Godawful Fan Fiction

From Fanlore
(Redirected from GAFF)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Name: Godawful Fan Fiction, GAFF, GATF (God Awful Trek Fiction)
Owner/Maintainer: The Site Guru (S G)
Dates: October 15, 1998 (founded the same day as Fanfiction.net) - January 31st, 2009[1][2]
Type: meta
Fandom: Multifandom
URL: Godawful Fan Fiction (offline, archived)
Forum (archived)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
Godawful Fan Fiction Archive.jpg

Godawful Fan Fiction (GAFF) was a controversial website devoted to mocking badfic. It was founded on October 15, 1998—the same day as Fanfiction.net—and went down on January 31, 2009.[1][2]

The website had two primary purposes: 1) to mock fanworks for the humor value, and 2) to supposedly help writers improve their future creations. Most fans tended to focus on the first purpose, and there was vigorous debate about the existence of the site itself, as well as the nature of the comments posted there.

The community's original focus was Star Trek, and its original title was "God Awful Trek Fiction. In roughly May 1999, it dropped the Trek focus and became multi-fandom.

The site was often mentioned in mainstream press articles for reasons that included the site's popularity and size, as well as the site's "side-show," vulgar aspects.[3]

There was both a fiction website where excerpts of stories were posted (and mocked), as well as a message board. To give one an ideal of scale, in 2008, the forum/message board had 175,176 posts made by 3,984 registered members.[4]

Culture, Attitude, and Forum

In the later days of the site, the header had the tagline "read them and weep" and the main page described itself, warned of explicit material, and had a quote about the site from the New York Times book review:

Godawful Fan Fiction. Three small words that bring terror to the hearts and bile to the throats of the bravest souls. We've scoured the 'net since 1998 to bring you the foulest fan fiction available and we like to think that we're responsible for many a dry heave and sleepless night, but the truth of the matter is, we just showcase these abominations. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank those deluded souls actually writing Godawful Fan Fiction, without whom this site would never have been possible. Or necessary.

Please note: This website contains adult material and is suitable for adults only.

When you've had your fill of slash, gen, and 'ship fiction (fanfic terms for various character enganglements) [sic], when you groan at the arrival of each new "Mary Sue" (a ludicrously empowered author proxy), when you find yourself wishing every story you read had been beta-ed (i.e. edited), then it's time to visit Godawful Fan Fiction, where the worst fan fiction on the Web is filleted with the hot knife of peer criticism. - The New York Times Book Review[5]

The first paragraph has remained basically unchanged since at least late 2000,[6] but the quote from the Times Book Review and the warning about adult content appeared at some point in the 8 intervening years.

The guestbook and the forums were both completely unmoderated except for the removal of spam,[7][8] which was occasionally a problem.[9] GAFF didn't particularly care about offending authors or hurting their feelings; their FAQ outlines their philosophy pretty clearly:

Why are you so mean?

We prefer the term "honest".

What about the poor authors whose work you're lambasting?

First, it is important to distinguish between the author hirself and the story. We critique stories, not authors. Often the authors themselves can't understand that distinction.
Second, and this is crucial to our philosophy, we just don't care what the authors think. Why should we? Placing something on the Internet is akin to publishing it, and any author who publishes something should damn well expect that people are going to have opinions about their work.
Besides which, we believe that honesty is the best policy. Writers can't improve if no one tells them that they need improving, and when was the last time you sent negative feedback?

Can't you be constructive in your criticism?

a) Where's the fun in that?
b) Oh come on! We're talking about authors who can't even be bothered to spell-check and don't know the difference between past and present tense. They're not interested in constructive criticism. They probably don't even know what the term means.
c) There are many resources available to authors who want constructive criticism. This site is not one of them.


Now you've got me really mad. Where can I find you bastards?!

We firmly believe in freedom of speech. You have no less than four options available to you.
a) If you wish the general public to have access to your complaint you may write it in the guestbook
b) If you wish to engage in a dialogue with the general public you may use our forums
c) Private complaints may be sent via email
We reserve the right to publish any good flames we get to our Web site so that our visitors can point and laugh at them. Why should only we have all the fun?

I heard that you delete the messages you don't like. Is that true?

Absolutely not. The forums and guestbook are completely unmoderated and will always remain unmoderated. You are free to write whatever you want to without fear of censure, although be aware that 'this courtesy is extended to everyone else as well'. We will not be held responsible for anything that goes on in the public areas of our site.[7]

This sort of attitude (as well as the relative laxness of their forum guidelines, quoted below) got the site TOSsed from several hosts, including a brief stint of having the forums on InvisionFree.

The Godawful Forums have always been an unmoderated venue where self-moderation and maturity are expected and valued. Sure, there is established forum culture and a million unwritten standards of behaviour which you'll absorb by osmosis the longer you spend in contact with the forums, but to participate in GAFF, all you really need to do is abide by The One Commandment and demonstrate the same levels of maturity and conduct that any rational adult is capable of.

The One Commandment

We have but one rule here at The Godawful Forums:

Thou shalt not post anything illegal

That means no kiddie porn or links to kiddie porn. No discussion about trading pirated software, movies, music or links to same. Doing so will swiftly bring The Mighty Hammer of Admin Justice down upon your head.

NC17 fiction, adult content, naughty language and links to same are all allowed and covered by our TOS. Post on, post free, post bravely, but do not post underage smut.

The Ten Suggestions

The Godawful Forums tend to be bustling venues full of conflicting opinions and personalities, heated conversations, and vigorous debate. This is its charm and, occasionally, its curse. The best way to be a part of the forum is to use common sense and common courtesy, but for when things get out of hand you could do worse than to remember these Ten Suggestions.

I Thou shalt not abuse this service

The message board is not moderated
Everybody is encouraged to share their opinions freely without fear of censor or censure
Everybody, ya’ hear? Even those who disagree with you

II Thou shalt respect other poster’s boundaries

This is an anonymous message board
There is a reason IP numbers are not displayed
Many who choose to post under nom de plumes would not post otherwise and the forum would be poorer for it
The "outing" of others is not acceptable

III Thou shalt not spam

Spam will be smote with extreme prejudice

IV Thou shalt not troll

It is lame, it is boring, and you’re not impressing anyone
Trolls will be caged in the Johnny Wizard Memorial Forum until they sin no more

V Thou shalt not reply to a troll

The best way to discourage a troll is to ignore it
Suspected trollery should be brought to the admin's attention and it will be dealt with from there

VI Thou shalt not post entire stories

A few choice excerpts will suffice and a link is always appreciated

VII Though shalt not engage in sock puppetry

Pick a nom de plume and stick with it
Abusing the anonymous nature of the message board to invent multiple aliases is just embarrassingly pathetic on every level

VIII Thou shalt not get personal

Attack the story, not the author
Attack the post, not the poster

IX Thou shalt not name call

What are you, eleven?

X Thou shalt turn the other cheek

You sinking down to a clueless newbie’s level serves no purpose
Someone has to be the adult and it may as well be you [8]

Media Attention

The first media attention GAFF (Godawful Trek Fiction, at the time, actually) received was in Yahoo Internet Life "P.S.: Pretty Strange" in a blurb titled "THE WEIRD AND THE WACKY ON THE INTERNET" which was probably posted in September 2000:[10]

But how to seperate [sic] the merely pervy fan fiction out there from the truly abominable? Rely on sites like Godawful Star Trek Fan Fiction to find the offal among the dross, singling out such stories as "Christmas Miracles," the more than 50 gems in the Team Medi series(featuring characters from ER, The Lord of the Rings, and Thundercats), and a touching little ode to Dr. McCoy that proves that "not all bad poems are written about Deep Space Nine." If that's not enough, we have four words for you: "Captain Xena Kirk Commanding..."[11]

A May 2003 post in a Seattle newspaper, The plot thickens in fan fiction, described GAFF as a good way to find bad fanfiction:

Tired of separating the fan fiction gems from the chaff? The Godawful fan fiction site provides the chaff for you, including a "Star Trek" fanfic that reads more like a Seattle-area travel guide.

