Posts Tagged ‘fan fiction’

Across The Pond, a Queer as Folk fan fiction archive, needs help

April 6th, 2010

Parts of this were cross posted to qaf_coffeeclub and as I emphasize with their needs, I thought I’d crosspost their plea here as I hate to see archives in trouble…

Just an FYI.

Okay fellow Queer As Folk fans … UK Qaf, US Qaf, or both!!! ALL
PAIRING PREFERENCES!!!!

If you want to keep the ATP Archive up and running – please read this
information.

Some of you may know I am an archivist at the Across The Pond QAF
Fiction Archive. It’s been many years of hard work, but not a little
pairing drama…lol (just teasing) – but through it all, there has
always been one place that served as an archive for all pairing
choices and all versions of the show “Queer As Folk”.

Now we all have our own pairing favs, and in some cases, we may also
have our pairing specific archives. But all of us know that there is
value in diversity, and having a wider selection can yield many
rewards.

And now, in the spirit of hope, I’m asking for your help to keep the
archive alive. Please read the information below, and know that
ANYTHING you can give is greatly appreciated.

Since our last donation drive in 2006, our failsafe backer(s) have
quietly slipped out of the fandom, and the Archive has literally been
surviving on air for almost a year thanks solely to the generosity of
our host provider. But they can no longer let things stand as they
are. This has come as news to me, and I’m sure to many of you. So
your help is needed, and needed now – if possible. In that spirit -
please share this request with your other QAF communities on
LiveJournal, Yahoogroups, etc.

Remember – No action = no result. And in this case, that would mean
the end of ATP.

The goal for their fundraiser this year is $500

The money will be used for hosting cost, maintenance for the site, and any overages for bandwidth.

Direct PayPal link

‘Tis the Season…already?…for fandom Secret Santas.

September 18th, 2009

It may only be mid-September, but for much of fandom, that means Secret Santa season has begun. Holiday exchanges for fanfiction and fanart have become a huge part of many fandoms in recent years. While Yuletide may be the largest and one of the most widely known, there are many other smaller exchanges to be found today to give fans a chance to create new works specifically to fit other fans’ requests.

There are many exchanges geared for specific fandoms, small to large. Especially huge fandoms such as Harry Potter have multiple exchanges for specific ships, slash and het, as well as for gen fic.

I’ve been working on compiling an extensive list of Secret Santa exchanges to help fans find ones geared to their specific interests and fandoms. Of course, additions and corrections to the list would be greatly appreciated, as the status of many past challenges are not clear yet for 2009, although others have already begun the sign-up process weeks ago.

My own Secret Santa exchange, xmas_rocks, will be in its fourth year this winter and has just begun the pairing nomination process. An exchange open to all rock musician/bandom pairings, I’m always interested to see what will be the most requested and written artists and acts for the year. Perhaps we’ll see some Michael Jackson fan-fiction this year? I’m tempted to request it myself…

Due South story pages added!

July 10th, 2009

A few days ago, we blogged about whether or not to continue adding more story articles to the wiki based on recent experiences building a database of stories in Inuyasha fandom. We have gone ahead with continuing this process, today adding over 5,000 articles on Due South stories from the Due South fiction archive. We felt this was a good fandom to continue with, as FanHistory has received some criticism in the past for not having more content related to Due South and its fandom. We hope this will help track trends and posting frequency in the fandom through the years. Also, as one of our admins pointed out in the earlier discussion, our indexing of archives such as dsa could help in the future in cases of plagiarism in fandom.

As always, FanHistory is not indexing any information which is not already easily retrieved on the internet through simple search and link methods. We are not actually archiving these stories, only providing links as to where to find them and summary details. We will also be willing and ready to delete story articles on request and will be refining our policies on this matter as we continue to look into indexing more fan fiction on the internet.

Story pages or no story pages…

July 8th, 2009

Recently, we added a number of articles about specific stories on Fan History.  Many of these stories were hosted on Geocities.  We wanted a record that these stories existed because they are likely to disappear.  It gave an idea as to what was happening in smaller fandoms not hosted on FanFiction.Net, in real person fic communities and elsewhere.  Many of the fandoms on Geocities more closely paralelled what was happening on Yahoo!Groups than FanFiction.Net or LiveJournal.  It was important to get that out there.

But we’ve opened Pandora’s Box.  We’ve got all these story pages that we didn’t have before.  After we did that, we added a bunch of stories about Inuyasha.   We had the database.  It was an interesting experiment to try to add those articles.  We were showing some love towards another archive.  (We love to do that.  If you’re in fandom and are looking for a way to promote yourself on Fan History, let us know.)  The articles represented another perspective outside of FanFiction.Net and LiveJournal.  It seemed all good.

It would be really easy to add articles about a lot of other stories on other archives.  We could e-mail fan fiction archivists and ask them if they would be interested in having articles about the stories they have hosted on Fan History.  We could ask individual authors if they could put together an excel file that lists all their stories.  If we wanted to work towards our goal of getting to a million articles, this would be one way to get there a lot faster.

Except, you know, over thinking happens.  Do those pages have value?  (Maybe.)  Are most stories able to help people get an idea of possible trends in fandom?  (You’d need to look at 10 to 100 articles to really know.  Maybe.  Hard to tell.)  Would this be useful for smaller fandoms where it isn’t as centralized and readers may not be as aware of other places to find stories?  (Yes.  Definitely.)  Would this be useful to larger fandoms in the same way?  (Not really, no.) Wouldn’t this duplicate what we already have started with FanworksFinder?  (Kind of.  But FanworksFinder doesn’t work.  And what about stories that no longer exist?  Where is the dating?)    Could it almost become like Yahoo!Answers or fic finding mailing lists where people can easily hunt for stories?  (Yes.  If done right.  Likely not though until Fan History’s audience reached a critical mass.)  Wouldn’t it remove some of the neutrality issues of the wiki if we did this and allowed reviews of stories on the wiki?  (Yes.  Hugely scary issue.)  Would we piss off a lot of people in fandom by linking and discussing their stories with out permission?  (Probably.  Maybe. Somewhat.  Bound to happen.  Scary to think about.)  Would people find this useful in terms of promoting their own work?  (Yes.  If person articles are any indication, lots of people would find them useful.)

There are just so many good arguments both ways.  We’d love feedback from the community regarding this issue as we go forward.

Geocities preservation project

July 6th, 2009

We’ve been trying to figure out how to preserve some of the history of fandom on Geocities.  One way was to try to create an index of some of the stories on Geocities.  (Our best guess is that there are over 250,000 stories hosted in various places on Geocities.  It is just impossible to get an accurate count.)  Fandom ethics pretty much condemn copying and saving stories and archiving them with out an author’s permission.  And doing that?  It wouldn’t really help develop a better idea of what was happening in fandom.  It would just preserve primary source documents, that in many cases would lose the date of authorship.

To address this issue, what we did was created an index file of stories hosted on Geocities.  This involved a lot of datamining by hand.  This information was then wikified.    Sadly, my most awesome bot developer has been busy and this index kept growing.  We finally did get the information wikified using an extension. Editing these articles isn’t as simple as editing normal articles as you’re much more locked into the template than you are with most pages.  The source wiki code looks like this.  If you need help editing, let an admin know.

