I feel like fandom generations are both very specific and easily conflated.

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Title: I feel like fandom generations are both very specific and easily conflated.
Creator: concerningwolves
Date(s): December 16, 2018
Medium: Tumblr post
Fandom: multifandom
Topic: Fandom History
External Links: Original Post at Tumblr
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

I feel like fandom generations are both very specific and easily conflated. is a Tumblr post by concerningwolves. concerningwolves humourously defined the "fandom generations" with many references to popular fandom practices and fandom trends.

As of February 2019, it had over 16,000 notes.


The post was made after the announcement of, but shortly before the implementation of, the Tumblr NSFW Content Purge. Many fans on tumblr were uncertain of the future of the platform. Fans reflected on the history of fandom adapting and facing obstacles.

Similar Essays/Posts

The Original Post


I feel like fandom generations are both very specific and easily conflated. Like,, you either live through so many they blur together into one hellish mess or you join in on one generation and remain blissfully unaware of the previous ones

Trekkster Gods
  • No internet
  • fledgeling fandom
  • women run everything
  • seriously where the fuck did we go wrong
  • fandom wouldn’t exist as we know it without these women
  • conventions, badges, quite a lot of taboo but also lots of fun
  • closely-knit communities
  • mostly discussions in magazines
  • hogging the phone so you can chat with your friends
  • (while trying to pretend the rest of your family doesn’t exist)
  • basement meetings
  • fanart what??

Dawn of Networking

  • tin-bucket sites and forums
  • the badly assembled DIY IKEA kits of the internet
  • these were strange places
  • i’m too young to know firsthand but I’ve heard the stories
  • they were like,, inhabited by eldrich beings
  • who would sell souls in exchange for fanfics
  • early RPs
  • nobody was quite sure what they were doing
  • but!! You could connect with more fans quickly!!!
  • made obsessing less lonely
  • yay

“I was there Gandalf

Citrus Cheesecake

Archive of Our Saviours

  • ooo we found the adults
  • mass migration by younger fans to Tumblr, Ao3 etc
  • looking at fandom’s earlier stages like “I have no memory of this place”
  • ratings that had nothing to do with fruit
  • (thank gods)
  • fandom grows up
  • we are all grateful
  • we have proper websites to call home
  • wanderers can finally settle down
  • many fans are Tired

We’re here again, Gandalf

  • your elbows are explicit
  • cats are explicit
  • there are legends of a paradise of pillows
  • but none of us wants to leave hell
  • blue blue blue
  • a well-respected petblr is flagged as explicit
  • will we be here in January?
  • who will survive?
  • those with sense watch the chaos from Ao3, sipping mocktails
  • but we’re not really scared
  • nothing can kill fandom
  • not even god.

#I was in fandom at the odd middling period #between #i was there gandalf #and #citrus cheesecake #but i was also far too young to have any business being there #fandom

Reactions to the Post

[notemily replied:]

pretty sure that second stage was just usenet. and also email mailing lists.


Oh in so many of them. I was just old enough to hear stories from my direct elders of the Trekkster Gods; I was born onto the internet in the Dawn of Networking.

In my own experience, FFN and DevArt came slightly before LJ, and that was the generation I essentially missed (I was in college but if you want to pretend I was the king under the mountain like some kind of depraved fandom Charlemagne, I won’t argue), so I’d swap Citrus Cheesecake and I Was There, Gandalf, but in and of themselves they are all very accurate.

And it is true that fandom cannot be killed. Many have tried, but our parade will go ever onwards. Our porny, porny parade.[1]

Agree; Citrus Cheesecake just sliiiightly predates I Was There, Gandalf, and they cross over until roughly the point when FFN banned porn and RPF, imho, but ymmv on that; it was a fuzzy time period of much fannish crossover.[2]


I started near the tail end of “I was there Gandalf” but my early fandom days were mostly Citrus Cheescake.

(For those who never learned the terms, ’lemon’ and ‘lime’ were used in summaries of NSFW fics because part of FFnet’s user policy is that summaries had to be G-rated and, in the lingering aftermath of “I was there Gandalf”, there was a lot of fear about being reported and having your content deleted, which is also what the extensive disclaimers were about. These things took on a life of their own and continued even as “I was there Gandalf” faded out of collective memory.)

