Our Doors are now Opening!

Our Open Doors are now opening wide to at-risk archives! The first generation mass archive importer is now ready for testing: this importer will allow us to import archives built on the popular ‘Automated Archive’ software into the Archive of Our Own. Many archives were built with this software over the last 15 years and some are now slowly sinking into the sea: four years ago, one of the things that brought the initial wave of fans together to work on the OTW was the desire to save these archives from extinction. We’re really excited to have finally developed the infrastructure and functionality needed to move this work forward.

Here at the OTW, we love the plurality of fandom! There are many individual fannish archives with their own unique flavour and community, and we hope this will always continue. However, fannish archives disappear for a whole host of reasons: sometimes maintainers move on to pastures new, or real life concerns mean they can no longer support the archive. Sometimes a database becomes corrupted through simple use, and the archivist doesn’t have the resources (or the technical knowledge) to fix it. Sometimes the money for servers and bandwidth runs out. Sometimes copyright holders launch legal challenges which the maintainers are unable or unwilling to act against. Often it is a combination of all of these things. When archives run into difficulties, they often disappear entirely, taking with them the wonderful creative works created by the fans who use them. Our Open Doors initiative aims to preserve these pieces of fannish history by allowing archivists to import their at-risk archives into the Archive of Our Own.

Our test case for the importer will be the Smallville Slash Archive, which was hosted by fannish legend Minotaur. Minotaur sadly passed away in 2009, and his fannish executors approached us to see whether we would be able to help ensure the site he supported did not disappear with him. They’ve waited patiently: we’re thrilled to finally be able to give them the backup they need.

Imported archives will be set up as collections on the Archive of Our Own. This means that they will have their own profile page and header (if desired by the maintainer), and all works imported will be identified as part of that collection. Collections can be browsed independently of the main Archive, and works in collections are also accessible via the main Archive. If you have work on an archive which is scheduled for import, or you are just generally interested in how this will work, check out the Open Doors FAQ.

The SSA will be imported next week, on Sunday 3rd March! Our second test case will be the Yuletide archive, one of the newest and most complex iterations of the Automated Archive code. Once we’ve done these two archives and figured out any bugs, we’ll be looking to import more at-risk archives: if you have an archive that uses the Automated Archive software and want to transfer it to the AO3 or to back it up in the AO3, please contact Open Doors! (You can continue to moderate or run your archive, which will be set up within AO3 as its own collection. Find out more at our short guide to Open Doors imports and the Open Doors FAQ.)

Our next step will be to try to build a version of this archive importer that works with e-fiction archives, which are also database-backed. If you are a coder who is familiar with e-fiction archives and wants to collaborate on customizing our next importer, please contact Volunteers and Recruiting: please mention specifically your e-fiction experience!

Announcement, Open Doors
  1. Amenirdis commented:

    You’re reposting entire archives without the permission or knowledge of the individual authors? Seriously?

    Authors have the right to decide where their works are posted, and to repost their work without asking them or even informing them of the fact is absolutely not acceptable. Every author of every story should have to grant their permission for reposting. You can’t just grab people’s work and repost it without asking them!

    • Rachel B. commented:

      I think the Open Doors FAQ may address your concerns – http://opendoors.transformativeworks.org/faq

      See specifically

      Q: I put my story in an archive that is now part of Open Doors. If I don’t want it there anymore, can I get it removed?

      A: Yes, absolutely. See “How will I get control over my imported works?”. We will also gladly work with you to find some solution other than deletion that preserves your work as part of the archive collection in a way that makes you comfortable. As we note above, we offer the option of “orphaning” your work, which would allow the work to remain available but remove any identifying information you want removed.

      Also see

      Q: Why is my story suddenly here?

      A: Because the archivist who controls the archive you used decided to move to the AO3. While all the AO3’s tools are designed to give as much control to the individual fan as possible, in the case of large archives we believe that the archivist has responsibility and authority for the body of work as a collection. Archivists have moved archives onto different servers, updated the software that organizes the works, switched webhosting, etc. to keep a collection of fan works alive, online, and together. Transferring or backing up a collection into the AO3 is just another way of ensuring an archive’s long term accessibility. The archivist will also continue to have control over the collection if s/he wants, and can set its rules, etc. Nonetheless, if an individual fan wants to remove her or his stories from the original archive or from the AO3, we provide easy tools for doing so; see below.

      I’m a member of the Open Doors committee. I hope this is helpful.

      • Amenirdis commented:

        But how is the original author to even know the stories are being moved? Are you contacting each one and obtaining their permission to move their works?

        • Rachel B. commented:

          Yes — as the Open Doors FAQ indicates, we do intend to inform everyone who has a story being imported about the import. (See “How will I know when my work is imported onto the AO3?” and “How will I get control over my imported works?”) Our aim is to provide a place where archives can be preserved if the archivists who run them are so inclined, but any fan who has work in such an archive will still retain control over that story, and can always choose to remove it or orphan it.

          • Amenirdis commented:

            I am uncomfortable that this is opt-out not opt-in. Surely many fans have changed their email or contact information since they posted a story years ago and may not know that their works have been reposted.

          • anon commented:

            I agree with this comment.

            I don’t know what’s changed in fannish culture lately, but when I came in on the old mailing lists, rearchiving a story without the author’s express consent was a major faux-pas, just below outright plagiarism and giving the actors someone elses’ sexually explict fanfic about their character.

          • azarias commented:

            But why don’t you simply ask first, then archive, rather than archive first, then ask? That would avoid the entire problem.

  2. anon commented:

    I really don’t like this idea of taking over old archives and reposting stories without the author’s permission, and then making them jump through your hoops to have it removed. You should go story by story and only rearchive those which the author replies in the affirmative. Silence cannot be considered assent, so if you can’t contact the writer, you don’t get to assume they’ll hear about it and then make up their minds after the story’s already on AO3 whether they want it archived with you.

