The three generations of fanfic
The post sparked meta discussion about the history of fandom, especially its use of different online platforms. As of October 2015, the post had over 68,000 notes.
The post sparked numerous responses, largely because people disagreed with it. The most common threads of discussion covered:
- The history of zines, Usenet, Yahoo Groups, and Geocities that led to the community on LJ and then AO3
- Entry points/platforms outside of this history
- The fact that the original post gets the order of fanfiction.net and Livejournal backwards
- Reminisce With Me (2008)
- The good old days before google were dark and involved horses (2010)
- Fandom 1994-2000-ish (2012)
- Memories by vass (2012)
- A brief history of fandom, for the teenagers on here who somehow think tumblr invented fandom (2014)
- Was Fanfic Any Different in the Olden Days? (2015)
- The three generations of fanfic (2015)
- I feel like fandom generations are both very specific and easily conflated. (2018)
Some posts directly critiqued the original post.
dude no. just no.
3 generations of millenial fanfic, more like
anfic was way pre-internet, like not just the trek direct mail chains, and the newsletters, and the zines, and the bbs, and the usenet groups, geocities, fandom and/or pairing specific websites, like come on, fanfic has /history/, like they say, technically a ton of 'great literature' is fanfic, dante was a self-insert, so like first generation of written fanfic, would be what?, stone tablets?, wall paintings?, like dude you were on Chislr?, everyone's all moved to PapYrs now, check my blog scroll.
Some people have short memories, or less of a sense of history than you’d expect.
Dude, dude, you have missed some.
and I’m fairly certain there was a small contingent between Fanzines and mailing lists but I can’t remember what it might have been called.Never cut out our previous generations. Half our tropes are from there (As well as a good chunk of our lingo!)
I suspect the OP is significantly younger than me, as they have neglected the many forms of fic sharing that came before these, like zines, listservs, yahoo groups, and big single-fandom or single-pairing archives. Durn whippersnappers don’t know what it was like before fandom-at-large was so centralized across a handful of platforms. *shakes fist at clouds* Tags: bitter old fandom queen
I’ve been in fandom reading fanfic since before any of these were established. (LJ was my fave tho) #JUST FELT EASIER TO CONTROL QUALITY ON LJ #I GOT TO SELECT WHICH AUTHORS AND COMMUNITIES TO FOLLOW #SO I WASN'T SPAMMED WITH BAD FIC #I CANT THINK OF ANY OTHER FORMAT OR SITE THAT ALLOWED THAT LEVEL OF QUALITY CONTROL #EVEN ON TUMBLR EVEN THOUGH YOU PICK WHO YOU FOLLOW YOU STILL GET REBLOGS SO YOU MIGHT HAVE POOR QUALITY POP UP ON YOUR DASH #AND THE TAGS ARE JUST A FREE FOR ALL REALLY #SO YEAH #I'LL CLASSIFY MYSELF AS AN LJ GEN EVEN THOUGH I'VE BEEN AROUND SINCE GEOCITIES AND NEWSLETTERS
I am all. I am the beginning and the end. the alpha and the omega. you speak as though there was a time when I did not have fanfic. I am the eternal fantrash.
You forgot printed (on paper!) fanzines, Compuserve, Prodigy, Angelfire, Geocities. There was also the early downloadable fanfic sites like You Want Fries With That? for downloading to PDA’s. (Personal Data Assistants, which were pre-Kindle and iPad handheld computers) I still have some old fanzines (Star Trek). I also still have my old Sony Clie’, and my HP IPAQ PDA’s. (not sure if the PDA’s still work. I know they can’t connect to wifi. The IPAQ did at one time, but Hewlett Packard didn’t keep up with the changing wifi security settings.)
"Our" History from Zines On
A number of people commented on the thread of fandom history that starts with Star Trek zines and carries through to Livejournal and then AO3. This was a widely talked about part of fandom history but by no means the only one that came up. The most influential of the posts of this type was the following history of fandom described in fancifully Shakespearean turns of phrase:
Oh bb there is so much more to it than that.
First there were zines, lovingly mimeographed and stapled by our fandom foreparents, and those who remain to us from the Zine Age are powerful and wise. Then there was Usenet, where formatting went to die. You know not the strength it takes to read 60k fics entirely in Courier New, or the pleasure of a really artistic looking section break marker composed of ASCII characters. Then there was the Great Schism, as fandoms spread far and wide across the Web, and basic HTML was the whole of the law. Many of us lied our way into private “18+” listservs, and roamed the webrings, lamps aloft, in search of one virtuous author (or at least somebody else who shipped the thing). From this dark age rose FF.net, that pit of voles from whose bourn many a hungry reader has returned, starved for citrus and heartsick from the cutesy author notes.And FF.net begat Livejournal, which allowed easy archiving, threaded comments, flocked posts and invite-only communities. And it was Livejournal, in its death throes, that begat AO3, which once seemed like only a utopian vision and now bestrides the world like a Colossus. 
General Comments on Fandom History
Many other posts agreed with the general view of fandom history outlined in that post. Some were direct responses to it; others critiqued the original post or others like it.
i was alt.startrek.creative erotica.moderated and the ASC archive before the name change and rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc and alt.tv.homicide (and the three separate fic archives for the separate lists because everybody hated each other because that fandom was insane)
i was hexwood and gossamer and area 52 and the UCSL archive and the Muldertorture archive and KS Nicholas’s Slash Fanfiction on the Net and the MKRA website that i hope to god no longer exists because i had horrible teen fan poetry posted there
i was there for the estrogen brigades
i was there for the ray wars, although i did not actually notice them at the time
fanfiction.net is a n00b i mean honestly i still consider myself a n00b, i missed the true mailing list era when there were only a couple per fandom bc hardly anyone could create one, i was a tiny infant and a year after i got into fandom egroups and onelist appeared, and of course i missed the heyday of zines by quite a few years, but this post my gosh, I REMEMBER WHEN FF.N OPENED OKAY, i am an Old(LC, how did I not know you were on ASC(EM) too? Man, those were the days.)
I’ve seen things you n00bs wouldn’t believe. Thousand-page flame wars off the shoulder of fandom_wank. I watched Andy Blake fake his own death in the dark near the LOTR fandom. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to get off the internet.i mean, i never SAID anything on the newsgroups, because i was a tiny infant (although a couple years later i did participate a very little bit on alt.tv.angel, but that was after the usenet fandom heyday for the most part). mostly i read the stuff on the archives, but i lurked on the actual groups too.
i think ratmm remains to this day one of my finest fandom experiences; i am so sad i don’t have my massive carefully curated saved folder of MSTings anymore. that was such a glorious art form.i also lurked on alt.sex.* groups before they got taken over by spam and went to soc.sexuality.*, but uh, that was a slightly different although somewhat overlapping sector of my internet experienceI was sixteen through eighteen (I moved to email lists at eighteen, and from there to LJ) and really shouldn’t have said anything either. /o\ I distinctly remembering returning from a break to find yet another flame war waging, and jumping in with “Oh my Gods! Why can’t we all just get along?” And once emailing someone to ask what they meant about Data’s cat, because I didn’t understand the reference. (I knew what testicles were, I didn’t know what people being coy about testicles sounded like.) the good old days of fandom, i also read soc.bi and alt.polyamory, despite not being bi, and not having had one relationship let alone multiple ones at once
lets not forget yahoo groups, and webrings, and individually curated fansites (on geocities, tripod), etc. and this is beyond my time but also old school ZINES, bc fic and fandom has existed in analog since wayyy before the internet was even a whisper
♙i shit on ffnet all the time but ♙if i think abt only being able to read and share fic thru cons ♙or meetups ♙or fuckin SNAIL MAIL ♙it puts things into perspective ♙when we talk abt fic we could be talking abt LITERAL GENERATIONS ♙cool to think abt 
Long long time ago,
But home computers came by quickerfanfic online.
And bbses made things slicker
300 baud was so fast
We watched our letters flow past.
GOD DAMNED SHERLOCK FANS TITTERING IN SALONS ABOUT THEIR OWN VERSIONS OF ADVENTURES WITH THEIR FAVORITE DETECTIVES
FUCKING DANTE WITH HIS SELF INSERT BIBLE FANFIC
AND FINALLY VERGIL, COOING OVER HOMER
GET OFF MY LAWN*
* note: i was actually not part of this generation of fanfic, but it makes me mad when people forget that fandom as we know it today has existed since at least the 1930s and that fannish behavior and transformative works are AS OLD AS GODDAMN TIME spacemohawks get in here and be salty with me about these youngins who don’t even know about 1970s gay-ass Kirk/Spock fanfic GODDAMN THE Y UTH OF TODAY
Awww! And the brief, tiny, moment in time during 1997/1998 when there was the short lived fanfiction dot com! eGroups was SO AMAZING when they added the digest option. And the Scifi channel website! Whey they still hosted fan links to fan works! Aww! *pats internet* /unoficial Nat Packer (my application was never accepted.)
I thought ff.net predated LJ? Heck, I remember that the ban on RPF and explicit stuff made folks go TO LJ. This also ignores newsgroups and Yahoo!Groups which are a vital part of fandom history. I remember posting very early Buffy fic to UCSL on Yahoo and having it manually archived on Dymphna.net! And that’s not even mentioning zines, or the horror of Nifty.org and ASTR. the-cimmerians? Your pornish history is needed as I only became aware of online fandom in the mid-90s and those three sites only take the last sixteen years.
I started on forums, webrings, and those beautiful, terrible, low-quality-jpeg-filled fanshrines on geocities/tripod/angelfire. Personal websites. FF.net. Various other, more specialized archives (FictionAlley, skyehawke, etc). Livejournal, oh god Livejournal. Recs lists. Kinkmemes. And AO3, emerging like a lighthouse guiding us out of the fog, collecting all our flotsam and welcoming us to shore.
(Source: cozypotter, via itisnotaphase)Filed under fandom i love fandom i could write the history of my life in fandoms and i love this post a whole lot because 1) it is giving us all a chance to reminisce about our fandom roots 2) it is almost entirely made up of all us fandom olds BITCHING and it is AMAZING 'sonny in my day we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to get to the mailbox for the most recent issue of that zine!' 'you never had dial-up! you never suffered through the hell that was AOL!' i love it
It turns out that, far from being extinct or relegated to hiding on mailing lists, the fanosaurs roam Tumblr and had quite a few things to say about the original post putting the birth of fanfiction in the late 90s. Others chimed in to describe zine history as well.
