Or rather, just a sigh in fanfiction.net's general direction. Not a poke at the section admins, at all. A problem with the design of the site itself, I think.
The comment was made:
>I hate the idea of blaming the site for the >clueless folks who
>use it. We just need more clue-having folks.
And I respond:
One of the problems I have with ff.net is that it's nigh unto
impossible to *find* the clue-having folks. And that's a fault in the
structure of the site.
Oh, granted, no story is going to say in its warning line, "This fic
is a piece of shit; kindly disregard it." (Although I did need a
moment away from the keyboard to savor that fantasy...) But the
categories and methods of searching on ff.net make it difficult to
separate wheat from chaff from fertilizer without reading scads of
category 3. One can sort a section (and by that I mean a large
section, like Buffy fic) by rating, author, or chonologically in
order of posting. It's still a matter of paging and paging and
paging... The search function is laughable, since it only pulls up 25
results, regardless of the fact that there's 5000+ stories in the
And (obviously a semi-personal rant) I'd love to see a slash
subdivision, or marking, or *something*. It's not that I think slash
stories are better written on the whole, as some do; I just prefer to
read them. But the political discussion on whether that's an option
has worn down the chance for it until I despair of ever being able to
find slash without knowing which authors to look for in advance. I
wouldn't bitch about that if the search function would let me look
for slash stories that way, without paging through 500 screens of
stories and reading the summaries, but...nope. 25 results, with no
particular reasoning shown as to why they were chosen...
And the argument that seems to have won, re: no separate slash
section, is that we-the-collected-ff.net-authors would be
discriminating against gay-themed fic by separating it out in any way
aside from the author's personal notes in the space-limited summary
section. Hello? Discriminating? It's fiction, folks. I don't think
Xander, Riley, or Angel care if their slash story is separated out so
that fans of the very-large-subgenre can find it. If the winning side of the argument means that
they might offend the *readers*... then they didn't express that very
well, and I still think the reasoning is specious. It's not a
political issue -- it's a method of categorizing literature in order
to best provide access to those who want to read it. I'm not offended
when Borders sets up a Gay and Lesbian section -- I'm thrilled,
because it means I can find the sort of things I'm interested in
reading, without looking at the dust jacket of every item in
the 'Literature' shelves, or looking only for authors whose surnames
I've memorized. And at least at Borders, there's a good chance that
what I *do* end up reading accidentally will be quality writing,
which might lead me to buy the book anyway, even if it's not what I
was looking for. At ff.net, that chance is exponentially smaller.
Separating out fiction by a major theme, voluntarily on the authors'
part, is not contributing to the marginalization of the gay community
as a whole; it's saving my sanity so that I don't have to page
through a hundred screens of descriptions of weepy Post-Gift
Buffy/Spike fic to find what I really want to read.
As a writer, it's neat -- I admit it. I'm there, and I post. It's a
place for me to post fic that doesn't fit my usual haunts, and have
it seen by more people than those who visit my website. I don't have
to go join a Doyle-centric list to post my one six-month old
Wes/Doyle fic, when I'm not a big Doyle fan, and don't particularly
want to read more Doyle-fic. I have a moment of more-strangeness-than-
usual and write something utterly un-Buffy and/or un-slashy? Yet
again, I can post to ff.net, and *somebody* will read it, sooner or
later, without me having to hunt up a list for whatever obscure
fandom it's in. (Or there might not *be* a list, if the heavens open
and Ragnarok begins, and I write an original-character fic.)
But as a reader, the site frustrates me deeply. I accept that there's
tripe everywhere -- but for a site like ff.net to be useful to me as
a reader, it has to have functions that allow me to get past the
tripe without melting my eyeballs. There are a lot of cool functions
and things to do on the site, but so far, they don't outweigh the
frustrations enough for me to spend any real time there when I'm
looking for fic to read or recommend.
So far, fanfiction.net makes me sigh. B+ for intent, C- for
- A non-rant...