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05 September 2009 @ 04:43 am
Recs Policy Post  
(NB: If you want to see this post with all the cut tags in place, go to [the 'journal policies' tag] and scroll to the bottom.)

The title of this post makes it seem much more, I don't know, authoritative and official than it actually is. I have spent a while thinking about recs and how I rec things and what I want to be doing with my recs-- I just haven't come to lots of final conclusions. But since you may care, I'll share what my current thoughts are. These may change, and if they do I'll update this. If you have feedback you'd like to give me, I'd be more than happy to hear it!

Warnings, Spoilers, Contains

N.B.: This 'contains' policy is firmly applied to recs dated after 5 Sept 2009. Recs made before then might not be compliant with this policy, although I hope & think they are.

Some people really, really hate spoilers (for the show and/or the fanfic). Some people really, really like spoilers. Some people really, really want to avoid reading things that might trigger flashbacks or otherwise put them in a bad place emotionally. I obviously can't satisfy everyone on this count, but I have tried to strike a decent compromise. (FWIW, I'm coming down on the side of giving more information. This may or may not have something to do with my love of card catalogues and meta information...)

So my compromise is to stick info about the story which potential readers might wish to know but that isn't otherwise given in the header in the 'contains' section of the rec under a highlight-to-read thingy (occasionally I'll leave things unhidden if it isn't very spoilery (and anything which is revealed in the first 4-ish sentences of a fic is not considered spoilery)). This 'contains' designation is not a simple find&replace of 'warnings' since I stick things here that aren't warnings. I will, in general, be c&p'ing things from the author's header for this section, although I will supplement it myself if necessary. I might also omit things which were in the author's header if they aren't relevant (for example: 'dreaded het sex' and 'boys kissing' will not show up.).

I'll put if there are spoilers for canon in here (I rarely rec things in a timely manner, so generally this is just what the author put, even if it isn't terribly relevant any more. If it's a really minor spoiler for something that's been out a while I might omit the spoiler just from copy&paste annoyance.)

I will also list here things which may be triggery. I will do my best to mention if the fic contains any: character death, animal harm, rape/non-con, dubious consent, consent play, torture, abuse, or something else if it sets off my internal 'some people might be bothered by this' radar. Whilst I'd love it if I were infallible, I know I am not. If there is a rec which you think is missing something of this nature, please please please let me know!

Other things might end up here too, like 'wing-fic' or 'contains zombies' or 'nonlinear time narrative' or 'D/s' or 'sweet enough to make your teeth rot'. So basically, stuff wot the story contains wot I want to tell you.

If I omit the 'contains' line, it is because I have nothing to say about the contents of the fic that isn't already said elsewhere in the header.


I include violence as well as sex in the ratings. In general, I mention it if it's violence that's got a higher rating than the sex (I'd like to think I do this all the time, but I'm not positive I do), but this means that there can well be an NC17 fic with absolutely no sex of any sort if there's, say, a torture scene. I suppose I'll also rate for emotional intensity (hello, Winchester boys contemplating life!) sometimes. I rarely rate for language itself (frankly, because I've a gutter mouth myself so I don't usually notice. But my official reasoning is because usually the intensity of the language scales with the intensity of the sex/violence/angst of the work).

If an author gives a rating that's generally what I'll put unless I disagree with it for some reason (usually personal definitions of where the R boundaries are, but sometimes because the author is very clearly only rating on the sex and not on violence/emotional turmoil), since I reckon that thus regular readers will develop a sense of where I put my labels and they'll find the consistency helpful (plus, if someone wishes to know the author's rating it can still be found on the original fic posting).

I generally use what I guess is a modified version of the American movie rating system. Whilst these examples generally talk about fic, I do rec and rate other types of fanworks -- I try to apply ratings consistently across fanwork types.

Filled with fluffy bunnies! You could read this to a small child and feel no guilt.

