On bandom as a fannish community, or: what the hell, people?

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Title: On bandom as a fannish community, or: what the hell, people?
Creator: kudra2324
Date(s): July 6, 2009
Medium: online journal post
Fandom: Bandom
External Links: On bandom as a fannish community, or: what the hell, people? ; wayback link; archive.is link
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On bandom as a fannish community, or: what the hell, people? is a 2009 essay by kudra2324.

"before i start talking, i want to say that even though i am going to talk about the incident that kicked off last week's epic debate about warnings, this post is not a debate about whether fic should have warnings, and i am not interested in hosting that debate" and "... in case i wasn't clear, this is also not a post for debating what bandflesh is."

The post specifically references On Being A Village Elder: An Essay On Community Responsibility.

Some Topics Discussed

Some Excerpts from the Post

here's what this post is about: bandom. bandom as a fandom (rhyme unintentional), bandom as a community, the specifics of interaction among fans in bandom. because i have to tell you: bandom, from my observation, can be a pretty awful place to be as a writer, in a way that i've never seen in other fandoms, no matter how many insane fights may have happened in them, and i really don't get how and why this has happened, except to ask: who are all of these people in bandom who don't seem to see a problem?

oliviacirce made an excellent post at dreamwidth about community in fandom: On Being A Village Elder: An Essay On Community Responsibility, and although i don't agree with all of it, i very much agree with most of it, and it provides me with exactly the right jumping-off point to what i need to say about bandom.

in all of the previous fandoms i've been in - and i'm sure i've been in fandom far longer than some of you, and far shorter than others - there have been people, these village elders, who work together, however informally, to make it clear that certain behavior violates community norms. these aren't norms specific to a particular fandom, these are norms that relate to all fannish interaction, and although on the surface some of them may seem, to readers of this post, like nothing more than minor etiquette points, the impact on others of repeatedly violating them can be devastating.

here are some of the behaviors i've seen in bandom, just in the past few months, on bandflesh and in other contexts: repeated breaking of friendslock; open mocking of someone's fic, followed by locking of that fic, followed by further breaking of friendslock to continue circulating the fic by e-mail; and, most recently, an inappropriately made request that arsenicjade put a warning on [Cello Sonata No. 1 in B Minor "Naissance de Libertè"
her bandom big bang fic]. (standard disclaimer: arsenic did not ask me to make this post. arsenic does not know that i am making this post. arsenic does not even know me! despite whatever conspiracy theory i am sure someone will come up with, arsenic does not control me with her mind.) this post is not about arsenic, or bandom big bang, or the warnings debate that followed; i am talking about arsenic and that warning request because it is the most recent example i have of the behavior i'm trying to talk about here.

my issue is that the request was made in open comments to the post of the story in the big bang community, and it's phrasing was, at best, only somewhat scolding, and it was made only of arsenic about arsenic's story, despite instances in other big bang stories from this year of an explicit absence of warnings for much clearer trigger-heavy content, and it resulted in a public pile-on, and that pile-on, even if perhaps not from the original requester, almost immediately presumed bad faith on arsenic's part.

a) you don't make a request like that in a public post, not if what you genuinely want to do is gently point out to the author that she may have missed something. you do it by e-mail, or you do it by private message. why? because,

b) you want to avoid a public pile-on. if your intention is not actually to make the author look bad or to encourage others to scold the author, you know that comment threads in fandom can get out of control quickly, and you want to just make your request; and

c) you, like me, are really tired of seeing certain writers in this fandom treated like shit.

which is the crux of it, really, both in the hypocrisy of certain authors being called out, publicly, for issues that are certainly subjective (the now-frozen comments on that post made clear that neither arsenic, nor any of her betas, nor many of the readers of the story, had seen dubious consent in reading the story - and, i think it is important to note, arsenic added a warning anyway, as a good fannish citizen), but more to the point is the fact that some people in bandom, for reasons i cannot fathom, think it's OK to be awful, both in public and private, to the easiest targets: people who are generous with their writing, which means that they post frequently, and people who are quick to apologize, even when they've done nothing wrong. i feel terrible even using arsenic's name in this post because i'm sure it'll encourage someone to make a less-than-polite comment in her journal, but i honestly don't know how to make my point without at least going into detail about this example.

