some way. Especially movies that deviate from a historical event and add their own flare. It’s all fanfic in some way

[theragnarokd]: Fandom has historically been dominated by the weird...

The first bullet point makes me think of people who use “freak” as a derogatory term and call “queer” a slur.

To quote a song by Gayleen Froese: “I’ve been stared at since I learned to speak and I’m still alive. If you’re scared of what people see, I don’t suggest that you be seen with me.”

(not to discount the very real risk that comes with being perceived as weird. You get not to want that. You don’t get to shame me for it.)[27]

[jemariel]: This feels related to a post I saw a while back about how so much of fandom is rooted in neuro divergence. The hyper fixation, the “squeeing”, the encyclopedic knowledge. And how, as fandom gets more and more mainstream, those hallmarks of being a Fan get tagged as *cringey* Idk. Makes you think. [28]

[skeletonwithakeyboard]: This is an interesting Phenomenon. Personally for me, it’s really hard for me to get past the amount of mockery that fan fiction has got and still get to this day because people are using fan fiction as a way of expressing themselves and their version of a story. And the fact that many people are still mocking it because it now in the public eye really upsets me.

So many unfunny “Oh she reads/writes fan fiction” Jokes, also shipping has also been getting more attention as of late and idk how to feel about that either.

All and all I’m on the fence about it :/ but I don’t wanna gatekeep, so I’m gonna try to be optimistic[29]

[kurakaji Notes]: #slowly but surely im becoming less like #embarrassed to say i just write fanfic #like i dont give a shit anymore #and turns out! some of my friends do too! #and i wouldnt have known that if i hadnt said anything myself! #and honestly im proud of the communities ive been part of #and that more people are comfortable writing it #or sharing stuff they wrote for themselves (that's me) #hhhhhhhh [30]

Sanitization of Fandom To Make It More Marketable

[drstrangewillseeyounow]: popular media is curated and sanitized and stripped of most of its controversy in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. But that also makes that audience expect all media to be curated and sanitized in the same way.[31]


Hmm. I think it’s best put this way:

Fanfic is just like any other story. Someone had an idea, nurtured it, wrote it, and shared it with the world. And just like any story or content in the world, fanfic is not written to, nor meant to, please everyone. Do not attack people for telling a story that is messy, gritty, real, or anything other than, as said above, sanitized media youre used to.

Stories are meant to be told. By no means does that story have to be pleasant to you. Read the fanfic you want to read and ignore the ones you don’t.

Just be kind and have fun[32]

[askerror87]: Going off of this, I wonder if this is why I’ve begun to see more and more posts regarding purity culture show up on my dash? Because of the people entering fandom spaces who are expecting every media they come across to be tidy and ‘proper’?[33]

[monprecieuxx Notes]: #This #god this #I have been fearing where we are going to end up since all this has started #it was kinks at first and its gotten even more progressively niche areas of this culture #and im going to be honest the mainstream has not been our home #and it will never be #I always say we are comfortable where we Made our space and if they can't accept all of us they can't have #us at all #which we know they never will accept us wholly #like the rb said #we're burned by normalcy and we bare our teeth when threatened and I very much fall in that #I dont want to mainstream this niche because i know they will tale what they deem safe and profitable - for them - and leave the rest to die #fandoms deserve to thrive and live for the people whose older generations started them #daerambles.txt[34]

[tryingthisfangirlthing Notes]: #why doesn't this movie have an ao3 fandom tag? #fandom meta #food for thought #i agree with a lot of this #it really is interesting how the internet has made niche things open to the public #and while i'm happy to welcome people who may discover new parts of themselves in these niche spaces (considering i'm one of those who did) #these spaces should not be per force or per se sanitized for the newcomers #obviously there's no way to put a big warning sign where absolutely everyone will see it #but the queer spaces do it better than most (and then get criticized for having the things they're warning about *sigh*) #anyways #thinky stuff #what queue've been waiting for[35]


Important info that can be shared. Fanfiction is not mainstream fiction. It exists because mainstream is often bland, and either ignores or misrepresents people and realities. Fanfiction is often less romantic than “Romance” novels.

