Archive for the ‘social networking’ category

The art of following on Twitter

May 6th, 2010

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

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.

Stop the keyword follow spam…

April 12th, 2010

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.

Fan History Preservation project: bebo

April 8th, 2010

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.

Today’s spam follow loser is @LtGenPanda

December 30th, 2009

I’ve blogged about it before but I need to do it again. If you have more than 1,000 followers, do not follow me first unless you have a good reason and are willing to communicate with me. Otherwise, you are just a spam follower, trying to get me to follow you to help your numbers. You’re never going to read me and you offer me nothing back. You’re a Twitter follow spammer.

Who ever told you that your followers have value ($35,000 in sales for every 2,000 followers) needs to be beaten upside the head and then Twitter’s founders need to tell you to stop it because you’re going to turn them in to the next MySpace. Stop it. They are wrong.  Those Twitter followers only have value if people follow YOU first.

Today’s Twitter follow spammer is @LtGenPanda.  They have 25,000 followers and follow as many.  Yet, this particular Twitter follow spammer loser continues to follow others. He offers nothing in return (aside from his complaints about his Twitter client) and won’t ever communicate with me.  He appears to have no common interests to imply why he would follow.  (Except maybe we’re both in the Chicago area.)

@LtGenPanda, stop the Twitter follow spam.  If you really are interested in people, add them to lists… you know, so you can actually read those people you find interesting and not burden those of us who don’t want to have some sort of implied relationship back with you.

Brisbane Lions community on LiveJournal, its clones and Blogger

December 30th, 2009

This post is a series of posts looking at the size of Australian sports leagues on LiveJournal, its clones and other social networks. Earlier posts include Australian Football League on JournalFen , Australian Football League community on DeadJournal , National Rugby League on DeadJournal and JournalFenAustralian Football League on LiveJournal clones like Blurty, Dreamwidth Studios and InsaneJournal, Adelaide Crows community on LiveJournal, its clones and Blogger,and Official Australian Football League Twitter accounts and follower population by country.

This post is looking at the size and characteristics of the Brisbane Lions community on LiveJournal and Blogger.  The sundry of disclaimers and methodologies can be found on earlier posts.  LiveJournal data was collected on December 30, 2009 and Blogger information was gathered on December 29, 2009.

The Brisbane Lions community on Blogger is a bit smaller than the community for the Adelaide Crows, with 16 people listing the team or city and a footy related interest as an interest.  This group has six women, nine men and one person who does not list a gender.  This percentage of 38% puts their female audience at larger than the Crows (33%), Blues (25%), Magpies (25%) and Bombers (29%) communities located on Blogger. Twelve people list their ages of which two are obvious errors or intentional mistakes: One is 252 years old and the other is 253.  The average age for a Lions fan on Blogger is 33, the median age is 30 and the mode age is 27.  In terms of birthdays, two are Aries, one is a Cancer, two are Leos, four are Libras, two are Pisces, two are Scropios and one is a Virgo.  All sixteen list their country of residence.  Three are not from Australia: Two are from London, England and one is an American from Colorado.  Ten of the Australians lists their state of residence.  Of these, seven are from Queensland, two are from the ACT and one is from Victoria.

Like Blogger, the Brisbane Lions LiveJournal community is smaller than the community for the Adelaide Crows, with only 61 people listing the Brisbane Lions as an interest.  14 of these 16 updated in the past week and 33 total have updated in the past year.  4 have never updated.  While smaller, this group appears to be a bit more active on LiveJournal than the community for the Adelaide Crows. 16 of the 61 people list their year of birth.  Of these 16, the mean year of birth is 1984, and median and mode year of birth is 1986.   The oldest were born in 1972 and the youngest was born in 1991. 56 of the 61 list their country of residence. 4 are from the United Kingdom and 7 are from the United States.  The percentages of the total population is inverse of what it is for Blogger.  With 45 from Australia, the percentage of the population from the country is similar to that of Blogger, 80%  on LiveJournal compared to 81% on Blogger.  These numbers are also some what comparable to the Twitter population which has 77% from Australia, 2% from the United Kingdom and 21% from United States out of 325 people counted. 33 of the 45 Australians list a state of residence.  Of this, 19 are from Queensland, 10 are from Victoria, 2 are from South Australia with 1 from the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

What does the breakdown by state look like?  The following chart shows LiveJournal, Blogger and its clones:

Official Australian Football League Twitter accounts and follower population by country

December 30th, 2009

This post is a series of posts looking at the size of Australian sports leagues on LiveJournal, its clones and other social networks. Five earlier posts were Australian Football League on JournalFen , Australian Football League community on DeadJournal , National Rugby League on DeadJournal and JournalFenAustralian Football League on LiveJournal clones like Blurty, Dreamwidth Studios and InsaneJournal and Adelaide Crows community on LiveJournal, its clones and Blogger.

There is a tool called Twitter Analyzer.  It allows you to get some data about your followers on Twitter.  It has some short comings, namely that it really only allows you to identify followers by country, rather than state.  When trying to figure out the population location inside Australia for a team, this is a bit of a problem.  Still, data is data and I ran every team’s official Twitter account through it and the results are… not what I consider particularly useful.  For me rather than highlight where an audience for a team is, this highlights the problem of Twitter follow spam.

Before going into this, Australian Football League games are available outside Australia.  The AFL has a list of their international partners that air games and news from the league.  The easiest place to get games is the United States and the United Kingdom where ESPN may provide them with up to three matches a week.  Ireland’s national network doesn’t appear to get games, so much as they get match summaries but they do get some on ESPN.  Europe gets the games on Eurosport but they are limited to two matches a week.  The Middle East and North Africa get two live matches a week.  New Zealand gets one live match a week on Sky, with additional coverage during sports related news casts.  Canada gets one game a week.  There is no indication that these games air live in Central and South America, Asia, and Oceania.  Airing of games in Africa is only very recent in a deal that appears to have taken place midway through the 2009 season. There clearly is an international market for the AFL and it is being fed.

In the United States, the major site for info on Australian rules football, Australian Football Association of North America, gets only about 503 visitors a month.  For the official AFL site, Compete estimates the size of the United States visiting population at 6,736 for the past month.  This is relatively small population that we are talking about.  Alexa says that the official AFL site gets 2.6% of its traffic from countries other than Australia, Sri Lanka, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India.  Alexa does not rank the official site in Ecuador, Germany, Thailand, or France.

With that all in mind, time for Twitter data.  The team with the most followers it the Adelaide Crows with 3,696 follows.  The Essendon Bombers come in second with 3,808 followers.  The Collingwood Magpies are third at 3,506 followers and the Sydney Swans are fourth with 3,160 followers.  At the bottom are the Gold Coast Football Club with 139 followers.  The second smallest team in term of followers count is are the Fremantle Dockers with 282 followers.  Third is the Brisbane Lions with 363 followers.  All the other teams have follow counts above 500 and below 300.  Comparing the totals to the totals for LiveJournal clones, which is admittedly a bit small, something feels a bit out of whack but as I’m not Australian, not exposed to AFL coverage on a regular basis as part of my local news watching and reading, I’m not sure what.  The Essendon Bombers are number one for most followers on Twitter but rank 13th for total fans on LiveJournal clones.  The Collingwood Magpies rank 9th for population total on LJ clones and 3rd for followers on Twitter.  The Carlton Blues rank last for followers on LiveJournal clones but 6th on Twitter.  The Hawthorn Hawks rank 4th on LiveJournal clones and 11th on Twitter.  The Brisbane Lions rank 3rd on LiveJournal clones and 11th on Twitter.  The Fremantle Dockers rank 2nd on LiveJournal clones and 15 on Twitter.

As I implied above, there is an international audience for the AFL but the size of it is some what limited.  Twitter Analyzer’s numbers don’t add up when comparing them to total followers so I’m not sure how accurate they really are. Overall, when total follower counts for all teams are added together, the total is 26,134 followers.  Based on Twitter Analyzer, 15,191 people do not list their country in their profiles.  That leaves us with 10,943 people who do list their country which would be fine but  9,059 are from Australia and 4,669 are from the United States which shouldn’t be possible.  Given that, I’m just going to compare the totals based on the data that Twitter Analyzer provides and ignore the total followers numbers from Twitter.

Using these numbers, 59.6% of all followers of official AFL accounts are Australians.  Americans represent 30.7% of all followers.  Great Britain accounts for 3.3% of all followers.  Germany, Ecuador, and India all have percentages between 1.0 and 1.9%.   In addition to those numbers, 42 accounts from Greenland, 68 from Thailand, 18 from Vietnam and 31 from Argentina follow these official team Twitter accounts.

I’m going to call highjinks here.  I know there is a US audience for the AFL.  We have our own domestic leagues, which attract a small audience mostly of die hard fans and people connected to the players.  The games are televised.  But I cannot believe that the Australian audience for teams on Twitter is only twice that of the US audience.  I’m also having a hard time believe that Ecuador and Argentina have a large following on Twitter.  I don’t believe that these numbers are a reliable indicator of international interest by country in these teams.  Evidence seems to indicate that two of the following are likely taking place: People are not listing the country they are actually from AND that these accounts have people following them with the intention of trying to get an autofollow back.  This data just is not reliable to determine the size of an team’s audience, or even the team’s effectiveness at using Twitter to reach their target audience.

That said, the following is a country by country break down based on the numbers from Twitter Analyzer.

 

Today’s Twitter Follow Spammer is @StreetKingEnt

December 18th, 2009

In my continuing saga of pointing out Twitter follow spammers, today’s follow spammer is @StreetKingEnt. Like our previous Twitter follow spammers, this one has thousands of followers: 47839 followers to be exact. He follows 48054 people, or did when he followed one of the three Fan History accounts he followed.

Street King is now spamming you!

