WMF cannot fix the Wikipedia gender participation gap

March 18th, 2011 by Laura View Comments »

The above statement isn’t that mind blowing. It is something that I’ve been informed that many feminists who have wanted to work towards this goal have already determined. Wikimedia Foundation cannot fix the problem. Wikimedia Foundation is part of the problem, aggravates the gender gap and institutionalises the gender gap.

If you haven’t heard of gendergap, it is a mailing list run by the Wikimedia Foundation.  The purpose of the list, in an ideal world, is to work towards reducing the gender gap on Wikipedia by increasing female participations rates at a rate that is faster than the acquisition of new male contributors.  Sadly, the ideal world is where that purpose ends.  The list for increasing female participation is run by two men: There are no female administrators.  Women are urged to join the list, and then quickly find a hostile atmosphere towards their gender and then leave.  We’ve got men who make jokes about gender politics.  We’ve got men who take an issue brought up by women, gender neutralise it and turn the issue into their own issue.  We’ve got a lot of men who want to help women, but who when asked to actually do something can’t be bothered.  If you’re noticing a thread here, it should be this: Wikimedia Foundation has a list dedicated to increasing female participation rates on Wikipedia that is run by two men and zero women, and conversation on the list is completely dominated by men.

Men can be fantastic allies for helping women achieve equality.  Men are important to this goal.  Men are necessary.   They do valuable things.

The problem is that men cannot fix the gender participation gap alone.  Women are needed.  For this effort to be a success, to decrease the gap where more women contribute, you just need to have women involved.  And many women, when working towards women’s goals, don’t feel comfortable doing so in an area dominated by men.  Many women are culturally programmed to be deferential to men.  Many women do not want to upset men.  If women are worried about upsetting men, the focus of a community does not become improving things for women but becomes about not upsetting men.  See what I’m getting at here?  The purpose gets distorted.

And that’s what we have with Gendergap.  We have a lot of dominant men, men in position of power as employees of Wikimedia Foundation.  We have men with power on Wikipedia.  We have men who think they can help improve things for women.  We have men who are quick to respond to every e-mail made to a list about increasing female participation rates.

These are men with male privilege.  When the men were educated about the concerns that women have regarding participating on such a list, the men responded with privilege.  They responded with tired, stale, clichéd arguments that people have often made in order to justify their -isms and their discrimination.  You can’t argue with the tone argument.  (Your tone bothers me.  Why are you so negative? I won’t talk to some one who uses that tone!) You  can’t argue with them about how to behave.  (If women just acted like PEOPLE, we wouldn’t have these problems!)  You can’t argue that other people’s experiences aren’t valid.  (I have a female friend who disagrees with you!)  There is no win.

And at the end of the day, when women on a list intended for increasing female participation rates tell men that they are awesome but maybe the men could fork off and women could try to develop their own solutions get told the deputy director of the organisation, Erik Möller that:

IMO this list was started as an inclusive forum for discussion of
gender gap among equal participants. Discrimination by gender doesn’t
make sense to me. My vote goes to common sense rules, election of a
male and female moderator, and enforcement of those rules into actual
practice (without discrimination by gender). In other words,
egalitarianism and sensible moderation.

If people want to run female-only lists or groups, I think that can be
useful and good, but should be done separately.

What more can you say?  Erik Möller’s offer I’m sure seemed to be non-sexist to him.  I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply that if there was a problem on the list, that women were not comfortable with the level of sexism and male domination on the list, that they should leave.  I’m sure Erik Möller did not mean to imply here that WOMEN were interfering with Wikipedia’s goal of increasing female participation on Wikipedia.  I’m reasonably certain that Erik Möller didn’t intend to use an argument historically used to suppress minority opinions when he said he refused to engage because our tone was not correct.  I’m sure Erik Möller is a good guy.  That doesn’t mean that Erik Möller isn’t a sexist, because Erik Möller is being sexist.  He may be well meaning but that just makes him a well meaning sexist, who parrots wanting to help women while throwing up all sorts of new hurdles for increasing women’s participation on Wikipedia.

One of those hurdles on for increasing women’s representation on Wikipedia is Erik Möller, who put his own male ego before the greater good because Erik Möller couldn’t see his own male privilege and acknowledge it, learn from it, and then work towards improving the situation.  Another hurdle is the two male administrators on the list.  There is sexism on that list and the male administrators let it continue.  They don’t ban the most offensive sexists.  Erik Möller and the administrators have apparently come to a conclusion: They would rather that women leave the list than to hurt male feelings.

Wikipedia needs to be fixed.  It just needs to be fixed from the outside.  Projects like Women4Wikipedia are a good start.

Fan History closed to editing

November 23rd, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

As we were down to one active admin and real life issues interfered with our ability to continue to patrol, we’ve decided to lock down the wiki to editing.  If you still wish to edit, please e-mail Laura at Fan History dot Com.  Special access could possibly be given if you would like to really improve things.  The wiki will continue to exists for historical reasons.

We would love for our interests to peak again and to open it again.  If there are a few people who might like to admin, let me know.  Maybe something can be worked out.  If you are interested in having a mirror or taking control of it, or you might be interested in integrating it into a non-profit project, drop me a line.

We’ve had a great run.  We really appreciate all the work that contributors have provided.  Fandom is seriously fantastic and we’ve all met interesting and awesome people as a result.  We could not have created what we did with out you all.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude.  Thank you fandom for your help.

Why I added Bradley Dalton to my Twitter spammer list

October 13th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

On 10/13/10 7:36 AM, Bradley Dalton wrote:

Hi.  Thank you for your question.  I don’t know which account you control.  What likely happened is the following:

You followed one of the five accounts I control.  (@purplepopple , @ozziesport are the two most likely culprits.)   I looked at the e-mail that notified me of your follow.

I likely looked at how many people you followed.  If you followed more than 1,000 people, the chances of you reading my Twitter stream was minimal.  People with more than 1,000 people they follow who continue to follow tend to be what I characterize as Twitter spammers.  They follow people with the hopes of getting follows  back where the person they follow will read their Twitter stream.  This makes a person a spammer: They are sending unsolicited requests to strangers, using a medium that has social pressures that tend to demand that you follow back in order to be nice. They don’t offer anything in return (what did you offer me?) that the person being followed would find valuable.  (I’m not interested in Viagra either)

I’ve heard arguments this type of follow isn’t spam because the person being followed doesn’t have to return the follow.  That’s bullshit in a social world.  It wouldn’t be spam if the person who initiated the follow sequence first decided to add the person to a list.  There isn’t social pressure to reciprocate by adding a person back to their own list.  They also don’t get return follows.

Having too many followers to actually follow wouldn’t be problematic.  Another way to get around spam following when you have a huge number of followers to the point where you can’t keep up with them but still want to follow is to engage them.  If, instead of following first, you had engaged me in dialog so that I’d want to follow you as clearly established that you wanted to  engage with me, were interested in what I was doing and offered me some value, I would likely follow you and then your return follow isn’t spamming… but rather follows the social norms of the community.

Now, as I don’t know your account situation, I might have added you to a spammer list for another reason.  That reason would involve having on your Twitter stream a statement like “Get 100 Twitter followers”.  If that’s the case, it demonstrates some one is not interested in providing value to the people they follow but instead are interested in improving a meaningless metric: Number of followers.

I hope that answers your question.  I would be happy to remove you from that list if you could offer me a clear and coherent rational for why, using my own definition for what a Twitter spammer is, you are not a Twitter spammer.  I love Twitter.  I’d love it more if people weren’t constantly sending Twitter follow spam and obsessing over the number of followers.

answersocean.com and Twitter

July 25th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

It is that time of year again… when the social media market heart gets all aflutter and decides to follow me so that I can be blessed with reading their content.  Yes, they may be a financial company targeting Americans living in the USA who need help with their 401K but that doesn’t stop them following people who don’t follow them.  Yes, it is the season where heterosexual marriage counselors in the USA start following gays and lesbians living abroad.  Their follow is indiscriminate because they aren’t interested in reading about gays and lesbians in Australia or Australians who don’t have to worry about American 401ks.  Yes, it is spam follow season… where the whole world is indiscriminately marketed at.

If you can’t tell, I really loathe this season.  I hate those e-mails from Twitter: Hi! Irrelevant company with 10,000,000 is following you! Congrats! This is just a crappy business practice than can have a negative impact on ROI and piss off casual users who aren’t looking to be indiscriminately marketed at.

Most of the time, I don’t follow people back.  (I’m currently getting about 1 to 3 follows a day from Bieber fans who like to Tweet about getting 10,000 followers fast.  Most have 100 followers.  I just ignore them.)  Sometimes, I like to @ reply thanking for the follow and asking why they followed me.  Sometimes, I DM them.  If I’m cranky or I think this is a business or social media guru who should know better, I like to add them to my spammer list.

