Fan History Wiki
|Name:||Fan History Wiki|
|Dates:||May 2006-2 August 2011?  The site itself went completely offline sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.|
|URL:||Fan History Wiki |
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The wiki was founded in May 2006. It was closed to open public editing November 23, 2010. While the wiki is supposedly open for selective editing by approved editors, the last new page was created by by Laura Hale on 27 July 2011. The subject: netball in Denmark.
- Writers University left FanFiction.Net and the a history section went with it to a few different urls. In May 2006, because I wanted to expand on and consolidate the knowledge of fandom history that had been sitting around my hard drive, and because Wikipedia deleted the Diane Marchant article, the content I had moved to FanHistory.Com. The decision was made to use a wiki format because I wanted to get more people involved in telling the history of fandom because for a few years, the only person writing history inside media fandom telling the history of media fandom was me. So it began as a one person show. It has since expanded beyond that.
Her assertion that the wiki has moved beyond being a "one person show" appears to be contradicted by her June 2008 attempt to get venture capital for the wiki; in her description of the wiki on at least one of those sites, she calls it a "solo venture".
In 2007, Hale made it clear that she believed both herself and the wiki to be widely, almost universally, known in fandom:
- Because seriously, you'd have to be pretty... well, isolated in fandom not to have run across Fan History Wiki and my other fan fiction history type work.
Fan History spent much of 2008 and 2009 on reinventing its public image, removing the founder as the dominant figure from Fan History although Laura was still the owner of the wiki. Fan History presented itself as a site that was no longer a site that was just associated with Laura Hale, but its own brand with social network handles on AboutUs, Twitter, Facebook, and many other places. 
On November 13, 2009, there were 12 administrators of Fan History, all volunteers. Fan History also became one of the largest non-Wikipedia, non-modified MediaWiki install wikis on the internet.
Promotion and Recruitment
Hale and other wiki admins actively promoted the wiki in various fannish spaces, and actively recruited for it as well. These requests for help usually followed the same general format, such as this May 2008 post to a Breakfast Club community on LJ:
- Can anyone help edit the Breakfast Club article on Fan History? The article is pretty lacking in information and could use some one more familiar with the fandom to help fill in the details regarding what was happening and when in the fandom. Fan History is also trying to create a directory of Breakfast Club fans. So far, there are 86 articles. It would be nice to have those articles improved and to add new articles about members of the fandom. :) Any help in that section would be really very much appreciated. :)
Data scraping: Fanfiction.net & Livejournal Bots
To generate pages, in March 2008 Hale implemented a bot that scraped fanfiction.net profiles for basic (often badly outdated, incomplete, or incorrect) information, creating a new page for each profile. By April 23, 2008 the bot had boosted the wiki's page count from roughly 6,500 pages to 93,808. By late October 2008, the bot had boosted the page count to 484,784 -- or more than 475,000 scraped articles.
While some fans thought this bot was a good -- or at least neutral -- idea, others disagreed, believing that it would result in information overload that would make the wiki largely useless to anyone actually trying to use it to learn about fandom:
- Pages could exist (for example) for Dex, DexF, DexFarkin, and Dex (Fanfiction.net user) - because he's shown up on various websites as all of those - plus anything that might've ever come up under his real name. It takes a human eye to know those are all the same dude AND that he's the guy who runs Dexcon. A bot can't do that - and a bot that is making 1,000 entries a day cannot be kept up with by a very -very- small number of humans.
- I had become acquainted back on FCA-L with the fact that Hale is an incompetent historian, and there were things about her wiki that I had assumed were more of the same -- she can't distinguish information which is historically useful from information which isn't, for example, so she includes every possible fact -- and in the same way, she created a bot to make a stub on her wiki for anyone who's ever posted to fanfiction.net, even if they'd posted a single story and moved out of fandom entirely.
