icarus: (pic#634165)
Auburn here wonders about the etiquette of back and forth commenting on AOOO and how it feels like chit-chat in the library.

In the process of the conversation the question of hit/comment ratios came up. Now I researched hit/comment ratios on Fiction Alley (a Harry Potter archive) back in 2003 after friends complained that terrible stories got tons of feedback, popular authors got more feedback, etc., etc. I decided to see if that were true.

The hit/ratio stats post is buried somewhere, but what I discovered was that:

- The average hit/comment ratio ranged from 6-8%, i.e., up to 8% of all people who opened a story left feedback.

- Surprise! The quality of the story did not drastically change that ratio; stories riddled with SPAG and purple prose got the same ratio. Their hit counts were just lower.

- The type of story did, however, affect the ratio: humor fics had a very high hit/comment ratio, averaging around 12%.

- On very popular stories like Cassandra Claire's Draco Trilogy, the hit/comment ratio dipped (surprisingly) lower than less popular stories.

- Stories where the author had a Yahoo Group and made a concerted effort to pimp their work and encourage a loyal following, the hit/comment ratios were the highest, at 36%.

I compared this to the hit/comment ratio at ff.net, and found that ff.net people commented less (I believe it was ... 4%?).

I then compared the ratio at character-focused "niche" archives, and found that the niche archive had much higher ratios, comparable to the humor fics at an average of 12%.

So I'm watching the hit/comment ratio for all the Big Bang stories at AOOO with interest. My experience there up till now has been that it's a good place to store fics, but few people comment. Still, that's been on stories that are old, or have been posted to LJ/DW first.

So far the AOOO comment ratios on the Big Bangs (if you discount the author responses) are running at 1%.

ETA: At someone's suggestion I checked the hit/comment ratio for the 2009 Yuletide which was hosted on AOOO.

So far, though I haven't been thorough, the hit/comment ratios for Yuletide 2009 are also at 1%.

This tells us that the low hit/comment ratios have to do with the archive itself. It is unrelated to the download feature, which didn't exist in 2009.

It could be difficulty in logging in. I've grown frustrated in commenting there in the past and was told I should just keep myself logged in. It could be a design issue, that the comment button isn't prominent enough (Fiction Alley's ratio was better than ff.net's largely because FA's comment button was centered on the page and HUGE).

But at this point in time, stories posted on AOOO first receive markedly fewer comments than those posted in LJ first --Aha, here's where I confused people: markedly fewer comments than they did at archives in 2003; authors note that it's also fewer comments than they receive on LJ.

If the archive is going to be an important portal for fandom, this problem needs to be resolved.

ETA2, aka, OH HAI, [community profile] metafandom people. Due to time constraints, I'll try to answer in a condensed form here:

1) I think the "nonfandom-lurker increase" theory is interesting but would have to be borne out by an increase in hits.
2) Other people's stats are showing 1%-ish hit/comment ratios at AOOO, 3%-ish at DW/LJ.
3) In terms of "comment split," the difference between now and 2003 is that comments in 2003 were split between archives and Yahoo mailing lists (which couldn't be tracked at all since they were emailed off-list) instead of between archives and LJ/DW. There's always been a split between comment delivery systems.
4) As for why the overall decline in commenting that seems to have occurred, it occurs to me that there is a lot more fic overall. Between 2007 and 2010, Harry Potter fic on FF.net increased from 300,000 fics to 477,000 fics. (Going from memory, there were about 180,000 HP fics on FF.net in November 2002.)
5) I would love to see if fics with a lot of delicious tags/recs received a higher hit/comment ratio. It could explain the 4% AOOO ratio on certain 2009 Yuletide fics. Anyone want to tackle this?
6) Yes, lots more to be done on data gathering and stats. Thank you for all your help. :)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
It turns out SPN is dominating my SGA/SPN crossover.

Drat. I was trying to make the SPN accessible to the SGA audience.

But Skinscript has useful suggestions to work SGA back into the mix. Sigh. 1,000-word Help Haiti ficlet now approaching 10,000 words....

In the meantime while I scratch my head, I'm writing my outline of the Pern/SGA fusion to Mad Maudlin in chat (while she chews over her Star Trek/SGA fusion).

