Fansplaining: The Money Question

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Podcast Episode
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Episode Title: Fansplaining:
Length: 1:08:40
Date: Oct 31 2018
External Links: Episode at Fansplaining—About (dead link), Archived version

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Fansplaining: The Money Question is an episode of the podcast Fansplaining by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel.

For others in the series, see Fansplaining.


In Episode 86, “The Money Question,” Flourish and Elizabeth complete their inadvertent DISCOURSE TRILOGY with a conversation about the monetization of fanfiction. The first half focuses on the Archive of our Own, a nonprofit fanfic archive that strongly discourages authors from monetizing their work. The second half focuses on Wattcon, a recent conference run by Wattpad, a reading-and-writing app that welcomes fanfic—and, as a for-profit company, both makes money from fanfic and encourages fic writers to think of themselves as entrepreneurs.


Topics Discussed


Elizabeth Minkel: Right, right. Yeah. And I think some of them were, some of these posts were sheer ignorance, they just didn’t really know. They'd be like, “why did they need that much money?" And people will be like, "servers are expensive.” And they'd be like, “oh.”

Flourish Klink: Right. “It did not occur to me that when you have four million fanfictions that millions of people are reading all the time, that even though it’s text, guess what?!” [laughing]

Elizabeth Minkel: Right. And then, you know, there was one post that got a lot of people yelling at the original poster. They were like, “why don't you just put it on the cloud?” And there are many reasons why that was not a great statement. One of which was, you know, obviously the, the cloud didn’t exist when the Archive was founded. But more importantly, the whole point is that the OTW owns the servers.

Flourish Klink: Owns it! In fact, that was one of the rallying cries, “we own the servers.” And that was what it was founded to do.

Elizabeth Minkel: I think if, you know, if you’ve heard literally any news story about the cloud, quote unquote “the cloud,” which is obviously a bunch of different sites, not just Amazon Web Services or whatever, you mostly know about like...people hacking Jennifer Lawrence’s nudes, and stuff like that. Right? Generally, the cloud winds up in the news for being not a secure space.

Flourish Klink: Yeah.

Elizabeth Minkel: And so it’s not even like, that wouldn’t even just be giving up ownership of the servers. That’d be putting them in very precarious...

Flourish Klink: In a variety of ways!

Elizabeth Minkel: Vulnerable. Yes, yes. That’s some of the discourse that was spreading.

And so what I wound up writing about in my piece was, once you dug past this initial “LOL, why do they need money” thing? You got a lot of people who, if you just clicked on a few of their posts, hate the AO3 and hate the OTW. And a lot of it is because of the content that they allow.

This brings us back to the purity culture conversation. And since this is what I wrote so much about, and this isn’t really about monetization, I don’t think we should go too much into it. But you know, there were definitely people who, when you dug a little deeper, they were questioning the money thing, but really they were saying “why would you ever give money to an organization that protects stories about pedophilia?” Or, you know, some less pure and slightly more wanky things like “protects the ship I don’t like.”