The Burden of Popularity

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Title: The Burden of Popularity
Creator: Cereal Fan 2000
Date(s): December 21, 2001
Medium: online
External Links: The Burden of Popularity
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The Burden of Popularity is a 2001 essay at Writers' University.

It is gossipy and poorly spelled.

The essay is about BNFness and uses these fans as examples:

Some Topics Discussed


I don't think popularity has to deal with the number of hits, reviews, or any combination of the above. I think it has to deal with NAME RECOGNITION and that is about it. Who do you recognize the most? I'll take several people are really well known through out their fandoms.

Hits might be somewhat accurate for one of those authors but for the most part, these authors don't tout their statistics. I can't remember the last time I've seen Tara (LJC) post her statistics. I've never seen DangerMom do that. Sidewinder, never either. Cassandra Claire was rumored to be in the thousands... Hits doesn't make them popular per say because you really can't use that as a yard stick unless you measure it and than you need to factor in by which fandom. The other problem might be that stories aren't getting hits but because they are linked in key places such as Yahoo or in a magazine article or on another site with lots of traffic. (This happens in the x-files fandom. You'll get more hits at key archives for key pairings.)

Reviews, well... outside, reviews generally don't exist. Seriously, it's a phenomemon. (And it's called FEEDBACK as opposed to reviews.) I've heard complaints from two, three people on that list that because they WERE POPULAR, people made the assumption that they didn't need feedback as they were getting a lot of it... Go figure people there. (FanFiction.Net's culture seems somewhat different as it seems to breed a culture where for the popular authors, you should review even if only to say one or two words or flame.) So by review totals, it doesn't really matter.

Number of stories written may have something to do with it though I know plenty of exceptions out of the X-Files fandom who are popular with only two or three stories to their credit. And being prolific doesn't a popular author make. Using the above examples. Cassandra Claire has what? Three stories? Tara is rather prolific but not much in one fandom.

In effect, by all that criteria, you could have an author with a lot of hits from God Awful Fan Fiction who recieved many "reviews" mounting to nothing more than "you suck ass monkey balls! learn to use a spell check!" who has written a large amount of drivel which was the reason there were listed on God Awful Fan Fiction to begin with... It doesn't amount to popularity at all. (Though is may result in a sort of universal revilement which is a popularity of sorts.)

I think that popularity of an author ultimately boils down to two things: name recognition and name recognition. (It may also include epic quality of stories. All of the above people referenced tend to have rather epic tales some where in their fiction writing history.) You're not popular if you just have 10,000 hits for a story and maybe only two people involved in your fandom can remember what you wrote. Popularity also comes with a sort of irrevant awe. List owners go "Oh my God! Cassandra Claire just joined my list! I've finally made it as a fan fiction author because the famous author has joined!" or "DangerMom sent me feedback! Man, she's a sweetheart, popular and sends feedback to my meager offerings!" Stuff like that...

And popularity tends to come with a sort of double edged sword because of well... a couple of things. Popularity doesn't mean you are a good writer and universally liked. Cassandra Claire might be all that and a piece of cake to a lot of Harry Potter fen but to me, she's a rather poor author whose characterizations are lacking which ultimately undermine most of her work. Her stuff also rings too much of other people for me to hail it as a creative masterpiece. That's another double edged sword. If you're popular, people tend to use your ideas or base their own stories off perceptions you've made... This is very problematic for a number of authors who are very popular in their fandoms: Cynthia from Digimon fandom, Brenda Atrim for Star Trek and X-Files who created a bit of fanon that I think ultimately haunted her as many authors wrote really bad stories about Tom Paris being raped in fan fiction, Cassandra Claire whose tastes in pairings tend to dictate tastes for most of the Harry Potter fandom, DangerMom who seemed to start a trend in the Star Trek Voyager fandom of people writing bad Paris/Torres with children stories.

Another problem is that popularity doesn't equate with being well liked. Megchan from the Digmon, Cynthia from Digimon, and Cassandra Claire from Harry Potter fandom both have fannish contigents who acknowledge their large followings but loathe them as people and fannish leaders for various reasons. Megchan because a lot of people disagree with her because she posts her opinion and biases and expects them to be law, Cynthia for writing absolute out of character drivel, her involvement with slash, and Cassandra Claire because of her "plagiarizing". In fact, this back lash of being popular can be really deterimental as at least one was receiving death threats and had to persue legal action. And these authors set themselves in a position where people like to PLAGAIRIZE them, Cassandra Claire having been plagiarized at least three times to my knowledge. I believe some of the others on the list above were plagiarized including DangerMom.

And at the suggestion elsewhere of a catergory for them or seperating them, how do you measure name recognition? You can't really as it depends on where your fannish activities are and just because an author is popular, doesn't mean that this will show up in the three things mentioned above. Also, because of the pitfalls of popularity, it doesn't seem fair to set that on people.