And let me remind you, there is no such thing as “Thought Crime”.

Tag it. Filter it.[36]


Ooh, so many thoughts.

First, I hope you find your tagger, ao3commentoftheday.

Second, I think it’s useful, at least for television, to remember that in traditional, airwaves television, the show was not the product, and the audience wasn’t the customer; the audience was the product, and the advertisers were the customer.

The show didn’t need to be good, per se, it just needed to be good enough to reel in the product (audience) that the customers (advertisers) wanted. And they generally wanted white males, aged 18-35.

But the audience does not consist of brain-dead guinea pigs who mindlessly swallow whatever random assortment of images you throw in front of us. We consume the stimuli – worse (as far as media conglomerates are concerned) we interpret.

To put it another way, we don’t just ingest, we digest, which gets to my third thought about people who don’t understand fanfiction: producer vs. consumer is not a thing. In my experience, when people don’t understand fanfiction, what they really aren’t understanding are the dynamics of story transmission (I don’t have a better phrasing for this). Basically, society doesn’t have some exclusive guild of story makers fenced off from everybody else – a guild that gets to open their gates and corral who they want into their auditorium, keeping everybody else out, and then dictating to their chosen ones what to think of the story.

As a storyteller, you do not get to dictate who comes to your story (and this is as true for fanfiction writers as it is for major production companies); you do not get to dictate what the audience thinks of your story; you do not get to dictate how the audience processes those thoughts on your story; and you most certainly do not get to dictate what people do in their free time.

Fourth, and then I’ll stop: Fanfiction is life, anyone who says differently is selling something (to paraphrase Westley from A Princess Bride). It’s hard to talk about fan activity (fiction, art, filk, etc) without talking capitalism. Popular media is curated in order to sell stuff. And, honestly, it is possible to curate well (in theory). But the point is the sale. Fanfiction is not about the sale. People who have a problem with fanfiction tend to not understand why someone would spend time and energy on something other than the Sale ™.[37]


I think they’re coming from the fact that in any kind of media that people pay for, the creators do, somewhat, care about what the audience wants. Because if the audience doesn’t want their creation, they don’t get paid. If me and 10,000 of my closest friends tweet about how we hate Insert Show Here’s Obnoxious Egotistical Male Protagonist and hate that he’s starting a romance with the female protagonist, the creators have reason to change those things, because if we get annoyed enough to stop watching that will translate into less viewers and potentially the show not being renewed.

With your fanfic, or my original writing that I’m not looking to get published, it doesn’t matter how many people dislike it or why they dislike it. I don’t need to please the majority of people who check my stuff out. Don’t like it, don’t keep reading it. Don’t like enough of it, stop reading my stuff entirely. I have no reason to change it because I’m doing this for fun[38]

[evieswritingjournal]: This has made me wonder if this is where the ‘you have posted it on the internet therefore you must be welcome to constructive [or not] criticism’ crowd are coming from. They watch and read media that has been written and edited by professionals whose goal is to sell their product whilst us fanfic writers are writing what we love and are sharing that love around. Yes, some of us could do with improving our writing (and I include myself in that number) but that shouldn’t matter. We are sharing our ideas and our love of the fandom not selling our ability to write.[39]

[putri900] Notes: #i havent seen it out so well #as fanfiction gets more mainstream yet stays authentic; people have grown more outraged at what people want to do with their work #percisely bc it isnt curated or sanitized #it really is terrible because i feel it holds back a lot of fandom creatives from doing what they want at times #cause the growing crowd of puritans has gotten pretttyy toxic[40]

[isobelcreates] Notes: #fanfiction #fanfic is becoming more and more mainstream while still remaining largely transgressive #ao3 #solid advice #top tip: as long as your creations are tagged correctly you can write about anything. yes *anything*. #do not come into a space that isn't for you and get upset about it #be kind #queer #marginalised people #neurodivergence #interesting #fandom history #not quite sure how else to tag this [41]

