Mission Report Clarification (aka "Running Challenges Is Harrrrd")

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Title: Mission Report Clarification (aka "Running Challenges Is Harrrrd")
Creator: Cesperanza
Date(s): August 21, 2006
Medium: online
Fandom: many, but had a focus on Stargate Atlantis
External Links: Mission Report Clarification (aka "Running Challenges Is Harrrrd"); archive link
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Mission Report Clarification (aka "Running Challenges Is Harrrrd") is a post by Cesperanza made in reply to The Mission Report Challenge, a Stargate Atlantis challenge that was issued at sga_flashfic on August 21, 2006.

This second post addressed the many complaints regarding the original challenge's comments regarding permissions and "remixing" other fanworks.

In the end, according to the posts at the official sga_flashfic site, there were 115 "opt-ins" and 36 "opt-outs" [1]

The Post

Whoa, whoa--okay, okay! We hear you! While we remain philosophically committed to the idea that people have the right to make art based on other art provided that due credit is given the original artist, this is supposed to be fun, not a referendum on the nature of derivative works.

Also, we'd like this to be less work for us.

So here's what we're gonna do. DO ask permission if you want to try option C in the Mission Report challenge. In order to make it easier for this to happen, I'm going to make two other posts--a global opt-in and a global opt-out (to spare people who don't want to be bothered asking or refusing individuals.)

If you opted out already--and opted out without exception, because a number of you said "just ask for permission" which is now the default--so if you opted out without exception, I'll put your name on the global opt-out post, so don't worry; you're covered.

If you would like to opt-in globally, please drop a comment on the opt-in post.

If you're not sure, do nothing! Wait for someone to contact you, or not! (I actually personally think we're not going to get many option c)'s in general, because I think they're going to be hard to write--but I'd love to be surprised.)

While I'm here, another couple of points of clarification:

1) I suppose I'm to blame for using the word "remix"; please note that this is NOT a conventional remix, but a mission report. The idea of c) is to tell the same story, differently--in mission report form--not to change the original story in a radical way; if something really weird happened on mission, how might that come across in the formal report?

2) We were surprised by how many people feared having gen stories or other-pairing stories mixed into McShep. That was certainly not the intention of the challenge--again, this was supposed to be a mission report challenge, so it's supposed to reflect (distort, embellish, conceal) what actually happened on the mission, the original story being the mission.

3) corinna_5 asked a great question: "Can ONLY stories in mission-report format can be submitted? Or is it that the idea of the "mission report" can be played with in the way, say "documentation" was in that challenge? " Answer: No, you can write stories about or that feature mission reports as key plot points; we continue to preach latitude in the hope that we get as many good stories as possible.

If you have any other questions or comments or DO want to keep debating the nature of derivative art, please comment here. If you are GLOBALLY OPTING IN or OUT, please comment in one of the two next posts!!

Out for now--

Some Comments at the Post

The comments at this second post were much fewer, and focused on congratulating the mod for flexibility and diplomacy, as well as further scoldings regarding permissions.


Ces, let me just congratulate you on both not taking the debate personally (it was always about the issue, never a reflection on you), and for being flexible enough to make this change. I really appreciate the maturity and integrity you are showing in taking this action.

I want to take this opportunity to make the point I was skirting in all my other posts. I realize that we don't own fanfic stories, that we do not enjoy the protection of a copyright. To my way of thinking, that's the biggest reason that we should always hold ourselves to the standard of asking permission before using someone else's material. Because we have no legal recourse, we must rely on the integrity of our peers to ensure that our work be respected, our rights not be abused. Posting a fanfic story is the ultimate act of faith and trust in the publishing world, because we have no means of preventing appropriation of anything we came up with ourselves. We have to be self-policing, and that means we must all treat each other just as though we do have copyrights on the stories we turn out. If we don't, then this ceases to be fun and rewarding and just becomes one more area of hassle and discord in our lives.

Be good to each other. That's all I ask.

Thank you for the clarification and the changing.

2) We were surprised by how many people feared having gen stories or other-pairing stories mixed into McShep. That was certainly not the intention of the challenge--again, this was supposed to be a mission report challenge, so it's supposed to reflect (distort, embellish, conceal)( what actually happened on the mission, the original story being the mission.

