How would you describe 'our' part of fandom?

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Title: How would you describe 'our' part of fandom?
Creator: anonymous
Date(s): February 5, 2017
Medium: online
External Links: How would you describe 'our' part of fandom?, Archived version
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How would you describe 'our' part of fandom? is a 2017 post on fail-fandomanon.

It has a 173 replies.

Some Topics Discussed

  • speculation on who posted the original comment
  • self-description, the importance of words
  • AO3, Tumblr, LiveJournal,, Wattpad
  • history of the term media fan and media fandom
  • lengthy divergent paths regarding cats and dogs ... bread ... the use of the word: "girls" vs "women"
  • referring to grown male characters as "boys" or "lads"
  • people being grumpy about acafans
  • Twilight fandom as a gateway fandom
  • history of the use of the word fen
  • discussion of the use and history of the terms lemon and lime
  • the impossibility of trying to define things

The Original Post

Meme has discussed before how it's a mistake to assume that the fandom culture on tumblr/LJ/AO3 represents all of fandom, but how exactly would you describe 'our' part of fandom, as distinct from any other? I'm trying to write something on the subject, and I keep getting lost in terminology.

The fannish space I'm thinking of is probably best characterised as something like "female-dominated, slash-friendly, primarily anglophone fanfic-fandom", though that's a bit of a mouthful (and not even really complete, since folks create plenty of fanwork other than fanfic, but a focus on fanfic as a major component is pretty characteristic). I'd say the space includes AO3 and much of fandom on tumblr and Dreamwidth today, with a history including fandom on LiveJournal and spin-off communities such as Fandom Wank. Obviously, there are plenty of fannish subcultures within that sphere, and tumblr fan culture has changed a lot since the LJ heyday, though there's still some definite continuity between them.

Spaces which aren't part of it would include most of the fannish discussion on Reddit, Facebook, 4chan, various other blogging platforms, and god knows how many other forums across the web, plus some other fanfic sites like and Wattpad, as well as non-anglophone spaces like Japanese fandom (though obviously there's plenty of overlap between those spaces and this one). I'd imagine the majority of folks who turn up at big name conventions like Comic Con nowadays aren't from LJ/tumblr fandom, though plenty of them are.

We're certainly not the only fanfic-writing fandom space, or the only female-dominated fandom space, and I don't think it's accurate to describe us as slash-fandom, since there are plenty of people who aren't here for that at all. AO3 is easily the most visible, unambiguously relevant product, but I'd be a little leery of calling us 'AO3-fandom', and "female-dominated, slash-friendly, anglophone fanfic-fandom" does not simplify to any easily pronounceable acronym.

Blurry as it all inevitably gets around the edges, is there a succinct way to describe the subset of fandom that produced, well, us, amongst other things? Because if not, I think it might be about time someone came up with one.

Excerpts from the Comments

At this risk of taking a joke comment too seriously, just yet another grumpy NNF irritated about the assumption that AO3 statistics mean something they don't, or that the 'inherent misogyny' of slashfic is an issue worth wanking over when GG is, like, right there. Lord knows if I'm ever going to get as far as mentioning the topic off FFA.

Just ignore them. Every person who does research on meme gets those moronic responses.

"Fanworks Fandom" is the term I see most commonly. It started to rise in popularity after OTW began using the term 'fanworks' all over the place with the clear implication that they meant fic, vids, fan art, and other stuff like that. (As opposed to 'fanac'. They both refer to a broad range of fannish engagement, but the most prototypical examples are different.)

It's difficult. Something like "female-dominated fanfic-centric LJ/DW/Tumblr/AO3 fannish space" may be as close as you're going to get, really, without having to resort to some sort of acronym.

Things are very blurry, as you said. I feel as if I'm part of other areas of fandom too and as if there isn't a bright dividing line anywhere. Meme can feel alienating sometimes since some nonnies talk about "fandom" very narrowly.

is there a succinct way to describe the subset of fandom that produced, well, us, amongst other things? Because if not, I think it might be about time someone came up with one.

No, I don't think there is. Apart from "people who like to bitch on anonmemes," which certainly describes me, at least. Why is it necessary to come up with a specific term?

