Fan History Wiki Blog Posts by Laura Hale
Fan History Wiki Blog Posts by Laura Hale were made between March 2008 and March 2011, and reflected Hale's promotion of topics related to her Fan History Wiki, marketing and fandom in general, and her conflicts with Fanlore.
There is one post dated November 1999 that must be an error.
Some Sample Posts
How not to appear on Fan History (April 28, 2008)
This is copy and pasted from Fan History’s Privacy help page. It is worth repeating in this blog as many people are not aware of the extent to which the information they put out there in fandom is accessible to others. Fan History’s advice to those in fandom who want privacy, want to avoid the possibility of ever being mentioned on Fan History or want to never have people link to their work outside their control.
- Always assume that anything you post on the Internet may become public and respond accordingly.
- Never share your real name in anyway that can connect back to your fan name.
- Do not assume that rules regarding Internet privacy do not apply to fandom, or that, because of fandom, you have increased privacy as fans realize the importance of privacy.
- Do not join any social networking services.
- Do not join any message boards.
- Do not publish on any fan fiction archives that are publicly accessible.
- Always make sure that you have robots.txt files which deny all robots from indexing the fan fiction archive you belong to, your personal site, blog, index, mailing list archive or any other site which you belong to.
- Check the robots.txt file of any site you publish on.
- Do not allow RSS feeds on sites where you post that might export your content to news aggregators and rss search engines.
- Keep contact in fandom to a minimum.
- If you are going to be involved in fandom, avoid wank at all costs.
- Find out about who you are interacting with in fandom to determine if they might be some one who might share with others things you have done and avoid people who might share information at all costs. Check Fan History and Fandom Wank.
- Always read privacy statements.
- Realize that your every keystroke is likely being tracked.
- Regularly check sites like LjSEEK.com and Google to make sure your information is not included and take steps to remove that material as you spot it.
A Statement from Fan History (July 28, 2008)
- Regarding the outings, and my apology
- Fan History financing
- Generating wank to drive traffic
- Our plans for the future
- Deletion policy
- In conclusion
Recently, Fan History, as well as myself, Laura Hale, have been under a great deal of criticism and scrutiny regarding our actions and policies with the wiki. I would like to address these issues here, as well as apologize for certain actions which I am aware were wrong. I would like to reach out to those who may be questioning why they should contribute or give support to Fan History in the future and explain:
- what I know I did wrong
- how I am working with our administrative team to correct these issues
- address other misconceptions about how Fan History is operating.
Communicating with the fandom community (July 2008)
When you’re running a fansite, LiveJournal community, mailing list, ficathon, convention or anything else in fandom where you’re effectively in charge, there are all sorts of communication issues that have to be dealt with. As the person who is running whatever fandom project you’re running, the weight of whatever decision is made falls on you. Whatever risk, be it legal, financial or social, there is with the project is yours to bear. You’re on a different level with the users because you don’t necessarily have the same purposes for being involved. These different levels can cause communication problems.
Did I mention problems? Companies operating in fandom can attest to the communication problems that arise. Wikia, LiveJournal, Quizilla, Lucasfilms Ltd., TokyoPop have all had to deal with the backlash of members of fandom not being happy with the decisions made by those corporations. Fan run groups also have had similar problems in communication with fandom regarding the purpose of their projects, the rules they have, etc and have had to deal with backlashes. Organization for Transformative Works, SkyHawke, FicWad, SugarQuill, Fiction Alley, ficathons or communities that have not allowed slash or gen, mailing lists over policies regarding concrit, the list could go on and on.So how do you communicate with the community which you’re creating or operating in? There is no simple answer. Over on InsaneJournal and LiveJournal, I’ve discussed this with a few people who have operated fansites and other fan communities. Even amongst my peers, we can’t reach a consensus.
Funding your fansite (July 11, 2008)
Discussing money and fandom always makes me queasy because I come that part of media fan fiction fandom which prizes the fact that there is a certain purity to do what we do and believes that making money off our activities is wrong for a variety of reasons. Another part of the reason that fandom doesn’t discuss money is that there is the strong belief that what we are doing is probably wrong. Fansites, fan fiction, fan vidding, fan art all have possible copyright issues. If some one is making money, it is best to keep that quiet lest the creators decide to go after you and others around you. As a consequence, money very rarely gets discussed, the financial back end for most sites is largely unknown and the details that are believed to be true are frequently way off base.
See Funding Your Fansite.
Fan History is growing! (September 18, 2008)
Archive of our Own vs. FanLib: Why they are not succeeding (June 29, 2009)
It includes the number of fanfics posted to Archive of Our Own as of June 29, 2009 as compared to the number posted to FanLib as proof of AO3's failure. Note that AO3 did not enter open beta until November 2009.
FanLib itself had folded by August 2008.
