LJ Communities ! = Mailing Lists

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Title: LJ Communities ! = Mailing Lists
Creator: Arduinna
Date(s): written June 15, 2005, posted September 18, 2005
Medium: online
Fandom: multi
Topic: Meta, fandom spaces and communication, websites, lack of actual fannish discussion
External Links: online here; WebCite
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Contents

LJ Communities ! = Mailing Lists is an essay by Arduinna that discusses the shortcomings of LiveJournal communities as sites for fannish discussions when compared to mailing lists. The essay foreshadows in a general way some complaints from LiveJournal users about Tumblr as a site for fannish discussion, though the specific issues are different; Arduinna is concerned specifically that discussion about canon has decreased and that LJ fandom seems more fanworks-focused.

The essay was posted to Essays: Rants and Rambles.

"Taken from something I posted to a mailing list, tweaked slightly to work a little better as an essay. This is strictly about LJ communities; for my views on personal LJs, see LJ and Me."

Excerpts

Among other things that I miss now that LiveJournal (which I don't like) has largely taken over my corner of fandom, I miss subject-based discussion lists where people are expected to stay on topic, so you know that when you look at that list's mail, you're going to be seeing discussion about a subject that you're actually interested in. I miss being able to immerse myself in discussion about a particular fandom, without worrying about being pulled out of that headspace.

I go to fandom as a way to get away from my mundane RL for a while, and I can't do that if I'm reading about other people's mundane RL issues. I like fandom to be a separate thing, not just one more part of mundania. I totally understand that many people want fandom to be completely integrated into their whole lives, no more separate than sitting down to dinner or paying their bills, and that they're not looking to fandom as a way to forget about the bills for a while. This is just All About Me. *g*

Several people on a mailing list suggested that using LJ strictly with communities may be a good way to re-create that list experience: to get fannish discussion without any of the personal stuff, and without having to follow dozens or hundreds of journals hoping to get a few posts on the subject(s) I'm interested in.

So, in hopes of maybe finding a way I could compromise with LJ, I went looking. I used the userinfo for various posters on the list where this discussion was happening, focusing on anyone who'd suggested communities as a way of getting fannish discussion. I figured that would also provide a nice cross-section of fannish interests, since it's reasonable to assume that different fandoms will focus on different things. That gave me a bit over 100 communities, so I went broader, including any communities listed in the userinfo of friends who've suggested that format before, and friends who I believed to be discussion- and subject-oriented.

I wound up looking at 350 discrete LJ communities. (note: I freely acknowledge that this is totally crappy research in academic terms.)
Seriously, what is with this new 'meta' definition? Does anyone understand why people are sincerely suggesting going to LJ communities as a way to get the sort of fannish discussion that used to happen on lists, as a way for list-based fans to get what they need from LJ, and -- that doesn't seem to be really accurate, as near as I can tell. Obviously, my sample can't possibly apply everywhere -- there are probably fandoms that are rife with community-based discussion. But that sample covered a fair cross-section, I think, and... yeah. Communities are for derivative works, or links to individual LJs, as near as I can tell.

And fanfic, and icons, and other artwork, and vids, are wonderful things. I don't argue otherwise -- hell, I've written fanfic, made icons, made wallpapers, made vids. I get the whole creative urge thing, and the desire to share that around. I'm not averse to ego-boo, either. *g*

But those things are just a part of fandom for me; they don't encompass everything that fandom can possibly be about. I also want to talk about the source universe, and the characters that we see onscreen, and the onscreen relationships. It's the source that I consider the base for a fandom, not the stuff people create while riffing off a source. The riffing is great, but I want the deeper levels, too.

Given what I saw in communities when I looked at this sample, my guess is that if people are talking about the shows/source, they're saving it for soliloquies in their own personal LJs.

Which leaves me exactly where I was before.
Seriously, what is with this new 'meta' definition? Does anyone understand why people are using this term for basic discussion now? I saw it all over the place, with people defining anything that wasn't creative work or recommendations of creative work as 'meta'. Since when did talking about the source become 'meta'? And if basic discussion is meta now, what is the discussion style formerly known as meta now called? (Whether the former metadiscussion of 'discussing the discussion', or the former metadiscussion such as happen(ed)(s) on FCA-L, where broader fannish topics are discussed.)