Social Darwinism in Fandom

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Title: Social Darwinism in Fandom
Creator: nnaylime and commenters
Date(s): October 3, 2005
Medium: online
Topic: concrit
External Links: on livejournal;
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Social Darwinism in Fandom is a post by nnaylime at Fanthropology.

The post has 115 comments.

Some Topics Discussed

The Post

Way back a million years ago in fandom - I was one of those people. The type of person who would leave a nasty review or two on a story that I found . . . well, deserving of a nasty review. I even got into a flamewar or two on Now, I don't do that so much as not review stories at all - although I will still leave gushing reviews on the stories that I find . . . well, gushworthy. I was thinking about this recently, when I hit a story that had the memorable and oh, so in-character (/irony) opening of two characters saying "Hey" to each other as they sat down in adjoining seats on a couch. Rather than rip the story to shreds, I just closed the browser window in disgust and went on to something else. To an extent I've always justified my shred-review behavior as "for the good of the fandom." It encourages writers with the backbone to withstand my scorn to step up to the plate and improve, and if the writer is a snivling cry-baby, well, I don't want him/her in fandom anyway - just as well I scared them off with my negative review. However, at the same time, just as I think fandom as a whole shouldn't really want authors playing Barbies (or Sims) with their main characters and would rather see meaty fic that requires a bit of mastication, I see the OOC "barbiefic" getting gushing reviews, and thus it continues. So, my question, do you see a trend of "survival of the fittest" in fandom, and if so, how do you think that "fittest" is ascertained? Do your views of what fandom ought to be fit with the majority, or is there a minority (vocal or behind the scenes) that seems to pull the strings? Does the law of the jungle rule, or is it more a "high school/classest" model? Do the rules transcend the medium, or are there different rules depending on whether it's fic, fanart, vids, or simply episode discussion? Is there a wellspring for fanon, or does it develop spontaneously?

Excerpts from Comments

  • comment by maureenans ("...are we twins? I used to do the same thing...and now I don't even bother to waste the energy on writing a "real" review for a badfic. but I'd like to clarify something - I don't know about you, but I never told an author to stop writing or leave fandom or anything like that. I gave them a real literary review using words that would have made me HS english teacher swoon and I always offered to help beta their fics to make them better. No one ever took me up on that offer ;) I always felt that older/more mature writers should help their younger or inexperienced counterparts and that frequently meant telling them that their writing and/or plot was horrible (which btw is exactly what older writers did for me when I first started in fandom). Sometimes people left the fandom, sometimes they called me names, sometimes they ignored me. The end results I found had little to do with their mad writing skillz (j/k) and more with their personalities. Those people with a serious passion for writing or for the fandom stayed and improved regardless of any reviews I gave (and I did post positive reviews on fics that were good and/or improved as well). Those that were into it as a passing fad, threw a hissy fit and left. The ones with the passion helped create a community of friends, regardless of their individual writing prowess, which I think is much better than simply how well they write. And you know what? I *still* write with the same people who smacked me upside the head when I was starting out online at 14. And I'm 23 now. We've been through a lot in our lives in 10 years, but we still write, we still improve and we are friends in a community. THAT is survival of the friendliest, not the fittest, because I know that I am not the best writer in our group by far. And that's okay.")
  • comment by nnaylime ("Interestingly, when I first started out online (in ST: Voy fandom), I got very little in the way of concrit and much more in the way of praise of my initial halting attempts. I still love that show, and will occasionally read but don't write for it. My 2nd fandom - which I credit for helping me cut my "literary" teeth (and also the one where I gave the reviews to which I'm now referring), gave my my closest friends - although many of us have begun writing for other shows, we still critique e/os work and look for the same evolved, subtle writing style in newer fandoms that we appreciated in the olders (though the "bulk" of that fandom seems to be more into playing the literary version of Barbies.")
  • comment by beccastareyes ("Recently I gave a quote to a friend, after spending over an hour chatting with the writer I'm beta-reading for about a plot hole in his fanfic. I'm going to paraphrase. "I would consider it hypocritical if I were to complain about the lack of good fiction in my fandoms, if I did nothing to help encourage it. So I write my own fiction, I leave concrit, I offer to beta works, I compose myself in a polite, helpful, but not coddling manner -- I won't tell you your work is good unless it is, but I will tell you what I like and don't like, and will also offer suggestions on how to make it better. And I won't review fic if there is nothing worth building on -- that's what the back button is for." Sure, my betaing and concrit may be a drop in the bucket considering how many writers there are out there, but it's one drop more than there was. And hopefully it will help people feel comfortable in treating me in the same fashion.")