I love statistics. I love analytics. I love analyzing fandom based on those numbers. The numbers can provide a framework for telling a story. In the case of this set of numbers, a group was created back in May 2007 to try to bring greater fan control over certain parts of fandom in response to what they saw as the commercialism of fandom. The specific commercialism of fandom in this case was FanLib. There were people who hoped and believed that their new archive could end up being bigger than FanFiction.Net. It hasn’t materialized and compared to what this group was fighting, they didn’t even measure up to FanLib in terms of the number of stories that FanLib had before it closed. (Comparing their archive to FanLib seems apt. Their supporters were comparing FanLib to FanFiction.Net.) Let’s take a look at the numbers and how they stacked up…
Why didn’t they take off? There are probably a lot of reasons. The biggest is probably because the group that founded this archive were never FanFiction.Net type users to begin with. (Thus, FanLib was never intended for them.) Switching from blogging software to archiving software was probably a cultural struggle that they weren’t motivated to do because the new archive didn’t have readers and would have distanced them from existing power structures in fandom that they value. (FanFiction.Net certainly has a power structure, popular people, ways to propell [sic] your status on the site and in fandom. It just is probably less obvious to outsiders.) At the same time, the creators failed to market the site. There was no massive outreach to FanFiction.Net users, to former FanLibbers, to Quizilla users, to LiveJournal users, to AdultFanFiction.Net users. (And when they do market it, it looks like they are trying to use wank to generate traffic. Just look at their warnings we has! [sic] announcement on metafandom.) As a result, their major pool of authors was severely limited. The last reason why it looks like they fail to succeed as much as FanLib is they don’t appear to believe in their own product. People aren’t doing fake LJ cuts to it. They aren’t delicious bookmarking it on any scale. They just don’t appear to want to make the time commitment to make it THE next FanFiction.Net.
Fandom as a business (October 27, 2009)
I was having one of these conversations recently on LiveJournal about a bot we’re planning on launching soon. One of the issues that came up was that, in making the decision to create this bot and launch this bot, we are going to ruffle some feathers because it goes against the norm in parts of LiveJournal related fandom communities. We decided to go ahead with it anyway because, as a business decision, it made sense. Risk/Reward was weighted. We discussed different, for want of a better term, market segments (groups and cliques? subfandoms? fannish subcultures?) inside of fandom, and their potential reactions to this bot. We also review previous decisions that were comparable, response to that and determined that overall, if we take this step and that step, our response rate should be ninety percent favorable. The ten percent unfavorable are not part of our potential audience, have a negative view of Fan History anyway, were largely informed of the means of protecting themselves in the previous discussions about Fan History. We can afford that as such articles increase our participation on the wiki, help users overcome a barrier for entry by not forcing them to create articles from scratch and get a lot of quantitative and qualitative information which will help us to better understand fandom. That’s how we made our decision. It was a business one.
Don't do that! TPTB might find out! (November 13, 2008)
I used to read a lot of posts about how certain actions should not be taken lest the powers that be crack down on that fan, and as a consequence, all fans. (And these types of posts still exist.) There was frequently a Chicken Little “The sky is falling!” type pile on when some people were perceived as crossing lines that others felt that would bring down the wrath of others. CousinJean, the Star Wars self published novel, FanLib are three of the more visible examples to parts of the meta community over on LiveJournal.
And guess what Chicken Littles? The sky never fell. TPTB never unleashed that backlash. That whole exercise appeared to be more about social cohesion in a narrow community of fandom than it was ever about a real potential backlash. None ever happened. For all the talk of OTW creating a legal group because FanLib‘s existence was going to lead to a crack down and fans would need protection? No crackdown. TPTB weren’t going to do it. There was too much of a risk that they would lose in court.
When I see that argument these days, I really just roll my eyes. “Don’t do that! The Powers That Be MIGHT FIND OUT AND BRING PERIL TO OUR HOBBY!” Yeah. Right. These days, companies and individuals either actively seek to find out what is going on in fandom or hire out to have some one monitor what is going on for them. Your Harry Potter is 10 and doing Snape who is in his 30s fan art that you’ve posted publicly on a social networking site like DeviantART or LiveJournal or InsaneJournal? They know about it. That people are selling their works at conventions, on eBay, auctioning them off for donations to their favorite charities, that people are raising funds and making money in some form off those works? They know all about that too. And they haven’t done anything major about it in a long time.So go screaming about how that’s the way things are, that by selling your fanart, the person is going to bring down the wrath of the intellectual property holders down on innocent, non-profiting fans. All you’re doing with that is demonstrating that you’re not cognizant of the existing business climate and its models, of what businesses are doing and affording yourself more privacy than you actually have: TPTB already know.