Not to be all "meme is not a monolith," but we can't even agree on bread.

I think that the number of people that do fandom on AO3 and also one of wattpad, reddit, facebook, 4chan etc. will be high so the distinct social group you're trying to identify might not be a real category even if the patterns of site usage are distinct.

You could refer to given spaces and how they are used. I don't see a problem with the accuracy of AO3-fandom if you restrict yourself to the users of AO3.

A little weirded out that FFN isn't included. Maybe you don't consider that part of Our Fandom, but that's where me and all my LJ and later tumblr friends posted our fic before AO3, and many of us still do now. I'd consider FFN right at the heart of that history, not some weird offshoot. And you know, I'm not even sure slash-friendliness is always part of that girl-heavy, fic-oriented, English-language continuity of fandom. AO3 being slash-dominated and changing social attitudes towards real-life gay/bi men has made it less of a point of friction, but there's definitely a history of homophobia within this very culture, and a lot of in-fighting about it.

I think the culture you're describing is more ship oriented, though--we look at canons through a shipping lens, and ships become like genres or teams, and that mindset makes it easier to see slash even in things with no canon gay. When I look at my media consumption before/after fandom, the idea of ships as a thing definitely changed how I viewed canons. Even though gen fandom definitely exists, the fact that it's defined in contrast to shipping-as-default speaks volumes.

You could call it transformative fandom, since we do seem mostly centered around transformative works. Or anglophone transformative fandom, though honestly I think the girl culture around transformative works probably varies as much just from fandom to fandom as it does by language. Japanese fandom still has shipping, which feels more familiar to me than say, Reddit fandom.

The term "fen" has been floated as an alternate plural of fan, to mean fandom-fan rather than sports fan. We also tend to just say "fandom," and while that can be a little vague and sometimes includes the Reddit/4chan crowd, I don't think they're centered in it and it doesn't bother me. I mean, they are fans too, and it's not like there's no overlap. "Fangirl" also used to be very popular as a descriptor, but I think especially as AFAB trans/nonbinary folks became a more visible presence, it became iffy for the identifier to be so specifically gendered. You obviously don't have to be a girl to be in fandom.

If you really do only mean the kind of slash culture that jumps from juggernaut m/m to juggernaut m/m, then you mean MSF, migratory slash fandom. I think if you think that's "our" fandom you might be overestimating MSF's presence in general fandom. There's a ton of fandom that isn't like, those twenty or so juggernaut ships! (Some of it is even slash!)

I associate the term 'fen' with WorldCon-type fans: people in fandom in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, mainly into classic SF books, and with a very male-centric perspective (the kind of people who learn Klingon and make Best 10 booklists with no female authors at all). Think the cast of Bimbos of the Death Sun.

NA: This. I blinked pretty hard at The term "fen" has been floated... "Floated"? It's been used for decades. It's a marker of a certain kind of fan who's been around for ages and who is very often a gatekeeper.

I agree about I abandoned it when they first banned porn (back when they used US ratings like "NC-17"). A lot of my friends jumped ship at the same time. We had been on usenet and were, by then, on mailing lists. A few of us, but not the majority, had done fanzines before that. Most of us moved on to LJ and later Tumblr.

Even though I left the site and have never started posting there again, I consider it an important part of "our" history. People who built OTW and AO3 mostly used to use it. You can argue that it's passé (and get a lot of resistance--there is definitely not consensus that AO3 is better), but I don't understand why you'd argue that it's not part of the geek subculture that eventually produced AO3. One of the stressors causing people to move to LJ was that they were dissatisfied with FFN's site culture and rules. I did most of my Harry Potter reading on Fiction Alley, but Fiction Alley was a direct response to CC getting booted from FFN. Some of the FA crowd ended up involved with OTW, and they were certainly highly active on LJ. There's more than just incidental overlap here.

