Fan History Wiki

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Wiki
Name: Fan History Wiki
Owner/Maintainer: Laura Hale
Dates: May 2006 - September 2012
Topic: Fandom
URL: Fan History Wiki; main page via Wayback Archive
Twitter (last tweet: September 2, 2012)
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Contents

The Fan History Wiki was a general fandom site that was founded by Laura Hale and was "dedicated to documenting the history of fandom."[1].

The history of the site is a giant fandom wank, explained in intense detail below.


Brief Fan History Wiki Timeline

The wiki was founded in May 2006.

On August 8, 2006, Laura Hale wrote that there were about 2,590 articles on the wiki. [2]

On November 13, 2009, there were 12 administrators listed at Fan History, all volunteers. Fan History also had became one of the largest non-Wikipedia, non-modified MediaWiki install wikis on the internet.[3]

It was closed to open public editing November 23, 2010. While the wiki was supposedly open for selective editing by approved editors, the last new page was created by by Laura Hale on July 27, 2011. The subject: netball in Denmark.[4]

Despite Laura Hale's plans to have the wiki remain online, Fan History Wiki went completely offline sometime in early 2013, possibly January. While some pages are available on the Wayback Machine, most are blocked by robots. [5]

Background

Fan History Wiki was an outgrowth of Writers University.

In January 2001, Laura Hale and Writers University left fanfiction.net on bad terms, with Hale posting a long farewell letter to various ff.net forums detailing her reasons for leaving, including repeated mentions of the fact that she felt she had been lied to and that some of the people she'd been involved with had proved untrustworthy. [6]

She reopened Writers University at a new site where it resided until 2004.

In May 2005, Hale posted a timeline of fanfiction and wrote: "I'm currently working on putting together a history of fan fiction fanzine because I collect this information like mad." [7]

Around the same time in 2005, Hale was apparently still looking for a venue for the information and statistics she'd collected; at that time, she contributed to "Academic Kids," a wiki for children under the age of 12. Some of her contributions included "Slash Fiction" [8] and "Fan Fiction". [9]

In May 2006, using information copied from the discussions on the FCA-L mailing list via Writers University, as well as many of her own essays, Hale founded Fan History Wiki. [10]

In 2008, Hale explained some of the wiki's history and origin in an interview she gave at Fanboy.com:
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.[11]

Her assertion that the wiki had 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".[12]

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. [13]

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. [14][15][16][17]

In November 2009, 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.[18]

From Fan History Wiki's Entry on Itself

About: Fan History is a collaborative project like none other currently serving the fandom community. Its core function is as a wiki which allows members of fandom - men and women, young and old - to actively participate in documenting the history of their various fandoms, share current news which may impact their experiences, as well as creating an easily searchable web indice of related communities, projects, and activities. It gives members of fandom a chance to share current fandom news that may impact people’s experiences in fandom. Fan History users can also promote their own creative projects, and share opinions with fellow fans and alert them to scams and questionable practices encountered within fandom. By providing these resources, Fan History allows users to celebrate their activities, whichever corner of fandom they come from: anime, cartoons, comics, movies, politics, science fiction, sports, television, theater, and video games.

History: Fan History is an outgrowth of Writers University's history department. Writers University was founded back in 2000 on FanFiction.Net by Laura under the nome de pume Michela Ecks, moved off about six months later, spent several years at writersu.s5.com, on its own domain and otherwise in a state of flux. The site eventually folded, with some of content being moved to FanWorks.Org, a precursor to this wiki found on another site and in an unpublished fanzines. During this period, Laura's research into the history of fan fiction and fandom continued. Fan History on its old location was not inviting enough participation on the part of wider fandom, which was the reason for its move to mediawiki on its own domain in May 2006. In July 2007, Fan History partnered with FanWorksFinder to promote the other and continue to try to make accessible far flung parts of fandom. In March 2008, FanFictionNetBot was run in order to help Fan History meet the goal of becoming a fandom directory.

