The Organization for Transformative Works is a fan advocacy group that runs Fanlore and An Archive of Our Own. They were created on LiveJournal and most of their early and continued support continues to come from that community. Much of that has to do with the reasons they were created: The group perceived Fanlib as a threat to fandom as a whole, and had issues with how LiveJournal treated its fans..
After having done a bit of an analysis of the Twilight fandom as represented by lion_lamb, I was curious to see how otw_news looked, especially when compared to lion_lamb. How similar are they in terms of age, length of time on LiveJournal, the number of friends, the number of posts, etc. In the past, the group’s members have talked about doing advocacy on behalf of fandom to change media perceptions of fans. The goal looked like they wanted to present their demographics as the norm. That is what I am looking for here.
The Organization for Transformative Works’s founders and supporters were also vocally critical of LiveJournal’s commercial aspects, and discussed the need for a non-profit site that would cater to fan interests while being less susceptible to pressure from advertisers. The actions by LiveJournal taken during StrikeThrough 2007 were one of the prime examples cited by this group to rationalize this position. Many people talked about giving up paid accounts, not using Plus accounts, etc. Given that history, I am curious as to the behaviors of the organization’s supporters in the almost two and a half years since the groups founding: Are they more likely than Twilight fans to use basic accounts, less likely to give money directly to a company whose ethos runs counter to the group’s founding principles?
The methodology for gathering data for this analysis is the same as the one for for lion_lamb: A sneak peak into the composition of the Twilight fandom. The community looked at is otw_news. The data was gathered on November 15, 2009 and pulled from publicly available profile information for people who both watched and belonged to the community. This means that 1,784 journals are included in the sample. When looking at this data, you have to remember that not everyone lists factually correct information. For this data, we assume that the obviously wrong data balances out in the end. (People list themselves at 100 and people list themselves as 5 years old.) This is the same methodology used for lion_lamb and we assume the error rate between the two is the same.
One of the first things to look at is age of the membership of otw_news. The chart below includes the total number of people who list themselves as having been born in that year.
The average year of birth is 1975, with a median age of 1979.5 and mode of 1984. In terms of fandom, this is not a young group: The average member is about 35 years of age. Even if we assume that the mode year is more representative of the group, that still places age at 25. If we try to correct this data for error by removing 10 from each extreme of high and low years of birth, our year of birth average only increases to 1976.7, and the median and mode stay the same. If we remove 10% of the extreme from the sample, or 30 from each side, we get an average year of birth of 1977.3 with median and mode remaining unchanged.
Assuming that our group of 11,000 Twilight fans on lion_lamb are representative of fandom on LiveJournal, the average year of birth is 1985.6, median year of birth is 1987 and the mode year of birth is 1989. If we try to correct for error and remove the extreme 10% of the sample, fans who are claiming Edward Cullen’s birth year as their own as well as fans who claim an impossibly young age, lion_lamb has an average birth year of 1986.5 with median and mode remaining unchanged.
When we compare the membership of otw_news to fandom, Organization for Transformative Works members and supporters are on average almost ten years older than their counterparts in the rest of fandom. If we assume that median is more representative, we are still looking at a an eight year difference. Mode is the only one where they are close, and even that is only by three years. In the case of fandom as a whole, the average is right out of college. The after college life experiences are very different in terms of forming our perspectives so these three years are critical and do demographically separate the two groups.
It just cannot be said that the Organization for Transformative Works members and supporters are representative of fandom based on their ages.
The other important demographic issue for LiveJournal based fandom is location. Some 1,111 members of otw_news list the country they live in. 6,330 members of lion_lamb list the country they live in. Both have garbage entries for places where people obviously do not live, places like the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Vatican City, Jesus’s home town or the North Pole. In both sets, people listed cities or providences instead of countries. This data was removed. We are assuming that the members who do not list their home countries are represented proportionally by those that do.
