In few areas of human endeavour (the obvious exception being pornography, although the boundary is blurred) has the Internet made so great an impact as in the growing field of fan fiction.
For those unaquainted with this particular literary form, fan fiction (or 'fanfic') is the name given to the stories written by fans of a particular fictional mythos (cf fandom) - usually that of a TV series or film - and set within that mythos. So for example, a fan of Star Trek might write stories set in the Star Trek universe, usually featuring his - or more commonly her, for fan fiction has traditionally been dominated by female writers - favourite characters. Fan fiction is a channel for creative writing within a predefined setting, a way to share ideas with other fans, a means to explore facets of popular characters that the author feels have been underplayed, and an excuse to write torrid sex scenes featuring the unlikliest of pairings (cf Slash, Gen, 'Ship). Due to the sexual - and occasionally obscene - nature of much fan fiction, this entry does not include links to any fan fiction sites or archives.
Sources and Settings of Fan Fiction
While any mythos might attract fan fiction, the most common sources are in the domain of 'Cult' TV (an extremely loose classification, typically encompassing SF, Fantasy, Horror, Adventure series). Popular choices include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Stargate SG-1, The X-Files, Highlander, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena Warrior Princess and Star Trek. Cult TV - in its modern usage - dates back to the salad days of The X-Files, which quickly gathered a small, but extremely devoted, cult following.
The prevalence of these series is due to these loyal and dedicated - and frequently overlapping - fan bases. One of the defining features of Cult TV is the existence of fans who not only watch the show and discuss it with their friends, but who also discuss it on the Internet, write articles and theses on its subtexts, usage of lighting and greater sociological significance, attend conventions, and in extreme cases dress up in silly costumes to go to the supermarket.
In terms of movies, Star Wars is the biggest generator of fan fiction, including not only literary fanfics, but also dozens of fan films, ranging from the cheap and cheerful, to highly-polished productions, all made non-commercially by amateur film-makers. Not only the popularity of the Star Wars films, but also the richness of the universe created by dozens of novels, comic books and technical guides contributes to the success of Star Wars fanfic. Most movies lack this intricate back-story, and also weave a more self-contained story, less conducive to fan fiction.
Japanese anime also has its own, vast fandom and its fan fiction, but the world of tentacle-rape fiction is one which this Researcher has no wish to enter, and so this entry will deal primarily with cult fanfic.
FanFiction.Net and Fanfic Statistics
FanFiction.Net is easily one of the largest fanfic archives (see below) around, with over 50,000 stories available in a wide array of categories, including a few that hardly count as fanfic at all, such as 'Marching Band'. With such a vast and comprehensive selection, FanFiction.Net is a useful guide to the statistical breakdown of the world of fanfiction.
Some two thirds of the entries are anime-based, but the statistics are skewed by two subcategories - Digimon and Gundam - with some 27,000 entries between them. Few other anime subcategories even break the hundred mark.
Books are the second largest source, but again the numbers are deceptive. Most of the subcategories have fewer than one hundred entries, but the Harry Potter series rivals the big animes with around 14,500 fanfics (including Harry Potter-Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Harry Potter-Angel crossovers). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a humble 40 entries.
TV series lag behind because of the absence of any such giant subcategories. Buffy leads the field in this set by a huge margin, with almost twice as many entires - over 4000 - as the second-place X-Files. Star Trek: Voyager comes third, and Angel fourth with roughly 1000. Most shows have fewer than 500 entries, and many do not even have 100.
Movie subcategories are almost as sparsely populated as the books, with the glaring exception of Star Wars (a little under 4000). Comic book fan fictions are also thin on the ground, but again there is a standout exception: X-Men. Like Star Wars, X-Men's sprawling - and frequently inconsistent - mythos makes it highly fanfic-friendly.
A Fanfic Glossary
The fan fiction world has generated a substantial vocabulary, and it is useful as a starting point to give a few definitions:
Fandom - Fan activities surrounding a series, including fan fiction, conventions, usenet groups and online forums. A person's favoured fandom is not necessarily their favourite programme. Some fandoms generate their own titles: 'Trekkers', 'X-Philes' and 'Slayerettes' are examples of such titles. Those outside the fandom - known as mundanes, or recently muggles1 - often come up with less flattering monikers.