I kind of use these interchangeably, personally. I would feel no guilt with a young teen reading these. I'd also have no problem listening to them at work without headphones (well, except that probably-- given my taste-- someone's turned into a penguin or something-- and I don't feel the desire to explain to my coworkers about my fanfic reading habits so I always wear headphones, but that's a side point). In these stories, characters might have sex but it's off-screen, there might be violence but it's not terribly gritty, and probably Dean Winchester isn't thinking of deals with demons or angels. He might well be thinking about pie though. Mmmm, pie.

I think this one is the hardest to define because it grades into the rating on either side... If this story were/is a podfic, I wouldn't listen to it at work (so perhaps there's no explicit sex, but there could be some making-out-with-emotional-intensity, which might then be followed with a fade-to-black, or perhaps there's some violence, or something). I'd more comfortable with older teens reading this. There is no explicit sex.

This means the work satisfies at least one of these: Contains explicit sex, even if it is a small part of the over-all work. Contains no sex but lots of violence. Definitely the adult end of things in some fashion or the other.

Sometimes authors use the above terms. Sometimes if I'm feeling extra on top of things I'll convert these ratings to the ones I feel are appropriate for the story using my scheme. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'll slap one of those ratings on an unrated story because I feel like it (rather than using the above scheme), in which case 'adult' covers 'NC17' and some of 'R', whereas 'Teen' has the rest of 'R' and also 'PG/PG13'.


As far as I'm concerned, 'genre' means things like 'horror', 'crack', 'comedy', and so on and not the gender of the people having (or not having) sex. I realise this is different from a fannish convention but I rather dislike that convention. I don't list genre, mostly because I have a hard time breaking stories into genre(s) in a consistent manner. In theory, my rec should have enough other information that one can form an educated guess as to the genre. Having said that, I have blurred my definition of genre a tad bit as far as my genre:XXXX tags are concerned. For a longer discussion of the genre:XXXX tags, see the tags section of this post.

'Ships, pairings, the definition of gen

*sigh* This is another can of worms. Including the fact that I will be using 'pairing' to refer to 'people in a sexual relationship' regardless of the number of people. It's for linguistic simplicity because I don't really know of another individual word to use. (I use routinely use 'a couple' to mean 'a small number, probably not more than four but possibly five on rare occasions', so I clearly am somewhat confused to begin with.)

When I started reading in fandom, I had a very strict internal definition for gen. No relationships that weren't platonic were allowed anywhere remotely near the plot. And if it wasn't gen, then I wanted all pairings that had significant screen time or plot points to be listed.

But now I've moved to the opposite-- it annoys me when I slap pairing labels and slash or het on a fic which really isn't about the relationships. If the fic is mostly about saving the galaxy and only a little bit about McKay and Sheppard's dysfunctional-yet-amusing romantic relationship, well that's different from a fic about McKay having to deal with his emotions when his lover is stranded and only a bit about him pulling a technological miracle out of thin air. And I'd like that difference to be apparent. So I am doing the silly &/ illogical thing of allowing fics to be gen and also have pairing(s). So if a fic is label thusly:
  • gen == No 'ships have any significant screen time or plot points
  • gen and pairings == The focus and much of the energy of the fic is on gen, but there are subordinate ships. (I would read this story when I was in a mood for gen, even though there are pairings.)
  • pairings == The ship(s) are important to the fic. Someone who's looking to read gen likely wouldn't be happy.

This brings me to another point-- there are stories which are confusing to categorise because the relationships fall near a boundary line. Perhaps they could be read as gen or as a ship. Perhaps it is all about the pursuit and not the catch. And so on. I wing the categorisation of those as I go.

labeling: femslash?
To my great disappointment, I have yet to rec a fic with two women in a sexual relationship (I've got some bookmarked! Just, I rec really slowly...) so I haven't yet had to decide what to label it. (ETA: Ha! Now I have!) When tagging things, I have used the convention that 'femslash' refers to two or more women in a relationship and 'slash' refers to two or more men in a relationship. This is to facilitate the finding of stories about women in same sex relationships. (If you care, my preference is for 'slash' to simply mean 'same sex ship' and to use modifiers for both the male and female cases-- I'm tired of English's tendency to name both the general category and the male instance identically whilst requiring the female instance to use a modifier *sigh*. But I'd rather have my recs be easily searchable than to obfuscate them whilst taking a linguistic stand, hence the convention used here.)

in case of poly
Poly here is three or more people involved in a relationship and/or in sex. If all participants are of one gender, then it gets tagged (femme)slash. If there is both men and women, then it gets labeled het as well as (femme)slash as appropriate. (Hmm, that seems potentially confusing, so here, have an example: m/m/m = slash, f/m/m = het and slash, f/f/m/m = femslash, het, and slash.) And I also always tag it 'poly'. (This decision was made because it seemed like the best way to tag things so that people could most easily find fics via the tags.)

