boundbooks: Zhang Ziyi (mass effect: wrex smash!)
Boundbooks ([personal profile] boundbooks) wrote2011-07-03 05:32 pm

Fanfiction Archives Bought, Purchaser Plans to Exploit Them for Ad Revenue

On June 26th, LotRFanfiction.com members received an unpleasant surprise. Their archive featured an announcement that it had been sold to a businessman they'd never heard of before, so that he could turn it into a for-profit website!

This brings us to ex-Facebook employee Keith Mander, who has privately bought two fanfiction archives (LotRFanfiction and TwilightArchives). He plans on turning them into ad-revenue streams and using his profits to "quickly enter and dominate new fandoms."

The thinking is that I can leverage the technology behind the Twilight site’s redesign to quickly rejuvenate the LOTR site. Plus, plenty of opportunities for cross promotion and integration (SSO, for example). The longer term thought is that with the combined user base, I’ll be able to quickly enter and dominate new fandoms, hopefully creating some returns." - Keith Mander's blog post, Introducing LotRFanfiction.com


But why fandom sites, specifically fanfiction archives, you might ask? Well, the answer is that Keith Mander would like to explain to us all about Making Moneyz On Teh InterWebz, because he thinks that the only reason no one does this is because fandom is full of idiots. Clearly, no one in fandom has ever thought about the issues involved in monetizing fandom activity ever before.

So to confirm, this was a private deal, and not done via any marketplace? Have you had any experience of a market place like Sitepoint.com?

Yes, the deal was conducted privately. I tend to avoid marketplaces such as SitePoint and eBay. Sellers using one of these platforms tend to have a better understanding of their site’s value, and therefore have higher expectations. My approach would be to directly contact site owners who are unaware of their site’s value and who’ve never experimented with online advertising. They’re usually surprised when you contact them with an offer and this eases the negotiation process. The potential with this approach is far greater. - Website Purchase Review of Just-Pooh.com with Keith Mander on Midascode: Buy & Sell Websites


Did I mention that none of this appears to have been done with any discussion or even forewarning of LotRFanfiction.com site moderators, authors or community members?

But don't worry! Keith Mander assured LotRFanfiction.com community members that everything will remain free! Yes, they will remain free to spend hours of their own time writing stories, which are highly valuable content, in order to make him money. What a great deal! Just what every fanfiction writer dreams of doing someday!

Will the site continue to be free?

You bet! You'll forever be able to add, edit, comment, review and read stories on the site. Everything you see today will remain free. - Changes FAQ


I bet you can guess what happened next. @#$%^ hit the fan, and rightfully so.

6/28: [personal profile] esteliel, who is involved in LotR fandom, did a pretty comprehensive write-up.
6/28: Write-up Part II.
7/1: Write-up Part III.
7/1: [personal profile] esteliel opens a new LotR fanfiction archive, Faerie: Tolkien Fanfiction, which appears to be where the purchased site's BNFs have fled.
7/1: The OTW chimed in
7/1: [personal profile] ithiliana does a write-up on member's reactions as well as the site's stats and story/chapter losses, as people flee.
7/2: An update on stats and loses.
7/3: [personal profile] elf writes up a giant chronological ManderFail linkspam
7/3: Keith Mander shows up on the fucking OTW site to explain how he won't make too much money off of exploiting specific fanfiction archives, therefore it's alright. For. Fucking. Reals.
7/3: @ [journalfen.net profile] clairvoyantwank, [journalfen.net profile] made_by_kali has mentioned contacting Mander, because as soon as the site changed hands, he violated the attribution non-commercial licence on their efiction skins.
7/3: Keith Mander and former site-owner Adora put up an announcement begging people not to flee. They would like to have a 'dialogue' about this and promise rainbows, sunshine and puppies, but also want people to know that:

"We're both busy with family commitments int he coming days but wanted to get this quick message out to you to begin this dialogue with you." - 7/3/2011 announcement begging for revenue streams to stop leaving*


I guess that they would like people to cease being pissed off at a time that's inconvenient to them. It would be far more convenient for Mr. Mander to have people be angry between Thursday and Friday, 9-5, this week, so that he can continue with his plans to exploit their work for his personal profit at his convenience.

I think that there's a comment on Keith Mander's blog that summed up the fundamental disconnect between what Mander thought he was doing and what fans know he's doing:

Someone sold you the Brooklyn Bridge, dude!
They sold you land “nobody was living on” that had someone’s house and garden already there.
You “snapped up” a used car that still had a driver and passengers! Who don’t want to go down the road you’re trying to steer! And you didn’t even look in the windows! - a comment on Keith Mander's blog


For those who are curious, this has already been reported to [journalfen.net profile] wank_report, subsequently posted to [journalfen.net profile] clairvoyantwank, and it looks like a [journalfen.net profile] fandom_wank entry will shortly be posted. I, for one, am looking forward to the imminent arrival of 'ManderFail' as a co-entry with 'FanLib' in fandom history.

Although, given the nature of the fail, I'm getting pretty fond of [personal profile] esteliel's suggested name, SaruMander. :P

*Title of post de-bullshitized for your convenience.

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