    Just because I gave permission in the past to have my story archived at a specific archive is not blanket permission for that maintainer to do anything they want with it, including moving it to a whole nother archive I may have never heard of. I’m going to be going back and having all my public-posted stories deleted to keep this from happening.

    • Livia Penn commented:

      Actually, one of the reasons that I’m in favor of moving the SSA to the AO3’s servers is that now it will be *easier* for people to have more control over their stories. There were periods of time in the past when the SSA was, essentially, abandoned– any authors who wanted to edit or delete their stories, update their email addresses, or change their pseuds, had no way of doing so, because there were no active moderators/archivists.

      The current moderators and archivists have stepped in to make sure the archive doesn’t vanish into thin air, erasing the contributions of hundreds and thousands of fans, and I think that’s a great idea. All authors *are* being contacted, to the best of the AO3’s ability. People may have left fandom, but they may want to come back someday, expecting their archived stories to still be here and not gone forever. The previous hosting space was owned by Minotaur, who was so incredibly generous during his life, and was such a gift to fandom. So many people took advantage of the free hosting & bandwidth he provided for many years. The AO3 is taking on that burden now. The archive is just moving, as it has moved web addresses before. Nothing has changed, except that authors will be able to have more control over their work.

      I’m sure we’ve all known people in fandom who, because of a job change, a personal crisis, or being “outed” to people in their RL, needed to delete or lock down their stories. Previous to the SSA being imported, they would have had no access & no control over their stories. With the stories on the AO3, it will be very simple for authors to claim their stories, to delete or lock them, and to have far more control than the SSA ever allowed… I hope people will appreciate that.

      • Amenirdis commented:

        “People may have left fandom, but they may want to come back someday, expecting their archived stories to still be here and not gone forever.”

        Actually, people may leave fandom and assume that when the archive they left things on closes that their content will likewise disappear, and be appalled to find out that something they wrote in high school fifteen years ago has suddenly appeared on another site without their permission!

        People have a right to control their own content, and that means that things cannot be reposted without their permission. Having once posted something, whether it’s a picture on Facebook or a story on an archive, does not mean the entire internet has the right to repost it whenever and wherever they want!

      • Hello Sunshine commented:

        This isn’t just a case of an archive moving to a new web address, it’s moving to become part of an entirely new site – one which, if the fic writer had any interest in using, they could make the choice to register an account and upload their fic themselves. You really don’t get to make that decision for them by effectively seizing their fics and obliging them to become users if they want to retain any control over their own work. And while I appreciate your intentions are not selfish, it is a little disingenuous to describe this as a “burden” when the potential boost in traffic, readers and users is of benefit to you.

        Many people will no longer use or have access to the email address they used five or ten years ago, meaning many people are going to be completely unaware their work is being re-posted elsewhere. I’m also curious as to how easy or difficult it will be for someone who no longer has access to their old registered email address to “claim” their fics if they become aware you have them. What proof are you going to require that the fic is really theirs?

        I support the AO3 and I am a user, but people should be able to make their own choice as to whether they want to use your archive, not have it imposed upon them. This is a massive breach of fandom etiquette in my opinion. It is up to an author to decide if they want their fics backed up and where they want their fics backed up. If someone’s fic is not already backed up elsewhere or is not already on AO3, that may actually be a conscious choice on their part, which you will be undermining and then obliging them to jump through hoops to undo.

      • anon commented:

        Frankly, I also believe authors should take responsiblity for their own work, so if I’ve left fandom for a break of several years, I would expect posted works to no longer be available as webhosting companies collapsed and archivists lost interest. Therefore I have copies of all my stories, and would put them back up myself somewhere if I still wanted them to be available.

        I really think this is a major shift in fannish culture. And I’m guessing that the only way for those of us who are interested in keeping some control over where our work is published will be going to have to take everything down from public archives and just keep it on personal journals that can be set to private whenever we choose.

        • Oshun commented:

          those of us who are interested in keeping some control over where our work is published will be going to have to take everything down from public archives and just keep it on personal journals that can be set to private whenever we choose

          I think if one felt that strongly about it, that is exactly what one ought to do. The internet is not a private place really. Over the years, I have actually heard a lot more crying from people about losing their work though archives disappearing. I’m pretty neutral on the subject. I do tend to lean in the direction of preserving rather than losing things, especially literature. But I have all my life written for a living. So published has always meant published for me. Public and non-revokable. I do use a pen name for fanfiction. That has worked for me. And it is a time-honored tradition for writing outside of one’s usual area or comfort zone. I realize there is a different culture in fandom–it’s just kind of foreign to me.

          • azarias commented:

            I think there are two issues here that are getting conflated.

            Issue 1: Ideas, once published, are out in public, and the creator can’t control what’s being thought or made with those ideas, or how they’re being discussed. I agree with you completely here — that’s the very foundation fanfic’s built on, in fact. If I write a story and publish it professionally or put it online, I shouldn’t be surprised that other people take my ideas and run with them, and moreover, it’s a healthy and natural, human thing to do, and in no way does it harm me.

            Issue 2: Stories, once published, are out in public, and the creator can’t control where they go. To a practical extent, that’s true; it’s impossible to stop piracy, and ways that have been tried to do so have done more harm than good. I can borrow a book from the library, run it through a scanner, and put it on on Mediafire, or print it out and distribute physical copies, and it would be very hard to catch me. If you want to take my fanfic and post it somewhere without my permission, I can’t stop you. I can’t hack into your website and tear my story down, I can’t physically tackle you and stop you from using your computer, and I can’t sue you in court for violating my copyright — or, if I could do any of those things, I shouldn’t and I won’t.

            But I do not agree that these two ideas are fundamentally the same. I do not think that fanfiction is the same thing as piracy. I do not think that using characters and settings I come up with is the same as copying and distributing my words, my stories, without my consent. All of my stories that I want to have on AO3 right now are already on AO3. I don’t want someone to take my other stories from another website and put them on AO3. Not from an old archive because the archivist tells you it’s okay, not from an old mailing list because the listmod tells you it’s okay, not from an LJ community because the maintainer tells you it’s okay, and not from my own LiveJournal because the owners of LJ tell you it’s okay. I can’t actually stop anyone who wants to do this from doing it, but I can tell you that it’s wrong and ask you not to.

