LOTR and Twilight Fan Fiction Archives Bought - For Profit

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Two fan archives in The Lord of the Rings and Twilight fandoms — LOTRfanfiction.com and The Twilight Archives — have been bought by a web developer named Keith Mander, who plans to develop these archives' features and to generate profit by increasing traffic and adding advertising.

In a FAQ posted to LOTRfanfiction.com, Mr. Mander states that "The site will never become a cash cow, the intention is only to cover costs and facilitate future investment into the site." However, in a post on Dreamwidth, fan esteliel quotes from Mr. Mander's personal blog that his business plan is "to directly contact site owners who are unaware of their site’s value," and "to concentrate on topics that are not immediately commercial in nature as you’re more likely to discover a site created out of passion, rather than for profit."

First, to reassure those authors with works on these sites: we believe that people who create fanworks without making money from them are engaging in noncommercial fair uses, no matter where they post those fanworks. Just because your noncommercial fanwork is on an ad-supported site (including for instance a LiveJournal Plus account or on YouTube) does not mean your work is any less of a fair use. If you have any legal concerns about your work now or in the future, please contact the OTW and we will do our best to help you regardless if your work is on an ad-supported site or not.

However, there are clearly grounds for concern for the users of these sites, and we at OTW want to offer whatever support we can.

What we're doing right now:

* Our coders are already working on a custom importer to make it easier and quicker for writers to import their stories from these sites and back them up or transfer them to the Archive of Our Own. Our next deploy is coming soon and will hopefully include this update.

* If you are a user of these archives and don't already have an AO3 account, you can sign up for an AO3 invitation, or contact our Open Doors team, who will have accounts ready to give away.

Please boost the signal on this to users of these archives if you can!

We also want to add that we do ourselves feel that this sale is a risky thing for these archives and for their users. Many of us at the OTW are ourselves fandom archivists, and we know how hard it is for a single individual to keep a site running even with the best of intentions. When an archive is intended to be a profit-making venture for the person running it, it then becomes dependent not just on a single person, but also on the archive being profitable (and not more trouble than it's worth). As Mr. Mander says, he needs an "income stream" to justify investing in the site. So this raises the question of what happens to the site if it's not profitable or if the site as a whole gets a legal threat, or what will happen if some content on the site troubles advertisers.

In a posted response to Mander, esteliel says that she "did not agree that my stories will earn money for the owner of this website when I signed up for the archive," and reiterates she sees her stories as a gift to fandom. This is a feeling that many of us share, and which the OTW is committed to supporting. Fans have provided decades of labor and creativity without outside investors. Many users object in principle to having profit generated by monetizing their fanworks, and many users who put their work on these archives in the expectation that the archives themselves were labors of love by other fans are not interested in having their work taken over by a for-profit business.

The OTW will keep working to preserve a robust and lasting home for fanworks and fan cultures, regardless of whether or not a particular fandom provides a revenue stream. For individual archivists who are overwhelmed by the work of supporting an archive, please consider contacting us for assistance.

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"So this raises the question of what happens to the site if it's not profitable"

After FanLib, it boggles my mind that anyone thinks fanfic archives can be profitable. Cover costs: yes. Make a good return: no.

I'm interested in how much money the original site-owners made off the sale of an archive that had until then been supported by donations from the community. And whether they intend to pay the ficwriters for the content they provided, which made the site such an appealing purchase by Mr. Mander.

It strikes me that if I were a member of that community, I would be far angrier at the site-owner who sold the archive out from under the community (especially after building it based on donations!) than at Mr. Dudebro who bought it.

As a former contributor to the archive, I'm interesting in the sale price too. According to the owner, she had supported the site out of pocket for years with very little help from donors. What she's selling him is the community -- the contributor base with their associated content rather than the URL or the software. As a fandom hobby, her work _should_ be as gratis as the efforts of the writers who post the stories without pay. It's hard to tell, but I'm not sure she doesn't understand that fanfiction can't turn a profit.

I can understand her need to get out from under a financial burden, but she should have turned over the reins to a fellow fan. Instead, she picked the wrong sort of person.

Well, just to be clear, it's not our position that fanfiction absolutely can't *ever* have any intersection with commerce; as we noted in our post, many fans post noncommercial works on sites that are businesses or commercial entities (most of Web 2.0's social networks are businesses: YouTube, Facebook, Livejournal, even Dreamwidth; the OTW and the A03 are rare as nonprofits) and that's not even getting into legally published works like "The Wind Done Gone." But we do worry about the sustainability of these archives and whether there'll be a long-term commitment to the community.

I expect that he approached her out of effectively nowhere, offered what looked like a ridiculous amount of money for the site. And she looked over the cost of running it, and how common donations were (like most sites, could probably get a flurry of donations by pointing out "site fees coming soon! Pay or this gets shut down!" but not enough to never have to pay for it herself unless she nagged people), and said, "wait, someone wants to PAY ME to take over the admin and coding and moderation nightmares? For the right to fix the platform, and make the site self-sufficient? Woot!"

