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May 23, 2007

FanLib wholly exploded
Posted by Teresa at 06:28 PM *

Smart Lis Riba announced yesterday, here and in her own weblog, that she’s tracked down some very interesting info about FanLib at their parent company’s site. It’s a brochure aimed at backers. FanLib foolishly put it online and linked to it from their parent company’s site. Perhaps they thought that fans would never find it.

Here’s Lis Riba:

Given all the talk, I decided to look up the company founder’s history.

And that’s how I discovered his main website [via via IMDB]My2Centences.com — and read a very different story.

Here’s how they’re pitching FanLib to industry:

Introducing the new, turnkey entertainment marketing service

That’s right, it’s not primarily geared towards fans, it’s a “marketing service.”

Read more in their 6-page PDF brochure, with revelatory quotes like:

—See How To: Grow Audience! Enhance Brand! and Increase Revenue!
[let] a mass audience collaborate democratically in a fun online game that you control. [Emphasis theirs.]
— Increase audience — if they build it, they will come
— Massive Viral Marketing
And how about Page 4, describing how their site is “MANAGED & MODERATED TO THE MAX,” including the following:
— As with a coloring book, players must “stay within the lines”
— Restrictive player’s terms-of-service protects your rights and property
— Moderated “scene missions” keep the story under your control
— Full monitoring & management of submissions & players
Yes, a restrictive TOS isn’t a bug — it’s a feature!

They conclude with the following B2B summary:

FANLIB TECHNOLOGIES (a division of My2Centences LLC) develops, markets and manages innovative social software and web services that unleash the creativity of the worldwide public and generate remarkable value for businesses.
Isn’t that interesting? It’s a perpetual motion machine — excuse me, an automatic content generator. This content generation will be done by fanfic writers, who’ll be moderated to an inch and made to color inside the lines. Their work will be used as raw material to be finished and exploited by professionals. And all shall be done for the profit of FanLib’s backers and customers.

That’s not exactly the song Chris Williams has been singing to the fanfic community. Of late he’s added some verses to it, asking us to give him our mercy, tolerance, and faith:

“hey everyone, I’m Chris one of the founders of FanLib. it’s really late and i have been working on the site all day. I’m exhausted but i just realized what was going on here and all of the commentsts are making me sick. we’re a small company with 10 emplyees who work 16 hours a day to try and make a great website. we’re real people! with feelings and everything! we have been working on this and dreaming about it for a long time and you are just here to shit on it without giving us a chance. i care deeply about what you think but this is crazy. we’re good people here and you make us sound like we’re an evil corporation or the govt. sending your kids to war or something. we really are all about celebrating fan fiction and fan fiction readers and writers. im sorry this is so short and please excuse the fact that i am cutting and pasting this across a bunch of ljs but i gotta get some sleep.”
Well before I saw that .pdf brochure (which truly is a remarkable document; do have a look at it), my instant reaction to Chris Williams’ plea was to say, out loud, “I don’t care.

It’s no secret that I lurk in the Bewares and Background Check forum at Absolute Write. Again and again, I’ve seen people posting there who’ve started up some hopelessly misconfigured, clueless, unworkable business plan (usually a publishing company or a display site), and then had it reduced to bloody collops and bone fragments by the analysts who hang out at Bewares. The would-be CEOs protest that they’re not villains, they only wanted to start a successful company that would do brilliant things, they’ve been working ever so hard on it, their enterprise is being condemned before it’s had a chance to prove itself, and it’s not fair!

Uh-huh. And if hopes, dreams, and hard work were enough, every theatre major in America would wind up working on Broadway. Most dotcom startups would have metamorphosed into successful businesses. Every wanna-be author out there would be professionally published, and would sell. But it’s not enough.

I have great sympathy for those who try but don’t succeed. I have no quibble with people who take risks when they’re the only ones affected. But the guys who cry it’s not fair! never seem to be thinking about the other people who’ll take a hit if their idea doesn’t work.

