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I apologize for bumping my post up to the top here. I'd like to rename this page TheoryofFicgate as it has become much more about the essay itself. Also, the essay's title isn't that descriptive, and TheoryofFicgate is what most people would recognize. Any objections? --MPH (talk) 13:45, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

I think it's a good idea --Alex (talk) 13:51, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Update 2/23/2015: Please do not add any additional link dumps to this page. Instead, head over here (for tumblr links): and plug into the rough categories. if you are not certain just add them to the bottom of the page.

As we move posts to the text of the article, we will strike them out here. When we are done, this page will be cleaned up so only the "extra" unused links remain for additional reading. Not all links on this page will be included in the text of the article--MeeDee (talk) 18:17, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

*Main post/Background: "So, I got to the bottom of why I was getting such weird comments on a relatively obscure fic of mine—it’s required reading in a class being taught, and one of the assignments is to leave a comment on the required reading which is more critical than constructive so that the professors know students are “engaging” with the texts in a way that isn’t just “YAY I LIKED IT.” waldorph. - So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version

*Feb 2015 article published about the class in the Daily Cal, the university newspaper Students explore erotica in fan fiction DeCal at UC Berkeley | The Daily Californian, Archived version *Example of some of the comments left on one of the three stories reviewed by the class. note that the other two stories did not receive similar comments. Show Comments 24063671, Archived version *Other dialogue between the undergraduates who led the class/participated in the class and fans (note: this was not an instructor/professor led course): Show Comments 24301655, Archived version and Show Comments 24234776, Archived version and Show Comments 24336509, Archived version

*Reverse doxing of students and instructors: "I just had to delete a comment doxxing one of the kids who commented on my fic, and I will delete all of them as they come." waldorph. - So I Guess This Needs to Be Said, Archived version

Fan Reactions

Permission required

  • "Not cool. If I was teaching that course I would have first asked for permission just out of courtesy."
  • "I mean, that fanfic ends up scrutinised by researchers and whatnot is probably unavoidable. But either make sure that the work will be looked at without involving the author, or get their approval first."So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - not a soldier, Archived version
  • "A better way to say it would be: these instructors needed to get permission to interact with these authors. See. you don’t need permission to STUDY works that are publically available, but you DO need permission to accost the author in their own space and shove your lit crit in their face. If you don’t want to to get permission to study a work, you MUST keep your students from intruding on an authors space willy-nilly....If you want to study fanfic and ENCOURAGE interaction with the authors, you probably don’t need permission, but it would behoove you to let your students know how not to be rude.....If you want to REQUIRE interaction, you NEED permission. Period. Because if you don’t get permission, and the person you are trying to have an interaction with is offended, unwilling or doesn’t notice (I only check my folder for ao3 notifications like once a week, at best, if I remember to) you are going to have issues with a) your students, who will not be able to prove they did the work, and who will DEFINATELY get upset at thier grade point being docked for something they cannot control, b) anybody who has that author’s back, and on the internet, anybody who decides to hop on the bandwagon, and c) your supervisors who will be hearing about this from multiple sources: and if its bad enough to actually get viral legs (hi, TheoryOfFicGate), it might damage the SCHOOL’S credibility, and then things get really ugly for you." I am a writer, I write words..., Archived version
  • "So whereas engaging with texts posted publically without involving the authors is IMO generally fair game (I say generally: I’ll expand later), engaging with people online as part of an academic course requires like… consent forms. It requires prior contact. It requires handing the ability to rescind consent over. Because however ‘trivial’ the subculture in question is deemed to be, the actual people involved are never judged in that way, because they are judged as being people, period. A literary text doesn’t require consideration outside the context it is produced in, be that a broad ranging view (society) or narrow (AO3, fandom). A person does, because a person isn’t just a fan or a user account on the internet." mostly void, partially stars. - So I literally got on my laptop for the first time..., Archived version

Fandom Outsiders/External Gaze/Outsiders Not Welcome

  • "This just seems so out of touch and impolite. Like it’s the new-age equivalent of your 80-year-old white grandma calling her cleaning lady “that Oriental girl.” I get that as a large and growing movement fandom is getting more critical attention these days but this is like going to a gay bar or a gaming tournament and pressing your nose to the glass or sitting there with pads and pencils taking noes and examining them like they are vaguely interesting zoo animals..."So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • What kind of professor is this who...Doesn’t seem to grasp that she’s asking her students to interact with a community of living subjects, not texts..."magical everything burrito, So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "What the…fanfiction is specifically FOR a fanbase, a big or small one, with pre-determined knowledge, characterizations, and language. It shouldn’t be taught openly in a school setting in this manner where most of those people are outsiders to fan culture " Terry Reviews/Misc., Archived version
  • "The course requirement is analogous to requiring students to interact with traditional Navajo culture by insisting on direct eye contact throughout a conversation, or visiting an Orthodox synagogue and insisting on cross-gender handshakes. In other words, the course requires interaction with a culture in a manner that violates community norms. It's upsetting to everyone for no purpose." Show Comment 24366851, Archived version