Because if she's not really familiar with Fanlib, she might not be aware what the Magic Business Buzzwords mean. It's a sign of ignorance, not stupidity, to not recognize corporate takeover jargon & intentions, especially when it's offered in private communication that sounds informal.

As far as turning it over to a fellow fan... how many archive holders can say, "Guys, I'm tired; which of you is willing to take this over and do a good job maintaining it according to the standards we've established?" and get useful answers. (Nevermind that Keith Mander won't be doing that; he *said* he'd do that, and if you don't have practice knowing the difference between "We'd never jeopardise that with the overuse of advertisements" and "our notion of too-many-ads and yours will match up.")

Hell, he might even be actually well-intentioned, wanting to play coding games with multiple fansites and sell social-networking/archive software, and have a cluster of fanfic sites as his "portfolio," where he doesn't care *what* goes in them as long as there's a lot of it & it's diverse so's to show off his shiny features. And if he'd stayed away from any archive that wasn't (1) kiddie oriented (like his older Pooh & bussongs sites) or (2) less than a 5-year-old fandom, he might've managed that.

LotR is not a young fandom. LotR has a 45-year history of copyright battles, and anyone who wants to muck around with money-making from it needs to be aware of that.

That is almost certainly what happened. He explains his strategy in an interview here: http://midascode.co.uk/blog/website-purchase-review-of-just-poohcom-with...

"My approach would be to directly contact site owners who are unaware of their site’s value and who’ve never experimented with online advertising. They’re usually surprised when you contact them with an offer and this eases the negotiation process. The potential with this approach is far greater."

As you say, the Tolkien Estate has been known to be litigious. I was going to take a wait and see attitude until Mr. Mander began to evade questions by using buzzwords like 'innovation'. Then I beat feet and hit delete.

This sounds like FanLib all over again, and how long did they last? A year? UGH.

Btw, is it a good idea to actually provide links to those two websites? Doesn't that give him exactly what he wants -- more site traffic?

Well, we linked to him because we do want to fairly represent the guy, and he did try to explain himself and answer questions in his FAQs, so I think fans should judge for themselves. (BTW, I personally don't think he's demon seed or anything; I DO fear that he hasn't any idea of what he's now involved in, and I worry he'll let down these communities and their archives. But I can see things from his - outsider's - point of view; if you aren't enmeshed in fandom, fandom DOES look like an unexploited goldmine. We knew and feared that; it's partly why OTW was founded. But its not an insane business strategy per se, you know? Nor necessarily a failing one.)

I'm sure fandom looks like an unexploited goldmine to greedy sorts, but I'm very old skool about fandom, and I personally resent "entrepreneurs" like him waltzing in and exploiting OUR fanworks to make money, with no intention (or even thought) of sharing profits with contributors who, btw, never consented to have their stories used in that way. I don't know anyone who's ever uploaded a story to an archive thinking, "Oh, goody, I'm helping Jane Doe make a lot of money so she can go live in luxury anywhere she wants!" as this dude apparently does.

"plans to develop these archives' features and to generate profit by increasing traffic and adding advertising".

I would like to improve the archives features, but for LOTR, this is now all on hold - you can read about that in our latest announcement - we've halted plans and re-evaluating the management of the site. The belief in the addition of advertising to the site is a little presumptuous, although I can perfectly see how you'd arrive at this assertion. There are no ads on the site at present and there are no plans to add them either. I'm working on improving Twilight Archives, the users want it, and are engaged in providing feedback and working with me.

I have bought some sites, improved them and indeed generated some money from them. They also happen to be much better sites as a result and I've received accolade for my efforts. I've also seen this reflected in objective data too (more visitors, who stay longer, visit more pages and come back more often). Adora (the previous owner of LOTR) contacted the prior owners of these other sites, a part of her due diligence on me - she found 100% of them to remark positively about the changes made to their sites.

You may see contradiction in my language as to my motives for what I do. I'm proud of the improvements I've made to my other sites and feel grateful that I'm able to afford the ability to dedicate a substantial amount of my time towards that cause. It's only possible because these sites generate a modest wage that have allowed me to eat and survive. It's important to understand the difference between surplus revenue being used to create a nominal wage versus how 'profit' is being portrayed in this evil corporate sense. As I talked about in interviews and on my blog, I do seek out sites created out of passion, truth be told there's just more that I can do with these sites; more improvements to be made and so my time and effort is more leveraged (ie. more comes out of it). There's more opportunity to make some money from these sites so that I can survive. I am not rich. My business accounts are on public record.

I'm confident that my income is substantially less than those who run LiveJournal, YouTube, FF.net and numerous others. These companies make money (through advertising or charging for the provision of said services) and use it to provide an excellent service to their users and allow its creators to do so.