I don't see a strong argument for excluding Wattpad either. It's newer, and it tends to be a gateway for fans who are discovering fic for the first time. So was Quizilla. However, there are plenty of gateway fandoms that bring in hordes of new fans. Twilight fandom did fic its own way. That might make it worth writing meta about, but that doesn't make it Them rather than Us. To me, the key is what fans do once they've liked fic for a few years. Plenty of Wattpad-ers move over to AO3. Plenty of them prefer Wattpad but socialize on Tumblr in the same circles as people who use AO3. Crossposting isn't super common, but it's not weird either. This isn't like a Reddit-AO3 gap.

Well, yes, there's plenty of overlap, like I keep saying. I don't want to minimise that. But I see a lot of assumptions about how slash dominates fanfic which are just categorically wrong in spaces like Wattpad or Twilight fandom (weren't there some statistics going around related to that francesca essay?). Every fandom space overlaps with other spaces to some degree, but assumptions which apply to one don't necessarily apply to others. We are not all of fandom, or even all of female-dominated fandom, and that's what I want to draw attention to.

Question: do you guys think AO3's early userbase still matter that much? I mean, everyone points that out when we're discussing the amount of m/m fic, but... I'm not sure if those days are still that relevant. From what I currently see from the ~kids on English-speaking Tumblr fandom, AO3 is their default fic site, no matter if it's f/f, m/f or m/m. And that includes anime fandoms too.

I'm all on board with your aim of highlight incorrect assumptions about fandom, and I wish good luck to you there. I think you're running into problems here because what you're defining with "our" and "we" isn't actually true for some of us (and in some cases excludes us), and some people are drawing different lines around areas of fandom from the ones you are (or no lines at all).

For whatever thing you're planning (a post or project or whatever), I think you're best off being as specific as you can be about the area of fandom you're trying to talk about/to. So if your problem is with the assumptions being made about AO3 statistics, then AO3 site users should be the group. If it's that some people on meme are annoying you by being in a bubble subset and calling it "fandom", it'd be harder to make a one fits all thing since we're all anon and we're a varied bunch of velociraptors anyway, but you could try targeting it at the group(s) of people in their bubble, at least.

I disagree, there's a pretty big split between Wattpad and AO3. And is Quizilla still going?

Oh, obviously has a place in 'our' fandom's history, though it became steadily less so after they kicked out NC-17 fic, script fic, and so much else (didn't they ban asterisks and square brackets at one point? it got pretty nuts). Obviously, some kept using it, but that was enough of a 'this is not for you' moment for so many that it's almost controversial to suggest there's good stuff over there nowadays. There's also plenty of folks using it that were never on LJ and come from completely different ends of fandom. Like I said, there's plenty of overlap between spaces, but it's long since fallen out of favour.

And you know, I'm not even sure slash-friendliness is always part of that girl-heavy, fic-oriented, English-language continuity of fandom. AO3 being slash-dominated and changing social attitudes towards real-life gay/bi men has made it less of a point of friction, but there's definitely a history of homophobia within this very culture, and a lot of in-fighting about it.

Well, of course it isn't? I'm specifically talking about the part of fandom that is friendly to slash. Not saying we all love slash and that it never causes epic flamewars, but, say, you look at the tags for so many mainstream fandoms on tumblr now, and you'll see a lot of slash content. It's the characteristic (unfortunately) frequently brought up by outsiders as the definitive thing that makes them go 'wow, these people are into some weird shit'. I've seen some compelling arguments made that finding places that wouldn't ban you posting slash (or explicit sex) was a small-but-significant driver in what platforms fandom moved to. As much as people overestimate the importance of slash as a defining characteristic, it does seem to remain one of those things that stands out.

I think the culture you're describing is more ship oriented, though--we look at canons through a shipping lens, and ships become like genres or teams, and that mindset makes it easier to see slash even in things with no canon gay

You've got a point, but I'm still sorta hesitant to call us 'ship-oriented fandom' because you've got other groups like Twilight fans, mostly female and mostly young, getting into their own epic flamewars over who's Team Edward and who's Team Jacob. That was largely a separate fan culture when it exploded, and a HUGE cultural phenomenon (that generated 50 Shades of Gray, even) where slash was a real minority. You've also got teens on Wattpad and wherever else writing One Direction fanfic, which is mostly band member/Mary Sue - again, there's an overlap with other bandfic and bandslash, but it's very much its own culture. That stuff's all out there, and it's part of what I'm trying to distinguish from the culture that seems to run tumblr and created AO3.