[cultleaderklaus] Notes:#i know this is long but at least read the first post #it's exactly what ive been sayinggggg #fandom being more mainstream is squeezing out all the stuff that makes fandom good #and idk how to stop it[42]

[cacodaemonia]: This is really interesting and I think it might explain at least some of the recent purity culture insanity infecting fandom. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that a story can address a certain topic something without endorsing it, or that fan creators might use particular characters or themes to explore anything from personal issues to larger societal issues. There’s so much nuance and passion in fan works that you just do not get with mass media. New people coming into fandom spaces need to stop seeing everything through Hollywood’s one dimensional lens that’s all about appealing to as many people as possible, just enough so that they will consume/spend money on something. Fan works, on the other hand, are about telling stories (whether they’re 100 words or 500K, smut or domestic AU, or canon fix-it) that people actually care about and just want to share because.[43]

Moderating For Objectionable Content Has Both A Monetary and Social Price


Also, if you don’t like Ao3’s moderation policy, their site code is open source. You are welcome to copy it, set up your own site, clone the existing archive, and then try to figure out how to moderate your “too vile to exist” content of choice without using crowdsourced moderation that leaves your site vulnerable too bad faith censorship attacks like queer fanfic communities have historically suffered in the past. Go on. I’ll wait.

And keep waiting, because the cost of that kind of moderation is in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars per year. It’s not possible for a non-profit. Nor would it be particularly effective because, as previously mentioned, the archival code is open source! It would be near effortless for the censored authors to set up their own archive for that content. It does not make sense to dump that much money down the drain to shift content from archiveofourown to archiveofourownhahafuckyou.

The best solution possible is introducing a tag category for underage/nonconsensual/etc works which you can choose to exclude from your search results.

Yes, this doesn’t prevent fictional child pornography from being hosted somewhere on the internet. But just because you want something to be gone doesn’t mean it’s possible for people to do that for you. Ao3 couldn’t get rid of the content you hate if they wanted to, at least with tags for it you personally don’t have to see it.[44]

[crazy-pages]: Actually you know what I’m not done.

Wanting Ao3 to moderate its content it’s kind of like tasking hypodermic needle developers with ensuring their needles never get used for recreational drugs, and making them responsible for it if they fail to do so. You’re asking people who provide a product to go into law enforcement and investigation. Enforcement that will increase the cost per product tens of thousands of times, in a market where literally anyone can provide an identical product without the enforcement.

And, I really shouldn’t have to say this because it’s so obvious, but if you’re about to say “just ban the underage and/or rape tags”, congrats! You have solved nothing. All that happens now is people don’t tag that stuff, and now people end up seeing that stuff when they don’t want to.

The only way to prevent a non-profit fiction hosting site from being host to content you find objectionable -without crowdsourced moderation, which has historically led to the attack and extermination of queer communities- is to not have non-profit fiction hosting sites. It’s just not a thing which can be done.

Any system which gives you the ability to read and post fan fiction for free without worrying about bigots being able to take it down, also gives other people the ability to read and post content you find objectionable. No one has ever devised a way around this. If you’re the first to figure it out on the kind of budget a non-profit can sustain, then with absolutely no exaggeration, let me tell you that you will get a Nobel prize for your contributions to algorithmic science.

Until you can do that, fuck off.[45]

Fandom Culture Vs Terrain Markers


yes, i think fanfic is like any other subculture - if you don't know the rules of the community, you miss a lot of nuance or, alternatively, put undue emphasis on something that is more of a convention than an artistic choice

what i mean is that some things (phrases, story beats, certain points of focus) that pop up in a lot of fanfic (and can differ from fandom to fandom) function more as markers that you know the terrain/culture

sure, you can judge the first post-silent film era talkies by today's standards (or, say, a bollywood romp by the standards of a UK kitchen sink drama), but you'll be missing the point