now here's where the community elder question comes up. all of this behavior, that i've just talked about? of course it happens in every fandom. but in every other fandom i've been in, someone has stepped in to make it clear that This Is Not OK, and other members of the fandom have quickly joined in to show that this is the behavior that gets you excluded from a community. in bandom? not only is it that most people aren't stepping in to say that this behavior isn't OK - people are coddling, and soothing, and worrying over the people who are guilty of the behavior! when bandflesh first became an issue, i must have seen 10 "there, there, don't worry about it" comments to posts in which people explained why they were on bandflesh and why they would stay on bandflesh and why bandflesh is apparently a wonderful place for every comment to someone who had been viciously attacked there. it's not that no one ever steps in to say anything. i've stepped in before, and i'm trying to now, and i've seen other people do it, but that is a very small minority of the participants in this fandom; it looks nothing like the closing of ranks that occurs in other places and allows it to become clear that certain behavior is just not OK.

who are all of these people in bandom, and why is no one stepping up to say anything? is it that no one in bandom cares? everyone thinks this behavior is OK? i'd attribute it to a primary fannish base that is, on average, younger than that in other fandoms, but i just don't think that's an explanation, especially because there are plenty of people in bandom who i know to be old enough to know better.
...i am not saying that all of this has happened because of bandflesh, or that all of it has happened on bandflesh. but i do think that the creation of an anonymous community that, although it involves innocuous behavior, also involves vicious attacks on other members of the fandom represents a very problematic standard of acceptable behavior in bandom. we're talking about anonymous attacks on explicitly-named people, on their stories, on their ideas, on them. almost everyone in bandom seems to be involved in this community in one way or another - and bless you, people who aren't, because cutting people off of my friendslist each time it turns out that yet another person is on bandflesh sucks - and everyone who participates or defends the community disclaims participation in the more unsavory parts of it. i'm sorry, but the attacks aren't happening by themselves. a renegade computer is not typing them of its own volition. someone is making them, and other people are participating, and certainly no one seems to be saying "this behavior is grotesque and i don't want to have anything to do with a community that condones it." at least, not anyone who wasn't ever a participant in the first place.

Comments at the Post

[kudra2324:] i've pretty much just systematically defriended each person it's turned out is on bandflesh, which is, frankly, both exhausting and depressing. i don't understand it, and i really don't understand what it is about this fandom that seems to be different from every other fandom in which i've participated; i can't imagine the majority of people in another fandom not roundly condemning bandflesh. i understand if you end up deleting this comment. i've screened it for now, in the event that that makes you more comfortable. i felt that this needed to be a public post, because i want people to read it, i want people to link to it, and if people want to fight about it, i want them to come here and fight with me about it, rather than continuing to secretly stab people in the back. unfortunately, i think a public post is the closest i can get to actually calling people out for their behavior. (not that anyone is listening to me anyway :))
[mecurtin:] my issue is that the request was made in open comments to the post of the story in the big bang community

As a Village Elder and Fogey, I disagree with you completely on this point. See, for instance, the comment to this story -- the current warning (including spoiler blackout) is a change from what was originally posted.

Public comments are the appropriate place for such remarks, *especially* if the story is posted in a community or as part of a fest. It may well be that other people are having similar issues -- or it may be that other people have no problem with the story or the extant warnings. In the case of the SPN story "The Lady Killers", I didn't read it because the title plus the original (milder) warning told me enough, but a number of people were *quite* taken aback.

Communal discussion is where community standards come from. It's quite possible that bandflesh, with its extremely dissociated style, has affected bandom's community standards as a whole -- because it gets people in the habit of making comments without regard to the commenter's reputation, it's effect and no cause (or something).