I like that this breaks up generations based on shared experiences, instead of by year, which can be pretty arbitrary. An example would be how tvtropes talks about decades: you could say the 90s began in 1990 and ended in 2000, but that isn’t as useful as saying that, politically, the 90s began with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, and ended with the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Or you could say that “pop-culturally, it started with the release of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on September 10, 1991 and ended with the increased rise of online sharing and when MTV stopped playing music videos in 2001-02.”

Also, fandom migrations and cultural shifts take time, so you could never set a hard cut-off like “prior to March 14, 2009, you belong to such-and-such generation.”

#fandom life #i am part of the citrus cheesecake generation #i felt old because i was in college before i found fandom for the first time #and so many people seemed to be in high school still #in hindsight i was still a teenager so what was i worried about #and also you're never too old for fandom[3]

okokok this is good and funny, but I am going to say, straight up, YOU HAVE THE CITRUS CHEESECAKE AND “I WAS THERE GANDALF” GENERATIONS MIXED UP. Because the thing is that AO3 and Tumblr? were the thing AFTER LJ. and LJ was the big thing AFTER ff.net and other similar sites. Like, there was overlap, but people had already basically ABANDONED ff.net by the time the LJ shit happened and the exodus to sites like AO3 and Tumblr occurred.


The reason there were no adults in “Citrus Cheesecake” is because they were all in “I was there, Gandalf” which happened at the exact same time just on a different site. Adults over here! Plus some kids desperately pretending they’re not.


Fansites came in two flavors:
  • Basic-ass HTML, serif font all the way, probably bleeding-eye yellow text on black background, with a hideous pageview counter at the bottom. If you were lucky, they knew about tables.
  • Art designed into oblivion, but with a teenager’s sensibility of art design: where the text is tiny and pale against a pale background full of pink clouds, and your mouse cursor morphs into a fucking…unicorn, or something; there’s auto-playing music; there’s an unidentifiable object in the corner that’s small, purple, sparkling, and scrolling upwards for some reason; and you permanently strain your eyes trying to find the fucking link to the fucking webring so you can just find where the fucking fanfiction is.

Also: Printing favorite fics out in real space on real paper to share with your friends at school because their family hadn’t installed internet service yet.[6]


As someone who dates to the Dawn of Networking, I feel like some of the essential experiences have been left out of that list:

- Usenet and the trees of alt.whatever.whateverelse.thisthing.thatthing

- DIAL-UP. You wanted to read that longfic? Nobody in your household could use the phone for hours. Corollary: someone else in your household picking up an extension and dropping your connection. Sometimes on purpose.

- Mailing lists. Mailing lists were a HUGE part of that era.

- Tonnage limits per day: you could only post so many bytes (not words) per day because downloading the emails over dialup would take forever. Your chapters were 5kb over the limit? You either split them up over two days or got slapped by the listmod. [I posted a 203k word story to a mailing list. It took more than a month and it wasn’t a WIP.]
- That One Person With the Unreadable Formatting.
- That One Person Who Double-Spaced Every Line.
- That One Person Who Wrote Fic Nobody Else Read, But Was Very Prolific.
- Pairing lists and general lists and the people who cross-posted to all of them on the same day, so you got four copies of the same story in your inbox.
- Fandom pissing matches that resulted in offshoot mailing lists, so you had to subscribe to both so you could read all the fic.
- Saving stories by downloading emails to .txt files and crying at having to fix the formatting. Or realizing that you missed a chapter in a longfic.

- Archivists who had actual websites before Geocities or Tripod were a thing. They would ask authors for permission to put your fic on their site and it was like getting into university: you wanted to be asked by the picky archivists, not the ones who took everything in the fandom.

- IRC. At least in comics fandom, that was a huge part of the culture. *Glomping* new arrivals and apologizing for disappearing because a family member needed the phone.[citation needed]


The listservs. The person in the group who got the list on digest and would reply with the entirety of the digest in the email. Also, the listserv wars.I was admin on one or two and I still remember the day I got home from work and the minor fire that had started late during the night when I was asleep had blossomed into a major conflagration. By the time I was trying to deal with it, there were ashes everywhere.

