Archive for July, 2008

A Statement from Fan History

July 28th, 2008

Recently, Fan History, as well as myself, Laura Hale, have been under a great deal of criticism and scrutiny regarding our actions and policies with the wiki. I would like to address these issues here, as well as apologize for certain actions which I am aware were wrong. I would like to reach out to those who may be questioning why they should contribute or give support to Fan History in the future and explain:

  • what I know I did wrong
  • how I am working with our administrative team to correct these issues
  • address other misconceptions about how Fan History is operating.

Regarding the outings, and my apology

First and above all else, I would like to apologize for the inclusion of information on the site about several individuals, information which linked their real names to their fandom identities. The intent of including this information was never malicious in nature, nor to cause ill will towards these individuals. I never intended to threaten anyone’s livelihood, out anyone who I believed was not already outed to the community, nor to reveal private information publicly. The specifics of the decisions made, why they were made after consultations and agreement with other wiki administrators at the time, is something which will not be discussed here because it could continue to provide information these individuals would prefer to remain private, and I respect their wishes.

At the time, I believed that by failing to include this information in the wiki, Fan History was engaging in historical revisionism by excluding information that was already common knowledge within fandom. For me, it was about being open, honest and correct in my history. This was, clearly, a mistake in judgment. I realize that there were obviously flaws in our decision making process regarding this matter. Knowing what I knew about how people perceived Fan History and my actions, I knowingly did things that were likely to cause upset in the community. While I may have thought my reasons were logical and were done for the good of the community at the time, I was wrong to do them.

For my part in this, I am deeply sorry, as are the other admins who were involved in the decision-making process. In this case, I took a stand where it was wrong to take a stand. I am deeply sorry for that and I take complete ownership of my mistake.

As a result of these incidents, myself and the Fan History administrators are currently working to redraft our policies regarding privacy and personal information. I would like to assure all potential users of the site that this is a matter I take very seriously, having learned from these mistakes in the past. A repeat of such mistakes will not happen again. As these policies are under revision, all pages related to the individuals in question and their organizations have been deleted, until it has been fully determined what is acceptable for inclusion and what is a breach of privacy.

Fan History financing

I have been accused of only being interested in Fan History as a money-making scheme, and of using fandom solely to generate profit for myself, reaping millions off fandom and the work of others. It is true that Fan History is seeking venture capital for the long term health and growth of the wiki. The site has grown past the point where it can function solely on the money out of my pocket, which is how it has been run to this day.

Fan History has gotten to the point where in order to grow and be more useful, and to address known shortcomings with the site technically, it needs to hire staff. The staff members that Fan History wants to hire include a backend developer, as well as two to three programmers to help with our programming needs, building extensions and automated improvements of articles. Fan History is also looking to hire a marketing person to help the wiki generate income to make it more self-sustaining. Lastly, Fan History is looking to hire a few community support personnel, similar to those employed by Wikia. These individuals would monitor recent changes to ensure rules are not being violated, help develop the community, serve as guides to help people learn the rules and become better contributors. Fan History is also looking to improve its server situation so we can acquire one of our own.

These things all cost money, just as Fan History costs money to maintain. Fan History does not believe a donation based model will allow us to accomplish these goals. It would put us at the mercy of forces we could not control and, in our view, give the wiki an even greater perception of bias based on the individuals contributing monetarily to the project.

The decision to seek capital was made in January 2008 after we discussed the possibility of selling Fan History to Wikia. The decision was not made lightly. It was discussed with the administrators at the time, including LennoxMacBeth, Sidewinder, Hector, ScrewTheDaisies and Jae. We also consulted other individuals in fandom such as Anarchiq and KayJayUU. We opened the discussion regarding the Wikia situation to everyone who visited the wiki. It was also discussed on LiveJournal, and on various people’s friends lists, where additional opinions were sought. Eventually it was determined that this would not be an ideal situation, so we turned to other methods of financing the site.

In March 2008, our steps towards financing Fan History were reflected on our about page and our funding page. We have never tried to hide this. We talked openly about it on the relevant wiki pages, our friends lists on LiveJournal and InsaneJournal, on twitter, and on various instant messenger programs. We discussed what the goals for the wiki were, how we would use the money to improve the wiki, etc. We have always tried to be as open and honest about this as possible, trying not to hide this fact as we were aware of how some corners of fandom would perceive this. It was why we decided that honesty and openness regarding the process was important; by being transparent, we believed people would be more understanding.