"Many users object in principle to having profit generated by monetizing their fanworks, and many users who put their work on these archives in the expectation that the archives themselves were labors of love by other fans are not interested in having their work taken over by a for-profit business."

I think you've hit the nail on the head. I've been quite naive to how much this is felt by the fandom. I applaud for what OTW is doing, but recognise that it's taking many volunteers to realise their vision and also that LiveJournal, FF.net and others do an amazing job - arguably (I know some would disagree) creating a better product that evolves at a faster rate than OTW's offering - and that there's two distinctly different models at play. OTW's comment above by fcoppa seems to recognise this.

I'm trying to be very honest and open. I'm engaging with everyone that I can. I know I've made mistakes in how I've handled things, my approach and how I've communicated - I'm making changes and I want to be a positive force. I'm willing to admit those mistakes. I will also stand my ground and oppose any overtly personal/ insulting messages, because that's just not cool.

On a final note, I've spotted a lot of people are calling me Mr. Mander. I've found it very quirky indeed. I'm pretty young and a quite a likeable, humble guy with many close friends (corporate evil mastermind, I think not), so let's drop the title please!

I've written quite a lot here and I'll make some brief replies to the comments above:

@fcoppa: I agree that theres limited money to be made, if any at all. I'm a very bad 'evil corporate evil mastermind' (as has been portrayed) to believe otherwise. To be frank: I did think I could create a kick-ass archive that people loved to use, could grow, and that might somehow provide me the means to survive (collectively with other sites I operate).

@cofax: My understanding from Adora is that the site only ever received a few donations. It was a loss-making website for Adora. Users typically expect everything to be free on the internet and sometimes think they are. I've spoken to many people over the years who are amazed that Google and Facebook (companies I know very well) makes any money at all (let alone billions) or that they employ thousands of employees - the reality is that these services are not free - you pay by seeing ads. As fcoppa points out, Livejournal and Dreamwidth (services oft utilised by those involved in fandoms) are businesses.

@Randy: I understand from Adora that she did try to raise money from donations at times but didn't have much success. Finding a new owner willing to bare the financial cost for running the site might be harder than you think if so few are willing to make any kind of monetary contribution. Also, would the new owner have the time and skills to improve the site itself?

@klia: Sharing revenue would be something that can be explored. I've never said otherwise. I wonder if you've ever read something on LiveJournal or viewed a video on YouTube (where content was contributed by users sharing their hard work and not seeking a profit) and thought that it was pretty cool that these for-profit services existed?

Keith, could you answer a question? How does a website generate income without either subscriptions (paying to see or use it) or advertising?

I'm not sure you completely understand the nature of fanfiction. One of the legal/ethical legs we stand on for making a transformative use of someone else's intellectual property is that we don't make any money from it. And we're very nervous about being associated with someone who does. An archive devoted solely to Tolkien fanfiction and using that interest as a draw is slightly different from entities like Live Journal or YouTube, who provide a platform for all kinds of material and use advertising to do it for free.

I don't mind a few ads to pay the bills.

People are usually very willing to make a donation if told that so many dollars must be raised by a certain date to keep an archive in existence and they are assured that those donations will go to the cost of the site rather than the living expenses of the owner.Henneth Annun Story Archive uses this method very well.

Nobody thinks profit is evil. Most of us are okay with fandom activities for profit. What we're not willing to do, is give up our creativity, our autonomy, and our safety for profit--especially not someone else's profit.

We happily participate in many for-profit ventures, as consumers, as employees, as developers. We're aware that the fandoms we love are generating a *ton* of money for *someone*... Lucasfilm isn't a shoestring operation; the Tolkien Estate is not broke; Harry Potter is a multi-billion dollar empire. And we happily support those ventures. We're not adverse to someone making money from our love of fandom.

Many of us have fic at fanfiction.net, and we know it makes a lot of money for someone. However, that income has a price--some types of fics aren't allowed at fanfiction.net.

The issue isn't, "you want to make money from fandom." The issue is, "you want to make money from *our love* of fandom," from our work, from our shared joys and intimacies. Without our consent, without even *mentioning* that you were thinking of doing this until you took action. Have you looked at the history of Fanlib? Do you know what they did wrong? (Do you know that they did wrong?) Have you heard of Strikethrough? Looked into SurveyFail, which I'm sure someone's mentioned?

Fic fandom is very, very familiar with outsiders declaring they're going to "fix" or "help" fandom, and trampling through our communities, inflicting unmeasured amounts of damage from either clueless desire to "help" or malicious desire to "stamp out sin."