Objectives: Fan History defines fandom as as a community of fans whose activities involves some one else's intellectual property or real people. In broad terms, these communities are based off anime, actors/celebrities, books, cartoons, comics, movies, musicians, politicians, sports, and video games. It doesn't include fans of business or products you can touch because the communities aren't organized similarly or culturally related to most traditionally accepted fandom activity. Fan History's original objectives in writing of fandom history were to increase interest and to provide a more comprehensive secondary source for academics writing on the topic to turn to. Since that time, the mission, while still including those goals, has changed to include:

  • Provide members of fandom a resource to find links to communities in fandom, and explain parts of the culture in those communities to help them adapt to them.
  • Provide a comprehensive directory for fandom that anyone can edit. This is necessary because of increased fragmentation in a web 2.0 world, and as members of fandom transition away from various services because of downtime, problems with policy, etc. It is also necessary because a lot of time in fandom trying to track down authors and artists who disappeared and in trying to locate fanworks that have disappeared.
  • Provide companies that deal with fandom a source to locate fandom communities, understand how fandom functions, identify current issues in certain fandoms, give examples of how certain issues were dealt with, etc. By knowing that information, they can better interact with and cater to fandom's specific needs.

The Future: Fan History has big plans for the future and is slowly working to bring them to fruition. These include:

  • Making Fan History into the largest fandom directory on the internet.
  • Publishing materials on the history of fandom for distribution at conventions and for use in academic settings.
  • Becoming more of news site for fandom activity, providing updates on what fandom is up to.
Additional information: Additional information about Fan History can be found on Fan History's help pages, including our philosophy and the wiki rules. Fan History is in the process of looking for capital to help facilitate our growth. If you are interested in a copy of our business plan or our pitch, please contact Laura through LinkedIn or via e-mail at laura @ fanhistory.com. Seriously inquiries only please. [19]

Laura Hale Described the Wiki

In August 2006, Hale posted a request for help on the Star Wars group rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc. It was one of many targeted posts she made to fan groups.
Fan Fiction History Wiki... Originally, it was created after much deliberation, as a place to store information regarding the history of fan fiction that I had collected over the years. And I'd like more contributions to it because I know a lot of areas are sparsely detailed and under represented. I also have problems knowing some areas because I do not know know a lot of fandoms and I do not necessarily know what roles people played. Some word choices are my own like the preference of the word saffic. Some things I treat as fact but would require two pages of meta to explain, like how FanFiction.Net helped kill a certain degree of age discrimination in the fan fiction community. (It isn't quite that simple but it is one of the bigger contributing reasons.) Some of the articles are also terribly short, one liners that could really use some fleshing out. As such, it needs a lot of work and article updating... but overall, I still think it is a useful starting point for people looking for information on the subject. Unlike the Fandom Wank Wiki and Wikipedia, I don't really have a threshold for how famous you have to be in order to merit your own page. Lesser known fen, where they visited, what awards they won, what fandoms they were involved with, that information helps build a broader picture as to the larger state of the fan fiction community as a whole and the state of smaller, individual fan fiction communities. It can also help track historical movements in the fan fiction community. The wiki currently has 2,600 articles are so. [20]

Laura Hale describes the wiki in 2008: Fanboy Interview with Laura Hale.

Laura Hale describes the wiki in 2009: Conserving fandom: An Interview with Fan History (Laura Hale).

Laura Hale describes the wiki in 2010: An Interview with Fan History (Laura Hale).

Practices

Promotion and Recruitment

icon from Fan History site encouraging fannish participation: "Please help promote Fan History. Get more people involved in sharing and documenting the history of fandom. Plug the article about yourself, your community, your stories, your fanzines or your fandom based business. Please feel free to link to the following images in on profile pages and elsewhere." [21]

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. :)[22]

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.[23] By late October 2008, the bot had boosted the page count to 484,784 -- or more than 475,000 scraped articles.[24]

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. In April 2008, a fan wrote:
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.[25]
Another fan had this comment in July 2008:
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.[26]

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.[27] 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.

