dejana: (As In Autumn)
This overdue post of musings is finally brought to you by the three-hour wait for my flight to California (DISNEYLAND OMG YAY).

It's been said (occasionally by myself as well) that for those who hope to eventually become published authors, fanfic is like writing with training wheels. Now that I've been putting more effort into original work, I've come to feel fanfic is more like driving a go-cart. You get the basic experience of driving in the relatively safe and simple environment of a closed track, a predefined loop that never changes. You could jump the rails if you really wanted to, but if you tried to take it out on the interstate you'd be in trouble.

When I first got my driver's license, I found my grasp of the city I'd lived in all my life was not as solid as I thought. I had no idea what the quickest route from A to B was. For a while, I subconsciously stuck to the bus routes because those were the directions I knew. It took time and practice before I learned where all those less-traveled roads go. As I've been working on original fiction, I've often felt like I'm wandering an abyss. There's so much more to be explored and decided on, a whole wide world without limits to travel. The closed environments I'm used to have become a bit of an obstacle. I have to remind myself that I'm not driving someone else's car on someone else's path anymore. I have to worry about oil changes, and fuel prices, and whether that "Bridge Out" sign I just passed was something I should've paid attention to. It's a different experience than I was expecting.

This isn't meant to degrade fanfic authors in any way, btw. I haven't jumped ship completely; getting a car hasn't stopped me from hopping into a go-cart once in a while. It's fun going fast, and racing your friends, and if you crash it's unlikely you'll be scarred for life. But in the end, you're on a defined track on someone else's property. There's a big, complex, wide-open world outside the amusement park, and it's a much bigger leap to go from a go-cart to a real car than to take off training wheels.
dejana: (NaNo 2008)
(Subject line in reference to myself, of course, not anyone else. ;P)

The Good and Bad of NaNoWriMo

These are some things that have occurred to me over the course of this thing called NaNoWriMo. It's likely these are things that are incredibly obvious to everyone else, and I'm just the idiot who clued in last, but too bad, I'm writing about them anyway. :P

NaNo is about speed. Duh. Everyone knows that.

What's important are the implications of that mantra. Quantity over quality. A completed product over no product at all.

That does have its good side, which is pretty well-covered on the NaNo website. The cruel inner editor we all carry can be paralyzing. Many people will never write that novel they dream of because they'll always run into that wall of "I'm not good enough, I'm wasting my time on this." NaNo punches through that wall, and that's good. You produce something, in a situation where you would have had nothing. It's a starting block, a leap over that first hurdle, and for those who are a bit shaky on the writing thing (or the self-confidence department) it can be exactly what they need. It's for that reason that I do, and will continue to, react defensively when people in the industry bash NaNoWriMo and the writers who do it.

On the flip side, however, you have the people who already write reasonably well. If you know me at all you know how I am about ego, so it may surprise you to see me admit I believe I fit in that category. xP I know I'm not nearly ready for publishing (dear God, do I ever know that), but I'm not starting from square one either. I do okay. In my position, I find my inner editor to be more of a trusted partner than an evil overlord to be evaded.

It's been very hard for me to shut off that nagging inner voice - not because it's blocking me from producing, but because I'm producing crap and I know I'm producing crap. My NaNo is a giant pile of empty garbage, and it threatens to have the counterproductive effect of convincing me I'm hopeless at original fiction. I can't do my best when I'm speedwriting, and when I'm not writing something I can be proud of, I'm not motivated to write at all.

I'm still going to do my best to finish, because I think it would be good to have a completed novel under my belt - even if nobody can ever read it on pain of their brain melting out their ears. I'm just glad I picked a fluffy, relatively superficial story for this that I won't mourn too much over wasting. Who knows, I might be able to save it with extensive editing. But if I can't, I won't cry over it, and it'll at least give me a base level of practice for original work.

The saddest part is I'm pretty sure my first serious attempt at a fiction novel, five years ago, in college, before I got any practice or feedback through fanfiction, was better than the NaNo I'm writing now.