I started with mailing lists, then webrings, and back when every fandom had its own archive. From there moved to LJ, FFnet, and finally got an AO3 account this year though I’d been reading there for a while. (I also own a couple of zines, but they always seemed like a weird nostalgia thing to me… except that I couldn’t get that one story by that one author if I didn’t buy it, so why not?)
Before ‘zines, there were mailing lists, and before that two friends sitting in each other’s bedrooms passing a notebook back and forth in the middle of the night and giggling madly. 
This is beauty …I remember finding a Star Trek original series Spock/Uhura fic that was originally published in the seventies that had been transcribed and posted on a website that hadn’t been touched but was miraculously still around from the mid nineties. That fic was a series of novel length stories, and while yea it was showing its age, let me tell you there is something magical about reaching across time to read fic from the yester years and still have it crawl deep into your bones and resonate. 
Types of Zines
Fans mentioned a variety of zine types, not just media fandom zine novels and anthologies of fic, but also APAs, letterzines, music zines, and DIY zines projects done without knowledge of wider zine culture.
My olde!web fandom provenance is so feeble (it consisted mainly of trying to find the geocities and tripod sites) that this is mainly a reblog for reference. But ‘round-robin fics written in notebooks’ and ‘print zines’: happy memories! Our notebook fic we passed around in class wasn’t strictly fanfic – more like a wiki Angela Brazil-esque school story that starring pseudonymised parodies of ourselves/our year group and, inevitably, the teachers. But, deep in a box, I’m sure I still have Ant-fans’ (photocopied, snail-mail) newsletters from the early 80s with our Adam fanart, reviews, letters, rants, Top 10s, etc. (This all started thanks to one shy fan who placed a classified ad in the music press.) Later, I got into the 80s (photocopied) music fanzine scene. It was one of the best formative experiences of my life, and I still have friends (and zines) from those times. But it’s not something I mention much on here, as I feel like it doesn’t ‘count’ as fandom in Tumblr terms…
When I was in middle school me and my super nerdy friends were so into Star Trek that we made a little fanclub. We had our own bimonthly zine that me and a friend edited and I typed it up on the computer in my house and printed copies for everybody. There was a regular joke column (omg so in-jokey and dorky) and fanfic drabbles and news and reviews of episodes. One of my friends even ran a sort of proto-LARP in his basement where he had solo cups with confetti in tied to the ceiling and strings you could pull to let the confetti out when the ship was under attack. Then in 8th grade Voyager started & I got internet access at home. (We’d had it for a while but I couldn’t get on that computer, it was just for my brother’s bulletin board. This was pre-world wide web.) I discovered that there was a wider fandom and fic online and talked to other nerds and eventually found online role play and ff.net and livejournal and it was glorious.
Technical Aspects of Zines
I was telling someone on the weekend about how I bought a second hand gestetner press to produce my fanzines, and how you had to type up the pages on this special waxed paper, and use the evil pink Correction Fluid, otherwise known as CorFlu, which made you high as a kite if you made enough mistakes.
And how exciting it was later when my hubby and I bought a small home photocopier - very unusual at the time, and [fairly] expensive for both the machine and the service contract: most of fandom were looking for jobs in the public service just so they could produce fanzines on the work copier.We produced a genzine while we lived overseas too, and returned to Australia when the first websites were going up. So we did our fanzine as a website after that.
DITTO MASTERS, BABY. Two colors, one of them purple and you could catch a buzz smelling the papers fresh off the press. Your connection? The local elementary school teacher’s lounge. SHHHHH!
Xerox. Five cents a page, coated paper and you wondered if you were going to sprout extra limbs if you handled it too much. Extra points for pages going completely black in the hottest part of the summer (NOOOOOOOOO). I said something about five cents a page?
Offset printing - the gold standard. You knew someone who knew someone who had a print shop. Or you took the class at the local junior college (raises hand). Hey, college credit.
If you drew art, you did it with a pen, one color, end of line. LINE DRAWINGS. Color what? Hell, if you did grayscale pencils, you were doing someone so incredibly expensive to reproduce, nobody could publish it. That stuff, you did for art shows at conventions, how nice.
A printer in YOUR OWN HOME? *choirs of angels break into song*
I had an uncle who did linoleum block woodcut illustrations for books he published with a linotype press. Another one did commercial art and actually set type (Did they ever work together? No. Danes.) - so I have some history with the processes as well.
It’s so damn accessible and easy these days.I think they key is amount of simple kindness - where you find it, and what you find with it. To me, that’s the amazing part.
I’m not quite old enough (or I wasn’t cool enough young enough) to be there, but pre-internet fandom is my true love. My pal Helen Raven did a talk about it for a night I run. You can read it here. It’s great. It’s all about women re-typing entire slash novels on manual typewriters and cycling to each other’s homes with panniers full of slash.
Oh give me a break.
STAR TREK WELCOMMITEE YO YO.
Then ditto masters. Then mimeograph. Then the offset printing class you took in college. (Complete with lead sheets for the artwork you hung on the wall, ya hipster.) You hated the mail, but had hope for UPS. You waited years for seven stories. YEARS.
Only then.So grateful.
One of the common themes was the difficulty fans had in getting access to the internet or privacy while they accessed it. In the 90's, teenage fans likely had one shared family computer or no computer at all. Fans at universities were often using the computer lab, not a private computer in their dorm room. Older fans often hadn't spent the money to have home internet access yet. Printouts and floppy disks still played a major part in many fans' experiences because of the cost and difficulty of access to the internet. Limited internet access was still a factor for some fans on through the 90s and into the 2000s.
Fanzines and floppy discs passed around in the 80s, VAX bbs starting in 1989, delphi message boards 1994, web forums starting in 1996. …but unofficially, like many old fans, I read/wrote/shared my first fanfic in composition books and spiral-bound notebooks in the early 80s. In the late 80s, we’d started to acquire computers and shared our stuff with each other via printouts. The kind with sprocket holes you had to tear off. ;) 
Oh man I remember well the time of geocities and tripod… In middle school and the start of high school, my friends and I would find fanfics on the tiny little plain text geocities/tripod websites and print them off and we would circulate them among ourselves, each person taking a turn (mostly because not all of us had computers in our homes yet). It was like the in-between point from fanzines but before fanfiction.net and livejournal (also, for the record ff.net started before LJ). Fics had partially become accessible online but some hard copy circulation was still necessary. And I’ll tell ya what, sharing fanfic was way more illicit when I was in middle school/high school too. You did NOT talk about it with ANYONE, printed copies were passed under tables and whispered about in corners. NO ONE COULD KNOW.
So in school, the library sold floppy disks. you could get like one for fifty cents of a shit ton for five bucks. I would sneak out of class to write slash fics or I would stay up late on the shitty windows 4 computer in notepad and then wait until morning came and no one needed the phone and upload them on the family computer which was the only one hooked up to dial up. bahahahaha
raise a glass to only updating once a week, to Sundays spent sneaking on dial-up whenever possible checking the “updated fics” page, hoping against hope that your favorite fic author submitted their newest chapter sometime that week. Never forget that soul crushing disappointment when they didn’t, toast for that heart-leaping excitement when they did. 
I became active on fanfiction.net
Though, I was still a kid so I used to save the fanfics in text documents on floppies and take them up to the (non-internet) computer in my room to read
And for reading while out, I used to copy the text and paste it into the song lyric section in iTunes
There is a very limited text space, I’ll have you know
and no way of knowing where it cuts off (cause the text still remains in it, it just does not show most of it when played on my ipod)
So I had to spread it out over multiple songs and remember the order of which they were spread, all the while re-checking where the text cuts off
Trying not to properly read it all the while
I often used Aaron Carter’s songs (because I love them)
It taken a loooooong time just for one ficBut I was dedicated
The Early Internet
The web became a major force in fandom circa 1995. Prior to that, other forms of internet were much bigger factors. They tended to be less graphical than the web and to require more tech skills to access.
Prodigy & Compuserve
Early internet providers offered access to their own forums. They were more in the business of providing proprietary content than plain internet access. Compuserve, Prodigy, GEnie, and others were many fans' introduction to online fandom.
Fanzines. Xeroxed and comb bound. But before that, mimeos sent round robin style to a slash fans mailing list or furtively traded at sci fi cons. Getting hold of fic was a challenge. I remember being so excited when Prodigy, GEnie, AOL, and Usenet came along. All the fic all the time! With none of the slash-shaming bs anymore.
And then, lost in the mists of time, the ancient past, all the way back in the early 1990′s, long before any of those websites existed, before there were graphical web browsers, when you still had to be in the government or a university student to have access to the internet, before AOL and the September That Never Ended, there were the various .fanfic and .creative groups of Usenet. That’s my generation. Now get off my lawn!
Yeah, I wasn’t old enough for the zine days, but I remember email groups and BBSes for fanfic well before ff.net was a thing. Also lots of roleplaying on Usenet. I really advanced through the Aes Sedai ranks back then…
Do kids even know what songfics are anymore? I find it hard to believe that 14-year-olds wouldn’t still write them if they were introduced to the idea. Someday some kid is going to reinvent the songfic and be suddenly dogpiled by screaming, horrified adults who know where that leads.I also remember when I first heard the word “shipping”– it was when the Harry Potter books were starting to become famous, and I thought that the fourth book must have some kind of maritime subplot.
Boards & Forums
I want to say “PFFT, WHAT ABOUT ZINES, USENET, AND MESSAGEBOARDS??” but by the time I got into it properly it was the age of livejournal. Though I still sometimes read fic on Pride and Prejudice message boards etc, fandom is not and never has been homogeneous. explicit, as well as so I hope you don't mind art..., fandom, me, meme, i am old, speaking of art you could have a similar question about deviantart vs tumblr I guess.
Early on, internet access was mostly available through universities and IT jobs, but services like Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL began to provide access to more and more homes. They also provided proprietary content, mostly in the form of discussion forums. AOL was massively popular, so it became a common entry point for fans.
I found fanfic and meta via AOL > KIDS ONLY through some weird messageboard thingie where you could pose questions and people could answer and there was a lot of fanfic there. ;___; Then I went to webrings and personal sites, and was finally introduced to yahoogroups, and spent years there and bookmarking HUNDREDS of personal sites before Livejournal finally exploded and became my main hub. So many fond memories…
Let’s not forget the joys of the AOL boards where fanfic were posted.
