Posts Tagged ‘bebo’

ning preservation efforts on Fan History Wiki

April 17th, 2010

ning is shutting down its free communities at some point soon.  This move was announced after ning also announced they were laying off 42% of their staff.  Like bebo, there isn’t necessarily many historical artifacts on the service.  Also like bebo, one of the major communities that appears to be there is the fanvid one. A lot of what needs to be preserved includes pages that begin to demonstrate the size, scope and activity type of the community.

We don’t particularly have much time to do that on Fan History.  (And with our staff going away, having family issues, going back to school and work issues… we’re even more crunched.)  So like bebo, our focus will be on screencapping a select number of pages, uploading them and putting them into categories for later historical work.  Our goal is to cap and upload around 100 to 200 pages.  This is about on par with our bebo efforts.  (Though our bebo efforts have a lot more data stored in various databases as  I’ve been collecting it longer related to another project.)

If you’d like to help us screencap and upload, we would really appreciate the help.  If you would like to help us out by adding descriptions and integrating information about this network on to appropriate articles, that would be even more appreciated.  One of the struggles of Fan History is realizing we can’t preserve everything… but that we can still try preserve enough to help people understand what was happening.

Geocities vs. Bebo preservation efforts

April 9th, 2010

bebo may be closing.  … or it might not if AOL can find a buyer for bebo.  bebo has (or had) a strong fandom presence.  Some groups have over 10,000 members.  Some videos have had over 30,000 views.  People engaged in various types of fanac on the network.  On bebo, the fanac may have been more discussion based and vidding based than Geocities.  Geocities had essays and picture and sound galleries.  Geocities was also the home to huge amounts of fan fiction dating back to the mid-1990s.  bebo’s community was much more about interaction with others.  Geocities’s community was more about content providing.  (Both had some truly awful levels of design.)

The distinction of what amounts to interactive versus static content makes bebo preservation difficult.  There just doesn’t feel like much worth saving on bebo.  Do we want to save fan fiction on bebo?  No, not particularly as it really isn’t there.  (People linked to their fan fiction hosted elsewhere.)  Was bebo viewed as fundamental to fannish interaction at any time?  No, not particularly except maybe in pockets of Irish and British fandom or sports fandom.

Given the lack of useful content actually preserve, how do we approach that?  The way that I’m looking at is this: We’re looking to define the size and scope of the fandom.  How many people were in particular fandoms?  What tools on bebo did people use to express their fannish interest?  When were these communities active?  What did their group pages look like?  This information can be manually mined and put into a database.  It can also be attained by screencapping search results, profile pages, band pages, video pages and app pages.  Once capped and uploaded, people can look through it, talk with others and begin to get an idea as to how the community function.  That’s the goal: Get enough capped and put into a useful dataset so people at a later date can use that data to explain how the fannish community worked.

And that’s really the difference between Fan History’s efforts: Content preservation and confirmation that existed versus providing insight into how a community functioned.

Fan History Preservation project: bebo

April 8th, 2010

If you haven’t heard the news, it looks likely that bebo will be closing by June.   There was a strong and active fannish community over on bebo.  Sadly, we don’t really have the time to do a full out preservation effort like we tried to do with Geocities.  What we will try to do in the mean time is to create a database of groups on bebo that we can make into individual articles.  We will also upload screencaps of random bebo pages that will be uploaded.  It isn’t much but it can begin to give people a picture of what happened on bebo.  This will be on top of our existing bebo related articles.  If you can help us by improving existing articles and creating new ones?  That would be massively appreciated.  This sort of history is important to remember and document.  Time is limited so it has to be done now.

The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History’s experience

April 10th, 2009

At Fan History, we are always looking for ways to improve our content, increase contributions, and improve outreach to the greater community. As such, it is often useful to reflect inward on our own practices and to look outward, to look at other wikis, to see how they tackle these issues, as well as how they are perceived by the public.