Speaking of fanfic, I'll stick my neck out and admit I've never been pleased with fanfiction being permitted for NaNoWriMo. Speaking as someone who's done both, writing a novel-length fanfic and writing a 100% original novel are not the same kind of accomplishment. They both take effort to do well, definitely, but they're not the same. When I mentioned this somewhere, it was pointed out to me that NaNo is not about the quality level of the work. I've always been one to argue for doing your best in all things, but now that I've given it more thought, I have to admit that's true. When the focus is on achieving a result, any result, the content of the product doesn't matter as long as it's done.

And that's good, for some. But I don't think that's for me.

(While I'm here, as of this Saturday we will be at the halfway mark, so this weekend I'm going to be pruning my list of writing buddies on the NaNo site. I think as of Saturday it's safe to assume anyone still showing a word count of 0 decided not to do NaNo this year, and since the site never fixed the bug that limits the buddies display page to 11, I'd like to see the word counts of the buddies who are participating. If I remove you and you want to be added back on, let me know.)

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16,614 / 50,000
dejana: (Susan - Duty)
My first intentional meta... what am I getting myself into? xD This was sparked by a conversation with [ profile] nephthysmoon. We were talking about [ profile] fandomsecrets and some of the more disturbing stuff that shows up there, and I was reminded of some thoughts I've been mulling over for a while.

The internet as a community is a double-edged sword. It shrinks the world and brings you closer to millions of people you never would've had a chance to meet. No matter how obscure your interests are, the internet makes it possible to make friends who share them.

On the one hand, that leads to the creation of places like fandom, where you can squee about what a hot couple A and B are without getting funny looks. People will even join in. It gives you a place to fit in, where your unusual interests are normal, even popular. On the flip side, the same goes for interests that aren't innocent and harmless. I won't invite drama by giving examples here, but I'm sure everyone can think of at least one online community that encourages harmful behavior.

Being an outcast is tough. People don't have a lot of control over what they're interested in, and life can be very lonely when no one shares your obsessions. The internet provides a support system for such people, a refuge from a society that would pressure them to conform. Peer pressure does, however, serve a purpose in that it keeps humanity more or less on the right track (as defined by the majority). On the internet, positive influences are reduced or removed along with the negative. Most people would agree that spending your entire life living in your mom's basement is a bad plan. On the internet, Joe Schmo can join up with the Basement Dwellers 4Life Club (my apologies if such a group actually exists xP), which will tell him that no, in fact living at Mom's into your 50s is a smart and reasonable thing to do. With his online friends on his side, Joe can easily ignore offline advice suggesting he move out.

Of course, society's definition of normal isn't necessarily the best way to go. Maybe we'd all be better off living in our moms' basements, who knows. If you want an offline and an online life, however, you have to maintain some awareness of the boundaries of "normal" society. At least enough to put down the keyboard, put on some appropriate clothes and go to work without getting fired.

So how do you know when your fangirling is edging dangerously close to marrying someone on the astral plane? Since the internet makes it easy to surround yourself with people who agree with you and seal yourself off from unwanted peer pressure, you're pretty much left with the responsibility of policing yourself. It's all on you to set limits for yourself, and to be aware of where you are in relation to them.

Or, maybe this is where the wank communities come in.

Wank/drama communities exist primarily for entertainment, but they also provide a harsh dose of real-world normality. They're fellow fans and normal people who will point and laugh when you've gone too far. They bring back a bit of that peer pressure element, and provide a benchmark of where the red line stands. Now, I've been teased plenty in life, and I'd normally be the last person to suggest that as a positive force, but there are two key differences between fandom mockery and those kids laughing at you on the playground. First, in fandom you almost always have like-minded friends on your side, so you can ignore it and go on with whatever you were doing if you want to. Second, most often these are your fellow fans teasing you, people who share your fannish interests. These are the kids you're building sand castles with who look at you funny when you start eating the sand. If even your fellow fans think you've gone too far, you might want to reconsider what you're doing.

Again, you could argue that eating sand should be more accepted on the playground. If you want to live your life 100% your way, it's your choice to do so. And wank communities aren't the fandom government any more than they're the fandom police. They're made up of a bunch of random people like any other community; their judgments can be flawed and there's nothing mandating you listen to anything they say. I just find it interesting food for thought.

This may be old meme, I don't read a lot of meta, but it's a new viewpoint for me. A lot of people look down on wank communities for picking on people and not making any positive contribution to fandom... but do they, after all? Even unintentionally?
dejana: (Susan - Duty)
First, some follow-up to this post.

