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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

An FYI for Tolkien Fanfic Authors, Particularly Group Mods

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

An FYI for Tolkien Fanfic Authors, Particularly Group Mods

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hugo reyes--dude
As most of you know, I despise online drama, particularly drama related to fan fiction. It's ridiculous. This is a hobby, and there is no reason for people's lives to be ruined, for there to be tears and death threats made about fan fiction.

In keeping with this, I have always taken care not to mention names when discussing individuals behaving negatively in the fanfic community in my LiveJournal posts. Likewise, I generally f-lock material that might start a "flame war" or any sort of drama with these individuals. The fact remains that this is a hobby for me. I have a family, a job, a life, and a budding writing career that are all more important than raising my blood pressure and, most importantly, wasting my time than some idiot's personal beef with my fan fiction.

However, things have escalated to the point where I would like to make a sort of "FYI" to others who participate in the Tolkien fanfic community, particularly moderators of groups, archives, and communities. Most of you have been well aware of this individual for some time now, but as I said, things have escalated to an unacceptable level.

That I must waste a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, fit for writing or working on my website, is dismaying in itself but such is life, I guess. :)

I am going to avoid naming individuals (except the guilty) and particularly archives, as I do not know what is public knowledge and what individuals want to be revealed. (If you are involved and do not mind your name being known, or if you are part of one of the archives involved and wish that name being published, please let me know, and I will edit my post.) However, it recently happened that a friend of mine posted a Maedhros/Fingon slash story on a small archive that accepts stories from multiple fandoms as well as original fiction. The archive was "slash friendly," though (apparently) not much slash was posted there.

Many of you are familiar with the author who used to post under the pen name "The Last Temptation of Homer" and now uses "The Battling Bard." Well, she had sung the praises of this archive for months, primarily because she is in bitter opposition to slash and not much (if any?) was found there. Well, when this slash story was posted, she proceeded to flame the author, despite the fact that story was clearly labeled as being "slash" and "AU." On a moderated archive, this should not be acceptable, and the archive took some steps so that slash was more clearly marked as slash and posted a public reminder that the archive was "slash-friendly" and that readers needed to use their discretion in choosing what stories to read.

Now The Battling Bard had recently been kicked off of another, much-larger fan fiction archive for her aggressive behavior towards authors who did not meet her rather nebulous standards of "quality" or "canon." Shortly after being kicked off of this archive, she began a personal vendetta against it, claiming it as one of the worst in the Tolkien community, despite having embraced the same place before, prior to being kicked off after numerous warnings for her antics. Now, she has started the same behavior towards the "slash-friendly" archive.

Nonetheless, this reeks of simple fandom drama: She can't abide by the rules or TOS at a place, so she slams the archive for protecting its other members. Nothing odd there. However, in a thread on the fanfiction.net forums called The Pushuruk Awards, she made a death threat against the author who had posted slash at the "slash-friendly" archive. It has since been removed, as the management of ff.net was informed. However, this is what she said:
I have a sudden desire to murder all slash writers. For a number of blissful years, *archive omitted* has been slash free, now it's been invaded by one of those bloody 'tasteful' slash writers. It's Fingon/Maedhros. They're cousins for bloody gods sake! THAT IS SICK DIE YOU SICK slash writing B**TARDS!! What I wouldn't do to have 5 minutes alone with that author in a closet with a semi automatic. That offend you? GOOD!
The thread in which this threat was issued is here. Later, she says:
As for the 'death threat'. For gods sake get over yourself, I was only messing around. I'm going to delete that post anyway because someone reported it to ff.n.
Clearly, this person (and others who comment in this thread) are nuts who really need to get a life, a boyfriend (or girlfriend ;), or a good vibrator. In the past, I have been happy to ignore them or write them off as nuts, but this is just a step too far for me and many others who have had contact with The Battling Bard in the past. She ignores the mission and TOS of a site, gets reprimanded, and proceeds to make death threats against the author whose story she didn't like because she (The Battling Bard) ignored the TOS...yes, the logic of that escapes me too. It's kind of like reading on the side of a Styrofoam coffee cup, "CAUTION: HOT"; being verbally warned by the person serving you the coffee that it is hot; intentionally dumping the hot coffee in your lap; and then suing the person who served you the coffee because it was hot. No, it makes no sense, but what more do we expect from someone like this?

I know that many people have been trolled by this individual in the past. I have received correspondence from authors who will not post on ff.net because of the behavior that is permitted there in terms of reviews. I know of people who have stopped posting there or deleted their accounts because of certain reviewers there, and yes, The Battling Bard's name comes up quite often in those discussions. I can't make decisions for other writers, but it is my hope that authors stop allowing asshats like The Battling Bard and "Celegorm" and others who act like disgruntled Neanderthals with hemorrhoids to bully them around. These individuals clearly have no interest in enjoying themselves in this community. They do not review to help or encourage authors. They are quite likely playing a few cards short of a full deck, and at the very least, they have exaggerated the effect of fan fiction on the fate of the world. They also have trouble finding the BACK button on their browsers. These are not people that we should respect. And so these are not people whom we should allow to affect the fun and enjoyment from what is--for the most part--a wonderfully amiable and supportive community.

But that aside, as the owner/mod of a fan fiction group, I do take these things seriously. I want people to have fun in my group, and idiots like The Battling Bard are toxic to this purpose. And so those of you with groups or communities, if you don't know her name, then learn it. She previously went under the moniker of "The Last Temptation of Homer." If you manage an LJ community, please be aware that she has an account here (battlingbard22), and I suspect that it's only a matter of time before she begins trying her antics on our comms, since she's quickly running out of archives where she is welcome.

