Right, so, first and foremost: y’all should know that this is about as close as I ever get to an angry screed! But it’s an angry screed in the name of positivity, so that’s something, right?
Here’s the deal: today I saw a post—a series of posts, in fact—positing that the overall quality of the work available at the Ao3 was decreasing, and arguing that there had been at one point a mission of “quality control” at that archive (which, for the record, there never was). I am not linking to those posts, because more capable and knowledgeable people than I have already responded to them, and because, at the end of the day, those posts aren’t really what this post is about. The post is about the increase I’ve seen in comments like this, about the folks I see mocking “badfic,” about the sense of betrayal people seem to feel if a piece of fanfiction is not up to their individual standards, about the rather shocking volume of people who seem to have come to the conclusion that fandom exists for their personal pleasure. Which, don’t get me wrong—fandom does exist for the pleasure of fans. But it’s a collective thing, with each individual contributing to the whole, and the degree to which that knowledge seems to have slipped—along with the remembrance of the fact that every handle represents a living, breathing human being whose importance is not hinged on the quality of their fanworks—is starting to freak me out.