Crack Van

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Journal Community
Name: Crack Van
Date(s): 20 September 2003 - January 2014
Moderator: shaggirl, stopawhile
Founder: shaggirl
Type: recs community
Fandom: multifandom
URL: crack_van (LJ); archive link; Dreamwidth backup
CrackVan icon.gif

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banner in 2013

Overview

Crack Van was a multifandom recs community on LJ with the goal of pimp its featured fandoms to new fans through recs of fanfic and vids.

It recruited members of a given fandom to create primers about a given fandom (typically, these describe the source and characters, popular pairings, and story types, and include recommendations for fanworks and gathering spaces for the fandom) and to post regular recommendations.

The first time a fandom was featured in the community, it was introduced with an overview post intended to raise interest and help fans unfamiliar with canon to follow the recced fanworks. Some fandoms had a regular presence with monthly changing volunteers; other smaller fandoms were only featured for a limited time.

Crack Van was notable among reccing communities for being highly organized, high volume, and wide in scope.

Crack Van as a Curated Gateway

2005

Places like crack_van are where I often start my search when entering a new fandom. When I find an author I like, I check to see what else he or she has written. [1]
I've got some archives and rec pages bookmarked, but I can't believe what fan life would be like for me without crack_van. It is a fantastic community, and I'm so glad I found it and joined. [2]
I really rely on crack_van to help me narrow down my reading choices. Sometimes there's just too much stuff out there (which is good!), so it's nice to have somewhere to start from. [3]

2008

Why you should visit it: This is an awesome recs comm, especially if you're like me and read in many fandoms. I only have time to be fully devoted to Torchwood, but I still enjoy reading fic in Due South, Highlander, Stargate Atlantis... you get the idea. Anyone can volunteer to "drive the crack van" and spend a month reccing their fandom. It's an excellent opportunity to rec great fic you don't see getting the attention they deserve.

As for their Torchwood section? It's top notch. Start with the fandom overview if you're new to Torchwood, or send your friends there if you're finding it difficult to describe the gestalt that is Torchwood. Then peruse the recs. You'll find some crossover between our comm and crack_van because, well, great fic is great fic. After all, both comms are dedicated to bringing well written, entertaining fanfic to the attention of the fans. torchwood_house is a specialty shop, while crack_van is a department store. So, if you're looking for additional fandoms, or just want to see what else might be available in the world of Torchwood, take a ride on the Crack Van. [4]

2013

There was a time when LiveJournal community crack_van was a household name in the world of Internet fandom. [5]

2017

Unfortunate name aside, the purpose of the Crack Van was to serve a specific audience: fans without a fandom, between fandoms, or seeking a change of metaphorical scenery. The idea behind the community stood on a pre-existing conceit: that “fandom” was something larger than a mutual regard for a text, but instead a sort of communal mentality; an imagined community. [6]

2018

Oh man, crack_van was the best! I drove for a month for The West Wing (and learned An Important Lesson About Warnings, but that’s another story). It was definitely a creature of 2000s fandom ;)

#oh wow nostalgia #crack van #LJ #livejournal #fandom #fanfic recs [7]
crack_van! I remember I signed to retag a bunch of things about a million years ago, damn this brings it back [8]

Oh man. Crack Van was the best. The amount of times I fell down the hole of new fandoms or found new favourite fics was phenomenal. I drove the van for Generation Kill for a couple of months and it was a fantastic experience.

#fandom #fandom history #back in the day [9]

Oh, Crack Van! I forgot about Crack Van. You guys, it was the greatest. Are all of your LJ fans suddenly talking about some new (or old!) show you’ve never seen? Catch up on what it’s all about and find the stories to start off your newest fannish obsession!

#fandom #fannish history #fandom history #crack van #lj [10]
I think a couple of my stories popped up on Crack Van! It was awesome. [11]

Fics of mine got recced there, two or three times, and it’s basically how I really began to understand that yes, some of my stuff is pretty good.

Where are the recs blogs of today? :-( [12]

The End of Crack Van

In November 2013, the crack_van mods announced that the community would shut down in January 2014:

After 10 years and nearly 25,000 recs, it is with mixed feelings that I announce crack_van's permanent closure in January 2014.