The "Great Schism"
I AM FROM THE AGE OF THE GREAT SCHISM, when fake e-mails were a must-have to receive updates from fan sites and to tell them how their formatting crapped out in the fourth paragraph
We searched the Great Schism without Google, btw. Archaic engines like Yahoo! and Webcrawler and Lycos and Ask were last resorts. We relied on the webrings, recommendations, mailing list groups, IRC fan chats, links from one small site to another to another. The young ones delved into basic html to make free archives in forgotten lands like geocities and dreamwidth. Elders with the means and ambition created their domains with bountiful collections of fic links from their travels across many fandoms. Attempts to lessen the next generation’s burden. 
The X-Files was one of the most influential early internet fandoms, serving as a model for archives, lists, shipping, and so much else in fandoms that came after it. Needless to say, it came up in the discussion regularly.
This makes me feel sooo old. 90s Era archives, altxf creative, Gossamer, Sparky’s Doghouse, all the rec lists…I made the OBSSE list once and thought I won an Oscar. Heeee What was CiCi’s rec list called?
And, we can’t forget the AOL folders!!!
OlddddddfCiCi’s rec list! I haven’t thought of that in years. Was it the Acid Pen? Something like that? (I’d check, but I don’t think I can open those files anymore…) Wait, google comes through: The Acid Desk!
There was a mailing list she ran too, but I can’t remember the name of that at all. That was where Vehemently & I posted our first stories on the same day – and we both got feedback from Plausible Deniability. *g* I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I got the courage to post it to atxc. It was a god awful piece of writing, but thankfully it started the ball that’s been rolling for… 18 years? <3 OH MY GOD GOSSAMER! HAHA! I had forgotten… wow… I… yeah. I love that there are so many of us who have been around for so long in this fandom. It makes me feel slightly less ancient (at 34…)HOW COULD YOU FORGET GOSSAMER!?? :)
Look at it! It’s beautiful – it’s a fucking historical landmark is what it is. Card catalog-esque index pages! Fic size listed by kilobyte! Text-based files with hard returns! And email headers included! It’s an archaeological marvel! I say all of this with actual gratitude and love in my heart. Gossamer was a fucking godsend (remember when it was on some long ohiostate URL??).Well now I just wanna go reread Dance Without Sleeping for like the 400,000,000th time. THANKS FOR THE X-FILES FEELSA friend of mine just put all her XF fic on AO3 AND SHE HAD TAKE OUT THE HARD RETURNS. Oh, we lauuuuggghhhed.I had a few X-Files fic back … fifteen years ago or so. One of which I still think of fondly and one of which I adored but was 100% Mary-Sue-rific… I wonder if I can find them… *looks*
HAHAHAHAHA I found it… Simplicity very short and ON GEOCITIES NO LESS. I did a podcast of this before there even was such a thing so that my dyslexic brother would listen to it… not sure that’s online, but oh wow I sorta wish it was… Soooooo old! Wasn’t CiCi’s list something like XFPen? The Golden Age of XF fanfic it was. *nostalgic sigh*XAPen! When it was good, it was the BEST list.Ahahaha! Clearly I should have kept scrolling. And clearly it should be no surprise herschelsmother would be the one to remember the name of the mailing list!
ETA: And then there was the time *before* I discovered Blessed ChronX and (not so blessed, but at least useful) usenet and used to stalk individual writer’s web pages for updates every day after work when everyone had gone home and I had the single (1 – there was only one) lab computer to myself. I remember printing out Paper Saints (I think) chapter by painful chapter over what felt like months & months.
And then there was the time I left printed fic in the printer…ETA2: Yes to the chore of posting to AO3 because of having to remove all the hard returns from the text files omg. (Thank god none of my XF stories were over 8000 words. Or, as we used to say back in the day, over 200kb. ;-)
gossamer gossamer gossamer NEVER FORGET GOSSAMER. (And gingerly avoiding the Muldertorture archive because I was an innocent baby who genuinely thought I should probably only read R-rated het romance) (Oh my god I just realized that that was basically a Mulder hydra trash party I am laughing SO HARD)
I had a few X-Files fic back … fifteen years ago or so. One of which I still think of fondly and one of which I adored but was 100% Mary-Sue-rific… I wonder if I can find them… *looks* HAHAHAHAHA I found it… Simplicity very short and ON GEOCITIES NO LESS. I did a podcast of this before there even was such a thing so that my dyslexic brother would listen to it… not sure that’s online, but oh wow I sorta wish it was… 
Same here. LJ was progress. Before that we had Yahoo groups and mailing lists (I’m still on one), and trying to find all the great fic in archives (some of which are still up and running, even 20 years later). Fandom history doesn’t start with either of those three …Yep, I started out using emails lists: one-list which became e-groups which became yahoogroups, and Dax’s Obsession and Tom’s Xena Page and Lunacy’s reviews keeping track of so many little author pages, often hosted by angelfire or geocities or tripod, and and you bounced from links page to links page to find other fic sites because there WAS NO GOOGLE!
Also, that writer who was the reason I first joined a one-list email group so I could read her daily fic updates before she posted them to her website? I’m still on that email list and she’s still posting fic IN THE SAME SERIES.
And I’ll guarantee there are people reading on here who started out with paper fanzines.#GET OFF MY LAWN #ONLY 16 YEARS IN FANDOM #ALL THE WAY BACK TO HOMER #MERPUPS #FANDOM HISTORY #MY COMMENTS
University Listservs & Early Major Lists
In the early 90s and before, running a mailing list wasn't something just anyone could do. Lists tended to be run by fans working at universities or who had an unusual level of technical expertise and access. Squidge was one of the earlier fannish hosts for lists and sites. Majordomo is a piece of software often used to run lists.
OH MAN seventh dimension *NOSTALGIA* Remember UCSL, who had to change their rules b/c canon made some of the allowed pairings ‘conventional’? AND SENAD AND PROSPECT-L and and OH MAN THE EARLY VOYAGER ARCHIVES. There where some EPICLY long fic from those. (Other than Gossamer, Voyager and other trek tended to be the biggest fics around.)
In the late 90s, mailing list hosts that were free and accessed via the web arose. This meant that fans without money, technical expertise, and special access to tech could now found their own lists. Fannish mailing lists exploded in number: single-fandom and single-pairing lists became common.
Adding to the timeline: eGroups briefly preceded Yahoo groups before Yahoo ate it up. Oh you guys. Drama wore a different face then. Imagine a world where you sign up for the single listserv devoted to your OTP in the Daily Digest form, so all the emails hit your inbox at once at the end of the day, and you see that two or more listsibs have been going at each other for HOURS about whether or not Severus Snape came from money (in 2001), baying for blood in inboxes all across the world until a mod steps in with something like, “This is not what I like to see when I come home from work.” 
Heh, I remember the outrage when egroups changed to yahoogroups, and before that, having to move from a listsever to egroups. 
I remember Yahoo groups for a fanfic or fanfic universe. It allowed for you to be notified of updates to the fic as well as interesting reader interaction, like posting fanart or having discussions and the author could be an active participant if they chose.
The golden age of Yahoo Groups, where the great J/C Café reigned supreme. I think I came online *after* the Usenet groups. Literally the first thing I googled when I got internet at home was “captain Janeway and Chakotay” looking for pictures… and stumbled upon graphic delicious NC17 fanfic. *sigh*
i’m still part of a yahoo group and every time i check that email and see how active the group still is, i’m momentarily boggled. like the rest of the internet has moved on guys, join us in 2015 some day the fansites were also so gr8. they were the best of 90s/early 2000s geocities and angelfire
I wrote Wild West self-insert fic with pencil on ruled paper in the 1970′s and dreamed of rescuing Spock from his execution, but my first forays into online fandom were a Walter Skinner group on AOL in the late 1990′s and posting fic to alt.tv.highlander.creative in 2001. Then yahell (hi Raine!), LJ, Dreamwidth, and here.
I remember when elist became onelist and then was eventually bought out by yahoo groups, and that was just arund 95/96
Personal webpages, including hand-coded html fic archives, were common in fandom in the 90's-00's. Geocities was a major host for these. Angelfire and Tripod were also common. Before the advent of good search engines, many of these pages were findable via webrings.
‘Three’ generations? Oh boy.
Yahoo when it was still a directory.
Gopher bulletin boardsHidden boxes under dealer’s tables  at sci fi cons
Does anyone else remember going to privately hosted fanfiction websites, but instead of clicking the link and going to whatever basic-HTML Courier New page with said fanfic (text formatting?! What text formatting?!) you’d instead download a zip file with said fanfic in it in MAYBE a .html file but probably a .txt file?? And because it was the 90s/early 00s the downloads took like four hours?
I guess I’m pre-generation or something. Before all these three, at the dawn of our kind, there were yahoo mailing lists and individual sites (R.I.P. Geocities.)same. the history of fanfiction does not start with any of these three sites. It doesn’t even start with its predecessors.
I’m a generation or two before this and I’m just in my early 30s.Same here. LJ was progress. Before that we had Yahoo groups and mailing lists (I’m still on one), and trying to find all the great fic in archives (some of which are still up and running, even 20 years later). Fandom history doesn’t start with either of those three …
omg geocities, I had SO many bookmarks. Also Angelfire or whatever it was called. Everyone had a website and you had to freaking CODE IT YOURSELF.Thankfully I have hence forgotten all the html tags that I could never get to work right anyway
All gone now, but that’s what archive.org’s WayBackMachine is for
I’m just slightly too young for the printed ‘zine generation of fanfics, and I never really got into the Usenet fanfic groups in spite of being a total Usenet droid, but I totally cut my teeth on fandom webrings. That’s how I learned that erotic Mega Man/Spellsinger crossover ‘fic is a thing. (To give you an idea of how different the culture was back then, you had, like, sixteen-year-old girls posting smutty Chrono Trigger fanfic under their real names without the slightest fear of harassment, because fanfic was still viewed as such an intensely feminine online space that all the creepy dudes wouldn’t be caught dead near it. Us guys really do ruin everything.)
Remember using Alta Vista to dig down through the (tiny) TV category and see if your show had any webpages? Remember reading fic on Usenet? Remember when GeoCities was new? Remember when we were all dependent on webrings? Remember when it wouldn’t take that long to read all the fanfic in your fandom?
Also, mailing lists. And the big moment when Yahoogroups made the running of mailing lists something that people who didn’t manage their own servers or server space could do. There were/are also messageboards. I went straight from LJ (with a GeoCities page I don’t think anyone ever visited as a duplicate hosting spot for my fic) to AO3, myself, and only to ffn when I got into Foyle’s War.
