Crosspost: Fandomnews poll response discussion

March 22nd, 2010 by Laura Leave a reply »

I’ve been busy with various things so writing up a response to our March 9 poll has taken more time than I had planned. Before I get into that though, I’d like to request some help with [community profile] fandomnews. If anyone is interested in either compiling links or posting, please let us know via e-mail at fandomnews@fanhistory.com or comment in reply to this post.  We would really appreciate the help!

That out of the way, one of the major reasons we posted the poll was to determine how we should deal with -isms and what sort of content people wanted to see.

73% (or 11 people) said they wanted less sports related content.  Some days, we have a fair amount of it to the point where it dominates fandom specific meta.  Some days, we have very little.   Today we had 4 out of a total out of about 42 total fandom specific posts linked to.  A lot of that content depends on what is going on in the world of sports as sports related meta sometimes feels like it operates on a different time frame than television meta.  Sporting events are often triggers for lots of discussion.  A lot of discussion involves what is currently happening and brings in the past issues in dealing with the present.  Rarely does it feel like a post will be about a situation several months or years ago.  This contrasts with say Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.  That fandom feels like it has a few individuals who are revisiting old episodes and discussions in order to help foster community amongst the existing fanbase.  Going back makes sense given the lack of new canonical material outside comics and video games.  Sports posts will come in waves and it shouldn’t be dominating overall.  We’re trying to strike a balance with that as we realize that fandomnews’s primary audience is media fen.  We’re also trying to make it easy to avoid if you aren’t interested in it by clearly labeling the content as sports related.  The only exceptions are when we feel the issue has enough crossover that we think media fen might be interested.

That said, another reason why we’re not likely to reduce our sports content is that sports content often deals with a lot of -isms.  There is racism (fans calling players racists names), sexism (mens and women’s sports/athletes being treated differently.) xenocentrism (nationalistic issues in sports, religious and cultural issues), and classism (participation, fan base demographics).  There are probably a few more.  These issues in sports, one of the major products of popular culture, often mirror their counterparts television, movies, comics and video games. One that comes to mind immediately is the composition of athletic teams.  There is an excellent blogger who talks about the under representation of Muslim women in sports.  This feels like it mirrors conversations about representation of certain racial and ethnic groups on television.  There are also often conversation in sports about the role of women, what it means to be female and questions about why more people aren’t interested in women’s sports.  This feels like it mirrors some of the discussion around female characters on television, and why more people don’t write about them in fan fiction.  The -isms for sports feel close to the -isms for television and fan fiction.  Thus, we want to cover them.

Added to that, two of the three founding members of fandomnews are big sports fans.  And we like to cover what we’re interested in.

40% of people wanted less music content. (13% wanted more.)  We’d like more music content but we haven’t found it.  Most of what we include at the moment comes from hypebot.  It covers a lot of music industry related news.  A lot of the industry news for music has implications for business practices for small press writers, for movies, for web series, for how the powers that be in other mediums engage with their fan audiences.  It often feels like a sneak peak into how fandom is changing.  And that’s why we probably over-include posts by hypebot.  If people don’t see the connection there, please comment to let us know and we’ll reconsider.

53% of respondents wanted more television and movie content.  I’ll admit to feeling perplexed.  Often our fandom meta section will have almost exclusively television and movie content.  My guess is that people want a wider representation of television and movie fandoms.  If that’s the case, let us know where to check to find that content.  One of the areas we have difficultly involves what is meta and what is an episode or movie review.  Our default treatment is: On LiveJournal or its clones, it is meta.  If it is not, the post is a general review and does not make the cut.  We make exceptions for blogs like DisabledFeminist and blogs by academics (and students) studying fandom.

46% of people want more -isms.  Sometimes, for those compiling, it feels like a whole post is chock full of -isms.  They just aren’t found in the general meta category.  Instead, they are found in the fandom specific section.  Examples of that from today include all the Glee related posts.  Most of them deal with disableism.  The Bachelor posts today deal with racism.  Harry Potter posts today deal with sexism.  There are several more -isms in today’s posts that are less easy to label.  These posts are there; they just may not be easy to identify unless you are interested in a specific fandom.  I’m wondering if the 46% vote is thus an issue of perception because people aren’t looking at fandom specific posts? Any clarity from those wanting moe -isms would be much appreciated.

One of our questions asked how many links people wanted in a post.  The last time, people indicated they wanted 20 to 30 links in a post and that they didn’t mind overflow posts.  We thus modified our posting practices to bring the total links per post down to no more than 30.  There are exceptions.  After three days off, we had so many links that chunking off part of the fandom specific meta discussion seemed goofy.  Thus, it had about 40.  If the total looks close to 30 (like 35), we’ll also consolidate down to one post.

We asked: Should meta discussion posts be separated by -isms under their own -ism related heading?  This is a question that has been bugging us a lot.  We’re not set up to tag posts like metafandom or linkspam.  They use delicious related tagging.  We use mediawiki as our source to compile.  Setting up ways to pull out what is an -ism and what isn’t is thus a bit more difficult.  We’re also sensitive to the fact that how you label something can have an influence as to how people read a post.  43% of people responded to our question with “Maybe.”

When Culture!Fail came up, we knew it was a major -ism.  Or we knew it at least had the potential to be a major -ism as it had some of the issues of Race Fail 2009 and at least one person wrote a post calling this Race Fail 2010.  Given the poll response, we decided that we would try to separate this particular -ism related kerfluffle out.  We’d love feedback on if this type of -ism kerfluffle related separation is a strategy that people find good when dealing with how to include -isms on fandomnews.

In response to, “Do fandom specific labels help you find content you want to read?” everyone answered Yes.  That makes us happy as it confirms that our labeling by fandom is useful in helping people find content they want and exposes them to other fandoms and their issues that they might not otherwise read. As the fandom specific labels feel so successful, [community profile] fandomnews we’ve tried to use that sort of labeling for other news like conventions and fansites.  We think this makes identifying the content type easier so that readers can learn something from the headlines, even if they don’t chose to read the actual post.

The long and short of this: Sports is here to stay.  We’ll try to get more television and movies in but we need a better idea of what fandoms people want to see.  We’re trying to pull out -isms on a selective basis in response to kerfluffles.  We’ve listened to suggested link list length and we’re going to continue with the most popular option of 20 to 30 links a post.

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