I realize that parts of fandom found the situation involving Fan History’s plans to become a business upsetting and counter to the norms established by the community. For that, I apologize. I’m not quite certain how else we could have gone about our goals of improving the wiki by acquiring funding elsewhere. I would be open to hearing suggestions that would be more in line with community standards, or how, after we secure funding, we could contribute back to the community in a way that would bring us more into harmony with some of those established beliefs.

In addition to these monetary issues, others have been brought up which I feel the need to address. In a Fan History blog entry, I offered some advice regarding disclosing financial information. My intent was to inform potential fansite maintainers that, for their own protection, some financial information should be withheld from users. I believed that users do not need to be told all of a site’s financial details if they are not being asked to contribute monies to a project. However, I oversimplified the situation and said that fansite maintainers should lie about their finances. This has led to the belief that I am untrustworthy and am lying about Fan History’s finances, despite having laid the site’s fiscal details open for public scrutiny. I regret giving that advice and apologize for it; it was ill-worded at best. Those who have questions about specific costs as disclosed in the funding page are welcome to ask about them.

Generating wank to drive traffic

I have been accused of openly encouraging individuals to create wank to drive traffic to Fan History. This is untrue; it is a case of a joking comment made among friends in private and on FLocked posts being misconstrued and taken out of context. I would never knowingly plan to subject myself, people I consider to be my friends, Fan History administrators and contributors to the wiki to the onslaught of attacks, criticisms and strains on their relationships in fandom as has occurred recently. I would not knowingly seek a means of promoting the wiki in a way that I feel would hurt the credibility of the wiki, a credibility that I have spent that past year trying to improve.

Yes, I have encouraged members of the wiki team to openly discuss issues regarding the wiki in their journals, in other communities, and elsewhere that would help bring new people to share their fandom knowledge in the wiki. That is a productive action. I wanted people to be aware that Fan History was here and how it could be useful to them. Such goals cannot be accomplished through wank and creating controversy which only paints myself and Fan History in a negative light.

Our plans for the future

In light of the current events, Fan History has decided to make several important changes both in our administrative team and our policies.

I will remove myself from daily involvement with the wiki. I will step in when decisions are needed regarding site policy, legal issues and financing. Rather than be involved with day to day wiki tasks, I will do more back-end support in terms of working on the business side of the site. Day to day operations of the wiki and organizational issues will be handled by system administrators, who will be given more freedom in how they operate on the wiki. I will also step back from fandom in general. I will not be an active participant in meta parts of the fannish community outside of Fan History’s blog. I will not be involved in handling deletion requests, and the deletion process will be handled by others on the administrative team through a simplified process of communication. This will ensure prompt handling of such requests, as well as minimizing chances that an article deleted would be re-created by someone else.

In the wake of recent departures from the administrative team, Fan History has moved Tikatu from fandom specific administrator to system administrator. DarkAngelFan06 and Random have also been brought on as system administrators to assist in dealing with administrative duties such as deletion requests. They have also been brought on to serve as additional checks regarding policy changes, to help with organizational ideas regarding the wiki, and to deal with user concerns via e-mail. Bestyb has volunteered to do all the marketing work for Fan History. This work will replace the work done by me and includes maintaining the promotion to do list, and editing articles to prepare them for promotion. This work is to be done from official Fan History related accounts.

At this time, Fan History administrators are re-evaluating our privacy issues to address the problem of real names. Our first inclination, as a result of the ongoing situation, is to create a policy where real names are automatically deleted upon request and unwanted connections between real names and fan names will be removed. The issue is still a difficult one as different parts of fandom have different social norms and expectations regarding the degree of separation between real and fannish names. There are also issues where citations necessary to validate information in an article, such as the creation of a particular website or domain, might lead to a publicly-viewable whois page which includes a person’s real name. Fan History administrators are soliciting feedback from the community in the comments of this entry for advice on how to deal with these kinds of situations. We will examine that feedback, and then craft our policy with that feedback in mind. We are already working to redraft Help:Privacy and other related articles to address this — both in explaining our sensitivity to privacy in fandom, as well as alerting members of fandom to ways in which their privacy may also be compromised without their knowledge and what they can do about it.