  3. azarias commented:

    It sounds like, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that the plan is to go ahead and move the stories to AO3, and then if anyone objects they can remove their stories from AO3 after the fact. That seems backwards to me.

    If I even have stories on an archive that’s affected by this, and you ask me if you can put them on AO3, I’ll say yes! I have a handful of other little fics on AO3 and I spend a few hours a week reading there. But you have to ask. It’s just rude and socially unacceptable not to. These are my stories I’m sharing with you, because fandom as I understand it is a culture of sharing. But leave them where you found them unless I tell you it’s okay to take them elsewhere, please!

    It really doesn’t matter that the archivist agrees. I don’t know what the practice is on the SSA; I don’t have any stories posted there, and for all I know, it’s explicit in the rules that the archivist can repost your story if you post it there. Fair enough, but I haven’t ever posted on an archive that had that rule in place and I’d be genuinely surprised to find many archives that work like that. This is something that needs to be explicit, not implicit, and unless the archive has always been very clear about what it does with stories, it’s unfair and creepy to assume that the author gives permission.

    • Hello Sunshine commented:

      Agreed. Normally when people don’t want their work posted on an archive, all they have to do is not post there. It’s completely arse-about-face to require people to go through steps and become registered users simply to avoid having their work archived. It seems to me the ethical thing to do would be to contact the archive’s registered users and inform them of the option of re-archiving on AO3. That way, the people who want to can, the people who don’t want to don’t, and the people who never recieve the email won’t have their silence taken as implicit permission for their fic re-archived somewhere outside of their knowledge and so beyond their control.

    • Rachel B. commented:

      The maintainers of the SSA have asked us to provide a home for the archive, which would otherwise cease to exist. The whole archive is moving, from its old web address to a new one. What makes this unlike a simple change of webhosts is that at the SSA’s new address, writers will have more control over their stories than they did previously — options including locking the story (so it’s only visible to logged-in users), orphaning the story (if they no longer want their name attached to it anywhere but would be comfortable having the story remain online), or deleting the story.

      Many old fic archives are slowly getting buggier and buggier until they fall apart, or they’re disappearing because of tech woes (like the old Sports Night Archive), or they’re disappearing because their archivists have died and no one has the time and the money to keep them going (which is what would have happened to the SSA if we hadn’t been able to work with them to find a new solution.)

      We’re trying to prevent the experience of finding story link on a recs page and discovering that the link is dead because the archive vanished. Part of the OTW’s mission is providing access to, and preserving the history of, fandom and fanworks. If these archives disappear, then our access to all of that creativity is gone. We think that the benefit to fandom of giving the archive a new home (instead of having it disappear altogether) outweighs the minor inconvenience to any fan who might choose to delete a story rather than allow it to remain on the SSA at its new address.

      • azarias commented:

        I understand your goal. I appreciate that you’re well-intentioned and that this will in fact be a boon for many people. But you’re not addressing the concern I and others commenting here have. This isn’t the case of an archive changing webhosts. This is the case of an archive being moved into a whole new archive and authors’ permission being sought after the fact, and the burden then being put on the author to act if she objects.

        You’ve simply got an inversion in your order of operations: if you ask first, then archive, you have no problem! Archiving first and then asking is a violation of fannish etiquette that’s been established since the early days of mailing lists.

        I’ve never written Smallville fic, so I don’t have a story on the SSA archive. That might seem like I don’t have a dog in the hunt, then, except that you’ve made it clear that this is only the first of many archives you hope to incorporate into AO3. I do have fics on some of those other, old, buggy, falling-apart archives, and if I wanted them on AO3, I would put them there. I will be very displeased to come online one day and find that you’ve brought my fics to AO3 without my permission.

        Please, before you act, reconsider your policy, and consider the reasons it’s unacceptable to archive fic without the author’s permission. The archivist is not the author, and unless the author has given the archivist permission to speak for her and the right to take her stories to other archives, simply having the archivist on board is not enough. Ask the authors, then archive the ones that grant permission. That’s all that’s needed.

        • Jenny Scott-Thompson commented:

          Unfortunately, it’s not that simple from a technical point of view. Whenever possible, we’ll get permission in advance, and each archive is considered on a case-by-case basis, looking at the terms under which work was originally archived, whether the archivist has permission to move it, and how the authors can be contacted. However, sometimes, with a site that is falling apart due to old code, corrupted databases or other issues, it’s not possible to mark which authors have given permission on the original site – it can only be done after importing the stories onto OTW servers, and then removing those stories after import.

          All of this, though, is done in conjunction with the archivist or owner of the site where the works are currently hosted. Those archivists will tell us what permission they currently have from the authors, what the fannish culture of their area of fandom is (because it does vary from archive to archive), and then we’ll work with them to see which of our tools, if any, are suitable to help save their site.

          • azarias commented:

            Then import them privately, and mark them on the AO3 end as not having permission, then delete all of those before making the collection public. Or export the database elsewhere, do your sorting there, and then import to AO3. Since you’re moving the stories to a completely new codebase, there are a number of ways to resolve this, none of which require you to put the stories up publicly on AO3 and put the onus on the authors to know you’ve done it, and register an account with your site in order to be able to correct your mistake. Perhaps none of those ways are as convenient as just archiving them all at once and calling it a good job, but sometimes doing a job right takes a little extra effort.

            The clock isn’t ticking. Hard drive space is cheap: you can hold the “indeterminate” stories indefinitely until such time as the author contacts you with permission. I have a folder full of fanfics from dead sites. I suspect most of us do. I keep them because I don’t want to lose the stories, but what I don’t do is post them on another site to make sure they stay accessible online!