Without taking any time to allow the wiki editors to sort and clarify the massive inflow of unverified raw information from fanfiction.net, Hale moved on to create a second scraper bot, this time to capture data from individual fans' Livejournal profiles. Hale used several large communities as her starting point; the only way for members of those communities to avoid being scraped was to set their journals to be left out of search-engine indexes.
In January 2009, Hale instituted a new practice/service on the wiki: paid articles. This appears to be part of Hale's business plan. According to the blog post announcing it:
- These services include article writing about and for individual members of fandom, convention dealers and fandoms.
- The cost of an article ranges from $25 for a basic article about a member of fandom to $1,500 to write the history of a fandom and create all the relevant subarticles. 
According to the site's FAQ, individuals could pay to have an article written about themselves or someone else; many people can band together to pay for a fandom article. All paid-for articles will be open to future editing by wiki users. The FAQ goes on to give more background and detail:
- Why is Fan History offering these services?
- Fan History wants to continue to expand and to improve. We want to change our look, improve our content, continue to add analytic information, reward contributors, cover our hosting costs, be able to be represented at convention, pay our staff and more. In order to do that, we need to have a funding source as these goals require money.
- Who will write my paid article and will they be paid?
- Fan History has a few people who have volunteered to write paid articles. These individuals generally are professional authors. They have been published but don't earn enough from their writing to quit their day jobs. Some are are involved professionally with web related services. All Fan History's paid article writers are members of fandom and have been for a few years. These individuals are paid a to write the article about you as a means of quality control and to insure the timeliness of the article being completed. 
Perceptions about the Wiki
From the beginning, the wiki contained so much inaccurate information that at least one person eventually commented:
- Though I'm now wondering if some of the mistakes are deliberate attempts to forcibly encourage people to engage simply to fix things; some of the misinformation is so egregiously wrong that I really can't believe it occurred accidentally.
While this level of widespread inaccuracy frustrated many fans into staying away from the wiki, others believed that enough participation could solve the problem, and were instead frustrated by the people who refused to help:
- A side-note to that: I've seen a LOT of complaints about the existing Fan History Wiki. If you don't like that a page is empty or missing, FIX IT. I updated the Sakura Lemon Fan Fiction Archive page last night because it was largely empty. If any of you hadn't noticed, that archive no longer exists. I went through the trouble of using the Way Back Machine to find the archive again and run the stats I quoted myself. I wrote up the MediaMiner.org page. I'm working on trying to find info for other pages, including my own author page. I SUCK AT REMEMBERING NAMES AND DATES. If I don't have a time-stamped webpage to look at, I can't remember the exact date something happened or who said what. If I am capable of editing pages, anyone else is.
Hale's Treatment of Editors
In addition to the inaccuracies, Hale acquired a reputation for not allowing edits she didn't like, and for banning people who tried to change things on the wiki. In a conversation about this, Spirit Dog explained her experience to Hector Rashbaum:
- Spirit Dog: The big issue that got to me with fanhistorydotcom for a long time was how it felt like no one could edit it unless it was to list a bunch of vaguely but not really related LJ groups or fanlib links. ... The most important thing for a wiki is for it to be a wiki, a collaborative effort, and after my one experience trying to edit an article on fanhistorydotcom all it felt like to me was a personal project.
- Hector: This is such a pervasive perception about FH that even as a supporter I stopped bothering to argue it with people. I know I advised Laura at least once that if she wants to get rid of the ban-happy reputation she needed to lighten way the fuck up when it came to banning; I don't know that I ever said the same about content control, but I thought about it.
- Spirit Dog: About the editing thing.. for me its not as much a perception as what actually happened. LH asked me to edit the Warcraft page [...] I started editing, adding information [...] but in the middle of me doing that Laura decides that the page is her personal project for the day. So she startes to rapidly edit in a lot of LJ pages locking out the edits I had worked for hours and hours on but could not submit, and when I asked her about it, she ranted at me about how mean people are and that she had been accused of it being a one woman show. Since I had just lost a lot of work, that I didn't particularly want to do in the first place, I told her if she treated them how she treated me, they were exactly right. She blocked me on IM for a few months for that.
frito_kal, in X-Men fandom, also recounted being (temporarily) banned for making edits meant to clarify a page:
- I specifically got banned because I took a list of 12 seperate release dates for the X-Men movie and it's accompanying 12 IDENTICAL URL's to IMDB and turned it into 2 sentences.