When we finished adding new articles, we had over 5,000 new articles about pieces of fan fiction found on Geocities.  They represented 125 fandoms, and almost 1,200 authors.  Stories were written as early as 1998 and as late as 2009.  We’re really happy with this because, while not much, it represents a piece of fandom history that won’t be lost now.

Not a parody? Then not fair use. Precedent is bad news for argument that fan fiction is legal!

July 2nd, 2009

There have been endless debates in fandom as to the legality of fan fiction.  The general consensus, with some noted exceptions, in the community is that fan fiction is highly derivative and would not be covered under fair use.  Some of the most noted proponents of fair use for fan fiction claim that fan fiction is a form of parody. I’ve generally found this type of rationalization rather ridiculous, as most fanfics are easily perceived to not be parodical in nature. (And you’re never going to convince me that your post episode story is, or that your chan story featuring Harry Potter getting butt sex is a form of parody either.)  We’ve just been rather fortunate in our community that there is no legal precedent in US courts, which say that fan fiction is a copyright violation.  We’ve also been fortunate that copyright holders have largely managed to ignore fan fiction or saw ways that they could fit fan fiction into their business plan.  In the past several years, there have been almost no cease and desist letters and DMCA takedown notices for fan fiction.

But it looks like we have finally come close to having that precedent that everyone should be concerned about. By concerned , I mean they need to be concerned about keeping fan fiction out of the courts if this holds up on appeal.  Why?  This court case shows that we could damned well lose.

There was a court case in the United States.  It involved an unauthorized sequel to a work by J.D. Salinger.  The court wrote the following:

To the extent Defendants contend that 60 Years and the character of Mr. C direct parodic comment or criticism at Catcher or Holden Caulfield, as opposed to Salinger himself, the Court finds such contentions to be post-hoc rationalizations employed through vague generalizations about the alleged naivety of the original, rather than reasonably perceivable parody.

Or as Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Jones said, “did not fit into the fair use exception in copyright law because the book did not constitute a critical parody that “transformed” the original.” This sort of ruling doesn’t help the case for the legality of fan fiction.  The court saw through the same sort of bullshit rationalizations for the legality of of this work that fan fiction writers have made.

Will this change the situation in the fan community at all?  No, it won’t.  What it hopefully will do is quiet those voices who claim that fan fiction is transformative, not derivative.  that rational may end up doing more harm than good.

Anime-Fanfiction.net

July 1st, 2009

Posting this for people who are interested in Anime fan fiction…  It is a copy and paste of a message by taiyoukai_nile that she wanted passed along.

As mentioned not long ago, [info]x_keva_x and I were going to open an anime fanfiction site. The site is officially open. Right now Rita (Pitabread) and I will be in the works for Avatar Fanfiction as an offshoot. Although I would put it on the site, there was enough questions and interest for it.

Any anime not listed, you can list in Other. When we have more than a dozen fanfics that goes toward a category, then we will make one.

Anyway, without further ado please feel free to be a part of Anime-Fanfiction.net!

We are looking for affiliate anime based sites to link with as well. Please pass the word!!!

Archive of Our Own vs. FanLib: Why they are not succeeding

June 29th, 2009

I love statistics.  I love analytics.  I love analyzing fandom based on those numbers.  The numbers can provide a framework for telling a story.  In the case of this set of numbers, a group was created back in May 2007 to try to bring greater fan control over certain parts of fandom in response to what they saw as the commercialism of fandom.  The specific commercialism of fandom in this case was FanLib.  There were people who hoped and believed that their new archive could end up being bigger than FanFiction.Net.   It hasn’t materialized and compared to what this group was fighting, they didn’t even measure up to FanLib in terms of the number of stories that FanLib had before it closed.  (Comparing their archive to FanLib seems apt.  Their supporters were comparing FanLib to FanFiction.Net.)    Let’s take a look at the numbers and how they stacked up…

Fandom   ? FanLib, # of stories   ? Date   ? Archive of Our Own, # of stories   ? Date   ?
15/Love 0 January 3, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
28 Days Later 1 January 29, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
4400 9 January 30, 2008 3 June 29, 2009
7th Heaven 3 February 2, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
8 Simple Rules 0 February 2, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Absolutely Fabulous 1 February 2, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Alf 0 February 9, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Alias 38 February 9, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Alias Smith and Jones 2 February 9, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Alien 3 January 29, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Angel 122 February 21, 2008 92 June 29, 2009
Battle of the Planets 25 December 13, 2007 3 June 29, 2009
Bleach 113 January 30, 2008 23 June 29, 2009
Brokeback Mountain 23 December 30, 2007 2 June 29, 2009
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer 234 January 2, 2008 244 June 29, 2009
Charmed 70 August 17, 2007 1 June 29, 2009
CSI 250 December 7, 2007 9 June 29, 2009
CSI: Miami 65 December 19, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
CSI: New York 38 December 19, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Disney’s Gargoyles 3 December 30, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Dragon Ball 4 January 7, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Dragon Ball Z 62 January 7, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
due South 0 June 29, 2007 265 June 29, 2009
Final Fantasy VII 17 December 30, 2007 3 June 29, 2009
Friends 71 August 17, 2007 1 June 29, 2009
Gilmore Girls 220 January 30, 2008 14 June 29, 2009
Grey’s Anatomy 27 December 18, 2007 36 June 29, 2009
Gunsmoke 0 August 17, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Harry Potter 1,740 May 3, 2008 236 June 29, 2009
House M.D. 72 January 30, 2008 203 June 29, 2009
Inuyasha 636 January 4, 2008 1 June 29, 2009
Kingdom Hearts 75 December 7, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Lois and Clark 32 December 28, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Lord of the Rings 130 December 8, 2007 55 June 29, 2009
Lost 49 August 17, 2007 52 June 29, 2009
My Chemical Romance 2 January 30, 2008 3 June 29, 2009
Naruto 1,843 December 18, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
NCIS 18 October 2, 2007 18 June 29, 2009
One Tree Hill 11 August 19, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Pirates of the Caribbean 231 January 2, 2008 27 June 29, 2009
Robin of Sherwood 0 January 7, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Sailor Moon 92 May 23, 2007 0 June 29, 2009
Scarecrow and Mrs. King 0 January 27, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
Smallville 84 January 11, 2008 107 June 29, 2009
Star Wars 330 December 8, 2007 20 June 29, 2009
Supernatural 220 December 13, 2007 241 June 29, 2009
Thunderbirds 240 July 24, 2008 0 June 29, 2009
X-Men 72 January 2, 2008 13 June 29, 2009
Zelda 11 December 15, 2007 0 June 29, 2009

Just how big is their lack of success? 1 Inuyasha story. 0 Naruto stories. 0 Sailor Moon stories.  0 CSI: Miami stories. 0 Thunderbirds stories.

