TheoryofFicGate/Discussion at Tumblr

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The comments below are in response to the post TheoryofFicGate.

TheoryofFicGate began roughly February 18, 2015 after several comments that did not fit into fannish norm appeared on a fan's fic, a story called "Delilah" (posted at AO3).

The fan, waldorph, discovered that their fic was used on a academic class syllabus. The weekly DeCal class was called “The Theory of Fanfiction,” and in it students met once a week to share and explore the forms and themes of fan fiction, and the genre’s role in the literary world as well as in society as a whole.

Commenting on fics was part of the class requirement. waldorph then wrote a post called "So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope." The post went viral, and generated hundreds, if not thousands, of comments.

Included in these comments and interactions was a nasty troll (not unexpected), and later, an incite by two BNFs to bully and dogpile students in the class.

Some Topics Discussed

The uproar caused fans to discuss many topics in subsequent posts, topics that included:

  • fandom and visibility,
  • different views regarding the internet as a public/private place
  • feedback
  • fandom and the underground
  • who has the "right" to read fanfic
  • what constitutes a real fan
  • the divide between fans and non-fans,
  • discussion about whether fandom is or isn't a cohesive, cooperative group
  • the sport that fannish outrage can become
  • the roles of acafans
  • the roles and influence of BNFs

Permission Required?

  • "Not cool. If I was teaching that course I would have first asked for permission just out of courtesy." *"Not cool. If I was teaching that course I would have first asked for permission just out of courtesy." randomrance, Archived version
  • "I mean, that fanfic ends up scrutinised by researchers and whatnot is probably unavoidable. But either make sure that the work will be looked at without involving the author, or get their approval first."So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - not a soldier, Archived version
  • "A better way to say it would be: these instructors needed to get permission to interact with these authors. See. you don’t need permission to STUDY works that are publically available, but you DO need permission to accost the author in their own space and shove your lit crit in their face. If you don’t want to to get permission to study a work, you MUST keep your students from intruding on an authors space willy-nilly....If you want to study fanfic and ENCOURAGE interaction with the authors, you probably don’t need permission, but it would behoove you to let your students know how not to be rude.....If you want to REQUIRE interaction, you NEED permission. Period. Because if you don’t get permission, and the person you are trying to have an interaction with is offended, unwilling or doesn’t notice (I only check my folder for ao3 notifications like once a week, at best, if I remember to) you are going to have issues with a) your students, who will not be able to prove they did the work, and who will DEFINATELY get upset at thier grade point being docked for something they cannot control, b) anybody who has that author’s back, and on the internet, anybody who decides to hop on the bandwagon, and c) your supervisors who will be hearing about this from multiple sources: and if its bad enough to actually get viral legs (hi, TheoryOfFicGate), it might damage the SCHOOL’S credibility, and then things get really ugly for you." I am a writer, I write words..., Archived version
  • "So whereas engaging with texts posted publically without involving the authors is IMO generally fair game (I say generally: I’ll expand later), engaging with people online as part of an academic course requires like… consent forms. It requires prior contact. It requires handing the ability to rescind consent over. Because however ‘trivial’ the subculture in question is deemed to be, the actual people involved are never judged in that way, because they are judged as being people, period. A literary text doesn’t require consideration outside the context it is produced in, be that a broad ranging view (society) or narrow (AO3, fandom). A person does, because a person isn’t just a fan or a user account on the internet." mostly void, partially stars. - So I literally got on my laptop for the first time..., Archived version
  • The reasons I don’t ask [permission before using fanfiction in the classroom] are complicated, but a big one is: Given the visibility of my work, I decided a top priority for me must be never to contribute to the wrong, potentially disastrous assumption that a publicly accessible internet archive is in any way private or “safe” in this day and age. This trumps other concerns for me. I have personally and professionally dealt with the aftermath of young people who have shared stories based on personal trauma in “safe” fannish spaces. I’m sure the people commenting thought they were policing something important. Not asking is a controversial position. I do listen to criticisms, I get things wrong, and I adjust. But fannish practice/tradition doesn’t dictate my pedagogy. There are many competing ethical and professional obligations. It's Not Jane Austen, Archived version