Also, in between zines and livejournal, there were these wiiild things called ‘usenet’ and 'mailing lists’ with associated web archives (that’s where I started). And also the era of geocities/tripod/angelfire self-archiving and webrings. Fanfiction used to be so much harder to track down even once it was on internet; we are spoiled these days. #fanfiction #history #internet #yes the internet has a history #it did not spring into existence fully formed the day you were born #it used to be like 90% xfiles fansites written in times new roman i swear to god 
oh my sweet summer child there was so much before livejournalDoes anyone else have words just languishing on Skyehawke?I have a hard copy of a fic someone mailed to me. I also have a fic I printed out because reading it online used too many minutes. Fandom before ~1995 was hard, you guys.I became active in the magical period in the 90s when everyone posted their fic on their shitty web pages. I also had limited web time, and I used to copy and paste fic into a text file I could read in Notepad later, when I was offline. I still have most of those fics. On the original floppy discs, even!You had my fic on a shitty web page. Oh, man, remember webrings? THOSE WERE THE DAYS. I remember webrings! You want to hear something funny? THE WEBPAGE IS STILL THERE. I wasn’t aware that hosting crappy personal webpages was still a viable business model, but I guess it is, because somehow Freeservers survived. And I have no idea what my fucking username or password were, so the webpage will be there either until Freeservers goes bankrupt or until our planet crashes into the sun, whichever happens first.
A common topic was the dominant aesthetic of websites at the time, which included hard-to read fonts and colors, auto-play music, novelty cursors, animated gifs, and other crimes against taste that fans remember with nostalgia and embarrassment. Few people mentioned that all of these aesthetic choices are once again popular on Tumblr.
The free angelfire webpages with black backgrounds and lime green text with auto playing midis and early moving gifs.
Fucking hell…quizilla. I’m so glad AO3 exists. I’m the kinda girl that feel forsaken by the gods when I’d come home from school and my little brother would be on the PC because I went to bed without finishing a Bulma and Vegeta lemon (OMG WE CALLED THEM LEMONS HA!) on a geocities website with MiDi versions of popular songs of the 90s.
Who remembers when everyone had their fics on angelfire websites? Sparkly cursor animations and all. 
I got in during the days of eGroups - basically an e-mailing list slightly more advanced than Usenet but still not that great at the formatting thing. The days of geocities and neon web pages and strings of letters in the header rather than names and web rings. I still get a kind of nostalgic ‘awwww’ moment when I stumble across a remnant of those. 
How Websites Were Made
Some fans used programs to build their pages; others hand-coded completely from scratch. Formatting like text that wraps properly as you resize the window were not ubiquitous. Fans hosting their fic on somebody else's website would have to send it to the archivist: there was no automatic upload mechanism on these sites.
Can I say I started reading fanfics in the stone-age of fanfic websites on individual websites with directories for that specific fandom back in the ye olde AOL days?
Like some of these pages didn’t have text wrap so if a paragraph was REALLY LONG the browser would make me side-scroll?And I was using Netscape browser to write my fanfics because it had a HTML page writing feature that worked in WYSIWYG format so I could just upload the .html file to my little Angelfire website and link the fanfic to the page?
Holy shit. So, I want to get in depth about my history with fanfiction, but I’ll just provide the bare bones and maybe save more detailed material for the future.
Started reading and writing fanfiction when I was 14 or 15 or so. I didn’t stumble onto ff.net until years later. Before that, I sought out FFVII fanfiction on individual, usually FF-specific sites, whether they were run by individual writers or groups. Some of the bigger ones were Icy Brian and RPGamer (I think this is still around, believe it or not), the FFVII Citadel.
I had my own fan page hosted by red… rival? Basically a hipper looking geocities. I made crappy chibi fanart and cute crappy banners for my site. I think I may have been a part of a webring, but I don’t remember. I designed the whole thing on Microsoft Frontpage and at that time, I was teaching myself photoshop, so I made all sorts of fuglyass graphics using beveled fonts and terrible drop shadows and shit.
ANYWAY. Good fanfiction was hard to track down back in the day lol. I recently tried to look some up, but sadly, most of them are gone and a few of my old favorites have been completely wiped from the Internet with no trace left behind. I suspect some of the more talented writers went on to do cool things and decided to torch their trails lol.
And fun aside: a year or so ago when I went back home, I rebooted my old as fuck desktop PC, in hopes of finding saved word docs of my favorite fanfics (God, I was such a nerd). I actually ended up striking gold, but then I stupidly accidentally tried to update the hardware and the computer had a meltdown and stopped working completely. I think it decided to self-destruct in order to keep me from going further down the regression hole.When I told my mom what had happened (I even told her I’d been revisiting fanfiction) she just said “Oh, I’m so sorry honey” while basically laughing her ass off. Lol.
↑↑↑↑↑ the first 7-8 years of my fandom life were spent on yahoo mailing lists
remember when the only fic archives we had were owner-run, manually updated geocities/angelfire sites, and you had to send your fics to the ~webmaster as attachments and there weren’t any mechanisms for comments or kudos, people would just send feedback directly to you personal e-mail
Some fans mentioned how little header information was available on early fanfic sites.
Many fans mentioned that fic lengths used to be given in file size, not wordcount, something not immediately apparent if you look at an older page that is still up.
Many fans pointed out how much harder it was to find fannish sites during this period.
Fans reminisced about webrings, one of the best ways to find fannish sites back when search engines sucked.
You kidding me? Try “had to create my own freaking Geocities website and make individual pages for each chapter of the fic and link that shit manually after teaching myself HTML. I MEMORIZED hexadecimal because there were no color graphs. If I wanted purple, I had to manually adjust numbers and letters till I got what I wanted or went “fuck it, close enough.” You had no method by which to mass market your fic. You made your website and threw it shivering and alone into the world, to hopefully be linked by Webrings about whatever it is you were writing about.
I AM AN ELDER OF THE INTERNET, AND I TRAVELED THE DARK WILDS BEFORE EVER THERE WERE PATHS WORN TO TAKE.(”Okay grandma, that’s nice, now take your pills.”)
As usual, there were some differences between fannish experiences in anime fandoms and Western media fandoms, like Fanfiction.net having a more enduring popularity. However, fans' descriptions of early fandom history such as Usenet and mailing lists were relatively similar (probably more similar than anime fandom and Western fandom of the 2000s-2010s). Websites like animespiral, A Sailor Moon Romance, and the Sakura Lemon Archive came up repeatedly.
Personally… for me, ff.net went before livejournal. And before ff.net there were places like tmffa; you’d go on anipike to find one website for each (anime) fandom. (Hello geocities, myhome, and angelfire).
I used to go to guardian.leamonde.net (sp?) for Xenogears stuff – excellent, thought provoking fic. There was also this great rocketshipping site where I read a bunch of ‘edgy’ Rocketshippy stuff, so old I can’t remember the name.
Then ff.net appeared, and then there was Livejournal, where people fought over lapselock vs standard, style vs substance, fighting big wars over BNFs on the anon memes. Much arguing over who was 'real’ or who was 'pretentious’ – a lot of popcorn gifs – a bit of 'so and so is a sockpuppet account by analysis of their writing.’ (Writers would make more than one account if they were stereotyped into a certain pairing – I kid you not, this used to happen.)
There was the occasional ray of light where anonymous people would rec fics – now everyone’s too shy to talk about it lest they offend someone. Even better, there were people who honestly spoke nice things about fic.
I rather enjoyed the anon memes, if only to watch people skin each other over fictional and non-fictional beings. (I never, ever participated). Everyone talks about how ‘awful’ tumblr is, but really, wherever you go, anonymity changes how people behave. People are simply… people.
You were always asking yourself how long before the trolls came in and the mods would have to make another anon comm, which you would have to be linked to by someone on the ‘inside’.
Getting 9999 comments on the anonmeme was easy fuckin peasy. Getting comments on fic was as hard then as it is now (and so writers remain grateful). I would say the biggest difference in etiquette was that the writer was expected to leave a thank you for each reply, unlike now, where writers and artists can’t be expected to leave personalized replies for every comment written in the tags. Also people like to think they’re a lot more PC these days, but really, people who want to be offended will be offended, whatever sophisticated language they use to justify their self-righteous hate.
The same rule remains for all: don’t be a jerk and don’t waste anyone’s time.Wow. Trip down memory lane, complete with preachiness. I am getting old. 
Yeah, FFML (the Fan Fiction Mailing List) was my first hub of fic. That and people’s individual websites, often found via the Anime Web Turnpike (this was before search engines were any good).
Later, the Shoujo-Ai Archive.
I also remember when you downloaded fics as .txt files, and sometimes you had to open them in a different word processor to make them wrap correctly, and often they were .txt files inside .zip files because every Kb of bandwidth counted. I remember when you roughly gauged how long a fic was in your head by filesize, not word count. (70+k of text was about where longfic started.)fan fic' (spelt like that) on a site #because i didn't know what it was and literally thought if i clicked on it something scary or weird might happen #i had a lot of fear issues around electronics
I can only really talk about the German anime fandom when it comes to my first time encountering fandom and fanfocs, but I didn’t really become aware of fanfiction.net until a few years in. When I joined fandom in 2000 it was all about digimonwelt, later animexx.de and the infamous yaoi.de I got nearly banned from at age 15 for writing too much gore in my Yugioh fanfics. There will never be something as absurd as their rule that explicit works only became accessible after 11 pm because they needed to introduce some kind of system for age restriction after someones parents sued (or threatened to sue them, I don’t remember) for making pornography available for minors. It was both sad and hilarious. Around 2005-2006 I first noticed a trend of authors not posting their new works on the German sites anymore but focusing on writing in English and start posting their stuff mostly on livejournal.
Anime Web Turnpike
The Anime Web Turnpike or "Anipike" was a major hub of anime fandom mentioned by many rebloggers.
In this era of fandom, sites that provided directories of other sites were critical to finding fandom. For anime fandom, the Anime Web Turnpike was one of the best known and most important. I have been all three of these and I also remember the generation before that, when Anime Web Turnpike, IRC, and mailing lists were your best bet for even FINDING fanfiction, because everyone had their own site.
sailor(name).com. Sailor Jupiter in particular had all those lovely discontinued fics that were the coolest thing ever to 12 year old me *__* Also those silly midis that played in the background of every page. heerosferret was where I was introduced to the wonderful world of gundam wing slash fiction. good times.I did mostly use ff.net after that though, never really got into livejournal with one or two exceptions.
Ah, nostalgia. When I first started, I printed my Final Fantasy fanfic out and circulated it among my classmates (it was back in 2001-2002, FFX was released and most of us were playing it). That was waaay back in the days of the internet card so I never posted my first few stuff online because you had to ration that card shit or you risk doing your research in the library.