It's become evident that FanHistory on the whole is far more about generating revenue for its owner than being a resource for the fandom it's supposed to serve. Some pretty damning evidence was provided in the comments on my initial post, but [ profile] liviapenn has a far more comprehensive writeup about it: [link] I would hazard a guess that this is why this entire issue hasn't shown up on the Journalfen wank communities; it would be serving [ profile] partly_bouncy's goals.

The [ profile] astolat article has been removed from the wiki and the entirety of FanHistory has been locked down to admin-edit only. I know some people have been removing all mention of [ profile] astolat from their posts to further protect her identity, but from her response to my comment in her post she seems to be OK with the connection, so I'm leaving it.

There's possibly a troll running around the various posts on this subject, but as there's no proof at this point, I give the benefit of the doubt. [ profile] partly_bouncy does have some supporters.

I will say this. We are clearly dealing with someone who knows how the game works. If the MsScribe saga has taught us anything, it's that conspiracy theories sometimes turn out to be true. I hope that this time around, we've all learned the tricks of the trade well enough to foil [ profile] partly_bouncy's attempts to use them.

Second, there are some things I feel I should come clean about. The following isn't all that relevant to the [ profile] astolat incident, because when all's said and done the fundamental issue here is that it is Not Okay to post someone's real-life information without their consent. The websites and individuals involved don't really matter. The right to anonymity should be respected. But as the overall topic is expanding into a more general discussion of FanHistory itself, I feel it's only fair to be up-front about my background and position.

As I explained in some of my comments on my initial post, I've never been a supporter of OTW. When the whole thing started, as the fanarchive concept, I was the admin of a multi-fandom archive I'd been slowly building for two years as an alternative to things like and FanLib. I was working alone, and wasn't well-known in fandom, so it was slow going. When I saw the overwhelming response to the fanarchive idea, I was jealous. I wasn't a BNF; I didn't have thousands of contacts ready to support my project like these people did. I was also a bit offended by the "new frontier" tone of many of the comments and posts; it seemed none of the idea's supporters were aware that multi-fandom archives and fandom wikis and things already existed. Had anyone even looked to see if there was already such a community out there waiting for members? When owners of existing resources spoke up about their sites, they were brushed off, and I began to suspect a superiority complex. I may, of course, have been entirely wrong, but that was the attitude I perceived.

So when FanHistory emerged as a vocal opponent of OTW, I saw us as being in the same boat. We were both independent labors of love (or so I thought) being ignored because we weren't BNFs. So, although I never reached out to [ profile] partly_bouncy herself, I supported FanHistory as much as I could by mentioning it on my forum and journal and encouraging people to create pages there. I created an account and added some information myself. I liked the idea of a fandom wiki and wanted to support the person who'd done it first.

Now, of course, since all this information on [ profile] partly_bouncy's goals and practices has come to light, I am no longer friendly toward FanHistory and am sorry I ever was. In addition, my feelings toward OTW have softened over time. OTW is no longer just about the archive, and its plans include several things that mine don't, so I now recognize it has its own niche to fill. I still feel some bitterness about the whole thing, but with time I'm likely to get over it, and I try to maintain an objective view of issues as they arise.

As it relates to the topic at hand: Before all this happened, I liked FanHistory and I have never supported OTW. I still felt that FanHistory was wrong to connect [ profile] astolat's real-life information to her fandom persona. My position on this issue has nothing to do with a bias toward one site or the other.

On a totally unrelated but completely awesome note, I just read that FanLib is throwing in the towel and shutting down. Score one for fandom vs. commercialism. :D

ETA: [ profile] partly_bouncy has reportedly made an official statement on the whole fiasco at FanHistory. For those of you who don't want to visit the site, it has been reposted on LJ by [ profile] nestra: [link]
dejana: (Susan - Duty)
Overall note: It's been brought to my attention that FanHistory is probably making money off the extra hits generated by this drama. I have rerouted all FH links through an anonymizer to avoid contributing to such revenue. If you'd prefer not to visit FanHistory at all, screencaps of the linked pages are also provided. In the interest of protecting the identity of the fan in question, all links to the [ profile] fanthropology post have been replaced by censored screencaps.