Misc (Specifically: the sorts of things I rec, where I rec, cut tag policy, frequency of posts)

What I rec
In short: I rec fanwork which I have consumed and enjoyed enough to want others to enjoy it as well (the step of actually writing the rec and assembling the rec posts takes far longer than it has any right to). The long form is: If you want a sense of what I might rec, check out [the comm profile page], the ['Hi and Welcome' intro post], the [tags used on the comm] or just look at what I've already posted. I rec primarily fic and secondarily podfic and everything else at a tertiary level simply because that mimics my fanwork consumption habits. Because I am a completest, when I rec something I like to include links to all related things (regardless of if I have read/listened/etc/ them)-- this means things like associated podfics, vids, fics (in the case of something other than the fic being what I am reccing), remixes (or original fic in the case of a rec of a remix), dvd commentary, sequels/prequels/cut scenes/shared verses, fanmixes, art, etc etc etc. If you notice any associated fanworks which are missing from a rec, please let me know.

Where I rec; or the occasional moonlighting and the great DW versus LJ debate
This comm is on LJ because it's where I initially opened it. However, as I currently vastly prefer the ethos of [DreamWidth], I will move this community there once importing communities is possible. The posts made here on LJ will remain on LJ until and unless LJ does something which makes me feel the need to remove my presence from their site. When I switch to posting the comm on DW I will have some way that LJ users can keep track of what I'm posting but I haven't decided/figured out how I'll be doing that yet. Current DW users can follow [the DW feed of this comm].

Nowadays I post my rec posts only here but sometimes I do make recs elsewhere (nearly contradictory statements, whee!). Which is to say, sometimes I make a rec on my journal (usually this is an insta-rec or something which is part of a larger, non-rec post) or elsewhere (currently: intermittently at spngenlove; I plan on crossposting future recs of podfics to podficpool // [community profile] podficpool and to eventually crosspost all past podfic recs there too.). These recs are all eventually reposted to the comm (or linked to, in the case of recs which can't be crossposted for some reason).

I'm torn on cuts... I mean, they are very handy and polite for not making a long post that hog people's flists as well as for grouping things into categories. But on the other hand, I really hate clicking on things** so it annoys me when cuts hide things I want to see. My compromise is: when I post, I will cut any post which is longer than polite lengths. After about a week or so, I will probably remove the cuts (unless it's a really, really long post, in which case, I'll keep the cuts). That way I don't spam people's flists and it is still easy to browse at the comm. (ETA: Since writing that, I have rarely if ever remembered to remove the cuts (my scatterbrainedness, let me show you it). But hey, you're reading my policy post so clearly you are awesome and care about such things. Would it be helpful for you if I removed the cuts after a while? (If I get positive confirmation that someone cares then I'm much more likely to do it...) Or do you think removing the cuts is a bad idea akin to putting salt in the sugar bowl? Or do you think I'm thinking faaaar too much about this? Let me know!)

** I don't know why! It doesn't make that much sense, really!

Frequency of posting
I post rec sets when I have one completed. The time-frame for this is incredibly variable :( But at least my rec sets tend to be on the long side?


I use tags in an attempt to make my entries vaguely searchable. [The comm tag page is here.] At some point, I'd like to make a delicious account for this journal to make things even more searchable but I haven't done that yet.

