The Three Laws of Fandom

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Title: The Three Laws of Fandom
Creator: ozhawkauthor
Date(s): Jan 1, 2016
Fandom: Meta
External Links: livin' on the MCU, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Three Laws of Fandom is a meta essay by ozhawkauthor that was posted to the social media site tumblr.

The "Three Laws" component is derived from Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics"—instructions that were programmed into every computer and android in the future.

The essay was written shortly after the release of the 2015 Star Wars film Star Wars: The Force Awakens and may have touched on burgeoning shipping wars (also see Ship war) in that fandom. The issues raised, however, are applicable to many fandoms across the years.

Within the first six days, the post received over 16,000 notes on tumblr, meaning people had either "liked" it, "reblogged" it (copied to their own blog) or both. As of January 23, 2018, the post had 68,814 notes.

Due to the difficulty of tracking and following tumblr posts and discussions, only a representative sampling of the vigorous debate stirred by the essay can be offered below. The majority of the selections are offered without commentary in order to better recreate the flow of the conversation as it happened. The responses are divided into rough, sometimes simplistic, topic headings and many selections may cover multiple points. In addition, because the original author, ozhawkauthor, opened up their blog to anonymous "asks" (or questions), there are extra sections where she attempts to clarify and fine-tune their proposal.

The Essay

"If you wish to take part in any fandom, you need to accept and respect these three laws.

If you wish to take part in any fandom, you need to accept and respect these three laws.

If you aren’t able to do that, then you need to realise that youractions are making fandom unsafe for creators. That you are stifling creativity.

Like vaccination, fandom only works if everyone respects these rules. Creators need to be free to make their fanart, fanfics and all other content without fear of being harassed or concern-trolled for their creative choices, no matter whether you happen to like that content or not.

The First Law of Fandom

Don’t Like; Don’t Read (DL;DR)

It is up to you what you see online. It is not anyone else’s place to tell you what you should or should not consume in terms of content; it is not up to anyone else to police the internet so that you do not see things you do not like. At the same time, it is not up to YOU to police fandom to protect yourself or anyone else, real or hypothetical.

There are tools out there to help protect you if you have triggers or squicks. Learn to use them, and to take care of your own mental health. If you are consuming fan-made content and you find that you are disliking it - STOP.

The Second Law of Fandom

Your Kink Is Not My Kink (YKINMK)

Simply put, this means that everyone likes different things. It’s not up to you to determine what creators are allowed to create. It’s not up to you to police fandom.

If you don’t like something, you can post meta about it or create contrarian content yourself, seek to convert other fans to your way of thinking.

But you have no right to say to any creator “I do not like this, therefore you should not create it. Nobody should like this. It should not exist.”

It’s not up to you to decide what other people are allowed to like or not like, to create or not to create. That’s censorship. Don’t do it.

The Third Law of Fandom

Ship And Let Ship (SALS)

Much (though not all) fandom is about shipping. There are as many possible ships as there are fans, maybe more. You may have an OTP (One True Pairing), you may have a NOTP, that pairing that makes you want to barf at the very thought of its existence.

It’s not up to you to police ships or to determine what other people are allowed to ship. Just because you find that one particular ship problematic or disgusting, does not mean that other people are not allowed to explore its possibilities in their fanworks.

You are free to create contrarian content, to write meta about why a particular ship is repulsive, to discuss it endlessly on your private blog with like-minded persons.

It is not appropriate to harass creators about their ships, it is not appropriate to demand they do not create any more fanworks about those ships, or that they create fanwork only in a manner that you deem appropriate.

These three laws add up to the following:

You are not paying for fanworks content, and you have no rights to it other than to choose to consume it, or not consume it. If you do choose to consume it, do not then attack the creator if it wasn’t to your taste. That’s the height of bad manners.

Be courteous in fandom. It makes the whole experience better for all of us.

A September 1, 2016 Followup Comment by the OP

…before I turn on Notification Block and get my notifications page back to something like normal (with over 3300 notes this week, I’m missing too much else I want to see).

When I wrote the Three Laws of Fandom earlier this year (the title came from Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, not from any notion that these are in any way enforceable) they were written as something of a guide to myself, taking concepts I’d learned and thought were good from people who’d been in fandom many years longer than myself. People who’d been around in the early days of fanzines and lawsuits from authors, people who’d had a hand in creating Ao3 as a safe space for creators.

I never expected them to spread as far and wide as they have (almost 47,000 notes to date, the VAST majority reblogs and likes of the original post, with only a few dozen dissenters). I never expected them to get their own Fanlore page.

I certainly never expected to be accused of being a racist, misogynist, transmisogynist, biphobic, lesbophobic, homophobic, Nazi, ableist, paedophilic, rapist-defending piece of shit.

Yes, those are all insults that have been thrown at me. I’m a bit surprised that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism wasn’t included in the list but considering the Americentrism of Tumblr, maybe I shouldn’t be.

All the people who threw those insults, who took issue with the Three Laws for ‘giving a free pass’ to discrimination of any kind, who shouted about the Three Laws being ‘designed to protect creators’ missed the point.

Yes, the Three Laws are designed to protect creators. Here’s why.

Without creators, you wouldn’t have fan content to consume.

And every fan creator I know… LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE ONE… has at some point received nasty bullshit comments on their work. From “where’s the smut, I feel cheated!” to “I don’t like your writing style” (at the end of a 70,000 word fic the reader read all the way through) to much worse; doxxing; demands that the writer kill themselves; continuous anon harassment (23 messages an hour?) right up to and including actual death threats in real life.

Here’s the thing that I think too many people are forgetting. This was originally said in a post by @scottstilesliam (which has since been deleted, probably because they got sent hate for it) but I’m borrowing the sentiment because it’s so well put.

No ship, or any aspect of a fictional universe, is important enough to treat another real life human being badly.

As a fandom creator, I have long since accepted that I cannot please everybody. As a fandom consumer, you need to accept that not all fandom creators can please you. Thinking that they should is the most incredibly self-entitled mindset. People don’t all like the same movies, TV shows, books; why should they all like the same fanworks? Why should all fanworks be catered to YOUR personal tastes?

I’m going to add here an extract from a wonderful post called If you are anti-darkfic, you are anti-survivor by @itsbuckybitch .

“If you accept that censorship is wrong, then censorship has to be wrong no matter who it’s happening to. If you accept that bullying is wrong, then bullying has to be wrong even when you really, really don’t like the victim. If you accept that people are allowed to write whatever goddamn fanfic they want, you can’t tack on a clause that says “unless they’re writing this one thing that I, personally, believe should not be written in which case the angry mobs have my blessing to go to town”. What kind of position is that? How are you going to ask the entire rest of fandom to accept your specific personal boundaries as an objective moral yardstick?

So to the people reblogging this all “I agree with this except for when it’s something genuinely bad being written”, please reconsider. If you agree with me that purity campaigners are hurting vulnerable people and creating a toxic fandom environment, but you still support their tactics under X or Y condition, then you are as much a part of the problem as they are.”

(If you’d like to have any Discourse with me on the subject of when it’s OK to leave someone abusive comments on their fic or nasty messages in their anon (Hint: never) that post is Required Reading before I will even discuss the subject. As is this post and this post, oh, and the Ao3 Terms of Service while you’re at it.) Other than this post, I’m done with responding to the Three Laws. I’ve said everything I need to say. Yes, I’m a white, het, ablebodied, non-American cisfemale, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a point, and throwing slurs at me to try and discredit me is an ad hominem argument. I refuse to lie about any of those things in order to try and somehow increase my ‘cred’. Yes, I see things in fandom I find disgusting all the time, and yes, I talk about those things and why I find them problematic and unpleasant, but I don’t shove my arguments in creators’ faces, or encourage other people to go bully them.