Other relevant links:

Henry Jenkins has written a long chewy essay about FanLib: Transforming Fan Culture into User-Generated Content: The Case of FanLib.

John Scalzi weighs in from the Ficlets website.

Meg Thornton nailed seventeen questions to FicLib’s door, and got answers to some of them.

Icarus Ancalion has been one of the anchor points for discussions of this issue.

Lizbee has written fanfic about the two guys in FanLib’s own site ad, demonstrating once again the mighty truth that neener-neener is a Word of Power.

Comments on FanLib wholly exploded:
#1 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 06:34 PM:

Fanlib's official response is that this brochure was designed in 2004 for a previous version of Fanlib, not for the current 2007 offering.

http://www.fanlib.com/posts/list/75/153.page#2392

This means, of course, that the contempt for fans expressed so abundantly in the 2004 brochure in no way carries over to their 2007 product.

#2 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Oh, so they were only planning on screwing over a bunch of naive fans and making lots of money off of them in 2004, not 2007. I'm certainly convinced that there's nothing to be concerned about.

Bonus: that brochure contains what appears to be a pretty gratuitous Tivo trademark violation on page 3.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 07:03 PM:

"In case you're wondering, FanLib's not new to fanfiction. Since 2001, they've been producing really cool web events with people like CBS, Showtime and HarperCollins to bring fan creativity into the big leagues."

With that one paragraph in the letter they spammed to fanwriters, FanLib acknowledged that brochure. It's theirs. That's their attitude. No use denying it.

Pwned.

#4 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 07:04 PM:

I'll buy the brochure was written for a past incarnation of fanlib, likely the L-word contest.

However, it shows a marked lack of understanding of fandom that they *ever* put this on the web. The tone of the brochure stinks of a patronizing stereotyping of fans. It's absolutely guaranteed to piss people off.

I get the feeling that the folks in charge of fanlib may really have a misguided idea of what fandom is like.

The attitude I seem to get from the brochure is that they think we're a bunch of clueless, feral, socially challenged, not-very bright, unwashed, spock-ear-wearing dweebs who live in parental basements -- basements which are likely full to the rafters with greasy old pizza boxes and mint Star Wars figurines and jealously collected comic books and fancy computers and maybe a few science projects. Oh, and it seems they think that we're sheeple who can be led by the promise of ooh-bright-shiny awards.

Did I mention the 'not very bright' assumption?

... So they're trying to market fanlib to these 'not very bright' people.

Who don't exist.

(At least, they don't exist in any great numbers. There are a few ... but I digress.)

And then they wonder why their marketing efforts flopped spectacularly.

Granted, this may *not* be their opinion of fandom, but it's the impression they're managing to convey.

#5 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Speaking of brightness, it may amuse you to know that the site of the parent company, My2Centences, offers summaries of various "in development" projects (films, one presumes), representing thrillers, dramas, and horror.

For your literary enjoyment:

Demon City

The powerful become the prey in this bleeding-edge urban nightmare about a group of privileged high school students who are hunted through the metropolis by a pack of marauding demons. Bent on revenge for a 19th century massacre committed by the city’s elite, these furious spirits possess the bodies of their modern-day brethren. Society’s unappreciated laborers — the sanitation workers, cab drivers, household servants, and even prostitutes — are transformed into monstrous versions of their former selves. Pitted against this savage demonic force, a spoiled, know-it-all urban princess will have to confront deep inner-prejudices and embrace her own humanity if she is to have a chance at survival, redemption, and knowing real love.


I can't resist quoting one more:

Pop Goes The Weasel

Telly LaVacca is just starting to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He has struggled for years as a screenwriter and he finally got his first film produced, a juicy gangster saga. While on the movie set, he overhears a conversation between his lead actor and a real life gangster about a real life, about-to-be-committed crime. Telly decides to do some research for his follow-up and ends up looking down the barrels of some actual gangsters. His creative mind is able to get him out of the situation by coming up with a better plan for their heist. He forms friendship with the men, especially heavy hitter Johnny Dark, and Telly’s line between fiction and reality becomes blurred beyond all recognition.

