That took TOO LONG, fandom.

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Title: "That took TOO LONG, fandom" (a phrase in the first paragraph)
Creator: ethrosdemon (and commenters)
Date(s): July 22, 2008
Medium: online
Fandom: all
Topic: fannish community norms and Fan History Wiki
External Links: here, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

That took TOO LONG, fandom. is a post by ethrosdemon on Live Journal on July 22, 2008.

The post itself is untitled; "That took TOO LONG, fandom" is a phrase in the first paragraph and stands in as the title here on Fanlore.

Topics Discussed

  • the first comments discuss some misunderstandings among several fans
  • fandom policing
  • fans and privacy
  • the good old days
  • "cranky old Rock Slash people"
  • pseuds and anonymity
  • Fan History Wiki
  • OTW
  • Acafans
  • fandom and visibility

From the Post

As per metafandom, I'm glad to see that people are pinging to the fact the the fanhistory (haha, nice try at sounding unbiased) wiki is a huge grudge wank masquerading as some kind of web 2.0 fan colab history (or whatever the hell). That took TOO LONG, fandom.

I think there are so many of the unwritten fandom rules going on w/ this situation that it's like a slow motion train wreck that only half the bystanders can see. This is what I used to talk about regarding how old fandom hags share information behind the scenes and more often than not what lands on fandom_wank is a grudge wank (and don't think just because the key players don't turn up and SAY so that this isn't true). What happens in public on lj is just the top layer of what goes down in fandom. I think this platform has caused a myth of transparency that confuses lurkers and noobs (who can have been in fandom a long time--the word, I think, just means "not tapped into the right sources").

I was talking recently to a friend involved with OTW about fandom pre-lj and all the people we were talking about are *still* big names in fandom in various ways. That sort of conversation just reminds me of how no matter how large fandom is the corner I inhabit remains very similar. Many of these people I actively avoid, yet I stumble across them constantly much to my annoyance. At any rate, I think this is one of the problems OTW has in that they think they touch on *everything* in fandom (or desire to even if they think they don't meet their own expectations yet) but I think that getting outside our own zone of fandom might be like trying to get out of the Phantom Zone or something--it's just impossible w/ out outside forces compelling the escape.

I think the issue over OTW's board members refusing to tie their fandom names to their real names is sketchy. On the one hand, I think that if they are doing what they're doing with the purported goals they have, they should tell us who the HELL they are on lj so I can decide if I want them representing me or not. On the other hand, I respect that my desire is outweighed by another person's autonomy as a human being. I don't get to tell them what to do; I can just call them hypocrites. However, I fundamentally respect their right to be hypocrites because nutcases like that wiki owner exist in the world and not everyone has the kind of job I do where no one cares if I'm a furry or not.

I think that the problem with fandom policing wrt things like this wiki is that the old way of dealing with these sorts of issues was to just ignore it and not speak about it in public. We had a rule of rise above. I think this is what the OTW board members are doing with regards to criticism of them. This no longer works. Fandom has become too large and too unruly for it. In the olden days of halcyon misremembering rising above did work in so far as that was a coded action where within our unspoken boundaries longstanding fans knew when The Lunatic Fringe was dissing xFanX and xFanx didn't respond that nonresponse was a clear response "this is beneath my dignity and I'm rising above." Also, it meant xFanx was bitching up a STORM in emails and chats. I don't think that system works any more. I'd like to see a system of public shaming come into play. SHHHHHHHHUUNNNNNNNNN.

The whole libertarian mindset that we can't police each other because there's no moral authority in fandom doesn't work when someone does something absolutely egregious. People can get totally bent out of shape over fake charities and fans buying other fans laptops, but not personal vendettas that expose fellow fans to serious real world harm? Why, because the former includes goods and services? Is the issue monetary? I personally think that harm is more troubling than someone losing some cash.

