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101 is often used in the names of con panels, pieces of meta, or as a general expression referring to introductory or low level content. This usage is common enough outside of fandom that many people find it unremarkable and assume that the meaning is obvious to all fans, but it has also been singled out as an example of Americentrism in fandom.

The term 101 comes from a particular style of university course naming scheme common in state schools in the US. It is not used in most other countries, most private universities in the US, or the University of California system.

Numbering System

As a course numbering system, obviously it goes beyond 101, and higher numbers are also sometimes used metaphorically. Frequently, the 100's are for freshmen (first year students) and the 400's are for seniors (fourth year students). For example:

  • 101 - Intro level for absolute beginners
  • 102 - Alternate first year class on a slightly different topic
  • 201 - A low-ish level class with prerequisites
  • 301 - A high-level class for majors
  • 311A, 311B, 311C - Alternate classes on different topics that satisfy the same prerequisite/major requirements
  • 401 - A class for seniors majoring in this topic

In other cases, higher numbers like the 300's and 400's can refer to courses for people getting a degree beyond a BA or BS.

Figurative Meaning

Figuratively, this is often used in terms like Racism 101 and was seen frequently during RaceFail '09 as well as in other discussions of racism in fandom.

See also