Laura Hale (fan)

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This page is for the fan. For the Teen Wolf character, see Laura Hale.

Name: Laura Hale
Also Known As: Michela Ecks, Michela, Partly Bouncy, PurplePopple; also Laura Michelle, Laura "Mike" Hale, halegirl, h2oequalswater (AIM), bouncingpurplepopple (Yahoo messenger), lhale@niu.edu (MSN), Spaz [1] [2]
Occupation: entrepreneur
Medium:
Works:
Official Website(s): Fan History
Fan Website(s): Subpages for Laura Hale (fan):
Laura_Hale_(fan) has no subpages to list.
On Fanlore: Related pages

Laura Hale is a fan, website owner and creator, forum creator and participant, and is most known as the owner of the Fan History Wiki and Writers University.

Hale has been a very contentious figure in fandom.

Fannish History

According to a May 2008 interview Laura Hale gave Fanboy.com:
I got into fandom in 1996. I had a few fabulous people who taught me about fandom, the social rules, etiquette, history, the terminology that was used, etc. Most of those people came out of the Star Trek and Babylon 5 fandoms. In 2000, I was involved with FanFiction.Net, and created a project called Writers University on the site. I created it back then because I wanted to share with others what others had shared with me. It made my transition into fandom easier having those mentors and having that historical background.[3]

She offers a slightly different timeline on her Fan History wiki userpage, on which she says she's been in fandom since "1994 or so".

In a 2002 bio, Hale writes at length about her involvement in fandom beginning in Babylon 5 where:
...my involvement with Babylon 5 fan fiction included tirades against older authors not allowing younger authors access to adult material, and statements demanding that it was the job, the duty of the reader to send authors feedback. At the same time, my writing standards are not what they were today and many of my fan fiction contributions were filled with spelling errors, grammar errors and rampant Mary Sues. I created a mailing list for teenage fans of Babylon 5 called the b5eens [4]... Around the end of 1998, my attitudes and perceptions began to change as I was allowed greater access into previously restricted parts of fandom that I could not join due to my age, due to my continued education, and due to changing affiliations with in fandom. This began a radical shift in my fannish involvement, an almost one hundred eighty degree change in my perceptions of what it means to be a fan fiction writer. Beta readers became something I was aquatinted with for my own stories.

I also began beta reading for others. Canon became my mantra. Alternative universe stories became something I loathed. I associated myself with a web site called God Awful Fan Fiction... and helped create a Mary Sue that posed as a real person. Her name was Mary Sue Whipple. Mary Sue Whipple "wrote" horrid fan fiction that mocked poorly written fan fiction. Through her, I had a professional author print a piece of God awful Klingon poetry into a Star Trek Deep Space Nine novel. Writing badfic as Mary Sue Whipple became a passion. People had to know through satire that their stories sucked and I was going to be the one to let them know! I did not need to tell the individual authors why they sucked; that was their problem, not mine. Around the same time, I beta read for an author at their behest. They were firm believers in their own fiction and its high quality. All suggestions I made on how to improve their story were taken as a personal attack upon them. The individual was upset. She had her friends hack my computer, ultimately rendering the computer not usable.

Around September of 2000, I was become gradually more disillusioned with this all negative things swirling around fandom and myself. I became less and less of a regular at Godawful Fan Fiction. I began to become more interested in how fandom functioned, what the history of fan fiction was, what words in fandom meant, how important feedback was and what function it served in the fannish community. Around this time, I was offered the opportunity to create a writing information site for fan fiction authors through a web site known as FanFiction.Net. I leapt at the chance to give something back to the community that had given me so much. I created a web site called fiction writing challenges, a dictionary of fannish terms, information on Mary Sues, convention listings and more. Niamh Crilly, one of my closest and longest net friends, was dragged into this project and maintained the beta readers index. This would last for about five months before personality conflicts, real life issues, and ideological reasons caused me to leave, and leave in an unpleasant manner. During this same period, I would become active in the Harry Potter fandom, hanging out at [Sugarquill] and various Harry Potter mailing lists including Cassie & Rhysen...

After my leave from FanFiction.Net, I took my web site with me and hosted it in an independent server. Some of the problems that had begun at FanFiction.Net, such as ideological differences with some members, led to a period of around year where I lived in constant fear on-line because of a group of people whose behavior was stalker-like. [details omitted]

At the same time, I wrote for my English 104 class a paper about professional authors feelings regarding fan fiction derived from their stuff. I learned a great deal on this subject, firming up my own belief that if an author believes that people should not write fan fiction derived from their stuff, the fan should comply out of respect for the author they purport to love.

When I finally stuck my nose firmly out of its hiding hole, it was because of ideological concerns. I had contacts with members of FanFiction.Net's current staff and one of them reported to me that they were about to black listed for plagiarism. This author was Cassandra Claire. My initial reaction was to fire off a short e-mail to let the author know that this was about to happen because maybe this was a genuine mistake and she could redeem herself by posting appropriate disclaimers. The author failed to respond. When she was finally black listed and some one asked what happened to her stories, I replied and included extracts of what she had plagiarized. This resulted in ostracization from most of the Harry Potter fandom because, you know, the people who ran FanFiction.Net and anyone who leveled that accusation were ignorant of how fandom ran and were jealous of Cassandra Claire's amazing talent. This gave way to new material for Writers University, and the same fannish infighting for the next year. [5]

Hale was active outside fanfiction.net as well, and frequently posted meta on fannish history in various forums, including the Fanthropology LJ community and the FCA-L mailing list. Three of these essays used to be archived on the Fanfic Symposium website associated with FCA-L, but have since been removed by the site's administrator due to fannish anger over Hale's behaviors. .[6] Other essays are still archived at Whoosh!.[7]

Over the years, Hale has developed from an enthusiastic, energetic newbie to an enthusiastic, energetic established fan whose entrepreneurial perspective on fandom generated controversy:
[...]If you’re a business, the rules are different as you’re generally operating on and being judged on a macro level. On the micro level of fans, it is generally viewed as unacceptable to copy some one’s work and to archive it on your personal web space. On a business level, this behavior is generally much more acceptable and tolerated. [...] Thus, if you’re a fan with a financial stake in fandom, you need to depersonalize these activities and treat your fansite and activities like a business because of the dual standards in fandom. By acting like and treating your fansite like a business, your activities are judged by a different set of standards which more generally are friendly towards probable business models. If you treat it like fandom, you can’t get away with that.