            You’re not talking about rescuing a baby here. You’re talking about archiving fanfics. There’s no justification for trampling over authors’ rights and basic fannish courtesy from an overwhelming need to save these stories. Yes, it’s sad when stories disappear from the Internet, but if the options are let them disappear, or take them without asking, the latter is not the right choice. The right choice is to find a middle path and take only the ones the authors agree to let you take.

          • ingridmatthews commented:

            I agree with all of this comment. To do it any other way is far too Borg-like for me. Sucking up archives wholesale and reposting the work, even with the host’s permission (minus the individual authors permission) was never the way we did things around here.

            The ‘panic’ excuse — omg, it will DISAPPEAR/BREAK/DIE if you don’t comply immediately — is getting old. I didn’t like it with Yuletide either — and is still no excuse for the immediate display of the works sans author permission. I’m perfectly okay with right click –> save as if there is a story that would break my heart to never be able to read again. Permanence on the web is not an ideal I feel any need to subscribe to.

          • Amenirdis commented:

            Yes, I’m sure it’s more work for you! But the work still belongs to the author, and if you had to retype every word by hand it would still belong to the author!

            If you must import the stories, do not let them go public without the author’s permission. Or, better yet, delete the ones for which you do not have permission.

      • Hello Sunshine commented:

        We think that the benefit to fandom of giving the archive a new home (instead of having it disappear altogether) outweighs the minor inconvenience to any fan who might choose to delete a story rather than allow it to remain on the SSA at its new address.

        I’m not sure you get to make that decision on behalf of other people. It is completely the wrong way around to require someone who doesn’t want this to take action to undo what you’ve already done without their permission. If you’re confident you’ll be able to notify most authors and that most of them will be happy with the change, why not make it opt-in? By making it opt-out, you are making a clear statement that you believe you have a right to take an author’s work without their knowledge, consent and control.

  4. Thothmes commented:

    Author’s works are their brain children, and they shouldn’t have work wandering all over the web without their permission. You really need to get each author’s opt-in before doing this. Many people, like me, will probably cheerfully give permission. I’m easy-going that way, but not everybody is. It’s somewhat analagous to the icons I create. I have some that I wouldn’t care if they became internet-wide memes (as unlikely as that is) but the two I have that are made with pictures of my kids, I don’t want anyone using but me. Authors post their works for varying reasons, and with varying expectations, but they really don’t expect them to go wandering off on their own without permission!

  5. Jennisme commented:

    Transformative works are when you take the characters or situations created by someone else and write a new story or a make a new piece of art about them.

    Reposting someone’s entire work without their permission is piracy.

    You are distorting the lines between transformative works and piracy, and undermining the entire concept of transformative works in the process.

  6. Blueinkedfrost commented:

    I agree with the statement that this is no different to an archive itself choosing to change web hosts, or choosing to change its site design, or choosing to change its site design to include elements that some authors might find offensive (eg. the archive affiliating with a political site or hosting offensive ads). If an effort is made to notify people in advance and afterwards they can still take down their stories, then I’m glad as a reader that the material will still be available rather than disappear from the internet.

  7. James commented:

    Systems such as google or archive.org are likely to have a copy of the old archive in some form, so it is hard for people to truly remove their fiction.

    If AO3 were “simply” hosting the other archives at the old address with the old software then I don’t believe there would be any objections.

    It might be possible to have the one standard tag “hidden_from_ao3” so the story wasn’t displayed on the main archive.
    Have a separate url for the imported archive which would have only show stories with the tag associated with the imported archive. That way the stories are preserved, Stories are not visible by default on the main archive and only stories from the imported site are visible on new url ( which the old site could redirect to for a short while ).

    However in my opinion if the current maintainer has asked you to do this for them then that is good enough for me although I can only speak for myself as a reader and not an author.

    • Tallihensia commented:

      It might be possible to have the one standard tag “hidden_from_ao3” so the story wasn’t displayed on the main archive.

      Have a separate url for the imported archive which would have only show stories with the tag associated with the imported archive. That way the stories are preserved, Stories are not visible by default on the main archive and only stories from the imported site are visible on new url ( which the old site could redirect to for a short while ).

      I like that idea. I do know that the planned SSA archive will have a separate url and also a separate tag, but I don’t know if the stories will or won’t be on the main ao3 site (I’m a fan whose been involved, not an a03 person). If the stories will not be on the main ao3 site, that would probably relieve some of the issues. Having that tag/option for authors to toggle on/off would be a nice idea.

  8. Oshun commented:

    If one writes a newspaper article or has a book published it exists. It may moulder away in someone’s basement or be cared for in a library. I may cite it years later in a scholarly work after the author has long abandoned or even rescinded the position they took in that essay or article. Or I may be embarrassed to know that the poems I wrote in high school are in an archive of my high school newspaper. That’s life.

    How is this different? I presume because people write fanfiction and use pen names thinking the process is somewhat private and personal. The internet has never been truly private. One could take reasonable precautions that would more likely than not prevent one’s mother-in-law or boss from reading their Elf-porn or RPS. But those items still exist.

    Maybe they presume their fanfiction legacy died with an unattended, corrupted, inactive website? God only knows. I use a pen name and I don’t advertise my fanfiction on Facebook to all of my family and professional connections but I never believed it was hermetically sealed off from the real world. I actually have chosen my archives largely if not primarily for their apparent stability (the reasonable assurance that my work would NOT be lost). Have others considered the possible instability of badly maintained or abandoned sites somehow a protection of their anonymity?

    I have no hard position. I generally support preserving history over losing it. (This is not the Library of Alexandria, but good or bad, this work has all kinds of value.) My bad teenage poetry is in the microfiche section of the local public library in the small town where I grew up. I’d love to disappear it, but along with its loss, the world would lose not just my poorly conceived and executed bad!poems but a slice of history of a time and place that exists no where else.

  9. miera_c commented:

    I’m not getting a clear idea from the existing discussion, so I’d like a clarification:

    Is OTW going out and seeking archives to import and then contacting the owner? Are you actively looking to do this?