  • comment by kraken wakes ("The problem is the sheer volume of fanfiction. Although the Typewriting Monkeys Theory predicates that good fanfiction will be written, but the internet and the huge number of fanfiction writers that there are today have assured that good fic is always going to be outweighed by the dross. Always. It's not just a case of whether a fandom should want fanfiction to treat the characters with the same 'meatiness' as the source material (and I suspect that a lot of people are quite happy with OOCness as long as it works for them), it's a case of levels of skill/experience/available time/emotional investment/financial investment (in buying books/DVDs)/support from the community and so on and so forth in the fanfiction writers which dictates the quality and/or depth of the fanfiction. I'm an HP fan (among others *g*). After I finished Order of the Phoenix I didn't go looking for something which delved into Harry's thought processes and the darkening situation that the characters faced. Instead, I went looking for a nice fluffy fix-it to cheer myself up. I really don't think this is unusual behaviour. Anything which is 'for the good of the fandom' is purely subjective and a phrase that makes me cringe, to be honest and writers following a 'party-line' so to speak would seem to lead to stagnation.")
  • comment by nnaylime ("It's public vs. private. I don't care what fannish activities occur in private, or what stories you share with friends in private email - but when you post a story on the interwebs, publicly, you open yourself up for comment from the fandom as a whole - good, bad, or ugly. To paint it with the broadest strokes fandom is, from my perspective, a communal activity, and thus by its nature open to "monitoring" from the fannish community.")
  • comment by nnaylime ("Because it's my fandom, too! And I want to read stories I enjoy when I sit down to read. Now, granted enjoyment is subjective, but I think everyone can agree that a story laden with tense shifts, lacking subject/verb agreement, and suddenly giving the single, unmarried protagonist a daughter who bears more than a passing resemblance to the author would "suck." That sort of story, I generally wouldn't even bother to review. However, a story that shows promise but had a few issues in phrasing, canon, or other elements, might have (in my earlier, less jaded days) garnered a review specifically outlining what I liked as well as the areas that I saw for improvement. Nine times out of ten, 18 other people would then jump to the author's defense lambasting me for being so "mean" and telling the author not to take it 'personally.' To an extent, that amuses me, I never meant it personally - I just wanted to see better stories out of an author I thought showed promise because, as a whole, I wanted more good stuff to read. And yeah, I'm always willing to put my money where my mouth is and get con-crit in return. To me, it means the reader gives a damn.")
  • comment by partly bouncy ("Ego? Because you can? A social experiment? I know when I did a lot of nasty commenting, some of it was motivated out of ego. I could do it. I had the right to do it. It amused me. I knew better than others. The idea of if they could put out their drivel and crap, then I had the right to say whatever I wanted about their drivel and crap....My own behaviour taught me all people who send feedback are wankers and I should not read any feedback. I feel pity for such authors as the great lord_gribeau where people send him feedback involving typos. :) But I'm a fannish oddity. Now I just assume that bad fan fiction writers really need to be beaten with the big book of fan fiction history to better understand that what they are doing is serious business. Forget the comments regarding spelling. Just talk about fan fiction from the 1970s or late 1960s and how people still remember it. Talk about fan fiction from the early 1990s. Talk about your own crap and how it took years and years for it to mostly disappear from the Internet and boy, wasn't that embarrassing and you know, people still comment on so-and-so's bad Mary Sue from 1985. This is a much more effective way to teach a person to write, in my opinion, than correcting typos. But yes, I was nasty because I was me and I had the ego from hell. I still have the ego from hell. I just selectively when to chose to unleash it...At 17, I don't think I would have accepted the idea that at 25, I'd still be discussing fannish stuff I'd written back then and my various fannish temper tantrums. I didn't have that foresight. Hearing about it might not have registered but it still would have been good to hear.")
  • comment by tehta ("why do people feel it necessary to monitor other people's fannish activities? Well, if by 'fannish activities' you mean 'fanfic', then that's what many of us are in the fandom for, and as we read the stories we can't forming our opinions on their quality. As for why people would choose to express those opinions... I am sure the reasons for this are different for different people, but some of us are starved for well-written fics, and don't like having to wade through mountains of terrible ones to find them. (Yes, I would agree that 'good writing' is subjective, but only to a degree. A lot of the stuff on ffn is objectively seriously flawed.) And there is this theory that offering concrit can cause writers to improve. Of course, not everyone is interested in improving as a writer. Some people are in fandom just to mess around with their favourite characters, and never mind the grammar, let alone the story structure. I sometimes think of this as another fandom, parallel to my own.")