Announcing paid article services for Fan History! (January 1, 2009)
Fan History is pleased to announce Fan History’s paid article services! 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.Why are we doing this? Fan History is trying to generate enough revenue to fund projects we wish to do work on, including doing a better job at documenting the history, documenting trends in entertainment, providing statistical data about fandom to the public, improving our fandom directory, etc. This means that we need to be able to pay developers, pay for our hosting, and compensate people for their time. To meet some of these goals, it also means being able to increase our visibility. To do this, we also need to be able to reserve space at conventions, pay to publish some materials and buy advertising. The funds generated from paid articles will go to cover these costs. We want 2009 to be a year where we really shine and excel, and this is one way of helping us to get there.
If you want an article which documents the history of a fandom, you’ll also get a lot! With Fan History’s fandom article, we’ll do that research for you to find out what happened and when, and create an article detailing a lot of that. The completed article will begin to let people understand the fandom. If a particular part of the article gets too long, we’ll segment it into a separate article or two. It can be a really great way to give back to your fandom by preserving that fandom’s history and you don’t have to do most of the work for it!
On privacy, blogging, and hazardous misconceptions (February 16, 2009)
Two topics: "Public postings are exactly that: PUBLIC... Linking happens. Deal with it."
Today’s blog isn’t so much directly about fandom, but the ways in which I’ve recently seen a number of people (inside and outside of fandom) completely miss the boat on the way the internet works–in particular on issues of etiquette and privacy. Unfortunately, there is no one “bible” on internet etiquette out there to follow; no international rules and regulations beyond those that evolve within the community of internet users through the years. But some of these things really shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out if you are at all familiar with technology and net culture–and have some small amount of common sense about you. They are also things which are worth contemplating from time to time, to determine if your personal expectations of privacy and etiquette can really be automatically expected to be followed by others–or are completely off the mark.
There are a lot more exampled of misconceptions of privacy on-line I can think of which I’ve seen in recent times: a fan-fiction author being outed after not protecting her fannish identity as separate from the “real life” one on Facebook; a chat session being copied on a public messageboard which some participants had believed would be private, which then lead to serious wank within the fandom. Almost every week there seems to be some kerfluffle in fandom related to privacy issues, sometime minor, sometimes major. So I’m going to end this blog with a point towards Fan History’s Privacy Help Page. We’ve been wanked in the past about it for it being “laughable” and “impractical”; that to follow all the guidelines within would not allow one to participate in fandom at all. And such criticism is missing the point. The point is that one must constantly make thoughtful decisions when on the internet regarding one’s desire and needs for privacy vs. one’s desire to create and share in on-line communities. You can’t expect the millions of people out there on the net to all have the same “good intentions” as you do, nor the same ideas of what constitutes netiquette. One must be aware of the “risks” involved in one’s actions on-line, and make decisions on whether they feel comfortable with those risks. If you create a public blog, you must accept that people are, in fact, going to read it. And maybe disagree with you and what you say, and tell you such. If you post anything under pseudonym to “protect your privacy” but aren’t consistent in keeping your real life identity separate from your fannish one (or try to use your reputation or “standing” within the fannish community to improve your real life one, or vice-versa) eventually someone may “connect the dots” in a way that could have negative repercussions for you. These are the facts of life in the internet world of today, facts which, unfortunately, many only seem to realize from making embarrassing and potentially more hurtful mistakes.
The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History's experience (April 10, 2009)
This post quotes from a LiveJournal post, a post by User:Elfwreck musing on how to fit their half-remembered info on gaming and RPGs into Fanlore's structure, which was more geared toward media fandom., (now locked) by a Fanlore contributor who voiced some criticisms of the site as a starting point for discussing issues related to running a fan wiki. Note that Laura was unhappy with the OTW's decision to start Fanlore because its scope was similar to her own wiki. At the time some people involved in the OTW probably weren't too happy with her or her wiki either. See Conflict with Fanlore and Laura Hale Controversies. Also of possible relevance is that a few months before this post Laura tried and failed to have the Fanlore article about her deleted. There's nothing obviously grudgewanky in the post itself, so it's only the history between Laura and Fanlore and the OTW that makes the motive behind this post suspect.[note 1]
At Fan History, we are always looking for ways to improve our content, increase contributions, and improve outreach to the greater community. As such, it is often useful to reflect inward on our own practices and to look outward, to look at other wikis, to see how they tackle these issues, as well as how they are perceived by the public.
Crosstalk takes effort and a commitment from those who are editing. It is why Fan History uses talk pages. It is why we ask people if they need help. It is why we create active talk pages to converse on how things are organized. These things need to be done openly, so that users can have input. We’ll admit that we aren’t always excellent at it… but we do try, and this is one area we have worked hard on improving. We know this is important to the success of a wiki. Sometimes, crosstalk can be hindered on a wiki. We’ve found this to be a problem at times as some members of the fan community have had limited exposure to wikis. They don’t understand how wikis work. They might not understand the purpose – or even the existence – of a talk page. They might be used to a certain wiki or another project which doesn’t have the same idea of constantly sharing, constantly asking questions, constantly editing, constantly revising. There is a learning curve. As wiki administrators, we need remove those barriers to create crosstalk, to make the users aware of crosstalk. On Fan History, we’re still working on that. Both FanLore and Fan History need to improve by using methods such as welcoming members, following up with one time contributors, and even changing the text on our talk tab – easy, since we’re using MediaWiki.
