The end of taboo

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Title: the end of taboo
Creator: julad
Date(s): February 18, 2003
Medium: online journal post
Fandom:
Topic:
External Links: archive link, comments expanded
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the end of taboo is a 2003 essay by julad.

Some Topics Discussed

  • RPS
  • fandom and anarchy
  • fannish mentoring
  • fandom and profit
  • the good old days of edited zines, controlled fannish spaces
  • fannish self-policing
  • flounces
  • fandom and visibility
  • "My point is that there's been a major shift over the last few years, from walled communities of fandom-specific lists and archives to a more amorphous mass. A seething, writhing loosely interconnected mob of journals and websites and AIM conversations surrounds the walled communities which still exist, and that great messy ocean is constantly lapping at the walls and seeping in through the cracks."
  • gatekeeping
  • control and power
  • gift culture

The Essay

I've been thinking thoughts for a while now; watching and thinking and watching, and I'm reluctant to post because it's going to make me sound like some old fuddy-duddy who thinks kids these days have no respect, blah blah blah.

There's been a trend, over the last year or two, at least from where I've been sitting, whereby nothing is taboo in slash fandom anymore.

RPS used to be a big no-no in media slash circles, does anyone remember that? Then the dike started crumbling, then toppling, and now the dike is more like a stone ruin poking out above the floodwaters. Islands of resistance to what used to be a powerful taboo.

I'm hardly one to complain about that, since I was part of the RPS onslaught. But other things keep happening which, in some mythical Before, would have been Beyond The Pale. [[|Breaking the Fourth Wall|Showing slash to actors]]. Advertising slash on a commercial website. Writers asking for money from readers. Gosh, incest, believe it or not, used to be considered icky. Now it's a trendy kink.

Some of these things bug me more than others. Incest: yeah, whatever, it's all fiction. Risking TPTB smackdown, not so happy about. RPS-- I'm hardly going to throw stones. Writers asking for money? Fuck the fucking hell off. You want money to get published, honey? Get a second fucking job. I've had weeks where I've desperately wanted to eat, and haven't stooped as low as asking readers for money. ahem

However: I don't presume to draw my squiggly lines on taboos and say everyone else has to stand behind them. God, if you want to give money for stories to a writer so crass as to ask for it, go ahead and I hope it makes you happy. My point with this post is not that the kids these days have no respect. My point is that there's been a major shift over the last few years, from walled communities of fandom-specific lists and archives to a more amorphous mass. A seething, writhing loosely interconnected mob of journals and websites and AIM conversations surrounds the walled communities which still exist, and that great messy ocean is constantly lapping at the walls and seeping in through the cracks.

This means that taboos are no longer taboo: no list-mom can tell you that you can't hold out your hand for money on LJ, no archivist says you can't post an incest story on your website. Increasingly, everyone has their own space, and the power of anyone to limit other people's behaviour decreases proportionately.

This also means that fandom has to evolve a means of dealing with violations of the taboos which matter to them and not to other people. Some people choose confrontation, some choose to expel taboo-violators from their circles, some choose to withdraw from the circles the taboo-violators occupy. None of those methods can be effective against the violations, but all of them are necessary responses.

The fact is that nobody has the power, anymore, to prevent someone from doing what they want in fandom. We all, however, need to deal effectively with it when it happens. And whether the appropriate response is building walls, turning backs, raising voices, or anything else we can think of, when somebody violates our taboos, whether for good or ill, nobody can stop us from responding.

Addendum

Posted at the end of the essay:
[EDIT: I've clarified in the comments but just to put it up here where people will read it... I'm not saying, 'do X to people who do Y' or anything vaguely like that. I'm saying we need to deal with our own unavoidable reactions to perceived taboo-violations, since we have no power to stop it happening. It's about accepting that when people do Y on their own space, we are relatively powerless to stop them, but still have an ability (and sometimes a need) to respond in our own way, on our own space. My apologies for being unclear.]

Fan Comments

tboy:

Yes, it's interesting the way fandom's exponential growth has changed so many of our previous tacitly agreed boundaries. I'm kind of enjoying the dynamic feel of it all, the cross-fandom sampling and osmosis that occurs every day. LJ has contributed to this most especially in my own experience. Simply clicking on friends of friends brings you into whole new worlds I'd never have considered when I was mailing list based in my fandom interaction. I like it! I don't like everything I find out there, but I like the uncontrolled feel of it all.