  • comment by neadods ("Survival of the fittest fanwriter died when fanfic went online. When we were all competing for slots in (and comps of) the zines with the highest reputation, there was a reason to strive for accurate characterization or a well-thought out AU (not to mention grammar, plot, spelling, etc.) Getting there took the ability to take criticism because you were going to get plenty of it on your way up. Now, those of us who are still looking for those things are overwhelmed by people who want to type, hit enter, and collect egoboo. Why even listen to the slightest criticism when a dozen people will pat you on the head for using the names of their favorite characters, no matter how badly written?")
  • comment by nnaylime ("Why even listen to the slightest criticism when a dozen people will pat you on the head for using the names of their favorite characters, no matter how badly written? I hate that I agree with you. I wonder though, about the fanzines - would you say that there's a difference regarding "juried" fanzines and self-published? A close friend of mine was in the ST-fandom in the very early days and has argued with me that even then, some of the stuff was "crap," there was just less of it.")
  • comment by wickedwords ("There were zines that were the equivalent of self-published web stuff, where you had to give the publisher camera-ready copy, and they slapped together a dozen stories or so and printed them (all different fonts, all different formatting, all different skill levels, everything -- yet one zine). (My first published fan fic story was done by one of these publishing mills) In quality, it was absolutely no different from what you would see on")
  • comment by partly bouncy ("According to a couple of web sources, there was a period in the mid to late 1980s where the Blake's 7 fandom was rife with bad Mary Sues. The problem was apparently even worse in the Australian B7 fandom than the American one. They did self publish. Clubs published their own zines. And there was less crap because there was less fic. :/")
  • comment by neadods ("Oh, Sturgeon's Law applies *everywhere* - and there were always those zines who proudly trumpeted that THEY were better that those elite SNOBS and had the taste to know that truefans really wanted was any story in their universe and that's what this zine would deliver, without any of that snotty editorializing! (This is, btw, taken almost literally from the editorial page of a fanzine.) The difference between juried and selfpublished remains who is on the jury vs who is publishing. It's possible to have terrible crap in both areas. The real question, IMO, is whether the author is truely writing for the sake of *writing well* - the story being ultimately more important than the author - or whether the author is writing for the love of being considered an author, wherein the story and the reader's experience aren't even considerations.")
  • comment by neadods ("Yeah, you're still writing for yourself, but in the quest to get someone else to publish it, you've got to take the reader (at least one reader) into account. I've seen online writers point-blank say that they write to amuse themselves and they don't care what the reader thinks at all. (And while I won't shred to prove that I can shred a story, I will tell people like that to masturbate in private.)")
  • comment by partly bouncy ("My understanding, based on what I've been told by several people, was the fanfic quality never had any real quality controls, no survival of the fittest. People published poorly written, unedited, out of character material. If they couldn't get it in a zine, they made their own. Toss in the fact that there was very little feedback, feedback could arrive months or years after the fact, it wasn't necessarily helpful, etc. If a person in zine days wanted to improve, they had to start their own writing groups, find people to edit their fics, etc.")
  • comment by neadods ("I agree about (lack of) quality controls, but not about survival of the fittest. Even the cheapest zines cost a large sum of time and money to produce, especially way back in the dinosaur days when you did your entire print run up front. Plenty of people ended up with garages full of unsold stuff because the market simply wasn't interested. But the word-of-mouth mill worked just as good back then, and if a zine was good, we would find out about it. Then we'd get it. Then we'd start submitting stuff for the next issue, hoping to get in... the fittest did survive, because the fans were all rooting for the best zines to continue. I also think that while writer's circles are good, as is feedback, there's a lot to be said for the educational effects of getting an edit back from a reputable zine-ed. Almost more than the feedback, because one of the things that you had to do for a zine ed that you don't do in a circle and you never do in feedback is to make the critical decision of whether you agree or not. When an editor says "add this, change that, or give it somewhere else" after the initial "My baby! She doesn't like my baby!" reaction it is up to the writer to look at the story cold-bloodedly and decide "was I right, is she right, or is there a third option?" There's nothing analagous to that in online fic. You post it or not, people like it or not, but there is no point in the story development where a third person looks at it and critiques it as a work in progress.")