Wait. Wasn't there a time I hated crossovers? I'm sure I did a post or comment where I called them "a pointless muddying of canon." Said the same about AUs.

What happens to us in fandom that makes our tastes more catholic?

Is it that we come to fanfic looking for more of what we wanted from the book/show/comic/whatever and then discover fandom offers more? Do we become increasingly adventurous as writers and can't resist the challenge of revisualizing canon? Or is it our friends' fault, and the fault of challenges, as we're asked for stories we'd never seek out? Or perhaps we read that one crossover that does it so well, we want to try it.

I blame SGA. The fandom has been so wacky from the get-go that I'm writing (and reading) oddball plots I'd never considered in HP or (heavens) Lord of the Rings (that Harry Potter/James Bond fusion excepted).
icarus: (Happy Rodney by Monanotlisa)
A question came up on my f-list about the end of canon in Stargate Atlantis.

I'm not sure whether the imminent end of the series has any significant effect on readership

In the Harry Potter fandom it certainly didn't. I can't imagine the end of the series would have a significant impact right away. Quite the opposite. There's a spike in interest as people mourn, fret over what's not neatly tied up, are annoyed at the author's/PTB's ships, or just miss it and want more, darn it. In time I think it will taper off as people find other active canons and drift to new fandoms, but no boom is going to be lowered late December, no, not at all.

How active the fandom remains depends on the fandom:

- Do the main archives, challenges, communities, still have people to run them? (Most Important Factor.)
- Is the fandom old enough to have a solid body of work, and fandom tropes, to sustain it?
- Are there lots of Swiss cheese-like holes remaining to play in?
- How dependent on canon is the fandom (are the majority of fics episode tags, or have the fic writers embraced AUs and crossovers)?
- How committed are the fans to keeping their fandom alive? Have fans declared that nothing will stop their ship? Or have they been ho-hum about the end of their series?
- Are there other factors to keep the fandom alive? Spin-offs, movies, conventions.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Tuning Up Your Bullshit Detector

There was a meme going around a year ago, having people list things they've learned in life. I couldn't think of anything at the time. But I've learned some things, and one of those is how to spot someone who's lying. The boyfriend and I play a game with 60 Minutes where he asks me, "Okay, is this person lying? How about this one?"

It's not perfect. I can be fooled. But I've put some time into learning how not to. I have caught more than a few liars in the act.

First is to pay attention.

Recognize circumstances when you're likely to be lied to, so you're looking for it. Is someone embarrassed? Backed up against the wall? Are they being forced to make an apology? Do they have something to lose from telling the truth? Something to gain from telling a lie?

Remember that a lie is a sell job. Your belief is the goal. When someone tries to sell me a story, I sharpen up.

Body language )

Fitting the story to the audience )

The unshakable story )

A whole truth out of two half truths )

Flat affect or phony emotions )

The simple soundbyte )

Distraction )

So there you go.

Not every lie is created equal. Sometimes it's not worth knowing the truth. It doesn't matter if your coworker really had car trouble or if they slept through their alarm. Sometimes the lie is a polite fiction ("Yes, dear, I love that dress on you") where you're better off accepting it as intended in good grace.

But there are bad people in the world. People who aim to fleece you, on the internet and in real life. People whose interests run counter to yours and are willing to "do what it takes" -- including lie. People who get a charge out of creating a reaction, who are happy to waste your time and take advantage of your good nature.

I've noticed that the people who have my best interests at heart usually tell me the truth. And those who don't ... I often catch them in a lie. 90% of the time, in my experience at least, lies and bad intentions go hand in hand.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Apparently the Organization for Transformative Works is creating a wiki.

Cool. I didn't know that. A fandom wiki's a good idea.

On fandom wikis and a really clueless kid. )

Laura Hale has inspired me to send a donation to the Organization for Transformative Works ([livejournal.com profile] otw_news). We need to have a real fanfic wiki written by mature adults who actually care about fandom. And, you know, a fandom wiki that contains a little bit about fanfiction. Just a thought.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
In the tradition of my little brother's knack for mild-mannered understatement:

Well. Season three is over. )

I have reservations about season four, of course, but the latter half of this season showed a gradual return to quality, if not quite movie quality. Overall, Supernatural is wobbling, but no longer completely falling apart.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Recently a gen fanfic writer wrote a anti-slash screed. (Doesn't she know that an anti-slash screed is what got me reading and writing slash in the first place, says Icarus, 150 slashfics later.)