On October 3, 2004, GAFF was featured in the New York Times book review.[12]

On November 29, 2004, the site's creator (who used the username The Site Guru but is referred to in the article as "S G") was interviewed for a Scottish newspaper in an article titled Harry Potter and the purple prose Fans of the innocent boy wizard are in for a shock if they stumble upon fan-fiction websites..

Excerpt from the article:

One person involved in the fan fiction field, known only as S G, has watched the phenomenon grow over the past 15 years and thinks it appeals to different people for different reasons. "There are many motivations," he says. "A desire to continue the adventures of a cancelled series, the joy of playing around with the characters you love, the need to fill in any perceived gaps in the plot, or just the opportunity to practise writing fiction with the convenience of having the characters and settings already created for you."

S G once wrote fan fiction himself, attracted by the subversive, underground element it had in its early days, but soon found a more interesting way to be involved in the scene. After reading virtual reams of bad prose, he set up Godawful Fan Fiction, which reviews the worst fan fiction around.

"I genuinely love bad fan fiction, of the so-bad-it's-good variety, with a passion," he says. Fan fictions reviewed on the Godawful site include a very graphic sex scene between Hermione and Harry, a very unShakespearean sex scene between Laertes and Ophelia, and a Lord of the Rings fic that includes the line: "Legolas got up and went into Laura's room and said 'good moring (sic)' and then Laura said 'good moring (sic) too."

So far, so amusing. The problem with the imagination, however, is that it doesn't always know when to stop. "Occasionally, something comes along that's so bad I can find no joy in it," says S G. "For instance, I remember one romantic tale of a concentration camp prisoner falling head over heels with Joseph Mengele, the camp doctor, while assisting him in his medical experiments on other prisoners. Pregnant with his child, she commits suicide when she discovers he's fled to South America without her. "I think it was the combination of Barbara Cartland-esque romantic prose and the horrific subject matter that has kept this story fresh in my mind. "There's also a Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers story that is infamous and much discussed in our forums. It contains nothing but the systematic rape, torture, dismemberment and eventual death of one of the female heroines of this children's television show and is so bad that no-one's ever been able to write an amusing review of it for the site."

In 2006 two articles in October included GAFF in their overviews of what fanfiction is. Popmatters, on October 2, linked to GAFF and wrote, "The fanfic is a stitch in itself, but it's the snarky commentary that will keep you coming back. For mature readers only."[13] On October 29, The Guardian's article said:

The best-known site, fanfiction.net, invites visitors to 'unleash your imagination'. Other tastes are rewarded at godawful.net, the site for 'godawful fan fiction'.[14]


In A November 1998, the following announcement appeared in alt.startrek.creative:

Ever read any fan fiction? Ever read any *bad* fan fiction? Ever wondered how much worse it could possibly be? You can quit wondering. We've tracked down and reviewed the very worst examples of Star Trek fan fiction ever to crawl onto the web. Be afraid, be very afraid! [15]

GAFF's brief history describes 1998 and 1999:


Godawful Star Trek Fan Fiction is created and made available to the public on a free Tripod page. The Wayback Machine has an archived copy of the site from October 5th [16] 1998 here


After numerous death threats, threats of legal action and outraged claims that we would be the death of fan fiction we are finally TOSsed from Tripod. We never liked their pop-ups anyway. We set up shop on a another free server.
The first Godawful Message Board goes online as a direct result of requests from our regulars sick of using the guestbook as a default forum. That link will take you to our very first guestbook where the oldest message is dated Wednesday, May 12th 1999 - 03:12:35 PM (older messages had already scrolled off and are now lost). Also of note for gafftorians - the tail end of our very first flamewar (Cheile vs GAFF over her Star Trek: Voyager story set on the Titanic) is archived there.
Mary Sue Whipple is born on the Message Board.[17]

In the early years GAFF started out as God Awful Trek Fiction, and the userbase grew out of the Star Trek community. As late as 2008 they were apparently being asked about the amount of Star Trek on their site enough to justify leaving a question about it up on their FAQ[7]

The site switched to focusing on other fandoms in 2000,[17] but Star Trek was still prominent. In October 2000, the front page had a banner with Picard on it and the top 4 sections of fic reviews were Star Trek: TOS, Star Trek: DS9, Stark Trek: TNG, and Star Trek: Voyager. The X-Files, Phantom of the Opera, Star Wars, and others were listed below.[6]

Between late December 2001 and late January 2002, the list of fandoms was alphabetized and gained Harry Potter and The Matrix.[18]

"Mary Sue Whipple" was a shared pseud under which many fans wrote badfic.


We get a blurb in Yahoo Internet Life Magazine!
Godawful Star Trek Fan Fiction morphs into Godawful Fan Fiction as we turn our attention to all fandoms. No one is safe.
Our second message board goes online after our first ceases to exist. Traffic picks up.
Two words. Aaron Agassi.


Johnny Wizard, our resident troll, begins posting.[17]

Snapshots of the second messageboard on voy.com have been archived on the Wayback Machine, for example: May 2001,October 2002,September 2003, and September 2004. The last posts on the voy boards were in late April 2004, although according to the GAFF's own brief history they left those boards in 2003 because they were very popular but had a "clunky interface." The voy boards didn't have HTML enabled for their posters, and a late 2004 exchange between a user and The Site Guru (probably made during the time bexplained why the voy message boards couldn't have HTML enabled:

I turned HTML off when we started getting spammed by someone posting huge pornographic photographs to the board. On the Other Board I was able to disable the hotlinking of images while allowing other codes to function, but HTML is not so selective.[9]

Between August 2002 and October 2002 the banner on the main page changed from the Picard picture to something that seems like it was probably Star Wars themed; the archived version of the site didn't save the picture but the description was "Begun, this fan fiction war has." The list of fandoms also gained Lord of the Rings,[19] probably in reaction to the Fellowship of the Ring being released in theatres in December 2001.

"Johnny Wizard" was a poster to the vox messageboard who took advantage of the ability to post anonymously and was apparently much-beloved as later iterations of the site had a "Johnny Wizard Memorial Forum" into which all of the trolls were herded.


US TV Guide considers us one of "the Internet's best web sites"
We get a mention in the UK newspaper The Guardian.
GAFF goes down! Our free host reduces our bandwith to zero, forcing us offline, although loyal Regulars continue to fight the good fight on the message board.
Due to the growing popularity of the message board, despite its clunky interface, we move up to our bigger, better, faster, third message board.[17]

The site went down in approximately October 2003 and stayed down until approximately February or March 2004, as the Wayback Machine shows the site is down for exceeding daily bandwidth in 08 October 2003, 02 December 2003, 10 January 2004, and 17 February 2004. By late March or so the invisionfree board was up, according to the Wayback Machine, since they have posts from 1 April 2004.


Our third message board is TOSsed! Woe!
Godawful Fan Fiction goes legit and finally gets its own domain. We are TOSSproof at last! Sadly, Johnny Wizard is lost in the shuffle.
The New York Times Book Review singles us out for attention
After existing in reduced circumstances for far too long the main site finally returns! Huzzah![17]

The loss of Johnny Wizard "in the shuffle" of all the site problems is presumably the source of the aforementioned Johnny Wizard Memorial Forum section. The NYT Book Review was quoted on the front page of GAFF, where they're called "gleefully malicious."[12]


We get wicked-awesome new forums and traffic goes through the roof. Verily, The Golden Times are upon us.
Our prodigal troll, Johnny Wizard, reappears. Aw, bless.


The forums become too successful for their own good and the site outgrows its server space. Alas, access to the forums is limited, and there is much gnashing of teeth.
The webmaster disappears, despair descends, the end is nigh. Woe!


Rebirth! The webmaster returns from exile (looking suspiciously tanned) and finally bites the bullet and purchases GAFF its very own server.[17]

In 2007, a user posted a filk about GAFF to the unofficial GAFF LJ community to the tune of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," changing the lyrics to "Yoooou're so lame. / You prob'ly think this thread is about you."Archived

At the end of the site the color scheme changed from green to orange. The Site Guru explained on LJ:

In the beginning the site scheme used to be red. When I got it its own .net name the scheme changed to orange. When it was revived and moved to its own server it changed to green.