Unsurprising: He didn’t add any of the accounts he followed to lists.  He’s never going to read any of these accounts because two haven’t tweeted in at least six months.  The other one he followed has been busy tweeting about the problems of Twitter follow spammers.  He’s not selective.  He’s just gaming the system for autofollows to improve his follow count.  He’s never RTed fanhistory, never mentioned us, is never going to interact with us, isn’t offering content that we’re going to read, etc.  All he needs is those two dead accounts to have autofollow on and he wins.

Twitter needs to take action to stop this follow spam.  If you have over 2,000 followers, Twitter needs to ban you from following people first. 

@rudezen joins the list of Twitter follow spammers

December 17th, 2009

If you haven’t figured it out, I’m growing annoyed and tired with the slew of Twitter follow spammers. It is killing the service. I’ve decided to chronically vent.

Previously, I brought to you Peter Cutler, @studio525, is obsessed with the wrong metrics. He is and he might some advantage out of it, like e-mail spammers who get one response in 10,000 and thus their work pays off.   The ROI might excellent for the follow spammers but the rest of us have to put up with their unwanted follows where we get nothing back in return.

Today’s candidate for spam follow is @rudezen who, having already 9,000 followers, continues to add more followers.  I don’t know Rudezen.  He’s never replied to my tweets.  He is unlikely to ever reply to my tweets as he’ll never see them on his list.  He isn’t interested in wikis.  He followed two of my accounts.  Neither of these accounts have balances that suggest they follow everyone.  (Both follow much fewer than follow us.)  He appears to be solely interested in getting more followers.  That makes him a Twitter follow spammer.

If you have more than 3,000 followers, there is almost NEVER a good reason for you to being following other people first.  If you have that many people you’re interested in following, that’s what lists are for: To identify people by category that you think are interesting.  Adding people to a list does not force on that person a decision to return the unwanted follow or not.  It doesn’t imply any sort of relationship or personal interests.  Adding people to lists still accomplishes the goal of watching interesting people.  Following implies more of a relationship and demands something back.  That in turn makes a person a Twitter spammer.  Stop with the spam follows people.

In LiveJournal media fandom, we are taught…

November 2nd, 2009

… admit no mistake, do not make yourself vulnerable to others, always be on the offensive, don’t admit to character flaws or weakness. We are taught that if you do, you will suffer the consequences for years. We are taught, through example, that if you admit mistakes and are vulnerable, others will exploit these weakness for their own fannish benefit.

I’m writing this entry mostly in response to a series of tweets by Ben Parr, a writer for Mashable. Our perspectives differ because of our place online and our own experiences. I’d love to believe “@BenParr @purplepopple My philosophy has always been “let the haters come,” because I believe in what I do and prove it with my actions.” I believe in what I’m doing. I believe in it a lot. I’m committed to what I’m doing and am always looking for ways to improve. I just do not like to publicly own my faults because I just have moments when I can’t because I’ve seen what fandom haters are capable of. I don’t just don’t have the energy to deal with the ramifications of the shit that could come down the pike if some hater took issue with me.

Check out some of the shit that Cassandra Clare, Supernatural fans, Smallville fans, Blake’s 7 fans, X-Files fans and science fiction fans are capable of. Contacting employers, contacting family, threatening to kill people and talking about how they deserve to be sexually assaulted, cracking passwords, contacting webhosts to report them for alleged Terms of Service Violations, contacting a show’s producers and actors to blast them for another set of fans’s actions. Most of the most egregious behavior doesn’t get documented out of fear of both sides going after the document-er for getting the story wrong.

I want to characterize these actions as fail fandom but it isn’t. Fail fandom is generally about some one taking offensive at something some one did or said or implied. Sure, yeah, the subtext of fail fandom is often about a power play in fandom but at the onset, it generally doesn’t look that way.

A lot of this is really banal stuff. Do you ship Clark/Chloe? Well fuck you. I hate your ship with a fiery passion. You’re in my space. Let me find some ways to cause you pain. Hey! You wrote Supernatural incest fic? I hate that crap! I know what to do! You made the mistake of linking your real name and your fannish name so I’ll contact your family and let them know what you are up to online! Oh hey! You challenged my status in the Harry Potter fandom and I need my status to be higher so I can be closer to JK Rowling. Let me teach you a lesson, because I know you work in school, by letting them know what sort of material you read. It doesn’t matter that I read it too because I don’t work with kids. You like Doggett from X-Files? That’s unforgivable because MSR is the only good thing from X-Files and because you’re too stupid to get that, I’ll just do a DDoS on your network connection. I want the freedom to write sexually graphic rape because of artistic freedom. You don’t like that and hey you’re a rape victim? Awesome! Because you know how you tried to repress my artistic expression? I’m going to intentionally trigger you! Those examples are all variations of real incidents.

And then we come back to the first part of this post: Media fandom on LiveJournal (and its clones like Dreamwidth Studios)teaches us not to be vulnerable, to self criticize, to admit to our weaknesses. In some places, in some communities, you want to admit and own your weakness, your vulnerabilities and where you can improve. I’ve found that in the wiki community outside Wikipedia, this generally is the norm. On Twitter and in social media communities filled with social media professionals, it is also good to be able articulate those. Fandom differs to a degree though. In a wiki, we should all be working towards a greater good. In social media, you want to be honest with your clients, to be continually learning and you’re aware of the professional repercussions for being an asshole, and a moron that engages in personal attacks on people outside of the scope of the content. Fandom doesn’t have those considerations of greater good or professional gain.

Fandom has other considerations because, for most of us, fandom is a hobby. People have goals for fandom: Having fun, getting feedback on their stories, enjoying the porn, being fawned over for their most awesome fanvids and fanart, writing extensive meta analysis because they love to do that, to fantasize about Eli Roth getting off on your nudie pics, trying to get a professional publishing career, using their fanac as a vehicle to meet actors and producers, trying to influence the writers and directors and actors to write the book or show like they want it to be written. Some of these inherently set fans into conflict with each other. If you are in a fandom to get close to the powers that be, well only so many people can. If you are in a fandom because of a character, actor or ship, there is only so much time that those can be given; people with different preferences are going to be in conflict as they try to persuade producers to focus on their desires. For fan fiction writers and readers and vid watchers, there is only so much time in a day, only so much feedback that can be given; conflict happens in the struggle to maximize the feedback and to support our favorite artists. The greater good in fandom only seems to happen when there is something that threatens the institution around which the fandom is based like a show ending.

Because of fandom existing as a state of conflict, because LiveJournal fandom is dominated by women, people bring in the personal and unrelated. The attacker looks for vulnerabilities. They look for places where they can exploit your weakness in order to push you out of fandom, to get you to stop being in conflict with them and to further their own agenda.

That’s my takeaway from fandom. Those are the lessons I have learned. So while I think it is good to be able to articulate your weakness in social media, as a journalist, as a historian, as an entrepreneur, I have trouble with that because I cannot unlearn overnight what I spent over ten years learning and having reinforced on a daily basis. (Thanks White Collar fandom and Smallville fandom for this week’s lesson.)

MLB Game Attendance and Alternative Social Network Group Engagement

October 14th, 2009

In 2009, the New York Yankees averaged the second highest per game attendance of any team in Major League Baseball.  On LiveJournal, there was only one team with more communities dedicated to it, only one team with more total members of those communities, and only one team with more posts and total comments.  On bebo, the Yankees had more groups dedicated to them, more total members, more total profile views and more total loves than any other team.  The Florida Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics have the lowest average per game attendance in Major League Baseball.  There are only one or two communities on LiveJournal, LinkedIn and bebo dedicated to these teams.

Social media is an increasingly popular tool to connect with others who share your same interest.   Sports fans, baseball fans, fans of Major League Baseball teams are participating on social media to do just that.  They are on popular social networks like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.  Sports fans and Major League Baseball fans are also on less popular networks liked bebo, BlackPlanet, CafeMom, Dreamwidth, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, orkut.

The less popular networks are not examined as often ones with greater traffic and more media attention.  The discussion regarding social networks, and the sports and Major League Baseball communities located on these sites is even less.  These sites are worth analyzing to answer questions such as: Is there a relationship between the number of communities on social networks and a team’s at ballpark attendance?  Is there a relationship between the volume of activity on these networks and ballpark attendance?  Is there a correlation between size of a community in members and attendance? MLB Game Attendance and Social Network Group Engagement seeks to answer those questions and a few related ones.

The results show that baseball communities dedicated to Major League Baseball teams are large and well established on several social networks like bebo, LiveJournal, LinkedIn and orkut. There is a community presence on other networks including biip, BlackPlanet, Blurty, CafeMom, DeadJournal, Dreamwidth, Eons.com and InsaneJournal.  Community does not exist on BIGADDA, buzznet, cloob.com, DontStayIn, Inksome, JournalFen and VampireFreaks.com. 

Where communities exist on a network, so does a correlation between the size of that community by team using the average number of people attending games featuring that team and using the percentage average game attendance.  In general, the more people on average attending a team’s games, the larger and more active social network community around that team.  There is a predictive value where you can determine the size of a community or average attendance based on the other variables.

A copy of MLB Game Attendance and Alternative Social Network Group Engagement can be found at http://www.fanhistory.com/baseball.pdf.

Tila Tequila, Just Getting Attention on Twitter?

October 5th, 2009

Tila TequilaSinger, model, and television personality Tila Tequila recently wrote on her official Tila Twitter account what seems like frightening dark messages and suicide tweets. These messages are entirely different from her usual mood, which is outgoing, positive, and loud. However, she is not staying quiet through this ordeal and has been responding with her fans over the social network stream. It leads fans, the media crowd and those just curious about Tila’s plans for the future. This comes not long after her apparent choking by San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman in early September, as according to CNN‘s article NFL’s Merriman arrested, accused of choking Tila Tequila.

