Changes FAQ

Many thanks to everybody who took the time to read about the recent changes and who provided their feedback. I'd like to address some of the most common questions and concerns:

What changes?
LotRFF is now under new administration. Technical responsibilities and planning have passed hands, but the core focus and values of the site remain unchanged.

Who is the new owner?
That'll be me, Keith Mander. I formerly worked at both Google and Facebook and now dedicate a majority of my time to building web communities. My expertise is in reinvigorating websites and managing the process. I deeply care about the communities too and actively engage and partake in them. An example of this action can be seen on and I recently took on the baton for managing the popular Twilight Archives site and aim to make significant improvements to it also.

Is Adora still involved in the site?
Absolutely. Adora has voiced that she would still like to be actively involved in the management of the website as a moderator and founder. You can still contact Adora using the LotRFF email address. Her new address is The old address ( is still active and all messages are automatically forwarded.

What does Adora make of all this?
Adora and I spoke at length about the site and the plans for its future before the agreement was made. During this time we were merely discussing possible terms and conditions and making sure we were on the same page at every level. It wasn't a definite thing until really just a few days ago. We wanted to make sure everything was fine on the technical end, ensure a smooth transfer and as little downtime as possible before we made any announcements. Adora has been very supportive of the plans and has confidence that the site will continue to prosper. Of course, you'd better ask for her opinion! She did leave some comments on the original announcement, which I'd encourage you to read.

What is the future of LotRFF?
The future is bright! In the immediate period, I will be looking to understand the features that you'd like to see in the new site and begin to plan the rollout of a completely new design, backend and set of features. It'll take around a month or two before the new site goes live and I'll be sure to communicate updates with you. Work is currently underway on the new Twilight Archives site, and you can take a sneak peak at it's new design to give you a flavour of what is to come.

What kind of new features?
I have a long laundry list of ideas which include notifications, a messaging system, profile badges, easier story submission, character selection, ebook exporting, and challenges. The focus will be on improving the user experience and to foster engagement. Of course, it is you, the users who will help decide what it is that you want to see improved.

What are the long-term plans for the site?
The intention is to continue to develop the underlying fan fiction platform that runs the LotRFF site and leverage that technology to launch other fan fiction sites. Twilight Archives is another early part of this vision; in the near future you will be able to have a familiar experience across sites, use your same login and build a more complete profile. Our intention is not to take on, but have a small knit group of popular, beautiful and deeply engaging fan fiction sites.

Will the site continue to be free?
You bet! You'll forever be able to add, edit, comment, review and read stories on the site. Everything you see today will remain free.

Will user data, or the stories be sold?
Definitely not; we respect your privacy and will do whatever we can to keep your data secure. Your data will never be passed onto a third party.

Is the site going to be plastered with ads?
First and foremost, we care about the community and the user experience. We'd never jeopardise that with the overuse of advertisements.

But your intention is to make a profit?
This, I'm sure, is the issue that causes the most concern amongst users. The site costs money to run through hosting costs and domain renewal. Moreover, I'm pledging several thousand dollars into the new revision of the site, hiring professional designers and developers. Further investment will be made into marketing efforts to encourage more engagement on the site. I'm also dedicating a substantial amount of my time as a self-employed person. Without any income stream, simply none of this would be possible. Some of the most high profile and engaged fan fiction sites (including,, and all generate revenue and have used that to grow and improve their sites. The site will never become a cash cow, the intention is only to cover costs and facilitate future investment into the site. It is absolutely the content that drives traffic and in turn, potential revenue. However, consider revenue being generated from the platform and facilitation of a place where users can share their fan fiction, rather than any single collection of stories. The alternative path is that there's no innovation, the site perishes and the owner bares the cost of running the site; this doesn't seem fair or progressive.

I want to out - can I delete my account and my stories?
Sure, they're your stories and you're welcome to do whatever you wish with them. Of course, I hope that you continue to visit the site and that you might reconsider your membership in the future.

I hope that you'll appreciate that I've tried to be very open and honest with you. We could have done more to better communicate the changes and for that I'm sorry.

I'm really excited about what we can do together with the site and I hope that you'll join me.

Please use the comments functionality to join me in this dialogue. You're also very welcome to email me directly.

Keith Mander on Jun 29 2011 09:35 am
When the archive is sued, will you shoulder the legal costs for your users? When you get a C&D because someone isn't happy about all of the NC-17 fics freely available to children, will you defend the right of your users to post adult fic?