Fanboy/fangirl - A fan who is childishly obsessive about his or her fandom, and so over-the-top that even other fans are embarrassed to be associated with them.
TPTB (or TIIC)/Canon - TPTB - or in full, The Powers that Be - are the producers of the original source material; more specifically - in terms of TV series - the creator, the executive producers and the most prolific writers/directors. The term is mostly respectful, but a little sarcastic; the opposite balance exists in the term TIIC - The Idiots in Charge. The material which they produce and sanction - the series itself, plus some of the accompanying books, comics and what have you - is canon material, and is revered and referenced like the unadulterated words of the gods by the majority of serious fanfic authors. Anything else - and in particular all fan fiction - is non-canon, and fanfic writers feel no compulsion to consider it when creating their stories (but cf fanon).
For example, while a Buffy fanfic writer would be considered bound to respect the fact that the character Jenny Calendar died before the end of season two, they would not be expected to respect a fanfic in which the entire Scooby Gang were turned into vampires and burned down a 7-11 (cf AU).
Subtext - Meanings and themes that are implicit within the text of the canon material, but which are never made explicit. In terms of cult fan fiction, the classic subtexts are the homoerotic themes in Hercules and Xena, which have been the subject of many fanfics, essays and debates. Subtext is frequently used - often falsely - to justify 'slash' fiction. Creator and Power That Is2 Joss Whedon has described Buffy the Vampire Slayer as 'BYOS - Bring your own subtext'.
Fanon - Fan canon. A fan-created fact or event widely accepted as canon, or a fact deemed to be unstated canon.
(To Be) Jossed - To have events in one of your fan fictions be invalidated by a canon development. Originally derived from Buffy fandom, the term 'Jossed' is named after Buffy creator/writer/guru/god Joss Whedon.
Spoiler - An event or fact from the canon material revealed typically before viewers are likely to have seen the episode involved. The Internet is a great source of spoilers, especially for European (and presumably other non-US) viewers of US series, who see the episodes anything up to a year after the American fans have started discussing them in exhaustive detail.
[Blank] Universe/[Blank]verse - The mythos and setting for a fan fiction. For example, a fan fiction could be set in the Hercules Universe, or the Star Trek Universe. The 'verse suffix is also used in some cases, such as the 'Buffyverse'. A well-established alternate reality setting (cf AU) may have its own universe/'verse appelation, for example the 'Star Trek Mirror Universe', or the 'Buffy Wishverse'.
AU/Elseworld - Alternate Universe. Either a fanfic set in an established, canon alternate reality, or a fanfic which knowingly disregards a major canon element by way of a 'what if' scenario. Although a lot of 'slash', 'gen' and ''ship' fiction could be regarded as such, as it focuses on relationships which do not exist in the canon, generally they are not considered AU. The term Elseworld comes from DC Comics series ongoing series of AU adventures, featuring subtley or drastically different versions of popular characters, such as Batman and Superman.
Fan-generated AUs may be created for one-off fictions, or they may be used as a setting for large bodies of fan fiction by one or several authors, in which case a substantial corpus of AU-specific fanon will typically build up for the setting.
Crossover - A fanfic which is itself a part of two (or more) 'fandoms', and which is either set in a fusion of the relevant 'verses, or features characters from one 'verse acting in another. Popular examples include Buffy-Highlander and Buffy-X-Files crossovers3, but in the wacky world of fan fiction, anything is possible. Hercules and Xena seem to be widely regarded as separate fandoms for crossover purposes, as do the four Star Trek series.
Plot Bunny - The central idea of a fanfic; the equivalent of a movie pitch. Writers sometimes swap around plot bunnies, especially if they have an idea which they don't have time to explore more fully. The term comes from the fact that if you get one or two of these ideas together, they tend to breed like...well, you know.
Fanfic Styles and Themes
Slash/Gen/'Ship - Terms defining styles of relationship fan fiction.These are some of the most important - and contentious - fanfic phrases, and thus have their own section. See Slash, Gen, 'Ship, below.
Het - Fanfiction involving romantic, intimate, graphic or outright pornographic relations between characters of opposite gender. See also Slash, Gen, 'Ship.
Pairing - Two or more characters placed in a romantic or sexual relationship within a fanfiction, whether they are so involved in the canon material or not.