- Oh, and I removed some shipper stuff and put it on the ship page.
Other wiki admins tried to work with users despite Hale's banhammer tactics:
- Please come back to Fanhistory. Even if you have major issues with how Laura has it structured right now (I'm not happy with the setup myself), *I* could use all the help I can get in maybe getting that thing more in shape, less wanky and more nicely organized. [...] Come back. You're not banned anymore, and I need the help. Because I really, really think that this wiki's a GOOD idea, no matter how much past wank the originator has attached to her. And maybe if we all chew on it enough, we can find a category method that doesn't hurt my brain.
But some fans were also having problems with Hale's unwillingness to listen to other people's suggestions or advice, making the wiki unappealing to new editors:
- I think the work required to get everyone back interested in it would be staggering - about 10-15 people saw what happened - not just to me, but watching Dex get rebuffed in his suggestions and a few others get told "you do it my way or else." and ran for the hills. 
Tellingly enough, the editor pleading for help soon left the wiki herself after running afoul of Hale's banhammer policies by trying to defend a new editor.
Fan History as a Business
In July 2008, in the midst of a controversy over an outing on the wiki, fans discovered that the wiki was not a fannish project, but a business venture, for which Hale was seeking venture capital.
Hale appears to have wanted to be open about her intention to sell the wiki, mainly by mentioning it on her wiki, particularly on the About page. When she tried to drum up interest in helping on the wiki, though, Hale stressed only the wiki's value to fandom, rather than its monetary potential or its value to outside businesses, and did not draw attention to the fact that the wiki was meant to be a business rather than a fannish labor of love.
But she did also occasionally mention publicly that she wanted to sell the wiki and/or its information, and that she was getting every penny possible out of the wiki, even using deceit:
- If you haven’t done ads before and you’re going to do them, be open and honest with your users to mitigate any PR damage your site may face. If you are making more than you need to operate, figure out some way to kick some back to the users in give aways or contests. And then, if you’re asked, tell your users that all the extra money is going into a savings account for the site to help cover costs in the long run. Say this even if it isn’t true. Fan sites run by fans take a lot of flack for making money compared to fansites run by corporations and that way, you cover your ass. 
But such mentions were easy to miss unless they were deliberately sought out, and the fact that Hale thought of the wiki not primarily as a fannish resource but as a "pretty comprehensive marketing tool" including contact lists that she could sell off had escaped many people. What some fans understood instead was that she was looking for ways to raise money to operate the site -- for instance, to cover bandwidth and hosting fees -- so that it could continue to be a fannish resource.
Some fans were fine with Hale's raising money for expenses, but drew the line at actually profiting once they discovered the truth:
- Not long ago, she had been looking into either moving her wiki, or selling it. Regardless, she wants to make money off it. The reason I didn't stop her, hell, even help her (I suggested the Project Wonderful ads to her.) was because I thought she only wanted to cover the cost of the site. Bandwidth, domain names. That sort of thing. I do know that the ads she runs don't come close at ALL to covering her site, let alone giving her a profit.[...]
- Between Metafandom, and Fandom Wank, I've read various links to various posts that she made, in her own words, from her own fingers, that her goal is to line her pockets. That is not cool to me.
Other fans had no problem with Hale intending to profit off the wiki, selling it for as much as she could (or, more recently, asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside investment):
- FanHistory is a business. Laura is an entrepreneur. Laura has been doing everything she can to get more page views and activity on FanHistory.[...]
- I don't care that Laura is trying to make money with FanHistory. In fact, I wish I'd thought of it first and had the start-up capital for it.
