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 29/06/11 - 02:35 pm 60 Comments

Never mind, re the missing reviews; the reason for them going makes sense now. The rest of my comment stands, however.
- on 02/07/11 - 09:41 am
I have been a moderator with this site for over four years, dedicating quite a bit of time off and on to seeing that authors abided by the posted policies and terms of use and assisting authors as I could. Over the course of the last three days, nothing said (indeed Mr. Mander has been rather negligent in addressing all the concerns brought to the fore) has in any way reassured me, in fact, he has yet to say so much as ‘boo’ to me despite comments left here and at his blog. Therefore, I have decided I have no desire to continue in my role as moderator at this site, nor do I wish my name associated with this site, not even as a member.

Farewell to those who are sticking it out. Hope to see you at other places around fandom. .

- on 03/07/11 - 02:50 am
Hi Keith,

I will admit that I am curious who your favourite lord from Gondolin is. Zhie, for me it is either Ecthelion or Maeglin ;)

Anyway, I do have some more questions/observations:

In previous comments you said...
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.


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.

I was at that forum the other day, the link given to the old forum is a death one, but the few posts you made there do not reflect this, I'm afraid to say. I didn't see elaborate threads on how folks eagerly discuss the changes to come, their input and what they like to see. For transparency sake, can you make this available? I think for those who still stick around, it would be a good idea what your common approach towards fans is. I would be however very cautious to implement anything the Twilight fans want here, simply because that particular fandom is brand new and crispy fresh compared to what you will find here - or what will be left of it at this rate. Here you deal with seasoned writers who can give you amazingly thought out input as long if you are willing to truly listen. You have answered a few things, but about much there is still quite some unrest. Your interviews in the past in how you see sites like this don’t bode well to be utterly honest.

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.

I am sorry to say this, but this all boils down to asking the right questions. Yes this is a true profession and art, but formulating questionnaires and follow through on them thoroughly is not too hard. I do know this from years of experience. This manner of reasoning, no I am not buying that at all. Sorry, as I mentioned above...especially considering that this community is on the opposite of the spectrum from Twilight fans.

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.

Will an apology towards the mods be forthcoming?

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.

Oi, fey! I nearly banged my head against the table here. Such a statement clearly shows how utterly na´ve you are. Do yourself a favour for starters do educate yourself with this Lord of the Rings domain fight enters realms of fantasy or this Tolkien Estate Lawsuits or this. The fact that the past 7-years this site has never ever received a form of communication relies on the fact that a) there have never been copyrighted maps here and b) the site owners and mods have never stated that they wanted to generate revenue or as you write on your blog (and have clearly stated in interviews in the past, that you would even sell the sites you rejuvenated): "The longer term thought is that with the combined user base, I’ll be able to quickly enter and dominate new fandoms, hopefully creating some returns." So you really think that your business won't be contacted, think again, the Estate sues for less, like Tolkien Estate Strikes Again: Forces Summer Camp To Change Name.

Adora, I think you honestly should have discussed this prior with the mods. If you say that they probably would have not wanted this, then deep down you also know that this would not go well with your member base. Besides that, you say that over the past months you came to know Keith well and we can only take your word on that. You had months to get to know him, but you can't shove this down the throats of others in a mere matter of days.

Best of luck with all of this.
- Rhapsody on 03/07/11 - 07:51 pm
Right now, the number 1 point of your TOS is this:

1.) This site is for personal, nonprofit use only. You will not attempt to reproduce, exploit, sell or otherwise infringe on the written words and identities of other members.

If you change the TOS, as you will have to when you try to exploit and sell the written words of the members here, I hope you will make every user of this archive sign that they agree that their works will generate revenue from now on, as the TOS they agreed to when they signed up states that exactly this will not happen.
- Esteliel on 03/07/11 - 09:15 pm

I’ve taken time to read all the comments here and elsewhere and would like to respond to respond to everyone. Whilst you may disagree in what I believe, I hope that you will appreciate that I’m not choosing to ignore or censor peoples thoughts. I try to communicate with you respectfully and I ask you kindly you to do the same. Criticise you may, but profanity-filled vulgar personal messages are not welcomed.

I’m unhappy knowing that the change of ownership has upset some people. Adora and I have been discussing the reaction non-stop for days and we are reacting. We’ve just recently posted an update on the site which outlines that we’re open to changing the structure of the site ownership and management, depending largely on what the users want.

I want to address some comments here that have not yet been responded to (some of these responses are also reposted on my blog and on OTW's post).

@Esteliel/Lisse/ziggy: My previous messages alluded to the belief that the N-17 policy would not change in the immediate future and that you, the users, would be consulted should a change be suggested. I'd like to clarify this by sharing my outlook on the issue. Could this therefore mean a change in the future if not now? It could, yes, BUT only if you, the users, desire to see any change. As far as I’m concerned on the matter, my opinion is mute and I’m not going to impose my ethics on the policies. I would like to have an open discussion on this and make a collective agreement. It's now up to Adora to tackle this.

@Farawein: Challenges and the features you mention are all items that could be potentially discussed in the future. I would like to improve the archives features, but for LOTR, this is now all on hold - you can read about that in our latest announcement - we've halted plans and re-evaluating the management of the site.