Mary Sue - A character who blatantly acts as the author's fantasised proxy in a fanfic, usually in the form of an unstoppable badass or a romantic/sexual foil for a favourite character. Also, fan fiction surrounding a Mary Sue. Mary Sue fanfics are widely regarded as self-indulgent guff, and are consequently popular for 'badfics'.
UST - Unresolved Sexual Tension. An acronym essentially dating from the Mulder/Scully relationship in the X-Files, UST is a handy tool for those wanting to introduce a note of attraction into a fanfic without having usually cautious or staid characters leap headlong into bed together (cf Slash/Gen/'Ship).
H/C - Hurt/Comfort. Fanfiction in which a character suffers some trauma to the body, soul or ego, requiring another character to tend to them. A popular introduction to minor or radical shifts in relationships, which in turn lead into 'ship, or possibly even slash fiction.
A specialised form of H/C is Stargate: SG-1's 'Danny Whumping', in which Daniel Jackson, the sensitive member of the team, gets beaten up or put through the emotional wringer again.
Angst/Angstfic - Either a fan fiction with great emotional power and resonance, or one in which characters complain ad nauseum about how the world is a terrible place.
Smarm - Gratuitous emotion, usually in a sentimental, H/C context, or a fan fiction containing same.
PWP - Plot? What Plot? or Porn Without Plot. Soft core fan fiction (slash or gen) without pretence at story.
Fluff - A lighthearted fan fiction, wherein nothing really serious occurs.
Sillyfic/Humour - The antidote to 'angstfic'. A non-serious fan fiction, written purely to amuse. Often based around quite absurd or surreal concepts, such as the characters from a modern sci-fi mythos encountering the Clangers4.
RP (Real People) Fic - A form of fanfic in which the author writes using real people - usually actors (actorfic) or other celebrities - as characters. Often considered a grotesque infringment of personal dignity, especially in the case of RPS (Real People Slash) or Actorslash, and an open invitation for the featured real people to sue the author for defamation of character.
Serial - A series of interlinked fan fictions, created either by a single author, or by 'round robin'. Typically serials generate their own 'fanon'.
Season N - US television shows run in seasons, usually of around 22 episodes. If a series is cancelled by the networks, having gathered a cult following but failed to make the big ratings, the fans may take it upon themselves to create the next season. Season N projects are usually serial fictions, created by round robin, and build up an ongoing body of fanon. One of the advantages of Season N is that the authors can be fairly sure of not being 'Jossed'. Very rarely, a Season N will be created for an ongoing series.
Spin-off - one of the rarest types of fan fiction, spin-offs are serials or single fictions set in a given 'verse, but not focusing on the characters from the source. Some would-be spin-offs are marked by the use of characters who are almost identical to those in the source in all but name. These are known as 'ubers', and may perhaps more accurately be considered a form of AU fiction. Another form is the 'nextgen' or Next Generation fic, which focuses on the children or successors of the canon characters.
Vignette - In fan fiction terms, a self-contained scene which does not exist in a larger narrative structure. Vignettes may be 'drabbles'. Vignettes are sometimes used to create stand-alone, gratuitous slash, gen or h/c fictions, in which case they may be called wallows.
Faanfiction - With two 'a's. A self-referential fiction about fandom, frequently packed with in-jokes.
Metafic - A fiction that breaks the fourth wall, internally acknowledging fictional characters as such. Metafics may take the form of revenge fiction, in which characters directly confront their creator.
Writing Methods and Process
Beta Reader - a term borrowed from the software industry (beta testers are given pre-release versions of software in return for reporting any bugs they discover). A beta reader takes an editorial role, reading the original version of a fanfic (known as a beta) and advising the author on spelling and grammar, as well as stylistic and characterisational gaffs. To perform this editorial role is to beta, and is a great service to the fandom at large.
Feedback/Flame - Responses sent to a fanfic's author. Feedback may be complementary or not, but should be constructive. Rude feedback - however justified - is a flame.
MSTing/Riffing - feedback in the form of a blow-by-blow running commentary, in the manner of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Either a form of flame, or a form of art, depending who you ask.
