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So you're new to fandom! Let's talk.

It's been a while since I've had to do one of these, clearly it's time again.*

As an older fandom dinosaur (note to you kids in high school: I've been dabbling in fandoms for literally decades) I've had my own share of bumps in the road, hard lessons to learn, etc. It happens. Usually, you find that people are cool and understand social rules, even on the internet. Why, I remember my first week on LJ where I took someone's icon and didn't credit the maker, a BNF, too. The maker emailed me and said, "Looks like you're new. Here's how it works to credit." Thank you, person! I didn't know, and now I did. They weren't shitty about it, they were just making sure I knew what was what. (I'm...going to be shitty about it, fair warning.)

No one likes to come to a new school and not know where to sit, after all, right?

So let me explain the very basics of fanfic and fandom and how we're a community. And you don't fuck over your community (in case you didn't know that already.)

Disclaimers, permissions and blatant theft.Collapse )

I will own that I might be a little grumpy [hurr] given that my smoke detectors all went off last night at 2am for about 15 minutes in a cacophony of evil. Oh, and also because I'm bothered. =/

PLAY NICELY WITH OTHERS. We're a community here. This is meant to be FOOD FOR THOUGHT, not gas on the fire.

*I think my mean girl rants are why someone called me an ego-maniacal shit-heel. *shrug* I've never censored myself, not going to start doing it now.

Comments

( 88 comments — Leave a comment )
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forgiveninasong
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, also, I've linked this post up to the Little Numbers author :)
boro_girl
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
Ugh.

I was in a similar situation just before Christmas. There was a gif set going around Tumblr about Klaine waking up in Vegas having gotten married. This set off my fic mind and I spent weeks plotting something out and scribbling down a few bits and pieces while I had time. When I finished work for the holidays and really started writing I realised I was going to end up with something in the region of 40k words. I'd gotten about two thirds of the way through the plot (and had posted a teaser on Tumblr) and then someone posted a 1,000 word fic from the same gif set.

I was actually debating whether or not to do something about it. Their story and mine had some similar traits but they focused on the morning after and "Vows" was a hell of a lot more than that. I was convinced to go ahead and post because they were VERY different - but I still hesitated.

I just posted "Hindsight" which I'd been developing for a while but stopped when I read another fic which had some similar traits to mine. I waited long enough to be convinced that we were going in very different directions before posting.

I love writing and I love fic and I love putting my thoughts and ideas to characters who are inspiring to me. And if someone posted a (shitty) 1500 word version of Vows I'd be goin' all Lima Heights on them. Kinda how I felt when I read the shitty version of WTS. I know how long I spent on Vows, how many hours straight I poured into writing and editing and research. I can only imagine how much more it was for yours, to craft out this whole world which I still go back and re-read. And my heart still jumps into my throat and I'm still worried for Blaine (even though you assured me during posting it wouldn't be a character death fic!) despite the fact I know how it ends.

I hate that people think that just because we're building sandcastles in someone else's sandbox it means that they're all fair game. I have pretty shells for mine and you have this swell flag on your turrets. And if anyone nicks our shells or flags then we should be able to go and kick them down because it's just not on.

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery but there's "I wanna be like you" and "I'm gonna steal your brain". There are plenty of fics out there I wish I'd written (like yours, Little Numbers, The Sidhe) but I didn't and so I'll just enjoy them and try and come up with new ideas of my own.

It's an awesome one involving this fire fighting pixie who texts the wrong number one day. I'm sure it'll be a huge hit!
stoney321
Feb. 13th, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
I think in instances like you're mentioning (a picture setting off ideas) that it's totally acceptable for you to contact the 1K writer and say, "heads up, I've been working on this, blah blah" and that way it's out there, you know? That you're aware of their story, they're aware of you, and there aren't any worries. (That's what I did, at any rate, with Into the Haze.)

You wrote Vows? Oh, I enjoyed that! (Did you post that under a different user name?) Yes, I'd say yours is a very unique story, too. (I don't even read fanfic when I'm actively writing - unless it's something older and in a different vein. I'm like you - I don't want any bleed through.)

flaming_muse knows how much blood, sweat, and tears I poured into WTS. It's a freaking novel. It's also very special to me, as I'm sure Vows is for you. There's a difference between crafting something meant to stand on its own, and slapping something up for the meme of the day. They both serve a purpose, I'm not trying to negate a fun little one-off, but make it YOUR OWN one-off.

