Archive for February, 2009

AboutUs: Best sites about fandom

February 27th, 2009

One of the guys at AboutUs pointed me at this list today: Best sites about fandom. Fan History is on it! :-D Very, very cool. There are a lot of other really great fandom sites on it including the following that I love:

  • Xenite.org
  • SF-Fandom.com
  • Theotaku.com
  • Acen.org

    So check out that list and go help AboutUs improve those articles. And then come back and help improve the related articles on Fan History. :-D

  • SEO question: Increased search traffic, fewer pages per visit?

    February 27th, 2009

    I have a question for those who do Search Engine Optimization! If you see your search engine traffic increase, do you tend to see a downturn in the average number of pages visited per visitor?

    It looks like that way for Fan History. Is this normal?

    AboutUs article mirroring

    February 27th, 2009

    There are a lot of great folks over at AboutUs. I met a number of them at #rcc09 / RecentChangesCamp. ( If you haven’t checked out their wiki, do! It is a great resource for learning more about websites. ) I was chatting with one of the AboutUs guys last night and he wanted to mirror an article as he’s involved with a project involving creating articles about role playing game related sites. So to make that easier to do and let people know that we’re allowing that, ta da! An article box! So if you’ve written an article over on AboutUs, please feel free to mirror it on Fan History.

    ref = follow

    February 27th, 2009

    In Fan History news, we changed our links from ref = nofollow to ref = follow. This was done to help sites, authors, etc. who have links on Fan History. It can help you/them get more traffic to your site from search engines. If you have any questions about this, let us know!

    Article Deletion Request policy modification possible

    February 25th, 2009

    We’re debating modifying our article deletion policy in regards to how to handle requests from people who have been banned from Fan History Wiki. This discussion is in response to a situation where a person vandalized the wiki, an article about themselves and another article and was permabanned for it. The vandalism wasn’t simple page blanking but also included uploading images dealing with rape and just LULZING the page up. When their vandalism was reverted and the article restored to make it in compliance with our rules and mission, the person asked for the article to be deleted. As the person was permanently banned, she can’t post an ADR which means she can’t have her article deleted.

    We want to have our policy discussion public so that you, our contributors, fans and supporters, can be aware of what our thinking is and offer your own voice to any modification of this policy!

    Changes to AIM of interest to fandom crowd…

    February 23rd, 2009

    I’m almost out the door but I wanted to link to this before I left: Bebo Zeroes In On Lifestreaming For The Masses; Gets Massive Bump From AIM Profiles. Why do I think it is worth mentioning? AIM is one of the big three instant messaging services utilized by the fan community. A lot of members of the fan community are going to be effected. The change of having that content on bebo, instead of AIM, might also have an effect of giving a big bump to the fan community located over there if people dig deeper than just the front landing page.

    #rcc09 Australia

    February 22nd, 2009

    There is a desire on my, Laura Hale’s, part to run an RCC in Australia. Look for details soon.

    #rcc09 RecentChangesCamp patterns

    February 22nd, 2009

    Session notes:

    This presentation is not about grudging about this time. It is about discussing patterns in a non-personal.

    Patterns:

    • Absent organizers

    Past organizers who didn’t help this year. New organizers who fell off. Things happen in their lives so that they can’t happen.

    • Chaos happening.
    • Challenge of volunteer management
    • Mutual accountability

    Wiki people don’t necessarily want to have a person with whom the buck stops because we are wiki people. The flat mush is also an issue because there is no one person who can drive tings necessarily.

    • Venue finding

    How hard it is to find a venue? This is a date finding issue. It needs to be done far in advanced.

    Issues with who is planning the date. Need more lead time to get sponsorship. We need dates declared.

    This year the mailing list had the venue found earlier. It was better than previous years.

    • Mailing list vs. wiki

    Some information found on the mailing list should have been put on the wiki that was not on the mailing list. The wiki is a way that some people prefer to communicate only.

    Users should be allowed to chose their way to get notifications. Don’t try to force people to get e-mail notifications of changes to the wiki.

    • Stagnant community

    There is a feeling with some people that we haven’t grown in terms of how many people attend that some of the early organizers would have wanted to attend. We didn’t do enough out reach to some of the related communities. This could be a big part of a marketing. We didn’t do that in ways that we could have. Outreach needs to improve.

    • West coast attendance

    Some people are not going to attend unless wiki events are held in California. If it moved off the west coast, would people attend? Could we do it successfully? How do you tap into local communities tech wise to promote events?

    • Open Space model

    This is a good space. Some people are scared to use Open Space. They see it as hippy dippy. There are some cultures aren’t used to it. They are scared of trying to use the space.

    • Persistence of community

    What do you do to invite the gifts of people in the community to look into the future? Ask people to help with the future based on how they self identified how to give. Volunteers need to be plugged into a system where they an be most effective. Project management tool might be needed as a way of trying to help organize the event. This could also help create mutual accountability. It helps create a safe space where people can create a safe space where they need to step out.

    • Reinventing the wheel

    We know things people need for conference. Every time, identifying those things again takes time. Things include t-shirts, conference space, invitations, facilitator, food, sponsorship.

    You could create a date independent invitation where you ask people to help get the space as part of the invitation.

    People worked for a month to rewrite the previous invitation. Do we need to do that again? Invitation might need to be customized for different communities. People who aren’t techy. People in neighboring tech communities. People who use them as part of their job (university, government, business professionals). Passionate people who use wikis but don’t see them as part of their use as part of their identity.

    • Sponsorship

    We don’t treat sponsors right at RCC. We need to print banners about them. The sponsors aren’t on the wiki as well as they could be. Some sponsors are reliable but a lot aren’t. We need a committee for sponsorship so that there isn’t any duplicating of sponsorship.

    • Conference call

    Is conference call a good thing? Is it a walled garden? If we do it, we need an agenda before the conference call to encourage people to attend.

    • Future wiki events

    Wikimania is in late August 2009 in Brazil.

    WikiSym is in the fall in October in October in Orlando.

    Wikimania 2010 will be in western Europe.

    WikiWednesdays are local and scattered. There isn’t really formal organization.

    We need a RCC in the late winter, early spring for the next one.

    People have been tossing up an idea of a west coat wikimedia meet up. It doesn’t necessarily effect our community.

    Is there a value opportunity for moving the event? Do we lose momentum by moving the event around? Do we lose the leadership? If it isn’t kept in Portland, there isn’t a great way to do that.

    #rcc09 Moving on

    February 22nd, 2009

    Session notes:

    Wikis can fail quickly. One or two people do work and then they abandon it. If a wiki doesn’t work, they get abandoned. It can be a social problem because of the software.

    People can also leave because the rules or social climate change and that is a distinctly non-wiki thinking.

    Wikis are often talked about in terms of organic things like wiki gardening. We call inactive wikis dead wikis.

    Some times people do less wiki work as they move on. Sometimes with open source, things die because the creator refuses to turn things over to others in order to keep the project on.

    Some people move on and have emotional issues with that regarding backing off.

    People need to have a way to deal with possible absence of key staff members for a wiki.

    Often you have a small group of people who run the show and get emotional over criticism because they understand everything going on on the inside. And then you have people on the outside criticising. They dont necessarily know. How do you bring that group in to the leadership?

    There is a power curve of where there is often a group of one leader for seven people.

    People understand the fact that people get tired and move on in the wiki community. It can help change certain dynamics because people know they are willing to do things.

    RecentChangesCamp has had a lot of turn over with who ran the event. There is only one real volunteer who helped so lots of support and that was Mark Dilley. It kind of shows that wiki philosophy of allowing people to come forward.

    Projects can be really slow for years and then massively scale in a short period of time. It can create really problems. It can be a reason why you need transparency in your actions to allow people to come in and fit in, get tasks to do, etc.

    Things happen because some one days let’s go there. You can’t do that unless some one is willing to step forward to go through the door and take that first step.

    Make sure that you systematically pair up with people to run a project. Question of should you pick a person to take over OR have that person rise up in to a leadership position?

    What keeps people involved? Is it passion or skills? Is it desire or skill?

    You need that one person in a group to help you keep something from falling apart.

    It is okay to fail. You learn from failure. You learn from the process of failing. It isn’t always a reflection on you.

    Maybe we need a wiki camp to preserve and revive dead wikis so the knowledge is preserved.

    There is some one on a wiki who is ultimately responsible. There is a curve and you can’t get away from it with wikis.

    EncyclopediaDramatica is an interesting case where moderators probably don’t burn out as much because of the nature of it.

    Wikis are better at knowledge systems than a lot of other systems because they have the social problems being really visible. With Drupal, you can hide certain social problems where they don’t have to be addressed right away because you can get filters, etc.

    Wikis seem like a step up in terms of the evolution of human interaction.

    Platforms are really changing right now. It is a great time to be living in.

    Things that are changing right now in open source and wikis is that it is okay to take it seriously. Technology makes things more serious and adds legitimacy for things in ways that they didn’t do it before. You can treat topics more seriously in a wiki than you could otherwise.

    We’re at a stage where people can put time and energy in a way that they might not have done before because of that. They can turn it into a career and it isn’t viewed as unacceptable as they are moving up.

    The guy from meatball wiki is a case of a guy who left wikis to go to accounting and we lost a great resource in the wiki community. It might be viewed as a waste because we lost knowledge. It could also be a good thing showing that we can move on and do it successfully, translate those skills.

    SocialText founder has sort of moved beyond wikis but the philosophy of wikis still underlines his projects and life. He is involved but not as visible.

    Wiki burnout happens because wiki work is now done. You can always work on it and nagging feeling that you’re not doing that.

    As a leader, you have to decide what you will and won’t do that. You also need to give space for other people to do that.

    For Fan History, this is done with Tikatu monitoring Recent Changes and handling policy regarding how to handle changes because that it NOT my job.

