Whitley | February 28, 2010 | 8 Comments
Even if you don’t have an account at fanfiction.net, you have probably heard about all the crazy stuff going on over there in the Twilight fandom. There is a lot of misinformation floating around, so hopefully this post clears some of that up. If you don’t have an account there but you are wondering why your favorite stories are disappearing from the site, read on.
First of all, in order to really understand why all of this is taking place, you need to understand the history of fanfiction.net. An in-depth summary can be read here, but the main aspect you need to be clear on is the rating system for the site. Twilight Awards posted a great synopsis about this, explaining:
FFn used to have an MA/NC17 rating and an age confirmation tool on their site. And then the lawyers came calling.
They were hit with a bunch of cease & desist letters and threats of lawsuits if they did not put an end to those stories on their site. Why? Because the true copyright holders, the people who own the characters we play with in fanfiction, had a problem with their creations being turned into smut on a site that is hugely popular with underage readers. FFn had two options:
- Get rid of the MA/NC17 rating altogether OR
- Stop allowing fanfiction that included those characters.
Read the rest of the post at the link, but this is a pretty good explanation of why FF.net has this seemingly unusual policy when it comes to explicit content. Also, it has to do with advertising. Many companies don’t want their products advertised on a site where adult only content is displayed. FF.net stands to lose a lot of ad dollars if they bring back the MA ratings, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen, no matter how many pleading emails or mile long petitions they receive.
So for the past few years, FF.net would pretty much look the other way when it came to explicit lemons, enjoying the revenue that results from the traffic of these stories and not following the deletion policy unless a story was reported. That’s where we are now.
A group active on FF.net calling themselves the Literate Union has decided for whatever reason, to target the members of the Twilight fandom on the site. Citing the Terms Of Service (that according to livejournal site twilightenabler, clearly says “No explicit content”) that every member on FF.net agrees to when they sign up, they report stories that violate it.
As you can imagine, a good chunk of rated M Twilight fan fic is in direct violation of the TOS and FF.net has not hesitated to delete more than a few stories with no warning after it has been reported a number of times.
This is where the Literate Union comes in. Stories that are not up to their standards in terms of grammar, spelling and content are brought to the attention of all members. Then they are compiled in a “Shit List” (yes, they really call it that) so members know what to report next. Some members leave nasty warning reviews to new authors, cruelly insult Twilight fans and authors who try to find out why they are doing this, and laugh and gloat every time they check a fic off the list. More on how they operate here and here.
In could-maybe-somehow-be-related-news, if you are an author with work posted on FF.nett and you got an email demanding you take down content, please read Wide Awake author angstgoddess003‘s post on her livejournal HERE. There is something really fishy going on, and those emails may not have been legit. Read more about “James” here. *UPDATE* Another great investigative post HERE!
It’s mean. It’s bullying, plain and simple. But unfortunately, there is not much we, as individuals or a group, can do about it. FF.net is not going to step in here. Even though they stand to lose a good chunk of change if all the Twilight fan fic authors leave and post stories elsewhere and readers follow, they still won’t care. They did just fine before Twilight fans came along, and they will be just fine if we all leave. If it makes you feel better, sign that petition (I have personally signed several) and email the admins. Chances are, you won’t receive a response anytime soon.
So what to do? Well, several of your favorite stories and authors have already moved their work to other fan fic sites. Twilighted and TWCS are two alternative sites that are quickly becoming popular as a result of this drama. I have an account at each, and they are a decent alternative for authors and readers alike. To see if a story you were following has moved to another archive and for a general list of fics moved, check here.
Also, Jeremy and I have started work on another fan fiction archive site, which we are hard at work on as I type this and we will have up ASAP. We are working together to make it as user friendly as possible, so if you have any feedback you want to give while we are still in the beginning states of building it, please feel free to leave it in the comments or send me an email. We are pretty excited to share this with everyone, and we hope to be a safe haven for authors who feel they have no place else to go. Stay tuned for updates on this new project.
In the meantime, we all need to just learn to brush our shoulders off. Don’t let all the drama get to you. This will blow over and things will back to normal soon. If you’re an author, take all the proper precuations to back up your work and reviews (learn how here), and research your options in terms of posting on another archive. Dedicated readers will follow the story anywhere.
If you have any more questions, please post in comments and I will try my best to get answers for you. Knowledge is power in a situation like this, and the more we all know about this situation, the better we can find a solution.