Our history on Fan History in 2009

December 21st, 2009 by Laura Leave a reply »

We’ve covered a lot of history happening in 2009 and made a fair amount of history for ourselves. This is a year end summary of some our own history for the year. We’ve done a fair amount and are excited about the possibilities for the new year.

January 2009
During the early part of January, Fan History’s staff was busy creating an awareness campaign for our project on LiveJournal and InsaneJournal. We were also trying to get people involved in editing the wiki, to help improve the quality of articles related to their fandom. This was a continuation of an effort started at the end of 2008.

February 2009
In early February, we were happy to announce that January 2009 was, to date, our highest monthly traffic and all of it was wank free. This was important to us as we had been criticized in the past for trying to use wank for traffic. We felt this validated that we could successfully get traffic and did get traffic wank free.

Organizational issues have always been an issue on Fan History. Periodically, our staff creates flow charts to explain how we organize things. We created one using Superman fandom as an example. This chart was created to address the problems of fandoms of the same name having multiple canonical sources in several mediums.

On February 10, Fan History posted a listing for internship opportunities with the wiki.

In late February, Fan History’s admins and community discussed changing the article deletion policy.

March 2009
During the early part of March, Fan History’s contributors were actively working on improving a link list related to Race Fail 2009. The activity around these articles petered out around March 15, when things during that situation quieted down. We were really pleased with the reception that the articles related to Race!Fail recieved as our goal was to provide an unbiased and thorough reporting of the events that took place.

On March 17, FanworksFinder was effectively closed down. The underlying software was pligg and was extremely vulnerable to spam. The quantities that were coming in, and the number of spam registrations, made it a hassle to hand currate that problem away. Rather than take the site down, the registration and link submission pages were disabled. Despite looking, we could not find a developer to help fix this problem.

During mid-March, Fan History’s admins discussed our real name deletion policy. Comments were invited from the community. These changes made it easier for everyone involved in removing people’s real names from the wiki.

Fan History tweaked our article deletion policy in mid-March. This was done to clarify some issues.

On March 18, Fan History changed the network that the IRC based channel was hosted on. The switch was made to irc.freenode.net because of freenode’s dedication to open source projects and because other important wiki chats are located there. That includes AboutUs, wikihow, Wikipedia, Wikia, RecentChangesCamp, Mediawiki and YourWiki.

Fan History’s admins had been nervous and repeatedly saving small changes because of losing edits. At RecentChangesCamp, they became aware of a drafts extension that wikiHow had developed. wikiHow provided us with a copy and emufarmers tweaked and installed it.

April 2009
Around April 8, the Race!Fail situation blew up a bit again and Fan History’s contributors were once again editing related articles.

On April 21, after private information was accidentally re-included in an article, drafts were disabled on the wiki.

In mid-April, the announcement was made that Geocities was closing down. In response, we created the Fan History Geocities Preservation Project. The goal was to document the etymologies of terminology using definitions found on Geocities, screencap fansites on Geocities, create a list of stories archived on Geocities, and get lists of fanzines that could only be found on Geocities.

Privacy guidelines on Fan History were tweaked on April 21. This was in response to the situation involving Russet Noon.

In late April, Fan History added around 13,000 stub articles about movies and movie fandoms. This attracted a number of contributions from one or two of our regular contributors.

On April 29, Fan History added over 1,500 articles about fanzines. Areas that saw an increase in articles included the following fandoms: soccer/football, rugby, basketball, Rat Patrol, due South, Sentinel, Star Wars, furry fandom, Punk, music, and Indiana Jones. This meant that Fan History now had one of the most comprehensive listings of fanzines on the Internet.

May 2009
Around May 4, mammoth!fail, involving Patricia Wrede, kicked off and Fan History’s contributors and admins were once again busy editing Race Fail related articles.

Part of LiveJournal media fandom were very interested in Dreamwidth Studios. The blogging service opened to the public in May and Fan History was busy getting stats on total number of active members for most of the month. This manual stat gathering continued into June.