Excerpts from the Comments

  • comment by ithiliana ("I can only say that I did not even know your name until now--I posted, down below, to onelittlesleep about my take on the situation. I did see the arguments you and she were making as similar to hers -- but many people have made some similar arguments. I explained the process of moving from parody to serious meta later on. Since a number of opponents of the OTW have said more than once, often in caps, that they do not want hordes of OTW fangirls arguing with them in their journals, I've made a policy of not doing so. But if real discussino is wanted, I'm always ready to talk, with that caveat that I am in no way an official representative of anything. I am a reader for the academic journal (I'm an aca fan), and I'm a current wiki beta volunteer, period. I'm a supporter in part because of the attacks I see on copyright and fair use in academia, and I want to see coalitions between academics and fans.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("Well, Heidi (onelittlesleep) and I agree on certain points in regards to the ideas and aims of the OTW and we also diverge on some opinions. We're not the same person so conflating us is troublesome. We do happen to be friends, so I can see why people *would* lump us together, but I can't speak for her and she does not speak for me. I've never made any kind of injunction against OTW members on my journal other than to say that people who are angered by me who have no interest in discussing things with me like rational adults should just stop reading my journal for their own sanity and the sanity of everyone else. In your comment to me in your journal you imply that my views might be anti-intellectual or that I might have antipathy towards acafen, that couldn't be further from the truth. I have some issues with media studies, but those are intra-academy issues relating to my own personal field of academics and not related to some concept that acefen are peeing the fandom pool. My own view is that one should do as one likes and if acefen enjoy writing essays about fandom, more power to you. I am interested in dialogue because I think that the OTW impacts all of fandom and not just the people who are for it.")
  • comment by onelittlesleep ("...WELL, I went on to say that I thought anti-otw people had valid concerns in regards to the OTW's anonymity, but that everyone in fandom has a right to privacy and that thepartly-bouncy girl was f'ed up. And then she stopped responding, so? I don't know! Maybe she was pleased with me until I brought up 'valid concerns'. UGH. My OTW post was more heartache than was really necessary, because metafandom linked it as meta. When I posted in irritation and frustration, I wasn't really desiring my rant to be linked to a 3000+ community of fandom debaters. BUT THEN Oulangi took my link down and was very gracious.")
  • comment by ithiliana ("What I said to you is true--and I have apologized to ethrosdemon in the parody thread. I took her comment, which she meant as a snarky flip comment, seriously. OTOH, you all are taking my snarky flip parody post as a serious argument, and, wow, using it to characterize all pro-OTW people! What I was making in that post was a parody--and yes, I'd read your post as well as another whose name I see here and was frustrated at what I saw as an emotional over the top and illogcal commentary on OTW. And since Laura posted her advice on how to avoid outing in fandom, I connected the pieces: my parody was primarily aimed at hers, but took on the "they will out Fandom" arguments that you and some other made in the wake of Tushnett's interview. I am quite happy to respect people who are against OTW who avoid calling academics names (which is a major feature in a lot of the OTW posts, and many of the OTW board and volunteers are NOT academics) and avoid the kind of extremism which Laura is prone to. Since she is quite happy to use many of the people who are concerned with OTW in her personal vendetta, I was poking fun at her in that post. When she added the ETA emphasizing her continued outing of fans, I moved to the serious meta post. We can all be ranty and frutrated and grumpy at times in fandom--but it's also true that's not all we are, and I did appreciate your comments.")
  • comment by onelittlesleep ("Ha, being reactionary, I totally commented here before we had very civilly continued our conversation. Sorry if you had to catch my whining about you. I was grouchy to be compared to Laura Hale, but after thinking about it last night, I'm not really that surprised! I totally deserve the parody.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("Like I said to someone else who commented to me about that: I guess I should have said not people who know me? Idk. I get the impression that there is a lot of knee jerk sort of irrationality floating around some of the OTW members regarding criticism. One can't ever lump all individuals who belong to a certain body together. Mass generalizations always lead to stupidity (see: above). *laughs*")
