Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Fanfic in Microcosm: fanfiction.net

I can remember when FanFiction.net  first started in the late nineties. It hardly seemed like a viable idea given the inevitable rampant copyright infringement. And yet it prospered. Somehow it seemed to become the norm to tolerate the site (although a number of major authors went on record as not tolerating fanfic and the site respected this) .

Predictably, a lot of the fiction posted was erotic--and this presents something of a double jeopardy (copyright infringement risk, plus obscenity risk). You were meant to be 18 yeas old to join but it was an open secret that the many of the members were younger.

Rather than alienate their core demographic, in 2002 Fanfiction.net decided to lower the acceptable age to 13, and so lower the acceptable rating to 'M' ("Detailed descriptions of physical interaction of sexual or violent nature" not allowed).However quite a few authors claimed an M rating when their material probably exceeded that category. Given that stories are moderated only if reported, they were likely to slip under the radar. (This is, after all, where 50 Shades first appeared).

The latest development started lat in May and has continued into June.  It seems a lot of stories are getting reported and subsequently removed.  The underlying cause seems to be user-reporting, possibly galvanized by "Critic United".

Is this "bullying"?  I would say: no.  It is simply another, somewhat ironic, example of how being tolerated is not the same as being accepted.

See also:
Dear fanfiction.net [June 5]

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