Fandom Outsiders/External Gaze/Outsiders

  • "This just seems so out of touch and impolite. Like it’s the new-age equivalent of your 80-year-old white grandma calling her cleaning lady “that Oriental girl.” I get that as a large and growing movement fandom is getting more critical attention these days but this is like going to a gay bar or a gaming tournament and pressing your nose to the glass or sitting there with pads and pencils taking noes and examining them like they are vaguely interesting zoo animals..."So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • What kind of professor is this who...Doesn’t seem to grasp that she’s asking her students to interact with a community of living subjects, not texts..."magical everything burrito, So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "What the…fanfiction is specifically FOR a fanbase, a big or small one, with pre-determined knowledge, characterizations, and language. It shouldn’t be taught openly in a school setting in this manner where most of those people are outsiders to fan culture " Terry Reviews/Misc., Archived version
  • "But these are often not “outsiders” making “mistakes”. It’s fellow fans making mistakes, or just making different assumptions about how fannish norms apply in this situation, because there are one million billion different fannish “norms” depending on what group or space or fandom we’re talking about. Fandom is hugely diverse and gets experienced in hugely diverse ways by different people, sometimes in ways that make other fans very uncomfortable. (See every discussion ever about selling your fic, linking to fics from elsewhere, the ethics of scanlating dojinshi, etc etc.) Maybe these people made mistakes, but they were fans making mistakes. Some fans like to talk about their fandom in non-fannish spaces, including academic spaces. Again, it’s absolutely necessary and legitimate to discuss the impact of these scholarly approaches to fandom, question what junior and senior academics are doing, and point it out when the ways (there are many different ways!) they speak about fandom is harmful in some way. It’s also legitimate to question what fannish undergrads are doing with fandom outside fannish spaces, although I seriously think this particular group didn’t deserve all this outrage. But this is not a problem of “outsiders” coming into fandom and being stupid. This is a problem of fans talking about fandom in a way that makes other fans uncomfortable. All this has happened before, and it will happen again, and the sky is not falling. What does it say about us if every time another fan talks about fandom in a space or discourse that makes us uncomfortable, we take out the pitchforks and drive them off chanting “NOT ONE OF US”?" Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside? | Unjapanologist/非実在日本学者, Archived version
  • "I am honestly … done with fandom....We’re now at a stage where, if you fuck up, you’re no longer a real fan, and Copperbadge will find your contact details and send his followers to attack you. This is not a safe space. It’s not a fun space. And I’m not a feminist gamedev, I’m just a woman with a laptop and some feelings about fictional characters. It’s not worth this level of fear." Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside?, Archived version
  • "I’m not an academic. But I want to add a short ‘two cents’ comment. It breaks my heart to see fandom trying so hard to become some sort of ‘exclusive’ group. One of the main reasons I got involved in fandom 20 years ago was its ‘inclusiveness’. The people were so open and willing to accept me for no other reason than a mutual love of Star Trek. Please let’s not start telling people they can’t learn about fandom, or be a part of fandom, or any of this nonsense. It smacks of cliquishness and petty bitterness and is not something I want to be a part of."Oh No, Not Again... — Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside?, Archived version
  • "We have got to stop “No True Scotsman”-ing fandom. In addition to the really important points made above, about how it’s necessary to recognize that it’s not just outsiders causing problems, it’s also important to remember that there is no one real fannish experience and anyone who experiences it differently is an imposter. We all tend to self-select our social groups in fandom. We choose who we follow, who we respond to, who we write fic for, who we chat with. We form communities with norms. That’s awesome. But that doesn’t make people outside of our self-selected group less part of fandom. If I want to see people get fake geek girled, I’ll go to a sketchy comic book store. I don’t need to see it on Tumblr. Throwing in my two cents to agree with allofthefeelings and unjapanologist. I think the conversations around this event are important to have, but the “us vs. them” mentality smacks way too much of the “oppressed geek” mindset that makes so much of masculine geek culture toxic. As a fan, I’ve found writing about fandom in an academic context really interesting and personally validating. Not to mention, academic work has potential to do a whole lot of good for fan culture; the Organization of Transformative Works (AO3’s mum) places a huge emphasis on preserving and promoting fan works, and houses an awesome academic journal dedicated to fandom." to fall, patiently • Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside?, Archived version