Which brings us to today’s specialness…  I got an e-mail from Justin Dalton at answersocean.com.  (I don’t know his Twitter handle or his company’s handle.  It was never mentioned.)  He wanted off my spam list.  I e-mailed him back the following response:

If you were put on my spammer list, it was likely because of the following scenarios:

1) Followed me where I could not determine why I was followed (what are our shared interests?  what shared geography did we have?  what shared friends do we have?)
2) Followed me and did not interact with me to explain the above,
3) Posted using a method like API or Twitterfeed where it appeared likely that there was not a person behind the wheel and the tweets were automated,
4) Followed me and had 1,000+ followers where it appeared unlikely that you would ever read my content or interact with me as the chances of you seeing my content were infinitesimal,
5) Your follow looked like an attempt to improve your follow count total while not offering any value to the people you were following.

The act of unfollowing me is largely irrelevant as the initial follow behavior appeared spam like.

I’d be happy to remove you from my spammer list but I’d first have to hear about your current follow practices. How do you select who you follow?  What sort of value do you give to the people that you follow?

He sent back the following reply:

First thing first:

1) If you were being followed automatically, you wouldn’t have been engaged in this mail conversation.
2) It’s true that we had auto-followed people but that was just to test the system, and we have subsequently un-followed people since then.
3) It’s good that you are trying to be a ‘Twitter mentor’ or ‘Twitter agent’ but you are not what you are pretending. You are on twitter to ‘market your blog’, increase ‘reader count’ or to ‘get more traffic to your blog’ because you ‘think’ you are providing value through your blog. That’s what millions of companies/peoples doing on twitter.
4) Our initial request to you was polite but you didn’t reply back to us in that way and seemed ‘arrogant’ in the way you made us reply back to get us removed from your list.

5) We are neither twitting automatically nor spamming. We are here to provide value as well.

Finally, the act of un-following you is not ‘largely irrelevant’ as following seemed to ‘offend’ you and you were crazy to waste your time to take actions against us, so if you wish to remove us from the list, it would be nice and we would be thankful to you otherwise this is our last mail to you regardless of your further actions.

Justin Dalton

It’s special.  The ‘scare’ quotes and the calling me a liar.  This sort of thing is not how you sell your company.  I also have no idea, based on this e-mail, what his company is or what they do.  I don’t even know what the Twitter handle in question is.   Ooops.

Take aways from this:

1) Be selective in who you follow.  There are people like me who don’t want contact from random strangers where they can’t make clear connections as to why they were followed.

2) Don’t call people liars.  Your experiences are not universal and people use social media for a variety of reasons.  They won’t all be universal.

Edited to add: I had e-mailed an offer back to answersocean.com and offered to promote them if they could tell me what their company could do for me.  I got a nice one line generic bit that implied my blog was really well done.  There was no indication that they had even read my blog at http://ozziesport.com/ .  They didn’t comment on the topic of Australian sport.  This is massive fail. Don’t use generic terms that indicate you didn’t read it. They also said it looked very professional.  I use free Word Press themes.  I didn’t design the site.  It is another generic comment that says they didn’t read it.

answersocean.com never did tell me what their site can do for me.  I gave them a fair amount of material to work with to cater a personal response.  I included where I lived and my interests, both personal and professional.  I’ve still no idea what answersocean.com can do for me that  Yahoo!Answers can do for me.

If a potential customer asks you what your product can do for them, the emphasis should be on them.  Personalize your sales message.  If you can’t personalize, you can’t target an audience to get those key influencers that can help you grow and people won’t use you.  Also, they’ll write you off as spammers or totally clueless.  (That’s answersocean.com: Sending out indiscriminate follows and not being able to connect with their customers.)

Why @peterjamesfreer is a spammer

July 23rd, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

@peterjamesfreer boldly posts on his Twitter profile that he’s not a spammer.  He isn’t selling a product, therefore he isn’t a spammer.  That’s awesome except spam isn’t about product selling.  Spam is an unwanted e-mail, usually of a bulk matter and often selling a product.  The important part of that definition is the first part: Unwanted.

I love Twitter.  There are some truly awesome people on Twitter.  I love to interact on Twitter.  That’s why I use it.  I’m relatively selective in who I chose to follow because I use it to interact, to maintain relationships and to develop new ones.  That’s my primary purpose.  My secondary purpose involves getting news from various sources that I consider relevant.

Both of these follow practices involve two very different types of interactions.  The first generally requires a mutual follow with the intention of interacting.   If a person follows too many people, it means the chances of our interaction will be low.  Thus, I’m less likely to follow them unless I believe that they will read my @ replies or they are that important network wise that I need to follow them anyway.  In these cases, being followed by those people first is awesome as it lets me know that they are there.

The second kind of follow does not require that I get a follow back as I don’t have any intention necessarily of interacting with that person or business and if I do, it would be in another format, such as on their website.  Do I need the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Sun Times to interact with me?  No. I follow them to keep up with news from home.  Do I expect to interact much with United Airlines?  No.  I’m following them to find out about deals that they may have.  Do I expect to interact much AFL clubs?  Not really but it would be awesome.  I’m mostly following them for research and content purposes.

@peterjamesfreer followed me.  I didn’t go “Hey! Here’s a guy selling himself really well, providing valuable must read content!  I’ve got to follow him.  I know he has 10,000 followers but I’m not seriously expecting to interact with him so no big deal.  He’s posting about Chicago/social media metric analysis/Australian sport/living in Australia.”  I didn’t find him and think that.   He didn’t follow me because he expected to interact with me.  I know this to be true because he has 10,000+ followers so he can’t ever possibly read me.  (I can barely keep up with 350 and the only reason I can is that a lot of people aren’t active.)  Neither one of us is going to get any value out of a mutual relationship follow.

Wait.  He might.  He might be defining followers as value… and if you’re following me, if you’re reading my stuff (which he isn’t), then you’d get that I have a world view that sees that sort of behavior as not particularly meaningful.  I’ve been talking to people professionally and making it clear that you’ve got to have some sort of goal when it comes to social media, you’ve got to have some sort of objective and some way to measure success.  If you’re a candy shop in rural Illinois, it would be easy enough to get 3,000 followers.  If 2,500 of your followers are from Pakistan, Kosovo, the PNG and you don’t ship there and you don’t have a plan for how to get those followers to visit you in rural Illinois, then your Twitter strategy is full of massive fail.  You’re never going to convert those people over.  Given that, it would be better to have 150 followers all from yoru part of rural Illinois.  It would be good to read those followers, to interact with those followers and to develop relationships with those people.  THAT will lead to more sales, greater awareness of who you are, spread the word of mouth about your business to the wider community.

Where @peterjamesfreer fails is that he doesn’t seem to be about either of these: He doesn’t create organic content that people will naturally find on their own.  He doesn’t appear to be about developing relationships.  (He can’t as he can’t read us.)  He doesn’t appear to have a audience he’s targeting.  (Why target some one who rails against the type of behavior he engages in?)  He indiscriminately follows people.  He’s willing to risk their ire.  He doesn’t care because he claims he’s not a spammer.

All the denials in the world won’t make him less of a spammer.  He’s not reading people.  He’s sending intrusive requests for interaction.  He appears to be assuming most people are automating their follows to automatically follow him.  (Which creates a huge net of not reading people.  Twitter has a huge ecosystem of spam that I want to avoid.)  He offers zero value to the people follows.  That’s classic spam behavior.  His comment regarding not being a spammer is based on a false definition of spam and the idea that Twitter is about building meaningless metrics, and in building those metrics, what you’re doing isn’t spam.

@peterjamesfreer needs to remove the line about being a spammer.  He can continue on with his spam follows if he wants.  (Just don’t target me and my accounts.  Please.  I’m tired of Twitter spam.  He’s not the first.  He’s about the 15th this week, but the first to say he’s not a spammer.)  He could change his behavior.  (Unfollow down to an amount of people he could reasonably follow, selectively follow people based on how they help him accomplish his objectives, interact with a greater percentage of people on his follows list, provide great content that will grow his followers list, or get a job that will automatically improve his follower numbers.)    @peterjamesfreer should be more honest in his profile page.

Oh and @peterjamesfreer shouldn’t follow people who are doing work that focuses on debunking the metric that he’s busy trying to use to make himself feel better about himself.

We’re still here…

June 15th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

… but just not very active with the blogging thing. Nicole is busy working on writing for money. I’m busy working on a PhD. Nile is working on her own thing and Tikatu is keeping the ship running by patrolling new edits.

We’ve got a new host and it has created a lot less stress regarding the continuity of the the wiki. We know it will go on and money isn’t the big issue it was. It means we can be active absentee landlords: Update fandomnews, patrol edits, let the community help document the history of fandom while we worry less about continually trying to write an active ongoing history of fandom.

