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FAQ: For Newbies

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This article was largely written by Sedri, though the idea was Neshomeh's, and some answers have been paraphrased from other Board members. It is meant to be read in conjunction with FAQ: The Board, the Guide to the PPC and the Mission Writing Guide, since they answer many similar questions in much more detail. These are more miscellaneous issues.

On Joining Edit

How do I, er, join? Edit

It's easy! Just make a post introducing yourself on the PPC Posting Board and receive the warm welcome of your fellows, and boom, you've officially joined the PPC.

Note, however, that you are not becoming an agent when you join the PPC. Agents are fictional characters who live in HQ and go on missions. You are a real person who lives in a house or dorm or something, hangs out in an online community, and may (or may not!) write stories about said missions. There is at least one whole world of difference.

What's the deal with this Board? How do I post on it? Edit

Main article: FAQ: The Board

It's easy! You don't have to create an account or log in to use the Board, and in fact, we advise you not to try. The YourWebApps account creation and login processes can be temperamental, and there aren't any particular benefits to going through them that we know of.

To start a new topic, simply click the "Post Message" button at the top of the Board, fill your user name in the Author space, put a post title in the Subject space, and type your message in the big Message space. You don't have to fill in the Email space, but you can if you'd like to receive notices when people reply to that particular post.

Remember to click "Preview Message" and make sure everything looks the way you want it before you hit "Post Message" or "Post Reply" in the composition screen, especially if you're using HTML formatting such as <i>italics</i> or <b>bold</b> text. Unclosed HTML tags can really mess up a thread.

For more information about the Board and some of our customs and etiquette, please see the main article.

Okay, got it. But I don't know what to say! Edit

It's easy! ... Well, okay, this is a little more complicated. But the concept is simple: we want to know who you are, so your introduction should tell us a little bit about yourself. If you need suggestions, here are some questions that Boarders commonly ask newbies when welcoming them:

You may also wish to share information such as your gender/preferred pronouns, what you are studying/have studied/will study in school, what country you live in, and your native language if non-English. None of this is at all mandatory — and definitely don't reveal private information such as your real name or exact location — but we're a pretty broad group, and we're keen to know how broad. Diversity is fun!

Permission Edit

Main article: Permission

The best place for information about permission to PPC is its own article, which you should definitely read, but it's okay to start here.

I'm really excited about PPCing! Should I ask for permission right now? Edit

If you just introduced yourself, say within a couple of weeks or so, the answer is definitely no. Sorry, but the Permission Givers are not likely to grant permission to someone they just met or don't recognize. We want to get to know you first, so it helps if you've been around long enough to have an appreciable presence in the community. How long that takes varies from person to person, but a longer period is generally better than a shorter one.

However, there's no one magical time period. Whenever you feel integrated, comfortable, and confident, go right ahead! Part of this should be that you are confident in your level of understanding of the PPC; to help you assess this, the Permission Self-Check has been created.

What sort of writing sample should I give when asking permission? Edit

Whatever you think is the best example of your work. Usually, it’s a piece of fanfiction, but some people submit short stories about their potential agents, or entirely original work.

We don’t suggest offering scripts or that sort of thing, as there’s no narrative, flow, or pacing, and the formatting differs. Other writing samples that have tended not to work so well (apart from badly written ones) are ones that focus on really heavy, dark, or grim subjects. Heavy, dark, and grim are all right for their own sakes, but they're miles from the tone of the original PPC, so it's probably not a good idea to show us that when you're asking for permission to write lighthearted spoofs of bad fanfic.

Do I have to ask permission for every new thing I do? Edit

Certainly not. Permission is given once, after which you're pretty much free to write what you like, provided it doesn't actually contradict previous work or isn't horribly overblown and self-serving. There’s a reason why we’re so fussy about who gets permission, and if someone abuses it, we will say something, but generally speaking, don’t worry yourself.

I’m not clear on what exactly Permission Givers do around here. Are they in charge? Edit

No, this is a community, and nearly all decisions are made by all of us together, if indeed there’s ever a need for such things. The only power PGs have is to allow or deny newcomers permission to write their own missions.

That said, PGs are selected because they know the PPC well and are widely trusted. They tend to know what they’re talking about, so if they tell you that something is a bad idea, it usually is.

Where do I find a Permission Giver’s e-mail? Edit

Permission requests are typically made on the Board, if only because not all PGs are always available and they’d rather not have their inboxes filled with requests. If there’s something you want to discuss with them in private, you can ask them for their address, but please don’t write to get their help in solving an issue you have with another person – that’s not their job.