    #rcc09 Wikis as Business

    February 21st, 2009

    Taking notes as a presentation by Evan on wikis as business because I am not facilitating this session. Some random thoughts from this:

    Introducing money into the equation can change the dynamics of a wiki community.

    There is a fear that the wiki maintainer will profit off other people’s work. Wiki maintainers and owners need to really work on it so that they treat their contributors with respect, help with administration and provide services to the community. Communities need to own the project. The company owns the website.

    One wiki model that has worked is doing wiki farms but it isn’t really a software business in an interesting way because it doesn’t have the content issue and the community issues in that way.

    This may pose a question regarding a business model that is viable. How can you make it a successful business if you can’t generate revenue just through advertising?

    Ways to do that? Let the community pay for the platform… That may work well in some places but people are like “Why should I pay for the privilege of working for you?”

    Google Advertising can remove value because the value ends up only being in the words. Possible way is to go directly to the advertiser. It helps improve your return on advertising.

    Display Revenue takes a lot more organizational work than Google Revenue.

    For a site like vinismo, direct advertising may work really well because the content is very focused in its content and mission.

    WikiTravel declared that the far right column is for advertising. The ads didn’t appear in the wiki content.

    WikiTravel also generates revenue through being able to print up physical version in a condensed version for people to use in another medium where they sell that printed version.

    Most of the editors for the print version come from the WikiTravel community. They get hired for the print version. Being hired for wikitravel from with in the community helps maintain the community.

    Books cost between $12.95 and $25 and you get the most up to date version.

    Other mediums are about brand extension.

    Yellow Wikis got shut down because of trademark but they were similar to the yellow pages. Their business model was that businesses could pay to protect their page. It was partially succesful. It might have moved to Wikia.

    There is a question of if paying for ownership of a topic can be done in an ethical.

    AboutUs pays for the article to be written, the article to be featured, etc. Companies get follow links when they pay. (But everyone who does constructive edits gets their links turned on to follow. That is manually being done. That policy is still in the air.) The main page rank has a lot of good page rank so that they have good reason to pay in some reasons.

    There was a business that did a pay for improving articles on Wikipedia. The business that did that kind of got shut down because while they had the know how to write good edits on Wikipedia, the business didn’t interact well with the Wikipedia community.

    Some people still do paid article writing on Wikipedia. They just aren’t as obvious as about it, are good communities, etc.

    If you can show value to the community, that you aren’t taking anything away from the community, then it makes sense to do some monetization.

    Three basic components to monetize: 1) Software, 2) Content & Advertising services, 3) People side and how to wiki. (Steven Walling.)

    Dream Fish does a collaboration and co-working consulting business that is about establishing a collaboration culture. It is about practicing together. There is a paid content fee for some types of content. They help them find the appropriate wiki software to help them serve their goal. They help them figure out how they want to network and use collaborative tools. They also help people identify key people to help them implement their solution.

    Steward Meyner does wiki consulting.

    Microsoft has tried to put out white papers on how they use wikis.

    Portland created a wiki and later didn’t realize what they wanted to do with their wiki. They ended up backtracking because of that as a result.

    There is a need for a wiki for wiki consultants where you can get reputation, years of experience and involvement with types of software.

    Wiki is great for content based websites. It can be more cost effective with users generating content.

    GoogleAds wasn’t something that AboutUs originally feel was going to pan out but now they have changed their view because it now works and their Google Ads and they make money. It helps because they have really broad ads which works pulls them up which Google Ads helps serves up. They are also helped because they get a lot of traffic. They tried content categories for niche sales but for AboutUs it really hasn’t worked well so far. AboutUs thinks that Google Ads works well for random content where they can’t really target. It can be hard to sell specific ads for sections because it takes time and effort and people to sell ads across those categories.

    wikiHow has a very similar model to AboutUs. That works really well for wikiHow.

    LeadGen is a model about selling the ability to do surveys where the company does polls that they then sell that polling information to marketing companies. Leads can be worth $30 to $40. AboutUs learned about it from All Star Directory. That site has a lot of information about colleges and universities. People fill out forms with the expectation of being contacted about that information. It is online research, offline purchase. It can remove some of those issues involving community as your community isn’t going to get ad information they don’t ask for.

    Wagn is a company that gets paid to host and doing consulting services related to the wiki they are hosting. Wagn doesn’t have wiki competitor because of what they are doing.

    Mahalo has a micropayment service to reward for contributors where they can monetize it off. This might not work for everyone as people can be corrupted by reward. Alfie Cone did some research where kids were paid to play games and some were not. The kids who got paid stopped playing with toys when they told they were done. People get different things out of an altruistic activity. You need to consider some of that when you try things like that.

    Evan doesn’t see wiki software business as much different than other software selling businesses. The only thing that might be different is the admin type function.

    Wikia pays people to do some of that community maintenance. But that feels like doing it just to help generate community. Wikia also pays for wikis. They use a selling point of helping with community moderation to help prevent fights.

    Wagn has a possible selling point of maintaining things so that people wn’t have to worry about becoming them next magnolia. The person can have back ups easier than other places. Wagn can also sell on having structured data and yet behind collaborative. They can also show that they need to sell that the content can’t be behind a firewall because their software is so great. They also help people to help them wagneering/wikibuilding which helps those users get greater ownership in house.

    Ward Cunningham was told with in a week that he should patent the wiki idea. He didn’t necessarily see a way to patent it with out a wiki community being active. He didn’t see a business model off the first wikis. A few years later, he talked to entrepreneurs who paid him to do consulting and customer support where he found that it could make money in that way in terms of live organizational support and structuring. But the amount of support wasn’t necessarily right as it required almost a job to do that he wasn’t interested in. He now gives wikis to people for free. Ward calls his software The Wiki or more properly, Wiki Version 4. His big wiki is currently on Wiki Version 1. Wiki Version 4 is more modular. Ward did explore potential when was at its peak to sell the wiki. He talked to some people, went through some friends and some people might have been interested but the people interested would only have paid for the code based on how much it would have cost for the company to create the software themselves. The potential buyers were not interested in the community built on the site. Ward has made some money off Amazon Associated from the sale of books. He also makes money off the business card. He has never gotten any consulting work off of his wiki work… which is wow as he invented wikis. That might have been because he highballed the price. He was competing against Lotus Notes. The competitor might have looked at it as Lotus Notes vs. lone consultant and the end users doing the asking because they wanted to avoid Lotus Notes. The higher ups weren’t as interested in the user experience.

    Are we hard wired to get personal gratification for being altruistic? Can that be used to make wikis better? Maybe wikis can be used to help prevent donor fatigue.

    Some people may be hard wired to give and people might be emotionally hurt if they don’t give.

    How would be work differently if that isn’t hard wired but cultural? Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference at all.

    People might be financially rewarded for what they are passionate about. Though that might actually be hard to monetize.

    Ward Cunningham didn’t worry about money as much when perusing his passion. He might not have been positioned as well connection wise in order to make money.

    Wiki might not have been positioned correctly to get patented because when done it might have been viewed as something like herding chickens.

    The idea for patents is to encourage innovation but it might not do that because it encourages people to work in isolation. Rather, all it does is encourage people to make a business model around an idea.

    #rcc09 : Welcoming on wikis and edits

    February 21st, 2009

    I missed the presentation by wikiHow that talked about welcoming on wikis but I heard about it later when a small group from wikiHow and a few tag alongs like myself went to dinner.   If you’re not aware of it, welcoming on wikis is when people are welcomed to the wiki after they make their first contribution or register for an account.   Some of the wiki people I know do this because they think it helps to build community which in turn translates into additional edits to the wiki.  As wikis need edits to improve their content, this is really important.  Wikis should always be looking for ways to convert edits.

    At the session, wikiHow apparently talked about the effect of welcoming and their conversion rate in terms of helping to get more edits.  They did a student on the topic in fact.  They found that welcoming people to a wiki did not have a relationship to people’s edit totals or likelihood to edit more.  (I wasn’t there so I am probably missing more of it.)

    That’s kind of interesting as I know of a number of wikis that try that including AboutUs, EncyclopediaDramatica, wikiHow and some wikis on Wikia.  We’ve never really done it on Fan History because we couldn’t figure out how to automate the process and most people seemed to come in, edit their article and that was it.  Why waste the energy on it?  But at the same time, all these other wikis were doing it.   It seemed ingrained in wiki culture.  Why not do it?  Are we just being lazy?  It feels kind of nice o be redeemed and know it doesn’t necessarily help in terms of community development.

    I would be kind of interested to learn why it doesn’t convert to additional edits though.  Is the lack of conversion a result of how people view wikis?  Possibly not as a community?  Is it because people who want to edit will edit no matter what and some people just edit here and there because of subject matter expertise?  Lots of reasons probably and I want to learn more. :)

    Work for hire fan fiction contest? We need an organization to fight that!

    February 20th, 2009

    Have you heard about the Britney Spears fan fiction contest? I have. It is being run by Britney Spears‘s label. Should be massively awesome great fun! If you win, well you get the totally awesome prize of having your story turned into “official digital music video!”

    Haven’t we heard about stuff like this before? Oh wait. We have. Only this Britney Spears contest makes them look angelic, showing corporations how to run things where fan fiction is concerned. Why? Because you retained the rights to your story when you uploaded content to their archive.

    Take a look at the fun contest rules for the Britney Spears contest:

    (ii) you agree that the Submission Materials shall be a “work made for hire,” with all rights therein, including, without limitation, the exclusive copyright, being the property of Sponsor. In the event the Submission Materials are considered not to be a “work made for hire,” you irrevocably assign to Sponsor all right, title, and interest in your entry (including, without limitation, the copyright) in any and all media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all uses thereof, including, without limitation, for purposes of advertising or trade.

    (c) You hereby hold Sponsor harmless from and against any third party claim arising from use of the Submission Materials. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Submission Materials or to be compensated for any such uses. You hereby represent and warrant that you are at least 13 years of age and that you have read these Official Rules and are fully familiar with their contents.