RecentChangesCamp 2010

June 7th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

I haven’t mentioned as much as I have in the past because woe, I can’t afford the plane ticket to attend from Australia… but if you’re a wiki person in the United States or Canada and you want to learn about wikis, network with other wikis people, find help with your wiki project, learn about best projects, have some wiki topic you want to discuss, you should seriously consider attending RecentChangesCamp 2010. I’ve attended and helped organize RCC in the past and I can’t begin to explain what a fantastic experience it is.

I’ve pasted a copy of the invitation below.

You are invited to Recent Changes Camp 2010!

RCC 2009

June 25-27, 2010

1710, Beaudry, Montreal

Want to join? Just add your name to the list of attendees!

We’ll convene at the location on Thursday or Friday and wrap up on Sunday. Check back for the Agenda. There is no cost to participate other than transportation. We may even be able to help you find lodging.

What is Recent Changes Camp, anyway?

RCC 2009

RCC 2009

Recent Changes Camp was born from the intersection of wiki and Open Space. Since 2006, participants from all over North America and the globe have gathered together for a common purpose: discussing the past, present, and future of the technology and collaborative method that is wiki. RCC is a chance for everyone in the wiki community, something we like to call Wiki Ohana, to meet and have a fun, productive conversation about our passion for wikis of all stripes.

Going far beyond technology, we’re interested in wiki culture and other networks/groups/etc. that share many of the values implicit in it — from cultural creatives, to public participation and free culture advocates. If you use a wiki or you value open collaboration, Recent Changes Camp is created for you. RCC is about openness and inclusion, collaboration and community, creativity and flow. Further down this page you can check out a sampling of sessions we’ve enjoyed in the past, along with pictures and videos from previous events.

This unconference/BarCamp has been held at least once every year since 2006 (and twice in 2007). Unlike a conventional conference, where everything’s pre-planned and structured, RecentChangesCamp is a gathering where we decide for ourselves what we’re going to get out of it by offering sessions each morning on whatever we want (and of course ad hoc sessions can form at any time). There’s no agenda until we make it up! Now, that might sound a bit chaotic if you’re never been to this type of gathering, but be prepared to be surprised at how much people can learn and create when they collaborate spontaneously.

With an emergent agenda, it can be hard to describe specifically what you will get from participating in Recent Changes Camp. In large part, that is up to you to be responsible for. Participants often say greater sense of wiki community, broader sense of wiki way and wiki tools, or more excitement about our future together as well as inspiration and discovery.

At Recent Changes Camp, everybody is welcomed. You don’t need to be an expert on anything, and you certainly don’t need to consider yourself a geek. Collaboration thrives on diversity! All you need to bring is an open mind, and a willingness to participate, whether by teaching or by taking an active role in discussions. And, don’t forget, an unconference is what we make it, so let’s make it enlightening and fun.
Keywords: wiki, unconference, barcamp, open space, community, creativity, collaboration, technology, free culture, free/open source software

Qu’est-ce que les Rococo ?

Les RecentchangesCamp (Rococo en version française) sont nés à l’intersection des wikis et la Méthode du forum ouvert. Depuis 2006, les participants de l’Amérique du Nord et du globe ont réuni pour un but commun : discuter le passé, le présent et l’avenir des wikis mais de façon plus large, des méthodes et des processus collaboratifs et participatif.

Cette Rencontre sur la Collaboration, la Créativité et l’autOgestion est l’édition montréalaise du RecentChangesCamp de Portland. Ce BarCamp sera organisé selon la méthode du ForumOuvert qui suppose une mise en place collaborative de l’agenda. Les wikis resteront un objet technologique central à la rencontre, mais nous offrirons aussi une large place aux communautés sans fil et aux personnes qui, de façon générale, s’intéressent à la collaboration, à la créativité et à l’autogestion. Gardez en mémoire, que vous, chercheurs, artistes, programmeurs et praticiens, serez les principaux acteurs de cette rencontre sur les wikis, les technologies et médias participatifs et les pratiques collaboratives en général.

Sessions covering an array of interests

Time Schedule

  • Remember that the Agenda will be settled the first day only.

Previous years

RecentChangesCamp 2009, Portland, Oregon

RecentChangesCamp 2008, Palo Alto, California

RecentChangesCamp 2007, Montréal, Quebec (aka RoCoCo)

Video from RoCoCo :

RecentChangesCamp 2007, Portland, Oregon

RecentChangesCamp 2006, Portland, Oregon

Geolocation based search

May 15th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

I’ve been kind of neglectful at Fan History of late.  A lot of this is because I’ve started a research degree focusing on sports fandom in Australia.  One of my interests has been Foursquare, because by watching sports venues, you can get an idea of geographic patterns in a fan community, see mobile phone penetration and kind of gauge the size of a fandom.  There are some really interesting patterns that I’ve begun to explore on Ozzie Sport.

Sites like Foursquare make the geographic component of online activity more important than ever before.  As more and more local businesses get online, finding relevant content so you can find a business near you grows more important.  This also applies to fandom: We want to find like minded fans in our area so that we can make new friends where we’ll have the chance to meet and maybe get together for a hot chocolate and discuss the newest episode of Survivor.  Or maybe, you can find a real time gathering of Twilight fans who are going to see a movie together.  That way, you don’t need to see it alone and can do a lot of squeeing over it with people who will appreciate your love of the books and movies.  If you’re a sports fan, sites like Foursquare can help you find local fans.  You can make the link to their Twitter account or their Facebook account, see if they are some one who seems like they share other interests with you… and if you’re both regularly attending games, then maybe you can find a new friend to go matches with.  Or if you’re a sports team, maybe you can use location services to see what you’re fans are saying about the venue and issues like parking or restrooms, and then figure out how to address these in real time.

Most of the time when people want to search, they go to Google. …  Or these days, they search on Twitter.  For location based search, these can be problematic.  Doing a search for “Harry Potter” fans Canberra is not likely to pull up relevant and timely results.  You can sort of do that sort of searching for events on Facebook or MeetUp.com but searching those limits the results to pages on their sites.  One site working to try to address the problems in location search is   http://sency.com/.  They’ve currently got search on for a couple of major cities.  (Sadly, none in Australia or I’d be all about using them on OzzieSport.com in order to get additional data.)  It is pretty cool in the bits that I’ve looked at.  If I want to see what Chicago folks are saying about the Blackhawks, it is pretty easy.  (And I shouldn’t have to worry about as much spam, unless it is originating from Chicago based spammers.  I also don’t have to worry about what San Jose fans are saying about the Blackhawks, because who wants to worry about another team’s fans raining on my love parade?)  If you get the chance, it is worth checking out.  There is some room for improvement as I can’t easily find links to the originating tweets and what content they do search is a bit limited, but the potential is there.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post.  One of the people involved with the company asked me if I might promote it and  as I like to promote things that I see as interesting and relevant to fandom, I’m happy to do that.

If you’re seeing this, it works!

May 10th, 2010 by Jon View Comments »

This is the very first post coming to you from the wonderful land of the new server.  With any luck everyone should be seeing this message within the next 24 hours.  As with any move there are issues of DNS propagation bla, bla, bla and more technical mumbo jumbo here.

So to make the long story short, we think we’ve got all the kinks worked out.  The wiki is once again in read/write mode (IE running normally), and of course you can comment here.

We (I) would appreciate it if you left a note should you run across anything acting “odd”.  That’s all for now.

FanHistory is moving!

May 8th, 2010 by Jon View Comments »

I know I’ve been quiet for a long time, though I promised more updates.  Nothing much to report from the tech front, until now.  We’ve gotten together with a friendly new host, and FanHistory is moving.  All the sites will be migrated from our current hosting setup to the new one over the course of this weekend (starting now).

What does this mean for you?  Everything will be in read only mode for the duration of the move.  All of FanHistory (Blog, Wiki, etc) will continue to be accessible, just not editable.  At the end of the weekend’s move, I’ll post again when everything is back to normal.

The art of following on Twitter

May 6th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

Once again, I had a minor cranky fest with some one who followed me on Twitter, who didn’t like being labeled a spammer.  This person had over 10,000 followers and was continuing to follow others with more follows to followees.  I have around 300 to 250 people I follow and around 600 people who follow me.  My balance is the other way.

My follow philosophy is I follow people I plan to engage with or I follow corporate accounts, brand accounts, non-profit or local accounts (and theoretically celebrities but I don’t follow many of those) that are not strictly personal.  For me, the first group are people I don’t want to offend and I try to make sure that I’m tweeting content related to their interests when I follow them and try to engage them at some point early in my follow.  For example, I’ve been following some Australians who are local to Canberra or interested in sports.  We have specific content in mind.  I’m not keyword following those but generally checking out specific people and their accounts or recommendations.  That’s personal.  The second type of account I’m less worried about as corporate and brand accounts are not expected to behave the same way as personal accounts: There is no onus to interact with those accounts, no reciprocation in follow backs that is implied.  Those accounts tend to have the purpose of promoting a product at me.  I’m obviously not going to provide any content of value back for the Australian National Library.  (Where as for a librarian from Canberra on their personal account?  I should provide the individual some reason to social follow me back.)

