What we want

There’s never been as much good info and analysis on fans around as there is today, but the fact that info exists doesn’t mean that it reaches the people who need or want it. Meta on fans is often hard to access because it’s locked in expensive academic works, written in inaccessible language, or scattered around the internet. That leads to a lot of frustration, missed opportunities, and wasted effort for the fans and academics involved. It also makes it harder to get good info on fans to people who need it but aren’t familiar with the usual places where fannish or academic meta can be found. That includes news reporters, the general public, and activists who are campaigning on topics that can have a lot of impact on fans, like copyright reform or women in open culture.

Fanhackers is an experimental project by the Journal committee of the Organization for Transformative Works that wants to explore new ways to get info on fans from where it is to whoever needs it.

We want to make sure that everyone who’s looking for good info or analysis on fans can find what they need as quickly and as cheaply as possible, whether they need fannish or academic meta, a particular piece of information, or help. We want to make sure that fans and academics can cooperate and share their info, meta, publishing tools, and research tools, so that the wealth of work and experience that we already have is put to better use. We want to make sure that academic meta on fans is published in usable and useful ways, openly and in formats that make it easy to share and improve the info, so that fans can access what’s being said about them and academics can see their hard work put to use by many people. We want to make sure that anyone can discover what info on fans is already out there, so that work can get built on rather than duplicated. And we want a place to tell everyone about the important, amazing, and informative things about fans that we find.

What you can do here

Fanhackers is still very new, and we’ll be changing and adding functionality as we figure out what works. For now, this is a group blog that’s mirrored across a WordPress site and tumblr, where you can do these four things:


How to keep track of Fanhackers:

Tip: add /feed to the URL of any tag in the tag cloud in the sidebar to get an RSS feed for it.

Project history

Fanhackers is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works, a US-based non-profit that aims to supports fans by offering info, legal and technological assistance, and platforms where fans can interact and publish. The OTW has created many resources and tools for recording and exchanging info on fandom, including Fanlore (a wiki for recording info on fandom) and Transformative Works and Cultures (an open access academic fan studies journal). Fanhackers is another tool in that toolbox. We’re descended from the Symposium blog, which was founded in 2010 by the Journal committee of the OTW as a place for fans and academics to post and discuss meta. In March 2013, the Symposium blog was rebooted and expanded into Fanhackers.


Below is our roadmap for things we’ll be working on in the next 24 months, and a wishlist for things we’d like to accomplish farther down the road.

  • Making academic works on fans and fan activities easier to find through a tagged, searchable, and exportable bibliography.
  • Blogging about cool ways to use existing OTW tools like the Fanlore wiki and the academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures for research
  • Supporting academics who want to publish their work on fans in an open and accessible way, and fans who want to publish in academic outlets
  • Mapping out all the resources on fans that the OTW has already built
  • Building tailor-made resources on fans for educators and activists

Wish list

Things that are still in the “this would be neat” stage:

  • Explore how we can use our people and our fannish and academic resources to improve the quality of info on fans that’s available on Wikipedia
  • Expanding our reach beyond our current outlets so as many fans, academics, and activists as possible feel welcome joining in
  • Supporting projects that make fannish meta easier to find, in the same way as we’re trying to make academic research easier to find through the bibliography
  • Opening discussions about the work habits and ethics of fans and academic researchers, to encourage mutual understanding and make sure that research on and by fans can be done in a way that’s respectful of the needs and priorities of everyone involved
  • Figuring out how to best help and encourage fans to add their voices directly to academic debates
  • Live-tweeting fan studies conferences and archiving those Twitter discussions in a readable format

Start exploring and posting

Read more about using this site in the FAQ, or just start exploring and posting. Have any suggestions about any of the projects listed above? Want to join in and make them happen? Contact us!