Deletion policy

This section was modified on August 19, 2008.

Fan History has modified our deletion policy. If you want an article deleted, please follow the guidelines outlined on our new improved article deletion policy page.

This policy exists because if someone blanks an article, or edits an article to say something that goes against the rules of the wiki – such as saying the individual is not affiliated with the wiki – Fan History must assume bad faith. In those situations, we cannot verify that the edit was not done maliciously. Also, by blanking or otherwise defacing an article, an individual does not remove the history of that article. It is still there for anyone who wants to see the original version. Blanking articles does not make them disappear, and because we must protect the site against vandalism and blanking, those who do so will be banned from editing for two weeks.

In conclusion

I realize that there are other concerns you may have which have not been addressed here. I value genuine feedback and dialog, as do the other site administrators, who are here to address your concerns. We have chosen to do so on Fan History’s blog instead of via the numerous conversations elsewhere about the site because we believe it is important that a record of such conversations be maintained on the Fan History itself.

Again, please accept my heartfelt apologies for actions in the past which have caused so much consternation and upset within fandom. I know many individuals may not feel as though I or Fan History deserve another chance to serve the community, or they may doubt my sincerity in this statement. I can assure you that nothing is more important to me than creating and maintaining a site which is for fandom as a whole and not my personal gain. This site exists today because of the hard work contributed by many individuals as well as myself, and that is why I am working hard to respond to criticisms and make it better.

I thank you for your time and willingness to read these words.

Sincerely, Laura

The text of this message is released under the following license: Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States, attributing the authorship of the work to Laura, Fan History’s founder.

Google’s digg like features probably not a fandom friendly feature

July 16th, 2008

The news about Google’s digg like features, as an active partipant in fandom, I’m not entirely happy with.   One of the things I know about fandom is that authors and fan artists like to have the perception of control of feedback regarding their work.  Many authors and artists get upset when comments for their stories and art are posted elsewhere, especially when those comments are negative.  Many authors get upset when their works are included and they have no control over it and there doesn’t seem to be a vehicle that controls for abuse.  Yes, people can submit on digg but digg isn’t a tool utilized by fandom much.  And the environment for digg is not a search tool that people go looking for fan fiction on.   Google on the other hand is very much a tool for fandom and finding material.

We’ll see how this turns out but I suspect some corners of fandom will be really angry about this.

Communicating with the fandom community

July 15th, 2008

When you’re running a fansite, LiveJournal community, mailing list, ficathon, convention or anything else in fandom where you’re effectively in charge, there are all sorts of communication issues that have to be dealt with.  As the person who is running whatever fandom project you’re running, the weight of whatever decision is made falls on you.  Whatever risk, be it legal, financial or social, there is with the project is yours to bear.   You’re on a different level with the users because you don’t necessarily have the same purposes for being involved.  These different levels can cause communication problems.

Did I mention problems?  Companies operating in fandom can attest to the communication problems that arise.  Wikia, LiveJournal, Quizilla, Lucasfilms Ltd., TokyoPop have all had to deal with the backlash of members of fandom not being happy with the decisions made by those corporations.  Fan run groups also have had similar problems in communication with fandom regarding the purpose of their projects, the rules they have, etc and have had to deal with backlashes.  Organization for Transformative Works, SkyHawke, FicWad, SugarQuill, Fiction Alley, ficathons or communities that have not allowed slash or gen, mailing lists over policies regarding concrit, the list could go on and on.

So how do you communicate with the community which you’re creating or operating in?  There is no simple answer.  Over on InsaneJournal and LiveJournal, I’ve discussed this with a few people who have operated fansites and other fan communities.  Even amongst my peers, we can’t reach a consensus.

While there are no simple answers, there are questions that can help you determine how you should communicate with them and what about.

  • Should you tell users all about the financial situation in regards to your project?

This is a common communication problem for fan projects because they take money to run.  Fans can sometimes have entitlement issues which can make those who run projects queasy about because those fans can wank a money situation hard core.   Couple that with your own need for money to help fund your site, well… huge problems can develop.