On May 15, after re-evaluating admin editing practices, drafts was re-enabled.

Between May 23 and May 26, a bot created by Lewis Collard for Fan History Wiki created a number of articles about episodes of television shows. The purpose of these articles was to help people define activity in a television fandom that took place in response to an episode. This information could then be integrated into articles about a show’s fandom. It was also viewed as another tool to help contributors promote their own works as an incentive to contribute to the wiki.

On May 27, Nile Flores joined Fan History’s admin staff. For a while, she was doing most of our tweets on our Twitter stream.

For a while at the end of May, Fan History was the the largest non-Wikipedia, non-modified MediaWiki install wiki that was not a Wikimedia Foundation project. Or at least according to the list kept on s23.org. Fan History would later be displaced when a few other wikis were added and other wikis grew.

In late May, Fan History saw increased interest in Michael Jackson in response to his comeback tour in London. We also saw an increase in interest in our AdultFanFiction.Net article.

June 2009
During June, some people involved with Race!Fail came in to update their own links and clarify their own involvement during the situation. This included Kathryn Cramer, Will Shetterly and Greg London. The edits that these contributors made were neutral accountants of their own involvement and we were happy to see them contributing.

In early June, interest in Naruto related articles spiked. Some of this was connected to the Naruto related articles we added.

On June 14, Fan History changed the procedure for how administrators handle deletion requests.

During mid-June, Fan History’s founder ran for LiveJournal’s User Advisory Board. She cited her experience with Fan History as a good reason to support her nomination. She didn’t get the 100 votes to make the ballot.

On June 25, Fan History created a Facebook fan page. It was subsequently mostly forgotten after that.

Michael Jackson died on June 25 and Fan History saw a huge spike in our Michael Jackson related content as a result. Traffic for Michael Jackson fan fiction related search terms would remain consistent at about 10 to 20 visits a day for the rest of the year.

At the end of June, Fan History’s founder lost her job. This was stressful as this employment helped cover Fan History’s cost out of pocket.

July 2009
On July 7, Fan History was the feature site of the day on AboutUs.Org. AboutUs is one of the biggest and most influential wiki sites on the Internet. Advice from their founder and employees have been influential in helping Fan History formulate its own policies. This recognition from them was awesome.

In mid-July, two of Fan History’s stat bots died. They kept track of daily posting levels on fan fiction archives and various LiveJournal communities.

During July, Fan History experienced record traffic. This was the result of several factors including Michael Jackson passing away, being featured on AboutUs, having been mentioned on Mashable, and continuing traffic to our Race!Fail related articles.

In late July, there were a few really high traffic days to Fan History’s Cassandra Clare article and The Police article.

August 2009
August continued with the pattern started in July: A major increase in traffic. After August 8, traffic slowly began to wane but still continued at levels higher than earlier in the year.

In mid August, there was a huge increase in interest in Fan History’s article about Draco/Hermione.

In late August, we saw an increase in traffic to our Jon and Kate Gosselin related articles. Much of this can be attributed to increased interest in the couple because of their divorce announcement.

September 2009
In late August, SurveyFail kicked off on a large scale. We started covering it on September 2. It was linked to extensively.

Fan History makes a point not to tell people that we link to them when covering emerging fandom kerfluffles. This is because we believe that doing so has the possibility of derailing conversations. On September 4, we blogged about this.

On September 8, we created an official Dreamwidth community. This was to complement our InsaneJournal asylum. We just were never very good at updating it. That same day, we also blogged about developing communities on smaller wikis.

During early and mid-September, Fan History’s admins discussed notability as it pertains to the wiki’s deletion policies. Input was sought from the community to help make the policy as compliant with the multiple and often time conflicting views of fandom. This was in response to an article deletion request from a participant in Race!Fail.