You haven't shown that you know what copyright issues any fanfic archive faces, much less which ones are particularly likely to face a Tolkien archive--the Tolkien estate has sued over fanfic-for-profit. You haven't shown that you know what you'd be trying to sell, whatever your end-product turns out to be--are your paying customers happy to see explicit gay incest stories? Boromir/Faramir is not an obscure pairing in LotR fandom. You haven't shown you understand the legal issues about age--if you encourage cross-membership between a Twilight and LotR archive, will you be restricting access to the explicit fics based on age? (Do you know what laws are relevant? In which countries?)

You want to make money from these sites, which are collections of content that other people have written, that you intend/expect other people to continue writing. You haven't shown that you intend to treat those people as your allies--you've treated them like, at best, volunteers who you expect to keep volunteering their efforts for your benefit.

You've shown no signs of knowing what *they* want. Yes, they'd like better code. But that doesn't mean they want ff.net's code, or Livejournal's--if they wanted to post their fic at ff.net or LJ, they'd be doing it. They're at LOTRFF because it has something those sites don't.

And you, obviously, don't know what that is. If you want the trust & cooperation of the people who made the site look interesting & potentially profitable to you, you need to figure out how *not* to take that away.

@Elfwreck: No one thinks profit is evil, but the only ones allowed to profit from copyrighted material and the sale of same are the owners of the copyrights. Lucasfilm, the Tolkien Estate, Disney (if you're talking Winnie the Pooh) are entitled to the money. We're not, unless we have permission and are paying royalties.

DW makes a profit hosting fanfic. So does fanfiction.net. Hundreds of small sites collect enough ad revenue to pay server costs. The OTW got enough in donations to buy new servers; that money came from hosting fanfic. People sell fanart and fanzines. There's no law against "making a profit based on someone else's intellectual property"--but what kinds of activities can be profitable are limited, and fanfiction is in a fuzzy area.

I don't agree that "fanfiction can't be used to make a profit against the wishes of copyright holders"--but the ways that profit can be made are restricted, and subject to a lot more interference than most fanfic authors want to deal with. And copyright holders are even allowed to say, "as long as the income from this site stays below $xx/month, we're ignoring it; as soon as it looks like it's income *we* could be interested in, we're going to file suit."

It's possible that a lot of fanfic is legal even if it's sold; "The Wind Done Gone" is legal fanfic. But none of us wants to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit from Paramount or Disney, and if all it takes to avoid that is hosting fic on free sites, we're *very* content with that solution.

the only ones allowed to profit from copyrighted material and the sale of same are the owners of the copyrights.

Randy, while I understand your devotion to noncommerciality - many of us at the OTW come from that culture and are quite devoted to it - for the record, the OTW does not actually see the issue this way. First of all, Disney, Tolkein, Lucasfilm etc. do not own fans' fanworks; they couldn't, say, just take our stories and publish a book of them. We own our stories. Secondly, if a fanwork is a fair use under US law, then there's no liability for hosting it, or even from profiting from hosting it. (The website would have secondary liability, but for the website to be liable, they'd have to be hosting infringing content--and we don't grant the content is infringing!)

That being said, the OTW is all about fans owning fan culture, and we specifically incorporated as a non-profit so that issues of profit would never come into the decision of how to run our projects. Moreover, nobody on OTW is being paid; it's all volunteer staff time. Now, that being said, there's nothing per se wrong about people making a living by offering services to fans, and this guy is right that someone paid to make things may make them faster (though we're pretty damn proud of what we've made.) But it's up to a fan to decide whether or not she wants to patronize any particular business or internet platform. We just want to make sure fans have options.

I hope it was clear that we at the OTW see social networks and online businesses as part of the ecology of the web and that we believe fanfiction or other fanworks posted to these sites are still fair uses.

That being said, we have seen negative outcomes from people viewing fandom as a business; for example, removing content that offends advertisers, removing content because of cease-and-desist letters regardless of the validity of the claim, or simply closing down entirely if they turn out not to be very profitable. To give just one example, the video streaming site iMeem closed after discovering that hosting fan video wasn't very profitable, and vidders lost their entire network as well as their videos. YouTube takes down many things that are fair use under pressure from its business partners. So we have reason to be wary that business interests and fandom interests may not always coincide.

Keith, from your point of view you may not be a corporate evil guy. But look at this from our point of view. Fandom's been around for more than fifty years as (primarily) a labor of love. Some of us work hard and long at our fannish endeavors. Some just lurk. Some hate the idea of money connected with fandom; most don't, and are quite willing to be practical, but pretty much all of us hate the idea of being turned into commodities.

Let me say this again: we are not commodities. Fandom is not our business, but our home. Would you want someone coming into your home, taking over your hobby, and telling you "just keep doing it! I'll be making money and controlling what you can and can't do." This has happened to us. This has happened to us many times. It's not our first time around the block, kid. And yes, regardless of relative profit margins, there is a huge difference between a large multiple-use platform like LJ or Youtube, where the owners are making profit largely off of the technology/system that everyone is using, and an archive of purely fannish content being monetized so that you are making profit not off the use of a blog or off of hosting videos, but off of the fannish content itself. This has been tried many times before. It has never gone well.