Something like wikiHow, AboutUs, Wikipedia, PoliceWiki even wikiFur and EncyclopediaDramatica have built-in audiences. Or the wikis have done a great job of demonstrating their relevance. wikiFur pretty much made themselves into THE furry portal through content selection and organization. They’ve worked with the community and created standards for writing articles about members. This has made it easier for the the wiki to serve their community peacefully. AboutUs has developed relationships with sites that provide domain information – to the point where you almost can’t get who is information without stumbling across them. PoliceWiki has done a lot of outreach to photographers and musicians to get permission to use their images and content on the site. Through the years, they have also worked to get those directly involved with the band to contribute material themselves as a way of presenting the most accurate resource for the fandom possible–and building good professional relationships. Getting a wiki recognized as a good resource takes concentrated effort, time and marketing. People need to know you’re there before anything else!
In the past, we’ve cited the Fandom Wank wiki, but that in itself caused a lot of wank, so we’ve discontinued using it as a main source for information on new and existing articles. On a plus side, Fan History is “working” with FanLore by linking to their articles and citing them as a source in more articles. We have relationships with a few fandom specific wikis such as PoliceWiki and RangersWiki to “mirror” articles relevant to both sites, helping to build cross-community work and traffic to both wikis as a result. We also allow some mirroring of articles with AboutUs. We talk extensively to others in the wiki community, developing positive and beneficial relationships so where we know we can turn for help when needed. This includes having open communications with people who run AboutUs, EncyclopediaDramatica, wikiHow, wikiindex, Richmond Wiki, Wagn, wikiTravel, Kaplak Wiki, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia. They’ve provided us with assistance on things such as advertising issues, content development, policy creation and letting us use extensions they’ve developed.
We’ve been working to make certain our most edited articles are not our personal loves or the people we dislike.[note 2] Why? It’s not conducive to building a community. We’ve learned this the hard way, admittedly, so it is not surprising to see that another wiki may be encountering the same issues. That said, being seen as a personal “grudge” site with too narrow a focus is not good for building positive public relations.[note 3] It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to rebuild trust after working the bias out of your more problematic articles[note 4]....We wish FanLore nothing but the best of luck in their endeavor. It is a long a bumpy road but one that be filled with tremendous personal satisfaction in creating a great tool for the greater fan community.
It's the next big thing! Or, maybe not. (April 2009)
The topic is Dreamwidth.
Last night I remembered to actually check in on my InsaneJournal account, for the first time in quite a few months.
I remember when, in the panic and frenzy of Strikethrough and Boldthrough, it seemed as though everyone was talking about how they’d be “leaving LiveJournal for good!”–yet very few, at least from my personal friends list, actually really followed through on that threat. One or two moved completely to JournalFen, which was cool, as I always check my JF friendslist daily because of certain communities and groups there like Fandom Wank and lol_meme that are highly active and have no equivalent elsewhere. A couple others moved to InsaneJournal, though, where at least in my corner of fandom no communities really took off that “required” my following with any regularity. I found reading repeatedly-mirrored posts from some people annoying, so as long as they were still copying all their posts between InsaneJournal and LiveJournal, why keep both on my friendlist? It was easier to just keep following them on LiveJournal. Though I thought about random different uses for my InsaneJournal, I never found the time or real push/need to use it. The #rss feeds I tried to set up on LiveJournal to read the two or three journals of people who’d moved elsewhere didn’t seem to work all that well and were an awkward solution at best. So in the end, I just lost touch with the people who moved entirely to InsaneJournal (though at least in one or two cases, they ended up coming back to LiveJournal after all…) As a separate website/social network, it had nothing compelling to offer me that I didn’t already get primarily on LiveJournal already, where all my non-fandom and wider-ranging-than-media fandom friends had remained.So now, here it is some time (almost a year) later, and it seems that everyone is all abuzz about a new journaling site about to start selling accounts, Dreamwidth Studios. At least, everyone in certain corners of media fandom and the metafandom crowd, many of whom are praising the site up to be the best thing since perhaps the beginnings of the internet! And it’s where all the cool kids will be at! No, more than that, it means nothing less than the “parting of ways” of “LJ and fandom”! (Making that assumption, as some often seem to do, that LiveJournal media fandom is the be-all-and-end-all and only part of what constitutes “fandom” that matters.)
