This Vagabond Fandom Life

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Title: This Vagabond Fandom Life
Creator: telesilla
Date(s): December 4th, 2018
Medium: online
Fandom: multifandom
Topic: Tumblr NSFW Content Purge and fandom migration.
External Links: on tumblr
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This Vagabond Fandom Life is a tumblr meta essay by telesilla posted during the 2018 Tumblr NSFW Content Purge. The essay highlights fans as "extreme niche hobbyists" and explains why fandom migration is likely to continue to occur.


The first thing you have to understand is that no one wants us. No one has ever wanted us. And by us I don’t mean fans in general, but creative Fandom, if you will. Transformative fandom–writers and artists and gif makers and vidders and podcasters and podficcers and the community that supports them.
Nor do we have the buying power we like to think we do. Think about it. We wouldn’t have to transform media to suit ourselves if that media already existed. If Marvel gave a damn about Fandom money vs fandom money, they’d be the ones posting the explicit Cap/Iron Man pics. They’ll take our money, but it’s not as important as small-f fandom money because there’s nowhere near as much of it.

But Telesilla, you say. Are we really bound to your fate? Destined to spend our fannish lives like you have, migrating from one site after another, always losing people and history along the way? This is so depressing! There has to be an answer!

Well, once upon a time I thought the answer was “by fans for fans” and wow, have I been burned by that one. Our greatest triumph is routinely attacked by its own users and our best functioning social media platform doesn’t have the bells and whistles corporate sites can offer. And AO3 and Dreamwidth are the success stories. Ask me about JournalFen. (on second thought, don’t. I don’t have the energy to explain without overusing the word “robust” and talking about ice weasels.)



i think lurching is the right word for it though. fandom’s like a zombie in that we probably really shouldn’t have managed to keep going like we have, just based on how much keeps getting thrown at us, but here we still are

only it’s a zombie with no head, so corporate interests can’t even use “aim for the head” here. the fractiousness that makes us hard to monetize also makes us hard to kill off, because there’s no central platform or group to take out.

it’s a setback, and we’ll lose a lot of folks along the way who just can’t be bothered to keep track of what’s going on and who’s where, and a lot of folks will lose their stuff (already happening) but fandom as a whole will keep going, bits falling off and all

TAGS: #tumblrfuckery for ts #i wasn’t in fandom for geocities livejournal etc collapsing but ive done my research on them #we lost a lot of shit but fandom as a whole kept up[1]


I’m not quite so cynical about AO3, I think most of the opposition to it is contrarian static and the reality is it functions just fine. I like DW, too, and I really do think Pillowfort could do great things, having been able to learn from the LJ/DW format and the Tumblr format. By-Fans-For-Fans isn’t a failed model; so far it’s our only true success. Smarter people than me are working on how to use P2P sharing to capitalize on that.

But otherwise, YES. Fandom is making a grave mistake by imagining the corporations will ever need to come courting us. They don’t. They won’t. Yahoo money versus being the semi-official Home of the Fanartists? Forget it, it’s not a choice any entrepreneur will lose one minute’s sleep over. We just don’t matter like we like to think we do, except to ourselves.

Nonprofit is our only way forward. Subscription and donation models are our only way forward. Cry about it, be mad, feel your feelings, but then get up and do it. If we wanna sleep indoors, we gotta build the house. It is what it is.

And after 20 years, I can promise you, ẃe’re more than capable of it.[2]


Take the good, enjoy the hell out of it, and when another purge comes, move along, find the good, take it, and enjoy the hell out of it while it lasts. Rinse and repeat.

It does inject a little reminder to keep things in perspective - fandom drama doesn’t matter that much in the long run, so it’s better to just find what makes you happy, stay there, and don’t stress out particularly about anything else in fandom that’s not making you happy. The whole thing will just go away in a few years anyway.[3]


I take your point, but how many times have we been beaten down and Fandom—capital F fandom still exists! Meaner and more contrary than ever, but we’re here. We love our passions (ourselves) so much we risk draconian censorship laws in some countries, outright criminalization of them (us) in others, to practice our crafts or even just be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in these past 18 years—ever since I was a high school freshman pretending to be a high school junior so I could publish my very first fanfiction on (Digimon if you’re curious!)—it’s that platforms are fleeting. They fall in and out of favor with us or we fall in and out of favor with them, but Fandom itself is never going away no matter what the greater They have to say about it.

#girls and boys and neither we have reached the who gives a fuck point in this little farce #or at least i have #now I’m all LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! #doctors i’m ready for my tumblrectomy #tumblfuckery[4]


  1. ^ Reblog. Archived. Posted 04 December 2018.
  2. ^ Reblog. Archived. Posted 04 December 2018.
  3. ^ Reblog. Archived. Posted 04 December 2018.
  4. ^ Reblog. Archived. Posted 04 December 2018.