The Three Laws of Fandom
If you wish to take part in any fandom, you need to accept and respect these three laws.
If you aren’t able to do that, then you need to realise that your actions are making fandom unsafe for creators. That you are stifling creativity.
Like vaccination, fandom only works if everyone respects these rules. Creators need to be free to make their fanart, fanfics and all other content without fear of being harassed or concern-trolled for their creative choices, no matter whether you happen to like that content or not.
The First Law of Fandom
Don’t Like; Don’t Read (DL;DR)
It is up to you what you see online. It is not anyone else’s place to tell you what you should or should not consume in terms of content; it is not up to anyone else to police the internet so that you do not see things you do not like. At the same time, it is not up to YOU to police fandom to protect yourself or anyone else, real or hypothetical.
There are tools out there to help protect you if you have triggers or squicks. Learn to use them, and to take care of your own mental health. If you are consuming fan-made content and you find that you are disliking it - STOP.
The Second Law of Fandom
Your Kink Is Not My Kink (YKINMK)
Simply put, this means that everyone likes different things. It’s not up to you to determine what creators are allowed to create. It’s not up to you to police fandom.
If you don’t like something, you can post meta about it or create contrarian content yourself, seek to convert other fans to your way of thinking.
But you have no right to say to any creator “I do not like this, therefore you should not create it. Nobody should like this. It should not exist.”
It’s not up to you to decide what other people are allowed to like or not like, to create or not to create. That’s censorship. Don’t do it.
The Third Law of Fandom
Ship And Let Ship (SALS)
Much (though not all) fandom is about shipping. There are as many possible ships as there are fans, maybe more. You may have an OTP (One True Pairing), you may have a NOTP, that pairing that makes you want to barf at the very thought of its existence.
It’s not up to you to police ships or to determine what other people are allowed to ship. Just because you find that one particular ship problematic or disgusting, does not mean that other people are not allowed to explore its possibilities in their fanworks.
You are free to create contrarian content, to write meta about why a particular ship is repulsive, to discuss it endlessly on your private blog with like-minded persons.
It is not appropriate to harass creators about their ships, it is not appropriate to demand they do not create any more fanworks about those ships, or that they create fanwork only in a manner that you deem appropriate.
These three laws add up to the following:
You are not paying for fanworks content, and you have no rights to it other than to choose to consume it, or not consume it. If you do choose to consume it, do not then attack the creator if it wasn’t to your taste. That’s the height of bad manners.
Be courteous in fandom. It makes the whole experience better for all of us.
The only real push-back I've seen to these is from people who want to play fandom police; they want to feel free to confront "bullies" and point out how your ship or kink is "unhealthy", "dysfunctional", and that most hallowed of buzzwords "problematic." Yanno what? We know. We KNOW that what we groove on is sometimes less than wholesome. That's why there are tags and warnings. It certainly doesn't mean endorsement of the behavior in real life. I play an evil mobster-type in my husband's D&D campaign. That character has done some truly heinous things. I CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE THINGS AND REALITY. It is not romanticizing bad behavior. Nor would I bring some of the things my id enjoys into the real world. And I would never...NEVER...shame someone for something they write in fiction. Or even draw.
Fiction can be a reflection of reality, but it in no way should be impinged by it. Censorship is a horrible crime upon creativity, and we NEED creativity in every facet of human existence.
Wow, okay, that got a little deeper than I meant it to! Anywho, these Three Rules are pretty awesome, in my book. With a sort of unspoken #4: The Golden Rule. Do unto others etc. etc. :)