Fandom is an opt-in environment. We choose to be here. We choose what we consume. There are always going to be things in fandom, as in real life, that we find distasteful.

But here’s the thing. That trope you love so much in fanfic? That’s someone else’s squick. Your OTP? Their NOTP.

If every single fandom consumer gets to point to something and say “I don’t like that, it’s not allowed to exist!” the entirety of fandom would disappear in a puff of smoke.

This is why doing your best to follow the Three Laws is important. They are designed to protect EVERYONE’s favourite creators. Including yours. I’m going to close with two statements that too many people seem to forget when they decide that they’re going to attack creators for ‘endorsing’ things they disapprove of.

Fantasy does not equal Reality

Depiction does not equal Endorsement

Think very hard about that before you accuse someone of being racist, misogynist, transmisogynist, biphobic, lesbophobic, homophobic, Nazi, ableist, paedophilic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, rape-excusing or any other insult you can dream up.

After all, Agatha Christie fictionally murdered over 90 people, but I’ve never heard anyone claiming that she was a mass-murdering sociopath. [1]

Additional Exchanges Between the OP and Commentators

After the original essay was posted, numerous follow up questions and points were raised between readers and the Original Poster:

Can I Contact Creators About Why I Find Their FanWorks Offensive?

"Anonymous asked: Question about your rules of fandom post. I have seen many fics that include kinks such as rape/non-con and as someone who has seen the effect of what such situations can have on someone they make me uncomfortable (also ships between a rapist and their victim). I respect the creator's decision to create their material, but would it be okay for me to leave a respectful comment about why I view what they made as harmful or offensive?

[ozhawkauthor wrote in reply]:




It isn’t okay. Do you contact every TV show that depicts rape or murder? Are you actively campaigning against those shows, books, movies, other mainstream media?

What you’re suggesting is actually much more personal, hurtful and unpleasant. Read this post here about why. You have absolutely no right to tell someone that their coping mechanism is unacceptable to you - NOR do you have any right to demand someone provide their intimate personal history to determine whether they should be ‘allowed’ to write something.

I replied on this to someone else yesterday who didn’t get it. It’s a slippery slope. If only rape victims are allowed to write about rape and surviving it… then the corollary is that only murder victims are allowed to write about being murdered, right? And only mermaids are allowed to write about being mermaids… the argument becomes insane in a single iteration.


Provided that the fic is appropriately tagged and carries the appropriate warnings, then it is your responsibility to take care of what you see online.

There are some tools available here for you to take care of yourself. If you don’t want to see that those ships exist, that rape/non-con fics exist, then it is your responsibility to learn how to use those tools.

It is not for you, or ANYONE, to be the fandom police. As @spiderladyceo said in this post (and I think it’s an amazing definition)

“Fandom is a “safe space” but not in the way that it protects you from things that you don’t want to see or don’t like or are offended by. Fandom is, and has traditionally been, a space for people to create and explore with out being told “no” by outside media.”

“When you start telling people what they can create or enjoy, you invalidate the purpose of fandom, and create a situation where instead of free exploration, we have something similar to mainstream media in which certain tropes or topics are not allowed. This limits the free expression, exploration and innovation so highly prized in fandom.”

#fandom meta #do not do this #you don't get to be the fandom police #none of us do #just don't be a dick #Anonymous"[2]

But....Fandom Doesn’t Exist In An A Vacuum

[w-arden wrote]: except fandom doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it’s influenced by society at large and y'all need to stop using this kind of shit to excuse abuse bye.[3]

[ozhawkauthor wrote in reply]: The only ‘abuse’ in this post is the abuse the creators receive for exploring their art.

“Abuse” as depicted in art, or fiction, is not abuse of real people. It is not hurting real people. Creators often use their medium as a catharsis to deal with their own abuse.

Who are you, to say that they may not do that?

Another trend I see in fandom (and in mainstream media!) that sickens me is that creators sometimes feel the need to share their own experiences, in order to ‘justify’ being allowed to create their artwork - and yes, fic is as much art as drawings, gifsets or fanvids.

@threepiohasnochill​, a writer I know who has been abused for choosing to write a darkfic as a catharsis for themselves put this a lot better than me. Original post here, but I’m going to quote selected snippets.

“I had to trot out my own personal history to defend myself, and that was a completely fucked up experience, from start to finish. I’m still mad at myself for putting myself in that position, of using my own sexual assault history as a shield, when the people who were attacking me pretty obviously didn’t care, they were just determined to tear me apart, no matter that there was an actual survivor at the center of their fury.”

“I know the difference between fantasy and reality. I know the difference on an intimate, visceral level. I know what it’s like to be at someone’s mercy, and not have a say in the matter”

“you take away a healthy, consensual sandbox for someone, whether as intense as a play scene (…) or just a nerdy girl writing something fucked up and throwing it up on a fanfic website (with the proper warnings, of course), you take away that release, and you are inviting that person to externalize their issues in other ways, in destructive, destabilizing ways.”

Nobody has any right to demand that a creator share their personal history in order to ‘justify’ being allowed to write something that some people in fandom might consider unacceptable. Where do you draw the line? Are only rape survivors allowed to write about rape?

That leads to the natural corollary that only murder victims are allowed to write about murder… only mermaids are allowed to write about being mermaids… do you not see how ridiculous the whole argument rapidly becomes?

Nobody is excusing or condoning real-life abuse here. The only person who appears to be advocating it is YOU. Because YOU, if you do not accept and understand these basic tenets of fandom, YOU ARE THE ABUSER.

“I know the difference between fantasy and reality”

If only everyone else in fandom did.

#people who just don't get it #why am I not at all surprised that this is a ward fan #good god some people"[4]

But...Don't Ship Anything That Is Illegal!

sarcasm-who wrote:

"Agree but please do not ship ILLEGAL otp’s (pedophilia, incest, etc)"

[[[meeedeee]] replied]:
Homosexuality is still illegal in 79 countries. So that would rule out slash. Incest laws also vary from country to country, so best to obtain legal advice before shipping.
Tagged: #tagging for the humor impaired, #fandom meta
[ozhawkauthor wrote in response to both of them]: Well said! The age of consent varies between countries as well, and even between different STATES in the USA."
Tagged:#there are no buts #no exceptions #if you don't like it don't read it[5]

But....Can I Be Upset With Oppositional Meta?

There were several follow-on replies that focused on whether fans could or should be able to critique the subject matter of certain types of fanfic. Below are excerpts of much longer and more complex posts. Because tumblr's unthreaded formatting makes it difficult to track a conversation, it is suggested that readers look at the original source:

[msdorothygale wrote]: So, by this post, if you get angry at someone for writing a post against your ship, then you’re breaking the rules. I like it.[6]

[ozhawkauthor's reply]:"Nope, hon, that’s a misinterpretation, I believe. Certainly it’s not what I intended to say.

I’m talking about people who write fic and create art being attacked for their creative choices, when fandom is meant to be a safe space for these creators. But read this part again;

“You are free to create contrarian content, to write meta about why a particular ship is repulsive, to discuss it endlessly on your private blog with like-minded persons.“

That’s an appropriate reaction to reading a fic you don’t like or seeing a piece of artwork you don’t like.

An inappropriate reaction is sending someone abuse in their private space - their fic’s comments, their blog etc, making an anti-post and tagging it with the ship name so that all the ship lovers can see it. It would be pretty dickish behaviour to tag an anti-post in the ship name, and I have no problem with people being rightfully called out for that. It’s rude.