  • "Which is why emphasize again that every fandom different. Every fandom is, in all honesty, a loosely connected group of potentially-overlapping subcultures WITHIN a subculture, which itself is inside the larger subculture of Media Fandom in general. The difference is as striking sometimes as trying to compare “related” species IRL. Forget cats and dogs; we’re talking like, the difference between a cheetah and a tiger and a lion and a wolf and a coyote and a fox and then way over here is a fucking manatee. You can specialize in one area, but you’re NEVER going to understand all of them, any more than any given biologist will ever understand every single species of mammal. You can understand a little about all of them or a lot about a handful. But you can’t know a lot about all of them." Untitled Geek, Archived version
  • "To me, this is an excellent place to talk about academic engagement with fandom, because while we are eager to foreground how academics are often fans as well, we tend to forget that fans are often academics as well, i.e., the outrage is partially from a place of feeling one’s space violated but also from a place of realizing that in their own area or in their own studies they’d have found this objectionable. So when we disagree with ivy’s insider/outsider model, we should acknowledge both sides of where it falls down." Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside?, Archived version
  • "And on another side, I have a PhD, (in Drama, just for clarity) right now I feel run out of both fandom and academic studies (where I’ve fallen into fan studies) because I’m scared to open my mouth, not because of fans but fan scholars, judging and outright bitching about everything." Fixed Point in Time • Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside?, Archived version
  • "This is, I think, the first time I’ve ever felt …what’s it called? You know, when someone steals your culture in a really mocking way? Like those people who get sugar skull tattooes without understanding the cultural symbolism behind them and the people who dress as “geisha” or “indian princess” for halloween? What’s that? Oh wait, I’ve been culturally appropriated, I think." Fun in Middle Earth, Archived version
  • "What I feel some of this conversation (not here, but the broader one) doesn’t really take into account is what a huge proportion of today’s college students have grown up in fandom and writing and reading fic. That’s a big change. The *vast* majority of my current students are longtime fans. They aren’t outsiders."It's Not Jane Austen, Archived version
  • "Also, I’m very uncomfortable with the recent kerfluffles throwing fits about fans on Goodreads creating recommended fic indexes of their favorite fic. Obviously that’s not what’s going on here, but there has been a lot of upset lately over something that was the backbone in fandom in the 90s: creating curated lists of fanfic with frank mini-reviews, links, even ratings. I find it disturbing that some fans are jumping on others for this hoary fandom practice. For that matter, as some have noted, fans in academia have been been blending academia and their fandom for a long, long time. Tolkien scholars, anyone? And much earlier." Ex Cetra, Ex Cetra • meeedeee: it’ll be swell • To be honest, the..., Archived version
  • "...i guess what i just find most annoying about the idea of people observing me is…i am not doing this….for you….this is for my entertainment this is MY sub-culture and you have no place in this this is not for someone to analyse. if i want analysis of fandom or fic, i will go talk to another fan..... i don’t need you to tell me what fandom’s about. we are self-aware enough as a community that we analyse what we do, we consider harmful factions within fandom and we consider the ramifications of fandom as a whole and also stuff like that that we. do not. need. your input. i am not a dancing monkey i am not here to perform for you. like?? the class is meant to ‘immerse themselves in fan culture’ ....but they are coming in to study. and it’s a completely different approach. it’s not being here for the enjoyment of it. and that’s what fandom is about: enjoying yourself. and enjoying the shows/books/films you love and exploring them with other people with the same enjoyment. and when you come at it from a place where it’s not for the enjoyment….i don’t think you’re ever truly gonna understand fandom. because you’re just coming from different places and i think getting from one to the other is exceedingly difficult." follow your inner moonlight, Archived version