It boggles me that bandflesh is still going, actually -- I would have bet on it collapsing within 3 months. I consider a fascinating and possible unique online experiment, so I wouldn't be surprised if it effects the wider fandom of which it's a part.
[kudra2324:] i can see why the comment you've pointed me to here doesn't pose a problem - and it is markedly, markedly different from the comment that was posted to arsenic's story, i need to note - but i a) generally think that whenever you're making a request of a poster, it is better to do it privately, for exactly the other reasons that i listed (possibility of piling on, the way that threads can devolve, and, for that matter, the possibility that the author will fix it but several people will jump in to share their thoughts about yaoi before the author gets a chance), but i also b) don't see any advantage to having the discussion publicly, at least not raised this way, because of all of the downsides i list.

it would be very different, i think, if someone were to either a) raise the question of what an appropriate warning would have been in a separate post (AFTER asking the author to change it), and/or b) the author herself were to throw the question out for discussion.

and maybe i would also think differently about this if i hadn't seen so much evidence of requests like this one being made totally disingenuously. i know for myself, though, that i would always make such a request privately, to begin with, specifically to avoid humiliating the author/creating furor over something that was actually not a big deal. the whole problem in bandom is that the focus ends up in the wrong place. as i said, for example, with bandflesh, instead of a focus on bandflesh hurting people, the discussion of bandflesh somehow became one of telling people not to feel bad about being part of bandflesh!

bandflesh may be a fascinating and possibly unique online experiment - and i, too, am surprised that it hasn't folded - but it is also very much a real thing that trashes real people by name, and it's only one example of what is going on in bandom.
[elspethdixon:] my issue is also in the phrasing of the request, which was accusatory, in its selectiveness in terms of the particular author it was aimed at in spite of other stories with actually missing warnings,

It's not as accusatory as many comments I've seen (certainly not as a accusatory as the comments on the story got later), but YMMV and I might feel differently if it were a comment left on my fic. As far as only aiming the "should have warned" at one particular author, though, I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary. I'd guess someone was reading that specific story, got to the scene in question, and thought "I wish I'd been warned for this," or "My friend [X] would be bothered by this, there ought to be a warning" and immediately commented to say so. And arsenicjade responded totally graciously and put a warning on, and the commentor was presumably happy. She wanted this specific fic to have a warning; a warning was added.

Things really ought to have ended there, with maybe a small round of meta after the fest about "dubcon: wtf is it and how do we define it?" and "warnings: why I think they are good/bad/pointless/vitally necessary" and about 100% less drama. I suspect grudgewank from the "Brendan pledges a frat and gets raped, author refuses point blank to warn when asked to" fic from a while ago played a part in the ensuing tl;dr ranting in comments and snowballing arguments and wank all over metafandom, going by some of the meta I saw.
[elspethdixon:] Having done some delicious searching on bandflesh (which sounds kind of like 4chan's /pco/ board except just for Bandom? With a side of anon memes thrown in?) I can see that, and I'm sorry for kind of hijacking your post's comments with the whole warning discussion, especially since you asked us not to in the post itself. Anonymity is a tricky thing in fandom -- it seems to work very well on things like the Star Trek; Reboot and Watchmen kink memes, but I've yet to see an anonymous concrit meme, for example, that didn't descend into wank, shouting, and tears (there were several rounds of vicious hate memes in my primary fandom this spring, including some personal trolling of a couple of fans, and it got so bad that a couple of people left the fandom).
[impertinence:] This entire post rests on an assumption that really baffles me: why is it so rude/wrong to publicly request a warning? Leaving aside practical considerations, like how some authors make it difficult to contact them privately, it is useful to make such a request publicly so that others can see it has been made. The one person who was completely crazy was dogpiled for being completely crazy, but after arsenic added a warning, people pretty much dropped that aspect of the discussion. I understand that she's gotten a seriously unfair amount of flak from other corners of fandom, but I don't understand conflating that and the perfectly reasonable, public request for a warning.
[kudra2324:] you talk about reasons that a request ought to be public. but if the objective in making a request public is to allow other readers to see that the request has been made - i presume so that they don't have to make the request as well - then that certainly wasn't the result here; instead, multiple people chimed in on the request, with a side helping of "and how dare you not warn!" before arsenic could even respond to the first request. (and yes, there was one crazy person, and yes they were told off - although not by nearly as many people as you make it seem - but, also, the contrast between that person and the other people doesn't mean that the comments from other people weren't rude or accusatory.) if the reasoning behind making a request publicly is that it can be very hard to contact an author privately, that is also clearly not an issue here - arsenic's profile lists contact information, not to mention the fact that a private livejournal message would also have sufficed.