And you know what? Every single damn time, it's been straight, white, cis, able-bodied, men. (Sound familiar? Look in your mirror.) And the fanfic side of fandom is overwhelmingly female, with large proportions of very vocal queer, people of color, trans, disabled people. We've been here a long time. We know what the options are. This is our space. So. A man comes into a women's group and says that he's solved all their problems. It reeks of patronizing, of privilege, of power, of "there, there, children, I know you can't take care of the little practical stuff, don't you worry your head none, daddy's here to save the day." I don't think anyone's mistaking you for a corporate shark. Now now, anyway, but you probably want to be one. But this isn't so much about corporate culture as it is about patriarchy and kyriarchy, and if you're not familiar with those terms I suggest you Google them.

You're The Man. An you're coming into a space that we've worked darn hard to keep as free of The Man as possible.

I, a white straight male who also happens to write fanfiction, actually find this comment quite offensive. So, you are effectively saying that the likes of me have no business on lotrff or other fanfiction sites? It must come as a shock to you, but there are people who don't look everything through politics or ideologies and are put off by attempts to ideologise their hobby. I don't write because (or despite) I'm a horrible White Man, I write because I love it and hope to give pleasure to others through my imagination. So please, refrain from speaking on the behalf of all fanfic authors when you are clearly ill-equipped to do so. I haven't noticed that lotrff is spesifically a feminist site, or an exclusive "women's space" for that matter. I joined under the impression that it is a community for writers, regardless of gender or sexual or any other orientation. If I have erred, please accept my apologies, before I'll pack up and leave so that my maleness won't offend your nostrils again.

As for the sale of the site, I remain worried and cautious. I continue to post there, but the moment the site goes through any unpleasant changes, be it a restriction on the material allowed or excessive advertisement, I have to reconsider. I understand and grudgingly accept that someone wants to make profit out of the site. But it has to be done respecting the authors who, after all, provide free content on the site out of love for writing.

I saw no complaint against male authors, nor male participants on fanfic sites. I saw a complaint against white straight males from outside fandom trying to monetize fandom or "fix" what they consider are fandom's "problems"--usually meaning "it's not making enough money." (There is, in fact, one female who's tried to monetize fandom--Laura Hale. But even she had better sense than to try it at a fanfic archive.)

If you have examples of monetized fanfic sites that allow public access and explicit sexual material, please offer them. If you know of any that stand ready to claim fair use trumps copyright complaints from owners, those, too, would be welcome.

The core concern, the reason so *many* people are up in arms, is not "he's going to try to make money off the site." It's, "everyone who's tried this in the past has botched it horribly, and he hasn't even done the basic research to know that, much less have any ideas on how to avoid their mistakes."

How do we know Keith Mander is straight, cis-gendered or able bodied? He could be as gay as a daisy for all we know. From the avatar on his blog he appears to be white, but he could be a very convincing transgender sitting in a wheel-chair. Yet there was an immediate assumption which in turn indicated an attitude about straight while males

What he is, is not important. The real issue is that, based on other posts at his blog, he planned to make money off the site (possibly enough to raise the ire of the Tolkien Estate) and if he didn't, LOTRFF would end up in a scratch and dent sale just like others of his not terribly profitable sites. Whether or not he would continue to allow explicit material is a side issue, really. Obviously an important issue if you write explicit material, of course.

What has Mr. Mander's, or anyone's gender or colour to do with anything? Ideological rants only obfuscate the simple facts: As the new owner of the site he can do pretty much whatever he wants with it, including deleting material offensive to advertisers. That should be the gist of it, not some quixotic battle against The Man. I was sharp in my response also because I don't like someone claiming a site I am a member of as their own private sandbox or political vehicle. In fact, I for instance am disgusted by slash and most of other adult material in LotR fandom. Still, I happen to believe in this little thing called freedom of expression. If that is restricted on lotrff, I must seriously reconsider if I want to be a member of a site like that, regardless of if my stories are in the line or if I happen to like the material in question. In this, I think, we all are unanimous. So if you please, instead of useless ideologuing, let's concentrate on keeping lotrff as a good place for everyone as far as we can.

P.S. Sorry if my meaning isn't clear, it's late here and I'm pretty tired.

As the original poster, I'm not responsible for the comment; however, I do agree that it's the profiting, and not the gender, that's important. I will also add that there have been previous attempts by women to monetize other people's fanfiction and they received as much ire - if not more - than this, so that whatever the comments here, fandom has been pretty gender neutral in its dislike!

