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[LINK] Timeline of Fandom and Profit

Inspired by the discussion around Amazon’s announcement of Kindle Worlds, here’s a preliminary timeline on Fanlore of notable happenings related to fandom and profit. Famous instances of commercialization of fanworks, of exchange of money in fandom, profit-related incidents between fans or between fans and professionals, and so on.

Any examples to add? Please edit the wiki page or drop the info here so I can edit it in. There’s a great deal still missing, especially about commercialization of fanworks besides fic (fan films, mods, fan translations etc), and I have vague memories of reading about many more profit-related incidents in academic works and elsewhere.

[LINK] Signal boost: WebCite online citation service needs help

WebCite is a user directed citation tool that allows you to create a static single page snapshot for your online citations. The service is non-profit and has been operational for 10 years, and it’s been used by hundreds of journalists, writers, historians, bloggers and researchers, in personal, professional and academic capacities. Wikipedia relies on WebCite to prevent “link rot”, and fans have used WebCite on (for instance) Fanlore while documenting fannish history. The service can’t access private, locked or password protected content, and it honors “no indexing” commands. In this, it works much like the Internet Archive/WayBack Machine. Unlike with the Internet Archive, though, you can direct WebCite to a specific page at once instead of hoping that one day the Internet Archive will find and crawl the site.

More info about WebCite here: and

WebCite needs to raise development funds, or they’ll have to stop offering citation services at the end of 2013. Their fundraising page is here:

[LINK] Professional Author Fanfic Policies – Fanlore

This page is such interesting reading, especially the patterns that emerge when authors talk about the reasons why they changed their minds about fic, why they allow it but don’t read it, and so on. Several authors (Ellen Kushner, Poppy Z. Brite) mention that they once believed fic endangered their copyright in their works, but have since learned that that fear is false. Others, like Orson Scott Card and Jennifer Roberson, still seem to be clinging to it to some degree. Many more authors (Sarah Rees Brennan, N.K. Jemisin, Marjorie M. Liu, Diana Peterfreund, Kaja & Phil Foglio, Katherine Kurtz) mention that they don’t read fic for legal reasons, Many others mention that they read and write fic, or sometimes even comment on it.

Most of the sources cited for the authors’ comments seem to be fairly recent. It’s interesting to see that even today, there’s so much variety in how pro authors understand the relation between fanworks and copyright law. You’d expect that there would be at least some sort of professional consensus by now, but it seems like echoes of the confusion caused by the Marion Zimmer Bradley Contraband incident are still around.

[LINK] Discussion of Fanhackers’ “no quoting fannish meta without permission” policy and about fanwork permissions in general

Thoughtful critique of our “no quoting fannish meta without permission” policy, and discussion in the comments about how to make it easier for fans to indicate that what sort of re-use of their work they’re okay with (or not).

[LINK] Legal analysis bibliography on Fanlore

There have been a number of articles in law reviews and legal publications addressing various fanwork-related issues, beginning with fan fiction and gradually expanding to other fanworks. This is a bibliography, with links to the full articles where available, in chronological order by year, alphabetical by author within the year. The citation format is close to Bluebook. (From the page)

[META] Fanlore wants you

By Rachel Barenblat

Fanlore is a wiki for, about, and by fans. Our aim is to preserve the many-threaded history of fandom. Here’s how we describe ourselves:

Fanlore is a multi-authored website that any fan can easily contribute to. We want to record both the history and current state of our fan communities – fan works, fan activities, fan terminology, individual fans and fannish-related events. Because Fanlore is based on wiki software, you may edit pages to contribute your own experience, knowledge, and perspective on your community’s activities, its members and histories, and the material it has produced. (Source: About Fanlore.)

We have a set of Guiding principles & aims which includes things like:

Fan communities – their practices, products and passions – both past and present, are worthy of both preservation and celebration.

Each fannish voice is valid and valuable; there is no single “truth” or history to fandom, but rather, each perspective contributes to & demonstrates a rich and diverse heritage.

We treasure the unique fannish style of scholarship: self-reflective, articulate, analytic, personal, passionate and tolerant, and also accessible to a diverse audience.

Fanlore operates on a Plural Point of View policy, which holds that all interpretations and experiences are of interest and deserve to be written down. Unlike Wikipedia, we’re not looking for a mythical neutral point of view; we’d rather have a many-voiced spectrum of opinion.

Fanlore aims to create a historical record of fandom. If something is part of your fannish experience, and if it’s important to you, then we want to hear about it — whether it’s on a subject which is already well-covered (Stargate Atlantis’ John Sheppard, e.g.) or something which doesn’t yet have its own page or isn’t yet mentioned at all.