    Or is OTW providing a service to archive owners looking to back up their archives, and only responding to requests coming in from those owners?

    If the former, then we have a problem. There are plenty of issues with the archive for the people who have chosen to use it that should be addressed first, rather than spending time on this. This isn’t OTW’s mission, to scour the internet for content to scoop up.

    If the latter, then anyone objecting to “piracy” needs to talk to the people who run the archives they have fic on, and if that owner is considering this and you don’t want it, take your content down. Once you posted to an archive, you put your content in that person’s hands. You need to take this issue up with them.

    • anon commented:

      My problem with this is that, oh, say in 1992 I gave someone pemission to archive one of my Highlander stories on their site. I’ve left that fandom, moved, changed email addresses several times, and am no longer in contact with anyone from the Highlander fandom.

      This does not give the site host ownership of my fanfic. I gave them permission to host it in one particular place. If they cannot get express permission from the author, the story should not be moved to an entirely separate archive.

      • miera_c commented:

        Archivists shouldn’t be moving archives to A03 without contacting their authors (or putting in a good faith effort to do so and get the word out as much as possible) and letting them know about the move and leaving plenty of time for people to take their content down, including helping them do it. But that’s a problem for the individual archives out there, and something that should be addressed to the people who run them.

        I can see OTW’s point that they’d rather save fic from being deleted entirely from the internet if they’re asked to by an archivist who has decided the choice is moving the archive or deletion.

        I’m not saying this is uncomplex, but I really think the individuals who run archives and are making this decision should be the focal point for individuals.

    • Lucy Pearson commented:

      Good question. It’s the latter: the OTW is providing a service to archive owners who want a way to back up / preserve their archives. In the case of the SSA, which is our test case, the current mods have been preserving the archive to the best of their ability, but problems with the software mean that the archive is fast becoming unusable and they were keen to find some way to preserve the archive in some form.

      We won’t be searching the internet looking for archives to import; if a fan tells us of a favourite archive which needs help then we might contact the mods to let them know that the Open Doors project exists, but the importing is definitely reactive, not proactive. It’s an option for archivists who feel that it’s the best option for their archive and their fannish community.

      We will be encouraging archivists considering using the service to publicise it widely before any import, so that there is a chance for the fannish communities concerned to have these conversations first. In the case of the SSA, they’ve been waiting for the import to be possible for more than two years, so this has already taken place.

      OTW Communications

      • Spiced Wine commented:

        I can only speak for myself, but had I posted work on an archive which became difficult or impossible for me to use due to it being old and buggy, and if there was any danger of the archive being lost, I would be relieved were it moved to a place where I could easily access my work to edit it,(which I do a great deal of) or remove if I wished.

        I would like to mention Lord of the Rings Fanfiction.com.

        This is the archive bought by Keith Mander in July ’11. Since then there has been absolute silence from both he and the previous owner. As you can see from the home page, after posting on July 03, they did not respond to concerned questions from any-one.

        K. Mander said the hosting fees had been paid for quite some time but, as nothing has changed on the site (advertising was supposed to be implemented in September ’11) and most, if not all, of the mods left, I fear that once the hosting fees lapse, K.Mander will not renew them.

        Many authors pulled their work and re-posted elsewhere as I did, (AO3 was one place because I, too, choose sites where the work it not likely to be lost.) but LOTRFF.com is still used regularly, and I do believe there are some people who would be upset if the site vanished one day. The previous times it went down due to a hosting fee deficit, there was never any warning; I see no reason this time should be any different.

        I do not know if K. Mander or Adora would even respond to an inquiry, but I am thinking of the people who chose to remain on the archive thinking it safe, when it may not be. Many of them, I think, would be grateful to have their work preserved. K. Mander has no interest whatsoever in fanfiction, and I cannot imagine he will throw good money after bad. He has even taken down the blog post where he talked about his ownership of, and plans for, the archive.

        I think the idea of preserving fanworks is laudable, and I am discomfited to come across many ungracious responses. It would seem that some people would prefer to see their works disappear rather than be collected and preserved, even if they have the option to later remove it. Yes, I do agree that authors should be asked, simply because it is good manners, and recognizes the author’s ownership of the story (or stories). There does, however, appear to be an underlying attitude of what almost amounts to contempt for the readers.

        Fandom has never been simply about supplying content; if it were not for the ‘consumers’, who read, take time to review, email the authors, who nominate stories for awards, fanfiction would have no force or vitality. I doubt any fanfic author likes writing into an echoing void.
        Thank goodness I have never followed, supported, pimped, reviewed or befriended any author who would treat their readers so cavalierly, as if their support, their love of the work is worthless, undeserving of consideration.
        There are, of course, good reasons for authors to remove their work, or not care if a hosting site goes down, but the chances are some-one’s read the work, enjoyed it, and want to find it again. There is always some-one searching for fic on Live Journal’s ‘story-finder’ communities. Respect and gratitude toward readers as a vital part of fandom is important. When I pulled my work from one archive because I felt it did not fit, a silent reader tracked my work through Google (and had the devil of a job), and found me elsewhere, when I pulled everything from LOTRFF.com, I did leave a ‘forwarding address’ on my profile, which remains on the site, but if you have no stories on an archive, your name does not appear on the author list of e-script based archives, therefore people have to search for you again. I’ve had messages from other readers who had to search. If I decided to pull everything, I would contact the reviewers to ask them if they wished to save the stories, but never would I think they didn’t deserve some explanation and a lot of respect from me. They’ve devoted time to reading and reviewing me, and they matter.

        I support the OTW because it views fanfiction, fanart, fanvids et al as legitimate, not some hole-in-the-corner shameful pursuit that is better off hidden, and this ‘open doors’ policy is a reflection of that belief. And, like another commenter, I am in favour of preserving. That being said, yes, authors should be contacted if at all possible. Perhaps some people could volunteer? LOTRFF.com like all e-script based sites, has a contact button where any-one can send a direct message to the authors, but this I think, is a case of the admins of those archives suggesting it to their members (if mods exist) and if they do not, or do not respond, to try and contact the authors.