Related to this continual practice of self-reflection and outward examination, Sidewinder recently brought a portion of this LiveJournal post regarding FanLore to our attention. It was instructive to go through and compare the problems that the two wikis have in common, and to enumerate the ways Fan History has been trying to deal with those problems ourselves. In some cases, the challenges are quite similar indeed, though our approaches to dealing with them differ. In other cases, the issues were ones we had confronted before and have worked hard in the past two years to improve upon.

http://nextian.livejournal.com/263577.html?format=light

To quote:

“On the one hand, Fanlore has a number of excellent, well-researched articles that are resources for discussions, fanworks, and historical projects. It is easy to edit, comes in multiple decent-looking skins, and has gardeners who are fantastically on the ball. On the other hand…

These are some of the things that FanLore has in common with Fan History. Both are excellent resources for the history of fandom, with some fandoms better represented than others on both. Fan History and FanLore have a number of different skins; Fan History has them available to registered members. Both wikis are easy to edit; Fan History’s templates are designed to give new editors a boost on organizing their materials. And both have “gardeners” or administrators who are involved and easy to contact.

My chief issue with Fanlore is that it is not, as it stands, a community project. There’s very little crosstalk,

Crosstalk takes effort and a commitment from those who are editing. It is why Fan History uses talk pages. It is why we ask people if they need help. It is why we create active talk pages to converse on how things are organized. These things need to be done openly, so that users can have input. We’ll admit that we aren’t always excellent at it… but we do try, and this is one area we have worked hard on improving. We know this is important to the success of a wiki.

Sometimes, crosstalk can be hindered on a wiki. We’ve found this to be a problem at times as some members of the fan community have had limited exposure to wikis. They don’t understand how wikis work. They might not understand the purpose – or even the existence – of a talk page. They might be used to a certain wiki or another project which doesn’t have the same idea of constantly sharing, constantly asking questions, constantly editing, constantly revising. There is a learning curve. As wiki administrators, we need remove those barriers to create crosstalk, to make the users aware of crosstalk. On Fan History, we’re still working on that.  Both FanLore and Fan History need to improve by using methods such as welcoming members, following up with one time contributors, and even changing the text on our talk tab – easy, since we’re using MediaWiki.

no central LJ comm,

We don’t have an LiveJournal community, either. We do have one on InsaneJournal that we use mostly for information sharing. The content, though, tends to be mirrored from our blog. Our recent changes are shown on our Twitter and identi.ca accounts. Our admins are also found on Twitter and they sometimes discuss organizational efforts with a wider community there. But neither our microblogging presence, nor our InsaneJournal presence are in any way really comparable to an off-wiki version of wikiHow’s New Article Boost.

We also have this blog on a subdomain of our wiki. You don’t have to be a member to read it. If you want to comment, you can, just by filling out the form with your name and website address. You can carry over your disqus presence when you comment. It’s our way of bringing our work to a greater fandom audience than the one found on LiveJournal.

We feel it is important that major news, discussions and policy matters are discussed on Fan History itself instead of on an off-site community such as LiveJournal. We try to keep those conversations on the wiki, announcing discussions and events on our main page, and then posting about them on the blog to make finding the conversation easier. Wikis need fewer barriers to help fans get involved.

Other wikis have different means of discussing their organizational and content objectives. wikiHow does their organizing with the wikiHow Herald . On it, they talk about projects they are working on. They highlight featured contributors. They encourage the general community through that and through wikiHow’s forums . A few other wikis on Wikia also have forums where they discuss policy issues, plan article and category improvements, and build a community for their wiki. AboutUs doesn’t really have forums, but they have a GetSatisfaction account where you can ask about policy issues, for article help, and find out how you can get involved in an off-wiki manner.

the chat has been empty every time I’ve gone in,


Fan History recently changed its chat server to
chat.freenode.net in #fanhistory. Unfortunately, it seems that the chat at Fan History is nearly empty, too. But chat can really help with community development. AboutUs, Wikia, wikiHow and EncyclopediaDramatica use it extensively. ED has their own server where people occasionally break out of the main room to work on side projects. wikiHow folks use their chatroom on chat.freenode.net to coordinate patrolling Recent Changes, for writing parts of the Herald, and for discussing improving projects like wikiArt. AboutUs has staff members and community members in their chatroom, ready to help people out who have questions or who are looking for information on how to contribute. It just takes a few dedicated regulars to make it workable.

and the Issues page is a masterpiece of passive-aggressive “well you
may be correct but I feel that possibly your face is stupid.”