The question came up as to whether or not we should read or rec this gen writer's stories in the future. You know, the usual, "Ew, if that's her attitude I don't want to read her." -- "Me neither."

[livejournal.com profile] destina had a really good post/article about this... somewhere... a very long time ago. But I can't find it. Guess I'll have to write my own.

Fanfic and the Magical Forget Ray

Because we post stories to personal networking sites, we know a lot more about fanfic writers than we once did. Instead of belonging to a list or Yahoo Group and reading fics in a vacuum, we enounter... people.

This can be good. We might like them. We might wonder why they haven't updated their WIP in ten million years -- and reading their Livejournal, we can find out why.

This can also be bad. We can learn that not only do they write gen, they also write slash (oh my). We might stumble across political beliefs we don't agree with, or an anti-slash screed (uh-oh). I know I liked Anne Rice a lot better before she had a blog.

The person who wrote this screed, well, 1) I didn't like her screed, 2) I didn't like the fact that she deleted comments who disagreed with her and left the ones she agreed with, I think that's dishonest, 3) I didn't like how she started banning people who wrote comments she disagreed with, no matter how mild (for example, "Huh. Really? I'm surprised. I think people should write what they like").

That doesn't matter. In my view at least, the personalities behind the stories are irrelevant. The stories stand by themselves. I may not like someone. I'll still read their fic. I'll still recommend it if I think it's good.


Because my own credibility will be done for as a reccer (okay, I don't rec as much as I used to, but anyway...) if my recs are swayed by my personal feelings about the authors. That is why the Oscars suck. Overblown Hollywood crap wins because the judges like the director and feel he's deserving.

It's hard to forget when someone's been an utter wanker, of course. And here I wanted to quote [livejournal.com profile] destina because her response was classy. (I still can't find that post.)

For myself, I use the "Magical Forget Ray."

It works a bit like the S.E.P. field* in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and looks exactly like an oversized hair dryer from the 1950s (curlers not required). You sit under this baby for about 50 seconds, and voila! What a fine new author you've discovered. Never heard of them before. All that's left behind is a vague sense of unease that causes you to never, ever, read their personal posts again.

* = Somebody Else's Problem, the most effective form of invisibility cloak.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I apologize that I won't have time to reply to comments. I'm in finals, behind, asking for extensions even, and I won't have time to deal with the distraction. This is picked up from [livejournal.com profile] telesilla.

Aha! The Line! Or -- The Line Between Fanfiction and Plagiarism

For those who have trouble deciding where the line is between fanfiction and plagiarism, here it is.

[livejournal.com profile] caras_galadhon writes of a popular Lord of the Rings fanfic that turned pro-fic A Hidden Passion by Lucia Logan, which was then revealed to follow Jane Eyre on each plot point, and even in its wording. (I'll leave aside my surprise that the Jane Eyre plot wasn't recognized in the first place. I understand it was called an "homage.")

Next we have Gehayi's report on the pro version A Hidden Passion, which has a handy chart demonstrating where A Hidden Passion copies Jane Eyre.

This example is invaluable. I'm sorry so many people have been burned and the publisher invested in this book and had to withdraw it. (I'll leave aside my surprise that the publisher didn't recognize the Jane Eyre plot either.) Yet what we have here is a perfect example of where the line is drawn between fanfiction and plagiarism. Fanfiction haters take note.

Distance Between the Source and Fanfiction )

Embedded Fanfiction )

Paid and Unpaid Tie-In Novels )

Subversive or Transformative Fanfiction )

Character Displacement - Alternate Universes )

Character Displacement - Crossovers )

Character Displacement - Remakes and Remixes )

Author Reaction to Fanfiction )

Fanfiction Plagiarism )

Fanfic Leeches? Perhaps Symbiotic is the better word. )

My Point, if I have one.... )

This doesn't mean that more independent, distant fanfiction stories are better or somehow more "valid" (whatever that means) although it looks like the March-es of this world are more likely to win a Pulitzer. But the various types of fanfiction stories have different aims, and are trying to accomplish different writing challenges. What the different types of fanfiction have in common with each other is the intention to explore the characters and facets of the original writer's world.

