Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Why I added Bradley Dalton to my Twitter spammer list

October 13th, 2010

On 10/13/10 7:36 AM, Bradley Dalton wrote:

Hi.  Thank you for your question.  I don’t know which account you control.  What likely happened is the following:

You followed one of the five accounts I control.  (@purplepopple , @ozziesport are the two most likely culprits.)   I looked at the e-mail that notified me of your follow.

I likely looked at how many people you followed.  If you followed more than 1,000 people, the chances of you reading my Twitter stream was minimal.  People with more than 1,000 people they follow who continue to follow tend to be what I characterize as Twitter spammers.  They follow people with the hopes of getting follows  back where the person they follow will read their Twitter stream.  This makes a person a spammer: They are sending unsolicited requests to strangers, using a medium that has social pressures that tend to demand that you follow back in order to be nice. They don’t offer anything in return (what did you offer me?) that the person being followed would find valuable.  (I’m not interested in Viagra either)

I’ve heard arguments this type of follow isn’t spam because the person being followed doesn’t have to return the follow.  That’s bullshit in a social world.  It wouldn’t be spam if the person who initiated the follow sequence first decided to add the person to a list.  There isn’t social pressure to reciprocate by adding a person back to their own list.  They also don’t get return follows.

Having too many followers to actually follow wouldn’t be problematic.  Another way to get around spam following when you have a huge number of followers to the point where you can’t keep up with them but still want to follow is to engage them.  If, instead of following first, you had engaged me in dialog so that I’d want to follow you as clearly established that you wanted to  engage with me, were interested in what I was doing and offered me some value, I would likely follow you and then your return follow isn’t spamming… but rather follows the social norms of the community.

Now, as I don’t know your account situation, I might have added you to a spammer list for another reason.  That reason would involve having on your Twitter stream a statement like “Get 100 Twitter followers”.  If that’s the case, it demonstrates some one is not interested in providing value to the people they follow but instead are interested in improving a meaningless metric: Number of followers.

I hope that answers your question.  I would be happy to remove you from that list if you could offer me a clear and coherent rational for why, using my own definition for what a Twitter spammer is, you are not a Twitter spammer.  I love Twitter.  I’d love it more if people weren’t constantly sending Twitter follow spam and obsessing over the number of followers. and Twitter

July 25th, 2010

It is that time of year again… when the social media market heart gets all aflutter and decides to follow me so that I can be blessed with reading their content.  Yes, they may be a financial company targeting Americans living in the USA who need help with their 401K but that doesn’t stop them following people who don’t follow them.  Yes, it is the season where heterosexual marriage counselors in the USA start following gays and lesbians living abroad.  Their follow is indiscriminate because they aren’t interested in reading about gays and lesbians in Australia or Australians who don’t have to worry about American 401ks.  Yes, it is spam follow season… where the whole world is indiscriminately marketed at.

If you can’t tell, I really loathe this season.  I hate those e-mails from Twitter: Hi! Irrelevant company with 10,000,000 is following you! Congrats! This is just a crappy business practice than can have a negative impact on ROI and piss off casual users who aren’t looking to be indiscriminately marketed at.

Most of the time, I don’t follow people back.  (I’m currently getting about 1 to 3 follows a day from Bieber fans who like to Tweet about getting 10,000 followers fast.  Most have 100 followers.  I just ignore them.)  Sometimes, I like to @ reply thanking for the follow and asking why they followed me.  Sometimes, I DM them.  If I’m cranky or I think this is a business or social media guru who should know better, I like to add them to my spammer list.

Which brings us to today’s specialness…  I got an e-mail from Justin Dalton at  (I don’t know his Twitter handle or his company’s handle.  It was never mentioned.)  He wanted off my spam list.  I e-mailed him back the following response:

If you were put on my spammer list, it was likely because of the following scenarios:

1) Followed me where I could not determine why I was followed (what are our shared interests?  what shared geography did we have?  what shared friends do we have?)
2) Followed me and did not interact with me to explain the above,
3) Posted using a method like API or Twitterfeed where it appeared likely that there was not a person behind the wheel and the tweets were automated,
4) Followed me and had 1,000+ followers where it appeared unlikely that you would ever read my content or interact with me as the chances of you seeing my content were infinitesimal,
5) Your follow looked like an attempt to improve your follow count total while not offering any value to the people you were following.

The act of unfollowing me is largely irrelevant as the initial follow behavior appeared spam like.

I’d be happy to remove you from my spammer list but I’d first have to hear about your current follow practices. How do you select who you follow?  What sort of value do you give to the people that you follow?

He sent back the following reply:

First thing first:

1) If you were being followed automatically, you wouldn’t have been engaged in this mail conversation.
2) It’s true that we had auto-followed people but that was just to test the system, and we have subsequently un-followed people since then.
3) It’s good that you are trying to be a ‘Twitter mentor’ or ‘Twitter agent’ but you are not what you are pretending. You are on twitter to ‘market your blog’, increase ‘reader count’ or to ‘get more traffic to your blog’ because you ‘think’ you are providing value through your blog. That’s what millions of companies/peoples doing on twitter.
4) Our initial request to you was polite but you didn’t reply back to us in that way and seemed ‘arrogant’ in the way you made us reply back to get us removed from your list.

5) We are neither twitting automatically nor spamming. We are here to provide value as well.

Finally, the act of un-following you is not ‘largely irrelevant’ as following seemed to ‘offend’ you and you were crazy to waste your time to take actions against us, so if you wish to remove us from the list, it would be nice and we would be thankful to you otherwise this is our last mail to you regardless of your further actions.

Justin Dalton

It’s special.  The ‘scare’ quotes and the calling me a liar.  This sort of thing is not how you sell your company.  I also have no idea, based on this e-mail, what his company is or what they do.  I don’t even know what the Twitter handle in question is.   Ooops.

Take aways from this:

1) Be selective in who you follow.  There are people like me who don’t want contact from random strangers where they can’t make clear connections as to why they were followed.

2) Don’t call people liars.  Your experiences are not universal and people use social media for a variety of reasons.  They won’t all be universal.

Edited to add: I had e-mailed an offer back to and offered to promote them if they could tell me what their company could do for me.  I got a nice one line generic bit that implied my blog was really well done.  There was no indication that they had even read my blog at .  They didn’t comment on the topic of Australian sport.  This is massive fail. Don’t use generic terms that indicate you didn’t read it. They also said it looked very professional.  I use free Word Press themes.  I didn’t design the site.  It is another generic comment that says they didn’t read it. never did tell me what their site can do for me.  I gave them a fair amount of material to work with to cater a personal response.  I included where I lived and my interests, both personal and professional.  I’ve still no idea what can do for me that  Yahoo!Answers can do for me.

If a potential customer asks you what your product can do for them, the emphasis should be on them.  Personalize your sales message.  If you can’t personalize, you can’t target an audience to get those key influencers that can help you grow and people won’t use you.  Also, they’ll write you off as spammers or totally clueless.  (That’s Sending out indiscriminate follows and not being able to connect with their customers.)

Why @peterjamesfreer is a spammer

July 23rd, 2010

@peterjamesfreer boldly posts on his Twitter profile that he’s not a spammer.  He isn’t selling a product, therefore he isn’t a spammer.  That’s awesome except spam isn’t about product selling.  Spam is an unwanted e-mail, usually of a bulk matter and often selling a product.  The important part of that definition is the first part: Unwanted.

I love Twitter.  There are some truly awesome people on Twitter.  I love to interact on Twitter.  That’s why I use it.  I’m relatively selective in who I chose to follow because I use it to interact, to maintain relationships and to develop new ones.  That’s my primary purpose.  My secondary purpose involves getting news from various sources that I consider relevant.

Both of these follow practices involve two very different types of interactions.  The first generally requires a mutual follow with the intention of interacting.   If a person follows too many people, it means the chances of our interaction will be low.  Thus, I’m less likely to follow them unless I believe that they will read my @ replies or they are that important network wise that I need to follow them anyway.  In these cases, being followed by those people first is awesome as it lets me know that they are there.