I can get really cranky about this sort of thing.  I blog about it a fair amount.  I have in my profile that if you want a follow back, you need to @ reply with why you followed me.  I’m less truthful than I should be with that statement.  What I really mean is: What value do you provide to me if you want a follow back?  You can follow me because you love Fan History and that’s awesome but if you’re always tweeting about Slovenian politics in Slovenian, you’re not much value to me in terms of me following you.   And if you’re a personal follow, I want that and if you can’t provide that, you’re nothing more than a Twitter spammer. Corporate accounts have pretty much the same issues only with a slight twist.  If I’m tweeting about how much I love the University of Canberra, it would make sense for them to follow me.  I might not be aware of them and they can do reputation management easily by keeping track of their public voices.  If you’re a Christian bookstore in Denver (which is far away from where I live) and I’ve never tweeted about Christianity and your business has over 3,000 followers and an imbalance where you’re following more than you’re getting followed back?  You have no business following me as I’m not going to help your business and, again, you’re offering me no value as a follower.

A lot of social media experts early in Twitter’s history promoted the concept of more followers leading to increased credibility and how it gives you increased market awareness.  It’s dumb, stupid and anyone doing that and espousing it should be fired rather quickly.  Those aren’t the social rules that have developed and a lot of people on the fringes of Twitter are getting tired of these random follows from brands they don’t know, from individuals with 10,000 follows.  At some point, you’re also likely to run across an individual like myself who is tired of this crap who going to label you a spammer for keyword following anyone who has history in their profile.  You’re going to get some one giving you crap and you’ll get some bad PR.   (And no, not all bad publicity is good publicity.  Many small businesses can’t afford that sort of thing.  Would you want to be getting publicity because you’re a pizzeria who made news for failing to pass a health inspection?)    Making it worse, your own bad business practices bring it on yourself.  And if you engage people like me who don’t like your follow practices, you’re just making yourself look worse.  (Or not because really, how many people in that 10,000 person net you have are actually reading your tweets?)

Oh and let’s not forget that idiocy involving keyword following or mass following people can wind up making you look bad when people discover that you’ve followed white supremacists, racists,  people who do not share your values, competitors you’re not friendly with or people who reflect badly on you that your follow practices made you voluntarily chose to follow but that’s a different story.

Following on Twitter is an art.  When following, you should ask: What does this person offer me and what value do I offer them in return?  If you can’t think of a good answer, then consider adding the person to a list.  That way, everyone wins and there is less crappy art (bad following) going on.

Edited to add: And with in a minute of posting this, John Kewley (@brainrider) followed me.  He has more people he follows than follow him.  He has 5,000+ people he follows.  He offers services for companies.  He’s never going to read me and I’m unlikely to ever use his services described as: “BrainRider Knowledge Marketing Group. We help companies create more customers by sharing what they know. Visit us to download our free e-books.”  If he has some value to potentially offer me, it isn’t clear based on his recent tweets.  This is another classic exaple of failing at the art of following.

ning preservation efforts on Fan History Wiki

April 17th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

ning is shutting down its free communities at some point soon.  This move was announced after ning also announced they were laying off 42% of their staff.  Like bebo, there isn’t necessarily many historical artifacts on the service.  Also like bebo, one of the major communities that appears to be there is the fanvid one. A lot of what needs to be preserved includes pages that begin to demonstrate the size, scope and activity type of the community.

We don’t particularly have much time to do that on Fan History.  (And with our staff going away, having family issues, going back to school and work issues… we’re even more crunched.)  So like bebo, our focus will be on screencapping a select number of pages, uploading them and putting them into categories for later historical work.  Our goal is to cap and upload around 100 to 200 pages.  This is about on par with our bebo efforts.  (Though our bebo efforts have a lot more data stored in various databases as  I’ve been collecting it longer related to another project.)

If you’d like to help us screencap and upload, we would really appreciate the help.  If you would like to help us out by adding descriptions and integrating information about this network on to appropriate articles, that would be even more appreciated.  One of the struggles of Fan History is realizing we can’t preserve everything… but that we can still try preserve enough to help people understand what was happening.

hiatus news: fandomnews needs your help finding links!

April 13th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

[info]fandomnews needs your help. At the present, the newsletter is compiled and posted with the assistance of about five individuals. Because of family, school, personal and professional obligations, the amount of time that we can spend compiling and posting will become extremely limited starting around April 20. These pressures are unlikely to ease up until mid to late June.

During this time, we’d love to avoid going on hiatus. In order to do that, we need your help by helping us compile our daily link list. The easiest to contribute is add links directly in our staging area. To do that, follow these simple directions:

  1. To access that area, go to April calendar (or May), click on the date for tomorrow.
  2. Go to the edit tab in the upper left hand corner and click on it.
  3. Find the category that best describes the link you wish to add.
  4. Add the link using the following format: * [URL TITLE (OR DESCRIPTION)] by AUTHOR on DATE
  5. Repeat for all links.
  6. Click the [Save Page] button.


  • When adding links, only include links that were originally posted in the past three weeks.
  • When editing, please sort links by date.
  • If there is something going on in fandom where you are adding five or more links about a topic, please feel free to create a separate topic heading.

If you are not comfortable or do not desire to edit links in our staging area, please submit links for inclusion using the same format (* [URL TITLE (OR DESCRIPTION)] by AUTHOR on DATE) by commenting in reply to the most recent post or by e-mailing the links to fandomnews@fanhistory.com .We are looking for daily help.

It would be great if people could “claim” one or more of the following links and add relevant links to our staging area on a regular basis. (Please feel free to add links daily from sources beyond these. The more relevant links, the merrier.)

Stop the keyword follow spam…

April 12th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

I quoted Star Wars: Clone Wars on Twitter.  Some one commented to say the quote was good but they weren’t a huge fan of Star Wars.  I commented back with the Clone Wars cartoon was better than Star Wars episodes I, II, III.  I mentioned cartoons several times and I got a spam follow from @quinnmichaels.   Why?  He likes cartoons and I mentioned them.   He follows over 10,000 people so the value I would get from returning that follow?  Zero.  If I had wanted to follow some one who is never going to read me, I could have done it with out the prompting of the follow.  He didn’t even take the time to read my profile.  If he had, he would have seen the message about @ replying to me in order to get a return follow.  And if he just wanted to collect people who tweet about cartoons with out the follow obligation?  He could have added me to a list.

People like @quinnmichaels need to stop the keyword spam follows.  It is rude.  It is spam like.   I don’t mention cartoons regularly.  I tweet about sports, wikis, Australia, Chicago and Illinois, pictures I take, fandom in general.  Following me because I made keyword mentions of a term he follows, absent the context, while not being able to articulate that and clearly not even bothering to check my profile?  When he has 10,000 followers and 9,000 people follow him?  These are the sort of people killing Twitter.

I don’t hate art.  I don’t begrudge artists the right to market themselves and try to sell their work.  If one were to ask me, I’d be happy to help them figure out how to use Fan History to promote their work.  If they asked nicely, I would probably be happy to retweet them.  If they were on DeviantART and were doing something with charity, I’d probably be inclined to blog about them if asked.  I love helping people and I know how hard it is to make it as an artist.  My not appreciating @quinnmichaels‘s spam following practices has nothing to do with his being an artist.  It has everything to do with his keyword following, while offering zero value to those he follows.

And his current practice is not likely to help him sell art.  If you have 9000 followers based on trying to get followers?  Those 9000 people are about as likely to read you as you are to read them.  If you’re trying to sell on Twitter and you’re not a big brand with a built in audience, you start with a small following.  You’re personal to that small audience.  You selectively follow as you’re more likely to sell one on one than to a huge mass audience… (unless you have a mass following and most artists are not Dell computers or United Airlines).  You ask people who read your blog to follow you.  You don’t just follow random people with no common interests.

That’s social marketing 101.

Geocities vs. Bebo preservation efforts

April 9th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

bebo may be closing.  … or it might not if AOL can find a buyer for bebo.  bebo has (or had) a strong fandom presence.  Some groups have over 10,000 members.  Some videos have had over 30,000 views.  People engaged in various types of fanac on the network.  On bebo, the fanac may have been more discussion based and vidding based than Geocities.  Geocities had essays and picture and sound galleries.  Geocities was also the home to huge amounts of fan fiction dating back to the mid-1990s.  bebo’s community was much more about interaction with others.  Geocities’s community was more about content providing.  (Both had some truly awful levels of design.)

