FicTalk

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Mailing List
Name: FicTalk, or FT, also "Chaos FicTalk" and "Chaos Fictalk"
Date(s): 1995 - 2006
Moderated: Lisa? SciNut?
Founder(s): Chael Hall
Type: discussion of fanfic
Fandom: The X-Files
URL: X-Philes.com - Mailing Lists - Fictalk, Archived version
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FicTalk was an unmoderated mailing list dedicated to discussing the writing and reading of X-Files fanfiction. Companion to the X-Files-Fanfic list, FicTalk hosted much of the meta-conversation about X-Files fanfiction from 1995 until 1998. FicTalk was privately owned and hosted on chaos.x-philes.com.

The list made a move in September 1996: "We've moved the fictalk mailing list to the chaos.taylored.com server. This means that it now has a digest version!" [1]

In 1997, FicTalk hosted the first (and last) Morley Awards honoring excellence in fanfiction. On November 21, 1997, the list held an awards ceremony that included acceptance speeches written by the winning authors.

The list was discontinued in 2006.

Some Descriptions and Comments

It was described by one of its creators:

With over 130 subscribers, the fictalk mailing list is full of intelligent and meaningful discussion of X-Files fan fiction, the creative process, news of developments in the community, and research for fan fiction. Though meant to create a critical discourse between readers and writers that might make for fan fiction greater in quality and scope, the fictalk list is also just a comfortable place to talk about the fanfic we love among like-minded folks.

To achieve this, the list offers THE FICTALK PROMISE — if an author posts a request for public feedback on a fanfic recently posted to the x-files-fanfic list, they will recieve [sic] it within 48 hours — guaranteed. [2]
It was presented as a safe haven from the non-moderated Usenet by one of its administrators, Gil Trevizo. [3]

There has been a thread here on why people still read this newsgroup with the archives and the mailing lists. Well, this is *exactly* why a lot of people choose to use x-files-fanfic instead of the newsgroup—there is little if nothing that can be done to protect people from this kind of abuse on the newsgroup.

Something like this could never happen on x-files-fanfic or fictalk (and I doubt it would happen on any of the non-automated mailing lists either), because those lists are moderated. Flames are not allowed, either on the list or in private email. If a writer is flamed for something they posted on x-files-fanfic, then all they have to do is contact the list administrator, and the administrator can sort things out—unsubscribing the flamer if necessary.

I understand that posting on the newsgroup provides extra distribution of your fanfic (extra not greater—files-fanfic has 940 subscribers now), but if you're looking for protection then you won't find it here. Usenet is a crapshoot and you take your chances. But with x-files-fanfic and fictalk there's [sic] no worries about flames, and with EMXC there's [sic] no worries about plagiarism. So if you're concerned about protection, now you know where to come for it. [later post on the same thread]: Lemme tell you, when the debate got a little hot on fictalk, I emailed every person that unsubscribed during that period, encouraging them NOT to unsubscribe, trying to make people feel comfortable debating issues. Besides addresses that have malfunctioned, I've only unsubscribed two people from a mailing list. Both were on x-files-fanfic—one was child who kept making non-fanfic posts to the list after I asked him not to twice and never recieved [sic] a response until after the fact. The other was a plagiarist, who I offered to listen to and come to some kind of understanding with but ignored me. [4]
A 1998 description:
The X-Files FicTalk mailing list supports a sort of book club dedicated to reading and discussing novel-length X-Files fan fiction. The purpose of the discussion group is to force ourselves to take time to read longer x-files fan fiction. Most stories picked will be more than 200k long. [5]

Some Rules

This message is posted periodically to remind everyone that we are all presumably human and are here because we share a common interest. The following are some ways in which we can keep the list fun. You should read this and try to be a constructive member of the list. [6]

Fictalk is not a moderated discussion list. This means that anyone with posting privileges can post directly to the list. Because posts are not filtered by the list administration, we ask that all list members follow these rules when posting to maintain a civil and focused environment.

The following ARE acceptable topics of conversation on fictalk:

1) Discussion of the show that in some way refers to X-Files fan fiction.
2) Discussion of writing in general.
3) Discussion of particular pieces of fan fiction - constructive criticism, recommendations, etc.
4) Discussions of research related to fan fiction, including research sources or in-depth discussions on topics.
5) Limited announcements of updates to fan fiction related resources. (Once every two weeks or every month is acceptable.)

The following ARE NOT acceptable topics of conversation on fictalk:

1) Accusations of plagiarism. Because of the recent number of false accusations that have been made to damage the reputations of authors, no accusations are allowed. Information about proven allegations must be approved by the list administrators before posting.
2) Flames or personal attacks against members or non-members.
3) Discussions about the relative worth of X-Files fan fiction genres.
4) Discussions about the show in general.
4) Posts longer than 150 lines long. (mail owner-fictalk@lists.x-philes.com for special permission for longer mail.)
5) Fan fiction (fan fiction goes to the x-files-fanfic mailing list.)
The violation of any of the above rules can result in a warning and/or suspension of posting privileges. The continued violation of list rules will result in the member being unsubscribed. [7]

Discussion about Published (posted) Fan Fiction: Fiction posted to the x-files-fanfic mailing list *or* any other public forum can be discussed on fictalk. As a courtesy, prior to beginning discussion about a piece of recently posted fan fiction, please send the Fictalk List and the author the following letters:

Posted to FICTALK prior to discussion:

I would like to discuss the following story on Fictalk:

Title: STORY TITLE
Author: AUTHOR'S NAME <authors@email.addy>
Posted To: FORUM(S); include URL if possible.
Date Posted: DATE

Discussion will begin in 24 hours. The author will be contacted in the meantime.