Can I post my agent bios on the wiki or request an RC before getting permission? Edit

Sorry, no. Permission is what allows you to add to our collective canon, and the wiki is part of that. You can request an RC along with permission when you put up your agent bios on the Board, but not before.

Can I claim a badfic if I don’t have permission yet? Edit

Yes, just don’t get ahead of yourself and claim too many. Lots of us have extremely long waiting lists, and many stories just don’t get done. Best rule of thumb is to only claim the ones that really motivate you.

Someone is telling me my mission needs work. What gives? I thought I had permission! Edit

You do. However, this is a community that criticises bad writing, so we have to be very careful not to become hypocrites.

Several Boarders admit to being hesitant to offer even constructive criticism to anyone but the newest of newbies, because there seems to be an underlying feeling that permission equals a "You Can Write Well!" diploma. It doesn’t, not always. Sometimes people get lazy, and if a person’s work isn’t quite up to scratch, we try to tactfully tell them as much. However, a lot of people are reluctant, because they don’t want to appear condescending or rude to their peers. This is a Problem, and it can only be solved by all members assuring each other that they are willing to listen to each other, just as we want badfic authors to listen to us. Remember, no one around here is trying to be mean. We just want to see good writing everywhere. That’s fair, right?

Divisions and Departments Edit

What’s the difference between a division and a department? Edit

Generally, departments are organised by the type of badfic (Sues, Bad Slash, et cetera), while divisions usually deal with particular fandoms within a department, or more specific sub-sections (for instance, MPreg is a division of Bad Slash).

Is there a department for OOCness? Edit

Despite the strange array of departments that do exist, no. Being out of character is more of a charge than a mission type, though there are some missions that truly have no other major charge; those are usually routed to whichever available agent knows the fandom best, regardless of department.

Can I join X department? Edit

You can't, seeing as the bit of the PPC that has departments is fictional, but your agent(s) probably can once you get permission.

Mission Procedures and Technology Edit

Do disguise generators just project an image of the disguise over the agent, or do they actually change the agent’s physiology? Edit

The latter. Remember that when Jay and Acacia were Ents, they were shot with arrows and were perfectly fine until the disguises were dropped. Then it hurt. However, the agent’s mind will remain unaffected by their new body, the urge to role-play aside.

About neuralyzers – they require eye contact, right? What if the character doesn’t have eyes? Edit

You’ll probably have to take them to FicPsych and hope they don’t attack you along the way. Or you could just knock them out. Whatever works.

Okay, but what if they canonically never forget anything? Edit

Since the neuralyzer forcibly rearranges their memory, how their brain normally works doesn't really matter – even someone with an eidetic memory can be neuralyzed.

Also, keep in mind that the neuralyzer may not even be necessary in all cases. Once enough uncanon is removed from the world, the canon will snap back into place. Are those memories of a Mary Sue and weird people in black canon? We don't think so. Unless they're particularly traumatic or otherwise reality-warping in and of themselves, they'll be wiped clean by the force of canon.

What’s the difference between a Character Analysis Device and a Canon Analysis Device? Edit

A Canon Analysis Device measures how out-of-character a canon character is, while a Character Analysis Device takes similar readings for an original character, such as a Mary Sue. There are combined versions around, but they're not too common.

I’m not sure I quite understand about reading Words while in the fic. What do they look like? Edit

It seems to be different for everyone. Some agents have described the Words as plain, white, and blocky, while others report sparkly pink cursive writing. In any case, it’s simply a way for the agents to read the written text while witnessing the events they cause at the same time. If it makes you more comfortable, your agents can take a printed version of the fic into the mission with them, and read from there instead.

PPC technology seems to break down a lot. Are you sure it’s safe? Edit

As safe as trying to forcibly separate a Twu Wuv bad slash pairing. To be honest? Mostly. But remember that hundreds (or thousands… or millions…) of agents use portal generators, remote activators, disguise generators, and CADs every day, and we’re still here. Yes, when PPC technology breaks, it tends to do so rather spectacularly, either melting or exploding, but this is for sake of comedy. We like comedy. It’s not meant to be lethal.

I’ve got a great idea about how to kill a Sue! But I need to take her to Fandom X, and she’s from Fandom Y. Can I? Edit

Generally, Sues are disposed of within the Word World of the fic, but exceptions are made for sake of poetic justice, irony, and humour. Agents generally try for all of those anyway, but keep to the world you’re in if you can.