Before communicating with your users or others involved with your project, determine your comfort level and your potential monetary needs.   If you’re not willing to be in the spotlight, then consider not talking about money.  Deal with everything behind the scenes;try to keep the project scalable so you don’t need to create waves with users by begging for donations or adding advertisements.  By making changes and being public about those changes and the monetary reasons behind it, you’re likely to become fandom unpopular and end up on fandom wank.  If discussing money in fandom is something you’re not comfortable with, don’t discuss it period and don’t create situations where you might need to.  If you need money to run the site, then be honest about it from the get go.  Be as specific as you’re comfortable with and provide as much information to users as you think they need in order for you to meet your finacial obligations for the project.

  • Should you discuss policy decisions with your users?

Fan fiction archives, mailing lists, LiveJournal communities, wikis, forums have rules.  (Or don’t.  But most do.)   At some point, some one is going to object to those rules existing or run afoul of them.  You’ll ban some one for plagiarism.  Some one will question why your m/m slash community doesn’t allow f/f slash.  People will get upset because you needed to throttle bandwidth and turned off the feature that they cannot live with out.  People will demand, absolutely DEMAND an explanation from you in some of these cases.

This situation is difficult. My advice is make a short statement and do not engage outside that.  If you must engage, do so privately.  By actively and publicly engaging your users over say why you banned a particular author for plagiarism, you’re inviting them into dialog.  That dialog is probably one that you cannot control.  If the dialog is going on on your community or site and you shut it down after you’ve participated, people are going to come after you with all sorts of lovely accusations of stopping freedom of speech, breaking your own rules and being a hypocrit.  It is a situation you cannot win because you probably won’t be able to scream as loud as those complaining as their numbers are probably larger than yours.  Just wait it out, be willing to risk losing participants and friends.  Don’t capiluate unless you have to because by capitulating, you’re giving people permission to pull that similar stunts.   Eventually, those situations will pass.

Before you get there, make sure your ass is covered.  About page, Terms of Service pages, contact information, rules pages, help pages on how to use your project, a history of your project, all of those are communication tools.  If you want, include an article about why your policies are the way they are… but have it up before you launch.  If you don’t accept chan because you are in Australia and that’s child porn, then communicate that with your users so they know who to blame.  (The Australian government, not you the fan fiction archivist.) Make sure they are linked in your header, footer or sidebar so people don’t have an excuse for not seeing them.  That can head off some of the worst that may come at you.

  • Should I communicate with people participating with my project?

This is a question I’ve seen from a few tech oriented people in fandom.  They do not see the inherent need to communicate with the users on the sites they run.  Or they think that they can get away with just communicating with their administrative help people.  I’ve also seen members of fandom  lament over the lack of contact they’ve had with administrators at the sites they use.  This happens with big sites like FanFiction.Net and smaller groups like mailing lists or LiveJournal communities.

The decision to communicate with people involved with your project comes down to a couple of things.  Do you need to continue to promote your project?  If yes, then you need to communicate with participants until such a time that marketing begins to take care of itself.  If no, then you might be able to get away with it.  Do you plan to use the project as an example of your coding skills and is that your primary motivation for building the project?  If yes, then you can probably get away with out communicating with participants for your project because the project isn’t about the participants and the community but about the underlying value being the coding.  Is your project central to your identity in fandom?  If yes, then you probably want to help keep and maintain that identity by protecting your project by communicating with your project’s participants.  Can you get some one else to communicate for you?  If yes, then the pressure is off you and you can use that other person to handle any problems.  Can you afford to lose people because you’re not answering questions?  If yes, then you probably don’t need to communicate that often with people.

  • What platform should I use to keep in touch with people?

There are so many tools out there for people to communicate with participants in their projects.  They include blogs, message boards, IRC, instant messenger programs, report abuse forms, contact forms, services like getsatisfaction.com, social networking services, e-mail, mailing lists, the main page of your site, private messaging through various sites, microblogging services, flyers, the phone, snail mail mailings, etc. Before you start your project, determine how you’re going to do that.  Consistency for you and participants related to your project is important.  (I know.  I’ve learned the hard way and I still make this mistake.)  Find a method of communicating that you’re comfortable with.  If you can’t stand twitter but your users are all on twitter, then don’t use it as your primary communication tool because you’re less likely to be as responsive as you should be to people’s concerns.  Use the tools that you’re most comfortable with to communicate with people.  And then advertise what tools people can use to get in touch with you using and under what conditions they should contact you.

