In and Out

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Title: In and Out
Creator: Merlin Missy
Date(s): July 22, 2008
Fandom: multifandom
External Links: In and Out
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In and Out is a 2008 essay by Merlin Missy.


This essay is part of a series called Dr. Merlin's Soapbox.

Some Topics Discussed

  • outing other fans as fans
  • visibility
  • pseuds: " It's much easier for them to go after Suzy Fangirl's real name than some LJer named ILurveNekkidWinchesters."
  • how your online presence can keep you from getting/keeping a job
  • revealing a fan's real life information on the internet is a violation of site's Terms of Service, as well as a violation of basic fandom etiquette
  • the person you are corresponding on the internet by by a "forty-year old perv" [1]
  • "My telephone number may be in the phonebook, but if you're giving it out to random strangers and I find out, my fist will be having a very short conversation with your nose."
  • don't be a jerk

From the Essay

... let me repeat with emphasis: WE DO NOT OUT OTHER FANS. (I would emphasize this with sparkly text, but the .gif macro doesn't work well on our site.) Don't do it to n00bs. Don't do it to BNFs. Don't do it to your best friend or your fandom enemy. Don't do it to the pros who are hanging out with us. (Unless the pro has stated point blank in her user profile "Hi! RabidFangrrrl is the username of Jane Celebrity aka ME! Welcome to my blog!" You're probably okay in that case.)

... it is your responsibility to guard your privacy online. Always be sensible, use a handle rather than your real name, don't give away personal details online that you wouldn't feel comfortable shouting in a subway, assume that anything you post will be read by people you do not know even if it's locked, and until proven otherwise, do not dismiss the notion that the person you are talking to is a forty-year-old perv (or possibly an FBI agent).

If you're posting smut, consider getting a second handle that can't be too easily linked with your primary username. This is common sense for operating online.

Fandom is and should be about the shared squee. It's about the things we love to discuss together and the places we hang out in bunches, and the stories we tell one another, and the games we make up, and sharing the good and the bad and the weird with the friends we never dreamed we could have. If you go out in search of private information on other fans and make that public, you're going to make things less friendly for everyone. You're going to send people running and hiding, because their teachers and students and bosses and school-aged children and next-door neighbours might find out about our fun and disapprove enough to make our lives too difficult to come play anymore. You're going to wind up being the biggest fish in the pond after all, because everyone else is gone.

Fan Comment

[Kimmeth]: I have been outed as an FF-writer twice, in different social circles, by the same person. It wasn't intentional or malicious, the person in question was very new to fanfic and didn't realise that it is its own secret little subculture that people look at strangely. It still entailed a lot of hasty repair work on my part to stop the said social circles looking at me as if I had a duck on my head. More people should read this article and hopefully the unintentional outings will dwindle, and I won't be caught trying to explain to my bemused German teacher why I'm rewriting the seventh Harry Potter book again.


  1. ^ Actually, a bit of ageism. It's not illegal, nor a moral failing, to be old.