Me, the control freak (according to my children *g*), revelling in chaos! *g*

Payment for fan fiction? That's a new one *g*. I've seen 'donations for the cost of the site' plenty of times, but... Original fiction I could understand. I've seen sites where some original stories were free, while paid members gained access to other works.

It will be interesting to see what we're all reading and/or writing in 5 years time.
julad:

I haven't made up my mind if I like it or not. some days it bugs me immensely. other days, when somebody does something unthinkable, it just feels like the same shit in a different bucket to the mailing list days.

I kinda miss the swansongs when people unsubbed from mailing lists. Three pages of "I hate you all, goodbye!" LJ just doesn't offer the same kind of flameout. *g*
tboy:

LOL! That's true, nothing like a good dummy spit and flounce for sheer entertainment value.

Actually, I used to find them excruciating to sit through *g*. People would angst and gnash their teeth, and leave the lists simply because such anger was present, etc. At least with LJ, you can just flick a switch and, like magic, the poster in question disappears from your friends page. Handy, that! I like having that control in *my* hands, rather than rely on a list owner to take action (or not).
ladyagnew:

Payment for fan fiction? That's a new one *g*.

Actually I think this steps beyond the pale. RPS and incest fic--both are fiction, usually labeled as such, and as for the latter, it's not as if that kink is even that particularly kinky (I'm looking right at you, rapefic & underage fic). But paying people in support of their fanfic? That violates the basic, intrinsic and really, really important nature of fanfic: Not For Profit. Those labels that say, "don't sue, I'm using copyrighted characters for creative enterprise that won't garner me profit," I'm pretty sure that's important to maintain.

Advertising on a commercial site often frequented by TPTB is one thing, a thing I don't see as particularly smart, but I hope to the Greater Powers Above that producers & studios don't ever catch the hint that the fandom community is paying for fanfic stories. Because once money, competing entertainment dollars, that concept gets lodged in their brain, how soon would they lose their reluctance to damage fannish loyalty with a few well-placed lawyerly threats? A nanosecond?
zortified:

Interesting. I would have thought the logical conclusion to your statements about taboos and fandom would be "so therefore, there are no longer fandom taboos, but rather clique taboos". In other words, the society which declares things taboo is not fandom-wide, but only as large as a single space or circle of fans.

Which would be, I think, that responding to a violation of a (Circle 1a) taboo that occurs in (Circle 2b), would be pointless because you're trying to impose your own morality on a society which thinks it isn't wrong. In the first part of your entry, this seems to be where you're going -- that is, fans are free to do what they want because they can make their own space to do it in and not bother other people.

However, the call to action - 'we must still respond to these violations of taboo' says that there is still a Fandom Morality that these people are violating, and since we can't control their space to violate it in, we must find other ways of preventing them from violating the taboos.
julad:

Ooops, I was pretty unclear there. I didn't really mean 'a call to action', even though in retrospect it reads that way. I meant we have to understand for ourselves that we can't stop it and that we need other ways of responding to it.

The logical conclusion, yes, is that there are no fandom taboos-- all that's left are squiggly lines. But the corollary to that is that we still need some way to deal with it when somebody in our fandom does something we, in our own little corner of it, consider unacceptable. I've been watching the furores of late: lots of speaking out, lots of drawing back, lots of Zen Fen icons. We can't stop it but we still, as human beings, need to deal, however we manage to do it. It's a reaction thing, not an action thing.

Hopefully that's a little clearer.
cesperanza: Well, maybe not punitive, but we do have free speech too, no? I mean, there's nothing to stop you from posting about it in your LJ the way Julad did or doing something like our local news station used to do, have a weekly "Shame On You" segment. There could be a "Shame On You" livejournal, say, where the shame had to be justified: not just "you suck" but "Shame On You for--I dunno, plagiarizing or asking for money or publishing a zine full of typos" or whatever.
zortified:

I think that journal's called "fandom_wank'. ;-)

Besides, you know how long it would take for someone to post a 'shame on you for posting about so and so to shame on you!"
elynross:

I think the confusion came in with a single word:

This also means that fandom has to evolve a means of dealing with violations of the taboos which matter to them and not to other people.