What will your reaction be if the Tolkien Estate or NewLine come knocking because someone is making money with their copyrighted property?
- Esteliel on Jun 29 2011 09:50 am

When the archive is sued, will you shoulder the legal costs for your users?
The site is now owned by a limited liability corporation registered in the United Kingdom. Users of the site would never bear any responsibility for legal actions against the site.

When you get a C&D because someone isn't happy about all of the NC-17 fics freely available to children, will you defend the right of your users to post adult fic?
In the immediate term, nothing is changing with regard to the sites current policies. It's something that can be reconsidered for the future. Of course, the desire is to allow freedom of expression, uphold the terms of service and protect minors.

What will your reaction be if the Tolkien Estate or NewLine come knocking because someone is making money with their copyrighted property?
The site has been making money for the past 7-years through seeking of donations.,, and have all been making money for years without prosecution.

- root on Jun 29 2011 10:11 am
And what is your reasoning for making money from characters, books and movies whose copyright you do not own?

And I'd think you'd be surprised how many Harry Potter archives were contacted by Warner...
- Esteliel on Jun 29 2011 10:47 am
Artistic freedom is the most important thing about this site to me. If I wanted to read “G” rated love stories and het Mary Sue’s there are lots of places I can go. I have no intention of leaving the site as long as authors like Ziggy, Melusine, Spiced Wine and L8Bleumer can continue to explore adult themes. But if the freedom to express adult concepts is taken way, I promise you will have only a fraction of the traffic you do now on this site. I hope the excellent authors that make this site what it is, and worth coming to stay until we see what you will do. If they go, I’m going with them!
- Lisse on Jun 29 2011 12:29 pm
Hello Keith,

I have a few question for you: this site uses efiction as software, will you share improvements, mods and stuff also with the creators of this software or other webmasters? Ah the beauty of open source sofwtare!

Because basically what I see is that there are plenty of efiction mods out there that will cover all of your plans without having to hire paid personell to do this. It would be a tad of waste of money to do this, to re-invent the wheel. Just saying, simply because general tendency throughout the fandom is that we also share these developments with another. I know, you are a self-employed person, but whenever I work at two archives, I donate my time for free and without any charge, so I find that bit of reasoning a tad iffy.

But what strikes me the most is your utmost naivety regarding the Tolkien Estate's attitude, but I suppose we will see you probably sued soon enough by the estate by their lawyers like Addleshaw Goddard who are rather lawsuit-happy. And yes, I have seen it happen too often, even in the UK. Best of luck with this all!
- Rhapsody on Jun 29 2011 03:00 pm
I left a comment earlier that does not seem to show. Was this aglitch or intentional?
- on Jun 29 2011 05:25 pm
I quite like how the site runs and looks now, just purely about the fanfiction. I can understand about needing to put some advertisements up to cover costs, to be fair they wouldn't bother me as long as they are not in your face.

I completely agree with Lisse's post. I certainly couldn't find great slash stories on and people flame way too much on that site for my liking.

As long as the site stays relatively the way it is now I'd be happy.
- Caunedhiel on Jun 29 2011 06:01 pm
Here are some responses:

@Lisse: I understand and support your desire for artistic freedom. Rest assured that nothing has changed in this regard and nothing will change without you first being notified and consulted.

@Rhapsody: Indeed, the site does currently use the open source efiction software. It's a great piece of kit for people to get started with, but it suffers from being gradually updated over a long period of time, resulting in a bloated piece of software that doesn't make use of modern standards. As a result, we'll be starting from scratch with the new software. I agree that it seems daft to reinvent the wheel, but it's unfortunately necessary to allow us to live out our dreams for the platform. We'd not be morally obligated to give back anything to other developers, but actually we are absolutely planning on allowing others to deploy their own fan fiction sites using the software - so that others will benefit. Maybe our needed income stream will come in providing this software.

@Jael: I assure you that I'm not censoring any comments here. Otherwise I'd have deleted your second comment! Please try again and let me know if you encounter any problems.

@Caunedhiel: The focus will always be on fan creativity, but this may (and this is still hypothetical) expand to encompass fan art, video and sub-communities. Advertisements are a possible way that we'll cover costs, but it's definitely not certain. As you will see, nothing has changed to the site so far.

Thank you for your comments.
- root on Jun 29 2011 06:50 pm
As a result, we'll be starting from scratch with the new software.

You are aware that Tammy & co are doing the exact same with efiction version nr 4, or do you intend to develop a new kind of software for archiving purposes, you are not very clear (as mudd) on that. I know the ins and outs of this software and as for not being up to date with new standards, it all stands and falls with skinning and what the users actually want from an archive. My advise would be (no I won't bill you for that), is first ask the members what they truly need before you assume and dream big.

