selenay: (Default)
[personal profile] selenay
I've been seeing bits and bobs floating past on Twitter over the last few days about a wankery situation happening on Tumblr around AO3 (and the existence of "olds" in fandom, heh). It's...a little rage inducing.

If you want to get some good discussion and a bit of background, this post by [personal profile] cereta has some fantastic discussion in the comments about all the issues. From what I can gather we have:

1) Horror at olds in fandom. ie. those of us over thirty. Just...yeah.

2) Fury that AO3 won't let people report fics and get them deleted for abuse/homophobia/whatever. I.e. AO3 will not let them censor content of fics. And by abuse, they mean anything with non con/rape. Fics where canonically gay characters are in mixed-gender pairings. Fics with underage content, which they often define in...interesting ways. They'd be horrified by the Buffy/Giles fic of my youth, that's all I'll say.

3) Some of those young fans apparently thinking Strikethrough was a good thing, because it got the ball rolling on kicking out abusive fic.

I'll wait for you to all stop face palming and hitting your heads on desks.

*muzac plays*

*ticky clock appears*

*refreshments are distributed*

So.

AO3 was built in response to Strikethrough, as a place where fic couldn't be censored in that way. It was built as a place where fandom could own the servers and we weren't beholden to the whims of advertisers and private site owners. Where fics couldn't be deleted at the behest of one person, or one company, because something in it wasn't to their taste. Where the rule "don't like, don't read" would reign supreme.

(One of the specific things I've seen on some of the Tumblr posts is a complaint that "don't like, don't read" might be great for the olds, but waarghbl it's not good enough for me! It exists! It hurts my soul! I might read it despite the warnings and tags and that's not fair! *sigh*)

As long as appropriate warnings (or "choose not to warn") are used--and violating that can get a fic reported and the abuse team will take action--then AO3 won't censor. They won't censor for bad grammar and spelling, no matter how much we wish they would, and they definitely won't make anyone take down their Derek/Stiles fic, or their Ianto/Gwen fic, or their sex pollen non-con Doctor/Missy fic. It was set up that way, because today's "icky non-con, ban it!" fic is tomorrow's "omg teh gays, make it go away!" fic.

Us olds remember the old days. The days when you had to label all slash--even when it was just hand-holding--as NC17 and plaster it with warnings. The days when only certain archives accepted slash at all, and you could get your FFN account or LJ suspended if someone objected to your boy kissing fics, so everything was locked down under f-lock or posted to the adult slash-friendly archives with a thousand warning pop-ups. The days when RPF was never to be spoken of because almost no archive accepted it. The days when we all danced around carefully because at any moment, our favourite fics could be deleted and never seen again if a site advertiser threatened to withdraw funding.

Trust me, that was not a good time. Everyone freaked out about Strikethrough because it was the start of a slippery slope. Nothing deleted was illegal, even though it wasn't to many people's taste, and it was only matter of time before they came after the less problematic stuff.

I may not like what you say, but I'll defend your right to say it (or read/write/art it) to the death.

I think there's a multi-layered problem. Fandom has splintered since the Strikethrough days, and we've all wandered off to different places. Back when I entered fandom, we all lived on the same mailing lists and LJs. Us babies (I was a mere twenty...which wasn't that young, actually) and the "olds" together. We all inhabited the same spaces and the newbies to fandom learned about the old ways, the old history, from the more experienced fandom people. And the newbies opened the eyes of the older fans to some things, too, which caused ructions but enabled us all to learn and change.

Current fandom has splintered and seems to have broken into generational buckets. The youngest part of fandom is on Tumblr and Snapchat. The older part of fandom is on Tumblr a bit, but not much, and many of us have stepped a long way back from it because we're made so unwelcome. We're still here on LJ, DW, Twitter, and Imzy, where the youngs aren't so much. Due to those divides, there isn't that interaction and mutual learning, so the younger fanfolk don't know the history. They don't know why AO3 exists and why we're so passionate about not censoring it. They've never had to creep around on the edges of fandom because they were slashers, or RPF-ers, or wrote explicit fics after FFN banned them.

