Transformative Works and Cultures Interview with Hope, Leandra, Jules, and Vanae

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Transformative Works and Cultures Interview with Hope, Leandra, Jules, and Vanae
Interviewer: Deborah Kaplan
Interviewee: Hope, Leandra, Jules, Vanae
Date(s): 2010
Medium: online
External Links: interview is here
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In 2010, Hope, Leandra, Jules (aka Missyjack), and Vanae was interviewed for an issue of Transformative Works and Cultures. This interview explores the challenges unique to crowd-sourced information gathering and the multiauthorship mode of a wiki.

Some topics discussed were Super-wiki, Wikis, and Supernatural.

For a similar interview, see Sequential Tart Interview with Hope.

Some Excerpts

Lea: The wiki originated from Hope's site "Super-Canon," which in 2006 aimed to provide as much information on Supernatural as possible. At that time, Hope did all the work by herself. I became involved through some meta I wrote on my journal and which she wanted to include on the site. We came to talk about archiving not only facts, but also meta. The problem was that we felt that one or two people couldn't do all the work, and then suddenly a thought popped up like the proverbial lightbulb: "What if anyone could add information to the site?" — and the wiki was born. To me, that's the Super-wiki's central idea: The fans themselves can add and alter information. That way, we have a broad range of information, which also includes the documentation of fandom projects (in that, we differ from most other TV-series wikis). Of course, if more people work together on one topic, there are bound to be controversy and different points of view. That's why we aim to provide as many sources as possible for the material we add. We do a lot of fact checking, too. Some parts of the entries on the wiki are protected—for example, when there are direct quotes involved. Whenever possible, we cite sources and urge the users to do so as well. In case of controversy, we try to resolve the problem by involving the users as well. We strive for a neutral point of view, but in case of controversy, we try to be as objective as possible and also feature multiple points of view.

Hope: The Super-wiki has been a delight to work on when it comes to the multiple-authorship model, to be honest. Over the past 4 years of its life, I can recall only a small handful of instances when we had to intervene as a result of a significant contradiction to the wiki's model—and in these cases, it was more users getting the absolute wrong end of the stick with regards to what the wiki is for and how it works. It was just a matter of approaching them personally and trying to assist them in working alongside everyone else, if they wished to. Its growth in terms of policy has been very organic and reactive—we only really write and publicize policy if an issue comes up that requires some form of policing or administrative ruling. But as I said, there's been very little need for this. I think in part this is to do with the content of the wiki—when it comes to canon, it's really just a matter of everyone putting their heads together and sharing all the details they remember, and with the fandom aspect it's not much different—as with canon, if you have more minutiae or info about a fannish article, it's just integrated with what's on the existing page. There's really not much opportunity for there to be conflicting viewpoints in all of that.

Jules: Relationships are very important in fandom, and the Super-wiki has worked hard to earn a reputation as a good fandom citizen. We always acknowledge the source of material or links, whether from individual fans or other Web sites. We are there to document other sites and to link to them when they have content of interest, without favoring one over another. It's a reciprocal relationship, and I think as a result of the unique nature of the Super-wiki, there is no other site doing what we do, which means that we aren't seen as competition for the audience of other sites, but rather complementary.

Hope: It's been said that the Super-wiki straddles the SPN fandom and canon because the canon component exists to serve the fandom—and in a way, this is true. I know that part of the reason I set up the site in the first place was to provide a useful resource to people playing in the Supernatural universe, checking out the canon and choosing to take it or leave it as they wish. But that's not the extent of it; I think that this collation and documentation is, in a way, just as much a fan work as a piece of fan fiction or fan vid or fan art (or plushy Metallicar, or filk!). In straddling the content scope between canon and fanon, I think we're also muddying what's often seen as quite distinct waters between the types of fan communities that produce Lostpedia, and the types of fan communities that write Wincest. I think we're demonstrating in practice that both sorts of fannish engagement are not only worthwhile but equal—and certainly not mutually exclusive! We've demonstrated pretty clearly that fans can be obsessed with the minutiae of canon as well as the construction of fanon/fandom. In doing this so successfully, and becoming more widely known, I like to hope that we've also succeeded in one of the things that was really important to Lea and me when we were deciding on this canon/fandom scope early on—demonstrating through example that the texts and practices of fandom are just as valid and important as the canon, in the big-picture experience of Supernatural.