If you'd said "this means that individuals have to evolve a means of dealing," you'd have been quite clear, and I felt that your following statements implicitly, though not explicitly, clarified that you were referring to individual response, not community shunning.

wistful sigh I do like the idea of communal shunnings, though. Granted, we'd never agree who needed to be shunned, but.

Beyond that, yes, I agree that we now have to deal with and be responsible for our own individual responsees to those things that disturb us. Nice post.
dakingirl: have you thought about forming boards of directors for slash community? Perhaps someone could draft a list of taboos and post it/send it out through the community. I know that *I* was never given a list of taboos... just invited to write and be part of the community. It's probably only luck, or the fact that I barely participate in the actual writing of fan fic, that I haven't transgressed horribly on some random taboo. I would be interested in reading the *code* if there was one. Just sayin...
jedinic:

Although if there was an attempt to draft a code, I could see that spiralling into endless wars over what constitutes an appropriate code, and who has the 'right' to draft such a thing. Not to mention the factions who would be anti-code, and the several hundred threads that would arise about the fans who dared impose their standards on everyone else.

I see fandom becoming more anarchistic all the time, but it certainly makes it interesting!
dakingirl: not to mention all those who felt the code was racist, and anti feminist, and pro-war. Good god... pretty soon you would just be the UN and then, well, you'd never be able to get it up again.
kassrachel:

Well, and -- yeah. I can imagine so many ways this could go wrong. Half of us would want a rule saying "No one has the right to forbid people to discuss published fanfiction," and the other half would want "No one has the right to discuss fanfiction if the writer doesn't want it discussed." *snerk* And that's just based on the biggest kerfluffle I remember from Sentinel -- surely there are zillions of others in the pan-fannish world.

I do like the notion of a friendly document that could be posted somewhere, to which new fen could be directed, explaining a few basic rules of fannish netiquette. How to write a list post that doesn't include the entirety of the post that preceded it (as in the Prospect-L FAQ -- quote no more than 4 lines, etc). Arguments for why, historically, fans have chosen not to flaunt media fandom and specifically slash fandom in the faces of TPTB. That kind of thing.

But I expect even something that gentle wouldn't be widely-accepted -- it'd take years to hash out what ought to be on it. And lord knows I'm not volunteering to write one. ;-)
kassrahel:

My point with this post is not that the kids these days have no respect. My point is that there's been a major shift over the last few years, from walled communities of fandom-specific lists and archives to a more amorphous mass. ...This means that taboos are no longer taboo: no list-mom can tell you that you can't hold out your hand for money on LJ, no archivist says you can't post an incest story on your website.

Interesting theory, and one that resonates pretty well with my experiences.

It's possible that some communities can self-police. Which is to say: lists can still self-police, and so can smaller, less formal communities -- private lists, chat rooms, what-have-you. Although perhaps those are essentially cliques (cabals? :-), hold-overs from an earlier fannish time -- I dunno.

I'm inclined to say that there have always been people breaking taboos; but that a few years back one might never have encountered them, because they generally weren't breaking these taboos on lists (or if they were, they were getting booted). The lj/blog phenomenon hasn't created taboo-breakers; it's just made their voices proportionally louder, because in an anti-hierarchical universe, everyone's soapbox carries the same weight.

Like you, I have strong taboos against making ourselves known to TPTB, whether that means buying advertising or showing slash fiction to actors. I think it's a self-preservation thing: if TPTB really wanted to shut us all down, they probably could. They'd do a lot of damage in trying. And to my mind, standing up and waving our arms and saying, "Hey, copyright holders! Come over here and see how we're twisting your characters in a way you may consider defamatory!" is a really moronic thing to do -- it risks the fragile sustainability of this entire enterprise.

But one of the problems with the current fannish system, such as it is, is that very few new fans seem to be "mentored" into fandom anymore. They find us on their own; nobody steps up to say, "let me show you how it's done, what the rules are around here." Maybe it was always that way; maybe the nostalgia for an earlier fannish time is false nostalgia. I wouldn't know. I've only been here since 1999, and I was brought in by a friend, who was brought in by a friend, so there was always somebody to show me the ropes. (Not to say I didn' t make some egregious errors initially, like misunderstanding how one got into the 852 Prospect Archive, or choosing idiotic handles and email addresses, but Sanj didn't let me do anything destructive to myself or fandom.)

