Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Purge

“I am sorry to say that I have decided to take my work elsewhere . . .”
“If you ever can’t find my work then I have been deleted, but you can also find me at . . .”

How many times have you seen lines such as these at the bottom or your favorite author’s profile or work over the last couple of months? Ever wonder why? Well that would be thanks to’s decision to purge thousands of “M” rated fics from their site. is one of the leading sites for fanfiction writers. The site was created in 1998 to house the original transformative works of amateur writers who based their stories on popular literature, television shows, movies, books, video games, and comic and cartoon characters. The writers post their work to the site, allowing other fans to read and review. Each story must have a rating according to the guideline set by the site, and each writer must agree to specific terms and conditions, in order to continue to add stories to their collection.

The change in minimum age requirement to join the site was’s supposed reason the purge was initiated. When the site was created, the registration age was 18 years. In 2002, the age requirement was changed to only 13 years old. When the age requirement decreased, the ability to publish MA (Mature Adults) or NC-17 rated content was banned from the site. This change in minimum age requirement caused the rating systems to be adjusted to avoid lawsuits from the parents of minors, who could claim the site corrupted their children [1]. The rating system is [3]:

Content suitable for most ages (5+)
Some content may not be suitable for young children (9+)
Contains content not suitable for children (13+)
Contains content suitable for mature teens and older (16+)

The slightly ambiguous definition of each rating causes writers to choose the incorrect, or possibly the most extreme rating to avoid what inevitably took place in June 2012. Ten years after the age requirement was decreased, after years of loosely enforced ratings, the site decided to act on the general guidelines.

Thousands of fics were “purged” from the site, often with no warning or notification to the author. The site administrators claimed that the purged stories did not meet the general guidelines set forth, including inappropriate material for its selected rating. Many authors opposed the action, claiming that while the ratings had been in place for years, they had never been enforced and the authors had never been told that their stories were outside of guidelines.

Despite the backlash, the site purged what has been estimated to be 62,000 fics without the knowledge of the writer[1]. According to a statistic published by ffdotnetrant, a LiveJournal blog dedicated to complaints about the popular fanfiction site, 1,497 Twilight stories were purged (along with other popular fandoms such as Harry Potter, Naurto, Yu-Gi-Oh, and more)[2].It is safe to assume other stories have since met the same fate. Countless authors, including myself, scrambled to the site to check the presence of their own mature content Twilight stories.

Authors began to question what was defined as M or mature content. The Twilight fandom is riddled with alternate pairings, many including gay (slash) and lesbian (femslash) couples, which are not a part of the original story line. Does this story alternative fall into the allowable M rating, or is this theme for Mature Adults (MA) only? There seemed to be no rhyme or reason behind the stories that were chosen to be deleted and those that weren’t. While one story with M/MA content would be deleted, another with the same or similar content would be left standing.

This cryptic rating system and sudden removal of vast number of fics caused Twilight fandom readers (as well as other fandoms) to blame the hidden Fanfiction Nazis—a team devoted solely to the purpose of scouring the site for works they feel are not worthy of the site, reporting them to’s abuse team. Though the presence of such site bullying is annoying it is welcomed by the site administration and many of the stories that were purged met their fate due to having been reported. As the site states, “rely[s] on its users to report stories that are inappropriately rated [1].”

The purge of thousands of story has caused writers to migrate to other sites with less rating restrictions.’s decision to purge so many stories forced writers to submit works to other sites including, but not limited to Twilighted, Archive of Our Own, TwiWrite, and others. Some authors still take the chance of posting their questionable “M” ratings to the site. The announcement of the purge caused writers and readers to band together and boycott for one weekend in June 2012. Despite the readers losing many favorite stories, and thousands of writers feeling violated from the purge, there has been no reported loss of traffic to what still seems to be the leading fanfiction site [2].

This may not be the only purge users of will see. Just this year, the site began to allow users to create covers for their stories. The new image feature allows authors the ability to create and submit a design for their work to attract more readers. Twilight enthusiasts are no stranger to “banners” -- picture edits created to advertise stories, collections, and contest. The new image manager has its own set of criteria, including the creator having the rights to use the images being utilized as a cover [3]. Many of the Twilight story covers include copyrighted photos of the actors of the Twilight Saga. Professional photos of the Twilight gang are being edited and word shopped to create the covers and banners now on Unless these users are close friends with K. Stew, R. Pat, Taylor Lautner, and the reaming Twilight collection, then there are hundreds of images in violation of copy right and permission guidelines on the site. According to the terms and guidelines these violators can be removed without notification, same as the case with the thousands of deleted fanfics removed earlier this summer[3].

Being a low key writer seems to be the only aversion to finding your M rated fics missing from the site. If the Fanfiction Nazi never tags your work, than you will remain unnoticed by the site administrator who can’t possibly keep track of the millions of stories in the various categories, including crossovers. But as a precaution to all writers, no matter your fandom or rating of choice, back up your work! Save it to your computer, a flash drive, a free email account only for your fanfiction writing, or in some high tech cloud. Using multiple sites for your fiction is a plus, exposing your stories to different readers as well as fandom specific readers (which is what you get when you post to sites such as TwiWrite or Twilighted, and other specialty fiction sites).

Hopefully the days of looking over our shoulders before submitting our M rated fics are over . . . but I doubt it.

Author: Challa Fletcher, Staff Blogger


[1] – Wikipedia --

[3] Terms of Service --


There is a wonderful site called Squidge.oge, which has a huge database of various fandoms! Their stories range in content from child-appropriate to NC-17, even unrated in many cases. The Wonderful World of Make Believe is part of They also have a huge amount of traffic!

Anyone interested in posting stories should check them out!

Because of the purge that this article was written about, we created a directory of fanfiction authors who post stories on their own blogs or on sites that were mentioned in the above article.

If you are an author who is not listed, but would like to be, please use the submission form & provide us with your links.


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