Filk - A parody song, usualy set to a popular tune, or the act of writing same; the most commercially successful filker in the world is probably Weird Al Yankovic. Filks can be extremely funny done well, and excruciating if - as is usually the case - they are done badly. In fan fiction, the fact that filks parody popular tunes enables the reader to sing along in his head.
Badfic - Really bad fan fiction, often deliberately bad, and written to amuse. The idea of intentionally bad fan fiction originates with the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which challenges writers to create the worst possible opening line for a story.
Round Robin - A story written by a group of authors, taking turns at chapters. Frequently a recipe for disaster.
Challenge fic - Fanfic produced as a result of a challenge, much in the manner of Iron Chef or The Great Egg Race. One person will set the 'ingredients' - usually plot bunnies, random events, sets of characters and/or crossover possibilities - around which a second person will create the challenge fic.
Drabble - A fiction, usually a vignette, of precisely 100 words. A half-drabble is 50, a double-drabble 200.
There are other terms, which arise less often, but these are the main ones. It should also be noted that anime fanfiction has its own terminology, primarily in Japanese. Occasionally borrowed for cult fan fiction, and therefore worth noting here, are:
Lemon - Fan fiction involving graphic sex. Particularly cutsey lemon is called lemonade.
Lime - Fan fiction involving kissing and romance, or non-explicit sexual relations of the fade-to-black variety, but not graphic sex.
Slash, Gen, 'Ship
In many cases, fan fiction exists as an excuse to write sex scenes between the author's favourite characters. Aside from the fact that such scenes are typically appallingly written - much like the sex scenes of professional authors - the pairings involved often make little or no sense in terms of characterisation, and in some instances are downright creepy. Be that as it may, such fiction exists, and has produced the threefold terminological distinction of slash, gen and 'ship.
The term 'slash' comes from the practice of describing this kind of fiction as x/y (x-slash-y), where x and y are the characters doing the deed in the fic5. Slash fiction is frequently PWP, but not always.
There are two common definitions of slash fiction, each paired with a definition of gen fiction.
Fan fiction incorporating intimate/sexual encounters between characters of the same sex.
Fan fiction incorporating intimate/sexual encounters between characters who do not have, and never have had, such a relationship in the canon material.
While the nature of broadcast television means that examples of the first definition are almost always included in the latter (with the exception of Willow/Tara in Buffy fan fiction) the reverse is obviously not true.
The first definition is the older and more common, and dates back to the first Kirk-slash-Spock Star Trek fan fictions. M/m slash fiction was - until recently - by far the most common kind, and the Kirk/Spock example gives the classic reasoning behind it. In early fan fiction - which incidentally was predominantly written by women, as m/m slash still is - attempts to create a sensitive, equal relationship between Kirk and any female character who seemed to belong on TOS6 were seen to be hopeless.
As a way out of this dilemma, Spock came to be seen as the only, logical7 romantic foil for the philandering captain. The continuing dominance of television by male characters meant that m/m slash fiction was probably only displaced - or at least complimented - by m/f and f/f with the arrival of the X-Files, Xena and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and perhaps some of the new Star Trek series.
F/f is also called femslash.
Short for general, gen fiction can be considered as non-slash fiction with sex in it. Consequently, the two definitions are:
Fan fiction incorporating intimate/sexual encounters between characters of opposite sexes; aka 'het'.
Fan fiction incorporating intimate/sexual encounters between characters who have such a relationship in the canon material.
In the former case - again the more common definition - gen fiction often shares with slash the failing that it tends to match up characters who are seemingly incompatible, immediately creating a false air in the fanfic, which other fans may find difficult to read, disturbing, or even outright objectionable. If a gen fiction features a torrid affair between a regular (or regulars) and a character of the author's own invention, this is usually a sign of Mary Sue fiction.
Confusingly, gen is also sometimes used to denote fanfics without sex.
'Ship - or 'shipper - fiction, comes from 'relationship', and features intimate or romantic relationships between characters (involved in the canon material or otherwise) without necessarily involving sex. The term originates - as so many do - in X-Files fandom, and was originally used to define fan fiction in which Mulder and Scully developed a romantic involvement. The distinction between slash/gen and 'shipper fiction is hazy, and generally is considered to be that 'shipper fiction is more thoughtful and sensitive and contains more than mere sex.