I think my first account was in FF.net. I forgot what account name I used but I have about ten fics floating around there. LJ was when I really got into making fandom friends and writing a SHIT TON of fics. I might have written somewhere in the one-hundreds just because I was very involved in the community and there were plenty of fic challenges. I dropped out of the fandom after a while (decreasing interest, college workload, etc.) and took down the account with me because of instances of plagiarism (not to me, but in the fandom in general, and I didn’t want to deal with it). AO3 is pretty good. Have a few fics there, but I mostly use it for fic reading.
Tumblr is where I’m currently most active.# I USED TO THINK MY STORIES ARE MY CHILDREN # BUT I'VE WRITTEN SO MUCH I LITERALLY CAN'T REMEMBER WHERE THEY ALL ARE # I MIGHT HAVE MORE ACCOUNTS ON THOSE SITES OR ON OTHER SITES # I CAN'T RECALL # I SHOULD PROBABLY STOP THINKING OF MY STORIES AS MY CHILDREN BECAUSE THE WAY I TREAT THEM IS NOT A GOOD SIGN FOR MY FUTURE PROGENY
I’m not quite old enough for UseNet, but I used to love the fanfic written over IRC and the other chats (AOL - I’m so ashamed - and ICQ and onward)! Oh, and the fics written with text editors. I miss those. XD
And then there was geocities, yahoo!groups and the other listservs (oh god the listservs) and the first inception of fanfiction.net (back when it was small enough for an actual community, with message boards and guest columns and everything, and you could actually speak to Xing directly!).
I was always also so jealous of those who could get the zines, as well, because that’s often where the best fic could be found. Are there fandoms that still do those?FANDOM, YE OLDE FANDOM, XING LI, FANFICTION.NET, FANNING WHILE OLD
The Age of Archives
The late 90's to mid 00's were a time of archives for many fans. Single-fandom archives proliferated, including Gossamer, the massive X-Files archive that predates fanfiction.net. (Also mentioned were Hermit Library for B7, Teaspoon for Doctor Who, among others.)
There were also other multi-fandom archives that fans fled to when FFN's policies forced them to or that were curated or focused on narrower topics.
Oh, LJ, how I miss you. I didn’t post very much fic there, but among other things, it was great for bouncing ideas off people and also lots of smutty RPing.
Also? Yahoo! groups/mailing lists. Never really got into Usenet, but I was all over Yahoo! for a while.
And I remember when I first started my fic archive*, I spent such a long time agonizing over how to enforce age restrictions–as if that were really feasible–and what I would do if I got angry emails from parents whose kids had been forever! Traumatized! By the porn! I eventually gave up and decided not to worry about it. The Aestheticism site actually made people send in scans of their driver’s licenses to prove they were 18 older, and I did it, but that would be unthinkable to me now.
Edit: Although, wait, “the three generations,” like those are the only ones? Man, people were printing Kirk/Spock zines in the mid-’70s, and there was fic (slashy or not) in other fandoms before that. And that’s not even touching on the idea that works long accepted as part of various literary canons are basically fanfic of other things (including some pretty wacky AUs).* Which I haven’t touched in years; I just pay the hosting bill every month. I should probably do something with it again one day, but I don’t really pay attention to that fandom anymore. :\
D: I feel like this is true of some fandoms and not others?
having participated in X-Files, Buffy/Angel, and Star Wars fandoms (and maybe more importantly, never in HP fandom), I…pretty much never used any of those. ''[FFN, LJ, and AO3]'' All the BtVS stuff was in fandom-specific archives, iirc, and for sure I posted all of my Star Wars stuff to the TFN forums. I guess I put some of it on LJ sometimes, but only in comms, and only sometimes.
now that I sometimes write and read things in other fandoms, I am always super annoyed that I have to dig through ff.net’s horrible interface (and tbh AO3′s isn’t perf either) rather than just going to an archive specific to my fandom. I am old school :x it makes me nostalgic for the days of, like, AOL message boards, and that is not good.(the bright side: it is REALLY HARD to find all of my fanfic. like, I am pretty sure that a lot of it is no longer on the internet at all, and this is a blessing upon the world. so you’re welcome, world)
Fanfiction.net coexisted with both lj and ao3? And it’s not dead??? Not to mention the entire pre-lj internet-based waves of fanfiction. What about usenet, egroups, Yahoo groups and the private personal sites (geocities and angelfire anyone?) and archives? What about the two different generations of fandom-specific archives: the old hand-coded or un-sortable ones, and then the automated archive software that astolat wrote?
See, Livejournal and Fanfic.net were both big when I started but I hated both platforms and tended to find fandom specific platforms and it wasn’t until ao3 I found one I really liked using.
There is/was some fairly serious overlap between all of those, too - and let’s not forget the era of the fandom and or pairing-specific archive, between print and the wider fanfic sites… fanfic, fandom, fandom history, fanfic started as soon as stories started, there was an unauthorised sequel to don quixote, or go back to the aeneid, or the greek playwrights, nothing new under the sun
I did all three? Plus media miner but I have no idea if anyone else ever went on the site cause no one talks about it.
I’m all three but I think Im the only one who remembers mediaminer.org
You left off the Trekkie fanzines of the 60s, which you can thank for having fanfic now. And with the advent of the internet you had mailing lists and fan boards. Yahoo groups launched in ‘98 just like ff.net, and they were the shit in the early 2000s for fic and rp communities. The Potter fandom alone spawned dozens of fansites and fic sites. Any of you around for the Great Purge of 2002? Everyone started moving their NC-17 fic from ff.net to AdultFanFiction.net (now Adult-FanFiction.org). Those were dark times, kids. 
adultfanfiction.net pre sign in requirements 
Other Multifandom Archives
Fandomination.net is another multifandom archive that was less popular with participants in the discussion than MediaMiner or AFF, but it still came up a number of times. It was founded in 2002 and closed down in 2009. It seems to have been especially active circa 2005-2007. It accepted fandoms of all kinds but was most popular with music RPF writers.
Fanlib was a controversial archive that many fans boycotted. Nonetheless, a number of fans in the discussion mentioned it.
I remember this some, but it was before I was consistently present in fandom. I do remember even after ff.net became the typical place for fic that really ship- or other content specific archives were still a thing. Like, basically what would be rec lists now only you sort of applied to be on it? And it was some kind of prestige thing? At least that’s what I remember about it. I’ve actually poked around ff.net again recently, and even though I prefer AO3’s format I do think ff.net has implemented some useful features like private messaging and, to some degree, their forums. AO3 is really lonely unless you’re extremely popular, and I feel like it’s not part of the culture there to express real appreciation for things you enjoy.
lunaescence is a multi-fandom archive. The majority of its fic is for anime fandoms.
everyone seems to forget freedom of speech fanfiction, which–I am not a history buff I just spent a lot of time there. It existed fitfully, due to bugs and issues with payments and–a lot of things, before it evolved into lunaescence. It was smaller than ff.net, but it felt more homey. More genial. Maybe because it wasn’t so massive. Then there was mediaminer. Ah, mediaminer. 
Ficwad is a multifandom archive with a large amount of RPF.
Harry Potter Fandom
Like The X-Files, Harry Potter was a hugely influential fandom that influenced many that followed after it. It was both absolutely massive (a fandom that ate fandom) and a common entry point for new fans in their first fandom.
Story Time: I discovered fanfiction through a Harry Potter “Movie Magic” magazine. It had fic recs in the back and I was like, “Oh, that sounds interesting to me, a middle schooler, I should check this out.” I read some of those, then I started reading more on Riddikulus.com (which was a HP fic site). Then I think a link on there lead me to LJ and the Shoebox project.
fanfiction.net circa 00ish for HP fic I guess? (NO WAIT. I was reading BSB RPF before that! lulz. I don’t remember what site that was on though. Although I can still remember the details of some of those stories.) Eventually I just spent all my time on separate websites devoted to specific HP ships. By which I mean I read SO MUCH Draco/Ginny in high school.
I was such a fanfiction.net kid. Those were some long breaks between Harry Potter books. We did it for survival.
Actually, the first fan fic I ever read was from a site called sugar quill. It was a huge hp multi chapter fic that was written between the fourth and fifth book. My friend printed off what had to be more than a hundred pages and we read the copy. And that’s how I read my very first fan fiction, on a hard copy.2003 was a different time, harry potter fan fiction, fan fiction
#try the day when people made their own websites to host each fandoms fic.Right?! I remember that one huge Harry Potter one, FictionAlley, with its tons of forums (the shipping threads, oh my god, those were ridiculous and awesome. every fandom should have somewhere with subforums specifically for blathering on about your ships and arguing about what the ship name should be (why even have a ship if you’re not going to give it some silly in-jokey name))… wow, I don’t think I’d actually thought about that place in years–I had to go look it up to figure out what the name was, even. There was some good stuff on there though.
And there were all those authors with personal sites where they [cross-]posted their fic, that was such a common thing too. (Though to be fair fanfiction.net was definitely around at that point. As was LJ; I remember I got an invite from an author whose stories I really liked and commented on a lot.)IDK, there’s something to be said for huge fandom-specific sites like that. At its best it’s loads of fun and there’s a sense of community and everything’s set up to suit that particular fandom. You don’t get as much cross-fandom stuff in places like that, though, or at least it doesn’t seem like it to me.
Fifteen years in fandom, I’ve started with FF.net and Yahoo!Groups, then L.J. then AO3 much later on.
I was on both LiveJornal and FF.Net. I remember the great FanFiction purge on FF.Net (basically one day they implemented a fuckton of rules that obliterated a large portion of certain kinds of fics that never actually recovered because even though I don’t read FanFiction anymore a lot of people on my dash do and I can see that those fics no longer exist).
I’m old as fuck in Internet fandom years.If you want someone to talk about the “old days” of livejournal and FanFiction.net in the way your grandparents talk about the 50s as if they were “the good ol days” buy me a bottle of wine and ask me some questions.
But I was most active on ff.n Before you could upload anything except plain text files. YEAH.
i was on ff.net years before lj.
People i knew on ff.net moved to lj after that thing where they deleted all the m-rated fics.Please.
I love when I run into things that reawaken long dead bits and pieces of knowledge. Like that porn fics used to be called “lemons” and soft porn were “limes.” when did this die?! I date to the schism as well, I believe, though fanfic.net came not long after. I still have a profile there, with a bizarrely violent fruits basket fanfic….
oh my god do you remember |the FF.net cleansing when all the smut was deleted and you had to go to Adult-Fanfiction.org
It’s funny, because I crosspost my fic to all three sites and each one of them still has an active fan community. Actually, ff.net in particular has a huge crowd of excellent reviewers, even though people on here seem to have assumed every site but AO3 has fallen by the wayside.
