Posts Tagged ‘geocities’

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.

Fanzine history on Geocities

August 30th, 2009

The countdown to Geocities closing is rapidly approaching.  Fan History’s admins are just a bit queasy about this as the closer the get, the more we realize that we don’t have valuable information.  As of yet, there has been no large coordinated effort to data mine Geocities information to preserve fannish history.  Fan History has gotten some information, including about 5,000 articles about stories that were hosted on Geocities.

What we really want to push now includes terminology, fansites and fanzine information.  I’d really like the fanzine information.  Please.  Also, please help.  Much of the information hidden away on Geocities is from the late 1990s, an era that had a much closer connection to fanzines than we have now.  If you can, please help in the following ways:

  • Screencap and upload pages that mention fanzines.  (We can always data mine that information later, so long as we know it is there.)
  • Create an Excel file, csv file, tsv file, Word table where each row has information about a fanzine where the information was found on Geocities.  E-mail that to us and we’ll automate the creation of pages about those fanzines.
  • Update fandom specific lists like Star Trek fanzines with names of fanzines.
  • Update or create articles about specific fanzines.
  • Comment on talk pages with information about fanzines where the history is found on Geocities.
  • Promote Fan History’s efforts so that more people can get involved with this project.

Thank you for your help.  We really appreciate it.

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.

Geocities is closing!

April 23rd, 2009

Geocities is closing.  Considering how important Geocities was to fan fiction communities circa 1998 to 2004, I really want a list of and history of sites on Geocities.  I have an excel file that you can slot information into.  (This information can then be wikified.)  If you might be interested in helping to create a list of Geocities sites, their names, fandoms and dates related to the site, please comment with contact information so I can send you the file that you can use to add information.  And then send it back to me when you’ve added what you can to it.  Please feel free to pass this information along.  I really, really do NOT want to lose this history.

Additional information can be found here.

Funding your fansite

July 11th, 2008

Discussing money and fandom always makes me queasy because I come that part of media fan fiction fandom which prizes the fact that there is a certain purity to do what we do and believes that making money off our activities is wrong for a variety of reasons.   Another part of the reason that fandom doesn’t discuss money  is that there is the strong belief that what we are doing is probably wrong.  Fansites, fan fiction, fan vidding, fan art all have possible copyright issues.  If some one is making money, it is best to keep that quiet lest the creators decide to go after you and others around you. As a consequence,  money very rarely gets discussed, the financial back end for most sites is largely unknown and the details that are believed to be true are frequently way off base.
But if you get a site big enough, if you run something with high bandwidth consumption or you some how make it in the top 50,000 sites, your site is going to start costing you money if you’re doing your own hosting.  Serious money.   (And a serious time commitment.  A potentially huge time commitment which can also potentially cost you lots and lots of money.)  The question than comes down to how do you fund your fansite?

There are a number of options.  They include donations, paying yourself out of your own pockets, paid accounts, advertising, merchandise sales, being bought out (or moving to a free service), incorporating and some other creative solutions.

One of the most popular of these is user based donations. If your site costs $10, $15, even $500 a month and you have a dedicated and loyal user base, that money can flow.  The downside to this is that you can become really beholden to users who think because they kicked back $20 of the $250 you needed this month that you owe them.  Users can also go through a certain degree of fatigue if they see a request for money all the time.  The other downside to this is if you lack a real community and don’t have that dedicated user base, you may never be able to ask for donations in a way that will support your site.  Still, this option is popular because it doesn’t involve intrusive advertisements and it doesn’t offend the sensibilities of those who believe in the purity of fandom, where we shouldn’t make money off our activities.

Probably the most popular option for most fansites is paying out of pocket.   The part I like best about this option is that, as the maintainer, you’re really beholden only to yourself.  If you want to say “Screw you!” to your visitors, you can.  You don’t have to answer to advertisers either.  For smaller fansites, the cost is probably between $2.50 a month to $150 a month.  Many people can absorb that cost with out any problems.  It is the ideal for many who believe that fandom shouldn’t be about profiting off other people’s intellectual property or off other people’s work because you’re basically going into debt because of your love of the community and that which you’re a member of the fandom.  If you’re a fan who wants to support other fans, there are a number of fan friendly, fan run hosting options including Squidge and SlashCity.  The problem is this really isn’t feasible if you’re planning a large, large site, need a lot of custom programming or you have huge amounts of traffic.  Most people just can’t absorb $1,000 to $2,000 a month for hosting.