How you communicate, what you communicate about and when you communicate are personal decisions and/or business like decisions.  No solution is one size fits all.  Determine your needs, your objectives and your comfort levels and you should be able to find a solution that works for communicating regarding your project in the fan community.

Cliques, fandom and getting readers for your fan fiction

July 13th, 2008

Fandoms have cliques and social groups. Sometimes, if a fandom or group is small enough, these groups can co-exist. If it is large enough, well, those groups can afford to ignore each other or pick on each other. If they chose to, they can even peacefully co-exist. And that last one, they do a lot because why seek trouble? And why not get something that the other group is produces that you enjoy?

If you’ve been involved in a fandom for a while, these social structures, these cliques and groups are really obvious. If you’re justing getting into a fandom, these structures are not so obvious. The lack of knowledge can really be a detriment to your fannish well being if you’re not careful.

Good recent example: A new to my fandom fan fiction author posted a story to one of the more popular fan fiction communities. I’d never heard of the author before. The author had no one as a beta reader who I knew and none of the authors from my corner of fandom had commented to give feedback on the story. The story, well, it was so so. Personally, I found the plot lacking and the characterization awful. I left feedback to let the author know. (Which can be taboo. The general pattern is to shut up and say nothing. Let the author figure out through silence that the community doesn’t like her.) The author, not knowing me from adam because feedback was anon, gave me a flip response. And she never did get the readers she needs to help make sure she’ll get more feedback later to leave a comment. Next chapter? Zero comments. Not a surprise.

That author didn’t get in the right clique by making friends with existing authors by leaving feedback, didn’t get the right people to beta read her story and then was flippant to members of different groups who did read her story. Lack of knowledge regarding those social groups in this fandom, understanding them and not playing the game hurt her ability to interact in the community.

If you’re an author, especially a new author, start out by giving feedback. Get a beta reader. Get a beta reader who is an author you enjoy reading. Doing that does not mean you are not a good writer. It means that you’ve got an implied endorsement from some one who can help you get readers. (It is basic marketing.) This way, you’ll have better knowledge of how the community functions so you can get position yourself to get readers when you do publish.

Chicago area new media events

July 11th, 2008

One of the things that I’ve realized, as I strive to take Fan History to the next level, is that you need to network.  If you’re like me, and in the Chicago area, here are a few upcoming events that might be of interest.

  • Wiki Wednesday, Chicago is meeting again August. This time it is on August 13. If you love wikis, great little social opportunity. We had lots of fun with July.

Funding your fansite

July 11th, 2008

Discussing money and fandom always makes me queasy because I come that part of media fan fiction fandom which prizes the fact that there is a certain purity to do what we do and believes that making money off our activities is wrong for a variety of reasons.   Another part of the reason that fandom doesn’t discuss money  is that there is the strong belief that what we are doing is probably wrong.  Fansites, fan fiction, fan vidding, fan art all have possible copyright issues.  If some one is making money, it is best to keep that quiet lest the creators decide to go after you and others around you. As a consequence,  money very rarely gets discussed, the financial back end for most sites is largely unknown and the details that are believed to be true are frequently way off base.
But if you get a site big enough, if you run something with high bandwidth consumption or you some how make it in the top 50,000 sites, your site is going to start costing you money if you’re doing your own hosting.  Serious money.   (And a serious time commitment.  A potentially huge time commitment which can also potentially cost you lots and lots of money.)  The question than comes down to how do you fund your fansite?

There are a number of options.  They include donations, paying yourself out of your own pockets, paid accounts, advertising, merchandise sales, being bought out (or moving to a free service), incorporating and some other creative solutions.

One of the most popular of these is user based donations. If your site costs $10, $15, even $500 a month and you have a dedicated and loyal user base, that money can flow.  The downside to this is that you can become really beholden to users who think because they kicked back $20 of the $250 you needed this month that you owe them.  Users can also go through a certain degree of fatigue if they see a request for money all the time.  The other downside to this is if you lack a real community and don’t have that dedicated user base, you may never be able to ask for donations in a way that will support your site.  Still, this option is popular because it doesn’t involve intrusive advertisements and it doesn’t offend the sensibilities of those who believe in the purity of fandom, where we shouldn’t make money off our activities.