#6 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 08:15 PM:

The attitude I seem to get from the brochure is that they think we're a bunch of clueless, feral, socially challenged, not-very bright, unwashed, spock-ear-wearing dweebs who live in parental basements -- basements which are likely full to the rafters with greasy old pizza boxes and mint Star Wars figurines and jealously collected comic books and fancy computers and maybe a few science projects. Oh, and it seems they think that we're sheeple who can be led by the promise of ooh-bright-shiny awards.

Did I mention the 'not very bright' assumption?

When I look at e-mail scams I get the impression that the people who've designed them are assuming that people will repsond because they're just like the scammers, but not quite as bright. The scammers want to make lots of money without doing any work, so the scam looks as though it will make lots of money without doing any work.

To a certain extent some poor marketing and bad business plans seem to have similar characteristics.

Maybe we should offer them bright-shiny awards to test this theory.

#7 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 08:17 PM:

You know what amuses me most about all of this? Is that fandom has a fairly short attention span. And if FanLib had resisted the temptation to reply to those first posts (by me, Angiepen, Telesilla), the whole thing would likely have blown over by now.

Worth noting: FanLib has posted a new TOS. It seems clear that this is drafted to provide more protection to the industry and even less to the fan writers they are asking to provide content. Given that, FanLib will be left with poorly-written, vanilla stories that do nothing meaty or interesting with the characters or universes. And that's hardly the recipe for a successful fic archive.

#8 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Hmmm, maybe they'll trademark Mary Sue and Gary Stu as their own characters to be used by the fanfic writers?

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:42 PM:

The way I see it, the only way they can accumulate significant content is by making it impossible to take down a story you've posted to their site. If they stay in business long enough, some of the material uncluefully posted to their site has got to be good.

I thought there was a chance the brochure was no longer current, but it says a lot that they could have written it at all. They don't just fail in their understanding of fanfic. They don't understand writers. They were going to make writers color inside the lines? Pray tell, how?

#10 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 03:18 AM:

Wow. I've only been vaguely, peripherally aware of the FanLib kerfuffle (ie, I knew there was one, and than fen didn't like them for some reason, but didn't know how come). This is truly bizarre, stupid, and messed up. My adjectives desert me (well, it is three a.m.).

I love that someone has ficced their ad, though! (What an awful ad! Urgh.)

#11 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 03:31 AM:

OK, so the PDF is about some kind of collaborative fiction RPG. I think the "staying within lines" and stuff is all quite justified by the fact that they appear to be suggesting that the property owner actually distribute the results as an official part of their series. OK, I don't really see how it ever could have worked, but yes, if you're trying to get fan written content to be publishable as part of the series that inspired it, you're going to have to be pretty strict about controlling it. You don't want the fans to do something that upsets your future plans for the series, for instance.

I think what I'm saying is that other than being (IMO) an unrealistic business plan, I don't see what's so bad about this brochure. If you look at it as what it is: an attempt to get fan-generated content accepted by the original authors for distribution -- presumably as a canon story in their universe -- then the sort of moderation they're talking about is necessary.

#12 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 03:37 AM:

Bill, the second of those two "in development" projects is an idea that has something in it.

I can see it as several different sorts of movie, from a drama about corruption to broad comedy.

And I rather doubt that the people behind fanlib would be able to find that something, evebn with a map, GPS, and a stonking big "Dig Here" sign.

#13 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 03:39 AM:

Any movie idea can be improved by the addition of a hot, wise-cracking, babe with a leopard.

#14 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 04:48 AM:

Dave bell @13:

I'm reminded of Alun Harries' three rules of movies:

1) No movie with lesbians in can ever be entirely bad;

2) There's no movie so perfect it can't be improved by the inclusion of lesbians
((Me: "Even 'Bambi'?" Alun: "Yes, even 'Bambi'."))