A portion of media fandom may begin–and have already have begun–to migrate. But the apparent assumption by some of those moving that all will follow (or at least, all who matter) seems disingenuous, and quite a bit premature. Some people have already been put off by the overwhelming hype being put forth vocally and repeatedly by the site’s most ardent supporters: just like over-”pimping” a specific fandom to the point that some have grown sick of hearing about it before even seeing it or checking it out for themselves. And there is, albeit apparently mistaken, an assumption by some as well that Dreamwidth is part of or associated with the Organization for Transformative Works – which may not be the case, but the fact that some of the most vocal supporters of both groups are the same people has lead to this misconception and turned off some because of their already established negative-or-cautious feelings about OTW. There are those who have wondered if Dreamwidth will suffer from a smalltown mentality, and who worry because the site is apparently run by former members of the LJ Abuse team.
The problems of writing personal histories in a wiki… (April 21, 2009)
This is a similar problem that Fan History has faced. And it isn’t just non-fic fandoms. It is fandoms where there is a community outside of and removed from the fan fiction community. This was an area we were criticized for about two years. We were too fan fiction-centric. We weren’t multifannish enough. We didn’t encourage the telling of fandom history outside of the fan fiction community. And those criticisms were entirely valid back then. But now? We’ve got a whole lot of fan fiction content but we’re a lot less fan fiction-centric in terms of our article scope. Removing that has been a goal of ours and on our to-do list for a long time. It’s there as a reminder that when we see a timeline for a fandom that says “this fan fiction community,” we change it to “this fan community” or “this fandom.” We’ve made this a priority.
That doesn’t even begin to get into the issue of media fandom vs. anime and manga fandom vs. actor fandom vs. music fandoms vs. video game fandoms. In this respect, I think Fan History was fortunate because we had anime and video game fandoms represented early thanks to Jae, one of our earliest contributors. She had a lot of experience in the Digimon and Final Fantasy communities, and created a number of articles about them. We are also fortunate to a degree as my own interests were pretty pan-fannish. I had connections to the anime and music fandoms because of my relationships with the folks at RockFic, the guy who runs FanWorks.Org, and the people who run MediaMiner.Org.FanLore isn’t as fortunate in that regards. Their traditions, their interests have always been focused on media fandom and science fiction. They don’t really have one or two core people who come from fannish experiences outside their own who, organizationally, are equal to other members of that community. It is easy to have that problem because you tend to go with what you know, hang out with like-minded people, and stay in your comfort zone.
If you want those other fan communities represented, you have give those fans an investment in it. You bypass the traditional rules. You find a BNF in one of those fandoms, offer them admin status, and encourage them to promote the project in their own community. We did this with the Kim Possible fandom. We made one their own a fandom administrator, talked to the guy on a regular basis and encouraged him to reach out to his community. And, to a certain degree, it worked. If we hadn’t done that outeach [sic], we would not have seen the edits to the Kim Possible section that we have had. None of our core contributors have ever really been in the Harry Potter or Rescue Rangers fandoms to any large degree. We reached out on mailing lists, LiveJournal groups, fansites, and fan fiction archives. We asked for their help. These folks responded. Why? We built a framework which made it easy to contribute. In most cases, we left them alone to make edits as they needed to so long as they didn’t violate the rules. They responded more when those articles became useful for them in terms of regularly visiting and linking because people couldn’t get that content elsewhere.
When I started writing the history of fandom, I had similar problems… though more so the case of I had a lot of historical information that I could cite but all that information was really absent context. I didn’t know how to integrate it in to a historical context where these bits and pieces made sense. I had lists of Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Star Trek, and Starsky and Hutch fanzines from the 1980s, but no information about how of those zines were received by the readers, what were common tropes, who was writing them, or who the audience was. How the heck do you put that information into an article about the fandom those zines come from and have it fit in any sort of meaningful way? A lot of the culture probably changed when things went online. There might not have been a continuity in that culture when it went online, so totally different cultural practices were created. And sometimes, you really are left wondering who will care about that Blake’s 7 femslash zine that was written in 1992 other than someone into trivia. Also, a lot of this might be duplicate historical research that someone already put out in a fanzine list done in 1995 and if only you had access… It is just a mess.
It might be hard to get a grip on when you’re trying to put it into a big picture and you don’t have a starting place. The personal, well, I can totally understand that in a different context. I don’t know when some things happened. I know I was on staff at FanFiction.Net. I know I wrote the site’s first Terms of Service. I know I got into a big fight with Steven Savage over policies. I don’t know the exact dates. I don’t have copies of the original text. I know I founded the b5teens. I know I got into a giant kerfluffle with some people on another mailing list when I was 16. Many of the others involved in the group with me back then have left fandom. I don’t know the dates. I don’t have the texts. I’m sure as heck hoping that the fan fiction I wrote has disappeared. Even assuming I knew some of that information, it was still weird to find a starting point. What seems really big and important to you when you’re in the thick of it is difficult to put into any sort of proper historical context. How can you make your own history as unbiased as possible? People do a lot of stupid things - myself included - and really, who wants to deliberately make themselves look bad? After dealing with that, how do you cite information when the source is yourself? Or when you’re documenting history that includes your own involvement? What event do you start with? Do you start on the stuff you’re most passionate about, or the place where you can most easily slot your history in? Do you write the history where you can most easily put information into context, or the history where you can best cite your sources?