  • comment by cathexys ("As always, a brilliant post--I mean, even if I passionately disagree with you I like your posts *g*, but this one's dead on the money!!! Fandom's changing and ways to engage are changing (plus, i've been saying for years that the papers I *really* want to write I never can...if I present the surface, it would be missing the stuff going on behind the scenes and if I talk about those...I can't :)")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("One of the big problems with lj as I've always seen it is that we all talk in public and semi-public spaces and what we do seems at least semi-transparent, but the truth of what we do and say is mostly hidden. This came to the surface in a hardcore way when I was involved in a wank where someone disingenuously posted redacted emails I'd sent them. I felt painted into a corner because my ethics would not allow me to either post my full emails NOR her emails in response. All I could do was say "what appears to be happening is not happening" and hope that people would believe me. That was both frustrating and illuminating for me.")
  • comment by sunqist ("Ever since I realized [name redacted on Fanlore] was fucking crazy, I've sort of equated that moment with my fandom bat mitzvah. Like, that was the moment I realized that there was so much more going on than I would ever understand. Fannish outings aside, I've been annoyed with her for ages for committing the historian's cardinal sin: Making Shit Up. It's a shame that she's the most accessible source of fannish history out there, since she has no credibility whatsoever, and not enough people realize that.")
  • comment by spare change ("I agree that there are plenty of nice, reasonable folks associated with the OTW! It just would've been awesome to see just one of them comment to that post to say, "Um, hey? You're kind of arguing in bad faith here." I mean, folks have to choose their battles, and fandom always does veer between being super-confrontational and highly conflict-averse. But at a certain point, you have to recognize that silence in response to consistently obnoxious behavior by a handful of big-mouth OTW supporters is being read as consent. But I dunno. Maybe these conversations are happening in private. So I'll try to remain optimistic! :D")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("Oh, you mean wrt to the OP's commentary about me? Yeah, well, I made comments that could be construed as being an entitled bnf, and we all know that if something CAN be construed that way you're setting yourself up for failure because they absolutely WILL BE construed that way because it's the Number One Rule of Fandom Arguments--never imply even the smallest bit that anyone knows who you are.")
  • comment by cathexys ("Right. I think that's a real problem with pseudonymity, in both directions! I could present myself one way under my RL name and be an ass in pseudonyms...or I could reference decent behavior in pseudonym to establish RL cred...but that'd only go so far! So, I emotionally get why it seems so problematic to not know identities. And i get that it encourages an old skool model of who knows whom and behind the scenes stuff, bc that's how stuff gets done (often the only way stuff gets done!) At the same time, I think these might be systemic problems that I think ought to be discussed but that should NEVER be justification for breaking that boundary for someone else...")
  • comment by blacksquirrel ("I wonder how much of that "desire to define" was directly in response to demands to define by partly b and others arguing that the preliminary OTW plans were too diffuse? I agree that there has been too much hair splitting over terms, but I don't know that it's really indicative of the enterprise itself.")
  • comment from anatsuno ("no hate from this quarter.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("Honestly, I would like to talk to people who support the OTW to try to figure out what aside from the archive appeals to people since it REALLY seems like an awful idea to me.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("There's a certain element of "can't we all just along here" that sometimes goes awry. We actually can't all get along here. The question is, what do we do when we can't?")
  • comment by onelittlesleep ("I do think that, as a group that is taking-on the 'voice' of fandom in the media (or has strategy to), it is STRANGE and bothersome to me that I might not even know who they ARE, that their fan-names aren't connected with their rl names that will end up in the media. It bothers me, because all I can know of them is their fan-history and how I relate to them through fandom, so without that connection, it's very hard to realistically put faith in them, anonymous from their fan-identities, acting for fandom in any way to organize it or speak in public to reclaim its voice. BUT THEN, the basic protocol of fandom is privacy and the allowance of safe, semi-anonymous expression. So the purposeful outing another fan is an intolerable act and definitely SHOULD be policed.")
  • comment by onelittlesleep ("And I also feel like it's a strange thing to want to...validate fandom as a legitimate space and encourage the public to think of it that way, and yet to still keep old-school anonymity and rl-separation. Is that just me? I need someone to explain that. I feel like what they're proposing would definitely revolutionize fandom and our interaction with academia and the media, yet they want to still keep one face for the internet and one face for the public? Do you know what I mean? That confuses me. I think it'd be an encouraging part of normalizing fandom, connecting your name and fan-personality for the world to see. I think that's right on par with what OTW is going for so...I'm just...not getting how they can both somehow normalize fandom and reclaim its voice and yet feel like they need to be anonymous. In short, they end up being half-anonymous in RL (because no one out there can find their fanworks) and half-anonymous in fandom (because no one in here can connect their media-personalities with their fandom identities).")