So maybe the "kids today" don't understand the reasons for the don't-flaunt-slash-to-TPTB taboo. Or maybe they're not sufficiently invested in fandom-as-community to care. Or maybe they're just natural rule-breakers, and I'm talking out my ass. :-)

Thanks for this post; it was thought-provoking.
julad:

there are no taboo-breakers, because in an anarchic fandom/society, the idea of taboo is largely defunct. "kids today" are exactly the same as they were yesterday; it's the context which has changed, and those belonging to an 'old guard' who have to do the adjusting.

that's the thing I'm sort of struggling with, here. a writer (who has since friends-locked the entry) asked for money. to me, that's absolutely and totally not on. but who's to say it isn't on? who's to say there's any harm in taking cash from people willing to part with it? and yet, to me, that's still absolutely and totally wrong. ultimately, it's me who needs to deal, although those who violate old taboos are certainly going to cop fallout from some quarters for it.

probably there are still taboos that are universal in fandom. they're hard to imagine, though, because by nature they're unwritten.
embitca: I guess I'm curious that something I consider nothing more than tacky becomes something that is taboo or wrong to you. I can't find any reason not to take money from people who are willing to give it, but I did find the nature of the request to be tacky in the extreme.
julad:

It probably originates in zine-based fandom, which I was never part of but which influenced fandom when I joined it. Taboo, culturally, usually comes from things which are harmful to a community-- incest thins the gene pool, eating human flesh spreads illness, and so on. There are often even historical reasons for religious taboos like not eating certain animals.

Zine fandom has a powerful taboo against profiting from a zine. A publisher is expected to break even, or even take a loss, and any monetary gains are expected to be funnelled back to the community in some way (better quality on the next zine or whatever). The logical reason for this is to keep the fair use defense intact--if money changes hands for works which violate copyright, it damn well better not resemble a commercial enterprise.

The fair use defense is largely behind the "no profiting" convention online as well. If I start charging money to read my, say, Smallville stories, I invite the wrath of TPTB, and that brings harm to the entire fandom. I think that's partly why fandom has evolved into a gift culture-- we tend to give to the community rather than to individuals, to preserve the noncommercial nature of it.

It gets grey, of course, when it comes to donations and infrastructure and incidental benefits. A zine publisher using profits to buy a better computer? Money for an author's site hosting costs? Amazon.com affiliation on a slash website? Cash for stories is, to me, still beyond the pale (and I think would be for most people in fandom) and, to me at least, ask donations for stories is over the line, as is any semi-commercial benefit from publishing fan fiction.

It may be that no harm would come from having a little money change hands for fiction, and intellectually I can see that the sky probably won't fall if it happens, but my gut reaction is still that any personal profit from writing fanfiction is a dirty, wrong thing. When I hear about it happening, I get that instinctive stomach-lurch that comes with hearing about cannibalism or incest happening. But I, of course, have a historical and cultural context for that taboo, which many newcomers lack.
deannie:

fandom has evolved into a gift culture

Now, I hear very few people say they believe this anymore, and perhaps this is a sign of old guard and new guard sentiments. I have had occasion to hear fanfic authors (often fanfic authors who don't write all that well) state that it is their right to get *positive* feedback, or it is their right to be published in zines. In the old days when dinosaurs ruled the earth and zine editors descended from on high, a writer's work had to be rigorously edited and often rewritten before a zine would take it. This still occurs today, but there are a frightening number of zines that could just as well be poor web pages--and many of them are so expensive that I'm not entirely certain they aren't making a good deal more profit than they should.

A million people have lamented the tendency for the "majority" (sic) of fic to contain too many spelling and grammar errors, so I won't bother to rehash. But I will say that, in a world where anyone can have a webpage (as opposed to the world of, say, the 70s, when, if you wanted to get people to read your stuff you had to be good enough to amass a mailing list mainly by word of mouth), it isn't so much that *more* drek or *more* taboo-laden work is being produced, it's that more of it is being *seen*, and we need to learn to let the dam break. Maybe it was stiffling the ecosystem anyway. And as much as I might hate the fact that my house now sits on stilts in a raging torrent, I'll take the new growth the flood brings.

Maybe some of it will be beautiful.
biktauna:

In the old days when dinosaurs ruled the earth and zine editors descended from on high, a writer's work had to be rigorously edited and often rewritten before a zine would take it.

Oh my let's hear it for the old days!!!!

