Fansplaining: SuperWiki!

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Podcast
Title: Fansplaining: SuperWiki!
Created by: Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel
Date(s): October 1, 2015
Focus:
Fandom:
External Links:

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Fansplaining: SuperWiki! is a podcast by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel.

The interviewee is Jules Wilkinson. The main topic is the SuperWiki, the Supernatural wiki used by fans and TPTB.

For others in the series, see Fansplaining.

Links

Introduction

The newest episode of Fansplaining is here! This week we interviewed Jules Wilkinson, the admin of supernaturalwiki. Topics covered include intentional community building, creators using fan-made resources, Your Fave Is Problematic, squickfic, and tentacles. Lots of tentacles. Possibly too many tentacles.

Topics Discussed

Excerpts

[Flourish Klink]:
Yeah, I think that Jules was very consciously positioning herself as the fan-on-the-street who doesn’t really want anything to do with getting a job in the media industry or really interacting with the media industry, just wants to hang out and have fun–don’t we all. But the thing I found a little disingenuous about that was that Jules runs SuperWiki, which is a really interesting site, it's a great site in a lot of ways. Also? Used by the Supernatural crew. Really well known. As far as if there are [[|Big Name Fan|Big Name Fans]] in the world? Jules is definitely one of them. Jared and Jensen know exactly who she is. Which, you know, I mean, that’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it’s not exactly the fan-on-the-street, so I guess I had a little bit of… I felt a little weird about that! I was like, look, you know, you can… I got why she felt like the panel was very, very, um, focused on sort of interactions with media corporations and so forth because to some degree it was, but the reality is she also has those interactions. They’re just with a slightly different tenor, because instead of actually getting paid for her work on SuperWiki, she does it for free. Which, she gets a lot of positive things out of that, she enjoys it, other people add to SuperWiki, like, I’m not saying that I think she’s being exploited particularly, but you could question that in a capitalist society in which we live. Like, she’s making a choice to forgo the major way that people show their appreciation and, you know, recognition of one’s labor. So yeah, I mean…
[Jules Wilkinson]:
All of it! I have no secrets. Well, I do have secrets. I have secrets but everyone knows them. Um, let’s see. I was, I’m about the same age as Dr. Who and slightly older than Captain Kirk, which doesn’t mean I’m over a thousand years old, but, so I’ve been a fan since fannishness was around, been involved with Supernatural Wiki–scuse me, Supernatural fandom since is started, um, I discovered the show when it started airing in Australia which was about three or four months after it started in the US. I was already on LiveJournal, so it took me about two clicks to find the Supernatural fandom, which was already just exploding, it was incredible for a show no one knew anything about, you know, three or four months into the first season. The amount of fic particularly was just incredible, and we were really lucky that we had some–a lot of fans from other fandoms, um, Smallville, Lord of the Rings, DC–we had a lot of DC comics fandom people who are amazing authors, who also knew about setting up fandoms, which I think was really important. So what a friend of mine called the “husbandry of fandoms.” So how to set up communities, how to nurture nascent challenges and do this sort of stuff that fandoms need at the beginning... I should say I didn’t start the Supernatural Wiki, it was started by another Australian fan, coincidentally, who I didn’t know back then called Emily, and she originally started a website called “Super Canon,” and her idea was to document all the myths and legends and mythology of the show and I got involved doing some transcribing and stuff for her and coincidentally she started doing her honors thesis on Supernatural fanfic in the beginning of 2006. So she was in at the ground floor! I think she might be the first Supernatural aca-fan. But she came, I suppose, from a very… brought a queer feminist approach to wanting to run a site and a community. She realized that if she set up a wiki site, what it meant was it was open to everyone. And that that meant that it brought in that sort of community and collaboration that she valued about fandom, rather than it being her project and her inviting her friends to be part of it. So I think that was a key thing and it was a key motivating force behind her dropping the website she’d just set up and going “oh, I’m going to set up a wiki.” And remember, this was back in 2006, so there weren’t a lot of models around. The main fannish websites at that time were the traditional websites. So there was OneRing and Leaky Cauldron, and the sort of places…
[JW]:
And, um, it’s funny because a lot of people say “well why aren’t you on Wikia” and, well, it didn’t exist at the time, and also it gave us total control. There were decisions made at the beginning such as the fact that we would never have advertising. Because we didn’t want that interference, either that visual noise or that idea that we might be beholden to, you know, what advertisers like and don’t like. The other big decision she made at the beginning was that the wiki would document and be part of fandom alongside the show. And that, that was quite unique. So it was not just episode entries and transcripts and stuff about the characters and mythology, it was anything and everything about fandom. It was shipping and fanfic and videos and conventions and all that as well. And not just having them there, but having them integrated, so you can go to a character page and it’ll list the roleplaying Tumblr sites for that character as well as all the stuff from the show. And I think, you know, I think that’s a very feminist thing, because it was valuing our fannish input and creations as much as the show’s creations.
FK: But some people say there’s affirmational fandom which is very male which is about, like, recording everything that’s in the canon and like memorizing where every door is on the Enterprise…

ELM: Well, like, and your fannish capital is determined by the amount of knowledge you have.