I honestly don't see the cultural difference. The fans making slash-only Geocities fanfic archives and the fans making no-slash Geocities fanfic archives were the same culture. Heck, there was a slash/no-slash divide going back to zines, and if we're kicking people who published fanfic in zines out of the club, that's massively ahistorical. (I'm not defending the homophobia in our own culture,'s homegrown. Same fandoms, same fannish terminology, same practices, same platforms. Plus there was also just a ton of fandom that was neither homophobic nor slashy.) You seem to be arguing that Twilight fandom and 1D fandom aren't fandom because they're het, and that the entire huge platforms of Wattpad and FFN aren't sufficiently fannish because they aren't slash-majority, even though both contain slash.

I...think the word you want is "slash fandom." And though I've written slash and am queer, I really don't feel comfortably included in this. I feel that if you looked over my fandom involvement, I'd be lumped in with the "them" you're trying to find a way to exclude, with "some overlap." I'm not big on whatever vision of "us" you're selling, because fandom has been a significant part of my life for over a decade, and even if you're just some NNF I feel kinda pissy about being seen as "fringe" or "overlap." Dude, I was in megafandoms in 2005. Big anime juggernaut fandoms, writing big het juggernaut ships, on "passe", which was huge and booming. You guys were the fringe, not me.

AO3 did start within slash fandom, and is Migratory Slash Fandom heavy. Slash is disproportionately represented there, because slash fandom was the creator/early adopter, not because fandom as a whole is slash. But even on AO3, some fandoms are more het/femslash focused. OUAT is huge on AO3, and slash is a minority there. Are they not "real fandom" enough for you, or is it only fandom when the dicks boop? Or is Twilight fake fandom because it got too big to call an exception or unimportant?

I get the impulse to define fandom in a way that separates it from the Reddit bros who don't make fanworks and don't have ships, but if we're cutting out our own because they like the icky het too much, we're going to have to disagree.

Short answer: Wattpad/Twilight fandom were much less influenced by Racefail '09/SJW culture, by the difficulty of finding platforms where slash is welcome, and the culture of writing extended thinky meta about why people write the fic they write. They're more likely to use other platforms, wouldn't be familiar with the same memes, etc. The fandom I'm talking about absolutely includes people who aren't primarily into slash though.

Maybe a better way to describe my question is "what do you think unifies the parts of fandom folks here on meme bitch about the most?" Because you'll see a lot of rehashed old wanks about Cassandra Clare and Ms Scribe, lots of discussion of post-Racefail culture and BNW's like thatfucker and winterfox, LOTS of complaints about AO3 and tumblr, and lots of miscellaneous fandom chatter. But when was the last time you saw people bitching about the search function on Wattpad, other than as a 'and this is why I left within minutes of my first time trying to use it'?

You seem to be arguing that Twilight fandom and 1D fandom aren't fandom because they're het, and that the entire huge platforms of Wattpad and FFN aren't sufficiently fannish because they aren't slash-majority, even though both contain slash.

I don't even know where you get this from. My ENTIRE POINT is that they're fandom, though they may not have much overlap with folks here, who are much less likely to bring discussions about Twilight or 1D fandom. They just do fandom primarily on separate platforms, and slash is generally less well represented there, though certainly not absent. That's not a judgement, it's just a fact.

Reddit bros who don't make fanworks and don't have ships

The Reddit bros totally have ships. You can tell by the treatises they write about which female character most appropriately embodies the feminine ideal and will therefore be the endgame love interest for the male character they identify with.

many people and invented a lot of things from first principles rather than borrowing or deliberately replicating them from other fandoms.

