Honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created

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Title: Honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created
Creator: magnusbene (mothbian)
Date(s): September 7, 2016
Medium: Tumblr post
Fandom:
Topic: AO3 policies
External Links: magnusbene.tumblr, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created... is an (untitled) tumblr post by magnusbene that was part of a larger discussion about content on the Archive of Our Own. The original post was made in September, but may have seen a resurgence of interest during the OTW October Drive, as magnusbene made two follow-up posts on October 14 and October 17.

As of July 2017, the post had 15,733 notes.[1]

Some Topics Discussed

The Post

honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created, if you defend their policy of not deleting horrible works, or are otherwise completely uncritical/forgiving of their mistakes because “but they’re by fans for fans”, you’re a piece of shit

horrible tropes and abuse have always been a part of fandom and fanworks, but it’s super gross that a bunch of fandom elders (who are most likely at least in their thirties) continue the tradition of citing “don’t like don’t read” as a good enough excuse to write child porn, abuse, rape, sexual slavery, etc. AND they collect thousands of dollars each year to fund this through donations

like. they are literally putting money into abusive content being published on their site. where people of any age, even pre-teens, can access it. for example, I could never report people posting alec/women stuff despite it being homophobic, because it doesn’t violate their terms. I can’t report pretty much anything, because as long as you’re not plagiarizing, it’s all good

yeah, ao3 is great as a concept, but allowing abusive, homophobic, racist, etc. material to be published on your site because “fuck the pc police/moral crusaders” is appalling and fuck ao3 tbh. not to mention they’ve had really disgusting people as members on their board, so it’s pretty obvious what kind of people are in charge of this site.

Some Fan Comments

[yourshipisfine]:

If you do not like AO3′s policies, don’t donate to them, don’t publish your fic there and don’t read fic there.

AO3 was created because people were unhappy with the policies of other websites and fanfiction archives.

If you are unhappy with AO3′s policies, there is nothing stopping you from setting up a fanfic archive of your own where you can decide on the policies.

As for pre-teens accessing the site and reading porny fic… yeah. They’re gonna do that. And you know whose responsibility that is? Those kids’ parents.

If I post explicit fic on AO3, it is my responsibility to categorise it as mature/explicit, to tag the relationships and to mention in the tags/summary that it contains sex. That’s it. [2]

[kimuracarter]:

Free speech DOES NOT just protect speech you LIKE, kids. Then it wouldn’t be free. Remember that, because we are not about to start going backwards. [3]

[unecessaryevil]:

Gothic Literature uses sodom such as rape etc. to challenge the norms of society to subvert it, however, especially in fanfictions these malpractitions and representations of such acts of sodom are terribly horrible to feature and shouldn’t enter the realm of fanfics. In my opinion, featuring such things in texts that are pornographic, especially when it involves a child, is terribly distasteful. One thing I want to be taken away from this is that there is a fine line between Smut/NSFW texts and distasteful, fetishised and repugnant texts. [4]

[lizdexia]:

actually you know what i didn’t get to say what i was going to say before because i had to rush off but now i’m just gonna say this – this post is garbage. if little sally doesn’t understand how road signs work, the appropriate question to ask isn’t “how can we make the highway safer for 8-year-olds,” it’s “hOLY FUCK WHY IS LITTLE SALLY DRIVING A CAR?!” when work is tagged appropriately, marked nsfw/inappropriate for those under 18, and warned for everything that requires a warning, the creator’s side of the contract has been fulfilled. period. this is why parental controls and safe search exist. it’s not my job as a hobbyist purveyor of casual filth to prevent someone else’s child from accidentally reading what i’ve written. it’s not my job to parent anyone else’s children. it’s not ao3′s job to convert a twelve-lane highway into a go-kart track for those plastic fisher-price cars you pedal with your feet because hypothetical children might read something they shouldn’t have access to in the first place. and for that matter, if the argument is “kids will lie about their age to look at that stuff anyway” – yeah, sure, of course they will. funnily enough, i got into harry potter fandom young – started reading fanfic when i was around 10 and 11. you know what i did when i saw things that were tagged in a manner that disturbed me? I DIDN’T READ THEM. I WAS CAPABLE, AS A CHILD, OF CONTROLLING MY OWN MEDIA CONSUMPTION EXPERIENCE. and then i got a little older and turned 13 and read wuthering heights and david sedaris and augusten burroughs and a confederacy of dunces, and then i turned 15 and read lolita and anais nin, and you know what? i. could. handle. it. by. then. yeah, i was a precocious kid (my favorite book at 13 was a fucking confederacy of dunces, for god’s sake), but i was not permanently damaged by anything i read. funnily enough, i was permanently damaged by my ABUSERS, not the literature i read, and sure as hell not by the fanfic. despite all of my issues with moral wank and purity culture, historically, fandom is a remarkably safe space for younger people to read things that toe the boundaries of what they can find in the YA section at their library, and to try creating things that toe those boundaries as well. it’s not a perfect space by any means, but it served that purpose for me. i can’t say enough good things about what it did for me as a teen who was not allowed to date and whose school stressed abstinence-only sex ed which taught us that masturbation was immoral and condoms would give you cancer. if your argument is “ao3 and content creators have a responsibility to the community” – yes. and we fulfill it by TAGGING THINGS CORRECTLY. if the argument is “but kids will read tagged things anyway” – sure. some will. but as someone who did, i can tell you, kids aren’t fucking stupid. they can differentiate between fiction and reality, and for that matter, they can differentiate between things they want to read and things they don’t. i am not anyone else’s parent. neither is OP.