The second kind of follow does not require that I get a follow back as I don’t have any intention necessarily of interacting with that person or business and if I do, it would be in another format, such as on their website.  Do I need the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Sun Times to interact with me?  No. I follow them to keep up with news from home.  Do I expect to interact much with United Airlines?  No.  I’m following them to find out about deals that they may have.  Do I expect to interact much AFL clubs?  Not really but it would be awesome.  I’m mostly following them for research and content purposes.

@peterjamesfreer followed me.  I didn’t go “Hey! Here’s a guy selling himself really well, providing valuable must read content!  I’ve got to follow him.  I know he has 10,000 followers but I’m not seriously expecting to interact with him so no big deal.  He’s posting about Chicago/social media metric analysis/Australian sport/living in Australia.”  I didn’t find him and think that.   He didn’t follow me because he expected to interact with me.  I know this to be true because he has 10,000+ followers so he can’t ever possibly read me.  (I can barely keep up with 350 and the only reason I can is that a lot of people aren’t active.)  Neither one of us is going to get any value out of a mutual relationship follow.

Wait.  He might.  He might be defining followers as value… and if you’re following me, if you’re reading my stuff (which he isn’t), then you’d get that I have a world view that sees that sort of behavior as not particularly meaningful.  I’ve been talking to people professionally and making it clear that you’ve got to have some sort of goal when it comes to social media, you’ve got to have some sort of objective and some way to measure success.  If you’re a candy shop in rural Illinois, it would be easy enough to get 3,000 followers.  If 2,500 of your followers are from Pakistan, Kosovo, the PNG and you don’t ship there and you don’t have a plan for how to get those followers to visit you in rural Illinois, then your Twitter strategy is full of massive fail.  You’re never going to convert those people over.  Given that, it would be better to have 150 followers all from yoru part of rural Illinois.  It would be good to read those followers, to interact with those followers and to develop relationships with those people.  THAT will lead to more sales, greater awareness of who you are, spread the word of mouth about your business to the wider community.

Where @peterjamesfreer fails is that he doesn’t seem to be about either of these: He doesn’t create organic content that people will naturally find on their own.  He doesn’t appear to be about developing relationships.  (He can’t as he can’t read us.)  He doesn’t appear to have a audience he’s targeting.  (Why target some one who rails against the type of behavior he engages in?)  He indiscriminately follows people.  He’s willing to risk their ire.  He doesn’t care because he claims he’s not a spammer.

All the denials in the world won’t make him less of a spammer.  He’s not reading people.  He’s sending intrusive requests for interaction.  He appears to be assuming most people are automating their follows to automatically follow him.  (Which creates a huge net of not reading people.  Twitter has a huge ecosystem of spam that I want to avoid.)  He offers zero value to the people follows.  That’s classic spam behavior.  His comment regarding not being a spammer is based on a false definition of spam and the idea that Twitter is about building meaningless metrics, and in building those metrics, what you’re doing isn’t spam.

@peterjamesfreer needs to remove the line about being a spammer.  He can continue on with his spam follows if he wants.  (Just don’t target me and my accounts.  Please.  I’m tired of Twitter spam.  He’s not the first.  He’s about the 15th this week, but the first to say he’s not a spammer.)  He could change his behavior.  (Unfollow down to an amount of people he could reasonably follow, selectively follow people based on how they help him accomplish his objectives, interact with a greater percentage of people on his follows list, provide great content that will grow his followers list, or get a job that will automatically improve his follower numbers.)    @peterjamesfreer should be more honest in his profile page.

Oh and @peterjamesfreer shouldn’t follow people who are doing work that focuses on debunking the metric that he’s busy trying to use to make himself feel better about himself.

The art of following on Twitter

May 6th, 2010

Once again, I had a minor cranky fest with some one who followed me on Twitter, who didn’t like being labeled a spammer.  This person had over 10,000 followers and was continuing to follow others with more follows to followees.  I have around 300 to 250 people I follow and around 600 people who follow me.  My balance is the other way.

My follow philosophy is I follow people I plan to engage with or I follow corporate accounts, brand accounts, non-profit or local accounts (and theoretically celebrities but I don’t follow many of those) that are not strictly personal.  For me, the first group are people I don’t want to offend and I try to make sure that I’m tweeting content related to their interests when I follow them and try to engage them at some point early in my follow.  For example, I’ve been following some Australians who are local to Canberra or interested in sports.  We have specific content in mind.  I’m not keyword following those but generally checking out specific people and their accounts or recommendations.  That’s personal.  The second type of account I’m less worried about as corporate and brand accounts are not expected to behave the same way as personal accounts: There is no onus to interact with those accounts, no reciprocation in follow backs that is implied.  Those accounts tend to have the purpose of promoting a product at me.  I’m obviously not going to provide any content of value back for the Australian National Library.  (Where as for a librarian from Canberra on their personal account?  I should provide the individual some reason to social follow me back.)

I can get really cranky about this sort of thing.  I blog about it a fair amount.  I have in my profile that if you want a follow back, you need to @ reply with why you followed me.  I’m less truthful than I should be with that statement.  What I really mean is: What value do you provide to me if you want a follow back?  You can follow me because you love Fan History and that’s awesome but if you’re always tweeting about Slovenian politics in Slovenian, you’re not much value to me in terms of me following you.   And if you’re a personal follow, I want that and if you can’t provide that, you’re nothing more than a Twitter spammer. Corporate accounts have pretty much the same issues only with a slight twist.  If I’m tweeting about how much I love the University of Canberra, it would make sense for them to follow me.  I might not be aware of them and they can do reputation management easily by keeping track of their public voices.  If you’re a Christian bookstore in Denver (which is far away from where I live) and I’ve never tweeted about Christianity and your business has over 3,000 followers and an imbalance where you’re following more than you’re getting followed back?  You have no business following me as I’m not going to help your business and, again, you’re offering me no value as a follower.

A lot of social media experts early in Twitter’s history promoted the concept of more followers leading to increased credibility and how it gives you increased market awareness.  It’s dumb, stupid and anyone doing that and espousing it should be fired rather quickly.  Those aren’t the social rules that have developed and a lot of people on the fringes of Twitter are getting tired of these random follows from brands they don’t know, from individuals with 10,000 follows.  At some point, you’re also likely to run across an individual like myself who is tired of this crap who going to label you a spammer for keyword following anyone who has history in their profile.  You’re going to get some one giving you crap and you’ll get some bad PR.   (And no, not all bad publicity is good publicity.  Many small businesses can’t afford that sort of thing.  Would you want to be getting publicity because you’re a pizzeria who made news for failing to pass a health inspection?)    Making it worse, your own bad business practices bring it on yourself.  And if you engage people like me who don’t like your follow practices, you’re just making yourself look worse.  (Or not because really, how many people in that 10,000 person net you have are actually reading your tweets?)

Oh and let’s not forget that idiocy involving keyword following or mass following people can wind up making you look bad when people discover that you’ve followed white supremacists, racists,  people who do not share your values, competitors you’re not friendly with or people who reflect badly on you that your follow practices made you voluntarily chose to follow but that’s a different story.

Following on Twitter is an art.  When following, you should ask: What does this person offer me and what value do I offer them in return?  If you can’t think of a good answer, then consider adding the person to a list.  That way, everyone wins and there is less crappy art (bad following) going on.

Edited to add: And with in a minute of posting this, John Kewley (@brainrider) followed me.  He has more people he follows than follow him.  He has 5,000+ people he follows.  He offers services for companies.  He’s never going to read me and I’m unlikely to ever use his services described as: “BrainRider Knowledge Marketing Group. We help companies create more customers by sharing what they know. Visit us to download our free e-books.”  If he has some value to potentially offer me, it isn’t clear based on his recent tweets.  This is another classic exaple of failing at the art of following.

sidewinder’s picks: The Top 10 Fannish Events of 2009

December 21st, 2009

In the spirit of the season, I decided to look back on 2009 and reflect on what I saw as the Top 10 fannish news stories, events, and kerfluffles of the past year. These are just my picks–what news stories and events did you think were the biggest? I’d be curious to hear other opinions and reflections from different corners of fandom.

10. The 2009 Warnings Debate. Warning debates seem to rise up every year, but the 2009 one was a real doozy. Taking place after a bandom story was posted without warnings, the debate quickly spread through LiveJournal media fandom as everyone took sides on the issue–and a few BNFs found themselves on the “wrong” side of the debate. Still, the debate brought serious discussion of triggers to the forefront, and I have noticed more people being sensitive to the use of–or warning for their lack of use of–warnings on their fic, as well as on general journal postings since then.