Just an tiny wee curious question:
If you are talking about new software, are you looking at the freeware or shareware model? I doubt that members will have issues with that, but if you look closely at the fanlib case.. your reasons sound exactly like the fella's who started with an ideal and looking at the fandom as a cashcow. I think by now you've experienced that this part of the fandom is utterly different than perhaps the twilight fandom (why you do see a potential link between those two is utterly beyond me).

Too bad that you still do not listen to the concerns and experience of the members here regarding the Tolkien Estate though.
- Rhapsody on Jun 29 2011 08:33 pm
@Rhapsody: The intention is to not use efiction version 4 (although I will be eagerly watching its development) although this of course might change. You're quite right, some of the ideas for improvements already exist within efiction and additional mods that can be installed. But I have been speaking with experienced users in the fan fiction space about new ideas and ways to do things differently and I think starting from scratch may be the better path to realising these ideas. I fully intend to consult users before work commences. I would like to reiterate that so far, nothing has changed on the site - there are no ads - there is profit - there is no redevelopment. I'm thinking about ideas and understanding the space. I do understand people's concerns, but I feel disappointed that so much criticism has been made before any action has been taken at all. As for the distribution of the software platform that we may develop, I have no idea as to the model - all this is too early to get into at the moment. Tolkien Estate has not taken action against this site in the past 7-years and I don't see that this would change given that nothing on the site has changed as yet. And I don't see this position changing if we improve the site.
- root on Jun 29 2011 09:14 pm
I do like the idea of fan art. I'm wondering how you would restrict them as obviously some wouldn't be suitable for kids?
- Caunedhiel on Jun 29 2011 09:35 pm
honestly, I am new to this site, And i would really like to know what challenges are, and how i can get more warnings/character names/ categories for my story, because right now, my story says i have no characters, but i have a lot of them, from the book and my own creation. And i would also like you to read my story "Another Love Story" If you are a LotR fan. I would like to know how i can make my story better.
- Farawein on Jun 29 2011 10:49 pm

Unless there is a pressing reason, I shall not be taking down my work from this site. As for the future, I will see what develops, since one can't possibly know. br />I will say one thing, though, that struck me reading the comments: the very last reason I would leave any site is from fear of the Tolkien Estate. C&D orders? I would continue to write and post somewhere until they pronounced a prison sentence. I write from passion and love, and and no earthly organization is going to stop me.
- Spiced Wine on Jun 29 2011 10:59 pm
something tells me you would find a way to post from your prison cell Spiced Wine :)
- Caunedhiel on Jun 29 2011 11:18 pm
Have you ever heard the phrase...If it is not broke, don't fix it?

We do not need some corporate whoo whoo dilly fixing something that ain't broke. We have enough of a network in the LOTR fanfiction community, that we don't need more.

FFnet is making money as is some other sites but 99.9999% of them are only requesting donations to keep the sites going. Cause we all know corporate people like yourselves like to make money to put in your pocket for long vacations and stupid yachts. Others make money to keep the site going by creating their own promo merchandise people can buy to wear.

How i See it, you are only in it to get rich.

Here is something for you to chew on....

Writing is about creativity, it was Tolkien's greatest wish that those that read his stories become inspired and put themselves in his character's world. It was stated so in a bio film i watched about him.

You are taking the creativity and beauty of the works he wrote and destroying the whole idea, by commercializing it. You do not need to do was huge before you and i were ever born, I am sure.

I think you need to get off your high horse, and rethink this whole thing...cause little do you know....The world has already been informed about you...There is a network of writers, readers and fans that are gathering..and are outraged at you and your corporate crap. I know they are, they have been doing all day...they are enraged by your appalling actions. I would not be surprised if you lost more and more members as the truth and the changes began to come..this site was beautiful the way it was, now, most are not so sure.

One word from Tolkien's family, and LOTR Fanfics are history, and it will be your fault.......

I love to write just as the others do, and I do it passionately, but I will be darned if a pipsqueak like you is going to ruin it for all of us...

Spank you very much!!!!
- on Jun 30 2011 12:18 am
oh and please delete my account!
- on Jun 30 2011 12:24 am
All I wanted was some reassurance that the revenues generated would be only those sufficient to pay for the cost of the site. Because with fanfiction, it isn't just about the gift. It HAS to be about the gift. If anyone makes money off it, we're breaking the law. Your comments here seemed to contradict things you have said elsewhere.

