Ummm… I’m not dead yet? I think I’ll go for a walk?
Ok, I first of all wanted to apologize for dropping off the face of the map this past semester; graduate school devours the brain. And then goes back for the spinal cord.
Hopefully, things will be better-organized at some point over this summer. We shall see.
The reason why I’m popping back into view today is because there’s an issue I think everybody out in fandom needs to be aware of; I know that there’s been a lot of talk, and a lot of lj entries, and information on other blogs, and I wanted to add my two cents.
The issue is FanLib, the new website which is claiming, with sparkles and feathers and lots of smarmy self-congratulation, that they represent a WAY TO BRING FANFIC INTO THE MAINSTREAM, and isn’t that wonderful, and don’t all of you little fanfic writers just love and adore them for their brilliant, brilliant, shiny plan!
Because what they want to do is take your fanfic and use it to make money. Not for you, the fanfic writer; not even for the people who came up with the characters and situations we so gleefully play with. They want to make money for themselves (although they will provide the occasional t-shirt or gift certificate or other contest prize). And if, say, somebody has a problem with the idea of for-profit fanfic using their characters? Well, then FanLib will cheerfully let them sue you. It ceases to be their problem. The fact that fanfiction writers might prefer not to be dragged into the limelight, really don’t care about making money as long as they get to keep playing with what they love… all of that seems a bit too much for the FanLib types to wrap their brains around.
Yeaaaaahhhh…. Ok, the myriad of problems with this have been discussed and analyzed by lots of people, far better than I could do it. For a good summary, including lots and LOTS of excellent comments, with links to other parts of the debate (including some examples of the horrible advertising FanLib thought would win over fanfic writers…):FanLib Debate, summarized
(And, of course, many props and many thanks to Prof. Jenkins for letting all of this take place on his website) Now, one of the main points of that post was that Chris Williams (“and his staff,”… *eyebrow*) was going to deign to respond to Prof. Jenkins (instead of, say, a writer of fanfic). He/They have since given their official response, and here it is (with, again, some excellent analysis and comments, particularly by /pine).FanLib’s Response
Without repeating everything that everybody says in response to CW (and his staff!), I would just like to say that the amount of condescension, the ignorance of the fan community that they claim to be serving—a community which they seem to feel should be grateful to FanLib for what they’re doing—is just staggering. I’m not sure there’s an actual ANSWER at any point in that entire response. There’s lots of self-congratulatory back-patting and “Oh, the fans just don’t understand how wonderful we are,” and they apparently did rewrite the Terms of Service to make them somewhat less egregiously horrible, but the main problems still remain.
Among other things, when you register for FanLib, they ASK YOU FOR YOUR FFNET PASSWORD. And why, may you ask, do they ask you to do something which every Internet user should by now know you should never, ever do (ie, give out your ID and password)? Well, so that that happy FanLib bot can go and automatically import all of your FanFiction.net work over into FanLib. All of it, apparently. Without asking you if, say, you WANT to move Story A or Scenario B.
The end result of this, as some of you have probably noticed, was that FFNet got attacked by bots, resulting in bandwith issues, leading ultimately to the additional log-in feature where you have to type in characters to prove that you are not a bot. To me, the fact that FanLib was pulling this stunt smacks of deliberate sabotage of another fanfic site. I mean, asking people for their IDs and passwords so that your bot could go raid the other site and take up its bandwidth? A site that you are competing with, and clearly trying to replace? That’s just poor form.
In addition, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about poor site layout, bad navigation, and generally bad design.
Short version: I would not go near this site with a ten-foot pole, and I highly recommend that everybody else stay away from it as well. These guys seem to have thought they had found an easy way to make money off of the work of fans, don’t seem to have actually done analysis of the demographics, composition, or culture of the fan community (the fact that most fanfic writers are female, and that many of them are in their twenties, thirties, forties, etc., and are very well-educated professional people, seems to have come as a complete shock), and have handled the ensuing bruhaha with a mix of defensiveness, whining, and condescension. There is nothing good about this, guys. And the worst-case scenario, that FanLib’s idiotic “for-profit” model brings down the wrath of the copyright holders upon fans everywhere, resulting in blanket condemnation of fanfic as illegal… yeah. Nothing even a little bit good.
(and now, back to my regularly scheduled work-stress...)