Having the message board revert to orange is just a nod to the long standing GAFFers who remember that period of time fondly. It won't mean anything to those who weren't around back then.[20]

In December 2008, it was announced that GAFF would go down for good in January, 2009.[21] It seems that it might have been intended to go down on January 15 according to one post,[22] and on January 27 The Site Guru noted that he expected it to be dead already.

More history is here.

Old Site Links

GAFF moved around pretty often over the years and changed looks a couple of times. For example:

Fan Reaction

A 1998 Discussion at alt.startrek.creative

Comments below are from Godawful Star Trek Fan Fiction, November 1998:


I hate pages like this.

[Jane]: You know, I did laugh at some of the comments, but I agree with you [about hating pages like this]. One of the stories in the "Best Smeller" section (ample, *ample* for anyone who wants to see what the site is about) has a review that goes on for paragraphs. Think of the time and energy that went into that pan. And the whole site. The graphics and code alone... The reviewer mentions that she teaches composition. Well, I do too, and I understand how really awful and painful it is to be forced to read a very badly written piece--and then one has to come up with constructive commentary, because after all one is paid to do so, and besides, only a sadist makes people feel bad on purpose and for no reason; only a person hung up on revenge wants to inflict suffering to exceed the suffering one has undergone. And it does exceed it, of course. Does anybody really think that the threat of appearing on a page like this will make people not write comma splices or tiresome Mary Sue stories? If only writing well were this kind of easily conditioned response. It is not. Giving negative feedback that will actually change people's writing behavior is the single hardest thing I have to try to do. The frustrated kid in me does sometimes dream of losing it and saying some of the stuff that comes to mind, but thank god I haven't yet lost it to the extent of building a site any more than I have started spray-painting graffiti on students' lockers. As teaching techniques, these are roughly similar. These people need another hobby.


I find the Godawful Trek page painful and mean-spirited, and I can't imagine how anyone could think that it's cute, clever, or beneficial in any way. I agree with you one hundred percent.


I have said more than once, that people in glass web sites shouldn't throw stones. Not only is it mean spirited, it is cowardly to announce to the world "Be afraid, be very afraid" when hiding behind anonymity. I admit to frequently checking the site, hoping against hope to be found archived there--without permission. I would deem it a badge of honor to be among those who have begun, and ended a piece of fanfic, and had the guts to post it before god and everybody

Jungle Kitty:

What I truly and honestly don't understand about the Godawful FanFic page is this: Writing fanfic is something we do for fun. None of us get paid for it. It's a creative endeavor that comes purely out of joy and, in most cases, the same is returned to the writer via feedback. So I just don't understand why it is so important to these people (or to story flamers, in general) to take the fun out of it. I think the "writing for fun" is what separates fanfic from profic, more than the idea of pay, editorial restrictions, or quality of product. Many people use the comments and encouragement they receive to develop into better writers. So it seems really ridiculous for some jerk(s) with a webpage to go on a crusade against bad fanfic, since it is so obviously not intended to be helpful in any way whatsoever. It is a disgusting attempt to impose the standards of a small group on the community and to get certain people to stop writing. I don't care if they call it criticism; protesting the existence of the stories is censorship. I also find it interesting that these same folk don't tell us what they consider to be "good" fanfic. And they won't. Because the problem with being a snob is that the minute you say, "I really liked such-and-such," someone else can out-snob you by looking down their nose and sneering, "You liked that piece of crap?" Their page is not about fanfic; it's about their own self-important image.


Of course--they think they're being cute when they're not, as Wildcat said. And (now this is just a guess) they're probably writers who might post here but might not have as much popularity as some of the authors listed on that page, so they are striking back in the most childish way possible and because they're too scared to blast the authors "to their face", they hide and try to throw their weight around, figuratively speaking of course.


Anyone who pretends that what that site does is constructive is a few bricks short.

Laura JV:

See, my feeling is that every world needs a little mean-spiritedness in it. Unfortunately, in the Trekifanficiverse, *I* am the mean-spiritedness, and those jerks at Godawful shall feel my wrath. Well, if I had time to actually exercise my wrath, which I don't. Instead, they shall suffer the wrath of Alanis Morrisette. It's like RAAAAAAAAAAYYAYAYAYAYAYIIIINNNNNN on your wedding DAAYYYYY. It's a free RIYIYIYIYIYIYIYIIIIIIDE when you've already paid. It's like good ADVIIIIYIYIYIYIYICE that you just didn't take. Who would have thought; it figgurs. I figure that ought to keep them clutching their ears in pain for a while.


For the record, I like the God Awful Trek site. Things here on ASC are just a little too touchy, feely, politically correct sometimes. And as for the 'let's be nice' nazi's...come on all, it's just for fun. It may not be your type of fun, but hey, they never promised you it would be. If you don't like what GATF stands for, don't read it. IMO, GATF fill a niche in our little corner of the fanfic world. It may be benthic in nature, but necessary none the less. And I, for one, am glad it's there.

Laura Hale:

One of the reasons I support GATF and why several others post there is that they hope that one author, JUST ONE, will look at GATF and learn something from it and better there writing. If ONE person can be reached and learned something, then all the better. Being an active poster there, I have got to say, bickering on the board aside, I have learned a lot about writing because on GATF they have problem on the board disecting a story and saying what they feel which I've learned from previous accidents isn't tolerated here well. The other reason I post there is because when I have a problem with a fan fiction, whining to the author or even being extremely polite and commenting on a typo has blown up in my face. I wrote on author and went on for pages about what I liked about a story and mentioned one or two minor grammar things that didn't work. I got that shoved back in my face. When this happens and when some one reads crap, well we all need to vent. GATF provides a forum for like minded indivudals to vent. Because of GATF, I've strengthened two of my on-line aquantneces to geniune real life friendship and I've learned a lot. In fact, hell, most of the time on the board we don't trash fic at all. I rarely see the page itself. I would really love to, if I had the time, start one for fic in general and for published stuff because man, I've read some real stinkers. On the issue of "we all right for fun", erm, no. I know of a couple of authors who write not for fun but to gain attention. That conflicts. Besides, even if you are writing for fun, you should still be able to write basic plots, spell check a story and use proper grammar. If you are writing Mary Sue fun, then write for fun. GATF isn't advocating that you stop writing. If you are writing for fun, then leave it on your hard drive and don't let GATF see it. Let the GATF reviewers have their fun too. Don't deny one group their right too. Both parties can have fun. If the writers don't find GATF, then they can ignore it. Bsides, lots of cool people post to GATF and lurk their. Check it out. Tara from the PTC and Dangermom... Even they get sick of crap and the normal means of helping people write better just don't work.


i like godawful for the fact that they show you how not to wirte a piece or crap by the examples that have been posted to their site. Mary Sue runs ampant their. Also if anyone has check out the best smeller burning thistles amongst the thorns you would have to agree that it is pretty awful. I had a headache after reading the first paragraph. it is as though the person swallowed an entire theasaurus. I am willing to bet that those authors have gotten feedback telling them how great their story is and so forth, but never any constructive crictism. And if they did i am also willing to bet that the author probably flamed the poor reader for giving constructive feedback to begin with. this is why i refuse to send feed back to any author because of this. This is a two way street. An author wants an audience to read their stories and keep coming back and have them tell their friends and so forth, but if you threathen and attack that reader for expressing their opinion then in their eyes the author is a rotten person and the reader will tell their friends how this person attack them and to not read that particular persons stories. Then readship drops off for the author and the writer will be left in the dark as to why no one is reading their stories. You catch more filies with honey then you do with vinegar. Which is why there is so much godawful trekficiton out there. Authors want feedback from their audience but all they want is good feedback. i have run into this problem on gatf with two frequent posters there. my thing is if you are going to write then damnit use a spell checker and get a beta reader. Don't inflict your poor spelling, bad grammar and awful sex scenes on your audience.

[Shayney]: I confess, I like the GATF site, too. I lurk on the message board sometimes, and I feel I've learned a lot from it. The criticism offered there is honest, but generally not brutal or unkind. I find it very useful.