Nor are these ‘rules’ or ‘laws’ that anyone can be ‘forced’ to live by. But, if you look at the notes it’s already gathered in just a few days, I think you’ll find that a huge majority of fandom members believe that they are basic principles of common courtesy that would make fandom a whole lot better for all of us if everyone did their best to abide by them.

Tagged: #fandom meta #don't misinterpret me #this is not an excuse to spread hate #tag your hate #or that's just rude[7]'

[cant-pronounce added]:Well, then I think YOU have misinterpreted me. (And accused me of wanting to spread hate, in your tags, probably). I was just referring to those people who send anon hate to whoever writes metas anti-something, even though they haven’t tagged it with the thing, simply because the meta is ANTI-that thing. So I’m basically saying the same thing you say: you should be free to make posts about something you don’t like, without being attacked. Tagged: passive-aggressive tags should also be avoided tbh.[8]

[booksandcatslover wrote]: So, if I read something that I discover I don’t like, how the hell can I unread it? And am I not allowed to read trash just to laugh?...

So, if I read something about paedophilia or incest or abuse I am not allowed to say that it’s wrong? I can’t say that this kind of kink MAY BE PROBLEMATIC?....

So, again, if a ship involves adults and kids I am not allowed to say it’s wrong?...[9]

[ozhawkauthor's reply]:"...It’s not appropriate to demand that anyone create fanwork only in a manner that YOU deem appropriate. That is YOU being the fandom police.

That is YOU contributing to fandom censorship.

As the original post says at the end:

“You are free to create contrarian content, to write meta about why a particular ship is repulsive, to discuss it endlessly on your private blog with like-minded persons.”

That’s YOUR creativity. That’s YOUR outlet, your method to express your disgust. That’s an appropriate way to debate and discuss, to broaden the minds of others, to educate people on why you think something is wrong and disgusting.

That’s the point of Tumblr. It’s not the point of the “Comments” box at the end of the fic you just read.[10]

But...Isn't This Censorship?

[turtle-insomniac wrote]: "[The fandom behaviour that ozhawkauthor is talking does not qualify as censorship.].....It’s kinkshaming and certainly assholish to try to dictate what other people can write, but it’s not censorship unless you are a governing body with the kind of power to physically stop production of works. And even the owner of an archive that restricts what they accept is not engaging in censorship since the rest of the internet is free and wide open for you.

Also this leaves off the most important part of that phrase: YKINMKATO – AND THAT’S OK.

You do actually “have the right” to say anything you want to a creator, including “your kink is sick and you shouldn’t write it” but the creator has every right to say “you are wrong and I’ll do what I want.” Does it make you a jerkface to say that to a creator? Yes, yes it does. But hey, you have the right to be a jerkface.[11]

[ozhawkauthor replied]:"Actually, it does fit the definition of censorship. From the Wikipedia definition (italics mine):

“Governments, private organizations and individuals may engage in censorship.”

Perhaps a better term would be attempted censorship.

In fandom, I believe we call that ‘fandom policing’ and it’s frowned upon. The act is likely to make other people think (by your term) that you’re a jerkface.

But hey, of course you have that right."[12]

But....Is It OK To Ask For Trigger Warnings/Tags?

Anonymous asked: Building off of a past anon, it is totally okay to ask someone to tag a fic as something if they didn't appropriately tag it, right? I have seen a few fics that weren't appropriately tagged and most of the time leaving a comment asking them to tag it is fine. However, there have been some authors who get angry at me and tell me that it "is their work and they can tag it as they like". So is it really okay to leave such comments, or do I have to just let it slide so some creators don't get angry?

[ozhawkauthor wrote in reply]:

If you genuinely feel that a fic is incorrectly tagged, with something that is triggering, then it is OK to politely ask, with a carefully worded explanation. Ideally, do so in a way that it won’t be seen by EVERYONE, like an ask on Tumblr or a PM on (Ao3 intend to implement a private messaging system later this year, I understand!)

I was once asked to tag one of my fics for gaslighting. I didn’t think it was gaslighting because it wasn’t intentional on the part of the one doing it, but after the reader took the time to carefully explain to me why they felt it WAS gaslighting, (and we had a rather interesting discussion about the different dictionary definitions of the term) I chose to add the tag anyway, along with some qualifiers like #but it’s not deliberate.

Because in my personal opinion, if one person read the fic and was triggered because I hadn’t tagged it properly, that’s one too many.

HOWEVER. Ao3 have very specific policies about tagging, and their general policy is always to defer to the author (see this post). If the creator comes back with “I don’t think it’s gaslighting and I’m not going to tag it as such” then you should drop the subject. And probably put that author on your list of Never Read Again, but that’s your personal choice.

Be aware of the difference between tags and Archive Warnings. If someone’s failed to put on a warning for Major Character Death, Underage or Rape/Non-con, then you ABSOLUTELY should report it to the Archive if the creator refuses to change the tag.

This also comes back to Concern Trolling.

“Somebody might be triggered by this, so you have to change it/delete it/tag it/make it so that it never existed!”

Unless that someone is you, in which case you should not be reading the fic anyway (see DL;DR), then you should butt out. You’re not helping anything. You’re just contributing to fandom censorship, which is the opposite of what fandom’s meant to be about.

Tagged: #fandom censorship #be careful you don't cross the line #concern trolling #Anonymous[13]

But...Who Are You To Make The Law?

Anonymous asked: As soon as someone starts demanding that I do as they insist, behave as they tell me I must, or lay down fucking arbitrary laws, I immediately think fuck you and tune out the message, even if the general premise of what they are saying is otherwise worthwhile. But sheeple will reblog. IMO, use courteous communication to impart your views and I might listen. And if MY tone turns you off, please do realize it's actually nicer than yours. Just a few extra fucks.

[ozhawkauthor wrote in reply]:

If you don’t like the word ‘Laws’ perhaps you might care to think of them as being something like ‘The Ten Commandments’ then.

Nobody can force you to follow them.

But if you don’t, perhaps you might find that society as a whole decides that they don’t have to follow them when it comes to you, then. Of course, since you almost certainly send all your hate via anon because you’re scared of retaliation, you might be able to hide behind that for a while. Until someone decides to track your IP address, anyway.

The fandom laws, again, nobody can force you to follow them. They are, however, a matter of common courtesy. Many of the people who have been in fandom for many years have commented and tagged saying that they felt it sad that the laws actually had to be stated. That they should be commonly accepted, in ALL fandoms.

You are the fourth… FOURTH… person to take issue with any of them.

Out of, so far, over 9,000 notes. In just a few days. It’s spread to many, many fandoms other than my own.

When the ‘senior statespeople’ of fandom feel that these are rules that are a matter of common courtesy, and choose to spread them to educate the newer and perhaps less understanding members of fandom… you choose to call them ‘sheeple’?

I’m thinking that you’re the one who doesn’t understand courteous communication. That you’re simply making excuses for being a troll and for choosing to continue to spread hate.

Especially when you send anon messages containing words like ‘fuck off’.

Tagged: #troll #yup that's you anon #look the only swear words in that message were yours #goodness me who can be courteous now #Anonymous[14]

No Buts Here....Use Your Back Key

Anonymous asked: What you've said very well over and over is that as long as the reader has been appropriately warned of the content of a fic, they have no excuse for a negative reaction. Like the last anon, I've seen crappy relationships, and occasionally see them in fics and don't *like* it, per se. At which point, you use your good friend, the back arrow, top left of most browser windows. I've written fics about bad shit--that doesn't mean I approve or encourage it--most authors don't, they're just writing!