Tila Tequilas scary messages

Many fans replied back and she responded to some, and even retweeted some of the messages. Is this another attention ploy from Tila. A couple months ago, Tila had been playing with her fans with her official Tila Ustream channel, giving them a skin tease. This is nothing unusual for the attention seeking girl, and nothing new as celebrities are turning to live streaming and twittering. Example: 50 Cent, the music artist – though his live streams do not show any skin.

The examiner asks in their article Tila Tequila frightens fans with tweets on suicide: ‘It woulda been tonite I ended my life’:

What do you think? Could Tila’s sudden talk of suicide have anything to do with her issue that she ran into with boyfriend, Shawne Merriman?

Regardless, it is stirring up a lot of responses in the Twitter community (Just look up Tila Tequila in the Twitter search). Here are just a few:

Twitter Reactions
Twitter Reactions

So, is this really a suicide watch over a breakup or because of racism, religious fanatic talk, stress from her career, or just bluffing? Regardless, this should be enough to put Tila on suicide watch. Hopefully something is figured out as Tila has been a top trend in Twitter off and on since June 2009 and ReadWriteWeb confirms her as quite the active user in their article Twitter’s Most Active Users: Bots, Dogs, and Tila Tequila.

What do you think?

—-
post written by Nile Flores of Blondish.net. Follow Nile Flores on Twitter.

Trent Reznor quits Twitter-for good this time? Apparently.

July 22nd, 2009

A couple weeks ago we posted about the Panic! At the Disco split, and how posts made by friends of the band on social networking sites around that time contributed to a considerable amount of fanwank.

Well, now it seems that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has gotten completely fed up with the social networking “scene” and deleted his Twitter account. This follows a bit of kerfluffling on his part last month lambasting people who had been following him on the service, claiming they had been harassing him over details of his personal life he’d been posting there. He slammed his apparent attackers a month ago at nin.com and changed his Twitter into just a one-way news feed, but it seems even that wasn’t satisfactory and he’s off the service completely now.

It’s an interesting move at a time when more and more artists are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon full-steam ahead, not running away from it. But, as this incident shows, artists and celebrities do need to consider carefully just how–and how publicly–they get involved in social networking services. Particularly when using it to share personal and not just professional information. While for some it can be a great way to help build their fanbase by increasing the feeling of “access”, it can also become a dangerous tool for stalking and harassment. And, also, for those artists without a thick skin, it can lead them to lash out and “bite the hand that feeds”, to quote one of Trent’s own songs. Many fans at least think they want to know more about what their idols and heroes are like in “real life”, doing day-to-day things. But they don’t necessarily, however, want to find out their idols are kind of obnoxious jerks…which is the way Trent has come across to many through all of this situation.

Does familiarity breed contempt (and breakups?)

July 9th, 2009

It seems that regular old, every day fans aren’t the only ones who have to worry about what they post on their Facebooks, MySpace pages, Twitter accounts, and other social networking sites–especially if they post them publicly, or have friends who might do so. In an age where more and more celebrities are embracing and using such social networking services themselves, slowly erasing the walls between themselves and their fans, sometimes they can get in a good deal of trouble for it as well–or at least, earn the ire of some of their (previously?) devoted fans.

Just look at Ryan Ross from Panic at the Disco. Panic, part of the Fueled by Ramen group of bands currently popular on the bandom scene, is noted for their high internet presence, including having an official LiveJournal community and in a sense “breaking the 4th wall” between fandom and themselves. As was mentioned in an earlier blog post, the band just announced a split on July 6, after many rumors, blog posts, and tweets by friends and associates including Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy.

This crap, well, really hit the fan in the band’s fandom after a July 8 posting to Oh No They Didn’t – screencapping someone’s Facebook photo gallery which appeared to show Ryan Ross and friends indulging in cocaine. 14 pages of comments have followed, many using this as an excuse or reason to blame Ryan for the band’s break-up.

What’s the real story? Who knows. But it certainly doesn’t breed good PR at a time like this to have images like that hit the ‘net. Just another lesson in discretion for this modern internet age. For a long time, I’ve heard many in media fandom state how they purposefully avoid going to guest conventions and other places where they might encounter the stars of their favorite movies and shows, that they prefer to “keep their distance” from the “real thing”. Perhaps the time will come as well that many in bandom wish to know less, and not more, about the musicians they are great fans of–and the trend of public twittering and facebooking by such celebs will die down. I’m not sure, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

It’s the next big thing! Or, maybe not.

April 14th, 2009

Last night I remembered to actually check in on my InsaneJournal account, for the first time in quite a few months.

I remember when, in the panic and frenzy of Strikethrough and Boldthrough, it seemed as though everyone was talking about how they’d be “leaving LiveJournal for good!”–yet very few, at least from my personal friends list, actually really followed through on that threat. One or two moved completely to JournalFen, which was cool, as I always check my JF friendslist daily because of certain communities and groups there like Fandom Wank and lol_meme that are highly active and have no equivalent elsewhere. A couple others moved to InsaneJournal, though, where at least in my corner of fandom no communities really took off that “required” my following with any regularity. I found reading repeatedly-mirrored posts from some people annoying, so as long as they were still copying all their posts between InsaneJournal and LiveJournal, why keep both on my friendlist? It was easier to just keep following them on LiveJournal. Though I thought about random different uses for my InsaneJournal, I never found the time or real push/need to use it. The #rss feeds I tried to set up on LiveJournal to read the two or three journals of people who’d moved elsewhere didn’t seem to work all that well and were an awkward solution at best. So in the end, I just lost touch with the people who moved entirely to InsaneJournal (though at least in one or two cases, they ended up coming back to LiveJournal after all…) As a separate website/social network, it had nothing compelling to offer me that I didn’t already get primarily on LiveJournal already, where all my non-fandom and wider-ranging-than-media fandom friends had remained.

So now, here it is some time (almost a year) later, and it seems that everyone is all abuzz about a new journaling site about to start selling accounts, Dreamwidth Studios. At least, everyone in certain corners of media fandom and the metafandom crowd, many of whom are praising the site up to be the best thing since perhaps the beginnings of the internet! And it’s where all the cool kids will be at! No, more than that, it means nothing less than the “parting of ways” of “LJ and fandom”! (Making that assumption, as some often seem to do, that LiveJournal media fandom is the be-all-and-end-all and only part of what constitutes “fandom” that matters.)

Admittedly, Dreamwidth Studios are making a lot of promises and talking about/implementing features that do give it strong appeal–not just to fandom but to most people who use any of the journaling clone sites. Changing the “friends” feature to differentiate between those you wish to follow and those you wish to grant access to reading your own posts, for one. A promise to operate completely without advertising support. The ability to follow, without needing to use rss, friends on other journaling sites. These are all great ideas and features that make getting an account there very tempting, and I no doubt will purchase the cheapest level account I can to give it a try (and reserve my username, of course.) And yet, the issue remains: if they build it, will people really come? Enough people to create real, active communities? Communities not found or still more active elsewhere?

A portion of media fandom may begin–and have already have begun–to migrate. But the apparent assumption by some of those moving that all will follow (or at least, all who matter) seems disingenuous, and quite a bit premature. Some people have already been put off by the overwhelming hype being put forth vocally and repeatedly by the site’s most ardent supporters: just like over-”pimping” a specific fandom to the point that some have grown sick of hearing about it before even seeing it or checking it out for themselves. And there is, albeit apparently mistaken, an assumption by some as well that Dreamwidth is part of or associated with the Organization for Transformative Works–which may not be the case, but the fact that some of the most vocal supporters of both groups are the same people has lead to this misconception and turned off some because of their already established negative-or-cautious feelings about OTW. There are those who have wondered if Dreamwidth will suffer from a smalltown mentality, and who worry because the site is apparently run by former members of the LJ Abuse team.

For me, personally, it just comes down to an issue of where my friends are, and where are the communities I want to participate in. Most of my friends are on LJ, at least my closest friends and the people I share the most interests with currently. I’m not really active in media fandom any longer; my main fandom is music and it took long enough to get some of my music-fandom friends to set up on LJ and find each other there. I can’t see trying to relocate my small communities like xmas_rocks, pinkfloydslash, hungry_4_you–nor having any real urge to do so–when they are just taking root on LiveJournal, and when I’ve seen little indication from members of those communities that they are planning on migrating to DW.

People who are moving are trying to assure everyone that it’ll still be easy as pie to communicate with them, whatever journaling site you remain based on. But like it or not, whenever you add any new step or barrier to communications–whether it’s having to sign-in via OpenID, or getting a new account, and oh yeah gotta remember that new password too and am I signed in or not and–oh, who cares!–people are going to be lazy and a lot are not going to bother. I’M horribly lazy, and I consider myself reasonably tech savy. But I’m LAZY. So any time you add another step in making me follow you to engage in feedback/conversation/etc, I’m less likely to do so. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. This applies especially to those who are turning off commenting on their x-posts except to go to DW. I can understand the reasons for doing that, in wanting to keep a conversation in one place, but…it has a slightly exclusionary feel to it that I don’t care for, and again, it’s that extra step that makes me less likely to engage. I’ve heard from others who find it offensive and a turn-off to engaging in a discussion they otherwise would have taken part in.

So…I suspect, what’ll happen is, just like I stopped regularly keeping up with some folks who moved off LiveJournal to InsaneJournal, I’ll probably lose some more folks if they move off to Dreamwidth. But I see the bulk of my friends-list staying right where they are for now–heck, no one outside of media fandom circles on my LJ friends-list is even mentioning DW, let alone talking about moving there–so I’m gonna stay right where the bulk of my real-life/music/rockfic/Philly/etc people are. If for no other reasons than a) being cheap and b) yeah, that laziness again.