Wolfen, you know how much I love you, hon, but I have to disagree with you on this. I can't see how making fun of someone's writing efforts *publicly* can be termed "necessary." And as for ASC being "too touchy, feely," I prefer civil, mature discussion rather than flame wars. ASC is like a refuge compared to other newsgroups in this respect. Yes, I agree. If you don't like GATF, don't visit the site. But just knowing that it's out there turns my stomach and makes me angry. I was not blessed with high self-esteem as a child and teen, and when I was young, I was sometimes targeted by those who were "only having fun" -- at my expense. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. In *my* opinion, I think those at GATF still have some maturing to do.


I agree that there is too little genuine criticism in the fanfic world. That said, the appropriate means of delivering most constructive criticism is privately, in an one-on-one communication. This is partly a matter of not hurting anyone's feelings, but more importantly, it guarantees that the message is heard and understood by the author. This is public ridicule for amusement. If you're going to indulge in it, nobody can stop you, but don't pretend to be on some crusade for good writing.


Y'know, several times a year, GATF posts a site advertisement or an announcement of an update, and _every single time_ we have to have this big debate on the merits of the site. If you like it, read it. If you don't, treat it like a troll. I've seen some very effective troll cures around here.


I would also prefer civil, mature discussion. But, in all reality, do we really get that on ASC? I'm not saying GATF is out there as a kindly service to the writers they have put on their site. I see their site as a backlash to the stiffling enviroment of ASC. And what I mean by that is, I do not believe ASC promotes and/or supports 'truth in feedback' no matter how much they purport to do so.

Laura Hale:

ASC, from what I have been told my others, used to be a place where a writer could come in and get honest feedback and get help and actually improve. Hell, that type of atmosphere, I'd give my right eye for. Instead though, there is an air of non productivity. You rarely get an honest view or information that wil help you. Unless you're an established author or have a clique here, you won't get feedback or anythign constructive. I'd prefer for ASC to be like it sued to be, before the feedback of "you rock" or "Hey I liked your story and in the my next, I'll have that promised sex story out for you ;-)" Tell me, who benefits there?...And if you have a low self esteem, then don't post. Really, don't post. If you need only positive feedback, then send it to your friends via e-mail because not everyone likes everything. If you are that insecure that a little thing like that can't be used as a growing experince, then you aren't ready to post. Really. Don't post. I don't wish a GATf review upon any one either but if I see a piece on the internet, I will naturally assume that the author has the self esteem to post it and that they can deal with it because anyone with a brain knows that YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE ALL THE TIME.


So what you're saying, [Laura Hale], is that the whole point of GATF is to provide a public forum to blast fiction written by others. Your purpose is *not* to help the writers, to show them the error of their ways as you interpret it. If there is indeed a group of readers who feel the need to "vent" about what they consider atrocious writing, then why not set up an email list since the comments aren't intended for the writers anyway....For the record, my self-esteem is rock-solid. As a 38-year-old mother of five who has lived a life of exhilarating highs and devastating lows, I've seen a lot and grown a lot since my childhood. The real world offers us enough cruelty and mean-spiritedness without us adding to it. I prefer to promote a more positive spirit.

Stephen Ratliff:

I have two objections to GATF: 1) Their review style is one that only hurts, and does not explain why. The language chosen in their reviews only causes anger, leading to any good advice they may have being lost in it's haze. 2) They've been told not to link directly to the ASC Archive stories, and are still doing so..


My personal opinion of the site is: if my stories were to appear there (which they may already, I only read so far until I caught the gist of the site), it would be akin to Nancy Reagan telling me my decor sucked. Who gives a rat's ass? I, however, am not like everyone and there are probably people who WOULD be offended by having their stories snidely commented upon on this page. It isn't making fun of the author. Ah, but it IS making fun of the author. And if the people who put this page up would simply ADMIT as much, this discussion would've ended a long time ago. It DOES make fun of the author. That is apparently its sole purpose. That and some deep seated need of the authors of the page to make jokes at other peoples' expense. Um, where, exactly in the GATF page is the CONSTRUCTIVE criticism? As you stated before, this is NOT a page for the WRITER, but a page for frustrated READERS who apparently cannot find constructive outlets for their irritation. It is a page for those who would point and laugh at someone who injured themselves without bothering to try to assist that person....No, one cannot please everyone all the time and to try is to make a ridiculous attempt to alter ones writing to serve the public. Yet you seem to EXPECT this from anyone whose fic is sited on GATF. So you don't like Mary Sue stories, so DON'T READ THEM. If you don't like J/C turbolift sex, MOVE ON TO A DIFFERENT STORY! There are people out there who DO like these things and there are people who enjoy writing them as well. Should they stop simply because GATF thinks it's awful? No, they shouldn't, they should continue to produce what they enjoy writing regardless of whether GATF thinks it's bad or not. Who the hell died and made GATF the Trek Fic Police?


You have GOT to be joking! You think anyone who writes a story that ends up on GATF is going to have ANY desire to wade through the catty remarks, snide comments and rude observations and THEN write another story because they took these comments to heart???? What planet are you on?? GATF doesn't care about the authors improving, it cares about being as snidely amusing as it possibly can and giving its regular readers a good laugh at someone else's expense.

[Bevster]: I have no wish to deny you your constitutional rights. You have as much right to dislike, ridicule and post that opinion as I do or anyone else who is a citizen of the United States (an assumption I am making since you made the above statement first). My problem is with your perpetuating this MYTH that it is some sort of fabulous boon to authors whose stories appear on GATF as if you are providing them some sort of service for which you should be thanked. You aren't. You are providing yourselves with a venue to make fun of stories you dislike intensely, that's it. If you truly wished to assist

these authors in improving their works, you would not be nearly as obnoxious about it. Simply admit to what it is the page represents and stop trying to behave as if you're being harrassed for no reason!

Marlissa Campbell:

I have trouble with this argument too. I don't bother reading bad stories. It's usually pretty obvious from the first few lines if a story is a hopeless Mary Sue, or the writer can't put together a complete sentence. I move on to something else. No frustration, and hence no need to vent. I sure don't need a website to tell me about all the bad stories so I can go and read them, and then...get frustrated by all the bad stories. Why are you spending so much time reading and reviewing stuff that makes you gag? If there are other readers out there who love the stories you think are trash, why shouldn't they enjoy them?

Mary Sue Whipple:

I don't give a shit what those GATf people say about because like they are lameos and they wouldn't know good writing if it bit them in the ass. in fact they wrote that slash shit./ I went searching for that once and one of those idiots wrote a garak bashir slash. That stuff is so morally repupsulive. Maybe that's why they only list het stories. Besides you have restrictions. I meabn if I sent my fan zine when I get it done to braga I'm sure he'd happily shut down the whole fan fiction world except for me becaus eI'm cute and I'd sleep with him....I e-mailed them and like asked them and they told me that my fan fiction was the only good fan fiction. :-) They have good tastes. did I tell you they are the leader of my fan club? I have one. It cost $20 to join. Erm.. oh yeah... that's kinda or.... but really, I e-mailed them and they said that I was the best fan fiction writer and told me that they would help me to win the ASC AWRDS! Dude, isn't that like the coolest? So there you go, I defined good fan fiction for you. Just e-mail those pro-slash idiots and ask (I forgive them for their moral error cause dude, they love me! [24]

[Laura Hale]:

I have read a lot of things, pro and novice, internet published and paper published. Not everything I have read has been great and a lot of it, I really would rather not have read but for various reasons I have. Among the things I have read that are not what I would normal by their defintion quailfy as good are slash stories, accounting text books, unfamiliar authors, moby dick and other selected classics. By being forced to read them through obligations to upkeep my grades, at the pressure of friends, out of a geniune desire to increase my exposure to a more ecletic selection of material, to find out what all the hoopla, I've grown personally. I've learned a great deal more about the world that I would not have known otherwise. Heck, I even enjoy reading certain slash stories. I've aquired a greater apprecation for accountants. My horizons have broadened exponetially because I didn't set a bad piece of work, something that conflicts with my tastes, to the side and only read stuff I was known an familiar with. To say that you should pass on things that you don't like... well, in my opinion that's stifling yourself and making your world smaller. I would not be the person I am if I hadn;t sludged through Moby Dick, read War and Peace, read my 6th grade history book. So, really, by saying that should just pass on stuff that you view as bad, seems to me to be asking the person to narrow their world view and not be willing to accept different ideas.

