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?

View Answers

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?

View Answers

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?

View Answers

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?

View Answers

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?

View Answers

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?

View Answers

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.
iceinyourmusic: (this letter to arrive)

[personal profile] iceinyourmusic 2010-04-26 06:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Having answered at least one question with the "details in comments" option, I feel like I shd comment, which makes me feel like I shd have a more substantial contribution to offer than "my archiving habits are determined from beginning to end by (a) a complete lack of a system, (b) the completely unpredictable ebb and flow of laziness vs. compulsiveness, (c) whatever will most likely lead to crying and gnashing of teeth when I can't find stories I want to find again even when I'm pretty sure I save the story and/or the link somewhere, and I do in fact know what I shd do to change that (i.e. come up with a system, ANY system), but I'm ttly not in the process of doing so". Sorry.

As for bookmarking, it's a sort of a marginal thing, but I wish I could get myself to use the AO3 bookmarking feature more often (though OTOH the reading history feature there is doing a lot of my work for me - can we have an internet-wide magical fic-reading history device next, please?).

As for keeping, I wanted to say FOREVER (because I never clean out my bookmarks or hard-drive etc. until something happens and everything is irrevocably lost), but I did just recently throw out some print-outs of Austenfic from the late '90s.

... summa summarum, I admire & envy everyone with an archiving system, but you're all unicorns to me.
zing_och: Grace Choi from the Outsiders comic (Default)

[personal profile] zing_och 2010-04-26 06:28 pm (UTC)(link)
In addition to printing and saving stories, I email stories to a gmail account that's just for archiving fic. (I even have one just for SGA fic; that's mainly for rereading and playing with gmail tags.)
theodosia21: sunflower against a blue sky (Default)

[personal profile] theodosia21 2010-04-26 07:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I started reading fanfiction in 2006. At that point, I would bookmark fics I had read and enjoyed or planned to read on my internet browser. However, that soon became completely unmanageable, so in May 2007 I opened a delicious.com account and started to transfer my favorites over. Now my general habit is to bookmark things that I might read some point in the future to my browser, and after I read it, if I think I might want to read it again, I bookmark it at my account. I also keep track of interesting fics at my fanfiction.net account- I keep interesting WIP in my favorite stories list and well-written completed stories in my community there. I've saved a few of my favorite stories to my computer, but I generally regard that as such a daunting task (I've just past my three thousandth bookmark on delicious) that it's a very small percentage of my favorites.
theodosia21: sunflower against a blue sky (Default)

[personal profile] theodosia21 2010-04-26 07:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Actually, AO3 has done something to make it possible to bookmark stuff not on the site using their bookmarking system. I quote:

To make it easier to use our bookmarks system to bookmark works hosted outside the Archive, we've introduced a javascript bookmarklet. You can find this on the External Works page – just right-click the link on this page and save as a bookmark, or drag it to your bookmarks bar to 'install'.

Once you've added the bookmarklet to your browser, then clicking on it will open a pop-up containing the form for creating a new external work, with the url of the page you were on already filled in. Just fill in the other details and click create! You'll need to close the pop-up window when you're done.

I actually haven't used their bookmarking system at all, since I'm so committed to delicious. But they're trying to make it more useful/universal.
amaresu: Sapphire and Steel from the opening (Default)

[personal profile] amaresu 2010-04-26 07:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Here via Metafandom delicious

For awhile I used to download and save fic onto disks, but I stopped once it occured to me that I rarely went back and read them. Around this time I'd really discovered archives and how most people posted to them anyways, so I didn't need to save them to disk. Once I came to LJ I used the memories feature extensively, but stopped once [livejournal.com profile] viciouswishes pointed me at delicious.

I think the most interesting thing about my move to delicious was the number of fics I choose not to migrate. When going through my memories I ran across entire swaths of my fannish history that I had no desire to retread. Pairings I was no longer interested in, fandoms I no longer cared about. I'd say there were hundreds of fics that never made the transition.

Now I use delicious almost exclusively. The past few years have made me very blaise about losing all my information on my computer (laptop crash, one serious virus that required a complete re-installation of my OS and two hard drive failures due to a faulty hard drive on my new computer) so I attempt to keep anything really important either in the cloud or on my external. If it's irreplaceable it doesn't belong on my computer. On that same note backing up my Firefox profile is a good thing.

I also use Read It Later far too much. Whenever I do a clean out of it I tend to find anywhere from 10-30 fics that I meant to get back to right away, only now it's several months later.

I keep meaning to use the AO3's bookmarking system, but I don't.
trinity_clare: (running people)

[personal profile] trinity_clare 2010-04-26 08:00 pm (UTC)(link)
How many different places I've saved a fic is directly related to how much I liked it. Witness:

Liked it: delicious
Will definitely want to reread: delicious with a favorite tag
Loved it so much I want access to it in case the power goes out and I'm bereft of the internet for hours and hours: html saved to my hard drive
Loved it so much I want to take a highlighter to it: printouts in a 3-ring binder.