Why didn’t they take off?  There are probably a lot of reasons.  The biggest is probably because the group that founded this archive were never FanFiction.Net type users to begin with.  (Thus, FanLib was never intended for them.)  Switching from blogging software to archiving software was probably a cultural struggle that they weren’t motivated to do because the new archive didn’t have readers and would have distanced them from existing power structures in fandom that they value.  (FanFiction.Net  certainly has a power structure, popular people, ways to propell your status on the site and in fandom.  It just is probably less obvious to outsiders.)  At the same time, the creators failed to market the site.  There was no massive outreach to FanFiction.Net users, to former FanLibbers, to Quizilla users, to LiveJournal users, to AdultFanFiction.Net users. (And when they do market it, it looks like they are trying to use wank to generate traffic.  Just look at their warnings we has! announcement on metafandom.)  As a result, their major pool of authors was severely limited.  The last reason why it looks like they fail to succeed as much as FanLib is they don’t appear to believe in their own product.  People aren’t doing fake LJ cuts to it.  They aren’t delicious bookmarking it on any scale.  They just don’t appear to want to make the time commitment to make it THE next FanFiction.Net.

Sports fan fiction fandom

June 9th, 2009

I found this on my hard drive. It dates back to June 2006. In all the time I’ve been doing Fan History, I don’t know if I have expanded my knowledge of sportfic fandom beyond this much.


SportsFic history is something difficult to construct. If you’re in main stream fan fiction culture, you may never stumble upon it. If you’re in BandFic, ActorFic or PoliSlash communities, you are still probably unlikely to stumble upon it. It is and it isn’t. SportsFic is one of the smaller, less visible fannish communities.

Some fan fiction community dates are relatively easy to pin down. The Star Trek fan fiction community was started in 1967 with the publication of Spockanalia. The BandFic community date is harder to pin down but the zines were definitely present by the 1983 when Comet Bus was published. The Harry Potter fan fiction community was started by 1999 on FanFiction.Net. SportsFic lacks even this much clarity.

Sports was clearly defined as a fandom as early as 1908. [1] What this meant at that time in the context of sports is not the same as most modern fen would use the word. The technology to facilitate community was just not there. The tradition of writing fictional stories about real people in a sporting context was not there. [2] The community demographics of modern fandom that go to support fan fiction were not present. The culture that allowed writing of stories that featured sexually explicit stories was not there. It did not resemble fandom as most fen define it.

In the period between 1908 and 1950, histories of sports fan behavior and sports fandom do not describe anything that look like fan fiction. The first inkling of sports fandom involving fan fiction first emerged in the 1950s, in the post World War II era. This is the period when wrestling fiction began. [3] The wrestling community that created this material tended to be female, with some sixty percent of the audience to live events being composed of women and ninety percent of the television audience being female. This group of fen started creating their own fannish materials, including fanzines and the writing of fictional stories about real wrestling stars. They would continue on with this activity well into the 1960s. After that, the history of the community is some what neglected, with out much research done on the community.

Following wrestling fiction, there is a void of knowledge. [4] Was there sports fic going on? It seems highly probable given that bandfic was similar and had a tradition of putting fictional stories about band members into fanzines. And sports fandom had fanzines. There are tons of them to be found. In the period between 1960 and 1995, these included but are not limited to the following fanzines: Leyton Orientear, Scottish Athletic Journal, Foul!, Sick as a Parrot, Combat Sports, Fan-Club Bulletin, Paper Tiger and The Northern Light.

The internet proved to be a bit of a boon to SportsFic. For the first time, the material was more easily findable, more easily publishable and it was easier to people to find like minded fen. It also helped bring sportsfic communities into contact with other communities. There is important because unlike ActorFic and BandFic, there is no indication that SportsFic had contact with traditional media fan fiction communities prior to this and even for a number of years after the material was first put on-line. Sadly, like BandFic, it appears that the early other community contact that SportsFic had was with the erotica community. This community was found on Nifty in 1993.

From that early home, SportsFic appeared to go to Usenet. By 1997, figure skating, baseball, football began to discuss issues that laid a framework for story writing including speculation on athlete orientation, eating disorders and more. These discussions would result in such archives as SkateFic. The presence of the speculation lead to the creation of mailing lists and fan fiction archives located off Usenet. The SportsFic community was helped in 1998 with the creation of FanFiction.Net. While the archive did not set out to create a community where SportsFic could be posted, it hosted a number of SportsFic stories in the original and other categories. The ability to create free mailing lists also helped the nascent community. RS-X and FFN-Slashers-Unite were just two of the mailing lists that helped to expand the community. They also offered platforms to promote more specific communities. These mailing lists in turn begat a number of small, author centered fan fiction archives. Archives were considered large if they had twenty stories on them.

SportsFic became some what more tolerable in parts of the traditional media fan fiction community because of the ambiguity of some of the fandoms. Fan fiction based on professional wrestling was not quite real person fic like actorfic because the wrestlers were putting on a show for the fans, partially based on themselves but heavily scripted towards making it fiction. This ambiguity allowed SportsFic fen to put their material

When, in 2002, FanFiction.Net banned all real person fic, some parts of the SportsFic community reeled. The biggest communities that were affected were the baseball, wrestling and racing communities. What would rescue them would be the ease of creating mailing lists, new automated fan fiction archive scripts, low cost for web hosting and LiveJournal. LiveJournal’s role can not be understated. It created a number of communities that might otherwise not have existed or would have remained very small. These communities included horse racing, swimming, baseball, football, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, Nascar and Formula One, skiing, gymnastics, skeleton and curling. It was helped along in other areas by the creation of such archives as FanDomination.Net and FanWorks.Org.

All these different avenues of story sharing did not narrow down. Members of the SportsFic continued to post to LiveJournal, to mailing lists, to automated archives, and to personal fan fiction archives. This expanding of the horizons is probably the reason that, by 2003, SportsFic began to come to the attention of the athletes themselves and that legal issues. In March of 2003, FanDomination.Net would get a cease and desist letter from the representative of Andy Petitte. In 2005, an Ohio State University Buckeye women’s basketball saffic writer would receive a similar letter and be kicked out of the Buckeye booster club.

Even with all these things happening in the SportsFic community, the crossover with traditional media fan fiction communities did not happen. Most members of traditional media fan fiction communities seem blissfully unaware of SportsFic. SportsFic community members give the appearance of being aware of possible reactions to the material and not forcing it on unsuspecting people. Terms have migrated to SportsFic from traditional media fan fiction community including fan fiction, real person fic, Mary Sue and slash. Given the long period of isolation, it seems unlikely that sportsfic will ever fully integrate into the traditional media fan fiction community.

[1] Chicago Daily Tribune used the word fandom several times in the context of baseball fans.
[2] Roman-a-clef, what could be seen as a precursor for some real person fic, was being written but it tended to focus on literary figures.
[3] See: Fiske, John. Researching Historical Broadcast Audiences: Female Fandom of Professional Wrestling, 1945-1960. Diss. Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison, 1997. 5 Apr. 2006.
[4] For more information on the problem with fanzine histories, see: Hall, H. & Smith, N. (1997). You’ll wish it was all over: the bibliographic control of grey literature with reference to print football fanzines. Serials, 10(2), 189-194.