Fortunately for Fan History, we seem to have fewer of those issues. We have certainly had articles and sections of the site which have been subject to edit wars and bias concerns, but we have tried to work with the parties involved to create as unbiased a history as possible in these cases. And when a administrator feels personally too close to a subject, that administrator will ask that others with a more neutral stance get involved.

Among other things, this means that there’s no clear outline of what needs work;

Well, they are wikis. If you understand wikis, you can’t really outline what needs to be done as this constantly evolves as a wiki grows. You can begin to outline what needs to be done on talk pages, or on how to lists, etc. The trick is less outline, more “How do you communicate with contributors outside the core to understand what their goals and intentions are for contributing to the project? How do you foster them and work them into your existing wiki work?” If someone comes in and makes an edit, you welcome them and ask how you can help them. Or say something like “Hi! Thanks for your edit on Lord of the Rings. We’ve been wanting to see it improved for a while. If you’re planning on sticking around for a while, we’d love for you to help the category structure there. It could benefit from some one who knows the fandom really well making it more fandom specific. [How does your fandom organize ships and what are the standard ship names? We've not touched those articles because we're not sure.]“

there’s no reward system for putting up a good page,

This is hard. Most bigger wikis like Wikipedia and wikiHow do BarnStars. But when there are just a few regular contributors, doing that becomes difficult. Depending on who is doing the editing, BarnStars can end up looking like a lot of self-congratulatory work.

What Fan History tries to do is to thank really great contributors on our main page and on the blog. We’ve also considered doing an extended featured article on the main page as a reward for the editors who do a lot of work on their own People article. There are other ways of giving those who create good articles and make good edits the feedback that keeps them coming back and continuing.

especially since (as yet) no one is using it as a resource;

This is a battle Fan History faces all the time: demonstrating our relevance. Something like wikiHow, AboutUs, Wikipedia, PoliceWiki even wikiFur and EncyclopediaDramatica have built-in audiences. Or the wikis have done a great job of demonstrating their relevance. wikiFur pretty much made themselves into THE furry portal through content selection and organization. They’ve worked with the community and created standards for writing articles about members. This has made it easier for the the wiki to serve their community peacefully. AboutUs has developed relationships with sites that provide domain information – to the point where you almost can’t get whois information without stumbling across them. PoliceWiki has done a lot of outreach to photographers and musicians to get permission to use their images and content on the site. Through the years, they have also worked to get those directly involved with the band to contribute material themselves as a way of presenting the most accurate resource for the fandom possible–and building good professional relationships. Getting a wiki recognized as a good resource takes concentrated effort, time and marketing. People need to know you’re there before anything else!

policy remains unclear in a number of important areas,

Making policy clear, and changing it when it becomes necessary is important in a collaborative effort such as a wiki. Fan History has been willing to do this, and has opened up policy changes for public discussion on talk pages, linking those pages to the main portal. It is vital to have clear policy on many issues in a wiki, such as privacy, deletion of articles, content relevancy guidelines, overall organization, and these things are best resolved then made clear to the public sooner rather than later.

such as cross-platform work with Fancyclopedia and the Fandom Wank wiki

In the past, we’ve cited the Fandom Wank wiki, but that in itself caused a lot of wank, so we’ve discontinued using it as a main source for information on new and existing articles. On a plus side, Fan History is “working” with FanLore by ?]" href="http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Special:WhatLinksHere/FanLore">linking to their articles and citing them as a source in more articles. We have relationships with a few fandom specific wikis such as PoliceWiki and RangersWiki to “mirror” articles relevant to both sites, helping to build cross-community work and traffic to both wikis as a result. We also allow some mirroring of articles with AboutUs. We talk extensively to others in the wiki community, developing positive and beneficial relationships so where we know we can turn for help when needed. This includes having open communications with people who run AboutUs, EncyclopediaDramatica, wikiHow, wikiindex, Richmond Wiki, Wagn, wikiTravel, Kaplak Wiki, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia. They’ve provided us with assistance on things such as advertising issues, content development, policy creation and letting us use extensions they’ve developed. A lot of this is about becoming a good wiki neighbor, finding areas where projects compliment each other but don’t compete. It fosters the whole idea of the wiki Ohana that is a favorite subject at RecentChangesCamp.

