Firefox News

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Name: Firefox News
Date(s): 1997-2013
Profit/Nonprofit: profit
Country based in: USA
Focus: multifandom news and meta
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Firefox News was a site run by Leva Cygnet.

The site's tag in 2008: "Fandom, Political Snark, and Dolls. No browsers since 1996."

The site contained reviews, essays, fiction, and much more. Many of the essays were by Merlin Missy (Leva Cygnet's assistant) and were titled Dr. Merlin's Soapbox.

This site was unapologetic-ally for-profit. See Cynet's reasons "Firefox News" was different, and better, than Laura Hale's business, Fan History Wiki explained in the 2008 essay, Advanced Fandom Economics: It's Okay To Be A Capitalist.

Not Related to the Browser, "Firefox"

The domain name was procured before "Firefox" was a browser.

From the website in 2006:

Please note that Firefox News is a site for fans. You may wish to look again at the content on this page before contacting us to make sure you are, in fact, contacting the right company... If you've got a question about your Firefox browser -- well, does this LOOK like a web site for a software company? We love Mozilla but we cannot help you fix your browser.[1]

From the website in 2007:

Firefox News is not affiliated with Mozilla. However, we highly recommend the browser. It is the safest, most secure browser available now and it is fast and free to download. [2]

While Not Related to the Browser, It Rode Its Coattails

Some 2008 comments: has been around since late 1997 and has always been a "fannish" web site. In the past, it's had chat rooms, forums, fiction -- including a shared world called the Third Rainbow -- a postcard script with fan art, and various other fannish and non-fannish features. I've also had two "online conventions" (for Disney's Gargoyles) on the site that included chats with pros and various contests. However, until the browser came along, the site was quietly obscure.

A few years ago, the shiny browser with the same name came along -- and with it came a little advertising revenue. Yay for Google. And so I decided, if the site was going to make money, I would develop the site into something more than a personal web site. Fandom is a big part of my life, and it was pretty much a no-brainer that I would keep's focus on fandom, speculative fiction, and the entertainment industry. It's what I know and love. And so, Firefox News, with news written by fans, and for a fannish audience, was born.

We've been pretty successful, on a small scale -- the site is currently averaging 13,000 +/- visitors a day, and only a tiny percentage of those visitors are going, "Where's the browser?" (We refer to that as "WTB" traffic. WTB traffic is easy to identify because it only hits the main page and then exits in a hurry.) [3]

Some Screenshots


It began in 1997 as a non-profit website that highlighted original fiction and information about horses.

At some point, the site appears to have been dormant, and then in 2005, became active again, something that coincided with the release of the Firefox browser, which in turn brought traffic, visibility, and revenue.

A sample page is here.

The revamped site (as a for-profit) began in January 2007 and shut down April 30, 2013.

This last incarnation, the for-profit one, contained much fannish content, including meta essays, reviews, and commentary. From a 2008 self-description:

Firefox News is a news portal aimed at speculative fiction fans (fandom). As a Firefox News Writer you may write news, reviews, opinion pieces, and other works of nonfiction and fiction as approved by the Firefox News editorial staff. [4]

The Incarnations


See Seeing A Dream Become Reality for more.

The site began in May 1997 as an amateur, "hobby site run purely for fun." [5] has been around since late 1997 and has always been a "fannish" web site. In the past, it's had chat rooms, forums, fiction -- including a shared world called the Third Rainbow -- a postcard script with fan art, and various other fannish and non-fannish features. I've also had two "online conventions" (for Disney's Gargoyles) on the site that included chats with pros and various contests. However, until the browser came along, the site was quietly obscure. [6]

See an old page for 1997 Announcements.

From a 1998 page: is a website catering to fantasy and science fiction fans. There are several realms under the firefox domain name; all are created by amateur and neopro artists and writers in the areas of fantasy and science fiction.

late 2005-2006

In 2005, the dormant site was revived.

Some submissions guidelines and pay rates.

From Cygnet in December 2005: has been fandom related since its inception in the late 90's. Among other things, it's been home to the Third Rainbow writing group (and our namesake character Aaric Firefox), I've hosted online SF conventions for Gargoyles fandom here, I've run various forums and bulletin boards on this site, and I've hosted chat rooms for fannish groups.

Five years ago, I bought a home of my own in rural Arizona and got bogged down in "real life" stuff. I pretty much disappeared from fandom. I've missed it. I didn't realize just how much I missed fandom until just recently.

And wow -- when I got curious and checked the stats on -- oh, WOW. I'm getting more traffic on this site than I ever thought possible. And yeah, a good bit of it's because of the Firefox browser. But some of those folks have got to be geeks like me who love fandom too.

And so, I'm back, and I'm serious about it. I'm making time to bring back to life. There will be forums again, and chat rooms, and maybe some special events. I've also added advertising, in the hopes that I can make enough money to afford a high speed internet connection. One of the reasons I quit updating the site was that my the only internet connection I can afford is dial up and I have really lousy phone service. [7]

A view of 2005, when the site was called "Firefox News," A Fanzine of Fandom.":

Disclaimer: is a zine about fandom, in all its many wonderful permutations and variations. There is advertising on this site, including links for the Firefox browser. In no way is this advertising meant to imply or infringe on Mozilla's trademarks. My registration of predates Mozilla's Firefox browser by many years. [8]

From September 2006:

Firefox News is a site for science fiction and fantasy fans with a heavy emphasis on the "fan" part. I've owned the domain for almost ten years and it's been fannish in nature, through various incarnations, for that time. I decided to make it a paying webzine several months ago when I realized just how much traffic the site was getting ...