Why Fan History won't be moving to Wikia any time soon (September 20, 2009)
But Fan History will not be moving to Wikia any time soon because Wikia wants to own Fan History. We would have to change our license, remove our business plan, give up control of the community, could not leave, would have to give Wikia our domains, etc. When Wikia has approached Fan History LLC about acquiring it, Wikia has generally used the approach of treating the acquiring of Fan History like it should be a hosting decision for Fan History LLC and downplayed the ownership issues. While we love Wikia and some of the things that Wikia has done for the wider wiki community, we do not appreciate their approach in this regard. 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.
What does the Organization for Transformative Works look like? (November 2009)
This essay contains a lot of statistics and was posted to Fan History Wiki's blog.
The Organization for Transformative Works is a fan advocacy group that runs Fanlore and An Archive of Our Own. They were created on LiveJournal and most of their early and continued support continues to come from that community. Much of that has to do with the reasons they were created: The group perceived Fanlib as a threat to fandom as a whole, and had issues with how LiveJournal treated its fans..
After having done a bit of an analysis of the Twilight fandom as represented by lion_lamb, I was curious to see how otw_news looked, especially when compared to lion_lamb. How similar are they in terms of age, length of time on LiveJournal, the number of friends, the number of posts, etc. In the past, the group’s members have talked about doing advocacy on behalf of fandom to change media perceptions of fans. The goal looked like they wanted to present their demographics as the norm. That is what I am looking for here.The Organization for Transformative Works’s founders and supporters were also vocally critical of LiveJournal’s commercial aspects, and discussed the need for a non-profit site that would cater to fan interests while being less susceptible to pressure from advertisers. The actions by LiveJournal taken during StrikeThrough 2007 were one of the prime examples cited by this group to rationalize this position. Many people talked about giving up paid accounts, not using Plus accounts, etc. Given that history, I am curious as to the behaviors of the organization’s supporters in the almost two and a half years since the groups founding: Are they more likely than Twilight fans to use basic accounts, less likely to give money directly to a company whose ethos runs counter to the group’s founding principles?
When compared to lion_lamb, otw_news members way over-represent in paid accounts and permanent accounts. Despite the issues of Strikethough, not all of which have been resolved, people affiliated with the Organization for Transformative Works are much more willing to pay for LiveJournal than their fandom counterparts. Still, there is some obvious shift from the group, where people are willing to sacrifice functionality in order to view fewer ads and thus potentially give LiveJournal less income; there is an 18% difference in basic accounts from otw_news to lion_lamb. Are the buying habits of a cross-fandom section, and their choices to expose themselves to additional ads, consistent with the attitude expressed by members and supporters during the time they lambasted LiveJournal’s beholdenment to advertisers? It is hard to make a conclusive judgment based on the data we have available.
The outing of Astolat and Fan History (December 31, 2009)
The post is a response to a much-criticized incident that occurred in mid-2008, which other fans argued was outing, and Laura argues here was not. Some topics discussed: Outing, Linking to Public Fan Sites. Incidentally, her argument is very similar to the argument Will Shetterly had made about his outing of LiveJournal user coffeeandink during RaceFail 09; both were in the vein of "if it's public, you can link to it", but ran counter to a community norm in LiveJournal fandom, where there was an assumption of a degree of safety in posting RL name info to a personal account that was not google-indexed, even if the post wasn't friendslocked. Like Tumblr after it, on LJ you were expected to know not to publicize information that looked private, but keep it in the fandom. Laura Hale's arguments that people should know better, ostensibly reasonable, were considered disingenuous by many. See Laura_Hale_(fan)#Outing and Fan_History_Wiki#Controversy. See also "On privacy, blogging, and hazardous misconceptions" and "How not to appear on Fan History"
I’ve been repeatedly accused of outing Astolat. I’ve largely been silent on it because it really serves no purpose to confront people about their view on the events. It tends to piss people off and just drag up a whole bunch of garbage and nastiness in fandom that I’d and others would prefer to avoid.