I am sorry that I offended you; you were not *in any way* the target of my comment, and I should have been clearer. While fanfic is women-dominated there are a great many men as well, and I am glad of it. Fandom is very diverse, and yet there are some basic social norms that are common in fandom circles that do not always mesh well with the larger world. My complaint was not against men who participate in and are true members of the community; my complaint was against outsiders who know nothing about the community who come in and try to take over. And while women do try to monetize fandom, those who do so tend to come from inside the community, whereas most outsiders who come in and try to take over for profit tend to be men. And for women, that can have some very ugly associations.

In specific, I was responding to Mander's complaint that people are calling him a corporate guy when he's not, and I was pointing out *why* people are responding to him as if he is. I apologize for painting with a broad enough brush that you and other male members of fandom were included however tangentially.

Apology accepted, Beatrice. For my part, I admit I was rather harsh, mainly because I tend to get my shackles up very fast when I bump into ideologies that aren't my cup of tea. Now that you clarified your point I see better what you were aiming at.

P.S. Sorry for the belated answer.

Beatrice? I don't know you, but I want you to know that I love you so, so much right now. You are seriously rad.

@Randy: I think you make some interesting remarks. LJ and YouTube are very different sites and a dedicated site with a single draw is quite different. I used those examples as I wanted to try and speak about services that people use to share content and where people are accepting that they're not free.

A website can make an income in numerous ways, from merchandising, promoting products, advertising, donations, subscriptions and so on. There is a clear reality that some money needs to be involved for the site to exist. I assume some money has allowed OTW to exist and operate. I guess the larger debate seems to be whether it's acceptable if the 'costs' for the site would also include a wage for someone who is dedicating substantial time to developing the site. Seems like a polarising issue. Maybe if the software that were developed ran hundreds of fan fiction site, would it'd be more like the LJ platform? Or what if the sites licensed the software for a nominal fee and each site only attempted to cover its costs?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this Randy.

@Keith: My thoughts on the matter probably aren't as important as the thoughts of the Tolkien Estate on how much money they will allow to be made from the use of their intellectual property. I can't get paid for my fanfiction, even though I spend incredible amounts of time and effort on it. Someone who creates and owns a dedicated Tolkien site is probably limited in what they can be compensated as well.

I just wanted my stories and myself to be off your ship before the Battleship Christopher Tolkien starts sending torpedoes across your bows.

Now, if you wanted an income for yourself, it would have been better to go about it from the other direction: Develop a platform for free archive sites and software, the agreement for which would be that the archives allow merchandising, product promotion, advertising, whatever, to generate your revenues for you.

Just so you know, Randy, it's a well-recognized chickenshit move that you're only replying to the name you can mostly assume is male and ignoring all the women who have more pressing things to say to you.

Excuse me? I replied to Keith because he asked me a question. I didn't reply to frcoppa's second post to me because she told me I was wrong about how much 'profit' is allowed from copyrighted materials. I'm no lawyer, so I really have nothing more to say on that score. I actually wished I had her backing me when I had the same discussion with Diana Gabaldon a year ago, with me defending the legality and morality of fanfiction on the grounds that we fanwriters don't make money off it.

Speaking of chickenshit, the irony has not escaped me that Keith replied to me here when he blew me off when I questioned him at LOTRFF using a more gender-neutral pen name.

Errr... Excuse me, but it is KEITH who is the jerk by only speaking to Randy because it's a more masculine name. Note he hasn't addressed anyone else here. Randy is a well respected member of the LOTR fandom and a good friend. He is one of the last people I know who would deal in a sexist manner with anyone! *glares*

Yes, yes, I am so sorry! It was a bad slip up and I'm not even sure how it happened because I remember THINKING clearly who was who.

Stop -- you'll make me hurt myself laughing.

By the way, Keith did answer Aearwen on his blog, because Aearwen is also da bomb. But now, Keith isn't answering anyone.

*blows you kisses*

I think he's scrambling to figure out what to do. He's in over his head and that's obvious now. He didn't consider any of the very good points presented to him by fans BEFORE coming to play on our playground. He didn't even understand the playground rules and still argues about them instead of accepting them as the way things are. Reminds me of the kids I work with who argue with the boss about the rules without realizing that their arguments are invalid, not because their points are illogical, but because the rules are not up for discussion.

Ardwynna:

I realize there's a lot going on in this thread, but please don't conflate the guys.

Keith Mander = a guy who bought lotrfanfiction.net for profit purposes.

Randy = a guy who is a fellow fan, and who has himself commented elsewhere on this (KM responding to the one guy in the crowd while ignoring anyone with a female or gender-neutral screen name.)

I'm very sorry to Randy and company. It was very clear in my head that KEITH = Dodgy person and RANDY = male-named person who is the only one Keith wants to talk to. It just didn't come out under my fingers that way and I wish I could say why. Sorry again, you all did not deserve that.

Mr. Mander -

You said: "I'm trying to be very honest and open. I'm engaging with everyone that I can."

Uh-huh. With respect, sir - NOT.