– and, to my deepest dismay, it is not currently a wiki for all of fandom.

This may be an unrealistic goal for any overall wiki on “fandom”–at least if fandom is being defined as covering all aspects and types of fandoms, from sports to television to music to video games. Fan History currently has over 4,000 fandoms represented on our 595,000 plus articles. We don’t even begin touch all of fandom. Truthfully, we don’t think that it’s possible to reach and represent every little corner, every tiny fandom. But we’re trying, oh, we’re trying, and trying to make it easier for people to add those fandoms that aren’t there yet. We’re doing a lot of aggressive outreach, building a lot of stub content and getting people invested. The outreach part is critical but frequently, for many good projects outreach doesn’t get done. It takes a huge amount of time away from content development, and from working on the core goals of the wiki. It can be loads of no fun and requires the kind of commitment that people invested in only a small subcomponent of the wiki might not want to do.

Fanlore is, as it stands, a chronicle of the fannish experience of an extremely small subset of media fans. Have you seen the current incarnation of the Who page? The Harry Potter page? Compare that to the Due South page or the Sentinel page. Though the fandom sizes of Doctor Who and Harry Potter remain enormous, no one is working on them.

Fan History faced much of the same criticism early on, and still does. Some of our fandom pages and categories are great, and have received a tremendous amount of work–often from one or two very dedicated people. But our own Doctor Who and Harry Potter articles could use some work, too. Still, they are a nice representation of what is possible. It is also why we have “Move; don’t remove” as our mantra because as you develop a history, you learn that things must be placed into context, especially when you have large amounts of data.

Some of our administrators and regular contributors spend time building up stub articles and categories in fandoms that we know are popular, to try to make it easier for new users to add their knowledge and experience. But it all takes time and effort and only so much can be done in each day.

And I think that is self-perpetuating. I’ve stubbed out a number
of pages in large fandoms, including the Who version I linked
you to above, but it is not rewarding to do some work on a
collaborative project and receive no … collaboration.

Fan History, wikiHow, RichmondWiki and AboutUs all have a structure that makes it easy for people to come in and figure out how to add content. We try to have a structure on Fan History where people can easily slot things in with out having to worry about writing and editing large tracks of prose. As a result, creating article stubs that can be filled in more fully later isn’t as big of a problem as it could be.

As for collaboration, it’s definitely something that smaller wikis have problems with, but when it happens, it can be fantastic to see. We loved watching this happen with articles such as the Rescue Rangers article, the Shota article, the Draco/Hermione article, the Race Fail article and others. And if one or two people are creating content, they end up learning a lot about fandoms outside their own, which is always a plus. Because in the case of Fan History? A lot of what we are about is sharing knowledge with others.

I am not castigating the other editors for this — that would be somewhat absurd — but I do wonder why I have not seen Fanlore more widely linked to other communities, outside of the one that the founders of the OTW are members of.

This is not hard to figure out. People will link to an article organically if they see a need to or think contributing will benefit themselves. Fan History’s Draco/Hermione gets a lot of views because it has become a resource for finding old and influential fics. People also link to articles about themselves because they’re excited to see themselves mentioned in a wiki. It is another way that they can promote themselves and their work. One of the published authors on our wiki has seen twenty visits a month on the article about herself, which is an incentive to keep it updated and to contribute to our community. Other people contribute in order to control how outsiders view them. That can be seen on Fan History most clearly with the case of AdultFanFiction.Net and Rescue Rangers. Still others contribute to Fan History in order to promote conventions they are involved with, to try to up the standing of those authors and artists they love, or just for the LULZ. That latter one, we think, ends up indicating a certain amount of success if they think that Fan History is worth trying to get LULZ from.

We’ve also developed a large amount of links by linking them ourselves. AboutUs?  bebo? Chickipedia? Delicious? Facebook? FanPop? identi.ca? InsaneJournal? Last.fm? LinkedIn? LiveJournal? MySpace? Orkut? Plurk? Twitter?  Wikia? wikiidex? All of these are linked at Fan History. We also developed content that people would want to link to. Articles about the ordinary fan and fleshed out content on topics or relevant content that can’t be found elsewhere. And it is why our desire to get a few interns (are you interested in interning with us? Contact Laura!) is less for the wiki itself than the community outreach because we know doing that will lead to edits.

