This is my first attempt to assemble a framework and some procedural stuff for an HP fic discussion comm. I expect it will undergo a few more drafts before I'm ready to set it loose on the world, but I'm overdue on my promise to get the ball rolling. For the time being, I'm going to leave this up as a sticky post on my journal so that suggestions can be added and revisions made.

Please point out errors, contradictions, overlooked items, and anything else that will give shape to this rough beginning.


1. What I have in mind is a community fueled by authors and open to anyone who wants to discuss and analyze individual works of Harry Potter fanfiction submitted by community members. This doesn't have to be a hard limit, but I see this as a forum useful to writers and encouraging to interested readers. So I expect the majority of stories under discussion to be chosen by writers from amongst their own works. Which means the writers will be part of the discussion and welcome to participate as equals. Non-writers can propose stories they'd like to talk about, but only if they secure the permission of the author first, whether that author chooses to join the community or not. (It's not mandatory for an author to participate if the community still wants to discuss the work, but I'd give precedence to stories submitted by participating authors.)

2. This isn't a beta community. No drafts or unfinished works will be accepted. We'll be looking at completed fics chosen because the author wants to discuss certain aspects or is curious about public response or – well, for any reason, really. I would urge that writers consider carefully whether there's enough interesting material, subtext, technique, etc. to provoke lively conversation in the works they bring to the table. It's doubtful that a PWP, for instance, will spark much in the way of wide-ranging discussion. (Although don't hold me to that; I'm sure someone could prove me wrong.)

3. Discussions need to stay within the bounds of civility. I'm not interested in people bringing shipwars or bad manners into the community. If I think the debate is getting overheated and approaching the inappropriate, I'll point it out. If members persist, they may be asked to retire from the conversation. Ad hominem attacks are grounds for instant banning. If I overstep my authority, I'm open to community feedback and will be happy to admit when I've goofed.

4. We'll open one post a month per chosen work (unless the community thinks two a month is doable). I'd like to solicit stories from authors who sign up for the community, and once we have a reasonable number, post a schedule so we know in advance which story is on the roster. This will give people plenty of time to become acquainted with each fic, mull over possible discussion points, and consider the best way to address sensitive or confusing material. (Note: should participants submit questions to the moderator in advance, in order that that month's moderator can vet a variety of talking points?)

5. Each discussion must have a moderator, someone who has thought about the story and has ideas about where to lead the conversation. Moderators will be there to spur conversation, propose topics, and make sure participants treat one another with respect. The mod may be a champion of the fic or a fan of the character/pairing or a faithful reader of that month's author. What they should not be is a dictator; just because someone is in charge doesn't mean they get to drive the conversation or drag subthreads back to their own viewpoint or hobbyhorse. What we hope they are is articulate and passionate. It will help to make a numbered list of talking points to act as icebreakers, point of reference, and launching pads (see participant contributions above), but none of these will be set in stone. Members are always welcome to add comment threads. Mods will volunteer in advance, and their names will be added to the calendar alongside the story they've asked to moderate. (Note: I'm happy to play moderator for stories I feel strongly about, and I'm fairly good at coming up with topics. However, I won't always be able to do that, and in instances where I'm not a natural fan of the character or pairing, it would be preferable to find someone who is.)

6. Once open, discussion posts remain open. The conversation can just keep on going. I highly recommend tracking each post that interests you so as not to miss any follow-up comments (I expect authors have already thought of this).

7. Please participate. I can't stress this enough. The community will thrive only if people are enthusiastic about sharing their opinions. Seriously, don't be shy. Wade in and tell us what you think. We're not looking for agreement here (unless we really do all happen to agree). There are all different levels of engagement and degrees of love and hate. Confusion is okay. Confusion is an excellent reason to ask questions! Heartfelt love is good, too. So is dislike. In all cases, I'd ask participants to elaborate. Have reasons for your opinion. Have a measure of tact as well.

Authors who submit a story and don't bother to show up for any discussion but their own will not be accepted back for a second go (barring extenuating circumstances). The heart of the community is the desire to read good fics and get together to talk about them.

8. What constitutes a topic? Practically anything. Narrative technique. Questions of craft. The plausibility of time travel. The culture of house elves. What makes a relationship dysfunctional. Whether that scene was out of character. What does "in character" mean. How much you love Minerva McGonagall. Why all the Hogwarts staff deserve to be fired. What role magic plays in any given fic. How this story deconstructs the idea of "the hero." Whether this relationship reproduces a harmful social stereotype. How beautiful the prose is. Why you gravitate toward hurt/comfort tropes. How debunking authority in HP requires the adults to behave stupidly. How well this works as a romance. The choice to make the wizarding world an LGBT utopia. Why this is erotic and that isn't. What makes AUs persuasive. Whether or not certain characters can be redeemed. And so on.

Authors: be aware that you may read overt or implied criticism of your work. You may also encounter what you consider wrong interpretations. Readers may not care what you intend; their main concern will be whether or not they find support for their interpretation on the page. Discussion and debate are our meat and drink, and you don't have to meekly accept everything said about your story. But remember that you must abide by the same rules as everyone else. Please have reasons for your opinions or rebuttals (it makes life more interesting!), but please don't attack commenters no matter how much they persist in not getting it. However, this is meant to be helpful and illuminating for you, so feel free to seek out interesting threads and request elaboration. NOTE: AUTHORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FEELINGS. If negative feedback affects your ability to write or does damage in any way, don't subject yourself to the risk of criticism. Nothing here will be malicious (on pain of banhammering), but it may still be hurtful. We don't want this to be a bad experience.

Question: should there be some policy about author participation? Should authors respond only to points and questions addressed directly to them? How should that be handled?

One final question, at least for now: what shall we call ourselves? ETA: [livejournal.com profile] dbassassin suggested hp_salon. I like it. I've grabbed it and created a community page, which is still in progress.

New question:
what should the word count limit be? I'm inclined to think short fic - even a couple thousand words - is fine because it can still inspire strong responses. Drabbles, no. Should there be a cap on the upper limit? 50k words? Less? More?

Note: I've removed a question based on a different community's rules because the assumptions within those rules muddied the waters. This community's goals are different, and I'd rather have our interactions evolve organically. Thanks to those who shared their thoughts and pointed out ways in which those rules would stifle conversation.
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