[...]There are just a huge number of people who need to treat fandom as a business. These are people who cannot afford make decisions based on their perceptions of how “fandom” will respond, what fannish norms are and act as if they are operating on the same level as the casual fans who have much less of an investment legally and financially in fandom.

[...]if you’re on that other level, your goals are different. They include such things as covering the cost of materials, hosting, travel expenses. They include trying to make money, to profit off or maximize your profit. The goal might include trying to increase traffic, increase media exposure, increase interest in your project. The goal might be to create the biggest information resource, to create the best information resource, to use that information to get a job.[8]

Professional Fannish History

Between June 2007 to June 2009, Hale worked as a consultant for FanLib/Take180, specifically consulting on social network communities such as Twitter and Facebook. [9] This appears to have been a paid position; Hale mentioned losing this job at the end of June 2009, something that put a crimp on Fan History Wiki's finances: "At the end of June, Fan History’s founder lost her job. This was stressful as this employment helped cover Fan History’s cost out of pocket." [10]

Laura was also highly involved in the greater wiki community, attending Recent Changes Camp in 2008, being a principal organizer of RCC in 2009, and on the leadership team for 2010.

On Being "Notable" in Fandom

In 2006, a few months after founding Fan History Wiki, Laura weighed in on a post that scolded Harry Potter fans for being fixated on BNFs (and by inference, a comment on The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle which had just been published a week earlier):

Let those fannish celebrities be total asses. Really. It will reflect back poorly on them in a number of circles because in fandom, it is all about your own good name... [snipped]... They are the Lindsay Lohan's of fandom. They get the limelight but it doesn't necessarily mean they get the respect that goes along with the fame.

What the rest of fandom has to do is acknowledge that they are being the fannish equivilent [sic] of Lindsay Lohan. And they need to make up for the short comings that are left in the void as most of those folks are not actively engaged in mentoring of new fen. (Or the cynic in me says, they might do that but not with out the purpose of boosting their own place in fandom.) I had some wonderful mentors in fandom. They include TaraLJC, Donna Thelen, DangerMom, Steven Savage, Sidewinder, Kannaophelia to name a few. Some of them are what I considr [sic] big name fans and they helped me because it was the nice thing to do and the wise thing to do. And thus, even though I'm not popular or well known, I spam try to mentor others in certain areas because it is the right thing to do. I did that with a lot of Good Charlotte fans and people in general in regards to fan history. The average fan's mind set needs to be reminded (and wow this sounds arrogant) that fame should not be sought as the ultimate goal. [11]
Hale had specific ideas on how to become "notable" in fandom, which she explained in the 2008 Fanboy.com interview:
We live in a celebrity driven culture, so in your opinion what are the qualities that make a humble fanboy or fangurl notable?
Couple of qualities. First, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and shamelessly promote yourself. Second, provide people with what they want in terms of content. Third, be controversial. Fourth, keep doing that again and again. The fans who really get to be known across fandom are the ones that can do that. That’s the way to get notable and known.
The other way to get notable is to create a quality product that fandom will consume and use. The downside to this is that, unless you’re vocally making yourself the front person for that product, selling the product as an extension of yourself, you might not gain personal notability.[3]
Hale is consistent in these beliefs. A month earlier, she had posted to the Fan History blog along similar lines:
Controversy can sell and help add legitimacy to your project. Fan History gets fairly decent sized traffic bumps when people have issues with articles, with privacy issues in fandom or with people who help maintain the wiki. Fandom Wank can be your traffic driving, search engine visibility, viral link creating friend. Lee Goldberg slamming on you can give you sympathy and legitimacy. Having slashers and het shippers duke it out on your site insures they stay and means they’ll probably link to their arguments elsewhere to complain about the behavior of those they don’t like. Controversy may also bring media attention and attention from the people affiliated with your fandom.[12] [13]

On July 18, 2008, Hale posted to her Twitter offering to send cookies to anyone who would generate unique hits on her wiki:

  • "I will mail anyone who can generate 500 unique visits for http://www.fanhistory.com/ half a dozen home made chocolate chip cookies. :)" 2:54 PM Jul 18th from web [14]
  • "Clarification: Half a dozen cookies for each 500 unique visitors you get up to two dozen cookies. I loves cookies. :) And traffic." 2:56 PM Jul 18th from web [15]

Hale claims that the offer of cookies was made in jest.

She posted the same offer to her Livejournal in an expanded version; at the bottom of the post she added ideas on how to generate hits for Fan History. These included a variety of places to post information and links, including the instruction to "generate wank" (screencap) -- a notion very much in keeping with her stated assumption that being "controversial" is a key way to gain recognition in fandom.