[ozhawkauthor wrote in reply]: PRECISELY. You can go to your own blog and talk about how disgusting you found a particular fic, and why - (though it’s pretty rude to ‘name and shame’ the author and the specific fic, and encourages bullying. Don’t go there). You can write meta endlessly about how one particular ship repulses you and you wish it didn’t exist.

THAT is an appropriate ‘negative reaction’. And that’s PERFECTLY FINE. It’s not a direct attack on any given author (or it should not be!) and it’s not hurting anyone. It’s a safe outlet for you to vent.

BUT. If you didn’t choose to use the back arrow, or the Close Window, you have no excuse for attacking the author’s creative choices.

That is an attempt at censorship, and that is absolutely contrary to what fandom is supposed to be about.

As a side note, I’ve noticed that almost all of the people who do leave those kind of remarks do so anonymously, which leaves the creator little right of reply. And those who DO leave their names, usually turn out not to be writers themselves.

The first group are usually being dickish. The second MAY not realise how hurtful and creatively stifling their actions are. I hope that previous anon was one of the second group, and has now learned better, from a writer who’s experienced this crap firsthand."

Tagged: #fandom meta #censorship #I really don't get how some people don't see it #Anonymous"[15]


General Support to the Post

[lokistolemyheart]: "This should pop up whenever someone joins a new fandom"[16]

[viraldragonrider]: "Could not have said it better myself. And although before this day I had no seen these rules I have indeed been following them"[17]

[harroe]: "As much as I would like for people to not do the things being mentioned here, whenever someone says “you don’t have the right” and starts telling people what they can and can’t do in a fandom without any REAL laws to back it up, they just look like fandom police in the opposing extreme to me. Just as those people who do these things have the power to look away from fan works they don’t like, the rest of us have the power to ignore them or report them if it escalates into harassment"[18]

"[warriormaggie]: "I’m going to save this for those times I hear “well, but I don’t like that <insert here> because <insert here> and so you should stop.”[19]

[fade-noctem.]: "This, so much this, especially the first one. If you don’t like a particular ship or something about a pairing bothers you, blacklist and move on. Nothing good happens from trying to censor other writers or artists"[20]

[lifeiscarrots]: "God, I wish this was mandatory reading. I have read so many posts recently attacking people for their Problematic pairings. Like, tell someone to tag something as a rape trigger, or underage, that is fine. But don’t shame them for wanting to create or share something you personally don’t like."[21]

[shatterpath]: "Yes. Yes to all of this. And remember what your mommies and daddies should have taught you. If you can’t be nice (or at least courteous) then don’t say anything at all. I’ve been chased out of one fandom for hateful behavior (I’m looking at you, Oncers) and would like to avoid the drama in the future."[22]

[madamehardy]: "aaamen. Although I like the variant for Rule 2: Your Kink Is Not My Kink (And That’s Okay) Basically, mind your own business. You are wandering through an immense buffet. Chow down on the duck intestines and pay no attention to the pancakes, or vice versa. Have fun. Don’t worry about what anybody else is eating. Don’t tell anybody that what they’re eating is bad for the diet. Just eat the nice duck intestines."[23]

[annasfanfic]:"This is so important. If we act like this, we’re acting just like those people who don’t want our fanfiction to exist at all, those people who say “that never happened in the books, that’s not allowed, you should be fine for that, you’re stealing."[24]

[justrackoff]: "OH.MY.GOD. Preach it sister!!!!!! Can AO3 have this as their disclaimer?!"[25]

[macgyvershe]: "Signal Boost. Simply, if you don’t like limburger cheese, don’t eat it. Don’t tell the people who make limberger cheese to shoot their herd. Just keep walking. It’s that simple."[26]

[lucianthinuscrystalni]: "THIS. And as an aside that I always like to say - always remember “To be a fan of the thing all you have to do is LIKE THE THING.” <3 Keep being cool to each other fans."[27]

[mxcreepybear]:"This general way of thinking could revolutionize fandoms.[28]

[bendupeveryspirit]: "Can the Three Laws of Fandom be like Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics? That if you break one your Tumblr shuts down for three days? Particularly #1…."[29]

[ilovehockeydamnit]:"I saw this quote somewhere on Tumblr: your safe word is the x button in the top right corner. Use it."[30]

[leilanimargarita]: "I like the first rule, especially because it’s hard for me to wrap my mind about trigger warnings. As a survivor ....the sanctity and well-being of my mental health is in my hands. I have the power over my brain and my feelings and how I respond to the world. I am not under any circumstances going to give my power away to someone else by making them responsible for policing my mental health. If a person is triggered by something, that means that they need to take care of themselves. No one else can be in charge of another person’s mental state. The first time I read [a book] I curled up into a ball and cried. And then when I was done crying, I picked that book up and read it again. I read it seven times in a row until it didn’t have any power over me. Own that shit. Make it your bitch."[31]

[nixandschnitz]: "Have courage and be kind![32]

[darknet-rising]: "I like these rules - I try to follow them. The “ship and let ship” can be a little hard for me to swallow, because, honestly? I’m not that big a shipper - between any parties. And it gets frustrating that SO MUCH of fandom is about ships. I think that non-romantic love is so meaningful and precious as well…

But I try to remember that every fanwork is someone’s blood, sweat, and tears, and me not being their intended audience shouldn’t stop me from saying “thank you” to all of those who make fandoms a rich, colorful, and diverse community with your work!!

THANK YOU!!!"[33]


Let’s have a round of applause for this fantastic round-up of what has been a very constructive – albeit fraught – conversation. We all keep getting so hung up on our community standards – how to define them, how to enforce them, where to make accommodations and where to draw up rigid boundaries. But at the end of the day, it’s not actually difficult. There are a few simple, practical steps we can follow to make fandom a fun and accessible place for everyone. Call them the Three Laws, call them basic common sense, call them what you want. It all comes down to acceptance, tolerance, respect – taken together, a foolproof recipe for a safe and inclusive fandom experience. I don’t have time anymore for people who feel these very basic principles don’t apply to them. I’m over people who think that, if they pick their battles righteously enough, they can get away with treating their own peers like shit. As a writer I’m tired of being held accountable to the feelings and preferences of absolute strangers, and as a reader I’m tired of seeing the fic I love get hijacked as a weapon in other people’s bizarre online purity crusades. It’s such a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

We can be better than that. It is so easy and so incredibly straightforward to be better than that. [34]

General Disagreement/Other Thoughts

[blinxxthetimesweeper]:"I’ve seen this post like 5 times, and honestly I’m sick of it. I can understand where the original poster was coming from but I really don’t like this post.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should harass others over their ships either or get upset over stories with darker themes in them if they are appropriately tagged, but the mentality “Just let people ship want they want” is a bad one, because it includes people who ship pedophillic or incestuous or abusive ships.

Firstly, these things should never be romanticized, as they are all inherently harmful to the victim. Secondly, these same ships can be used as a way to condition people in these kinds of relationships, because these ships can “normalize” it. I have heard stories of people in these kinds of unhealthy relationships who were shown artwork of pedophillic ships during the relationship, which in turn made the victim normalize it. Finally, there are people who have been victims of these things on this site, and on many others. Their ability to feel safe will always trump someone’s creativity. The people who will benefit the most from this line of thinking are the people who make content for these kinds of ships, not the people who are getting harassed because they prefer one ship to another. The only people who should ship these types of ships are victims who are using them as a coping method.

Ship and let ship, but only to a certain point.

And honestly? Creativity is not a glass of water. Someone can’t come along and drink the creativity and take it away from someone. If someone can’t make one type of work, they may get the creativity to make another. It is honestly not that hard to not make something, or to make something different. Of course, nobody should be harassed over the art that they make or the fic that they write if it doesn’t contain any of the above elements. Again, I don’t agree with artist being harassed for no good reason.

