Media fandom is an ephemeral culture, and online fandom even more so. A printed zine from the 1970s may last longer than a story published online in the last six months. In fact, continual changes in publication preference and fannish infrastructure have impacted the accessibility and permanence of fan fiction: zines may have a much lower initial circulation, but hard copies have a permanence that newsgroup posts, mailing-list e-mails, or blog posts may lack. Even as fandom as a whole has become more widely accepted and openly public, distribution patterns have moved away from public archives toward individual fan archiving, which allows writers to maintain greater control.
Versaphile. 2011. “Silence in the Library: Archives and the Preservation of Fannish History.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 6.
This piece by fan writer and archivist Vesaphile is a great overview of the technical challenges fannish communities have historically faced in the preservation of our fan works, culture, and history. Published in 2011, it covers everything from zines and bulletin boards to mailing lists and LiveJournal. It predates fandom’s big migration to Tumblr and only touches on the Archive of Our Own, but it also makes some quite prescient comments about the ways in which fannish online presence and archiving efforts might develop. Versaphile speaks from her own lived experience as a long-time fan archivist, and it’s great to see that knowledge recognised and preserved in an academic journal.