fandomthennow:

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Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I’ll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I’ll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here using the #fandomthennow tag or on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. Today, one last post about fan engagement/reading habits. Tomorrow, we’re onto popular fandoms and stories. 

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In the not-so-distant past, fan fiction about real people was a pretty controversial topic in media fandom. In 2008, 34% of the survey participants read some kind of real person fiction (RPF). The majority of participants (67%) said that they did not read stories about real people.

When this survey went out in 2008, many popular boybands were going on hiatus and the size of the celebrity-focused Popslash fandom had begun to decline. For a time however, Popslash was a large fandom with a heavy presence on LiveJournal. As popslash’s popularity faded, a new music-celebrity related fandom, bandom. began to develop. Today, interest in real-person related fan fiction continues. There are fandoms for athletes, actors, musicians, news anchors, and more. While the ethics of writing and reading real-person fan fiction is still debated among some fans, the controversy it used to provoke seems to have faded.

Again, however, I’m basing this on what I’ve observed. As fans continue to spread out across different social media sites, perhaps there are webspaces where fans go to either find or avoid more controversial types of fan fiction. What do you think? Do you visit or avoid certain websites because of the types of fan fiction they make available? Are there types of stories today that are still taboo or has a more “live and let live” approach become the standard? Why? What might be fueling either the taboos or their reduction? 

Read the full write up on fan engagement here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here using the #fandomthennow tag.

fandomthennow:

Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I’ll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I’ll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here using the #fandomthennow tag or on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. First up! Fan engagement and reading habits from 2008 and today…

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The image above shows the number of survey participants who were participating in a single fandom or multiple fandoms in 2008.

In the past, stories were often distributed within a fandom for a show, a pairing, a character, actor, etc. For example, stories could be shared on a fandom list-serv, in an online community dedicated to a specific pairing, posted on a dedicated fandom archive, etc. However, as media fandom increasingly used LiveJournal, this may have facilitated more long-term social links between fans across a variety of fandoms. In 2008, survey participants were almost evenly split between fans that engaged with more than one fandom at a time (54%) and fans who stuck to one fandom at a time (46%).

Today, I’m not sure what the trend is. With more media fans spread across sites like Archive of Our Own, FanFiction.net, Tumblr, and Twitter, LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, etc., I wonder if this is something that is enabling any different or new reading habits. Finding stories about a particular character or a certain pairing of characters doesn’t necessarily require joining one specific journal community or mailing-list any more. Instead, sites like Archive of Our Own, FanFiction.net, Tumblr, and Twitter allow fans to access many different fandom tags within a single website. This makes me wonder. Is it possible fans are reading a broader mix of fan fiction today? Are fans able to be more “multi-fannish” than they used to be?

Read the full write up on fan engagement here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here using the #fandomthennow tag.

2013: types of fan fiction on ao3

fandomthennow:

Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I’ll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I’ll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here using the #fandomthennow tag or on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. First up! Fan engagement and reading habits from 2008 and today…

The chart above shows the types of fan fiction represented on Archive of Our Own (AO3) as of December 2013. On AO3, m/m has nearly double the amount of stories that some of the other categories do. This indicates that there are a lot of people writing m/m on A03. However, it’s important to read these numbers carefully and in context. This doesn’t necessarily indicate that slash is more prevalent than other types of fan fiction. While AO3 is a popular archive, it isn’t representative of all available fan fiction. For example, in my 2008 survey, Jane Austen related fan fiction was one of the most popular fandoms. At the time, this fandom was totally new to me, simply because I’d been so focused on studying fans connected to LiveJournal. At the time, Austen fans had several fan fiction archives elsewhere, exclusively dedicated to Austen-related stories. Similarly, the Whovians are often found on A Teaspoon And An Open Mind. There are countless other fandom specific archives out there.

Another important factor shaping the current AO3 numbers may be the archive’s “adult content” policy. AO3 allows it, FanFiction.net did once but no longer does. While Fiction Alley has been a popular archive for Harry Potter fans, it doesn’t allow stories with adult content either. These kinds of content policies may lead fans with shared interests to cluster on particular websites, spending more or less time on AO3, depending on their reading preferences. Adult content restrictions may also disproportionately affect the amounts of m/m or f/f content represented on different web archives. With so many different sites collecting fan fiction and catering to different groups of writers and readers, it may not ever be possible to fully map the kinds of fan fiction read by fans.

What do you notice about your fan fiction reading habits? Do you find yourself preferring a certain website, community or archive more than others? Or, do you look reading material in many different places?

If you’ve been reading fan fiction for a while, how have the websites you visit changed over time? 

Read the full write up on fan engagement here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here using the #fandomthennow tag.

ratthrash:

Are you planning on redoing the survey at any point? I love what you have up, but I think it would be fascinating to see more quantifiable information about how things have changed.

fandomthennow:

I think that’s a really great question/problem to tackle. WIth fans so dispersed across different sites these days. I actually wonder if we could do this with any validity today. I got about 7700 participants and the survey was shared on multiple websites and fan communities beyond LiveJournal. Nonetheless, I still don’t know if the original ‘08 survey would have worked or have gotten the response rate it did if so many fans hadn’t been connected on LiveJournal at the time. 