  • comment by wickedwords ("Wow, you know, I think we had really different perspectives on this, because when I was into a fandom -- Let say Quantum Leap -- I read *everything* I could get my hands on, regardless of the quality of the zine. More was simply *more* and that was good in and of itself. Oh, sure, I wanted more good zines, and more better zines, but I was willing to shell out money to get any zine, even of the bad, self-published variety. I think in fact that the good quality zines had a harder time surviving as it was tough to find good quality stories, so they tended to have erratic publishing schedules. I know I bought zines from stable producers simple because they had a new one every quarter, and I just wanted more. Really different perceptions here. I saw quality dying on the vine and mediocrity being rewarded -- and I contributed to that by voting with my cash and paying for crap work -- whereas you saw quality thriving.")
  • comment by neadods ("Let's take Quantum Leap as an example, I bought plenty of their zines. :> I also started out reading anything I could get my hands on; especially in the beginning, when the fandom is ramping up, you don't have the option to be choosy - you buy what's got your fandom in it, and you either like it or not. *But* - after a Media*West or two, economic reality set in. Although I was also "willing to shell out money to get any zine," the harsh reality was that with zines going for $20 and upwards, there were only so many I could get. And there's nothing like the burn of shelling out over an hour's wages for a zine that got thrown against the hotel wall in frustration after a story or two. Even now, it's a rare zine that recoups its purchase cost on ebay; don't pick the right zine and the reward of your hard-earned $20 was ferret litter lining or maybe $5 in the used zine box. So if I had to buy a zine, I was going to go with the ones that I found the most consistently well-done and entertaining. (Understanding always that this is to some degree subjective.) Oh Boy. Green Eggs & Ham. Look Before You Leap. All zines that were huge, nice-looking, and edited. (And Green Eggs even published LoCs, so not only did the authors get feedback, the LoC-writers got a little bit of egoboo too.) It is not coincidental that you'll find my name in the ToC of some of those zines, but it always postdated my discovery of same. Because when you know you're going to a Media*West that will have 40 new QL zines and you will only be able to afford 5 of them... I'm sure that I bought tons of crap along the way, but to tell the truth, I don't remember those zines because I dumped them so quickly. Whereas I still have my favorites to this day. I think that I wasn't affected by the "more, more, need more now" part of it, because I only ever bought zines at M*W. Even the zines that struggled for quality submissions could usually pump out a copy once a year.")
  • comment by wickedwords ("That could be it. I never went to mediawest, so I bought most of my zines sight unseen through the mail, and I was more willing to shell out $5/$10 for a digest-sized zine than a $25 one, unless I knew what I was getting (and yes, I agree with you on Oh Boy, Green Eggs & Ham, and Look Before You Leap. those were the good zines.) So that was...3 zines a year that I could count on? No wonder I bought a lot of crap. Though you know, I still have my Green Eggs & Ham stuffed in my closet zine drawers, and the cheap digests are also long gone.")
  • comment by nostalgia_lj ("I... umm... never met a zine fic that could hold a candle to the good stuff on the internet. Which, okay, I may have had astonishingly bad luck with zines, but does make me doubt the Cult of Zine somewhat. I mean... dude. I met OOC, I met WIPs that were never completed, and that sort of boring gen that gives gen a bad name. *sigh*")
  • comment by pinkpolarity ("That was my experience with SW zines as well. I think I only read one that *didn't* make me wonder WTF I just spent all that money on, and that one had Vader as some sort of noble prince-- it was Stufic, just fairly well-written pro-Vader Stufic")
  • comment by speshulduck ("I've given a couple concrit reviews that have led to long-term friendships with the person. They're usually the ones where I had the reaction of, "Oh god, you could be such a good writer if you just got rid of the Mary Sue/used spell check/got a beta." I don't think I've ever phrased it like that, but in general it works out well and they become excellent writers. That doesn't quite outweigh all the bitch-fits I've had thrown my way when my carefully worded and thought-out concrit was taken as a flame, but it certainly helps the sting. And since I don't really offer concrit anymore unless it's specifically asked for, it doesn't trouble me.")
  • comment by navytron89 ("The interweb is a Pandora's box, which does allow new and exciting ideas to happen, but oft times allows the narrow-minded and dull-witted to foist their opinions on others.")
