Big Name Fan
|See also:||SMOF, Superfan, Hyperfan, A Taxonomy of Fans|
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A Big Name Fan (frequently abbreviated BNF) is, as the term suggests, a well-known fan, either in an individual fandom or in the fannish community as a whole. It was a part of the vocabulary that media fandom inherited when it split off from science fiction fandom.
This term was originally attached most often to well-respected members of fandom, particularly those who organized or worked on conventions, produced zines, wrote for zines (either fiction or non-fiction), created fanart, and acted as the liaison with professional writers. Online media fandom has its own criteria for what made a fan a BNF. 
In recent years, however, "BNF" has taken on a pejorative connotation, and is often used to describe fans over-impressed with their own prominence who may attempt to use their popularity for personal gain or to indulge their own unreasonable whims. It may be said that the accusatory aspect of BNFdom is meant to democratize fandom, to spread the wealth of recognition around by taking it away from those who have much of it, there by linking it to the tall poppy syndrome ; at present, there is no way to distinguish whether someone is being called a BNF in the purely descriptive sense or in the pejorative sense except by context. In effect, to be famous is to be vulnerable to the accusation of fame-whoring.
Once someone has gained BNF status, other fans' behavior toward and assumptions about them may change, as chronicled in Nobody Ever Admits They're a BNF by Hope, an essay posted to the Fanfic Symposium that pointed out, among other things:
- [...]Get used to keeping things to yourself. There are lots of things that other people have the freedom to say that you don't. If you love your show and say so, you're forcing the unhappy fans to like it or shut up. If you hate your show and say so, you're forcing the happy fans to hate it or shut up. Any opinion you might have is actually policy making: you are dictating unto the rest of the fandom how things will be.
- [...]You can neither add too many fellow BNFs to your friends list, nor remove too many non-BNFs from your friends list. If the former, you're part of a clique. If the latter, you're a bitch. [...] Also, you must friend everybody who friends you, or you're an inaccessible elitist.
- [...]Everybody knows that once you become a BNF, you have to drop all the friendships you've already made and make friends only with the other BNFs. Whether you have ever spoken to BNF Mary, you are now friends with BNF Mary. Even if you thoroughly dislike BNF Mary, and BNF Mary equally hates you- you are friends. Everything BNF Mary does, she does with your explicit approval, even if she eats babies' brains with spoons for lunch.
- [...]any business you choose not to conduct in the full view of fandom in an unlocked journal is being unfairly withheld from the fandom-at-large.
- Locking your journal because you don't want Aunt Marge reading your slash is also exclusionary. Using a pseud when your real name can be found online is exclusionary. Because you're a BNF, it's okay for other people to use your real name in public, and there's nothing wrong with other people re-posting your locked LiveJournal entries so the whole fandom can enjoy. You are public property.
It is unclear when the pejorative sense of BNF was born; ironically, by contrast, the science fiction fandom term Secret Masters of Fandom, which is roughly equivalent, began as a pejorative but moved in the opposite direction, and is now a neutral word.
See also Mina de Malfois for a fictional representation of a BNF.
Lack of consensusIt should be noted that there is no consensus as to what, exactly, a BNF is. A discussion post  shows just how much opinions vary on what a BNF is. A sample of the various opinions shared there of what a BNF is:
Another version of the neutral meaning of BNF is provided in Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun (Random House, 1988)
"To me personally, a BNF is an author in a fandom whose stories are almost universally praised."
"I'd say, really, someone should be considered a BNF if their name is familiar to people who aren't interested in the fandom."
"A BNF must be someone who is well known in their area of fandom: well known for doing something positive, not for committing plagiarism or getting into wankfests or fighting at conventions."
"I think of a BNF as being defined by influence, someone who's accumulated a lot of the social capital that fandom runs on.""BNF is more a personality type for me than anything to do with quality or popularity of fandom output."
"Monk Malone? He's a BNF. I thought everybody had heard -- oh, no, I guess you wouldn't. BNF stands for Big Name Fan. He goes to all the conventions, knows all the filksongs, contributes to a dozen fanzines. He's a household word."
- Nobody Ever Admits They're a BNF by Hope
- Women and Power (Meta on BNFs, Hate, and Anonymity) by Miriam Heddy
- Willis, Walter A. How to BNF Without Tears Originally in BEM #1, April 1954. (Accessed 25 October 2008)
- Minisinoo. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION and the "BNF" Phenomenon. Posted 16 February 2003. (Accessed 25 October 2008)
- Tall Poppy Syndrome on Wikipedia
- Nobody Ever Admits They're a BNF, by Hope, posted July 9, 2004. Accessed May 30, 2009.
- kettu. Big Name Fans in fandom_discuss. Posted 27 January 2008. (Accessed 25 October 2008)