The distinction of what amounts to interactive versus static content makes bebo preservation difficult.  There just doesn’t feel like much worth saving on bebo.  Do we want to save fan fiction on bebo?  No, not particularly as it really isn’t there.  (People linked to their fan fiction hosted elsewhere.)  Was bebo viewed as fundamental to fannish interaction at any time?  No, not particularly except maybe in pockets of Irish and British fandom or sports fandom.

Given the lack of useful content actually preserve, how do we approach that?  The way that I’m looking at is this: We’re looking to define the size and scope of the fandom.  How many people were in particular fandoms?  What tools on bebo did people use to express their fannish interest?  When were these communities active?  What did their group pages look like?  This information can be manually mined and put into a database.  It can also be attained by screencapping search results, profile pages, band pages, video pages and app pages.  Once capped and uploaded, people can look through it, talk with others and begin to get an idea as to how the community function.  That’s the goal: Get enough capped and put into a useful dataset so people at a later date can use that data to explain how the fannish community worked.

And that’s really the difference between Fan History’s efforts: Content preservation and confirmation that existed versus providing insight into how a community functioned.

Fan History Preservation project: bebo

April 8th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

If you haven’t heard the news, it looks likely that bebo will be closing by June.   There was a strong and active fannish community over on bebo.  Sadly, we don’t really have the time to do a full out preservation effort like we tried to do with Geocities.  What we will try to do in the mean time is to create a database of groups on bebo that we can make into individual articles.  We will also upload screencaps of random bebo pages that will be uploaded.  It isn’t much but it can begin to give people a picture of what happened on bebo.  This will be on top of our existing bebo related articles.  If you can help us by improving existing articles and creating new ones?  That would be massively appreciated.  This sort of history is important to remember and document.  Time is limited so it has to be done now.

Project Wonderful performance

April 6th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

We’ve been using Project Wonderful for about two months now. We haven’t done a lot of posting asking users to buy ads to support us. We haven’t contacted people and asked them to buy ads on PW from us. We mostly left it alone, didn’t do much self promotion to ramp up our traffic. (We’ve been busy elsewhere.) How have we done?

Meh. Not well. That doesn’t come close to covering our current hosting. We’d probably be doing better if we had bigger ads and more ads. The fan oriented wikis that I know that us PW get comparable traffic but have more ads and bigger ads. They also actively promote their wikis in ways that we don’t. They also ask their community to buy advertisements. Those three things mean that they come much, much closer to covering their hosting costs than we could ever dream of with our current strategy.

Google security fail

April 6th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

I use Google for e-mail and for analytics.  I also use other features but those are my two big ones.  For the past two days, I’ve had what I consider a pretty significant security issue and I’m not sure where it is originating from.  It is this:

What’s the major problem? I’m not epgeorge007@gmail.com. I have a different e-mail address I use. It doesn’t appear that epgeorge007@gmail.com and I are sharing a common Internet connection. I only log in to Google from my home Internet connection. When I googled to see who epgeorge007@gmail.com was, they weren’t located in the same state. I should not be logged in to their account. When I discovered this yesterday, I logged out. (And then I didn’t log in to another account. I didn’t need to use Google)

I should not be logged in to some one else’s account and I should not be able to view their Google Analytics information. Does anyone have any idea where this problem might be originating from?

Across The Pond, a Queer as Folk fan fiction archive, needs help

April 6th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

Parts of this were cross posted to qaf_coffeeclub and as I emphasize with their needs, I thought I’d crosspost their plea here as I hate to see archives in trouble…

Just an FYI.

Okay fellow Queer As Folk fans … UK Qaf, US Qaf, or both!!! ALL

If you want to keep the ATP Archive up and running – please read this

Some of you may know I am an archivist at the Across The Pond QAF
Fiction Archive. It’s been many years of hard work, but not a little
pairing drama…lol (just teasing) – but through it all, there has
always been one place that served as an archive for all pairing
choices and all versions of the show “Queer As Folk”.

Now we all have our own pairing favs, and in some cases, we may also
have our pairing specific archives. But all of us know that there is
value in diversity, and having a wider selection can yield many

And now, in the spirit of hope, I’m asking for your help to keep the
archive alive. Please read the information below, and know that
ANYTHING you can give is greatly appreciated.

Since our last donation drive in 2006, our failsafe backer(s) have
quietly slipped out of the fandom, and the Archive has literally been
surviving on air for almost a year thanks solely to the generosity of
our host provider. But they can no longer let things stand as they
are. This has come as news to me, and I’m sure to many of you. So
your help is needed, and needed now – if possible. In that spirit -
please share this request with your other QAF communities on
LiveJournal, Yahoogroups, etc.

Remember – No action = no result. And in this case, that would mean
the end of ATP.

The goal for their fundraiser this year is $500

The money will be used for hosting cost, maintenance for the site, and any overages for bandwidth.

Direct PayPal link

Invitation: RecentChangesCamp (RoCoCo) 2010

April 5th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

Recent Changes Camp 2010: Montréal will be held June 25-26-27, 2010 at the Comité Social Centre Sud (CSCS), located at 1710 Beaudry, in Montréal.

What is Recent Changes Camp, anyway?

Recent Changes Camp was born from the intersection of wiki and Open Space. Since 2006, participants from all over North America and the globe have gathered together for a common purpose: discussing the past, present, and future of the technology and collaborative method that is wiki. RCC is a chance for everyone in the wiki community, something we like to call Wiki Ohana, to meet and have a fun, productive conversation about our passion for wikis of all stripes.

Going far beyond technology, we’re interested in wiki culture and other networks/groups/etc. that share many of the values implicit in it — from cultural creatives, to public participation and free culture advocates. If you use a wiki or you value open collaboration, Recent Changes Camp is created for you. RCC is about openness and inclusion, collaboration and community, creativity and flow. Further down this page you can check out a sampling of sessions we’ve enjoyed in the past, along with pictures and videos from previous events.

This unconference/BarCamp has been held at least once every year since 2006 (and twice in 2007). Unlike a conventional conference, where everything’s pre-planned and structured, RecentChangesCamp is a gathering where we decide for ourselves what we’re going to get out of it by offering sessions each morning on whatever we want (and of course ad hoc sessions can form at any time). There’s no agenda until we make it up! Now, that might sound a bit chaotic if you’re never been to this type of gathering, but be prepared to be surprised at how much people can learn and create when they collaborate spontaneously.

With an emergent agenda, it can be hard to describe specifically what you will get from participating in Recent Changes Camp. In large part, that is up to you to be responsible for. Participants often say greater sense of wiki community, broader sense of wiki way and wiki tools, or more excitement about our future together as well as inspiration and discovery.

At Recent Changes Camp, everybody is welcomed. You don’t need to be an expert on anything, and you certainly don’t need to consider yourself a geek. Collaboration thrives on diversity! All you need to bring is an open mind, and a willingness to participate, whether by teaching or by taking an active role in discussions. And, don’t forget, an unconference is what we make it, so let’s make it enlightening and fun.


All the cool kids are doing foursquare…

March 28th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

… and I want to do it to.  I want to be the mayor of my local Target, which I visit 2 to 5 times a week.  I would also like to be the mayor of my local mall.  I either walk inside the mall for exercise or I walk to the mall for exercise.  I also have taken to walking to my local Starbucks for exercise.  (2.1 miles is better than 1.5 miles to the mall.)   The problem with trying to be the mayor of these places is that I need to SMS my location to these places.  Foursquare isn’t picking these places up and assigning an actual place to them, just counting them as a check in.  I don’t have a data plan.  I can’t afford a new cell phone at the moment and I can’t justify a data plan.  (In both cases, I’m hopefully moving soon and this would be problematic.)

So while all the cool kids with data plans get to check in all over the place, Foursquare makes it impossible for those of us using SMS to change  our grayed locations to actual places.  Foursquare also doesn’t have an iPod application.  Which, fine, whatever… except when I’m using the mobile version on my iPod, Foursquare suggests I download their iPhone application which isn’t compatible with my iPod.  Oh.  And lest I forget, I’m constantly being logged out on the mobile version and it took about four times for me to finally be able to check in.

If I am going some place in rural Illinois, I need to create the location/check to make sure it exists before I go.  I then need to change my location to where I will be in an hour.  I then need to hope that I can manage to get the mobile version to let me login and set my location to that.  I had problems with this when I tried to check in at the Belvidere Oasis.  I tried to check in about five times before I finally gave up.

So all the cool kids are doing foursquare and those of us with no dataplans who rely on wifi devices get the short end of the stick.  It sucks big time and feels like a play to a more affluent and tech savy market.