On April 7, 2009, Hale announced:
.About a year ago, Fan History paid for some one to create FanFictionNetBot. The bot created about 490,000 articles when we finished running it. While it was primarily active in March 2008, we occasionally ran it to create articles about FanFiction.Net who had joined after we had created the bot. We last ran it on December 26, 2008 and the last article it created was the one about Ending Howard, a name that now seems fitting. We’re never going to run the bot again on FanFiction.Net. No new articles will be created. The articles were never intended to be updated. The bot is officially dead. Why? At the time that we created the bot, we were in compliance with FanFiction.Net’s robots.txt policy and their Terms of Service. We only created it and ran it in the first place because we weren’t violating those. FanFiction.Net has since changed their policy to explicitly prohibit this type of activity. Fan History tries to be a good fandom neighbor and violating a site’s Terms of Service would fall into that category. [28]

Data Scraping: Other Bots

The wiki had not abandonned bots as a means of information gathering after scraping Fanfiction.net and Livejournal

Fan History Wiki also employed other bots to add stubs. From a May 18, 2009 post to its blog:
We’ve been hard at work on Fan History trying to improve content, create more stub content to make it easier for contributors to participate, to increase the number of people participating on the wiki, to become more comprehensive and to better serve the fan community. To this end, we’ve done three things in the past month or so:
  • Added 17,000 articles about music fandoms;
  • Added 1,600 articles about fanzines;
  • Added 13,000 articles about movies.
These additions have largely been about providing a framework for the documenting of history that we’ve done so far. Pretty soon, hopefully in the next week or two, we’re planning to add between 50,000 and 75,000 articles. We’re going to be focusing on fan responses to episodes and using EpisodeBot as our base template. If you know of a search engine or an entertainment site that could use some link love, please get them in touch with me... [29]

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.... Beyond helping Fan History by buying a paid article, what do you get? If you’re a member of fandom, you’ll get increased exposure for yourself and your work in fandom. You may want this service because Fan History administrators and staff are the best at what we do on the site; we can best help you have a great presence on Fan History and you get that to your advantage. [30]

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. [31]

Perceptions about the Wiki

main page

Content Inaccuracy

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.[32]

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.[33]

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:[34]

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.[35]

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.[36]

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. [37]

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.[38]

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[39], 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:

On February 23, 2008, Hale posted:
Had a great big chat with the major Fan History sysops regarding Fan History and its potential and if they'd be comfortable if I ever sold it, etc. The people who are the sysops pretty much realize that, for some of that, I'm sitting on a really nice, pretty comprehensive market research tool. That doesn't even begin to get into various other things I have compiled, like lists of LiveJournal communities that you can advertise your in fandom material on, contact lists, private demographic studies I've done, polling data, etc. The potential there for using that from a marketing perspective at fandom is nice. (It is why Fan History does NOT have a GNLU license and why our privacy policy is rather vague.)[40]
On July 11, 2008, Hale wrote:
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. [41]

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:

A fan wrote on July 24, 2008:
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.[42]
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). A fan posted on July 23, 2008:
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.[43]
Another fan wrote on July 22, 2008:
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.[44]
Hale herself reiterated Fan History Wiki's business status on September 20, 2009 when she posted about her decision to not become part of Wikia:
Fan History is a business. We are incorporated as a single entity LLC. We have a business plan. We have an intern and are currently looking for more. We have been seeking funding to grow the wiki, improve our back end, integrate and improve FanworksFinder, create related products. We have hired developers to do work for us. We attend professional networking events. We try to keep our actions on the wiki professional and businesslike, rather than purely fannish and hobby like. If Wikia were to acquire Fan History, it would be great for their business. Fan History Wiki would take Wikia from about 3.2 million pages to 4 million pages. Fan History has the potential to create an organizational structure for Wikia’s entertainment and sports wikis. Fan History is set up to easily promote Wikia’s other content inside of our own. We have a large amount of content that could have its SEO optimized quickly, with the right team, that would significantly improve its current traffic. Fan History has a number of articles in content areas that advertisers would be happy to have ads placed on. [45]
In July 28, 2008, Hale 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.[46]
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. One fan wrote:
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.[47]

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.