Far too many questions have been asked of you in public venues (particularly at LOTRFF and on your blog) that have yet to be adequately answered; and in some cases, they have been utterly ignored or downright poo-poo'ed. These questions include what the fate will be of the more controversial elements (adult content and slash) contained at LOTRFF - especially considering the log-through capabilities you're envisioning with users of other associated linked sites like the Winny The Pooh, where a small child might end up viewing a NC17-rated slash-torture chapter. Questions have arisen about the legality, much less the appropriateness, of Adora's selling the site when the TOS specifically prohibit such a thing. Another question concerns when you will be sending out a mass emailing to ALL the writers who, when they joined LOTRFF, agreed that their work would in NO way make a profit for anybody. Considering the change in the TOS, you really do need to let them know that a commercial element is going to be added to the site.

Many have also voiced their valid concerns that by monetising LOTRFF, you will run afoul of the Tolkien Estate's litigous nature, only to be reassured that you have no fears because LOTRFF has existed for seven years without getting sued. YOU, sir, ignore the fact that the Tolkien Estate hasn't sued LOTRFF precisely BECAUSE it wasn't a money-making proposition - not even to make enough to live and eat, as you're hoping - and that they file suit for much less than what you're proposing. I'm certain the directors of that summer camp wanting to call itself "Rivendell" didn't think the Tolkien Estate would force them to change their name either at first. They learned otherwise the hard way. Must you insist on walking the same path?

In fact some at LOTRFF are wondering, now that you openly admit (here and at LOTRFF) that you and Adora goofed royally in notifying moderators of your collective intention, where the apologies to the moderators are - and one of the members there (who mods elsewhere in the fandom) has asked you about that in so many words.

Why have you in essence, by your silence, ignored these valid and serious questions? Why, oh why, do you continue to think that obfuscating with "But nothing's changed yet" and talking about all the wonderful new shinies and how much good you've done elsewhere, while ignoring the serious questions specific to the Tolkien fandom, is going to satisfy anybody but teenies who couldn't give a flip anyway?

Over all, I think by now you're discovering that your actions simply don't play well in a highly-connected and dedicated fandom accustomed to doing significant research through multiple sources. These people are taking YOUR words - those written before the announcement of the sale of LOTRFF as well as those written now that the proverbial fecal material has hit the rotating blades - and are now comparing, contrasting and scrutinizing them under a microscope.

So, with all due respect, you are most definitely NOT "engaging with everyone that I can" - at least, not in a way that actually addresses concerns.

You said: "I know I've made mistakes in how I've handled things, my approach and how I've communicated - I'm making changes and I want to be a positive force. I'm willing to admit those mistakes."

Frankly, I would at this point like to draw others' attention to a quote from yet another blog entry you made, entitled Heirarchy of Social Media. From your comments above, I would say that you're striving to attain to the first section of Level 6, which entails: "THEY'VE BECOME HUMANISED. THEY'LL SAY SORRY, CONFESS THAT THEY'VE SCREWED UP AND MAKE USE OF THE OCCASIONAL SMILEY. They stay true and make it always clear that there’s people behind the brand and that they give a damn." (emphasis caps mine)

I hope I've explained well enough why it has become a problem, then, to know exactly when you are being honest with us, and when you are really only instead saying whatever you believe the situation calls for to accomplish damage control.

I understand from Adora that she did try to raise money from donations at times but didn't have much success. Finding a new owner willing to bare the financial cost for running the site might be harder than you think if so few are willing to make any kind of monetary contribution. Also, would the new owner have the time and skills to improve the site itself?

That was a year ago, and there has been no mention of financial trouble ever since. And not only was there no mention on the archive itself or LJ, from what I hear now she also did not comunicate with her Mod in any way during that time.

You speak of Facebook and Youtube, and you do not see that most of fandom doesn't want the bells and whistles of those sites. There are many who don't like Facebook among us; there are many who have a Facebook account but take high pains to ensure that nothing of their fannish existance crosses the lines. I am not a vidder, and there certainly are vids on Youtube, but from what I see via my flist, many vidders aren't fond of Youtube and prefer to host their vids elsewhere. And in fact, friends of mine who have posted vids on Youtube had the music tracks of their vids disabled due to copyright reasons. Which can be fought, yes... But Youtube's main reason for existing isn't to defend the artistic freedom of vidders, but to make money.

I applaud for what OTW is doing, but recognise that it's taking many volunteers to realise their vision and also that LiveJournal, FF.net and others do an amazing job - arguably (I know some would disagree) creating a better product that evolves at a faster rate than OTW's offering - and that there's two distinctly different models at play. OTW's comment above by fcoppa seems to recognise this.

