Law and Order: SVU had their season premiere this week. The admins and I ate Fan History has been curious to see what new seasons would mean in terms of fan fiction. Would it pick up? Our fan fiction community size tracking says yes, at least in the case of Law and Order: SVU. The response was pretty immediate and had its first double digit gain day. Awesome.
Archive for September, 2008
I have a love/hate relationship with Compete. I generally feel is understates the numbers to Fan History Wiki, especially when those numbers are compared to StatCounter, Google Analytics, Alexa and Quantcast. But they’re a measure that people look at so I and others still use them.
One of the major ways that Compete tracks how many users that visit a site is through their toolbar. I have that installed to help make my numbers a bit more accurate. If you’re a site aimed at web 2.0 people, folks who are knowledgeable about analytics, your audience is much more likely to have that installed and the picture that compete paints will likely be more accurate.
But woe! Most fansites don’t have an audience partial to that sort content and knowledge that would give them the incentive to install Compete’s toolbar. What this means is that you’re going to get undercounted for Compete. Most fan people just do not care OR they have privacy issues and do not want to share that information with a wider audience. Kind of sucks for those of us operating in that space… but those are the cards we’re dealt with our particular focus.
So Compete announced a tool on their blog: Compete Referrer Analytics. I was pretty excited about this. It could be a nice tool to point people at to learn more about Fan History with out having to dig into Google Analytics provided by us. But nope. Compete Referrer Analytics is not a tool that is likely to be useful for fansite maintainers who are interested in SEO and effectiveness of promotions/marketing/advertising “campaigns” they run in fandom. It comes back to that toolbar which isn’t wildly utilized by fanpeople.
Fan History’s top referrer, according to Google Analytics is Google. Next up is Yahoo. Coming in third is LiveJournal. Ask.Com, AOL, SpaceBattles.Com, FanFiction.Net, AnimeNewsNetwork and JournalFen round off our top ten referrers for August 2008.
Yet Compete Referrer Analytics says Twitter (ranked 31) came in first, StatCounter (ranked 59) came in second and NetZero (ranked 286) came in third. Way off. Beyond way off. Why are those three tops according to compete? Because fan people aren’t using Compete. It is picking up on my e-mails, my using of a tool to see what people are looking at on Fan History, and the Twitter click throughs from my SEO minded twitter follow list.
If you’re a fansite, this tool likely won’t be useful to you at all. The existing tools you use are probably a lot better.
I love to watch the fandom tracking article on Fan History. What fandoms are the most active? When do they become active? (And if you’re watching, the bot runs at 01:01 every day at GMT. Knowing that helps these numbers make a bit more sense.) CSI: Miami has been making a lot of news in entertainment. Is Horatio coming back or does he finally kick the bucket? Its appearance on the list makes a lot of sense. Some of the other ones appearing can be much less obvious or the result of some one unloading a bunch of new stories on the archive. The obvious ones kicking up with the new television season hasn’t done much to dethrone the big three fandoms: Twilight, Naruto and Harry Potter.
They just don’t really change. The story totals might go up and down but these three outpace the rest and do so consistently. Naruto manages to stay on top most of them time. I’m not surprised. Harry Potter and Twilight consistently trade off. The two have a lot in common: Both are book based fandoms that have a lot of room to play in their universe. They have movies coming out based on the books. The authors are out and talking which helps to continue to generate more interest. The books are complete so canon won’t come in and play whack-a-mole with their stories. (That’s unlike television where every week, your WIP could be in danger. Or the story you wrote a year ago could be killed because of a throw away line in a new episode.) They have fan bases that think that both books are the best books ever. And they will defend their interest, their books, their canon. Both fandoms are monolithic.
I’m eagerly watching to see what will happen. Is it possible for these fandoms to be dethroned? What will it take? What medium and fan culture will the fandom that knocks one of them off come from? It will be interesting to watch.
We’ve made some big changes to our about page! We’re changing! We’re growing and we’re working really hard to define what that means! I wanted to keep people up to date on these changes so I’m crossposting this to Fan History’s blog, our InsaneJournal asylum and my blogs.
