What is crucial in both ‘Morangate’ and ‘Theory of fic gate’ is that none of the fans were asked permission for their involvement, and none of the instigators considered the effects on the fans. In other words, the fans were acted upon rather than able to determine quoting an author without seeking their permission first. In the social sciences, though, the person is put first. It’s why we have ethics boards in universities and why we have to consider humanities, of course. My work falls squarely under the humanities banner, as done much fan studies, but we are asking permission of fans and seeking out ethical approval from institutions for our research. But privilege is still an issue which needs to be understood more fully in academia and we have to recognise the ways in which we, as well as the press, engage with fans.
‘The Ethical Hearse’: Privacy, Identity and Fandom Online | Bethan Jones ift.tt/2bTw82o
In other words, if we only cite from those blogs that understand themselves to be clearly in public space, we may ignore both the possibly less guarded (and thus more unmediated?) voices as well as those who do not have the comfort or privilege to push themselves into the public light of the attention economy. Balancing our research to respect those voices without exposing them unnecessarily is one of the central challenges of online researchers.
Linking, after all, is part of the alternative economy of the blogosphere: if the goal of the blogger is to address as wide an audience as possible, any new readers driven to the blog is positive. That is not the case with all public journals or diaries, however. Especially on journaling sites like Livejournal.com, which emphasizes the interpersonal over the public journalistic, writers may indeed write for a clearly intended (often quite small) audience. When such journals get linked by one with much larger audiences, the exposure is often unexpected and undesired.
What is important to realize is that most bloggers post with a clear audience in mind, a fact even more pertinent to those users who purposefully prohibit search engines and do not look for as large an audience as possible. In such cases, their intended audience may be quite small and know the blogger as well as his or her beliefs, biases, and opinions on various subjects. Moreover, often their entries are not to be considered in a vacuum but are part of an ongoing conversation that spans over various posts and comments (and often even a variety of blogs). Observing such a conversation from the outside may easily take things out of context, because the context is only known to the intended audience (or sections thereof).