I just want to smack the little idiots who think their "work" is so perfect as to be inviolate.
ratcreature:

I think the "self-policing" works even in larger more amorphous communities as long as enough people are pissed off about the behavior and make that known. I mean, take the regular "plagiarizing" kerfuffles. When someone blatantly copies someone else's work, they can expect to be flamed. A lot. That won't prevent all morons from trying it, and I guess plagiarists could form a sub-community, and nobody could do much about it, but in general plagiarism is still a big no-no.

That's not to say that there aren't degrees, like some people already wail when other fan writers "borrow" their original characters (which I get at most as courtesy problem, since all fanfic does the same thing to professional sources), but copying whole paragraphs and stories word-for-word with changed names isn't done. And with all the cross-linking between ljs and thus between fandoms, it is -- I think -- harder to not be noticed when you post a story from one fandom in another, because cross-fandom contacts are more common.
biktauna:

But one of the problems with the current fannish system, such as it is, is that very few new fans seem to be "mentored" into fandom anymore.

What's the big deal about mentoring? I simply took the line that I would read before I posted, act like a civilized adult and have respect for other people's desire to speak, even if I disagreed with them. You don't need a mentor for that. Just common sense and a small degree of socialization.

I've been in slash fandom since 97 and SF fandom since the 70's...

Over time Ive discovered that most of the trouble is caused by people who don't think the golden rule applies to them, and/or are so fragile that any comment is construed as life threatening, and those who's non-fannish lives are so dreadful that they need to be big fish in the fannish pond. This is across all fan activities and I don't think mentoring will really have any effect on these people at all.

Granted it would be wonderful to have someone help introduce you to everyone (the Starsky & Hutch fandom is wonderful with this) but its really not practical. I mean I've been a con goer for 20+ years and the only fanfic I saw was some crappy trek zines in the 80's and the guy who had them knew nothing about them. Hell if I had a mentor I probably would have been ruining my existence with writing earlier than I did. Hmmm maybe that was a good thing.

Anyway, I lived in a major city, went to major cons and am fairly social and I _never_ ran into someone writing until I got on the net. Perhaps all this chaos would have come sooner if there had been more mentors bringing people in. Or not...
loveanddarkness:

First: don't know you. Don't even know what fandom you're in. It's very likely not one I'm in. This means I've got nothing personal against you and would say the same thing to anyone based on the same statements made.

Second: get ready. This is going to sound bitchy. That's because it is bitchy.

Your musings might have some persuasion or merit to them if they came from a person who hadn't indulged in Real Person fic of any kind.

To me, your entire post is a big black pot screaming about the invasion of the kettles.

Sorry toots. If fandom is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and you seek some way to police those who indulge in taboos, get ready to get some handcuffs slapped on your fine self.

Self-publishing through LJ-ing is free and here to stay. By virtue of people making posts friends-only, a lot of whatever it is that has your panties in a wad will slip under the radar. It probably did in the olden days of usenet and monitored email lists too. There was a Duchovny-Anderson True Lerve list and website. Scorned and mocked of course, but it existed. XF fans heaped shame upon it but that doesn't mean that it didn't have an audience, a small putrid audience, but an audience nonetheless. I'm sorry if we can't summon up the means for a good old-fashioned public flogging, or even a quaint Amish shunning, but the fact is there's always been an underground. Some things should stay in it.

Like real person fic.

My 2 cents.

Really, this isn't personal. Don't know you. Not about you. But a real person fic writer wringing her hands over those goshdarned incest writer gives me agita and I had to speak out.
julad:

sweetheart. i'd apologise for being unclear, as I did to zortified, but it's patently obvious that you didn't even comprehend the parts that were crystal clear. like, the part where I don't have a problem with incest fic.

and don't worry, your post wasn't bitchy. it just made you look like a dumb cow who can't read.

toodles!

(oh, and I don't know you, so obviously it's nothing personal. I'd say the same thing to any dumb cow who overreacted mightily to something I didn't even say.)
julad:

wait. my apologies, sincerely this time. I didn't need to stoop to bitchiness just because you (by your own admission) did.

perhaps you'd like to state your argument more civilly, and I'll be glad to offer a civil response.
loveanddarkness:

Okay.

Simply stated: it strikes me as odd that you're observing, and seem a little perturbed by, the dissolution of fandom cliques/communities/whatever you'd like to call them, that once shunned people for taboo behaviours. It would seem to me that you, having been on the other side of the Character/RP line, might not really care about 'nastier' taboos being shattered. To some, you've crossed the line already and a few extra steps don't really matter.