I was in Twifandom for years, and one of the strangest things about it, looking back, is how you're completely right that we mostly just made up our own shit, but then sometimes the community would use terms or conventions that were outdated in panfandom culture. Like "lemons", for example. By the time our fandom began using that term, it was already a fannish dinosaur. Always made me wonder what fandom that hailed from. I assume HP, because even though we were a pretty insular fandom and most were "feral", if something was borrowed, it was usually the result of HP fandom overlap. Like, most of us didn't use LJ as fic repository, but you'd see the rare LJ comm pop up, and in one notable instance, even a holiday fic exchange (which was a really novel and foreign concept to most of us at the time, even though other fandoms had been doing it for years).

HP didn't originate it - "lemon" is an oooooldschool anime fandom term. I had no idea there were western fandoms that had picked it up! Fanlore says it has been spotted in HP, though, and I know there was a fair bit of anime/HP fandom crossover, so that's a likely route of transmission to the Twilight folks.

(Lemon/lime labels are long since quite passe in AO3/Tumblr circles of anime fandoms, but I do still see it cropping up in the wild fairly regularly in some more contemporary anime fandoms on

other groups like Twilight fans, mostly female and mostly young, getting into their own epic flamewars over who's Team Edward and who's Team Jacob. That was largely a separate fan culture when it exploded, and a HUGE cultural phenomenon (that generated 50 Shades of Gray, even) where slash was a real minority.

The fan culture that bickered over Team E vs Team J is not the same fan culture that generated stuff like FSOG. Most Twificcers in that circle were actually older women, over the age of 30. Married or divorced. Many had children. There's a clear distinction between your quintessential Twilight fan and Twilight fanfiction writers/readers that a lot of people don't bother making. It bugs me.

Urgah, I'm iffy on the shipping thing. Like, I read and enjoy slash? Like, I'm not engaged in shipping-culture. I mean, I respect that people enjoy it and its their bag, but there's a distinct subculture separate from just fic or slash, of *shipping*, ie the intense attachment of the john/lockers or the destielers vs broshippers in spn, etc ie the whole "go down with this ship" or internet equiv of footballers fighting of teams, shipwar stuff.

Like, even in shipping there's granularity? Folks who just enjoy certain dynamics but will flit between different pairings vs folks who are super attached but don't care if it becomes canon and live-and-let-ship vs extremely attached and everyone must ship it or despair and it must become canon or waaaaank.

All of which sets aside the gen fic focused or case-fic focused etc. Like all memers are not just into the shipping culture?

Also I question the exclusion of reddit and 4chan, the culture from ao3, dw, tumblr aren't like stonkingly absent on those. The wild-fire ships on tumblr usually blaze pretty happily on 4chan's /y, they grab fanart from tumblr, there's clearly folk in common etc; big ships in fandom usually end up with subreddits, fandoms themselves often have subreddits.

I mean, less of the major moving-and-shaking of fandom takes place on those platforms maybe, and fandom makes up less of a major component on those sites ie the non-fandom userbase occupies a a larger proportion, etc. But this seems like the weird thing where some subsets of tumblr assume all 4channers are nazi trolls and all of reddit is delicate mens getting the redpiller freak on and that... is very much not the case (just like nazis, trolls and misogynist fucks are super easy to find on tumblr etc...).

Like, I'd say narrow to cultural elements of just one platform, or choose a narrow specific subculture to study (fem ficcer slasher etc ain't narrow and niether is meme); and rethink whether your personal biases (re, reddit, etc) are a good basis to work from. And if what you mean is the subset that uses *meme* here then that's a whole 'nother thing, because I would tend to guess meme is waaaay more critical of fandom generally and tumblr especially than many areas of what you'll find in the wild.

At one point, 'fandom' was most commonly used for the thing that was later known as 'SF fandom' ('sf', not 'sci-fi'). This is the community epitomized by Worldcon: oldschool sff book convention attendees who use 'fen' as the plural of 'fan', make filk music, and made the older sf type of zine. (Once upon a time 'fan fiction' meant non-pro, zine-based original sff stories.)