A slightly more troublesome distinction is that some people consider 'shipper fiction to be strictly het, insisting that all fiction involving gay relationships is slash. While it is not unreasonable to draw a clear distinction between heterosexual and gay stories, especially as there are still readers who take - often excessive - offence at homosexual material, many people dislike it because of its implied homophobia. Given the purely sexual connotations of slash, the perceived suggestion is that homosexual relationships are inherently only about sex, and that a loving dimension is possible only in relationships between a man and a woman.
Fan Fiction Archives
Few fanfics exist in a vacuum. While some may appear only on the author's homepage, most find their way to one or more fan fiction archive sites. These sites maintain directories of fan fiction stories, usually indexed by author and title, or by such factors as the characters involved, the style and tone of the stories or even by their placement in the 'verse chronology. The more sophisticated sites also cross-reference fics to say which are sequels to others, which are not sequels but do treat events in another fan fic as canon, and which are part of an ongoing serial.
Archives all have their criteria for inclusion. Most insist that nothing will be linked or placed on the site until approved by the site owners, and many ask that all fics be beta read before being submitted. Some refuse to post material which they deem to be above a certain cinematic rating (usually NC-17), or to post slash (by either definition), while others specialise in adult and slash material. Some refuse to post crossovers, or AU, while others consist of nothing but stories set in a common AU such as the Star Trek Mirror Universe. The majority of fan fiction sites contain only stories from a single 'verse, or crossovers to that 'verse, but the largest have different archive areas for different 'verses.
The best sites are more than mere archives, and also contain guides on writing good fan fiction, guides on writing bad fan fiction, and extensive lists of common mistakes - including the most common English language errors, and commonly misspelled names. Some also feature a glossary for their chosen specialist 'verse, for the benefit of writers less well-versed in the setting. These same also tend to link to lists of 'beta readers', and can provide an excellent forum for constructive feedback.
Disclaimers and Legality
Fan fiction websites invariably contain a host of disclaimers, acknowledging the borderline legality of the pursuit. While not done for commercial purposes, fan fiction inevitably involves the use of copyrighted characters and settings, and fanfic authors basically operate at the mercy of TPTB. The good archives all recognise this - hence their clear legal disclaimers - and are usually only too willing to take down any material if TPTB ask them to.
Any responsible site which archives fanfictions will have a blanket disclaimer on the main page and any index pages, stating that the stories were written for fun and are reproduced on the web for the enjoyment of other fans, and that there is no commercial intent. This is preceded or followed by a copyright disclaimer, stating - for general fanfic sites - that all characters and settings are the copyright property of their creators, or on specific sites stating to whom the rights belong. For example:
'Angel' the series and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' characters and concepts belong to Joss Whedon, WB, and Mutant Enemy.
This is an unofficial fan produced project. Please don't sue.
- Disclaimer for Doyle Investigations
In addition, individual fan fictions often begin with a disclaimer paragraph, reiterating the copyright notice, and frequently providing a content guide. These guides take a fairly specific format, differing slightly for each site and will include things like:
A brief description of the fanfic using terms like those listed in the glossary above.
A cinematic rating, usually on the US system, awarded either by the author or by the site's owner.
Warnings if the fiction contains any of the following: sexual violence and/or rape, consensual bondage and/or S&M, sexual perversion, the death or crippling of a major character, slash (especially homoerotic), or spoilers.
A note if the fiction is set in an alternate universe, and if in a common AU, which one.
The makeup of any slash, gen or 'ship content in the form m/f or f/f/ or m/m or m/m/f/ etc.
A more detailed slash/gen/'ship makeup in the form X/Y, with X and Y usually being the initials of the characters involved. A key to this information, or full names are rarely given; if you are part of the fandom you are just supposed to know that K/S is Kirk/Spock.
The Beta Reader and Common Fan Fiction Errors
One of the most important figures in fan fiction is the beta reader.
A beta reader, out of the goodness of their heart, performs vital editing duties on a fan fiction or fan fictions submitted to them. A number of sites maintain directories of people prepared to beta fan fiction within a specific fandom, along with their particular preferences, in order to help authors find the right person to help turn their rough cut into a polished gem. Beta readers can provide assistance on all manner of factors, but most importantly they can proof read your fan fiction for errors in spelling, grammar and usage, and they can tell you if your story evokes the right tone and if your portrayal of the characters rings true.