Crosspost: Fandomnews poll response discussion

March 22nd, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

I’ve been busy with various things so writing up a response to our March 9 poll has taken more time than I had planned. Before I get into that though, I’d like to request some help with [community profile] fandomnews. If anyone is interested in either compiling links or posting, please let us know via e-mail at fandomnews@fanhistory.com or comment in reply to this post.  We would really appreciate the help!

That out of the way, one of the major reasons we posted the poll was to determine how we should deal with -isms and what sort of content people wanted to see.

73% (or 11 people) said they wanted less sports related content.  Some days, we have a fair amount of it to the point where it dominates fandom specific meta.  Some days, we have very little.   Today we had 4 out of a total out of about 42 total fandom specific posts linked to.  A lot of that content depends on what is going on in the world of sports as sports related meta sometimes feels like it operates on a different time frame than television meta.  Sporting events are often triggers for lots of discussion.  A lot of discussion involves what is currently happening and brings in the past issues in dealing with the present.  Rarely does it feel like a post will be about a situation several months or years ago.  This contrasts with say Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.  That fandom feels like it has a few individuals who are revisiting old episodes and discussions in order to help foster community amongst the existing fanbase.  Going back makes sense given the lack of new canonical material outside comics and video games.  Sports posts will come in waves and it shouldn’t be dominating overall.  We’re trying to strike a balance with that as we realize that fandomnews’s primary audience is media fen.  We’re also trying to make it easy to avoid if you aren’t interested in it by clearly labeling the content as sports related.  The only exceptions are when we feel the issue has enough crossover that we think media fen might be interested.

That said, another reason why we’re not likely to reduce our sports content is that sports content often deals with a lot of -isms.  There is racism (fans calling players racists names), sexism (mens and women’s sports/athletes being treated differently.) xenocentrism (nationalistic issues in sports, religious and cultural issues), and classism (participation, fan base demographics).  There are probably a few more.  These issues in sports, one of the major products of popular culture, often mirror their counterparts television, movies, comics and video games. One that comes to mind immediately is the composition of athletic teams.  There is an excellent blogger who talks about the under representation of Muslim women in sports.  This feels like it mirrors conversations about representation of certain racial and ethnic groups on television.  There are also often conversation in sports about the role of women, what it means to be female and questions about why more people aren’t interested in women’s sports.  This feels like it mirrors some of the discussion around female characters on television, and why more people don’t write about them in fan fiction.  The -isms for sports feel close to the -isms for television and fan fiction.  Thus, we want to cover them.

Added to that, two of the three founding members of fandomnews are big sports fans.  And we like to cover what we’re interested in.

40% of people wanted less music content. (13% wanted more.)  We’d like more music content but we haven’t found it.  Most of what we include at the moment comes from hypebot.  It covers a lot of music industry related news.  A lot of the industry news for music has implications for business practices for small press writers, for movies, for web series, for how the powers that be in other mediums engage with their fan audiences.  It often feels like a sneak peak into how fandom is changing.  And that’s why we probably over-include posts by hypebot.  If people don’t see the connection there, please comment to let us know and we’ll reconsider.

53% of respondents wanted more television and movie content.  I’ll admit to feeling perplexed.  Often our fandom meta section will have almost exclusively television and movie content.  My guess is that people want a wider representation of television and movie fandoms.  If that’s the case, let us know where to check to find that content.  One of the areas we have difficultly involves what is meta and what is an episode or movie review.  Our default treatment is: On LiveJournal or its clones, it is meta.  If it is not, the post is a general review and does not make the cut.  We make exceptions for blogs like DisabledFeminist and blogs by academics (and students) studying fandom.

46% of people want more -isms.  Sometimes, for those compiling, it feels like a whole post is chock full of -isms.  They just aren’t found in the general meta category.  Instead, they are found in the fandom specific section.  Examples of that from today include all the Glee related posts.  Most of them deal with disableism.  The Bachelor posts today deal with racism.  Harry Potter posts today deal with sexism.  There are several more -isms in today’s posts that are less easy to label.  These posts are there; they just may not be easy to identify unless you are interested in a specific fandom.  I’m wondering if the 46% vote is thus an issue of perception because people aren’t looking at fandom specific posts? Any clarity from those wanting moe -isms would be much appreciated.

One of our questions asked how many links people wanted in a post.  The last time, people indicated they wanted 20 to 30 links in a post and that they didn’t mind overflow posts.  We thus modified our posting practices to bring the total links per post down to no more than 30.  There are exceptions.  After three days off, we had so many links that chunking off part of the fandom specific meta discussion seemed goofy.  Thus, it had about 40.  If the total looks close to 30 (like 35), we’ll also consolidate down to one post.

We asked: Should meta discussion posts be separated by -isms under their own -ism related heading?  This is a question that has been bugging us a lot.  We’re not set up to tag posts like metafandom or linkspam.  They use delicious related tagging.  We use mediawiki as our source to compile.  Setting up ways to pull out what is an -ism and what isn’t is thus a bit more difficult.  We’re also sensitive to the fact that how you label something can have an influence as to how people read a post.  43% of people responded to our question with “Maybe.”

When Culture!Fail came up, we knew it was a major -ism.  Or we knew it at least had the potential to be a major -ism as it had some of the issues of Race Fail 2009 and at least one person wrote a post calling this Race Fail 2010.  Given the poll response, we decided that we would try to separate this particular -ism related kerfluffle out.  We’d love feedback on if this type of -ism kerfluffle related separation is a strategy that people find good when dealing with how to include -isms on fandomnews.

In response to, “Do fandom specific labels help you find content you want to read?” everyone answered Yes.  That makes us happy as it confirms that our labeling by fandom is useful in helping people find content they want and exposes them to other fandoms and their issues that they might not otherwise read. As the fandom specific labels feel so successful, [community profile] fandomnews we’ve tried to use that sort of labeling for other news like conventions and fansites.  We think this makes identifying the content type easier so that readers can learn something from the headlines, even if they don’t chose to read the actual post.

The long and short of this: Sports is here to stay.  We’ll try to get more television and movies in but we need a better idea of what fandoms people want to see.  We’re trying to pull out -isms on a selective basis in response to kerfluffles.  We’ve listened to suggested link list length and we’re going to continue with the most popular option of 20 to 30 links a post.

fandomnews poll

March 9th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

[info]fandomnews is almost three months old now. There are 72 followers on LJ, 14 on IJ and 52 on DW. We’re also slowly working on creating a version on its own domain for those who aren’t into LJ or its clones. As this community is still a work in progress, we wanted additional feedback from our community. The last time we did a poll, people indicated they were okay with overflow posts and were looking for 20 to 30 posts a day. We changed and we want to see if people are happy with that.

Poll questions! (Please answer in the comments)

Content wise, compared to now, I want:

  • More publishing news
  • Less publishing news
  • More sports content
  • Less sports content
  • More music content
  • Less music content
  • More manga and anime content
  • Less manga and anime content
  • More television and movie content
  • Less television and movie content
  • More comics content
  • Less comics content
  • More isms related meta
  • Less isms related meta

How many links do you want in an average post?

  • 1-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 40+

Should meta discussion posts be separated by -isms under their own -ism related heading?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe

Do fandom specific labels help you find content you want to read?

  • Yes, as I’m only interested in some fandoms.
  • Yes, as I learn about issues going on in fandoms I might not otherwise look at.
  • Yes, other reason.
  • No, as I’m less likely to read meta if it labeled by fandom.
  • No, as I find it harder to find -ism related that I might enjoy.
  • No, other reason.

What blogs/journals would you recommend us checking for inclusion in future posts?

There is a really awesome discussion over on kaigou’s dreamwidth. In the comments, I discussed some of [info]fandomnews‘s internal policies regarding how we handle things. You might find it interesting. If you haven’t, check out our feed list of blogs that we check for inclusion. We’re always looking for more to help make [info]fandomnews better. All feedback is appreciated. For LiveJournal people, we posted a version on my LiveJournal where you can answer these questions.

fandomnews link list

March 7th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

When fandomnews first started, we probably checked 30 rss feeds a day.  Now we check close to 150.  The goal is to check a broad variety of fandom discussion sites to present links that offer a panfannish idea of what is being talked about.  We try to include links from comics, music, sports, television, movie, manga, anime, cartoons and furry fandom.  Given that, we thought you might find it interesting to see the feeds we check regularly.  If there are some feeds you think we should be checking but don’t, drop a comment and we’ll add it to our list.