  • "If I was the author I would add a zero chapter or a text very quickly to the beginning of the fic/every chapter and express how much I am against you reading a fanwork for a class and I dunno… open letter to the prof? Like what the hell? That list is so RANDOM. This is basically encouraging for bullying."I'm not sure this was a good idea, So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "I am really worried for some of these authors, as some of these pairings are queer, incest, polyamory, etc. and that sort of thing can really freak out and offend people outside the fandom, which could lead to some really hateful, mean, degrading comments." sing soft kitty to me, Archived version
  • "You know, in addition to the issues of fandom, which ivyblossom articulated in a separate post, and fanstudies, a distinction that acafanmom has been discussing tonight, there’s the whole “teaching students to be trolls” aspect that I’ve yet to see addressed on this. At a time when trolling and bullying are such threats, just this aspect alone is deeply worrisome when conducted under the auspices of any academic institution, no matter how casually valued the course and instructors may be. " Recently folded, Archived version
  • "Our job as the fandom if to engage in conversion not doxxing. And it is our job as fandom to not attack our own for their anger. Talk, disagree, criticize, but do not forget these teachers, these students, these authors, these bnf, and all these responders are human and humans error and have emotions. Do not hold them to a higher behavior than you do yourself or your friends. And if you do not have the gall to make a comment outside of annon, it is probably not a comment you should be making."clockways, Archived version
  • "One thing that is interesting in its absence is discussion of the appropriateness of a higher educational institution, no matter how casual or devalued the course, actively inciting a trolling mob with a specific charge of negative interaction. This is a broader issue of internet culture, not just fandom, and it’s terrifically disappointing to see an educational institution joining in on the side of making trolling and doxxing acceptable and encouraged behaviour." What're we calling this? TheoryofFicgate? I like..., Archived version

Delete/Lockdown Everything

  • "I’m seriously about to just nuke everything." I have no idea what I'm doing • So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Eugh, what a shitty way to go about something. Did it not cross their mind to ask the authors? I hope anyone who doesn’t want to be involved has time to lock down, and that someone maybe has a word with this teacher…"Where the rain gets in, So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "I honestly hope the fic authors take the fics down (temporarily) or lock them all just so the class can’t complete the assignments." Razorbelle — So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Yeah, I’m getting to the point where locking fic to registered users and disabling anon comments looks like the way to go. I mean, you can’t stop this kind of thing from happening, even with this, but at least they have to get an account and you can report them if they get abusive. It’s not much. But it’s either that or going back to writing in a notebook and destroying it before my family finds it" So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Fair warning: in the (blissfully unlikely) event that you are considering teaching one of my fics as a what-not-to-do guide in a college class or if you are thinking about recommending one of my fics to someone for that purpose, you are cordially invited to sit your ass down, staple your fingers to a solid surface and reconsider your life choices for a nice long while. Also be advised that if you go ahead and do this anyway, that fic will be gone so fast it’ll make your fucking head spin. There is obviously nothing I can do to keep assholes from ruining nice things on the internet, but the interesting thing about posting tranformative works for free is that I’m under no contractual obligation to stick around for the trashed out after party, and neither is anyone else." Strange_radio, Archived version
  • "I am still appalled by this. It is just so inappropriate to send students blundering into a culture they know nothing about, to comment critically on work that has not been presented for literary concrit but rather was posted in good faith in an apparently safe, supportive environment for a specific readership for free and out of love. Seriously if I were on that list (and my work wasn’t ALREADY locked down for exactly this sort of misuse outside of fandom) I would be locking it down right now, and as copperbadge says deleting those comments as soon as they’re posted." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version