Also, this post is so obviously biased towards people who make fandom content. Even the original poster is a content creator. It seems to place almost all of the problems of a fandom on non content creators, and ignores any problems that content creators bring to a fandom. Where is the law to not whitewash characters? Where is the law to not harass people for expressing discomfort with your work? Where is any law that says that content creators need to be considerate? Nowhere.

To use your own words, “it’s not up to you to police fandom”. Especially if you do such a half baked job of it. If you want to make laws for fandom, you need to take both sides of a fandom into consideration and consider who will benefit from these laws.

Tagged: #incest #pedophillia #abuse #i'm sorry but i can't take seeing this post any longer #i know i'm going to get a lot of hate for this post #sigh... #long post[35]

[fiannawolf]: "This is the internet. A good portion of the people will probably not follow any type of honorary rules.

All fandoms I’ve circled around will not follow any of this. In fact most of them go out of the way to be obnoxious because Internet=Fallout ½ or New Vegas Low Intelligence Run.

Most times I just go with some old advice my mom gave me when I was like 7 yrs old, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

From my pov: There’s no way to be immune from any criticism ever…it just depends on how thick your skin is. Blog and whatnot but there’s no way to put a shield up around everything.

Nothing is immune. Everything will be criticized. No matter how neutral you attempt to be. Look no further then your favorite and/or extremely populated fandom.

Back to the sci fi nerding. WOO!"[36]

[prettyprettyinyoface]:"Disagree. Art gets judged when in a public sphere.[37]

[forlongandrantythings]: "100% agree with DL;DR.

Have slight issues with the other two, as I think they’re aiming to solve one problem and ignoring a different–smaller but more serious–problem: Kinks and OTPs that are actually harmful irl.

For example, you may find it really sexy to watch someone abuse and rape another person in a comic where no one is actually harmed, but you (like most people) would be very disturbed to see it happen in real life. Well, psych research has also demonstrated that for a lot of people, consuming media that depicts abuse and sexual violence causes those consumers to see rape and abuse as being less serious than they really are. This plays out into the real world as abusers and rapists being given lighter sentences, or maybe not being convicted at all, because the consumers who were affected by the piece ended up on the jury. Or, victims don’t get the help they need, because people don’t think what happened to them was bad enough to merit help. That’s not necessarily your fault, and it’s not necessarily the author’s fault either, but it’s something you should be aware of and maybe doing something about. For example, couple your reblog/repost/whatever with warnings about the fact that this (whatever you posted) DOES contain rape, abuse, etc., and that readers SHOULD be aware of how severely harmful these things are to real-life victims, as they can (and frequently do) result in clinical anxiety and depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses that need to be taken seriously. Also, be aware that watching or reading that kind of content may make YOU take rape and abuse less seriously than you should, so be willing to question and re-evaluate your own reactions to those topics, to be sure your reactions to irl abuse/rape aren’t messed up by your fantasy kinks.

Or, maybe your OTP is Honey and Mori from OHSHC. That’s cool. They’re cute together. You know they’re both 17, so while they’re technically underage in some locations, they’re both also 1) the same age, and 2) at an age where people actually do have sex. So, a comic depicting them having sex isn’t a problem in and of itself. But imagine being a 7-year-old who knows nothing about anime, being shown that same comic. It LOOKS like a 7- or 8-year-old kid (because Honey looks young) is having sex with a young adult (because Mori looks more mature). Some predators use comics of child/adult sex to “prove” to kids that sexual abuse is normal, which makes the kid feel like they have to go along with anything the predator wants to do. So, what you know isn’t actually problematic content could still be used to hurt people, just because it LOOKS problematic. Again, not your fault, but if you’re gonna post/repost/reblog it, do it responsibly: Add notes that clarify exactly how it’s NOT what it looks like. For example, “Honey and Mori are both 17; the characters simply look younger/older.” Or, if one character actually IS young (let’s say you’ve got a thing for Ciel/Sebastian from Black Butler), add a note like, “For fantasy purposes only; sex between children and adults is illegal in real life.” That way, it’s harder for someone to use the thing you like to hurt people who are too young/inexperienced/etc. to know better.

Please enjoy your stuff. But please, also enjoy your stuff responsibly, with full awareness of how it can be misused, misunderstood, and abused, and do stuff to reduce the amount of harm it can do to others. I don’t know about you, but if I found out that something I liked/produced/reblogged was used to hurt people, I’d be really upset and find it hard to like that thing anymore. So, if for no reason other than your own self-interest in having guilt-free pleasures, please be responsible about your kinks and OTPs.

#OTP #NOTP #fandom canon #shipping laws #kink responsibility #potential to harm #rape #abuse #CSA harm"[38]

[magusworkshop]: "I feel like someone should point out the difference between “I don’t like it” and “what you wrote is really damaging or dangerous to certain groups of people” as this will totally be used to excuse racism, sexism, ableism, classism, etc."[39]

I Agree With This...Until I Don't

[malfallia]:"I will say something about gross and abusive ships though. And incestuous ones. Other than that I just ignore the ships I can’t stand.[40]

[actuallyalivingsaint]: "Sorry but im gonna shame and call out abusive or incest ships. Your Kinks Can Be Problematic"[41]

"#fandom #though i have to note that this may be rendered null and void #if your ship is someone with their abuser #or similar #then respect and tolerance goes out the window #not that i’m going to behave like a barbarian and send hate#but i won’t tolerate it either FILED UNDER: #all the fandoms #sorry just needed to add my friend's tags in light of recent Jessica Jones posts #so... sorry but yk not sorry at all #tw: abuse #blahblahblah [42]

[draikinator]:"You know this makes me really uncomfortable because it seems to cover some really trivial shit if you think about it, like, what about “don’t create pedophilic fanworks” or “don’t harass minors in your fandoms” or “respect content creator wishes about porn of their characters” or even like “don’t whitewash characters” or something? Like the three of these are good rules sure but are often used as excuses to justify like, “rape is my kink!! Dont police me, let me write my 60k rape fics that minors read and are influenced by in peace!” Or “i can ship what i want! If you dont like it blacklist it, it doesn’t matter that its pedophilia or heavily abusive!” Like, these are the defenses reylo shippers and kyman shippers and kilgrave/jessica shippers throw out and thats- not okay? There’s a difference between a ship you don’t like and shipping jessica jones with her murderous abusive rapist after showrunners have begged people not too. Huge difference."[43]

[whatisthismassfrickery]: "3.a.1 You can only diss a ship if a ship war has been declared"[44]

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules

[ambroskie]: "What the fuck is this? Why are there acronyms? Since when do fandoms need a terms and conditions?"[45]

[dreamingofcherryblossom]: "Rule no 4 Their [sic] is no rules."[46]

Well...Maybe We Do?

"[billdip-national-library]: "Can we please print these out into Fandom Contracts and make everyone read and sign them before joining?"[47]

[itsnotchancemrholmesitschess]: "Okay normally I hate it when people make prescriptive how-to/how-not-to fandom posts…but this one is awesome. Not condescending to anyone, and proposing three clear principles by which we can (and should) all abide. Well done."[48]

[darkdranzer88]: "I feel that I need to be reminded of this because lord knows I’ve broken at least one or more in the past. This needs to be spread like wildfire."[49]

[onthebanksoftheriverstupid]:"So well put! This shall become my creed. I shall proclaim it far and wide."[50]

We Need More Rules" or "Why Didn't You Include...?"

[firebirdscratches]: "A valid point. I was also surprised the list didn’t include things like:

Don’t steal/repost/edit/copy artwork without the creator’s permission

Tag your pr0n

Don’t leave con crit unless the creator has said they want it.

