skaredykat: (fikshun cat)
skaredykat ([personal profile] skaredykat) wrote2010-10-02 02:17 am

When stories disappear...

In recent weeks and months, I've seen stories by several SGA writers get friendslocked or taken offline entirely. In a very few cases, I've had comment- or PM-conversations with those writers. Usually me telling them -- very belatedly -- about my enjoyment of the stories and asking if sharing the stories would still be okay.

Fic writers have many reasons for taking stories down -- from offline and online life inadvertently crossing streams to RL concerns to disagreements to no longer feeling comfortable with a topic they wrote about or with a fandom-related online presence, or anything under the sun.

Whatever the writer's reason, they wrote the words and have the right to do with them what they want or need to.

I realize I'm inconsistent here: with profic writers, I consider that once I've purchased their book, it's my right to do with it as I wish -- give the book to a friend after I'm done reading it if I liked it or burn it if I hated it -- but that's because I paid for it* and they make (part of) their living from getting people to buy their words, and buying something implies you can do with it what you want afterwards.

When it's fanfic, the writer usually wrote it for their own enjoyment and that of readers, and they don't get paid in anything but appreciation from readers. (I admit, I'm very bad about commenting on things I've read, so I'm not at all good at expressing my appreciation to fic writers (in any way but a few recs here and there) for writing and posting their work, but I do very much appreciate that they write and post their stories.) For some reason, a writer not getting paid any money but only in appreciation makes me feel the writer retains more rights over the distribution (not transformation, that's a whole different kettle of fish) of the copy I have access to of their words than when I purchase a book.

So. Of course I would prefer that writers don't ever take their work down or make it harder to access.** Sometimes I'll even not-so-subtly mention the "have you considered archiving and orphaning your work at the AO3?" option. (When I first read about that I was very pleased -- a way for fic to stay available even if authors wanted to disassociate themselves from it!)

Still, the orphaning option doesn't necessarily work for every fandom-departing author. What then?

Well, then I'm very appreciative when authors taking stories down state that it is okay for fans to share saved copies among themselves. I would not have been able to read and later send out the oft-recced SGA stories by Karen McFadyyon, which had been offline for years, without kind fans sharing them via requests at [ profile] sgastoryfinders -- with her permission -- until they came back online (also with her permission) earlier this year.

However, sometimes an author can't leave their stories up even if orphaned or be okay with them being shared between fans, for whatever reason. And since fic writers are doing this for love, not continuing to get royalty checks from their publisher even for works they no longer want associated with their name, I think it's important to respect their wishes.

Over at [ profile] stargate_search, [ profile] perfica maintains a list of 'Gateverse writers who have left fandom and/or whose stories have been taken offline.

If I could order druthers over the interwebs, Gateverse writers taking down their stories or departing fandom would post a comment there or PM [ profile] perfica saying whether their stories will remain up at an archive for the foreseeable future, or whether it's okay to still share their stories, and, if needed, with what level of discretion. That would make it really easy for fans to look up what is and isn't okay for a particular writer and avoid asking for copies of stories that aren't supposed to be shared, or conversely, avoid asking for stories that are now all available at an archive.

Beware, policy-moment here: Last, should I confess that I've started developing a personal peculiarity when it comes to mailing out stories (of which the authors have said it's okay to share them)?

That is, if I don't recognize the requester(s) LJ or email from previous posts or requests, I take a few seconds to check the LJ profile of the requester before I mail a copy to see if their profile/interests and/or entries include a reasonable amount ("reasonable" being arbitrarily defined by my erratic brain on a case-by-case basis) of fandom-positive information and/or to make sure that the LJ wasn't created right around the day of the request -- because I'd be unhappy to be the cause of some not-really-a-fan who's trying to obtain a copy of a writer's stories getting them if that's what the writer's trying to avoid. Updated: It may be overkill, and at the same time a quick look at a profile is in no way fool-proof, but it makes me feel like I'm doing at least a small thing on the "better safe than sorry" side.
Another update: I'd also prefer it if the requester's profile indicated they're over 18...

Practical note, requesting copies of more than one story by a writer who is known to permit sharing of offline stories is:
NOT allowed in the main request-post at [ profile] sgastoryfinders per the comm rules, though asking for one such story is fine. (Update: Sometimes people offer/ask for more in the comment-thread not the main request-post, and that seems to be tacitly allowed/ignored by the mods. I'm just hoping I don't jinx it by noting this!)
allowed at [ profile] stargate_search (use the tag "authors" as well as other applicable ones per the comm rules)
allowed at [ profile] sgagenrefinders (use the tag "website/complete works of" as well as other applicable ones per the comm rules -- updated: the comm profile now makes this explicit).

* Or got a free copy of it because the author Creative Commonsed it or handed out free copies in another fashion because they want people to share their work.

ETA: ** This even goes for stories that are the subject of notable controversy because there are significant issues with them (sometimes known as "fail"). I've become more aware of such stories (most of which, since I jumped into SGA fic-reading last year, seem to be have shown up in fandoms other than SGA in that timeframe?) after I started skimming [ profile] metafandom.

It looks like, after being called on the issues, in more than a few cases, an author will make an apology and delete the fic, likely with the thought that no one (else) should read such an issues-compromised story.

My personal bias as someone who believes that in general history might be slightly less stupidly easy to repeat if we can see it and get reminded of it, would be for even such stories to remain up, though with bold disclaimers of what the issues with it are and links to useful and recommended context-reading at the beginning and end of every post/version of them.

E(again)TA: Now with sequel: When stories disappear - back again Wheee...?

Originally posted at

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