Then Star Trek came along and got mass media and girl cooties all over SF fandom. The book convention fans split from the TV/movie fans. Thus, "Media Fandom" was born. This is the community epitomized by K/S zines in the 70's through stuff like due South or Sentinel fandom in the 90's. Many of the older BNFs in LJ circles used this term for the sort of fandom that was on LJ and for fic-writing fandom in general. It included plenty of fandoms that were somewhat isolated with their own way of doing things. Beauty and the Beast fandom was 99% shippers of the canon het ship. I hear it could be a homophobic fandom above and beyond its hatred for non-canon ships. The rise of "slash fandom" as a concept is part of Media Fandom, but it's a mistake to think that slash defines this historical community any more than het shipping does.

In the 90's, there were a bunch of influential fandoms that the Media Fandom types thought of as part of their thing but that were so full of new people that many fannish norms from Media Fandom disappeared (including the use of that term for the community). Fans who still considered themselves in "Media Fandom" didn't necessarily realize that these other fans didn't share all of their culture: a lot of them thought that it was zines vs. online, not The Sort of People Who Used to Do Zines vs. The Sort of People Who Never Did Zines. These influential fandoms include, among other things, The X-Files and Harry Potter. The X-Files pioneered online fic archiving before FFN and is apparently the origin of the term 'ship'. Harry Potter is a completely different kind of book series from ye olde SF fandom books, but it also attained megafandom status as a book fandom before the movies came out. It's a major split between K/S zine "Media Fandom" and AO3 and Tumblr-using "fandom".

Harry Potter fandom was also a huge crossover point between people who wrote fic of anime and people who wrote fic of US tv shows. It was also a crossover point between people in Anglophone fandom and people in lots of non-Anglophone fandoms. is another crossover point between anime and US tv, between English and non-English.

"Anime fandom" includes a lot of non-fic activity that involves just buying the official merchandise and watching the canon. Anime fanfic fandom in the 90's was not especially removed from fic fandom of Western media. Both were on Usenet, FFN, and Yahoo Groups. My (admittedly not super in depth) experience with Spanish, French, and German fandom is that they used to be all over Sailor Moon and Harry Potter and the other big fandoms of the day in similar ways to how Anglophone fandom was, on the same or similar websites. Some of the non-English European language fandoms are still heavily on FFN or on their own fic archives that are similar to FFN, Media Miner, AO3, etc. Japanese fandom is quite distinct, but that doesn't mean that all non-English language fandoms are.

My point with all of that is that if you're looking for a term for "You know: AO3-y stuff", you don't necessarily need to exclude non-Anglophone fandom or anime fandom or people who only ship het. You just need to make it clear what the center of your definition is, not where the sharply-defined boundaries are. If you're writing for a Tumblr fic writer audience only, and you won't be addressing other types of fandoms, use 'fandom' and define it the first time you use it. If you're trying to keep it clear when you mean AO3-y stuff and when you mean some other use of 'fandom', use "Fanworks Fandom" (and still define it the first time you use it). If you're talking very narrowly about fic, use "fic fandom" or "fanfiction-writing fandom".

It's true that meme gets butthurt about one group trying to speak for all of fandom. However, the usual culprit is something like OTW using the term 'media fandom' as though we all know what it means and identify with it or someone making a generalization about fic writing fandom that could be disproven by 30 seconds browsing AO3 itself, never mind FFN. For the purposes of meta about how slash is not the majority of fic outside of AO3, I would not worry about minutely defining whose fanfic counts and whose doesn't.

Also, the best argument that AO3 stats don't mean what wankers think they do is to get similar stats for Wattpad and Stereotypically, AO3 has MSF, Wattpad has Celebrity Guy/Female Self Insert RPF, and FFN has plotty gen and canon-compliant het. Of course those are gross oversimplifications, but there's a grain of truth to them.

...I'm saying that what you see as fuzzy edges, I see as different expressions of the exact same thing. I don't see this as merely overlap.

Women are a significant majority on FFN and Wattpad, as far as I know. FFN has more men than AO3 does, but it's still majority female.

If you want to talk about fandom on AO3, just say "fandom on AO3". Wattpad and FFN users are all over Tumblr: you can't count Tumblr as part of some LJ-->AO3 flavor of fandom rather than Wattpad/FFN.