I base this observation on my experience, which is as I said, just from one fandom: it's WAY uncool where I come from to write RP fic.

This will be more meaningful if I describe more of where I'm coming from. As I perceive it, I'm kind of in the middle of the fandom spectrum. The left (and that's just an arbitrary designation, having nothing to do with politics) would be "Hey, RP Slash! Let's mail it to the actors! Let's write fic where Lisa Kudrow boinks Courtney Cox with a strap on! Whee! Freedom baby!" and the right would be "How dare you write anything other than decorous PG-13 het fic with the One True Pairing In Lerve And Having Baybeeez."

Me, I don't really get that much into the slash, but I read it and like some. I dig polyamory, deep dark angst, alternate pairings, and everything that's written well, with passion for the characters. I wouldn't come within a mile of RP fic but I have an almost equal disdain for the rigid doctrinal proclaimations about One True Hetero Pairing Of Lerve.

So from my perspective, and, I think, a fair number of people to the Left of me and ALL people to the right of me, RP fic is just narsty business, slashy or not.

Showing fic, any fic, to TPTB: extremely dumb in terms of how fandom might get spanked for it. And also, in the case of RP fic, IMHO, it's just extremely bad taste.

Money for fic? That's just fucking appalling. I'm sorry for anyone who has hard financial times - they can happen to the best of us. But there is no way that asking for money for fic is right. Further, it invites the TPTB Swatdown, for which we would all get spanked.

Basically, we're agreeing more than we're disagreeing here. I honestly can't think of anyone who would think that shoving RP slash fic in an actor's face is anything but trashy. And the money thing? Ugh.

But from a certain perspective, it would seem you'd celebrate the lack of the email lists and concommitant Community Standards because if your own fandom was anything comparable to XF fandom, you would have been rubbed with some scorn, roasted with flames, and basted with disdain for writing RP fic, period. From a certain perspective, the RP fic people would flourish more in the wild self-publishing environment of LJ, and it might be something to celebrate.

Thus, your post came off as strange and insincere. It was like "Well, I'm quite guilty of arson, but I only burn down ugly houses. Some people are burning down nice houses and we can't have that."

I hope I was wrong. I won't ever say anything good about RP fic because, really, it does seem way wrong to me. I'm not retreating from that position. I was at first shocked by your statements that some taboos are being broken because to me, it seems you broke the biggest one already, so anything else is not a big deal. But, rereading much more carefully and reading your replies to others I can see you are, genuinely, perturbed by some stuff that's going on, and also making a thoughtful observation of what's going on in fandom with the advent of LJ.

I'm sorry, really, that I was being Bitchella Le Cunt earlier. I should think before typing, especially if I feel as bleah as I do this morning. I was wrong. I apologize and ask that you put that behind us.
julad:

Simply stated: it strikes me as odd that you're observing, and seem a little perturbed by, the dissolution of fandom cliques/communities/whatever you'd like to call them, that once shunned people for taboo behaviours. It would seem to me that you, having been on the other side of the Character/RP line, might not really care about 'nastier' taboos being shattered. To some, you've crossed the line already and a few extra steps don't really matter.

Mostly I'm not bothered by the taboos I listed, although I used to hold them dear. Some few, yes, I still cling to. It's partly of the fact that I'm a little perturbed which perturbs me. With RPS I crossed a line held dear to many people, but I still have lines which are dear to me. I'm hardly going to run around screeching that people shouldn't do X, but I still feel the need to react somehow when something is, for me, totally over the line. (For me, fiction is fiction is fiction, but risking TPTB smackdown is a big deal, and any association with money smells bad.)

In one way, every single one of us is over a line anyway, by writing fan fiction, but on mailing lists and archives we had lines just a bit further along, which could be (more-or-less) enforced. Nowadays that wall between 'can' and 'can't' is greatly diminished, but we still all have our own dear lines that we won't cross, even though we can't stop other people crossing them. At least for me personally, that requires a mindset-change.

When somebody, on their own space, crosses my lines, I'm both powerless to stop them and required (absent authority figure) to deal with it myself. However I may deal (even if it's with a Zen Fen icon), and with all the moral complexity inherent in how I deal (like, say, the risk of calling kettles black), I've only got my own space and my own lines, and there ain't nothin' I can do about anybody else's.