I wish the folks at Dreamwidth well and, certainly, if the site takes off and ends up offering communities that interest me that I can’t find elsewhere, I just might start using the service as a regular part of my on-line time. But there are only so many social networks a person can spend their time on in each day, and each one, for me, has to offer something unique I can’t get elsewhere in actual content. Otherwise it’s nothing but a shiny new toy that may appeal to some, but should be assumed to appeal to all “just because”.

Fandom privacy: Your journal entries are not private

April 12th, 2009

Some parts of fandom treat LiveJournal, InsaneJournal and other public postings on journaling sites as private content. The rational is that this public content is published online for a small select audience, for a group of friends, intended only to stay inside a specific fannish community. When that public information gets shared in public, people can sometimes get really huffy. Witness the most recent case involving coffeeandink during Race Fail 2009.

Sometimes, we need a really good reminder that what you put out there in public, even if it is shared in the context of the fan community, is public. Today’s reminder comes from a court ruling involving MySpace. WebProNews summarizes it as follows:

A California court has ruled that a high school principal who sent a copy of a MySpace journal posting to a local newspaper is not liable for invasion of privacy.

The court ruled that Moreno gave up any claims of privacy when she posted the writing on MySpace. “Cynthia’s affirmative act made her article available to any person with a computer and thus opened it to the public eye,” the court said. “Under these circumstances, no reasonable person would have had an expectation of privacy regarding the published material.”

So when you’re posting online, in fandom or not, always remember that content posted publicly is not a violation of privacy and take appropriate steps to protect yourself.

The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History’s experience

April 10th, 2009

At Fan History, we are always looking for ways to improve our content, increase contributions, and improve outreach to the greater community. As such, it is often useful to reflect inward on our own practices and to look outward, to look at other wikis, to see how they tackle these issues, as well as how they are perceived by the public.

Related to this continual practice of self-reflection and outward examination, Sidewinder recently brought a portion of this LiveJournal post regarding FanLore to our attention. It was instructive to go through and compare the problems that the two wikis have in common, and to enumerate the ways Fan History has been trying to deal with those problems ourselves. In some cases, the challenges are quite similar indeed, though our approaches to dealing with them differ. In other cases, the issues were ones we had confronted before and have worked hard in the past two years to improve upon.

http://nextian.livejournal.com/263577.html?format=light

To quote:

“On the one hand, Fanlore has a number of excellent, well-researched articles that are resources for discussions, fanworks, and historical projects. It is easy to edit, comes in multiple decent-looking skins, and has gardeners who are fantastically on the ball. On the other hand…

These are some of the things that FanLore has in common with Fan History. Both are excellent resources for the history of fandom, with some fandoms better represented than others on both. Fan History and FanLore have a number of different skins; Fan History has them available to registered members. Both wikis are easy to edit; Fan History’s templates are designed to give new editors a boost on organizing their materials. And both have “gardeners” or administrators who are involved and easy to contact.

My chief issue with Fanlore is that it is not, as it stands, a community project. There’s very little crosstalk,

Crosstalk takes effort and a commitment from those who are editing. It is why Fan History uses talk pages. It is why we ask people if they need help. It is why we create active talk pages to converse on how things are organized. These things need to be done openly, so that users can have input. We’ll admit that we aren’t always excellent at it… but we do try, and this is one area we have worked hard on improving. We know this is important to the success of a wiki.

Sometimes, crosstalk can be hindered on a wiki. We’ve found this to be a problem at times as some members of the fan community have had limited exposure to wikis. They don’t understand how wikis work. They might not understand the purpose – or even the existence – of a talk page. They might be used to a certain wiki or another project which doesn’t have the same idea of constantly sharing, constantly asking questions, constantly editing, constantly revising. There is a learning curve. As wiki administrators, we need remove those barriers to create crosstalk, to make the users aware of crosstalk. On Fan History, we’re still working on that.  Both FanLore and Fan History need to improve by using methods such as welcoming members, following up with one time contributors, and even changing the text on our talk tab – easy, since we’re using MediaWiki.

no central LJ comm,

We don’t have an LiveJournal community, either. We do have one on InsaneJournal that we use mostly for information sharing. The content, though, tends to be mirrored from our blog. Our recent changes are shown on our Twitter and identi.ca accounts. Our admins are also found on Twitter and they sometimes discuss organizational efforts with a wider community there. But neither our microblogging presence, nor our InsaneJournal presence are in any way really comparable to an off-wiki version of wikiHow’s New Article Boost.

We also have this blog on a subdomain of our wiki. You don’t have to be a member to read it. If you want to comment, you can, just by filling out the form with your name and website address. You can carry over your disqus presence when you comment. It’s our way of bringing our work to a greater fandom audience than the one found on LiveJournal.

We feel it is important that major news, discussions and policy matters are discussed on Fan History itself instead of on an off-site community such as LiveJournal. We try to keep those conversations on the wiki, announcing discussions and events on our main page, and then posting about them on the blog to make finding the conversation easier. Wikis need fewer barriers to help fans get involved.

Other wikis have different means of discussing their organizational and content objectives. wikiHow does their organizing with the wikiHow Herald . On it, they talk about projects they are working on. They highlight featured contributors. They encourage the general community through that and through wikiHow’s forums . A few other wikis on Wikia also have forums where they discuss policy issues, plan article and category improvements, and build a community for their wiki. AboutUs doesn’t really have forums, but they have a GetSatisfaction account where you can ask about policy issues, for article help, and find out how you can get involved in an off-wiki manner.

the chat has been empty every time I’ve gone in,


Fan History recently changed its chat server to
chat.freenode.net in #fanhistory. Unfortunately, it seems that the chat at Fan History is nearly empty, too. But chat can really help with community development. AboutUs, Wikia, wikiHow and EncyclopediaDramatica use it extensively. ED has their own server where people occasionally break out of the main room to work on side projects. wikiHow folks use their chatroom on chat.freenode.net to coordinate patrolling Recent Changes, for writing parts of the Herald, and for discussing improving projects like wikiArt. AboutUs has staff members and community members in their chatroom, ready to help people out who have questions or who are looking for information on how to contribute. It just takes a few dedicated regulars to make it workable.

and the Issues page is a masterpiece of passive-aggressive “well you
may be correct but I feel that possibly your face is stupid.”

Fortunately for Fan History, we seem to have fewer of those issues. We have certainly had articles and sections of the site which have been subject to edit wars and bias concerns, but we have tried to work with the parties involved to create as unbiased a history as possible in these cases. And when a administrator feels personally too close to a subject, that administrator will ask that others with a more neutral stance get involved.

Among other things, this means that there’s no clear outline of what needs work;

Well, they are wikis. If you understand wikis, you can’t really outline what needs to be done as this constantly evolves as a wiki grows. You can begin to outline what needs to be done on talk pages, or on how to lists, etc. The trick is less outline, more “How do you communicate with contributors outside the core to understand what their goals and intentions are for contributing to the project? How do you foster them and work them into your existing wiki work?” If someone comes in and makes an edit, you welcome them and ask how you can help them. Or say something like “Hi! Thanks for your edit on Lord of the Rings. We’ve been wanting to see it improved for a while. If you’re planning on sticking around for a while, we’d love for you to help the category structure there. It could benefit from some one who knows the fandom really well making it more fandom specific. [How does your fandom organize ships and what are the standard ship names? We've not touched those articles because we're not sure.]“

there’s no reward system for putting up a good page,

This is hard. Most bigger wikis like Wikipedia and wikiHow do BarnStars. But when there are just a few regular contributors, doing that becomes difficult. Depending on who is doing the editing, BarnStars can end up looking like a lot of self-congratulatory work.

What Fan History tries to do is to thank really great contributors on our main page and on the blog. We’ve also considered doing an extended featured article on the main page as a reward for the editors who do a lot of work on their own People article. There are other ways of giving those who create good articles and make good edits the feedback that keeps them coming back and continuing.

especially since (as yet) no one is using it as a resource;

This is a battle Fan History faces all the time: demonstrating our relevance. Something like wikiHow, AboutUs, Wikipedia, PoliceWiki even wikiFur and EncyclopediaDramatica have built-in audiences. Or the wikis have done a great job of demonstrating their relevance. wikiFur pretty much made themselves into THE furry portal through content selection and organization. They’ve worked with the community and created standards for writing articles about members. This has made it easier for the the wiki to serve their community peacefully. AboutUs has developed relationships with sites that provide domain information – to the point where you almost can’t get whois information without stumbling across them. PoliceWiki has done a lot of outreach to photographers and musicians to get permission to use their images and content on the site. Through the years, they have also worked to get those directly involved with the band to contribute material themselves as a way of presenting the most accurate resource for the fandom possible–and building good professional relationships. Getting a wiki recognized as a good resource takes concentrated effort, time and marketing. People need to know you’re there before anything else!

policy remains unclear in a number of important areas,

Making policy clear, and changing it when it becomes necessary is important in a collaborative effort such as a wiki. Fan History has been willing to do this, and has opened up policy changes for public discussion on talk pages, linking those pages to the main portal. It is vital to have clear policy on many issues in a wiki, such as privacy, deletion of articles, content relevancy guidelines, overall organization, and these things are best resolved then made clear to the public sooner rather than later.

such as cross-platform work with Fancyclopedia and the Fandom Wank wiki

In the past, we’ve cited the Fandom Wank wiki, but that in itself caused a lot of wank, so we’ve discontinued using it as a main source for information on new and existing articles. On a plus side, Fan History is “working” with FanLore by ?]" href="http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Special:WhatLinksHere/FanLore">linking to their articles and citing them as a source in more articles. We have relationships with a few fandom specific wikis such as PoliceWiki and RangersWiki to “mirror” articles relevant to both sites, helping to build cross-community work and traffic to both wikis as a result. We also allow some mirroring of articles with AboutUs. We talk extensively to others in the wiki community, developing positive and beneficial relationships so where we know we can turn for help when needed. This includes having open communications with people who run AboutUs, EncyclopediaDramatica, wikiHow, wikiindex, Richmond Wiki, Wagn, wikiTravel, Kaplak Wiki, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia. They’ve provided us with assistance on things such as advertising issues, content development, policy creation and letting us use extensions they’ve developed. A lot of this is about becoming a good wiki neighbor, finding areas where projects compliment each other but don’t compete. It fosters the whole idea of the wiki Ohana that is a favorite subject at RecentChangesCamp.

