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See also: Fanac, Fannish Community, Helper, Mundanes, Numbered Fandoms
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A fandom is a community of fans, participating in fanac and interacting in some way, whether through discussions or creative works. The interaction may be face-to-face at gatherings such as conventions, or written communication, either off- or on-line.

Fandom as a concept started in the last years of the 19th century, to refer to sports fans. The earliest usage listed at Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction is for an 1894 Sioux City (Iowa) Journal sports column. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, fans of science fiction began using the term to refer to the organized society/culture they were forming, and science fiction fandom is considered the direct or indirect "granddaddy" of many other kinds of organized fandom today, with many of its terms and traditions carrying through even when people aren't aware of their history.

To many science fiction fans, "fandom" specifically means "science fiction fandom"; all other kinds of fandom need to be specified (e.g., "anime fandom", "media fandom"). "First fandom" has various meanings, but in the 1970s, typically referred to traditional (not Star Trek, but mostly print novels and short stories) science fiction fandom, especially retrospectively referring to the perceived Golden Age of sci-fi and its communities in the 1930s.

Outside of science fiction fandom, fans may also refer to their own corners of (collective) fandom simply as "fandom". Some also refer to communities around different source materials as individual "fandoms". Thus, someone who is multifannish might make a list of "my fandoms" but also talk about "fandom" in general as their hobby or their way of life. The Fandoms by Source Text category page on Fanlore links to pages on hundreds of different fandoms.

Fan Comments


This idea that we are instantly friends because we're all in fandom I think is silly. We all have a common interest, but that doesn't instantly make us friends. I've had wonderful experiences in fandom. However, the bad experiences have most often come from the people who most loudly sing the praises of fandom, and who seem to think that just because we have a common interest in a television show that that makes us best friends.

I don't like the assumption among some fans that we *have* to be friends because we like the same show and that somehow because I'm in fandom complete strangers can make claims on my time and my life. What really distinguishes fandom for me from my other groups and activities, is that in fandom we seem to spend an awful lot of time patting ourselves on the back saying how wonderful we are. In my other groups, most of the things fandom praises itself for are expected as part of every day, common decency.[1]


So if there's no fanfiction involved, no cons, is it still a fandom? I'm seriously asking that question, and my guess is that I'll get more than one answer to that. For instance, when I get together with other British comedy fans, folks I've met online, and we watch videos or whatever, I don't think, hey, we're part of a BritCom fandom.

In a way though, you're having a sort of mini-con when you get together in groups. And if there's fanfic out there, and mailing lists, then you really are part of a fandom, IMO -- you just may be staying more on the fringes of it than really jumping into the mainstream. There are a lot of folks in S&H, Sentinel, etc., who don't write fiction and don't go to cons, but they're still "in the fandom" because they participate on a list or love the show and get together with other fans on a local level, or whatever. To me, you're "in fandom" if you know that fandom exists as an entity (vs. just sitting in your room writing stories in your diary and hiding them <g>), and you take part in any segment of it.
I was involved in fandom as soon as I watched some eps. ... as I watched a few [Sentinel] eps, I was on the lists, writing stories, etc. Now it drives me nuts when there's a show I really love and either want to slash or at least *talk about*, and there's no one else out there who seems to even know about it!!! I think fandom really spoils us, in that we get used to having a group of like-minded, similarly obsessed individuals to hang out with, at least on a virtual basis. I sometimes do write something with almost no audience, but now that I've written for fandom, it's hard to see a point in writing something with *no* audience at all. I guess I would do it if I weren't involved in "fandom" -- I'd be writing those isolated little stories and stashing them in the drawer or on the hard drive like I used to.[2]


One of the BNFs of all BNFs once described you [Fandom] in an email to me as "a huge internet octopus mind meld" - a rather quirky way to describe your particular brand of ungainly but unconditional support. It's true though, and all things considered, it's quite noble support you give towards your charge - the inhabitants of that other world - and towards us too, and our world. You're a very good host, Fandom. You've given us beautiful soil, dark and rich, and anything will grow here - and we've raised you up to be quite the conversationalist. You have something to say about everything, don't you? Kings have long arms, Fandom, but not as long as yours. I know you have something to say, and I'm listening.[3]


I can't imagine my life without fandom. And whatever form fandom takes in the next ten years, whatever platforms we adopt or adapt or invent, I'm grateful to have had this space in which to develop so many of the best fannish relationships -- and friendships -- in my life. ♥ [4]


No one is more critical of art than fandom. No one is more capable of investigating the nuances of expression than fandom—because it’s a vast multitude pooling resources and ideas. Fandom is about correcting the flaws and vices of the original. It’s about protest and rebellion, essentially. Fandom is the voice of a mob that can do better than the original, that often flies in the face of the original, that will accept nothing less than the best the medium (and the human at the helm) is capable of. Fandom is about putting debate and conversation back into an artistic process—-especially if the artist or author in question has become so vain that all criticism falls on deaf ears. (Moffat, I’m looking at you.) Fandom is about mutual creative expression—-there are no gods in fandom and every time someone thinks they’ve become a god of fandom, fandom corrects them again. (Cassandra Clare, I’m looking at you.) Fandom doesn’t need permission and it’s certainly not waiting for it. (Robin Hobb, I’m looking at you.) And fandom doesn’t actually want your attention often, they’d rather you left them alone to get back to what they’re doing better than you anyway. (Supernatural, I’m looking at you.)... Fandom is not worshipping at the alter of canon. Fandom is re-building it because they can do better.[5]


I've always done fandom-related things, even before I was introduced to the Internet in 1991. I think people have a rather narrow view of where fandom exists, thinking it only occupies online spaces. If you're doing something fandom-ish offline with someone, you aren't in fandom. But I was in a Star Trek club in high school in 1987, 4 years before I came online. I played GI Joes with my cousins and we created these elaborate stories so the Joes could have new missions to go on. My cousin didn't like Cobra Commander's backstory so he changed it. I drew fanart with my best friend when I was in elementary school in the late 70s/early80s. My friends and I would write fanfiction for each other about our favorite shows and gift them to each other. Of course, when you're a kid, it's just called "playing". [6]

Types of Fandoms

For specific kinds of fandoms, see:

Further Reading/Meta

See Timeline of General Fandom Meta.



  1. ^ comments from a fan on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (November 1994)
  2. ^ The Pits Mailing List, quoted anonymously (Apr 14, 2003)
  3. ^ comment by Amyhit I love you. Let's gather firewood. We'll light a fire on the mountain., April 1. 2009
  4. ^ heresluck. hey, look, another milestone., posted to dreamwidth Aug. 25th, 2012, retrieved 9.20.2012
  5. ^ Stacey Lehane — A word about fandom, Archived version, goddammitstacey, February 11, 2015
  6. ^ from piandaoist at Who We Are