On The Lack of Femmeslash

[willowtreewillowtree Notes]: #it makes me kinda sad that even on ao3 there’s not a lot of f/f fic #so obv thinking about why that is #and i’ve come up with a few reasons #one it’s easy/common to make them friends #idk why that happens more for f/f than m/m i’m very tired atm #two f/f ships usually end up as side ships #which are often v cute but still not the main focus #three there’s just not as much books/media/etc with well developed female characters and fem relationships #which is true #plus there’s not a lot of media made with an excess of female characters #cause you’ll get a lot of m/m and f/m ships just with bg characters #hhh i’m too tired to keep thinking but anyway #freddie speaks #so i can find this later [46]

[gay-impressionist Notes]: #seing how little green there is in these graphs made me so angry smh #i'm so tired of wlw erasure #and invisibility[47]

[thewrongbookshop] most media has fewer and less developed female characters. Even when they have well written female characters it's rare that they really talk to each other. It's hard to read into interactions the shippy way if the characters never interact.


Going on a bit of a tangent here, but something that really stood out to me, with regard to those graphs, is the substantial difference in representation between M/M and F/F ship types. On only one of those graphs is F/F substantial enough to merit a numerical value, and even then it doesn’t hit 6% of all fics. And that’s on AO3! The site where it and M/M combined make up almost 50% of all ships! (I’m curious what those graphs would look like if you just looked at fic published in the last five years; I’m guessing all would look more balanced, by however little).

I reflected on that for a few days. Why, even on AO3, are lesbian ships so underrepresented? It likely isn’t ingrained misogyny, and for obvious reasons I dismissed homophobia as a cause. And then it hit me (the fact that it took me as long as it did speaks to my privileged chromosomal situation).

Look at the various stories represented on all of these sites, regardless of medium. Across most genres, male members of the cast outnumber female members of the cast. If you have a five-man band situation in your fantasy story with one woman on the team–not all that implausible if you go back a disturbingly short time–you have ZERO combinations of main characters that form a F/F pair, whereas with the same group you have SIX potential M/M combinations. SIX! Even two girls to three guys still has ONE F/F combination to THREE M/M combinations.

I mean, you can (and have my blessing to) genderbend male characters, but the fact of this titanic difference speaks to a deeper issue. Putting aside in-canon character dynamics and a ton of other factors varying by individual book/show/movie/etc., there is a HUGE numerical schew in favour of M/M relationships (going just by number of characters per show, M/M relationships should actually outnumber M/F relationships; isn’t THAT an encouraging thought?).

So, my thoughts on how to fix this. Mainstream media is slowly shifting in the right direction on this front (some sections, such as Hollywood, doing so as slowly and lazily and cravenly as they can), though the momentum is low enough the ball could stop rolling that way with terrifying speed. Big studios and big publishing companies–the guys who can best afford to, shame on them–are disinclined to take risks on works they don’t think will sell. And even if they weren’t, there’s a serious filter winnowing out most writers/actors/potential directors before they make it anything like big. Which means new blood doesn’t enter the big leagues via the conventional routes any faster than a trickle.

So the best thing you can do, if you’ve the art and the craft and most importantly the passion, is to create. If big entertainment isn’t telling the stories you wanna hear, tell them yourself. Whether you write or draw or sculpt (isn’t stop-motion underrated? Watch Kubo and the Two Strings if you don’t believe me), do your thing, share it with others, listen to them, and do your thing some more.

There is a huge self-publishing boom going on right now, and it is changing the face of the publishing industry; books that would never have seen the light of day ten or even five years ago are making their authors five and six figures (THIS IS STILL A TINY MINORITY, BUT MUCH LESS TINY THAN IN TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING!), and representation of minorities of all stripes is rising.

For all of us, if you have the passion to write, write. Write fanfiction. Write original fiction. Write experimental fiction. Write whatever you want to. And if you feel like it, and when your work is polished enough, get it published. Self-publishing isn’t easy, but the whole publishing process never was. Do what you can, and even if “what you can” is just a teeny little one-shot about two girls in love, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Notes: #fanfiction #lgbtq+ #gender representation #writing #publishing #self-publishing #my additions #seriously it took me 30 years to realize if you have fewer women in your story you also have fewer potential pairs of women in your story #feminism [48]

Food Metaphors, and Fandom As Your Local Diner Serving Up What the Chain Restaurants Don't Offer