So you would have deleted my second comment? No need, because after that, I went ahead and deleted all my stories. You are losing your authors rapidly.
- on Jun 30 2011 01:10 am
Initially I wanted to have nothing to do with all this excitement, then I realized I have quite a few stories posted to this archive, many of which are not publicly posted elsewhere, and so yes, I do feel affected as well. While I did definitely feel apprehensive about the initial changing of hands of the site as like many others, I have spent quite abit of time on here responding to posted writing challenges, reading other authors work, etc.

Having taken a step back, turning away from the drama which so often shows up in any fandom I have been involved in I have come to the conclusion that I am more than content to sit back and see where things go before having a fit and taking down all of my stories. I can understand that running a site is cheap, as some people seem to feel it must be. These same people who are furious at the thought someone might be making a buck off their stories but in the same sentence say they do it for love of writing, there are plenty of other archives out there, why make such a big scene of leaving if you are unhappy here?

Of course the interpretation of others into recent events has not spooked me, I am not so easily frightened (If you knew what I did for a living you would understand why it takes quite alot to get me going) With the Hobbit movies coming out within the next few years that should bring a healthy upswell of new people to the fandom, and with that new interest it will surely bring some incredible new talent as well.

I am looking forward to seeing this site being given a fresh new look, I feel it is quite user friendly as it is but I feel there is certainly always room for improvement. Perhaps in the future I may decide that archiving my stories here is no longer for me, but that is a decision I will come to on my own. I can definitely respect what you are trying to accomplish here, even if it has not been met with the warmest reception. Everything has to grow and change at some time, even if not all are prepared to accept it.
- Anwyn on Jun 30 2011 04:03 am
Thank you Anwyn, I only wish others shared this viewpoint. Despising the changes makes more sense after they've been made rather than now when really nothing has changed at all. I'm a little baffled why there is so much resentment when so little has been done so far. Talk of being a 'corporate' with my yacht and what not is quite bananas - it's been extremely overstated what kind of money could be made from this site, even if efforts were made to monetise it aggressively. I'm pretty sure most of you'd find me a to be a nice guy, passionate about what I do, and looking to improve services provided for the users.
- root on Jun 30 2011 06:22 am
I am sorry to see that this archive is now being taken advantage of for the sake of money and profit. I ask you to please remove my account from this site as I wish not to have anything to do with it any further. Please be respectful of my wishes in this matter. I have already removed the few stories I had on this site.
- Warrior Princess 01 on Jun 30 2011 08:33 am

whether or not people have issues with change, that is not the problem here. Whenever you manage and run a site that has users, you can do two things: be truly user driven and ask users honestly about their input. Interview them beforehand, ask what they need, see and expect. From there you redesign. From one webdeveloper to another, I am a tad surprised that I don't see it happening. Often I have shaken my head when Facebook/Twitter/Myspace/Livejournal announced a gadget and reacted all butthurt when users replied: I don't need it, so get it out of my face.

The other approach is take this trinket and make it a site designed after your own tastes. Because quite frankly: you own the site now, you can do as it pleases you. Just don't act butthurt when people pack their bags and leave after they have been invited by you to share their frank thoughts and concerns.

Secondly is the way this takeover has been done is quite questionable, if not very hurtful towards those volunteers who have invested a lot of time and labour of love in this site. If negotiations have been going on for so long, why haven't they been notified or consulted? The role they could have played during this transfer could have been a quite important one. But all they get is this compliment paid to them.

These are my obeservations, do with them as it suits you. I personally keep an eye on developments regarding the new software, simply because I love playing with new shinies. ;)
- Rhapsody on Jun 30 2011 10:24 am
Great feedback, thanks Rhapsody.

I fully intend on reaching out people to understand what they want with the site. Sure, I have some of my own ideas, but I fully appreciate that I have much to learn and need to have an open dialogue about these, and other ideas, to see if they make sense and are needed. I cannot emphasise enough that no changes to the site have occurred, nor is anything planned to take place in the immediate future. I assure everyone that they will know about everything way before anything becomes a reality.

For the improvements I'm making to Twilight Archives, I've gone to extraordinary lengths to consult users - we have our own forum, I share screenshots, we talk about ideas, talk about design inspirations and lots more - I can't believe that anyone would question my desire to engage with the users. I've not done it here yet, but this is all still way off from happening.