I think I've written this long post just to avoid all the work I'm supposed to be doing right now. Do me a favor and if you comment, be patient about the lack of replies? It's going to be a week before I finish finals.

ETA: So I don't have a dozen comments misunderstanding me --

*sneaks in one more answer before I'm caught by the final-fairies*

I didn't say this explicitly though I probably should have. People who call fanfic plagiarism are usually conflating "plagiarism" with "lack of originality." (I should probably add that to clarify, thank you.) Some don't know any better, others count on people not knowing any better so that any argument against them sounds like hair-splitting.

I return to plagiarism at the end, but mostly I'm addressing the underlying accusation of "lack of originality." That's why I begin with Wide Sargasso Sea and March (obviously not plagiarised) and set them alongside fanfiction that does exactly the same thing as those two, is similarly original and quite far from the source material. I'm addressing both actual plagiarism and what they really mean by "plagiarism" at once.

Then I address the "yes-buts," because it is true that not all fanfiction is far from the source. So I analyzed the distance of various texts from their source and what that says about their "lack of originality."

There's a little bit about copyright in there with the discussion of fanfiction authors' attitudes about copyright with eachother, because people also conflate "plagiarism" with "breaking copyright" and "lack of originality," but I don't go into it. I probably should draw that point out more clearly. I just didn't want to get into a legal digression since the whole point is to avoid the legal nitpicking and address the underlying issue.

I've tried to look past the word "plagiarism" into what's really in question.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
How To Keep Your Challenge Committments - or - Strategies For Challenge Success. )

Why Does It Matter? The Cost To Your Self-Disclipline )

All is not lost. If you didn't make your challenge deadline(s), you may just need to reexamine your motives and your strategy for writing challenges.

The Writing Challenge requires certain time management skills that can be learned. It's not a coincidence that the "busy" people in fandom who have the least actual time are the ones who manage to write for four or five challenges while working full-time, running an RPG, and juggling committee responsibilities (I'm looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] femmequixotic).

#1 - Should You Sign Up At All? )

#2 - Writing Stages And Planning )

#3 - Uh-Oh. )

#4 - Dealing With The Guilt )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
A friend of mine got into a discussion about which of her fandoms were wankiest (I think the specimens were House, Stargate Atlantis, and Supernatural, but don't quote me on that). It got me thinking: how would you, in a fair and impartial fashion, measure the wankiness of a fandom?

I'm far too lazy (or busy) to seek the figures for a comparison of fandoms but thinking about it on the bus I did manage a formula worthy of an Excel spreadsheet.

Quantitative Measures )

Qualitative Measures )

General Guiding Principle )

A System of Classifying and Ranking Wank )

Splashiness )

If I cared enough to do the research...

So there you have it. A method to determine the wankiness of your fandom of choice. I'm far too tired, lazy, busy (throw in "z" word of choice) to do the work of getting actual statistics. But if you're interested, drop it in Excel, plug in the numbers, and see what happens.

You might be surprised at which fandom is actually the wankier. Conventional wisdom says that the wankiest is Harry Potter. I haven't run the numbers, but I doubt it.

*tips hat*
*exits stage left*

* = Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] sociofemme. *roars with laughter* There may be a reason I'm not running the numbers. 1 + 3 + 4 in fact does not equal 12.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I've been following the whole debacle where two fan artists who posted Harry Potter drawings have had their journals suspended, all their unrelated journals suspended, and been issued permanent bans from LJ. It's now officially called boldthrough. The fact that LJ tried to cover its ass by unlinking deleted journals (thus no more obvious [livejournal.com profile] icarus) has irritated me the most. Cowards. Pick a policy, make it clear, and stick with it. Then you don't need to cover your ass when you've followed your own damned rules.

I described the whole situation to WG and he got that narrow-eyed look he gets when he's seeing through the bullshit. The guys at his work says he looks like a cop, and I agree.

He said finally, "They're being threatened at LJ."