Tag your spoilers and hide them under a read more/jump cut.

Don’t be a gatekeeper / elitist fan, and accept new and casual fans.

I like the idea of a Fandom Commandments…I just think it needs to include more."[51]

[cinnaminiontrollesq]:"True fucking story. I would also like to add this. IF you go to a con and end up being allowed to ask a question at a panel for one of your fandoms, the actors are not their characters and it’s in really poor taste to put them on the spot about shit like that. Interviewers do that to them enough. Fandom is like fightclub, if you are in fandom and around someone that is not you DO NOT TALK ABOUT FANDOM! Besides, it could get you a restraining order which makes it hard to get a decent job. Just sayin’."[52]

[johnsbarefeetandsherlockschair]: "…And then there’s the rebuttal reserved strictly for webhosts, site mods and etc:

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)

This relates to folks expecting to post fics, art or other content on someone else’s blog/forum/group page knowing that the subject matter may be objectionable to the host and/or mod. Don’t do this either. Please, read the rules before posting fan content on a site that you don’t own. Read your webhost’s TOS. This is just another form of fandom courtesy."[53]

[grace-satori]: "Thank you! I love this so much! I believe that fandom is a way to bring people together in celebration of art and life and love and passion. That said, I have another rule to add:

Respect new fans. I have been in some fandoms from the very beginning, and it holds a certain sort of prestige in the fandom. But there are also fandoms that I fell in love with years after the height of their popularity. And one thing that I’ve found is that joining new fandoms can be really hard! There is a lot of judgement directed toward new fans, and I’ve seen some discrimination towards people who attempt to join a popular fandom “late”. In addition, fans are often criticized for changing their minds about a fandom, and their love for the fandom is disregarded because of their previous opinion.

But one reason why we all love fandom is that there is something there for everyone. Everyone can celebrate their love for art in their own way. And the time a person has been a fan does not correspond with their passion for a fandom. Fandom is something that brings all of us together, something that can unite us. So there is no point in creating divisions between long-time fans and those just discovering the magic that we all love so much.

Besides, the more of us there are, the easier it will be to take over the world. ;)"[54]

A Universal Fourth Rule? "Tag Your Shit"

[therainbowbandit]: "The additional rule should be TAG YOUR SHIT, PEOPLE. if your work has content likely to be upsetting or distressing to some people, tag it so they can avoid it. It’s very important that people can protect themselves. Heck, tag your ships and such. This makes it easy for people who ship it to find the content, and people who dislike it to not have to see it. Also fiction is a way for all kinds of people to safely explore themes and topics that might be disturbing or scary or taboo IRL. And depiction does not equal endorsement IRL. If someone ships something that’s ‘problematic’ all that shows is their preferences within fiction, and they should tag it appropriately so no one has to see it if they don’t want to and then everyone is satisfied
Tagged: #I'm a bit sick of this Discourse #of YOU SHOULD STOP SHIPPING THIS IT IS BAD STOP MAKING FANWORKS ABOUT IT #if you don't want to see something then don't seek it out #and if you need to protect yourself then protect yourself #WHICH IS FACILITATED BY PEOPLE TAGGING STUFF :D TAG UR STUFF"[55]

"Well said.

There should be a fourth rule though. Tag your stuff. Tag the fandom, tag the kinks, tag the potential squicks, tag the ships. That way people can find what they want and avoid what they don’t.

Like me, right now, looking for fluffy Phidari hip stuff but not Phidari that goes into actual sex. I ship them as aibous not sexual partners.[56]

[lgbroductions]: "While I wish for focus on the original post I do hope all the ‘loop holes’ pointed out are common sense nogo to everyone and if they’re not pls leave

Like if you have problematic ships or kinks that maybe are for coping but that you publicly blog about it is your responsibility to keep it where the vast majority who are understandably against it cannot find because kids ~will~ be influenced by Fanfiction as ridiculous as it is they ~will~

Keep your shit categorized where it need be.[57]

[primarybufferpanel]:"With a 4th added: TAG YOUR STUFF so that people can filter your content instead of having to unfollow you. Please please tag your fandoms."[58]

[cameoamalthea]: "Can we add a tumblr rule about tagging - for the laws to work you must tag propperly. Tag ship content with the ship name so those who dislike it can avoid it. Tag kinks and any other content so that those who dislike it can avoid it. If you dislike something and post meta about why tag it with anti-thing and not the thing tag - basically keep anti-shipping content out of the ship tag so that those who like the ship and want to ship content can do so without felling harassed. Tag, blacklist, and follow the three laws.:[59]

[darkdollyumi]: "If youre creating something based on a real person, and said person has mentioned their dislike over what youre creating, do try to keep it out of their main tags."[60]

The Devil Is In The Details

Some fans attempted to offer technical suggestions. Others pointed out that focusing on platform specific tips for communicating, might lead to even more disagreement. Those unfamiliar with a particular platforms conventions, might find that their meta debate being perceived as hate tagging:

[katarafirelady]: [The OP wrote]: "You are free to create contrarian content, to write meta about why a particular ship is repulsive, to discuss it endlessly on your private blog with like-minded persons.”

That means dont put it in the tags used by people who like the thing. Some ways to avoid putting it in their tags include:

using #anti [thing] instead of #[thing]

using an exclamation mark (!) in place of an i or a @ sign in place of an a or any other substitution of characters example: #th!ng

putting two periods (.) in the middle of the word, like

This will protect them from seeing your negative opinions, as well as protect you from any backlash from them. Everyone is happy. It’s a win-win.[61]

[ourpsychommunity]: "also for that last one like……. don’t tag your hate with that ship’s tags?? like, you can make one for yourself like notp:______ or something, but it’s just hella rude to post your negative thoughts on a ship (or a character!!!!!!!!) in the tags where people who actually like the thing are looking. :/"[62]

[meeedeee]: "What I find fascinating is how we can trip over the details. Ex: it would never have occurred to me to tag any meta - even meta critical of a pairing [o]r a trope - with “anti” or to adopt any of the tagging conventions outlined above. I guess I would add a footnote* to the 3 Rules

*Assume good faith in the absence of further information.

because the fandom world is bigger than tumblr, conventions are not universal and people’s expertise with tech tools varies widely.

#fandom meta, #tumblr conventions, #assume good faith[63]

[meeedeee]:"These rules seem very simple and straight-forward. But I’ve been reading the follow-up questions/asks and I can see how tricky they are to apply in the real world setting.

Ex: “You are free to create contrarian content, to write meta about why a particular ship is repulsive, to discuss it endlessly on your private blog with like-minded persons.“

This rule hinges on how we interpret (a) contrarian content, and (b) private blog.

Ex: I see a hurt/comfort story that I feel perpetuates a dangerous and unhealthy attitude towards hurting and comforting.* So I make a post saying this in:

1. My LJ/DW

2. My tumblr blog

3. My twitter

4. My Facebook

It then gets picked up and rebroadcast everywhere.

A. Is what I wrote contrarian content? Probably so, depending on how much analysis I add. Twitter will offer me less space so my post would probably have less meta and more un-nuanced “ick” (”Perfect example of the dangers of hurt/comfort trope”) But perhaps not…maybe I am simply writing a dry and boring post about the history of hurt/comfort fan-fiction and how many different ways fans have labeled it “unhealthy” over the years.*

B. Are these all private spaces? To me, all 4 places are “my” private spaces. But for others, they are less so. It used to be that fannish discussion took place in public or semi-public spaces (letterzines, Usenet, mailing lists and forums) where everyone was gathered around and no-one “owned” the space.** So you knew going in (or you would soon learn) that there was a bigger sandbox where everyone could and would fling sand about.