Controversy

Until mid-2008, controversy/wank around the Fan History wiki tended to be about the inaccuracies or strict editor controls; several issues were controversial enough to make Fandom Wank[48].

Outing

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[49][50]. 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.[51]. The Laura Hale page has more complete details.

Outing for Profit

The timing of the fanthropology post and the very public outing of a fan began to be questioned -- why the need to generate so much wank and so many hits, right at that point?

One fan posted:
I'm just wondering at the timing right now, to be honest. Why the concerted effort all of a sudden? I think that's the question people should be asking themselves, and asking themselves what happens when she needs to roll over someone else for her little cause here.[52]

In July 2008, in the midst of the wankstorm, Hale incorporated the wiki as a limited liability corporation (LLC)[53]. Her Twitter posts during July provide a timeline, starting with the day after she outed the fan in the fanthropology post:

  • "Anyone good with PR who might be able to help me with an ongoing situation? If so, would love to get in touch ASAP. 12:22 PM Jul 23rd from web [2][3]
    • Note: Hale originally locked her Twitter down to friends-only after this post.
  • Ordered "Art of the Start" and it has arrived! Talked to @Jenbachand on the phone for an hour. It was a good convo. 10:23 AM Jul 25th from web [4]
  • I think I should have a registered agent which means I can push through LLC incorporation documents. Score! 1:54 PM Jul 25th from web [5]
  • fuck fuck fuck. :( things went from bad to worse, 3:21 PM Jul 25th from web [6]
  • This morning started out bad. I can't see it getting much better. 7:25 AM Jul 26th from web [7]
  • Advice for dealing with clusterfucks in PR when dealing with a startup? 7:26 AM Jul 26th from web [8]
  • Spent an hour discussing how to handle PR situation, policy changes, etc. Has been productive. Should help contain situation. Maybe. 6:22 AM Jul 27th from web [9]
  • LLC forms completed and payment submitted. That is another one of those great big massive steps. 9:29 AM Jul 27th from web [10]
  • Fan History and my apology regarding recent actions 4:40 AM Jul 28th from web [11][54]

At roughly the same time, she began listing her wiki on start-up sites, asking for venture capital -- $200,000 to $500,000.[55]

The possible connection between Hale's choice to out a fan and her desire to make her wiki look attractive to potential investors drew more ire from some fans:
This is about Laura deliberately starting wank in order to drive up hits to her website-- deliberately making a meta post on fanthropology, waiting until it got linked on metafandom, then editing it to include a fan's real name against that fan's express wishes. Why? To make money.[56]
Another fan posted:
My fundamental problem with Laura Hale is not that she is making money from fandom through googleanalytics or whatever is on the site now or trying to sell the wiki to the highest bidder on content and information that does not belong to her, that was not created by her except for the parts she... fabricated. My problem with Laura Hale is that she is making money from fandom by lying, by causing distress and real life repercussions, she is making money by gleefully soliciting and generating wank, by making our fandom a fundamentally unsafer and unhappier space. She causes misery, not *just* because she can, but because it puts money in her pockets. All of this is because it's good for *marketing*, it's her viral strategy.[57]

In short, fannish privacy being a powerful cultural factor, Hale quickly became the subject of public anger, outrage, and scorn as her entrepreneurial intentions became clear.

A fan posted:
But every once in a while--and it is generally a very long while--someone takes an action that goes Too Far, even for the most unflappable fans. The unforgiveable act usually involves one of three things: (1) Privacy; (2) Credit; or (3) Profit. If a fan violates another fan's privacy (posting private email without permission, hacking email, posting real name or contact information, contacting an employer, contacting an ISP to get them in trouble for copyright violations), steals another's credit (plagiarism or clip-theft or failing to credit an icon), or tries to profit directly off fan activity (selling fic on Amazon, asking for money so she can stay home and write) -- these are the things that violate the terms of the fannish social contract. We give credit; we work for free; we respect pseudonymity. Laura Hale, in publicly linking fannish pseuds of multiple fans with their legal identities, did so (it seems clear) in order to drum up hits for her wiki. She wants to sell the data in the wiki, which is full of information supplied by other fans about their fanwork and fannish histories. Except the fans who edited the wiki won't be paid for their work, if she does sell it--she's coasting on their work and the work of the fans whose information populates the wiki. In doing so she's violated the rules about privacy, the rules about profit, and even the rules about credit (it's her wiki, not fandom's). [58]