Many fans took these repeated assertions to mean that controversy (or wank) is a tool that she actively uses and encourages. Others felt that the quotes were taken out of context. Hale publicly denied this interpretation in July 2008:
I have been accused of openly encouraging individuals to create wank to drive traffic to Fan History. This is untrue; it is a case of a joking comment made among friends in private and on FLocked posts being misconstrued and taken out of context. I would never knowingly plan to subject myself, people I consider to be my friends, Fan History administrators and contributors to the wiki to the onslaught of attacks, criticisms and strains on their relationships in fandom as has occurred recently. I would not knowingly seek a means of promoting the wiki in a way that I feel would hurt the credibility of the wiki, a credibility that I have spent that past year trying to improve.[16]
In October 2008, however, she posted another affirmation:
If you’re a fan, you might shut your mouth and avoid controversy at all costs. If you don’t, your enjoyment of fandom might decrease. If you’ve got a financial or business stake in fandom, you might not have that luxury. You might need to wade in to that controversy or find a way to use it to your benefit. It can increase your traffic and your visibility which can help your bottom line. (4) By alienating a certain group, you might gain acceptance by a larger group who will enjoy what you’re doing who might not otherwise have been exposed to you had they not heard about it from the people who disliked the business. From a risk/reward perspective, it makes sense. 4. Which isn’t to say that this is just the purview of people with business interests in fandom. Plenty of fans enjoy controversy and plenty of fans have a stake in creating controversy in order to further their own standing in the community.[...][8]

Fanfiction.net and Writers University

Hale and Writers University left fanfiction.net in January 2001 on bad terms, with Hale posting a long farewell letter to various ff.net forums detailing her reasons for leaving, including repeated mentions of the fact that she felt she had been lied to and that some of the people she'd been involved with had proved untrustworthy.[17]

Writers University then moved to its own space, and was regarded by some fans as a valuable resource:
According to their own mandate, "Writer's University seeks to help people connect through fan fiction," and I'd say they do a tremendous job of it, too. This site is huge, contains dozens of resources anyone who writes or reads fanfic would benefit from reading, and (always a major personal interest for yours truly) is set out in a user-friendly format with solid links and navigation. I especially recommend their section on Mary Sues.[18]
Other fans had issues with inaccuracies on the site, however. Discussing the article, The How and Who of Mary Sue, on Mary Sue Whipple, Alice Karvonen Allonway (Whipple's creator), said:
Telling people how she was born is extremely cool (especially 'cause, y'know, my name has to be plastered all over the story). Telling people lies and damned lies is a bad thing, especially when you know the truth of the matter. Here, I refer to the Writer's University website, wherein a false history of MSW simple beginnings is given (and her creation story is not one I'm shy about—I give it any time anyone asks about Mary Sue in my hearing).[19]

Mary Sue Whipple

Laura Hale claimed to be Mary Sue Whipple at ASC in November 1998. "They all should know that Mary Sue Whipple is me. In fact, she's been posting some spledoferous fan fiction to ASC that everyone has been reading. It is kinda obvious that it is." [20]

Other fans accused Hale of misrepresenting herself as the only Mary Sue Whipple at an awards nomination, [21] something that caused some wank at alt.startrek.creative in May 2000. [22]

The Bringers

Around 2001, Hale was the media contact person for an online group called The Bringers, who were dedicated to "protecting fans and fan sites on-line". Their actions included "dealing with corporate copyright holders threatening fan webmasters with legal action over content/media", as well as "domain name disputes that affect fans, and other activities which threaten the existence and enjoyment of fans on the Internet." They also offered to evaluate C&D situations, and at one point were "also working on developing a list of lawyers who will assist fans for reasonable fees."[23]

The group further described themselves in their FAQ:[23]

We want webmasters to be educated about their rights and we want corporations to cease attacking with their biggest and bluntest weapons. We want copyright holders to talk with and respect the Internet fans. We want the courts to clarify current law by ruling on fan issues and lawmakers to balance the needs of the fans with the needs of the fanned. [...] We strive to be a presence on-line so that people know where to turn to if they find themselves in a situation we could help with. We also contact traditional media about the issue of fansites in general and specific events as they come up. We provide support to threatened fans and fansites. We can resurrect fallen sites, serve as a ready-made action group to write letters, or provide advice based on our knowledge of past events. We contact corporations and individuals that are being "anti-fan" and plead our case, try to educate them on the consequences of their actions.

Fandomination.Net

Laura Hale co-founded FanDomination.Net and was involved in this project from 2002 to 2005, after which she accuses her co-founder, Jim Partin, of locking her out of the site and stealing it from her.

FCA-L and Fanthropology

Over the years, Hale posted many "fandom histories" to FCA-L and Fanthropology, which were met with both interest and criticism.

...really interesting speculations and i admire all the hard work that must've been spent getting the data for this. [...]anyway, love the idea of researching this, and i'm definitely in awe of everything you had to do to get this far![24]
Also:
This is an interesting question, and I have to admire your thoroughness, but I think your results are going to be hopelessly skewed by the fandoms themselves. [...] Statistically, this is a hopelessly tangled mess of competing variables.[25]
Her scholarship in particular was frequently called into question as she had a habit of presenting anecdotal information as fact, and of generalizing activity in small niche fandoms or feral fandoms, asserting it as behavior all of fandom participated in. As one fan put it:
Laura's authoritative tone and the over-generalizatons that abound are exceptionally problematical, because her data collection process has always been heavily flawed. Nowhere is there a clear description of her methodology, or even a general explanantion of she came to such sweeping conclusions - which are often horribly skewed as a result of her collection bias. I'm not sure what I find more horrifying: that she has not acquainted herself with the very good methodology resources available (through classes or through her own reading), or that she has had such exposure and just chooses to ignore methodological concerns.[26]
She also routinely ignored input from other fans who attempted to correct misstatements and inaccuracies, if those corrections did not fit in with her original premise. For example:
[H]er sources for one of the fandoms I've been in were people who weren't even in the fandom at the time of the events chronicled (and that was pointed out to her on a mailing list when she used to post her fandom histories, as well as the inaccuracies, and she ignored it)[...][27] [28]
Looking back on Hale's participation on FCA, Cereta noted:
...her incredibly shoddy research practices, which by her own words privileges bad information over no information (and yes, I will happily produce the FCA-L post in which she says just that if needed).[29]
Cereta later directly quoted some of that post, in which Hale said, in part:
So I'll take a distorted partially incorrect history over no history.[30][31]

Fan History Wiki

a 2009 event, planned by Laura Hale, see Camp Fandom 2.0
Main article: Fan History Wiki
Hale's ongoing project in recent years has been the Fan History wiki, which she considers an outgrowth of her Writers University project from ff.net.[3] In 2007, Hale made it clear that she believed both herself and the wiki to be widely, almost universally, known in fandom:
Because seriously, you'd have to be pretty... well, isolated in fandom not to have run across Fan History Wiki and my other fan fiction history type work. [32]

From the beginning, the wiki has been plagued by inaccuracies. In addition, Hale acquired a reputation for being a micro-manager, controlling the wiki's content and its editors. In 2008, Hale implemented scraper bots to take information from fans' profiles on fanfiction.net and livejournal to create hundreds of thousands of pages of information, a move that caused some controversy in some fannish venues. In early 2009, she implemented paid services, where fans could pay to have articles written about them or their fandoms.

