The Pit of Voles

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Fairly early on, FanFiction.net fought the perception that it archived content of generally lower quality, thus earning it the nickname The Pit of Voles.

The origin of the term comes from a fan named Mie Tsukikoushi, who had a blog called "Mooncalf Noises."

Tracking the Earliest Mentions: Mie Tsukikoushi

In December 2001, Mie Tsukikoushi wrote:
Also noted: The web entity known as fanfiction.net is a pit of voles. You heard me." [1]
In January 2002, Mie Tsukikoushi wrote:
You know, for all that I love, enjoy, and use fanfiction.net, I also love to make fun of it. Because, you know, ff.net is a pit of voles. Pit of voles! Pit of voles! Ahem. I'm sorry. Why don't you people stop me?" [2]
In February 2002, Mie Tsukikoushi wrote:
I tend to use the pit of voles as a handy-dandy form of self-mortification. Cheaper than a scourge, less gawthy than self-injury, less likely to set off metal detectors than multiple piercings, the pit of voles nevertheless inflicts a sufficient amount of non-deadly pain to serve as penance for my own Bad Fanfic Thoughts. And after an hour-long session of scourging the interior of my head with the spiked rosary of crapfic, I emerge holy and pure through the other side of the pain; humbled, mentally bloody, penitant of my Fanfic Sin, I am once again assured of going to Fanfic Heaven when I die. Hail Mary Sue, Our Fanfic Who Art In AU Heaven, hallowed be thy title, amen. Ahem. In other less metaphorical words, I like to go read really bad fanfic occasionally because it's fun to make myself scream and shudder. Like going to a horror movie! Plus I've discovered that reading really bad fanfic tends to inspire me to write my own (hopefully less horrid) fanfic, if only to clear my mind of the vole-ishness. And that, ladies and gentlebeasts, is why I like the pit of voles. [3]
In April 2002, Mie Tsukikoushi was aware that the term was now a meme.

Using the phrase 'pit of voles' to refer to fanfiction.net seems to have caught on in a minor way in this corner of blogland. I'm so pleased. I'd always dreamed of the day I'd start a blogmeme. So I was poking around other people's blogs the other day, and I had this thought.

You know those little blogcliques that people run? Where you look on their blog and there's a little cryptic statement or five in the sidebar to the effect of: Ç ? I blog # È and it turns out to be a webring? I want to start one. Well, more to the point, I want to start two.

Blogclique No. 1: Death to the Pit of Voles: Ç ? Death To Voles! # È Self-explanatory. To join, you must display occasional fits of contempt for the voles and their pit on your blog.

Blogclique No. 2: Proud to Be a Vole: Ç ? Vole Pride! # È Also self-explanatory. To join, you must have a reasonably active account on the Pit of Voles. And a blog.

You would, of course, be allowed -- nay, encouraged -- to join both blogcliques. And have the little text strings right next to each other on your blog. Everyone's weblog needs a little more irony, right?

So, tell me, all you ficcers and bloggers, all you zombies in the streets. If I were to spend a couple of days putting these cliques together, would any of you out there be interested in joining one or the other or both? Or is this blog entry the last gasp of the blogmeme in question, leaving me no choice but to get on with my life?

Anyway, either leave a comment or email me or something if you think the idea sounds like your kind of thing. If there seems to be a reasonable amount of interest, heck, I'll do it.

Because it is, you know. It is a Pit of Voles.

And, hey, if I put the cliques together, maybe I'll explain just where that phrase originated. [4]

Other Fan's Interest in the History of the Term

A fan in 2003 noted:

Q: What the heck is the 'Pit of Voles'? A: The Pit of Voles is a nickname for fanfiction.net (another, less common one, is 'the Walls of Flesh'). I first saw it used by the ficbitches, but I am told that the very first ever appearance of it is archived here, in the ex-blog of tsukikoushi. I think the rationale behind it is something like since an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters will eventually give you Shakespeare's plays, then whatever the writers in the pit are, they aren't monkeys. [5]

Gains Popularity

It was in wide enough use in 2005 for "pit of voles" to be included on a fandom glossary posted January 6, 2006. [6] An internet search illustrates that there are many references to "pit of voles" starting in about 2006.

According to TV Tropes, "The nickname "Pit of Voles" comes from a Google-bombing campaign that succeeded for a while in making FF.Net the number 1 Google search result for that phrase." [7] This statement at TV Tropes is not dated, but a fan in early 2002 noted that "Actually, ff.net is the first result Google returns for "pit of voles". How cool is that?" [8] Another fan replied and said: "I dont know why 'pit of voles' caught on, but Carlos started reffering to it as such thanks to your blog, and now all of us THEMmers who either read or post on ff.net do call it such IRL." [9]

Fan Uses of the Term

[need examples]

References

  1. Mooncalf Noises (December 18, 2001)
  2. Mooncalf Noises (January 5, 2002)
  3. Mooncalf Noises (February 7, 2002)
  4. Mooncalf Noises (April 27, 2002)
  5. (no subject) I give you the Pottersues FAQ (November 2003)
  6. THE LANGUAGE OF FANDOM (fandomvocab.htm 03-Jan-2006 17:13 99K)
  7. TV Tropes
  8. AJ at Mooncalf Noises (April 29, 2002)
  9. ComeOnBunny at Mooncalf Noises (April 29, 2002)