*hugs hugs hugs* Also, lol at your last line! :D
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out_there
Feb. 13th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
And there's a new trend of taking people's well known stories and rewriting it. And then posting them all over the internet.

I do wonder, just a little bit, if it's new fen not understanding the rules of remix/redux challenges and thinking it's a free-for-all. If you really, really want to try rewriting someone else's story, sign up for a chanllenge where everyone agrees and give it a go.

Mind you, the fact that plagarism stop comms actually exist -- and tend to find these shocking examples on the internet -- always makes me sad for our community.
stoney321
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, it absolutely is new fen - they have no idea that there are actually RULES (social, obv.) to participating in a fandom. We're a community, and we've been around for decades, even if a new person has just discovered we exist. Well, Chris Columbus, folks already knew America was here, so...

I think it's predominant in specific fandoms, though - the type that attract young n00bs, you know? Time and experience should straighten them out. (Let's hope.)
sostrate
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:37 am (UTC)
I've had 4 happen to me, and it's annoying as shit. Thankfully the rest of the forum new I was being ripped off by the skeezfuck and shunned him. I never approached the dude about it, but I did ask a mod, who said it wasn't plagiarism because I didn't own the story idea, but it wasn't cool of him anyway.</p>

And this dude knew better! He's my age and has been in fandom for a long time. I think he was jealous that people liked my stuff...

At any rate, well done post. It's important to know and be reminded of this stuff. Like I wouldn't have thought about no 4 until you confirmed that it was a no go.

sostrate
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:47 am (UTC)
Also wanted to clarify that the dude copied my story structure verbatim and had the characters doing the exact same things with the exact same emotional context. I swear I'm not just being twitchy and psychotic, this dude was legit copying me.
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cdvla313
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC)
I remember this happening to my friend, I don't remember the fandom, but someone took one of their stories, changed the names, and reposted it in another fandom. I suppose they were hoping no one would manage to read both since the fandoms were so diverse.

I believe we reported it to whatever comm was hosting the fic, and it got pulled.
stoney321
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
That happens rarely, the name switch? That's why stop_plagiarism exists. Christ, how stupid do you have to BE? This was more, "I'm going to retell YOUR story, not as well, and quickly - with no care for how it's executed. But this and this are changed, so it's all mine, WHEE!"

Good for you and your friend - that was frakkin' blatant theft right there!!
mockingbirdq
Feb. 13th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
As a fellow old timer (listing all the now-defunct fandoms I've been part of is so depressing) it seems like EVERY fandom hits this point for some reason. The only difference is, I think years ago other fans felt much more free to call other fans out for, well, sh*tting where they eat.

The lawsuits! Using any show/character you want is so taken for granted now and we used to just dread getting those damn "cease and desist" emails. Not to mention trying to keep the underaged off your website so you wouldn't have a parent threatening to sue :P

Seriously though, we all work our butts off to make our fandom a vibrant, creative place to play -and regurgitating someone else's hard work makes our fandom LESS of a diverse and amazing place. Feel compelled to "remix" someone else's stuff? Write it in a notebook, stick it on your bookshelf and DON'T publish it online. This is the correct procedure for Mary Sue/Gary Stu fics as well ;)

stoney321
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, without a doubt. It's so frustrating when you've been kicking around a while to have to re-experience all of this shit again. I don't WANT to have to show people how to do things anymore.

I bet you diamonds to donuts none of these n00bs were even AWARE that there were lawsuits. And we're not talking a long time ago, either. Like, what, FIVE YEARS ago?

In conclusion, HEAR HEAR to your comment. :)
dareu2beme
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
It is a little disconcerting when your story suddenly gets popular just for the worry of knock offs.. especially with specific AUs. I wish people would be more original.. I mean, it's FANFICTION, you already have the characters and backstory, can't you at least come up with the front story yourself?
stoney321
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I can honestly say that I've not ever seen the "knock offs" in other fandoms - especially nothing like there is in this one. It's WEIRD.

But yeah, make your own little worlds, folks, THAT'S THE FUN PART. =/
rikibeth
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
One of the hardest things for me, when I decided I had to write my own take on a certain really popular plotline in my fandom (a death fix, I'm predictable), was how to do it without ripping off a certain fic I view as the freakin' Holy Grail of that plotline. Because some of the things in that story were just so logical and inevitable that changing them would blow the entire premise out of the water, as far as I could tell.

