Yes Virginia

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Mailing List
Name: Yes Virginia, YV
Date(s): January 2000 - present
Moderators/List Maintainers: Punk
Founder(s): Sabine
Fandom: X-Files
URL: n/a
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Yes Virginia was a private mailing list for X-Files fanfiction writers. It was most active from 1999 to 2001. It was started by Sabine and ultimately moderated by Punk.

The Yes, Virginia mailing list is named after a song written by one of Sabine’s college friends. It originated when Sabine needed to step back from fandom because of a real-world job, but wanted to keep in touch, and to create a brain-trust of like-minded writers, who were going to not only keep her hand in in fandom, but help feed her ideas for the real-world job.

Many of those on the list were professional writers in their day-jobs, or aspired to be. They took writing very seriously, but not themselves. They were dedicated to improving their own writing and helping all of the group's members to improve as well. (Or really anyone in fandom that asked them for help.) It was a supportive and collaborative environment where everyone got feedback from multiple betas on every story they wrote. The group invented a style of unflinching beta called machete beta. Members could request either machete, or traditional beta, if they weren't feeling up to something quite so pointed. Most opted for machete all the time and it showed in their writing. Sabine and Punk, frequent collaborators, were especially known for their mighty adverb-killing powers, making everyone's writing clearer and more concise. Other frequent collaborations came out of this group with members teaming up to co-write longer pieces or epic series such as the cofax7, marasmus, fialka and others series Life During Wartime.

The group also created Cult of the Jebuslug out of disgust at the horrible turn the X-files took in Season 8 and specifically the episode “Roadrunners”. The site was funny enough to have gotten the coveted “Cool Site of the Day”. It was mostly fake filk-hymns and episode reviews written in the POV of the (holy, sacred) slug that got pulled from Scully’s spine. There were reviews for all of season 8 and part of season 9 until the YVers mostly gave up the show in mutual disgust. There were also many contributors to this project from outside the YV group, who are credited in the slug hymnal, in particular.

They were also notorious for having a Mulder and Scully baby kill-a-thon, where most members contributed their version of how William was done away with. Many of these fics were highly-regarded in the fandom.

The group was well-represented in the Spooky Awards over many years and has had multiple fics placed in the Crack Van and dissected at X-Files Book Club, The Reading Group for X-Files fanfiction on LJ.

The group only ever had to expel one member over the course of its existence, for fraud, as she had joined for the sole purpose of spying for another group.

The group is still together, despite the death of Sabine. Most have moved on from writing fic, though some keep their hand in in other fandoms than X-files. Several are published authors under non-fanfiction names or pseudonyms. They still beta for each other with regularity on everything from business proposals to novels to magazine articles to any other writing of importance.

If YV stands for anything, it stands for fic creating lifelong friendships and supportive writing relationships that have endured now for 20-plus years. Many members see each other frequently and travel to visit one another, sometimes from other continents. Many still speak to one another daily via social media.

YV Members included: Founder Sabine, Legacy Owner Punk, Members: M.Sebasky, CazQ, Wen, Livia Balaban, Marasmus, Fialka, Cofax, Sarah Ellen Parsons, Kelly Keil, Winson Paine, Lena, EPurSeMouve, JHJ Armstrong, Jess Mabe, Lysandra, JET, Galia, Luperkal, Alicia K., August, Perelandra, Tarysande and others.

Some Fan Comments

Yes Virginia is a group of people who communicate via a mailing list. It has never been "proudly advertised" anywhere and it has never pretended to be anything other than a small bunch of people shooting the breeze and helping each other out." [1]

A Discussion About: "Yes Virginia" -- "Debbilmice" -- The Wicked X Witches of Badfic Punishment

In September 2000, an emotional discussion occurred that included: fans confusing several X-Files fan groups, statements that not publically standing up against one list was approval of another, privacy and security, witch hunts and whisper campaigns, censorship, and more. Namely, the Yes, Virginia group was accused as a group of secretly being the Wicked X Witches. A witch hunt ensued and several of the group were thrown out of mailing lists and blackballed in parts of the fandom, leading to the rest of the group being accused as well. The example below is a tiny fraction of the reams and reams of ink spilled on this subject.