I'm probably inviting wank by making this public, but I don't really care. There aren't any key figures reading my LJ anyway. ;P

So thanks to lol_meme (how's that for a source?) I just found out about this issue that's apparently been going on for at least the past month. Remember that FanHistory wiki I posted about around half a year ago, when I had a moment of ego weakness and wanted a page on there? Well, apparently the owner got her hands on [ profile] astolat's real name. And added said name, and several details of her offline and professional life, to the FanHistory page about her. And if someone tries to remove [ profile] astolat's real-life details, saying "she doesn't want these things linked, please stop," the owner reverses the edits and restores the revealing page. And when challenged, said owner made a giant post to [ profile] fanthropology proclaiming your real-life details fair game if you've ever posted on an archive, made an online journal, or joined a message board.

Revision history of [ profile] astolat's page: [link] [image]
Talk page for [ profile] astolat's listing: [image]
FH owner's rules for maintaining privacy: [page 1] [page 2] (HUGE IMAGE WARNING. Showing all comments as of 3 PM.)

This both pisses me off and freaks me the hell out.

Now, I don't know how [ profile] partly_bouncy got ahold of [ profile] astolat's real name. It's entirely possible it was posted in an obvious place and should have been better protected, and was added to FanHistory without anyone knowing that was Not Okay. Accidental outings happen. But then people tried to remove the info and... the site owner restored it. Forced it back on there like it was some precious data people have a right to know. That's what really burns my cookies.

With this act, FanHistory is doing something not even lol_meme would do to Cassie Clare. Something not even charlottelennox would do to MsScribe. Something not even 4chan would do to all but its most hated enemies, from what I've heard. Putting someone's real identity out there whether they want it to be or not, a piece of information that is absolutely irrelevant to any kind of serious fandom history record. This pushes them firmly out of "media" territory and into "paparazzi."

4chan, people. This makes FanHistory lower than 4chan.

Obviously, there's no law that says unwanted information must be removed. Once you put something out there on the internet, it's technically fair game. But fandom has always had a rather widely-accepted understanding about things. Certain things are Not Okay. If someone posts your fanworks on their archive without your permission and refuses to remove them when you ask, that is Not Okay. What I realize now is, with FanHistory, we now have an entity that flies in the face of all those mores. If it's ever been revealed anywhere, FanHistory feels it has a right to print it, whether or not you object, and the precious line between fandom life and real life will not be respected. Even if it was posted under a friends lock. Even if it was said to a buddy in chat. If it's out there, they're taking it. All for the sake of, I assume, some pompous desire to bring The Truth to the world, whether or not it's actually useful or relevant to anything.

I wonder if this has anything to do with [ profile] astolat being (as I recall) the inspiration behind OTW, which [ profile] partly_bouncy has been a vocal enemy of since the beginning.

On a personal note, I'm soon going to become a bit of a fandom historian myself, but I have already agreed to remove some recovered stories whose authors have contacted me requesting they not be on there. Same goes for the upcoming directory; I won't link to you if you don't want me to. On the flip side of the coin, I've always made a reasonable effort to keep my real name separate from my fandom persona, but with a little Google research I think it's possible to put them together. I never worried about it much, because who's gonna bother to out a minor name like me? But now it seems there is at least one person out there who would not only put time and effort into hunting down my real-life identity, but would force that identity into the public eye whether I wanted it there or not. And all for no other reason than adding one more detail to her precious fandom encyclopedia. My life, for a few extra bytes of data. I wouldn't have much to worry about if I were outed, since I'm not a public figure and I don't produce controversial material, but it's still a very unsettling thought.

I am somewhat ashamed to have ever supported FanHistory or its owner.

ETA: Since I'm sure someone will eventually bring this up. On further investigation it seems [ profile] partly_bouncy thinks [ profile] astolat's real name should be listed since she's part of OTW and they are using real names there. (Since the beginning, though, OTW has had a policy of keeping their OTW faces - their real ones, for legal reasons - separate from their fandom faces, so it's not a connection that was intended to be made.) Regardless, if someone wants their real-life identifying information removed from a fandom site, it should be removed, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Setting that entire issue aside, [ profile] partly_bouncy still opened up a serious can of worms with her [ profile] fanthropology post and its mirroring policy over on FanHistory, whether she intended to or not. Argue [ profile] astolat's case all you want, but the owner of FanHistory has declared your personal information fair game if you have ever interacted in fandom, on any level anywhere, and for me that falls firmly in the category of Not Okay.