[spaci1701]:Maybe we could just make it a condition of entry into any Fandom space that they have to read that one SGA sentient cookie fic. If they can handle that, they’ll be fine.[49]

[dragonnan]: Fanfic is a beer tasting festival. If you’re there it’s because you love beer (ie: reading) and more than likely it’s because you’re sick of perusing the shelves and only finding variations of Miller, Busch, and Heineken. Maybe you want something that tastes like coffee and chocolate. Maybe you tried the cranberry lager but hated it so you spit it out. Did you leave the event over a single gross beer? NO! You moved on to a pale ale that fit your palette better. That’s fanfic. You are invited to come inside and sample. Yes, you’ll taste stuff you hate and other stuff you’re ambivalent about but if you like beer you’ll also find stuff you absolutely love. And if you like to read there’s a fanfic for you![50]


Wow, wish I could find it… but there was a post I read probably a couple years ago, that pointed out that Fanfic has rules just like any genre. That is you pick up a book that says it is a Murder Mystery, there are certain beats you expect, certain character types, and certain tropes you expect. So, if this Murder Mystery ends up with no murder, no murderer, no red herring, no detective, and no big reveal- you will feel cheated, unsure of what you read, and be constantly seeking the familiar pattern that isn’t there.

For Fanfiction, there are things that people expect when they are accustomed to fanfic. The Trigger Warnings, an understanding that the reader has some familiarity with the source material (ie- if you are reading Spirk fanfic, presumably you have seen at least a few episodes or movies of Star Trek, and are aware who Kirk is, what a Vulcan is), and that there are favourite tropes such as Oops One Bed or Enemies To Lovers. You expect to find Rare Pairs, Coffee Shop AU, Canon Compliant Up to a Point, or Smut Fics. Someone more accustomed to Harlequin Romances or the latest NY Times Best Selling Mystery, will not have the lay of the land for Fanfiction.

I am not putting this as well as this older post I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. That we who write and who read fanfic, have a whole different understanding of what we are doing and consuming, than those for whom fanfic is some brand new experience. Much like someone who is used to big chain restaurants doesn’t know what to make of the mom'n'pop diner all the locals rave about with its peeling paint, 90s decor, and 9 page menu that has a random page of Greek or Hungarian dishes, while locals know the owner inherited the place from his two aunts, one of which cooked her mama’s recipes from the old country and the other cooked breakfast all day.

And what the previous poster up top said, is also very true. Women took shows, movies, and books that were written by men about a bunch of other men for a male audience, and inserted women, changed the sex of some established characters, etc. (Something I can say I have done in a lot of my own fanfics) Just as every group has done, from the Whovians to the Supernatural fans, and everywhere else. We tell stories about that scene we wished had been in there were Kara and Lena hugged and made the other promise to come back in one piece. We have Coffee Shop AUs where Spock and Kirk fall in love over espresso and poetry. We create head canons about Eomer with a foreign healer im Rohan. We write mini-sagas about Captain Annamaria in her spaceship as a futuristic AU of PotC. We have a multi-chapter fic that is just a sweet, slow, cute romance for Sam Wilson x OC. We play around with What-If scenarios of if two fandoms crossing over, or what S3 would have looked like if S2’s cliffhanger finale hadn’t been the end of the series.

Fanfic is a wish-fulfilment in written form, for many who don’t have their expectations met in the main stream media they enjoy.[51]

Fandom As An Ever Increasing Speedway

[ineedthesons]: I think some of it, a lot of it, has to do with, well it’s not quite the right word but speed.

I’m a Fandom Old at the ripe age of 32. I and many of my peers “grew up” as it were during a time when fandom was mostly on forums, and livejournal, maybe AIM or Skype. It was easy with those sorts of media–where posts were slower to cycle through– to get to have conversations with others. Get to know the BNFs of your fandom, learn that they’re people as much as your writers/artists/whatever. And since fanworks were looked down on you got to be, well, friends, with these people because you had a common thing that you had to hide. And as well no one was pandering to you; you bought your own forum space, maybe had tiny ads but nothing huge.