  • comment by blacksquirrel ("I don't want to harsh the discussion here an I know that you've been discussing OTW related issues for a long time, but here was an example that seemed pretty spot-on to me. If we think about it like closeting and the shame/pride that goes along with that, what we ask of public figures who come out and advocate for the GLBT population is that they claim the label - that they publicly own up to the identity and desires which dominant culture sees as a source of shame. However, this does not necessitate a list of their previous/current sexual partners, favorite sexual positions, or preferred bath houses - that remains private. The people on the board have publicly claimed a fan identity - they have officially associated themselves with this community which dominant legal and cultural (and academic) regimes deem amoral/shameful/illegitimate. However, it's not really necessary for the world to know exactly which fic they read/write, whether they prefer rimming or mpreg, and how many lists they belong to for knifeplay.")
  • comment by oulangi ("We were well aware of the controversy surrounding fanhistory. However metafandom editors, being neither the fandom police nor the arbiters of good taste or opinion, collectively felt that acting before this issue was dropped on our doorstep would have been precipitous, and likely more than a little arrogant.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("We DO have power over each other on so many levels. The reality of renegade idiots ruining everything for someone/everyone is always a threat, so the question is: how do we protect ourselves and each other? Whether or not X fan is my personal friend, she's part of my community automatically by being a fellow fan so what responsibility do I have towards her? Fandom likes to bandy about the concept that we have no responsibilities, only entitlements, and that's clearly NOT TRUE. So, how do we help each other drown out the insanity? We have to do it from within, but HOW?")
  • comment by ithiliana (" is true that although some fans think that academics are exploiting fandom and getting big rewards out of it, the reality is most of us have to work harder, publishing other stuff as well, until we have the luxury of tenure and can afford to thumb our nose somewhat at The Man (similar patterns are being reported by feminist academics in fields who do feminist philosophy or whatever--you have to walk a fine line until you get tenure, and until you get tenure, you can be let go without any cause given: you're hired for a year at a time and no more).")
  • comment by sinsense ("I have heard fans say that academics seem not to get it, that they're doing it for the notoriety. It's a little funny, because I want to squint and say "you think notoriety's a sure bet? In academia?" but I know they wouldn't get how it isn't.")
  • comment by elzed ("Dude, that's why I like to keep my involvement in fandom a little amateurish, and mainly fic based (not to mention, I tend to get involved in fandoms later in the day, when some of the drama has already peaked). Also why I keep my real i.d. pretty sub rosa. I mean, for fuck's sake, there is such a thing as privacy.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("Fandom actually *was* much smaller even if it was still a zoo no one knew the actual size of. I'd say maybe the membership was still unknowalbe-ly infinite but the number of participating members was considerably smaller. People did seem to know everyone even if that was a total misconception so the power of shaming and censorship was greater.")
  • comment by ciaan ("I like the OTW enough that I paid for a membership, and that's basically what I want when I get to vote on the board members. Some of them I can attach RL names to OL names though my own knowledge, and some of them I cannot. I feel a little like I'm wobbling in the dark without being given the most pertinent form of information, their OL names, when it comes to election time. I don't want to not vote for Awesome Fan X and vote for Awful Fan Y instead just because I didn't realize that's who they were under their legal names. I don't think that information needs to be made public for all and sundry to find and know, but I personally would appreciate having a bit more of it. (Possibly I should tell them this.) On the other hand, I think some of the bios on their website are really amazingly crafted pieces of info, worded in such a way that if you know what they're talking about you can figure out who they are in fandom, but if you don't already have that emic background, you'd never be able to figure it out.")
  • comment by ethrosdemon ("I don't want [the OTW committee members] to put it on the website for the WORLD to see, but there are many ways that we distribute info in fandom that could be utilized here. I want to know who they are in fandom, I couldn't care less about their RL "cred." Whatever. I mean, lots of fans are doctors and lawyers and professors and pro writers of one stripe or another. Honestly, I couldn't care less. I want to know if you're all over journalfen wanking or if you've run 139 challenges and archives and have been a supportive fan for years. The latter would make me feel more at ease with the group. However, that's all a bit aside from the fact that I object to their political aims.")