In November 2010, Hale closed the Fan History wiki to public edits, citing lack of admin interest.

Controversy

Hale's activities have irritated many people over the years, and controversy and wank surround her to varying degrees in multiple forums; several incidents made Fandom Wank[33]. But in mid-2008, her actions on her Fan History wiki caused a wider controversy in the general LJ-based fannish community that resulted in many fans actively attempting to shun her and boycott her wiki.

A fan in 2008 posted: "I guess the only surprise in the scorn for Laura Hale turning to outright anger is how long it took. On the one hand, that speaks to a certain interest in avoiding public disasters, which I think speaks well of fandom. On the other hand, people have been twirling their fingers next to their ears about her for years and haven't been able or willing to collectively tell her to go jump in a lake. Which, I guess, is the hassle of an ungovernmented populace." [34]

Outing

On her wiki, Laura and her staff would occasionally connect someone's legal and fannish name if they felt that the link was obvious enough already. Unfortunately, Hale's definition of "obvious enough" included things like giving out a legal name in a friends-locked post to people the fan trusted to keep it private; in Hale's estimation, that action made that information effectively public knowledge.

One fan wrote:
That is how she shares her distaste for people she doesn't like: by breaking friends-lock and disregarding people's stated requests in publicly connecting their pseuds and legal names. She disregards all requests to remove that information. In one case, it was removed only to be quietly reinstated a few weeks later.[35]
But because people don't like to talk about outings (both because that perpetuates the outing, and because it puts them at risk for being outed themselves), most of this flew under fandom's radar. As one fan put it:
[T]he trouble with dealing with someone who's known for outing people with whom she quarrels is that it makes people less willing to be open about their dealings with her - that's how blackmail works, unfortunately. And while I don't subscribe to the view that no-one should ever do anything that they're unwilling to have revealed to the whole of the internet, their friends, family, employers, children and dogs in glorious technicolor, some of the things LH has "revealed" in her dotty fanhistory have been things that the alleged perpetrators simply didn't do. "She outs people for stuff they've done in fandom" is, in my view, pretty reprehensible, but "She makes up stuff she claims people did in fandom and then outs them for it" is ten times worse, and I don't blame anyone for being reluctant to believe that sort of thing about someone they consider to be a friend.[36]

The situation became public in July 2008, when Hale posted an essay called "How to maintain fandom privacy" to the Fanthropology LJ (the post has since been deleted[37]), with a list of ways to avoid being outed or having personal information disseminated. The advice basically boiled down to "Never say anything on the Internet," a view reflected in many mainstream media articles. Many people believed Hale's post was self-serving and interpreted its subtext as "It is never the fault of the person who outs; the fault lies with the person who trusted people to respect their privacy and wishes."

One fan wrote:
On July 19, purplepopple/partly_bouncy/Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale (she is public about all these names) made a post on fanthropology about "How to maintain fandom privacy." (I'd link to it, but it's gone now.) It was a list of 15 things like "always assume anything you post online may become public" and "never give out your real name, even in locked posts" and "do not join social networking sites, message boards, or public fanfic archives." She also either changed fanhistory's policies, or reminded people that they existed--and these were there standards for respecting people's privacy: if the information can be found online, it's okay to make it easily googled.[38]

Various fans responded both in comments to the post and in their own LJs; some agreed that privacy is an unrealistic expectation, but some pointed out that the tone of the post was very "blame the victim" in its assumption that anyone who trusted anyone should expect to be outed.

In the midst of all that, Dejana pointed out that the Fanthropology post wasn't about a hypothetical abstract, but about something that had already happened on the Fan History Wiki:
Well, apparently the owner got her hands on astolat's real name. And added said name, and several details of her offline and professional life, to the FanHistory page about her. And if someone tries to remove astolat's real-life details, saying "she doesn't want these things linked, please stop," the owner reverses the edits and restores the revealing page. And when challenged, said owner made a giant post to fanthropology proclaiming your real-life details fair game if you've ever posted on an archive, made an online journal, or joined a message board. [...] This both pisses me off and freaks me the hell out.[39]
After that post, Hale amended the Fanthropology post, mentioning astolat's legal name several times, and each time linking it directly to the Astolat page on Fan History Wiki:
Advised to add: Apparently there is some controversy regarding the [LegalName linked to Fanname URL] article on Fan History. As referenced on the talk page for [LegalName linked to Fanname URL], we're willing to work with her to find a solution where the history can be accurately told regarding her involvement in fandom. Fan History understands people's privacy issues. It is why we are willing to work with people to make them comfortable regarding what information it out there. It is also why we want people to think about what they put out there. Given that, if [LegalName linked to Fanname URL] wishes to have the article about her changed to minimize those connections, we'd love to hear from her. We're willing to work with her, like anyone covered on Fan History, to address her concerns. For everyone else, we urge you to read our people help page, the rules, our philosophy and to actively engage on the wiki so Fan History can continue its mission to preserve the history of fandom.[38]
Some fans felt that the specifics didn't matter and continued to believe that privacy is an unrealistic expectation even in a fannish community:
I do not believe in hiding behind pseudonyms, so the policy on "real name vs fandom name," especially for people who are "important" in fandom, does not bother me. If someone's real name and psedonym were posted in FanHistory, it was found on the web - and if it was found on the web, Laura did not out you. I don't care if it was "FLocked" (that's an entirely separate rant) or if it was on a "super secret blog" or whatever. If it's on the web, it can be found and it is not a secret.[40]
From another fan:
[...]but really...that info was already out there, right. Why make a big deal out of it.[41]
Others reacted badly to the outing, demanding that the fanthropology post be edited or deleted immediately to erase the information. As one fan put it:
Betrayal of trust and malicious intent to harm with privileged information is just that, regardless of how many people would be able to Google up the information anyway. I think it's several degrees worse when the privileged information is more private...but the principle is the same, and people are missing that point by a broad margin.[42]