9. Dreamwidth Studios launches. After much discussion and anticipation in some circles for months, Dreamwidth Studios finally opened to the public in May of 2009. Initially there was a huge frenzy of support and excitement, with some members of media fandom abandoning (or having already abandoned after getting beta accounts) their LiveJournals for this new service. There was a fair-sized backlash against DW as well, with others content to stay where they were, annoyed by the fracturing of their reading lists and doubtful that fandom would pack up en masse to move to this new service. Time has proven the doubters, perhaps, to be correct. Recently some DW users have been posting about moving back to LJ as the community on DW had not taken off as they had hoped it would, and their corners of fandom are still largely staying where they were on LJ.

8. SurveyFail. Rarely has a metamob so quickly and so effectively shut a person down than when fandom went after “researcher” (and reality-tv “celebrity”) Ogi Ogas. Fandom doesn’t like to be conned or tricked, especially when it comes to media representations of slash fiction fans and writers. SurveyFail was a prime example of this.

7. The Eli Roth saga of doom. Celebrities are increasingly breaking the fourth wall with their fandoms in this internet age, and services like Twitter make that easier than ever to do. But this isn’t always a good thing, as Eli Roth proved when he started interacting with members of the gossip community ohnotheydidnt. Joking about slash fiction featuring his characters and posting pictures of him eating blueberries morphed one night into women (some potentially underage) sending him topless pictures of themselves and engaging in cybersex via MySpace. The incident sent ONTD into a tailspin of wank and lead many to wonder just how far is too far to go when fandom and celebrities mix on-line.

6. Jon and Kate divorce. The reality series Jon and Kate Plus 8 has been a mainstay of sites such as ONTD and the gossip magazines since the series first aired. Spurring lots of fan sites (as well as anti-fan sites), as the couple’s relationship hit the rocks this year, discussion and interest about them exploded on the internet. Here on FanHistory we saw a peak in traffic to our page about the show in August, as this news was breaking.

5. Russet Noon and LadySybilla. Never before in fandom history–and probably never again–had FanHistory, Fandom_wank, and Lee Goldberg found themselves on the same side of the fence: recording the history of (and mocking) a Twilight fan’s attempt to profit off a fan-written novel based in the Twilight universe. This massive kerfluffle exploded as the author, LadySybilla, targeted her critics in kind.

4. The Philadelphia Eagles sign Michael Vick. Despite having a baseball team make it to the World Series two years in a row, Philadelphia is still a football town, first and foremost. And the announcement that Michael Vick would be added to the team’s roster this season was a news story that rocked the city and outraged many fans. It was an especially difficult pill to swallow after the loss of fan favorite player, Brian Dawkins. The debate ran for months–and still continues today, even as the team heads to the playoffs: Should Vick really have been given a second chance? What are fans to do if they love a team, yet have strong moral objections to a player on it? Some sold their tickets for the season in protest; others came around to accepting Vick later in the year. Others still just wait and hope he will be traded away next season so they can go back to rooting for their team without guilt.

3. Star Trek, Rebooted. The release of the new Star Trek film this year managed to revitalize the fandom in a way that surprised and delighted many. Fans of the original series who were initially skeptical by and large embraced the film. The fandom exploded on LiveJournal, producing a huge array of fanworks in a short span of time. However, there was some wank and shipping wars to develop, largely between Kirk/Spock shippers and Spock/Uhura shippers. How this will continue as the new movie franchise moves on will be interesting to see.

2. Michael Jackson‘s death. It was the news story that nearly took down the internet: Michael Jackson, dead at 50. Many websites and social networking services temporarily crashed or were overloaded as people flocked on-line for news and updates. His passing lead many to reconsider the popstar’s life and works, fueling renewed debates over his behavior and legal troubles. It also lead to the formation of numerous new messageboards, communities, and websites devoted to him, and a blossoming interest in Michael Jackson fan-fiction.

1. Race Fail 2009. Unquestionably, RaceFail was THE fandom story (and debate) of the year. Beginning in January over a book by Elizabeth Bear, the situation exploded and raged heavily through science fiction and media fandom for months. Indeed, it would be easy to say that 2009 was basically a Year of Fail, as I speculated back in July in a previous blog post. Increased awareness of race, gender and ability privilege have been promoted again and again as failings have been pointed out, both in commercial media such as books and films and in our own fannish interactions with each other.

So what does that say for the year ahead? How will 2010 go down in the fannish history books? Guess we’ll have to wait until next December to find out.

People gaming for autofollowers on Twitter

October 15th, 2009

I feel like it is that time again.  It is time to blog about Twitter.  If you don’t know, I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter.  I had as many as 325 people I followed before I culled it down to around 276.  I like to follow people on Twitter who share a common interest, share common geography, that I have met personally, that offer news I chose to opt in to, that I want to network with.  With the exception of a few news related accounts, I don’t follow people who aren’t likely to interact back with me.

I don’t mind following people who follow me.  I like a balance of follows to followers.  Too many follows and too few followers means likely spam bot is one reason.  I  also like people with fewer followers.  My general assumption is if you have too many followers, you’re just gaming for autofollowers, people to market your company or personal brand at, where you have zero interest in me personally.  My litmus test for following back people with 1,000+ followers is thus sending DMs to those folks and thanking them for the following and asking for an @ reply with why the followed me.  (And if they  don;t want to do that, it is easy enough to find out how to contact me.)  If you can’t do that, it is a clear sign of some one gaming for autofollowers.  The following is a list of people who failed to respond and thus are gaming for autofollowers:

Tila Tequila, Just Getting Attention on Twitter?

October 5th, 2009

Tila TequilaSinger, model, and television personality Tila Tequila recently wrote on her official Tila Twitter account what seems like frightening dark messages and suicide tweets. These messages are entirely different from her usual mood, which is outgoing, positive, and loud. However, she is not staying quiet through this ordeal and has been responding with her fans over the social network stream. It leads fans, the media crowd and those just curious about Tila’s plans for the future. This comes not long after her apparent choking by San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman in early September, as according to CNN‘s article NFL’s Merriman arrested, accused of choking Tila Tequila.

Tila Tequilas scary messages

Many fans replied back and she responded to some, and even retweeted some of the messages. Is this another attention ploy from Tila. A couple months ago, Tila had been playing with her fans with her official Tila Ustream channel, giving them a skin tease. This is nothing unusual for the attention seeking girl, and nothing new as celebrities are turning to live streaming and twittering. Example: 50 Cent, the music artist – though his live streams do not show any skin.

The examiner asks in their article Tila Tequila frightens fans with tweets on suicide: ‘It woulda been tonite I ended my life’:

What do you think? Could Tila’s sudden talk of suicide have anything to do with her issue that she ran into with boyfriend, Shawne Merriman?

Regardless, it is stirring up a lot of responses in the Twitter community (Just look up Tila Tequila in the Twitter search). Here are just a few:

Twitter Reactions
Twitter Reactions

So, is this really a suicide watch over a breakup or because of racism, religious fanatic talk, stress from her career, or just bluffing? Regardless, this should be enough to put Tila on suicide watch. Hopefully something is figured out as Tila has been a top trend in Twitter off and on since June 2009 and ReadWriteWeb confirms her as quite the active user in their article Twitter’s Most Active Users: Bots, Dogs, and Tila Tequila.

What do you think?

post written by Nile Flores of Follow Nile Flores on Twitter.

Gaming the Twitter system… or how not to market on Twitter

August 24th, 2009

There are ways to market yourself on Twitter and to market your brand. My preference as a user of Twitter is if I mention a brand, they comment at me. I don’t necessarily want them to follow me with me following them in return. My comment is probably a one off and I likely won’t mention them again. There is no reason to watch me. There is no reason for me to follow them unless I want to get marketed at.

I don’t want random brands commenting at me using @ replies. There was some spammer who was @ replying to lots and lots of people with info on their Blackberry application. The problem? I’ve never mentioned Blackberry on Twitter and I don’t own a Blackberry. That’s really annoying and Twitter should really crack down on those more.