    When you know that other company was created with a Terms of Service that was a bit more benign? The “fandom” response included the beating of chests, and gnashing of teeth. Fans were angry! And they remained angry for months! They followed the news about the site. They blogged about it. They wrote academic papers! They were not going to allow people to colonize and commercialize their space and take advantage of fans who didn’t know better because they weren’t integrated into mainstream fandom. And out of that outrage, an organization was born. This organization’s purpose was to lobby for fan rights as they applied to fan fiction derivative works.

    And so, twenty months after that event, with the organization well under way and having much support in the community? With the organization being aware of the Britney Spears fan fiction contest because information about it was posted to fanthropology, a LiveJournal community that many of the organization’s members follow actively follow having a post about it? You just know that the organization is on the case! They too are outraged about this! The bandom community that is represented by the organization is leading the charge! There is outrage because really, the Britney Spears contest makes that other organization look good! And rights of fans need to be protected! Especially those that don’t matter! And dude, they are trying to commercialize fan fiction while stealing the rights away from fan fiction writers! Woe! Unfair! Cruel! This must be stopped!

    Wait. No. There isn’t outrage. I jest! They don’t care. This organization is not the least bit interested in Britney Spears. They aren’t interested in publicizing the rules that even I, some one who doesn’t have a problem with commercialism in fan fiction, consider unfair. The organization hasn’t had Britney Spears fan fiction contest days where they encourage their members to write meta about how this is unfair on their LiveJournals and to submit those stories to metafandom. They haven’t updated their wiki to include information about the unfair rules on the Britney contest. This topic hasn’t made fandom_wank because passionate fans, members of that organization, have gotten so passionate that they’ve hit the batshit phase of defending fan rights. I haven’t seen Henry Jenkins blogging about this like he did with that other company. The fan outrage hasn’t gotten to the point where the folks over at Making Light, a for profit press, have started to weigh in on the side of their fandom brethren to complain about how another corporation is unfairly taking advantage of their fannish brethren.

    There isn’t any outrage and despite the so called lessons that the company taught us, nothing changes. The organization created to protect us does nothing. Why? Because really, who cares? This is Britney Spears. And that contest? It isn’t going to have any affect on fans like those that are involved with the organization. The Britney Spears contest isn’t going to challenge those fans perceived status in the fan community. They aren’t going to think that they are less than top dogs because of the Britney contest. So you see, the organization is going to sit quietly by while fans get screwed. Isn’t it lovely? That’s why we need them in fandom… to not document this, to not bring this to our attention, to not lobby for change that they could actually get done.

    There is no outrage and there continues to be no organization, no group of people dedicated to protecting fan rights when corporations cross the line. And that makes me sad. :(

    #rcc09 : Developing a wiki community

    February 20th, 2009

    RecentChangesCamp is under way and I’m attending a session on developing wiki communities. Several Meyer Memorial Trust people here and several Foodista folks at this presentation.

    Some general thoughts and things mentioned:

    Community needs to be built around a content from which possible community members are dedicated to and passionate about. It needs to flow with their normal tasks and create reason why to participate.

    You need a few core people who are dedicated to keeping the community going. This can be because wikis have bursts of activity and you need some one can sustain across bursts.

    Wiki communities can be helped by contacting people who contribute to the wiki and asking how they can be more helpful.

    People like rewards, recognition for their activity. That needs to be done and tapped into in order to help build community.

    Highlighting the fact that others can use the content and be helpful to them can give people a more altruistic reason for being involved.

    Wikia does a good job at highlighting communities, highlighting articles created by the community.

    Members of a wiki can get value when you reminded them that they are part of a larger community and a mission, a guiding statement. It helps create purpose and leads to fulfillment when that goal is being accomplished. Their contributions become more than just a few edits.

    WikiHow is benefiting community wise because of retired folks and laid off people. It means more people involved and helps connect them to part of a larger community as they deal with life changes.

    Community needs to understand that there is no page ownership. When dealing with older people, you need to patient and explain ownership issues.

    Community Wiki and Meatball Wiki are two wikis which talk about building community on wikis.

    There can be a trust issue to getting people involved with wikis. Because wikis run counter to the idea of not having authority.

    Convention/fan relations? You’re doing it wrong.

    February 19th, 2009

    Previously I I blogged about FaerieCon and my experiences there as a vendor/attendee for the past two years. I was aware that the venue, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, had more than its fair share of problems as far as the con organizers, vendors, and attendees were concerned. It certainly wasn’t especially “fae” in atmosphere, and being a union facility everything from setting up your booth to running a single line of electricity could become quite expensive.

    But that said, it did have some advantages location-wise, at least for those from and/or familiar with the Philadelphia area. It was no more than a block or two’s walk from the Greyhound bus station (and numerous Chinatown bus routes). A block or two from multiple subway and regional rail routes (including the route that serves the airport–an under $6 fare). Under a $10 cab fare from 30th Street Station. For those reliant on public transit (or who use it whenever possible for convenience/environmental/cost factors), it was great. Also being smack-dab in the middle of Chinatown, and near Reading Terminal Market, cheap and good food was in quick, easy walking distance. Yes, the “host hotel” rates were expensive, but the city itself is full of lodging choices for any budget, again within easy public transit reach to the convention center. The nearby Trocadero theater made for a fabulous location for the Good and Bad Faerie Balls.

    Nevertheless, I had heard talk of moving the convention, and did agree that it might be a necessary choice. Even being in the heart of the city, it seemed attendance was never in the range that it could or should have been to make the PACC location profitable (for anyone). A different location — say a hotel convention facility in the area, even the nearby ‘burbs — should provide cheaper facilities, and I had imagined might provide cheaper prices for exhibitors, hence I was actually considering trying to work the show again this year as the fees for it were my primary reason not for returning.

    But then last night I received an update email, which made me rule out the possibility of going back entirely.

    Because the convention is now going to take place in Hunt Valley, Maryland (oh, they say it’s Baltimore, but I’ll get to that in a moment) at the good old Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. And let’s take a look at how they “promote” this change of venue on their website (the same as the email), which manages to be both highly insulting to Philadelphia and its resident fen, but inaccurate in many ways as well…

    LOCATION: Baltimore, MD
    - Easier Access for all of our Fans
    - A Safer and more Hospitable City

    First off, Hunt Valley is NOT Baltimore. It is, by YahooMaps 17.5 miles (approximately 22 minutes by car) away. This might be easier access to some with cars, but it is not easier access “for all”. I know from a great deal of experience that it is about a $40+ cab ride from the train station in Baltimore to that hotel. It is 45 minutes away from Baltimore by light rail and an awkward walk (especially if you have any luggage) involving crossing a 6-lane high-traffic road (with no pedestrian sidewalks as this is commuter suburbia).

    And let’s talk about “safer and more hospitable”. What a way to insult Philadelphia and its residents. We can examine some actual statistics from 2005 that ranked Baltimore the #2 most dangerous city with population over 500,000 in the U.S.; Philadelphia was ranked #6. Baltimore is noted for its consistently higher than average crime rates.

    Oh, but that’s right, the con isn’t really in Baltimore anyway. It’s in Hunt Valley, which probably doesn’t have that much crime given it’s mostly full of business and industrial parks. Except perhaps pedestrians getting hit trying to cross those roadways!

    DATE: November 6-8
    - No Ren Faire Date Conflicts
    - The perfect Holiday Gift Shopping Event

    It’s nice it doesn’t conflict with any Ren Faire. But the new later date puts it two weeks before Philcon, meaning again that many Philadelphia-area fans are less likely to attend for budget/scheduling reasons.

    And as someone who has worked retail for many years, nothing truly becomes “holiday shopping” in earnest until Thanksgiving weekend onward.

    VENUE – Marriott Hunt Valley
    - Just 10 Minutes from Downtown Baltimore!

    Ten minutes perhaps by helicopter.

    - A modern, beautiful hotel.

    I guess they’ve missed how many of us have laughed our heads off at the rather hideous remodeling of the hotel from several years ago, with the nausea-inducing carpet patterns, odd lighting choices, etc.

    - FaerieCon owns the WHOLE Hotel for the Weekend!
    - After hours, you can party all night!
    - FaerieCon Special Rate Rooms are just $99.00 a night;
    that’s 50% off Philadelphia rates!

    I also know that hotel tends to fill up pretty quick for conventions. Nearby overflow choices are somewhat limited and generally in the $130+ range.

    - Free Parking on Site! – saving you up to $40 a day from Philly

    Again, good for the car people. For the rest of us, not so much…

    - All Activities – including the Masquerade Balls – take place in the Hotel!

    I’ll miss the Troc.

    - Hunt Valley is an Experienced Convention Host – Balticon and others are held there.

    I’ll grant them this is true. But I will say it has very limited – and expensive – dining choices. Their snack bar is similar to Aramarks’ at the PACC in terms of selection and price. The hotel’s main restaurant, the Cinnamon Tree, is overpriced and inconsistent at best in quality. There are numerous chain and other restaurants in driving distance, but it’s been my experience that being suburbia, they are mob scenes Friday & Saturday nights — especially when you throw a convention into the mix.

    - Full Guest Facilities: Bar, Restaurants, Gym, Outdoor Areas, etc.

    OK, I just have to laugh at the outdoor areas bit. The outdoor areas basically consist of the lawn around the parking lot. The most I’ve generally ever seen people use these outdoor areas for during conventions is a smoke break.

    And let’s also talk about the fact that their exhibitor prices have only gone up, not down. At a non-union facility, now which has a much more limited capacity for bodies on premises than the PACC did. This to me is the final insult upon injury. Even with all my personal beefs about the location, I can still afford (and profit on) working a convention like Shore Leave at that hotel — because a vendor’s space can be had for under $300. Even if I have upwards of $400 in travel, lodging, and food expenses, I can still make a profit when my expenses are under $700. Here, FaerieCon is charging just about DragonCon-level pricing for space, for an event that will not possibly get that kind of turnout.