Fan History is a collaborative project like none other currently serving the fandom community. Its core function is as a wiki which allows members of fandom – men and women, young and old – to actively participate in documenting the history of their various fandoms, share current news which may impact their experiences, as well as creating an easily searchable web indice of related communities, projects, and activities. It gives members of fandom a chance to share current fandom news that may impact people’s experiences in fandom. Fan History users can also promote their own creative projects, and share opinions with fellow fans and alert them to scams and questionable practices encountered within fandom. By providing these resources, Fan History allows users to celebrate their activities, whichever corner of fandom they come from: anime, cartoons, comics, movies, politics, science fiction, sports, television, theater, and video games.
Fan History is an outgrowth of Writers University‘s history department. Writers University was founded back in 2000 on FanFiction.Net by Laura under the nome de pume Michela Ecks, moved off about six months later, spent several years at writersu.s5.com, on its own domain and otherwise in a state of flux. The site eventually folded, with some of content being moved to FanWorks.Org, a precursor to this wiki found on another site and in an unpublished fanzines. During this period, Laura‘s research into the history of fan fiction and fandom continued. Fan History on its old location was not inviting enough participation on the part of wider fandom, which was the reason for its move to MediaWiki on its own domain in May 2006. In March 2008, FanFictionNetBot was run in order to help Fan History meet the goal of becoming a fandom directory. In July 2008, Fan History became a limited liability corporation known as Fan History LLC.
Fan History defines fandom as as a community of fans whose activities involves some one else’s intellectual property or real people. In broad terms, these communities are based off anime, actors/celebrities, books, cartoons, comics, movies, musicians, politicians, sports, and video games. It doesn’t include fans of business or products you can touch because the communities aren’t organized similarly or culturally related to most traditionally accepted fandom activity.
Fan History’s original objectives in writing of fandom history were to increase interest and to provide a more comprehensive secondary source for academics writing on the topic to turn to. Since that time, the mission, while still including those goals, has changed to include:
- Provide members of fandom a resource to find links to communities in fandom, and explain parts of the culture in those communities to help them adapt to them.
- Provide members of fandom a tool to promote their work, their projects, charity efforts by fans.
- Provide members of fandom a platform to share stories about what happened in fandom so that incidents won’t be forgotten.
- Provide a comprehensive directory for fandom that anyone can edit. This is necessary because of increased fragmentation in a web 2.0 world, and as members of fandom transition away from various services because of downtime, problems with policy, etc. It is also necessary because a lot of time in fandom trying to track down authors and artists who disappeared and in trying to locate fanworks that have disappeared.
- Provide academics operating in fandom starting points for additional research and to provide academics with comprehensive data sets.
- Provide companies that deal with fandom a source to locate fandom communities, understand how fandom functions, identify current issues in certain fandoms, give examples of how certain issues were dealt with, etc. By knowing that information, they can better interact with and cater to fandom’s specific needs.
Fan History has big plans for the future and is slowly working to bring them to fruition. These include:
- Making Fan History into the largest fandom directory on the Internet.
- Publishing materials on the history of fandom for distribution at conventions and for use in academic settings.
- Becoming more of news site for fandom activity, providing updates on what fandom is up to.
FanworksFinder is a tool to help fans find, list, rate & discuss fanfiction, fanart and fanvids located all over the Web. FanworksFinder is more than a listing of fanworks, though. It’s also a centralized recs system. Post listings to fanworks you’ve enjoyed and rec fanworks others have listed.
FanworksFinder puts all this information in one site and makes it easily searchable. Fan content is not mixed with other content, making it difficult to find. It was designed by a member of fandom for fandom. There is no content confusion or trying to adapt an interface created by outsiders to suit fandom purposes.
FanworksFinder was created by screwthedaisies in July 2007 in response to FanLib and the ensuing discussion in fandom about the need to have a fan run resource to protect fanworks from disappearing, and from the fragmentation that was taking place in fandom. The site was originally partnered with Fan History. In September 2008, the site ownership was formally turned over to Fan History; the domain is now owned by Fan History and the site is now hosted on our servers.
The primary objectives of FanworksFinder are to:
- Have a reader centered fan works recommendation site.
- Create a fanworks search engine, to help make it easier for readers to find stories they might enjoy.
- Compliment Fan History and its own objectives.
- Work with fan fiction, art and vid sites to promote their content.
- Show case quality works being created by fans.