– and, to my deepest dismay, it is not currently a wiki for all of fandom.

This may be an unrealistic goal for any overall wiki on “fandom”–at least if fandom is being defined as covering all aspects and types of fandoms, from sports to television to music to video games. Fan History currently has over 4,000 fandoms represented on our 595,000 plus articles. We don’t even begin touch all of fandom. Truthfully, we don’t think that it’s possible to reach and represent every little corner, every tiny fandom. But we’re trying, oh, we’re trying, and trying to make it easier for people to add those fandoms that aren’t there yet. We’re doing a lot of aggressive outreach, building a lot of stub content and getting people invested. The outreach part is critical but frequently, for many good projects outreach doesn’t get done. It takes a huge amount of time away from content development, and from working on the core goals of the wiki. It can be loads of no fun and requires the kind of commitment that people invested in only a small subcomponent of the wiki might not want to do.

Fanlore is, as it stands, a chronicle of the fannish experience of an extremely small subset of media fans. Have you seen the current incarnation of the Who page? The Harry Potter page? Compare that to the Due South page or the Sentinel page. Though the fandom sizes of Doctor Who and Harry Potter remain enormous, no one is working on them.

Fan History faced much of the same criticism early on, and still does. Some of our fandom pages and categories are great, and have received a tremendous amount of work–often from one or two very dedicated people. But our own Doctor Who and Harry Potter articles could use some work, too. Still, they are a nice representation of what is possible. It is also why we have “Move; don’t remove” as our mantra because as you develop a history, you learn that things must be placed into context, especially when you have large amounts of data.

Some of our administrators and regular contributors spend time building up stub articles and categories in fandoms that we know are popular, to try to make it easier for new users to add their knowledge and experience. But it all takes time and effort and only so much can be done in each day.

And I think that is self-perpetuating. I’ve stubbed out a number
of pages in large fandoms, including the Who version I linked
you to above, but it is not rewarding to do some work on a
collaborative project and receive no … collaboration.

Fan History, wikiHow, RichmondWiki and AboutUs all have a structure that makes it easy for people to come in and figure out how to add content. We try to have a structure on Fan History where people can easily slot things in with out having to worry about writing and editing large tracks of prose. As a result, creating article stubs that can be filled in more fully later isn’t as big of a problem as it could be.

As for collaboration, it’s definitely something that smaller wikis have problems with, but when it happens, it can be fantastic to see. We loved watching this happen with articles such as the Rescue Rangers article, the Shota article, the Draco/Hermione article, the Race Fail article and others. And if one or two people are creating content, they end up learning a lot about fandoms outside their own, which is always a plus. Because in the case of Fan History? A lot of what we are about is sharing knowledge with others.

I am not castigating the other editors for this — that would be somewhat absurd — but I do wonder why I have not seen Fanlore more widely linked to other communities, outside of the one that the founders of the OTW are members of.

This is not hard to figure out. People will link to an article organically if they see a need to or think contributing will benefit themselves. Fan History’s Draco/Hermione gets a lot of views because it has become a resource for finding old and influential fics. People also link to articles about themselves because they’re excited to see themselves mentioned in a wiki. It is another way that they can promote themselves and their work. One of the published authors on our wiki has seen twenty visits a month on the article about herself, which is an incentive to keep it updated and to contribute to our community. Other people contribute in order to control how outsiders view them. That can be seen on Fan History most clearly with the case of AdultFanFiction.Net and Rescue Rangers. Still others contribute to Fan History in order to promote conventions they are involved with, to try to up the standing of those authors and artists they love, or just for the LULZ. That latter one, we think, ends up indicating a certain amount of success if they think that Fan History is worth trying to get LULZ from.

We’ve also developed a large amount of links by linking them ourselves. AboutUs?  bebo? Chickipedia? Delicious? Facebook? FanPop? identi.ca? InsaneJournal? Last.fm? LinkedIn? LiveJournal? MySpace? Orkut? Plurk? Twitter?  Wikia? wikiidex? All of these are linked at Fan History. We also developed content that people would want to link to. Articles about the ordinary fan and fleshed out content on topics or relevant content that can’t be found elsewhere. And it is why our desire to get a few interns (are you interested in interning with us? Contact Laura!) is less for the wiki itself than the community outreach because we know doing that will lead to edits.

Fanlore should have extensive entries on “slan” and “Victoria Bitter,”
not just Laura and Bodie from
The Professionals.

Interesting that FanLore’s most edited article, the last time one of our admins bothered to check, was about Fan History and/or its owner. Here are our top ten most edited articles that didn’t have bot contributions:

  1. Harry Potter

  2. Draco/Hermione

  3. Bandfic

  4. Beauty and the Beast

  5. Supernatural

  6. Digimon

  7. CSI

  8. Rescue Rangers

  9. Doctor Who

  10. X-Files

We’ve been working to make certain our most edited articles are not our personal loves or the people we dislike. Why? It’s not conducive to building a community. We’ve learned this the hard way, admittedly, so it is not surprising to see that another wiki may be encountering the same issues. That said, being seen as a personal “grudge” site with too narrow a focus is not good for building positive public relations. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to rebuild trust after working the bias out of your more problematic articles.

I know the only answer to this is “edit it yourself,” but I feel that a stronger sense of community among Fanlore editors would make new editors more comfortable and allow a broader range of articles to arise.”

That’s a problem every wiki faces. But you have to learn from both your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Learn what makes other wikis successful and adapt them for your own purpose.

We wish FanLore nothing but the best of luck in their endeavor. It is a long a bumpy road but one that be filled with tremendous personal satisfaction in creating a great tool for the greater fan community.

Twitter, fandom and me

November 25th, 2008

Before I begin this, I need to define what I mean by fandom because fandom and entertainment fans (consumers of popular culture) can often look alike but they frequently don’t act the same.

Fandom, Members of fandom:

  • Group that shares a common interest in a media product such as Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Wars, Pokemon, Starcraft, etc.
  • Are actively engaged with the product and other fans by having discussions, creating and commenting on other people’s fan fiction (art, vids, icons, costumes, etc.), attending/organizing conventions, organizing campaigns to save/improve the media product, etc.
  • Form relationships based on shared interest where the relationships with other fans are central to their activities.

Entertainment fans, consumers of popular culture:

  • Do not have a group identity as fans of a show.
  • Are passively engaged with the product by having conversations, commenting on blogs, blogging about the show, consuming the product.
  • Relationships are not at the heart of and purpose of their interactions with others who share their enjoyment of a media product.

Put simpler: Fandom is about relationships.  Entertainment fans, not so much.

Which brings me to Twitter and my sometimes confusing relationship with it as a fan.  And after a number of conversations with other fans, this is a problem that a number of other fandom people on the outside looking in suffer with.  What use is twitter for fans?  What use is Twitter for me as a fan?

I come from fandom out of mailing lists and LiveJournal where relationships are key.  If there is an author I love, I would try to form a relationship of sorts with them.  I might ask to be there beta reader.  I might e-mail or IM them with questions about their stories or what else they are working on.  If they were writing to slowly, I might leave lots and lots of feedback or beg them to WR1T3 M0R3!  I might friend them on LiveJournal to keep up with what is going on with them.  If I get to have a relationship with them, then my enjoyment of the thing for which we share an interest is enhanced.  I have another person to squee with over new episodes, and insure that stories I love will be continued, have some one to unite with against other people in the community I don’t like.  I might also have some one who could attend a convention with me or share a hotel at a convention with me which could make attending that convention cheaper.  I’ve got a friend.  Well.  Sort of.  Once our interests change or if I do something which upsets the person’s ability to enjoy the community or the material, I don’t have a friend any more.  But while we’re both in that relationship, we’re great and we communicate a lot.

If I want to get “ahead” in fandom, if I want to have greater influence, I form relationships with people who are in the position to help me.  I can make friends with fan fiction archivists, with authors who have huge amounts of readers, with content producers, etc.  And if I want to be able to leverage these relationships for my own benefit, I’ve got to actively work on maintain those relationships in order to maintain my status because they key to staying on top, well, the phrase is “What have you done for me lately?”

So along comes Twitter.   Twitter is great.  Twitter is love.  For the social media lover in me, I can’t get enough of Twitter.  It means I can follow people I met at BarCamps, keep up with what is going on in the wiki community, possibly get some traffic for the site I run, can network with people who might have leads for work for me, can interact with news organizations in a way that I haven’t before.

Except, well, for all the great things Twitter does for that, it doesn’t do much for me as a member of fandom.  Fandom is all about relationships remember.  It is one thing to follow a person and comment, but that’s not enough in fandom.  You need to have more focus and extended conversations.  The Twitter format just doesn’t allow for that.  It is too short to adequately share love of the source with or to hold conversations with others.  If you do try to have extended conversations on Twitter, if you’re not providing value to others who follow you, you could lose followers.  Ick.

One of my friends has other issues which put her off Twitter as a member of fandom. Twitter is very immediate.  You can’t hold conversations over an extended period of time because the format doesn’t lend itself to that.  If I am out on Thursday and miss the new episode of CSI and my friend watched it, we can catch up on AIM or blog about it a couple of days later, when we have the time.  Twitter doesn’t allow that.  And when your relationship is dependent on that shared material, the inability to slow the flow of conversation on your own terms?  It can be bad news.