Jon and Kate Plus 8 fan fiction…

May 29th, 2009

I was a bit curious if there was any Jon and Kate Plus 8 fan fiction as we’d received a couple of visits from people looking for this material. In the past, I’ve checked the major fan fiction archives, the automated ones that tend to be Real Person Fic friendly Quizilla, LiveJournal and its clones. I’ve also poked around the major blogs and wikis that cover Jon and Kate Plus 8. None of these sources have fan fiction based on the show. If it exists (and it undoubtedly does. Isn’t there a Snacky’s law about this?), then the material is pretty much underground. Which is understandable as this fan community seems to largely be composed of two camps: Show defenders, Show critics. The defender camp does not seem like it would be in the position of tolerating that material. The critics camp seems much more entrenched in the “Get the show canceled. Save the family.” mod. That doesn’t leave much room for fan fiction people to come in and openly play.

An interesting small fandom success story

May 16th, 2009

Riptide has long been one of my favorite “forgotten” television series and orphan fandoms. It was a fun show lost somewhat under the shadow of The A-Team when it first aired, and eventually killed in the ratings by the hit competition series, Moonlighting. There was a small amount of fiction written for the series in fanzines, but not a great deal (and mostly hurt/comfort), and the fandom seemed to really disappear off the radar in the past decade.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled onto pier56, a LiveJournal community for the show created last year. I joined it, thinking at first it would probably be like most comms I’ve belonged to for obscure fandoms: sadly mostly dead, with perhaps one or two postings a month–and maybe one or two decent stories to read in a year.

Well, to my continued surprise and delight, the comm seems to be thriving! New fiction is posted just about daily (and not just by one person). There is active discussion about the series, the characters, the setting, and other information related to the show. It’s a thriving little community for a series which has been off the air for over twenty years, and seems to have come back out of nowhere. Which of course, has left me wondering, so how did they do that?

It seems the answer lies in a combination of factors. For one, the series has been out on dvd for a few years now–unlike some of my other obscure loves like Brimstone which never has been so lucky to find an official release and therefore is limited in how easily new fans can be introduced to the show. I’ve also been told that one of the community moderators took an active lead in promoting the community–not just through the typical techniques of spamming other livejournal communities and posting banners around, but taking advantage of livejournal’s “interests” feature, and going forth to individually contact people who listed “Riptide” as an interest. The moderator also put time in writing up guides for the show for communities such as ship_manifesto, and has welcomed not just slash fans but writers and readers of other genres of fiction to the community.

All that said, there still has to be some magical “it” factor at work here, and it’s something I’ve long pondered over after being frustrated that so many fandoms I’ve loved and felt should have gotten bigger and more love never did so. Is it just a case of “Riptide” being a right fandom at the right time for a particular audience of fans? The right person taking up the charge to promote a fandom successfully? Will the community be able to maintain this level of activity for an extended period of time, or will it begin to flounder if the core active people lose interest or drift away? I’ll be curious to see what happens. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of stories to catch up on reading!

Fan fiction on a wiki?

April 22nd, 2009

I was hanging out in #wikia on irc.freenode.net when some one came in to talk about their new Wikia wiki: Fan Fic Wikia.  I went to look and… yeah.  This wiki host for fan fiction doesn’t look very well thought out.  I’ve thought about how to tweak MediaWiki to be a fan fiction archive.  (It’s doable.  It just is not very easy to do.)  I don’t think they will ever get may contributors and if they do gain an active contributor base, they are going to run into a few problems quickly.   And if they get anyone posting fan fiction that doesn’t belong to them, then they might be the subject of an angry mob.

These are a few questions I have for them:

  1. Can you license fan fiction under a GFDL license?  Is that a legal copyright for works that might be viewed by the courts as derivative where the works really belong to the intellectual copyright holder and not the person posting them?
  2. If you are an author contributing, how do you delete your stories?  (Blanking doesn’t equal deleting.)  Most fan fiction authors I know have control issues regarding where their stories are allowed.  If you cannot have control over your own work, then why should you participate?
  3. Doesn’t a GFDL license basically give any other site with a GFDL license the right to use your fan fiction?  How do you reassure people that their material won’t be used that way?  Wikia isn’t likely to allow a license change to allow that.
  4. What sort of plagiarism protections are you going to have?  And if an author is found to have been plagarized, how are you going to handle it?
  5. You’re located on Wikia so I assume that means zero adult content?  And no shota of any kind?  How will that be handled?  It could be a real selling point so I’d stick that on the main page.  And then on subpages with a note that you’re going to be banned if you include it because it violates the ToS of your host.

There are probably a bunch of other issues I have with using MediaWiki and Wikia as a host for fan fiction using a non-modified version but those are the immediate ones that come to mind.

The problems of writing personal histories in a wiki…

April 21st, 2009

On Thursday morning, a friend of Fan History’s and one of our admins pointed me at another post about the issues with FanLore.  We were really interested in this post because it dealt with similar yet different issues than the ones brought up by nextian.  Like that post, we’ve gone through and commented in terms of how we’ve handled similar criticism, how we handle situations like the one mentioned in terms of FanLore, what advice we have, etc.  We haven’t addressed the whole post and the comments because of length.  (And because we got a bit distracted by other things going on.)  We hope to get back to it.

A lot of non-fic fandom is languishing at Fanlore. Gamer fandom, in particular, I notice, ‘cos I’ve been part of that for (eeep!) more than thirty years.

This is a similar problem that Fan History has faced.  And it isn’t just non-fic fandoms.  It is fandoms where there is a community outside of and removed from the fan fiction community.  This was an area we were criticized for about two years.  We were too fan fiction-centric.  We weren’t multifannish enough.  We didn’t encourage the telling of fandom history outside of the fan fiction community.  And those criticisms were entirely valid back then. But now?  We’ve got a whole lot of fan fiction content but we’re a lot less fan fiction-centric in terms of our article scope.  Removing that has been a goal of ours and on our to-do list for a long time. It’s there as a reminder that when we see a timeline for a fandom that says “this fan fiction community,” we change it to “this fan community” or “this fandom.”  We’ve made this a priority.

That doesn’t even begin to get into the issue of media fandom vs. anime and manga fandom vs. actor fandom vs. music fandoms vs. video game fandoms.  In this respect, I think Fan History was fortunate because we had anime and video game fandoms represented early thanks to Jae, one of our earliest contributors.  She had a lot of experience in the Digimon and Final Fantasy communities, and created a number of articles about them.  We are also fortunate to a degree as my own interests were pretty pan-fannish.  I had connections to the anime and  music fandoms because of my relationships with the folks at RockFic, the guy who runs FanWorks.Org, and the people who run MediaMiner.Org.

FanLore isn’t as fortunate in that regards.  Their traditions, their interests have always been focused on media fandom and science fiction.  They don’t really have one or two core people who come from fannish experiences outside their own who, organizationally, are equal to other members of that community.  It is easy to have that problem because you tend to go with what you know, hang out with like-minded people, and stay in your comfort zone.