- Some of the objections to [site name redacted] don't bother me. I don't care if a bot picks up fan profiles from FFN. I don't care if a site turns a profit. I don't care if it's a bid for fame. If it has my goodwill, I will happily link to it, plug it, contribute to it, and promote it.
Hale eventually posted to explain why she felt she needed so much money:
- Fan History has gotten to the point where in order to grow and be more useful, and to address known shortcomings with the site technically, it needs to hire staff. The staff members that Fan History wants to hire include a backend developer, as well as two to three programmers to help with our programming needs, building extensions and automated improvements of articles. Fan History is also looking to hire a marketing person to help the wiki generate income to make it more self-sustaining. Lastly, Fan History is looking to hire a few community support personnel, similar to those employed by Wikia. These individuals would monitor recent changes to ensure rules are not being violated, help develop the community, serve as guides to help people learn the rules and become better contributors. Fan History is also looking to improve its server situation so we can acquire one of our own.
Some fans took issue with the idea of having to hire that much paid staff to run a fandom project, particularly a wiki, since wikis are generally mainly volunteer efforts:
- Most wikis are in general, community run, something like wikipedia, which is HUGE, might need more infrastructure, and the fannish one that OTW is planning might eventually need a set staff (probably unpaid, but we're fandom, that's what we do) because again, nature of the beast. But the idea of hiring staff is just-- odd to me, and the idea that the wiki has been around for that long and still lacks so much information in various places is just-- telling. I don't think there's more than one complete-ish fandom page in it.
Overall, the knowledge that the wiki was a business venture put the outing into an even uglier light for many people, who believed it had been done deliberately to generate controversy/wank, and thus page hits, to make the wiki more attractive to potential investors.
The Fan History wiki policy was that they occasionally connect someone's real and fannish name, if they felt that the link was obvious enough already, and in July 2009 Hale admitted doing this. Many fans feel that this is outing, akin to deliberately disclosing someone's sexual identity. This resulted in a much wider controversy, with many fans incensed at such behavior while others supported Hale and the wiki, on the basis that no one could expect true privacy on the internet. When people tried to remove the personal information from the Fan History wiki, Hale overruled them and returned it.. The Laura Hale page has more complete details.
Fan History wiki saw positive attention too. In 2009 this included links in other online publications, fueled in part by its Geocities preservation initiative, and Laura's white paper on the use of fan fiction as a possible indicator of Nielsen ratings.  Mentions were also made about Fan History wiki's success in attracting traffic by getting mentioned on Fandom Wank and taking advantage of hot news topics such as Michael Jackson's death.
In addition, Fan History wiki was occasionally linked to as a reference site. This includes links from blogs to the wiki's various terminology pages and even references in more mainstream publications such as Wired Magazine, Y!Pulse and Mashable.  In November, 2009, Blogcritics book reviewer, Jennifer Williams, linked to Fan History wiki's Russet Noon article as reference in her review of The National Lampoon's Twilight parody, titled Nightlight: A Parody. 
Fan History Discontinued Open Public Edits
Posted by Laura Hale to the wiki's main page:
- "As we were down to one active admin and real life issues interfered with our ability to continue to patrol, we’ve decided to lock down the wiki to editing. If you still wish to edit, please e-mail Laura at Fan History dot Com. Special access could possibly be given if you would like to really improve things. The wiki will continue to exists for historical reasons. 
Laura expanded on this post on the wiki's blog on November 23, 2010:
- "Fan History closed to editing: As we were down to one active admin and real life issues interfered with our ability to continue to patrol, we’ve decided to lock down the wiki to editing. If you still wish to edit, please e-mail Laura at Fan History dot Com. Special access could possibly be given if you would like to really improve things. The wiki will continue to exists for historical reasons.