Another friend has issues with some of the comments on Twitter being so banal and unrelated to why they care about the person.  They don’t care that you just woke up, that you’re eating breakfast, that you landed at Heathrow, etc.  They don’t care that you are having a conversation with SEO with some one on Twitter that teaches you a lot. (I get this a lot from my fandom friends on Twitter.  Especially when I start having conversations with people they don’t follow.  They’ve considered unfollowing me because I do that so often.)  What are they getting out of their relationship with me when I do that?

Another issue that comes up is content.  Why follow me on Twitter for news about what I am doing fannishly when you can keep up with that on Fan History’s blog, my LiveJournal or on Fan History’s InsaneJournal asylum?  The information is better, more detailed and easier to follow.  It is easier to keep up to date because the content is much more focused.  The blog is going to be about fandom.  The posts will be once a day.  You’re not going to have to filter around my other random content.  If content is king, then Twitter, unless carefully focused, mostly includes links and doesn’t involve loads of engagement that is off putting, then well, Twitter fails.  Content on Twitter isn’t king when it comes to relationship maintenance.

So relationships that are dependent on Twitter end up feeling shallow, where they feel hard to leverage for your relationships to faciliate your enjoyment of canon and accomplish your goals in fandom.  Things feel even more confusing when Twitter appears to require a large follow list to be viewed as important on or influential on Twitter (and in fandom).  How can you have relationships with people that are meaningful, that give you something back, when you can’t actively engage people because the “content” disappears so quickly and could easily be missed?  In terms of my fandom relationships, I find I can’t maintain them like I can in other places.  I end up having to play catch up with Twitter by reading their Tweets when daily summaries are posted to their LiveJournals.

In the end, what this means for me is I, and a number of my fannish acquaintances, haven’t figured out how to use Twitter for our fannish enjoyment. Yes, I know how to use it to promote my projects. Yes, I love it for networking professionally. I understand how to use it to monitor reputations and get celebrity and entertainment news. I’ve found some great Chicago related social media events. Fandom though… still a problem and I can’t see it changing.

Talking about my friend and encouraging her to use social media

November 19th, 2008

I love to chat with Angelia Sparrow (wiki). She’s a professional author who writes male/male romance novels and short stories. Her genre isn’t something I would read but our conversations teach me a lot about the publishing industry and the writing process.

Because I’m a friend (and occasionally a pushy and selfish one at that), I want to help her do well. The best way that I know how I can help her to succeed is to suggest ways to harness social media. She doesn’t always follow my advice because she’s got a family, another job, is trying to write and doesn’t necessarily have the time nor skills to play the social media game effectively in order to do it successfully. She’s also writing for a niche audience that isn’t ever likely to make it possible for her to become the next megahit author. (If she does, I’d be the first to congratulate her.)

But even with out that, there are a few small things you can do which don’t require much time and effort that can help increase your visibility and she’s done some of them. First, she has a website. It is angelsparrow.com. The site has contests involving her work. These help increase her audience of people who might want free stuff and rewards her fans. She also has a blog which she updates pretty regularly. It includes announcements, reviews, etc. It also has rss feeds. (Hard to believe but some blogs don’t have rss feeds even now.) This means that her new posts show up on rss search engines, on Google’s blog search and Google will regularly check her blog for updates.

She’s also engaged in social media elsewhere, including on LiveJournal, a blogging community which has a large and active fan fiction community. She’s been there forever. This presence means that she can leverage her fan fiction audience for her non-fan fiction writing. The audience she built through years and years of involvement can be used to help her sell books and her short stories. LiveJournal (wiki) loves to celebrate its fan writers gone professional. Or even its professional authors who just happen to use the service. Plugging your work, asking for help or advice for your work, all of these fit into the culture of LiveJournal’s communities. No one is going to question her doing that. In fact, they are more likely to celebrate it.

I’m totally in love with twitter so I’ve spent a lot of time badgering my friends to use the service, even as I tell them it isn’t for everyone. Thus, last night I was happy to find out that Angelia Sparrow is on twitter. If you’re a professional author (or even a fan fiction author), twitter can be a great way to connect with your audience, to maintain relationships, to reward fans, to let them know what is going on. Her twitter follow list is small and she could probably do with having a few more replies at people she follows so she utilizes twitter for its strengths more… but that she’s on there? Great. It is another way to connect with her fans. Still, if you’re not looking to spend much time on twitter, what she’s doing is probably the right way to go about it until she has a better reason and more time to engage.

Another thing she’s doing right (but could probably do better at) is she has a FaceBook page, is planning to create (or has created) a fan page for her work and created an event on FaceBook for her book release. These don’t require much time and effort to maintain if you’re talking about only a small potential pool of interested people. FaceBook has a lot of people on it and you can connect with your personal network of alumni, professional acquaintances, former classmates, friends and fans. Those people are just there. The site might not be intended as a way to create or utilize your fan base but FaceBook gives you the tools to do just that. So use them to do that and connect. And Angelia Sparrow does.

The one thing that I like when I give advice to Angelia Sparrow is that for her, she’s selling a product: A book or a short story in an anthology. This means that she doesn’t necessarily have to obsess over where her traffic is, how many visitors she gets a day, taking traffic from FaceBook or Twitter and trying to convert those visitors into visitors to her site. And then having to make that sell in terms of clicking on ads or buying services on her site. Analytics aren’t the be all and end all. The end game is using the right social media strategy to help her writing and sell her books. (Which can be bought from a couple of places like her publisher or Amazon.)

She does what she needs to do. She engages in a way that allows her to make good use of her limited time in her busy life. She connects to her core audience. So while she isn’t a major player in social media, isn’t cutting edge with how to utilize social media to generate sales, she’s still taking the right steps, steps that anyone who is in a similar position should be taking. I don’t think she probably is aware that she’s doing that because I think she’s just doing what feels right for her. Awesome.

AOL message boards are closing and taking a bit of fandom history with them

October 18th, 2008

AOL’s message boards have played an important role in the growth of on-line fandom.  They were often the first experience many had with on-line fandom because of AOL’s reach, its market saturation and because AOL had content locked behind its service that you needed to subscribe to in order to gain access to.  While some parts of fandom might have come of age on-line with Usenet, through services like Prodigy and GEnie and university provided Interner access, many more did it through AOL.

AOL stopped being the subscriber of choice by the early 2000s and official boards began to die as fewer and fewer people participated on them.  Eventually, the boards were moved from AOL’s locked behind ISP software to the web.   People continued to use them less.  And now, it looks like AOL is officially killing their boards.  It brings an official end to that part of fandom’s history.  It is pretty sad in its own way.

Fan History referrer patterns

October 2nd, 2008

I spend a lot of time looking at Google Analytics as we’re trying to figure out how to promote the wiki, what works and what doesn’t work, where problems are likely to occur, areas that we need to watch, etc. We’re also working on trying to improve our traffic. Fan History’s goal for the past six months has been to get over 1000 visitors a day. The following is the average number of daily visitors to Fan History in September as a  result of the specific referrer:

Average             Source
852              Google
144             Yahoo
54              LiveJournal
16              NarutoFic.Org
14              Wikipedia
11             Ask
8             AnimeNewsNetwork
8             Wikia
7             AOL
6             FanFiction.Net
4             MSN
3             FanPop
3             DeviantArt
2             TVTropes
2             EncyclopediaDramatica
2             Altavista
1             FaceBook
1             hogwartsnet.ru

What that basically means is that, Fan History can count on averaging 1,138 unique visitors a day based on the average amount of traffic we get from the sources. Assuming that we’ll continue to get them (none of the links on FanPop, ANN, Wikia, TVTropes, LiveJournal are deleted), then all we have to do is beat those averages, hope others (like you!) plug Fan History or promote the wiki ourselves to meet the traffic goal of 1,000 unique visitors a day. The next step is to average over 1,500 unique visitors a day based on existing traffic patterns. We’re really close but until that number gets to be over 1,300, it isn’t something that can very well be counted on.

Google and Yahoo are at the heart of our traffic and we’re rather pleased with that. It has taken a lot of work: Article linking, content building, article titles and our site name appearing in the page title.  A lot of what I read about in SEO tends to focus on content building or improving your back end to optimize it for a search engine.  The other view is to do article linking and article linking.  As we’ve focused on both, it has worked out well really well.

If you’re running your own fansite, our suggestion, based on what we’ve learned, is to spread yourself out some and focus on all aspects: Link building, quality content creation, back end SEO optimization.

How a fandom organization could serve fandom and those fandom fans

June 24th, 2008

Fans and those they fan over frequently have competing interests. This can and does inevitably set the two parties up for conflict. Unlike objects of fannish adoration, fans aren’t unified; there is no group which has networked in fandom, which has worked with fans to organize them. There is no fan group which has stepped up, explained the position of the fans, explained the position of those they fan and offered to mediate the disputes that have happened. Such an organization, one which had respect and support from both parties could prove to be beneficial for business operating in fan space and for fans themselves as it would allow both parties a good platform for their positions with the idea of creating a more open environment where more effective communication can take place. Similar organizations and efforts have been made in other spaces. The most notable of these probably is UStream facilitating a town hall event for Digg users.

In the past year and a half, a number of fan conflicts with those they fan have happened. As an outsider with occasional insider knowledge, both sides have their strong points, valid concerns that get lost in the struggle that both sides go through. The struggle can hurt those who are fanned and fans. Below is my list of conflicts where such an organization could have done the most good for everyone one involved. They are in no particular order.