I know that this community has different meaning and purpose for many of our members, but I have always tried to stay true to its original purpose, of providing an easy introduction to new fandoms. This has become increasingly challenging with the migration of fandom to other platforms: many of the largest and most active new fandoms have limited visibility on LJ, and a good number of even our longest running fandoms have empty or near empty sign up sheets month after month.

This has not been an easy decision; over the past couple of years I've considered revamping the community in various ways, moving to another platform, etc., but ultimately I think any such change would only result in more fragmentation.

I want to thank everyone who has participated in any way over the past decade, especially those who have recced again and again, and pimped this community to others in their fandoms. There are too many of you to try to name individually, but your dedication has not gone unnoticed by anyone who frequents this community.

I would also like to thank my co-mods, past and present, stopawhile and arsenicjade. I could not have asked for better partners and friends. [13]
They add:
The idea that someone would spend 10 years building a resource like this one only to burn it to the ground is pretty unfathomable to me, but let me state for the record that this comm will NEVER be deleted. ♥

Crack Van's End as Another Fandom Transition

Crack Van was a mainstay of fandom for ten years, but the end of 2013, its close signaled not just fans' drift away from online journal culture, but a change in fan culture and interaction.

Many fans no longer needed or wanted the curated information that volunteers on Crack Van provided and moved to forums that included less lengthy collaboration and communication.

Some excerpts from a post by The Daily Dot:

But crack_van’s dwindling audience isn’t just a case of fans moving away from LiveJournal, it’s also because fandom culture in 2013 is very different from the way it was a decade ago. On Tumblr, new fandoms can go viral in a matter of hours, without the aid of organised communities or even fanfic.
Crack Van’s popularity was partly down to its reliability when it came to fanfic recommendations, and partly because it was way more convenient than sifting through multiple LiveJournal accounts for more details and fanfic links. Not only is it now a lot easier to just download the original movie or TV show in the first place, but general fandom information is far more accessible. With the demise of LiveJournal fandom, it’s become a lot easier to locate the fanfic you want to read, but the exchange between writers and readers has become far less social and collaborative. Now, most people just go to Archive of our Own or fanfiction.net for their fanfic, and use Tumblr or Twitter to socialize and post fanart or GIFs.
...10 years was a good run. Older fans will undoubtedly still use crack_van’s archives to look for the most well-reviewed fics in pre-existing fandoms, while younger fans on Tumblr have moved onto a new kind of community. Although the days of collaborative writing on LiveJournal are probably gone for good, fanfic culture is growing all the time. And who knows, maybe a new equivalent to crack_van will show up on one of the other social media sites one day. [14] [15]

Special Events

The 15th of every month was Crack Van Collision day, when reccers were encouraged to post a crossover fic from their fandom. The last Friday of every month would be Friday Night Drive-In, a.k.a. fanvid day.

Crack Van Inspired Communities

Crack Van also inspired the creation of fandom specific rec comms modelled after it, that for example may pimp different pairings and genres:

Fan Reactions

Comments at Crack Van

Comments Elsewhere

Wow, so sad to hear [of Crack Van's demise] when I signed on to LJ this morning! The end of an era for sure and just another sad sign of the fragmenting of fandom. [19]
Yes, it's sadly true that twigged, the founder of Crack Van, will close the site to new recommendations in January, after a last round of Small Fandoms month. Very sad because it is such an awesome site. It was obvious from the very beginning that she and the co-mods thought out the concepts and guidelines, so there was no confusion as to how it was run or how to post. Yet they remained flexible and open. I often saw someone ask or suggest something, which was always graciously received and often embraced.

The great news is that the site will remain up, so people can go back to it as a resource, and a very valuable one it is. Although my heart belongs to TS, I stray once in a while. Crack Van was my go-to place to find to find story gems in a new fandom or to read a fandom overview. From the comments, I wasn't the only person to do so. There's been an outpouring of thanks and praise, all of it well deserved. Here's the link to the announcement.