Prior to the connection of Astolat and cathexys and and their real names on Fan History, both had made the connection themselves. They did this on their FLists on LiveJournal. They shared it with friends and acquaintances on other services. Neither took active steps to really hide the connections and both were viewed as open fandom secrets that everyone knew. The information frequently appeared on lol_meme, to the point where the mods on lol_meme stopped removing it. At the time, Fan History’s admins edited articles and made the connections with out thinking, because everyone knew and the information was easily accessible. Neither of these women were particularly “in the closet” with their identities. When we were informed otherwise, I asked members of our staff about it. One of them, who is no longer on staff, made the final call to put it back in and asked me to make the edit as they viewed as common knowledge. I did, and I’ve never named that person or blamed them because ultimately, the buck stops with me and I didn’t want to subject a person I considered a good friend to the type of wank storm that I was being subjected to.
That these women were “in the closet” in regards to their identities is one of the biggest problems I have with the attacks on myself and Fan History. Neither were and neither continue to be. If you want to be “in the closet” and keep your fandom identity separated from your “real life” identity and name, you do it all the time. You don’t decide that it is okay to be out with this person over here and not that person over there. And by this person, I mean this group of two or three thousand and not that group of ten. You don’t make information public and then claim that only this group over here can use that information when it suits them. Still, that’s what both Astolat and cathexys chose to do. They were out with their real names when it suited them and not when they weren’t.We couldn’t have outed either of them.
Comment to this post at the Fan History Blog:Nile Flores, a Fan History Wiki volunteer, said:
I am not sure what part of when you talk about yourself online, you have exposed yourself.... at least in regards to the people 'outed.' I really do not think of it as an outing and it is ridiculous when you put yourself online and then have a shit fit when someone says something about you. Of course, it is a natural first reaction, but to draw it out into a long grudge, and involve others in it while encouraging people to retaliate in some manner is shameful and damn childish. It is sad that these people are adults.
I would say to get over themselves. If they feel they have been outed, then let me say: Guess what... you should have kept yourself anonymous and under an assumed name. If you are truthful about what you say, people will accept your choice to have an assumed named online. You also should know this type of stuff happens a lot, and if you choose to jump into a situation with eyes wide open, be prepared to accept anything. So at least accept responsibility and stop bagging on people as a means of scapegoating because things are not going your way....and grow up!I am sure there will be people who keep on carrying on, but Laura, I am glad you have addressed this matter. It is about time. 
A history and my take on The Slash Debate (January 20, 2010)
This post is, in part, commentary on Man on Man: The New Gay Romance....
The Slash Debate continues to go on and the longer it has gone on, the more I wanted to comment on it. The problem is how to do that thoughtfully, acknowledging both sides and the shades of grey in between the major position. If you aren’t aware, the Slash Debate kicked off in response to “Man on Man: The New Gay Romance … … written by and for straight women” by Gendy Alimurung in LA Weekly. Some gay men found the article objectionable because it ignored them completely in explaining about a genre that comes out of their own tradition. This kerfluffle was on the heels of LambdaFail, where straight writers were upset over having been deliberately excluded from awards honoring GLBT literature.
I haven’t completely followed the whole argument as it morphed into a discussion about m/m slash, but one of the major points that developed was that gay men were upset about straight women writing homoerotic fan fiction for their own sexual gratification, feeling that they were being stereotyped in a less than flattering light, that m/m slash was not helping the GLBT movement and that, ultimately, they were being othered in a genre that was fundamentally about them. This upset some members of the m/m slash community who felt that men were trying to tell women how to define their own sexuality, trying to restrict their freedom to write, that gay men had no reason to complain because they did the same thing to women with their drag performances, etc.This whole argument happened against a backdrop of 2009, where some members of fandom were upset about the portrayal of people of color in fiction, and how fandom treated people of color. Some of the dominant voices during that conversation insisted that white people sit and listen to the people of color, that people of color should be deferred that to when writing people of color, that fundamentally all white people were racists, that just because some people of color were not offended doesn’t mean that a person’s actions aren’t racist. The Slash Debate flips some of that on its head: Gay men are not being deferred to in terms of how they are depicted by others, where those offended are slotted into a minority position that should be ignored because they are not representative.
Why the emphasis on gender and orientation? Because in the sexuality privilege Olympics, heterosexual males get gold. Heterosexual women get silver. Asexuals get bronze and last place. (Last place because their orientation is still considered a sexual dysfunction.) Bisexual women get fourth. Bisexual men get fifth. Homosexual women sixth. Butch and African American homosexual women get six and a half place. Homosexual men get seventh. Queen and African American homosexuals (in the context of US culture) get seven and a half place. This hierarchy of privilege in the context of American culture is important for understanding this argument.