But with the shift towards blogging and then even more diffuse social media communications, the line between private and public blurred. Over time, more and more prescriptions are being added to how we “talk” to fellow fans - there are many examples were fans are being told that tumblr blogs are not private spaces where we can run heedlessly naked, but that we have to put “some clothes on” (aka need to tag our posts the “right way”). But from a historical perspective, this focus on the “right vs wrong” way carries its own subjectivity. We didn’t have to worry about tagging in our LJ/DWs - there we were told to use “cuts” to hide possibly objectionable text. I don’t know if there are instructions how to do a responsible tweet - but I am certain someone has a strong opinion on the topic that I am expected to know. And on Facebook I am even less clear on how I am supposed to avoid shoving my contrarian content at others. [64]

Keep Calm and Critique On (But Avoid Doorknobs)

[outofworkshinigami]: "All of this. I see stuff all the time I don’t like, but I don’t rub it in the creator’s face. If I reblog a pairing I don’t ship, it’s because I like the art, not to comment just, “I don’t like this.” At most I might put in the tags, “not my ship but wow this is pretty.” Don’t just comment saying you think something is OOC or gross just because you don’t like it. If you have a legit criticism (anatomy, story arc, technicalities, etc.), then by all means, comment and tell me. Or if I’ve asked if something is OOC, tell me. But if someone is just having fun, don’t bother them, especially if they’ve recognized something is way off cannon but that they do it anyway cause it makes them happy. This happened to me and it made me wanna scream at the person cause they were just reiterating something I already recognized but said I didn’t care about. Like, what are you trying to accomplish? Do you want me to stop? Cause that’s not happening. There’s a difference between constructive critique and being a doorknob. Please learn it."[65]

[]: "Obviously, I add the addendum that criticism should still exist. The sort that doesn’t violently harass people or make personal attacks, and labors to discuss motives and characterizations. No work exists in a vacuum and I think that’s important to realize –

But I’ve also seen so, so many artists straight up deactivate or stop producing content because of the harassment that goes on, that is personal and demonizing. IE: if you ship X, YOU are now a horrible abusive person and there are all sorts of conclusions drawn about you from a certain subsection of people.

Particularly glad to see ‘your kink is not my kink’ back in action. YKINMK is so handy for the relationship most of my friends have with me, ahahahsdfahas"[66]

[nomercles]: "I would only add that you SHOULD analyze, think about what you consume, write that meta about that unhealthy ship or that squick or whatever. Why is that bad thing bad? It’s so important that we think about our media, and the environment that media is created in.

If you’re reading a noncon fic, or a really unhealthy ship, or whatever, please, by all means, talk about why it’s unhealthy! That dialogue is so vital and valuable! We live in a culture where intimate partner violence, rape, and other abuses are completely normalized, so it’s really great when people get deep into that, really thinking about what they’re reading. Fandom people are some of the smartest people in the world, some of the savviest, and it’s amazing when we bend our magnificent brains to those ends.

But don’t take it out on the creators. The creators need the freedom to dig into those dark parts of the human psyche. Some of us are unraveling personal experiences through the lens of fandom, some of us are purging bad memories, some of us are just exploring darkness so that we can be better human beings in the absence of it. That freedom to do all of that is just as vital and valuable as the meta it will inevitably inspire.

Now a word for the creators: can you guys do better about tagging your stuff? If you’re going to take a stance that other people are responsible for their own mental health and well-being, you have to be honest and thoughtful and really thorough about your tagging so that we can take that responsibility. I am pretty hard to freak out most of the time, and I cannot count how often I have been genuinely traumatized because a writer was sloppy with their tagging. PLEASE do us all the courtesy of warning us. And to all of you creators who are thorough, THANK YOU."[67]


YKINMK / YKMV was one of the first things I learned in terms of respect-for-others when baby-me first ventured onto the wild, wild reaches of UseNet, back in the dark ages… it’s so basic. As above, “It all comes down to acceptance, tolerance, respect.”

#fandom wank #it's enough to make a girl want to GAFIAte [68]

[stegosarahs] in response to [ardatli]:

I had to explain something like this to someone, along the lines of, “Yes creators have a responsibility for the things they write, but that doesn’t mean what they write is supposed to be universal.” For example, I don’t understand people who write Reylo fic – I know how destructive the idea of “abuse and manipulation as romantic” can be for someone’s life. So Reylo ships and fics upset me because they contribute to a toxic rape culture.


People can (and should!) write want they want. This is how people express themselves and grow and learn, too. Sure, those writers should be accountable for the content, in that they should be aware of how their work contributes to culture (does it enforce or challenge these toxic ideas? Does it even do either?? Art doesn’t have to do either!) *BUT that accountability IS NOT an excuse to harass, dox, whatever, the person into becoming socially aware.* This accountability should be a conversation starter to talk critically about what’s been written, at the same time as we squee or squick out about it. (Course that conversation can only come about if all parties involved come to the table with open hearts and minds rather than defensiveness over what they’ve written)

TLDR: All of the above doesn’t mean we can’t point out when a fic contributes to social oppression, authors still have accountability, but so do we to keep this a safe place for *fans* too [69]

These Rules Are About Critiquing Shipping, Not Critiquing Problematic Source or People

[nbcyanblah]:"Good to remember:

Criticizing something or someone for being homophobic/prejudiced/promoting intolerance/racist/sexist is different from these 3 laws that are related to shipping.

These 3 laws are about shipping something or how you ship.

Aren’t about if CANON material is problematic and deserve critics.

Not about you being homophobic/sexist/racist/etc.

It’s more related to triggers and problematic content in a fanwork or people shipping something.

(note, that shipping and having homophobic/racist/sexist/etc motivations to do something are different things)

(criticizing homophobic/racist/sexist/etc motivations are related to someone BEING homophobic/racist/sexist/etc, not about someone shipping something)

This is why we make critics for when someone is limiting a character/relationship to fetish. But don’t criticize the fetish.

I won’t go further on this matter because I’m not qualified (and know enough) to say in the matters of fetish, etc.

But that involves, rape victims outlet, using one experience for erasure of others experiences, etc."[70]

Fandom As Food

[teraheartlesscore]: "Remember, consuming content is like going to a dinner party. You wouldn’t insult your host, would you? ‘Cause if you did, that would be grounds for being kicked out."[71]

[nicklaura]: "We can choose what we want to create and choose what we want to enjoy.

We all have things we like and dislike. We all have our headcanons, our own interpretations, and our on viewpoints on things.

And one of the great things about being a part of a fandom is that you have the power to look and create exactly what you want.

You want femslash? Search for femslash! Create femslash!

You want to find more of your favorite character? Search them up and see what you find!

You want angst and something that’ll hit you right in the feels? Search that sucker up! Ask others what their angsty headcanons are! Go through the angst tag and consume something that will make your heart ache!

You want more stuff of two certain characters together? Search for it, create it, make manips, post your opinion on why these two would be great together, or even find someone to rp it with you if you want!

If you stumble across something fanmade that just isn’t your cup of tea, move on.

You don’t have to consume it. You don’t have to stare at it. You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to leave a comment on how you think said work is gross/unrealistic/not canon/etc., just because you personally don’t enjoy it.

If you don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to keep consuming it!

If you make the choice to continue to consume or search for fanworks that you know you don’t enjoy or don’t like, that does not give you the right to leave hate or rude comments on said work.....