Joyce Harmon:

Sorry, I couldn't let this pass unremarked. I've read Moby Dick. Moby Dick was a friend of mine. And lousy fanfic is *not* Moby Dick! I just have trouble with the concept that by not reading poorly written fanfic, or fanfic in a genre that we dislike, we're somehow 'narrowing our world view'. Would it also be true that we're narrowing our world view if we fail to read every book in the bookstore and library, and see every movie ever made? I support people's right to write and post fanfic, any fanfic, even the worst and lousiest fanfic in the world. But to make the claim that I'm a narrow-minded person if I don't *read* it all is really taking it too far. You have the right to write and to post. You do *not* have the right to insist that I *read* what you wrote, or to cast aspersions on me if I choose not to. Life is too short to read bad fanfic.

Laura JV:

I think the GATF folks are out of line and mean. It's much more useful to write a serious essay on the subject, rather than ripping poor little innocent writers--who may just be getting their sea legs, for God's sake--to pieces. Just because *I* am rhino-hided doesn't mean that I'm insensitive to the needs of people who aren't. Just because I happen to write reasonably well doesn't mean that I'm insensitive to those who don't.

[Micaela Harris]:

All I can say to this fact is that it is a very hurtful thing that these folks are doing here. I can speak from experience. I wrote my first Trek fic earlier this year. I had no writing experience whatsoever, had no idea what a beta reader was - so neededless to say COMMAND DECISIONS left a lot to be desired. But I received no flames, only encouragement. It was that encouragement that inspired me to keep writing and improving my craft. Instead of being critical of my mistakes and inexperience, a very special and kind person here read my story and contacted me privately concerning it. This person commended my efforts and my ideas and very tactfully showed me the errors that are common with new writers. The same person offered their valuable time to help me learn the mechanics of good writing and I hungrily accepted. At first, my ego was deflated when I saw how pitiful my writing structure really was (I came to this conclusion myself - the friend would have never said so). But I decided to learn from the mistakes, listen to the counsel and improve where I could. I realize that I still have a long way to go, but I and others can see the improvement in my writing...My point here is that if I had been put down or found my stories on the web site in question, I would have been hurt and discouraged beyond belief and probably would have never written again. Instead, I am now going back to college at age 30 to study creative writing in hopes of becoming a professional author in the future. I owe this all to the thoughtful people who encouraged me instead of being critical. I owe the most thanks to the dear person who came to my rescue and has become a great friend. So I am not 'coming down' on those that have the GATF site. That is their personal business, but I do hope they re-think what they are doing to people's lives. It isn't just a game or a joke. There are real people and real feelings behind the stories here. Please think about how you would feel if the situation was reversed. Maybe you could give these folks some much needed writing assistance like someone did for me instead of making fun and putting them down. Your time and efforts would be much better spent and you might just be blessed in return.

Gamin Davis:

I haven't been there, but I think the premise for the website is completely misguided, at best; at worst, it comes dangerously close to what I would consider hate-mongering. Otherwise why would it be necessary to post this "real criticism" publicly? Do they somehow think it's more effective than E-mailing it privately?

[Tamara]: ...the [Godawful Fan Fiction] board has been very quiet lately. i am up for a good debate. i do hope everyone drops by, we need some fresh meat.

A 1999 Discussion at alt.startrek.creative

In 1999, some fans complained about their fics on alt.startrek.creative being linked to by "Godawful Fan Fiction." One result was a change to alt.startrek.creative's FAQ and bylaws.

From one discussion at FAQ Maintainer's Notes: Please Read (May 29, 1999):

[Stephen Ratliff (group staff member and leader, also FAQ Maintainer)]: The Link to the Archive rules are to be ammended to include point

e. The Archive Staff shall have the right to ask websites to remove links to individual stories should the Archive Staff determine that the website in question is detrimental to the operation of the archive.

No objections were raised to this change. So, effective at this time, the Archivists are empowered to enforce this point.

[Espressivo (fan)]: Excuse me please, but I somehow totally missed this FAQ ammendment issue when it was tabled, and I think a few points need to be addressed.

First off, what are you trying to achieve with this ammendment? Someone linking to the archive, or to a specific story in the archive, can in no way impact the operation of the archive, let alone in a detrimental way. Sure, it can point to a story in an unflattering way, but how does that have any effect on the operation of the archive?

Secondly, this ammendment gives archivists "the right to ask websites to remove links". Ask? Anyone has the right to ask websites to remove links, it doesn't need to be mandated in the FAQ! Of course, those websites also have the right to refuse. It would be rude, but not unheard of.

Another thing I have a problem with is the complete lack of specifics in the wording of this ammendment. The Archive Staff get to "determine" what is "detrimental", which leaves the whole thing open to abuse as far as I can see. I'm not saying it will be abused, just that it could. (and who knows who will be archiving in the future?) I'm opposed to giving people the right to veto based soley on their discretion on general principal.

Your last statement totally confuses me. The "archivists are now empowered to enforce this point." This ammendment, as far as I can see, only gives the archivists the right to ask that a link be removed. The use of the word "enforce" is misleading, or hints at some darker purpose to the ammendment.

OK, well I've only just seen Stephen's original post regarding this and I'm typing my reactions to it on the fly, so I'm positive this post could have been worded better, or more clearly, or something. I'm not trying to step on any toes, and if I have it's a result of not drafting up a more sensible response, not because I meant to upset anyone.

[Katie Redshoes (group staff member: Collecter/Formatter, ASC* Archive team)]: It affects the archive in that by newsgroup consensus (a discussion that occurred more than a year and a half ago), linking to the ASC* Archive without the author's permission is not allowed. We made this change as a result of several authors who requesting that their works be removed. Their feeling was that they had only granted permission for their works to be archived by ASC*, and they did not want anyone even linking to their stories there without permission. I don't wish to open this can of worms again; suffice to say that the newsgroup agreed that if anyone did not wish their stories to be linked to, they should indicate as such in the story template.

This subject has come up again because the Godawful Star Trek Fan Fiction site is linking to stories in the archive without permission. Stephen and I have both contacted them about it, asking that they remove the links, to no result -- not even a reply. (Note that we only asked them to remove the links, not the listings on the site).


When I wrote this, I was trying to avoid specifics, and narrow definitions. Detrimental is intended to mean something that causes problems with the running of the archive. The term "Archive Staff" refers to Katie, Dina, and myself (as Collector, Archiver, and Indexer, respectively) and assumes that there is agreement amoung the staff that this particular site is a problem.

[Stephen Ratliff]: Katie made some good points, but here are the ones I had when this ammendment was proposed.

1) Some authors have in the past, asked for there works to be removed from the ASC* Archive due sites that linked to their works not assocaited with the archive. (I won't go into the reasoning behind their requests, it's not relevent) These removal requests delay archiving, mess up indexing, and I don't even want to go into what it does to Archivist moral.

2) In some cases, direct linking can be a problem for a site, due to ISP policies. While, currently, none of the ASC* sites are among these, I believe it is better to inform people of the possiblity. (And such a site would be very low on our lists of perferred sites.)

[Dina (group staff member)]: I fairly trust that both you and Katie can handle the policy front and, from bits you've mentioned in other messages, that the archive staff always has the right to ask for links to be removed if it really displays an author in an obviously negative light. Of course, the site maintainer can refuse but the attempt was made. At any rate, my mouth just keeps getting me in trouble so it's often best I remain out of discussions.

A 2005 Discussion at Fanthropology

From a discussion at Fanthropology: Criticism and Fanfic, Archived version, June 2005.


I have a problem with sites like God Awful Fan Fiction.

Writing fanfic is something you do for fun. You don't get paid for it. It's comes purely out of joy. Who are any of us to dictate what any writer should or should not write? I can tell pretty quickly when I'm reading a LOTR 10th walker Sue story and the writer can't put together a complete sentence. And I move on. No frustration, no need to vent.