  • “fandom history” – Google Blog Search
  • “It is What it is”: Fandom, Pop Culture, and Then Some
  • “race!fail” – Google Blog Search
  • “race!fail” site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • :: netwoman’s blog ::
  • Access Fandom
  • Airlock Alpha
  • Angry Who Fan
  • Anime Loveu
  • Animology
  • Anti-Oppression Linkspam Community
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender Meta
  • Bibliophile Stalker
  • captain america teabaggers – Google Blog Search
  • Christy’s Corner of the Universe
  • Comic Book Fanthropology
  • Confessions of an Aca/Fan
  • Convention Scene
  • Cult Academic
  • Cupid’s Bow
  • Delicious/hedgebird/meta
  • Delicious/inteligrrl/meta
  • Delicious/Kuiskata/meta
  • Delicious/metafandom
  • Delicious/moonling/meta
  • Delicious/natlyn/meta
  • Delicious/poppy_fan/metafandom
  • Delicious/sheera.duerigen/meta
  • Delicious/tag/metafandom
  • Delicious/ts_newsletter/MetaAndDiscussions
  • Delicious/veronicasowell/metafandom
  • Don’t call me ‘bitch’.
  • Erin’s Research
  • Escaping the Trunk
  • Exfanding Your Horizons
  • Fan Essays: By Fans for Fans.
  • Fan Girl
  • FanaticSpace
  • fandom – Google News
  • fandom deviantart com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom incest – Google Blog Search
  • fandom meta – Google Blog Search
  • fandom research – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:journalfen.net – Google Blog Search
  • fandom site:livejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom -site:livejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fandom stats – Google Blog Search
  • fanfic “Mary Sue” site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • fanfic discussion site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • Fangasm!
  • Fangirl Saves the World
  • Fauna Urbana
  • Final Fantasy Noticeboard
  • FWD/Forward» media and pop culture
  • FWD/Forward» television
  • Get your meta on!
  • girls make media
  • Heavy Meta Poisoning
  • House Fanfic Recs and the Housefic Meta Library
  • hypebot
  • Icerocket blog search: fandom misogyny
  • Icerocket blog search: fandom racism
  • Icerocket blog search: fanthropology
  • Icerocket blog search: meta fandom
  • Icerocket blog search: meta fanfic
  • Icerocket blog search: metafandom
  • It’s A Dan’s World
  • Kazza1988′s Blog
  • Manga Xanadu
  • Media Fen
  • Media Production Student Stuff
  • Memorias de una Escriba
  • Meta Roundup
  • meta site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • meta site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • meta site:journalfen.net – Google Blog Search
  • Meta Writer
  • metafandom site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • MetaFans
  • MyVampFiction
  • MyVampFiction» State of the Fandom with Sarahbella
  • Nine Inch Nerds
  • Nothing In This Community Constitutes Legal Advice
  • oppression site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • Partial Recall
  • Personal S.A.
  • Peter Pan Meta
  • Pokemon. Every day.
  • Rabid fangirls and fanboys suck
  • Racebending.com
  • racism site:journalfen.net – Google Blog Search
  • Research blog, Fantasy, Fandom and Franchise
  • Research Wrap
  • Robot Pilipinas
  • Screenology
  • Sf-Fandom’s WordPress Blog
  • Supernatural Feminist Fans
  • Tell me your thoughts on . . .
  • That’s What She Said! – An Office Meta Community
  • The Crotchety Old Fan
  • The Daily Snitch
  • The Diary of a Music Addict
  • The Fandom Blog – Agri Sublunares
  • The Hooded Utilitarian
  • The Learned Fangirl
  • The Smallville fandom newsletter
  • The Sunnydale Herald
  • Tin Man Meta
  • TrekToday» Fandom
  • TS Talk
  • Twohundredpercent» Football Culture
  • Unspoken» Fannish Life
  • Unspoken» Meta
  • vidding site:dreamwidth.org – Google Blog Search
  • vidding site:insanejournal.com – Google Blog Search
  • WALL*E Meta Community
  • Wet Asphalt
  • whedonverse links roundup
  • When Fangirls Attack
  • Women in Games
  • Women Talk Sports | Latest News and Blog Posts
  • WomenGamers.com Site News
  • Dreamwith Studios invite codes

    March 5th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

    If you want one, the following are ones I was sent:


    NBC Olympic coverage: Why it sucked

    February 28th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

    At the start of the games, I complained about the coverage… and as the games end (and the USA is behind Canada in the game for ice hockey gold), it is time to complain again.  This is a crosspost based on a comment I made to another blog.

    The coverage was awful. It could have been better had NBC used CNBC, MSNBC and USA more effectively to cover events. (But even those often had tape delays, or showed the second half of a two part event. Where was the ski jumping?)

    It was made worse by the Pixar commercials in the middle of coverage. I get it. Pixar has a movie coming out about vikings and dragons… but after the third or forth time a commentator cut to the Pixar vision of generic Olympic event in viking times? I had enough of that. The second week had less of that, and instead involved promotion of another movie that the anchors didn’t plug as much.

    They decided before the games who the athletes that we would care about were. They had video packages made. We got to see them again and again when ever they could think of a relevant reason to show those pre-packaged clips instead of actual sports. When unknown sports heroes arose, no one seemed to know how to cover those.

    There were few options to watch events live on their website, except for the few that were being run live on their sister networks.

    There were large moments of advertising Whistler and British Columbia… which would have been awesome, had they not felt like everything being aired by others trying to capitalize on the Olympic feeling.

    Then we had moments of sexism, where commentators insisted on calling female athletes girls. We had moments of putting down and insulting Olympians because the commentators didn’t see their sport as a real sport. We had moments of homophobic behavior where commentators mocked Johnny Weir for what they considered his effeminate behavior. We had moments where blatant racism wasn’t called out with the Russians and their Aboriginal dance but still happily highlighting their lovely and interesting costumes.

    It was a failure for the US and pretty embarrassing. It almost explains why the USOC screwed Chicago out of hosting 2016 in order to try to get their own network to cover the events.

    Possible Fanfiction.net Hoax?

    February 27th, 2010 by Nile Flores View Comments »

    I got an email in my Facebook inbox that right away I just had to click on. In fact, I was concerned because this means that in the past few days Fanfiction.net has been prey to a hacker sending out mails to various people. My thoughts were that this was a hoax and I hope the main administrators can do something about this, whether issue a response saying that this “James” person is indeed a mod at the site, or that he is not and a solution like fixing the problem that led to the site’s infiltration.

    However, I could not let AngstGoddess003′s message go unheard and had to share it. Of course, this was done with her permission.

    Hey, I am better known in the Twilight fandom as AngstGoddess003. Lately, all of us in the fandom have been receiving suspicious email replies and citations from someone named James at support@fanfiction.com. He is unable to prove the validity of his employment there, and often to replies to emails snarkily, and with some of the poorest English I have ever seen. He refers to sexual content as “smut” and his emails are usually so laughable that one wonders if he’s 12.

    The IPs and email headers on these do not match up to previously received replies from fanfiction.com. Very suspicious stuff.

    I’ve been investigating him, since people are giving out info to him through emails (sigh… I know.. not smart!), but you know how it goes when contacting FFn. All support emails go to him, which means he’s either a troll that’s hijacked the address, or is just a new, dumb ass employee. Either way, I’ve been in contact with former staffers who confirm that James’ emails are far from the protocol they’ve known. They personally believe him to be a troll, and can’t see FFNET allowing his behavior.

    Sadly, emails sent to the other two addresses provided (reportabuse@fanfiction.com and categories@fanfiction.com) are going frustratingly unanswered. Of course, this is the FFn we all know and love.

    BUT, no one can verify James’ place on the staff there, and if he is a fake, then he is somehow getting members’ personal contact information, which is quite worrying. And if he IS, in fact, a legitimate member of the FFNET staff, then I feel like we should have a superior or colleague to report his verbal abuse to, something he himself is completely unable or unwilling to provide to me.

    The fact of the matter is, he is sending out hundreds of emails per day, and I can’t seem to officially confirm or debunk anything whatsoever. Hence, people are still talking to this man through support@fanfiction.com, and even possibly giving him information under the guise of keeping their stories live.

    I want to get to the bottom of it, but am having some trouble reaching out to other fandoms to document their experiences with this person.

    The first leg of my investigation can be found here: http://angstgoddess003.livejournal.com/26810.html

    You can find me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/AngstGoddess003

    I know you post often at a very popular blog (Fan History), and was wondering if you’ve heard anything of this sort from other fandoms, or could offer me any advice or information about past activity from support@fanfiction.com.

    For the last month or so, James has been answering all questions sent there. I actually, no lie, got a response the other day within five minutes of sending an email. Unheard of, yes? It is all very weird. I’m just hoping someone there can tell us something. Any info or advice you could offer would be truly invaluable. Perhaps if you even knew of a way that I could reach out to other fandoms on a broader basis than singular LJ comm posting, lol. That’d be awesome.

    Thanks for your time. Sorry for bothering you!

    Highest Regards,

    What are your thoughts in this matter? Do you think it is a hoax?

