To all my Fanfic Writing Peeps on My Flist,
The Pit of Voles aka Fanfiction DOT Net yesterday released a new order to its minions:
For whatever reason, some writers feel it's okay to copy-n-paste musical lyrics they have not written into their fiction. If you did not write it, do not post it. This has always been our policy. Please remove these entries immediately to avoid account closure.
For a detailed discussion on the potential impact this can have on you, please visit the following:
As usual, Pit of Voles is being damn vague. Clearly songfics are toast. Clearly songfics that pass off, say, an Evanescence song as the author's or the character's work is a defnite no-no.
Before you start jumping up and down in joy that the Pit will no longer host songfics (personally can't stand them, but I go by the credo: "Don't like; don't read." No skin off my nose if the Pit has songfics or not), there are more unanswered questions. For example, are you sure the new rules don't apply to you?
What it doesn't explain is whether the use of songs to set the tone of a chapter where the original author/artist is credited (which I did in Chapter 33 of Whisper and Chapter 69 of Living History) is forbidden. Also unknown: whether quoting a few lines of a song at the beginning of a fic, even though the artist is credited, is also now forbidden.
It should be noted: if Pit of Voles decides you are in violation, your account will be completely nuked. Not a temporary suspension. Not the offending story removed. Your whole account will be gone.
While I have no problems living by the sword (private site after all), the issue here is that Pit of Volves is a self-policed community. That means the readers report the infractions and Pit administrators remove the offending story and/or author. However, they do not investigate the complaint, nor to they send so much as a form email to the author to warn them that they are under investigation. The author never hears a thing until after the Pit administrators take action.
Naturally, if an author is never reported, an offending story can stay up for years without anything bad happening.
So, what we have here is a vague rule, random enforcement through the use of "the site readers" who may or may not have an ax to grind with particular authors, utter lack of investigation into complaints, and heavy-handed punishments with no recourse for the author to appeal.
For example, I've actually been targeted on the Pit of Voles and reported for "infractions" that made no sense. In one case, I was nailed for rating Dismay a PG-13 (now a T rating on the Pit). Someone decided that I gave it too low a rating, turned me in and I was suspended for a week. I changed the rating to an R (now a M rating at the Pit), even though I have no idea why it rated a more mature rating. Go read the story. Trust me. I just don't get it. At all.
And people wonder why Ishmael Sings of the White Whale was never posted on the Pit. Reason? I was suspended when the Pit went relatively light on rating infractions (although I still maintain that I rated Dismay appropriately the first time). While I see Ishmael as a story for a more mature audience, someone out there with a bug up their ass could certainly start claiming that it should be NC-17 on account of the vague and brief sex scene in it. Think I'm overstating? fanficrants is full of people who got banned from the Pit or had their stories dropped from the site over the exact same thing.
The last time I was hit for an infraction was for Whisper. At the time I posted, author's notes were perfectly acceptable and the last chapter had these author's notes. There was a rule change at the Pit, which I was either unaware of or thought didn't apply to my story because I thought Whisper was granfathered in. I was wrong. I was reported within a week of that rule change. The offending chapter was removed and I was again suspended.
Both incidences happened during a time period when Xander authors over on the Pit of Voles were being trolled and flammed in both feedback comments and by private email. Quite a few of us were forced to go to signed-only comments as a result of the flamming. The funny thing was, Xander authors were flammed across fandoms. For example, one author had stories in Xena fandom and was flammed about her Xander stories in feedback to the Xena story.
What I'm trying to say is that if you have anything that might be considered questionable, do yourself a favor and pull the story down from the Pit of Voles and find an alternative archive. Should someone get a bee in the bonnet about you over on the Pit, you have no defense and you are not given any options to appeal. While I can solve some of my song problems, the issue with the Whisper chapter in question is going to be very, very difficult to deal with. It will require wholesale rewriting on my part to make it acceptable in the light of the rules.
This is literally the kick in the pants I needed to start moving my archive to other archives. I might be rare online for a week or two as I start pulling stories off the Pit and finding alternative spaces for them. I'll be uploading them to my LJ (for certain) in backdated entries. I will also be looking at finally translating some of the shorter stories for placement on the autoarchives.
Take care and good luck everyone.
ETA: I'm not planning on removing my stories completely from the Pit. Although I might remove Whisper and Living History completely because I do not want to re-write the chapters. I'll have to consider what other stories will be removed and what stories I will actually post to the site in the future.