s t o p. [5]

[raccoonhi]:

The entire reason AO3 was created was to give all those “horrible” fics OP hates a safe place to be posted. Most antis seem to be too young to remember what it was like on LiveJournal. Hell, I’m too young to have been there but fandom elders are well aware of how difficult it was to have fandom communities anywhere after all that Strikethrough nonsense. What antis are doing is literally along the same lines, but worse. Strikethrough targeted the same types of works OP has a problem with, along with plenty of other things we would object to being removed. Instead of doing anything good, it just fucked people over. It literally infringed on their rights- and yes, depicting whatever horribly immoral things you want in fiction is, in fact, a right that everyone has. So yeah, fuck the moral police. All this movement has ever done was hurt people. AO3 was created to get away from that. And if you don’t want to read something, you don’t even have to fucking see it. There are warnings for a reason. I’m really sorry OP finds it horrible that things they don’t like exist, but they and everyone who thinks like them needs to get over themselves and really think about what good it’ll do. Is it worth stealing resources from people who might need them? Is it worth taking away fiction survivors use to cope? Is it worth denying the fact that many abuse victims learned about their abuse through fiction and taking away future victims’ chance at realizing that the way they’re treated isn’t normal? If the answers to these questions is yes, congratulations, you’re an abysmal excuse for a human being and you’re actually worse than all the ~horrible~ people who write about abuse and other deplorable things. At least the people they’re hurting don’t exist. how difficult it was to have fandom communities anywhere after all that Strikethrough nonsense. What antis are doing is literally along the same lines. [6]

[lordhellebore]:

This. Back in 2007 with Strikethrough (link to the fanlore article here) it was conservative Christians targeting any works they found distasteful, these days it’s young “progressive” people clamouring for precisely the same censoring of fan content in the name of social justice. It’s the same kind of policing, the same conflation of fiction and reality, and although the arguments are different on a superficial level, the reasoning behind them is, in essence the same. [7]

[julesdrenages]:

It’s not even a matter of putting things in the perspective of ‘means of coping’/’resources that someone might need to recognize future abuse’ and so on, in my opinion.

They are absolutely valid reasons for keeping those works where they are, of course, I’d never say the contrary.

But the core of the matter here is that I have the right to write whatever the fuck I want, for the sake of fiction, and I have the right to publish my work online, to share it with people who enjoy the same kind of fiction.

In a system like AO3, with a very wide range of filters, tags and tools to narrow your access to stories, it is my responsibilty as an author to tag and classify my work sensibly, but what to make of those tags is up to you. I can’t and will not be held accountable for distressing you with a graphic depiction of assault if you willingly opened a one-shot of your otp tagged rape/non-con.

As for minors stumbling on unsuited content: it’s still not my responsibility. As long as my work is marked as mature, if you kid lie about your age, browse it anyway and get upset over it it’s still not my fucking business. Not when you actively chose to not follow the rules. You wanna complain? I’ll have a talk with your parents, then.

You want a safe, sheltered space to suit your demands? Go build it yourself, or customize the already existing archives to your fancy, because guess what? You can do that.

(sincerely, an author that mostly writes harmless vanilla sex and has far more squicks than kinks). [8]

[desert-neon]:

Reblogging for that last comment, because I agree wholeheartedly. Censorship is a great evil. It doesn’t matter why an Fan Writerauthor chose to write it – past trauma, secret kink, honestly just wants to help start a dialogue about the issue – all that matters is that they want to and that, in any free society, it is their right to do so.

Lolita is a classic. Though many misinterpret it as a romance, it isn’t. It was never meant to be seen that way. It was meant to be a character study, a discussion piece. An eye-opener.

Is every fic a Lolita? No, of course not. But the danger of censorship is: Where do you draw the line? Why is Lolita okay but not a 20K sexual slavery fic posted on Ao3? Because it’s in book form? Because Nabokov got paid? If we banish the slave fic, how do we tell the moral police who want to “protect their children” from all things gay that they’re wrong but you’re not? If you crusade to shut down Ao3, what’s to stop other “watchdogs” from banning book they find offensive, curating school reading lists and libraries to only include what they deem acceptable?