On September 20, we blogged about why we would not be joining Wikia. The gist of it is that Wikia promised us they would host us, demanded that we turn over our domains, would create a situation where would could not back out… oh and wouldn’t pay us for any of that. We’re not running Fan History with the idea of getting rich. (The site costs us more money than we’ve ever made off of it.) But if we’re going to give Fan History to some one, we want something in return.

On September 22, Dandizette published an with Fan History’s founder regarding Geocities preservation efforts.

On September 25, Fan History published its first of three white papers that would be published this year. This paper was titled “Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value for Nielsen Ratings” (appendix) In it, we used data that had been gathered on Fan History to show that fan fiction posting levels is predictive in terms of Nielsen Ratings. This white paper was mentioned on Y!Pulse.

October 2009
LambdaFail took place during September and Fan History covered it. linkspam, an anti-oppresion community on Dreamwidth Studios, had also been covering it. elfwreck, one of the communities admins, had been accused of oppresion by taking the side of heterosexuals. This accusation sent the community in to hiatus. In response to this situation, our admin staff offered to step in and help provide links to oppression related kerfluffles. We got turned down because we were too unbiased. linkspam never found anyone else willing to take it over who was biased in the right way.

On Ocotber 5, we started another experiment with ads on Fan History. We were using Project Wonderful again and a skin given to us by Transformer Wiki. The skin caused some problems but as the founder had some money issues, this was viewed as an okay tradeoff in the short term.

In October, Fan History talked to a major wiki site about the possibility of being acquired by them. Fan History chose this particularly wiki because the staff felt that they shared Fan History’s values in terms of community and content. While it did not happen, the staff felt they learned a lot and it reaffirmed the direction that Fan History was going.

In mid-October, LiveJournal media fandom did fail again with the science fiction community. Fan History covered this on the with with The War on Science Fiction and on the blog.

On October 14, we published our second white paper, MLB Game Attendance and Alternative Social Network Group Engagement. The data and information gathered from this white paper was integrated into the wiki in our baseball category.

On October 26, Geocities closed. It formally brought to a close Fan History’s preservation efforts. During the last few days, Fan History’s admin and volunteer team were busy trying to screen cap sites, and encourage people to use a Firefox extension to help easily update articles about Geocities fansites. Lewis Collard provided us with a list of Geocities fansite from the Open Directory Project. This list was then converted in to wiki articles. All told some 10,000 articles were created. Creating the category structure for these articles went on well in to December 2009. Fan History owes a huge debt of gratitude to Lewis Collard and Illyism from wikiHow for their help.

In late October, we added over 2,500 stub articles about wikis hosted on Wikia.

November 2009
During early November, Fan History saw a spike in interest in Russet Noon. Our admins looked into the situation, updated the article about the novel and blogged about it. If you’re curious, it looks like Lady Sybilla has deleted much of her online presence.

On November 10, we revisited organizational patterns on Fan History. This time, we looked at it on the blog. Two areas we looked at was fan fiction archive category structure and blogs. This identified some problem areas and inconsistent categorization problems. These have been

In the second week of November, we discovered that back around September, a Fanlore contributor had uploaded several images licensed only to Fan History to that wiki. They had also lifted, unattributed, several articles about fanzines from Fan History. This was both annoying and extremely flattering. The flattering part was because members of the Organization for Transformative Works had been extremely critical of our work on Fan History and had questioned the credibility of the wiki. That they were now taking our work and using it word for word, even if uncited and in violation of our copyright, it was still extremely flattering. It meant that we made it.

In mid-November, Fan History’s domain was unblacklisted from Wikipedia.org. This was done on the promise that Fan History’s admin staff would not link spam Wikipedia again. We made this promise, had a Wikimedia Foundation contributor and staff member vouch for us and it was done. This had been a bit of a sore point when it came up durin the Russet Noon drama. Still, as we had wrongly link spammed, we understood why it had been done.