Deliberate Wank

On April 20, 2008, Hale blogged about deliberate wank as a way to sell her product:
Controversy can sell and help add legitimacy to your project. Fan History gets fairly decent sized traffic bumps when people have issues with articles, with privacy issues in fandom or with people who help maintain the wiki. Fandom Wank can be your traffic driving, search engine visibility, viral link creating friend. Lee Goldberg slamming on you can give you sympathy and legitimacy. Having slashers and het shippers duke it out on your site insures they stay and means they’ll probably link to their arguments elsewhere to complain about the behavior of those they don’t like. Controversy may also bring media attention and attention from the people affiliated with your fandom. [59]
From July 20, 2008, Hale's comments:
Generating wank to drive traffic: I have been accused of openly encouraging individuals to create wank to drive traffic to Fan History. This is untrue; it is a case of a joking comment made among friends in private and on FLocked posts being misconstrued and taken out of context. I would never knowingly plan to subject myself, people I consider to be my friends, Fan History administrators and contributors to the wiki to the onslaught of attacks, criticisms and strains on their relationships in fandom as has occurred recently. I would not knowingly seek a means of promoting the wiki in a way that I feel would hurt the credibility of the wiki, a credibility that I have spent that past year trying to improve. Yes, I have encouraged members of the wiki team to openly discuss issues regarding the wiki in their journals, in other communities, and elsewhere that would help bring new people to share their fandom knowledge in the wiki. That is a productive action. I wanted people to be aware that Fan History was here and how it could be useful to them. Such goals cannot be accomplished through wank and creating controversy which only paints myself and Fan History in a negative light.[60]
On December 22, 2008, Hale explained how wank didn't generate the attention she necessarily wanted:
Another way to generate traffic is by wanking. Make fandom_wank or sf_drama and you can probably see another 1,000 to 3,000 visitors. If you’re linked through metafandom for being controversial, you can expect between 500 and 2,000 visitors depending on how many posts you’re linked on, how controversial you are and what day of the week it is. But like digg and Stumbleupon, these are cheap visits. Most of the visitors you get through wanking are wank navel gazers. They come in, view one page, spend between 10 seconds to 1 minute on your site, then go. They generally don’t repeat. In fact, because of the tie-ins to wank, they are less likely to be repeat visitors than if you had been linked through Digg. This is because your reputation ends up getting smacked around and you become known as a wanker. And once the wank winds down, your traffic levels off to prewank levels. The high in increased visitors doesn’t hold. You’ll get a massive drop off. So using wank to generate traffic, unless you’re specifically running a wank-type site like fandom_wank or EncyclopediaDramatica, isn’t a good idea. It doesn’t help build value by increasing the visits to your site, increasing time spend on the site, or increasing the number of page views per visit. (It is why Fan History mods don’t intentionally go around wanking; it doesn’t help our more important and valuable metrics. Quality over quantity of visits. And when we have wanked, our traffic tends to fall off a cliff about two days after the wank dies down. We’ve known this for over a year now when we first got the numbers to demonstrate it.) [61]