I’m late 30s, but started fandom late. So i started with FF.net. But i was aware of mailing lists/groups, if not necessarily fanzines until i did a bit of digging regarding fannish history. But FF.net was at its height (before the NC-17 purge) when i started actively reading and writing fanfic. It’s been fun since. Never looked back. #fandom is hotel california
I am an intergenerational being that has existed in the before time, in the long long ago. I’ve witnessed fanfics birthed individually on Geocities and Angelfire. I heard the cries of smut authors when fanfiction.net first disallowed NC-17 content.
I am Joselyn. I have been reading fanfics for 17 years. And I will never die.as long as i live, in the hearts of women, the minds of men, the passion of non-binaries, and the laughter of children
webrings, individually curated fansites (GEOCITIES!) ffn, LJ, AO3. I’m 30 (so not that old) but I started super young (14). AO3 is so wonderful, but it’ll never replicate the community vibe of LJ. That, and no one ever comments anymore. Sads.
Which reminds me that I do miss LJ a lot. Like it was so fun to hang out there and know people on that board. Tumblr is fun but LJ was a different experience.I miss LJ, too! It was more intimate and the fandom experience was more concentrated. I appreciate tumblr for the different experience it’s giving but I think LJ was pretty great for its time. I’d have stayed had not the majority of fandom users left. There’s less content to comment on there now.
Having arrived slightly before all three of those, I suggest you might want to add at least one generation: 
I go all the way back to yahoo groups and zines, individual webmistresses (bless their hearts) and some of the earliest archives (Hercules, The Legendary Journeys, Starsky and Hutch, The Sentinel, Hardcastle and McCormick) I remember when Live Journal was so new that a lot of us hesitated to post fic there (and there were size limitations). And that’s only been in the last 15 years. (Lol, I was already old when I discovered fanfic in 2000).
Um…isn’t this leaving out a LOT?! Zines, newsgroups, fandom-specific archives…I mean, ff.net didn’t get started until 1998 and LJ was a bit later (and didn’t really take off as a fic area until after the invite-only membership was revoked in 2003…) …and all of the above cause I’ve always just followed the fic…
What’s really interesting is that the beginning of LJ’s death throes literally begat AO3.
For those who weren’t around back then, in 2007 Livejournal received complaints from some Christian organization, and went through and summarily deleted all journals and communities that involved “child porn”, incest, or rape. This included underage or incest fanfic and fanart (which at the time on LJ was mostly Snarry or Wincest). Dozens (hundreds?) of journals and comms full of perfectly legal fic were deleted. Even a lot of non-fandom users (I was very active on LJ at the time but not really for fic) were pissed, and everyone pretty much revolted. Most of the fic journals were restored, but the damage was done, and LJ started bleeding users, especially fandom users. This became known as Strikethrough, because when a journal is deleted, links to that journal are changed to a strikethrough font.*
Strikethrough was actually one of the primary motivators for the creation of OTW and AO3, so that all fan creators would have somewhere to archive their transformative works that would not pass judgment or prohibit certain kinds of content. (Dreamwidth, an LJ clone [the LJ code is open source], was also born from Strikethrough.)*Funny note: The name “Strikethrough” became so well-known as a major LJ fuckup that soon afterward LJ stopped striking out the names of deleted blogs and started bolding them instead, which made everyone laugh at them. And then they made the exact same fuckup, deleting fic accounts for the same shit, and it became known as Boldthrough and everyone threw the same shit fit because come on Six Apart, how did you think the reaction would be any different?
Idk if this answer will piss people off or not but here goes - LJ was where it was at. Fanfiction.net was an embarrassment. (sorry just my experience) In fact when I discovered online fandoms almost 10 yrs ago, I quickly learned that trying to find WELL WRITTEN fanfic on ff.net was like searching for 3 years for a needle in a haystack. If you wanted GOOD fanfic you went/belonged to LJ. In my experience I never ventured much around fanfiction.net because it represented the dregs of fics. So many badly written. It was like anyone who just felt like slapping whatever the fuck they wanted down posted there. Not saying good authors weren’t posting there. I’m sure there was a small percentage of good fanfic, but wading through all the bad stuff just turned me the fuck off so I never went there.
Livejournal for me was this lovely golden age of fanfic, loved being a part of it. Loved the ship communities and the big bangs and the fic exchanges, author and artist auctions. So many great memories! I remember when dreamwidth emerged and everyone eyed it warily and many started creating a blog there, importing their fics, wondering if LJ was just gonna end one day. But dreamwidth never seemed to stick much. Near the end of my journey on LJ you would start to notice more and more people posting links to both their fanfic posted on their LJ blog and this new fandangled thing called AO3. I continued to read my fandom’s fics on LJ and didn’t concern myself too much. Funny now that the duo of tumblr and AO3 have dethroned Livejournal. Almost all the big fandom blogs that I remember from LJ have moved here to tumblr and perusing through all the blogs on that site is like looking at a ghost town. They’re still up but last posting date was 2014 or 2013 or before!So for me 100% livejournal was me era, skipped fanfiction.net altogether, and obviously it’s now AO3. This was a nice little trip down memory lane!
Other Journals & Blogs
Archive of Our Own (AO3)
I was LJ and FF.net (also other fanfic archives like “Black White and Read” for “Gilmore Girls” fanfic, and More Than That for “The Office" fanfic).
I never even heard of AO3 until like a year ago.^^Also, GEOCITIES STILL EXISTS? I thought Yahoo killed that years ago along with a bunch of my websites (yes, I had made a bunch of websites when I was a teenager). and some fanfic.
What do you mean were? I’m still active at LJ (and Dreamwidth) and AO3 - less so at ff.net, though I still read there and very occasionally post, but that’s because the AO3 interface is so much more user-friendly than ff.net’s.
I’ve been all 3 - ffnet from 2006 to 2009, LJ from 2010 to 2012, ao3 from 2013 to today. I’m crossgenerational
AO3 is such a cool project. The Organization for Tranformative Works that created it is possibly one of the best things to happen in fandom. They run fanlore to create a fandom history (something notoriously difficult to do on the internet, since internet generations tick over so fast and keeping track of history as fandom switches between platforms is near impossible), support and protect fan writers and artists from legal harrassment and other platforms that kick them off due to content, and as a topper run this organized, library-like, easily searchable indexed site for fic.
As a non-profit they are funded and supported by fans who care about their work, aren’t beholden to advertisers or organizations who have anything other than fan interests at heart, and have a specific mission to support fandom and all its aspects. Not a business, not a marketting tool for reaching a large user base, not a multi-use platform, but all about fandom and the people in it.
I will die defending the awesomeness of AO3, you have no idea.Tags: ao3, fandom life, fangirlism and the 21st century, the only reason i visit ff.net anymore is for the forever feed, and it pains me every time, i want to hand out ao3 invites to forever writers like candy, but i also don't want to be rude, because i'm not going to tell anyone they can't like or use ff.net, but seriously guys ao3 is so great
Other 00's Entry PointsA large number of responses focus on fans who were introduced to fic, fandom, and erotica via Quizilla, usually as young teens in the mid-00s. Fans with this background often did not experience fandom history either the way that the original post outlines it or as outlined in madmaudlin's post about zines, mailing lists, etc. There was a great deal of overlap between people who had been on Quizilla and on other similar quiz sites that got used for fic, like mibba and quotev. There was also significant overlap with the fans who mentioned Wattpad. This demographic often went from these entry points directly to FFN or AO3 and Tumblr. The most influential of the Quizilla posts describes a prototypical Quizilla fic:
Other comments describe the structure of the site and its demographics, bemoan its passing, or bemoan the fact that anyone remembers it.
quizilla 2002-2005 before it got bought out and forums orz
OMG quizilla, I used to read so much soft core porn on there.
quizilla. def quizilla. when good charlotte and anne rice fics were everything and people wrote fanfiction for anne rice even though they hadn’t read any of her books, they just knew Lestat from the fics and maybe the movie personal, my memoirs, this moment was so important in my life, i had a marylin manson midi file autoplay on my profile page i'm so sorry
Quizzila was the shit for second person stuff.
I wasn’t fanfiction.net so much as mugglenet, various forums and quizilla with a memorable stretch on MySpace. Eventually on quizilla they brought in actual word doc style story formats but I loved the good old fashioned ingenuity of trying to find creative ways to cram a story into the multiple choice quiz format
Quizilla. When it was a fanfiction website. It had a lot of problems - mysterious disappearing stories, lots of porn and horrible punctuation - but it was a space for thirteen and fourteen year olds to find their writing grooves. Oh, also, Reader Inserts and Original Stories. It got to the point where you had to have like ten authors that you trusted, and don’t even get me started on the favorites list issues.
Don’t forget the short period of quizilla reign… Where people wrote enough fanfiction chapters that they had to add a section just for stories because it was over taking the quizzes that the site was originally intended for. Also there was msn and yahoo groups for fanfiction and more often RPF stories back in the way day… Sadly I live to remember them all.
k but are we going to just forget about fucking quizzila because that was a trying time
Quizilla. Oh god, my nightmares of 10-11 year old me are returning.
quizilla 2002-2005 before it got bought out
and forums orz
Other Quiz Sites
don’t forget quizilla and mibba as well - retaking and retaking ‘7 minutes in heaven’ quizzes so you could make out with all your favorite anime boys, having to message authors to ask for the password to the locked ‘lemon’ chapter of the fic you were reading, and if you were into bandom, deleving into mibba and the 50 offshoot band specific fanfiction sites it produceded
I was on Quizazz (Now Quotev.) It was like the fucking tumblr of the bullshit fanfic networks.
anyone remember quibblo
You forgot one: Wattpad where you dress in your American Eagle hoodie and get adopted/bought/kidnapped by *insert fave band/celebrity/character* and end carrying their child.
The Timing of FanFiction.Net vs. Livejournal
Many people pointed out that Fanfiction.net was founded in 1998, Livejournal in 1999. Livejournal initially required an invite code. There were efforts to distribute codes, particularly in Harry Potter fandom in 2002. When LJ moved to open registration in 2003, fans flooded in. So, for many of the fans commenting, the LJ phase of fandom effectively started five years after FFN's, not one year. Fanfiction.net's "heyday" was also before Livejournal's for many of these commenters. (However, based on responses, Fanfiction.net has clearly had several "heydays" and several mass exoduses.)
wasn’t fanfiction.net before livejournal or is my memory failing me? (and yeah, it was yahoo!groups for me.)I can’t remember. I know that at first I read fics on Yahoo!Groups and people’s personal websites etc, but I can’t remember if ffnet or LJ came first after that… though I know that I got into HP fandom in spring 2002 and I seem to have joined LJ in November 2002 after some of my fave authors got an LJ (or I found their LJ).