you talk about arsenic being given a hard time elsewhere in bandom, but it's hard to separate this incident from the flak you say arsenic has gotten "from other corners of fandom" when no one seems to have been concerned that other big bang stories with objectively more dubious consent had no warnings, or indeed, for me to understand where this "other" part of bandom that isn't here is. (i'm not suggesting that there's a problem with requesting warnings; i'm just suggesting that people have been oddly selective about their requests in this instance.) that's why this post is not a conflation of a request for a warning with bad fannish behavior, nor is it about the abstract merit of public vs. private requests. i am using the specifics of this particular incident as an example of behavior i am troubled by. i certainly don't discuss only that request here. my post discusses a number of other, more general examples of bad behavior in bandom - breaking of friendslock, attacking people in their journals, and the use of bandflesh as a vehicle for anonymous attacks. it asks why, unlike in many other fandoms, not many people have stepped in to vocally tell people that that kind of behavior violates community norms; instead, that kind of behavior seems to be the community norm.

to return to the request made of arsenic as an example, any number of people could have stepped in after the second comment demanding to know why arsenic hadn't listed a warning, even just to say "hey, it's been 10 minutes, why don't we all wait to see what she says" so that the comment thread wouldn't explode, but no one did. why not?
[oulangi:] "hey, it's been 10 minutes, why don't we all wait to see what she says" so that the comment thread wouldn't explode, but no one did. why not?


Just in general I get annoyed when I see multiple people tapping their feet and pointing out the same things. I mean, obviously the author is offline, or busy, or hey maybe she's not your beck-and-call girl. Chiming in with variations of "I agree with that comment" not only doesn't add anything useful to the discussion, it actually degrades it by putting the OP in a defensive position.
[impertinence:] I took up issue with your specific example not because I supposed the post to be about warning specifically, but because my disagreement was hindering my extrapolation of the specific to the general. Thank you for clarifying.

I'm not sure what the solution to the problem you're describing would be, because I think unfortunately a lot of your issues are qualitative and ones that I disagree with. For example: I did not get a tone of shaming from the comments to arsenic's post, particularly considering that when someone did come in and say "shame on you", they were dogpiled. Now, I understand from your comment that you think they weren't dogpiled enough - but that opinion (and the one that so many other unwarned fics weren't deservedly commented on) seems diametrically opposed to your ideas about enforcing community standards. You seem almost to be saying that it's not the commenting itself you disagree with, but the people towards whom the commenters addressed their concerns.

wrt: bandflesh - this debate has been had many times. I will say only that breaking flock, anon nastiness, dogpiling, and general fuckwittery is not an anon-meme specific phenomenon. I've seen it play out across fandoms, though not always as publicly as in bandom. If anything, I'd say bandflesh has simply changed the form of engagement; it's public now, instead of behind lock and filter.
[impertinence:] In the end I do not disagree that anonymous communities serve to make some aspects of negative participation in a community easier and, to some degree, more socially acceptable. What I disagree with is the argument you and others have advanced: that without anonymous communities, those negative impulses would cease to exist, or at the very least cease to influence communities. Fandoms where anonymity is roundly condemned and those who use it are thoroughly shunned often see an influx of flock-and-filter wank, for example. People who are dicks will be dicks, and LJ itself provides many, many ways to exacerbate that dickishness. Hell, LJ is one of the only places on the internet where you can, for free, create a moderated forum with which to bash someone. And people do that on a daily basis, Anonymity does throw the assholishness of fandom in people's faces, because it's very public since people don't have to own up to what they say - but taking that evidence and using it to assert that it is anonymity that makes people behave badly is, in my opinion, giving anonymity way too much credit.
[kundra2324:] you know what? i know i said i was going to come back and respond to the rest of comments in the morning, but i'm sorry, but i can't let this go. you and i both know exactly why i think arsenic was singled out: i think she was singled out because, despite the fact that she is a very popular author and people read a lot of her fic, she is also frequently the subject of attacks, both in her journal and on bandflesh, and in other people's journals. she was asked for a warning here, and before she could even respond, two more people asked, one with a long lecture about the importance of warnings. i am not saying that asking for a warning, in general, is wrong. you don't know me, but i am firmly on your side when it comes to respecting someone's request for a warning and understanding that triggers are serious things and are not the same as just not liking a fic and being able to click back from it. i am saying that arsenic, among other people, is repeatedly singled out and attacked in this fandom for doing, as far as i can tell, nothing but existing, and in this particular instance i further think she was singled out because there is another story on bandom big bang which has very clear consent problems in it which was brought to the attention of the mods by octette and which still has no warnings on it.