<trying to keep a lid on my anger>

I am a Virginian, for anyone who doesn't know that already. I am damn proud of that fact. Let me make a couple of things clear for everybody:

1) YV is a small, private, beta/conversation list. We are basically a group of friends who hang out, converse, rec stories to each other, beta for each other and so forth. I have never experienced a nicer forum in this fandom.

2) If any of the other Virginians are part of the Witches group, I can say in all honesty that they have never said as much to the other YVers. Unless any of them ever do, I shall continue to regard YV as a witch-free zone. Even if any of the Virginians were witches, that would really have sod-all to do with YV and the purposes of that list as laid out above.

I'm becoming increasingly disillusioned with the atmosphere in this newsgroup. I have been a member of this fandom for nigh-on two years, and have enjoyed almost every minute of it. Now I wake up one morning, drop into the newsgroup and find a rather unpleasant blanket accusation being leveled at myself and my friends. Paige, if that was intended as a veiled accusation against Yes Virginia, why bother veiling it? If you have something you'd like to say, say it. At least perhaps that way there's a chance of a level-headed, honest discussion rather than engendering a great deal of bad blood. Ashley: it *figures*, does it? Would you mind explaining to myself and the other Virginians exactly *why* that is?

Oh, and FWIW, I agree with Kipler. Giving so much attention to something hardly seems like the best way to discourage it.

May I suggest that if anyone else wishes to make accusations of this nature, they at least offer some basis for them? I don't know who the Witches are and frankly I don't care. All that can be accomplished by spreading whispers and rumours about who they are is a poisoning of the atmosphere in this fandom, and I think that that would be an incredibly sad thing. [2]

I'm on YV too. Anyone who knows me would laugh at the thought that I'm a Witch. Why? I'm just too damn lazy to be bothered. Yeah, they're mean, they're stupid, they're annoying. I want to write fic. I don't bother beating up other people's fic, since that would be... a monumental waste of time.

Plus, my grasp of English grammar sucks big donkey dick. I don't think I should be commenting on anyone else's.

As far as I know, none of the YVers are Witches. At least, none of them logged on and said: "Hi, thanks for inviting me to be on this list. By the way, have I mentioned I'm a Witch? Now, who needs a beta? I'm very clever."

We'd probably have kicked the crap out of them for that, anyway. I don't think any of us like the Witches anymore than anyone else. Ah, that's the problem with being a nasty, vindictive person... you can't tell your friends!

Anyway, let's leave off with the speculation as to who they are. I just don't give a flying rat's ass. They aren't nice, they design bad web pages, and they take up waaaaaaaay too much space on this NG. I'm with Kipler. Ignoring them is the only way to make them go away. [3]
What's this, Ambress? You hang out with that evil list, where they're all evil and everything they do is evil and pro-WXW? Why, shame on you for liking people despite the fact that someone's insinuated that someone else maybe might be could be tactless, insensitive, un-funny and carrying around an inflated opinion of herself!

Oh, wait. Applying my incredible talent for logic, I suddenly saw problems with my above statement.

1) there are *all* kinds of tasteless, tactless, insensitive, humorless, egotistical people *around here*, not just on lists. And there's proof in their many nonsensical posts! Who knows who could be a witch, who is a troll, who is a sockpuppet and who is just dumb??

2) I'm blaming you for something I do myself! I completely forgot that all those lovely, talented folks I chat with are wicked, damnit. I also completely forgot that I've mocked stories too--albeit in private, and with more humor and less personal attacks than the witches use. Does this mean that I'll be kicked off lists and considered some kind of evil conspirator?

3) Making generalizations about a group of 30+ people is silly. D'oh! Especially based upon the fact that one person, who appears to have a grudge, claims to have proof against *one other person*. One. Uno. Out of *thirty*. All you folks who are thinking anti-YV thoughts, do you even know who the YV are? Have you realized that many of the YV are incredibly talented, popular, and respected authors? Have you even *thought* about what this 'witch hunt' is all about, and who is being dragged through the mud because of it?