If you want those other fan communities represented, you have give those fans an investment in it.  You bypass the traditional rules.  You find a BNF in one of those fandoms, offer them admin status, and encourage them to promote the project in their own community.  We did this with the Kim Possible fandom.  We made one their own a fandom administrator, talked to the guy on a regular basis and encouraged him to reach out to his community.  And, to a certain degree, it worked.  If we hadn’t done that outeach, we would not have seen the edits to the Kim Possible section that we have had.  None of our core contributors have ever really been in the Harry Potter or Rescue Rangers fandoms to any large degree.  We reached out on mailing lists, LiveJournal groups, fansites, and fan fiction archives.  We asked for their help.  These folks responded.  Why?  We built a framework which made it easy to contribute.  In most cases, we left them alone to make edits as they needed to so long as they didn’t violate the rules.  They responded more when those articles became useful for them in terms of regularly visiting and linking because people couldn’t get that content elsewhere.

But I’m not sure what to do with the wiki. It’s… big. And mostly empty, in the areas of fandom that are most dear to me. And I’m not a historian; I don’t remember the details, the names & dates, of the fannish events & memes that I grew to love; I remember vague overview of concepts, and a few bright points of detail, which make for lousy wiki entries. I would like to start entries and allow others to fix them, but the few I tried that with, haven’t worked. I don’t think there’s anyone active at Fanlore who comes from “my branch(es)” of fandom.

The thing is, you don’t NEED to be a historian to be able to write the history of a fan community.  You don’t need all the dates.   You can write a good history based on general feel.  People can come in later and improve it with citations.  Just describe what you see going on with your gut feeling and explain that as well as you can.  Describe the community and how it operates.  Heck, a lot of this is not citable; how can you cite things like trends in, say, the LiveJournal community?  There is no way to cite, without doing a lot of research and without having access to primary source documents.

What we hope will happen is that by someone putting what they feel in there, what they intrinsically understand as a community history or how the community functions, someone else will be inspired by seeing that to do the additional research.  Or that someone else will disagree with that and edit it to include their own perspective, and the two different perspectives that can’t really be sourced can be merged.  Or that someone will know some good citations to support what is written.

The models for doing this have to be different because you aren’t writing a traditional history.  This is not the same as writing a history of the US Civil War.  Much of this involves writing ethnographic-style history.  The methodologies are different than other forms of documenting history.  The practices are different.  Both types of history are different from writing meta.

This all has an impact on how people contribute.  Administrators need to keep that in mind. The admin team needs to understand the fundamental methodologies involved in writing history.  At Fan History, our admins have spent a lot of time getting a crash course on exactly this.   There have been discussions on our mailing list about the methodologies of writing women’s histories, and how historians use oral histories in their research.  We’ve talked about multiple perspectives and issues of bias in the telling of fandom history.  We’ve discussed research done in fandom by academics like Henry Jenkins and Camille Bacon-Smith, identified areas of bias and how we can learn from that.  We’ve discussed primary sources, secondary sources, historian bias, reporter bias, the role of collaboration in history writing, quantitative versus qualitative approaches and merging the two approaches to get a cohesive history.  The more familiar the admin staff is with these issues, the better they are at analyzing, guiding and teaching others in terms of writing those histories in fandoms where those admins are not involved.

Knowing all this methodology also helps admins because they can learn when to leave alone historical information where someone doesn’t know the exact dates and might be a little off but are well-intentioned, and when they should step in to correct things that are obviously wrong or intentionally inflammatory.  For example, they can learn to correct when some one thinks they recall something about LiveJournal before LiveJournal actually existed or says something like: “There was never a good mpreg story published in the CSI fandom”.  The grounding in methodology helps to identify when you don’t need sources and when you do.

We’ve done an excellent job in  a few sections without many sources.  http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/CSI does that; no citations but tells history with charity work, with fan fiction archives like FanLib, and with how the LiveJournal community works.  We’ve also done a fairly good job with that on the mpreg article.  http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Mpreg talks about how mpreg is received in particular fan communities.  No citations.  Are we going to remove them?  No.  If there are issues, we can use the talk page to discuss that.  If people have problems with that, they can toss in {{fact}} or {{POV}}.

And if you still have issues where you can’t integrate that information, you do outreach.

I’m a sci-fi fan; I love reading, not watching, my sci-fi input. I love conventions, even though I’ve gone to very very few in the last decade. (So all of my con-based fanlore is decades old. Sigh.) And I want to fill in the blanks for the fandoms I love, but I can’t even get a grip on where and how to start.

I can totally understand that.   When I started writing the history of fandom, I had similar problems…  though more so the case of I had a lot of historical information that I could cite but all that information was really absent context. I didn’t know how to integrate it in to a historical context where these bits and pieces made sense.  I had lists of Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Star Trek, and Starsky and Hutch fanzines from the 1980s, but no information about how of those zines were received by the readers, what were common tropes, who was writing them, or who the audience was.  How the heck do you put that information into an article about the fandom those zines come from and have it fit in any sort of meaningful way?  A lot of the culture probably changed when things went online.  There might not have been a continuity in that culture when it went online, so totally different cultural practices were created.   And sometimes, you really are left wondering who will care about that Blake’s 7 femslash zine that was written in 1992 other than someone into trivia.  Also, a lot of this might be duplicate historical research that someone already put out in a fanzine list done in 1995 and if only you had access… It is just a mess.

But at least that information is easy to cite or know.  It might be hard to get a grip on when you’re trying to put it into a big picture and you don’t have a starting place.  The personal, well, I can totally understand that in a different context.   I don’t know when some things happened.  I know I was on staff at FanFiction.Net.  I know I wrote the site’s first Terms of Service.  I know I got into a big fight with Steven Savage over policies.  I don’t know the exact dates.  I don’t have copies of the original text.  I know I founded the b5teens.  I know I got into a giant kerfluffle with some people on another mailing list when I was 16.  Many of the others involved in the group with me back then have left fandom.  I don’t know the dates. I don’t have the texts.  I’m sure as heck hoping that the fan fiction I wrote has disappeared.  Even assuming I knew some of that information, it was still weird to find a starting point.  What seems really big and important to you when you’re in the thick of it is difficult to put into any sort of proper historical context.

How can you make your own history as unbiased as possible?  People do a lot of stupid things -myself included - and really, who wants to deliberately make themselves look bad?   After dealing with that, how do you cite information when the source is yourself?  Or when you’re documenting history that includes your own involvement?  What event do you start with?  Do you start on the stuff you’re most passionate about, or the place where you can most easily slot your history in? Do you write the history where you can most easily put information into context, or the history where you can best cite your sources?

And you know, there are no easy answers to where to start when you’re talking about random bits of fandom historical knowledge or your own history. The best suggestion, in personal terms, is to think of your own goals for involvement for writing a history.  Is there a particular fandom where you have a lot of experience and knowledge but no one has really written up a history yet?  Is there an event that you think matters where you feel like you have a unique perspective?  Has someone written information that can provide a framework for your own history?