Have you seen Centrumlumina’s AO3 Census? That’s the most recent analysis I’ve seen with a really significant number of participants. They report getting 10,005 survey responses. I’m not entirely clear what their recruiting method was (the write ups on Tumblr don’t seem to say) but the limitations post seems to imply it was promoted heavily on Tumblr. 

Overall, each of these surveys can probably only be said to speak to a particular body of survey participants. Given the websites being used, it’s also probably a particularly Western/American and English language speaking body of fans. (I’ve got some geographic data from my ‘08 survey that reinforces this re. my survey. I’m just speculating that it would be similar with Centrumlumina’s research.)

Ultimately, my work is much more qualitative than quantitative so I’m not sure I’d be the best person to do it either way. However, I think it’s a fascinating question/problem to wrestle with. How would we do this today? I suspect many of us would turn to AO3 for numbers (I’ve already seen academics doing this at conferences). And, it would certainly be possible to do repeated check-ins on AO3 every 5-10 years to see changes in popular fandoms etc. 

I wonder about that the implications of that though…  AO3 represents a particularly long-lived and robust network of fan activity. (One very intertwined with the Transformative Works and Cultures organization.) It’s just one node of activity though. The question that always nags at me is: Are we repeatedly conflating one particularly visible portion of fans with all fans? I’m not sure there’s a clear way of resolving this problem, but it is part of the reason I’m so interested in getting different fan’s reactions to projects like mine. I’m always looking to see what other experiences might be out there. 

(I had a similar experience reading Sheenagh Pugh’s Fanfiction: The Democratic Genre in 2007. It’s particularly focused on the UK and I remember being confused and fascinated by how certain fandoms were represented by Pugh. The picture it painted of certain fandoms just didn’t represent what I was noticing. However, it also made me aware of fandoms that I didn’t realize were around and active.) 

Actually, I’m about to post something moderately connected to all of this. I did take a look at the current numbers on AO3 to see what they looked like in relation to the numbers I got in ‘08, but this also raised a lot of questions for me. If you’re interested, keep an eye on this space. I’ll be posting it in a few minutes. :)

fandomthennow:

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Over the next few weeks I’ll be crossposting pieces of the Fandom Then/Now webproject here. I’ll be moving in order through the site, starting with information about the project and ending with some of my ongoing questions. I’ll link back to the site in each post. Please consider commenting here or on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. But, before we begin, let me introduce myself.

About the Project

Fandom Then/Now is an idea I’ve been sitting on for a while. When I completed my MA Thesis in 2008, I shared the final thesis project with individuals who asked to see it. However, I’d done a large survey as part of the thesis project and I really wanted to share the results with fans. At the time, I got the idea to put all my results online and open them up for fans to look at and give input on. I was getting ready to do start this in 2009 but then SurveyFail happened.

SurveyFail was incredibly unsettling to me. Roughly one year after I launched my 2008 project, here were these two individuals (Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam) calling their survey project the same exact name as my 2008 survey and using eerily similar methods to reach out to fans and request for fan participation. And yet, Ogas and Gaddam’s motives, politics, and research ethics seemed to be completely contrary to my own. 

At the time in 2009, my response was to duck and hide. I didn’t want to give Ogas and Gaddam any publicity and I didn’t want any research I’d done associated with them. The SurveyFail incident also made me particularly concerned about the ways research on fans is conducted. I felt strongly that research on fans and digital cultures is a process that must have more dialogue built into it. In October 2010 I presented “Fen Responses to Fan Research: Methods of Participation and Engagement” at the Midwest Popular Culture/American Culture Association’s annual conference. In this paper I reflected on my 2008 survey project, the 2009 SurveyFail incident and called for fan researchers to design more participatory and conversational research projects. I hoped that this participatory approach would help to counterbalance some of the issues that internet/digital culture researchers were struggling with at the time.

Fandom Then/Now is an experiment. It’s my way of testing out what a participatory and ongoing research project might look like. As a scholar, I begin any new project by building on my past experiences and research. That’s where Fandom Then/Now begins. I’m starting with past work that has been integral to shaping my thoughts about fan fiction and romantic storytelling. Into this, I’ve woven in many of the questions and ideas that are driving my current research project (my dissertation).

I want to share these initial thoughts and ideas while I’m working on my dissertation. I’m hoping that fans will be able to add their own thoughts along the way and help to shape the research. My goal is for fans to participate not as research “subjects” or bits of data, but as peer reviewers. 

About Me

I am Katherine Morrissey, a PhD Candidate in Media, Cinema and Digital Studies in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I also have a Master’s in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. My research focuses on production networks for popular culture, representations of female desire, and the ways that digital production is reorganizing romantic storytelling. My research is grounded in my experiences as a queer feminist, geek girl, and acafan. I have been actively participating in fan communities since 1996.

At UWM, I’ve taught courses on film, television, and digital media, participatory culture, and romance genres across media. I will be starting a Visiting Assistant Professor position at the Rochester Institute of Technology in fall 2014. I also have professional experience in web and graphic design, as well as communications and marketing in the non-profit sector.