        • Corenn commented:

          Well said… As a reader, I often lamented the loss of good fanfictions in my fandom, and as an author, I simply… put them up to be read. Without the readers, I wouldn’t write. Likewise, I write under a pen name, so why the hell should I care about fics being still up online? I google myself sometimes, that’s all.

          I totally agree with this comment. Please, before crying borg, try to see things in this point of view…

  10. zellieh commented:

    I just wanted to congratulate you all on finally getting to a point where you can put this into practice. I’ve been worried about the Smallville Slash Archive for years now, ever since I heard that Minotaur sadly died, and it’s good to know that all that work will be preserved.

    It’s also nice to know that Open Doors will be there for archivists and site owners in future who want to hand their projects on, but don’t want to simply delete a whole archive.

    Which, actually, is a good point: if I’m worried about having works on the web, then its my responsibility to take it down, wherever it is, or keep my stuff on my own personal site. When I put my stuff on an archive, I give up control of a lot of the details in exchange for the convenience of not having to host my own site. Archivists moving their archive to the OTW is no different than moving it to a new webhost, or upgrading the site.

    Minotaur’s executors could simply have deleted the SSA, without contacting the writers first to ask permission, and as an author, I would have had no control over that. Archivists can just move or abandon archives, and leave me with no way of contacting them to update stuff, and let the archive slowly fall to pieces. As an author, I have no control over that.

    If the OTW is asked to preserve an old archive, that actually gives me more control: I can take my works down, edit them in a number of ways, and there’ll always be a team of people I can talk to. And I don’t want my works to just disappear; I like the idea that they’ll be out there, giving people pleasure, maybe even after I’m dead.

    tl;dr: Open Doors is saving the SSA, yay! ::hugs you all::

    • Spiced Wine commented:

      if I’m worried about having works on the web, then its my responsibility to take it down, wherever it is, or keep my stuff on my own personal site.

      I completely agree. If I were in the least bit concerned about anything I wrote being traced to me, I wouldn’t post it, and would just write for myself. As it is, my fanfic and my identity are easily linked because I simply don’t believe there is anything wrong in writing my themes of choice. What incenses me though, is that I know for a fact that some people have had to remove their fic as, were it linked to them, it would have resulted in their losing their jobs. That, however is the fault of society, and it is one reason why I am extremely open, as that kind of wrongheaded attitude is unacceptable to me. I respect that certain people keep their fandom identities and real ones completely separate, but I fail to see how the Open Door policy comes into that concern. If I had posted work on an old archive, it’s extremely unlikely I would have forgotten about it, and did if it nagged me that it was out there somewhere, I am sure I could track it down.

      I can take my works down, edit them in a number of ways, and there’ll always be a team of people I can talk to. And I don’t want my works to just disappear; I like the idea that they’ll be out there, giving people pleasure, maybe even after I’m dead.

      And this. Nothing would drive me bats more surely than being unable to (frequently) edit and fiddle with my online work due to a site gradually breaking down, or an absent admin. Neither would I be able to delete it if I wished to, and I do like to have control over my stories.

      I do wish Open Doors had been in place last year when LOTRFF.com was sold to K. Mander. I am sure that it would still be the site I knew and enjoyed being a part of, and that there would have been far less objection to Open Doors, than there was to Mander’s take-over.

    • Tallihensia commented:

      Which, actually, is a good point: if I’m worried about having works on the web, then its my responsibility to take it down, wherever it is, or keep my stuff on my own personal site. When I put my stuff on an archive, I give up control of a lot of the details in exchange for the convenience of not having to host my own site. Archivists moving their archive to the OTW is no different than moving it to a new webhost, or upgrading the site.

      I completely agree. This is a move, not a “repost”, and it’s to the archive and the authors’ advantage. Archives used to move all the time because they would be personally hosted and when a new archivist took over, the archive would move to the new personal location. It’s always been a problem, and having the move go to the AO3 solves many many problems that way.

  11. Artaxastra commented:

    Today I am deleting all my stories from the archive. If you do not respect authors enough to ask their permission to repost their works, you are not trustworthy.

  12. kynical commented:

    I had a long reply, but the issue is a really simple one. You guys are acting as the arbiters of fannish culture. Unless an archive has in the TOS that said story can be moved around to another archive then you don’t have that right. For all kinds of reasons mundane and major, people may not want their stories on another or larger archive. The point is, if an individual did this, we’d be screaming that wasn’t right. However, it is apparently alright for OTW to take an archive and then let the author opt out.

    I don’t sound reasoned and logical on this for a simple reason. I’ve got stories in a small fandom on an old archive. The person maintaining it won’t communicate with me. I can only trust they stay in that small out of the way archive. It wouldn’t take much to connect me to said stories if someone wanted too. Said stories are of a variety and fandom that my job as clergy would easily be at risk.

    Point is, you don’t get to speak and make those decisions for fans that aren’t able to get in touch with you (or won’t or can’t.)

  13. ciaan commented:

    For what it’s worth, the opinions I’ve seen around SV fandom and especially among Clex fans are almost entirely positive about this move. I’ve been worried about the SSA for ages now, and so have many other people, and we don’t want it to disappear. If it did then 90% of the old school Clex fic would go with it and that would be a massive massive blow. Many fans have been waiting impatiently for this move to finally happen. I understand, respect, and agree with some of the complaints and issues people have raised about the general concept, BUT in this specific case users of the archive are pretty well-informed and positive about the move. We’ll be including the news in today’s issue of the SV Ledger on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth and I’m off to make a post to the old ClarkLex Yahoo mailing list as well. You can see some of what people in the fandom have been saying in the two links below.


    So thank you OTW for saving the SSA.