Those might be a places to start if you’re stumped. Try to write biographies or histories of the key players that you know.  Timeline specific events in the context of the convention, mailing list, fanzine, IRC chat room, fanclub, social network or kerfluffle.  Create an outline. This information doesn’t need to be ready for “prime time.”  You’re not writing an academic text.  You’re providing information from within the fan community to help members of the fan community and those on the outside better understand it.  Tenure isn’t at risk.  (Though if you’re writing biased material with the intent of making yourself and your friends look better, your reputation in the fan community might be at risk.)   In the early stages, the information that you’re writing or collecting doesn’t even necessarily need to go on the main article about a fandom.  You can keep it on subpages until you understand all the moving pieces and how they fit into the larger fandom picture.  Then, later, you can integrate it into the main article or just create a “see also” in the main article.

If that doesn’t work for you, there are other places to start.  Find the talk page for an article relevant to the history you want to tell.  Introduce yourself on the talk page, talk about your experiences, cite sources where some of that information can be verified and ask the contributors to the article to integrate that information into the article.  Follow up when people ask questions or explanations.   Using talk pages this way can be helpful in terms of learning the feel of a wiki community and how people expect you to contribute.  They can also help you find someone who is more comfortable in terms of finding a starting place, who can help you focus what you want to do.  Starting on talking pages can also be similar to drafting on subpages like I mentioned above: there is less pressure because things aren’t on the main article and you don’t need to make a judgement call on the merits of what you’re contributing.  Others can do that by chosing to integrate your knowledge and experience into the article.

Can LadySybilla and Russet Noon hang on long enough to change fandom?

April 20th, 2009

I’ve been following the Russet Noon situation with a lot of interest; it’s like the Star Wars book situation meets RDR that’s been crossed with a Harry Potter Lexicon with a bit of CounsinJean mixed in.

I’m really curious how this will turn out. The author of Russet Noon, LadySybilla, has done herself no favors in some regards by using Wikipedia for self promotion, engaging in alleged socketpuppeting and alleged  trying to sell the books behind the scenes to bloggers. This falls pretty much into the realms of what happened to CousinJean and the Star Wars writer. Their actions might have fallen into a legal “gray zone”, but fandom pressure came to bear and both were punished so much by fandom that they largely left the fandom field of battle before they could get sued.

So far in this case, it doesn’t look like LadySybilla has been threatened with legal action. Why? I’m not certain. She might have been and we might not have heard about it. Or the intellectual property owners could be hoping that fandom makes the situation go away, like they did with the CousinJean and the Star Wars book. Or, the intellectual property holders could be scared of LadySybilla having lawyers, like Steve Van der Ark and RDR had at the Harry Potter Lexicon. The last one is the big worry potentially because if LadySybilla has lawyers and is willing to go to court, she could win and then things could become really difficult for the entertainment industry.

If LadySybilla isn’t pushed to take her book off the market by fandom and if she isn’t sue, she could open fandom’s pandora box. The conventional wisdom is that the Twilight fandom is feral where people aren’t grounded in media fandom’s historical traditions. If they see that some one can get away with this, they might be willing to try to do similar. The flood gates might swing wide open with this and fandom could very well change in unexpected ways.

So I’m taking the wait and see approach because this is all fascinating to watch play out and think of what might be if LadySybilla can deal with fandom pressure long enough to get her story published.

Fan fiction culture does not encourage wiki contributions

April 19th, 2009

A few days ago, I published a blog entry titled The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History’s experience. In the course of editing it, we removed some bits that weren’t relevant to what we were responding to.  One bit I thought was still pretty interesting so, lo! The bit reappears here!

Fan History’s admins all been in fandom a long time, and sometimes this whole issue of doing crosstalk in an collaborative way that anyone can contribute can be intimidating.  In fandom, this just is not done.  With a piece of fan fiction, the process is solitary in creation and when the story is finished, there is no real questioning the process, questioning the organization, suggesting ways to improve the story.  It just isn’t something that is fundamental to our cultural practices.  People don’t ask “Why did you have Harry Potter doing that particular spell in that scene?  Could you use this spell instead?”  If they do that, it tends to be viewed as antagonstic, or questioning the author’s writing ability.  And on the off chance the author and their supporters do agree that something could have been done differently, most of the time the author doesn’t go back and change it.  And if they do?  The audience doesn’t generally go back and read it.  Our cultural practices from the fan community just don’t lend themselves to crosstalk as equals.

Most revised articles on Fan History

April 9th, 2009

We discovered today that Special:MostRevisions won’t load 95% of the time because it just takes too long to load. That’s what happens with over a million and a half edits. Before we cache it and it no longer updates, I thought I would present to you that list of the top 50 most edited articles. A lot of these are bot updated daily so counting them seems a bit iffy… but that’s neither here nor there. now for the list:

Pages with the most revisions

From Fan History Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Showing below up to 50 results starting with #1.

  1. Harry Potter ?(291 revisions)
  2. Draco/Hermione ?(242 revisions)
  3. Zoey101 (LiveJournal) size/table ?(229 revisions)
  4. Bandfic ?(228 revisions)
  5. Beauty and the Beast ?(221 revisions)
  6. Supernatural ?(219 revisions)
  7. Digimon ?(219 revisions)
  8. CSI ?(214 revisions)
  9. Rescue Rangers ?(209 revisions)
  10. Harry Potter fan fiction community size/table ?(205 revisions)
  11. NCIS fan fiction community size/table ?(204 revisions)
  12. Naruto fan fiction community size/table ?(204 revisions)
  13. Avatar: Last Airbender fan fiction community size/table ?(204 revisions)
  14. Bleach fan fiction community size/table ?(204 revisions)
  15. Twilight fan fiction community size/table ?(204 revisions)
  16. Death Note fan fiction community size/table ?(204 revisions)
  17. House MD fan fiction community size/table ?(203 revisions)
  18. Inuyasha fan fiction community size/table ?(203 revisions)
  19. Supernatural fan fiction community size/table ?(203 revisions)
  20. Fandom tracking/table ?(202 revisions)
  21. Bones fan fiction community size/table ?(202 revisions)
  22. CSI fan fiction community size/table ?(202 revisions)
  23. Doctor Who fan fiction community size/table ?(201 revisions)
  24. D.Gray-Man fan fiction community size/table ?(201 revisions)
  25. Wrestling fan fiction community size/table ?(201 revisions)
  26. Pokemon fan fiction community size/table ?(201 revisions)
  27. Heroes fan fiction community size/table ?(201 revisions)
  28. Maximum Ride fan fiction community size/table ?(201 revisions)
  29. CSI: New York fan fiction community size/table ?(200 revisions)
  30. Prince of Tennis fan fiction community size/table ?(200 revisions)
  31. Shugo Chara! fan fiction community size/table ?(200 revisions)
  32. Doctor Who ?(200 revisions)
  33. Stargate: SG-1 fan fiction community size/table ?(199 revisions)
  34. Total Drama Island fan fiction community size/table ?(199 revisions)
  35. Vampire Knights fan fiction community size/table ?(199 revisions)
  36. One Piece fan fiction community size/table ?(199 revisions)
  37. Chronicles of Narnia fan fiction community size/table ?(198 revisions)
  38. Bis(s) fan fiction community size/table ?(198 revisions)
  39. Hannah Montana fan fiction community size/table ?(198 revisions)
  40. Katekyo Hitman Reborn! fan fiction community size/table ?(198 revisions)
  41. South Park fan fiction community size/table ?(198 revisions)
  42. Stargate: Atlantis fan fiction community size/table ?(198 revisions)
  43. Code Geass fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  44. Criminal Minds fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  45. Yu-Gi-Oh fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  46. One Tree Hill fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  47. Ouran High School Host Club fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  48. Sailor Moon fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  49. Fullmetal Alchemist fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)
  50. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fan fiction community size/table ?(197 revisions)

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. :(

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.