We have big plans for FanworksFinder. Fan History is planning to make them happen in the near future. They include:
- Working with archives to integrate FanworksFinder into their archives.
- Increasing the number of fanworks listed on FanworksFinder by improving our RSS feed inclusion.
Fan History LLC
Fan History is in the process of looking for capital to help facilitate our growth. If you are interested in a copy of our business plan or our pitch, please contact Laura through LinkedIn or via e-mail at laura @ fanhistory.com. Seriously inquiries only please.
I’m in a really happy, excited mood! Fan History has accomplished one of our goals: To have data regarding fandom size and growth. We view this as an important step forward in telling the history of fandom, understanding fandom and being able to explain what the hell is going on by having some hard data to back it up.
How are we doing this and what exactly are we doing? The how is Fan Fiction Stat Bot. Fan Fiction Stat Bot has a list of fandoms, of spelling variants of those fandoms, and of urls for fandom directories on a handful of fan fiction archives. The bot accesses those directory pages, looks for the fandom name (or variant), finds how many stories are on the archive in that category, stores that information, does a simple math computation to determine how many stories were added or removed from the fandom and then puts that information into a table. Once every fandom is done, it calculates how which fandoms had the most stories added to them. It then adds this information the the appropriate articles. What we get is a daily list of fandoms that have the most stories added to them and a record of activity in different fandoms.
Did I mention I’m happy and excited? I am! The bot has only been running two days but we’ve got some data worth speculating about. I’ve seen some discussions regarding how big the Twilight fandom is and questions of if it will be bigger than the Harry Potter fandom. Our list of fandom movers and shakers has Harry Potter but there as the fandom with the second most additions for September 13. It was third for September 12. Twilight was third on September 13 and second on September 12. There isn’t enough data to draw a conclusion yet but we can see that the two fandoms are both comparable in amount of activity in the fan fiction community at the moment. Harry Potter does seem to have an edge in terms of amount of activity because the fandom has people uploading stories to multiple archives. Twilight lacks similar activity, with all the activity taking place on just FanFiction.Net. We really need more time and more data to draw a better conclusion, to get a better idea of what is happening, to better be able to compare these two fandoms… but we have a tool to help us to be able to do it. And that strikes me as awesome.
I was having a conversation with a friend this morning about the issue of content on Fan History and the process of writing fandom history. It hasn’t been an issue I’ve discussed a lot recently because I’ve been busy working on other aspects of the project. On Fan History, we have a a fair amount of content but most of it is really stub like. Even those articles which are more fleshed out, like the CSI, Doctor Who, Star Trek, The Police, X-Files and Supernatural, really only begin to give a cursory overview of a fandom’s history. They are one step above including the the very basics for a fandom’s history.
These basics tend to include information on when social networking communities were created, when fan fiction was first posted to some major archives, a directory of members of the fandom, when a show premiered, and when an article about the canon was created on Wikipedia. Sometimes, the basic information also includes some fandom size benchmarks based on the number of members on a LiveJournal community, the number of fans on FanPop, the number of stories on FanFiction.Net on a given date. It might also include some terms and definitions that are specific to a fandom. The article might give a brief overview of some the major fights in a fandom. It might touch upon mailing list creation dates, and give an idea of what was happening on some of the major fansites. The latter information tends to include when fansites were created and when they were updated. When building starter articles, we include this information because, to be frank, it is easy to get if you’re not very knowledgeable about a fandom. It also helps paint a partial picture of a fandom that others can help build on. If you put in information about bebo communities, orkut groups, InsaneJournal asylums, FanFiction.Net forums, LiveJoournal communities, FanPop sports, then others should know that there are communities there and it might be worth going through the article and fleshing that information out. If you get enough of this basic information, it really can begin to look like an actual history. Fan History‘s article about the Alias fandom is an example of that. The article basically has really basic information. It looks like it has the real beginning of content.
Only it doesn’t. That’s one of the greatest challenges for Fan History. Very few of our articles are totally outstanding and stupendous because while we have some of the basics, we don’t have much about the history that would be useful. Why don’t we? Why can’t we leverage the starter content we do have into articles that are more useful, that can really begin to give an idea about the history of a fandom? How can we create useful content and additional content?