Also SciFi bb’s and webrings anyone?[7]


Dawn of Networking is the fun ol’ BBS and forum days! BBS (and MUDs but that’s a whole other kettle of fish) was so popular that people were like ‘this, but just right on a website so anyone can use it super easy’ which I remember we called just BB or bulletin boards for a while then switched to forums when they started to offer more advanced functionality and easy setup (well…easier. Nowadays it’s REALLY easy). Not sure why the terms, honestly. It was a while ago.

Mostly I used it for RP. SO MUCH RP. They were so easy to do. Teach yourself basic HTML (learned as far as tables? Eh, you’re good to go. Spend two minutes on frames if you want to be fancy), sign up for a free website on GeoCities or AngelFire (and later, many ISPs offered web hosting as part of their internet package, I had one on Comcast for just ages), then have a main page (hi welcome to ponies and dinosaurs the RP) and a separate page with a totally isolated bulletin board on it for each category or subcategory. (This is why frames were popular. On a related note, I fucking worship css. God as my witness, I’ll never use the iframe tag again.)

Like intros, themed areas (like, Beautiful Grassy Fields or Level 53 or Haunted Pond), specific areas (make a baby character with another player was extremely popular for a variety of reasons, so really, RP hasn’t changed AT ALL), and generally an Out Of Character area or a Help area. There was no sign up or accounts. You just typed the same name in the name field when you made posts. (Folks got scary good at identifying each other through writing style alone, lol.)

Then, find a relevant webring and join it. Or make your own. So many webrings. They were really the best way of finding good sites for things you were interested in. Guestbooks also Really Mattered. So did mailing lists. So many Yahoo! Groups. We used those fucking mailing lists for EVERYTHING. Looking back I can tell we were all just starving for social media. Sites like LiveJournal changed the fucking game.

For me, though, DeviantArt (I joined Aug 14, 2003) and FF.net (Mar 8, 2002) and LJ (25 August 2002) were all just under the umbrella of high school. I would personally plop 'em in the same category but these are fine too.

Ah, I enjoy those memories but I wouldn’t go back to those days for anything. Even with the absolute piles of shit we have now, fandom is still so much more international, accessible, robust, and joyfully creative nowadays and I love it.[8]

[bosslibrarian123 replied:]

I want to know where Quizilla/Quotev exists in this history because I called that dark hole home for 4 years straight

[captaingondolin replied:]

Citrus cheesecake gen here too! I saw your tags and remembered the warnings for slash. Or yaoi, a lot of people conflated the two. And the disclaimers, oh, boy, the "i don't make any money off this!

magazines =/= fanzines or letterzines

Letterzines are the larval form of newsgroups and email lists.[9]

Im assuming Dawn of Networking encompasses Angelfire & Geocities sites alongside mailing lists & web rings right? Man…what a time to have been in the internet. [...][10]
Gods.. I’m trying to figure this out.. Because like, my first fandom experience was in 1999/2000, getting all my fics from Yahoo groups email lists, so uh, late Dawn of Networking / early Citrus Cheesecake? Mostly Gundam Wing and Sailor Moon fandoms… A lot of webring sites.. I never really liked FF.net, but I spent some time on DevArt.. Then LJ, though I apparently managed to miss all the drama, mostly because poor internet access. I do concur that it seems like I Was There, Gandalf and Citrus Cheesecake seem like they should be switched… But that may be due to overlap.

The end of I Was There, Gandalf and beginning of Archive Of Our Saviors actually happened while I had almost no internet access, literally riding the bus thirty miles each way twice a week to spend my allotted three hours on the public computer… Saving things on thumb drives, and eventually on my external hard drive to read at home between trips. I was so grateful for AO3, because of all the fic being in one place, with downloadable html copies easy to download. I think I was late to Tumblr… I didn’t really get into it until near the very end of LJ.. Again, a lot of overlap with Tumblr time and AO3 time.

I miss the group functions and nested comment threads of LJ days of yore..[11]

Where are the death threats and shit bro[12]
You are leetle babees. My grandparents where there before the Trek fandom. My grandfather was a member of the Sons of the Copper Beeches, my grandmother wrote articles for the Baum Bugle and donated auction items for the Oz convention circuit. [13]

Additions to Trekkster Gods

Additions to Dawn of Networking

  • BBSes that only one person could access at a time, via modem
  • Hogging the only phone line in the house at weird hours because call waiting would boot you off the system
  • Feeling joy at the sound of successful modem handshake[14]