Based on the Rolling Stone article, Perverted Justice is just another hate group, one that's got a popular target. Like the KKK in the post-Civil War south.

The real fear is not online predators. It's a fear of technology with "online sex predators!" as a buzzword.

Regarding moving to another service:

It's hard for me to move. I'm scattered across four fandoms. The HP readers and friends might pack up and leave while the Stargate Atlantis and Supernatural people stay put. Wherever we go, we'll face the same problems from people who can't distinguish between art and reality.

I support the idea of a fan-created blog network, and I think femmequixotic's response -- "Let's think it through first" -- is the right one.

That's how I left Earthlink. I didn't get up in arms or inconvenience myself.

- First I bought my Slashcity account and moved all my fics to it from my old Earthlink page.
- Then I changed whatever links to my old site I could.
- I added new fics, got everyone up to speed and in the habit of using my new site for about six months beforehand.
- My next move should have been a redirect to the new site but I didn't know how to do that.
- I'd already moved my email to Yahoo and Gmail.

Finally, Earthlink pissed me off one more time, with a service outage for three days that they didn't even apologize for. When I canceled my service, I was transfered to a hard-sell guy in India.

Hard sell guy: "But you will lose all your contacts to your email account."
Icarus: "I use gmail."

He never brought up the web space which was the main thing keeping me there. I guess he understood I was serious.

Make it easy for yourself to move:

1) Go back through your posts and link all your art and fanfiction to a website or archive. If you have a comment feature there, so much the better. This has the plus of enabling you to track hit counts on your stories and protects you from any problems whether you leave or not (Slashcity.com is one fandom friendly option and their tiny plan is only $24 a year).

2) Back up your LJ at your leisure (how-to back-up instructions here). I found this process excruciatingly slow, by the way (archiving program LJArchive here).

3) Post elsewhere as well as in LJ from here on out. I understand if you use Semagic (download Semagic XP version here) you can post to multiple journals at once ([livejournal.com profile] snapetoy's how-to post to multiple journals here). That could save you many headaches as you're backing up every time you post.

4) Keep up on [livejournal.com profile] fanarchive and the latest fan efforts to create our own service. Do a little research. ([livejournal.com profile] fandom_flies is one community tracking the progress and direction of an exodus.)

Once you have a better alternative, or your flist is emptying like rats on a sinking ship ... all you have to do is turn the key in the ignition.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
Haven't you always wanted to write a DVD commentary on one of my stories? Surely it's your "Life Goal." If so, here's your chance at last.

[livejournal.com profile] seperis and [livejournal.com profile] general_jinjur are coordinating.

You can sign up for the glory here.

I'm doing one. Like a lunatic I've signed up (to commentary?) (to comentate?) to do a commentary on In The City Of Seven Walls. It's just occured to me that Seven Walls is long, isn't it?

ETA: Hockey stop. Scrreeeek.

Apparently the DVD commentary meant only the line-by-line type of commentary. I want to be able to structure it the way you would a documentary instead of slavishly following the story structure, paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line. [livejournal.com profile] seperis and [livejournal.com profile] general_jinjur have been very nice and offered great solutions if the issue were the length, but I'm trying to explain that I want control over the structure of the commentary.

I'm not a fan of line-by-line commentary to start, but Seven Walls in particular would become unfocused and diffuse after the first 50 pages of commentary or so. I don't think it would work.

I need to get ready for the second day of figure skating competition this afternoon. I'll post and ask for creative ideas on how to solve this from you guys after I get back.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
How does Stargate Atlantis rate in online popularity?

We can use fanfiction as a benchmark for how popular the Stargate Atlantis fandom is compared to other fandoms. My statistics are taken from fanfiction.net, the largest fanfiction online archive*, which receives 9,700,000 impressions per day according to Alexa. As of June 25th, 2007, fanfiction.net was the 193rd most popular site on the Internet, drawing more traffic than MSNBC. Actually, a lot more traffic than MSNBC.

Fanfiction is a huge online draw. Therefore it can be used as a general measure of the online popularity of a show.

The number of stories measures the level of activity in the fandom. )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I now understand why people read Fandom Wank.

I ran across posts about the race wank (and heard about it from [livejournal.com profile] amothea earlier today), then poked at them curiously. Oh, so hard to follow when both sides -- or multiple sides -- are upset, and not fun reading the anger, not fun at all.