The one that also annoys me is the brand, personal and business, gaming for followers. The most recent one I’ve run across is EcoInteractive. They have something like 64,000 followers. They follow something like 67,000 people. This is some one gaming the system for followers. (I wrote exactly how to do that on this wikiHow article.) (It is a big myth that you get followers because of great content.) EcoInteractive goes around and follows people and hopes that they get follows in return. According to EcoInteractive, this is nominally because of shared interests. When pressed repeatedly on Twitter, EcoInteractive sadly could not come up with a reason why they followed me. I don’t tweet about environmental issues. I’m not interested in following people and don’t follow environmental related Twitter accounts. The lack of being able to point to tweets, blog posts, a website I list relating to that make EcoInteractive’s actions abundantly clear. This is seriously annoying. I get the e-mail that EcoInteractive is now following me. EcoInteractive has so many followers that I clearly won’t be able to establish any sort of relationship with them because EcoInteractive has 67,000 people they watch. Are they EVER going to read my content? No. It isn’t possible to follow that many people and maintain relationships. Does EcoInteractive have a tweet stream that I want to read? No and if they did, I would have followed them to begin with. EcoInteractive is engaging in the wrong sort of brand building. EcoInteractive is engaging in possibly destructive brand building, especially when EcoInteractive can’t articulate why they followed me and when they have so many followers to begin with.

EcoInteractive and others like EcoInteractive are one of the reasons why I like Twitter less and less. I don’t mind being marketed at. But this brand and similar brands don’t give a shit about who they are marketing at just so long as they can improve their metrics. That’s dumb and it isn’t how you market on Twitter because then you piss off people like me and it does more harm to your brand than good.

And frankly, Twitter should start punishing people and brands with over 10,000 followers who are clearly trying to game the system by following others first with the hope of getting an auto follow in return.

Trent Reznor quits Twitter-for good this time? Apparently.

July 22nd, 2009

A couple weeks ago we posted about the Panic! At the Disco split, and how posts made by friends of the band on social networking sites around that time contributed to a considerable amount of fanwank.

Well, now it seems that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has gotten completely fed up with the social networking “scene” and deleted his Twitter account. This follows a bit of kerfluffling on his part last month lambasting people who had been following him on the service, claiming they had been harassing him over details of his personal life he’d been posting there. He slammed his apparent attackers a month ago at and changed his Twitter into just a one-way news feed, but it seems even that wasn’t satisfactory and he’s off the service completely now.

It’s an interesting move at a time when more and more artists are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon full-steam ahead, not running away from it. But, as this incident shows, artists and celebrities do need to consider carefully just how–and how publicly–they get involved in social networking services. Particularly when using it to share personal and not just professional information. While for some it can be a great way to help build their fanbase by increasing the feeling of “access”, it can also become a dangerous tool for stalking and harassment. And, also, for those artists without a thick skin, it can lead them to lash out and “bite the hand that feeds”, to quote one of Trent’s own songs. Many fans at least think they want to know more about what their idols and heroes are like in “real life”, doing day-to-day things. But they don’t necessarily, however, want to find out their idols are kind of obnoxious jerks…which is the way Trent has come across to many through all of this situation.

What’s hot on Fan History for June 14 to June 20, 2009

June 21st, 2009

More Fan History traffic information and looking at what is popular. This edition includes our most popular traffic sources outside search, our most popular articles and our most popular keyword based searches for the week of June 14 to June 20, 2009.

Most popular articles
11,909 pages were viewed a total of 43,428 times

  1. Draco/Hermione – 785 times
  2. Cassandra Claire – 359 times
  3. Race Fail 2009 – 338 times
  4. Sakura Lemon Fan-Fiction Archive – 329 times
  5. Russet Noon – 233 times
  6. AdultFanFiction.Net – 228 times
  7. Naruto – 200 times
  8. FanFiction.Net – 195 times
  9. Hurt/Comfort – 194 times
  10. Digimon – 175 times
  11. Laura – 144 times

Our most popular pages mostly had fewer views this month. Some of this is probably because we had 600 fewer article views this past week.

Top non-search referrers
Referring sites sent 2,435 visits via 337 sources

  1. – 301 visits
  2. – 233 visits
  3. – 147 visits
  4. – 126 visits
  5. – 96 visits
  6. – 84 visits
  7. – 80 visits
  8. – 78 visits
  9. – 63 visits
  10. – 47 visits

200 fewer visits this past week from referrers. A lot of this can be attributed to getting less traffic related from fandom_wank. There were a few sources that moved up or down. There was only one site that dropped off and one new one appearing.

Search key phrases
Search sent 11,657 total visits via 8,264 keywords

  1. emo porn – 87 visits
  2. galbadia hotel – 66 visits
  3. naruto wiki – 59 visits
  4. restricted section – 47 visits
  5. adult fanfiction – 46 visits
  6. gosselins without pity – 46 visits
  7. adultfanfiction – 39 visits
  8. draco hermione – 38 visits
  9. sakura lemon – 36 visits
  10. fanhistory – 34 visits

Our search traffic was a bit down this past week. This was by about 400 visits and 300 key phrases. Some terms moved up and other terms moved down.

What was hot on Fan History for the week of June 7 to June 13, 2009

June 15th, 2009

It’s another week and I’m in the mood for another post about what’s popular on Fan History. This edition includes our most popular traffic sources outside search, our most popular articles and our most popular keyword based searches for the week of June 7 to June 13, 2009.

Most popular articles
11,848 pages were viewed a total of 44,012 times

  1. Draco/Hermione – 920 times
  2. Cassandra Claire – 551 times
  3. Race Fail 2009 – 423 times
  4. Torchsong Chicago – 383 times
  5. Sakura Lemon Fan-Fiction Archive – 323 times
  6. AdultFanFiction.Net – 282 times
  7. Digimon – 226 times
  8. Hurt/comfort – 225 times
  9. Naruto – 225 times
  10. Twilight – 216 times

Coming in Number 11 is Russet Noon with 206 and FanFiction.Net with 204.

Top non-search referrers
Referring sites sent 2,620 visits via 361 sources

  1. – blog entry about conventions is where the traffic was from – 298 visits
  2. – 287 visits
  3. – 232 visits
  4. – 179 visits
  5. – 83 visits
  6. – 81 visits
  7. – 79 visits
  8. – 67 visits
  9. – 61 visits
  10. – 57 visits

Coming in at referer rank 77 was with 4 visits.

Search key phrases
Search sent 12,029 total visits via 8,537 keywords

  1. naruto wiki – 64 visits
  2. adultfanfiction – 60 visits
  3. galbadia hotel – 53 visits
  4. restricted section – 50 visits
  5. adult fanfiction – 49 visits
  6. cassandra claire – 44 visits
  7. emo porn – 43 visits
  8. fan history – 35 visits
  9. cassandra clare – 34 visits
  10. gosselins without pity – 33 visits

Coming in at the 40th most popular keyword search with 17 visits was russet noon.

Fan History referrer patterns revisited

June 12th, 2009

I was looking through old blog entries and saw Fan History referrer patterns with data from 2008. Since then, we’ve done some work to increase our traffic. We’ve succeeded in increasing the number of visitors to the wiki. We’ve got some new referrers. So time for a compare and contrast. Where have we improved from September 2008 to May 2009? These numbers are based on daily average visits from that referrer.

Sep-08    May-09    Increase
Google                   852          1,427.6    575.6
Yahoo                     144          187.7        43.7
LiveJournal             54            42.8        -11.2
NarutoFic.Org        16            0.0          -16.0
Wikipedia               14           9.2           -4.8
Ask                         11            5.2          -5.8
AnimeNewsNetwork    8        33.0         25.0
Wikia                       8              6.3         -1.7
AOL                          7            13.6          6.6
FanFiction.Net 6             9.1          3.1
MSN                       4               10.8        6.8
FanPop                   3              5.7           2.7
DeviantArt              3             0.6          -2.4
TVTropes                2             6.1            4.1
EncyclopediaDramatica    2    0.7          -1.3
Altavista                   2             1.5        -0.5
FaceBook                  1            2.4         1.4    1               2.0            1.0
Total Daily               1,138    1,764.3    626.3

We’ve really increased our Google traffic. This was done by increasing our overall link diversity.  It is why we can take a hit with LiveJournal traffic, EncyclopediaDramatica traffic, DeviantART traffic and Wikipedia traffic and see an increase in our overall traffic.  What you aren’t seeing is our increase in traffic from places like Chickipedia, Twitter,,, and jumptags.