The divide is also contributing to the feeling that anyone over thirty shouldn't be fannish anymore, and I suspect that's part of the AO3 wankery. There aren't many people from that very young end of the fandom involved with the OTW or AO3, so it feels like the olds run it. We created it, we fundraised for it, we continue to work on it and we're old, by their standards. We should have shuffled off to our graveyards or our adult lives or something.

Except we haven't, because when we were the fandom babies, there were all these fans older than us who were still active and we learned we'll never be too old for fandom. With the divide getting so sharp between the youngest and everyone else, they're not getting that part of the fannish experience, either. They can't imagine being thirty (or forty, or fifty), never mind being that age and still being in fandom.

You've also got the problem that Tumblr-style activism is very different from what we were doing five or ten years ago. It's all about protecting young eyes not just from the content, but from knowing the content is even there. About removing it so it doesn't need to be thought of. For them, "don't like, don't read" isn't enough. They don't want anyone to read it or see it or write it.

When AO3 was first being set up, there were huge arguments over whether warnings should be mandatory. A lot of people are still annoyed that major warnings are mandatory and that their only option, if they don't like warnings and have warnable content in the work, is to use a tag that's basically a buyer beware notice. The kids screaming about AO3's refusal to remove works because they don't like the content would hate a version of AO3 without those warnings.

Hint: it's what fanfic was like for most of us and it's why we still hold to the "don't like, don't read" principle. Hell, AO3 makes that one doable now! I haven't read surprise!rape in years because I don't read anything with "choose not to warn" on. The existence of fic that contains stuff I don't like does not harm me because I don't have to read it. The existence of stuff that's triggery for some people doesn't harm them as long as warnings are used, because they don't have to read it. Having warnings and tags enables people to avoid those fics and even filter them out of searches so they don't have to see them. It's the beauty of AO3.

In the end, the people screaming on Tumblr about AO3 unfairly refusing to censor its content aren't going to get anywhere (hopefully). The worst they can do is refuse to donate to the OTW and boycott the archive. I doubt they donate anyway, and boycotting seems like a "cutting off their noses to spite their faces" move, although I imagine a few will. I doubt that a few dozen people boycotting will change AO3s policy, though. AO3 isn't in danger, but the shouting on Tumblr is alternately rage-inducing, face-palm worthy, and ridiculous, because it's so unnecessary.

If they get really mad, though, they could go away and set up an archive of their own. One where they own the servers and get like-minded fans to help them run and fund the project. Hmm, I wonder what they could call it...

More of the Story

Date: 2016-10-20 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] booktubelover7
In this post, you talked a lot about how fandom on the internet works for older people, and how the younger generation doesn't know about it as much. As a member of said younger generation, whilst reading this I was wondering more about what the backstory of online fandom is. Just curious, and wondering if there is anywhere I could go to learn more.

Re: More of the Story

Date: 2016-10-21 02:00 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] booktubelover7
Thank you so much! I just got your response, so I still have to read everything and get TOTALLY distracted, but I'll try to remember to write you again if I have any questions. Thanks for taking some time to give me this extensive reply. I have bee curious about some of the history of fandom for a bit now, and though I knew Fanlore was there, its a bit like Wikipedia, totally interesting but completely overwhelming.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-20 10:31 pm (UTC)
spuffyduds: wash of color background, with text "spuffy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] spuffyduds
Well said.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-21 02:05 am (UTC)
tqpannie: (Disney: Tinkerbell Drunk)
From: [personal profile] tqpannie
This.so. much.this.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-21 03:07 am (UTC)
muccamukk: Firey woman's torso. Text: I must say its purely carnal qualities impressed me more than its metaphorical significance. (Books: Smuuuuuut)
From: [personal profile] muccamukk
The thing that gets me, and I know it's just completely pointless because if they don't understand Striketrhough, they probably haven't even heard of ff.net, but we already did this, and it didn't work.