the rest of your post here is about bandflesh, and in some ways, i'd like to engage you about it, because part of what you're saying is not just a disagreement we have about what it is; part of what your saying i think is patently untrue. but i said i wasn't getting into that debate here and i'm not going to, and so i'm sorrry, but that is the end of this thread too. i have done my best to answer your questions, but i was very clear about what comments to this post was not going to be a forum for, and that's exactly where you've gone anyway.

on the general subject of anonymity, i will clarify that i am not suggesting that anonymity makes people behave badly. i am suggesting that anonymity allows people to behave badly without consequences. those are very, very different things.
[idyll:] I have to say that I agree with you. I've been involved in one fandom or another for over a decade, and I've never seen such a high level of overall giddy acceptance/encouragement of shitty behavior before.

I think part of the reason for this is because, unlike other fandoms, bandom didn't benefit from an influx of BNFs coming into it. Which is not to say that BNFs are the end-all be-all of defining a community, they're not. However, when a BNF comes into a new fandom (generally bringing others from her flist/circle with her) she brings expectations of acceptable behavior, the likes of which you mentioned. A person with a large, invested readership does, in fact, have some influence over tone-setting.

The other thing is that there really wasn't centralization in the form of bandom BNFs. Initially there was, but when bandom grew so quickly almost overnight, a lot of the early fic writers stepped back/away for various reasons. So there was a massive influx of people into a fandom that isn't just splintered by pairings, the way others are, but by bands.

If you add the presence of bandflesh, where the cover of anonymity hides a multitude of vicious remarks/actions, you've pretty much got a toxic dump of a fandom.
[mecurtin:] although I actually think Village Elder is a better term. It's curious that bandom didn't acquire a critical mass of Elders from, say, popslash or LOTRips. Part of it is that the fandom is demographically young, but that can't be all of it -- there are plenty of young fandoms where *everyone* doesn't model the Mean Girls.

I wonder how much is due to the social experiment of bandflesh. As you said above, bandflesh hasn't developed a libertarian or Hobbesian quality, it's like *middle school*. Now, my observation from watching my kids grow up is that what makes middle school the low point of the human life cycle is only partly the raging hormones. The other part is that kids younger than 10-11 are not able to deal with more than a Mickey-Mouse-handful of social relationships. Around about 5th grade (for girls, at least) their social world grows to encompass enough people for feedback loops (gossip, backstabbing, reputation) to become important.

I guess what I'm saying is that middle school is the raw, lowest common denominator level of human society, society in the first iteration. As kids mature and have more relationships and self-reflection, you get more complex, better-buffered societies. Most fandoms with significant number of fans over the age of 20 or so can do this -- people will naturally move into Village Elder positions, modelling behaviors that work elsewhere.

I wonder if bandflesh -- and by extension bandom as a whole -- has developmentally stalled at the middle-school social level, the first iteration.
[kudra2324:] this is really interesting. it has also been pointed out to me offline that when experienced fen first moved into bandom a number of them started with a locked community, which eventually devolved under the usual accusations of elitism, etc., and that perhaps the fact that that comm was locked - and, as a result, the fen in fandom who were new couldn't observe and model the behavior of older fen - caused part of the problem. which would also make sense. i don't know any more history than that when it comes to the locked comm, so i don't know what the impetus for locking it was, but it might also be an explanation, or, at least, a reason that we haven't yet progressed further.
[druidspell:] Bandom grew exponentially, almost overnight. In the beginning, when it was a (relatively) small group of people in the fandom, there were set rules and standards that were similar to other online fandoms. There were a few centralized Elders/BNFs and they and their friends created the communities, hosted the challenges, and established the rules. And then suddenly, the number of people in the fandom had ballooned dramatically. For a lot of those people, bandom is the first fandom they've been a part of in a major way, and so they weren't acculturated to the wider fandom mores. And with more and more people joining who were completely new to online fandom, they brought more people with them who weren't previously a part of any fandom, and so more and more people were coming in who had no concept of fannish niceties and customs that exist in places like Stargate fandom, or Supernatural, or Due South, or Smallville, or even Harry Potter (which has its own notorious batshit segments). When the number of fandom-veterans were very suddenly equal to or overwhelmed by the number of fandom-newbies, the power to enforce customs and expectations waned until it's in the situation it is now: virtually nonexistent enforcement of the wider fannish niceties.