Twilight, Harry Potter and Twitter! Oh my! (Also venns! I love the venns!)

December 19th, 2008

I love venn diagrams. (And data. And numbers. And other ways I can better visualize fandom.) I also love Twitter so I was ecstatic to discover TwitterVen which helps visualize what is going on Twitter using venn diagrams. I cranked it up and made the following chart with the keywords of Harry Potter, Twilight and fanfic.

Twitter venn diagram showing Twilight Harry Potter and fanfic

Lo! Behold! Wow! Twilight sure gets a lot of mentions on Twitter. Not surprising. I’ve read a number of people on LJ fandom talk about how Twilight will one day be bigger than Harry Potter. I’ve seen enough of data to know that Twilight fandom NOW is bigger than Harry Potter fandom NOW. What seems really surprising here is that there aren’t more mentions for both terms AND fanfic. Twilight and Harry Potter are mentioned more frequently together than those either with fanfic.

We have a couple more TwitterVens. If you create your own (upload it!), let us know if you find anything interesting!

Gifts for the fangirl/fanboy in your life…

November 29th, 2008

The holidays are just around the corner. People are writing for ficathons, creating fandom Advent calendars, sending out holiday cards, doing Holiday feedbacking, writing holiday themed stories, creating holiday themed fan art and vids, and gift shopping for the fans in their life… That shopping one is the one I’m going to focus on. :) If you’re a fangirl/fanboy, what should you be asking for or what should you be buying for the fangirls/fanboys in your life?

* A Netbook. I have this particular model but there are a number of other models and companies out there making them including this one on Tiger Direct. If you’re going to a convention and want a place to dump your pictures, this works. It is portable enough that it can be shoved in a large purse or messenger bag and light enough not to way you down. If you’re waiting to meet up with another fan at a coffee shop before a movie, small and functional enough to take out and surf the Internet for five minutes. It is great for viewing fan vids and reading fan fiction in bed. You can hop on it and blog about the meet up you went to while taking the train home, not having to wait until you get home. It won’t replace your regular desktop or laptop but great for that person who wants to be able to continue their fanac on the road.

* Paid time on a favorite service like LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, Salon.Com, RockFic, IMVU, NetFlix, DreamHost, etc. Paying for them means you frequently don’t have to view ads and/or gain access to features not available to non-paid members. If you’re really devoted to a service, like I am to LiveJournal, this can be a great gift that a person can use all year.

* Gift certificates to a favorite bookstore, comics store, music store or electronics store. Yeah, they can seem lame an impersonal but one of the advantages is that you won’t accidentally buy them season 2 of CSI when they really just needed season 3 of CSI to complete their DVD collection. Or that you buy your favorite manga fan a volume of manga that they’ve read already or they hate because you totally misread their taste. If you’re doing this, you can be really creative, show your fangirl/fanboy something new by introducing them to some place new and support local businesses. If you’re in the Elgin, Illinois area, skip Borders and Barnes N Noble. Instead, get a gift certificate for Books at Sunset.

* Homemade coupons for things you might not be willing to do otherwise. The coupons can be for things like attending a convention so your fangirl/fanboy doesn’t have to go by themselves, attending a movie with them, sitting through their favorite television with them and not complaining about how bad the show is, letting them use your printer so they can read their favorite stories in print, going to a comics or manga store with them, offering to let them TiVo their favorite show on your machine and letting them watch it on your television, etc. This is about doing what makes them happy and it can be greatly appreciated, especially for the more introverted geeks who aren’t comfortable attending social functions on their own.

* Printing the fangirl/fanboy’s creations. If they are a fan fiction writer, compile all their work in a Word file, format it and then print and bind it using a service like Lulu or Kinkos. Consider printing up 5 total copies so that they can share that present with their fandom friends. If they are a fan artists, find their favorite piece and do a large print of it and frame it. For some fans who hope to go pro, this can be a glimpse into what could be for them: Seeing their work in print, seeing their work on display.

* Event tickets. I’m a huge sports fan. I have a friend who is a fan of musicals. I have another friend who loves seeing bands play live. And I have yet another friend who loves actors and attending conventions. If you got me tickets for the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, White Sox, Rush, Sky, Bandits, Fire, I’d be ecstatic because I love seeing these events live. I’d be even happier if you got a pair and went with me. I know the same would be true for my music, actor and musical loving friends.

* Other electronics. These can be expensive but can really help enhance a fangirl/fanboy’s fannish experience. A DVR means they can catch things that the might not be able to watch otherwise. An iPhone means they can listen to music, find events, catch up with fan related news when they are far away from the computer, and be super hip. A flat screen television can save them space in their apartment and be a step up from their tube set. It can also help increase their screen resolution so that they can swoon, giggle, sigh and flail over Johnny Depp that much better. A GPS device can get your fangirl/fanboy to conventions, movies, meetups with out getting lost all the time and calling you for directions. A wii can help your fangirl/fanboy continue with their latest gaming obsession or get fit so they can look good for that meetup. Guitar Hero means your favorite music fan can jam like and with their favorite bands.

Besides these ideas, what else would you recommend for your favorite fangirl/fanboy? Or as a fangirl/fanboy, what do you want to get this holiday season?

My fandom’s fan fiction community is dying…

November 24th, 2008

My fandom’s fan fiction community is dying. Or at least, it appears that way. I’ve chatted with a friend as to why it appears like the Grissom/Sara, other Sara and other Grissom related parts seem to having much less activity. I feel like I half know but I just also feel the need to whine about it because I miss waking up every morning to one, two, possibly three stories (or chapters) by authors that I love. It was kind of like my morning cup of coffee.

Anyway, the conclusion appears to be that the strike, coupled with cast changes, were the primary culprits. The long wait between new episodes, not liking the uncertainty of what was happening, rumors that were unpleasant and then that actual cast change? It just makes keeping up interests hard. This was coupled with a number of the bigger and better writers having off-line issues. They got married, had long term illnesses, had family changes because of foster children entering their lives, moved across the country, etc. They haven’t recovered from those situations yet or, if they have, they aren’t as interested in them as they were before.

I’d like to see it recover for totally selfish reasons. I love some authors and I miss reading their stories. I love the sense of community. I’m better able to participate in it when it is active. I have a good reason to keep up with people. But even given that, I can’t see myself caring that much if they suddenly all the authors I loved became really active again just because I don’t care about the show like I used to… Cast changes, you know?

Smaller fandoms, more writing conscious authors?

November 13th, 2008

I love looking at how many stories get added or subtracted from major archives. One of the things I’ve noticed is that for smaller fandoms, it seems like there are a lot more people removing stories than there are adding stories. At times, it feels like a ratio of for every three stories added, one gets removed. Or that some fandoms just look like they are losing stories. Example fandoms? Animaniacs, Angelic Layer, American Dragon, Battlestar Galactica, Bad Boy, Baby-sitter’s Club, Captain America.