Management Style

One of the criticisms of the wiki was Hale's over-involvement and tight control of of even the most trivial issues and edits. In January, Hale asked a fellow editor and admin member if she should take a different tactic:
Contributor issues 5. For me to stop personally editing much, stepping back from the wiki for a month or two, allowing the current administrators and others to become more active with out the fear of me sitting on the sidelines, waiting to impose my philosophical mindset on the history being presented. 6. Paying for advertisements on external sites in order to get contributors outside the narrow audience that Fan History currently is receiving. 7. Using an account not tied into my personal accounts to promote wiki inside of fandom that administrators have shared access to. Have other administrators use them and actively promote the wiki as where I've already been doing but removing the personal tie ins that I tend to have. Assign administrators specifically to promote the wiki as part of their role of admins. 8. Approaching people affiliated with other philosophical mindsets for the wiki and offering to pay them to become active contributors on the wiki and do lots of edits in order to give clear voice to alternative perspectives in fandom. [62]
The fan she addressed answered:
Taking a step back, yeah, might be a good idea for a while beyond dealing with technical details that arise. Uncertain how I feel on removing the philosophy as again, I think it helps point toward the approach being taken and how it may be different from, say, the wiki being created by OTW or any other organization (because otherwise a casual visitor might wonder "Why is this wiki different/needed vs. any other one?) I can certainly help with promotions and the like. Encouraging other perspectives...could get tricky/messy/wanky beyond a certain point. I mean, as long as alternative perspectives are given fair time and it's not an issue of someone coming in and rewriting a piece that already exists to change the viewpoint...that's where it could get funky (and perhaps why having multiple wikis with different goals/approaches/philosophies is not necessarily a BAD thing...) [63]

Deceptive Practices

As fans uncovered more information about Hale and the wiki, it became clear that the wiki was not a fannish project, but a for-profit venture intended to market fannish information to businesses.[64]

While Hale was relatively open about wanting to sell, she also made it clear that she believed in using deceptive practices to build up her "business". In Hale's own words:
...I'm sitting on a really nice, pretty comprehensive market research tool. That doesn't even begin to get into various other things I have compiled, like lists of LiveJournal communities that you can advertise your in fandom material on, contact lists, private demographic studies I've done, polling data, etc. The potential there for using that from a marketing perspective at fandom is nice. (It is why Fan History does NOT have a GNLU license and why our privacy policy is rather vague.)[65]
Hale also wrote:
... 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. [66]

Fandomnews

fandomnews was a multifandom link roundup community crossposted on several journaling sites that is a project of the wiki. It was moderated by Fan History editors.[67][68][69]

Positive Attention

Fan History wiki saw positive attention too. In 2009 this included links in other online publications, fueled in part by its Geocities preservation initiative [70], and Laura's white paper[12][13] on the use of fan fiction as a possible indicator of Nielsen ratings. [71] 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.[72]

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[73] and even references in more mainstream publications such as Wired Magazine, Y!Pulse and Mashable. [74] 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. [75]

In July 2009, Fan History was featured in a Spotlight article on AboutUs [76] where Laura Hale is a Volunteer Sysop.[77]

Fan History Discontinued Open Public Edits

Posted by Laura Hale to the wiki's main page in November 2010:
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. [78] [79]
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.[80]
The Help:Contributing page on Fan History Wiki explained 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.[81]

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." [82]
  • "As Fan History editing is turned off, I feel like I should change my e-mail address. :/" [83]
  • "No admin interest. We're not deleting, just locking from editing." [84]
  • "We've created a writer class. If you still want to contribute, e-mail @purplepopple and she can set you up." [85]

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).[86] However, she continues to use the site as a reference for evidence of her success and expertise.[87] A few months later, Laura Hale publicly attacked Erik Moeller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, with whom she negotiated, as "sexist".[88][89]

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 last edit was made on 2 August 2011, by Laura, for the Netball in Tonga page. See Special:Contributions/LauraH and the twitter account.

