A History of Fandom Purges












I’m curious how many related deletions we can come up with.

  • 2002 - FFN bans porn
  • 2002 - FFN bans RPF
  • 2004 - FFN bans script format
  • 2005 - FFN bans CYOA, Readerfic, 2nd person, Songfic
  • 2007 - Strikethrough, Boldthrough
  • 2009 - GeoCities shuts down, taking old fannish websites
  • 2010 - FFN forums deleted
  • 2011 - Delicious destroyed by Yahoo’s incompetence
  • 2012 - major FFN crackdown on porn
  • 2014 - Quizilla shuts down
  • 2015 - Journalfen’s servers become fully robust, deleting Fandom Wank

Didn’t quizilla have purges before finally shutting down? And I know basically every vidding home hot destroyed, repeatedly taking out the entire history of vidding online.

… they deleted Fandom Wank???

Well, not specifically. Journalfen failed completely and has never come back. FW was on Journalfen, so while you can see some entries on the Wayback machine, I think (?), the long comment threads aren’t archived.

  • 2007 - Youtube starts using its “content ID” system to identify (and block) works that include copyrighted material in their database.
  • 2009 - Greatestjournal shuts down, taking down fandom’s biggest collection of blog-style RPGs
  • 2012 - Megaupload shut down by FBI; some (many?) fanvid archives lost

I thought there was also some kind of purge at Deviantart, but I don’t recall the details.

I’d like to remind folks that there was literally wank last month about why do we need the OTW.

Well, this would be why: we sincerely believed in the internet values of a decade or two ago, which involved owning our own servers if we wanted to see our projects remain stable, in the long term, online.

Worth mentioning: Yahoo purchased GeoCities, and was behind the decision to shut all those sites down. 

Yahoo’s incompetence destroyed Delicious.

Yahoo owns Tumblr.

1356: 50% of monks.

People just… completely forget. I was there for all of the bans on fanfiction.net. You don’t know panic until you go to log in one morning and find out a bunch of your works have been deleted, gone forever, because some asshole arbitrarily decided that they wanted to ban something.


2016 -y!gallery an archive of m/m art and stories, original and fanfiction was completely destroyed and all works were lost

Y!gallery itself was originally built in response to Sheezy art banning adult themes in 2005

Deviant Art in my experience says it doesn’t allow porn but will allow erotic art of women to reach the front page, straight male gaze gets a pass. Art focused on men is more likely to get deleted.

A lot of things destroyed by anti-porn rules are really anti-porn not made by and for straight men. It’s women’s and queer folks work that is demonized.

^^^^^ i actually tested this when i was on DA. I drew a bunch of s*xually e*plicit vag*nas and d*cks and the d*cks were removed within 24 hours. the vag*nas were never reported.

these bans are attacks on women and queer/LGBTQ people. the straight male gaze is apparently the only legitimate n sfw view

You missed some:

Fandom purges are almost never just about one thing. Fannish content both relies on fair use exemption and is frequently sexually explicit, so it gets attacked on both copyright/legal grounds (thank you, OTW Legal Team, for protecting us!) and TOS/hoster rules about porn/specific fictional content (thank you, AO3, for being an open archive!). On top of that, there is a nontrivial history of fannish content being lumped in with content that criticizes authoritarian governments, and targeted by sweeps by those governments and their censorship agencies when they purchase or put pressure on the commercial entities that own the servers (thank you, OTW, for being a nonprofit and owning and defending our servers!).

If you care about fannish content, you have to fight for fanfic on all three fronts. And if we hop off of HTTP and onto one of the decentralized protocols like dat et cetera, like people are starting to talk about in response to Article 13 and the Tumblr purges, we will inevitably be targeted along with a) people pirating media, b) porn distributors, and c) anti-government protestors, because those groups are also going use those protocols, too. I’m not saying, don’t think about migrating. I’m saying: there is a systemic problem within fandom, regarding the fact that we routinely get hit on three fronts: legal rights to the material we transform, sexual content, and governmental disapproval. Protecting fandom means fighting for fandom on all three fronts and putting thought and effort into how to make an archive robust against all three prongs of the attack.

This is what’s made AO3/the OTW so special: we have lawyers protecting our right to make what we make, we have a TOS that protects our right to make things that are sexually explicit, and because the OTW is a nonprofit, it’s more robust to the pressure that can be brought to bear upon commercial entities by both corporate and governmental powers (though, I note, especially when it comes to governments, it’s not immune, and we have to keep actively protecting it, and we have to protect other fans). If you are in fandom but you think that copyright upload filters are fine, because, well, you don’t want to put fanvids on YouTube, you are part of the problem. Your community is under attack. The powers that be have always come for us by attacking us in pieces, and we have always only ever successfully fought back by banding together.

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