Those are cumulative, so stories in the last category will also belong to the first three.

Before I was on LJ I pasted urls into a Word doc on my parents' computer (I didn't use browser bookmarks because I didn't want them to know I was reading porn in junior high), and when I first got on LJ it was to read WIPs, so I didn't really need to bookmark anything for a while. This was before the journal migration had really sunk its teeth in, so most people were still writing long chaptered fics instead of oneshots. I got a delicious in fall 2005, and mostly used it in place of browser bookmarks, combining fannish and non-fannish links. About a year later I joined SPN fandom, which was my first non-HP fandom and thus my first exposure to the mainline slash-based media fandom at large. Back then I used to bookmark pretty much everything regardless of quality (I've been meaning to go back and cull the badfic), but the older I get the pickier I get, so it's been evening out. I do need to go back and revamp the tags on the older links, though. *frets*

I save vids to my hard drive when I can, but I do have a disk space issue. I also try to save their header posts to my delicious, but occasionally I forget. Meta also gets saved to the delicious. Also I have a "to be read" tag with about 150 fics in it. It always seems to get longer. *keeps fretting*
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)

[personal profile] arduinna 2010-04-26 08:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Here via, er, Network, I think.

The AO3 is planning to add a feature to allow users to import delicious bookmarks, although it's still down the road a ways: http://archiveofourown.org/comments/72218. By that point, bookmarks should be filterable like other content, making it much easier to find things. \o/
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.
carnadosa: Three petaled redish flower. (Default)

*via metafandom delicious*

[personal profile] carnadosa 2010-04-26 10:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I like to pretend that I actually remember how I got into fandom, like it was some kind of epiphany that I found slash online. But I really kinda don't. I'm pretty sure I first started reading fanfic in 2003 by way of accidentally finding YYH and HP fandoms. It might have been earlier, but no later then spring of 2003 (because I remember being annoyed I'd not have access to wips that summer). It took me about a year to realize that if I want to be able to find it and read it again I'd better have a better system then haphazard local browser bookmarks (those were mostly wips anyway).

It was still the days of mailing lists and achieves (when I had a much better tolerance for marginal quality fic) that I started saving everything I read to .doc. And I have, in fact (when the number of saved files was way way less then the 9,500 it is now) reread my entire saved fic achieve more then once. Now that it contains ginormous works such as Saving Conner, I don't really think that'll ever happen again.

When I worked the night shift and had access to endless computer printing in undergrad I printed stories out to read them. I don't anymore because 1. expense, 2. at this point I have a laptop, 3. I don't have a job where I could read during anymore.

I got a delicious account in 2006, but I didn't really start using it as an complete redundancy backup/index for my saved fics until somewhere in 2008? I think.

During the last warnings go-round I started a fairly serious retagging project (I used to only do pairing, fandom, fic and slash/gen/het) which actually did change the way I saved stuff, because this is the point where I made absolutely sure that if I saved it to disk I saved it to delicious. I also started making a better folder/subfolder system to attempt to find things if I didn't have internet access.

So far I find the Vista/Microsoft Word 2007 tagging to be...not that useful. But I haven't made a very determined effort either.

I keep telling myself I'll go back and try to find my older fandom favorites in BTVS, HP and SV but that's extremely unlikely. (The bulk of the 9,500 fics saved to disk vs. 5,100 fic tag on Delicious discrepancy is in those fandoms).

I save all of my fics to two different computers, two different backup hard drives and about once a year burn to disk. (Given the amount of digital space I have, digital copies are FREE).

As a random observation, when I started reading fanfic I was a pretty hardcore het shipper (using fanfic as a proxy for my romance novel habit so I could spend that money on pretty non-fiction books instead). All of my saving fic habits didn't start until I switched to almost exclusively slash.

So, my 'system', as it stands now, if I like it enough to reread someday I save it to disk and delicious. If it's drabbles it only gets saved to a cumulative pairing/gen-fandom drabbles doc unless it's a really awesome one. They're just not worth the time/effort for redundancy.

Where my account lives.
carnadosa: Three petaled redish flower. (Default)

Re: *via metafandom delicious*

[personal profile] carnadosa 2010-04-26 10:16 pm (UTC)(link)
That was a lot longer then I thought, I guess I really like to talk about how I save stuff.
trinity_clare: (Default)

[personal profile] trinity_clare 2010-04-26 11:17 pm (UTC)(link)
One thing I really noticed in the migration to journal-based fandom is that people started to think of fic length in terms of how much will fit into one post (especially since on LJ it's roughly 10,000 words, which is a nice neat number). If a fic is posted on LJ and it's more than 50,000 words long I'd probably consider it "longfic," whereas on an archive or a personal website there can be fics hundreds of thousands of words long and I wouldn't even blink, especially if it's in a lot of smaller parts.