  • Quizilla: Quizilla is a blogging, social networking community owned by Viacom, run by Nickelodeon’s The N Network. There is a large fan fiction community on the site, thanks to the ability to add stories. The Quizilla incident occurred in early 2008. Quizilla announced that they were removing the ratings system on the site, as adult content was in violation of the Terms of Service so the rating system for such content wasn’t necessary. Quizilla also said they would enforce the rules against posting content featuring death. Many of the users were upset about this as they felt these restrictions, along with losing the ability to customize their profiles, were an affront to their creativity.
  • LiveJournal: LiveJournal is a blogging service and social network. The site has had a number of run ins with fandom in the past year and a half over such issues as what content is allowable on the network, how the abuse team handles fandom related situations, advertisement placement and privacy concerns.
  • FanLib: FanLib is a service which hosts fan fiction, video, and fan art. It also hosts contests for intellectual property holders. Fans were upset over the commercial nature of the project and how the site first engaged fandom on various message boards and LiveJournal.
  • Wikia: Wikia is a wiki host and wiki community. They provide, free of charge, tools for people running wikis to help grow the content of the wiki. In June 2008, Wikia announced that they would be putting advertisements in the content area of some wiki articles on the service. Users were upset because of the lack of notice, how they felt the ads were implemented, the types of ads appearing in their wiki and the disruption to the formatting of articles.here was some talk of the major wikis moving. They list of fandom wikis which were supposed to have contemplated moving included Wookieepedia, Creatures Wiki, and MemoryAlpha.
  • The Police: The Police are a band with a fan club. During 2008, fans were upset with the fan club because they were expecting members to sign up at the same rate for the previous year ($100) without any information about what the club would do for them in 2008 as the tour dates had already been announced, being told concerts were the final concerts only to find several additional shows added to the tour, having good seats for the final show swapped out for bad ones without notifying buyers, asking for members to submit pictures from the tour for a DVD the fanclub would sell with out offering compensation, such as giving contributors a free DVD.
  • TokyoPop: TokyoPop is a manga distributor. In May 2008, some fans were upset over the Manga Pilot program. They felt that the contract involved with the program was not fair and took unfair advantage of contributors.Related Fan History articles: Quizilla, LiveJournal, FanLib, Wikia, Creatures Wiki, ThePolice.com, Tokyopop
  • How not to appear on Fan History

    April 28th, 2008

    This is copy and pasted from Fan History’s Privacy help page. It is worth repeating in this blog as many people are not aware of the extent to which the information they put out there in fandom is accessible to others.

    Fan History’s advice to those in fandom who want privacy, want to avoid the possibility of ever being mentioned on Fan History or want to never have people link to their work outside their control:

    1. Always assume that anything you post on the Internet may become public and respond accordingly. Assume some one may screencap it or discuss it elsewhere, even if the message board, fan fiction archive, mailing list is private and requires a password to access the content. Do not assume that any standards in fandom will keep people from revealing what you share. Always assume that your loved ones, friends, employers, potential employers, the media or academics might be linked to any thing you published on the Internet.

    2. Never share your real name in anyway that can connect back to your fan name. Do not do it behind locked posts. Do not share it on private communities. Do not allow your real name and fan name to be connected at conventions. Do not assume that people will respect your desire to keep your real name out of fandom.

    3. Do not assume that rules regarding Internet privacy do not apply to fandom, or that, because of fandom, you have increased privacy as fans realize the importance of privacy. Cultural expectations for that differ from site to site, archive to archive, community to community, person to person. Do not assume that because it is fandom that web companies will honor what you see as cultural norms regarding fandom privacy. Fandom needs are frequently not the same as business needs. Fandom does not share universal rules regarding privacy. If you make that assumption and behave accordingly, you risk being burned and burned badly.

    4. Do not join any social networking services. This includes MySpace, FaceBook, Bebo, Orkut, LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, LiveSpace, etc. Information on social networking is increasingly shared. Making the information on those sites more searchable and more accessible across sites is increasingly part of business plans for new web enterprises. The profiles on those sites also contain a fair amount of historical information about your experience in fandom. This includes groups you belong to, your interests, universities and colleges you attend, your age and other personal information. If the profile is publicly accessible, people can link to it. Any other information that is public on the site can be linked to by anyone, including complete strangers who you know nothing about.

    5. Do not join any message boards. Many message boards create profiles. The profiles on many message board contain a fair amount of historical information about your experience in fandom. This includes when you joined, threads you were participated, any contact information you include, etc. If the profile is publicly accessible, people can link to it. You might not like who could link to this information.

    6. Do not publish on any fan fiction archives that are publicly accessible. If it is publicly accessible, people can link to it and discuss it outside of your control.

    7. Always make sure that you have robots.txt files which deny all robots from indexing the fan fiction archive you belong to, your personal site, blog, index, mailing list archive or any other site which you belong to. Most robots honor robot.txt files and won’t violate them. If they don’t, many robots, like Google and the Internet Archive, consider it okay to copy everything posted to their own servers. The site is the one telling them they can do that and not much you can do about it.

    8. Check the robots.txt file of any site you publish on. If you do not like the robot.txt information, do not publish anything on the site. If you do, you could be giving companies like Google and the Internet Archive permission, whether you intend to or not, to copy your work and store it on their servers, way out of your control.

    9. Do not allow RSS feeds on sites where you post that might export your content to news aggregators and rss search engines. Some of these aggregtors will, depending on the type of RSS feed you have, post the full content of your submission. This is the case for a site like LiveJournal and for scripts like WordPress. Some sites, such as archives using efiction, have rss feeds which announce new story submissions. You cannot generally control where these RSS feeds show up, nor always follow who is watching them. They might be included in obscure RSS search engines that you’ve never heard of. If you allow them or on a site that uses them in relation to your content, then you’re taking control away from where your information and content is being shared.

    10. Keep contact in fandom to a minimum. If you interact with people, it increases the chances that you will share information with people that could be made public. If you interact with people, you risk annoying people who might then hold grudges against you. If you interact with people, you risk people saying nice things about you and wanting to share how nice you are with others. You cannot trust that people will not share anything you shared with others, even if you think that the person is your BFF in fandom. To avoid such sharing, avoid contact.

    11. If you are going to be involved in fandom, avoid wank at all costs. Wank will get you attention. Wank will motivate people to share, break FLock and password community expectations. Wank will motivate people to share private e-mails and personal communications with others. Wank will draw increased attention to you and your actions.

    12. Find out about who you are interacting with in fandom to determine if they might be some one who might share with others things you have done and avoid people who might share information at all costs. Check Fan History and Fandom Wank. Search on various search engines including Google, message board search engines, Usenet search engines and more. Ask around about people. Find out the history of that individual in fandom and out. Ask their fandom friends about the history of their behavior. Make sure you know who you are dealing with and if you want to risk dealing with them. If you do not want to deal with the, avoid and avoid their social network.

    13. Always read privacy statements. Understand what they say. Realize what information that you could be sharing and who could be looking at it.

    14. Realize that your every keystroke is likely being tracked. Google keeps records of every search you make. With services like gmail and adsense, a program picks up keywords from your content to give you contextualized ads. Companies like Hitwise get data from ISPs that is used to market to people. Most websites keep logs of every visitor that visits their site based on IP address and can tell which pages you visited and for how long you stayed. There are counters like ljtoys.org.uk, SiteMeter, GoogleAnalytics, Quantcast and StatCounter which allow blog maintainers and web site maintainers to track that information. The best way to avoid being tracked is to not visit any site which concerns you.

    15. Regularly check sites like LjSEEK.com and Google to make sure your information is not included and take steps to remove that material as you spot it. Consider subscribing to a service like Trackur or Google Alerts to monitor where you are mentioned. You have to be proactive in protecting your privacy as industry trends, upon which the backbone of some fandom activities are built, are about sharing information and making things more accessible across sites. This can be great for fandom but if you’re genuinely concerned about your privacy and the ability to control where and how people talk about you or the content you create, this is not good. Given that, it is up to you to maintain your privacy and where people link to you.

    Identity, fandom, fansites and success

    April 24th, 2008

    Back in the day in fandom, say 10 years ago, fans were forced to stay together out of necessity.  If you wanted access to information, there were very few places to get it.  Information was just very centralized.  People who entered that at the right time succeeded.   Some of those centralized resources are still around.  Think FanFiction.Net.

    But then along came services like egroups, onelist, GeoCities and Tripod. Suddenly, fandom information was really decentralized.  Fans could create small websites for extremely niche audience.   If you were an author, that might just be your own stories.    By posting them to your own private mailing list, by posting them to your own little website, you could have a lot more control.  Power in fandom decentralized.  And it became easier to have a much more specific fandom identity and not lack for new content.

    But that model appears to have gone out the window with the advent of Web 2.0.   Good fansites are increasingly hard to find because the maintainers either lose interest, can’t keep up with new fandom content, or a good fansite needs to be almost commercial in order to attract traffic and interest.  (Try to find a good Office fansite.  I dare you.)   And fandom sites have to cater to a really broad audience: Regular entertainment fans who aren’t fandom people (who will watch the latest Robin Sparkles video and squee over Britney Spears showing up on the How I Met Your Mother but won’t do much else) and fandom people.  The fandom people audience gets even more precarious for good fansites because you have multiple identity groups going on at the same time.   And some times these groups share membership.  You’ve got your vidders, fanartists, fan fiction writers.  You’ve got slashers, genfen and het shippers.  You’ve got character driven subcomponents.  It’s a big old mess of different groups with different needs and desires.

    If a fansite wants to attract an audience and keep it on their fansite, they need to attract all those various groups that make up your target audience.  And most importantly: Those groups need to maintain their group identity.  Slashers need to be able to continue on with their identity as slashers in regards to  the site they’re on.  If the fansite is open to everyone, then slashers need to co-exist with genfen, vidders, and specific character fans.  If a  fansite requires that users take on the identity of the fansite, the fansite loses.  If there is one mindset, a sort of universal group think going on on forums and in all the posts, the fansite loses.   It becomes so much easier to walk away when they don’t share that identity.  If they walk away, chances are they won’t be back unless they are offered something you can’t get elsewhere.