Wikipedia says that ffnet was launched in 1998, but I don’t think that it was immediately that popular or why would the Yahoo!Groups have been that big in 2002? Or was it because of the NC-17 purge and you had to go to the groups to read uncensored chapters? I can’t remember. I think that I belonged to 15-20 HP groups at some point.
I think that ffnet and LJ were probably around the same time at the beginning, though at some point the focus in fandom moved more to LJ because of the ban on NC-17 on ffnet, until LJ started to screw with the fandom and fandom started to migrate elsewhere. Things fell apart for a while and people ended up on different blogging websites. Then AO3 came around and people found Tumblr.
Does anyone remember better?yeah, looks like they were there the same time. i remember i started with yahoo!groups & people’s own sites (geocities, angelfire etc.) and then moved to LJ late 2002, and i think i had been reading stuff on fanfiction.net a lot by then, more than in lj. but.. the ban happened 2002, so it probably turned me more toward LJ
*cough* fanfiction.net was before LJ. Source: I was there when it started and had advertisements for other fanfic archives instead of money ads. It took off immediately. Both were godsends to us who had no common place to post and hoped an archivist running a specific fandom/ship website liked your Bulletin Board post enough to archive it.
Fanfiction.net: October 1998 Livejournal: April 1999Also: The modern fanfic movement is traditionally associated with fanzines from the 1960s/1970s featuring Kirk/Spock.
I was under the impression ff.net was before livejournal? Like, when I got into fandom roughly around 2007, ff.net was deemed to be of poor quality and mostly populated by younger fans and maybe some older out-of-touch fans, and livejournal was where it was at in terms of fandom activity and more quality fanfic. And then AO3 began to climb up in terms of quality and popularity. 
Livejournal and fanfiction.net are actually kind of precisely parallel entities in terms of era of popularity, with LJ being for classier stuff and FF.net being for the kind of childish stuff. Zines, Usenet, Geocities, LJ/FF, AO3 would be a much better set of eras for fanfic, encompassing its whole modern period.
I was around before all these. Ah, the times of countless mailing lists and yahoo groups and authors personal sites on geocities, when you truly needed to hunt down fics. But FF.net came first, definitely before lj. In fact, the shift towards lj came when FF.net started to became the pit of despair.
Other Parts of Fandom
Many respondants were from similar parts of fandom, but there were also responses from people who felt left out or that the bulk of the discussions did not represent their fannish experience.
Why Did No One Mention X?
Many responses were in the form of "Why has no one mentioned ___?" or "You forgot ___" or "How dare you forget ___". The assumption, or at least the phrasing, often suggested intentional omission or that the topic had slipped people's minds, rather than that some of these sites and points of origin are probably unknown to many posters.
excuse me fuckers where’s quizilla?
What About Fan Art?
Though the original post does specify that it's talking about "generations" of fanfiction, the discussion ranged widely into fandom history. Fans brought up that they had actually started in fan art, not fic, or commented on the importance of art to fandom history. DeviantArt was chief among sites mentioned, but Elfwood also came up repeatedly. The use of DeviantArt for fanfic also came up.
that terrible fic in the description of youtube videos
youtube videos with fanfictions in the description
What about those videos on YouTube were it was like select-a-quest or choose a number and pray
I was on IcyBrian’s RPG site. That was like, some elite shit back in the day.
A lot of story telling magic occurred (and still does) in the role-playing forums such as rpgchat, nexushost, asteria free forums, etc. Whether it was original stories or fanbased ones, multiple posters contributed the POVs of their characters to create in-depth, immersive, and wonderful stories. 
Other Sites and Platforms
Other locations of fandom that came up repeatedly include Gaia Online, MSN groups, ficbook.net, orkut, twoj.net (a polish site), animespiral.com, FictionPad, kwiz.biz, y!gallery, SoupFiction.net , slashfanfiction.com...
Not to sound badass but I actually downloaded Fan Fiction using Limewire. Which, after reading a supposedly ‘legit sneak peak of Half Blood Prince’ in which Filch is royalty, I shortly stopped doing.
What it Means to be "Old"
A common sentiment in many posts was that the poster was practically geriatric due to their lengthy time in fandom. This included fans who had been around for all three of the original post's generations (i.e. since at least the mid-00s). It also included fans who felt that these three generations were but a blink of an eye, and that having experienced 90s internet 1.0 fandom institutions made them old. Lastly, the focus on the internet made zine fans from the 70s and 80s feel ancient. The sentiments were quite similar across groups, but the actual number of years in fandom that counts as "old" varied widely.
oh please. there were at least three more before those: ST:TOS and was disseminated in painstakingly mimeographed and later xeroxed print zin zines, yep that's right fanfic is older than what you think of as a photocopier, ...and my first fanfic-reading adventures were had in the jungles of angelfire, from the 'computer room', ...yeah i'm Tumblr Old
#ALL FUCKING 3#I'm a grandma#I've been reading fanfiction since like... I was 14 or something?#I'm 29#do the math#:p
Is “notebook you pass back and forth between your lockers” no longer a choice? Well now I feel old.
And, just for variety, every once in a while, someone took a gander at all this talk of zines and carving fic into stone tablets and felt rather the opposite:
I don’t usually feel young when I read stuff, but this made me feel very young. I jumped in at FF.net stage, so apparently I haven’t been around very long. But, that might also just be because we didn’t get internet at home until I got to high school and we lived in the country so it was hard for me (not old enough to drive myself) to visit the library for long stretches of time. 
Influential Posts on Age
An influential and heavily-reblogged post made other fans feel old by implying that being around for the three generations mentioned in the original post is in any way surprising. Ironically, this poster's own tags show a broader knowledge of fandom history. (But the tags don't show in most of the reblogs, so many responses took the post text at face value.)
This post seriously underestimates the number of consecutive years I’ve been in fandom because I have definitely been all three of these. tagged as: #fandom grandma #fandom #also really fanfic was around for quite a long time before ff.net took over #forums and zines oh my! #but yes for the internet generation of fandom ff.net definitely played a huuuuuuge role
I HAVE LITERALLY LIVED THROUGH ALL OF THEM WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT SAY ABOUT ME
Wattpad & Quizilla = Old
LJ = Old
Harry Potter specific archives with their own forums, you tiny, tiny babies. #fandom #i'm old #really old for fandom standards #i was there when we started passing lj codes with our friends #i saw fiction alley rise #and gryffindor tower fall #i lived through cassie claire and ms scribe #also livejournal and fanfiction.net coexisted they weren't different generations at all 
all three somehow? my peak was on ff dot net though # this makes me feel Old # because i can still remember hp ship wars on livejournal back in the day
So Long, Yahoo Groups
Who Remembers Usenet?
I Was a Zine Fan
three? THREE? summer child I was readin fanfic when it came to us in the fucking MAIL by FANZINE, then when it was on usenet, then on BBS (do you even know what those are??) and yes, when it moved to ff.net AND THEN lj, and now AO3. I’ll be reading and writing when ao3 is as forgotten as BBS’s, good lord wiling.
never forget how deep your roots go; many things you think you discovered are your inheritance from us, the old fen. And I’m but a sapling in a forest of redwoods…And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost, history became legend, legend became myth, and a child that read fanfic on paper became an old grump at 35 screaming, GIT OFFA MAI LAWN
HAHAHAHA I PREDATE THE FUCKING INTERNET SUCK ON THAT. #FANDOM #I AM SO OLD 
I’m waiting for someone to talk about how they used to have to hike 100 miles barefoot in the snow and fight off a sabre-tooth tiger so they could read fanfiction painted on cave walls in ochre pigments. And then there’d be some miserable bastard standing outside the cave yelling “Your reed boat is not canon”
Jaq speaks the truth. Also Spock/Kirk fic published in fanzines. I’ve heard something about that from my fore-ficcers. The real history should go something like:
- Snail-mail Fanzines (Predating the Internet and sending hard-copy fic to your HOUSE, y’all)
- Usenet and Archives (see Gossamer - which is still UP)
- Yahoo/Geocities (and other fan-run collections)
- Fanfiction.net and LiveJournal (which are actually contemporaries, though I suppose some writers moved to FF.net during the Great Fandom Migration from LiveJournal?) 
- Archive of Our Own
That said, maybe the original poster was trying to go with the most recent because they didn’t expect us oldsters to be up in their Tumblr?
Still pretty. Still ficcing.
I do say LJ and FF.net are contemporaries though. *stands by it*# FANFICTION: A HISTORY # BY THE CRYPTKEEPER # FANFICTION # DON'T LET THE YOUNG WRITE HISTORY TEXTBOOKS # LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MEASURING FIC LENGTH BY FILE SIZE # LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT PRINTING OUT NC-17 FIC ON YOUR PARENT'S DOT-MATRIX PRINTER AT 1 IN THE MORNING # LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT LEARNING HTML TO TRY TO MAKE YOUR GEOCITIES PAGE LOOK SOMETHING OTHER THAN UGLY # WAIT # WHERE ARE YOU GOING? # YOU HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN!
A number of posts commented on not just the poster but the poster's parent's and relatives' fandom history.
My mother has a stack of thick ass manuscripts in her closet that she wrote on a typewriter. All are fanfics about various characters from the early-mid 80s. She finally let me read them when I was in my 20s. She was shocked when I named them and showed her fanfic.net. Not only does fanfic predate the internet, it predates the word fanfiction.
There was that time period where, before AO3, during LJ’s death throes, and after FFN’s Great Purge, where a bunch of other fanfic archives developed. Some are still around - MediaMiner, AFF, Ficwad. And then individual archives began springing up based around individual fandoms and pairings (Sycophant Hex, KSarchive, et cetera), and then
Arose Archive of Our Own.Side-note: I found some old fanfiction ‘zines while looking through my dad’s old stuff the other day. Apparently he shipped Kirk/Uhura. Alright, Dad. 
Fanfiction is Older than Dirt
Some responses focused on the idea of modern fanfiction as part of the same tradition as Classical authors reworking pre-existing stories and Shakespeare cribbing from everywhere. Others likened modern fan practices to Sherlock Holmes fans during Conan Doyle's lifetime and to early 20th Century sf fandom.
