but you know what i am.

Hi my name's Molly, am I a writer or a woman?| 20|INTP|I post maybe too much about trying to be leslie knope.|

Last update
2022-09-30 18:45:25

    the tiktokification of ao3

    or: some of you fundamentally misunderstand ao3 and it really, really shows

    i was talking about this with a friend a few days ago and since then i've seen multiple posts of various sorts that have just made me think about it more, so. here is me breaking down a disconnect i see particularly with younger members of the marauders fandom (i say marauders specifically just bc that's the only one i'm plugged into):

    okay, so i've seen many (usually younger) marauders fans either talking online about how they wish ao3 was more like social media (specifically regarding algorithms) OR talking about ao3/fanfiction/fanfic writers as if they are operating under the same etiquette/guidelines/assumptions they would bring into social media platforms. this ranges from being mildly irritating to genuinely harmful, and i want to talk abt why.

    first - you have to understand that social media, in this day and age, exists in a profit economy. and when i say social media here, i'm referring to platforms like tiktok, twitter, instagram, etc. all of these platforms exist in a profit economy where content is a product that can be monetized. this leads to a few important distinctions:

    • people posting on these social media platforms are generally posting with the intent to get their content seen by as many people as possible, as quickly as possible
    • they post with this intent because once their content is consumed by enough people, it becomes a product that they can monetize
    • therefore, if that content gets popular enough, these people can become influencers, where content creation is an actual job and their audience are, in a sort of vague and obscured way, similar to consumers purchasing a product

    because of the profit economy surrounding social media, there are certain assumptions + forms of interaction that bleed across almost all social media platforms. the ones relevant to this little essay include:

    • operating under the assumption that anyone posting anything on the internet wants to go viral, ie. be seen by as many people as possible as quickly as possible in order to grow an "audience"
    • these influencers are creating content for us, their audience, so they should want to please us. they should also be trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience. therefore, if we dislike their content, we have a right to make that very, very clear.
    • in that same vein, we have a general right to critique content creators, as they are making a profit and we are the consumers purchasing their product--much like you might feel entitled to a certain standard of service in a restaurant where you are paying for the food.

    when you carry these assumptions over to a platform like ao3, it creates problems. why? in a nutshell: because ao3 exists outside the profit economy

    ao3 is a non-profit. it does not have an algorithm because it is not trying to sell you anything. this means that the writers posting their work on ao3 are not making a profit. we are not influencers. we are not creating monetized content to sell to a consumer-audience. where consuming content on other social media platforms might be comparable to eating at a restaurant, reading fanfiction on ao3 is more like coming over to someone's house and eating cookies that they made for free. you are in their house. the cookies are free, given as a gift. so what happens when those assumptions outlined above start to bleed over from other social media?

    • assuming that anyone posting fanfiction online wants their work to go viral -- i've seen this with popular fic writers getting questions like, "are you worried x isn't going to be as popular as y?" those questions are usually not ill-intended, but they demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding about why writers post work on ao3. it's not to go viral. it's not to build any sort of online following. most of us who post on ao3 have jobs or schoolwork or other commitments, and writing fanfiction is something done for fun, out of a love for writing. those sharing their work online might be seeking community, but that is fundamentally different from seeking an audience, and in no way involves internet virality. if someone is posting fanfic on ao3 with the hope that it'll "go viral," then they likely either won't continue writing fanfic for long or will reach a point where they have to re-evalute their motivations, because seeking joy and validation by turning your art into a product for consumption just isn't very sustainable.
    • influencers are creating content for us, so we have a right to let them know if we don't like it -- nope!! fic writers are not influencers. yes, even the popular ones. no matter how much other people might blow their work up on social media, fic writers are still outside the profit economy. they are not creating content for an audience. they are not creating content for you. they are writing because they love it, and they are generously sharing it. if you don't like it, don't interact with it. you are never entitled to loudly and publicly proclaim how much you dislike a fic. i talk about this more here
    • we have a general right to critique fic writers, the same way we do with content creators/influencers -- again, no. you should not be treating fic writers the way you would treat an influencer on another social media platform, no matter how popular they may be. this is not to say fic writers are beyond all reproach; rather, it is a call-in to check your entitlement. fic writers are not little jesters entertaining in your court. they are not subject to your whims. they do not have to do things for you. they do not have to write things you like. in that post i linked on point 2, i talk about what etiquette might look like if you're really concerned that a fic writer is doing something harmful, but that is not what i'm talking about here. i am talking about the proliferation of negativity i have seen, especially on twitter and tiktok, where people essentially just talk shit about fics or fic writers as though they are entitled to have those fic writers working to please them. this is gross, and it needs to stop. you wouldn't go over to someone's house, eat the cookies they baked to share, and then spit those cookies back in their face and start shouting about what a shitty baker they are. or maybe you would--in which case, congratulations! you are Not A Good Person.

    anyway, at the end of the day, a lot of this can be boiled down to: Because ao3 exists outside the profit economy, fic writers are not influencers, and you should never be treating them as though they are. i think i see this disconnect largely with younger people just because they've maybe only ever really understood social media within this sort of influencer-consumer-culture economy, and genuinely don't understand how to interact differently with the internet. so, consider this post a call-in to reevaluate the way you interact with fic writers and the etiquette you use when it comes to engaging with fanfic on ao3! i promise that ao3 being different from social media is a very, very good thing, and also a very, very rare thing, so let's treasure it and focus on fostering community rather than trying to morph it to fit the mould of influencer-audience dynamics that we see almost everywhere else <3

    Giant moment of YIKES today: listening to a podfic on ao3, and then being smacked at the end with the podficcer's patreon advertisement, where folks pay to get access to podfic. Glancing at their works where this advertisement appears, it's all blanket permission stuff.

    Folks getting into podfic: DO NOT DO THIS. First, advertising patreons on ao3 is a huge no go, even when you do it auditorily rather than via text. It is very much against terms of service, and puts the site at risk. Second, though: authors giving you blanket permission to podfic are not giving you permission to make money off their work. I can't believe I need to say this, but if you are going to record fic for money? You need that fic author's SPECIFIC permission. And you should probably be sharing any proceeds with them, though that is something you can negotiate individually. But taking something freely offered for free transformative use and making money from it? That is a huge violation of trust in the community, and could result in authors pulling their blanket permission.

    But DG, you may say, I should get to turn my side hobby into a hustle just like fanartists do! Fine. If you are a skilled podficcer who produces high quality audio, you already have an option for that - go pick up work as an audiobook narrator on audible. It's not hard for a skilled reader to find ocassional gig work that way, and it's something I did years ago when I was poor and unemployed.

    In summary: Don't put the whole podfic community at risk just to make a buck. Follow the rules of the sites you use, respect authors' rights, and look elsewhere for your side hustle.

    “He understands but cannot articulate that these boys embody the qualities of manhood that he can never possess, nor pretend to. Boys remind him of what he was and what he can never be again, remind him of how even the animal in him has diminished.” - Steven Sherrill “Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break”


    Idk what queer person needs to hear this but don’t move in with a romantic partner that you’ve known for less than a month.


    Love may have its own time, but trust and intimacy shouldn't follow that time


    Why is this only about queer people? Straight people also need to know this. Everyone needs to know this.


    I’ve seen a lot of queer people take a “well it’s different because we’re gay” approach to this sort of thing. The u-haul lesbian is a stereotype for a reason.