    I really have to wonder what is up with how they think they can justify that. And I will wait and see if I can get any answers from the event staff to explain it all…

    It’s a shame, too, because I had been considering even just attending this year, without vending. I really enjoyed the craftwork, the music, and the atmosphere of the convention in the past. But at the considerably higher cost for me to now even attend (let alone exhibit), given the state of the economy currently it’s just not something I have the budget for, even if I wasn’t insulted by the way this change was announced.

    Article deletion request policy gets modified!

    February 16th, 2009

    We’ve modified our article deletion request policy just a tiny bit. We’ve tossed in a new question:

    Are there articles about people in my fandom that you won’t delete?

    Depending on a fandom’s history on the wiki and the presence of other wikis documenting the history of a fandom, special rules may be created as to who is notable in the fandom. In those cases, the rules regarding who can have the article about them will be found on a special help page for the fandom. The special fandom cases are below:

    This doesn’t impact most people.  At the moment, it only impacts about 100 or so articles found in the Rescue Rangers fandom. But as we made this change, we figured that the community as a whole might want to know! If you have any questions about what this means to our big picture, let us know!

    On privacy, blogging, and hazardous misconceptions

    February 16th, 2009

    Today’s blog isn’t so much directly about fandom, but the ways in which I’ve recently seen a number of people (inside and outside of fandom) completely miss the boat on the way the internet works–in particular on issues of etiquette and privacy.

    Unfortunately, there is no one “bible” on internet etiquette out there to follow; no international rules and regulations beyond those that evolve within the community of internet users through the years. But some of these things really shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out if you are at all familiar with technology and net culture–and have some small amount of common sense about you. They are also things which are worth contemplating from time to time, to determine if your personal expectations of privacy and etiquette can really be automatically expected to be followed by others–or are completely off the mark.

    Public postings are exactly that: PUBLIC.

    Sure, you can deter robots from spidering through your blog, livejournal, or website. But that doesn’t mean someone you didn’t “intend” to find your rantings about your evil housemates, your boss, or your pornographic Harry Potter fiction isn’t going to stumble upon it in some other fashion. Unless you lock them down through password protection, “friends lock” or other methods, your words, images and actions that you’ve chosen to share on the internet are there for anyone to see, read, and potentially respond to.

    Indeed, some of the things people do that they think “protect” themselves may serve as only a greater incentive for the “wrong” audience to want to read on. Putting up a giant post-dated post or header on your blog proclaiming “THIS SITE IS FOR MY FRIENDS ONLY!” without actively locking it down as such? May only be more incentive for the nosy to click away. It’s like leaving an unlocked, hand-written diary out on a coffee table in a house you share with others. Maybe some people will be “polite” enough to ignore it’s there and not open it. But even if you put a sticky note on it saying “DO NOT OPEN”, you’re not doing all you should to guard your privacy.

    Linking happens. Deal with it.

    One of the primary features of the World Wide Web, since its earliest days, was The Link. An American webpage on, say, Pink Floyd might lead you to another website in Holland featuring a F.A.Q. about the band or discography; it might include a list of mailing lists around the world you could subscribe to to discuss the band; a directory of fan sites for other classic rock bands. A fan-fiction archive for Star Wars might include a “link page” where you could find more Star Wars fiction, information sites about the movies, etc.

    Yet linking seems to remain one of those things people can get irrationally weird and protective about. Even while linking has long been one of the easiest and most direct ways for people within a specific community or sharing a common interest could find each other, some people get strangely obsessive over who does and doesn’t link to their sites and whether permission is required to do so. These people don’t seem to understand that linking does not equal stealing content, which is another matter entirely. In fandom, this has often come up in terms of fiction rec lists or sites such as FanWorksFinder–and critical reviews as well. Some have raised objections if their stories were included in a review that was less-than-favorable, claiming it to be “stealing their content”. But a story link is different from, say, taking an entire story out of an archive and publishing it on your own site without asking the author’s permission first (unless the author has given clear, blanket permission to “archive anywhere”).

    A large number of blogs (just a sampling, there) have posted about linking etiquette in the blogosphere in the past, with it seemingly coming down to these general guidelines:

    1. You don’t need permission to link to a blog, however, it’s generally considered good etiquette to remove a link if asked to do so. (Metafandom is a fannish example of a blog/newsletter which follows this practice–if a post is public, it’s fair game for linking unless the author has said in their post they don’t want it on MF, or ask to have it removed later on).

    2. Stealing content without credit, or including information without a link back to where it came from, is bad. So is including links/content in a way that potentially steals revenue from the original blogger.

    3. Reciprocal links can be nice but are not mandatory.

    Seems like these rules should be easy enough to understand, but that’s not often the case. And coupled with some folks’ apparent misunderstanding of the public nature of un-protected blogs, this can lead to major wank. A recent example of this I witnessed was on the egullet forums–a somewhat elitist website for food and dining enthusiasts. Shola Olunloyo, a very popular “private chef” in the Philadelphia community and Pennsylvania subforum was running a blog on food which mysteriously disappeared, and then returned some time later under strict password protection. In the wank on the egullet forum that followed (posts on the subject mainly deleted by a forum moderator on 2/18/09), it appeared Shola did not like having his blog linked to by others, and then got upset over certain negative/potentially trolling comments that had been posted there.

    Certainly, a blog (or any site) can become more trouble than it’s worth if one is constantly harassed or confronted by it, but this incident ended up coming across as someone being unfortunately unfamiliar with the way the internet works and then coming off with a bad case of “I’m taking my toys and going home” or flounce at the end of the day. If a person wanted to share their ideas about food and cooking without ever risking negative comments, comments could have been disabled entirely on the blog (or screened by an assistant to the blog, if the chef never wanted to even see them himself unless the comments were positive). If linking to the site was to be such a “no-no”, a disclaimer should have been clearly put on the site stating as much (and even then, cannot be completely expected to be followed)–just the arguments on egullet that followed showed that everyone’s apparent ideas of netiquette with regard to linking is different from each other. Or perhaps Shola should have simply started with a password-protected blog from the start, the only way to truly limit who had access to his site, as he apparently learned the hard way instead of avoiding certain unpleasantness from the start.

    There are a lot more exampled of misconceptions of privacy on-line I can think of which I’ve seen in recent times: a fan-fiction author being outed after not protecting her fannish identity as separate from the “real life” one on Facebook; a chat session being copied on a public messageboard which some participants had believed would be private, which then lead to serious wank within the fandom. Almost every week there seems to be some kerfluffle in fandom related to privacy issues, sometime minor, sometimes major.

    So I’m going to end this blog with a point towards Fan History’s Privacy Help Page. We’ve been wanked in the past about it for it being “laughable” and “impractical”; that to follow all the guidelines within would not allow one to participate in fandom at all. And such criticism is missing the point. The point is that one must constantly make thoughtful decisions when on the internet regarding one’s desire and needs for privacy vs. one’s desire to create and share in on-line communities. You can’t expect the millions of people out there on the net to all have the same “good intentions” as you do, nor the same ideas of what constitutes netiquette. One must be aware of the “risks” involved in one’s actions on-line, and make decisions on whether they feel comfortable with those risks. If you create a public blog, you must accept that people are, in fact, going to read it. And maybe disagree with you and what you say, and tell you such. If you post anything under pseudonym to “protect your privacy” but aren’t consistent in keeping your real life identity separate from your fannish one (or try to use your reputation or “standing” within the fannish community to improve your real life one, or vice-versa) eventually someone may “connect the dots” in a way that could have negative repercussions for you. These are the facts of life in the internet world of today, facts which, unfortunately, many only seem to realize from making embarrassing and potentially more hurtful mistakes.

    Twitter as an alarm clock! Or how to get unfollows!

    February 14th, 2009

    I’m a bit cranky this morning. I was having to get up early to go in to my part time job. I was planning to get up at 6am. I got a lovely wake up call at 4:30am care of swirleight, an SEO specialist on Twitter who chose that time to send me 5DMs, 10 text messages to my cell phone. I keep it next to my bed as I use it as my alarm clock and general time piece.

    You might be thinking like I thought: Must be something urgent, useful, job lead, help for Fan History. You know, something that takes 5DMs to explain.

    5 DMs

    Nope! The same DM spam 5 times. FIVE TIMES.

    It would be great if it looked like the person had read through a few of my tweets before doing that. I’ve done some complaining recent about SEO folks who autofollow when some one mentions SEO, asked about how you can tell they are effect when the SEO doesn’t have much traffic to their website and complained about DMs. Oh, and when I’ve been talking about how I unfollow people who aren’t likely to add value my Twitter list because I can’t develop a relationship with them when they have too many followers to be likely to see my DMs. (Though there are clear exceptions. Some people have content that good/interesting that makes them worth following anyway.) Given the wake up call, eating up 10 of my 400 monthly text messages, following 800+ people (with less than half following in return), having autofollowed me because I mentioned SEO and then not being aware of my content… Fail.

    So to all you who want to thank followers, please consider the time zone of your followers, if you might be incurring text message charges to them, that you don’t thank them when you followed them first AND please show awareness of their content. Because swirleigh got an unfollow as a result and I would think others would respond in a similar way. It is a nice little how to guide to getting unfollowers.

    FanworksFinder problems

    February 11th, 2009

    FanworksFinder is continuing to have a spam problem. We’re aware of it. We tried a recapatcha solution that ended up shutting down registration. It didn’t work. When we reopened registration, the spam problem came right back.

    So now we are searching for another solution. Thank you for your patience.