Well, gee. Looking at just those three little things makes me feel dumb. Some might argue that I am--especially those who dislike sweet MSR and think all who write it are only writing for the feedback (just to drag another personal grudge into this already nutty thread).

But seriously, and as someone who chats with YV folks, I wish people could take just a little time to think this through *logically*.

Now, I'm going to go off and make me some cookies, read a little fic, and remind myself that it's all just online silliness and chocolate solves everything.

Dreamshaper, who apologizes to Sab and the rest of the YV for adding to the thread, but just couldn't take it anymore! [4]

For those who don't know, I'm the YV listmom, and I feel oddly compelled to say...I, but I just don't have the foggiest idea where to start. I mean, on the one hand, Paige -- a former YV member, and by last count, a friend -- seems to suggest that the YV group IS the Witches. So, okay, so we KNOW that's not true. Now, learning whether ANY of us is a Witch is a little more (*sigh*) witch-hunting than I'd like to do.

But then there's Laurie saying that that's tantamount to supporting them, also bringing down my poor little list for no reason. I mean, if someone suspected there was a Witch on Scullyfic, would you REALLY nail JILL for it Or any of the other two hundred people (okay, so I am totally pulling that number out of my ass <g>) on the list?


We're here because we like to talk fic with our friends. YV is a bunch'a friends who like to talk fic... [snipped] if you don't like the Witches, don't deal with 'em. Ignore them and they'll ignore you. You know, like bees? Or those dogs, with bees in their mouths...<g>

Now I'm just getting batty. Anyway, FWIW, YV is NOT a Witch mailinglist, it's MY mailinglist, one I started simply because I unsubbed from XFC and XAPEN (which is of course Phoenix now) and Scullyfic because I couldn't handle the volume of messages, but still wanted to get recs and correspond with my fic-friends, while not TOTALLY evaporating from RL. <g> You know the feeling. I know you do. . [5]

...what the Witches do on their website is petty, immature and cruel---but it is not Evil The Likes Of Which The World Has Never Seen Before. It's certainly not worth being compared to the Third Reich, regardless of the points being made.

However, hyperbole isn't Evil, either---annoying but not Evil. So Inquisitor's use of hyperbole is hardly worth raking him over the coals. His attitude is snarky, yes. He made a horribly cruel mistake in another thread by not taking the time to get to know people on the newsgroups before he went off half-cocked. He's hardly the model of logical and constructive discourse. But that's the sort of thing that calls for a filter, not for an all day flame war (and dinner on the ground).

As for Yes Virginia--I don't know anything about them. I don't know if any of them are Witches or Goblins or Leprecauns or Libertarians. I have no personal stake in the continuation of the group. And yet, I'll defend to the death their right to discuss whatever they want within the confines of their private list, as long as no laws are broken and no fluffy, furry little animals are hurt in the process.

I'll even go farther---to some extent, the Witches have the right to post on their webpage whatever they like within the law. I don't have to like it, but as a believer in free speech, I won't call for it to be taken down unless it breaks a law. I can, however, encourage people to stop discussing it as if it merits this sort of discourse. It doesn't. The website is not helpful, it's not funny and it's not worth spending this much time and bandwidth on discussing.

As for the witch hunt that seems to be centering on YV---I'm appalled, especially since I've seen none of the accusers of this group present anything like evidence to support the allegations. Have we learned nothing from our history? If you're going to throw around historical allusions, how about the Salem Witchhunts? Are we going to ask that the YV members take the dunk test? [6]


  1. ^ I like the company I keep, post at, September 11, 2000
  2. ^ comment by CazQ at Foiling the Wicked post at, September 5, 2000
  3. ^ comment by Jess at Foiling the Wicked post at, September 5, 2000
  4. ^ I like the company I keep, post at, September 11, 2000
  5. ^ comment by Sabine at Foiling the Wicked post at, September 5, 2000
  6. ^ Personal attacks, debates, etc.. , post by Paula Graves at, September 15, 2000