I'm wishing the mods past and present an enjoyable life filled with lots of goodies, as they deserve it for all the joy they've provided us.

I'd also like to thank everyone in our fandom who participated over the years. Perhaps you were the author or artist that wrote/drew/manipped/podficced such a work that a CV driver wanted to showcase it: thank you. Perhaps you were the person who mentioned a work that you enjoyed and why, which gave a CV driver a suggestion that they used during their turn on the van: thank you. Perhaps you ran a fandom challenge that produced some kick-ass works that then ended up at Crack Van: thank you.

Or perhaps you were brave enough to sign up to be a driver and took the time to learn how to code, how to count words, how to describe a work so you could entice someone to look at and enjoy it as much as you did: thank you most of all. We are a relatively small fandom, yet Sentinel was a one of the original "permanent" Crack Van fandoms ten years ago when TS was more active and stayed a permanent CV fandom right to the end, because of our dedicated volunteer drivers. Month after month, you stepped up to the plate, and we recommended over 900 works during our watch. It speaks to the love we have for our show. It makes me very happy. [20]
I haven't used it in awhile but it still makes me sad to see it go. I remember the days that when I got into a new fandom, I'd check there and ship_manifesto to give me an idea of who was a BNF (and likely to have lots of conversations in their journal that were kinda meta-like), what the ships were, what to expect from fandom, etc. My fandom habits now really are totally different to what they used to be! [21]

In my experience, the drivers either stated their preference outright, or you could infer them from their first 2 or 3 recs. If you didn't share their preference, you'd just wait. With luck, the next driver might share your tastes.

I drove the crack_van a few times AND pimped it in my small fandom. I finally stopped, though, around the time the fandom started going into decline. At that point, most of the people who were signing up either failed to show up for their month, or they posted well below the minimum 1 per week. There seemed little point to keep pimping when people who did sign up couldn't be arsed to post the 4 recs they'd committed to. So finally our fandom was taken off the regular rotation altogether. I don't think anyone but me even noticed by this point. Mind you most of the fandom had hiked over to Tumblr by then.

I will miss crack_van terribly, but I also think it's a symptom of a cultural change in fandom - people just don't rec the way they used to. Even rec fests seem to be a thing of the past. [22]
I used to love Crack Van. I suppose we're all to blame for letting it die, but maybe the mods were tired, anyway. Still, it has left a gap. It continues to be a great resource and I'm so glad they merely closed it and didn't delete. [23]

External Links

Meta/Academic Commentary

References

  1. from a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  2. from a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  3. from a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  4. Site: Crack Van, an LJ recs community; archive (December 14, 2008)
  5. The Crack Van, a pillar of fandom on LiveJournal, shuts down after 10 years; archive link by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (December 2, 2013)
  6. Zygutis, Linda. “Unpacking the Crack Van: Panfandom in the Age of Convergence Culture.” Paper on the effect of commercial fandom on tranformative panfandom’s “gift economy.” Given at the American Culture Association Conference. San Diego, CA, April 2017.
  7. queenbookwench.tumblr (December 2, 2018)
  8. evilythedwarf.tumblr (December 3, 2018)
  9. steel-phoenix.tumblr (December 2, 2018)
  10. ilexa.tumblr (December 3, 2018)
  11. cattraine.tumblr
  12. compartmentalisinghmpf.tumblr (December 2018)
  13. Important Announcement, posted by twigged on 2013-11-29
  14. The Crack Van, a pillar of fandom on LiveJournal, shuts down after 10 years, from The Daily Dot, posted by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, December 2, 2013
  15. WebCite
  16. The Crack Broom, founded 18 November 2004. (Accessed 12 November 2008)
  17. The Crack Impala, founded 24 January 2007. (Accessed 12 November 2008)
  18. Sequential Crack, founded 23 July 2009. (Accessed 1 April 2010)
  19. Crack Van Is Driving Away
  20. The end of an era: Crack Van is closing its garage, posted 2013; reference link
  21. Fail Fandom Anon; reference link
  22. Fail Fandom Anon; reference link
  23. Some mid week informal reccing, January 21, 2016