Academics In Fandom/Professional/Educational Standards

  • "I am absolutely infuriated by this. This is not how you construct any critical media class. You do not have the class doing their critical analyses directly contact the creators of the work with their fucking critical analyses, for about a thousand reasons. This is not any standard or norm I have ever, ever heard of," Sister Machine Gun of Contemplative Meditation - So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Holy Crap. I’m in grad school and I know GTAs who try to make fandom studies part of their first year writing class. Just knowing people study fandom like this gives me the willies. I am so sorry for all the authors having to deal with undergrads’ comments right now. You guys are wonderful. We love you. Don’t let the tone deaf nerds get you down. FROM MY TINY ACADEMIC HEART, I AM SO SORRY." Everyday I'm Tumblin' • So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "This is incredibly unprofessional and bizarre of the professor — nobody ever assigns a list of published articles or books for class, then requires the students to write directly to those authors and criticize (not praise!) their work. This teacher is trying to engage with the amateur, shared world of fandom without respecting any of the community’s norms or boundaries, and it’s frankly offensive." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - sophiahelix 2.0, Archived version
  • "I cannot believe a prof would be so tone-deaf as to the inherent dickishness of students being forced to do “online participatory activities” that they would think this would go down swell for everyone. Ugh. I am all for academic classes that step out of the box, but this is honestly ridiculous. At least *ask* the authors..." shouting nonsense into the void, Archived version
  • "I went and read some of the comments on the Closer’s fic and they were painfully new to fandom and it made me cringe. It’s one thing to make a course read them but making them required to comments is a whole new level of awful. Please don’t let this trend catch on. " Sea of Dreaming • So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Follow up, this looks like what at my college was called the Experimental College- classes taught for and by undergrads about whatever. So it’ll be an even bigger shit fest than if it had been an actual professor. I think the instructors’ hearts are in the right place, but their execution is made of fail." the newest time sink, Archived version
  • Fan outlines how she would teach a class on fanfic: 50 Shades of Better — So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "I want to signal boost also to let other academics and teachers know that THIS IS NOT AN OKAY WAY TO TEACH FANFIC. There are real people on the receiving ends of those comments, there are real people putting their time and effort into these works and then getting notifications for those comments. Those authors did not opt into this course and it is not only ethically wrong but also pedagogically unsound to make them unwilling participants. Fanfic is a terrific teaching tool, but using it comes with certain responsibilities that are fundamentally different from teaching published works. And there are many, many other ways to have your students demonstrate that they are engaging with a text that do not involve harassing unsuspecting authors." girl spilling gin on herself, alone, Archived version
  • "Yikes. Good thing waldorph was on this. Studying fanfiction in class sounds like a great idea, but you can’t even begin to understand fanfiction without also getting to grips with the community that holds it and sustains it. While stories might seem self-contained and individual, on some level each of them are part of a broader conversation among fans, and trying to pin them down without understanding their context is bound to fail. I’m waiting to hear the heartfelt apology this instructor owes these fan writers. I hope I don’t have to wait too long."Ivy Blossom — dduane: So Your Fic is Required Reading:..., Archived version
  • "There have been some really thoughtful comments made here but I just wanted to add my 2 cents. Despite all the ways this has gone wrong, I am still slightly charmed by the idea of a student-run fanfic class...kind of? It was just set up a bit naively and then went off the rails. PP pointed out that the course readings were one person's particular favourites. They resonated... To her. Forcing a class to read them and comment on them was probably not a great next step. Instead, how about asking the students to explore fic by themselves? Get them to nominate a fandom that they may know about and be interested in. Send them out, get them to find a fic that resonates for THEM. Take turns to share it with the class and explain why they enjoyed it. Start discussions. Discover new works... That would be a class I would sign up for! And BEFORE all this, spend one class talking about the ethics and good manners they need to have to delve into the fanfic community." Show Comment 24372614, Archived version
  • I started this comment with a combination of anger and curiosity, because the behavior of some of your students was beyond rude, and you did mess up in your approach to this topic. But your Chair, your guiding instructor, and at least a couple other people didn't catch this before you opened the class, either. Reading up on DeCal, and the regs and guidelines under which this is supposed to operate, I can see that there isn't anything you *explicitly* did wrong. So I do understand how this class set-up was not approached with malice; it was out of love. And I know you've gotten a lot of vitriol for all your trouble. So please don't quit teaching or anything. Don't quit fanfiction. Or English. Just ... try to think of this excitement as prep work for the Doctoral board." Show Comment 24364889, Archived version

Fannish Guidelines/Rules

  • "As someone who has been sitting with waldorph this past week going “but no SERIOUSLY WHO LET THE ASSHOLES OUT” this whole situation is both a) hilarious and b) unbelievably horrifying (and c) ENRAGING because holy jesus prof, how tone deaf do you have to fuckin’ BE). The number of fannish guidelines that have been violated by all this nonsense is just beyond belief. Also: the trolls she got were dudes because OF COURSE they were." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - I do not have puppet cancer!