    Templates are not mandatory but blanking is still vandalism…

    February 11th, 2009

    Over on the wiki today, we had a contributor blank a number of articles related to the Rescue Rangers fandom and then set up redirects to the Rangerphiles wikis with an explanation of “Since templates are not mandatory, and the Ranger Wiki carries a lot more information about CDRR fans, I changed this article into a Ranger Wiki redirect.” Needless to say, these edits were immediately rolled back and the contributor was banned.

    Templates on Fan History are NOT mandatory. We use them because we’ve found that they increase the number of contributions that we get. People feel more comfortable editing articles when they have an established framework to contribute to. The templates also help give an idea as to how we organize, what is and isn’t allowed, where emphasis on the wiki is placed. Sometimes, people who know wikis really well come in and remove our template format. So long as they keep the information, that’s fine. The article about Elwin Blaine Coldiron is a great example of that.

    But you cannot just blank an article and say that information is available elsewhere. It doesn’t work like that. Blanking is vandalism. And while YAY! GO YOU! AND YOUR FANDOM’S EFFORTS TO DOCUMENT ITS OWN HISTORY!, that doesn’t mean you can vandalize a wiki, violate its rules in order to promote your own project. And you most certainly can’t use a redirect to try to get our traffic. A redirect should be for wiki articles on our site only. Otherwise, that redirect implies a relationship between our project that doesn’t exist. If you want that, you let us know.

    We have relationships with other sites and other wikis where shared documentation goes on. (Police Wiki is our biggest and most important relationship.) We don’t redirect. We MIRROR content and we have article boxes on top of those articles that say the content is mirrored. We have different audiences, different purposes, different rules… and those mirrored articles are based on a relationship where both wikis are willing to play by the same set of rules for those articles.

    What was done, blanking and redirecting to an off site wiki, amounts to a form of black hat wiki promoting. We normally would probably ban for two weeks. This particular user was banned permanently. He’s edited before. He should know better. And if you want to promote your wiki (or any site for that matter) on Fan History, there are a lot of ways to do that. You can put in a see also section for interwiki links. You can add links in the external links section. You can put an article box on the top, saying that this series of articles is being jointly worked on on Fan History and your wiki. You can cite your own wiki all over the article.

    Templates aren’t mandatory. Promoting your wiki is fine. Citing first hand sources is awesome. But blanking is still vandalism and redirecting is still black hat promoting. Also, it annoys us.

    The market and the medium are NOT separate conversations

    February 10th, 2009

    I occasionally read Anime News Network’s Chicks on Anime because as some one who tries to keep up with fandom, it is helpful to know what is going on in the industry and they discuss topics which are relevant to fan community. Knowing this information, being exposed to the topics discussed there, it makes doing my job at Fan History that much easier and helps to insure that we’re covering things.

    So I read the latest post with some interest. The first part was kind of really disappointing because they had a fansubber involved in their discussion and they totally under utilized that person. It was like one of the panelists, Bamboo, had a set agenda of things that they wanted to say and they weren’t going to let the fansubber get in their way. Fine yeah. Whatever. Disappointing.

    Let’s move on and read the second part and hope it can improve. But nope! Fail. The Sara and Bamboo crap in the first part continued on in to the second part. Only this time? They managed to pull out the offensive with their disconnect. This time, they really managed to piss me off. I don’t know if Sara and Bamboo realize it, but they sound like privileged academic oriented elitists who don’t have to worry about the real world. And when they talk about the anime industry? When most of the consumers of that don’t necessarily fall into that cushy group? When they talk about people who would love to be involved with the industry but can’t because they lack the money? Just ARG! PLEASE SHUT UP AND GO AWAY!

    These two chicks on anime don’t seem to get it: Money and financial compensation do matter to the health of any industry, especially the creative industry. Because, you know, lack of financial compensation means only the elite, those who are financially privileged, can be involved. If you have to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from, if you can’t spend the necessary time to get the training you need, then you don’t have the incentive to produce.

    Trust me. I know this. I’ve seen it happen in fandom often. I’ve also heard about it from my friends who are artists. In the fan fiction community, some of the best authors can’t write as often as their fans would like them to because the authors aren’t getting compensated for their work in any tangible sense other than getting praise and adulation from the fan community. Those that are really, really good at writing, those that want to make a go at it as a career, they have to write original fiction. For most of them, that means loads and loads of marketing of themselves, something that takes time away from writing. And it also means continuing to work because even when they do sell, they don’t make enough to quit their day jobs. It can be stressful to watch, especially when your friends trying to make the leap to professional writing from the working class. That stuff is hard to balance.

    And that’s writing. All you really need there is a basic computer. Forget animation and art. Those require a lot more of a financial commitment. You’ve got to buy a lot of art supplies. You’ve got to buy special computers. You’ve got to buy expensive software. (Or you have to use pirated stuff and hope you don’t get caught.) Money. Money. Money. I know of a few professional artists who are pretty damned good at what they do. It would be fantastic if they could continue to produce more… but you know what? They can’t. Why? They need real jobs in order to pay for their continued involvement in the art community as artists. The lucky ones can stay in industry by working as art teachers. And by art teachers, I mean on the collegiate level. That requires more money as you need a lot of training, including a Masters degree, in order to get to that point.

    Did I mention that it pisses me off, the suggestion that you can remove money and marketing and a discussion about adequate compensation from any discussion about fostering quality in the world of anime? It does. Sara and Bamboo obviously don’t live in a world where the above matters.

    Let’s not forget another piece of underlying subtext to the message that Sara and Bamboo, our lovely chicks on anime, are conveying: Talent is hereditary and doesn’t need to be cultivated. The best artists will naturally emerge and be compensated for it as people recognize their inherent talents.

    WHUT? Also, WHUT? Seriously? Talent is not hereditary. You aren’t born a great artist. There is no genetic gift where you just born a great manga artist or a stupendous animator straight out of the womb. Artists need to practice, to have their inherent talents cultivated. It takes time. Sometimes, that time stretches into years. The time required developing any inherent talent means that they cannot be concerned about making a living because if they have to worry, they can’t produce. They’ll lack the time. Or they’ll be so distracted that when they have the time, they can’t produce their best work as a lot of people just do not work well under pressure. Because who pays the rent for a Room of One’s Own?

    Sara and Bamboo seem like a lot of non-professionals who wrongly make that assumption that talent is inherited and doesn’t require a lot of nurturing and training. Thus, they undermine fair market value because they place art and animation on pedestal. It is something that they hold sacred, where they refuse to place any concrete monetary value on art because how can they fairly value that wonderful work? Of course, this is again based on the assumption that the talented will automatically rise despite their lower class status because our culture inherently recognizes talent and quality.

    What does this mean? Those lovely assumptions that Sara and Bamboo have? It means that we, the consumer, get an inferior product, where the overall quality of what is brought to the market is inferior. Why? Because the only people who can produce are the non-paid hobbyist who labor out of love.

    This attitude in turn has the trickle down effect of hurting the industry as a whole. Why? Because if you refuse to pay for quality work, then the product being brought to market will be inferior which means that consumers are much less likely to purchase it. If that happens, then everyone on down gets hurts. This includes your publishers, your book and DVD sellers, your anime specialty shops, anime conventions, professional bloggers, retail employees, magazine publishers, etc.

    So Chicks on Anime, Bamboo and Sara? Please shut up about that which you don’t know. Money and compensation of artists matters. You can’t separate this from the issue of quality and health in the anime industry. All you’re doing is hurting the rest of us.

    Fan History LLC: Search Engine Optimization Internship

    February 10th, 2009

    Are you interested in gaining experience with a startup?  Would you like to work directly with the people who help shape the vision for the company?  Do you want to be able to make a measurable impact that you can show future employers?  Then considering working with Fan History LLC as a Search Engine Opimization Intern!

    Company Background:

    Fan History LLC is a developing entertainment company focused on our core products of an wiki and a fan fiction, fan art and fan vidding link site.  Fan History was founded two and a half years ago and incorporated 6 months ago by Laura Hale.  In that period, Fan History has grown from a wiki with a few hundred pages and 200 visitors a month to a become a wiki with over 600,000 pages and getting over 45,000 unique visitors a month.  We offer fans and entertainment related companies information that cannot be found elsewhere including a history of fan communities, the Internet’s largest directory of fans grouped by community, metrics data regarding the growth of fandom community and more.    To learn more about our company and our sites, visit http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:About .

    Role Description and Responsibilities:

    Fan History LLC is currently seeking candidates interested in a part-time Search Engine Optimization Internship.   This is an unpaid internship that will be virtual in nature (i.e., much of the Intern’s work will be done remotely with regular interactions with Fan History LLC’s team via e-mail, instant messenger, phone, and face-to-face depending on location.)  While the Internship is unpaid, the selected candidates will have an opportunity to be highly involved with the future direction of the company and will have an opportunity to attend events with Fan History LLC staff should any occur during the Intern’s tenure. Additionally, Fan History LLC is willing to work with the selected candidate for the purpose of obtaining academic credit related to this unique opportunity.

    The primary responsibility of the Search Engine Optimization Intern will improving Fan History Wiki and FanworksFinder visibility in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN and Cuil through link building.  As such, the Intern will be responsible for assignments and projects that include but are not limited to:

    • One way link creation
    • Content creation when breaking fandom news happens
    • Coordinate with other Fan History staff to promote selected content and keywords
    • Identify keywords driving traffic where content needs to be improved to get better placement for those keywords

    Candidate Qualifications:
    Fan History LLC is seeking some one with a strong mix of hard and soft-skills.  To that end, the ideal candidate will possess the following:

    • Interest in marketing, public relations or computer science
    • Interest in search engines and how to use them to promote websites
    • Effective written and verbal communication skills
    • Knowledge of Google’s Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics
    • Ability to work through ambiguous problems and drive to answers
    • Action-oriented mentality and strong drive for results
    • Knowledge of popular culture

    This internship opportunity reports to the Founder and the CTO.  This is an immediate opportunity and we are seeking candidates that can work a minimum of 10-15 hours each week.  The weekly schedule is extremely flexible and can be developed around a candidate’s availability.  This internship requires a minimum of an 8-10 week commitment.