  • comment by gwynfyd ("If a writer has any talent, she'll improve on her own, by finding the help she needs. If she doesn't, eventually she'll get tired of writing, and move on. 'Constructive criticism', betas, bad reviews, flames, people telling bad writers they should leave fandom? No damned use at all. Why do I say that? Because if these things were of any use, fan fiction would be winning Nobel Prizes for literature by now. You can't make someone else a good writer. They have to do that themselves. Who knows, or cares, what 'fandom as a whole' wants? I'm not a 'Real Fan', as I discovered recently, so I'm no judge. I also don't care what fandom 'ought to be'. People find the section of fandom that fits with their interests. If someone writes bad stories, but they find an audience that appreciates these stories for whatever reason, who is hurt? No one that I can see. So what if a bad writer gets gushing praise for a lousy story? It might burn you and me, but we'll live, and the writer is happy, and someone must have read the story and enjoyed it. Just close your eyes and pass on.")
  • comment by izhilzha: (While I do not approve of "shredding criticism" (there are better ways to give an author notes than by shredding them or their work), it is in fact true that developing an ability to handle criticism and editorial/review-type comments from others usually leads to more awareness of how one writes and what one might change in order to write better. As both a fan- and original-ficcer, I enjoy feedback, but I adore concrit. I've developed the ability to handle it over the years--back in high school I would've burst into tears and had to calm down before I could consider whether there were things I could learn from the critique. Developing a slightly thicker skin (or, really, a different way of looking at it) has been worth it for me.")
  • comment by gwynfyd ("I disagree. I think developing an ability to handle criticism leads to an ability to handle criticism. That's all. More awareness of how one writes is a different sort of skill. A thick skin may be worth while in many aspects of life, but it has nothing to do with writing. It's just a thick skin. It is quite possible to learn to write without one. A writer may be sensitive to unasked for criticism, but desirous of learning to be a better writer all on her own, because she values the skills. And so she might go back to school, or study writing by herself. If she doesn't care about being a better writer, she's not going to care, whether or not she gets shredding criticism. You can't force her to care, nor can you force her to develop a thick skin. That's up to her, as well.")
  • comment by partly bouncy ("The whole feedback process in fandom is weird as people have different wants, what people say they want doesn't always mesh with what they really want, and there are different levels of acceptable critiquing behaviour that are tolerated in various communities. When people violate some of those unspoken and spoken guidelines for how to feedback, meow. :( Fur flies. This confusion can probably explain why a lot of lurkers don't send feedback. It is just easier to avoid the feedback drama if you say nothing and just are a passive consumer....I send less and less feedback. I generally refuse to give feedback on LiveJournal because I think it forces a sort of intimate relationship on an author that I don't necessarily want to engage in. In general, I don't to discuss feedback with an author. I want to send it. If they read it, cool. If they are helped, that's good to. If they never read it, I'm still good. Relationships and extended dialogue are something I really don't generally want with random author.")
  • comment by janissa11 ("I wanted to learn to write better fiction, so I joined a writing group and submitted some fanfic to LJ communities. The result? I now have so many "don'ts" in my head that I'm almost completely paralyzed when it comes to writing *anything*. Before I got it in my head to seek a thicker skin, I successfully finished NaNoWriMo. Now? I haven't written so much as a sentence in nearly a year. This upsets me. I don't know you from Adam or Eve, but I hate, hate, hate hearing this sort of thing. There are folks out there who would immediately say, "Well, if you let other people influence how you feel about writing to that extent, then maybe you shouldn't write." But I disagree. It doesn't matter how much native talent someone has -- if you bludgeon them over the head and shoulders long enough, they're going to get leery. This just makes me crazy. Constructive criticism DOES NOT SHRED. There's no NEED to shred, and the person who resorts to such things has a limited capability to do that job. It is a sign, NOT of the author's shortcomings, but of the critic's. Critics, after all, must use words as well. And plenty of them use words very, very badly. Gahh.")
  • comment by janissall ("To risk sounding like an Aretha Franklin song here -- the missing word is "respect." Concrit MUST approach the source material with a modicum of respect. Scathing criticism -- what's been termed "shredding" here in this (very long) thread -- does not do that. To go a step further, the shredder approach denotes a fundamental LACK of respect. Constructive criticism invariably presents positive elements of the source material as well as elements that could be improved. That ain't shredding. To construct is to build something, right? If we don't build, if all we do is tear down, we have performed a DEstructive act. Anyone can tear down. But don't mistake it for concrit. It is the expressing of a strong opinion, and perhaps if the author were to address the various elements mentioned, the result would be a stronger story -- but let's not kid ourselves. Is the improvement really the goal? Or simply the airing of our opinion of the material? If the author were to rewrite and present the edited material subsequently, would the critic be willing to approach that material with renewed interest?")