- We would love for our interests to peak again and to open it again. If there are a few people who might like to admin, let me know. Maybe something can be worked out. If you are interested in having a mirror or taking control of it, or you might be interested in integrating it into a non-profit project, drop me a line.
- We’ve had a great run. We really appreciate all the work that contributors have provided. Fandom is seriously fantastic and we’ve all met interesting and awesome people as a result. We could not have created what we did with out you all. I can’t begin to express my gratitude. Thank you fandom for your help."
The Help:Contributing page on Fan History Wiki explains further:
- "...the admins still wanted to make it possible for people to contribute if they want to. This was done by creating a class of contributors called Writers. Writers cannot delete pages or do other administrative tasks but they can edit articles. If some one should find Fan History Wiki and think it has worth to continue working on, the administrators wanted to give them that opportunity."
Laura Hale's Twitters on November 23, 2010:
- "As soon as we can raise Jon or svip, we're going to do a lock down on all editing to Fan History. It's been an awesome ride." [missing the direct cite with this first one, though it was sent directly before the one below]
- "As Fan History editing is turned off, I feel like I should change my e-mail address. :/" , 1:11 AM Nov 23rd, 2010 via TweetDeck
- "No admin interest. We're not deleting, just locking from editing."  1:17 AM Nov 23rd, 2010 via TweetDeck in reply to lewiscollard
- "We've created a writer class. If you still want to contribute, e-mail @purplepopple and she can set you up."  1:32 AM Nov 23rd, 2010 via TweetDeck 
The Fan History Wiki in 2011
Laura Hale tried unsuccessfully to have the site join the Wikimedia Foundation (a non-profit umbrella organization that includes Wikipedia and related sites in its projects). However, she continues to use the site as a reference for evidence of her success and expertise. A few months later, Laura Hale publicly attacked Erik Moeller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, with whom she negotiated, as "sexist".
In 2011, all the wiki's new edits were by Laura Hale either in request to remove something from the wiki or additions of information about sports, specifically Netball.
The Fan History Wiki Disappears
Despite an earlier statement that "the wiki will continue to exists for historical reasons," , sometime in early 2013 the Fan History Wiki went completely offline. Its content appears to be only sparsely archived by the Wayback Machine. Archive.is has a few page screencaps here.
- Fan History's Blog
- Fan History wiki updates on InsaneJournal
- Fan History Wiki on Twitter - automatically tweets recent changes on the wiki
- Fandom news on LiveJournal
- Fanhistory Wiki entry on the Fandom Wank wiki
Notes and References
- The last edit was made on 2 August 2011, by Laura, for the Netball in Tonga page. See Special:Contributions/LauraH. (Accessed 22 April 2012)
- Main Page - Fan History Wiki
- Special:NewPages on Fan History Wiki. (Accessed 22 April 2012)
- Interview: Laura Hale of FanHistory.com, posted May 10, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
- Startup Pitch on startupalpha.com, June 10, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008
- Part of a comment in the OTW's "An Introduction to the Organization for Transformative Works" post. Comment posted on September 28, 2007. Accessed November 28, 2008.
- AboutUs Fan History page
- Fan History Wiki Twitter handle
- Fan History Group
- Fan History Wiki Facebook Fan Page
- Copy of the Proposal to Join WMF posted on the WMF mailing list November 18, 2009, accessed July 11, 2011
- Fan History is Breaking Wiki Size Barriers, 29 May 2009. (Accessed 14 November 2009)
- http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:Promote from Fan History Wiki Promote
- Breakfast Club fandom history, posted by partly_bouncy on May 6, 2008. Accessed December 1, 2008.
- Wiki Index writeup on Fan History, dated April 23, 2007, taken from the History section of the page. Accessed November 25, 2008.
- Wiki Index writeup on Fan History, dated October 23, 2007, taken from the History section of the page. Accessed November 25, 2008.
- frito_kal, in the comments to her post "fanhistory.com? Made of epic fail." Comment posted April 25, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- Vanzetti: current events, posted July 24, 2008. Accessed November 29, 2008.