    What’s In It For You:

    The selected candidate will be afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a developmental, exciting, and entrepreneurial work environment.  Our business is about sharing information, teaching others about what is happening in the fan community and how this information can be applied to help them meet their goals.  That premise carries through our activities both internally and externally – we place just as much an emphasis on our growing our audience share, growing the amount of information that we have available as we do on developing our staff’s skill sets and knowledge base.

    The Intern will be afforded extraordinary opportunities for mentoring via interaction with our team.  Our team has been involved in entertainment and fan communities for over ten years and has worked with entertainment companies to help them meet their goals.  The Intern will be personally mentored by Fan History’s Founder and will gain access to our professional network for future job networking opportunities.

    What’s Next:
    Are you ready to learn more than you think you can handle?  Interested in launching new projects and learning how to harness the power of search?  Then contact Laura Hale, Founder of Fan History ( laura@fanhistory.com ) for more information or to express interest.

    This is a Part-time internship offered for a term of 2 to 4 Months.

    Fan History LLC: Community Outreach Internship

    February 10th, 2009

    Are you interested in gaining experience with a startup?  Would you like to work directly with the people who help shape the vision for the company?  Do you want to be able to make a measurable impact that you can show future employers?  Then considering working with Fan History LLC as a Community Outreach Intern!

    Company Background:

    Fan History LLC is a developing entertainment company focused on our core products of an wiki and a fan fiction, fan art and fan vidding link site.  Fan History was founded two and a half years ago and incorporated 6 months ago by Laura Hale.  In that period, Fan History has grown from a wiki with a few hundred pages and 200 visitors a month to a become a wiki with over 600,000 pages and getting over 45,000 unique visitors a month.  We offer fans and entertainment related companies information that cannot be found elsewhere including a history of fan communities, the Internet’s largest directory of fans grouped by community, metrics data regarding the growth of fandom community and more.    To learn more about our company and our sites, visit http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:About .

    Role Description and Responsibilities:

    Fan History LLC is currently seeking candidates interested in a part-time Community Outreach Internship.   This is an unpaid internship that will be virtual in nature (i.e., much of the Intern’s work will be done remotely with regular interactions with Fan History LLC’s team via e-mail, instant messenger, phone, and face-to-face depending on location.)  While the Internship is unpaid, the selected candidates will have an opportunity to be highly involved with the future direction of the company and will have an opportunity to attend events with Fan History LLC staff should any occur during the Intern’s tenure. Additionally, Fan History LLC is willing to work with the selected candidate for the purpose of obtaining academic credit related to this unique opportunity.
    The primary responsibility of the Community Outreach Intern will involve engaging in outreach efforts to the larger fan community.  As such, the Intern will be responsible for assignments and projects that include but are not limited to:

    • Communicating with Fan History staff regarding content areas being worked on
    • Contacting fansites, fan fiction archives, bloggers, convention dealers, fanzine publishers to let them know about Fan History, how it can help them in promoting their projects and asking them to help improve articles about their projects
    • Developing relationships with fansites, fan fiction archives, bloggers, convention dealers, fanzine publishers
    • Engaging the wider fan community in order to increase traffic and participation on Fan History Wiki
    • Working with fan fiction archives and fan art sites to get them to list their works on FanworksFinder
    • Updating relevant wiki articles
    • Write blog entries to support activities being done

    Candidate Qualifications:
    Fan History LLC is seeking some one with a strong mix of hard and soft-skills.  To that end, the ideal candidate will possess the following:

    • Strong interpersonal skills
    • Effective written and verbal communication skills
    • Ability to work through ambiguous problems and drive to answers
    • Action-oriented mentality and strong drive for results
    • Experience with wiki editing
    • Knowledge of popular culture

    This internship opportunity reports to the Founder and the CTO.  This is an immediate opportunity and we are seeking candidates that can work a minimum of 5-15 hours each week.  The weekly schedule is extremely flexible and can be developed around a candidate’s availability.  This internship requires a minimum of an 8-10 week commitment.

    What’s In It For You:

    The selected candidate will be afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a developmental, exciting, and entrepreneurial work environment.  Our business is about sharing information, teaching others about what is happening in the fan community and how this information can be applied to help them meet their goals.  That premise carries through our activities both internally and externally – we place just as much an emphasis on our growing our audience share, growing the amount of information that we have available as we do on developing our staff’s skill sets and knowledge base.

    The Intern will be afforded extraordinary opportunities for mentoring via interaction with our team.  Our team has been involved in entertainment and fan communities for over ten years and has worked with entertainment companies to help them meet their goals.  The Intern will be personally mentored by Fan History’s Founder and will gain access to our professional network for future job networking opportunities.

    What’s Next:
    Are you ready to learn more than you think you can handle?  Interested in launching new projects and developing relationships with a large group of people?  Then contact Laura Hale, Founder of Fan History ( laura@fanhistory.com ) for more information or to express interest.

    This is a Part-time internship offered for a term of 2 to 4 Months.

    Fan History LLC: Python Programming Internship

    February 10th, 2009

    Are you interested in gaining experience with a startup?  Would you like to work directly with the people who help shape the vision for the company?  Do you want to be able to make a measurable impact that you can show future employers?  Then considering working with Fan History LLC as a Python Programming Intern!

    Company Background:

    Fan History LLC is a developing entertainment company focused on our core products of an wiki and a fan fiction, fan art and fan vidding link site.  Fan History was founded two and a half years ago and incorporated 6 months ago by Laura Hale.  In that period, Fan History has grown from a wiki with a few hundred pages and 200 visitors a month to a become a wiki with over 600,000 pages and getting over 45,000 unique visitors a month.  We offer fans and entertainment related companies information that cannot be found elsewhere including a history of fan communities, the Internet’s largest directory of fans grouped by community, metrics data regarding the growth of fandom community and more.    To learn more about our company and our sites, visit http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:About .

    Role Description and Responsibilities:

    Fan History LLC is currently seeking candidates interested in a part-time Python Programming Internship.   This is an unpaid internship that will be virtual in nature (i.e., much of the Intern’s work will be done remotely with regular interactions with Fan History LLC’s team via e-mail, instant messenger, phone, and face-to-face depending on location.)  While the Internship is unpaid, the selected candidates will have an opportunity to be highly involved with the future direction of the company and will have an opportunity to attend events with Fan History LLC staff should any occur during the Intern’s tenure. Additionally, Fan History LLC is willing to work with the selected candidate for the purpose of obtaining academic credit related to this unique opportunity.

    The primary responsibility of the Python Programming Intern will be helping improve the gathering of analytic data, and improve article quantity and quality using bots.  As such, the Intern will be responsible for assignments and projects that include but are not limited to:

    • Coordinating with Fan History staff regarding the task set for new bots and the feasibility of creating those bots in working towards our mission
    • Creating bots to automate content creation using Pywikipediabot as a base
    • Code in a highly efficient and scalable manner
    • Working with Fan History’s CTO to implement the bots on our servers
    • Maintain existing bots

    Candidate Qualifications:
    Fan History LLC is seeking some one with a strong mix of hard and soft-skills.  To that end, the ideal candidate will possess the following:

    • Experience writing code in Python
    • High levels of creativity and quick problem solving capabilities
    • Willing to self teach
    • Effective written and verbal communication skills
    • Familiarity with wikis

    This internship opportunity reports to the Founder and the CTO.  This is an immediate opportunity and we are seeking candidates that can work a minimum of 10-15 hours each week.  The weekly schedule is extremely flexible and can be developed around a candidate’s availability.  This internship requires a minimum of an 8-10 week commitment.

    What’s In It For You:

    The selected candidate will be afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a developmental, exciting, and entrepreneurial work environment.  Our business is about sharing information, teaching others about what is happening in the fan community and how this information can be applied to help them meet their goals.  That premise carries through our activities both internally and externally – we place just as much an emphasis on our growing our audience share, growing the amount of information that we have available as we do on developing our staff’s skill sets and knowledge base.

    The Intern will be afforded extraordinary opportunities for mentoring via interaction with our team.  Our team has been involved in entertainment and fan communities for over ten years and has worked with entertainment companies to help them meet their goals.  The Intern will be personally mentored by Fan History’s Founder and will gain access to our professional network for future job networking opportunities.

    What’s Next:
    Are you ready to learn more than you think you can handle?  Interested in launching new projects, how to use Python and how to integrate that skill with MediaWiki?  Then contact Laura Hale, Founder of Fan History ( laura@fanhistory.com ) for more information or to express interest.

    This is a Part-time internship offered for a term of 2 to 4 Months.

    Fan History LLC: Social Media Internship

    February 10th, 2009

    Are you interested in gaining experience with a startup?  Would you like to work directly with the people who help shape the vision for the company?  Do you want to be able to make a measurable impact that you can show future employers?  Then considering working with Fan History LLC as a Social Media Intern!

    Company Background:

    Fan History LLC is a developing entertainment company focused on our core products of an wiki and a fan fiction, fan art and fan vidding link site.  Fan History was founded two and a half years ago and incorporated 6 months ago by Laura Hale.  In that period, Fan History has grown from a wiki with a few hundred pages and 200 visitors a month to a become a wiki with over 600,000 pages and getting over 45,000 unique visitors a month.  We offer fans and entertainment related companies information that cannot be found elsewhere including a history of fan communities, the Internet’s largest directory of fans grouped by community, metrics data regarding the growth of fandom community and more.    To learn more about our company and our sites, visit http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:About .

    Role Description and Responsibilities:

    Fan History LLC is currently seeking candidates interested in a part-time Social Media Internship.   This is an unpaid internship that will be virtual in nature (i.e., much of the Intern’s work will be done remotely with regular interactions with Fan History LLC’s team via e-mail, instant messenger, phone, and face-to-face depending on location.)  While the Internship is unpaid, the selected candidates will have an opportunity to be highly involved with the future direction of the company and will have an opportunity to attend events with Fan History LLC staff should any occur during the Intern’s tenure. Additionally, Fan History LLC is willing to work with the selected candidate for the purpose of obtaining academic credit related to this unique opportunity.
    The primary responsibility of the Social Media Intern will be to actively help promote Fan History and FanworksFinder using a variety of social media such as Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, LiveJournal, Quizilla, FanPop and Yahoo!Groups.  As such, the Intern will be responsible for assignments and projects that include:

    • Managing Fan History’s Twitter account, FaceBook fan page, FanPop spot
    • Promoting events Fan History is involved with using social media
    • Informing Fan History LLC’s staff of any problems that they find in the social media domain so that the staff can determine how to respond appropriately

    Candidate Qualifications:
    Fan History LLC is seeking some one with a strong mix of hard and soft-skills.  To that end, the ideal candidate will possess the following:

    • Strong interpersonal skills
    • Effective written and verbal communication skills
    • Ability to work through ambiguous problems and drive to answers
    • Action-oriented mentality and strong drive for results
    • Experience using social media in a non-business, personal setting
    • Knowledge of popular culture

    This internship opportunity reports directly to the Founder.  This is an immediate opportunity and we are seeking candidates that can work a minimum of 5-15 hours each week.  The weekly schedule is extremely flexible and can be developed around a candidate’s availability.  This internship requires a minimum of an 8-10 week commitment.

    What’s In It For You:
    The selected candidate will be afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a developmental, exciting, and entrepreneurial work environment.  Our business is about sharing information, teaching others about what is happening in the fan community and how this information can be applied to help them meet their goals.  That premise carries through our activities both internally and externally – we place just as much an emphasis on our growing our audience share, growing the amount of information that we have available as we do on developing our staff’s skill sets and knowledge base.

    The Intern will be afforded extraordinary opportunities for mentoring via interaction with our team.  Our team has been involved in entertainment and fan communities for over ten years and has worked with entertainment companies to help them meet their goals.  The Intern will be personally mentored by Fan History’s Founder and will gain access to our professional network for future job networking opportunities.

    What’s Next:
    Are you ready to learn more than you think you can handle?  Interested in launching new projects and exploring the ins and outs of social media?  Then contact Laura Hale, Founder of Fan History ( laura@fanhistory.com ) for more information or to express interest.

    This is a Part-time internship offered for a term of 2 to 4 Months.

    Twitter doesn’t necessarily translate into traffic

    February 7th, 2009

    The conventional wisdom appears to be that the more followers you have, the more traffic you can generate for whatever links you plug on Twitter. (Or the more popular are, the more standing in the community you have, the more important you are. There are a whole slew of reasons to try to get thousands of followers.) It is one of the reasons that our Twitter follow list is so large.

    The conventional wisdom, that Twitter drives traffic, is probably wrong for 95% of all link mentions. The exceptions would include big companies offering deals that you can’t find elsewhere and Internet/real life celebrities who have a large audience of navel gazers.

    Let’s quickly take a look at Fan History’s traffic from Twitter.

    Fan History traffic referred from Twitter

    Our Twitter feed updates automatically up to 10 times an hour when people make edits to the wiki. So far, we have over 7,000 updates. We have over 2,200 followers on Twitter. With this in mind, you’d think we would be getting over 100 visits a day from Twitter. Nope. According to that chart, on a good day, we’re lucky to get over 10 visitors a day.

    Other sites probably have similar issues with Twitter: The site doesn’t generate much traffic for them. The level of interaction probably doesn’t matter much. The frequency of link inclusion doesn’t. Most small sites creating a Twitter presence with the hope of getting traffic from Twitter probably would be better off spending their time elsewhere. What happens on Twitter largely looks like it stays on Twitter.

    Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong. Anyone else, fansite or social media wise, who wants to share their metrics in regards to Twitter is more than welcome to and to explain how they manage to get traffic from Twitter.

    The 2.0 World, and its impact on fandom

    February 4th, 2009

    An interesting new on-line journal launched this month, Live 2.0, which focuses on the changing face of live entertainment: sports, music, theater, etc. The premier edition pointed out how, in our current technological age, so much of where entertainment consumers spend their money and how they spend their money has changed. Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police, is interviewed in a fascinating look into how the ‘record album’ (or these days more likely the compact disc) has become so inconsequential as compared to the live concert as far as a musician earning his keep. The concert promoter now trumps the record executive. As Copeland points out,

    “The idea of a concert as a catalyst for selling a CD is bass-awkward now. You make a CD and go through all that hassle and give it away, as Madonna has done her deal with not Universal, but Live Nation, and as Prince gave away his album, and as Radiohead [has done]; it’s the other way around now.

    Let’s just make a record so that people will like us and come to the show.”

    The future for a musician is much more in finding a niche market, for the big, big names like U2 are much fewer and far between, and marketing must embrace not just advertising in a few music papers but the internet, television, radio, and even “making sure you get your tune onto Rock Band or Guitar Hero”.

    Russ Stanley, VP of Ticket Service and Client Relations for the San Francisco Giants, is also interviewed and talks about how the team has stayed on top of current trends to successfully market the team and grow ticket sales. “Embrace creative ideas” and “Think Technology” are the first two points raised, showing how simply doing things as had been done in the past no longer works.

    So what does any of this have to do with fandom? Well, think about it. For a very long time, one of the long-standing models of live, in-person fan interaction and communication was the convention. Fans would travel the state, the country, even the world to meet other fans in person to discuss their favorite books, movies, television series, or simply be able to spend a few days with people who shared their interests in parts of fandom, be it slash, fur, science fiction, etc. Beyond these conventions, many of these fans had few ways of interacting beyond letter- and/or fan-zine communications, fanclubs, and other mail-based activities. Conventions have thrived for most of a century, beginning (arguably?) with Philcon in 1936, with few alterations in their models for content, marketing, attendance, and organization.

    And yet, I believe few today would argue with me that the convention as modeled in the past is dying. Hotel costs have skyrocketed, and many such facilities are no longer interested in the business of renting out all of their meeting rooms at a low rate for an entire weekend to a convention when they can fit in 3 or 4 shorter events, weddings, church groups, or what-have-you over the same amount of time, get large catering contracts and other extras out of the deal. The internet has made communicating with other fans of shared interests much simpler and faster, and possible from the comfort of one’s own living room. There’s no need to trek to MediaWest every year to buy the newest fanzines to get your fan-fiction or art fix; there are more stories than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime available on-line. Convention dealers face lower profits due to the availability of much genre merchandise on-line and often at discount prices via ebay, Amazon, and other large vendors. Many smaller, local conventions find themselves suffering and dying out, or at least facing dwindling attendance numbers where only the largest events that offer wide varieties of programming seem to thrive and continue, such as DragonCon or highly commercial events such as those put on by Creation Entertainment. Cosplay and gaming may continue to give members of those fandom interests reasons to continue attending live events, but they are but two parts of a wide spectrum of fandom interests.

    So perhaps it is time for fandom to look towards other models of live interactions and events, such as the BarCamp. Much more interactively generated by “users” (ie, attendees), the BarCamp breaks with the more rigid convention model, can take place in a wider variety of venues (utilizing, say, university facilities or business spaces), and looks for corporate sponsorship to cover costs instead of asking for membership fees from attendees. BarCamps embrace Web 2.0 ideas and technology to stay on top of current trends instead of lagging behind them and clinging to outdated models of interaction. Anyone can start up a BarCamp, and without the high financial burdens or risks involved in even organizing a small convention where hotel blocks must be guaranteed, meeting rooms booked, other conventions attended in order to promote your event, or even guests contracted.

    This is part of why I will be very interested in seeing how Camp Fandom comes together for this year, as a fandom-specific event taking place utilizing the BarCamp model. Will other fandom camps follow, perhaps specific to certain fandoms, genres and interests, just as conventions in the past did? It will be interesting to see.

    What other impacts will the “2.0″ world we live in have on fandom, and how fans consume and interact with our canon sources, be it movies, television, music, sports, etc? These are interesting questions to consider, and I’d be curious to continue this discussion and see what others think. I think we’ve already seen the “niche” market affect media fandom in the sense that we are no longer a world where only Star Trek, Star Wars, and a few other large name fandoms rule fandom-generated content. There are “niche” fandoms for virtually everything these days, and communities for sharing works about them. Even within each individual fandom, like say Harry Potter, there are communities, mailing lists, and fanworks for every sub-interest imaginable: genficcer-only, slash and het pairings of all kinds, AUs, any kink imaginable…you name it. And those involved in large-scale fandom activities such as running multi-fandom archives, conventions, etc, need to be aware of the wide variety of users that are potentially out there beyond what they might be familiar with inside of their own niche, and decide who they wish to serve: only those within their special interest, or the ever-wider world of fandom out there today.

    Getting readership in a small fandom

    February 3rd, 2009

    This post is loosely a follow-up to Laura’s post from yesterday on Fan fiction, social media & chasing the numbers with quality content (Hint: Doesn’t matter). If your main goal in writing fan-fiction is getting feedback and readership, Laura’s article offers some blunt but honest advice: go for the big fandoms and ‘ships. The hard truth of the matter is you’re never going to get the readership for say, a Philadelphia Eagles, Police, or Ocean’s 11 story the way you would writing Twilight, Harry Potter, or Naruto. It doesn’t matter if you write the most brilliant piece of fan-fiction ever; the audience just isn’t going to be there for it. So rule #1 of being an obscure fandom author is to accept this fact: you have to write more for yourself than for any potential audience, because otherwise you’re setting yourself up pretty quickly for disappointment and discouragement. You’re not going to get 1,000+ comments on your story; likely you’re not going to get 100; if you’re really lucky you may get 10 or 20 at best.