ConCrit (Both For and Against)

  • "I’m probably gonna get shit for this but… I think its kind of cool. Yes it would have been approriate for the professor to notify the authors that they were using their fics as texts in the class but fandom writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And while the professor should have been looking at the comments and addressing trolling in the class- criticsm is a part of life and a part of art creation. Even art creation that is simply for our own benefit. " So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - Xander don't speak latin in front of the books., Archived version
  • "On the one hand, a course studying fanfic (I assume). That’s interesting. On the other, not keeping it within the classroom, what the hell. Do you mail your concrit to every author you read if they’re still alive? You do not. " So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - A Fan of Many Things, Archived version
  • "How are you gonna send people to read fanfictions without a fundamental understanding of what fanfiction is and WHY WE WRITE IT and then give them FREE REIGN to tear them apart? How can you even give that permission when we have rules about this exact fucking thing within our culture?
  • God damn it, you don’t fucking do this. This is not okay. Nothing about this is okay." GREENBERG SAYS, Archived version
  • "Fandom and fanfiction is supposed to be like finding a door to Narnia, only people who want and go looking for it, are supposed to find their way there. It's not an ~educational exercise with a bullet pointed list of how to participate invented to make you blend in with the locals. Fanfic is for people who love a canon so much, or who are so consumed with thoughts about how it could be (better? if this happened instead of that? or what happened next?) that they go looking for others who feel the same way. Oh, sure, it's public, and yes, writers accept the inevitability that people may take it upon their arrogant selves to leave crit, but it's written with love, with inspiration, with frustration, with passion, with humor, and it's meant to be shared with others who want to participate in the same feeling. Fanfic is an open source endeavor that equals the playing field when most playing fields are decidedly unequal. The quality of writing may vary but it's 100% inspired and no one can slap a price on it, or a GRADE on it, or grant any amount of participation points, that will give it merit. The merit is in the writing of it and it doesn't need unasked for criticism to validate it." Show Comment 24348620, Archived version
  • "Literally the only reason this should be happening is after a hardcore pre-req class on fandom etiquette, respectfully comporting yourself in an unfamiliar community, and politely interacting with authors. Authors, incidentally, create these fics in their free time, receive no pay for doing so, and belong to a community that has historically been regarded as a scapegoat to be pointed and laughed at by outsiders. So, fellow authors, tread carefully, because these ignorant folks sure ain’t." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - here comes a recrudescence, Archived version

Fandom As A Safe Space/Fandom Visibility

  • "In general, I have been feeling a real sense of encroachment onto my safe spaces lately, what with the Fifty Shades stuff, and all of the attention that fandom has been getting. ...I know that some part of the population will use these exposure points as a gateway to get into the thing, which is great. But there is also a huge part of the population that will criticise and reject, which is exactly why these “bubbles” were created in the first place, to protect people from mainstream judgment. I really honestly want to be positive about the attention that fandom etc. are getting, and to see it as a way forward for gaining more mainstream acceptance. But at the moment, all I can see is the impending opportunity for a cultural backlash that will result in widespread mocking or worse, religious demonising." If you aren’t following #theoryofficgate you... - I am Jason's Smirking Revenge, Archived version
  • "The entire time, I’d think impatiently why? Why can’t we be open about fandom? Why do we have to lurk in the shadows? We’re amazing, creative people! Mutant and proud! Now, of course, I know a lot of the answers to those questions. Many of them—most of them—have to do with institutionalized oppression across multiple intersecting identities. They have to do with the equation of intellectual or creative value with monetary value, and with the shibboleth of “originality” as the hallmark of true creativity. They have to do with the dim view society takes of fans, especially women, who express their enthusiasm in inappropriate ways, or ways viewed as excessive or obsessive. Essentially, fangirl was, for a long time, a psychological diagnosis, even as women began to reclaim fangirl for their own.....I don’t feel like, in this day and age, acknowledgment of existence necessarily leads to understanding and acceptance. Look at Tumblr: Yahoo’s Fandometrics is a fairly transparent attempt to monetize fandom, a move that both recognizes fandom but completely misses what fandom is about. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, which dragged fandom even further into the spotlight and has not, to my knowledge, amassed a body of thoughtful commentary by the general media on fanfiction and gender, or new models of creative expression, or fanfiction as critique. Or, basically, anything except “lol mommyporn.” .æsc., Archived version
  • "Sure, fic authors put their work into the world, and Ao3 does give us the option of hiding fic from non-users. But Ao3 is also our territory. It was created by fans for fans. It’s welcoming to people who are outside fandom, but it doesn’t belong to those outsiders. If fanfiction was mainstream and well-regarded maybe it would be different, and I would probably feel differently. But it’s not. Fanfiction is disregarded and mocked and called “mommy porn” (as if mommies aren’t allowed to have their own porn), or it’s creepy and weird and sad. And fuck that noise so hard. Fans had to hide, had to remain anonymous. And part of the reason was straight up homophobia and misogyny. We had to build our own spaces, because the rest of the world couldn’t be bothered to take us seriously. So now there’s a brilliant prolific community of women and queers making art, and all of a sudden the world wants in. No. No, fuck you. You missed the goddamn boat. No, not even. You didn’t let us on your fucking boat. We had to build goddamn rafts, and now our rafts are cool and you want to stand on them. And if you stand the wrong way you’re going to fucking sink them." MY BEST FRIEND - Theory of Fic-Gate Part 2, Archived version
  • "We are a thriving, vibrant, fucking brilliant subculture and community, and we deserve better than our works being flung into the spotlight without any of the goddamn backstory, so you can look down on us and make fun of us. Don’t you dare make fun of me, make fun of my friends, make fun of my community, when you have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about." I'm blue! | theletteraesc: I’m supposed to be asleep because..., Archived version