Now, how do you engage with other fans? Twitter, Tumblr. Reddit. The platforms are designed to get eyeballs on ads more than anything else, so they’re not really conducive to that sort of community building as you got in Ye Olden Times. How often have you seen a meta post, one that might have had its own forum topic, and wanted to respond but it’s gone all too quick pushed down off the dash or downvoted because The Prevailing Opinion Is That It Sucks? It’s doable, of course, to make community but much more difficult than it used to be. And there’s a change, too, where fanwork-makers are considered content creators a la youtube, with all that entails. People think their opinions matter more than they should, because they’re used to those content creators doing what they want (in order to make money) instead of remembering that those BNFs who make the fanworks, they’re just fans doing what they want.

Letting people know, hey don’t be an asshole and don’t take this shit as seriously as to make ridiculous demands of people who are just making some fun creative stuff. That might help. I’d like to find a platform akin to forums of old, but that ain’t easy. [52]

[loganelfreeces]:I think that fandom used to be smaller and closer nit. It was easier in the early days for people to find a community they could join and ask for help in. And while I adore AO3 as it is, due to a lack of any kind of messaging capabilities besides comments, it can be difficult to find specific people to talk to.

I’m not on Twitter anymore, but while most Social Media give you options to publically or privately talk to someone, I don’t think a lot of people really talk to one another on those platforms. So it’s still difficult to find a community where you can ask for help.

We can’t change how Twitter works and I think it’s best that AO3 is an Archive, not a messaging site. But I think everyone in fandom needs to try to be more approachable and talk to each other more.

Creating posts about your fandom experiences, sending more messages to people in public spaces, creating more threads and discussions.

We’ve got the tools to offer people the chance to learn more about fandom. But it can be a little intimidating to try to talk to someone you’re not sure is even going to respond to an ask about what fandom is really like. We need to work on making fandom feel like a community again, by encouraging everyone to be more actively engaged in it.[53]

Protect AO3 From Corporations And Capitalism

[babycharmander]: Also it should really, really be pointed out that although yes, fanfic and fandom in general are becoming more mainstream, that doesn’t necessarily mean more “safe.” There is still a very, VERY alarming number of people who think that all fanworks are BAD and SHOULD NOT EXIST and should be TAKEN OFF THE INTERNET in order to protect……. corporations and rich white authors.

People like that (and the corporations and rich white authors they’re driving to protect) are the reason AO3 exists.

When you try to “bring AO3 down” you are actively fighting against the preservation of fandom and fighting on the side of the people who see corporations and the rich as more important than marginalized individuals. Not to say you can’t criticize AO3—no site is perfect—but to want it taken down is foolish and backwards.

…on another note, while yes, some people may dislike the things that you like, that doesn’t mean those people should go into the tags of that thing to scream about how much they hate it. Please do not do this. (Especially not for tiny fandoms who have maybe three fics to their name ;A; please leave us alone)[54]

[usearki] Notes: #Please don't forget that if Disney had thought about it 10 or 20 years ago then Ao3 would not exist right now #Ao3 is the only thing standing between us and the rabid capitalist beast and don't you forget it #so next time they have a donation drive - just remember that #Long post [55]

AO3 Tagging Supports Consent

[ stopmakingthosedecisions]: I love the detailed tagging system AO3 has because it starts and ends with the idea of consent. You gotta know what you’re walking into, especially if that’s Extremely Niche fanfiction that has some unusual tropes. I fervently wish it was a Thing with all literature, so you could browse the tags like you check food labels for anything you’re allergic to.[56]

[lucidreblogging Notes]: #fandom #long post #interesting #i literally wish every single bit of media ever conformed to AO3s tagging system #movies books comics music #AO3 has raised my standards of being able to find media tailored to my exact desires right at that moment[57]


[theinternetwearingatrenchcoat]: Love everything mentioned before me, and also thought this phrase was particularly poetic "If you write fanfic, you are also an author, so you are also dead."[58]

[moon6shadow]:[If you write fanfic, you are also an author, so you are also dead. Once you release your ideas into the wild, other people can and will do weird things with them. The sooner you accept that, the better.]