The only thing that taking E-rated fic of ff.net did was make people label them "M." It made the same content exist without a warning. Which was extremely frustrating if you were looking for smut, and an absolute minefield if you were trying to avoid it.

Or back in the listserve days where it seemed like 3/4s of fic didn't have summaries, let alone warnings. Caveat lector indeed!

I have a long list of AO3 gripes, but how they handle warnings isn't one of them.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-21 07:23 am (UTC)
gaspode: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gaspode
This feels like a 'Here we go again" moment .... Said as a member of the even older fan group ...
Edited Date: 2016-10-21 07:23 am (UTC)

In Twilight Zone, Children Protect YOU

Date: 2016-10-24 07:06 pm (UTC)
executrix: (Default)
From: [personal profile] executrix
I can hear Rod Serling saying it...

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-21 06:05 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
You've also got the problem that Tumblr-style activism is very different from what we were doing five or ten years ago. It's all about protecting young eyes not just from the content, but from knowing the content is even there. About removing it so it doesn't need to be thought of. For them, "don't like, don't read" isn't enough. They don't want anyone to read it or see it or write it.

And doesn't that sound familiar? That's the sound of our parents, wanting to ban violent cartoons and video games, wanting to ban YA fiction that has any faint whiff of gayness in it, wanting (basically) to ban anything which caused them to clutch their precious pearls. These Tumblr-activists are effectively recreating the censorship their grandparents wanted.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-22 01:20 am (UTC)
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Default)
From: [personal profile] chomiji
I have to say that the mouthing off about how "old people need to go out and find a bridge club or something" makes me really sad. I spent my teen years being considered weird for liking SF&F, and now kids younger than my daughter are telling me that fandom isn't mine and I should leave it to them and their cronies.

There's also the fact that the kids of our little crowd of gamers and fans seem to *like* hanging with us, in addition to their same-age friends, and we'd go to Katsucon and things as a multigenerational group. So I haven't been exposed to this sort of nastiness previously. (And I miss my grown daughter terribly - she's off at grad school on the other coast.)

I feel sorry that the young people in question don't get along with the older ones in their lives, but attempting to mess with AO3 after all the time and money spent to create it makes me furious.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-22 12:28 pm (UTC)
christycorr: OTW - fandom is my fandom (Fandom is my fandom!)
From: [personal profile] christycorr
If they get really mad, though, they could go away and set up an archive of their own. One where they own the servers and get like-minded fans to help them run and fund the project. Hmm, I wonder what they could call it...

This made me snort.

Yes, yes, this, all of this. I understand that this discourse is wider than fandom at the moment, but I feel like in some ways we Olds maybe should come up with better ways to transmit our history and the whys and the wherefores to this generation of fandom that's up in arms about more censorship on AO3—because even if mainstream political discourse is firmly headed this way, fandom has this approach for very specific and worthwhile reasons, even as it strives to be as inclusive as possible.
Edited Date: 2016-10-22 12:29 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-22 09:01 pm (UTC)
nic: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nic
This post is wonderful. It brought back so many memories (as did the links and later comments)!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-23 12:41 am (UTC)
franzeska: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franzeska
I don't think this is really that much of a generational divide. Racefail spawned plenty of "I should win the ship war because of social justice!" thinking, and I see a lot of familiar faces on Tumblr. (Every X Files BNF ever seems to be on there, for example.)

There are some loud voices in the "AO3 is a cesspit!" camp, and many of them are young-ish, but I see a lot of other young people who disagree with them. They're not as noticeable because they don't trumpet their ages as a way of winning arguments, but I hear from lots of them any time I counter stupid discourse with a dose of history and reality. They're not any happier with their peers attacking people than we are.

