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 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?