Hey, Major! Just saw your post about your Google alerts and you mentioned a Wattpad incident. Can I ask what it was? (Or if you don't want to get into it, maybe just a general idea?) I just started posting my fics there and am now wondering if I shouldn't have or if there're certain things I should watch out for?
I would sincerely and in all earnestness encourage you 100% to NOT DO THAT.
Please, PLEASE support and post to Archive of Our Own, a site that is actually fan-run for the explicit purpose of archiving and sharing and protecting and even studying fanfiction.
Wattpad was started as a “story sharing/recommending site” — it was supposed to be for original fiction and stories would pop up as recommendations for people as soon as they were done reading one story so that they could find more original fiction just like what they’d enjoyed. This did not happen. Teens and tweens populated the site and they brought fanfiction with them. Wattpad only recently turned into a site that supports or cares about fanfiction. They are not fandom-focused and they are only promoting fanfic now, on places like their Tumblr, with generic top-five lists and their information is skewed towards the most popular pieces in any single fandom.
This for-profit attitude, just sliding into what the kids are doing because it’s where the popularity lies, has encouraged Wattpad to become nothing but a den of plagiarism. I had never heard of the site until I got a Google Alert on Pie Without Plot that went to Wattpad.
I didn’t understand what I was seeing at first. It turns out a person was slowly copy/pasting Pie Without Plot, chapter-by-chapter, to their Wattpad. There were personal comments at the end of each of the first two chapters like, “What do you think of it :) should I go on?” which lead the users followers to believe that they were the one writing the story. I’m pretty sure PWP is still in the top 50 of all Dean/Cas fics, it was even higher-ranked at the time — they were blatantly stealing a VERY popular fic, with no qualms and claiming ownership. I asked people to go over there with me and ask the user to take it down. It turns out their whole account was pretty much copy/pasted fics. Other people told me they’d already tried out Wattpad and that a lot of the site was simply young people copy/pasting because other young people just had not seen enough of the internet to know where the copy/pasting was from.
The user who attempted to repost PWP had done one thing that they assumed would protect them: they copy/pasted the fic info, all of it, including my original disclaimer, only the disclaimer was changed from “We do not own the rights to these characters, setting, show, etc. No harm is intended.” to “I do not own the rights to these characters, setting, show, fic, etc. No harm is intended.” Without any emphasis or any other mention that the fic wasn’t theirs. When they finally responded to all the messages we were sending them telling them to stop claiming the fic was theirs, they “apologized” quite insincerely, saying they hadn’t been claiming ownership of the fic, despite posting personal comments on each chapter. Then, in the very next INSTANT, turned tail and ran, deleting their whole account before I could even reply to the message they’d sent me in return.
The original post is here. The final post of the incident is here. You can pretty much see in real-time from comments and tags on the first post how it was when it was going down. Simply unbelievable.
Orange’s work was stolen. My work was stolen. A FAN’S WORK WAS STOLEN when the user even jacked the cover art from a PWP fanmix as the cover for the story.
And, since then, I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Wattpad from other users. I truly don’t understand their place in fandom. Young people who join fandom should be helped to the AO3 side of things where they genuinely care about fandom and not just site traffic.
Wattpad’s Tumblr spontaneously followed my face blog just a couple weeks ago, without saying a word about it. When I noticed, I sent them a message telling them I’d had a bad experience with Wattpad, did not ask for them to follow me, and did not want them following me. I asked them to unfollow and, when they didn’t in about a half hour, I simply blocked them for my own sake.
I did eventually get a message back from them saying that they didn’t mean to freak me out, they were just following “their favorite” SPN fic writers and they said that they do try to get copy/pasted “popular” fics, like Twist & Shout off the site.
This may be news to them, but not all fanfic is popular and it all needs to be protected. If T&S can get fucking jacked and PWP can get jacked and be reposted and people post reactions of genuine surprise, like they’ve never read the fic before and are delighted with each chapter, then what can happen to less-popular fics? Or fics that are simply RENAMED but still blatantly copy/pasted?
Please don’t go to Wattpad. PLEASE don’t go to Wattpad.
AO3 does it a thousand times better.