Same advice as I had in October:If you’re running your own fansite or you have no money to promote your site, our suggestion is to spread yourself out some and focus on all aspects: Link building, quality content creation, quantity content creation, back end SEO optimization.

Top referrers for the first week of June: Fan History Wiki

June 8th, 2009

It’s been a while since we looked at our referrers so here is a list of our top referrers for the period between June 1, 2009 and June 6, 2009. There are a few more referrers not on this list that provided less traffic. These are just our major ones.

Referrer Visits








































There are sites that don’t appear there where we’ve done a fair amount of link building including Mahalo. If you’re looking at them for link building and getting referrers? It probably isn’t worth the time. orkut, bebo, Quizilla, MySpace, Facebook aren’t on there.  We haven’t really done any link building on those sites.  We do have a fair amount of links on FriendFeed but as we are not actively engaged on there, we just don’t get traffic as a result.  Our Yahoo!Answers traffic are from past questions we’ve answered: We’re still getting traffic from them months later.  DeviantART links are all organic and weren’t us engaged in link building activities.

WisCon panel on self promotion for science fiction authors

May 24th, 2009

At WisCon panel on self promotion for science fiction author. The presenters include Madge Miller, Marrianne Kirby, Catherine Lundoff and Nayad M. They are either professionals in marketing or are published authors.

Advice they have given includes:

Do not rely on a publicist to do it. They work best when you help them with their job.

Self promote with a buddy. It makes you feel less self conscious.

Readings are not necessarily time wise. It might be better to try to do readings with other authors. It can help draw a bigger crowd.

Doing conventions can help make you a more recognizable name.

No one thing is the magic bullet. You need more solutions.

Don’t try to do so much self promotion at once. It can burn you out, especially if you don’t see results. Try to focus on one project at once. That is what professionals do.

Check out who has expertise in promoting. Get advice from them. Use your community to find good ways to promote.

Realistically, most science fiction authors are not going to get a publicist. Think about how you would present yourself at a job interview. Treat things like readings and panels as if they were that. This includes not showing up drunk to your panels. (People do it.) Don’t hog conversations.

Make an effort to fake an interest in other people’s work. Otherwise, you come across as being me me me and can be a turn off. You don’t get the personal connections that way. Personal connections really can help sell the book as those people may go out and tell people how fantastic you are.

If you can pair a book reading with a non-profit event, it can help generate additional interest and help sell the book. It generates good will.

You should almost put on a writer professional cap at conventions. You need to portray almost a different version, almost like acting but more like projecting yourself. This way you can get attention.

Women in American culture get told that self promotion is tacky and icky and they should not do. Women need to get over that. If you put on a professional hat, it becomes easier to self promote.

If you are going to do a reading for the first time, practice with people you like and respect. They can give you good feedback. Start out with something structured to help overcome your own fears. Ask your friends to tell you when you commit your own weakness like stumbling over words, rambling, etc. Non-professionals can give you feedback if you are being boring. Also think about timing of your reading. More than 35 minutes makes keeping your audience hard. Think about breaking up longer readings into parts. Practice your timing. Know when you can stop, look up at the audience and where to pace yourself.

Consider wearing makeup so that you look brighter than life and larger, to enhance your stage presence.

What are bad ideas?

People who do book forts at panels at conventions can be a problem. It is better to be graceful and just flash the book. It is a bit selfish to promote the book the whole time. (Though this may be depend on the panel and why you are on the panel. If you are on a panel because of that book, it can be different. A book fort may be overkill but a single book might not be that bad.)

Many people who feel insecure put others down. They try to stand on the bodies of other authors by putting them down in order to self promote. This can hurt you. It is better to be nice.

Don’t give a speech if you’re on a panel. Moderators should direct traffic and have questions to help steer questions. They should not read four pages of notes.

Advice for people starting out to increase chances of success?

At conventions, sign up for panels you are interested in. The more practice that you get, the more comfortable you will be when you become published.

Online presence is importance. You need a website. Determine where you want your name out. Have a blog. Look at what other writers are blogging about to get ideas for what to write about.

Realize that it takes a long time to build an audience. A year out is a good idea is when to start building. You have a chance to build conversations, to let people know you have a book coming out. Ask people questions. Always be authentic online and in person. Be authentic to who you really are.

Talk about things that you are interested means like minded people as they will likely like your fiction.

Working on a blog, creating a community, talking to reporters as a form of self promotional activity can help you get a book deal. Why? Because you get to make good connections who can help you accomplish your goals. It isn’t necessarily fair that we respond to the people we know but it does help getting published in the first place.

It is never to early to get online. You should get yourself associated with things that involve your audience.

Twitter, FaceBook, LiveJournal, GoodReads are all ways to interact online.

Twitter. Authors can tweet. Read up on the etiquette of tweeting before you start. If you do the wrong thing, people will snicker. Twitter is very real time. If you are going to be on it, you need to really commit to it. Follow people and respond to him. Personal details can really help connect you to your audience.

Twitter can go horribly wrong. Updating shop listings every time you do that can be a pain. Don’t over do the URL plugging. Twitter is an online service that allows you to send 140 characters. Twitter started off as phone but now is on the web. You should ReTweet interesting comments by people you follow. Be good to others who might be able to be good to you. ReTweets asking can get info out to a large audience that say your book is coming out.

You can actually talk to people on Twitter and make connections with people you might not otherwise make. Doing this may result in getting a follow back. Be authentic. Don’t become an annoying fan.

Anti-Twitter panelist prefers to blog. She finds it annoying. The information is not useful to her. Who cares that you walked your dog? Not enough info there to want to follow up on. It is a stylistic personal preference. Digest of Tweets on LiveJournal is annoying. If they didn’t follow you on Twitter, why would they want it in another medium?

Cross posting to Twitter and FaceBook can be annoying. There are different rules and etiquette. FaceBook tends to be less cluttered.

FaceBook is kind of nice as a networking tool. It isn’t necessarily great for blogging on because audience attention isn’t high. If blogging, post it elsewhere.

On a self promotional level, finding these services annoying is irrelevant. It is about trying to reach people in the most beneficial and effective towards meeting your goals. If your audience on FaceBook is helpful, then you might want to update there even if you are not comfortable. Find where you can compromise to self promote. This is what is comes down to. The tool is about getting results, not your personal feelings.

Consensus is that you really, really need to have a blog. Try to develop a readership. Mix up the content to help develop a broader readership: Personal life, professional life, writing life. Good to have blog attached to your website. Why? It helps with Google ranking. It means you can keep adding fresh content to your website. Twitter feed can help keep your content fresh.

If you are not going to engage authentically, then don’t.

One of the highest read blogs was that of a chinese erotic model who updated regularly. Try to update once a day to maintain the audience if you want to develop a huge audience. If you don’t want to blog, consider doing message from the author. Dead blogs are a turn off to the audience. People will drop you from their feeds.

Blogging is a big time commitment. When you’re doing fiction, you may not have the same correlation with blog success. You need to find balance. You need to find what works for your life. Penelope Trunk gives good advice on how to blog effectively. Though Penelope is extremely controversial so take it with a grain of salt.

Asking celebs to retweet? Please don’t.

April 23rd, 2009

I don’t follow celebrities on Twitter.  (Er.  One or two exceptions and less celeb and more tech celebs.)  I’m not interested particularly.  For me, it feels voyeuristic.  These celebs are busy interacting with their friends and building their brand.  They are unlikely to ever interact back with me because they have so many followers and what value is there in tweeting me?  Especially when they have thousands and thousands of more followers trying to get their attention.

Which kind of gets to my point.  A lot of people have worthy causes where they want celebrity attention.  Twitter makes those folks theoretically accessible like they have never been accessible before.  So in order to get that attention, some folks will @ reply celebs and ask them to retweet them on behalf of a worthy cause.  One or two people?  I can understand.  When you tweet at 10 or more people, that hits the disrespectful line where your other followers are concerned.  Ten tweets on their timeline that have nothing to offer to the audience.

And reiterating?  Celebs are unlikely to respond.  Don’t take my word for.  Take Stephen Fry’s word where he discusses just this from the celebrity perspective.

