The Worst Thing That's Ever Happened to Fanfiction?

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Title: The Worst Thing That's Ever Happened to Fanfiction?
Creator: Lelila
Date(s): around 2002?
Medium: online
External Links: a bad thing?, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore. The Worst Thing That's Ever Happened to Fanfiction? is an essay by Lelila, the archivist at Organa-zation where this meta was hosted.

Some Topics Discussed

The Post

Let me preface this by saing that this is my opinion. Your milage, of course, may vary. Feel free to refute this, or any other editiorial, by writing one of your own!

Like most people my age and younger, I was intruduced to the wonderful world of fanfic via the internet. When I stumbled across Fanfix (back before it had its own domain), I though God had sent me a wonderful gift. And in many ways, He had; not only was I able to fulfill my desire for fic, but I met (via email anway) a lot of cool fellow fans, many of whom are still close friends today.

But as my tastes broadend and varied, I went looking in other places for fic as well. Through those people I met on the 'net, I discovered printzines. To my surprise and delight, the quality of the stories was (in general, anyway) better than what I'd found on the net. Plus, there was fanart! A truly rare thing on the net. I even got brave and, with a little goading from one of the editors, submitted a story to one. The process I went through with editing that first (and subsiquent) zine submission was great; it really made me think about everything I'd written and tightened up all the characterizations and plot holes, not to mention catching all of my grammar and punctuation errors. No wonder the stuff in 'zines was so good: the editors really edited!

Around this same time, I developed a passion for The X-Files. So, while trolling around the net looking for XF fic, I found My first thought was, "The motherload!" There was fic about everything there, all neatly catagorized, sortable and searchable. If I wanted stuff based on last week's XF episode, all I had to do was sort by date.

My delight, however, quickly faded. For every one decent (not even good, just decent) fic that I found, there were nine that sucked worse than most black holes. Some of the ideas were good, but it was achingly obvious that many of these stories had never been seen by anybody's eyes except the author's before being posted. The grammar and punctuation in some of them is so bad as to render them unreadable.

I'm not going to turn this into a missive about 'net vs. print fandom (that's another article), but there is an essential question that these two issues share: Has our internet driven thirst for instant gratification pushed us to sacrifice quality? In case you didn't know, everything on is automated; the webmaster never has to see the story if s/he isn't interested. The same is true of the feedback. The author or reader can just load it right into the system themselves.

As I noted before, the 'zine editors I have worked with edit the stories, and not just for punctuation and grammar, but for content as well. As a webmistress, I can't say I go that far, but I do correct noticible spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, and I have been known to send a story back to the author if I felt it needed work. None of this happens at The crap reigns supreme there, simply in the name of allowing people to get their stuff up and out to the public. And while that is perhaps a wonderful idea in theory, if the people over there truly want to be the place to go for fanfic, shouldn't they be fostering an atmosphere where writers can go for help and create a community where the objective isn't necessarily the stories themselves, but the bettering of fic in general? The comment system had that potential, but most reviews there are one-liners that read something to the effect of, "Great story! I luuuuuuuuved it!"

Unfortunatly, because "instant gratification" is the attitude at, and good stories are hard to find, it lowers the bar for everyone in the fic community, especially people who are just discovering fandom. Personally, I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week, and I sincerely hope that anyone who is more than just occassionaly involved in fandom can see that good things come to those who wait.