Fanlore should have extensive entries on “slan” and “Victoria Bitter,”
not just Laura and Bodie from
The Professionals.

Interesting that FanLore’s most edited article, the last time one of our admins bothered to check, was about Fan History and/or its owner. Here are our top ten most edited articles that didn’t have bot contributions:

  1. Harry Potter

  2. Draco/Hermione

  3. Bandfic

  4. Beauty and the Beast

  5. Supernatural

  6. Digimon

  7. CSI

  8. Rescue Rangers

  9. Doctor Who

  10. X-Files

We’ve been working to make certain our most edited articles are not our personal loves or the people we dislike. Why? It’s not conducive to building a community. We’ve learned this the hard way, admittedly, so it is not surprising to see that another wiki may be encountering the same issues. That said, being seen as a personal “grudge” site with too narrow a focus is not good for building positive public relations. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to rebuild trust after working the bias out of your more problematic articles.

I know the only answer to this is “edit it yourself,” but I feel that a stronger sense of community among Fanlore editors would make new editors more comfortable and allow a broader range of articles to arise.”

That’s a problem every wiki faces. But you have to learn from both your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Learn what makes other wikis successful and adapt them for your own purpose.

We wish FanLore nothing but the best of luck in their endeavor. It is a long a bumpy road but one that be filled with tremendous personal satisfaction in creating a great tool for the greater fan community.

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.

Fan History traffic

November 22nd, 2008

I haven’t looked at our traffic sources for the main wiki in a while so I thought I would do that today. The following are traffic sources for Fan History on wikis, on social networking and bookmarking sites and other links where the links were added most likely by Fan History admins. (I attempted to remove some of the organic linking.) It doesn’t include all sources. (DMOZ, Yahoo!Groups, etc. were left off but didn’t give much traffic.)

Fan History Wiki traffic sources

LiveJournal continues to be a major traffic driver for us. I chatted with another wiki maintainer about this. We’re both LiveJournal users and have been for years. We tend to get trapped into the idea that LiveJournal is the be all, end all of getting traffic. It is a nasty little problem. I think we’re both trying to break it. Still, if you’re on LiveJournal, it isn’t a bad way to generate traffic and improve your SEO.

AnimeNewsNetwork is our next biggest traffic source. We have a lot of anime and manga related material so this makes sense for us. This source has converted visits to edits a couple of times so happy about that.

Wikipedia is great if you can get links added. Just don’t get yourself banned for linkspam.

Wikia has a lot of specific topic wikis which can be a great way to get traffic if your content relates to those wikis. I’ve found if you ask, that can help get those folks to be involved with adding links to your site on those wiki.

FanPop is great but the traffic that we get from them? It involves about 400 links on their site and it doesn’t necessarily help with SEO. It can be great for you if you’re trying to generate traffic but at the same time, it feels like a lot of work for very little reward.

FanFiction.Net links are not our additions. Fan History is working on becoming a sort of phone book/directory of everyone in fandom. Given that, people will link to the articles about themselves. I’ve found this to happen the most on LiveJournal, smaller fandom specific message boards and on FanFiction.Net. So if you can get links like those, fantastic. :)

Twitter links frequently come about from links on our twitter accounts, and on my primary Twitter account. We get the occasional visit from others who link on twitter but not that often. I tend to think that is because we have some content issues. Our content isn’t as comprehensive as it could be… which is a major problem for wikis.

Yahoo!Answers can be great. It doesn’t take much time and the hits are good. This source, outside of Fan History and Google, tends to be the biggest source of traffic for FanworksFinder. The exposure here tends to be better than FanPop, even though you get fewer hits from it because the potential audience feels a lot bigger.

IMDB feels like FanPop at times. We have probably 30 links over on IMDB but they don’t get us much traffic. Still, great site to be linked on considering their credibility and the SEO value.

StumbleUpon is just not something that I’ve ever figured out how to do well. Woe. So we’re just not getting much traffic from it.