Some fans also began posting to call out Hale on her behavior, citing the current situation as well as older ones, and digging deeper into Hale's behavior patterns.[43]

Word of the outing spread, and evidence began mounting that this event wasn't an isolated incident, but part of a long-term pattern. At least one previous incident is described by Hale herself:
Shit... I was equally tossed out... but I caused trouble on the way out. I e-mailed the firm Heidi was at and ASKED if what she said was legally sound... (They remember that too. Shortly after it, Heidi moved to NY I think...)[44]
Even some of Hale's supporters began questioning her methods and behavior:
A few weeks ago, I started to realize FanHistory will never go anywhere with Laura at the helm. She's too wanky, and while I don't believe she deserves everything she gets, something like that needs credibility in fandom. Which is a shame, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.[45]
Another fan wrote:
What the [site name redacted] wiki's doing right now--and the reason it is herein being called [site name redacted]--is an insidious mix of both: it picks up community gossip, but not community standards; asks for input from the fans, but then won't let everyone edit; is one thing when it wants a piece of information kept in (because you can't choose which facts are contained in history!), but another when it wants to present itself as an open wiki soliciting contributions (because it's a wiki!). And that isn't fair. And I'm sorry, but I can't support that. Goodwill in requires goodwill out, you know?[46]

Deceptive Practices

As fans uncovered more information about Hale and the wiki, it became clear that the wiki was not a fannish project, but a for-profit venture intended to market fannish information to businesses.[47]

While Hale was relatively open about wanting to sell, she also made it clear that she believed in using deceptive practices to build up her "business". In Hale's own words:
...I'm sitting on a really nice, pretty comprehensive market research tool. That doesn't even begin to get into various other things I have compiled, like lists of LiveJournal communities that you can advertise your in fandom material on, contact lists, private demographic studies I've done, polling data, etc. The potential there for using that from a marketing perspective at fandom is nice. (It is why Fan History does NOT have a GNLU license and why our privacy policy is rather vague.)[48]
Hale also wrote:
... if you’re asked, tell your users that all the extra money is going into a savings account for the site to help cover costs in the long run. Say this even if it isn’t true. Fan sites run by fans take a lot of flack for making money compared to fansites run by corporations and that way, you cover your ass. [49]

Outing for Profit?

The timing of the fanthropology post and the very public outing of a fan began to be questioned -- why the need to generate so much wank and so many hits, right at that point?

One fan posted:
I'm just wondering at the timing right now, to be honest. Why the concerted effort all of a sudden? I think that's the question people should be asking themselves, and asking themselves what happens when she needs to roll over someone else for her little cause here.[50]

In July 2008, in the midst of the wankstorm, Hale incorporated the wiki as a limited liability corporation (LLC)[51]. Her Twitter posts during July provide a timeline, starting with the day after she outed the fan in the fanthropology post:

  • "Anyone good with PR who might be able to help me with an ongoing situation? If so, would love to get in touch ASAP. 12:22 PM Jul 23rd from web [1][2]
    • Note: Hale originally locked her Twitter down to friends-only after this post.
  • Ordered "Art of the Start" and it has arrived! Talked to @Jenbachand on the phone for an hour. It was a good convo. 10:23 AM Jul 25th from web [3]
  • I think I should have a registered agent which means I can push through LLC incorporation documents. Score! 1:54 PM Jul 25th from web [4]
  • fuck fuck fuck. :( things went from bad to worse, 3:21 PM Jul 25th from web [5]
  • This morning started out bad. I can't see it getting much better. 7:25 AM Jul 26th from web [6]
  • Advice for dealing with clusterfucks in PR when dealing with a startup? 7:26 AM Jul 26th from web [7]
  • Spent an hour discussing how to handle PR situation, policy changes, etc. Has been productive. Should help contain situation. Maybe. 6:22 AM Jul 27th from web [8]
  • LLC forms completed and payment submitted. That is another one of those great big massive steps. 9:29 AM Jul 27th from web [9]
  • Fan History and my apology regarding recent actions 4:40 AM Jul 28th from web [10][52]

At roughly the same time, she began listing her wiki on start-up sites, asking for venture capital -- $200,000 to $500,000.[53] See Fan History Elevator Pitch.

The possible connection between Hale's choice to out a fan and her desire to make her wiki look attractive to potential investors drew more ire from some fans:
This is about Laura deliberately starting wank in order to drive up hits to her website-- deliberately making a meta post on fanthropology, waiting until it got linked on metafandom, then editing it to include a fan's real name against that fan's express wishes. Why? To make money.[54]
Another fan posted:
My fundamental problem with Laura Hale is not that she is making money from fandom through googleanalytics or whatever is on the site now or trying to sell the wiki to the highest bidder on content and information that does not belong to her, that was not created by her except for the parts she... fabricated. My problem with Laura Hale is that she is making money from fandom by lying, by causing distress and real life repercussions, she is making money by gleefully soliciting and generating wank, by making our fandom a fundamentally unsafer and unhappier space. She causes misery, not *just* because she can, but because it puts money in her pockets. All of this is because it's good for *marketing*, it's her viral strategy.[55]

In short, fannish privacy being a powerful cultural factor, Hale quickly became the subject of public anger, outrage, and scorn as her entrepreneurial intentions became clear.