I did my best to make it my story. The central pairing's different. Some things that were glossed in the first story, I expanded upon. The first author and I have different views on the not-dead character's backstory, and I tried to bring that into play. I spend more time on the planned future for Mr. Not-Dead, and less on other characters' grief until the reveal - and given the different pairing, that plays out in a different way.

Even so, I knew that the first story was there, and that elements of it might echo. It's like being in charge of a Batman reboot or something. Doesn't matter WHAT you do, the fans are still going to be holding it against the pattern of Miller's Dark Knight or Moore's Killing Joke. You just have to hope that what you've got to say on the subject adds something as well.
iknowitainteasy
Feb. 13th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
First of all, wonderful post and comments!

And then... sigh. These things just give me a headache.
I'm not 100% sure which fic you're talking about, because I've seen two stories similar to LN now. I didn't really care about the first one. Sure, it was weird and just... why would you do it, but that person was kinda nice about it, talked to me and I let it go.

I didn't invent the text format fic, so I don't wanna be a bitch about it. If people feel like writing it, sure, why not.

But over the last couple of days several people linked me to this other story and I just... it's so similar. I don't get it. It's so obvious and that's not something I could/would ever do.
This is where the headache comes in. I'm sure the author didn't mean any harm and I don't want to call them out. But on the other hand... it's not okay. Sigh. Maybe I'm too nice. Or maybe I just shouldn't bother.

I'm not new to fandom (I'm 27 after all and Buffy was my first fandom, I was still a teenager back then), but I'm new to fanfiction writing. Little Numbers blew up so fast and I never would've expected that. Now I have to deal with all this stuff and I don't feel prepared at all. ;) But I'm getting there. I stopped reading other people's thoughts on what should happen in the story and I'm ignoring all the "you should do this" and "you have to do that". Because yes, I want LN to be mine and mine only.

One more quick thing... I got a lot of asks about the popularity of LN and how I achieved that, basically wanting advice on how to get there as well.
And I'm like... no, this is not what it's about. First of all, all I did was post my story on LiveJournal and Scarves & Coffee, that's all it was. And then, I started writing this, because the idea wouldn't leave me alone and it was fun, not because I wanted to get popular.

What is it with kids these days?

PS: Captain Anderson. <333
stoney321
Feb. 13th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
Oh good lord, there are TWO?

Normally I would just roll my eyes, too, but I keep seeing it for so many stories in this fandom, I just had to say something, you know? (And you can keep being nice; I'll be the fandom bitch for now. Hahaha.)

Buffy! That was my first LJ fandom, too. You HAVE to ignore those posts where people try and push you in their direction - it's YOUR STORY. <3

That last thing, "How do I get internet famous?" is CRAZY. I've never understood that. Just having a lot of followers doesn't enhance your online experience. Quality interactions! And you blew up because you're writing an adorable and unique story. :)

*hugs*

I LOVE HIM, Captain, Oh, My Captain! ;D
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hazyjayne
Feb. 14th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
Fantastic post - completely second what you say. Completely sad it has to be said though; as others have said I think it does come down to the mental age of some fandom people.

Realise this is on a slight tangent but I think it does tie into the post: Is it just me or are people in this fandom much more demanding in prompts than in general? My understanding is a prompt can be a word, a couple of sentences or at most a short paragraph. However in this fandom I keep on seeing prompts (especially on kink memes) that are paragraphs and paragraphs long. As an occasional writer I actually find this far more intimidating than much shorter prompts; what if I attempt something and I cover all the points, but the prompter still doesn't like it as they seem to have super specific ideas about what the fic should be? And you know, call me crazy but if you have very specific ideas, why don't you have a go at writing yourself? There are tons of resources out there and plenty of people to help beta or maybe some people are just too lazy.

Sometimes if I see a prompt and I know there is a similar story out there I say "Hey - this story while not completely fitting your prompt is on similar themes and may be of interest", I've had a replies saying: "That's not what I asked for, I want someone to write my prompt". Not even a "Thanks, but no thanks". Unsurprisingly, it kind of puts me off from helping people.

OK, that turned into a bit of a rant. Oops - sorry.

