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Mailing List
Name: FCA-L
Date(s): November 1999-mid-2000s (merged with Yahoo! Groups Jan. 9, 2003)
Moderators/List Maintainers: Cereta and Justine
Type: discussion
Fandom: pan-fandom
URL: FCA-L, Archived version (Yahoo! Group)
http://www.trickster.org/fca/ Fanfic Critics Association List
archive link
FCA logo.
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
message history on the Yahoo! Groups site

FCA-L was a public mailing list for critical discussion of fannish topics. The name stands for "Fanfic Critics Association List", but the scope of the list moved very quickly beyond discussion of fanfic into more general fannish topics, and wound up being a place for meta of all sorts.

The list started up in late October 1999 and was very active for several years, only slowing down in the mid-2000s. It was founded by Cereta and Sandy Justine.

Description from a fan in the early 2000s: "Wide-ranging, with occasional Free and Frank Exchanges of Views." [1]

FCA-L also had an associated website, the Fanfic Symposium, for essays about fannish topics, which were occasionally referred to or discussed on the list. The Symposium was updated until the end of 2006. The first years the website also had a message board for discussion, that eventually was lost because of a server crash, and replaced by an LJ community ffsymposium.[2]

Some History: From Apology for Criticism

From the November 4, 1999 essay by Cereta at Fanfic Symposium:

About a week ago, on little more than a lark, I threw up a page starting something called the Fanfiction Critics Association. I'd mentioned the then-fictional organization in my mock autobiography here at the Symposium as a joke, but then started thinking that it wasn't such a bad idea. As you may have guessed, I enjoy critical inquiry into fanfic (well, duh), and identifying other like-minded individuals is often difficult. A fair amount of net fandom (I can't speak for non-net fandom, not being involved in it) is deeply hostile towards critical inquiry, especially (I hate to say it) the fandom where I spend the most time (The Sentinel). When I posted the FCA page, it was with the intention of giving people interested in and supportive of critical inquiry a way to identify themselves, with perhaps the vague hope that we might start some conversations somewhere down the line. I really hadn't thought much further than people, as a friend put it, "putting the graphics on their pages and looking cool."

Now, I am many things, but naïve is not one of them. I knew that the idea of the FCA would not be universally applauded, and I waited for the negative reaction. Thus far, I have received only one e-mail objecting to the possibility of an FCA discussion list that would publicly discuss publicly posted fanfic (in fairness, this person told me "several people" had contacted her with concerns). The bone of contention would seem to be this sentence in the FCA "charter": "Any piece of writing published in a public venue, such as a web page, archive, fanzine, or public mailing list, is subject to public examination and response."

Should the FCA develop beyond a statement into some sort of community, I know that there will be those in fandom who will not like it, and who will find its presence threatening. To them, I can only offer this Apology, and hope for peaceful coexistance. This is why I do what I do. I hope it helps.

FCA-L Frequently Asked Questions

What We Are

  • The Fanfiction Critics Association is dedicated to critical examinations of fanfiction.

What We're Not

  • The FCA is not about tearing down, tearing apart, or tearing into fanfic. "Critical" does not necessarily mean negative. We like fanfic, or we wouldn't be here.

What We Believe

  • The FCA holds the following tenets:
  • Fanfiction is a legitimate form of creative expression, inherently no more or less worthwhile than any other creative endeavor.
  • As such, fanfiction is open to the same critical examinations afforded published writing, movies, television, and music.
  • Any piece of writing published in a public venue, such as a web page, archive, fanzine, or public mailing list, is subject to public examination and response.
  • Critical examination is not an attack.
  • Ultimately, criticism is an expression of appreciation for a genre, and all criticism should be conducted in this spirit.

What We Do: FCA-L

  • To provide a venue for critical discussion of fanfiction, the FCA has created a listserv. FCA-L. Membership in the FCA does not require joining the list, but all are certainly welcome. [3]

Fan Reaction

This sounds interesting -- though frankly, over the years, all the whining about "we want more criticism" and "they (the fluffy bunnies--the anti-critique people) are repressing us" has become rather suspect to me.

I think the real reason that people don't critique more has nothing to do with needing the right forum, or fluffy-bunny repression: the real reason is, critism is hard and time consuming, and we're mostly pathetic whiners who want someone thoughtful and clever to critique our stories, but never seem to find the time to do thoughtful and clever critiques of other people's stories.

But, just in case I'm wrong, and this list turns out to be just the forum fandom has always needed, unleashing untold quantities of useful critique unto fandom, I hope they keep an archive. [4]

For those interested in more fun. The FCA is not fandom specific, but the list is great fun and a extremely good resource for those wanting to critique fanfic, discuss critique, and simply be free to rants and rave about improving the quality of fanficti on [5]. [6]


  1. ^ Alternate Universes - Mary Ellen Curtin
  2. ^ Fanfic Symposium Announcement page (Accessed 4 October 2008)
  3. ^ Fanfiction Critics Association, Archived version
  4. ^ post by Sandy Hereld, November 29, 1999 to Virgule-L, quoted on Fanlore with permission
  5. ^ "fanficti on" is an ironic typo.
  6. ^ from S/X, Lies, and Fiction