According to [this LJ FAQ, if you would like to search by two or more tags simultaneously (using a Boolean OR search)], then separate them on the URL with commas. E.g.:

Each rec is tagged according to:
  • the type of fanwork recced:
    • fic, podfic, graphics, fanmix, etc. (sample tag: type:fic)
    • NB: this is slightly different than a 'type[assoc]:fic' tag, see below for the difference
  • fandom:
    • for crossovers, the tag 'genre:crossover' is used and all individual fandoms are also named (according to 'fandom:FANDOMNAME')
    • for RPF, the exact RPF fandom is specified as well as the general 'fandom:rpf' tag
    • for folktales/etc, the individual folktale/etc is listed as a fandom. The entry is also tagged with the general 'fandom:folktale/fairytale/myth/legend/&c' tag. If there is more than one way the folktale/etc might be named (and not in a crossover sense), then I'll name all that seem reasonable to me and not mark it a crossover. (Fairytale/etc fandoms when in a crossover are treated according to the previously given rules).
    • For fandoms which have multiple canons or universes (such as Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek), the name of the overarching fandom is always given. If the fanwork is allied with a specific instance of canon, then it will contain a fandom label for that instance as well. (Oh look, it's a confusing statement! That must mean it's example time again!)
      • A fic about the events during the Narada Event would be tagged with the fandoms 'Star Trek' and 'Star Trek Reboot'.
      • A fic where Reboot!Spock ended up in TOS'verse would be tagged with the fandoms 'Star Trek', 'Star Trek Reboot', and 'Star Trek TOS'
      • A fic which takes place entirely before Jim Kirk/James Tiberius Kirk was born (and thus before the two timelines diverged) would only be tagged with the fandom 'Star Trek' because it could fit in either TOS or Reboot
      • A fic which takes place entirely before Jim Kirk/James Tiberius Kirk was born (and thus before the two timelines diverged) but uses canon specific to TOS which is not true in Reboot* would be tagged with the fandoms 'Star Trek' and 'Star Trek TOS'.
      • *NB: I'm not great shakes at Trek canon, so if this specific example isn't possible, well, I hope my meaning is clear enough regardless. Hmm, I suppose that at least there's a difference in the uniforms and if the look of the uniforms was important to the story, then it would qualify....
  • pairing type:

There are also optional tags which are applied to some recs:
  • genre: This ended up being a sort of catch-all tag for additional information which might be useful to sort on. (I'm open to a suggestion for a better name for this group of tags.)
    • crossover [genre:crossover]: I use this for crossovers and fusions and other sorts of 'let's mush multiple fandoms together' things.
    • pro-fic [genre:pro-fic]: I rec fanworks for the most part but occasionally a pro work ends up here and then I tag it thusly. I try to rec only pro work which is freely available electronically (preferentially without geographical restrictions) but this might not always be the case.
    • WIP [genre:wip]: Generally I tend to rec finished work but sometimes a WIP will sneak in. A rec which is a WIP at the time of posting the rec will always have this tag. (NB: This tag is not fully implemented yet but hopefully will be soon.)
    • finished WIP [genre:wip-finished]: When a work is finished (or officially abandoned, which is sort of like being finished? *shifty eyes*) I will make a new post to the comm saying 'such and such work, earlier recced at the following post as a WIP, has been completed' and both the original rec and the notice post will be tagged thusly. If I've finished reading the completed work I'll try to say more about it in the notice post, but I might not-- either because I haven't had a chance to finish it yet or because I'm not in a coherent rec writing mood. Changing the tags on the original post might happen before I make a notice post and both of these things might lag the completion of the work. (NB: This tag is not fully implemented yet, but hopefully it will be soon)
  • All other optional tags: I think the rest of these tags are fairly self-explanatory (but then again, I'm the one who created them, so what do I know?). Poke me if you'd like more elaboration on something :) .