    That said, there are some specific ways to help get readership for your obscure fandom stories, and this article is designed to highlight some of them.

    1. Gain a following in a mainstream fandom first. You can use some of the advice in the last blog to help gather a following of readers and on-line friends who are interested in your work in larger fandoms. Many readers will follow authors they especially like into unfamiliar fandoms, or at least give them a try if they post a new, obscure fandom story to their LiveJournal, personal mailing list, or fic archive. It’s not a guaranty and a “fan” from a big fandom might not read more than one or two of your new fandom stories, but at least you’ve got that shot if you’ve already got an audience familiar with your work.

    2. Promote your small fandom! Get information about it out there on the net that you can point curious readers towards. For instance, develop a good page about the fandom at Fan History. Make sure someone who might be curious to read your fiction can find out more information about the source material, either before to get the context of the work or afterward if they find themselves interested in learning more.

    3. Join and participate in suitable multi-fandom communities Find mailing lists, archives, livejournal communities that are appropriate for your small fandom. For instance, writing a small rockband fandom? Join RockFic (wiki). Writing American football slash? Join nfl_rps. But don’t just join the communities – become an active member there. Feedback other writers’ work so they become familiar with you. Participate in the community by sharing links, photographs, taking part in meta. This is similar to the advice already given in the previous blog, but can be vital if you want to then share your obscure fandom work with a community and have people give it a chance, when you don’t already have a popular pairing or ship working in your favor. I’ve seen excellent authors post obscure fandom stories at, say, RockFic and get no or little feedback because they posted without interacting at all with the community there, just “dumped” their stories in the archive and ran.

    4. Find people interested in your fandom through multi-fandom challenges and communities. Drabble communities are great for this, like slashthedrabble. Readers are often more willing to give a short drabble a try in an unfamiliar fandom. You might also find someone who goes “Oh my gosh, I never thought someone else was interested in Wheel of Fortune fan-fic!” who will then be an eager reader for your other, longer work.

    5. Write crossovers with a popular fandom. The Brimstone story to get the most feedback during Yuletide this year? Was a crossover with Supernatural. By bringing in a familiar universe and characters, you may get new people to get a “taste” for your obscure fandom and want to know more about it.

    6. Promote and link! It’s important for people to be able to find your obscure fandom stories, especially if you are not or can’t post then in a large multi-fandom archive like FanFiction.Net (wiki). Remember that one of the first things many potentially interested readers are likely to do is run a google search for fiction in that fandom – so will your stories come up? Fan History has excellent google placement for many fandoms, so you can use that to your advatage by both building up the page for your fandom there (with links to where to find fiction – including yours!) as well as creating an entry there for your story (such as the one I built here for my story Earthbound). Statistics have shown me consistent traffic from FH to my stories when I’ve done this.

    Of course, some people sometimes have reasons to not want their stories to have high google visibility (or any google visibility at all). This can especially be an issue for some RPF writers who, say, don’t want general fans of the Philadelphia Eagles stumbling onto their Donovan McNabb/Brian Dawkins slash fic (which, by the way, if any such fiction actually exists could someone please send me a link?!). This is again a risk/reward trade-off you have to decide upon as an obscure fandom author: is preserving your anonymity and keeping your fanfiction away from those who might not understand or appreciate it more or less important than building readership? Only you can decide this matter for yourself (and as always, if privacy is a big concern for you in your involvement in fandom, be sure to understand the matter fully. Our Help page on privacy gives much information for all to consider on the matter.)

    7. Recruit readers from the general fandom. This method can work if your fandom has a large fanbase which is not at all involved in activities such as writing and reading fan-fiction, but it should be undertaken with care. For instance, The Police? Big fandom. Tiny fandom for fiction. However, in hanging out on general interest boards for the band, getting to know fans in person and making jokes/perhaps commenting on “slashy” behavior as observed (even by those who don’t know what slash is), I have slowly introduced a number of people to fan-fiction about the band once determining that they would a) not be offended by it and b) might be genuinely interested in reading it. This is much like the old mentoring techniques which were commonplace in fandoms such as Star Trek in the ’70s and ’80s. Mentoring is certainly not dead, and can in fact be a vital step in building up “sub-fandoms” for things like fan-fiction and other fanworks within already large “mainstream” fandoms.

    Lastly:
    8. In an obscure fandom, quality does matter – to an extent. I’ve saved this point for last, not because it is the least important, but because, without having put some effort into the previous points, it’s not going to matter very much at all. But yes, one of the things you have to attempt to do, in building a readership for an obscure fandom, is pull readers into a story when they might not already be familiar with the source material – at least not intimately so. Once you’ve done what you need to do to help people find your story and want to give it a chance, you have to give them reason to stick around. That’s much easier in a large fandom where already devoted followers of a canon may want to read anything with their favorite characters or ‘ships, no matter what the quality. In a smaller fandom, far fewer people are going to be that devoted so you need to put more effort into your work to keep readers interested. That means, obscure fandom writers, make sure your writing is properly formatted and easy to read; pay attention to basic grammar (get a beta, because hey! That’s at least one person who is going to read your story!); put effort into developing your characters so that they become “real” to the readers, who may not already have a full picture of them in their minds.

    And if you get some good feedback on your obscure fandom stories, be sure to thank those who comment to you and listen to what they have to say: what did they like about it? What are they interested in reading more about? What might they have thought you could have done better? You want to develop a good relationship with your readers, who might only be 2 or 3 in number at first, but if you keep at it those numbers may slowly increase. They might not ever reach the hundreds like they would for a large fandom, but you can have a rewarding experience writing in a small fandom. It just can take a little extra hard work and patience.

    Fan fiction, social media & chasing the numbers with quality content (Hint: Doesn’t matter)

    February 2nd, 2009

    Writing quality content...Fan fiction in this case isn’t about numbers, or so many people suggest. Social media is. But social media shouldn’t be about numbers. Social media should be about having quality conversations where there is some return that you can measure from that, so numbers shouldn’t matter that much. And the fan fiction community might say it isn’t about numbers but lots of people obsess about the number of readers they have and how they can improve those numbers…

    … and the quest in both social media and the fan fiction community is often characterized by that chase for numbers. The goal is to increase your metrics. More readers. More followers. For fan fiction, that’s measured in hits to your stories. In social media, that is sometimes measured in the number of followers on Twitter. In both cases, the conventional wisdom is that if you provide high value content, quality content, people will discover your work and read more of it. You’ll eventually get more followers on Twitter, become a Big Name Fan or even possibly leverage a book deal drawing on your fan base from your high quality fan fiction. CONTENT! CONTENT! CONTENT! This post on problogger Darren Rowse is just one of literally dozens that suggests that in social media. And in fan fiction communities, just go to almost any community and you’ll see people try to reaffirm that idea. Quality content is king! If you have high value, quality content, people will gravitate towards you! Content! Content! Content is king!

    Except it is not. If you’re chasing numbers, quality matters very little. What actually matters is figuring out how to game the system in a way that is not black hat and that gets results. This is true both with fan fiction and with social media.

    If you want readers for your fan fiction, don’t write Savage Garden hetfic or Wheel of Fortune Pat/Vanna White fan fiction. There isn’t an audience there. (If you do it right, there might be an audience for it that could be leveraged if you can get it to go viral. But there probably is not a large established audience for that.) You write something more popular like say… Twilight, Naruto, High School Musical. You then write popular ships. You feedback popular writers to get great name recognition and feedback lesser known authors to get niche attention. You create a LiveJournal account, a twitter account and possibly a mailing list dedicated to your work. You follow all the cool kids, join the biggest communities and post your stories there. You interact with your readers, participate heavily in meta-discussions, and generally become known for your activity as much if not more so than your fiction. All of that makes your content pretty secondary to what you’re doing story quality-wise. You find other ways to game the system to get readers. You write long serialized stories, which tend to draw more readers and help maintain an audience over an extended period of time. You make sure the story features popular pairings. You link to it in your sig everywhere. You submit it to sites like Fan History and FanworksFinder. You submit your personal fansite to sites like DMOZ, IMDB and FanPop. You find out what days to post to get more traffic. The content is secondary to what you do in order to get readers.

    Social media is pretty much the same way, only with Twitter? It pretty takes much less work than fan fiction in order to get your numbers up. You want to get a lot of followers to the tune of 2,000+ so people will take you seriously as some one who knows what they are doing in social media? First, you find some one who is following a lot of people in a short period of time and then follow everyone who follows them. (Ideal ratio? They are following 4+ for every 1 following them.) Go to Twitterholic and following anyone with 1,000+ followers/following where there is an imbalance with more people the person is following them than people following them because those people are likely trying to inflate their follow count too and are likely to follow back. As you’re doing this, people will start to follow you who are meet those criteria. Follow them and followers who look like auto follows. Make sure you have some content on your account that isn’t obvious spam and update regularly so you don’t totally set off alarm bells. Try for some minimal interaction. You can easily get 2,000 followers a month after starting that. In ramping up those numbers, quality content matters little because the system is built in with a huge number of people also trying to game the system to get followers. Yeah, you can try to produce quality content on Twitter but if your goal is numbers, it isn’t the best and fasted way to improve your metrics at all. Quality content is again secondary to working the system.

    The ideal of quality content leading to followers and readers is a myth. Yes, it can’t hurt… but that would lead to the conclusion that those who have the best talent and produce the highest quality results always come out on top but a quick look at the music, movie, television, acting and book publishing industries would tend to disprove that. Plenty of sub-par product succeeds where quality languishes in obscurity, and promotion tactics (or lack thereof) can often be the reason why. I think a lot of people putting forth this myth assume their content is quality, or they are part of a system that doesn’t want to be honest with how people get ahead with some of these metrics that people value: Follow counts and number of times your story was read.

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