I agree that there is too little genuine criticism in the fanfic world. But the best means of delivering most constructive criticism is privately, in a one-on-one communication. If you really want to help the authors, send them some honest feedback. But this isn't constructive criticism, this is public ridicule for amusement.

partly bouncy: In defense of God Awful But doesn't criticising sites like God Awful Fan Fiction and saying that fan ficiton is just for fun deny some people their fun, their connection to the wider fan fiction community? Some people get their fun, their reasons for being fullfilled inside the fan fiction community through sites like that. It is not different than the many wide reasons people write fan fiction. Different strokes for different folks. God Awful does not put the material at the author's doorstep, demanding the author respond.

So like a story where you don't like it, you always have the option of hitting back and leaving that particular site. (Which was a discussion that we had when God Awful Trek Fiction was first founded.)

God Awful makes no pretenses about being constructive. The site is genuine in their criticism. It just seems to be a flavour you don't like. It doesn't pretend to help authors. I don't pretend that my story that was reviewed by God Awful was intended to help me become a better author.

God Awful is for readers. Writers need to understand that not all comments regarding their stories are for them. They are NOT the only audience in the fan fiction community.

[tiferet]: I agree with you that the purpose of GAFF is not to help fanfic writers improve. But as long as there are people out there who want to pour their money in creating a place for people to be nasty, there are people who will go there to participate (I'm kinda steamed at GAFF because there were people there who threatened a friend of mine that they were going to get involved in her custody battle because of something she wrote) and unless it steps over a legal line, there's nothing to be done about it.

I don't mind deleterius or pottersues because they have a policy of not allowing any harassment of authors. But legislating niceness has a really poor success rate.

[fleurette]: I have a problem with some writers and reviewers who seem to think that a rewiew is not constructive, doesn't help the writer improve, unless it is brutally honest and harsh.

And while I have to admit I do laugh at and sometimes get annoyed with a lot of the badfic out there, I'm not comfortable ripping it publicly like those kind of site.

[jaina]: I don't have a problem with sites like GAFF or communities like Deleterious and Mary Sues. I don't see it as being different from wisecracking about a movie with friends. That said, I think there are definitely people--a fair amount of them--who take it way too seriously and are unnecessarily harsh on the authors. I've noticed that some people seem to be trying to prove their GAFF (or other come) "cred" by being really, really mean in reviews. I don't think badfic authors deserve coddling, but there's such a thing as going too far.

[redpanda]: There's a difference between someone who makes a few mistakes or is a little sloppy or needs some work -- and somebody who's just plain godawful. IMHO yes, there are people out there who shouldn't be writing, people who either take no effort at all (would it kill 'em to take five seconds to check the web and see OMG there are already a billion stories about Harry Potter's uber-powered twin sister?) or who deliberately churn out stomach-turning crap with no regard whatsoever for creativity, accuracy, and language.

As someone who does make the effort, I am insulted that this sort of so-called writer expects good feedback -- and, bogglingly, often gets it! These are people who richly deserve to be mocked. Oh, don't worry; it won't make them stop writing. Or if it does, well, sorry, but good riddance.

[neadods]: Okay, have not looked at site in question. But have observations about the concept.

Is God Awful Fanfiction mocking fanfic any worse than the sites mocking romance novel covers or Fandom Wank mocking fans or Customers Suck mocking retail or MST3K or Childfree snotting at the childed or vice versa or... or... or...?

Public ridicule is part of the human condition. It can be done with affection or it can be the act of a bully, the butt of the joke can take it with grace or fury, but the concept is simply not going to disappear. Those who disapprove can either set up rival sites, decry it, or ignore it, but I sincerely doubt that any of these things will ever go away.

Also have very strong opinions about: Who are any of us to dictate what any writer should or should not write?

I'm the reader, that's who. And I flat-out refuse to silently stand by when any illiterate thinks they're the next Shakespeare simply because they banged on a keyboard and hit "send." Masterbation is also done for fun, not that many people get paid for it, and both it and appalling writing simply for the writer's ego should be done in private. If you can't care enough about your story to make it as good as possible, you can't possibly expect anyone else to.

(Obligatory disclaimer - I started writing fanfic in the print era, when the point of writing was to become good enough to be accepted into the really reputable - and expensive - print zines. Also, I am a book reviewer. I've read stuff that made my eyeballs almost explode in self-defense and see no need to hold back for the sake of the poor widdle author's feelings.)

[fadingembers]: Writing fanfic is something you do for fun. You don't get paid for it. It's comes purely out of joy. Who are any of us to dictate what any writer should or should not write? I can tell pretty quickly when I'm reading a LOTR 10th walker Sue story and the writer can't put together a complete sentence. And I move on. No frustration, no need to vent.

And yet, the moment you post something in a public forum and ask for reviews, it stops being about you and your hobby and becomes a part of a community. There is an exchange of trust - the writer trusts that an audience will read and review and leave constructive criticism while the reader trusts that the author has put time and effort into creating something worthy. More often than not, somebody falls down on the job. Maybe YOU don't need to vent when you've been browsing FFN all day and haven't found anything good, but some people do. Or some people find something so awful, they HAVE to share. And mock. And MST.

That being said, I'm not a part of GAFF. I have a login there should I ever feel like hopping in on a conversation (they pop up now and again on the wank journals at JF, and they are of the funneh), but I'm past the point in my fandom life where I feel like just looking for bad fics to laugh at.


I should probably start out by saying that I'm not really part of the fanfiction-is-just-for-fun crowd. I actually use it to keep my skills up when I'm stuck on my original fiction.

I have absolutely no problem with those who mock fiction they deem to be bad. A writer puts their writing in public, they have to expect people to have an opinion about it. I mean, unless it's one of those rare writers who don't expect feedback, I don't see how they have room to complain. In my opinion, you've got to grow a thick skin sometime.

I do agree that more constructive criticism is needed in fandom (though, it's hard to find the proper forum for it), but I don't think that that is the goal of places like GAFF. It is public ridicule. That's the danger of being in public.

[mofic]: carlanime has an interesting analogy in her journal, that speaks to this point. We all go out in public in clothes, yet we don't do so in the expectation that people will mock our fashion choices. Perhaps, she says, we should treat fanfic we don't like like clothing we don't like - say something privately to our friends if we wish, but not to the person writing the piece/wearing the clothes and certainly not loudly in public.

I tend to subscribe to the Judith Martin advice on that one - if there is something wrong with someone's clothes that is easy to fix and the observer is convinced is an error, rather than a fashion choice, the observer ought to tell, quietly. Otherwise, not. So an observer ought to say discreetly that a fly is undone (easy to fix, clearly an error), but not that there's a run in your stocking (unless you know she has another pair or you're providing one, what's the point?) or that those two shades just don't go together (maybe she likes them like that, and she can't fix them anyway).

I'm not sure how apt the analogy is, but it's certainly food for thought. I think I mostly follow that advice with fanfic. I will tell someone if a word is misspelled or if there seems to be a clear and unintentional error (like those pesky homophonic typos) in fanfic, and generally I do find people thank me for it and fix it right away. OTOH, if the piece is riddled with misspelled words I can't see saying so. Similarly if there's a plot hole a mile wide. And I'd never do any of the correction in a ridiculing way and in public!

Mostly I offer feedback when I particularly like a piece of fanfic and want to say something specific about what I liked. I also will offer some concrit along the way. If I don't like a piece, though, I don't see any reason to write the author and say so, or to post to some spot to ridicule the author. Generally if I don't think a piece of fanfic is any good, I don't finish reading it. I have better things to do with my time.


To put it in an online perspective, if people insist on putting photos of themselves online, then I probably do have the right to mock their appearance, but that doesn't mean that it's not rude. Especially since there is a possibility that the subject of my ridicule might find it. Of course, we're all entitled to be rude and cruel, but as to whether we should. I'm not sure, actually. I am a member of a few badfic communities, and I get extremely frustrated at bad writing too, but at a certain point I think that it's more a reaction to me not getting what I want, which is good fanfiction. It's not someone else's fault if they'd rather read and/or write bad fiction than good, and I shouldn't expect them to cater to me and my tastes.