3) It's impossible for a movie to have too many lesbians in it.

You may notice a certain 'theme' to these 'rules'.

#15 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:22 AM:

The cover of that brochure is giving me mental images of the cover of a Dilbert book. The font, or the sarcasm?

— Restrictive player’s terms-of-service protects your rights and property

Hmm, so they are assuming a contributor pool of one. This may be wise.

#16 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Cofax #7 notes: FanLib will be left with poorly-written, vanilla stories that do nothing meaty or interesting with the characters or universes. And that's hardly the recipe for a successful fic archive.

It sounds much more like the state of the art in Hollywood writing. Considering that they're aiming at selling to the movies, it sounds like they're on target.

#17 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Dave Bell @ 13 -- Sounds like a Disney film, except there it'd be the addition of a hot wisecracking leopard babe. (Cf. Rob Hansen @ 14, probably not a lesbian, though.)

#18 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:45 AM:

The powerful become the prey in this bleeding-edge urban nightmare about a group of privileged high school students who are hunted through the metropolis by a pack of marauding gay dinosaurs

Fixed it for them.

#19 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:03 AM:

You know, a bunch of imaginative writers could really mess up a project like this, sort of like one of those stories where you write one chapter (or a paragraph) and then someone else writes the next one. It looks very bizarre when it is done, especially if someone starts killing off or making characters do odd things...

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:11 AM:

Hey! You could even have, like, a computer-generated bit.

Naah...no one does stuff like that.

#21 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:15 AM:

I'm bored at work again and no one's asking for Dante pastiches (maybe if I label it fan fiction I could submit it to the site!!1!1!) so instead, some snark.

hey everyone, I’m Chris one of the founders of FanLib [wow, how do you fit a surname of six words onto a driver's license?]. it’s really late which is why I am unable to capitalize most anything except my own name and that of my company and i have been working on the site all day. I’m exhausted but i just realized what was going on here and all of the commentsts are making me sick (those nasty commentsts!). we’re a small company with 10 emplyees [not to be confused with those mega-national companies with 10 emplyees] who work 16 hours a day [1.6 hours a day each? Sign me up!] to try and make a great money-earning website. we’re real people! with feelings and everything! So we don't deserve criticism and you'd better feel sorry! You don't? Okay, here comes more guilt tripping! we have been working on this and dreaming about it for a long time and you are just here to shit on it without giving us a chance because you are stupid meanies. i care deeply about what you think but actually I don't and this is why this crazy attempt is going ahead regardless of you meanie-heads. we’re good people here and you make us sound like we’re an evil corporation or the govt. sending your kids to war or something. How's that for a straw man? Obviously you compare us with the Bush administration and THAT'S why you hate us! So we can safely ignore you! Unless you give us noogies and Indian burns. THAT would hurt! we really are all about celebrating fan fiction and fan fiction readers and writers and not the almighty dollar, honest. im sorry this is so short but gads did I whine enough to make you think it was longer and please excuse the fact that i am cutting and pasting this across a bunch of ljs because that's going to get my message across in a rational, civilized way but i gotta get some sleep zzzzzzzzzzz.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 5... a juicy gangster saga (...)Telly decides to do some research for his follow-up and ends up looking down the barrels of some actual gangsters

Which is juicy? The saga, or the gangster? Maybe the latter as we later discover that barrels are part of a gangster's body.

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Rob Hansen @ 14... Does one have to actually be in the movie, or will a suggestion of such be sufficient? I was thinking of Gene Kelly's musical Les Girls.

#24 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Joel, #17, you ought to consider the sociopolitical ramifications.

Or even a picture.

#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Joel, #17, you ought to consider the sociopolitical ramifications.

Or even a picture.

#26 ::: supergee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Power comes out of the barrels of a gangster.

#27 ::: supergee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Power comes out of the barrels of a gangster.