Now I see that Fandom Wank takes the whole thing and makes it simple. Turns it into a few sound bites, and what's more, strips out the anger (and replaces it with mockery).

Having been wanked, I know the process is:

Step 1 - A fight!
Step 2 - Anonymous people report it on [livejournal.com profile] wank_report, or Clairvoyant Wank on journalfen.
Step 3 - Fandom Wank picks a side and writes a flippant gloss of the fight.

I know in Step 3 the substance is lost. Nuance is not hilarious.

But on the other hand, when people are getting very huffy, and the argument has been spiraling out of control for days, and the 20 dollar words are piling up to prove that one side is more intelligent ergo more deserving of support than the other, and the sentence length starts to rival Tolkien... it's a relief to find a simple version.

The gloss and picking sides isn't fair to either side, but man. When you guys are fighting, you mind posting a Cliff Notes version?

In other news...

How to reply to an ad for a free futon frame on Craigslist:

Hi. My name's X. I have a truck to pick it up. Here's my phone number.

How NOT to reply to an ad for a free futon frame on Craigslist:

Hi. Is a queen size the same as a full size? What color pine is it? Is it the kind that sits on the floor? Does it fold up? Is it possible to see a picture? What are the measurements of a queen size futon frame?

Guys. Who would you call back?

Answer the ad with your definite interest. Then ask all the questions over the phone.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
About eight years ago I stumbled across a debate about Christopher Tolkien's collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's 13 volumes of notes The History of Middle Earth. The question: is it canon?

At the time I didn't understand the debate. What? Tolkien wrote it, right? So it counts as canon. Of course it does!

Or does it?

Now with the impending Encyclopedia of Harry Potterness, I understand why it's a question.

In the case of Tolkien's notes, they were compiled by his son, not Tolkien, and many of the working notes were at odds with what ended up in the actual Lord of the Rings. Because they were notes. And nothing more.

J. K. Rowling on the other hand will be overseeing her own project. Tying up all the loose ends of canon in her own way, on her own terms.

My answer to that: Nuh-uh. No way. She's alive, she can still write more books. In this case the Encyclopedia is an end run around expanding her own canon. It's cheap, spurious, and easy to throw out answers in an interview or slap together entries for an Encyclopedia. She can write all the stories she wants in her mind -- without giving us full and complete actual stories. She doesn't have to go through the hard work of processing the complete universe that creates a canon.

I think it was Orson Scott Card who pointed out that a story starts to write itself, it begins to take off of its own accord and run with your pen. The reason why she's contradicted some of her own answers from interviews in the past is because the creation of a story, of a canon, is this process. Writing will change what you "mentate" and "think through" with your purely intellectual faculties.

I don't accept this cheap shortcut of hers. Unless she takes the time to pick up her quill pen and write us a real story, I do not accept the Quik-Quotes Quill version of a canon.

P.S.: Whether or not the Encyclopedia agrees with my fanfic doesn't affect me in the least, because the vast majority my HP fics were written pre-Half Blood Prince and aren't canon compliant in any way. This is just my little manifesto on what is and isn't canon.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I didn't post this weeks ago when I was buried under comments and RL, but the more I read about FanLib and ff.net, the more enthusiastic I become about [livejournal.com profile] fanarchive.

We need a new doorway. While I've never been against ff.net and I've often sent new writers there to test their wings unobserved in a giant fanfiction warehouse, I think we definitely need a new doorway to fanfiction, one that's run by fanfiction writers. So here's the announcement I neglected to post before:

(This announcement is being forwarded from the fanarchive community on LJ.)

A group of fanfic fans is forming to set up a nonprofit organization for collective fannish projects, including building a central fanfic archive. We are setting up shop in the fanarchive community on livejournal, located here:


A couple of big updates have been posted today (Monday June 4), including the basic outline of our organization structure and our call for volunteers. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please stop by, give us your thoughts, and sign up for announcements!

Here are the two posts:

The Organizational Structure

Willingness to Serve

If you don't have an LJ account, you can subscribe by email with this handy free service:


All you need to do is paste in the following URL:


(If you use an RSS newsreader, you can use that same URL to subscribe to the news feed.)