In my conversation, we discussed the recruiting aspect and the publishing format. Is a wiki the right place to do write the history of fandom? The answer is both yes and no. A wiki is great in that it allows collaboration that is unparalleled. If you set the rules right, you can get multiple perspectives that allow you to tell the history of fandom in a way that might be really difficult to do otherwise. There aren’t necessarily barriers to contribution that some projects might have. There is a record of all the changes that have been made. As the history of the fandom changes and happens, you can easily update it. Parts of writing the history of fandom can be automated; you can quickly create a large pool of quantitative data which can then can be examined for a more qualitative approach to writing that history. With a wiki, as you go into more depth with unexpected historical diversions, you can move that information around while still developing a cohesive history of a community and not risk losing involvement in the whole of the project. People generally don’t need permission or need to get in touch with a wiki maintainer in order contribute to a wiki; they can find something they feel like editing and just delve on in. If they don’t see what they want, it generally is pretty easy to create it. These are all advantages to wikis and advantages for Fan History.
But Fan History fails in a couple of places. The first is the number of active contributors. We probably have five to twenty active contributors in any given month who edit more than two articles. That isn’t much. What this means is that a lot of the benefits for Fan History are just not being realized. Fan History just can’t realize those things until we get more contributors and contributors who will spend several days editing an article about their fandom, about members of the fandom, communities related to their fandom, articles related to services utilized by their fandom, etc. And then those contributors need to promote those articles and get other people involved in writing those articles, people from inside their own circle and outside of their circle of fandom.
That’s where Fan History fails and where the wiki model, in this particular case, fails. Given enough time and enough dedication, given people pushing the project, given some attention by news source or a blogger with the ability to bring in a mass audience, we’ll accomplish that. We’ll generate content we need and really having some amazing histories of fandom written.
That said, given all those issues, there is a good case that this type of content might best fit in a peer reviewed journal. Why? With a peer reviewed journal, you’ve generally got a fair amount of legitimacy based on the fact that, well, you’re a peer reviewed journal. People are motivated to contribute. If you contribute, you get to put that nifty line on your vita that you’ve been published in such and such a journal. If you’re writing for a peer reviewed journal, you don’t have to worry about people coming and disrupting your carefully written history by adding or taking away something you think is important. You have the leisure to make mistake in your history, as they can be corrected in the writing or editing process; others don’t need to even know you made those mistakes. With a single author writing the history of a single fandom, they have the time to really focus and a purpose for writing. The author can explain things, has to explain things as peer reviewed journals aren’t known for their bulleted lists. Spending six months writing a comprehensive history of fandom becomes much more feasible. With a peer reviewed journal, there are built in quality controls. The author can ask various people in the fandom for major fan fiction archives, influential fanworks, important communities. They can use google and follow links all over the Internet to get an idea as to the scope of a community. They have the ability to work in an explanation as to why orkut communities became popular in 2005 but by 2007 were largely abandoned. The author can paralell that development to the rise of bebo, LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, JournalFen, Quizilla, MySpace and FaceBook communities. That can be hard to do in a wiki article. Peer reviewed journals are also pure content. There isn’t a lot of material, waiting around to be added to in order to understand what is going on. There are just a lot of benefits to this format for telling the history of fandom.
Of course, a peer reviewed journal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a better history or more complete history. Peer reviewed journals can only publish so many articles. Fan History has information on over 2,500 different fandoms, fan communities in over one hundred countries and thirty different states in the US. It would take a few years to a few decades to publish that much information in a peer reviewed journal. By the time everything was complete, a lot the information would be out of date. If the person writing the article wasn’t diligent or was focused on presenting their fandom in a certain light, if they were only interested in or knowledgable about a certain segment of fandom, the history of a fandom could be radically out of whack with the history that other parts of that fandom know. Articles can’t be updated in a timely manner. Corrections are a hassle to do. Peer reviewed journals can also be inaccessible to the masses, both in terms of reading, and contributing their own articles. The language might also make histories inaccessible.