#28 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:52 AM:

#13: our hostess has a leopard?

(ducks incoming)

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Jon Meltzer... Daffy Duck incoming, or Donald?

#30 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Jon @ #28:
our hostess has a leopard?

If she doesn't, I think we ought to get her one. A small, hamster-sized leopard, perhaps, eminently suitable for a New York apartment.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:01 PM:

Serge @ 29

Both. With Duck Dodgers.

Have you ever noticed that mallards in flight look a whole lot like Klingon warbirds?

#32 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:02 PM:

Anent hot leopard babes and lesbians - maybe it's a lesbian leopard. For years I had a couple of neutered tomcats who regularly tried to mount each other. Though I suspect what was going on there was not feline homosexuality, but confusion between sex and dominance.

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:13 PM:

P J... Their hope being that, when a Federation ship sees, they'll quack in their Sixties boots and surrender immediately.

(OK, OK, it's not one of my best. Heck, I've been working late this week for the greater glory of my employer.)

#34 ::: Vir Modestus ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Mom! Leva's been in my room again! And do you know where my Spock ear's are? WisCon is this weekend! I'm going to really impress teh babes this year!

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Speaking of Star Trek... I've heard a rumor about JJ Abrams's movie that'd be neat if it turns out to be anything but a rumor: Gary Sinise as 'Bones' McCoy.

#36 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Vir Modestus> Phht. I stole your Spock ears for my elf costume, the one with the green felt leaves on the bikini top.

#37 ::: Wim L ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Jules @ 11: I don't think it would be so bad, if that's how the company presented itself to the writers as well. It's a bad sign when a company that acts as an intermediary has to describe itself differently to its two sets of customers.

#38 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:50 PM:

#30: "Hot, wisecracking babe, with a hamster?"

I can dig it.

#39 ::: Vir Modestus ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Leva: Oh. Did you say bikini? Um ... Mom! Where's my Gandalf costume?

#40 ::: Sara Rosenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Yes, it's clear just from reading the brochure that it dates from an earlier incarnation of FanLib, but it gives a revealing glimpse of FanLib's evolution and indeed, the etymology of the name "FanLib."

I had wondered, earlier in the saga, whether there was some reference to Mad Libs intended - or whether the "Lib" part of the moniker was meant to recall "Women's Lib." The brochure seems to strongly indicate the former: fans are supposed to be simply "filling in the blanks" in some showrunner's episode (or Fanisode - TM).

Bleh.

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:33 PM:

I can prove that's not a small blobby leopard. Hiro Frumentius has an actual hardcopy Certificate of Hamsterhood, and it's sitting on the dining table right now. One or another of our houseguests ought to remember having seen it.

#42 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 08:14 PM:

John Meltzer @ 38, re: "Hot, wisecracking babe, with a hamster?" Well, maybe.

#43 ::: Adam Stephanides ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 09:18 PM:

My computer wouldn't open the PDF file. But FanLib used to (and might still) run fanfic contests in collaboration with the copyright holders, and I believe the brochure was meant for these. Some of the lines quoted by Lis don't fit their current endeavor. "Restrictive player’s terms-of-service protects your rights and property": the TOS may be bad for contributors, but I don't see how it protects copyright-holder's rights specifically. (Copyright holders would be able to sue, if they wanted, whatever the TOS said.) "Moderated “scene missions” keep the story under your control": this doesn't even make sense applied to a fanfiction archive, let alone one apparently run on the principle of "accept anything."

And I'm somehow not shocked to learn that another company turns out to care primarily about making money, not about serving its users.

Again, none of this is to defend that brochure, which mainly strikes me as silly. And it may have been dumb to make it available on the web (though would you have preferred that they tried to suppress it?). And I'm certainly not defending Chris Williams' bizarre screed.

#44 ::: Xopher sees a fairly vapid post that may be spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 11:03 PM:

No particularly directed content, and a link to a blog. Dunno.

#45 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:19 AM:

Thank you Joel @ 42 for a new favorite web comic to read!

