You can read the post here for more info, but I wanted to just add a bit about what this entails from my POV, on the Support team. Somewhere between ¼ to 1/3 of all our tickets last month were in Chinese (somewhere upwards of 300 out of 1200 or so), almost all from users just setting up their accounts or trying to find out how to get an invitation. A lot of the tickets are what I’d characterize as “intro” tickets - they say hi, list favourite fandoms or pairings, or provide samples of fic they’ve written. Although this isn’t necessary on AO3, this is not uncommon in Chinese fandom sites that you have to prove your credentials to get in (in fact it wasn’t uncommon in English-language fandom sites 15-20 years ago). We respond to all of these tickets, even the ones that just say hi. We check whether the user has managed to receive their invite or get their account sent up, and if they haven’t, we help them do so. This means taking every single ticket through our Chinese translation team twice, once so we make sure we understand the initial ticket, and then again to translate our reply.
This is a challenging process, although we’ve found ways to streamline it and can normally get a reply out pretty quickly (like within a few days). We do it because this is part of why AO3 exists in the first place - to provide a safe haven where users can post their works without worrying about censorship or sudden crackdowns on certain kinds of content. We do it because this is important, and helping these users get their accounts and be able to share their works safely is why we’re here. We hope that we’ll be able to help as many of them as possible.
There have been a few (thankfully few, that I’ve seen) complaints about these new AO3 users not always knowing how things work - what language to tag with, or what fandom tags to use, for instance. To this I would say:
1. Have patience and be considerate. They are coming to a new site that they aren’t familiar with, and using it in a language they may not be expert in, and it might take a while to learn the ropes. You can filter out works tagged in Chinese if you don’t want to see them. Or just scroll past.
2. You can report works tagged with the wrong language or the wrong fandom to our Policy and Abuse team using the link at the bottom of any page. This will not cause the authors to “get in trouble” (a concern I’ve heard before, as people are reluctant to report for these reasons). It means the Policy and Abuse team will contact them to ask them to change the language/fandom tag, and if the creator doesn’t, they can edit it directly.
If you remember Strikethrough or the FF.net porn ban or similar purges, please keep them in mind and consider that these users are going through something similar or potentially worse. This is why AO3 exists. We are doing our best to try and help make the transition smooth.
I am a Taiwanese and I’d like to put some context behind the recent influx of China based AO3 users.
China is tightening their freedom of speech in recent years after Xi has became the chairman (he even canceled the 10 years long term of service of chairman, meaning he can stay as the leader of China as long as he lives–he has became a dictator).
They censor words that are deemed “sensitive”, you can’t type anything to criticize the chinise government. Big social media platform won’t even post the posts containing sensitive words. You don’t have the freedom of publish books without the books being approved by the government either.
To disguise this whole Ninety Eighty-Four nightmare, they started to pick on the easy target: the women and the minorities (China is getting more and more misogynistic as a result of the government trying to control their male population through encouraging them to control the female population through “chinese tradition family value” but that’s another story).
Last year, the chinese government arrested a woman who is a famous yaoi/BL novel writer named 天一 and sentenced her 10 years in jail for “selling obscene publications” and “illegal publication” (she’s not the only BL writer who got arrested. Meanwhile, multiple cases where men raped women only get about 2 years of jail time in China). It’s a warning to anyone who want to publish anything that’s “not approved” by the government that they can literally ruin you.
Just recently the chinese government “contacted” website owners of one of their largest romance/yaoi/slash fiction sites
and announced that for now on, for the sake of a Clean Society, they can’t write anything that’s slightly “obscene”. No sex scene, no sexual interaction, they can’t even write any bodily interaction below neck (I’m not kidding here).
But that’s not their actual goal. They also listed other restriction such as: can’t write anything that’s about the government, the military, the police, “sensitive history”, “race problems”, which is… you basically can’t write anything that might be used as a tool to criticize the government (as many novels did).
This recent development really hurt the chinese fanfic writers. They can’t write anything without the fear of being put on the guillotine by the government to show their control. Most of them don’t even think that deep politically, they just want to write slash fictions. But there are no platform safe in China, that’s why the sudden influx of chinese users to AO3.
I bet it won’t be long before AO3 got banned in China, but until then, be a little bit patient to them. As much as I hate the chinese government, I pity their people.
I’m crying so loud…As a Chinese, you don’t know how your kindness meant to us. When I’m young, I read 1984, and I thought this story is so unrealistic, but now, it’s getting tougher and tougher for fanfic and the writer in China. Thank you ao3. Thank you for the people who care about Chinese people. (hope I didn’t spell anything wrong)
Hi everyone! As much as I poke fun at ao3 culture on this blog, I love the platform and the community and I’m glad that it can function as a refuge for Chinese fans, both writers and readers.So followers! I encourage you all to be welcoming and helpful to Chinese fans joining us on ao3 and to be patient as the platform figures out how to integrate them. If any of you are Chinese speakers and are inclined to volunteer with ao3, I’m sure that would be appreciated. As for the rest of us, let’s remember that ao3 exists as a sanctuary for our community, especially exactly those parts of it that are most at risk under Chinese censorship (lgbt+ content, explicit fics, etc.) and let’s take this opportunity to be grateful that our community has worked together so well for so long in order to create this sanctuary. I’m delighted that that effort can now be helpful to Chinese fans facing censorship, and I’m excited to see how Chinese fans and fan culture will interact and co-create with English speaking fandom.And with that, I’m off to slip ao3 an extra 10 dollars.