X-Files also started out as mailing list fic, which you're either ignoring or don't know about. Mailing lists were a big link between offline zines and fic archives. If you look at ffnet, not a lot of the big nineties media fandoms are represented. They had their own archives. Some of that content got reposted to LJ, but a lot of it never made it to AO3.

There were also online zines, or kind of a hybrid between zines and dedicated sites -- Whoosh for Xena, Slayage for Buffy (which was based on Whoosh), along with discussion boards like Buffistas and Whedonesque. A lot of people made the leap from there to LJ. This isn't even bringing in Usenet groups, which mixed media and book sff fandom in a big way.

Clearly your fandom is what we generally call "slash fandom", but meme includes other kinds of western media fandom (het, f/f -- slash fandom is m/m, traditionally) as well as people in anime & manga fandoms and gaming fandoms, most of whom don't come through the "slash fandom" gateway. Be careful not to assume that slash fandom created most of the fannish institutions you use, and that the rest of us are just using them; I see this a lot in slash fandom fans, and it's generally because they don't know much history of fandom.

Uh, I'm not assuming slash fandom created anything, except arguably AO3, which was started by slash BNFs. Half my whole point is that it's stupid to assume that just because there's lots of slash on AO3 and tumblr, that means there's no part of fandom that isn't full of lots of slash.

Look at meme, for example. Tons of slash discussion here. A random joe off the street or a random person from one of the fannish Facebook communities I'm part of coming in here cold would very likely think 'gosh, folks here talk about dudes getting on with other dudes a whole lot'. That's not by any stretch of the imagination to say that it's all we talk about, or even most of what we talk about. But it's a thing that would set us aside from a lot of other spaces nonetheless.

There's no catch all term that I know of. When I'm writing about it I usually call it 'transformative fandom' and give a sentence or two describing what that means to my mind (basically, fanwork based online culture with offshoots for discussion, etc).

It depends who you're writing for though, really. What I'm generally trying to get across is that fandom is more involved than simply liking something and talking about it, but I'm assuming my audience will be no more than passingly familiar with the concept.

The things that characterise this corner of fandom for me:

- Female-dominated

- Very focused on shipping

- Focused on producing or consuming fanworks

- Transformative, in the sense that people seem to often want the canon to be doing different?

Now, none of these apply to everyone in this space, nor are they exclusive to these spaces, but definitely I would expect anyone who ticks all the above boxes to be at least familiar with AO3, whereas some of my IRL dudebro fandom friends would be like "What's AO3?".

I wouldn't say "transformative" means that people want the canon to be doing something different, just that they want to do something different in their own fanworks. I mean, there are people who want the canon to be different too, but that's a separate thing.

The latter is kind of what I meant, though? Like, not everyone in fandom, obviously, but in these spaces I encounter a lot of people who are not so much fans of the canon itself as of their view of what the canon should or would be.

Yeah, and I find the idea that the only or primary reason to create fanworks is dissatisfaction with canon -- and that therefore any fanwork I create is a rundown of what I'd prefer canon to be doing -- utterly pernicious. (As a matter of fact, I am usually dissatisfied with the canons I create fanwork about! But my fanwork is not usually about the elements that dissatisfy me.)

Yeah, this attitude can suck my wet smelly farts tbh. That may be the annoyance at the endless fucking "my homogenous sacchrine coffeeshop au is morally superior in every way" fics talking, though.

Basically, yep. I wrote a BDSM fic once with an ongoing communication problem between the leads as a major driver of their interpersonal tension. It was during the height of the 50 Shades backlash, and because neither of them was actively miserable, a lot of people interpreted my fic as a thesis on How To BDSM and an oblique response to 50 Shades, of which it was neither. I'm still sore as hell about it.

I don't feel that AO3 is relevant to my fandom experience at all. I don't go there. Facebook groups are an important part of my fandom experience. But then again, only about 50% or so of my fandom interaction happens in English.

I feel entirely at home at meme, so I'm not sure if your definition might be a bit too narrow?

I think OP is not going to be able to come up with a definition that covers every single person who ever goes to meme, and they shouldn't try. They're going for a broad descriptive term, not describing the experience of every single individual, including every outlier who wanders by.