Hard To Classify

  • "Not only are authors turned into homework but so we (the readers). Giving kudos or leaving a comment will count towards someone’s assignment. I can’t imagine how the authors of those fics feel, it’s a pretty shitty thing to do without a heads up. Even if it was started with the best intentions it feels wrong." I'm too young to be old, Archived version
  • "Two undergraduates proposed a class to a group of their peers. This class was designed to share with their peers a culture of which they consider themselves members because, I assume, they think it’s a worthwhile thing to understand and even be a part of. They absolutely made some mistakes in directing how new members of fandom (because it’s clear from the syllabus that a goal of the class was making the students into new members of fandom) were to interact with fandom. This does not make them bad people. Nor do I think it should mean they be punished - neither by being ‘burned’ or banned from AO3 or anything else, much less a campaign to send a whole lot of emails to their faculty advisor. Fandom isn’t (for everyone) some dirty secret we can’t share with our friends. Fandom, and fanfic, exists on open spaces online. The fact is that it can be shared and discussed with whoever we want to share it with and discuss it with, including in a classroom environment. So, no, I don’t really want tumblr spamming the faculty adviser of this program to punish two unwise members of fandom. I hope that the promised class discussion of how to engage with fanfic happens and goes well. I hope we can all take some deep breaths and realize that, for better or for worse, our works are publicly available and can be read by anyone, and that freaking out on two people who pointed that out to a group of undergraduates doesn’t solve anything. Guys, here is what happened (re all of this): Two..., Archived version

uncatorigzed comments below here

  • I’m genuinely concerned that the way in which this is spreading may harm the future of DeCal’s at UC Berkeley. So many people keep commenting, calling it terrible, saying DeCal’s are a joke. That is simply not true. I have taken three semesters of DeCal’s. I love them. I took History of Middle Earth and had fun my first semester. I have taken the Children’s Lit DeCal twice now, and come the end of this semester I have to submit a manuscript with a full query letter to an agent/publisher at the end of the semester. My coworkers are in DeCals that are launching volunteer projects, they’re in Pre-Med 101. Decals are truly wonderful if they are handled properly. Please. Please, do no harm the program for future students. Yes, there are “fun” classes like my friend’s Naruto DeCal or the Harry Potter DeCal. But then my friend’s Children’s Lit DeCal encourages a familiarity with the publishing industry and has us talk with professional in that industry. Y’all started messaging faculty advisers and department chairs, and that is a surefire way to make sure that no more English professors agree to be an adviser for DeCal’s which is gonna suck because there are some really fantastic English DeCal’s out there. And op-eds for a paper on campus (Which very few people read anyway). Way to create a scandal out of one class that messed up. Our lit magazines, critical theory courses, and book courses are going to lose opportunities for renewal or creation, and that isn’t fair to the facilitators who haven’t fucked up. This class fucked up. It did. I will happily agree with everyone about that. BUT please, stop harming the future of other classes" The Muse's Board, Archived version (outing/academia)