Sheenagh Pugh (sheenaghpugh) wrote in fanthropology,
Sheenagh Pugh
sheenaghpugh
fanthropology

Archives and not wanting to say "but"

I can see why the proposed new pan-fandom archive fanarchive is not, quite, the one that already exists, ie ff.net. It would, presumably, allow genres ff.net doesn't (eg RPS?) and it would, please god, be better organised and easier to post and edit in - it could hardly fail to be.
But unless I've missed something, and there's been so much on this subject since the whole FanLib kerfuffle started that I might well have, it will be like ff.net in one important respect, and that's where the problem comes in.
FF.net is where just about every journalist "researching" the next article on fan fiction writers, aka "who are these weird people?", starts his or her enquiries. Unfortunately, because of the limited time they have for said research, it is also often as far as they get. Which is a shame, because though there is excellent stuff on that site you have to wade through an enormous amount of dross to find it. Many journalists, I fear, give up before getting anywhere near the good stuff. (Some, indeed, quote not only the worst of ff.net but also those sites set up deliberately to mock the worst examples of fan fiction.)
If I've been reading right, the idea is that this new archive will no more be edited for quality than ff.net is. Indeed, how could it be? And by whom - committees acting for each fandom? This does happen on some individual archives, like Henneth Annun, but IIRC, it has not always easy there to find people willing not only to devote the time but to take the flak from those who will inevitably diagree with their judgement. The whole idea of editing fanfic sites for quality is controversial, because it potentially conflicts with fanfic's essentially democratic ethos: if everyone has the right to be an author, who's to say: post here, but post not there?
I know there are several ideas behind this archive, and it's not just about presenting an image to the world, but that is part of it. We would surely all like to to improve the woefully low quality of most journalists' articles on fan fiction, and I don't see it doing that unless it can somehow point them at better examples of the genre. But that, somewhere along the line, means someone making lists based on value judgements.
I don't think there's an easy answer to that one. I sympathise with the spirit of  fairestcat's exhortation I think we CAN do this, we CAN make this amazing, complicated idea happen. But in order to do so we're going to have to be careful about those little voices inside our heads saying "well, it's a nice idea, but"   But the little voice saying "but" in my head goes "if it is no more edited than ff.net, what is it for that ff.net doesn't do?, and if it is different in that respect, how do we make that happen" Because I can't see a way, offhand, not for the whole of fandom.
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