I'm not on a quest or anything here, trying to bring the crème de la crème of fanfiction to the masses. I just started making myself a list of bookmarks for stories I've liked over the years, along with some notes to myself about why, and realized that I was creating... a recs page. So I figured I may as well make it public.
Given that, what you'll find here are stories that appeal strongly to me for one reason or another. Usually that means very clean, competent writing -- but not always. Usually that means a happy(ish) ending -- but not always. Usually that means slash, or maybe buddy-type gen -- but not always. Usually that means characterizations that are solidly tied to the canonical characters -- but not always.
Am I going to rec every good story out there? No. Although I'm reading more fanfic these days than I have in years, it's still not a lot, by any means. There are a lot of good stories I miss, even in the small handful of fandoms where I'm reading extensively by my own standards. There are also good stories that just don't appeal to me for whatever reason, or that don't spur me to want to push the URL at someone and say "you gotta read this!". I also try to avoid reccing the same author a billion times -- once I've recced someone several times, it's safe to assume I think all their work is worth reading.
Once a fandom has 10 or more recs, I give it its own page to keep things a little more manageable.
I'll read in a pretty wide range of fandoms that I'm familiar with, but I don't read fanfic for source I don't know/like -- I'm not someone who follows authors wherever they go. I also won't read RPF.
I will not read domestic discipline under any circumstances.
I'm unlikely to rec mpreg, heavy BDSM, torturefic (torture for the sake of torture), kidfic (whether 'oh my goodness, this business of raising a child is so rewarding!' or 'oh my goodness, I woke up today as a seven-year-old, now what?'), chan, curtainfic, MarySues (which does not mean "any OFC"), or stories where supposedly adult characters are so awash in adolescent angst and woe that they self-cut or whatever the newest trendy teenage-girl-drama thing is.
Humor can get me to break almost any of those general guidelines, barring RPF and domestic discipline.
I try to add a secondary link in addition to the main link for stories I rec, if I can find another source for them (e.g., a personal webpage and an archive). I don't always remember to look, and there isn't always another source in any case, so this will be sorta hit-or-miss.
One major exception to the dual links is Yuletide stories -- I generally make my list of recs before the author names go live, and only have the one URL for them. But the archive seems pretty stable, and if an author has a webpage, she can include it in her user info there.
If you're an author recced here and you want me to change your link or add a secondary one, please just let me know.
I try not to link to Livejournal, honestly. Personal webpages and archives tend to be more stable in terms of story availability, so that's where I go whenever possible.
But more and more, some authors won't put their stories anywhere but thir own personal LJ or an LJ community, and sometimes I'll take the risk and link it. If the LJ vanishes, my apologies, and please tell me so I can remove the rec.
My deepest apologies if the link comes up 'you do not have permission to view this entry' -- I hate being sent to friends-locked pages, and the thought of doing that to someone else is appalling to me. I find it far more frustrating, annoying, and insulting to be told that I in particular don't deserve to read a given story than simply having the story vanish for everyone, and I am deeply sorry if I've inadvertantly done that to you. Again, please let me know, and I'll remove the rec as quickly as possible.
UPDATE Dec. 2007: Livejournal has instituted a new policy and process to OMG PROTECT THE CHILDRENZ FROM THE EBIL INTERNETZ!!1! This policy is, bluntly, pissing me the hell off; I find it invasive and insulting, and I refuse to participate in this endless creeping protectionism. *deletes rant that's irrelevant to this info page* Anyway. The upshot is, if an author has chosen to flag her journal or story as adult using LJ's new tools, I won't be reccing it, because I won't be reading it. I may also be going through my existing recs and noting which ones require you to sign an age statement for Livejournal (not the author, for Livejournal itself -- she'll never see it) before you'll be able to read the story.
I've tried to put word counts on everything. If the author gives a word count, I use that. If the story is on an archive that provides a word count, I use that. Otherwise, I use a nifty little Firefox extension that runs a word count on selected text on web pages.