Because it still happens. Did you know To Kill a Mockingbird still gets challenged? Morality police throughout the country try every year to ban a work that educates kids about racial history in America.

So does Of Mice and Men, which teaches compassion and empathy for those who aren’t neurotypical, and points to the falsehood of the “American Dream” for anyone who isn’t in the majority.

Or what about 1984, a book warning about overreaching governments. Note the irony.

If you in any way agree with OP, I suggest you read Fharenheit 451, and cherish the fact you live in a society that still allows it on the shelves. [9]

[decepticonfetti]:

I just don’t understand this whole attitude of younger fans in fandom telling older fans to GTFO because we’re old™?

First off, the people making the book/show/movie/comic your into are also old™. Let’s just get that out of the way. With very few exceptions, the media you consume is made by bonafide adult individuals who will continue to make it while aging because they are human beings and human beings eventually become old™. Like it or not, fan fiction is an art form and like all art it should be allowed to encompass the entire range of human experience (or outside of human experience, for you paranormal enthusiasts, ghost kinksters, robots, and possible extraterrestrials).

I, for one, find it rather gross that there are some artists out there who use period blood to paint self-portraits. But…they are free to express themselves that way and I wouldn’t dream of trying to stop them from expressing themselves. That’s what freedom of expression is all about! I also do not like the ship Reylo for various reasons, but I’m not going to go out of my way to yell at people for shipping it because it really doesn’t affect me whatsoever.

I’m rambling, but my point is that especially with AO3, their tag system makes it so that you find exactly what you are looking for. So OP, I’m sorry that you went looking for stories with your boy Alec in them and found that some of those stories featured him paired with a lady you don’t like. Maybe next time, if you’re looking for a specific ship with your boy Alec, search for who you ship him with instead of just running a general search for his name. That way you don’t trip up any entries of things that may upset you. Just like, you know…if I’m searching for fics with my main bot the great and glorious Megatron doing the deed with his old flame Optimus Prime in a pre-war time - I, being the savvy person I am, will search for Megatron/Orion Pax instead.

You understand?

Secondly, there are a hell of a lot of franchises that became popular because people who are old™ like them!! The Anime you watch today wouldn’t have been translated or subbed our distributed in the US if it weren’t for us old™ people making the original imports so popular. Are you a fan of Star Wars or Star Trek or any Marvel/DC movie in existence?

Those franchises were made popular and continue to exist because old™ people in fandom did fan things and bought stuff and wrote stuff and drew stuff and petitioned for de-cancellation of stuff and organized conventions to enjoy stuff. Your fandom is built on the shoulders of the fans before you, and you have the audacity to stroll in here and say we can’t continue liking it or writing stuff for it because we’re old™?

Fuck that shit, I’m writing fic for the rest of eternity. I will continue tapping out fic until the heat death of this universe and when the new one is born from the ashes of the dead one I will through sheer spite generate myself into existence again to continue writing. Why? Because you said I’m too old™ to do so.

Thirdly, I wrote smut of Marik from Yu-Gi-Oh and my OC when I was in high school, set in during the battle city arc. Marik is 16 at that point in time and my OC was 14. You want to tell me I was wrong for exploring my sexuality that way, OP? That I was wrong for writing an abusive relationship? That I was wrong for not shipping Marik/Bakura? That I should have been banned from writing because you may not have liked one particular aspect of it?

Because that’s what happens, OP.

You ban a thing for one specific reason, then all the other reasons someone might want to write that thing get caught in the crossfire. Want to ban stories with rape or rape mentions in them? Boom, you’ve now banned people writing for coping purposes. You’ve banned writing canon characters who have had that happen to them in the past. You’ve banned writing OCs that have had that happen to them in the past. You have banned writing about rapists getting their just desserts for being shitheads. You’ve banned writing about Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright successfully prosecuting a rapist. You’ve banned just writing a fic that’s based in an imperfect world like our own where it exists as a thing that can happen. All because you want to prevent a certain type of fic that falls under that category from being posted?

OP, if you ever sat through banned books week at school and wondered how the hell books become banned, it’s people like you.

It’s people like you. [10]

In The News

In the wake of China blocking AO3 in 2020, the tumblr post was cited by Procuratorate Daily, the mainland Chinese state-run legal newspaper, as an example of how "AO3 has always been controversial."[11]

References

  1. ^ honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created, Archived version (Accessed 5 July 2017.)
  2. ^ yourshipisfine
  3. ^ kimuracarter
  4. ^ unecessaryevil
  5. ^ lizdexia
  6. ^ raccoonhi
  7. ^ lordhellebore.
  8. ^ julesdrenages
  9. ^ desert-neon
  10. ^ decepticonfetti
  11. ^ 肖战事件:是非曲直如何评说 (Xiao Zhan Incident: How to comment on right and wrong), Archived version, 11 March 2020.