Indeed there are two different models, and many of us prefer one over the other. That's why I prefer the business model of Dreamwidth to LiveJournal, that's why I prefer the AO3 to FFN. And I am not alone in that. The TOS of LotRFanfiction.com sums up very well what I love about fannish endeavours: it is a personal, nonprofit use. That is what fandom for many of us is, or should be. Of course I could make money from the more than 250 000 words I have written in the Tolkien fandom so far. I could file off the serial numbers, offer it to one of the many m/m romance epublishers, or put it up at Amazon as an ebook myself if I wanted. But I don't do it, no matter how often non-fannish people look down on me and tell me that writing without earning money doesn't count, that I should sell what I write. I don't want to. Because I get paid already: by the community that gives me the stories I've wanted to read since childhood, that gives me discussion, feedback, friendship, that gives me that most amazing gift of all, stories inspired by my own.

That is what I want. I do not want a site with snazzy features; so far the efiction software has always been enough. And if I want something tailormade for my fannish needs, then I am content to wait a couple of months until the AO3 coders are finished with awesome stuff like the kink meme feature.

I don't object to an archivist using ads or donations to keep an archive running, but I do object to turning what has always been business model 1 into business model 2, without even one single word to the community of that archive. You didn't build an archive and invite people to come, you bought an existing community with their own existing set of preferences. It's like Livejournal buying Dreamwidth, or FFN buying the AO3 - of course it would never work.

Actually, some of us do think profit is evil. At the very least, it's evil when it's held as the highest value to which all human life must be made subservient. It's evil when Apple uses workers who labor in such conditions of inhumanity that they commit suicide to escape. It's evil when corporations build Maquilladoras just on the other side of the US/Mexico border so they can (a) pay workers nothing (b) work them to death (c) poison their water and food with industrial pollutants. It's evil when profit is assumed to be an absolute right, so much so that there is no question of what one is allowed to do to get more and more. It's evil when the pursuit of it at any cost drives us into a global recession. It's evil when the earth groans under the destruction money obsessed men like you have wreaked upon it, wanting to "dominate" and commodify everyone and everything so it might be put in service to your ceaseless grasping after power and money.

Profit has been evil for a very long time; at least since it began to drive colonialism and acts of terror and genocide by Europeans against other peoples of the world. But human beings have not always lived in societies driven by profit and private property. And some of us want some small escape from the hell people of your wretched value system have turned life into over the centuries. Speaking for myself, I come to fandom in part as a means of escape from the hegemony of anti-human values people like you represent. Not that fandom is free of it entirely, or that the means of getting to fandom doesn't require money (and privilege), but that it's a place where it's possible to value things higher than using each other like things in order to suck every last drop of money out of each other like repellent leeches (mixed metaphor, yay! lol).

The existence of fans like me is another thing you apparently just *don't get*. There appears to be a lot of things you just don't get. I find this curious; was doing your research not required at Facebook? For me, when a nasty little privileged profiteer like you comes in and talks about wanting to "dominate" fandoms, you're my fucking nightmare. Another greedy white boy, completely convinced that you can buy and sell everything. That it's your *right*. That there is nothing that can escape your ability to possess and ransack. For myself I say: you're *not welcome here*. I don't care how nice you decide to play; I will never visit a site you run, never post any of my work on your site. You disgust me. I'd like you to go anywhere else, any of the billions of places where people like you are celebrated despite all the ugliness you represent, and *stay away from my patch of escape from you*. I compromise with things like FFnet, but you had to take it a step further and be *outright offensive* about what you were doing.

Finding a new owner willing to bare the financial cost for running the site might be harder than you think if so few are willing to make any kind of monetary contribution. Also, would the new owner have the time and skills to improve the site itself?

Also, the sky is falling.

A few years ago, in my primary fandom, one of the organizers of the annual SeSa challenge dropped out of fandom. She was the one who had access to the servers and the SeSa code. When the time for sign-ups came, no one could get in touch with her, including the other SeSa mod.

A couple of people on LJ started asking what was going to be done. The discussion went back and forth, and we got the blessing of the remaining mod to put together a replacement. The new site went up, the back end code was writtern literally as the challenge progressed. It was all done for free, by people who cared enough to do it, just like everything else in fandom. The challenge is still running.

People come and go, sites come and go. Things that are valuable and valued will survive. Sure, some things reach their natural end and fall by the wayside, but that's part of the great cycle of fandom.

Fandom has been dealing with this stuff quite handily for years. Decades. Fandom does not need rescuing. Especially, fandom does not need recuing by outsiders who want to rescue it with ad revenue and limited companies -- so long as they get to make a living wage out of it, of course. It isn't necessary, and it isn't wanted. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for writing this! I just ran across this this evening, and I hope you don't mind but I linked to it from my DA account. I'm very active in the Simarillion community over there, and I wanted to make sure that as many of my friends as possible saw it.

I just went to see whether Mr. Mander postet something new on the subject on his blog. The original post where he announced, that he bought lotrfanfiction.com is gone and of course with it the whole comments from those who tried to contact him via his blog.