- Nikki. Some Information About Fandom History's New Tool. 27 October 2008 (accessed 28 October 2008).
- Announcing paid article services for Fan History! on the Fan History blog, dated January 1, 2009. Accessed January 6, 2009.
- Fan History Services FAQ, on the Fan History site. Accessed January 6, 2009.
- TaVeryMate, posted on April 17, 2007 in a comment to a thread about the inaccurate information on the Fan History wiki. Accessed November 25, 2008.
- Lennoxmacbeth's "Women Like Silent Men", posted January 2, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- Spirit Dog and Hector Rashbaum discuss LH's controlling of edits on FHW, posted July 27, 2008. Accessed November 26, 2008.
- frito_kal, in the comments to his/her post "fanhistory.com? Made of epic fail." Comment posted January 3, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- slwatson, responding to frito_kal's post "fanhistory.com? Made of epic fail."; comment posted April 25, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- frito_kal, in a discussion about the wiki; comment posted April 25, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- slwatson, on why she left fanhistory; posted on May 28, 2008. Accessed December 31, 2008.
- Lucy. For linking purposes. Last updated 28 July 2008 (accessed 28 October 2008).
- partly_bouncy discusses selling the wiki to a marketing firm. Comment posted in response to "Obviously T'aint Working (OTW)", February 23, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- "Funding your fansite" on the fanhistory blog, dated July 11, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
- AnarchicQ: The fucked up fandom trifecta, posted July 24, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
- Lennoxmacbeth: FANDOM CAN GO TO HELL, posted July 23, 2008. Accessed November 29, 2008.
- Carlanime: OIC: THIS is why we can't all just get along., posted July 22, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
- A Statement from Fan History, posted July 28, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008.
- Amireal, commenting in response to Hale's post. Comment posted July 28, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008.
- Fanhistory's entry on the Fandom wank wiki (Accessed 30 October 2008)
- In the department of "it's about damn time" Posted July 22. 2008, accessed October 4, 2009
- Calling out Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale/Purplepopple/Partly_Bouncy ithiliana
- Sometimes a brain can come in quite handy by Dejana, posted July 21, 2008. Accessed October 4, 2009.
- fandomnews - Community Profile on Dreamwidth (Accessed 31 March 2010)
- fandomnews - Community Profile on LiveJournal (Accessed 31 March 2010)
- Asylum Information on InsaneJournal (Accessed 31 March 2010)
- Dandizette.net: An interview with Fan History (Accessed 28 September 2009)
- YPulse Essentials: Toys in Hollywoodland, Banned Book week, Urbanworld launches hip-hop app (Accessed 28 September 2009)
- Trending Topics: 5 Ways Companies Used News Trends for Business Success (Accessed 28 September 2009)
- For example someone linking to an explantion of hurt/comfort in an entry on the st_xi_kink community here. (Accessed on 28 September 2009)
- Wired: Scott Brown on Sherlock Holmes (Accessed 28 September 2009)
- Book Review: Nightlight: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon (Accessed 18 November 2009)
- AboutUs Spotlight Articles
- That information was added by a friend of Laura to her fan page on Fanlore.
- see Main Page
- from Fan History Wiki's blog, accessed November 28, 2010
- Help:Contributing, accessed November 29, 2010
- purplepopple on Twitter, accessed 1.4.2011 and 7.5.2011, and referenced here
- Copy of the Proposal to Join WMF posted on the WMF mailing list November 18, 2009, accessed July 11, 2011
- Proposal to the Australia Paralympic Committee
- gendergap list Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- Fan History Blog Retrieved 20011-07-10 and publicized by a March 18 Tweet from purplepopple.
- from Fan History Wiki's blog, accessed November 28, 2010
- The site was not accessible March 10, 2013; how long it has been gone is unclear. Screencaps on Archive.is show a typical Fanhistory page dated January 3, 2013, and a blank page on January 10, 2013.