No one if forcing you to enjoy something you don’t enjoy. And if someone is shoving something down your throat that you don’t enjoy even after telling them so and telling them to stop, then you report and block their ass. That’s harassment and you should never have to tolerate that......"[72]

From Star Wars Fans

[evendia]: " Dear Star Wars fandom: read this, memorize it, and get the FUCK over yourselves.[73]

[ravenousnature]: " I am placing this in the Reylo tag for all the antis, cuz y’all need to chill"[74]

[limpdicksamurai]: "The Star Wars shipping wars rn need this"[75]

[ughwhyben]:"It took a long time to get those rules truly internalized across transformative-creative fandom and I can’t believe the time where just about everyone finally got it is apparently becoming a past golden age. (At least in SW fandom it seems.) Then again, maybe it’s something about a gigantic fandom that is suddenly experiencing a renaissance, where an influx of mainstream folk are trickling into (or running into) the fic side for possibly the first time right now and don’t have this training. It’s like we’re flickering back and forth between the modern evolution of fic side fannish culture and what things were like in, for example, 2001 when I first stumbled in."[76]

From Other Fandoms

[juliangelo2711]: Steven Universe fandom should read this.[77]

[teendeserter]: "I think the undertale fandom needs to see this"[78]

[ask-hikari-itsuki]: "I agree with this… Yes you may have your OTP but it doesn’t mean you go to war about it… Especially the NaruSaku fans who wanted the anime banned after their OTP didn’t sail in the manga or in the last: Naruto the Movie. It doesn’t mean the NaruHina fans should go rubbing salt in the wound either… Now I mean I like KakaIru and WAS NaruSaku, but I don’t go knocking ships either so let’s not and say we did ok?"[79]

[moge-chan]: "Yet the Mogeko fandom broke every. SINGLE. ONE. Of these rules. How they managed to be such immature assholes is beyond me. Therefore, I hate with every fiber in my body, the Mogeko fandom who had sent deaths threats to the creator (aka: Mogeko, Funamusea, Deep-Sea Prisoner). This is why there are manners such as respect and understanding. Too bad that fandom got ruined because of the ignorant fans that decided to run the fandom and what Funamusea drew."[80]

[wtchcool]:"Thank you. Reblogging on account of the flames I have gotten for writing Quiver (which I’d use for toasting marshmallows, but I’m not terribly fond of marshmallows). Also, if anyone feels I have ever violated one of these rules in the past, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize. It was never my intention to stifle anyone’s writing.[81]

Historical Perspective

[vanimore]: "This was needed back in the day when people screamed about slash with more venom than the Westboro Baptists, that it existed on some benighted level of the damned beyond all salvation, as did its deviant authors. Oddly enough, they knew the stories they were alternately savaging and fainting over inside out. They could write about these fics in depth. I always wondered why they wasted their time and energy on stories that required them to use smelling salts and blood-pressure medication."[82]

"Listen to your elders. Or at least this old fart. These rules were standard when I went down the rabbit hole of fandom oh so many years ago, but they’re now forgotten or ignored. I always used the analogy “Don’t insult the chef in their own home”, which can also be summed up with Wheaton’s Law: “Don’t be a dick.”[83]

[mandaocity]: So true. In my day, you just said ick to yourself and moved on. No need to bully people, kids."[84]

[dadio46]: "And Rule 34 goes across all fandoms.:[85]

[xanthewalter]: "I have been targeted by the fandom police many times over the years. I HOPE the situation has improved now that fandom is so diverse and has reached critical mass but maybe it hasn’t. That’s why this kind of post is so important."[86]

Historical Perspective: From a Fan in 2018

In March 2018, a 24-year old fan commented on this essay, and a similar one, and mused upon ever-changing (but not!) fandom, platforms, and personal alienation due to age and experience:

I love reading entries on Fanlore.

I particularly like the entries “The Three Laws of Fandom” and “The Three Generations of Fanfic” (which has a quote from the Tumblr user madmaudlingoes that refers to the age before livejournal and (the later of which she refers to as “the pit of voles”) as The Great Schism. Her post is dramatic, funny, and knowledgeable.)

They’re really, really interesting. They are excellent in learning about the long history of fandom, it’s cyclical nature, and discovering there are terms/names for existing phenomena you’ve experienced but didn’t know had names.

But they also make me really nostalgic and kind of sad? But also kind of blasé?

Like, I remember me from 10 years ago. I never would have thought about seeing the death of sites like livejournal and, yet their times are long past. And now, I’m waiting for something new to surpass tumblr, especially since there seems to be an overall increasing dissatisfaction with the site as a fandom hub, but no better alternatives (as of yet).

And this disillusionment makes me feel jaded, like I’m dreaming of some kind of “golden age” that never really existed. Hell, my golden age was probably closer to early Tumblr. When it came to and livejournal, I was really on the fringes of those anyway.

(Probably because I never even really used my LJ account to search out individual authors, I just lurked around the communities. So there was always lots of fic but not any real personal connection to it. No real emotion experiences with other fans. It makes me feel like I missed out–and continue to miss out–on a sense of community livejournal provided that tumblr never did. But rationally I know that’s probably more my style of fangirling to blame than anything else. I’ve just always been more of a lurker than anything. Not because I’m shy, just because I don’t think I have anything original/interesting to really say.)

It also makes me feels strange to know that some would consider me an “old fan” for being almost 25, when there are fans twice my age alive and kicking.

And I love them for being kicking, since a good chunk of my fav writers and artist seem to be a good deal older than me. If they weren’t kicking I’d be out of some of my favorite works!

It’s comforting too. As I get older, I’m naturally seeking to interact with people closer to my own age – especially with the sudden unpleasant surge in the sentiment that fandom is somehow only for teens – and seeking to reaffirm there’s a space for me.

(And I want people to know the above two paragraphs are in no way a slam against younger content creators! Great creators come in all ages! It’s not even really about the actual fan content being made, it’s more about the actual experiences of being in fandom/online. I’m just in a very different place emotionally from someone 19/20–much less minors, who I don’t feel super comfortable knowingly following anymore, considering my age and blog content–and even the most awesome art in the world can’t really change that.)

I guess reading the fanlore pages reminds me I’m far from the first to experience this sensation of alienation from fandom, longing to reconnect to a different (in this case older) side of it.

#fandom #fandom history [87]

See Also

IDIC, often cited by Star Trek fans as a reminder that differences in thoughts and ideas are necessary to create beauty, growth and progress.

Further Reading


  1. ^ ozhawkauthor.tumblr, Archived version
  2. ^ livin' on the MCU, Archived version
  3. ^ i want it all, Archived version
  4. ^ livin' on the MCU, Archived version
  5. ^
  6. ^ livin' on the MCU, Archived version
  7. ^ livin' on the MCU, Archived version
  8. ^ Only-joking-or-are-we pussyfooting around, The Three Laws of Fandom, Archived version
  9. ^ [1], Archived version
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  11. ^ here it is again yet it stings like the first time, Archived version
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  34. ^ itsbuckybitch.tumblr, Archived version
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  43. ^ ...his makes me really uncomfortable..., Archived version <
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  53. ^[Dead link]
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  56. ^ The Three Laws of Fandom, Archived version
  57. ^, Archived version
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  61. ^ Shipping all the ""Problematic"" ships - The Three Laws of Fandom, Archived version
  62. ^[Dead link]
  63. ^ The Three Laws of Fandom -, Archived version
  64. ^ The Three Laws of Fandom -, Archived version
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  66. ^[Dead link]
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  68. ^ ardatli.tumblr, Archived version
  69. ^ stegosarahs.tumblr, Archived version
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  76. ^[Dead link]
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  82. ^[Dead link]
  83. ^ National Sarcasm Society - The Three Laws of Fandom - The Three Laws of Fandom, Archived version
  84. ^, Archived version
  85. ^, Archived version
  86. ^
  87. ^ king0crows, Archived version (March 10, 2018)
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