As a former Facebook employee and as an active user, I can certainly emphasise with your perspective on some of the ill thought out changes they've made. Interestingly, their perspective, which is also shared by Apple and others (to make it perfectly clear, I don't necessarily agree) is that users aren't always clear about what they want. An illustrative example would be the News Feed. It's now a core part of the Facebook experience and users go made whenever there's a subtle change made to it - yet, when it first launched, users revolted. Facebook stuck to their guns and it paid off. I provide this anecdote cautiously as I don't want it to be perceived that I know best by any means or that'd I take this approach. It does display the need to look at things from all angles.

I concede that Adora and I should have done a better job of communicating and consulting users, particularly the moderators and other volunteers, before the transfer was made. I wonder if Adora would have received a blessing, however, and whether Adora would have been unable to sell the site.

I wish that we could all be more positive about the future. I've heard the concerns loud and clear and am trying hard to take the feedback on board so that we can get past this.

Thanks again for your feedback Rhapsody and everyone else. It's not always pleasant to hear personal attacks or to see unhappy people. I only want a positive outcome for everyone.
- root on Jun 30 2011 11:07 am
I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive at first about this whole thing, but I'm starting to feel more confident. After reading Keith's blog and various interviews with him, he strikes me as a very competent businessman. It's not every person who can go solo and be successful at it.
However, I think he may have jumped into the lake without testing the water, so to speak. Although using the Twilight fanfiction site as an example of his skills shows that he is not new to this, and that he can get things done, I think Keith may have failed to recognize that many LOTR fans dislike Twilight rather intensely, and comparisons between the two works (even if it is just websites) are distinctly unwelcome. Also, more importantly, I think a lot of users feel that LOTR Fanfiction is just another project of Keith's, and that he doesn't really care about the site, the community, or the stories. Although it's too late to completely eliminate those fears, some damage control could, I think, be enacted. If Keith were to share his love for Tolkien - his favorite book, character, the mind-blowing awesomeness of Middle-Earth - and maybe mention a few fanfics ("I really think So-and-so did a great job of portraying Boromir as a fallen hero in this story") I think it may be possible to win back some of the users who're on the fence about this change. Rather than having the site run by an 'evil corporate overlord', it would seem like Keith was just one of us, which would enable us and him to work together a lot better.
- Barazinbar on Jun 30 2011 04:52 pm
Thank you, Rhapsody, for your comments. Well said, as always.

Mr. Mander, you seem to be puzzled why people are responding the way they are. As if we should just be thrilled you are going to spiffy up the place and give us cool new features. I don’t think you understand that the core of the Tolkien fanfiction community are not teenagers impressed by neat graphics, but highly educated and intelligent people with a deep love for their fandom and who want honest answers rather than avoidance and diversions with promises of cool nifty stuff. Avoidance isn’t winning you any favors; it’s already cost you a good number of highly respected Tolkien authors. Instead of continuing to talk about what you plan to do and acting all hurt that people aren’t more excited about it, deal with the concerns that have been presented and be honest about it. What you’re saying here and what you’ve said in interviews ( and at your blog ( are two very different things. You’re not here for the love of Tolkien; you’re here to make money off our hard work and you expect us to be thrilled about it?

- on Jun 30 2011 07:11 pm
I think the underlying problem here is that many authors are well-versed in Tolkien's mythology. For many of us, we equate Adora to Celebrimbor, and Keith to Annatar.

With no evidence that Keith is also a member of our fandom, it is difficult for the Elronds and Gil-Galads to continue on. These new features are magic rings to us, and we are rightly wary of such things.

Share with us, then, Keith, as Barazinbar has requested previously, who is your favorite character? Which is your favorite book? Your favorite fanfiction within this fandom so far (titles and names would be appreciated, of course)? And I will further that by asking whether you prefer the movies to the books, what your thoughts are on the upcoming Hobbit movie, what experiences you have had thus far within this fandom, your introduction to Middle-earth, who you think you are most like of the nine members of the fellowship, and the most important of all questions -- Balrogs, wings or no wings?

And yes, I am serious in asking these questions. As someone who also runs an archive of LOTR fan fiction, as well as an archive of fan art(and before you ask -- sorry, they are not for sale), my curiosity abounds at the answers you have. If you wish to be open and honest with us as stated earlier, I would hope you'd be inclined to answer these. If you truly want to be accepted into this fandom, 'deeply care about' this community (or, as we prefer, fellowship), and plan to 'actively engage and partake', such dialogue will be expected of you.

No rush. I have several hundred chapters to transfer while I wait...

- Zhie on Jun 30 2011 09:52 pm