Fanlore is stewarded by the wiki committee, a group of wiki gardeners (wiki users who keep a careful eye on the wiki and help fix typos and wiki code formatting as a gardener might gently prune or fertilize a garden), and a group of wiki administrators. Probably our biggest challenge is getting the word out to people who aren’t already intimately involved with the OTW’s projects. As of this writing, the wiki contains 14,549 articles written by 3,161 registered users — but we want more! In service of that goal, we host challenges on the Fanlore Dreamwidth community every two weeks, and we’re working on reaching out to those who aren’t yet contributing to the wiki in several ways…including this blog post, which is meant to be informational and also invitational. Basically: we want YOU!

Although the committee oversees the development of the wiki, the content in Fanlore comes from individuals who see a gap in coverage on a topic and are inspired to fill the gap themselves. In recent months, Fanlore editors have been hard at work on crafting 8000+ articles documenting print zines and doujinshi. One editor has been adding lots of filk information, while another has been developing the Merlin pages. And of course, many of those who edit Fanlore also enjoy reading what others have written. After the main page, the most popular pages are The Draco Trilogy, a page exploring incest in fannish sources and fannish creations, and pages about Merlin (BBC) and White Collar.

If you’re interested, check out the Portal which contains links to an Intro to Fanlore FAQ, tips for wiki editing, links to the Fanlore chatroom and Fanlore Dreamwidth community, and more. Join us in writing our history together.

[META] Just in time for Christmas

As of this week, Fanlore is out of its beta testing phase.

This is an online encyclopedia, a wiki, which is one of the projects of the Organization for Transformative Works. It’s intended to document the history of fan communities and fan cultures. Right now, its main page says it contains more than 13,000 articles edited by more than 2,800 volunteer users.

As anyone familiar with Wikipedia, the wildly famous and enormous online encyclopedia knows, the distinctive feature of a wiki is that anyone can choose to log in and edit or add or create. Which can mean that such depositories of knowledge grow rather haphazardly, according to the interests of their users and not according to a plan or a taxonomy.

My college students are always rather puzzled that so many of their instructors don’t let them use Wikipedia as a source for papers, the thought being that the voluntary and amateur nature of the information makes it less reliable. But I have been reading that in general, Wikipedia is now considered by scholars who study it to be rather accurate. Over time, it indeed has been self correcting and stabilizing. Probably in a few years academia will lose its suspicion of Wikipedia and allow it as a source for student papers, just as it would any other encyclopedia.

One feature of Fanlore that definitely distinguishes it from the Wikipedia model is its position on what it calls “plural points of view.”

Fanlore is not and is not intended to be a neutral, objective (whatever that means in this postmodern, post-journalistic age!) compilation and description of fan activities.

This has puzzled and even offended some readers of my acquaintance.

Unlike Wikipedia, which advocates neutrality in its articles (achieved imperfectly and to the best of the authors’ ability, of course), Fanlore “contends that all interpretations or experiences are of interest and should be written down. It’s a ‘live and let live’ policy for ideas….”

At its best, this policy is intended to result in “a fan-positive, balanced synthesis of multiple points of view that fans may have on a single topic. It acknowledges and reflects these potentially dissenting perspectives and does not privilege one fannish viewpoint over any other.”

Because of this, Fanlore depends more, perhaps, than a wiki with a neutral point of view policy, on the participation of many and diverse fans, so that many points of view about a specific fandom will be represented.

It seems to me that it’s a positive in that it sets the bar to participation low, which, hopefully, will mean more writers and contributors. It absolves contributors of the obligation to do a lot of research and try to understand the full scope of the fandom they’re writing about. Contributing writers can include their own personal experience, their point of view, and simply add it to the material that’s already there. No need for bending over backwards to be fair to a ‘ship you hate, or to be unbiased about a particular fandom controversy. Someone from the “other side” of those issues will show up sooner or later to give their position its due, in any given article.

But I confess that, as a reader used to a more traditional, perhaps old-fashioned, belief in objectivity as a goal, this plural point of view approach seemed very strange to me when I first encountered it!

In short, according to the Fanlore explanation, “Fanlore is not a traditional encyclopedia that strives to establish a single account of events (as in “Neutral Point of View”). In addition to bare facts, we acknowledge that the history of fandom is a collection of personal experiences and interpretations, many of them only passed along as part of an oral tradition. Because of this, those multiple experiences and opinions are important, and we want to collect and document them as part of our fact set.”

Congratulations, Fanlore, on reaching this important developmental milestone!