Is there a standard procedure for exorcisms? The ones I’ve read are all a bit different, and not everyone reads out charge lists. Edit

In the words of Trojie, a veteran of Bad Slash missions: “It’s pretty flexible. As far as I know the only essentials are a canon source and invoking the name of the canon author in the shouting part. Feel free to do whatever you like – it’s kind of a case of startling/jarring the author-wraith out of the canon character, so shouting and a certain amount of blunt-instrument trauma tends to work well. We just include charges in the exorcism because it kind of makes the whole thing a bit more interesting and gives us a proper reason to collect charges in the first place.”

For more information, see the Exorcism article and the Slash-Sporking Guide.

What do we do if a canon character is killed in the story? Edit

Assuming said character isn’t meant to die, then if it happens in the background, your agent can just take a detour from the main events and save them. If you have to let them die due to lack of charges, get the body to Medical. Canons can be resurrected if necessary, but it’s best to avoid that if possible. The act of the canon snapping back into place once the Sue/wraith is gone may also fix the problem.

If a character is hurt but healed by the Sue, is that also undone when she’s killed? Edit

Well, if the Sue uses proper methods to treat them (not Silver Tears or some other tripe), then it should be fine – after all, they’re usually unfairly good at things. If she uses some absurd magic or a toothpick and orange juice… you could play it either way. There are no firm rules about what canon fixes when the Sue is gone.

What if the Sue has kids, or is pregnant? Or MPreg babies? Do I have to kill them? Or, if they die in the fic, do I have to save them? Edit

Child-killing is a fairly ugly business, which is why we have the PPC Nursery; all rescued younglings can go there. If a character is pregnant and you have reservations about killing the baby, you can use the Embryo Extraction Kit, or just wait until they give birth and then snatch the kid then. On the other hand, if they die in the story, or if you’re not bothered by the issue, go ahead and treat them like any other bit character. Not everyone has to be rescued: they may simply assimilate back into the canon if they aren't offensive.

Characters can be recruited, right? Does that mean I can save a character who died in canon and bring them to work in the PPC? Edit

No. Not major characters. You could recruit dead minor characters if you justify it, and of course, any original characters can be saved if you want, but remember just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. Not every potential recruit would be able to function in the PPC – some of them would just have a brain meltdown.

Also, it’s pretty standard form for any recruited character to be renamed, both to avoid confusion and for sake of their dignity. Please do so.

My agents can pinch souvenirs while on missions, can’t they? Edit

Little bits and bobs no one will miss? Yes. Stealing huge or significant items? No.

Also acceptable are clones of significant items and Sue-artifacts, such as Extra Rings of Power.

OFUs and Minis Edit

How do I go about creating an Official Fanfiction University? Does permission cover that? Edit

No, because although we are closely affiliated with the OFUs, they are not part of the PPC organisation. In years past, one would ask Miss Cam for permission to do a spin-off, but she’s no longer involved, so generally, one can just start at will. However, it’s good to check and see if an OFU already exists for your chosen fandom. You must also credit Miss Cam for the original idea of OFUs.

Can I write two OFUs at once? Edit

Yes, technically, but we don’t recommend it. A huge number of OFUs are never finished due to lack of time or energy, and that’s with just one. Don’t write two unless you’re sure you can handle it.

Can I start an OFU if one has already been made for that fandom? Edit

It would be rather rude. The rule generally is that only one OFU is allowed per fandom. However, you could always ask the author if you could contribute, or – if it’s been abandoned – if you could continue it for them, but again, you must ask.

Aww, minis are cute! I want one! How do I go about adopting one? Edit

Well, if a Boarder has put up a list of ones they’ve found recently, you can simply ask then and there. If there aren’t any around at the moment, go to the List of Everything PPC and scroll down to the links concerning minis, though I’m afraid some of those are broken. Generally, volunteers now keep tabs on different mini lists; Cassie, for instance, has taken over the list of mini-Balrogs from Miss Cam. There are also several lists on the wiki; just check the Mini page to see what kinds are linked.

Can I make up a new type of mini? Edit

Only if it’s not already listed for that fandom and you've actually written an OFU or mission in that continuum. Also, try to choose something unique – not dragons, for instance. Lots of continua have dragons.

If my mini is of a creature that’s venomous / spiky / super strong / made of fire, does that mean it could kill me? Edit

Not likely. Minis are mostly harmless. Their physical attributes are rather heavily watered-down versions of the original, which is why mini-Balrogs can still be cuddled (though some agents use fire-resistant gear to do so). Therefore, the mini of a poisonous creature would probably only be able to inflict a mildly painful sting.

Can minis talk? Edit

At least some species can, yes, but according to Meir Brin’s HFA, they have to take “extensive speaking courses,” and even then, their grammar and vocabulary are poor. Minis who haven’t been educated tend not to speak at all.