The Organization for Transformative Works members and supporters represent 41 countries. 63% of the membership are from the United States, 11% are from the United Kingdom, 7% are from Canada, 6% from Australia, 4% from Germany and other countries all have less than 1%. The top five countries population wise represent 91% of the organization’s total population. The other 39 countries represent 9% of the organization’s total population.
lion_lamb represents 112 countries. 54% of their membership is from the United States, 6% from Canada, 5% from the United Kingdom, 5% from Australia, 3% from Germany, 2% from the Philippines, 2% from France, 2% from Italy, 2% from Mexico. The top five countries represent 73% of the community’s total population. The other countries represent 27%.
The Organization for Transformative Works over represents for Americans, with about 10% more Americans the lion_lamb. The Organization for Transformative Works members and their supports also over represent for Brits, Canadians, Australians, Germans. They under represent for the Philippines, France, and Mexico. The top five countries by membership over represent by about 20%. It cannot be said that the national representation of the Organization of Transformative Works is representative of the fan community on LiveJournal.
There are some other issues regarding how representative patterns for the Organization for Transformative Works are when compared to the whole of fandom on LiveJournal with lion_lamb being defined as fandom.
For year of registration, lion_lamb had the median and mode of 2008 for registering. The average registration year is 2007.07 in comparison. Members of this community are updating, with a last update year average of 2008.66, mode of 2009 and median of 2009. Compare this to otw_news, where the average registration year was 2004, with the median also being 2004 and the mode being 2003. Members and supporters of the Organization for Transformative Works became members of LiveJournal much earlier. Three years is a lifetime on the Internet. This is another example of otw_news follows not being representative of fandom on LiveJournal.
otw_news members have posted an average of 858.6 times, with a mode of 492 and a mode of 1. Compare that with lion_lamb members who have posted an average of 132.25 times, a median of 11 times and a mode of 1 time. Again, the Organization for Transformative Works members and supporters are not representative of fandom on LiveJournal.
These patterns hold true for other variables such as number of friends where otw_news members have almost 50 more on average and almost 95 in terms of median. It holds true for tags, memories, and virtual gifts. In all cases, members of otws_news have much higher averages than their fandom counterparts.
All of this reaffirms the same idea: Members and supporters of the Organization for Transformative Works do not represent fandom in that they are demographically distinct from fandom on LiveJournal. otw_news members also differ from their fandom counterparts in that they do not use LiveJournal the same way: They use LiveJournal much more actively in their personal space than the rest of fandom.
That concluded, the next issue is LiveJournal account status. The issue of paying LiveJournal was a big one. Around the time that Strikethrough happened, LiveJournal offered permanent accounts for sale. Some people affiliated with the later founding of an organization like OTW advocated that people unfriend those who bought permanent accounts. Other people openly talked about allowing their paid account status to expire as a method of expressing unhappiness with the site. Two and a half years later, what is the status of members and supports of the Organization for Transformative Works in terms of paying for LiveJournal?
otw_news members pay or have paid for their accounts. 36% have Paid Accounts. Many (15%) have permanent accounts, where they paid at least $150 for this status. A smaller percentage (18%) have plus accounts, which offer additional features in exchange for viewing additional ads.
When compared to lion_lamb, otw_news members way over-represent in paid accounts and permanent accounts. Despite the issues of Strikethough, not all of which have been resolved, people affiliated with the Organization for Transformative Works are much more willing to pay for LiveJournal than their fandom counterparts. Still, there is some obvious shift from the group, where people are willing to sacrifice functionality in order to view fewer ads and thus potentially give LiveJournal less income; there is an 18% difference in basic accounts from otw_news to lion_lamb.
Are the buying habits of a cross-fandom section, and their choices to expose themselves to additional ads, consistent with the attitude expressed by members and supporters during the time they lambasted LiveJournal’s beholdenment to advertisers? It is hard to make a conclusive judgment based on the data we have available.