We’re still trying to figure things out in terms of generating traffic with a limited budget and limited time. It is really educational and there are things which I know we could do better. (Get more twitter followers, working on improving our interactions on services like LiveJournal, MySpace, FaceBook by being more interactive. Following up on comments, etc.)

I’ll close this little summary of our traffic with the following:

Despite its opponents’ claims that people used the software to post lewd or libelous comments, Third Voice didn’t go down in a lawsuit. The company’s conundrum was much more banal: Third Voice couldn’t generate enough advertising revenue to raise consumers’ awareness of its free service, and it couldn’t generate enough consumer awareness to raise the advertising revenue it needed to stay in business. Third Voice Trails Off…

Got Readers? A Guide to Gaining Popularity for Your Fan Fiction

July 10th, 2008

“Got Readers? A Guide to Gaining Popularity for Your Fan Fiction” was a post I wrote for FanLib a long time ago. It finally got posted. It is my quick and dirty guide to getting readers for your fic. Since I originally wrote it, I had a few more ideas for how to get readers that could be worked in. They include using twitter, orkut, Yahoo!Answers, bebo and ning. Yahoo!Answers is one that I’ve seen a bit more of recently. (But that could just be because I’m looking.) People post to Yahoo!Answers asking people for help with their story. Having had urls in a few answers over there, I don’t know how much it would help with traffic to the issue being discussed as compared to other options, but it does help increase visibility in the wider community.

A caveat of sorts: Not everyone wants to get readers and if that is the case, promoting your fan fiction isn’t necessary.  (I do very little promotion of my own work for instance.)  If you want readers and you wonder why you’re not getting them, then you should probably do this.  One lesson that fandom constantly reinforces is that it isn’t the best work around that gets the praise and those aren’t necessarily the authors getting book deals.  You have to market yourself if you want to get that book deal and get those readers.

How not to appear on Fan History

April 28th, 2008

This is copy and pasted from Fan History’s Privacy help page. It is worth repeating in this blog as many people are not aware of the extent to which the information they put out there in fandom is accessible to others.

Fan History’s advice to those in fandom who want privacy, want to avoid the possibility of ever being mentioned on Fan History or want to never have people link to their work outside their control:

1. Always assume that anything you post on the Internet may become public and respond accordingly. Assume some one may screencap it or discuss it elsewhere, even if the message board, fan fiction archive, mailing list is private and requires a password to access the content. Do not assume that any standards in fandom will keep people from revealing what you share. Always assume that your loved ones, friends, employers, potential employers, the media or academics might be linked to any thing you published on the Internet.

2. Never share your real name in anyway that can connect back to your fan name. Do not do it behind locked posts. Do not share it on private communities. Do not allow your real name and fan name to be connected at conventions. Do not assume that people will respect your desire to keep your real name out of fandom.

3. Do not assume that rules regarding Internet privacy do not apply to fandom, or that, because of fandom, you have increased privacy as fans realize the importance of privacy. Cultural expectations for that differ from site to site, archive to archive, community to community, person to person. Do not assume that because it is fandom that web companies will honor what you see as cultural norms regarding fandom privacy. Fandom needs are frequently not the same as business needs. Fandom does not share universal rules regarding privacy. If you make that assumption and behave accordingly, you risk being burned and burned badly.

4. Do not join any social networking services. This includes MySpace, FaceBook, Bebo, Orkut, LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, LiveSpace, etc. Information on social networking is increasingly shared. Making the information on those sites more searchable and more accessible across sites is increasingly part of business plans for new web enterprises. The profiles on those sites also contain a fair amount of historical information about your experience in fandom. This includes groups you belong to, your interests, universities and colleges you attend, your age and other personal information. If the profile is publicly accessible, people can link to it. Any other information that is public on the site can be linked to by anyone, including complete strangers who you know nothing about.

5. Do not join any message boards. Many message boards create profiles. The profiles on many message board contain a fair amount of historical information about your experience in fandom. This includes when you joined, threads you were participated, any contact information you include, etc. If the profile is publicly accessible, people can link to it. You might not like who could link to this information.

6. Do not publish on any fan fiction archives that are publicly accessible. If it is publicly accessible, people can link to it and discuss it outside of your control.