The Fan History Wiki Disappears

Despite an earlier statement that "the wiki will continue to exists for historical reasons," [90], sometime in early 2013 the Fan History Wiki went completely offline.[91] Its content appears to be only sparsely archived by the Wayback Machine. Archive.is has a few page screencaps here.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Main Page - Fan History Wiki
  2. 'The wiki currently has 2,590 articles are [sic] so." Slash Philosophy, posted August 8, 2006, accessed September 11, 2013
  3. Fan History is Breaking Wiki Size Barriers, 29 May 2009. (Accessed 14 November 2009)
  4. Special:NewPages on Fan History Wiki. (Accessed 22 April 2012)
  5. "On November 23, 2010, Fan History was locked so that only approved editors could contribute. This was done because we did not have the administrative staff to patrol recent changes and enforce the rules. Life has changed a lot for the admin staff since the wiki was first created and, as much as they wanted to keep up with Fan History, it just was not possible. A stable host was found to insure that the wiki could continue on, even if not actively administered and updated. This was always important as the staff began to realize their interests were changing and that they had less and less time to spend on the wiki. While being largely locked to new contributors, the information will still be available. Given all that, 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." from Help: Contributing
  6. Michela Ecks FF.net Resignation Statement, posted to Fanfiction.net Liberation Front. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  7. from History of Slash Fiction at Slash Philosophy; reference link, posted May 15, 2005, accessed September 10, 2013
  8. Slash Fiction; reference link, written and posted by Hale on May 16, 2005, last edited June 17, 2005; history page of Slash Fiction at Academic Kids; reference link
  9. Fan Fiction at Academic Kids; reference link
  10. Though, even as late as June 6, 2006, Hale was still writing of a print zine, as well as Live Journal as a depository of her knowledge: "I've mostly given up posting the comprehensive thing. I'm doing fandom community specific timelines and a year by year bit. I'm going to go with printing it as a fanzine for the whole thing mostly because I can't really find a web based format that works for me. Bits and pieces are getting posted to LiveJournal and a few other places in an effort to refine some bits of knowledge... update my timelines, add more pieces of information... They also discuss various aspects of fan fiction history." -- Various sundry of links I've posted to LJ on this topic, June 6, 2006
  11. Interview: Laura Hale of FanHistory.com, posted May 10, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  12. Startup Pitch on startupalpha.com, June 10, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008
  13. 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.
  14. AboutUs Fan History page
  15. Fan History Wiki Twitter handle
  16. Fan History Group
  17. Fan History Wiki Facebook Fan Page
  18. Copy of the Proposal to Join WMF posted on the WMF mailing list November 18, 2009, accessed July 11, 2011
  19. from an archived page at Fan History Wiki, date unknown
  20. rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, posted August 27, 2006, accessed August 14, 2013
  21. http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:Promote from Fan History Wiki Promote
  22. Breakfast Club fandom history, posted by partly_bouncy on May 6, 2008. Accessed December 1, 2008.
  23. Wiki Index writeup on Fan History, dated April 23, 2007, taken from the History section of the page. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  24. Wiki Index writeup on Fan History, dated October 23, 2007, taken from the History section of the page. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  25. frito_kal, in the comments to her post "fanhistory.com? Made of epic fail." Comment posted April 25, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  26. Vanzetti: current events, posted July 24, 2008. Accessed November 29, 2008.
  27. Nikki. Some Information About Fandom History's New Tool. 27 October 2008 (accessed 28 October 2008).
  28. from Update: FanFiction.NetBot, posted to Fan History's blog
  29. Fan History is planning more growth and wants to help other sites…
  30. Announcing paid article services for Fan History! on the Fan History blog, dated January 1, 2009. Accessed January 6, 2009.
  31. Fan History Services FAQ, on the Fan History site. Accessed January 6, 2009.
  32. 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.
  33. Lennoxmacbeth's "Women Like Silent Men", posted January 2, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  34. Spirit Dog and Hector Rashbaum discuss LH's controlling of edits on FHW, posted July 27, 2008. Accessed November 26, 2008.