I think my "unread" tag and I have made peace, if only because I'm in a stage right now where I don't have a primary fandom, so I just keep rotation through phases. If I bookmark something and don't read it right away, either I'll come back to it in a few months or I'll delete it later ("later" currently meaning "not yet"). I also have a WIP tag that I check whenever I remember to, which can lead to moments of "OMG YAY THERE ARE FIVE NEW CHAPTERS."
cathexys: Victorian girls: good girls don't meta (goodgirls (by copracat))

[personal profile] cathexys 2010-04-27 12:32 am (UTC)(link)
I pretty much save for many different reasons.

When I started (like you, BtVS), I'd save stories to my hard drive, because I was on dial up and that way the phone would be free even with my reading fic :)

During my central archive reading I'd only save the stories i wanted to reread and/or print (and I just threw out a couple of milk crates worth of printouts...it was tough which Skinner/Krycek i might indeed reread and which I sure wasn't ever gonna look at again :)

Now I save pretty much randomly, because LJ fandom without a central archive (i.e., SPN/J2 as opposed to SGA) loses stories all the time. Deleted journals, locked journals, name changes, you name it...it's quite frustrating, and even if I know I won't get to read right away, i try to safe. (Though the 15 post format that LJ requires/invites isn't welcoming to that)

Every time I do a general backup, I backup all the fic as well. So I have a lot of redundancy... But trust me, the one story I'm trying to recollect...that's the one I forgot to save. EVERY DAMN TIME :)

Also: very cool poll! And I'd never even tried to estimate how many stories I'd saved. Though probably word count would be more impressive bc I tend to save very little under 20K words...

jetamors: Yoruichi is really hot (Default)

[personal profile] jetamors 2010-04-27 01:48 am (UTC)(link)
When I was first in fandom, around 1998-ish, I was a teenager on a shared computer, and I actually don't think I tracked anything; I just kind of generally remembered the URLs of archives and forums. When I got back into fandom around 2004, I mainly relied on browser bookmarks, though I did end up making a page for reccing genfics that I also used to keep track of fics I liked. I started using Delicious around 2007; I think the idea was to make it easier to find other fics, since I was getting into different fandoms, but unfortunately most of the fandoms I've been in since then haven't been very Delicious-heavy, so it hasn't been that helpful in that regard.

The other thing I've been using, since about 2004, is the favorites feature at FFN. The way I usually find fic on that site is by surfing through the favorites lists of writers I like, and that's a lot easier to do using their interface. Plus all the header information is automatically included, and it's sortable, which was a big advantage in the pre-Delicious days.

I only save fic to my hard drive occasionally. The main barrier to saving fic to my hard drive is probably keeping track of all of it; if I knew of an easy way to save fics to my hard drive and tag them with fandom/characters/pairings, I'd probably do it more often.

The two major reasons I bookmark fics are to easily find them again, and to find other fics I might like, so I think I'll be relying on Delicious and FFN favorites for a while. I don't plan on importing either of those to AO3 unless/until they create an automated interface. I'd kind of like to mirror my old genfic recs onto it (especially since they'll be going offline at the end of the year), but it would take forever and by now many of the links are broken, so I doubt it'll ever happen.
meinnim: (Default)

[personal profile] meinnim 2010-04-27 01:54 am (UTC)(link)
I usually save favorite fics in my Yahoo e-mails. I like having it in one more place besides delicious and my hard drive.

Also, it's nice to have a fic already set up in my e-mails in case someone needs a copy of it. I can send it immediately.
viggorlijah: Jesushorse (Default)

[personal profile] viggorlijah 2010-04-27 02:08 am (UTC)(link)
Have you considered evernote? I think with its browser integration and tagging, it could be a good way to archive a lot of stories and tag/index them.

I use delicious not so much for my own reference but to share links, and rely on my delicious network for daily recs of stories to try, more so than LJ newsletters or communities now. It's curated recs in a big shared format.
pouncer: (Ferris wheel glowy)

[personal profile] pouncer 2010-04-27 02:22 am (UTC)(link)
I like to read stories offline, so I copy them to a Word document, many times in batches -- around 100 pages long. I strip out the formatting, then transfer them to my PalmPilot to read via Documents to Go. I read on the Metro, noting which stories I really, really like. Those, I track down again and bookmark on Delicious. I keep the Word documents on my hard drive, and burn them to disc every once in a while.

I'm pondering an iTouch, once they can multitask. I assume I'll need to learn new formatting tricks to continue my offline fanfic reading habit.
pouncer: (Default)

[personal profile] pouncer 2010-04-27 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
Wait! I also gmail the Word docs to myself, so that if I'm super-bored at work, I can read explicit fic without feeling quite as guilty.

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