    • Isagel commented:

      This. So much this. This has been talked about among people who have remained active in SV fandom for a long time now, and eagerly anticipated by everyone from the old-school Clex days I’ve seen mention it. The SSA was hugely important to our fandom then, and I don’t think any of us want to see it die when there’s a way for it to be preserved. I, for one, cheered when I saw this news.

    • rhiannonhero commented:

      SV fandom as a whole has been aware of this change and hoping for it for a long time. It is, imo, exactly like changing servers, and I’m pleased that I will finally have some control over my content posted at SSA again. In this case, I’ll be leaving it up, but it will be nice to be able to edit it, or delete it, or whatever I wish. Hooray for this move! Very pleased!

  14. azarias commented:

    Okay, I’m going to lay this out here. I’ve been in fandom since I was 14 years old, and I’m near enough to 30 now. I have a number of stories on “at risk” archives. Some of them are under my Azarias screenname. Many of them are not. Some of them are linked to email addresses to which I have still access. Many of them are not.

    I specifically forbid the Organization for Transformative Works from rearchiving my stories, under any screenname, for any reason. Any stories written by me that are uploaded to the Archive of Our Own by anyone but me are not only being taken without my permission, but specifically against my clear and simple wishes.

    What steps will the OTW take to make certain that none of my stories, under any screenname, are imported to the AO3? Or is the OTW claiming the right to take stories against the wishes of the author, for the greater good of fandom?

    • Lucy Pearson commented:

      I’ll break this into two parts: the importing code as it stands and the plans for the next iteration of the code.

      As it stands: When a work is imported from an archive, the email associated with it will receive a notice letting you know about it and inviting you to claim your stores, or to delete your stories. If you opt to delete, you’ll also be offered the option to block any future imports of works which belong to the same email address. If you don’t have access to an email address but you know that an archive with your work has been imported, you can contact Open Doors and they will facilitate your wishes.

      In the future: The plan is that the next iteration of the code will include an option to register email addresses for preemptive blocking. That will mean you’ll be able to contact Open Doors saying ‘I don’t want any works connected with myemail@old address or myemail@otheraddress to be imported’. They will enter it into the system and they’ll be stored for the future so that if an archive with your works is imported, it will automatically exclude your stories.

      AD&T / Communications

      • Tallihensia commented:

        That will mean you’ll be able to contact Open Doors saying ‘I don’t want any works connected with myemail@old address or myemail@otheraddress to be imported’.

        Ah… if that’s done, what’s to prevent malicious mischief from entering email addresses of authors who *do* want their stories to be imported, or people who have left fandom and don’t use that old email address anymore? All well and good for individuals to be making choices about their own personal fics, but I don’t want some crusader on a rampage going through old fandoms and entering every email address they can find, or targeting specific people who are not them.

      • azarias commented:

        What I’m seeing in that answer is: you’re going to do it anyway, and eventually you’ll get around to creating an opt-out system that still puts the burden on the person who does not want stories moved to the archive, rather than on the people who are doing the moving.

        Look, I know that this is the Internet. It’s still the Wild West out here. I can’t actually stop anyone from taking my fics and doing whatever they like with them. I’m not losing sleep over the fact that nothing but courtesy and general goodwill prevents anything I put online from being defaced, plagiarized, or posted wherever anyone else sees fit. You posts your stories, you takes your chances.

        But there’s a difference between not being able to stop something and actively encouraging it happening. The OTW plans to do the latter and is manufacturing an emergency to justify it.

        One would think that the servers are actively on fire, the Huns are at the gates, and everyone’s right-click-save function is broken. A story disappearing from the Internet for a time while the author is contacted for re-archive permission does not mean the story is lost. It’s right there. You have the file. If you’re working with the archivist, you literally have all the files and can privately store as many copies as you need in as many machines as you require to feel secure.

        I don’t want to prevent a single person who wants her stories on AO3 from having them there. And I’m not suggesting any course of action that would prevent her, or even significantly slow her down. All I want to do is make certain that those like myself who do not want certain of our works moved to AO3 are respected, and those who have never heard of AO3 are given the ability to make the decision for themselves, not having the OTW assume the right to make those decisions for them.

        No one assumes that, because her favorite novel has gone out of print, she has the right to start printing and distributing copies of it herself! There is such a thing as the public domain, but simply publishing a story in public does not put it in the public domain. If we’re coming at transformative works from that angle, then sister, we are sunk. Why should authors, actors, directors, and other creators whose work we transform take us seriously when we tell them that we respect them, that we respect their rights and aren’t a threat to them, while we demonstrate that we don’t take those rights seriously even within our own community, where there’s no money on the line?

  15. ingridmatthews commented:

    What if I have works on the SSA under other names that I don’t want reposted, but don’t want to claim either to delete them? Or can’t claim because I no longer have that Hotmail, AOL or MSN email account? Will there be verification of the original email addresses? Will I be able to do this under a sock account? If so will anyone else be able to claim those stories and delete/confirm them as acceptable?

    And yes, these are real questions. I’ve posted quite a bit to the SSA a dozen years ago and I’m pretty sure it’s not all under this name.

    • Isagel commented:

      Seconding this question. Personally, I want to keep my stories on the SSA up after the move and claim them as mine, but I’m very curious as to how the claiming process is supposed to work when people no longer have access to the email addresses they used back then? If I will be able to claim my stories without access to my old email, how easy/difficult would it be for someone to falsely claim a story they didn’t write?

      • Heather Cook commented:

        Please see my reply (below) to the poster you replied to.

    • Heather Cook commented:

      (I’m a member of Open Doors.)

      The various committees involved in the process have plans in place to verify author claims, and we will work with authors to make sure they are able to claim, delete or orphan only the stories they have written, whether it was under their current fannish name, a sockpuppet or a name they no longer use.

      • ingridmatthews commented:

        I’ll be fascinated to hear about that might be accomplished. I hope there are no plans to move anything until that’s figured out.