  • "If I was the author I would add a zero chapter or a text very quickly to the beginning of the fic/every chapter and express how much I am against you reading a fanwork for a class and I dunno… open letter to the prof? Like what the hell? That list is so RANDOM. This is basically encouraging for bullying."I'm not sure this was a good idea, So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "I am really worried for some of these authors, as some of these pairings are queer, incest, polyamory, etc. and that sort of thing can really freak out and offend people outside the fandom, which could lead to some really hateful, mean, degrading comments." sing soft kitty to me, Archived version
  • "You know, in addition to the issues of fandom, which ivyblossom articulated in a separate post, and fanstudies, a distinction that acafanmom has been discussing tonight, there’s the whole “teaching students to be trolls” aspect that I’ve yet to see addressed on this. At a time when trolling and bullying are such threats, just this aspect alone is deeply worrisome when conducted under the auspices of any academic institution, no matter how casually valued the course and instructors may be. " Recently folded, Archived version
  • "Our job as the fandom if to engage in conversion not doxxing. And it is our job as fandom to not attack our own for their anger. Talk, disagree, criticize, but do not forget these teachers, these students, these authors, these bnf, and all these responders are human and humans error and have emotions. Do not hold them to a higher behavior than you do yourself or your friends. And if you do not have the gall to make a comment outside of annon, it is probably not a comment you should be making."clockways, Archived version
  • "One thing that is interesting in its absence is discussion of the appropriateness of a higher educational institution, no matter how casual or devalued the course, actively inciting a trolling mob with a specific charge of negative interaction. This is a broader issue of internet culture, not just fandom, and it’s terrifically disappointing to see an educational institution joining in on the side of making trolling and doxxing acceptable and encouraged behaviour." What're we calling this? TheoryofFicgate? I like..., Archived version
  • "Hearts to everyone embroiled in #TheoryOfFicGate! While I think there is room for fan fiction/transformative works in academic study, it’s pretty obvious this class has been conducted in a way that hasn’t been entirely respectful/understanding of the fan fic community. But — reminder that there are fanfic classes being taught by respectful professors who are fanfic readers/writers/lovers themselves. (Like annejamison's class.) Also seconding waldorph — don’t bash the students or the teachers. Please. They’ve realized their mistakes and are presumably working to revise the class, and it’s really no way to show that we’re people worthy of their respect. "Hearts to everyone embroiled in #TheoryOfFicGate!..., Archived version
  • "i’m catching up with “ficgate,” and i am honestly BOGGLED by the whole mess. admittedly the course was not fully thought-out! one of the assignments was guaranteed to upset fic authors and students alike! (if i’d received that flavor of unsolicited ~constructive criticism~ i would definitely have cried.) but…all of that is easily addressed and fixed??? people were kinda douchey but aside from one obvious troll, they apologized and quickly understood what had gone wrong, and wanted to make it better. that should have been easy. you know what CAN’T be easily fixed and made better? doxxing people. jfc i thought we reserved that shit for honest-to-god terrible people, like that dude who was running the creepshots forum on reddit......but this terrifying new trend of doxxing and abusing people for every damn annoying or stupid thing that happens….what the fuck. WHAT THE FUCK. “proportionate response”, anyone? this is not a reasonable consequence. also, i could do without people conflating rude comments on fanfic with things like cultural appropriation of spiritual customs & racist anthropological practices. everybody needs to stop." for roses, too — i’m catching up with “ficgate,” and i am honestly..., Archived version
  • "I’m honestly a person who really believes in respecting the privacy of fandom. I don’t like people bringing up fic and fanart to actors/media creators. I don’t like condescending articles that treat fandom as a perverse world of female wish-fulfillment (and frame it as a bad and silly thing). I hate when people’s fic are linked or name-dropped without permission in large venues. (and by large, I mean like, the Lev Grossman article in Time Magazine a few years ago that mentioned Underwater Light even though Maya removed it from the Internet years before that.) This was nothing like that. Small venue, fannish participants, great comment-leaving guidelines. A minor issue came up — an author reacting poorly to concrit. That could have been handled quietly and respectfully. Was it? Nah. Instead fandom chose to grandstand, signal boost, and publicize email addresses with the intention of encouraging followers to email student teachers and actual professors with heated complaints. All in the guise of standing up for fandom, when in actuality they were just attacking fellow fans." {{source| url = | title = | archiveurl =
  • "If there were any people in that class who didn’t know much about fandom yet, they sure got educated! They learned that in fandom, even a small mistake like posting awkwardly-worded concrit on a fic means you are a horrible person who deserves not just to have their info spread around the internet, but to be driven from their place of education/employment (again, if the reblogged post above is accurate). They learned that if you dare talk about fan culture outside a fannish space, fandom will happily assume the absolute worst about your motivations, tar and feather you as a disgusting nasty bad fan, and generally behave in a way that’s indistinguishable from any other trigger-happy, outrage-loving, bloodthirsty internet mob. They learned that no matter how much you acknowledge your mistake and grovel, this mob will still act like you were the one who has all the power and you should keep apologizing forever. More, people will sagely note that the mob was justified for driving you to delete your fannish account. You broke a Invisible Rule, so no amount of punishment is too much no matter whether you did any actual damage or not. I’m not really angry at people who just reblogged alarming-sounding news without knowing much about the history and general dynamics of fan-academia interactions. I am angry at those experienced, well-known fans (you know who you are) who posted the info of student instructors, encouraged their followers to dogpile people, and generally turned a few tone-deaf comments into a FANDOM IS UNDER ATTACK FROM THE FORCES OF EVIL thing. They’ve been around long enough to see what mistreatment of fans by people in a position of power really looks like. They could have contextualized this shit for their younger/less experienced followers and helped keep reactions calm and proportionate." niallsnyquil: unjapanologist: tea-and-liminality:... | Unjapanologist/非実在日本学者, Archived version

