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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 on the site to share your thoughts and ideas. First up! Fan engagement and reading habits from 2008 and today...


The chart above shows the types of fan fiction represented on Archive of Our Own (AO3) as of December 2013. On AO3, m/m has nearly double the amount of stories that some of the other categories do. This indicates that there are a lot of people writing m/m on A03. However, it's important to read these numbers carefully and in context. This doesn't necessarily indicate that slash is more prevalent than other types of fan fiction. While AO3 is a popular archive, it isn't representative of all available fan fiction. For example, in my 2008 survey, Jane Austen related fan fiction was one of the most popular fandoms. At the time, this fandom was totally new to me, simply because I'd been so focused on studying fans connected to LiveJournal. At the time, Austen fans had several fan fiction archives elsewhere, exclusively dedicated to Austen-related stories. Similarly, the Whovians are often found on A Teaspoon And An Open Mind. There are countless other fandom specific archives out there.

Another important factor shaping the current AO3 numbers may be the archive's "adult content" policy. AO3 allows it, FanFiction.net did once but no longer does. While Fiction Alley has been a popular archive for Harry Potter fans, it doesn't allow stories with adult content either. These kinds of content policies may lead fans with shared interests to cluster on particular websites, spending more or less time on AO3, depending on their reading preferences. Adult content restrictions may also disproportionately affect the amounts of m/m or f/f content represented on different web archives. With so many different sites collecting fan fiction and catering to different groups of writers and readers, it may not ever be possible to fully map the kinds of fan fiction read by fans.

What do you notice about your fan fiction reading habits? Do you find yourself preferring a certain website, community or archive more than others? Or, do you look reading material in many different places? If you've been reading fan fiction for a while, how have the websites you visit changed over time?

Read the full write up on fan engagement here. Share what you think about this on the Fandom Then/Now website or respond here in the comments section below.

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Date: 2014-07-25 11:42 am (UTC)
jae: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jae
I have been writing fanfiction for many years by now. My first fandom was West Wing, and I primarily wrote about a particular m/m relationship for that fandom (though I felt distant from a lot of the other slash that was written at the time). In Friday Night Lights, I wrote gen and slash and het. For The Americans, I'm now writing gen and het. Even writing that out that way feels weird--I've never felt comfortable within the limitations of the fannish genre categories, and trying to label my own stuff using those terms usually feels like it requires a lot of caveats.

For a while I thought I was primarily interested in gen, but then I went through and tried to categorize all of the stories I'd written over the years, tallying them up (nb: feel free to read that linked post, but I'd prefer you not quote it), and realized just how many of them dealt directly or indirectly with relationships. I think the real issue, though, is that I'm mostly interested in using fanfiction to explore how fictional characters work psychologically, with all of their foibles fully on display. So I'm interested in dealing with how these kinds of things affect their romantic relationships (among other things), but I'm not interested in romance per se.

As for where I read fanfiction, you're right that that's changed over the years. Back in my West Wing days, it was all over email (yes, email!) on specialized mailing lists. The Friday Night Lights stories were mostly on Livejournal, to the extent that they existed at all. These days, I pretty much only read on the Archive of Our Own. To be honest, though, I don't actually read very much fanfiction at all because it's an awful lot of work to find the sort of thing I like. I read everything that's written in my current fandom (that's not very much, for what it's worth), I read recommendations if they come from trusted sources, I sometimes read my friends' stuff, and I binge on yuletide stories at Christmastime. That's really pretty much it. I'd say I read 5-10 stories per year at any time other than yuletide.

-J

Date: 2014-07-28 02:45 pm (UTC)
jae: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jae
Do you notice yourself being drawn to certain types of characters and character dynamics instead?

Not in the sense that I think you mean. I'm not generally drawn to particular "kinks" or "tropes" in fanfiction, whether for writing or reading. The characters who I find myself most enjoying writing or reading about are the ones who I find intriguing from the start but don't immediately intuitively understand. Fanfiction then becomes a way for me to deepen my understanding of the characters by really getting inside their heads.

What do you mean with romance here? Just wondering what specifically you are less interested in and how that connects to romance.

I do explain this in the post I linked you to, but I'll try to explain it here too so you can quote it if you need to: what I tend NOT to be interested in are "conventionally romantic stories." What I DO like are stories about relationships where the problems driving the plot are internal rather than external to the relationship. This means that they don't necessarily have to end well, either--to me, a story about a breakup or two people coping with the shards of a former relationship can be just as compelling as a story about a couple getting together, because to me what's interesting about relationship stories isn't the romance part, but what relationships can reveal about the characters' psychologies/what makes them tick.

Finally, just curious, you mentioned reading about 5-10 stories a year (other than Yuletide). Do you write more each year than you read?

My stories tend to be very long, much longer than the ones I read, so no. :) But if you're excluding yuletide (the one time per year that I reliably read fanfiction because I'm more likely to find the kinds of stories I like there than anywhere else), I absolutely tend to write more words per year than I read in most years.

-J

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