Spelling and Grammar
One of the major perils of fan fiction - as with most writing - is that of errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Other common language errors include the mistaken use of homophones, and confusions of their/they're/there, its/it's and so on. Easily made, these errors tend to slip the author by, while leaping out at all and sundry who read their work, and they do make a serious impact on the reader's enjoyment.
In respect of spelling and grammar, it should be noted that it is very hard to tell if a fan fiction has been beta read, but it is almost always glaringly apparent if it has not.
Style and Characterisation
Perhaps the greatest challenge in fan fiction writing lies in capturing the essence of a well-known and much-loved mythos. A successful television series sustains an overall mood throughout its life, and failing to capture that mood can be fatal to a fanfic's credibility. To take the example of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in order to create a convincing Buffy fanfic an author must capture the correct light, humorous touch, while simultaneously - and without the two jarring - evoking a sense of horror, danger and emotional depth.
As well as overall tone, characters must also read right. Viewers see these characters week after week, and over time become familiar with their mannerisms and their quirks. In a well-written series, the writers will maintain such traits throughout, and fan fiction authors face the challenge of doing the same. With the same example, the author would need to master a complex juxtaposition of dry, easy wit, baffled charm, a sense of mystical and intellectual inadequacy, insecurity, unavoidable male lechery and a deep-down foundation of courage, loyalty and goodness of heart, simply to correctly portray Xander.
The challenge of capturing the voice of a 'verse and its occupants is further complicated by the matter of time. While many series have little in the way of character development, in others it is vitally important for authors to be sure that they are using the voice for the right point in the chronology. Characters grow and evolve, and moods and themes often vary subtly from season to season. All of these must be correctly captured; and don't think that the fans won't notice if the author slips up.
The best fan fiction is that which manages to capture the vital spark at the heart of its characters and setting, and in doing so reads almost like canon material, however 'out there' the events. Slash/gen fiction - and in particular PWP - rarely makes much effort in this direction, and the result is notably hollow and soulless, as well as rather tedious and entirely unengaging. Other fan fictions have the same problem, and if nothing else it breaks the rhythm of a piece when the reader is continually thinking 'X would never do that'.
A related issue is that of canon continuity: does a fanfic fit into the canon without needing to allow for alternate universes and/or mindwipes? In the case of a fandom with an ongoing source mythos, it is of course possible that the canon will evolve so as to make a carefully crafted, entirely contiguous fanfic no longer slot neatly into place. (cf (To Be) Jossed).
These are particular problems in fanfic for precisely the same reasons that so much fan fiction exists. The devoted fan base that creates fan fiction in the first place is possessed of such an encyclopaedic knowledge of the setting, such an affectionate familiarity with the characters, that any substantial deviation is keenly felt. Moreover, the richly-detailed tapestry of the canon and fanon increases the impact of error, because the characters and events involved are so rounded and complete that deviation is difficult to explain away. Even TPTB sometimes have this problem when introducing new ideas into a series.
Fan Fiction Sex
It is a fact that sex scenes in books, films and TV are frequently appallingly written; the same is true of fan fiction. Combining the two is asking for trouble. Whatever the merits and failings of slash, gen and 'ship fiction conceptually, fan fiction sex scenes are almost always excruciatingly painful to read. Filled with lurid adjectives and torturous simile, metaphor and euphamism, they can be either hilarious or uncomfortable to read, but are rarely either erotic or moving. More than this, since most cult series do not feature sex scenes, leaving the detail of their characters' relationships to the viewers' imaginations, sex is another way to break the mood of the mythos.
Sadly, some fan fiction authors seem to feel that a fanfic is not complete without a graphic sex scene. Otherwise acceptable - even admirable - fictions can be spoiled by the gratuitous inclusion of a badly-written sex scene. If there is a single cinematic device that most needs to be transfered to fan fiction, it must surely be the fade to black/pan to roaring log fire.
The majority of the sites used in researching this entry could not be linked from h2g2, because of slash, gen or outright PWP content. Feel free to seek out fan fiction sites through search engines, but be warned: Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is rubbish) applies to fan fiction - as to the Internet at large - in its extreme form (99% of everything on the Internet is rubbish).