From a certain perspective, the RP fic people would flourish more in the wild self-publishing environment of LJ, and it might be something to celebrate.

I wrote in Nsync fandom, and yes, they were one of the earliest fandoms to move to LJ. It was totally anarchic but also (at the time I was there) surprisingly self-regulated. It had a small-neighbourhood-ish, everyone-knows-everyone-ish set of standards. For the most part, I think, fandom in general retains that through cliques and friends' lists. To twist your analogy, each neighbourhood in LJ has standards on what's arson and what isn't, standards that the adjoining neighbourhood might not share. In LJ, additionally, neighbourhoods aren't tidy little entities, they mesh and overlap and intermingle. That's a fairly incendiary situation to be in, but we're in it.

I'm really starting to understand the Zen Fen thing. It's making a lot of sense to me, now. *g*
manna:

This means that taboos are no longer taboo: no list-mom can tell you that you can't hold out your hand for money on LJ, no archivist says you can't post an incest story on your website. Increasingly, everyone has their own space, and the power of anyone to limit other people's behaviour decreases proportionately.

This amused me, in a nostalgic way, because all my early internet community experiences (and I use the word 'community' very loosely) were on Usenet. In newsgroups, there are no administrators to kick out the trolls, flamers and kooks. Complaints to ISPs because you don't *like* something someone posted just gets you laughed at. So this anything-goes, no-way-of-keeping-out-the-barbarians atmosphere you're talking about is tremendously familiar.

Back then, it would never have occurred to me to even *try* to impose my taboos on other people, or, in a way, that it was a desirable idea. Moderated newsgroups often die the death compared to their unmoderated kin. On Usenet, there are two sanctions available: avoid the newsgroups where there is nothing interesting visible among the steaming piles of pixels, and killfile individual users or threads.

I find that strategy, and appropriate variations on it, continue to work pretty well in any internet situtation. The world is full of stuff that upsets me, and about which I can do *nothing*, and always has been. Worrying about that fact is pointless and makes me unhappy, so I don't do it. And when I get tense, I repeat my Usenet mantra -- it's only the 'net, it's not like it *matters*. It kept me stress-free for years on rec.games.frp.storyteller, the Bab5 and Buffy groups, and even sci.sceptic, and I have faith it will continue to do so.

(However, I think I'm going to start soliciting donations on my original fic page, just because the idea seems to annoy people so much. Unfortunately, I'm probably too lazy to organise it. {sigh} This is why I'd make a crap troll.)
ratcreature: The problem is that fandom isn't purely virtual. There is of course disagreement on how big the potential for damage to fandom through one fan's moronic actions is, and what exactly constitutes a moronic action that has the potential to cause real damage (instead of just being annoying, or aggravating to some or many others). But not all fandom disagreements can be avoided by judicious killfiling (though that certainly helps).
mumblemutter:

The fact is that nobody has the power, anymore, to prevent someone from doing what they want in fandom. We all, however, need to deal effectively with it when it happens.

Well, there's always fandom_wank. That's a...new way to deal i suppose.
anonymous: *nods* And, oddly, darkhet is now the squick factor. Try finding a good archive for it. :/
delores:

Oh, it all seems so long ago now. Joining up to slash lists on ONElist (only after submitting to the moderators the required age statement of course) and getting huge "rules.txt" files sent to you with dire warnings of suspension and expulsion for any infractions.

You talk much sense, and I think the interesting thing is how everyone is actually creating their own little walled community, by adding people to our friends list based on what we're willing to read and the topics and issues we want to discuss. I actually think that process would be aided if friends lists were called something else, as the term "friends" often means that some journals stay on a person's list out of fear of offence if ever they were removed.

What is true of then and now is that - TOS aside - any rules imposed in fandom are only convention and there are always those who challenge that convention (or are unaware of it). The problem, as you say, is finding the appropriate response.
sorchar:

I get what you're saying. You can't control what others do, you can only control how you react to it. That's one of my mottoes, actually.

And it's very true. People can do what they want, but when they do it in public, then other people are going to react. If they can't handle that, then they have two choices: don't do it, or stop caring about what other people think.

Erg, I'm in a hurry and goofed. I meant "don't do it in public"...and I did forget the third choice...whine and bitch about being picked on.

References