#46 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 04:18 AM:

Win L @37: I have no idea how the company was presenting itself when it produced that brochure. As it was a different project, it was undoubtedly marketing itself in a different way. I honestly don't see what's so bad about that brochure.

#47 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 06:22 AM:

Just an update on the questions nailed to the door: I gave the person who said she was willing to answer the questions a bit of a prod yesterday about the nine unanswered ones. I still haven't heard anything back. We shall see what happens.

In other news, FanLib is apparently trying to promote itself to the "fanbaby" market (ie 14 year olds who see being asked to provide fic with such outlandish things as spelling, grammar, and heck, punctuation as "oppression") by selling itself as somewhere they can be safe from the nasty BNFs who inhabit LJ [1]. Oh, and it appears they're asking for passwords from users who use fanfiction.net - and poaching fic wholesale from there.

As has been pointed out, if FanLib came about with the notion of uniting the fanfic writers into a coherent mass, they're succeeding. What a pity we're not uniting to do what they wanted...

[1] The fact that the rather fluffy logic they use implies *I* might be a BNF for having the temerity to oppose them and ask questions on LJ is enough to make me chortle.

#48 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 06:35 AM:

#47: They're uniters, not dividers.

#49 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 08:48 AM:

#47 -- Fanfiction.net instituted simple numeric captchas for logins as of the last couple of days. One wonders if this is in direct response to Fanlib.

#50 ::: Sammie ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 11:40 AM:

"Oh, and it appears they're asking for passwords from users who use fanfiction.net - and poaching fic wholesale from there." Meg #47.
I actually was wondering when they were going to start poaching things from other places. If they ever get their search engines into some kind of shape, it would be interesting to see if peoples LJ or archived stories end up there under other names.

#51 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Sammie @50, and what a grand wank that would lead to; the fact that fanfic operates as a gift economy actually makes people more protective of attribution. There's an lj community called Stop Plagiarism, where misattributed fics (and sometimes fan art and vids) are found, archive owners notified, and miscreants bannished and shunned.

Almost all cases are reported by readers, not by the writers themselves. Plagiarism from utter newbies is as vigorously pursued as from BNFs. Sometimes wank ensues, usually when said plagiarist or sometimes the archive owner retorts with "You're all thieves anyway, what right do you have to complain?"

#52 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:36 PM:

Unfortunately, the attitude is entirely typical of a "me-too" dotcom, trying to scam their own share of the information revolution. Essentially, these folks are considering fanfic -- the work, the culture, the creators... as a "wild" resource. They assume that since "nobody owns that territory", it's ripe for them to come in, take over and exploit. This is very much of a piece with the various prior attempts to "homestead" the infosphere, and should get the same response by the participants. (q.v. "Ungoverned Lands".)

#53 ::: Sammie ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:13 PM:

JESR @ 51
I'm not sure people this stupid would care if they were identified as plagiarists or not. And I'm sure appropriated stories wouldn't be removed just for a complaint that they were stolen. David's point is well-made.

#54 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:32 PM:

I wouldn't worry about fanlib itself stealing stories, but the "put fifty stories up and you get entered into a contest" format they had running was absolutely ripe for abuse.

Re: the interface with fanfiction.net -- from a user end, that didn't bug me, though I predicted the captchas on fanfiction.net the moment I saw the import-your-stories feature on fanlib. From a user end, it's handy. However, I'm willing to get that they didn't get fanfiction.net's permission to set that up -- somebody with Xing's contact information could ask, but it would surprise me if he had said, "Sure, not a problem."

I know *I* would have had issues with something like on a competitor's web site. Very bad manners, if they didn't ask permission first.

#55 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Anne (32): I suspect what was going on there was not feline homosexuality, but confusion between sex and dominance.

I've observed the same type of confusion among extant hominids.

#56 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 03:06 PM:

A modest proposal?

Given: fanfic exists as a gift economy.