The splintering of bandom into people who primarily read fic about only one or two bands is another factor; in other fandoms, you don't get a lot of people who only read a book in the series, or watched half of one season of the show, and are determined to stay that way. To use a fannish neighborhood metaphor, in a decent portion of the bandom population, we don't know our neighbors, and the Homeowner's Association is completely defunct. Because the HA isn't enforcing the rules of the neighborhood, the obnoxious neighbors down the street who blare their music too loud think their behavior is okay, and when people get fed up with the loud music and leave, more first-time homeowners take their place who see that no one complains about obnoxious music and don't see anything wrong with their obnoxious habits either.

Finally, Harry Potter (to go back to your example) has a limited canon; there are the books, the movies, the companion books like the quidditch and care of magical creatures books that give background and limited-interest information, and interviews with JKR. There's only one author, and she can only put out so much information at once. In bandom, there's a multitude of bands with a plethora of members and sources for canon, and a lot of fan-band interaction through concerts, twitters, myspaces, etc. Hell, Pete Wentz openly lurks icecreamhdaches. In a sense, our biggest BNFs are the bands themselves, and most of them are... well, they're boys (and girls) in bands. None of them ever made a case for their being mature responsible examples to their fans.
[kudra2324:] as to the possibility that the bands themselves are sometimes perceived as the fannish people whose example should be followed, it would NEVER have occurred to me that people were assuming that because pete - or ryan, or brendon, or whomever - is doing something online that somehow makes it OK. in particular, though, it seems odd to me that people would take their silence on bad behavior as tacit complicity or even permission. i mean, yes, i generally think silence is complicity, and, yes, i am also well aware of pete lurking on ICH, but the whole point is that there's a don't ask/don't tell understanding going on. sure, if pete signed in AS PETE WENTZ and then didn't say anything, i'd understand - or come closer to understanding, at least - the problem, but if pete alludes to his presence, and we all nod along, i see that as a sort of understanding that people are permanently lurking, and in the context of the internet, that totally removes the expectation of their speaking up to me, because they are primarily observers. or, whatever, mischiefmakers in pete's case. i'm also puzzled at the notion that people are perceiving the actual members of the bands as the equivalents of BNFs because to me, a BNF is inherently a major participant in the creation of fannish material, and twittering doesn't count; i certainly don't think that, when joss was interacting with fans, or when paul gross was responsive to them, or when aaron sorkin was doing his schtick on television without pity, anyone considered them to be of fandom. but i also feel like i need to add that a lot of the people who are either participating in the bad behavior or watching it happen have been in other fandoms. well-run fandoms. so it's not as though they have no idea what that looks like.
[idyll:] Arsenic is, in a sense, a BNF in the fandom. A lot of people came into the fandom through Wednesday Night Boys, which was the It Fic for a while. Only, instead of getting any privileges of status (I hate putting it that way but, in essence, BNFs are a privileged group in fandom), she was instead made into a handy dandy target for all sorts of nastiness from so many corners of fandom. It's ridiculous, especially because she has never attacked anyone first or even back.

As for why HP never devolved into this, my feeling is that, beyond just the differences in the "canon" texts, it partly has to do with the era. HP is, what, 10 years old at this point? Things were different back when it started, which means, 1) It doesn't exist only on LJ; HP had mailing lists (if my timing is right) and has archives/websites, some of which have rules about fic standards and behavior on forums, and 2) those early fandom rules of behavior were expected and enforced, especially because the mediums of interaction were in public gathering spaces as opposed to one's own journals.