7. Always make sure that you have robots.txt files which deny all robots from indexing the fan fiction archive you belong to, your personal site, blog, index, mailing list archive or any other site which you belong to. Most robots honor robot.txt files and won’t violate them. If they don’t, many robots, like Google and the Internet Archive, consider it okay to copy everything posted to their own servers. The site is the one telling them they can do that and not much you can do about it.

8. Check the robots.txt file of any site you publish on. If you do not like the robot.txt information, do not publish anything on the site. If you do, you could be giving companies like Google and the Internet Archive permission, whether you intend to or not, to copy your work and store it on their servers, way out of your control.

9. Do not allow RSS feeds on sites where you post that might export your content to news aggregators and rss search engines. Some of these aggregtors will, depending on the type of RSS feed you have, post the full content of your submission. This is the case for a site like LiveJournal and for scripts like WordPress. Some sites, such as archives using efiction, have rss feeds which announce new story submissions. You cannot generally control where these RSS feeds show up, nor always follow who is watching them. They might be included in obscure RSS search engines that you’ve never heard of. If you allow them or on a site that uses them in relation to your content, then you’re taking control away from where your information and content is being shared.

10. Keep contact in fandom to a minimum. If you interact with people, it increases the chances that you will share information with people that could be made public. If you interact with people, you risk annoying people who might then hold grudges against you. If you interact with people, you risk people saying nice things about you and wanting to share how nice you are with others. You cannot trust that people will not share anything you shared with others, even if you think that the person is your BFF in fandom. To avoid such sharing, avoid contact.

11. If you are going to be involved in fandom, avoid wank at all costs. Wank will get you attention. Wank will motivate people to share, break FLock and password community expectations. Wank will motivate people to share private e-mails and personal communications with others. Wank will draw increased attention to you and your actions.

12. Find out about who you are interacting with in fandom to determine if they might be some one who might share with others things you have done and avoid people who might share information at all costs. Check Fan History and Fandom Wank. Search on various search engines including Google, message board search engines, Usenet search engines and more. Ask around about people. Find out the history of that individual in fandom and out. Ask their fandom friends about the history of their behavior. Make sure you know who you are dealing with and if you want to risk dealing with them. If you do not want to deal with the, avoid and avoid their social network.

13. Always read privacy statements. Understand what they say. Realize what information that you could be sharing and who could be looking at it.

14. Realize that your every keystroke is likely being tracked. Google keeps records of every search you make. With services like gmail and adsense, a program picks up keywords from your content to give you contextualized ads. Companies like Hitwise get data from ISPs that is used to market to people. Most websites keep logs of every visitor that visits their site based on IP address and can tell which pages you visited and for how long you stayed. There are counters like ljtoys.org.uk, SiteMeter, GoogleAnalytics, Quantcast and StatCounter which allow blog maintainers and web site maintainers to track that information. The best way to avoid being tracked is to not visit any site which concerns you.

15. Regularly check sites like LjSEEK.com and Google to make sure your information is not included and take steps to remove that material as you spot it. Consider subscribing to a service like Trackur or Google Alerts to monitor where you are mentioned. You have to be proactive in protecting your privacy as industry trends, upon which the backbone of some fandom activities are built, are about sharing information and making things more accessible across sites. This can be great for fandom but if you’re genuinely concerned about your privacy and the ability to control where and how people talk about you or the content you create, this is not good. Given that, it is up to you to maintain your privacy and where people link to you.

Fandom and traffic

April 20th, 2008

I love looking at Fan History’s traffic information.  Where is the traffic coming from?  Which plugs are effective?  Which are less effective?  This, for me, is really important information as the decision was made, mostly for financial reasons, to not advertise.  With Fan History catering to an obscure niche interest, it means getting and sustaining a large sustainable can be difficult.  In two years, some traffic patterns have become rather obvious that those trying to market to fandom or those who seek to create in fandom projects can learn from.