Delete/Lockdown Everything?

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

Academics In Fandom/Professional/Educational Standards

  • "I am absolutely infuriated by this. This is not how you construct any critical media class. You do not have the class doing their critical analyses directly contact the creators of the work with their fucking critical analyses, for about a thousand reasons. This is not any standard or norm I have ever, ever heard of," Sister Machine Gun of Contemplative Meditation - So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Holy Crap. I’m in grad school and I know GTAs who try to make fandom studies part of their first year writing class. Just knowing people study fandom like this gives me the willies. I am so sorry for all the authors having to deal with undergrads’ comments right now. You guys are wonderful. We love you. Don’t let the tone deaf nerds get you down. FROM MY TINY ACADEMIC HEART, I AM SO SORRY." Everyday I'm Tumblin' • So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "This is incredibly unprofessional and bizarre of the professor — nobody ever assigns a list of published articles or books for class, then requires the students to write directly to those authors and criticize (not praise!) their work. This teacher is trying to engage with the amateur, shared world of fandom without respecting any of the community’s norms or boundaries, and it’s frankly offensive." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - sophiahelix 2.0, Archived version
  • "I cannot believe a prof would be so tone-deaf as to the inherent dickishness of students being forced to do “online participatory activities” that they would think this would go down swell for everyone. Ugh. I am all for academic classes that step out of the box, but this is honestly ridiculous. At least *ask* the authors..." shouting nonsense into the void, Archived version
  • "I went and read some of the comments on the Closer’s fic and they were painfully new to fandom and it made me cringe. It’s one thing to make a course read them but making them required to comments is a whole new level of awful. Please don’t let this trend catch on. " Sea of Dreaming • So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "Follow up, this looks like what at my college was called the Experimental College- classes taught for and by undergrads about whatever. So it’ll be an even bigger shit fest than if it had been an actual professor. I think the instructors’ hearts are in the right place, but their execution is made of fail." the newest time sink, Archived version
  • Fan outlines how she would teach a class on fanfic: 50 Shades of Better — So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "I want to signal boost also to let other academics and teachers know that THIS IS NOT AN OKAY WAY TO TEACH FANFIC. There are real people on the receiving ends of those comments, there are real people putting their time and effort into these works and then getting notifications for those comments. Those authors did not opt into this course and it is not only ethically wrong but also pedagogically unsound to make them unwilling participants. Fanfic is a terrific teaching tool, but using it comes with certain responsibilities that are fundamentally different from teaching published works. And there are many, many other ways to have your students demonstrate that they are engaging with a text that do not involve harassing unsuspecting authors." girl spilling gin on herself, alone, Archived version
  • "Yikes. Good thing waldorph was on this. Studying fanfiction in class sounds like a great idea, but you can’t even begin to understand fanfiction without also getting to grips with the community that holds it and sustains it. While stories might seem self-contained and individual, on some level each of them are part of a broader conversation among fans, and trying to pin them down without understanding their context is bound to fail. I’m waiting to hear the heartfelt apology this instructor owes these fan writers. I hope I don’t have to wait too long."Ivy Blossom — dduane: So Your Fic is Required Reading:..., Archived version
