Please take a moment to read this important message.
If you recall from my previous entry, I mentioned in the latest updates that one of the fanfictions that I had published a while ago on FF.net had apparently been removed by an admin of this particular site. Now, I wasn't sure it was either someone had been offended by this and had reported this to the admins, or if the site admins themselves had found this one out and decided to remove it. Either way, I wasn't too concerned about this--I wasn't exactly too sure myself whether to put the fanfic out on this site, but I guess I just wanted to, in the end.
However, the true reason why I wanted to bring this to your attention, is allegedly that the site admininstrators for FF.net have made a decision (as of Monday) to remove any fan-literature that would contain lemons (sexual content) or high levels of violence. In fact, by going on the main page of the website (where the latest news and updates/notices are held there), this is the following of what is stated from the people running the site:
'Please note we would like to clarify the content policy we have in place since 2002. FanFiction.Net follows the Fiction Rating system ranging from Fiction K to Fiction M. Although Fiction Ratings goes up to Fiction MA, FanFiction.Net since 2002 has not allowed Fiction MA rated content which can contain adult/explicit content on the site. FanFiction.Net only accepts content in the Fiction K through Fiction M range. Fiction M can contain adult language, themes and suggestions. Detailed descriptions of physical interaction of sexual or violent nature is considered Fiction MA and has not been allowed on the site since 2002.'
This is quite concerning, really, and this is coming from a person who has published past fanfictions that contained highly-sexual content in them. On top of that, there are hundreds of thousands of fanfictions that based on the span from TV shows to video games, that do contain a lot of lemon content and/or high levels of violence.
Based on all of this, I fear for the worst, that if a majority of fanfictions that contain this kind of content do get removed by those in charge of the site, such backlash will occur from people of multiple fandoms. Also, there are people who do spend a lot of time and effort writing what they have in their imaginative, creative minds, and they write stories that are in excess of over 100,000 words total. I don't know how these people will react, when they see that their +100,000 word story gets taken down, just because of "objectionable content" in a certain part of their story. It seems to me, that this reeks of removing the freedom of speech or the freedom of expression (whichever one) from a writer or an author. FF.net cannot simply tell what an author is supposed to write--that's up to the author himself/herself.
I know that there is a fine line between of what can be considered as non-offensive and what can be considered as plain offensive, but I ask why would a fanfiction be removed all just because it has high sexual or violent content in it--and that a majority wouldn't be too offended at all?
Anyway, such action needs to be taken against this decision by those in charge...and I don't mean just that legal action needs to be taken. I have heard of publishers of fanfictions who have decided to move away from the site, and publish their fanfictions elsewhere. For example: their personal sites, mailing lists, online blogs (such as Blogspot, or Blogger), personal journal websites (such as LiveJournal), and other fanfiction websites that are devoted to such content. A couple of other ways to take action against the decision to mass-delete these fanfictions on the site, are to boycott the website for the ridiculous parts of its policies, or to sign an online petition to gain the attention of the site management. Currently, I have heard of several (if not more than hundreds) of authors on the site that are starting petitions to reverse the decision to remove these fanfictions. If you happen to be a registered author on the site, please do get involved and sign the petitions.
To the site admins themselves, I do have suggestions on how to ensure that nobody below the age of majority sees what you call is "Rated MA" content, and not carry with a decision that would anger all people of all fandoms. Firstly, you could implement additional, special or specific filters that would prevent minors from viewing such content. Secondly, you could create a section where all Fiction MA content is allowed, but must require the reader to have a free membership and be 18 or older, similar to that of deviantART's system of handling such content. Lastly, you could just ensure that the person verifies their age through a day-month-year birthdate process, with signature required. Any of these options mentioned will be effective, as long as they are executed perfectly. Furthermore, FF.net should allow an author to appeal a decision to remove the story within a set date and time.
As for what to do as a fanfiction writer, I have still taken my great concern towards the alleged mass deletion and removal of fanfictions that are found "in violation". However, if such event does occur (and hopefully not), then I will probably carry all my fanfictions to this site here (dA), or to a future blog that I will set up specifically for the fanfictions. As I had stated before, Fanfiction.Net simply cannot tell what an author is supposed to write.
TL;DR: Unless you want your stories to be removed from FF.net, it would be the best time to take action right now.
Thank you for taking your time to read this.