Bandom, on the other hand, came into its own in a time when you don't have to go looking for fandom because it finds you--through articles and links on blogs, through the band members themselves, through news reports on NPR, etc. That brings into the fold a different type of people than those who used to have to actively look for fandom. Bandom also exists solely on LJ, which offers people soap boxes of their own journals and often makes them feel that anything can go in their space, regardless of the fact that said space is publicly accessible.
[elspethdixon:] Having watched some of the same people interact on both lj and 4chan in comics fandom (oddly, lj seems more prone to certain kinds of nasty behavior than 4chan does; whereas people on 4chan tend on the whole to be ruder and less concerned qith boundaries regarding use of other people's art, reposting fic without permission, etc., people tend to reserve the serious infighting and backstabbing more for lj) -- I think people absorb some of the norms of behavior for whatever community they're in and codeswitch. If the general expectations for fannish interaction and behavior are different in bandom than they are/were in SGA or HP or whatever someone's previous fandom was, they may adapt their own behavior to fit rather than bringing the old social norms with them.
[lucentvictrola:] I must say, I'd never thought about this stuff before. My first fandom was Rent, which was tiny, and I just read fic on ff.net. Bandom was my first real fandom, and I just kind of assumed that other fandoms had shitty people doing shitty things because that's how the internet is. It really upsets me that my fandom, my home in a sense, is seen as being really vile and hateful. I've found that because I formed a bubble around myself by staying away from bandflesh, fueledbygossip, etc., I've found really great, loving, and supportive people. I'd never said 'I love you' to a friend before bandom, never felt so cared-for. Yes, there's some shit at the surface that needs to be cleaned up. But this fandom is really a nice one, deep down at the center.
[annakovsky:] Huh, this is interesting. I'm completely uninvolved in bandom, but I know my reaction to the whole warnings debate, or what I read of it, was basically, bzuh? Because, I mean... fandom, as a group -- we warn for things that'll trigger people. That's one of our rules. That's not up for debate, the same way plagiarizing is not up for debate. So I was really confused as to why this non-issue was suddenly an ISSUE, and my confusion was basically the same reaction most of my flist seemed to have, which was, like, where is this COMING from? But it makes more sense if what you're describing is the culture over there. But, yikes!
[kudra2324:] [fan corrects "bandom_wank" to "fandom_wank" in the next post] to be fair, the warnings debate quickly - really quickly - moved from being a bandom-specific debate to being a more broad debate within fandom, probably because it popped up on bandom_wank. what i've been more surprised by is all of the OTHER stuff in bandom that hasn't appeared on bandom_wank, hasn't resulted in any debate, and so forth. that's actually sort of the problem. i mean, the original request for a warning was pretty quickly and graciously granted (by someone who comes, i'll note, from better-behaved fandoms), and although some of it turned into a huge mess because of a previous fight about warnings months ago (as discussed above with elspethdixon), i have to say that a lot of the people who were taking the ridiculous "no we will never warn, do not impugn our artisitic integrity, etc." position are actually pretty old in fannish terms, with plenty of experience in other fandoms. i'm rambling. what i mean to say is that i actually think the warnings debate, or at least the one that just happened, is one of the few things that actually ISN'T a result of the toxic atmosphere in bandom. what was part of the toxic atmosphere was the fact that the initial request for a warning, although it was met quickly, as i said, was really just another way to pile onto an author that it is inexplicably ok to pile onto, while, as octette notes above, another story in the same fest on the same comm with a much more clearly missing warning was reported to the mods as such, and not only does it still not have a warning, but the same people who were so concerned about the absence of a warning on one story haven't said a single thing about the absence of one on another story. and i am really, really sorry if that was impossible to follow.
[thepouncer:] I've actually been surprised at how many bandom kerfuffles DON'T end up on fandom wank. Pretty major blow-ups and terrible behavior (heh, reinforcing your main point, perhaps?) that never get mentioned.
[elspethdixon:] Do people lock their posts when they rant? Most of the wank in one of the smaller but (unfortunately) relatively wanky fandoms I've been in managed to avoid ending up on f_w despite multiple hate memes because most of the people involved confined their ranting to flocked posts, and f_w doesn't report info from flocked posts unless the content was originally posted unlocked. It may also be that in comparison to Lotrips and some other RPS fandoms, bandom doesn't have as much of the kind of crazy tinhat stalker wank people generally assoiate with RPS. The only wank I remember spilling over into general fandom consciousness prior to the warnings thing was the bandom vs. rockfic "who is allowed to call themselves bandom" fight back in 2006/2007/I forget exactly when. [1]
[saturnalia:] Actually, a very large percentage of the people arguing against warnings weren't from bandom at all - the majority seemed to be from Starsky and Hutch fandom, iirc. And arguing that warning for triggers is an unspoken rule is incorrect - just look at liviapenn's reaction to the wank, for a start. This is an argument that fandom has had many times before.
[scribblinore:] This is a very thought-provoking post. I'm too much of a late-comer and too much on the periphery to have any serious theories about why bandom is different from other fandoms in this way, but I do agree with you that it is. I mean, just the existence of band_flesh is proof of that. There have been attempts to start anonymous hate communities in other fandoms I've been in (and I realize that band_fleshers would argue that it's not a hate community per se, and maybe that's true, but some pretty serious hate does get aired in it from what I hear), and all the stalwarts of those fandoms poured out of the woodwork to talk about how that kind of anonymous bashing is just really cowardly. But in bandom, band_flesh is not only accepted. It seems to be where most of the fannish interaction takes place. Which is so incredibly freaky to me.
[disarm_d:] who are all of these people in bandom, and why is no one stepping up to say anything?