Probably the most popular option for most fansites is paying out of pocket.   The part I like best about this option is that, as the maintainer, you’re really beholden only to yourself.  If you want to say “Screw you!” to your visitors, you can.  You don’t have to answer to advertisers either.  For smaller fansites, the cost is probably between $2.50 a month to $150 a month.  Many people can absorb that cost with out any problems.  It is the ideal for many who believe that fandom shouldn’t be about profiting off other people’s intellectual property or off other people’s work because you’re basically going into debt because of your love of the community and that which you’re a member of the fandom.  If you’re a fan who wants to support other fans, there are a number of fan friendly, fan run hosting options including Squidge and SlashCity.  The problem is this really isn’t feasible if you’re planning a large, large site, need a lot of custom programming or you have huge amounts of traffic.  Most people just can’t absorb $1,000 to $2,000 a month for hosting.

Paid accounts are another option.  They can be a wonderful source of potential income, especially if you can make them subscriptions.  The problem here is that, if you’re not a programmer, you’re either going to learn or you’re going to have to hire a developer to build features to allow you to offer such accounts.  That can cost time, may make your host less secure if you’re programming with very little idea of what you’re doing. and cost money to hire a programmer.   It can also potentially really offend your user base who might not see the necessity of offering a paid version of the site.  If you have a big enough audience and a loyal fan base, if you can program or get a cheap developer, this option is probably a really good one for larger fansites.  (Unless you’re a wiki in which case, there isn’t much you can offer in the way of paid accounts.)

Advertising is probably the second or third most popular options for funding your fansite.  The popular sansite choices for advertising brokers seem to basically include AdBrite and GoogleAds.  If your site gets enough traffic, you can generally make enough money to cover your hosting costs.  I’m not partial to GoogleAds though because they require you may $100 before you can get your check.  In a one year period where Fan History had the ads on the site, we never reached that $100 threshold and never got paid.   Ouch.  The other problem with GoogleAds is that they don’t allow adult content.  If you’re a site like AdultFanFiction.Net, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to GoogleAds and a number of similar ads.  A third problem I’ve encounter is that some of those contextual ads are a pain in the ass.  Fan History had a lot of ads for fans, the kind that blow air around as opposed to the type that love something.  This problem means fewer chances for click through to earn money.  Still yet another problem is that some services, like GoogleAds, make it hard to control who advertises on your site.  No, I don’t want some one advertising vibrators and viagra on Fan History.  Thanks.  But unless I catch the url and report it to block it, that ad may keep appearing. At the moment, Fan History is using ProjectWonderful for ads.  It makes a number of those complaints go away.  Besides the ad issues themselves, some users may be really turned off by ads and think that you’re making a lot of money.  I’ve seen a number of kerfluffles and stupidity regarding that issue.  If you haven’t done ads before and you’re going to do them, be open and honest with your users to mitigate any PR damage your site may face.  If you are making more than you need to operate, figure out some way to kick some back to the users in give aways or contests.  And then, if you’re asked, tell your users that all the extra money is going into a savings account for the site to help cover costs in the long run.  Say this to cover your ass.  Fan sites run by fans take a lot of flack for making money compared to fansites run by corporations and that way, you cover your ass.  Getting back to ads, this option may or may not work for you.  It just comes down to how well your ads work for you and the amount of traffic you’re getting.  Don’t be totally dependent on it as a solution until you know how well it works.

Still yet another option if you need to pay for your site is to get free hosting.  There are a couple of sites and services which will pay the hosting costs and host you in exchange for something.  Wikia is one example.  Got a fandom wiki?  Consider moving your wiki to their server. If you’ve got a big one with a lot of traffic and a dedicated community, then you can probably sell it to them.  This has happened before with one wiki earning at least five figures.  If you’ve got a fansite, other hosting options include the Devoted Fan Network which hosts your site based on their overall site design and where Devoted Fan Network puts ads on your site to recoup their costs for hosting.  You may also try selling your site or seeing if you can get some one to pick up sponsorship of your site in exchange for exclusive rights to advertise.   That was the case for Battlestar Galatica Wiki where FanLib appears to have picked up the tab for their hosting in exchange for ads on their wiki. This option may work for a lot of people but it generally means a certain level of losing control over your site in order to do it. Of course, you can still go with the old fandom classics like FreeWebs, Bravenet, blogspot, LiveJournal, Geocities, and Tripod.   If you’re a control freak, it may be a bad, bad idea.  If you’re not such a control freak and money is a big concern, it may be an option for you.