If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t go where the spoilers might be!

April 14th, 2009

I love E. She is one of my favorite people in the wiki world. I can lean on her when I need support and need advice. I can get her advice when I need a sounding board on wiki policy. I also know that when she and I are in a chatroom together on Sunday night when Celebrity Apprentice is on? I need to ignore the room because I could be spoiled. She loves the show. She chats about it. I don’t like spoilers and I’m not about to rain on E’s right to squee in a room that allows it by telling her to shut it. It just feels like it would be really, really rude and selfish of me.

I also dislike being spoiled for Amazing Race, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars and Hell’s Kitchen. I know that if I want to be spoiled, I need to avoid places like Twitter when the show is airing. I need to not read my BuddyTV e-mails that do recaps. When they are promoing on The Today Show, I need to turn off the television. If The View is live the day after, I need to be really careful or make sure I watch before hand as some hosts talk about what happened the night before. I can’t read things like friendsfriends on LiveJournal. The potential for spoilers are everywhere and I need to make sure I catch my show as quickly as possible and be diligent in my effort to avoid spoilers.

If I fail, if I get spoiled, unless I’m in a place that expressly prohibits spoilers and some ass hole posts them anyway, I’m responsible. I put myself in a situation where I could be spoiled. I went some place where I knew there was a potential for getting spoiled and that happened. I’m to blame. There is no one else to blame but me. Me me me me. That’s me. Who is responsible if I go some place where there might be spoilers and I get spoiled? Me!

If you don’t want to be exposed to spoilers, don’t go where there might be spoilers. If you get exposed to them because you didn’t take proper precautions, blame yourself. Don’t blame others for your negligence. Don’t set a mob after the person who spoiled you because you weren’t responsible.  Don’t wreck some one else’s fandom life because you intentionally exposed yourself to spoilers. Don’t be a total ass hole and not take responsibility for your own actions. How hard of a concept is this to understand that I have to explain it?

Now, I’m off to finish watching The Biggest Loser so I can read my BuddyTV e-mails tomorrow with out getting spoiled.

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

April 10th, 2009

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

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

To quote:

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

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

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

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

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

no central LJ comm,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

policy remains unclear in a number of important areas,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Harry Potter

  2. Draco/Hermione

  3. Bandfic

  4. Beauty and the Beast

  5. Supernatural

  6. Digimon

  7. CSI

  8. Rescue Rangers

  9. Doctor Who

  10. X-Files

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

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

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

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

I’m growing tired of Twitter

April 5th, 2009

It took me a while to get Twitter. And then I loved it. I really loved it. I followed so called power users. I watched other people’s Twitter grades and ranks with fascination. Then decided to experiment with Twitter. And through experimentation, I learned a lot about twitter.

I’ve also discovered that I’m tired of Twitter. I’m tired of people talking about the number of followers they have. I’m tired of services like Twitter Grader and Twitterholic. I’m tired of people talking up those numbers, and numbers like how many times you’ve been retweeted, and that your value on Twitter and the interest in following you is dependent upon that. None of this matters. Relationships matter. I’ve yet to see some one explain why having 3000 followers where you engage with 0.01% of your followers, post links and retweets gives value back. I’m tired of being what amounts to a recipient of tweet spam even as I engage in it myself because I want to appear in Twitter’s search engine, get more traffic and have a high rank on Twitter’s services because Social Media people think it gives value and I want to believe they know better than me.

I’m tired of always being on with Twitter. Social media is a performance art. You’re always out there, always selling yourself. If you forget that you don’t have personal relationships with the people that you’re interacting with, you might regret it. If you want to use Twitter to get traffic to your site, attract angel investors, catch the eyes of VC people, try to get a consulting gig, you can’t go off the reservation and babble about how you’re tired, cranky, depressed, broke, dealing with family issues. Your audience doesn’t have the relationship with you to stick with you for that and you look unprofessional. You get more leeway with a personal blog, a LiveJournal account, a FaceBook account. Twitter just is always on and if you’re an introvert, this can be hard to maintain. It is tiring. I’m tired of performing and worrying about my performance being off.

I’m tired of the idea that Twitter improves relationships and develops relationships. I’ve made a few good connections on Twitter. The ones I probably am most glad of are the ones with kaplak and wikihowl. They are ones I probably would not have made otherwise. But most people on Twitter are people I follow in other spaces like LiveJournal, LinkedIn, FaceBook, mailing lists, on their blogs and IRC, who I keep up with via phone calls, at BarCamps, via e-mail and IM services, through private messages on FaceBook. The relationships that I’ve developed on Twitter don’t always feel that deep and when my friends and acquaintances on other services use those services less and use Twitter more, my interest and ability to connect becomes harder because of space constraints and the noise level between their content. I really wish Twitter did what the implication was that it did. I really wish that I could go back to Twitter about 9 months ago. I really wish that as Twitter exists now, that I felt like I was getting more out of my relationships that use Twitter to facilitate them. They don’t. I’m tired of trying to make the effort while feeling like I should be getting something out of it. I’m tired of people following me for no apparent reason who never communicate with me. I’m tired of the idea that I should be getting more connected with people as I feel even less connected.

I’m tired of the hype. Biz Stone said on The Colbert Report that Twitter answered a need you didn’t know you had. That doesn’t necessarily say “Twitter is great and serves a useful need” so much as “Twitter was marketed brilliantly.” CNN talks about Twitter. FaceBook changed to look more like Twitter. News people talk about how Twitter will change how news is reported. Newspapers print Tweets. Twitter will change the world! Celebrities tweet from everywhere. Entertainment Tonight covers people who are tweeting while they are being interviewed. I get it. This is like MySpace about 2 years ago. (And we know where MySpace is going.) I kind of just want to be left alone in a world where I can use it with out everyone and their neighbor going on about how great it is. If we could get back to reporting the news instead of reporting on how people are sharing their news, I might be less tired.

I’m kind of hoping this is a phase and that I will feel better about it later. I really do like Twitter but certain parts of it are just tiring.

SocialToo is shutting down their auto-DM feature and yay! Happiness!

March 2nd, 2009

SocialToo has made an important announcement: They are no turning off their feature which allows users to send auto-DMs. This makes me extremely happy. On my primary Twitter account, I’m extremely picky about who I follow and follow back so I can avoid unwanted DMs and so I can maintain relationships I have on Twitter. I love DMs when they can be used like text messages and I get them on my phone. It is really handy as I don’t have a web browsing phone.

Because of that, if you send me a spam like DM, I pretty much will unfollow you. (If you want to thank me for the follow and point out your nifty link to your site that you think I should check out, put it out on your public timeline.) So turning off that ability is something I applaud.

Over on SocialToo’s blog entry on their change, a few people have suggested that this is bad news! It will cost SocialToo users and some of the messages being sent are legitimate. A few people have also asked how a DM that says “Thanks for the follow!” is considered spam. I don’t know how to answer them really other than to explain other two ways.  First,  it feels like spam because you’re not considering the recipient (Is this DM worth $0.10 in text messaging fees? Would a public message be just as effective? Is this personal and will I reply back to their message?) and if they might find that useful.

The other way I can explain that these auto-DMs are probably spam like involves a game of show and tell. Over on Twitter, I have an account to inform people about updates on Fan History. It has about 2,500 followers. With a rare exception, it does not send DMs and does not answer DMs. It has a lot of people who follow it trying to get autofollowers which we comply with. With that background info in mind, let me show you the DMs we get, DMs which we suspect are mostly auto-DMs. (And I haven’t read because the account content should pretty much indicate that we’re not going to respond.)

These type of messages go on for another 23 pages. Other people have problems with this behavior. See:

  • Chris Brogan: Social Media is No Place for Robot Behavior
  • Loic Le Meur: Twitter Robots Killed Me (And Why I Apologize I May Not Be Following You Anymore)
  • Twitter as an alarm clock! Or how to get unfollows!

    February 14th, 2009

    I’m a bit cranky this morning. I was having to get up early to go in to my part time job. I was planning to get up at 6am. I got a lovely wake up call at 4:30am care of swirleight, an SEO specialist on Twitter who chose that time to send me 5DMs, 10 text messages to my cell phone. I keep it next to my bed as I use it as my alarm clock and general time piece.