Ohh! Can I be salty too? I was just trawling the interwebs for OLDtimey Sherlock Holmes Fanfictions Sir Arthur Conan Doyle where he mentions the FAN GIRLS that write him letters about being Mr. Holmes Housekeeper? HAVE you?! posted here: http://tmblr.co/ZmzISr1r109Fg
Actually, there were even earlier iterations of fanfic. Lord of the Rings fans sent each other handwritten round-robin stories in some of the Elven languages, even. So we’re talking late 1930′s after the publishing of the Hobbit through 1954 when the first Lord of the Rings book came out. And that’s leaving out the whole Dickens-serialized in the newspaper thing, which spawned thinly veiled stories inspired by whatever the novel he was publishing was. While folks waited for the boat to get to the US from England with the next part of the story, they had to be doing something to amuse themselves, after all.
The idea of fanfic is centuries old. Charlotte Bronte and her sisters wrote it; hell, Jane Eyre is her taking the character of Jane Fairfax in Jane Austen’s Emma and writing an AU story for her.
The word fanfic is 75 years old.message boards. But it’s shortsighted to think the answer is only to look at the last 17 years.
Okay, but what about the unofficial sequel to Don Quixote published in 1614? Do any of you remember that? No. So don’t even start with this shit. 
I’m assuming that someone has explained to these people at least once this go around that fandom does in fact predate in internet. Let’s consider the novel Rebecca which was published in 1938 which had fans naming their children after the main characters and going on tours to visit locations mentioned in the books.
Or how about Sherlock fans wearing actual mourning black armbands in the streets of London in 1893 after the publication of The Final Problem,
Or we could consider about how the only reason we have the world’s first novel, the Tale of Genji from the 11th century was because Japanese noble women passed around hand scribed copies between themselves copying it down (with minor variations showing that people tweaked it to their own liking) and passing it on. We still have one that was made in the 12th century that’s fully illustrated. Let’s consider that again. Women are living together passing around hand copied stories of their favorite heros with fanart and that was 1000 years ago. Don’t tell me that there’s 3 ages of fandom.Heck by 1304 we have documented stories of Japanese noble women painting pictures and having their favorite quotes from the novel placed on their fans which is down right the historical equivalent of wearing a t-shirt with a Tardis on it.
Haha, “three generations”. Oh, you sweet summer children.
The Iliad and the Odyssey were Trojan War fanfic. The Aeneid was Iliad+Odyssey+Augustus Caesar fanfic. We have papyri containing contemporary fanfic of Egyptian pharaohs. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is RPF. Even if you limit yourself to the time since the internet was invented, the progression is “zines, bulletin boards, mailing lists, Usenet, Geocities/Angelfire/Tripod, then Livejournal, FF.net, and AO3.”Personally, I’m “bulletin boards”.
Okay, we talk about generations here, but honestly, Internet generations are short lived and frankly, not even a thumbnail on the history of fanfic.
Let me tell you about Homer. Homer is a classical poet that some people don’t think actually exist, but we’re going to set that aside for now and assume that he did, and that he wrote the Odyssey and the Illiad. We don’t know when exactly Homer actually lived, but we know it was a good length of time after Troy and the events he covers in his poems actually happened.
The beauty of this is that for generations, the biggest historical fanfic in existence was passed down orally because writing was lost. They had that shit memorized to recite it by heart. Do you know how long those poems are? These are like taking one of the epic long fanfics in your fandom and memorizing it word for word and reciting your favorite parts of it aloud for other people to enjoy.
And this is only western fanfic. Like, I am not qualified to speak on most other cultures, but I lived in China for two years. You want history? You go to China. You try to say something historical happened a few hundred years ago? They will laugh in your face and outline their five thousand year history. Even as I typed that about Homer, all I could picture was half of my Chinese friends laughing at me and saying “Yeah, but we’ve been doing it longer.” So I fully expect some of the Asian people on my dash to be chuckling at this and thinking to themselves, “Look at that foreigner thinking they know anything about long histories.”
The point is, fanfic has existed way before the internet. If John Milton can write Bible fanfic, then really, nothing is sacred. (And if you’re looking for Bible crackfic, I’d say Veggie Tales pretty much sums that up)
So be proud of that Sherlock fanfic, knowing that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would hate all of you, including that modern au a bunch of white dudes are making money off of called BBC Sherlock. We won’t even talk about that Elementary show that takes the modern au one step further with genderbending. He hates all of you equally, because seriously, he hates Sherlock and why is that what people remember him for? Especially that one dude Maurice Leblanc, who was writing OCs into his canon that he did not approve of. Seriously, fuck Arsène Lupin. No one cares about french thieves who are trying to rip off the creation he hates the most in the world.
Be proud of that Thor crackfic. Because honestly, have you seen the mythologies those stories are based on? If that doesn’t sway you, go back and read some old Greek comedy. So much crackfic based on other people’s stories.
Be proud of that meta that took you three hours to write, because oh, my God, Plato. Be proud of that Doctor Who fic you wrote of a companion who is more like you, because representation matters. Virgil would agree with you, because he looked at the Illiad and the Odyssey and thought there weren’t enough Romans.
And this is, as I mentioned, only Western fanfic. Other cultures have just as much, I guarantee you.
So be proud of your fanfic. Be proud of being part of a long history that goes back centuries and has survived even the loss of writing, and don’t let anyone tell you fanfic is not valid or important forms of writing. You are just living the current generation of history.fandom stuffs, seriously fanzines, why am I the first person on this version of the post to mention fanzines?, don't make me feel old., Meta and things
Mimeoed zines, BBs, Usenet, mailing lists, Yahoo groups, Geocities (I had a site!), LJ, here. But, you know, novels. Submissions to the editor. Campfire tales. There are probably cave scratchings riffing off that time Urg scared that mammoth off the cliff when he fell out of a tree. (Like the Urg Sue version where he totally meant to do that, and his eyes were sparkling pools.)
Fans Invent Fic Over and Over
Last but not least, many fans mention independently coming up with the idea of fic or writing it in person with friends long before finding zines/the internet/etc.
So what about the pre-Internet gen who wrote it out in notebooks swapped with friends? I totally remember a Goonies fanfic my friends and I wrote in the 80s.
For me, Usenet, personal website, Livejournal, fan fiction.net, AO3 and the dreamwidth kink memes. I started reading fanfic in 1994, but I’ve been writing it since I was 10 (1977), when I thought I was the only person in the world doing it. Getting online in 1994 was a revelation and a relief! I love fanfic/slash and the community of likeminded people *bright eyes, lower lip trembles* all the love for fanficcers fanfic slash fic sheer bloody joy of it js&mn kink meme
Okay, has anyone ever started out with… pen and paper? I mean writing words on a piece of paper with a pencil? I am just curious, because that’s how I started when I was 12. 
Aah yes. I started around the Great Schism, which brought forth the Time of Webrings as intrepid authors sought to connect all the disparate web pages. (Incidentally, this is when I first learned how to author a website!) And hey. I always wrote my stuff in pen and paper first. And then I discovered there was somewhere to share it…
Round robin rock band fics written in notebooks and passed around at lunch time at my all-girls school because the internet didn’t exist then. And then the horror when a teacher caught you passing it along during a lesson and confiscating it. You just KNEW they’d read it in the staff room and you couldn’t look a teacher in the eye for the rest of the year.
Oh my god, I didn’t know anyone else did that…ours was "The Quest" (obscure 1977 western show with Tim Matheson and Kurt Russell) and I still have the notebooks…all seven of them…we kept it going until 6th form, six years…some of the best bits are the commentaries we wrote on each other’s contributions.
I wrote fanfic in crayon on paper towels when I was four. I’m just saying.
OKAY BUT WAIT.
Apparently, zines have COME BACK.
a 22 year old co-worker was SO EXCITED about this hipster culture private publishing going on in her chosen artistic circle, and she’s INTO IT. Everything is, “This can go in my zine!” and “I know someone publishing a zine who would LOVE that!”
So I asked, you know, what she considered a zine.
“Oh it’s just a little self-published magazine of niche stories or artwork for small-scale distribution. Isn’t that a novel idea?”
And I laughed. God help me, I laughed.
It makes me so, so sad that young people are not aware of their history.#it also makes me really fucking queasy that the hipster art scene has picked up the history of my people and decided to #claim it as their own progressive invention #no sweethearts zines have been published since the dawn of printing and probably before\ #you're not revolutionizing media #lol anyway #fandom history
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 fanfic.net (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 fanfic.net, 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 fanfic.net 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 
- taverl.tumblr taverl.tumblr
- referring to Madmaudlingoes' post
- vassraptor.tumblr, parodying Blade Runner
- some-stars.tumblr, who is far from alone in reading alt.sex amateur erotica alongside fanfic
- vassraptor.tumblr, who is also far from alone in having read soc.bi
- claire/feministlilyyevans.tumblr.com. Notable for being 17 years old but bringing up these points of history in response.
- Martha Wells
- bringthestarsdown.tumblr, who is getting the order of zines and mailing lists backwards unless perhaps they meant snail mail mailing lists
- From an apparently deleted post by they-better-be-mysterious.tumblr.com, quoted by Behemothblogging.tumblr.com
- redphalarope.tumblr redphalarope.tumblr
- Just to clarify, Dreamwidth came well after the heyday of GeoCities. It's possible the original poster meant to refer to Angelfire, Tripod, or even the early versions of Dreamweaver (computer program created in 1997 as a website creation tool), which were all roughly contemporaneous.
- telanu AUGUST 10, 2015
- kickair8p.tumblr, using a common derogatory term for Yahoo: 'yahell'.
- kimmsauce.tumblr kimmsauce.tumblr
- kinglokisbazooka.tumblr kinglokisbazooka.tumblr
- a reference to how slash print zines were sold "under the table"
- apples-only.tumblr.com/ apples-only.tumblr
- aokaga-in-my-coffee aokaga-in-my-coffee.tumblr
- sammysexual, quoted by rosworms but apparently deleted.
- meridianrose.tumblr meridianrose.tumblr
- borderlinedub.tumblr borderlinedub.tumblr
- As seen in notes page but hidden here
- girl-upnorth.tumblr (Something like: "Polish fandom, remember when fanfic was called "fanficty"?"
- lobobathory.tumblr (Something like: "No one's old enough to remember that.")
- reveries-terriennes, who reblogged with commentary in tags only
- calystarose.tumblr Calysta Rose
- This fan may be referring to Strikethrough, or a more general migration.
- Well, that might have been me.
- king0crows (March 10, 2018)