If you’d like to check out some of my other recent work, you might be interested in the following:

Fan/dom: People, Practices, and Networks.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 14, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2013.0532.

Fifty Shades of Remix: The Intersecting Pleasures of Commercial & Fan Romances.Journal of Popular Romance Studies. 4.1. (2014) 1-17.

fandomthennow:

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For many people, fan fiction is as much a part of their reading as commercial literature. Fan fiction websites and archives provide readers with novels, serials, novellas, romantic and erotic stories, non-romantic stories, experimental literature, video and visual art, etc. While fan writers and readers are certainly not exclusively interested in romance, fan writing frequently explores the romantic potential between two characters and fan fiction is often built on romantic foundations. The shift to digital publishing and reading is having a dramatic impact on commercial romance literature. However, what about the kinds of romantic and erotic stories fans produce? How is fan work being affected by the rise in digital publishing? The Fandom Then/Now project is designed to facilitate fan conversations and collect ideas from fans about fan fiction’s past and future. 

What do you notice in the data from 2008? What do you think about the intersections between fan fiction and romantic storytelling? Now, in 2014, what has and hasn’t changed about fans’ reading and writing practices? 

Please visit the Fandom Then/Now website to look at the project and share your thoughts. 

Please help me spread the word about this project. I’m also happy to answer questions if you want to send them my way. 

fanhackers:

Reading Reflection on Chinese boys’ love fans: An insider’s view by Erika Junhui Yi in the latest issue of TWC, I was struck not just by how extreme reactions to BL can get, but also how little info sometimes gets through to English-speaking media fandom about fandoms in different places that use different languages.

Yi describes how BL fans are sometimes stigmatized in China because BL often involves explicit sexual content, and homosexual content at that. For instance, she says that “in the massive censorship crackdown launched in 2010, thousands of BL fan forums, Web sites, and personal blogs were censored, along with pornography”.

Censorship is bad enough. But then there’s this:

These media reports, along with the Internet censorship, made BL fandom a target of attack. Perhaps the most outrageous action taken against BL fan girls happened in 2011. The police in Zhengzhou Province arrested 32 slash fiction writers whose work had appeared on a Web site specializing in homoerotic content. The arrested writers were all women, and most were in their 20s (Xin Kuai Bao, March 22, 2011, http://www.ycwb.com/epaper/xkb/html/2011-03/22/content_1068001.htm). This news caught the attention of other BL fan girls, most of whom had also created some kind of fan work, making them vulnerable to legal action.

If this was talked about in English fannish circles, I completely missed it. Was it discussed? Google is being no help at all. The only thing in English I found that mentions this episode is an academic article on BL in China, Forbidden love: incest, generational conflict, and the erotics of power in Chinese BL fiction (paywalled, alas. Comment if you’re looking for access, someone may be able to help). A bunch of Japanese friends I mentioned it to did know about the incident, though. Turns out it was even slashdotted in Japan

It’s things like this that make me think we need better ways to make sure that at least the very important info about troubles and incidents in non-English-speaking fan communities gets over the language barriers. I’m not sure if English-speaking fans could have been of any help in this particular incident, but 32 fic writers getting arrested seems like something that should have made more waves than it did.

fanhackers:

Reading Reflection on Chinese boys’ love fans: An insider’s view by Erika Junhui Yi in the latest issue of TWC, I was struck not just by how extreme reactions to BL can get, but also how little info sometimes gets through to English-speaking media fandom about fandoms in different places that use different languages.

Yi describes how BL fans are sometimes stigmatized in China because BL often involves explicit sexual content, and homosexual content at that. For instance, she says that “in the massive censorship crackdown launched in 2010, thousands of BL fan forums, Web sites, and personal blogs were censored, along with pornography”.

Censorship is bad enough. But then there’s this:

These media reports, along with the Internet censorship, made BL fandom a target of attack. Perhaps the most outrageous action taken against BL fan girls happened in 2011. The police in Zhengzhou Province arrested 32 slash fiction writers whose work had appeared on a Web site specializing in homoerotic content. The arrested writers were all women, and most were in their 20s (Xin Kuai Bao, March 22, 2011, http://www.ycwb.com/epaper/xkb/html/2011-03/22/content_1068001.htm). This news caught the attention of other BL fan girls, most of whom had also created some kind of fan work, making them vulnerable to legal action.

If this was talked about in English fannish circles, I completely missed it. Was it discussed? Google is being no help at all. The only thing in English I found that mentions this episode is an academic article on BL in China, Forbidden love: incest, generational conflict, and the erotics of power in Chinese BL fiction (paywalled, alas. Comment if you’re looking for access, someone may be able to help). A bunch of Japanese friends I mentioned it to did know about the incident, though. Turns out it was even slashdotted in Japan

It’s things like this that make me think we need better ways to make sure that at least the very important info about troubles and incidents in non-English-speaking fan communities gets over the language barriers. I’m not sure if English-speaking fans could have been of any help in this particular incident, but 32 fic writers getting arrested seems like something that should have made more waves than it did.