I have no idea why these fandoms would have these patterns.  Most of the fan fiction authors I know don’t delete their stories.  And they keep them on FanFiction.Net because FanFiction.Net is probably the single best archive for smaller fandoms in terms of getting readers.  (Reviews is a different matter. I’ve heard lots of complaints that people don’t get the reviews there that they get elsewhere… but they do get the readers.)  So why remove stories?

So I badgered a few friends, nagged at them to get their opinions.  What they thought was that authors in smaller fandoms were more likely to be writing for more noble reasons.  They wanted to write a good story.  They wanted to improve their writing.  And authors who write for that reason are, according to their point of view,  more likely to delete/remove their stories if they don’t think that the stories are written well.  They don’t want to have stories they aren’t proud of hanging around.  They don’t want to subject their readers to those stories that don’t meet their quality standards.

So what do you think?  Are those writers deleting stories because they are more self aware when it comes to their writing?  Less focused on reviews and more focused on quality?  Or is there another reason at play for why authors are deleting their works?

Twilight, Naruto, Harry Potter

September 23rd, 2008

I love to watch the fandom tracking article on Fan History.  What fandoms are the most active?  When do they become active?  (And if you’re watching, the bot runs at 01:01 every day at GMT.  Knowing that helps these numbers make a bit more sense.)   CSI: Miami has been making a lot of news in entertainment.  Is Horatio coming back or does he finally kick the bucket?  Its appearance on the list makes a lot of sense.   Some of the other ones appearing can be much less obvious or the result of some one unloading a bunch of new stories on the archive. The obvious ones kicking up with the new television season hasn’t done much to dethrone the big three fandoms: Twilight, Naruto and Harry Potter.

Rank of Harry Potter, Twilight, Naruto

They just don’t really change.  The story totals might go up and down but these three outpace the rest and do so consistently.  Naruto manages to stay on top most of them time.  I’m not surprised.  Harry Potter and Twilight consistently trade off.  The two have a lot in common: Both are book based fandoms that have a lot of room to play in their universe.  They have movies coming out based on the books.  The authors are out and talking which helps to continue to generate more interest.  The books are complete so canon won’t come in and play whack-a-mole with their stories.  (That’s unlike television where every week, your WIP could be in danger.  Or the story you wrote a year ago could be killed because of a throw away line in a new episode.)  They have fan bases that think that both books are the best books ever.  And they will defend their interest, their books, their canon.  Both fandoms are monolithic.

I’m eagerly watching to see what will happen.  Is it possible for these fandoms to be dethroned?  What will it take?  What medium and fan culture will the fandom that knocks one of them off come from?  It will be interesting to watch.

Announcement: Fan Fiction Stat Bot

September 13th, 2008

I’m in a really happy, excited mood! Fan History has accomplished one of our goals: To have data regarding fandom size and growth. We view this as an important step forward in telling the history of fandom, understanding fandom and being able to explain what the hell is going on by having some hard data to back it up.

How are we doing this and what exactly are we doing? The how is Fan Fiction Stat Bot. Fan Fiction Stat Bot has a list of fandoms, of spelling variants of those fandoms, and of urls for fandom directories on a handful of fan fiction archives. The bot accesses those directory pages, looks for the fandom name (or variant), finds how many stories are on the archive in that category, stores that information, does a simple math computation to determine how many stories were added or removed from the fandom and then puts that information into a table. Once every fandom is done, it calculates how which fandoms had the most stories added to them. It then adds this information the the appropriate articles. What we get is a daily list of fandoms that have the most stories added to them and a record of activity in different fandoms.

Did I mention I’m happy and excited? I am! The bot has only been running two days but we’ve got some data worth speculating about. I’ve seen some discussions regarding how big the Twilight fandom is and questions of if it will be bigger than the Harry Potter fandom. Our list of fandom movers and shakers has Harry Potter but there as the fandom with the second most additions for September 13. It was third for September 12. Twilight was third on September 13 and second on September 12. There isn’t enough data to draw a conclusion yet but we can see that the two fandoms are both comparable in amount of activity in the fan fiction community at the moment. Harry Potter does seem to have an edge in terms of amount of activity because the fandom has people uploading stories to multiple archives. Twilight lacks similar activity, with all the activity taking place on just FanFiction.Net. We really need more time and more data to draw a better conclusion, to get a better idea of what is happening, to better be able to compare these two fandoms… but we have a tool to help us to be able to do it. And that strikes me as awesome.

Google’s digg like features probably not a fandom friendly feature

July 16th, 2008

The news about Google’s digg like features, as an active partipant in fandom, I’m not entirely happy with.   One of the things I know about fandom is that authors and fan artists like to have the perception of control of feedback regarding their work.  Many authors and artists get upset when comments for their stories and art are posted elsewhere, especially when those comments are negative.  Many authors get upset when their works are included and they have no control over it and there doesn’t seem to be a vehicle that controls for abuse.  Yes, people can submit on digg but digg isn’t a tool utilized by fandom much.  And the environment for digg is not a search tool that people go looking for fan fiction on.   Google on the other hand is very much a tool for fandom and finding material.

We’ll see how this turns out but I suspect some corners of fandom will be really angry about this.

Cliques, fandom and getting readers for your fan fiction

July 13th, 2008

Fandoms have cliques and social groups. Sometimes, if a fandom or group is small enough, these groups can co-exist. If it is large enough, well, those groups can afford to ignore each other or pick on each other. If they chose to, they can even peacefully co-exist. And that last one, they do a lot because why seek trouble? And why not get something that the other group is produces that you enjoy?

If you’ve been involved in a fandom for a while, these social structures, these cliques and groups are really obvious. If you’re justing getting into a fandom, these structures are not so obvious. The lack of knowledge can really be a detriment to your fannish well being if you’re not careful.

Good recent example: A new to my fandom fan fiction author posted a story to one of the more popular fan fiction communities. I’d never heard of the author before. The author had no one as a beta reader who I knew and none of the authors from my corner of fandom had commented to give feedback on the story. The story, well, it was so so. Personally, I found the plot lacking and the characterization awful. I left feedback to let the author know. (Which can be taboo. The general pattern is to shut up and say nothing. Let the author figure out through silence that the community doesn’t like her.) The author, not knowing me from adam because feedback was anon, gave me a flip response. And she never did get the readers she needs to help make sure she’ll get more feedback later to leave a comment. Next chapter? Zero comments. Not a surprise.

That author didn’t get in the right clique by making friends with existing authors by leaving feedback, didn’t get the right people to beta read her story and then was flippant to members of different groups who did read her story. Lack of knowledge regarding those social groups in this fandom, understanding them and not playing the game hurt her ability to interact in the community.

If you’re an author, especially a new author, start out by giving feedback. Get a beta reader. Get a beta reader who is an author you enjoy reading. Doing that does not mean you are not a good writer. It means that you’ve got an implied endorsement from some one who can help you get readers. (It is basic marketing.) This way, you’ll have better knowledge of how the community functions so you can get position yourself to get readers when you do publish.

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