I’m mentally screaming about the fact that fandom is at the stage that this is even on the list because so much This.

Notes: #fandom #moony’s thoughts #this makes me so happy #fancontent of fancontent is still fancontent #and should be treated as such[59]

[j1sheath Notes]: #someone needs to do a Ted talk about how straight teens are getting into fic on places like wattpad and it’s becoming mainstream but in a #cis lens and the fic author to best seller pipe line but most of it is still straight #and it’s always the WORST people #like Cassandra Claire or el james or that Harry styles fic

[deathbars Notes]" #i see anti ao3 posts every fucking day and im getting real sick of it #yeah i know you think you're 'progressive' and have the best intentions in mind but #so did every country that decided burning books was a good idea :) #so shut the fuck up #fanfic is free speech #and thought crimes aren't real.[60]

[spanish-moth Notes]: #ao3 #more stuff about ao3 #people will always write queer and dark fics #but ao3 allows them to be labeled #which lets readers search for or avoid certain things #and thats valuable to everyone[61]

[elgringo300]: i always find it kind of weird whenever I see a post saying, “here’s how to write good fanfiction!” It seems like the point of fanfiction isn’t that its necessarily good. At its core, its wish fulfilment. So whenever you see someone saying, “hey, this fanfiction is doing it wrong,” I mean, you might not like it buddy, but that doesn’t mean its “wrong.” Its fanfiction. It can’t really be “wrong.”[62]

[youreastargirl]: As a teenager reading fanfic for the first time I actually commented on the fic that I really liked it but didn’t think it was realistic because it strayed from the main pairing. The person kindly and politely replied ‘that’s what makes this fanfic’ and I legit had an ‘oh’ moment. Not only did I vow to never question someone’s fic again, but it also gave me permission to do what I liked and saw and express it in fanfic, and it was a revelation- I got it. I wish I could find this person and thank Them for very kindly responding to a bratty teen being a jerk and opening my eyes to possibilities.

[romancewritingandwinchesters]: This is beautiful. This is a wonderful manifesto for people being able to write their truth and share it, and let it be simply read or not read, without the massive outrage and finger wagging and content shaming.[63]


Repeating this louder for those in the back:

AO3 looks how it does because it’s opposed to censorship. A site less opposed to censorship would also be less into this type of metadata and would have less clear labeling.

This is why I dislike the new wave of purity culture.[64]

[tildathings]" After a long life in mainstream media, finding ao3 in 2010 was like finding a air bubble after years with little oxygen. At that time half of my life was probably already lived, at nearly 40th years old.

In fic storie I found description of characters that were easy to relate to.

Also it started me on a journey of not feeling so alone.

Therefore are this new members of the fandom really scary, always wanting every story to be what THEY LIKE!

Just stop! You can read nearly every book coming out every year and read what you like and know about.

You can see near every tv- series at tv and see what you like and know.

You can go to the movies and see nearly every movie and see what you like and know.


[juliankatzen]: It’s always astounded me how someone will come across a piece of writing or art that they don’t like and get their britches in a bunch, offended that anyone would ever create such content. As if the block feature never existed or something ... 🤔

[ktyxdovahkiin]: It is worthwhile to be aware of “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys, which is after all fanfic aimed at redressing certain omissions and unpleasant elisions in Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”. That book is perhaps one of the best examples of this restitutive function of fanfic.[66]

[ karadin]: There has always been fandom, look at the works of Shakespeare, Dante, it’s nothing new. (however once again, it’s the fandom of works from men celebrated, and the fandom works of women denigrated)[67]

[demishock Notes]: #fandom #excellent points all #I miss when the internet felt like home #feels like I'm being evicted by the same assholes who used to make fun of me as a teenager #except now I'm an adult and I don't have to put up with it #also count me in as one of the people who had no idea most fanfic was straight pairings #lol[68]

[lovefictiontoomuch]: YES. Fanfiction needs to be appreciated more. In the immortal words of a tag I saw once: #Fanfiction; the story isn't over until we say it is


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