I think that the trouble is (in terms of people speaking up) that it's difficult for people to say things without just making the situation worse. Like, theoretically, people speaking up and saying that Arsenic should put a warning on the fic is a pro-community thing, as it looks out for people with triggers. But then some of the comments got into making fun of the story (bla bla bla about come in the eye, and like, really, that was completely unnecessary), and there was that three part long MONSTER comment of complete and utter asshole-ness. People stepping up and saying something often makes the situation worse.

I know there were people who made posts "reviewing" bandombigbang stories, and I really wanted to say something, but couldn't think of any way of doing it that wouldn't just cause more trouble. It takes 10 seconds to skim over the warnings and decide you don't want to read something with character death. A minute to read through the first few paragraphs and determine the quality of the writing. Two minutes to scroll through and try to figure out what the porn payoff is going to be (... not that I ever did that, of course, *g*). But it takes, what, 30 hours? AT LEAST. to write a story. I really hated seeing post that said, "this was shit; don't bother reading it," because the payoff to the reader (of what, a minute or two) is so much less than the hurt that that's going to cause the author. I wish that as a community, people spent less time worrying about bad stories (seriously, people get so ANGRY about bad stories, and it's like... why? It sucks if someone isn't a good writer, but how is this a thing that causes RAGE?) and more time writing or commenting or reccing or brainstorming or whatever.

But, like I said, I didn't want to say anything, because that would just end up being me being rude about the people making the posts, and offending them or something. The goal is for no one to be offended! Me being offensive is no better than them being offensive.

In terms of bandflesh, I think that the posts that speak out against it have tended to be, "bandflesh is bad, all bad, and everyone on the community bad." Well, that's kind of not any better than when the people on bandflesh say that certain people on livejournal are bad. Condemning the community doesn't promote positivity and community cohesion, it just widens the divide.

The thing that sucks is that there doesn't seem to be anything that you can do about all of the nastiness over there. If you say that you're hurt by what happens, it means that you're just too sensitive, that it's your problem. But, I mean, if you look at the things that have been said about arsenic over there? I don't think that any human could see that kind of stuff and not be hurt by it. Maybe objectively people would think that they could just laugh it off, but it really does feel different when it actually happens. And there's a big difference between concrit and cruelty.
[lunar scythe:] as someone who has merely hung on the outskirts of assorted fandoms, I have to wonder if, in certain aspects, this isn't a case of behavior from concerts carrying over into bandom; behavior such as pushing, elbowing, hairpulling...it all happens at a concert, and while it isn't encouraged, it really isn't stopped, either. You have a handful of people with 'bad behavior', you have a similar sized group that's the opposite, but most just go with the flow rather then try to put a stop to the bad behavior. To use an example, in real life, of free speech: a person walking past me and my grandma has the right to yell 'fuck you!' at a friend, and I also have the right to tell him 'Don't cuss in front of my grandma!' however, the odds are he'd just start cussing even more, so I wouldn't say anything, you see? Thus perpetuating the idea that it is socially acceptable to cuss in front of elderly ladies.


  1. ^ It was 2007, much generated by Laura Hale, and was connected to debate and beginnings of Organization of Transformative Works