As with fanfic, there are going to be a lot of really good vids that don't make it onto my recs page, simply because there's no possible way to watch everything that gets made. My primary access to vids and vidders is through Vividcon these days, so my recs will probably be slanted toward vidders whose vids show there.
This is going to include vids for live-action shows and movies for the most part, although there may be some AMVs (anime music videos) mixed in now and then.
I'm more likely to be engaged by (and thus rec) vids in fandoms I know at least slightly, because context really helps me. I'm also more likely to be partial to gen or slash vids.
I'm partial to emotion and storytelling in vids. It doesn't have to be a complicated story -- "omg, he's so cute, LOOK!" can be enough -- but I want a vid to tell me something about the show, or why the vidder loves it enough to spend the time making a vid for it.
For the story to work for me, the editing has to be skilled enough to convey it properly. There is a wide range of skill covered in "skilled enough", but I confess, the tighter the editing, the more it appeals to me. NOTE: "editing", not "effects". Effects are spiffy, and used well can push a vid to a new level, but generally speaking, clean cutting, a good sense of timing, use of internal motion, etc. matter more to me.
Once a fandom has 10 or more vid recs, I give it its own page to keep things a little more manageable.
On a technical note, I strongly advise using VLC as your media player for vids -- it's free, small, adware- and spyware-free, and comes with pretty much every codec you could ever need. (It's worth updating to the latest version once or twice a year, but most vids will play fine whether you do or not.)
Outside of conventions (and their DVDs), I'm not likely to randomly download/stream vids for source I don't know, and definitely not for source I don't like. Also, there is a big line in my head between the characters and the actors, and I don't cross that line. I don't watch RPVs.
I'm unlikely to rec single-episode vids, het vids, intergenerational-pairing vids, vids that are violent for the sake of being violent, vids that are literal for the sake of matching the lyrics, or vids that are all about showcasing the vidder's skillz and not so much about sharing a love of the source.
On a technical note, I'm not going to rec vids whose only online version is something like megaupload or sendspace. I know a lot of vidders prefer that, but the files expire too damn fast, and there's nothing worse than clicking a rec link to get hit with a "your download has expired" page.
I try to add a secondary link in addition to the main link for vids I rec, if I can find another source for them (e.g., a personal webpage and a streaming site such as Imeem). I don't always remember to look, and there isn't always another source in any case, so this will be sorta hit-or-miss.
If you're a vidder recced here and you want me to change your link or add a secondary one, please just let me know.
If the vids you download are too dark for you to be able to see properly (which is often the case, especially for vids on Windows systems), and you're using VLC, you can get around that.
* Pause the vid, and go to Settings, then choose Extended GUI. It'll pop up a new box at the bottom of the VLC window (and the vid may vanish - don't worry about that).
* Click the "Enable" button, and then slide the Gamma slider very slightly to the right.
* Hit Play, and see if the vid (which will start up again even if it vanished) is clearer; if not, slide the slider a little more to the right. Too much and the vid will look washed-out, so go in very small increments until you're comfortable with the picture.
If you've been watching vids on PCs without fixing the gamma, you're going to be stunned at how much more you can see just by changing that one thing.
This archive hosts a lot of really good vids, but it can be awkward to get to them -- the archive is using fic-archive software, which doesn't seem to translate very well to vids. Once you've registered (it's easy, and automated -- the only information you're required to give is your email address and a username that you choose), you can give it a shot yourself, or you can follow this walkthrough:
* Sign in, and choose a category from the top (vidders, fandoms, titles, search, etc.). Navigate through that category just as you would anywhere, until you get to a page that lists the vid you want to see.
* Click on the vid title. This will bring you to that vid's page, including all info and notes, if any. IGNORE the vid title at the top of the page -- clicking that will just reload your current page.
* Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
* At the bottom of the page, you'll see a format (e.g., Real Media, MPEG-1) listed -- click that. (If there's more than one format listed, click the one you prefer, obviously.)
* On the next page, right-click the text that says "Right Click to Download".
Once you have the vid, you'll have to unpack it -- they use RAR instead of ZIP. Many programs will unrar the file for you -- google a bit to find one you like.