Also given: as ye give, so shall ye receive.

Wouldn't it be beautiful if we gave FanLib exactly what they're asking for?

I figure about a dozen gigabytes of Dissociated Press output, seeded from a trawl through fanfiction.net to get the statistical data right, ought to do the job. For added mad props, dice and slice into 10-500Kb chunks and post using a bot under a variety of names. I think it's probably about 250 lines of perl, for anyone who can be bothered.

(Jeebus, I can't believe I've found a practical use for Andrew Burt's Shades Of Grey nonsense ...)

Like I said, it's a gift economy. And I'm sure they'll respect the output of a Markov-chain algorithm at highly as they seem to respect everyone else.

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Oh, Charlie, I love it. Give 'til it hurts them.

I can just visualize one of their 10 employees trying to read through it. You have just invented fandump.

#58 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:47 PM:

FanLib's CEO has replied to some of the questions put to him by Henry Jenkins' readers.

#59 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 11:51 AM:

The Marxist view referenced in Particles is well worth reading.

I don't think you have to be any sort of modern Marxist to appreciate the point about different sorts of economy and value. Ghu alone knows what Fanlib would make of the paper fanzines my fanfics were published in.

In some aspects, Marx had a better understanduing of people than some modern economists.

#60 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 12:40 PM:

Dave Bell @59: it might be interesting to watch FanLib trying to cope with the idea that the paper fanzines were usually priced to break even on the production costs, with no advertising save the ad exchanges with other aspects of the fannish economy.

I'm now envisioning dead tree editions of FanLib, with soup scenes...

#61 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 02:36 PM:

Julia, don't tempt me.

(Cheap shimmery visual effect, revealing the command deck of the Liberator, discovering our heroes staring, horrified, at the main viewscreen.)

ZEN: There is no possibility of providing enough power to fight this Federation force, or to eascape. The Energy banks are exhausted.

BLAKE (With desparing anger): There's nothing! So we're as good as dead?

ZEN: Confirmed.

VILA: I've got a crate of beer in my room. Cally?

[Cally gives Vila a look that would blast a hole through Liberator's hull.]

AVON: You might as well bring it here, Vila. There is enough for all of us, I hope.

[Vila looks at the screen, which conveniently shows close-ups of a lot of different Federation warships.]

VILA: Well, I don't think I'll have time to drink it all myself.

[Close-up: Avon turns away, and his face lights up in a demonic smile, unseen by the others.]

[Liberator is in the middle of the screen, the Federations ships almost close enough to ram]

[Federation warship bridge: Travis is in the commander's chair, Kirk-like, Servalan is striking an heroic pose.]

{Servalan, close-up]

SERVALAN (Sensuously): Now, Travis.

[Liberator, surrounded, and the Federation warships are about to fire.]

VILA: Noooooo!

[The Liberator leaps backwards at incredible speed, just as the Federation ships all fire. Their beams converge, interlace, and strike home on other Federation ships. Which explode, allowing Matt Irvine to earn his pay in his usual manner.]

[On board Liberator: The crew are picking themselves up from the floor.]

VILA: That was my Heineken!

AVON: Waould you rather we were dead? Zen, what is the status of the Energy Banks?

ZEN: Refreshed.

(There is another cheap shimmery visial effect. Please do not adjust your reality. Normal service will be restored as soon as possible.)



#62 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 03:02 PM:

[dies laughing]

#63 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 04:50 PM:

FWIW on 5-29-2007 I followed the link to my2centences.com and found the .pdf and all other data removed because "the information is outdated." The only thing left on the site is a link to an e-mail address.

#64 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 05:09 PM:

I'm certain that lots of people have saved copies on their local machines.

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Charlie@156: I'm sure they'll respect the output of a Markov-chain algorithm

...

I don't think I ever quite fully appreciated the evil you're capable of.

(checks wallet)

Yep, still there.