ETA 2: Some notes for those of you new to this whole FanHistory thing...

  • FanHistory has a bot that will eventually add a page for you if you have a profile on, if you don't have one already. Yes, that page will only contain very basic information, but more importantly, it opens the door for more details to be added. It creates a "stub" article for the purpose of encouraging people to add more information about you, and increases the chances that some well-meaning someone will stumble upon it and go "Oh, I know this person, but there's hardly anything here! I'll add some more!" without stopping to consider if you want your details on there (or possibly even believing that the presence of the page indicates your consent).

  • FanHistory does have a rule against adding personal information to pages. However, it contains the following exception: If a member of fandom puts that information out there about themselves with the intention of that information being utilized by fandom. (source [image]) As applied to [ profile] astolat, this means FanHistory believes it's OK to include her real name since she revealed it as part of the OTW staff (as mentioned in my earlier ETA). However, it's always been the policy of OTW to keep its board's real identities separate from its fandom identities. I still believe their desire for such separation should be respected.

  • FanHistory does include a procedure for requesting the article about you be deleted. (source [image]) However, the site does not appear to maintain a blacklist of any kind. You may still be mentioned on other pages, and people are still free to create new articles about you. The responsibility is left on you to monitor FanHistory and submit a deletion request all over again if new articles appear. If you are a BNF (Big Name Fan), FanHistory will refuse to delete your page. (source [image])

  • There is also an option to have your article locked so only you can edit it. With the possibility that someone might recreate your article if you have it deleted, the best course of action may be to request restricted control, strip your article down to its basest components, and have it locked so nobody can add any further details about you to your page. Of course, if you are a BNF, this option may be denied to you as well. (source [image])

These rules do provide some restrictions and recourse, but the exceptions made for BNFs are equally alarming. What we have here is a place where BNFs are officially put on the same level as real-life celebrities, where just because they are in the public eye or significant to the community in some way, their entire lives are considered public property. Yes, that is the way the outside world works, but I would ask if this is the kind of attitude we want in fandom.

I will be up-front and say that yes, I do read and sometimes participate in the wank communities on JournalFen. I enjoy a good tale of drama as much as the next spectator. Yes, that puts me in the category of those who believe if you post something on the internet, you should expect the world to read it. But the line between online lives and offline lives has always been an overall respected barrier in fandom. Even in the midst of the ugliest drama, bringing up personal details is always considered taboo by the majority. Your real life is your permanent private property, and if anyone tries to violate that in public, there are usually 50 people ready to jump on that person and lock the information down. I am still firmly of the opinion that if [ profile] astolat wants her real name and details removed from her FanHistory article, even if she is using her real name in her work with OTW, it should be removed from her article. She may be a BNF, but her personal life is still her property, to reveal or conceal as she sees fit. Nobody else has the right to make that decision for her.

If nothing else, I definitely support spreading the word about this, so people will at least be aware of the controversy and can pursue whatever options they desire. Love it or hate it, people should know what's going on so they can make their own decisions about presenting or protecting their information.

Yes, you may link to this post if it helps.

ETA 3: There's a new "advised to add" (whatever that indicates) paragraph on [ profile] partly_bouncy's [ profile] fanthropology post. (link) It seems FanHistory may be willing to work with [ profile] astolat on this issue after all... but that still doesn't make it okay that they posted her information in the first place. I love how [ profile] partly_bouncy's addition uses real names and then links them directly to the [ profile] astolat page. Top form, there.

ETA 4: Hopefully this will be the last edit.

[ profile] astolat has made a post on the issue, containing some helpful tips on how to handle it if you ever end up in a similar situation. [link]

Some other posts on the topic (feel free to offer yours in the comments and I'll most likely add it):

Final ETA: I've made a follow-up post rather than continue adding to this one. [link]


dejana: (Default)
Dejana Talis

About Me

I'm a techie, a geek, a fangirl, and an aspiring writer. I've been in internet fandom since 1996. I welcome new LJ friends, but please allow me some time to get to know you before I friend you back.

I have a tendency to attempt a little of everything, whether or not I have time for it. See my userinfo for more about me and what I do.

July 2015

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