You also do not need an LJ account to make comments on posts -- please just remember to put your name/pseud somewhere in your comment, so everyone knows who is talking, and include your email address so others can reply to you directly if you want.

If you would like to catch up on the last week or two of discussion, a helpful summary post is up here:


Thank you!

-- [livejournal.com profile] astolat (otherwise known as shalott)

Come on in, the water's warm.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Remember FanLib and their connections with Hilary Rosen and RIAA?

I was having trouble understanding who RIAA was and why those connections were problematic, though I followed that under FanLib's associate, Hilary Rosen, RIAA was all about scraping money for the suits at the expense of the artists. With a little more digging (thank you [livejournal.com profile] rez_lo) I learned she helped criminalize fair use even where no copyright had been violated.

Most of us know that fanfiction relies upon fair use as our legal cornerstone. Undermining fair use is bad for fanfiction writers. Really bad. I've put Rosen on my dartboard as an enemy of fanfiction.

But now I have a clear picture. RIAA is a bunch of assholes who threaten dirt-poor college students with lawsuits for illegally downloading music. Or! Those lucky kids can settle for between $3,000 - $5,000.

Apparently, RIAA has leaned on universities (I imagine by telling them if you don't help us, we'll sue you instead) to send letters on their behalf. At least one university stopped short of giving RIAA students' addresses outright at any rate, though their lawyers are running scared.

University students get a threatening letter via the nice folks at RIAA. )

Now that I have this pretty snapshot of RIAA -- what on earth is FanLib doing mixed up with these guys?

(I've turned off comments because I have to focus on writing right now.)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Methods of Manipulation: Heatherly's Post and that Queasy Feeling

A few of you might know that I did roughly six years of research into LGATs (large group awareness training) and cult methods of linguistic manipulation. I say "six years" because it was more than that, but I picked the subject up and put it down many times and only seriously dedicated time to it from 1996-2002. I relied heavily on research by Marc Galanter of the World Health Organization, as well as psychologists such as Dr. Margaret Singer and a local psychologist I'll call "B" who had 12 years of experience with former Scientology members. I also attended two Est trainings (the children's training and the adult training, though apparently it's called The Forum now), and attended LifeSpring years later as well.

So, yeah, I know what their methods are and can recognize them.

What sparked my interest was my mother's involvement in Est in late 70s to mid-80s. She went very high in the hierarchy, was part of an elite group called the GSLP (Guest Seminar Leadership Program) and was flown to meet with the head of Est, Warner Erhardt. Her role was to sell Est. For me, cults are not a huge scary Thing Out There. Because of my mom's involvement I more or less have one in my back yard, so-to-speak. I know people in cults the way most people know their mom's bridge club, or the local PTA.

I find [livejournal.com profile] heatherly's post highly manipulative. It uses many of the same linguistic techniques I found used by Est and LifeSpring, whether [livejournal.com profile] heatherly was conscious of this or not. While the content of [livejournal.com profile] heatherly's post bothered me, these methods of communication disturbed me more. There's no doubt in my mind that [livejournal.com profile] heatherly means well, but most people who use these methods have extremely good intentions, so much so that they don't question the means.

My purpose is two-fold: to debunk [livejournal.com profile] heatherly's post, and to provide interesting information on how cults convince people using [livejournal.com profile] heatherly's methods as an example. Hopefully this demystifies cult methods, and gives people the tools to dismantle [livejournal.com profile] heatherly's argument. I could have just as easily used Logic 101 to do the same thing, but the textbook is gathering dust somewhere while cults I know off the cuff. Sorry, I'm lazy.

1 - Invoking a false authority: Why is being a health worker even relevant? )

2 - Equating actual rape with rape stories through juxtaposition: two half-truths to make a whole truth. )

3 - Contradiction and Cognitive Dissonance: People should feel free to write what they choose, at the same time they should only write responsible fiction -- Huh? )

4 - Overriding the Intellect: The ever-effective emotional fog. )

5 - After contradiction and confusion: The repeated phrase goes in. What was repeated? 'I do not like these stories.' )

6 - Peer pressure and fear: Wait. Everyone in the world is on Heatherly's side? )

7 - Deliberately vague and deceptive language: Just what does 'writing responsibly' mean anyway? )

No, no, I'm not saying Heatherly's serving Kool-Aid. )

Reading, fortunately, waters down the effectiveness of these techniques. )

Readers of [livejournal.com profile] heatherly's post who feel queasy about it, but can't quite put their finger on why, should be aware that virtually the entire post is dedicated to one or another of these methods of manipulation.