Unfortunately, although LJ allows us to monitor when we are added as friends by another user, it does not enable the same of our comms...at least, so far as I can tell. FAQ #84 details how to remove and ban troublemakers from communities. Hopefully, none of us will have to use it, but it's good to know what we can do in case we do.

Sadly, because of her behavior, as I try to get the SWG site off of the ground (even if just barely hovering ;), I have spent most of my discussions with my co-mods not on the archive or the references or cool things that we might do with the group...no, we have talked about policies and reprimands and what we will do when (inevitably, I fear) one of these idiots decides to test the waters in our group.

However! There is a spark of light: Apparently, I am just as high on her shit list as she is on mine. Yep, the estimable satismagic and I have been picked out by The Battling Bard and "Celegorm" as The Smuggest Fan Fiction Writer of the Year in their little Pushuruk Awards. Given the fact that jael_the_scribe has been added since I last viewed the forum this morning, I can reliably conclude that "smug" actually means "people that either give their bullshit right back to them or advocate behaving in a mature and rationale manner with regards to fan fiction." Juno, of course, is the author of the excellent How to Review and moderates a ff.net forum of the same name. Jael's replies to their idiocy in some of the threads above are applause-worthy, and I have had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with both The Battling Bard and "Celegorm" about some comments that they made on my stories. Neither replied or provided me with the citations that I requested, and I haven't heard from either since, though apparently, I must have been memorable.

But silliness aside, this is an individual who has made death threats against an author over fan fiction. Please keep that in mind and also (please please please) help to stop this trend of allowing asshats to influence where we share our work. These people do not deserve our respect, and they especially do not deserve our attention.

Now I'm off to try to enjoy my Sunday afternoon. And don't forget to vote for Juno, Jael, and me as the Smuggest Fanficcers of the Year! :)
  • Thank you, Dawn, for posting this.

    Thank you, thank you. Really. I've been looking at this stuff over the afternoon, trying to figure out exactly what Homer/Bard/whatever she's calling herself now is getting out of this. And... nope, I still don't have any answers. Just a lot of bewilderment and sadness, that my fandom produces strife like this.

    The thing that kills me most is how absolutely juvenile this all is. This is wank suitable for Harry Potter or one of those pop fandoms with a million thirteen-year-olds who have nothing better to do than troll around the Internet looking for people to harass, maybe: NOT for the Silm. (And maybe I'm sounding elitist, now, which is not my intention. After all, I was only thirteen myself when I began to get interested in the Silm. I simply mean that the Silm-fandom is less popular among the bubblegum set, because it does take time and patience and a lot of thought to even get through Tolkien's prose. Even after six years, I still don't pretend to understand every little nuance of canon in the Silmarillion itself, let alone every single volume of HoME and the related works. So I would assume and hope that people who like and respect Tolkien enough to become involved with the fandom would have enough maturity to deal in a dignified, respectful manner with things that irk them in the fandom... but I was wrong, I guess, that that's just sad.)

    The question is, how to deal with people like this, when we come across them? Or even whether we ought to deal with them, seeing how little past dealings with them have changed the situation. (IIRC, I posted about Homer and her reviewing practices a while back, as you have, and this is certainly not a new thing.) Should we (and argh, I hate the us-versus-them language I'm using here) respond to their flames rationally and politely? Should we report them to mods/managers when, as in the example you stated, they use threatening language? Should we just ignore them and hope they'll get tired and go off to antagonize other fandoms?

    I really don't know. :-/

    And don't forget to vote for Juno, Jael, and me as the Smuggest Fanficcers of the Year! :)

    You've all got my vote. Maybe it will be a tie, by popular accord. I'll make you all little crowns, and you can wear them and yay. :-D
    • I wish I had a nickel for every time I've had a conversation with someone about Homer (or "Celegorm") and their wayward ways. I could quit work and wank on the Internet all day, just as they do!

      I will tell you my personal Policy on Asshats. ;) I reply to all signed reviews on my stories. When a review is concrit, I address the issues that the reviewer raises (if need be) and always thank him/her for his/her input. I even thanked Saxton & Holt, rude as that one was! When the review is inexcusably rude (see Battling Bard and "Celegorm"), I still reply. I still address the issue, but I do not thank them. I also point out that they are wasting their time with such reviews, as authors don't hear a word that they're saying. And so I point them towards Critters, which has some excellent articles on critiquing by a very credible source.

      Unless the reviews are directed at my stories, I mostly ignore these people, though I have reassured authors before that the problem is not with the story, it is with the reviewers. But I don't troll their forums or look for trouble. I never would have found that I was nominated as Smuggest Fanficcer if not for an email from Oshun. (To whom I am grateful, for the record!)

      As a group mod, though, I am on them like the proverbial white on rice. Yes, I check her LJ page at least once a week; I check silwritersguild to make sure that she hasn't joined there. When the SWG archive is launched, then I will do the same there. (I get email notifications when people join in Yahoo, so that is less of an issue.) This I do because I think that the members in my group deserve better than to be harassed. If/when a problem arises, then I want to take care of it right away and prevent it from happening again.

      I did make an exception to my Asshat Policy today. I did speak out against the death threats she made against Oshun. The forum has since been deleted, but I hoped that her little minions might begin to question things a bit more rather than blindly accepting that it is cool to make such statements for any reason, much less over fanfic.

      I was told that I was taking things too seriously. "Discussion" ensued, and in the time it took to get a pizza, stop for a cup of coffee at the bookstore, and bathe Alex, the forum was deleted.

      As for the award, if I win, I wholly intend to share the honor--and the banner that I have been assured by Homer is being made--with Juno and Jael. I figure we're all smug enough to be deserving. ;)
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