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 posting on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. This week we’re onto popular fandoms and stories.

In the past few posts I’ve been talking about popular stories from the 2008 survey and the fandoms they were connected to. Today, I want to bring up an issue I had when I began compiling popular stories by individual fandoms.


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Tallying the Supernatural recommendations was a challenge and this set a precedent for how different fandoms and sub-fandoms are organized within the survey results. Participants used a variety of key terms to identify their fandoms. For example, terms like “Supernatural,” “Supernatural RPS,” and “CW RPS” were all used interchangeably on the same stories. A similar pattern occurred with fan fiction related to J.R.R. Tolkien, various Joss Whedon shows, Queer as Folk, and the many celebrities/musical groups associated with Bandom.

As much as possible, the categories I’ve used to organize stories here follow the lead of the survey participants. If fans saw these stories intersecting as part of a larger fandom, the categories have been merged accordingly. This has the curious effect of linking readers who may not want to be connected. For example, in the case of Supernatural fans, different reading interests now overlap under the umbrella of “supernatural fandom.” The actual readers of these different sub-categories may not want to be associated. In the Supernatural fandom, some fans enjoy stories about the show’s two lead characters being in a relationship together (Dean/Sam or Wincest). However, since these two men are brothers, Sam/Dean is a reading category that not all Supernatural fans are comfortable with.

Clumping all Supernatural-related fan fiction together under the umbrella of one fandom combines readers of gen fan fiction along with the readers of Sam/Dean, heterosexual romances involving Sam and/or Dean, as well as mixing in readers of real person fiction focused on the actors (i.e. J2 or CWRPS). Clustering these different reading interests together and identifying them as one unified fandom (in this case, Supernatural) may create links between fans who do not actually share the same reading interests. It’s possible the same phenomena is occurring in many of the various fandoms listed here.

If you were sorting the data, how would you have organized the fandoms? Do you object to these sub-groups or sub-genres of fan fiction being connected together as a single fandom? Should the fandoms be separated out into more specific clusters? Or, do you see these more specific collections of stories as part of one larger fandom?

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

problem area: organizing stories by fandoms
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