Fail Better

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Fail Better is a phrase sometimes used in discussions of social justice in fandom. The idea is that the goal of a person with privilege regarding the issue in question is to try to do better next time, while recognizing that perfection may never be achievable. You may still fail, but you will fail better in the future.

Examples include:

  • elf, discussing ways of dealing with fandom imbroglios: "I tend to rant about it under lock, and my friends will sometimes tell me that I am indeed being a privilege-laden twit, and what I thought I was saying and failed at, and then I try to fail better next time, without getting into a long debate with someone who really doesn't care what I think."[1]
  • lex, discussing writing a story: "My hope is that by attempting to show a healthy, balanced, kinky relationship, I will at least fail better."[2]
  • Cofax, linking to a blog by a professional writer: "This looks like someone who is trying to, as they say, fail better."[3]
  • Participants in a WisCon panel on Steampunk: "The segment of fandom I've found myself in is full of interested kind curious people who want to do things right or to fail better. I see it getting better at an incredibly fast pace. I barely began to grok how problematic steampunk can be before people began grappling with those problems. "[4][5]
  • fizzyblogic, discussing Amanda Palmer: "Maybe something will worm its way through to their unconscious and they'll fail better next time."[6]
  • triadruid, posts a series of links under the heading, Fail Better during Racefail '09 [7]

The phrase comes from the Samuel Beckett play, Worstward Ho, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." [8]


  1. ^ elf: My head can't tolerate this bobbing and pretending, June 20, 2010. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  2. ^ lex: Failing better!, June 24, 2010. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  3. ^ Cofax: Linkspam feels a little overwhelmed and wouldn't mind hiding under a desk for a while, June 16, 2010. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  4. ^ starlady: WisCon panel notes: The Politics of Steampunk, May 29, 2010. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  5. ^ jonquil: Wiscon panel reportella: Politics of Steampunk, May 29, 2010. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  6. ^ fizzyblogic: on the responses to the evelyn evelyn controversy, February 22, 2010. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  7. ^ triadruid: Fail Better, August 14, 2009. (accessed July 27, 2010)
  8. ^ Wikiquote, accessed July 27, 2010