  • "There should be a robust debate about the ethics and practice of teaching fanworks and fandom. But this is a legitimate area of research for English/Lit/Media Studies departments, not just social sciences. Fanfiction has an effect on publishing now, and it is having an effect on a whole generation of writers & creators. It’s going to be studied by people who study and teach literature and writing and other creative areas, as well. Fans and their works are interacting with the world and having an impact. People will want to understand that impact. There are better and worse ways of doing it, but social sciences approaches don’t work for all literary questions." It's Not Jane Austen, Archived version
  • " someone who's in a completely different university's equally "for fun not credit" fanfiction course and is (mostly) loving it as a fan: my class has been an environment built on learning about what constitutes "fanfiction", the role of intertextuality, and historical engagement with texts before we even dive in and engage. which i noticed is definitely something the syllabus over at cal is lacking, even being a "casual" class: a way to teach students to engage in the same way fans do." waldorph., Archived version
  • "I am concerned that all “acafans” and fan studies scholars are being lumped into the same category as these two students; I don’t mean that in an elitist, you-must-have-the-degree-to-talk-about-this kind of way, but they’re students who neither participate in (to the best of my knowledge) or represent a discipline that a lot of us take very seriously. If an undergraduate starts performing medical procedures on a patient in a pre-med program, and in the process happens to seriously fuck it up, we wouldn’t pin it on all doctors. Similarly, I worry about the jump to guides on how to teach fan fiction and the like in response to something that simply does not represent fan studies in any meaningful way."saathi1013: suckitdomitian replied to your post:... - tea and liminality, Archived version
  • "There’s no experiments or research involved, so an IRB has absolutely no jurisdiction[1]. Should the sponsoring faculty member be chewed out for allowing this to happen? In a just world, yes. Is this shitty, unethical behavior? Absolutely. But please fucking understand what you’re talking about before doing something stupid like trying to file a complaint to the university’s IRB. You will be laughed at, and rightfully so." Sonatina, So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope, Archived version
  • "While it is not clear if this assignment constitutes behavioral research, the authors of the fanfics to be ‘critiqued’ very much fit the CPHS’s definition of human subjects. They are people that the students are personally interacting with. If this assignment does indeed fit the CPHS’s definition of research, then this falls under the purview of the IRB, and the instructor’s failure to gain informed consent beforehand and get IRB approval for this assignment constitutes a violation of ethics." The Drawing Room — About the 'Required Reading' Fanfics, Archived version
  • "In “human subject research,” what is “research,” and what is “a human subject?” What about classroom activities? NO (unless you are conducting biomedical experiments in your class, in which case, yes) What about chatting with actual human beings who have feelings? NO, unless “chatting” is part of your data collection methodology for research as defined above. What about finding out about what happened during a historical event or period in which actual human subjects were involved, and you find out by interacting with them? NO, unless your questions and procedures fall under the definition of “research” above. What about telling an individual your opinions? NO, but it’s a good idea to be polite and consider if they want your opinions. If it turns out they don’t, consider not offering your opinions to those people. You could ask, but on the other hand, if someone has said or done something you find dangerous or offensive, you might offer your opinion anyway. Is that research? NO." annejamison: In “human subject research,” what is... | Unjapanologist/非実在日本学者, Archived version
  • ".....I just couldn’t stay quiet, considering the epic clusterfuckery in fandom that I am now witnessing. Many people have already expressed their disgust and utter horror at what these poor fic authors are going through. Many far more knowledgeable than I have pointed out how poorly thought out this course was, on the part of the teacher/s conducting the class. As someone who writes fan fic and someone who loves to read it, here’s a couple of things I wish anyone in academia would take into consideration if they actually want to seriously conduct a class in fan fiction...." W.T.F. - The Blanket Fort, Archived version