Given that pretty much ANY pairing you see on either of the Stargates is via reading subtext, I don't think it's a huge shift to have concerns that your gen story be written with pairing-postive glasses on. Which is not necessarily a bad thing...unless that rubs the original author the wrong way.


Anyway, thanks again. I know the response to the previous entry was eye-opening for me, on a number of fronts.
Not much to say except thank you for offering the chance to opt out. You rock!
I just want to congratulate you on not leaving the community to eat itself. It showed remarkable commitment and restraint. Personally, I'd have resigned and gone to watch a DVD.

It's not even just about changing the pairings. If I'm known for anything in this fandom it's the Stackham stuff - for which I had to choose first names, and even develop characterisations.

I've since seen those names and characterisations used in fics that made me want to spork out my eyes (especially being as conservative as I am in certain areas) - it's painful. And frustrating. And it makes AK want to torture helpless kittens in transference.

I feel the need to voice my displeasure because I only found out about this indirectly. I spend my time logged into a personal blog rather than a fandom one, and I'm sure other authors do the same. I would be appalled to find my fics had been used without permission (however unlikely it is) because I had missed the 'Opt-Out' post.

I know it's an attempt at democracy, but I can only see it going horrendously wrong, somehow.

Also, I think that there should be a middle-ground post, rather than a 'do nothing' option. I'm not prepared to say 'yes' to anything, and I don't want to stifle someone's creativity if the crazy bugger thinks they can make something good out of what I've churned out (assuming I accept their idea within the realms of the alfiverse), but by the same token, I don't want someone to come write something I despise from one of my fics and credit me for it.

I guess it's probably because shiny_starlight and I have put a fuckload of work into creating things that have been heavily absorbed into fanon, and I feel possessive of 'my boys', but I'm pretty nervous about all this.


...I kind of think a 'yes, with conditions' thread would have benefitted the challenge, really - instead of having a global opt-in. I'd be afraid people would take that too literally.

But I've opted out, anyway.

The prospect of people screwing with my pride and joy frightens me.

Thank you for the clarifications, Ces. I trust you, honest, I just think the wording of the original was poorly chosen, but that happens. I've had OCs from my fanfics borrowed before, usually with permission but occasionally not. I understand that this happens, and I'm fine with it. I'm not opting out because fanfic, by its very nature, skates the grey area of permissions and legality. Who am I to insist that my work is inviolable when I'm using someone else's without permission? That you insist on credit is enough for me.

Just wanted you to know.

And the "please no McShep" thing was just a caution toward authors who might otherwise be tempted. ;)

I only read fanfic, I don't write, but I've been following the discussion caused by the latest challenge. I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but I'm curious about the somewhat double ethics here.

On a personal level, I absolutely agree with asking for permission first - it's the polite thing to do. But, can someone demand that kind of politeness if they don't apply it themselves? Obviously there is a differentiation: on the one hand, the relation between the creators of the show and the fanfic writers, and on the other hand, the relation between the fanfic writers themselves. If a fanfic author does not ask permission from the creators of a show to use their characters, is it okay to insist on being asked permission if their fanfic is being used by someone else? Or is there a reason I'm not aware of (and the likeliness for that is pretty high) for this kind of differentiation?

You are asking for the impossible. With the exception of a blanket yes or no by authors like Anne Rice or Joss Wheadon, a fan can not ask for such permission.

Authors are advised not to pay too much attention to fanfic for legal reasons. The nature of email contact to writers makes a direct communication unlikely. It might be generally impossible to contact the authors in several instances. In the case of SGA, there are several writers whose email address are unknown, rendering you unable to ever contact them. Are you able to tell me the email address of the writer who wrote the episode introducing the Wraith Queen?

In conclusion: You can not apply this kind of politeness to yourself.

Damn, I went to work and missed all the fun. For the record, I am shocked and appalled that you would assume that anyone in fandom would follow directions or attempt to understand something when the other option is hysteria. Also I think that describing someone else's story in any way other than a link or a title without the author's permission is in astonishingly bad taste.

Isn't there a whole (somewhat discredited) field of literary criticism in which you're only allowed to think about things in the way in which you think the author would have wanted you to?


  1. ^ ADMIN; Opt IN and ADMIN; Opt OUT