Even if I agreed with her position, I find these methods to be unethical, damaging when used in concert, dangerous, and flawed. Rather than engage fanfiction writers as equals, [livejournal.com profile] heatherly relied upon coercion and emotional deception.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
What Is This Pornish Pixies of Which You Speak?

We fanfiction writers and readers wish that people who stumble on this odd thing we call "fandom" would take their time to learn what it is. Look around. Read some of our better stories (instead of selecting something at random, and really, would that even work in a book store?). Get to know us before you pass random ill-informed judgments.

Now that [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies has come into the limelight because of Strikethrough 2007 to a variety of fandoms, I'm going to ask other non-Harry Potter fandoms to do the same. I'm seeing [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies used as an example of "fanfic I wish didn't exist" in some fandoms, and I find that distressing, given [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies's history in the Harry Potter fandom.

But you don't know that history yet, do you? Give me a moment of your time.

First, Harry Potter is a megolith of a fandom that has kept the hecklers at Fandom Wank entertained for half a decade. The political infighting (a.k.a. "wank") has been in proportion to the size and variety of the HP fandom: immense. It became a by-word. Whenever a new fandom had a lot of wank, the folks at F_W gloated, "This could be the next Harry Potter."

If you wish to understand the history of Harry Potter wank, this well-written editorial (set aside an afternoon), The MsScribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography, covers 2001-2006 and will give you a Ph.D. in that darkest aspect of Harry Potter fandom history.

But it doesn't seem to mention [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies. Well, what was fun for the hecklers wasn't much fun for the participants.

Enter [livejournal.com profile] switchknife and [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies.

After a series of inter-related wanks that embroiled many friends, the prolific slash writer [livejournal.com profile] switchknife, who maintained the popular Switchknife Recs website waved a flag (red? white? pink?), calling for a halt to all the battles. "This is supposed to be fun," [livejournal.com profile] switchknife insisted. "Let's get back to the porn -- the good kind of wank."

Switch created [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies, "The Community You Wank Off To," kicking it off with a series of "write your favorite kink" challenges. Switch's terms (made somewhat solemnly, with a wink):
- Respect other people's squicks. Since this is a pr0n community, there will be depictions of various kinds of sexual practices. Please state warnings clearly before the fic/poem, or place your story behind a cut-tag (as advised above), if you feel that some of your subject matter could seriously upset people. (Examples: chanslash, bloodplay, rape.)

- Respect other people's kinks. Do not tease and/or abuse someone for their particular proclivities, or what they choose to write in a fic. Everyone here reserves the right to perv unchallenged.

It was intended to be short fics only, lunch hour length, but that went by the wayside very early on.

Since that time, [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies has been a sort of Japanese bathhouse of R and NC-17 Harry Potter fic. HP fans take off their fandom affiliations and politics and leave them at the door. "Fluffy Harry/Ron Christmas morning romance" appears next to "Werewolf BDSM Non-con" without a qualm. Slash, (Other?), are all welcome, so long as it's sexually explicit and you leave each other be.

So to stand outside of [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies and use it as an example of "that" kind of fic that "I would never read," misses the point of the community entirely.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The CEO of Six Apart speaks: Well we really screwed this one up.

They recognize they suspended journals that should not have been suspended. Now we'll see what they do to fix it.

In the meantime, my name at Greatest Journal is the same as the one here.

Interesting fun facts about FanLib:

Someone told me the 40 Highlander stories they have are all by the same author. Curious, I checked out the Stargate Atlantis stories.*

Two-thirds, 87 of 137 Stargate Atlantis fics, are by the same two people.

* Yeah, FanLib made its advertising money off me today -- and may I add what a pain in the ass it is to click through stories ten at a time? This is the most awkward, difficult to use site.


icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

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