Gay men are less privileged than lesbian women. When lesbian women start talking about how this material is not offensive and how homosexuality is depicted in slash is not problematic, they are speaking from a place of privilege. In the United States, lesbian women are often portrayed as hot, sexy and not threatening to American definitions of masculinity. And anyway, a lesbian can always become straight if she sleeps with a guy. (Which, no, is not true but it is an attitude that I know some people hold which is why they see lesbians as less problematic than gay men. ) Added to that, American culture, and to a degree English culture, have idealized female friendship and elevated it. It is natural that women’s relationships might go that way. One of the major exceptions to this involves butch lesbians, who challenge traditional gender roles, face their own discrimination and are rarely if ever seen on television compared to their non-butch counterparts.Gay men? They aren’t that privileged in the United States. Gay men are seen as challenging traditional gender roles. Gay men felt the brunt of events like Stonewall. Gay men faced people more actively trying to legislate their sex lives, to criminalize their sex lives. When people sought to prosecute homosexual sex, they tended to go after gay men. In the United States, making jokes at the expense of male homosexuals is still much more tolerated. Remember all the Brokeback Mountain jokes? People were okay with that and there was no outrage over those, much less outrage than if some one had made similar jokes about a person of color. Added to that, when American culture talks about gay males, they tend to focus on their sex lives or on stereotypes involving queens. Yes, this is changing but gay men have often had it worse than lesbian women, and I do not see the two as being being on equal footing when it comes to privilege. Any implication that they are is probably misguided. (1) Their voices should not be silenced just because it gets in the way of enjoying your own kink.
I’ve rambled on and I had another pointed I wanted to make: Some universes are harder to read and are more problematic for fan fiction writers, in terms of the accuracy issue and the potential to offend and get things wrong. Starsky and Hutch is set during the 1970s. If they got together and were out at work? It probably would not be pretty and their co-workers likely wouldn’t be okay. Star Trek, as much as we might wish otherwise, does not present us with a happy future where homosexuality is tolerated and same sex relationships are viewed as normal. When we do see queer characters that aren’t aliens, they tend to be evil. In Glee, we really don’t see lesbians and the gay kid gets picked on. (But thankfully has a supportive parent.) In True Blood, the gay male gets murdered violently and is a drug dealer. Tolerance in that universe is not really implied. On The Good Wife, the implication is that some one is in the closet for the good of their own career. (Or was mistakenly labeled a lesbian and isn’t bothered by it.) Lots of these universes are just heternormative. Squishy happy romances thus might need some care so that these realities are acknowledged, while at the same time not interfering with the audiences’s [sic] kinks. When you’re writing and when you’re responding as a reader, that may be the most important takeaway from The Slash Debate.
Slash is not gay: Homosexuality, class and fan fiction communities, A historical perspective (January 27, 2010)
It was written in 2006, posted to Fan History Wiki at some point, and posted again on the Fan History blog on January 27, 2010.
Fandom history then and now (February 25, 2010)
During 2006 and 2007, I had several conversations with people where I said that the model of fandom developed online from 1998 to 2006 was fundamentally dead. The major changes for this involved shifting business strategies, strategies that required content creators to actively engage and develop their fan bases as they had never done before. You couldn’t risk shutting down whole sites or categories on a site with a cease and desist letter. The impact would be negative and newsworthy. Fans would rally to protest such actions if taken on any scale and the demographics of fan communities had changed so that content creators couldn’t assume that fans would do anything to avoid going to court.
To counter fannish usurpation of their branding, message and ability to market themselves, I predicted increased engagement as a form of control Why use legalities to shut down conversation when you can channel the message, host the content, define the rules, use other forms of media to help define a fan community to better build your brand? It was the logical business decision, and one that content creators have slowly adopted.The net result of this shift includes an increased speed in terms of how fast fandom moves, a diffusion of power structure in fan based communities, breaking down barriers between creators and fans as each use each other for their own purposes, and an overall blurring of the lines between entertainment/general popular culture fans and more hard core fandom. At the same time, as business models change, technology and how people interact with it are changing. Things that were once very hard to access are becoming more readily accessible.
The acceptance of fandom, especially around anime, television, sports, video games, movie, theater and actors, has made it easier for fans to bring their friends and family into the community; spaces are harder to define as purely fannish, business or professional. (Even content creators are breaking these barriers. It isn’t just fans.) It isn’t something you need to keep as in the closet as you once had to. One of the results of this is that the size of fannish communities are exploding: A community that might once have had 500 people may now have 50,000 people. As a consequence, personal interaction and the development of purely fannish relationships can be harder to make and we fall more into regional patterns again, where were assign greater value to the people online that we can and have met in person. (It is like fandom during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.) This can and does lead to a diffusion of fannish activity as people try to make their experiences manageable and not overwhelming while still maintaining that identity as part of a larger group.
- from user:aethel's point of view, at least.
- "people we dislike" is probably a reference to Laura Hale; the article claims that the Fanlore page on her was the most edited page on the wiki. In 2009 this may have been true, though as of December 2015 she has slipped to #186. See Special:MostRevisions.
- Possibly a reference to Fanlore having an article about her, or about backlash against Fan History Wiki's outing of astolat, or both.
- Possibly a reference to an early version of Fanlore's Laura Hale article, which was very biased.