Edited at 2012-02-14 12:51 am (UTC)
stoney321
Feb. 14th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
It's frustrating that it happens, for sure. It's definitely an issue where they've just not interacted in fandom (be they 16 or 46.)

Yeah, prompts are typically a couple or three words. Now it's just "I would like to summarize a book, now write it." Which, hey, if they find someone that likes doing that, mazel! I laughed at your comment, "why don't you have a go at writing yourself?" THEREIN LIES THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM. It's the "gimmie!" factor.

That response would put me off, too. I'd rather post in my LJ asking for three word prompts than deal with that, too. MY SYMPATHIES.

(And hey, this journal of mine is known for people blowing off steam, it's a-ok. :D)
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likeasouffle
Feb. 14th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
Kudos Stoney321. This post has definitely been food for thought.

I wasn't aware that it was bad etiquette not to have disclaimers (except on RPF, where "non-fiction" is helpful to state). I thought it was just common knowledge that someone called likeasouffle on LJ probably didn't create the Glee characters. Do I need to add disclaimers to all my posts?

I saw the Little Numbers homage (or whatever it's being called) and it made me uncomfortable. I wasn't sure if they had permission from the original author, and I didn't bother to click through and see if it was any good. It's good to know I wasn't the only one who assumed less-than-honorable intentions in that case.

Btw I'm here from flaming_muse's post.

Edited at 2012-02-14 02:16 am (UTC)
stoney321
Feb. 14th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say you need to put a disclaimer on every post, although some people do. It really was serious a few years back with cease and desist letters being sent to girls just writing about Buffy and Harry Potter. Scary! I have a general disclaimer on my user info page, and that will suffice, from what I've seen over the years. It's a case of CYA, cover your ass. :)

I had the same reaction as you to the Little Numbers...spin off. (And for the record, LN's author has commented here and she wasn't happy about it, either, but didn't feel like she could/should say something.)

Aww, flaming_muse - my LJ BFF. :D I'm glad you came by! We get a lot of fun discussions over here. (When I'm not making fun of myself, that is. Ha!)
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vicki_rae
Feb. 14th, 2012 06:26 am (UTC)
Yes. This.

mander3_swish
Feb. 19th, 2012 07:49 am (UTC)
this is an epic post of awesome. glad someone is speaking up about this. (wandered over here to see if you'd written any new glee fic I'd missed and found this)

It's interesting watching the hurricane that is the Glee fandom...it's like some bizzaro social experiment. It'll be interesting to see what the fallout is after the series is all said and done.

I come from QaF fandom, where canon is of course closed and generally everything there is calm and friendly nowadays with only an occasional blip of wank...but now that i'm on tumblr occasionally checking through the qaf tags, I see more and more people just finding it for the first time, which is awesome, but also scary because of the fear of them potentially lacking etiquette within a well established fandom.

I wanted to rec you an awesome fic that Closer wrote in the Suits fandom (which, if you haven't watched Suits, you really should...it's delightful...I have this whole Glee crossover going on in my head, but I digress...) it's called 5U175 and it's a really interesting look at fandom in general: Harvey sometimes moonlights as a Star Trek BNF. Mike might have an attitude problem on the internet. TiberiusGhost is strangely compelling, for a recluse who never goes to meetups, and Harvey's finding this kid Photohead vaguely familiar...

See ya around! :) /mander
stoney321
Feb. 19th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is one of those old, tired arguments in fandom. Next up: the right/wrongness of RPF! (Hahaha. NO. I will not start that ball rolling!)

(Also, I'm currently working on another large story, but - as per my usual - I won't post until it's finished. :D)

I was around when QaF was airing and man, was there wank! There are crazies in every fandom, people who don't even realize they're PARTICIPATING in a fandom, and people who just want others to let them do whatever the hell they want. It's incredibly frustrating at times and for Glee, there are SO many people where this is their first actively participating fandom and they just haven't learned that you can't take the "Kurt is forced to marry Blaine because of a law" story idea and five of them write out the same thing. It's boring for those of us reading, one, and two, it's confusing to follow who's forced marriage story is this chapter for?

How do you feel special as a writer when no one can distinguish your words from anyone else?

Thank you for the rec! I watch/write about TV for my job, so it's hard for me to take on new shows, but that is one that several people have told me to pick up during hiatus. And then I have fic to read, too? AWESOME!

<3
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Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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