How did it get this late at night? It must have been the bad Pierce Brosnan
So people are going on about fanfiction.net. Thanks to Seema for this
to a classic LiveJournal comment-in on the issue.
I have only a couple of stories up at ffn, as an experiment. I had an
especially bad experience with the first one, in which ffn went down for a month
about an hour after I posted it. Fanfiction.net has always seemed like the AOL
of the fandom world - so easy to use that it channels a newbies into situations
they’re not ready
for. AOL users are famous for breaches of netiquette; ffn users for literary and
grammatical offenses. Yes, I know competent, professional people who use
AOL. I know good writers who use ffn. That doesn’t alter the fact that ffn lowers
the bar in a realm in which the bars are already too low. As we say in
mathematics, it fills a much needed gap in the literature.
It’s too late at night to explain how flooding the market with bad fanfic
drives out the good, and even the notion of good. Go reread the section of the
Hitchhiker’s Trilogy about bad shoes destroying the economy of an entire planet.
No, the point that interests me in the recent ffn debacle is the idea some people
have gotten into their heads that giving someone money makes the recipient a
Far from it. Consider another link from Seema:
Save Karyn. Is Karyn a business?
Does everyone recall the classic rec.humor.funny joke about
There are certain requirements to being a business. It isn’t
enough to go around destroying the book distribution infrastructure by selling
books at a loss in hopes that
someday, when there are no independent booksellers left standing, your
monopoly will finally
net you a profit. At least, that shouldn’t be enough to make you a
business. (Refer back to the Hitchhiker’s section on bad shoes.)
Likewise, giving away web services, and upgrading them for people who
make monetary contributions, is not a business. I’m well acquainted with this
popular non-business through my web host,
freeshell, a.k.a. SDF. Freeshell
is run by a guy named Stephen Jones, out of his own pocket, with some help
from contributions from members like me. It’s free to all, but you get perks
in exchange for donations. After a year of the free membership, I gave $36
as a one-time contribution and got ftp and a few hundred megabytes extra
space. In return, I have nothing but Stephen’s word for it that he’ll go on
hosting the service and and letting me
bandwidth. I average 11MB a day, and the limit for my level of
membership is 50MB.
(I don’t know where it all goes - it’s not people reading my fic, that’s for sure.)
If SDF ran out of funds to pay for the uplink, I would have to move elsewhere.
If Stephen decided fanfiction was a legal liability, I’d have to move elsewhere.
That’s just the way of the free world.
SDF has been giving unix junkies like me a free shell to play in since 1987,
so I’m not worried about it going away. I think it’s a great service, and if I
weren’t so lazy I’d give Stephen even more money. But I’m sure there are
freeshell users who feel that SDF’s anti-hacking regulations violate the true
freedom of the shell. Don’t Windows machines deserve to be hacked? How can
any self-respecting unix user stand in the way of the Darwinian forces of
hacking? Wouldn’t that be communism or something?
When you’re running a community service, you have to bow to certain
community standards. It’s the people with the money who can afford to put up
porn or send out spam, and pay the legal consequences out of their ample
profits. I’ve checked out a lot of free web hosts, between my mirrors
and Trek sites I’ve set up, and it’s the rare TOS that allows adult content. Why
should they? Why should anyone go up against community or
legal standards, however benighted those standards might be, for
free, for a bunch of strangers? Strangers, by the way, who turn
on you and call you a communist when the chips are down?
I can’t think of a reason, myself.