[jaybee65]: I have a problem with sites like God Awful Fan Fiction.

Phrased like this, your statement comes across more as a personal rant than a topic for analysis, and I agree with those who suggested you might want to consider posting in fanficrants instead. If you have a problem with something, there's no room for discussion, really -- you simply do, and that's that.

However, one could rephrase your post into something a little more debate-provoking, such as: What role in fandom do badfic-mocking communities like GAFF play? What segment of fandom do they serve? How do they interact with other arenas of fandom? Can they be seen as having a negative or positive impact on fandom as a whole, to the extent one can make such value judgments? And so on.

Speaking as someone who has participated in a few badfic-mocking communities, I'll try to give my perspective.

I see the act of posting fan fiction as a type of performance. I, as the audience, then interact with it in a variety of ways, some of which have nothing to do with what the author wished or intended. One of those ways is to derive what one might call mean-spirited amusement out of that portion which I consider to be, in my admittedly subjective opinion, "badfic."

You're entirely correct to say that these communities aren't giving writers constructive criticism. That isn't their point, anymore than it's the point of watching the Gong Show or the tryouts for American idol. The point is that it's entertaining. For some people. Not all, obviously.

For the most part, badfic-mocking communities don't seek out their targets and thrust the mockery in their faces. Accordingly, as someone pointed out above, their audience isn't fanfic writers, but rather readers. As such, I believe they have a legitimate function to play in fandom, even if their existence does cause some negative effects (i.e., hurt feelings among authors who find out they've been mocked).

A 2007 Discussion at John/Paul Slash Uncensored

Comments below are from Question for the group mind, Archived version, a post at John/Paul Slash Uncensored, July 18, 2007:

[melody c]:

As for GAFF and [my] poor little novel, having had email exchanges with two of the participants all yesterday, it became clear that you're very right. They didn't "get" where I was going thematically. I felt a little like the Coen Brothers trying to explain "Raising Arizona" to people who don't get that kind of humor. I laugh hysterically at their stuff, but I know people that are just left cold by it. They think it's weird and strange because they don't "get it".

GAFFers (as they are now -- they used to be all fanosaurs) are all so used to normal fan fic (as you very appropriately depicted, over-the-top melodrama), and have never been introduced to the weirder breeds, they just didn't "get" what I was doing. They thought (in the words of one), "vampire Beatles in the afterlife -- I mean, that's just stupid. And all that sex was just gross and bad." This was their attitude. There's no way to get around it. From there, I didn't even try. There was also this whole moralistic tone that I don't think they were conscious of.

That said, I knew I was going over the edge when I wrote the thing. I hoped that people who'd read something more than standard fan prose would get where I was going. Clearly, you did and a few others have. You're the readers I care about. The mob at GAFF is just looking for fresh meat to rip apart. lol

An old fan writer (now a pro writer) emailed me during it all and said, "Congratulations, Mel! When that lot hates you, you know you're doing something dangerous and fun." lol


...they WEREN'T vampires in my story. I think it comes down to the fact the modern GAFFers are, as so many readers are these days, literalists. They didn't see the tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted, intended whimsy of the thing. They shredded up one of Sin Ferguson's classic K/S stories, too, one day -- one about Spock as a sex slave or something. Not my thing, but Sin's a brilliant writer, I saw where she was going with it. There's no better writer in fandom than Sin, so as old Sherlock used to say, I'm proud they want me dead. :)

And also, they're just a bunch of bullies over there. Was a time, we used to dissect badfic written by 14 year old Barbie shippers. Now they go after anything different, with the Alpha making the initial fresh kill and the betas feeding after. lol In this case, the Alpha had a hidden agenda to spur her on.


GAFF used to be about sharing (Within a small circle) some of the funnier, "Barbie-shipper" fan fiction (For instance, where Mulder, Scully and Skinner all started acting like kids rather than mature adults because kids had written the fan fic). It was never intended to be mean or the kind of "hammer of justice" thing it is now.

I was once a GAFF'er. We'd have the occasional fan fic writer come in and protest, but we'd assure her/him that they were young and they'd get better and often they did.

I left because of the growing air of elitism and meanness. They received a little exposure in mainstream press, it went to their heads and they also drew in people prone to want to feel better than others ... elitism on parade. Now they seek out RPS and anything else they feel is condemnatory. They're unsophisticated Cotton Mathers-types inclusive of a lot of men who claim to not be against slash but who are clearly against stories about two male TV or movie characters having sex (in other words, they don't like slash). lol

I'm actually glad they came after me instead of some young fan fic writer (like the one Jane describes) who might be frightened away from writing forever. Both my nieces stopped writing completely well over ten years ago because of similar sites. They both had real talent, but they were young. This was too much to resist for Fangirl Slayer (or whatever her awful name was) who made fun of them both horribly in public.

It's a general air of hatred toward writers that is very pervasive on the net, not just there. I know four different writers (good ones, though not in this fandom) who aren't posting their work online anymore because they didn't like having their most private thoughts and feelings laughed at. I can't say as I blame them. I'm going to continue writing. I'll send my work privately to people, but I'm not posting it in public any longer. I learned my lesson on that score.

[minds opaque]:

I finally managed to locate GAFF and was sorry I did. Those people are like a pack of wolves!

I don't understand the point of complaining that a story is "too explicit." It's not like you're holding a gun to their head saying "read this sex scene or I'll kill you, dammit!", so what's the problem? Sounds to me like people looking for an excuse to attack. Since tearing writers limb from limb seems to be GAFF's raison d'etre, if it weren't you, it would be someone else, for equally stupid reasons.

[749 penny lane]: GAFF: The Godawful Fan Fiction Forums

Apparently, it's a place to savage all the writing and writers that make you nuts on other sites.

"“What reasons do they give for trouncing writers of sexually explicit fiction rather than just not reading it? Do they give a reason?”"

This whole issue of the sexually explicit in gen or slash -- I don't know enough to comment on it much. I guess I haven't been exposed to enough of the squabbling to really understand what's behind a lot of the venom.

On GAFF, apart from issues of sexual explicitness, there seems to be a pack mentality where it's fun to be really nasty to writers you don't like. Not my cup of tea, even when I don't care for the work of the victim.

I stumbled upon their savaging someone I read on LJ where I absolutely agree that the stories are horrifically bad but I believe the author is a kid whose native language is not English. Why bother to be so mean? I doubt the writer will ever stumble upon the site but if they did, it would be incredibly hurtful. I wasn't tempted to join the pack.[25]

A 2015 Discussion at Fail_Fandomanon

Comments below from: Fail_Fandomanon: Concrit and Fan Culture, Archived version; archive link part 2; archive link part 3; archive link part 4.

I remember the olden days of the OBAFU, and Godawful Fanfic, where "concrit," was encouraged, and authors were expected not to take "concrit," personally and to use it to grow. But in retrospect, most of it was BS, it was a way of subtly bullying younger, less experienced authors, and authors whose fic you didn't agree with.

Speaking for someone who was in GAFF -- there was a pretty hard rule that you did not tell the writer that they were being sporked. No one wanted the writer to show up in the discussion. Sporkings weren't meant to be concrit or review, they were meant to be entertainment.

But within the group itself there was plenty of wank and disagreement over very petty things. They really didn't get the concept of YMMV or YKINMKBTOK and being mean was definitely A-Okay. They would not be the people to go to for concrit.

I was in Godawful Fanfic I think it is really telling that they never could get up a fic recs section. No one felt safe enough to recommend fics because everyone felt perfectly safe in tearing down a fic for any reason, including just not liking the pairing. It's all fine to tear down someone else, but it's not so easy to put yourself in a position to be torn down.

I actually left GAFF because I figured that if I was going to mock people for writing fic, I should write fic myself, so that I was on an even footing. Once I had, I realized just how repressed and uptight a bunch they were.

I remember GAFF, and I remember it being really vicious for what seemed to be really innocuous reasons, like not liking the pairing. I remember people being afraid of ending up with a fic of theirs there, because it was like the Official Badfic Author stamp or something.

