[Edit] Please take future comments/discussion to This more public version of the post on fanficrants
This edition is really just me throwing a temper tanrum in my lj. That one has more discussion in comments, including meta and discussion by other posters.
I've accepted that a great many fic authors will willfully pull their fics from the net, rendering current readers incapable of re-reading them and future readers incapable of finding them (and, most importantly, making it so I
can't read them), but for the love of all that's holy, people, don't go one step further and make it so the Wayback Machine can't archive your webpages. Most especially don't go back and retroactively
make it so that the Wayback Machine can no longer pull up your old webpage with now deleted stories that was available via the Wayback Machine six months ago
Yes, it's possible for you to have your pages excluded from/removed from the Wayback Machine, but just because you can use robots.txt doesn't mean you should, unless there are pressing legal reasons
. I personally find it more than just annoying. I've come to realize, as I searched for a particular author's fic this evening with steadily mounting irritation, that I actually find it offensive. Not just on a personal level (as a sort of passive-agressive "fuck you" aimed at other fans), but on a professional level, as both a history student and an archivist-in-training. You are essentially not just making your work unarchivable, you are doing the online equivalent of going into an archive and removing and destroying part of its contents. I'm overstating things out of annoyance (well, out of frustrated and irrational rage), here, but the same basic principle applies. You're destroying fannish history, removing your work from the fandom equivalent of the literary landscape, and, in the case of small fandoms, sometimes cutting the amount of fic in the fandom in half. And all because you don't like your story anymore?
There is a special place in Archivists' Hell reserved for those who destroy information solely from personal prejudice/preference, where they will spend eternity beside people who put cellotape on 19th century documents, people who write on original manuscripts in ink, computer techs who mass-deleted months of archived emails in order to free up server space--and without saving copies--after the records management department specifically asked them not to, and Stephen Joyce
And really, ask yourself why you're even deleting the fics in the first place. Even if you've left fandom, or moved on to a new fandom, the readers in your old fandom are still there (and if you want to disavow contact with said old fandom, that's what a new pseudonym is for). Even if you've published an original novel drawing heavily on said fics, that doesn't mean you have to destroy the evidence of your creative process--when a painter finishes a painting, does he then turn around and burn all of his sketches? Especially if he's already shown them to people who enjoyed looking at them? Unless your reason is something along the lines of "my boss found out that I write fanfiction, and now I have to remove my NC-17-rated Harry Potter chan from public view before the state school system finds it and fires me," or "Anne Rice sent me a C&D letter," I don't buy it as valid. (Or you could make that "fail to understand why you'd want to destroy your own hard work and deprive other of the ability to see it").
The term "Bonfire of the Vanities" mentioned in this rant's title is a reference to a mass cultural/intellectual purge practiced in 15th century Florence, wherein a religious zealot named Savonarola bullied and persuaded the people of Florence into burning their sinful or luxorious possessions, from fine clothing to jewelry to any books Savonarola's followers didn't approve of. Among the "shamefull" things consigned to the flames was a collection of Botticelli's sketches and oil paintings, paintings that would be worth a fortune today, and that art historians would weep to get their hands on, which were laid on the fire by Botticelli himself, because Savonarola had threatened him with hellfire and social disgrace if he didn't destroy his work and all evidence of it.
Still want to erase that 200k fic from the face of the internet forever? Fine, but the Special Archives Hell is waiting.
And the really personally irritating thing is, the author whose no-longer-online fics sparked this epiphany of annoyed hatred is one I'd previously enjoyed reading a great deal. Now, though, every time I see her name, I will picture that original printing of the Confederate consitution I saw in the NARA labs, the one covered in browned cellotape that has bonded with the paper and turned it brittle and transparent, and will wince in mental agony. I'm sure she's a perfectly nice person and that I'm over-reacting and being unfair, but my subconscious has now irrevocably associated her with wanton destruction of historical documents.[2nd Edit]
This seems to have started up its own bonfire of wank. Since I'm very busy with grad school right now, I'm not going to be responding to any more comments (aside from the responses at fanficrants), but feel free to debate with/agree with/argue with each other.
Oh, nevermind--I can take three minutes away from that research project.( No, I don't really think it's evil. I just think it's annoying as all hell and hate it )