Despite these drawbacks to a peer reviewed journal, there are times I wish that Fan History was less of a wiki and more like a peer reviewed journal. This desire tends to feel selfish in ways that I don’t particularly like when I think about them. With out a wiki, I could spend a lot less time worrying about the finances of Fan History, less time working on getting people involved with the project, less time networking, less time learning about SEO, and less time working thinking about the limitations of wikis and MediaWiki. I could spend more time being involved in fandom, more time reading fan fiction. I could do a better job writing the histories of specific fandom as I could be concerned about one fandom at a time as opposed to 2,500 plus different fandoms. I could happily obsess over say the Doctor Who fandom, develop a comprehensive list of fanzines, find out the BNFs on all the various message boards, mailing list and social networking communities. I could learn more about conventions that mattered in the Doctor Who fandom, find out how national communities interacted in the Doctor Who fandom. I could write fifteen pages on that and then feel like I never need to write about that topic again. I did that with BandFic and I’d love to do it again.
If I did that, the history of fandom wouldn’t best be served. Such a project wouldn’t have much the potential scope that Fan History has. For all the drawbacks of the wiki format, it still best serves that history. It just comes back to how do you get content. The very basic information on start articles needs to be fleshed out, generating content which will help generate further content and further interest in the project. To do that, we’ve got to keep doing what we’ve always done: Continue to create content, improve existing content, and reach out to the fan community to ask them to be involved. As came up in my phone conversation, we need to better leverage our connections and the connections of those around us. We also need to keep having these conversations so that we can reflect on practices that work and those that don’t work. Given enough time, we’ll eventually succeed in generating the content we need and the format won’t be an issue any more.
Today, I saw a demo of wagn, a new wiki engine. It is an interesting interface and might really be of interest to some one looking for a database type solution while wanting all the benefits of a wiki.
I’m so excited about this series. I just finished reading all the books in the series and absolutely loved them. I’m just not certain how I’m going to watch episodes as I don’t have HBO. The books were pretty much good fun with a lot of angst. There were interesting issues explored in terms of sex and politics, loyalties, selling out for various issues, extremism. Just great stuff.
It will be interesting to see what sort of fandom develops when the show launches. There is already fan fiction out there on FanFiction.Net, based on the the books. Most fandoms based on HBO (and to a degree, Showtime) shows have always appeared to be really small until the shows have been released on DVD unless they’ve reached a niche audience. (That was the case, in my opinion, for The L Word where the show became something that the lesbian community embraced and became something you had to connect with or know about.) With the cult following of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the popularity of Twilight, the active and experienced fanbases that both communities could bring to play, I think this show could be really break out in a lot of ways for a fandom based on an HBO product; the fandom could be rather big in comparison and be a real way to help the show succeed by having fans generate more buzz for the show than the media does and the hokey fake ads for synthetic blood ever could. Of course, this will most probably hinge on which fans are first into the space, setting up fansites, running communities, discussing the show on forums and organizing fandom meet ups.
And as a fan, I can’t wait to see that and to get my hands on episodes of the show.
A while back, I attended Startup Camp, Ann Arbor. I met a lot of really fantastic people there. One of them is in the process of creating another start up and could really use your support in trying to win $10,000 for their marketing efforts. So if you have the time and don’t mind registering for yet another site, please wander over and vote for them. The business is dedicated to helping local business market their products and services in their area. More details are available on IdeaBlog or by contacting Joem32 on Twitter.
Fan History is proud to announce the creation of Fan History en español , our Spanish language version of Fan History. We’ve given it a bit of a start with a few short stubby articles about a handful of fandoms including Pushing Daisies, Fairly OddParents, Smallville and a few more. For Spanish speakers familiar with the English language version, this should be a simple transition as the same rules and organization for that version apply to our Spanish language version.
Fan History en español is looking for administrators. If you speak English and Spanish, if you want to support the project, please contact me at laura(@)fanhistory(.)com or on my talk page on the Spanish site or the English language site.
Fan History se enorgullece en anunciar la creación de Fan History en español , nuestra versión en español de Fan History.
Hemos creado una serie de artículos para ayudar a poner en marcha el wiki: Pushing Daisies, Fairly OddParents, Smallville y mucho más. La versión en español sigue las mismas reglas y la organización como la versión en idioma Inglés.
Fan History en español está buscando para los administradores. Si usted habla Inglés y español, si desea apoyar el proyecto, póngase en contacto conmigo a laura (@) fanhistory (.) Com o en mi página de discusión español o Inglés.