    A good fansite needs moderators, programmers, writers, readers, members who can help foster multiple identities on their site.   Getting those people in place can be a problem but it is one that needs to be worked on early if a fansite or fan project wants to succeed.

    Fandom and traffic

    April 20th, 2008

    I love looking at Fan History’s traffic information.  Where is the traffic coming from?  Which plugs are effective?  Which are less effective?  This, for me, is really important information as the decision was made, mostly for financial reasons, to not advertise.  With Fan History catering to an obscure niche interest, it means getting and sustaining a large sustainable can be difficult.  In two years, some traffic patterns have become rather obvious that those trying to market to fandom or those who seek to create in fandom projects can learn from.

    • Wikipedia: Wikipedia is your friend.  If your site, blog entry, mailing list is on the right Wikipedia page, you can generate a fair number of visits.  It increases your visibility in fandom and to people officially connected to your fandom.
    • LiveJournal: LiveJournal (and to a degree JournalFen’s more popular communities) is your friend.  A good plug on an active community can net you 50 to 500 unique visits.  If the community allows itself to be spidered, if the community has tags, those plugs can keep on giving.  They help with your search engine  visibility.  For professionals in fandom seeking to promote their project, these plugs also demonstrate an awareness of the fandom community which helps establish those projects as legitimate in the eyes of that community.
    • Fansites: Fansites are a great way to get visibility.  Make fansite webmasters your friends.   Ask them to plug your project.  Explain why it would be good for their audience.  Ask them to get involved with your site.  If a popular fansite plugs you on your main page, they can provide a good 50 to 10,000 unique visitors.    If you’ve got a unique product targeted at that community, that much traffic can be fantastic.  (And maintain relationships with those fansite maintainers. The maintainers are power brokers in their corner and can help you figure out where to target the fandom community to help you grow your audience.)  Many fansites also have ways to add your own links.  AnimeNewsNetwork and Anipike are two good anime examples where you can add your own links.  If you can’t get the maintainers to plug on your main page, do it there.
    • Mailing lists: Mailing lists are not dead in fandom.  A frequent characterization of mailing list folks is that they are opposed to web 2.0 and the whole blogging culture.  Not true.  Many of the folks I know on mailing lists just like that culture.  They do use other social networking tools but mailing lists are a communal way of sharing news with out having to know how to operate in fandom cultures they may not be familiar with. It means that mailing lists can be a great source of traffic as you’ve got a community of people who share.  Even better, people will take things that they see on mailing lists and mention them elsewhere as they share what they like elsewhere.  An active fandom mailing list with 250 to 10,000 members might result in 10 to 50 visits but there is chance of a mention elsewhere that can result in more traffic.
    • Digg: Digg is not always a huge traffic generator and isn’t a traditional fandom tool.  (delicious seems to be the social bookmarking tool of choice.)  Unless you’ve already got a huge website going, you’re not likely to end up on the front page with out something happening.  Digg does help with search engine visibility.   If your Digg link submission involves an article on an obscure topic, it can help to really channel people interested in that topic to your site.
    • Social networking sites: Quizilla, MySpace, FaceBook, bebo, orkut are great social networking sites but they don’t generate much traffic, nor do they create much increased visibility.  The fandom community on those networks isn’t really oriented towards fandom.  You can tell you’ve made it though when you start getting mentions on them.  Fan History does a plug on one of those sites, or gets a mention, it will net maybe 5 to 10 unique visitors in the course of a six month period.   These mentions won’t necessarily help with your search engine visibility, nor help your networking opportunities.  Your time is best spent plugging your project elsewhere.
    • Blogs: Bloggers can be your friend and key traffic drivers.  A big, influential blog that mentions you can get you a lot of traffic.  A smaller blog might add to your search engine visibility.  A small, influential blog might help you get the attention of people who can help your project succeed.
    • Controversy: Controversy can sell and help add legitimacy to your project.  Fan History gets fairly decent sized traffic bumps when people have issues with articles, with privacy issues in fandom or with people who help maintain the wiki.  Fandom Wank can be your traffic driving, search engine visibility, viral link creating friend.  Lee Goldberg slamming on you can give you sympathy and legitimacy.   Having slashers and het shippers duke it out on your site insures they stay and means they’ll probably link to their arguments elsewhere to complain about the behavior of those they don’t like. Controversy may also bring media attention and attention from the people affiliated with your fandom.
    • Specialized content: Specialized content generates traffic.  Fan History gets a fair amount of traffic because we cover topics that are not covered as thoroughly elsewhere.  Cassandra Claire is the best example of this on Fan History.  The Draco/Hermione is another good example.  Alias Smith and Jones is a third.  Thoroughly link and promote this specialized content to make it easier to find. Doing that will help generate viral links with out your having to do the work.

    Is marketing a fandom project different than marketing a project that is not fandom related?  Probably not.  A lot of this advice would probably work for a site promoting soap or a non-fandom specific web service.  The difference is that fansites don’t necessarily see good marketing advice as applicable to them because fandom is a hobby or an academic exercise; for them, fandom is not a business and should not operate like one.   They should because nothing is sadder than seeing a good project die through lack of interest.

    50 Cent’s own social networking site: Trend for fandom?

    March 30th, 2008

    These days, it seems like I’m getting half my fandom news from Mashable. It has so many news items that have fandom related impact. There was an article about 50 Cent creating an official social networking site for his fans today. Totally fantastic. I bet that catches on. One of the reasons that I think official sites don’t get more traffic is they offer limited interaction and limited new content. Fansites are generally better at providing a certain type of content and allowing increased increased interactivity between like minded fans and the musicians. Major pluses. Major incentive to use a site: Better product for fans. In terms of fan interaction on a pan fannish level though, if it catches on, it might likely spell a step back in interaction between various fan groups from different fandoms and less let me get to know you and everything about you. That could be seen as a minus. Or it could be seen as sort of a major plus: We’re getting back to the heart of monofannish behavior that some people loved. Long term, I predict that this will be seen as a positive thing for fan communities and that more musicians and intellectual property holders try to get on board with similar concepts.

    FriendFeed

    March 29th, 2008

    When the decision was made to try to expand Fan History to represent fandom on a much wider level, I made an effort to try to keep up with more entertainment and social networking industry related news. What media companies do and services that social networking sites offer can have an impact on fandom and communities based around them. I’ve found quite a few really nifty tools including FriendFeed. I pretty much signed up as soon as I heard about it. I love FriendFeed in theory. Many of my fandom acquaintances use a variety of networks to do various fannish things. These include uploading fan art, posting fan fiction, writing meta on various topics, sharing links to various fanworks they’ve found. It just gets mind boggling to keep up with it all. FriendFeed helps to keep up with all that by taking all that information and putting it in one place. Beautiful! It can potentially save a lot of time and make it easier to find relevant discussion, new fan fiction, keep up with fandom and canon news. Who wouldn’t like that?

    Except, well, a lot of people don’t like that. I plugged the site on my LiveJournal, nagged a few of my more tech savvy fandom acquaintances, chatted up a few people who might see its inherent advantages, and plugged it in the comments of a fanthropology post. How many people in my fannish sphere have signed up? One. Fandom is confusing. It has a lot of crossover with the personal and the professional. People go to different places to fill different fannish needs. Such a tool doesn’t allow them to remove that which they don’t need. I might love your episode reviews of CSI and read every piece of Grissom/Sara fan fiction you write but that doesn’t mean I want to read your Amazon.Com book reviews, hear about what you’re not fandom related doing right now on Twitter, care about the links you’re posting on your delicious account that relate to cooking, nor have your pro-political candidate of choice diggs appear along side that other content. Linking your whole life up like that might work for people who are related to you, or if you’re narrowly focusing your submissions to all sites along the same lines but in fandom, that rarely is the case. The average fan just isn’t going to provide enough fandom specific content across all these forums to make other fans want to embrace FriendFeed as a fandom tool.

    At least, not at this time.

    Peter Cutler, @studio525, is obsessed with the wrong metrics

    November 29th, 1999

    Peter Cutler has 17,000 followers on Twitter. He gets them largely through gaming the system, looking for people who will follow anyone or who autofollow. He’s pretty indiscriminate in his follows and he doesn’t weight things like follower to followee ratio, picks up people using keyword search like SEO and marketing.  He’s not particularly interested in personalizing his tweets to people he follows who may be curious as to why he follows them. He’s busy pushing some links, bragging about his Twitter Grade, etc.

    In other words, he is a social media spammer.  If you have 17,000 followers, there is no reason to be following new people.  You can’t possibly follow all 17,000 people.  You can follow some of them if you add them to lists.  (And in my case, he didn’t add me to any.)  Total followers is a meaningless metric that Peter Cutler is obsessed with, as he’s actively trying to grow his count.    The people clicking through links for a few thousand followers, where the followers were gained through autofollow attempts, is pretty low.  (I can break it down for you using Fan History if you care for data.)  The ROI is pretty awful in that regards.  Number of followers might be a nice ego boost.  (Kind of like people who write Bella/Edward Twilight stories to get a lot of readers.  Quality is often irrelevant there.)  He can’t articulate why follows individuals.  He offers little value for those following him in return.   He’s hard to reach, not responsive to people who follow him while he deliberately seeks out those individuals.  He’s gaming the system and a twitter follow spammer.

    He might be a fine Creative Director, but he’s not some one I would ever point you at for social media he’s obsessed with the wrong metrics and his methodologies could cause backlash as he doesn’t think through the consequences of, well, you know, actions like gaming the system. 

    Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin