walkingshadow: text: i chased the internet and got tired. (naked and famous)
walkingshadow ([personal profile] walkingshadow) wrote2010-04-26 01:30 pm

i read dead russian authors volumes at a time

Because it's something I've been grappling with for a while myself, I got curious about how other people save and store the fanfiction they read (or intend to read), either on- or offline. And since I just re-upped my paid time on dreamwidth, it looks like conditions are perfect for a poll! For these purposes, when I talk about "saving a story", I mean "putting it (or a link to it) in any physical, digital, or virtual space for your own personal access at a later date, for any reason". So:

Poll #2888 Your personal fanfiction curation habits: describe them to me!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 148

Do you save fanfiction for personal archival purposes?

View Answers

127 (85.8%)

5 (3.4%)

I did in the past, but I don't anymore.
13 (8.8%)

It might seem like a simple question, but it doesn't have a simple answer (see comments).
3 (2.0%)

How long do you keep (or plan to keep) the fic you save?

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Until I've read it.
3 (2.1%)

For a length of time dependent on some variable(s) I will detail in comments.
2 (1.4%)

It varies depending on the story and/or my reason for saving it initially.
70 (48.3%)

70 (48.3%)

What fic saving/storage method(s) do you currently employ?

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Saving digital copies to my computer in html/txt/pdf/etc. format.
119 (81.5%)

Saving digital copies to my mobile device.
11 (7.5%)

Burning digital copies to disks.
17 (11.6%)

Local bookmarking in my browser.
69 (47.3%)

Online bookmarking via delicious.
89 (61.0%)

Online bookmarking via a site other than delicious.
20 (13.7%)

Adding to my [live]journal memories.
36 (24.7%)

Printing out stories from the internet.
33 (22.6%)

Storing fanzines (hard copies).
13 (8.9%)

Some other method(s) which I will expound upon in comments.
6 (4.1%)

Have you changed your system over time?

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No. The system I currently use is the system I've always had.
42 (29.2%)

Yes. My system has changed at least once since I began reading fanfiction.
102 (70.8%)

Are you satisfied with your current system?

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57 (39.0%)

Yes, but based on emerging fandom trends and/or my own changing habits and/or new tools/technology, I suspect that might change sometime in the forseeable future.
49 (33.6%)

No, and I'm in the process of adjusting it to accommodate emerging fandom trends and/or my own changing habits and/or new tools/technology.
13 (8.9%)

No, but I'm not sure what changes I should make to it.
27 (18.5%)

If you use more than one method, how much redundancy do you have in place?

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Little or no redundancy: stories are either in hard copy, on a hard drive, in the cloud, etc., but they're each in only one location/format.
39 (28.3%)

Partial redundancy: some stories exist in more than one location/format.
77 (55.8%)

Total redundancy: my entire catalog is mirrored in at least one other location/format.
22 (15.9%)

Assuming we're talking only about stories that you wanted or would have wanted to save, how does your collection of saved works compare to your actual fic consumption history?

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My collection of saved works closely matches up to the number of stories I have read.
15 (10.3%)

My collection of saved works underrepresents the number of stories I have read.
121 (82.9%)

My collection of saved works overrepresents the number of stories I have read.
13 (8.9%)

Not counting the duplicates (if you have a redundant system), how many stories do you have saved, total?

View Answers

Less than 100.
21 (14.5%)

Between 100 and 500.
37 (25.5%)

Between 500 and 1,000.
17 (11.7%)

Between 1,000 and 5,000.
37 (25.5%)

Between 5,000 and 10,000.
12 (8.3%)

Between 10,000 and 50,000.
4 (2.8%)

Between 50,000 and 100,000.
0 (0.0%)

More than 100,000.
2 (1.4%)

More than 1,000,000!!
0 (0.0%)

It's too complicated to estimate.
15 (10.3%)

If it's a different number than the number of stories you've saved, would you care to estimate how many stories you've read in your fannish lifetime? Round to the nearest order of magnitude, or feel free to just laugh into the text box instead.

And when did you first start reading fanfiction?

View Answers

Before the advent of the internet.
10 (6.8%)

After the advent of the internet, but before the age of the mailing list.
6 (4.1%)

During the age of the mailing list, but before the days of the web archive and the author homepage.
18 (12.2%)

During the days of the web archive and the author homepage, but before the migration to journal-based fandom.
79 (53.4%)

After the migration to journal-based fandom, but before the rise of social bookmarking.
29 (19.6%)

Since the rise of social bookmarking.
1 (0.7%)

Your brief history of fandom is inaccurate and/or incomplete, and I had a different fannish entry point, which I will describe in comments.
5 (3.4%)

Obviously this poll is limited to my own experiences and knowledge, so I would dearly love to hear about the practices that work for you. Or practices that are no longer working for you! There's also the fact that I myself am exclusively a reader and not a writer of fanfiction. If you're a writer, does that affect your archiving habits? Do you handle your own fic differently? What about saving other fannish works, like art and podfic and vids and meta? I'm especially unfamiliar with fanart communities and their homes on the web, and with vids I very quickly run into the problem of limited disk space. So what do you do?

Here's how my current system is set up: every story I read that I ever want to lay my hands on again, I a) save in html format to my laptop (which subsequently gets backed up to an external drive) and b) bookmark in my delicious account. It's important to me to have both, since anything can disappear from the internet at any moment (sites go down, links break, C&D letters are served, authors pull their work, etc.), but a library in the cloud is, by definition and design, accessible a) to anyone b) from anywhere. Thus, in a perfect world I would have a perfectly redundant system consisting of local, offline electronic copies and the corresponding referral links to the online versions of those stories.

But (spoiler!) it isn't a perfect world, and this is how things actually shake out:

As of this moment I have approximately 7,700 stories saved to my hard drive (and backed up on an external drive), a number that wildly underrepresents the amount of fanfiction I have actually read, even just counting the stuff I have read and loved. I first discovered "fandom" and fanfiction via Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the summer of 1998 and read exclusively and extensively in it (Buffy/Angel omg! and AOL! and web rings!) until 2001. And yet I only have, let me count . . . ONE Buffy story saved to my hard drive, and it was posted three months ago. At the time, I kept browser bookmarks of my favorite sites in my AOL account, but that was on my parents' computer, and they were lost to the ether when that machine failed. In the meantime, I had gone off to college with my own computer.

I first started saving stories some time toward the end of 2002, well after I'd discovered (simultaneously) Smallville and slash and livejournal (and fandom again, but for real this time), but I didn't have a saving policy, something helpful and exhaustive like "save every story that you might ever want to lay your hands on again". Over the next couple of years I read what probably amounted to thousands of stories across a whole bunch of fandoms (especially Smallville, popslash, Sports Night, Highlander, Due South, The Sentinel, Lotrips, and Harry Potter), but I saved a vanishingly small percentage of it all. During the summer of 2002 I tore through the entire (now defunct) Our Boys Sorkinfic archive but saved zero stories from it. As of one month ago (I've since had a renaissance!), I had only nine Highlander stories saved. NINE. I started saving scrupulously (using the above-mentioned policy) somewhere in or around 2004, when I was into Harry Potter for at least the second time around (the Remus/Sirius redux), Star Trek (TOS), and M*A*S*H.

By the end of 2005 (SGA, et al.) I had created my delicious account, and by early 2006 I was using it in fits and starts; it wasn't until three years later, in January of 2009 (Merlin), that I began bookmarking scrupulously—that is, bookmarking every story I saved. I have approximately 3,200 stories bookmarked there now, less than half the number of stories I have saved offline; but I have another couple of thousand unread stories bookmarked, to keep my number of open browser tabs to a minimum, and for rainy days.

At this point I don't know if I'm ever going to attempt to gather all those stories I read but never saved, assuming that I would WANT to; assuming I could remember any titles or authors or what songs the songfics were based on (lol j/k, it was Sarah McLachlan); assuming I could find them again, which presumes that they're even still available anywhere, or will ever be made available again, e.g. on the AO3. And then there's the matter of retroactively bookmarking the stories I saved in pre-delicious times: the thought of having them all together in one neatly-tagged* place is incredibly attractive, but hideously daunting. And at the end of the day, is delicious even the right place for it?

* And THAT'S a whole mess of meta for another day.
theodosia21: sunflower against a blue sky (Default)

[personal profile] theodosia21 2010-04-26 09:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, at ff.net you can only keep track of fic posted to ff.net. However, I like how easy it is to keep track of updates- you can have notifications of updates or new stories by authors you've subscribed to emailed to you, and if you favorite a story it goes to the top of your "favorite stories" list whenever it's updated. So of all the places I read fic- livejournals/dreamwidth, personal websites, AO3, fandom-specific archives- I find ff.net the most convenient for keeping track of WIP.

I agree that entrenchment plays a large role- when I started using delicious, the list of tags at the side couldn't be hidden. I remember getting annoyed at some people's delicious pages that had tons of bookmarks, because it always slowed down how fast the page loaded. So I made a point of using as few tags as possible. Now that we can hide the tags, and I have so many bookmarks, I wish I had used more tags, but I can't face going through them all to improve things. And I can't stand the thought of being more inconsistent than I already am, and to just tag more comprehensively from this point onwards.