Fannish Community

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See also: fanac, fandom
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Fannish Community is an amorphous thing, and many fans would give different definitions. Fan Communities category page on Fanlore links to over a hundred group areas (geographical, temporal, virtual).

It is possible to be a fan of a show, and even read fan fiction about a show, and still not be a member of the fannish community.[1] A member does at least some of these things:

Interact with a media source

  • Talking about media sources (a show, book, movie, etc.), either from an inside-the-show viewpoint (i.e., "Maybe Starfleet wouldn't let Kirk do X"), or an outside-the-show viewpoint (e.g., "It should have been a sequel to that other episode, but I heard the same actress wasn't available, so they cast another one"), with other fans who are willing to take the sources seriously, at least as a topic of conversation.
  • Writing about media sources. This can be simple episode reviews, capturing all of the details of a specific show (such as in Arduinna's Stargate Handbook), discussing or comparing entire seasons, comparing episodes written by one set of writers verses another set of writers, essays on specific characters, and plenty more.
  • Using media sources to make points about the world around us.

Get Meta about our fannish interaction

  • Writing about our fiction, in general. Writing about trends as one fandom becomes more or less popular. Complaining about trends, perhaps as one pairing becomes more or less popular in a fandom. Contrasting current fiction with older fanfic. Comparing fan fiction with professional fiction.
  • Writing about how to write. Writing Hints that concentrate on common writing mistakes appear in very early zines, and have continued until today, though they do wax and wane in popularity.
  • Complaining about how bad certain stories are. Fandom has a complicated history with what is now called concrit or helpful but negative reviews.
  • Talking about our non-fannish lives to our fannish friends. This is perhaps more common now with LJ than it was back in the days of zines, or mailing lists. Or maybe not.
  • Going to professional guest conventions (or concerts) to see the actors/musicians that we read and write about.

Fan Works: making them, enjoying them, reviewing them

There are all kinds of fanwork, but in these days of internet fandom, probably these three -- vids, art and fiction -- are the most common.


  • Creating songvids -- this can be a quick tossing together a few clips in a free editing program to a short soundtrack, just to see your BSOs move to a song you've chosen, or a project that requires you to learn masking, animation, after effects and more to make the point you want to make (even if your point is still, "aren't they pretty?")
  • Watching songvids -- either online in a small youtube window, downloaded and watched with friends, or sitting in the dark in front of a large screen at a fan convention.
  • Commenting on/reviewing songvids -- a quick comment in your LiveJournal or vidding mailing list; an essay going into depth about a vid, or theme in recent vids; at a panel at a convention, talking about the vids the con goers watched the night before at the show. Another way to comment on a vid is to nominate it, or vote for it, in a fannish award process.

Fan Art

  • Making fanart -- The first fan art showed up in zines, and at art shows at cons. It was made of all sorts of materials, by children and adults, by beginning amateurs and seasoned professionals. Today fanart mostly shows up online, but cons still have artshows, and there are still a few zines around looking for illos.
  • Commenting on/reviewing Fan Art
  • Buying Fan Art -- both fan-run and professional conventions tend to have art shows. Some are tiny, some quite elaborate. Generally along with an art show is an art auction -- art that gets more than two or three bids automatically goes to auction. Auctions can be fun to watch even if you aren't planning to buy or sell anything.

Fan Fiction

  • Writing fiction set in media sources. These can be drabble-sized vignettes up to series of novels; young-adult style to the adultest of darkfic. These can be episode tags, written seconds after an episode has finished airing, or years later. They can be very distant alternate universes (AUs), say, where Kirk and Spock meet as teenagers on a dude ranch, or very subtle aus where one small aspect of an episode didn't happen, or happened differently.
  • Writing reviews of each others fiction. These can be long and thorough, or simple squee, "I just read a great story -- go read!" Some people review because they don't write, and they see reviewing as a way they can contribute to the Fannish Community. Some people review because they do write, and they know how it feels to have a story seem to be unnoticed. Some review regularly, most just now and then. We reviewed back when fiction came in zines and was expensive, and you needed to know what you were buying; we review now that fiction is free on the web.
  • Writing stories, based in some way on already written fan stories, which then becomes a Shared Universe. These can be sequels (authorized or not), remixes, or responsefic, whether positive or negative responses, or just stories influenced by other stories. Sometimes it's subtle -- there's a sudden influx of wingfic, and no one remembers what story set it all off.

Arguing with other fans

  • Disagreeing and bickering about everything above, otherwise known as wank, fan feuds, kerfuffles, or imbroglios (or in extreme cases, flamewars), is a massively important part of Fannish Community. As are fruitless cries of "Can't we all just get along?"

Meta Meta: Complaining about Fandom

We used to complain that zines were too expensive, that zine editors weren't picky enough and published bad stories. Then we started complaining about list administrators (kbs as listmoms) were too harsh, or too lenient, or the list culture was stifling or vicious, then that everyone was leaving for LJ, then that community mods were too disorganized or rule-bound. And always, complaining that no one writes the stories we want to read -- the ones about our favorite characters, doing exactly what we want them to be doing -- of if they do, they write them badly.

Getting Nostalgic

Fandom is now old enough that we can have lengthy conversations about "the good old days" and get nostalgic about our times in X fandom.


  1. ^ For meta on this, see, for example, Age of Interactivity Meta Series Part 1/8: How do You Define Success in the Fandom? post by hollow-echos, 19 March 2011. (Accessed 13 May 2011).