  • comment by truwest ("IMO it's pathetic for someone to behave like an asshole while smugly telling themselves that they're doing it "for the good of --" whatever. IMO the world has enough assholerly in it. As does fandom. Flaming the shitty writers doesn't do a damn thing for the shitty writers. It's just a way for the flamers to get their jollies while feeling all holier-than-thou about their jackass behavior. It's the "nice"-but-vicious kids at school picking on the dork whose clothes don't match, sniggering that it's for the dork's own good. The best feedback for a shitty story is -- none. The story sucks. Negative feedback won't fix it. Why go out of your way to make some poor illiterate schuck feel like crap? S/he wrote a story, and s/he is happy about it. Maybe a few other little fanlings are squeeing over it. Go them. They're having fun. So my vote is: leave 'em alone... As for the excuse that "fanfic published online is public, so that justifies my giving negative feedback" -- oh, come on. People do lots of things in public. It doesn't mean they're inviting every passerby to give them negative feedback. How often do you see people going up to strangers in public, telling them that their haircut isn't flattering, their clothes make them look fat, that they chew with their mouth open? You don't see that often, because in real life, that kind of "concrit" will eventually get you punched in the face. But online, people can feel free to behave like jackasses even if they're cowards, because they know that it's "safe." Online nobody can break your nose when you're being an asshole. So my recommendation is: give concrit to people who really, truly ask for it. Ignore stories you don't like. If you can't resist mocking some fic -- do so in (semi)private, where your friends can appreciate your wit, and you won't make little children cry. Watch where you step so you can avoid squishing your foot in the really stinky fanfic. Let "survival of the fittest" mean that stories will be left alone to find their own audiences -- instead of having some self-appointed fanfic cops trying to police the fic that they don't think is "good enough."")
  • comment by partly bouncy ("But online, people can feel free to behave like jackasses even if they're cowards, because they know that it's "safe." Online nobody can break your nose when you're being an asshole. No broken noses but they can threaten to sue you, out you to family, out your fan behaviour to your employers. All of that can be worse than a broken nose and can act as a social check that can either foster really good behaviour or foster really nasty behaviour where in both cases people are afraid of breaking the status quo. :/")
  • comment by truwest ("Well, YMMV. I personally don't believe that outings, lawsuits or broken noses are a primary tool for "fostering good behavior," any more than I believe that carrying concealed weapons is a primary way of discouraging crime. (Unless you also carry a sign saying "I Am Packing and I Startle Easily.") But maybe that's my ignorance, because there aren't that many lawsuits/outings in the fandoms I hang out in. Maybe there are other fandoms where people are getting sued/outed all the time. I personally believe that we encourage good behavior by modeling it ourselves. We penalize undesirable behavior not interacting with people whose behavior we don't want to encourage. Attention is a form of reward; ignoring is a form of reprimand. Unless of course we're trapped on a small lifeboat and can't get away from each other. But in that case, we might not have a lawyer on board, and broken bloody noses would attract sharks, so we're still probably stuck with giving annoying people the silent treatment. ;-)")
  • comment by truwest (Well, as I mentioned in response to another commenter -- I'm actually fine with the people who *want* to play rough having a place(s) online where they can smack each other around and crit and snark and bitch and have a grand old time. Lots of online communities have successfully created (and put large warning notices around) "tiger pits" where the tigers can go to play tiger games. What I'm personally *not* in favor of, is blasting at some poor crap author who posted their story in their own LJ, or in some "welcomes all stories" community/archive, or in some other general fan forum like a fandom allfic list. Ok, the story's crap, in your opinion. But if the story doesn't directly violate the list rules....well, the author didn't commit any sin other than that of illiteracy and poor taste, and IMO s/he shouldn't be publicly humiliated for daring to post their POS. Random flamecrit is like firing a shotgun into the (fanfic) crowd; the verbal blast makes *everybody* jumpy and paranoid, not just the one poor schmuck who got hit. Because who knows who's gonna get targeted for the next blast? That's not conducive to either friendship or the creative process. As I said elsewhere, who the heck can be creative when they're scared of somebody puking all over their creation?")