  16. mamoru22 commented:

    As someone who used to write fanfiction (but haven’t been doing that for quite some time) and as a reader, I am very glad that something like this is happening. I can’t even imagine how much thought and effort the archivists from the SSA and all of you have been putting into this. It really is appreciated and while I understand some concerns I personally feel reassured that you are actually putting all the extra work in to make sure that every author is contacted about this.

    And that you have so many different options for authors to then deal with the move!

  17. Morgan Dawn commented:

    I know you’ve made a lot of Smallville readers and writers very happy. Especially those writers who have been wanting to regain control of their fan fiction as the archive slowly decayed. We have a similar situation going on in another fandom where the archivist has disappeared for years, the archive remains up and running and the writers who want/need to remove their works cannot.

    I am glad you and the archivist are doing the best they can to reach the writers so they can be informed and take action.

  18. Vera commented:

    I am so glad that this is finally happening. Minotaur’s passing was a great loss and I value all the fans, the archivists and friends and Minotaur’s family, for keeping the Smallville Slash Archive alive while a solution was discussed and planned (and discussed and planned…) with our fandom. I feel this particularly as an author. It will be nice to have access to that public face of some of my stories.

    I expect this will be a great motivator for some of the commenters on this thread to discuss archives and plan legacy within their own fandoms. Your sudden concern for our archive is heartwarming, but we in Smallville fandom have been on top of it.

    To all the Smallville fans who’ve kept publicising this within Smallville communities and most particularly to the SSA archivists over the few years, managing a crotchety archive and even more crotchety users: yours is not a thankless task for I thank you very much.

    • Tallihensia commented:

      I expect this will be a great motivator for some of the commenters on this thread to discuss archives and plan legacy within their own fandoms. Your sudden concern for our archive is heartwarming, but we in Smallville fandom have been on top of it.

      ;D Well said!! ^_^

      I agree with the rest too – Minotaur’s family didn’t have to maintain the servers for so long, and it’s just been a wonderful work of love to keep it going. His legacy of generosity and helpfulness is a legacy worth preserving.

  19. kayladie commented:

    As a diehard Smallville fan, I for one am absolutely thrilled at this news! It’s sometimes so frustrating to want to read a story I remember fondly and not be able to, simply because the site is not available. I believe this is no different than a site upgrade or a new web address. The stories are already THERE, it’s no different for them to be available all the time, rather than the hit-and-miss that it is right now. I agree with all those who are saying that if you truly want control over your fanfic, don’t post it to the web, or at least keep it locked in your own personal space.

    I eagerly look forward to being able to browse the SSA once again!!

  20. Tallihensia commented:

    Smallville fans have been working for this for over two years, with each other, with the archive owners, and with the OTW. This is wonderful news for us and it’s been a long hard journey.

    All authors who originally posted to the SSA gave their permission for the SSA to host their stories on the SSA – they posted them there themselves.

    This move to the AO3 is in no way a “repost” of the archives, this is an archive, whole and intact, moving to a new location, with the full assistance and permission of the archive owners, and input with much of the community. There is a lot more work on all parties sides than just a “simple move” as the AO3 has been doing an enormous amount of coding and effort to get the stories into the AO3 format (and are to be vastly commended for it!), but the archive is staying together as an archive, they’ve got an archive tag, and they’ll still be the SSA archive.

    The AO3 has been incredibly diligent about contacting all whom can be contacting and making provisions all over the place for keeping author rights intact. Much more effort, in fact, than the original archive had. There is also now much more access for authors to be able to do something about their stories than the original archive had.

    I’ve been in various fandoms for an incredibly long time and have mourned greatly when archive sites have gone away and we have lost stories. The original Ranma/Ryoga (anime) site disappeared in its entirety and there are several authors who no longer have access to their work because that was the only place the stories had ever been: This was in the days before most people had their own personal computers – no, not every author had floppy disks, or zip drives, or any way of backing up their own material besides posting them to mailing groups or putting them in archives. (And it was before the Wayback Machine as well.) The disappearances were sad losses to the fandoms, and we regret them deeply to this very day. There are no new authors in those incredibly old fandoms, and there’s no way we can ever now revisit the joy of the fandom when it was active and new.

    The AO3 is wonderful and it is amazing to have a location where we can put the SSA archive and know that it will not disappear like so many others have. Individual authors might (to readers’ regret) take down their own stories, which they have the right to do so. But the archive will live, and that is the most important thing to the fans.

    I speak also as a writer, having written in the older fandoms where things have disappeared, and in these newer fandoms as well. I like having archives where stories can be stored. I write because I like to, but I share for the fans and for other people’s enjoyment.

    When I was younger and the internet was younger, I did have my real info available because that’s what we did back then. The internet was new, we didn’t know any better. I wouldn’t do that now, but you know… all those stories with my real name – they’re out there still. Everything is still there. People have copies, people have history, and it’s there. Oh well. That’s the internet. I posted it, I made it available, it was upon me, and it still is. That was my choice then, and that’s a fact of life for today.

    Nowadays, I would highly recommend all authors to write under pseudonyms and don’t connect them with real life information. However, I’d still encourage people to share the stories. People love to read, and they love the sandboxes in which we all play. There isn’t always a lot of encouragement or feedback, but that too is an advantage of moving stories to AO3 where they have a nice ‘kudos’ button and a comment form – which the older archives never had at all!

    This is a wonderful move; I’m delighted to see it happen, and I think this is a terrific advancement for fandom, for the archive, and for authors. Thank you to all who made it possible.

    • out_there commented:

      As someone who has stories on that archive and would love the ability to change the author name (and have everything linking to one), I wanted to stop by and thank the OTW and AO3 for doing this. This is hardly different from an archive changing URLs — it’s a whole archive moving together, as it was — but it’s clearly taken a lot of work to change from the old formats to AO3. Personally, I’d appreciate the ability to read on the SSA again and be able to feel connected to that archive again.

      And while many people may complain about the etiquette, I just wanted to say that as someone who would like access to her own stories again, I appreciate the effort you have all put into making this possible.