    You might be thinking like I thought: Must be something urgent, useful, job lead, help for Fan History. You know, something that takes 5DMs to explain.

    5 DMs

    Nope! The same DM spam 5 times. FIVE TIMES.

    It would be great if it looked like the person had read through a few of my tweets before doing that. I’ve done some complaining recent about SEO folks who autofollow when some one mentions SEO, asked about how you can tell they are effect when the SEO doesn’t have much traffic to their website and complained about DMs. Oh, and when I’ve been talking about how I unfollow people who aren’t likely to add value my Twitter list because I can’t develop a relationship with them when they have too many followers to be likely to see my DMs. (Though there are clear exceptions. Some people have content that good/interesting that makes them worth following anyway.) Given the wake up call, eating up 10 of my 400 monthly text messages, following 800+ people (with less than half following in return), having autofollowed me because I mentioned SEO and then not being aware of my content… Fail.

    So to all you who want to thank followers, please consider the time zone of your followers, if you might be incurring text message charges to them, that you don’t thank them when you followed them first AND please show awareness of their content. Because swirleigh got an unfollow as a result and I would think others would respond in a similar way. It is a nice little how to guide to getting unfollowers.

    Twitter doesn’t necessarily translate into traffic

    February 7th, 2009

    The conventional wisdom appears to be that the more followers you have, the more traffic you can generate for whatever links you plug on Twitter. (Or the more popular are, the more standing in the community you have, the more important you are. There are a whole slew of reasons to try to get thousands of followers.) It is one of the reasons that our Twitter follow list is so large.

    The conventional wisdom, that Twitter drives traffic, is probably wrong for 95% of all link mentions. The exceptions would include big companies offering deals that you can’t find elsewhere and Internet/real life celebrities who have a large audience of navel gazers.

    Let’s quickly take a look at Fan History’s traffic from Twitter.

    Fan History traffic referred from Twitter

    Our Twitter feed updates automatically up to 10 times an hour when people make edits to the wiki. So far, we have over 7,000 updates. We have over 2,200 followers on Twitter. With this in mind, you’d think we would be getting over 100 visits a day from Twitter. Nope. According to that chart, on a good day, we’re lucky to get over 10 visitors a day.

    Other sites probably have similar issues with Twitter: The site doesn’t generate much traffic for them. The level of interaction probably doesn’t matter much. The frequency of link inclusion doesn’t. Most small sites creating a Twitter presence with the hope of getting traffic from Twitter probably would be better off spending their time elsewhere. What happens on Twitter largely looks like it stays on Twitter.

    Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong. Anyone else, fansite or social media wise, who wants to share their metrics in regards to Twitter is more than welcome to and to explain how they manage to get traffic from Twitter.

    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.

    Keyword peaks for fandoms and fansites on Fan History in 2008

    December 31st, 2008

    The following are when interest, based on keyword (not keyphrase), spiked in 2008 on Fan History according to Google Analytics…

    January 5

    January 11

    January 13

    January 14

    January 27

    February 22

    February 27

    March 2

    March 8

    March 13

    March 18

    April 17

    April 29

    May 22

    May 27

    June 10

    June 13

    July 6

    July 20

    July 24

    July 29

    August 3

    August 11

    August 12

    August 13

    August 21

    August 22

    August 23

    September 12

    September 27

    September 29

    October 6

    October 15

    October 16

    October 17

    October 20

    October 21

    October 31

    November 6

    November 9

    November 9

    November 11

    November 22

    November 23

    November 28

    December 1

    December 6

    December 9

    December 11

    December 28

    December 29

    I want to win a free mug! :) Also, twitter!

    December 28th, 2008

    This is a totally non-fannish post. Over OwenC’s blog, he’s giving away a free mug to people who blog about his free mug give away. My chances of winning are probably pretty low but hey! Why not?

    If you’re also on Twitter, consider following our Twitter account which feeds from our Recent Changes. It gives you an idea of some of that fantastic articles being updated on the wiki.t

    Generating traffic for your fansite? Use a method that generates positive metrics!

    December 22nd, 2008

    Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of generating traffic for websites. A lot of this learning happened because I have some great friends on Twitter, some awesome friends in the wiki community, and met people at two Chicago area barcamps. They’ve given me advice directly, and linked to blogs and sites that give advice. This advice has been one of the major reasons that Fan History has changed the way that we do some of our promotions.

    When you’re generating traffic for a fansite, you should have three goals:

  • Increase repeat visits to your site;
  • Increase the time spent on your site; and
  • Increase the number of pages visited per visit.

    When you’re link building, you want to spend more time on links which will bring in a higher quality visit. Pure visitors are great but they aren’t the most useful metric around. Would you rather get 10,000 visitors who spend 10 seconds on your site and view one page? Or 1,000 visitors who spend 10 minutes on your site and visit 20 pages? The second one is the type of visit that builds value for your fansite. It means people are more likely to come back, more likely to register, more likely to contribute to your site, and more likely to refer people to your site.

    Ever heard of digg? A lot of fandom people I know aren’t that familiar with it but it is a hugely popular site. If you can get your site on the front page of digg, you can probably get in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 40,000 unique visitors. Ever heard of StumbleUpon? More of my fandom friends have. StumbleUpon, if your site is stumbled right, can get you a few hundred visits a day. A lot of fansites would kill for that. (If the increased traffic didn’t kill their sites.) Those stats make it seem like it would be a no brainer: use both to try to increase your traffic! Lots of visitors!

    Another way to generate traffic is by wanking. Make fandom_wank or sf_drama and you can probably see another 1,000 to 3,000 visitors. If you’re linked through metafandom for being controversial, you can expect between 500 and 2,000 visitors depending on how many posts you’re linked on, how controversial you are and what day of the week it is. But like digg and Stumbleupon, these are cheap visits. Most of the visitors you get through wanking are wank navel gazers. They come in, view one page, spend between 10 seconds to 1 minute on your site, then go. They generally don’t repeat. In fact, because of the tie-ins to wank, they are less likely to be repeat visitors than if you had been linked through Digg. This is because your reputation ends up getting smacked around and you become known as a wanker. And once the wank winds down, your traffic levels off to prewank levels. The high in increased visitors doesn’t hold. You’ll get a massive drop off. So using wank to generate traffic, unless you’re specifically running a wank-type site like fandom_wank or EncyclopediaDramatica, isn’t a good idea. It doesn’t help build value by increasing the visits to your site, increasing time spend on the site, or increasing the number of page views per visit. (It is why Fan History mods don’t intentionally go around wanking; it doesn’t help our more important and valuable metrics. Quality over quantity of visits. And when we have wanked, our traffic tends to fall off a cliff about two days after the wank dies down. We’ve known this for over a year now when we first got the numbers to demonstrate it.)

    Want some real numbers for that? Fan History’s numbers:

    Average digg visitor to Fan History views 1.76 pages and spends 35 seconds on the site. Stumblers view an average 2.27 pages per visit and spend 1 minute 25 seconds on the site. It is harder to separate the wank traffic but the metrics are pretty similar because wank happens all over. But we were mentioned on ranty-rie‘s LiveJournal recently. The average visitor viewed one page, spent less than 10 seconds on the site and didn’t come back.

    If you’re trying to build valuable traffic, what are valuable ways to link build to get visitors who come back, spend time on your site and view multiple pages? Personal e-mail. We have a couple of people on hotmail that we’ve e-mailed who ended up spending over an hour on the site and viewed more than 20 pages in their visit. On gmail? The average visitor views 21.77 pages and spends 21 minutes on the site. Positive mentions with attached discussion. Sidewinder blogs about Fan History on her LiveJournal pretty regularly. Our referrers through her? They view 21.5 pages and spend 11 minutes and 52 seconds per visit on average. (And most of them come back and view the site again.) Another good way to get traffic is to link to sites where the sites are small enough to watch and view every referrer. Fan History does that and people who come in with a referrer of a stat counter, they spend nearly 27 minutes on the site and view an average of 20 pages in their visit. Plugs on message boards also work really well if the message is about the site and the comment invites other comments or discussion about the site. We got mentioned on and the average visitor spent 7 minutes on the site and viewed 13 pages.

