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Synonyms: analysis
See also: Metadiscussion, Metafandom, Metafic
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In fandom, meta is used to describe a discussion of fanworks of all kinds, fan work in relation to the source text, fanfiction characters and their motivation and psychology, fan behavior, and fandom itself.

Meta or a meta essay can also be a fan-authored piece of non-fiction writing that discusses any of the above topics.

The term is popular on personal blogs, such as LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. Other fannish gathering places as well as different time periods, may use different words for this topic.

One definition:

The term “meta” describes something that is an abstraction of itself (X about X).

Meta, in Fandom terminology, is usually used to describe the analysis of a show, its characters, or Fandom itself. Very often, people create meta that is almost academic in nature, citing multiple resources and defending their point of view.

Meta [is] a blanket term to include things like headcanon, ship manifestos, theories, and character analysis. [1]
Another definition:
Meta can be described by both intention and scope. [It can be] about fandom as a whole, a particular fandom, a particular event, a particular canon, a particular episode or aspect of something, it all counts. Fandom talking about itself or its interests in a thoughtful way is the best description we can come up with. When it comes to intention, pretty much anything that isn't fictional or conversation would count. Meta can be very long (even a series!) or it could be just a few paragraphs. [2]
See Category:Meta

Origin of the Term

Meta describes a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter. It is derived from the Greek preposition and prefix meta- (μετά-) meaning "after", or "beyond".[3]

Not All Fans Agree on the Definition


Unlike LiveJournal-based fandoms, on mailing lists the term is metadiscussion, not meta, and it almost never means "discussing the source/characters/fanworks" -- those things are simply everyday discussions. Metadiscussion means "discussing the discussion", or shifting away from the topic at hand to talk about how the topic is being discussed. For more, see Metadiscussion.

Some Fan Comments

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.) [4]
I absolutely loathe that normal fan discussion is now being labelled "meta" and as a result, many fen are increasingly eschewing the idea of discussion because they erroneously think discussion must mean an academic treatise! Meta-analysis has a very specific meaning. I'll even accept the term being broadened to relate to non-statistical overview analysis of fandom interactions and trends. But to call any fandom discussion "meta"? NO, a thousand times NO. It drives me nuts that a number of influential fen with academic backgrounds routinely promote such usage. [5]



Sometimes fanworks themselves become metafic, where characters within the text comment on canon or fandom. Back when RPF was rare, some people called any story meta where the characters and the actors for those characters interacted. See some fiction examples.

A fic that utilizes the pairing of Meta/Fandom: Untitled Anthropomor-Fic; archive link (NC-17) by alyse (219 comments) ("But Meta had a way of making that seem okay when it had Fandom at its mercy. Meta had a way of making everything seem okay when it touched Fandom just right. When Meta did that, Fandom was just Meta's bitch. And Meta knew it.") (2007)

Recursive fanfic may also be called metafic.


In vids, the tag meta is occasionally used when images of fans appear along with images of characters, but the term metavid is more commonly used to describe a vid that comments on a specific show, or its fandom, or fandom as a whole.

See some metavid examples.


Fans have also had a lot to say about fandom itself, often in the form of meta essays. These can take the form of formal essays, but also as posts to personal journals.

See Category:Meta Essays

Meta Communities

some 2009 stats gathered by Laura Hale on a flyer that was distributed at MediaWest*Con for the purpose of sending fan traffic to her Fan History Wiki: "metafandom on LiveJournal is a popular source of fandom news for parts of media fandom. During the height of racefail2009, it was one of the best places to get news. The chart below shows activity levels on the community during that period. Is there any sort of relationship between these events? We're not certain but having the date makes it fun to speculate. Visit Fan History and look at similar stats."
  • 2002: The Metablog noticeboard community provided a central place to post links to "blogs and LJs that discuss issues of importance to fandom." Metaquotes community provides the lighter side.

Resources, Further Reading, and Meta Meta


  2. Admin Post: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (January 14, 2020)
  3. Wikipedia. (Accessed 23 March 2014.)
  4. from LJ Communities ! = Mailing Lists (2005)
  5. 2006 comments at CI5
  6. streaming Luminosity & Sisabet. Women's Work (on viddler). Accessed 28 December 2009.