I've seen the complaint that GAFF is repressed and uptight a couple of times on meme. I wasn't a frequent enough visitor to know, so I'd like to know where this comes from.

Where does it come from? Because they had trained themselves to be. Only the safest, most vanilla tastes could possibly be expressed without someone going off on how awful it was. All slash fic (don't even mention femmeslash!) was disturbingly wrong. Any fetish other than PIV was declared loudly icky. Any pairing that wasn't canon (and some that were) were bad. Any fic that wasn't 100 percent canon compliant/canon pairing/PG was the worst thing ever to someone.

Then you go into fandom and you can choose from all the pairings and all the kinks and all the tropes and my word reading "badfic" was a lot more fun than reading "goodfic" (which no one could ever agree on even existing).

Ooooh, now I get it. Like I said, I didn't hang out there long, but somewhere downthread I mentioned the whole "standards of badfic ratcheting lower until nothing is good", in communities/forums/general gathering places with a similar ethos (for lack of a better word) to GAFF.

And you're right. "Badfic" is a lot more fun. Especially when the few things that were considered "good" are either boring or "would be considered badfic if it wasn't by a prominent person".

The interesting thing in retrospect was that so much of it was a lie. I don't believe for a second the GAFFers limited themselves to the g rated canon compliant fic literature they claimed to. It's just that they had set up a positive feedback loop for negativity. Basically you could be as absurd as you wanted to be as long as you were talking something down. There were no limits to how picky you were allowed to be and still embraced So they didn't just pick on the big stuff, they picked on anything they could conceivably pick on. And it turns out nit-picking is an extremely easy, totally safe pass time. Against that any positivity had an unrewarding uphill battle.

It really is no wonder that the site fell apart under the weight of it's own unreasonableness.

I wonder how much of it was a total lie, as in "people reading stuff they loudly proclaimed 'badfic' when they weren't screaming about how bad it was" and how much of it was "Everything left that could be considered 'good' is not particularly interesting if that's all there is". At least in other similar places I hung out in, the problem I had, among a couple others, was that anything that could fit the definition of "good", within the increasingly narrow parameters of what a given community would approve of, could comfortably occupy the space of a 3.5" floppy disc and there'd still be plenty of room left on the disc for the guilty pleasure fics with emphasis on "guilty".


Also on fail_fandomanon:

[Re: Fandom trends you miss/don't miss]

...Sporking. The belief in general that you had to write all concrit like Gordon Ramsey at a failing restaurant, or you weren't being honest. I bought into that one for a while. Sorry I did.

Former GAFFer here. I've spoken up on Tumblr quite a bit on this. Chances are if you're under 25 and heard of Godawful Fanfiction website and the horrid culture it fostered, it was probably from something I posted since nearly everyone else who was there gafiated (remember that phrase? ;) ) or distanced themselves from other members. For a site that posted over 5000 active users at it's peak, there is so little commentary about...any of it, besides the one lame ass ED entry.

Anyway, the only difference between GAFF culture and SU criticals is that GAFF didn't hide behind social justice to be dicks to fanwriters. And I'm sorry I bought into that crap as well, because 99 percent of shit in fandom is NBD.[26]

Other Fan Reaction

While Godawful's comments still irk me, they were about a story that deserved it. I am still thrown off by their placement of it near the bottom, but that's life. When I myself declared that version unreadable, I should have realized that someone else with a sharp tongue might think the same. If what I write next year is as far above what I'm writing this year compared to last year , I'll do quite well. That said, I have one last quibble.

Godawful said the story meandered. It didn't. It was far too rushed, if it was anything. In fact, taking a slower, more deliberate pace with the plot the 2nd time around, I have yet to reach the timeline point that I abandoned the first BTAD at. But I'm good with that. That first version is better off dead, and I'll be ready for such opinions in the future. There has to be a balance between 'gushing' and the approach of Godawful.

I should never have taken the criticism as a personal attack. But at first glance, it can be hard not to. The really odd thing is, I had invited someone ( Can't remember who ) to MST the 1st version. Maybe that should have told me something. Their tactics I yet dispute, but their opinions of my old story--which are not about me--are mostly valid. I was wrong.[27]

Further reading

Similar Sites of the Time

Related Concepts, Fandoms, Terms, Fanworks
See also badfic, MSTing, Sporking, Turkey Reading, Netiquette of badfic!, Bad Fanfic! No Biscuit!, Citizens Against Bad Slash


  1. ^ a b crackpig, post on the unofficial GAFF LJ comm, Posted 12:47AM 31 January 2009. (Accessed 25 July 2018.)
  2. ^ a b servogirl76, comment on the official GAFF LJ comm, Posted 4:14AM 31 January 2009. (Accessed 25 July 2018.)
  3. ^ Two examples: Yahoo Internet Life "P.S.: Pretty Strange (unknown date, possibly September 2000) and Harry Potter and the purple prose Fans of the innocent boy wizard are in for a shock if they stumble upon fan-fiction websites. (2004). Other examples: (The Sydney Morning Herald) (March 18, 2006), (The Sydney Morning Herald "World Wide Wackos") (unknown date), (The New York Times Book Review "The Widening Web of Digital Lit") (October 03, 2004), (United States TV Guide "Top 10 TV Web Sites")(unknown date) - Updates
  4. ^ snapshot of forum on November 3, 2008
  5. ^ Front page via the Wayback Machine on 18 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b Front page via the Wayback Machine on 17 October 2000.
  7. ^ a b c GAFF FAQ, via the Wayback Machine on 18 December 2008.
  8. ^ a b Guidelines (unknown date)
  9. ^ a b The Site Guru, response to Catseye, 21 April 2004. Archived link.
  10. ^ There's no date on the archived clip, but this website claims that it was September 2000 and the site was still Star Trek only, so that checks out. (Archived version of the site.)
  11. ^ Yahoo Internet Life "P.S.: Pretty Strange" archived here.
  12. ^ a b "When you have had your fill of slash, gen and 'ship fiction (fanfic terms for various character entanglements), when you groan at the arrival of each new Mary Sue (a ludicrously empowered author proxy), when you find yourself wishing every story you read had been beta-ed (i.e. edited), then it's time to visit Godawful Fan Fiction, where the worst fan fiction on the Web is filleted with the hot knife of peer criticism. The Darcy/Wickham encounter mentioned above under FanFiction.Net is just one of many scenarios to have been deboned in the gleefully malicious Godawful forums." The Widening Web of Digital Lit by David Orr, October 3, 2004
  13. ^ What the fic? Plots thicken as fan-written stories proliferate on the Internet by Cheryl Truman and Heather Chapman. 02 Oct 2006. (Accessed 25 July 2018. Archived)
  14. ^ The Guardian, When lit hits the fans: Edward Helmore on the rise and rise of fan fiction. Posted 29 October 2006. (Accessed 25 July 2018. Archived)
  15. ^ ASC
  16. ^ Typo? The date was the 15?.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Godawful Fan Fiction - A Brief History, via Wayback: 07 December 2008. (Accessed 01 April 2013)
  18. ^ Front page via the Wayback Machine on 24 January 2001.
  19. ^ Front page via the Wayback Machine on 17 October 2002.
  20. ^ The Site Guru, reply to a post on the official GAFF LJ, posted 27 January 2009.
  21. ^ Post by The Site Guru to the official GAFF LJ comm on 19 December 2008.
  22. ^ There's a post on the unofficial GAFF LJ comm referencing "the 15th."
  23. ^ internettrash.com ("The only place for trashy, tasteless, useless, politically incorrect, silly, stupid, meaningless, obnoxious, waste of bandwidth homepages! Normal & ordinary homepages also welcome! Don't wait, join InternetTrash now!")
  24. ^ Laura Hale has made several claims that she is Mary Sue Whipple, something that is misleading. See Mary Sue Whipple: Co-oped, and Not in the Way the Creator Intended.
  25. ^ Rob Morris at I Was Wrong (May 20, 1999)
  26. ^ Anonymous. Thread(Archive). Posted 2018-12-12.
  27. ^ from Rob Morris at I Was Wrong (May 20, 1999)