A fan posted:
But every once in a while--and it is generally a very long while--someone takes an action that goes Too Far, even for the most unflappable fans. The unforgiveable act usually involves one of three things: (1) Privacy; (2) Credit; or (3) Profit. If a fan violates another fan's privacy (posting private email without permission, hacking email, posting real name or contact information, contacting an employer, contacting an ISP to get them in trouble for copyright violations), steals another's credit (plagiarism or clip-theft or failing to credit an icon), or tries to profit directly off fan activity (selling fic on Amazon, asking for money so she can stay home and write) -- these are the things that violate the terms of the fannish social contract. We give credit; we work for free; we respect pseudonymity. Laura Hale, in publicly linking fannish pseuds of multiple fans with their legal identities, did so (it seems clear) in order to drum up hits for her wiki. She wants to sell the data in the wiki, which is full of information supplied by other fans about their fanwork and fannish histories. Except the fans who edited the wiki won't be paid for their work, if she does sell it--she's coasting on their work and the work of the fans whose information populates the wiki. In doing so she's violated the rules about privacy, the rules about profit, and even the rules about credit (it's her wiki, not fandom's). [56]

Fanhistory:expose

On July 22, 2008, some fans began using the tag "fanhistory:expose" on both their LJ posts and any delicious bookmarks about the Fan History Wiki (and by extension, Laura Hale), to make tracking the information easier.

On August 22, Hale began using the fanhistory:expose tag on delicious, adding some 240 new bookmarks in one day using that tag (none of them about the controversy, but instead pointing people to the FHW itself or to posts supporting the FHW). She continued to sporadically add bookmarks after that, for a total of 266 by mid-October, in what would appear to be an attempt to bury any criticism.[57]

Wikipedia

As noted above, Laura Hale was linked to a number of controversies for linking fan fiction authors with their real world identities without their consent. In February 2011, Hale began editing Wikipedia under the user name "LauraHale", and within a month became dissatified when three editors refused to give "Good Article" ratings to her work. This led to conflict and one of the involved editors contacted the Wikimedia Foundation about Hale.[58] In response, Hale sought to have the editor banned on the grounds of "Outing of my real identity to suspected employer" and "Attempts to get me in trouble by contacting my employer".[59] Of course, Laura Hale was open about her identity and she was never employed by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Some Comments Regarding Fanlib

FanLib: One Year Later is a detailed look at everything Fanlib did in its first year, complete with traffic and usage charts, posted on March 26, 2008. After carefully analyzing all of her data, Hale's conclusion was: "In the end, trends indicate that Fanlib shall continue to grow as part of the fannish community. They've created a sustainable project, which will be around for many years to come."

Roughly four months later, Fanlib closed down completely, shortly after a social media news site reported a rumor that Disney purchased it for $20 million.

Some Comments Regarding FictionAlley and Cassandra Claire

In October 2002, Hale posted a long message at Writers University. The subject line was "Laura, Moi, jealous? (sarcasm alert) (offensive material with in) In reply to: Ivy Blossom 's message, "Re: Cassandra Claire"."

In it, she claims that she wrote the Terms of Service for Fanfiction.net and that 75% of it was plagiarized for FictionAlley's terms of service. This claim is embedded in a very offensive email that attacks Cassandra Claire and others in a very over-the-top manner. It would be difficult to tease out what was Hale's actual thoughts and what she was offering up as sarcastic commentary. In any case, it is quite crude; read the entire post at your own risk:

An excerpt:

Hello. My name is Laura Hale and there is one thing I pride myself above all other things: I am boring. With out a doubt, truely boring. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I don't have casual sex. I rarely drink and never to excess. I'm highly moralistic and ethical in my own way. I'm comfortable with all this. It makes me who I am and it makes me happy. (But if I was mean, or heck, if I wasn't so sure based on the accusation of jealous, I'd say that you're not comfortable with yourself that you feel a need to make that accusation. But you know, I'm not quite that mean or quite that petty to take shots at you like that. Really I'm not.)

(I'm not saying that FictionAlley.Org doesn't but I mean, after all, I did write 75% of their Terms of Service so they must have similar ethics to me no? Oh my, if I was petty and rude, I might say with some malice that they are nothing but plagiarist through and through ;-) but see, I'm not that petty. Stealing almost word for word from FanFiction.Net's Terms of Service and ha ha ha! having plagiarized material on their Terms of Service... well, that isn't an ethical issue for me to play with. It just amuses my own personal set of ethics. Really, it does. :) Amusement. And anyway, I'm not saying they don't have ethics. They do. Really they do. They just don't mesh with my own which is good because we're different.)

But anyway, back to the really important issue... me. Right. [much snipped] [60]

Ironically, this post would have failed the forum's terms of service: "Discuss ethical and legal concerns: If you want to discuss the incident, please feel free to. If you want to discuss what is cyber stalking and what isn't, what the correct fannish reaction is, please do. If you want to discuss the legality of fan fiction, please do. If you want to address specific incidents in fandom, I'm all for it but please reference more than you're just jealous. Please, research your information before you open your mouth and provide defense for some of your positions. Please, don't name call. Calling others crazy and accusing others of being jealous are posts that will most likely find themselves deleted. Discuss, don't harrass. Remember, this board is for the discussion of ethics and legal information pertaining to fandom. It isn't to demonstrate how unethical you can be. Also, please note, your IP addresses can be tracked." [61]

Hale's List of Essays and Papers

Laura Hale compiled a list of what she felt to be her non-fiction contributions to fandom. While she called these fanworks "essays," they were actually mostly posts to Fanthropology and FanDomination and pages on Fan History Wiki. [62]

NOTE: typos are Hale's own.