    Nick Simmons Plagiarism Fail

    February 26th, 2010 by Nile Flores View Comments »

    Not surprising to see another celebrity’s child stir up legal troubles. This time it is Nick Simmons, son of the Kiss’s frontman Gene Simmons.

    Who did Nick plagiarize? Fans were quick to point out the similarities between his graphic novel Incarnate and the well loved anime Bleach. Some of the pictures in the article Gene Simmons’ son Plagiarizing Bleach? by by karenai prove that this is no false accusation.

    In fact, the anime fandom seems to be popping up with articles about this fiasco from LiveJournal and even DeviantART.

    The similarities are so obvious. How did Radical Publishing fail to see this when Bleach is seen by millions every day. Radical’s response in regards to Incarnate on their Radical Publishing Official MySpace site‘s blog was:

    We at Radical Publishing, Inc. and Radical Comics, Inc. are quite concerned to hear the news surrounding Nick Simmons’s Incarnate Comic Book. We are taking this matter seriously and making efforts now to contact the publishers of the works in question in an effort to resolve this matter. We have halted further production and distribution of the “Incarnate” comic book and trade paperback until the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Rest assured that Radical is taking swift action regarding this matter and will continue in its efforts to maintain the integrity and protect the intellectual property of artists throughout the world whose creative works are the bedrock of our Company and the comic book industry.

    This is actually re-published from their Radical Publishing official site’s blog.

    This is not good for any company and there is no need to ‘investigate allegations’. This should be pulled from the shelves as it is a blatant plagiarism.

    But who knows, some celebrities and their children only walk away with minor wounds to lick.

    What are your thoughts?

    Fandom history then and now

    February 25th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

    During 2006 and 2007, I had several conversations with people where I said that the model of fandom developed online from 1998 to 2006 was fundamentally dead.  The major changes for this involved shifting business strategies, strategies that required content creators to actively engage and develop their fan bases as they had never done before.  You couldn’t risk shutting down whole sites or categories on a site with a cease and desist letter. The impact would be negative and newsworthy.  Fans would rally to protest such actions if taken on any scale and the demographics of fan communities had changed so that content creators couldn’t assume that fans would do anything to avoid going to court.

    To counter fannish usurpation of their branding, message and ability to market themselves, I predicted increased engagement as a form of control  Why use legalities to shut down conversation when you can channel the message, host the content, define the rules, use other forms of media to help define a fan community to better build your brand?  It was the logical business decision, and one that content creators have slowly adopted.

    The net result of this shift includes an increased speed in terms of how fast fandom moves, a diffusion of power structure in fan based communities, breaking down barriers between creators and fans as each use each other for their own purposes, and an overall blurring of the lines between entertainment/general popular culture fans and more hard core fandom. At the same time, as business models change, technology and how people interact with it are changing.  Things that were once very hard to access are becoming more readily accessible.

    There are just a lot of changes that are happening really, really fast.  It can and does often feel overwhelming.  (And then, today, Ozzie Guillen got on Twitter.)

    There feel like a lot more choices in what to be fannish about.  Television for example is no longer limited in the United States to the major networks in order to get original programming.  It also isn’t limited to premium, pay extra for a station original programming for original dramatic and comedic television.  Increasingly, “cable” stations are creating their own original programming.  If a show is bumped from network television, some networks are picking these shows up.   Added to this confusion of more original programming, it is easier to access original content from other countries and countries that don’t speak English.  Consumers aren’t limited to expensive imports on VHS.  The prices have dropped and getting things on DVD is really easy.  BitTorrents are another option.  YouTube is another place to find that content.  It is easier to make friends with some one across the globe who might share their interests with others.  (I introduced an Australian friend to Kings.  Then, two days later, the announcement that the show was canceled hit.)  This wasn’t the case even five years ago.

    Content producers are accessible like never before and they aren’t afraid to try to manipulate fans for various reasons.  Heck, there are currently several projects out there which seek to use fandom to crowdsource the funding of movies or crowdsource the writing of scripts.  Crowdsourcing is becoming more and more frequent.  It just doesn’t begin to compare to the engagement of content producers.  They will interact with fans on Twitter, create fan pages on Twitter, set up contests, solicit fans for ideas, comment on their own performance.   They have blogs.  they answer e-mails. They publicly thank fans for their support online and off, and have been known to name fans by name.  Gone are apparently the days of jms where content producers were afraid to engage fans like that.  People seeking book deals model that behavior to develop their own fan bases because a large fan base can help you get published as publishers know you have a built in audience.

    The media is also increasingly engaging fans.  (Even as some are trying to disengage from companies like Google to better lock their content.)  They haven’t been as active in trying to get copyrighted material removed from fansites.  They engage with fans on Twitter, create Facebook fan pages, encourage people to comment, create official accounts on services like Buzz and Google Wave.  They will promote fansites, treating them as a normal part of the discourse involving a movie or show to the point where movie and television show and now used interchangeably with the term fandom.  The media distinction for media fandom between super fans and passive consumers of a product is eroding.  Media access to the power players, what the media has to say as a result of those connection has a greater impact on wider fandom than ever before because the information isn’t just consumed by hard core players who can act on it but an increasingly activist traditionally passive consumer base.  Knowledge gained from the media, easy access to power players on social media and media willing to give serious, non-demeaning attention to fan activism is a  new cycle that begets real results.  It makes it easier to participate in because the barriers are fewer and there are fewer barriers for passive consumer to become small time activists.

    The acceptance of fandom, especially around anime, television, sports, video games, movie, theater and actors, has made it easier for fans to bring their friends and family into the community; spaces are harder to define as purely fannish, business or professional.  (Even content creators are breaking these barriers.  It isn’t just fans.)  It isn’t something you need to keep as in the closet as you once had to.  One of the results of this is that the size of fannish communities are exploding: A community that might once have had 500 people may now have 50,000 people.  As a consequence, personal interaction and the development of purely fannish relationships can be harder to make and we fall more into regional patterns again, where were assign greater value to the people online that we can and have met in person.  (It is like fandom during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.)  This can and does lead to a diffusion of fannish activity as people try to make their experiences manageable and not overwhelming while still maintaining that identity as part of a larger group.

    When there is a larger group identity, it can be more powerful than it ever was before.  Fans can get together and run a fan run convention with budgets of a hundred thousand dollars.  Fans are networked enough so that they can raise large amounts of money for charity efforts when things that impact our greater society happen.   (Just look at how they responded to Haiti.)  The amount of money that fans are capable of raising in a short time period is like nothing that fans could do even four years ago.  They might have been able to raise $250,000 before but it might have taken them several years to accomplish that.  If their community has the right connections, it could just take a few days.

    Scale and size and eroding boundaries boundaries between traditional components of fandom have fundamentally changed definitions of fandom. Things have been sped up.  The amount of communities is huge.  The amount of activity is insane and trying to quantify and qualify what type of activity that is has become increasingly difficult.

    In short, we really need to begin to get a grasp on this and document it for the sake of fandom history.  On the other hand, this is just overwhelming in the extreme.  As a fan historian, who likes to document some things happening in the hear and now, it is discouraging.  There is just so much data that it is hard to process. I’m overwhelmed at how to document the then and document the now. I know what’s going on but all that’s going on makes it hard to find a starting point.


    Help Wanted! Think Galacticon 2011 Needs You.

    February 19th, 2010 by Laura View Comments »

    I attended this convention in 2007.  It was really interesting and if you’re in the Chicago area, I’d urge you to attend.  They sent out the following e-mail that I thought I would share here as they need help:

    This is a reminder that Think Galacticon needs volunteers, and your time for signing up is running out!

    We were serious when we said Think Galacticon wouldn’t happen if we didn’t get enough volunteers. But although the February 15th deadline for joining the organizing committee has passed, we’ve extended it until the end of the month. We’re still short of the numbers we need to organize the con in a healthy way. If you want the con to happen and haven’t volunteered yet, please join! If you know someone who’d be a good concom member, spread the word! Our (actually) final deadline is Feb. 28th. If we don’t fill our core positions by that date we won’t be throwing a 3rd fabulous leftist SF/F weekend in Chicago.

    We’re especially looking for people in Chicago, but wherever you are, we’d love your help. Let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll figure it out. Below are key positions we’re looking to fill:

    Self-Care Assistant- Local
    Venue Liaison – Local
    Accommodations Liaison – Local
    Registration Coordinator- Local
    Volunteer Coordinator- Local
    Events Coordinator- Local
    Consuite Coordinator- Local
    Publications Coordinator- Local
    Programming Coordinator- Anywhere

    Job descriptions and information on other open positions can be found here: http://community.livejournal.com/think_galactic/2010/01/14/. There are more jobs to take on than those above, but not filling the ones above will stop us from having a Think Galacticon in 2011.

    If you’re interested, e-mail concom2011@thinkgalactic.org with the position you are interested in and whether you’re local to Chicago.


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