#66 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Victoria, it's on my laptop, I forwarded a copy to another friend who just heard about it this weekend at ConQuesT and was outraged. If you need it, follow my link to my email.

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Dave Bell @ 61... Avon turns away, and his face lights up in a demonic smile

You mean, he has another 'smile' setting, which he reserves for such occasions as when he comes across a litter of puppies?

#68 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Serge @67: Indeed he does -- though it's more litters of shinies. Scan the icons on the relevant areas of LJ, and you'll even get to see examples.

#69 ::: Julia Kosatka ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Mr. Stross. I stand in awe. ;-)

Anyone have a copy of Eye of Argon handy?

#70 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 03:32 AM:

Julia @69: What, and give them an actual gripping plot? It would be entirely wasted on them.

Except I suppose Markov-chain machines tend to grind plot up into sausage pretty well.

#71 ::: Julia Kosatka ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2007, 11:28 AM:

Brooks... ah, good point. But Fanlib is *so* last week. Now it's all about the "LJ Strikethrough of '07". Man, someone dropped the ball, bigtime at Six Apart. ;-)

#72 ::: Corgi ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 03:45 AM:

Julia @69:

::gasps in awe::

'Evil, pure and simple, from the 8th Dimension'

#73 ::: Jack ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 09:35 PM:

I'm confused. Regardless of what FanLib tells or doesn't tell fans, the question is how exactly is it that what they are doing is so "Evil"? They aren't taking people's work, stealing it, and then creating something from it. They're launching a business by leveraging the audience that the fans themselves create, and using that audience to attract advertisers.

Hey, if you don't want to contribute your fiction, don't. But if they put up a website to give you the chance for it to be seen, then why can't they make some coin off of it????

#74 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Well, Jack, there was that business about them asking people for their fanfic.net passwords "for security reasons". That looked pretty damned dodgy to me. Here's a discussion of it.

http://icarusancalion.livejournal.com/2007/05/20/.

And if you are interested in a summary of why the community they are trying to market to thinks it's evil, here's Henry Jenkins' take on the thing, with sundry edifying comments by people who write fanfiction.

http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/05/transforming_fan_culture_into.html#more

For me, what it boils down to is that there is already a large, active fanfic community, and there are already a large number of community-based sites where you may read and post fanfiction. Fanlib's attempt to commoditise a gift economy was(is) ill-concieved, patronising and devoid of any understanding of why people choose explore narrative possibilities which are not covered in licensed fiction. Indeed, fanlib seem to think the chance to maybe, perhaps, one day work with "real" writers is a selling point.

In addition to that, some people believe that fanlib is a bunch of copyright lawsuits waiting to happen. As long as noone was making any money off fanfiction, ficwriters were tolerated with varying degrees of equanimity by copyright holders, most of the time.

Even though there's a strong case to be made that fanfiction is not a copyright violation (derivitive works for the purpose of commentary are protected, and fiction which explores the bits the official material leaves out may be covered), one twitchy TV network with a passel of lawyers could now send us skulking back underground. And fanlib, having made money off being a glorified pinup board, will hang the writers out to dry, according to their TOS.

Way to offer an exciting new service to the fans, guys. Really.

#75 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 10:15 PM:

If people understand exactly what they're getting into, what work they will be doing, what benefit they will be getting (satisfaction of a hard day's work), and what benefit FanLib will be getting (your copyright and advertising dollars from your content), then let 'em do it.

Odds are, though, that FanLib won't be quite so direct in laying it all on teh table like that. Probably more like Huck Finn fast talking everyone else into whitewashing the fence for him.

Think of this thread as simply warning folks walking down the sidewalk that some kid is going to try and fasttalk them into doing some work for free. If they still want to paint, let 'em paint.

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2007, 11:14 PM:

Greg 75: That was Tom Sawyer. Huck Finn was too honest.

#77 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:33 PM:

They're also spamming now, or at least "Special Ops Media" is doing so on their behalf.

(What a . . . remarkable . . . name that is, by the by.)

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