Essays:

  • 2006: partly_bouncy’s fan fiction year in review on Fanthropology, December 2006
  • CSI: The Review Factor on Fanthropology, February 2007
  • Current Trends and Issues in Improving Fan Fiction Literacy, Originally written in April 2004
  • Design and Implementation of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning: FanDomination.Net, Originally written in August 2002
  • Did LiveJournal kill the mailing list? on Fanthropology, December 2006
  • Does the media’s feminist interpretation of Ally McBeal mesh with the fan interpretation of Ally McBeal based on fan fiction? , Originally written in September 2000
  • Drabble History Fanzine, Orginally written in March 2005
  • Evolution (or lack there of) of the definition of smarm on Fanthropology, April 2007
  • Fan Space’s Influence on non-Fen buying practices on Fanthropology, April 2006
  • Fandom in Micronesia on Fanthropology, March 2006
  • Fandom Size on Fanthropology, December 2006
  • FanDomination.Net’s Privacy Policy on FanDomination.Net, August 2002
  • FanDomination.Net’s Terms of Service on FanDomination.Net, August 2002
  • The Harry Potter Fandom: By The Numbers on Fanthropology, on hP_essays , January 2007
  • A Historical Perspective on Mary Sue: Issues and Trends on FanFic Symposium, June 2005 [removed by the administrator in July 2008]
  • History of anti-slash on FanHistory.Com, Originally written August 2005
  • History of BandFic, an overview, on fanthropology, Orginally written June to September 2007
  • History of feedback on Fanhistory.Com, Originally written in May 2005
  • A History of Male Involvement in the Fan Fiction Community on FanFic Symposium, January 2006 [removed by the administrator in July 2008]
  • Is the Internet a beneficial collaborative learning environment for fan fiction in terms of improving writing quality? , Originally written in March 2003
  • KJ: Mamma, Mistress, Fearless Leader or Face in the Crowd? Let the Fan Decide… , Originally written in December 2000
  • Real Person Fic Fanzine, Originally written in Mary 2005
  • Safe sex in fan fiction on FanHistory.Com, Originally written in 2005
  • Slash is not gay: Homosexuality, class and fan fiction communities, A historical perspective on FanHistory.Com, June 2006
  • Supernatural: Does fandom activity correlate to the release of canon? on Fanthropology, December 2006
  • What is fan fiction history? on FanHistory.Com, Originally written June 2005
  • Writing and Conducting Fandom Survey Research on Fanthropology, May 2007

Other, General, Informational Non-essay or Incomplete Essay posts:

  • 2006 fan fiction calender on personal file space, Originally posted December 2005
  • ABC Fan Fiction Book on personal file space, Originally posted December 2005
  • American Idol: Vote The Worst on Fanthropology, March 2007
  • Bandfic as RPF on FanHistory.Com, May 2006
  • Creator interactions with the fan fiction community on FanHistory.Com, June 2006
  • Data Set Offer on fan_ta_sam, May 2007
  • The History of BandFic, Primarily as it pertains to the United States of America on RockFic, April 2007
  • Fan Fiction as Marketing Research, Originally written March 2001
  • Fandom related dataset on Fanthropology , on fan_ta_sam, December 2006
  • FanFiction.Net’s Terms of Service, August 2000
  • History of Fanfiction on Fanfic Symposium, June 2005 [removed by the administrator in July 2008]
  • ICANN, RegisterFly and domain names on Fanthropology, April 2007
  • Poll: Mary Sue and Drabble on Fanthropology, March 2006
  • Size of slash fandom vs. size of het fandom on Fanthropology, January 2007
  • Teens in fandom on FanHistory.Com, July 2006

Web Projects:

  • FanHistory.Com: Fan fiction history wiki, creator and primary contributor
  • Fan fiction dictionary @ FanWorks.Org, orginally found at Writers University
  • Fan fiction policies @ FanWorks.Org, orginally found at Writers University