  • Wikipedia: Wikipedia is your friend.  If your site, blog entry, mailing list is on the right Wikipedia page, you can generate a fair number of visits.  It increases your visibility in fandom and to people officially connected to your fandom.
  • LiveJournal: LiveJournal (and to a degree JournalFen’s more popular communities) is your friend.  A good plug on an active community can net you 50 to 500 unique visits.  If the community allows itself to be spidered, if the community has tags, those plugs can keep on giving.  They help with your search engine  visibility.  For professionals in fandom seeking to promote their project, these plugs also demonstrate an awareness of the fandom community which helps establish those projects as legitimate in the eyes of that community.
  • Fansites: Fansites are a great way to get visibility.  Make fansite webmasters your friends.   Ask them to plug your project.  Explain why it would be good for their audience.  Ask them to get involved with your site.  If a popular fansite plugs you on your main page, they can provide a good 50 to 10,000 unique visitors.    If you’ve got a unique product targeted at that community, that much traffic can be fantastic.  (And maintain relationships with those fansite maintainers. The maintainers are power brokers in their corner and can help you figure out where to target the fandom community to help you grow your audience.)  Many fansites also have ways to add your own links.  AnimeNewsNetwork and Anipike are two good anime examples where you can add your own links.  If you can’t get the maintainers to plug on your main page, do it there.
  • Mailing lists: Mailing lists are not dead in fandom.  A frequent characterization of mailing list folks is that they are opposed to web 2.0 and the whole blogging culture.  Not true.  Many of the folks I know on mailing lists just like that culture.  They do use other social networking tools but mailing lists are a communal way of sharing news with out having to know how to operate in fandom cultures they may not be familiar with. It means that mailing lists can be a great source of traffic as you’ve got a community of people who share.  Even better, people will take things that they see on mailing lists and mention them elsewhere as they share what they like elsewhere.  An active fandom mailing list with 250 to 10,000 members might result in 10 to 50 visits but there is chance of a mention elsewhere that can result in more traffic.
  • Digg: Digg is not always a huge traffic generator and isn’t a traditional fandom tool.  (delicious seems to be the social bookmarking tool of choice.)  Unless you’ve already got a huge website going, you’re not likely to end up on the front page with out something happening.  Digg does help with search engine visibility.   If your Digg link submission involves an article on an obscure topic, it can help to really channel people interested in that topic to your site.
  • Social networking sites: Quizilla, MySpace, FaceBook, bebo, orkut are great social networking sites but they don’t generate much traffic, nor do they create much increased visibility.  The fandom community on those networks isn’t really oriented towards fandom.  You can tell you’ve made it though when you start getting mentions on them.  Fan History does a plug on one of those sites, or gets a mention, it will net maybe 5 to 10 unique visitors in the course of a six month period.   These mentions won’t necessarily help with your search engine visibility, nor help your networking opportunities.  Your time is best spent plugging your project elsewhere.
  • Blogs: Bloggers can be your friend and key traffic drivers.  A big, influential blog that mentions you can get you a lot of traffic.  A smaller blog might add to your search engine visibility.  A small, influential blog might help you get the attention of people who can help your project succeed.
  • Controversy: Controversy can sell and help add legitimacy to your project.  Fan History gets fairly decent sized traffic bumps when people have issues with articles, with privacy issues in fandom or with people who help maintain the wiki.  Fandom Wank can be your traffic driving, search engine visibility, viral link creating friend.  Lee Goldberg slamming on you can give you sympathy and legitimacy.   Having slashers and het shippers duke it out on your site insures they stay and means they’ll probably link to their arguments elsewhere to complain about the behavior of those they don’t like. Controversy may also bring media attention and attention from the people affiliated with your fandom.
  • Specialized content: Specialized content generates traffic.  Fan History gets a fair amount of traffic because we cover topics that are not covered as thoroughly elsewhere.  Cassandra Claire is the best example of this on Fan History.  The Draco/Hermione is another good example.  Alias Smith and Jones is a third.  Thoroughly link and promote this specialized content to make it easier to find. Doing that will help generate viral links with out your having to do the work.

Is marketing a fandom project different than marketing a project that is not fandom related?  Probably not.  A lot of this advice would probably work for a site promoting soap or a non-fandom specific web service.  The difference is that fansites don’t necessarily see good marketing advice as applicable to them because fandom is a hobby or an academic exercise; for them, fandom is not a business and should not operate like one.   They should because nothing is sadder than seeing a good project die through lack of interest.

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