@?: I’m really quite a decent, likeable guy. I can see how some of my language, with buzzwords and money-orientated talk might paint a picture of me as a corporate tycoon relentlessly pursuing profit. It’s really just the language of the community I engage with at times. The language and buzzwords in fan fiction is also quite impregnable to the newcomer (slash, canon, and other words had me a bit thrown to begin with). I'm not a corporate big wig. Yes, I do operate a corporation, it's financially and legally prudent to do so. But there are no employees, there is no office, and there certainly isn't a yacht. I run a few websites which are pretty great, they eat up quite a lot of my time and I'd still like to eat. I am not rich. The business accounts are on public record.

@Rhapsody: Here's a screenshot from a hidden part of the Twilight Archives forum where we've been discussing the new site. I've also been discussing ideas with the former owner and high-profile members over email. I increasingly appreciate that the two sites are a world apart, but I'm sure there is some common ground work with the features that support sharing and reading stories. I'm sure you're right about asking the right questions. Words are tricky things after all.

@wider group of questions:

The belief in the addition of advertising to the site is a little presumptuous, although I can perfectly see how you'd arrive at this assertion. There are no ads on the site at present and there are no plans to add them either. I'm working on improving Twilight Archives, the users want it, and are engaged in providing feedback and working with me.

I have bought some sites, improved them and indeed generated some money from them. They also happen to be much better sites as a result and I've received accolade for these efforts. I've also seen this reflected in objective data too (more visitors, who stay longer, visit more pages and come back more often). I'm sure I didn't please everyone, but objective and anecdotal evidence suggests most users are happy. Adora contacted the prior owners of these other sites, a part of her due diligence on me - she found 100% of them to remark positively about the changes made to their sites.

You may see contradiction in my language as to my motives for what I do. I'm proud of the improvements I've made to my other sites and feel grateful that I'm able to afford the ability to dedicate a substantial amount of my time towards that cause. It's only possible because these sites generate a modest wage that have allowed me to eat and survive. It's important to understand the difference between surplus revenue being used to create a nominal wage versus how 'profit' is being portrayed in this evil corporate sense. As I talked about in interviews and on my blog, I do seek out sites created out of passion, truth be told there's just more that I can do with these sites; more improvements to be made and so my time and effort is more leveraged (ie. more comes out of it). There's more opportunity to make some money from these sites so that I can survive. I agree that theres limited money to be made, if any at all. I'm a very bad 'evil corporate evil mastermind' (as has been portrayed) to believe otherwise. To be frank: I did think I could create a kick-ass archive that people loved to use, could grow, and that might somehow provide me the means to survive (collectively with other sites I operate).

My understanding from Adora is that the site only ever received a few donations. It was a loss-making website for Adora. Users typically expect everything to be free on the internet and sometimes think they are. I've spoken to many people over the years who are amazed that Google and Facebook (companies I know very well) makes any money at all (let alone billions) or that they employ thousands of employees - the reality is that these services are not free - you pay by seeing ads. As OTW points out, Livejournal and Dreamwidth (services oft utilised by those involved in fandoms) are businesses. I wonder if you've ever read something on LiveJournal or viewed a video on YouTube (where content was contributed by users sharing their hard work and not seeking a profit) and thought that it was pretty cool that these for-profit services existed?

I'm confident that my income is substantially less than those who run LiveJournal, YouTube, and numerous others. These companies make money (through advertising or charging for the provision of said services) and use it to provide an excellent service to their users and allow its creators to do so.

I'm trying to be very honest and open. I'm engaging with everyone that I can. I know I've made mistakes in how I've handled things, my approach and how I've communicated - I'm making changes and I want to be a positive force. I'm willing to admit those mistakes. I will also stand my ground and oppose any overtly personal/ insulting messages, because that's just not cool.

On a final note, I've spotted a lot of people are calling me Mr. Mander. I've found it very quirky indeed. I'm pretty young and a quite a likeable, humble guy with many close friends (corporate evil mastermind, I think not), so let's drop the title please!

That’s a response to everybody for now. Feel free to continue this discussion here or elsewhere and I will respond when I can. If you'd like any clarification on anything I've said, please do ask.

- root on 04/07/11 - 03:31 am
Wow. I took a three month hiatus and came back to this.
I'm scared now.
I hope you, Mr. Mander, truly recognize that the passion you see coming forth from these comments will not abate any time soon. To the fanfiction writer, our fics are our children. Our bite is just as strong as our bite, and we end many of our conversations with 'happy hunting'. Please, make it your mission to put us first. Above profits, above prestige, above everything else.
- Whisper on 05/07/11 - 09:43 am
If it ain't broke; don't fix it! I am relitively new and have been over joyed with the responce to my writing. Now to discover that the site might violate (by making money) copywrite law really troubles me. I get nothing but kind words for my efforts and that is more than enough. I have no problem donating to keep a site alive. I do not think this archive needs updating with bells and whistles. If you want to do that, start your own site. My only regret is that I cannot take it over...and keep it just like it is! The warm a friendly, supporive outlet for my creativity!
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