The site is updated approximately twice a week, on Wednesdays and weekends. [9]

Some 2006 newsletters:

2007 - "Welcome to Firefox News' new site!"

I finally have the new platform up and running. Pretty, no?

The old site was a mix of pages done by hand, using SSI for repeating elements, plus some cobbled together scripts for RSS-to-HTML displays on the front page, and wordpress blogs. This new site is entirely integrated, and has some fancy features both on the front end and the back end. It has captchas! Yay me! I was deleting 1000+ spam messages per week in the Wordpress blogs and the captchas should eliminate that.

(If anyone's curious, we're running Article Live as the platform. It's not cheap, but you get what you pay for. You need a little CSS and PHP knowledge to configure it, but overall, it's one of the easier installs I've ever done.)

Anyway, I think I just bored the non-web-design geeks enough, so on to general site news ...

First off, this site will have a much stronger focus on actual fannish news. Melissa Wilson and I will be updating the site on a daily basis starting in February with news for fans. There's lots of fannish news sites out there, but most of them are either very specialized, covering just one genre, or they draw their news from Reuters or AP just like everyone else. We're covering metafandom interests in general.

On the other hand, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, or the latest installment of Survivor will NOT be mentioned on this site by my Official Editorial Decree.

We'd rather focus on the people we find actually interesting, and who matter to fandom. You're a lot more likely to find a news here about, say, Hayao Miyazaki, Stephen King, Ron Perlman or Sam Raimi than what Paris Hilton and/or Spears did in the back of a limo this week.

Additionally, the site's pay rates for articles will be going up. I will no longer be buying many reviews but I will be looking for opinionated, funny, informative, and well written articles. See Mary Sue, Who Are You? and Your First Con: A Most UnConventional Experience for examples of the sort of articles I'm looking for. The Submissions category to the left has more information about submitting an article to the site.

Finally, I am looking for a novel for the site which will be serialized and illustrated. Because it will be illustrated, it needs to be a very visual story, and I'm looking for something with two very strong characters and a romantic component. It should be "fantasy" but I'm open to various flavors of fantasy. Again, see the Submissions category to the left for more information.

And without further ado, welcome to the new site, everyone! [10]

Walking a Fine Line Between High Visibility and Private

The site straddled the line between being a very visible depository of fanworks, of links to fannish discussion and spaces, as well as to things of promotional mainstream interest, as well as to the newly-hatched wave of acafans and other academics.

On one hand, it wanted eyeballs on the screen, on clicks, on attention and the buzz, as that's how the site made money (fans were paid money for their content, at one point $30 per review, $50 per essay), and "Firefox News" needed all the publicity and exposure it could get to remain a fannish hotspot and to stay relevant.

But on the other hand, too much attention of the wrong kind was a minefield. It wanted to control the message in a highly uncontrollable place. "Firefox News" wanted to remain a "private" fannish space, one that protected fans from visibility and mainstream cruelties, but was fully aware that it had power to elevate fannish discourse and fanworks.

From a 2009 essay, Stinky Links:

Many people are happy to see their work recced and noted and acclaimed far and wide, and many people are not, and the best way to figure out if the person you're citing for your thesis wants zir fannish identity out there is to ask first. Begging forgiveness rather than permission is an old trick, but fans talk to each other, and there's nothing we shout out faster or louder than the names of people who break the rules and screw over (intentionally or not) their fellow fans. Recs tend to be okay, because they stay among our peers.

The second you stray outside fannish circles, be it for a paper or an article, you'd better ask. (This is why Firefox News has discontinued our fanwork recs. We still consider ourselves more a fannish space than a news site, or at least Dr. Merlin does, but we get picked up by bigger feeds and would like not to bring down the Wrath upon our fellow fans.) [11]

"Become an Author" - Paying Fans for Content

Firefox News is currently welcoming new writers. If you are interested in writing articles about the entertainment industry, if you want to blog about subjects of interest to SF fandom or if you want a home for your fiction, we're looking for you.

We share ad revenue with our contributors -- writers are paid 99% of the Adsense revenue. While this amount won't make you rich it is an honest share of what we make and your compensation directly reflects how much traffic your work draws to the site.And, in addition to sharing revenue, we have one of the most writer friendly contracts in the web publishing business. Many of our competitors want "all rights" or will claim exclusive use of your work for a set amount of time -- often, this time is measured in years. And far too often they don't pay you anything even if they're making oodles of money.

Writers for Firefox News keep most of their rights to their work. We also allow cross posting to other sites or your personal blog. And we've got a proven track record with over 2,000 articles already submitted to the site.

Interested? The process to join is simple. We ask that you read through our FAQ and our TOS. Then, all you need to do is create an account with the application below, set up your Adsense information so you can share in the ad revenue, wait a short while for someone to approve your account, and you're all set. You can almost immediately start submitting your work. If your work meets our quality standards we'll approve it. It's as easy as that! [12]

Links to Further Reading