FK: Right. Like being a Star Wars fan and knowing every detail of the Extended Universe. And then there’s transformational fan, which is typically more female, and that’s fanfiction and fanvidding and all of that. What’s funny is that usually people talk about wiki sites as being the center of affirmational fandom, and being very male and so forth. So hearing Supernatural Wiki be discussed as, it’s actually kind of perfect that it’s a queer wiki.
[JW]:
Yeah, and I think that’s interesting, because I’m aware of, certainly, I didn’t know the terms but I’m aware of those concepts, which are I think bogus, basically. Because being a fan is about being passionate and obsessed, and creative, and that comes out in different ways. Certainly, fanfic, there’s no doubt, is women’s work, that’s our space. But just about everything else is whoever does it. And I think one thing the wiki does is showcase that, although we have (and this is another interesting thing) the wiki grew out of Emily and then a group of fans based on LiveJournal. So you can’t get a much more, you know, sort of essence of female fandom more than what was on LiveJournal in the early 2000s. Yet contributions to the wiki have always been broader. People found the wiki quite early on outside of that. We made efforts to move beyond, to recognize that there are many fandoms within your fandom and to make efforts to get around to all the other sites. I mean, from the very beginning there were websites, there were message boards where Supernatural fandom lived. And to try and get out there. And over time, and the rise of social media, that’s spread even further. So we have a really diverse range of people who work on the wiki, and I think that shows, you know, it shows in the content. We do everything from, you know, catalog all the engine parts of the Impala through to every occasion that we have seen male nipples on the show. [general laughter] So, no female nipples, no female nipples unfortunately. But you know, that–
[JW]:
Just to say, I’m always trying to be reflective about what that position in fandom means. I mean, I have 70,000 followers on Twitter and I have to continually remind myself that whether I like it or not, that gives me a big voice in fandom, and that’s something I continually work with. Because you know if someone says something mean to me on my personal Twitter, and I might retweet them and go “what a dick,” that’s one thing. But if you do that when you have 70,000 followers, it’s a very different power differential. And I’m continually, people are continually calling me on things like “Why are you saying that on the SuperWiki twitter, that’s your point of view, you should be there to represent the SuperWiki” whatever that is, but I suppose I don’t have a–there’s no formula for that but I’m continually trying to reflect on what that means and what, what responsibility I feel that brings in fandom. And people will say “oh, you represent fandom.” Now that’s a construction of–what they’re saying is “you have a loud voice.” As I do even anywhere! And so the things I say get heard by more people. And I think I owe myself and I owe fandom to be reflective about those things, because I’m not just, I’m not only a regular fan, so obviously you touched on something if you think that too! Basically I was really badly behaved on that panel and–
[JW]:
... the wiki was set up by a queer feminist and that’s always gonna be in its DNA, it’s been inherited by a queer feminist in myself, that’s always gonna be important to me. And, and, I think the wiki lives that in very practical ways in the way it continues. My main job now is helping people access the wiki in terms of learning how to code on it or learning how to do entries or whatever and for me that’s a feminist project in helping that community and that collaboration and actively seeking out the voices that aren’t represented, whatever they may be, and again that’s a very feminist project. I think again representing fandom alongside the show was, you know, there from the beginning and I love that because it means–the wiki is used by the people who make the show... It’s used by the writers, it’s used by everyone, yeah! Everyone from the, well, because it’s an electronic–they don’t have electronically what we have. They have a copy of every script, but they don’t have an electronic database of transcripts.... They, the VFX department will go, “we’re doing a Vitalla [sp?] creature again. What did these look like last time? We can easily go to the Wiki and find out what episode it was in, in, like, in a minute.” Art department uses it. You know, at–and this is gonna sound incredibly boastful and it is–at the recent con Jared was saying he often references the wiki on set when they’re doing something to think “hang on, what was that episode where Sam did the thing with the thing?” So, that’s, one, I love the fact that Show uses a resource that fandom makes, that’s amazing. And also, it uses a show [sic] that fandom makes that has entries about Jared’s penis, and [general snickering & laughter]…

Comments on Fanlore

ELM: So this is interesting, the fact that you were documenting like the fandom itself. I wonder… Sometimes I read Fanlore, I don’t know if you guys ever do this, and I’ll read it about a person, and, and I’ll be like, it’ll be the most, it’ll be a little subtweety in a sense that… [general laughter] Flourish is making the best face!

FK: 90% of my reading of Fanlore involves me reading it and being like, “well, that’s wrong, but I’m not gonna change it, cause then if I change it it’s gonna be subtweety, but nobody else knows…” [general laughter and chatter] But I should change it, because I should preserve this information. But then I’m just going to be a dick to somebody that I don’t care about now! Like… it’s such a problem!

ELM: Sometimes you read it and it will be like, “some people had strong reactions to what this person said,” and you’ll be like, Oh, I get it, you’re just being, you’re being diplomatic. Wait, Flourish, you look like you wanna say something!

FK: Well, there’s just all sorts of hilarious factual things that are wrong but I don’t even wanna touch it. But yeah, have you ever read into that?

Trom the interview's official notes:

Flourish really should be better about Fanlore and understand the PPOV better.

References