Paid accounts are another option.  They can be a wonderful source of potential income, especially if you can make them subscriptions.  The problem here is that, if you’re not a programmer, you’re either going to learn or you’re going to have to hire a developer to build features to allow you to offer such accounts.  That can cost time, may make your host less secure if you’re programming with very little idea of what you’re doing. and cost money to hire a programmer.   It can also potentially really offend your user base who might not see the necessity of offering a paid version of the site.  If you have a big enough audience and a loyal fan base, if you can program or get a cheap developer, this option is probably a really good one for larger fansites.  (Unless you’re a wiki in which case, there isn’t much you can offer in the way of paid accounts.)

Advertising is probably the second or third most popular options for funding your fansite.  The popular sansite choices for advertising brokers seem to basically include AdBrite and GoogleAds.  If your site gets enough traffic, you can generally make enough money to cover your hosting costs.  I’m not partial to GoogleAds though because they require you may $100 before you can get your check.  In a one year period where Fan History had the ads on the site, we never reached that $100 threshold and never got paid.   Ouch.  The other problem with GoogleAds is that they don’t allow adult content.  If you’re a site like AdultFanFiction.Net, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to GoogleAds and a number of similar ads.  A third problem I’ve encounter is that some of those contextual ads are a pain in the ass.  Fan History had a lot of ads for fans, the kind that blow air around as opposed to the type that love something.  This problem means fewer chances for click through to earn money.  Still yet another problem is that some services, like GoogleAds, make it hard to control who advertises on your site.  No, I don’t want some one advertising vibrators and viagra on Fan History.  Thanks.  But unless I catch the url and report it to block it, that ad may keep appearing. At the moment, Fan History is using ProjectWonderful for ads.  It makes a number of those complaints go away.  Besides the ad issues themselves, some users may be really turned off by ads and think that you’re making a lot of money.  I’ve seen a number of kerfluffles and stupidity regarding that issue.  If you haven’t done ads before and you’re going to do them, be open and honest with your users to mitigate any PR damage your site may face.  If you are making more than you need to operate, figure out some way to kick some back to the users in give aways or contests.  And then, if you’re asked, tell your users that all the extra money is going into a savings account for the site to help cover costs in the long run.  Say this to cover your ass.  Fan sites run by fans take a lot of flack for making money compared to fansites run by corporations and that way, you cover your ass.  Getting back to ads, this option may or may not work for you.  It just comes down to how well your ads work for you and the amount of traffic you’re getting.  Don’t be totally dependent on it as a solution until you know how well it works.

Still yet another option if you need to pay for your site is to get free hosting.  There are a couple of sites and services which will pay the hosting costs and host you in exchange for something.  Wikia is one example.  Got a fandom wiki?  Consider moving your wiki to their server. If you’ve got a big one with a lot of traffic and a dedicated community, then you can probably sell it to them.  This has happened before with one wiki earning at least five figures.  If you’ve got a fansite, other hosting options include the Devoted Fan Network which hosts your site based on their overall site design and where Devoted Fan Network puts ads on your site to recoup their costs for hosting.  You may also try selling your site or seeing if you can get some one to pick up sponsorship of your site in exchange for exclusive rights to advertise.   That was the case for Battlestar Galatica Wiki where FanLib appears to have picked up the tab for their hosting in exchange for ads on their wiki. This option may work for a lot of people but it generally means a certain level of losing control over your site in order to do it. Of course, you can still go with the old fandom classics like FreeWebs, Bravenet, blogspot, LiveJournal, Geocities, and Tripod.   If you’re a control freak, it may be a bad, bad idea.  If you’re not such a control freak and money is a big concern, it may be an option for you.

There area  few more options for funding your fansite that I haven’t discussed.  The real issues when it comes down to funding your fansite are your comfort level and control issues, how much you’re willing to spend, how your audience will react and finding a partner or company you can work with.  There is no one size fits all solution for fansites.

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