What if the misspelling is the name of a place, not a person? Edit

As long as it’s a name of some sort, it’ll create a mini of the same species as any other misspelling in that continuum – Arwenn and Modor would both be mini-Balrogs.

What if the misspelling is a name for something in Real World? Are there Real World minis? Edit

To date, there are no known Real World minis. Minis take their form from the fandom of the fic that they appear in. A lot of fandoms are set in the Real World anyway, but their minis are all specific to the canon storyline.

What’s a mini-Boarder? Edit

The result of misspelling someone’s name on the Board. Don’t worry, we take it in good humour. Everyone slips up sometimes.

Would a misprint in the canon produce a mini? Edit

Interesting question! We’re not sure. Why don’t you decide?

Miscellaneous Edit

Are Jay and Acacia still around? I’d love to talk to them. Edit

Unfortunately, both have retired, though we do hope they’ll drop in sometime to see how we’re doing.

What is this "Big Sib, Little Sib" thing? Are oldbies actually trying to adopt me? Edit

It’s a little method we use to try and be more welcoming to newbies. To steal a stolen summary that was stolen: “It's so new members can interact with some of the members who have been here a while and are able to ask questions and start to make new friends within the group. It's to seem more welcoming.”

We sometimes forget about it, to be honest, but if you’d like a Big Sibling, make a post and ask. More details can be found here.

I’ve got a story ready, but I need a beta. You guys are obviously good at this kind of thing – will you help me? Edit

Probably. Put up a notice on the Board and see what responses you get. This community isn’t exactly a free beta-reading service; we do favours for each other, yes, but generally our lives are busy and we stick to writing missions because that's what we love most. It's really up for grabs as to whether anyone around here has both the time and background knowledge to give you a hand, but we’ll try. It's more likely that someone will be interested in beta-reading a mission than a non-PPC fanfic. Take a look at our list of beta readers and send out some emails; it never hurts to ask.

Can I add a new page to the PPC wiki? Edit

Of course! We encourage everyone to edit and alter as much as they want, within reason. We don't generally like people making massive floods of edits outside established projects, and keep in mind that not everything is worth having its own article; link to other wikis if they’re more comprehensive. This place is just for PPC stuff.

When editing the wiki in general, please follow the established format for that page. If you don't know how, check the Editing Tutorial or ask for help on the Board or on someone's Talk Page. Some things, like adding infoboxes, are a little tricky. Also, some people find it much easier to edit in source mode than Wikia's shortcut mode, and there are established problems with the shortcuts anyway. You can switch to source mode temporarily using a toggle in the shortcut mode's toolbox, and permanently in your account preferences. Doing this also enables you to copy and paste pieces of other people's code if you see something you like, and you will very quickly learn to do it yourself. Source mode does have editing tips, which tell you how to do just about everything you'll need.

Finally, and this is important, please log in to make edits. It's incredibly disconcerting to some of us to see an unidentifiable stranger making changes to our wiki, and logging in is actually more secure for you, since your IP address will no longer show up.

I've found loads of badfics. I'm told there's a place to list them…? Edit

Yes, the Unclaimed Badfic page. You could also go there to look for a badfic to use in your next mission.

Keep in mind that not all badfic is good mission material, though. Some aren't long enough, some are too long; some don't have enough funny mistakes; and we aren't necessarily interested in all fandoms equally. Please only add badfic you think someone might have fun sporking.

I’ve been warned off Legendary Badfic several times already, and I only just got here! It can’t really be that bad, can it? Edit

Yes, it can.

There’s a reason we constantly warn against reading it. Some people think it's funny to link newbies to these stories just to see their reactions. Others seem to consider getting through it some sort of test of character. I repeat: Don't. Really, don't. No one's going to laugh at you for not wanting to risk it – in fact, we'd applaud you for resisting the temptation.

There’s a lot of crazy stuff around here. I don’t suppose there are any mad scientist types around HQ? Edit

Well, some people have done experiments on Mary Sues

Erm, a lot of the things the Flowers do seems… unethical. The safety regulations alone are terrible. Don’t our agents have rights? Edit

No.

Are all PPC writings missions or other wordy documents? Edit

No. There are various PPC games played in the form of Board role-plays, such as the PPC Boarder Shipfic Fest, All-HQ Water Fight, Fill the Plothole, birthday parties, Food fights, Fanfic Land, and many others. New games are welcome.


If you have other questions regarding any aspect of the PPC, please either look up the relevant articles here, or ask on the Board. If there’s anything you think belongs in this FAQ/Guide that isn’t here, mention it when you ask on the Board; we’re certain to have missed something.

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