On November 18, Fan History started the formal proposal of trying to get acquired by the Wikimedia Foundation to address our back end issues, front end issues, credibility issues and monetary issues. Fan History been in contact with people at the Foundation before this to discuss this possibility. The expectations were none, as Wikimedia Foundation had never acquired a project before. The thought was to offer ourselves more as a case study for how they could handle this in the future.

In mid-November 2009, Fan History ended its experiment with Project Wonderful ads on wiki. In the two months the ads had been on site, the wiki ended up earning $22.00. The only place that Project Wonderful ads remain on Fan History is on the blog. There, they currently earn about $0.02 to $0.04 a day.

LiveJournal statistics were gathered on November 17 and November 30th. The data was written up in meta posts on Fan History’s blog on posts like What does the OTW look like? and lion_lamb: A sneak peak into the composition of the Twilight fandom. Charts and graphs from this data also slowly worked its way in to the wiki.

In late November, we were sad to see emufarmers go. We brought on ShakataGaNai who did a fresh install of Mediawiki, fixed some problems that had existed for a while like our missing RSS, our skin, inability to login in to the blog, integrating ads into our skin, etc. This was pretty exciting for Fan History as backend issues were causing considerable stress.

Twitter became more important to Fan History as efforts were made to tweet news and interact more starting in late November. Most of this work was being done on @fanhistory and @fanhistorywiki.

December 2009
In early December, Fan History switched to Amazon Associates in another experiment at trying to make the wiki more self funding and less of a finacial strain on the founder. A few days later, Fan History added a donation button so people could support the wiki via paypal. After that, search links for Amazon were placed in the right hand corner of articles.

On December 8, Fan History published a case study with recommendations for how the Wikimedia Foundation should handle their procedure for requests to be required in the future. This was published on Fan History’s blog and on the Strategy Wiki.

By mid-December, the images and articles with problematic copyright issues from Fan History had been removed from Fanlore Wiki. This was gratifying as trying to figure out how to lodge a copyright complaint on their wiki was confusing.

On December 12, Fan History changed its copyright to CC-BY-SA. This was done in response to advice on the Wikimedia Foundation mailing list and after some mentions about the possibility and discussion on Fan History’s blog. The switch made us fandom friendlier.

On December 14, Fan History added Bugzilla. This made the reporting of errors on the wiki much easier and also heralded in a new era of addressing some of back end problems.

On December 17, Fan History’s admins launched a LiveJournal/InsaneJournal/Dreamwidth Studios based Fandom Newsletter. The purpose was to try to aggregate some of the meta discussion and news events happening in fandom to a wider audience than the one currently found on the wiki. A lot of this type of link collection was already being done on the wiki itself on fandom specific pages so it felt like a natural fit for our admin team. At the same time, some of the prominent communities on those services doing that had stopped updating regularly or were limiting their content. This included metafandom and linkspam.

On December 18, Fan History finished adding roughly 77,000 articles about sports teams around the world. This continued a larger project the wiki had launched to expand our scope beyond fan fiction and LiveJournal based fan communities.

During mid-December, Fan History Wiki became the second largest non-modified Mediawiki install that was not a Wikimedia Foundation project or Wikia wiki according to s23.org.

By the end of December, Fan History Wiki had over 30 active contributors for that two week period. This was the time period with the most contributors all year.

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  • adelaidedupont

    Seems like a big and busy 2009.

    Some of the highlights included the sport contributions especially the Major League Baseball white paper.

  • Definitely interesting to look back and see how much progress has been made this year. I certainly feel like we've accomplished a lot, in particular projects, in refining policies, and in getting some awesome new technical support.

  • The technical end feels like a big yay! And we tried things that didn't work out and that was it. Some of the content issues were nice. I was also happy with some of the meta we did as I think we hadn't done much of that in 2008.

    Policy refinements were good to have. I think we modified stuff in 2008 and got so busy with other stuff that we didn't come back much to them.

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