Dear AUTHOR'S NAME,

The FICTALK mailing list is a place where authors and readers come to discuss X-Files fan fiction. We have chosen your story "STORY TITLE" as a topic of discussion for the mailing list. If you are not already a member of the mailing list, we welcome you to join so that you can read and/or participate in the discussion of your story.

To join the mailing list, send a message to majordomo@lists.x-philes.com with the following command as the body of your message:

SUBSCRIBE FICTALK

Thank you, YOUR NAME

This will give both the author and the list time to prepare themselves for discussion. Please note, this is not meant to discourage the spontantous [sic] discussion of any piece of fan fiction. This process is intended to prompt the in-depth discussion of a piece of recently posted fiction. [8]

Critique Group Process: The Fictalk "Critique Group" is a way for an author to receive critical feedback from multiple points of view prior to publically posting a piece of fiction. It can also be used for an already posted piece an author intends to revise.

1) The author requests that the group do a critique and forwards the list administration a copy of the piece to be posted to the Fictalk web site.
2) A "reading period" is announced by the list admin, based upon the length of the piece.
3) After the reading period, those who want to participate post their critiques to the mailing list for other readers and the author to respond to.

Writing Circle:

The Fictalk Writing Circle is a way for writers to work upon improving various aspects of their writing through exercises that other members find or create.

1) A member finds a writing exercise they would like to work on and receive feedback about. The exercise is posted to the list for interested members to participate in.
2) Short (under 150 lines) answers to exercises can be posted to the list, longer exercises need to be sent to the list administration to be posted to the web site. If they are fan fiction related, they can also be posted to XFF. [9]

1997 Turmoil

In 1997, there was intense turmoil regarding FicTalk (and X-Files-Fanfic) that involved plagiarism, who owns what list, access to fiction and lists, flaming, open letters, power moves, censorship, personal disagreements, unsubscribing...

A Bit of a Play-by-Play from 1998

A fan, Cici Lean, described some of the happenings of this list in her newsletter, The Acid Desk. She mentioned "Chaos Fictalk" in issues #1-6. There was no mention of it in issues #7-10.

CHAOS FICTALK: It's pretty slow here for the Big Boy too, with the Book Club taking up most of the room (kinda disappointing if you haven't read the piece of the month) and the recs are slow and sparse. Noticing a trend toward re-hash of safe, quiet, staple subjects (original characters, re-reads, favorite fics) which is a little too dull for my taste, but, as always, it's still the place where you check the recs to get peeved when your fic ain't mentioned AGAIN. (That's *so* much fun, isn't it?) I'm curious if the Great Exodus after the horrific flame wars of '97 has soothed the wild beast or if the spring weather isn't the source of all this good will toward men. We'll see. [10]
Posts seem to have settled into a summer snail's pace, but with a good variety of recs, although some fics rec'd are surprisingly old. The volume on XFF itself, however is, as always, overwhelming, with this reader wincing as she dually prepares her "download" and "delete" buttons for a workout. Good news is, spam on the list is down, with ListMistress Lisa takin' no prisoners. Politely, of course. [11]
This place has livened up a bit. Recs are more frequent and more up-to-date, with some regulars returning to post. The "Book Club" has slowed down, challenges are up, and flames are non-existent. Well, for now, anyway. Let's see if the dogs of August make their stand like last year. Whooo-hah-hah. [12]
Summer slow, not a flame war in sight. Yet. August is a notoriously bad month for all the discussion lists, with angsty and bored readers/writers getting the rerun jitters, even after the movie. Some snarking about the OT postings to XFF, which seem to be popping up again with alarming frequency. I personally consider these unavoidable, considering the size and automated nature of the list, and twenty posts a week from Lisa imploring no OT posting would probably be just as annoying. As a List Mom myself, I have sympathy for the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" position of administrators, but private ass-kicking is sometimes the only option. [13]
Kudos to List Mom SciNut, who has actually turned the flaming, terrifying beast of XFFanfic into a quiet Utopia of recommendations and kindly newbie assistance. Geez, the place is so damn civilized now, I don't even recognize it anymore. Of course, my absence from posting -might- have helped bring about that change, but I'll give most of the credit where credit is due. For those among us with high blood pressure and/or chronic anxiety, you can come out now and join. It's "o'tay." (To join FicTalk, send an E-mail to Fictalk Subscription Addy with "subscribe fictalk" in the body of the letter. Administration approval required.) [14]
I still belong to this list, which is getting a spooky quality as of late, like a country road at five a.m. I'm considering delurking, as the List Mom and I made up our differences after the Reign of Terror of '97. And yes, Sci, I *promise* to be good. Well, mostly good. Okay...as good as I can be. All right, maybe I'll just keep lurking. {g} Anyway, I think this list is deserving of some newbie blood, so why not join? [15]

External Links

References

  1. Gil Trevizo, The *New* Fictalk Mailing List, September 27, 1996
  2. post by Gil Trevizo, The Fictalk Mailing List, alt.tv.x-files.creative, December 25, 1996
  3. Ironically, Trevizo was ousted just over a year later from FicTalk. See an open letter to the chaos.taylored.com mailing lists.
  4. Gil Trevizo, We're Being Bashed on atxf, September 20, 1996
  5. Novel reading - speaking of classics, July 19, 1998
  6. Rules, Archived version
  7. Rules, Archived version
  8. Rules, Archived version
  9. Rules, Archived version
  10. from The Acid Desk #1
  11. from The Acid Desk #2
  12. from The Acid Desk #3
  13. from The Acid Desk #4
  14. from The Acid Desk #5
  15. from The Acid Desk #6