Since I try to be fairly completest when I rec, sometimes I will list fanworks associated with the fanwork which I am reccing, but which are not themselves recced for some reason:
  • the [assoc] tag modifier: This designation is added to the 'type' tag (ex, type[assoc]:fic) to indicate that there is fanwork of that specified type that is listed on that entry which isn't specifically a rec, but is related in some fashion to a recced fanwork.
    • NB: I haven't finished marking entries according to this tag modifier yet (sorry!), so this means that there might be some entries which have erroneous 'type' tags.
    • In theory, I could apply the [assoc] modifier to other sorts of tags beyond just the 'type' tag, but I don't really see it as being useful at the moment. (This, as with everything, may change.)
    • For the moment, commentaries (be they by the author or not) are getting marked 'meta'.
    • There can be a number of reasons I might tag a fanwork thusly which aren't due to me not liking it sufficiently to rec (including: haven't had time to read/listen/watch/etc that particular fanwork yet, want to save it for a future rec, don't have time to write it up, it didn't fit into that particular rec set, etc.). Please don't assume that only things I don't like get marked [assoc], that's simply not the case! (Occasionally, but not always, I'll give a reason for marking something [assoc] but not always. There's really no rhyme or reason behind me stating a reason or not.)

The vast majority of the posts here will be/are recs, but there will be the occasional post which isn't (such as this one). For those posts, there's the 'not a rec' tag. I do not currently tag posts which contain recs as 'recs' because it seems redundant. Oh, and sometimes I tag things according things which I need to do, um, pretend you don't see those tags-- they're the ones prefaced by 'fish'? (Unless you really like keeping track of my to-do lists, in which case, pay all the attention you want!)


Ideally I'd like all of my recs here to be accessible to everyone. I've been slowly learning how to make posts accessible to more people over time, thus my newest posts are going to be my best attempts and the older ones are likely to have more problems. In theory, I'm gradually going back and editing them into compliance with my current standards, but in practice I frequently forget that this is on my to-do list, which means it's slow going *sad face*. If portion(s) of the comm are inaccessible to you and you would like them to be accessible, please let me know and I'll fix it as soon as I can. If you have suggestions on how to improve the accessibility of this comm (even if it doesn't affect you personally), please let me know and I'll get on it. If you notice that portions of this comm are not accessible even if you don't have suggestion(s) for improvement, please let me know and I'll see what I can do about it. (Note that I define 'accessibility' broadly; by no means does it have to be disability-related. Basically, I want this comm to be the most useful to the most number of people possible.)

Your opinions and feedback

Do you have thoughts, criticisms, attaboys, etc to share with me about recs/reccing/my recs/whatnot? Then please do tell me! Leave a comment somewhere, send me a PM, or send me an email, whichever you like (I don't have a preference).

If you'd like to contact the mods* of this comm for some reason, you have several options: [here's the mod contact post with comment screening enabled], there's the comm email address listed in [the comm profile], and there's always the option of PM'ing the mods directly or leaving a comment on any entry posted to this comm by a current mod. (*At the time of writing, I have no plans to have anyone else mod this comm but as it is theoretically possible, hence the phrasing of this paragraph.)

The thing about recs is that they're really pointless if people don't read them or if they are useless to the people who do read them. So I want to know how to make useful rec sets for you! Obviously I can't please everyone. My default is actually to rec things in the manner which I would find useful as a reader and then to modify that based on feedback for the things which it seems I am in the minority on. I may not take up every suggestion, but I do think about all of them and have been known to change my mind upon occasion. :)

I also really enjoy thinking about recs and reccing and so am up for conversations on that in general! Once upon a time [I asked people about rec list preferences] and I still welcome comments on that post (or its DW mirror) if you have any you'd like to share.

Most recent update: 26 July 2010
changes: Fixed a rogue 'small' tag. Added podficpool as a crossposting comm. Put the 'journal policies tag' statement at the top. Futzed with the wording of the Accessibility section. Did some stuff in the 'tags' section [clarified the difference between 'type:' and 'type[assoc]:' tags; hyperlinked tags given in the 'tag' section; very minor edits in the 'wip' tagging section; clarified LJ's 'searching by multiple tags' thing; made tags with action I need to take prefaced by 'fish' for easy searching]. (Oy, now I remember that this is why I haven't done a change log before-- because I always end up futzing with way more stuff than I initially intended to and then the log gets ridiculous-looking).

Previous updates:
22 May 2010: overhauling of a lot of things
22 Nov 2009: didn't note the changes
pre 22Nov09: didn't log each change
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful