Conserving fandom: an interview with Fan History

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Conserving Fandom: An Interview with Fan History
Interviewer: Kate Dandizette
Interviewee: Laura Hale
Date(s): September 19, 2009
Medium: online
Fandom(s): fandom
External Links: interview is here; archived link; Wayback
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Contents

Laura Hale was interviewed for Dandizette -- "a pulp magazine for media perverts."

The topic was Fan History Wiki.

This interview is nearly identical to 2010's An Interview with Fan History (Laura Hale). This 2009 interview includes a section about the Geocities Rescue Project, excerpted below.

Some Excerpts

On the whole, given our resources involving time and the amount of people, I feel like we’re doing fine [regarding the Geocities closure]. It could be better but what project couldn’t be? No one else is really out there doing this with a focus not on preserving the whole of the site, but the history of the communities located on the site. What we get is what we get. We feel like we have enough information that for some fan communities, our information will begin to provide a more cohesive picture of what was really happening. In breaking it down, our preservation efforts focused on several areas: Terminology, fan fiction stories, fanzines, fan fiction archives, fansites, essays.

For terminology, we feel like we’ve almost gotten as much information as we are ever going to get off those pages. We got definitions and dates for those definitions from about 30 different pages. You can really begin to see the evolution and usage of some terms like www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Alternative_Universe.

We’ve started compiling a list of fanzines from pages hosted on Geocities. We’re hoping to get more information before Geocities closes because there is a lot of information about sports fanzines and music fanzines hidden away on the site that isn’t duplicated elsewhere. Fan History really needs more community support there.

Fan History has over 5,000 articles about stories hosted on Geocities. It can be found at http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Category:Stories_hosted_on_Geocities . Much of this data was mined by hand, put into a spread sheet and then wikified. It really only scratches the surface of what can be found on Geocities but we’re happy because we think it is a good, representative sample. It covers fandoms like Creatures, Dawson’s Creek, Laverne and Shirley, Tarzan, Zorro, General Hospital, Pinky & The Brain, fandoms that people don’t always associate with having had large active fan communities. It also covers the bigger fandoms like Stargate, X-Files, Star Trek, Harry Potter. It would be nice to see this get bigger but yeah, we’re happy with the size. Many of those stories are dated so you can begin to see trends if you start poking around at individual story archives.

We’ve added information on over 100 fansites and over 50 archives. We’ve been working on trying to scrape some information from various sources so we can quickly create more stub articles. We’ve been screencapping main pages from archives and fansites and probably have around 400 caps uploaded and another 200 that need to be uploaded. Our admin staff has been focusing on fandoms that we know were big on Geocities when we do that. These fandoms include Metallica, Xena, A-Team, X-Files, Michael Jackson. We’ll miss a lot of fandoms but some of them will still be represented elsewhere on Fan History from information we have already included related to Geocities.

In a few cases, we have posted some essays that we have found on Geocities as historical documents. These essays, especially in the period between 1997 to 2004, give a really different picture of fandom during that time period. We wanted them preserved so that when people are having debates about say warnings, the fall of quality in fan fiction, the insidious influence of FanFiction.Net, how the issue of labeling people as true fans is harmful to the community, they can read these discussions, understand the arguments have been going on for years, see what worked and what didn’t. We haven’t done that with more than say fifteen articles but we’re still happy with that number. Every little bit helps.