  35. frito_kal, in the comments to his/her post "fanhistory.com? Made of epic fail." Comment posted January 3, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  36. slwatson, responding to frito_kal's post "fanhistory.com? Made of epic fail."; comment posted April 25, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  37. frito_kal, in a discussion about the wiki; comment posted April 25, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  38. slwatson, on why she left fanhistory; posted on May 28, 2008. Accessed December 31, 2008.
  39. Lucy. For linking purposes. Last updated 28 July 2008 (accessed 28 October 2008).
  40. 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.
  41. "Funding your fansite" on the fanhistory blog, dated July 11, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
  42. AnarchicQ: The fucked up fandom trifecta, posted July 24, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  43. Lennoxmacbeth: FANDOM CAN GO TO HELL, posted July 23, 2008. Accessed November 29, 2008.
  44. Carlanime: OIC: THIS is why we can't all just get along., posted July 22, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
  45. Why Fan History won’t be moving to Wikia any time soon
  46. A Statement from Fan History, posted July 28, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008.
  47. Amireal, commenting in response to Hale's post. Comment posted July 28, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008.
  48. Fanhistory's entry on the Fandom wank wiki (Accessed 30 October 2008)
  49. In the department of "it's about damn time" Posted July 22. 2008, accessed October 4, 2009
  50. Calling out Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale/Purplepopple/Partly_Bouncy ithiliana
  51. Sometimes a brain can come in quite handy by Dejana, posted July 21, 2008. Accessed October 4, 2009.
  52. svmadelyn, commenting in her post "My .02" Comment posted July 22, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  53. Fan History article on the Wiki Index; link goes to the history page to show that Hale added this information on September 4, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  54. also at [1]
  55. Fan History - TechCrunch Elevator Pitches, posted July 14, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. Fan history on fundfindr Accessed November 25, 2008.
  56. Laura Hale: Sole proprietor of a unique marketing opportunity, posted by Liviapenn on July 23, 2008. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  57. I’ve got the thingie. Half in English, half in squibbly. by ciderpress. Posted on July 24, 2008. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  58. cofax7: The wisdom of the outraged masses, posted July 23, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  59. Fandom and traffic, from Fan History blog
  60. A Statement from Fan History, from Fan History blog
  61. from Generating traffic for your fansite? Use a method that generates positive metrics!, from Fan History Blog
  62. from Fan History Bias revisited: Sidewinder's Talk Page
  63. from Fan History Bias revisited: Sidewinder's Talk Page
  64. Lucy. For linking purposes. Last updated 28 July 2008 (accessed 28 October 2008).
  65. Hale 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.
  66. "Funding your fansite" on the fanhistory blog, dated July 11, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
  67. fandomnews - Community Profile on Dreamwidth (Accessed 31 March 2010)
  68. fandomnews - Community Profile on LiveJournal (Accessed 31 March 2010)
  69. Asylum Information on InsaneJournal (Accessed 31 March 2010)
  70. An interview with Fan History, Dandizette.net (Accessed 28 September 2009)
  71. YPulse Essentials: Toys in Hollywoodland, Banned Book week, Urbanworld launches hip-hop app (Accessed 28 September 2009)
  72. Trending Topics: 5 Ways Companies Used News Trends for Business Success (Accessed 28 September 2009)
  73. 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)
  74. Wired: Scott Brown on Sherlock Holmes (Accessed 28 September 2009)
  75. Book Review: Nightlight: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon (Accessed 18 November 2009)
  76. AboutUs Spotlight Articles
  77. That information was added by a friend of Laura to her fan page on Fanlore.
  78. The wiki went offline completely in early 2013.
  79. see Main Page
  80. from Fan History Wiki's blog, accessed November 28, 2010
  81. Help:Contributing, accessed November 29, 2010
  82. [missing the direct cite with this first one, though it was sent directly before the one below]
  83. 1:11 AM Nov 23rd, 2010 via TweetDeck
  84. 1:17 AM Nov 23rd, 2010 via TweetDeck in reply to lewiscollard
  85. 1:32 AM Nov 23rd, 2010 via TweetDeck; purplepopple on Twitter, accessed 1.4.2011 and 7.5.2011, and referenced here
  86. Copy of the Proposal to Join WMF posted on the WMF mailing list November 18, 2009, accessed July 11, 2011
  87. Proposal to the Australia Paralympic Committee
  88. gendergap list Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  89. Fan History Blog Retrieved 20011-07-10 and publicized by a March 18 Tweet from purplepopple.
  90. from Fan History Wiki's blog, accessed November 28, 2010
  91. 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.
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