There area  few more options for funding your fansite that I haven’t discussed.  The real issues when it comes down to funding your fansite are your comfort level and control issues, how much you’re willing to spend, how your audience will react and finding a partner or company you can work with.  There is no one size fits all solution for fansites.

Got Readers? A Guide to Gaining Popularity for Your Fan Fiction

July 10th, 2008

“Got Readers? A Guide to Gaining Popularity for Your Fan Fiction” was a post I wrote for FanLib a long time ago. It finally got posted. It is my quick and dirty guide to getting readers for your fic. Since I originally wrote it, I had a few more ideas for how to get readers that could be worked in. They include using twitter, orkut, Yahoo!Answers, bebo and ning. Yahoo!Answers is one that I’ve seen a bit more of recently. (But that could just be because I’m looking.) People post to Yahoo!Answers asking people for help with their story. Having had urls in a few answers over there, I don’t know how much it would help with traffic to the issue being discussed as compared to other options, but it does help increase visibility in the wider community.

A caveat of sorts: Not everyone wants to get readers and if that is the case, promoting your fan fiction isn’t necessary.  (I do very little promotion of my own work for instance.)  If you want readers and you wonder why you’re not getting them, then you should probably do this.  One lesson that fandom constantly reinforces is that it isn’t the best work around that gets the praise and those aren’t necessarily the authors getting book deals.  You have to market yourself if you want to get that book deal and get those readers.

Power in fandom

July 9th, 2008

I had a conversation yesterday with some one doing something similar to what I’m doing. One of the things we talked about was the new power structures. He talked about it in the context of business and I talked about it in the context of fandom as it pertains to fan fiction communities.  For this post, I’m defining power as the ability to influence  beyond your  personal sphere and the subcommunities which members of fan fiction fandom belong to.

My perspective on this in fan fiction fandom is skewed based on my involvement… but the way I see it is that older power structures, in the pre-Internet days, were based on two variables: Access to TPTB and Capability of getting things done coupled with information brokering. If you had one or the other, you had some power in fandom and you had standing in fandom. By the time that authors were creating mailing lists for their readers to follow them and LiveJournal (and blogging) became popular in parts of fandom, the power structure was perceived as changing. For the first time, it really looked like content creators were in charge and they were using this ability to leverage their position in fandom relative to the creators. A number of fan fiction writers got behind and pushed several projects to the forefront. This was the case for Fiction Alley, a Harry Potter fan fiction site. Writers leveraged their popularity in order to help get book deals.

But the power structure, briefly in the hands of fan fiction writers changed again. Or rather, it became apparent that when fan fiction writers had the chance to leverage their position, they didn’t do it and their lack of action made the fact that doers were really the more powerful force more apparent. The fan fiction community seemed to have turned back in on itself, sought recognition and power from with in the existing community rather than courting outsiders. They didn’t effectively engage and demand changes from the people who control the services they used that were inside fandom, nor outside fandom. Parts of the fan fiction community had the same problems with engaging information brokers: They didn’t or didn’t do so effectively.

To be fair, there is nothing wrong with having failed to engage. People have different priorities and different needs. They get different things out of fandom and there are vested interests, legitimate ones, in keeping fan fiction out of the spotlight. If you engage, if you lobby, if you demand, you risk attention which can run counter to your needs and concerns.
Fandom outside of the fan fiction community seemed to get the concept

Now, the fan fiction community appears to be back the spot where it was pre-Internet. The power is in the hands of doers who are capable of acting as information brokers or those who have access (or ARE) the powers that be. These are the folks most likely to engage outside of the circle of fandom where they are and have the most influence and the most power in fandom. Those who fail to do that, those who chose to engage only in a small narrow community, aren’t going to be perceived as powerful in fandom by other fans with whom they interact or those who are in the power to know. The information brokers, the doers aren’t as visible and don’t necessarily need to be because they can instead me known for their product instead. And the product will be seen and is seen as the new power structure in fandom.

Thus end my incoherent thoughts on fandom and power.

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