Fannish Guidelines/Rules

  • "As someone who has been sitting with waldorph this past week going “but no SERIOUSLY WHO LET THE ASSHOLES OUT” this whole situation is both a) hilarious and b) unbelievably horrifying (and c) ENRAGING because holy jesus prof, how tone deaf do you have to fuckin’ BE). The number of fannish guidelines that have been violated by all this nonsense is just beyond belief. Also: the trolls she got were dudes because OF COURSE they were." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - I do not have puppet cancer!,
  • "A thought provoking look at outsiders who start trashing fanfiction when they don’t understand the rules . And it’s not just academics or researchers who should read this - the actors should too." IloveBennystuff. — Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside?, Archived version

ConCrit (Both For and Against)

  • "I’m probably gonna get shit for this but… I think its kind of cool. Yes it would have been approriate for the professor to notify the authors that they were using their fics as texts in the class but fandom writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And while the professor should have been looking at the comments and addressing trolling in the class- criticsm is a part of life and a part of art creation. Even art creation that is simply for our own benefit. " So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - Xander don't speak latin in front of the books., Archived version
  • "On the one hand, a course studying fanfic (I assume). That’s interesting. On the other, not keeping it within the classroom, what the hell. Do you mail your concrit to every author you read if they’re still alive? You do not. " So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - A Fan of Many Things, Archived version
  • "How are you gonna send people to read fanfictions without a fundamental understanding of what fanfiction is and WHY WE WRITE IT and then give them FREE REIGN to tear them apart? How can you even give that permission when we have rules about this exact fucking thing within our culture?
  • God damn it, you don’t fucking do this. This is not okay. Nothing about this is okay." GREENBERG SAYS, Archived version
  • "Literally the only reason this should be happening is after a hardcore pre-req class on fandom etiquette, respectfully comporting yourself in an unfamiliar community, and politely interacting with authors. Authors, incidentally, create these fics in their free time, receive no pay for doing so, and belong to a community that has historically been regarded as a scapegoat to be pointed and laughed at by outsiders. So, fellow authors, tread carefully, because these ignorant folks sure ain’t." So Your Fic is Required Reading: Hahahanope - here comes a recrudescence, Archived version
  • "Concrit is acceptable at all times, excepting ONLY when the author has specifically put up a sign that says: “postive praise only”. Putting things out on the internet means that other people will find them, read them, and have opinions on them." Want to Engage with Fandom from the Outside? | Chesteron's Fence, Archived version
  • "But then I see a thread like this: in which the actual “how to comment” directions were given, and that list is literally the same list that turns up every time the dying of comment culture in fandom is bemoaned. But the instructor is being told it’s “horrible” and violates the “safe space” of fandom. Uh… no, guys. Just… no. Also, I have never understood the “no concrit” mentality. I got involved in fandom at a time when it wasn’t mainstream, and I’ve never been able to figure out how it took over fandom. (Please note: ‘constructive critique’ is not ‘criticizing’ is not ‘flaming’; and in this instance several students missed ‘concrit’ and went straight to ‘criticizing’ if not ‘flaming’. It also appears the entire thing was jumped on by out-and-out trolls who had nothing to do with the course, and some of the worst comments are from that source.)" Never give a Dead Cat a Flamethrower., Archived version
  • "I used to require that students leave reviews. I always stipulated that they be positive, and that students identify themselves as such. It was a solution I came up with in conversation with fans as a way for students to give something in exchange for having read the fic. I’ve since stopped doing that because I heard from fic writers (although never from ones I was teaching, at the time of teaching) that they wouldn’t welcome it. That said, people whose fic I’m teaching are sometimes surprised and displeased I’m not requiring students to comment. My students are under strict orders never to say anything critical to or about an individual fic or fic writer as a student in my class in any public forum. I emphasize that writers are unpaid, writing for a different audience, and did not sign on to be college assignments. I teach fics with sources, always w/the reminder that fics are best judged in the fandom context and are written for an audience with intimate familiarity with the source. I am teaching texts, not people. I won’t teach from tumblr. That means I leave a lot out! but there’s way too much personal data mixed in, and that’s not my training. It may be a false, fast-blurring distinction, but disciplinarily & methodologically, it’s huge." It's Not Jane Austen, Archived version
  • "What I’m seeing happen in fandom, though, is that anything negative in the sense of ‘not actively positive’ is being treated as if it were no different than a flame. I have seen comments that boil down to “I wasn’t into relationship X/Y, but I liked A/B and all these other things about the fic” draw the same “how dare you!” response from the community as a blatant flame. IMO, that’s not a healthy reaction for the community as a whole. If an individual needs to protect themself to that degree, then yes, by all means, ignore, block, delete, close comments. As a community norm, though, silencing any opinion that isn’t 100% in accordance? No, that I cannot and will not get behind." Other Worlds (jkthinkythoughts: owl-song: jkthinkythoughts:...), Archived version
  • "I watched a lot of talented women get driven right the hell out of fandom because of “helpful” concrit. Fuck that and fuck going back to those days. I *like* modern fandom. It’s more fun, less toxic, more creative, and a better place. Period." Thinky Thoughts, Archived version
  • "Due respect capn-mactastic and jkthinkythoughts , but you’re both misinterpreting me. I remember the nasty side of critique culture as well as you, and I’m not “bemoaning” the loss. I’m objecting to the fact that the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that any negative feedback is treated as anathema. That’s not healthy either, and often results in the commenter being driven out." Other Worlds (jkthinkythoughts: capn-mactastic:...), Archived version
  • "To be honest, the apparent demise of comment culture pisses me off. And I’m baffled by the idea that concrit is some sort of egregious attack. Good on the student teachers for using their class as a venue to promote commenting. Their comment guidelines were reasonable. Running comments by the teachers for the first few classes might have been a good idea? Yeah, but public fic means public commentary and authors should think about if they’re capable of handling that before they post their work. (I draw a distinction between “a few tone-deaf concrits” and “actual trolling/bullying.”) Asking permission from authors to show their work to students? Nice, but I don’t think it’s a moral imperative in such a small venue. That syllabus directs fewer people to a fic than the average rec list. And a tiny student-led pass/no pass class at Berkeley is a perfect place to introduce the uninitiated to fic, especially when other fic lovers are in the class too. Well, they got an accurate introduction to fandom after all. At least, to the overreactionary, oversensitive, echo-chambery, mob-mentality, concrit-demonizing side of fandom. That should be a great wrap-up lesson in fannish culture for everyone involved." it'll be swell • To be honest, the apparent demise of comment..., Archived version