The big shift I see is towards a situation where slash is seen as the hegemonic goliath to many a ranty poster's David. AO3 stats posts always get lots of concern trolling about how Fandom Hates Women because ___ % of fanfiction is m/m. You didn't see that in the past because 1. fic archives mostly weren't set up to make pairing category info so easy to get and 2. slash was blatantly a second class citizen on FFN and the like and more prominent on overtly slash-focused spaces in the past, so there was less potential for that "Slash is taking over the default fandom space" feeling. On the other hand, I'm told that early Vividcons had the same whining, only for a numerical analysis to show that slash wasn't any more common than other things--it was just the first time it was treated equally instead of being in a slash-only vidshow or relegated to the late night Not For Children slot.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-25 06:57 am (UTC)
franzeska: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franzeska
More female characters might change my shipping patterns, but a lot of what I like in fic involves machismo and male egos and how they interact with things that are supposed to be threats to masculinity (m/m, penetration, Strong Female Characters). I'll absolutely ship het for something like Sicario (violent action movie where the heroine is surrounded by men and has a fucked up interaction with a scary older badass in a position of authority), but I rarely care about femslash fic or gen friendship fic regardless of what the canon is like. I loved the adaptations of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, and I might vid them one day, but it never occurs to me to look for fic for them. But give me a one-note SFC and two emotionally constipated dudes fighting over her, and I will be all over that OT3.

That's part of why I roll my eyes so hard at some of the faux activism: I like plenty of the things they think I should like, but I get them outside of fic. Fic just doesn't reflect the sum total of my media interests or even my creative output. I know the concern trolls like to bring up people who mostly read fic and don't consume much other media, but I think that's a rare experience unless you're looking at a single month/week/phase. Most of us have a complicated relationship with media and turn to a variety of sources to get a variety of types of needs met.

I mean, I 100% agree that canons with lots of women lead to female-centric gen and f/f fic. The whole reason "fandom" appears to have Too Much Slash to a lot of people is that they (and I) are attracted to canons with hoyay that attract other fans of m/m. We aren't consuming the media that the f/f-focused parts of fandom care about--or at least not in large quantities and not in a way where we pay attention to those fan communities. Birds of a feather and all that.

Yes, AO3's demographics very closely reflect who founded it and who was on their flists as it was starting. Plus Open Doors will import anything, but a lot of what it has imported has been old slash archives. And like you say, there's less incentive to switch to AO3 if you're a het or gen writer on FFN. (Some of the big het fandoms also have their own space. Twilight has a ton of single-fandom archives.)


I do think that Tumblr has less of a Kids These Days problem than it seems. Some of the most vicious dogmaticness I've seen there is from people who took the worst messages of Racefail and ran with them, not from teens who've never heard of LJ. It's obvious when you see a pleasant fandom history post (without too much "Offa my lawn" stuff from the old people): half of tumblr is always reblogging the shit out of those posts with gleeful messages about how grandma dressed up as a dancing penis before they were even born and Star Trek fandom is the best. The key is to find posts that didn't primarily circulate in douchebag anti circles. Tumblr being Tumblr, sometimes it's impossible to get at the contentful reblogs if you don't find the post right away though. Argh.

This, for example, has a ton of responses from people who got into fandom via Quizilla in addition to a very considerable showing of Olds on tumblr: https://fanlore.org/wiki/The_three_generations_of_fanfic

Or this thing I posted last summer that got a tiny amount of pushback and a ton of "Amen!" from all sorts of people: http://olderthannetfic.tumblr.com/post/147307380999/ao3-is-for-all-kinds-of-fanfic

The responses on those posts are just as representative of Tumblr as the dreadful scaremongering in the name of getting rid of all of the Shiro ships in Voltron fandom or magnusbene taking out their mental illness on everyone else.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-27 03:06 am (UTC)
fyrdrakken: (Walpurgisnacht)
From: [personal profile] fyrdrakken
I just checked your friends list for where we overlap, because this comment reminded me so strongly of [personal profile] legionseagle's post some years ago that used Gwen from Torchwood for an example of why female characters written by male writers can come with such unpleasant baggage that female fans don't always want to do much with them, and I wanted to see if there was a fair chance you'd seen it yourself (thereby saving myself the effort of searching it out). Fortunately, it was tagged under "torchwood": Juliet (The Dice Were Loaded From The Start)

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