Interviews

Sample Fanworks

External Links

References

  1. These pseuds and names are listed by Hale at: Fan History Wiki User:Laura; Archive, here: Help:Contributing, here: Fan History Wiki Timeline:Laura; Archive, and at: History of BandFic, an overview; Archive and at Re: Cassandra Claire -- Fan Fiction Ethical & Legal Discussion Board, Archived version
  2. linked in a post at Slash and Erotica in the hands of teens and pre-teens (Rant); archive link, post at alt.tv.x-files.creative
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Interview: Laura Hale of FanHistory.com/reference link, posted May 10, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  4. Is this Laura Hale's typo for "b5teens?"
  5. from Design and Implementation of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning: FanDomination.Net; WebCite
  6. See A History of Male Involvement in the Fan Fiction Community, A Historical Perspective on Mary Sue: Issues and Trends, and "History of Fan Fiction by Laura M. Hale" (Accessed 29 October 2008)
  7. Michela Ecks. Is Fan Fiction Legal?, in Whoosh! #57, June 2001; Fan Fiction, Novels, Copyright, And Ethics, in Whoosh! #62, November 2001. (Accessed 04 December 2008)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Fandom as a business", posted to the fanhistory blog on October 27, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
  9. "Performed reputation management related tasks. Research fan fiction, and fan communities and gave advice about how to effectively engage them." -- LinkedIn, accessed January 25, 2017
  10. http://blog.fanhistory.com/?p=1133, accessed January 25, 2017
  11. comments at Fandom and the Cult of Personality, August 18, 2006
  12. Fandom and traffic on the fanhistory blog. Posted April 20, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
  13. WebCite
  14. Laura Hale on Twitter: "I will mail anyone who can generate 500 unique visits for http://www.fanhistory.com/ half a dozen home made chocolate chip cookies. :)", Archived version
  15. Laura Hale on Twitter: "Clarification: Half a dozen cookies for each 500 unique visitors you get up to two dozen cookies. I loves cookies. :) And traffic.", Archived version
  16. A Statement from Fan History, posted July 28, 2008. Accessed November 28, 2008. Copy also archived here
  17. Michela Ecks' FF.net Resignation Letter; WebCite, dated January 8, 2001, posted to Fanfiction.net Liberation Front. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  18. MetaFic, Writing Resources, accessed November 30, 2008.
  19. The How and Why of Mary Sue; WebCite, by Alice Karvonen Allonway, posted July 15, 2001. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  20. ASC
  21. Michela Ecks Folds..., Archived version
  22. Thoughts on the ASC Awards, comments from the peanut gallery; archive link, May 17, 2000
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Bringers FAQ. Dated 2001. Accessed November 29, 2008.
  24. katekat1010, commenting on Hale's "LiveJournal vs. the mailing list" post to fanthropology. Comment posted December 13, 2006. Accessed December 2, 2008. Also archived here.
  25. madlori, commenting on Hale's "LiveJournal vs. the mailing list" post to fanthropology. Comment posted December 12, 2006. Accessed December 2, 2008. Copy also archived here.
  26. TaVeryMate, posted on April 17, 2007 in a comment to a thread about the inaccurate information on the Fan History wiki. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here
  27. mireille719, posted on April 19, 2007 in a comment to a thread about the inaccurate information on the Fan History wiki. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  28. A contradiction: Hale's response to criticism to her work in one 2005 comment: "Case in point, at one point I posted some bit of fan fiction history... and I had a disclaimer that it wasn't obviously complete and only represented the bits I had researched out of my own interests or because people in my own fan space had told me them. And some one replied with a comment akin to "OM MY GAWD! HOW COULD YOU HAVE EXCLUDED LOTRPS! WE ARE SO BIG!?! THAT IS WRONG!" I wanted to slap the person and say "Read the disclaimer ass hat. And if I lack the dates, rather than being a prat and whining about my not having your specific fandom mentioned, please shovel dates at me. Do something useful." *shrugs*" Academia and Fandom: What is the Role of the Ivory Tower; Archive
  29. LJ post in which Cereta talks about Laura Hale, posted July 22, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  30. Cereta provides context and directly quotes Hale, posted July 24, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  31. Full text of Hale's statement is archived on the FCA-L mailing list. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  32. Part of a comment in the OTW's "An Introduction to the Organization for Transformative Works" post. Comment posted on September 28, 2007. Accessed November 28, 2008. A copy is also archived here.
  33. Fanhistory's entry on the Fandom wank wiki (Accessed 30 October 2008)
  34. comment by Vehemently at her journal, July 22, 2008
  35. ignazwisdom: partly_bouncy, posted July 22, 2008. Accessed November 26, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  36. legionseagle, posted on July 28, 2008 as a comment in thread about it would have been better had people admitted what they knew about LH before the 2008 outings. Accessed November 26, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  37. A post on the FanHistory blog by Laura in April may contain the same or similar text as the deleted fanthropology post. See Laura Hale (fan)/"How not to appear on Fan History".
  38. 38.0 38.1 The Ongoing Situation, posted by elfwreck to the InsaneJournal metametameta community on July 26, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  39. Sometimes a brain can come in quite handy by Dejana, posted July 21, 2008. Post includes screencaps of the fanthropology post and FH pages about astolat, all redacted just enough to conceal the outing information. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  40. Lennoxmacbeth: FANDOM CAN GO TO HELL, posted July 23, 2008. Accessed November 29, 2008. Link is now offline.
  41. anashi, in a comment to Liviapenn's post "Laura Hale: Sole proprietor of a unique marketing opportunity". Comment posted July 23, 2008. Accessed November 30, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  42. hector_rashbaum, commenting in Amireal's post about the situation. Comment posted July 27, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  43. ithiliana: Calling out Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale/Purplepopple/Partly_Bouncy, posted July 22, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  44. Laura Hale, posting to "Re: Cassandra Claire -- Fan Fiction Ethical & Legal Discussion Board", posted September 9, 2002. Accessed December 2, 2008.
  45. Airing, posted by Hector Rashbaum on July 27, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  46. Carlanime: OIC: THIS is why we can't all just get along., posted July 22, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008. Link is offline.
  47. Lucy. For linking purposes. Last updated 28 July 2008 (accessed 28 October 2008).
  48. Hale discusses selling the wiki to a marketing firm. Comment posted in response to "Obviously T'aint Working (OTW)", February 23, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008.
  49. "Funding your fansite" on the fanhistory blog, dated July 11, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2008.
  50. svmadelyn, commenting in her post "My .02" Comment posted July 22, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  51. Fan History article on the Wiki Index; link goes to the history page to show that Hale added this information on September 4, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.
  52. also at A Statement from Fan History » Fan History's Blog, Archived version
  53. Fan History - TechCrunch Elevator Pitches; Fan History Elevator Pitch, posted July 14, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008. Fan history on fundfindr Accessed November 25, 2008; Fan History is growing!, accessed May 11, 2014; WebCite.
  54. Laura Hale: Sole proprietor of a unique marketing opportunity, posted by Liviapenn on July 23, 2008. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  55. I’ve got the thingie. Half in English, half in squibbly. by ciderpress. Posted on July 24, 2008. Accessed November 30, 2008.
  56. cofax7: The wisdom of the outraged masses, posted July 23, 2008. Accessed November 27, 2008. A copy is archived here.
  57. Hale's delicious bookmarks using the tag "fanhistory:expose", posted under the username "purplepopple", accessed November 27, 2008. As of 12 December 2012, the purplepopple account has been deleted from Delicious. It is not known when or why the account was deleted.
  58. Posting Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  59. Outing to employer complaint Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  60. Subject: Laura, Moi, jealous? (sarcasm alert) (offensive material with in), October 22, 2002.
  61. Writers University forum
  62. from Fan History Wiki's blog, Laura's own list here; WebCite, last updated in 2008