Every month in OTW Signal we’ll take a look at stories that connect to the OTW’s mission and projects, including legal, technology, academic, fannish history, and preservation issues that are important for fandom, fan culture or transformative works.
In the News
Perhaps as part of an upcoming sale of the Yahoo properties, Yahoo Answers is being shut down with little notice to users or easy way to save content. This decision has led some to take note of the similarity to other Yahoo actions over the years.
Reynolds has studied the relationship between GeoCities and Yahoo, and the culture clash between the site’s existing users and the corporate giant’s business interests. (Following the sale, users led a huge, successful boycott called the “Haunting” to protest Yahoo’s terms of service.) Ten years later, after a series of failed integrations and lackluster attempts at synergy, Yahoo abandoned ship. The cost of maintaining GeoCities’ extremely simple webpages is difficult to know, but it was likely small.
Helping to rescue Geocities content was among the first projects OTW’s Open Doors project was involved with. Unfortunately not much has changed over the years as in the last 18 months they were involved in rescuing content from yet another Yahoo property.
The most recent large-scale effort was on behalf of Yahoo Groups, bolstered by members of various fandoms who were highly motivated to save their fan fiction. “I can’t stand when things just disappear,” Doranwen, one of the leaders of the Yahoo Groups Fandom Rescue Project, told me. If Yahoo Groups was a burning building, she ran out with thousands upon thousands of pseudonymous stories from the Lord of the Rings, Sims, and X-Men communities.
Noted in the article was how the actions or inaction of, first Yahoo and later its owner Verizon, increased the difficulty for those trying to save content.
Unfortunately, fans continue to have problems with online platforms when it comes to making content accessible. One of the latest issues involves changes at Discord.
The changes walk back a stricter ban on NSFW content that Discord put in place last week. On April 12th, Discord said it would require server owners to mark their community as NSFW if it was “organized around NSFW themes.” Under the original plan, any server marked NSFW would have been inaccessible on iOS. “The restrictions are meant to comply with Apple’s App Store rules”
Users were frustrated with the changes, though, since it limited their ability to communicate with others and moderate servers they were in charge of.
Fortunately user pushback was partially successful in modifying actions Discord will be taking. However fandom communities have experienced many disruptions or incidents of content loss since moving online, and so far every year seems to bring more of the same. If you know of archivists or mods who need help preserving content, have them reach out to OTW’s Open Doors Committee.
Fan Studies Research
We have received a request to signal boost a request for fans to participate in an academic study. It is open now and will remain so through the end of July. The study is being run by PhD candidate Lee Hair, who is researching how attitudes about sex and relationships are impacted by different types of fiction — including fanfiction. Fans can be fanfiction readers or not, the survey is open to everyone 18 or older. This study has received IRB approval from Boston University. A consent form detailing user privacy practices and contact information for the researcher, the faculty supervisor, and the IRB review board is available at the start of the survey.
Did you know that if you have an account at AO3 you can not only bookmark works on the site, but on other sites as well? You can! You can also browse those external works. And thanks to a recent update, when you bookmark an external work, the form should recognize any URL that had previously been bookmarked and auto-fill creator, summary, tags, etc. for you, if those had previously been provided.
We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or news story you think we should know about, send us a link. We are looking for content in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in an OTW post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.