Fandom As A Safe Space/Fandom Visibility

  • "In general, I have been feeling a real sense of encroachment onto my safe spaces lately, what with the Fifty Shades stuff, and all of the attention that fandom has been getting. ...I know that some part of the population will use these exposure points as a gateway to get into the thing, which is great. But there is also a huge part of the population that will criticise and reject, which is exactly why these “bubbles” were created in the first place, to protect people from mainstream judgment. I really honestly want to be positive about the attention that fandom etc. are getting, and to see it as a way forward for gaining more mainstream acceptance. But at the moment, all I can see is the impending opportunity for a cultural backlash that will result in widespread mocking or worse, religious demonising." If you aren’t following #theoryofficgate you... - I am Jason's Smirking Revenge, Archived version
  • "The entire time, I’d think impatiently why? Why can’t we be open about fandom? Why do we have to lurk in the shadows? We’re amazing, creative people! Mutant and proud! Now, of course, I know a lot of the answers to those questions. Many of them—most of them—have to do with institutionalized oppression across multiple intersecting identities. They have to do with the equation of intellectual or creative value with monetary value, and with the shibboleth of “originality” as the hallmark of true creativity. They have to do with the dim view society takes of fans, especially women, who express their enthusiasm in inappropriate ways, or ways viewed as excessive or obsessive. Essentially, fangirl was, for a long time, a psychological diagnosis, even as women began to reclaim fangirl for their own.....I don’t feel like, in this day and age, acknowledgment of existence necessarily leads to understanding and acceptance. Look at Tumblr: Yahoo’s Fandometrics is a fairly transparent attempt to monetize fandom, a move that both recognizes fandom but completely misses what fandom is about. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, which dragged fandom even further into the spotlight and has not, to my knowledge, amassed a body of thoughtful commentary by the general media on fanfiction and gender, or new models of creative expression, or fanfiction as critique. Or, basically, anything except “lol mommyporn.” .æsc., Archived version
  • "Sure, fic authors put their work into the world, and Ao3 does give us the option of hiding fic from non-users. But Ao3 is also our territory. It was created by fans for fans. It’s welcoming to people who are outside fandom, but it doesn’t belong to those outsiders. If fanfiction was mainstream and well-regarded maybe it would be different, and I would probably feel differently. But it’s not. Fanfiction is disregarded and mocked and called “mommy porn” (as if mommies aren’t allowed to have their own porn), or it’s creepy and weird and sad. And fuck that noise so hard. Fans had to hide, had to remain anonymous. And part of the reason was straight up homophobia and misogyny. We had to build our own spaces, because the rest of the world couldn’t be bothered to take us seriously. So now there’s a brilliant prolific community of women and queers making art, and all of a sudden the world wants in. No. No, fuck you. You missed the goddamn boat. No, not even. You didn’t let us on your fucking boat. We had to build goddamn rafts, and now our rafts are cool and you want to stand on them. And if you stand the wrong way you’re going to fucking sink them." MY BEST FRIEND - Theory of Fic-Gate Part 2, Archived version
  • "We are a thriving, vibrant, fucking brilliant subculture and community, and we deserve better than our works being flung into the spotlight without any of the goddamn backstory, so you can look down on us and make fun of us. Don’t you dare make fun of me, make fun of my friends, make fun of my community, when you have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about." I'm blue! | theletteraesc: I’m supposed to be asleep because..., Archived version
  • Disclaimer: Fandom is not one huge entity, it’s comprised of a lot of different people who all have different ideas about things. So when I say “fandom” I just mean “the people I have seen commenting on this topic”. 1. Fandom is an isolationist community. 2. Fandom wants to be taken seriously as a thing, but then refuses to accept it when people want to open it up to serious discussion or critique. 3. Fandom wants to expand, but only in pre-determined ways. 4. Fandom wants to embrace how it is different, but contradicts this view by demanding the way it is studied parallels classic literature. 5. Fandom equates opinions to sex in the consent needed to participate in the giving or recieving thereof." Alright. So, I’ve got a lot of feelings about..., Archived version
  • "Fanfic is becoming more well-known, more public. Just like fandom. Just like cosplay. The internet is changing how we communicate and interact, and with whom. It’s breaking down people’s inhibitions about talking to total strangers and speaking up. There’s going to be some bumps in the road, yes. And there are some days, yes, when I’m stung by online idiocy and need to get away from the net to recover. But this is the evolution of web communities… some of us are still getting used to Facebook, selfies, and real names being shared online, because in our day you shared your interests, not yourself, with the web public… so let’s try to figure out how to make it work, instead of just playing gatekeepers." Ex Cetra, Ex Cetra • meeedeee: it’ll be swell • To be honest, the..., Archived version

Hard To Classify

  • "Not only are authors turned into homework but so we (the readers). Giving kudos or leaving a comment will count towards someone’s assignment. I can’t imagine how the authors of those fics feel, it’s a pretty shitty thing to do without a heads up. Even if it was started with the best intentions it feels wrong." I'm too young to be old, Archived version
  • "Two undergraduates proposed a class to a group of their peers. This class was designed to share with their peers a culture of which they consider themselves members because, I assume, they think it’s a worthwhile thing to understand and even be a part of. They absolutely made some mistakes in directing how new members of fandom (because it’s clear from the syllabus that a goal of the class was making the students into new members of fandom) were to interact with fandom. This does not make them bad people. Nor do I think it should mean they be punished - neither by being ‘burned’ or banned from AO3 or anything else, much less a campaign to send a whole lot of emails to their faculty advisor. Fandom isn’t (for everyone) some dirty secret we can’t share with our friends. Fandom, and fanfic, exists on open spaces online. The fact is that it can be shared and discussed with whoever we want to share it with and discuss it with, including in a classroom environment. So, no, I don’t really want tumblr spamming the faculty adviser of this program to punish two unwise members of fandom. I hope that the promised class discussion of how to engage with fanfic happens and goes well. I hope we can all take some deep breaths and realize that, for better or for worse, our works are publicly available and can be read by anyone, and that freaking out on two people who pointed that out to a group of undergraduates doesn’t solve anything. Guys, here is what happened (re all of this): Two..., Archived version
  • "sometimes people do annoying/upsetting shit, and you tell them stop, AND THEY STOP, they listen & try to fix it! it’s just unbelievably fucking sad that a relatively innocuous & fixable situation like #ficgate blew up this way; idk what we’re doing if we’re all too damn immature & plain mean-spirited to resolve a simple conflict where people are apologizing & actually trying to be helpful. this conflict could’ve been successfully mediated by a puppy and a plate of cupcakes, guys. it barely qualifies as a conflict and we still failed."for roses, too — sometimes people do annoying/upsetting shit to..., Archived version


  1. IRB is an review process that must be consulted before human experiments can begin.