    What does that mean? You want to build high quality links where you invite people to participate and be involved. You want a link where the discussion, overall, will have a positive tone. Doing that increases the time spent on the site, increases the number of pages viewed per visit and increases the amount of times a visitor visits your site.

    Don’t go for a cheap route of wanking or using services like digg. They don’t help your increase the value in your metrics.

    For information on Fan History’s metrics in general, see Quantcast, Alexa and Compete.

  • 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!

    Differences between traffic sources from November to December

    December 6th, 2008

    It isn’t necessarily fair to compare these periods as they aren’t the same but I did it anyway. ;-)

    Getting less daily traffic on average off JournalFen, TVTropes, DeviantArt, Wikia, FanPop, FanFiction.Net, StumbleUpon, TechCrunch. JournalFen can be explained with less wank. The rest are generally not our links and we’re not actively promoting over there to generate traffic.

    Up up a lot for LiveJournal we’ve been promoting heavily on LiveJournal, Chickipedia because we added links there, and Twitter because we added more followers on our recentchanges account.

    It will be interesting to see if these patterns hold for the rest of the month.

    Twitter, fandom and me

    November 25th, 2008

    Before I begin this, I need to define what I mean by fandom because fandom and entertainment fans (consumers of popular culture) can often look alike but they frequently don’t act the same.

    Fandom, Members of fandom:

    • Group that shares a common interest in a media product such as Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Wars, Pokemon, Starcraft, etc.
    • Are actively engaged with the product and other fans by having discussions, creating and commenting on other people’s fan fiction (art, vids, icons, costumes, etc.), attending/organizing conventions, organizing campaigns to save/improve the media product, etc.
    • Form relationships based on shared interest where the relationships with other fans are central to their activities.

    Entertainment fans, consumers of popular culture:

    • Do not have a group identity as fans of a show.
    • Are passively engaged with the product by having conversations, commenting on blogs, blogging about the show, consuming the product.
    • Relationships are not at the heart of and purpose of their interactions with others who share their enjoyment of a media product.

    Put simpler: Fandom is about relationships.  Entertainment fans, not so much.

    Which brings me to Twitter and my sometimes confusing relationship with it as a fan.  And after a number of conversations with other fans, this is a problem that a number of other fandom people on the outside looking in suffer with.  What use is twitter for fans?  What use is Twitter for me as a fan?

    I come from fandom out of mailing lists and LiveJournal where relationships are key.  If there is an author I love, I would try to form a relationship of sorts with them.  I might ask to be there beta reader.  I might e-mail or IM them with questions about their stories or what else they are working on.  If they were writing to slowly, I might leave lots and lots of feedback or beg them to WR1T3 M0R3!  I might friend them on LiveJournal to keep up with what is going on with them.  If I get to have a relationship with them, then my enjoyment of the thing for which we share an interest is enhanced.  I have another person to squee with over new episodes, and insure that stories I love will be continued, have some one to unite with against other people in the community I don’t like.  I might also have some one who could attend a convention with me or share a hotel at a convention with me which could make attending that convention cheaper.  I’ve got a friend.  Well.  Sort of.  Once our interests change or if I do something which upsets the person’s ability to enjoy the community or the material, I don’t have a friend any more.  But while we’re both in that relationship, we’re great and we communicate a lot.

    If I want to get “ahead” in fandom, if I want to have greater influence, I form relationships with people who are in the position to help me.  I can make friends with fan fiction archivists, with authors who have huge amounts of readers, with content producers, etc.  And if I want to be able to leverage these relationships for my own benefit, I’ve got to actively work on maintain those relationships in order to maintain my status because they key to staying on top, well, the phrase is “What have you done for me lately?”

    So along comes Twitter.   Twitter is great.  Twitter is love.  For the social media lover in me, I can’t get enough of Twitter.  It means I can follow people I met at BarCamps, keep up with what is going on in the wiki community, possibly get some traffic for the site I run, can network with people who might have leads for work for me, can interact with news organizations in a way that I haven’t before.

    Except, well, for all the great things Twitter does for that, it doesn’t do much for me as a member of fandom.  Fandom is all about relationships remember.  It is one thing to follow a person and comment, but that’s not enough in fandom.  You need to have more focus and extended conversations.  The Twitter format just doesn’t allow for that.  It is too short to adequately share love of the source with or to hold conversations with others.  If you do try to have extended conversations on Twitter, if you’re not providing value to others who follow you, you could lose followers.  Ick.

    One of my friends has other issues which put her off Twitter as a member of fandom. Twitter is very immediate.  You can’t hold conversations over an extended period of time because the format doesn’t lend itself to that.  If I am out on Thursday and miss the new episode of CSI and my friend watched it, we can catch up on AIM or blog about it a couple of days later, when we have the time.  Twitter doesn’t allow that.  And when your relationship is dependent on that shared material, the inability to slow the flow of conversation on your own terms?  It can be bad news.

    Another friend has issues with some of the comments on Twitter being so banal and unrelated to why they care about the person.  They don’t care that you just woke up, that you’re eating breakfast, that you landed at Heathrow, etc.  They don’t care that you are having a conversation with SEO with some one on Twitter that teaches you a lot. (I get this a lot from my fandom friends on Twitter.  Especially when I start having conversations with people they don’t follow.  They’ve considered unfollowing me because I do that so often.)  What are they getting out of their relationship with me when I do that?

    Another issue that comes up is content.  Why follow me on Twitter for news about what I am doing fannishly when you can keep up with that on Fan History’s blog, my LiveJournal or on Fan History’s InsaneJournal asylum?  The information is better, more detailed and easier to follow.  It is easier to keep up to date because the content is much more focused.  The blog is going to be about fandom.  The posts will be once a day.  You’re not going to have to filter around my other random content.  If content is king, then Twitter, unless carefully focused, mostly includes links and doesn’t involve loads of engagement that is off putting, then well, Twitter fails.  Content on Twitter isn’t king when it comes to relationship maintenance.

    So relationships that are dependent on Twitter end up feeling shallow, where they feel hard to leverage for your relationships to faciliate your enjoyment of canon and accomplish your goals in fandom.  Things feel even more confusing when Twitter appears to require a large follow list to be viewed as important on or influential on Twitter (and in fandom).  How can you have relationships with people that are meaningful, that give you something back, when you can’t actively engage people because the “content” disappears so quickly and could easily be missed?  In terms of my fandom relationships, I find I can’t maintain them like I can in other places.  I end up having to play catch up with Twitter by reading their Tweets when daily summaries are posted to their LiveJournals.

    In the end, what this means for me is I, and a number of my fannish acquaintances, haven’t figured out how to use Twitter for our fannish enjoyment. Yes, I know how to use it to promote my projects. Yes, I love it for networking professionally. I understand how to use it to monitor reputations and get celebrity and entertainment news. I’ve found some great Chicago related social media events. Fandom though… still a problem and I can’t see it changing.

    Fan History traffic

    November 22nd, 2008

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

    Fan History Wiki traffic sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Do as I say, not as I do…

    November 20th, 2008

    I’m having one of those I’m a great big fat hypocrite moments. As it nominally affects Fan History, I thought I’d let you know. be-a-magpie is an adserver for Twitter. You let them put ads in your twitter feed and, based on the frequency of these tweet ads and how many followers you have, you get paid money! Yay! It is a great way to pick up some extra cash from $15 a month to $400 a month.

    I haven’t done it for my primary twitter account because I don’t want to see ads on my twitter stream. I’ve unfollowed about a dozen people who have used be-a-magpie for similar reasons. I just… don’t want to be advertised at that way and I don’t want to do it myself. … even though be-a-magpie suggests I could make as much as $140 a month.

    But fanhistorywiki’s twitter account, which is largely used to share things that appear on RecentChanges, is a different matter. It has about 20 followers. The account wasn’t intended to be interactive but rather to act as an off-site way to monitor changes on the wiki using a forum that a lot of people like. So I’m testing out be-a-magpie on that account because I would really love the extra $17.00 a month that it could earn for the site.

    So I won’t subject you to ads where I have to view them and will reward you if an unfollow if you do it to me. But I’m doing it elsewhere. (And if you’re a fandom person/fansite thinking of doing something similar, remember that your followers probably will have similar ideas about not wanting to have their twitter stream polluted with ads.) Do as I say, not as I do…

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