muccamukk: Lanternhouse of light tower in evening light, with moon and venus behind. (Lights: Tower Moon)
[personal profile] muccamukk
I've been thinking a lot about this over the last couple of days based on two things:

1. Someone on discord commenting that about the mores of posting a link from a comm to a discussion on your personal journal, rather than posting the discussion in the comm in the first place, and whether that was a tumblr thing coming to DW, or what.

2. [personal profile] sparowe's comment in a locked post (copied with permission). We'd been talking about how long we'd known each other, and how many friends we had left from the old Master and Commander days on LJ, and she said:
That sounds about right, on DW. Two more on LJ. It's funny, in some ways we need places like these more than ever, but it's not exactly welcoming to new people because there just isn't the same kind of built-in audience. I was trying to explain that to a younger user who came to LJ looking for a community of friends and was extremely discouraged that only two of three people ever responded to her. I don't know if she ever took my advice to join any of the comms, but even if she did... most of us who are here, are here because we've been here for A Long Time.

(I'm going to leave LJ now out of the conversation. I know a lot of people are still there, and even more still crosspost, but it's not really attracting a lot of new fandom attention, and after the TOS change last year, I think the bulk of fandom has finally left. This is probably not true of all fandoms, but it's been my experience. I'm also talking about this from the point of view of someone who writes fic in a variety of western media fandoms.)

But let's talk about my experience on LJ almost fifteen years ago, because I think it illustrates why it's harder to get into DW now than it was to get into LJ then. And I think it's more than just numbers.

Back in 2003, I was in fandom on ff.net and fandom-specific message boards. I was back reading via web rings, link lists to personal websites, and a handful of fandom-specific archives. This was mostly Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean fandom. Then I saw Master and Commander: Far Side of the World, and thought, "That was great! I want fic for that!" There wasn't a whole heck of a lot on ff.net, and next to no archives for it. There was a handful of bookfic around the place, but it obviously wasn't where fandom was.

Where fandom was was livejournal. Specifically, it was on [livejournal.com profile] perfect_duet and [livejournal.com profile] mandc100. There was also an age of sail newsletter that collected all of people's posts from Pirates, M&C, and Hornblower, but mostly if you were looking for fic, discussion, icons, chatter and general community, you were on those comms. I started reading and commenting on fic, and writing drabbles for the challenge comms. People liked my fic. Some people even liked my shitty icons.

I'd made my own LJ to post on the comms, so I started posting memes, quizzila things, chatter about my (presumably very boring) college experience and some lightshouse stuff and pictures. A handful of people friended me because of my presence on the comms, and I friended people I'd chatted with in comments there and in other people's comments. After a couple months, I had maybe twenty friends there, a handful of whom I have to this day. When I jumped out of M&C fandom, I joined other comms and made other friends. I followed newsletters, even ran one at one point. Somewhere in there I met Nenya in a friend's comment section.

My point being that personal journaling was fun, and people did get linked to my stuff from the newsletters (especially in SPN fandom), but the place you met people was either other people's comment sections or, most prominently, fandom-specific communities.

I think it's really key here that if you wanted to find fic/art/icons/meta, you pretty much had to be on a fandom-specific community. Fanworks existed in personal journals, and there were still fandom archives and webrings, but the hottest new stuff was getting posted on comms. AO3 didn't exist, and ff.net banned smut, so if you were in an active western media fandom, LJ comms were more or less where you were going to find content.

Then strikethrough happened, and blah blah blah, at the end of the day, fandom decided that having a central fic archive where we owned the servers was probably a really good idea (this left, and has always left, fan artists and vidders out in the cold, but it worked really well for fic). More and more people joined AO3 and posted fic there, fewer and fewer bothered crossposting it to comms on LJ. The transition happened slowly, but it did happen. Now you didn't need to be on an LJ comm to find fic, you could just go on AO3, and fan artists had started to decamp to other places where they got more eyes on their stuff. Comms started to slow down.

(At this point, I'd moved to DW, gotten an AO3 account, and more or less was only on LJ for a couple comms that hadn't moved. I was modding [community profile] cap_ironman, and we'd found that the way to keep traffic up was start running events. (Well, it was more complicated than that, but events were turning into a larger and larger percent of the comm's activity.) Slowly, I was fading into personal journaling with AO3 for fandom, and this was coinciding with my shift over to DW.)

So how does it work now if I want to get into a new fandom? First, I go and find all the fic on AO3. When I've read through that, I subscribe to anyone I really liked so I can keep reading their fic. Then I go look for an active DW comm for this fandom. There won't be one. Then I use the search function to find if anyone is actively talking about the fandom on their DW and subscribe to them. Previous to this month, I then went on tumblr and tracked the main fandom tag, blocked anyone I thought was stupid, and carried on from there. I'd also see if there was a discord (though Dicord, I find, doesn't work well for me for fandom-specific conversation).

It's a frustrating and scattered experience, and it's true because there just aren't the central comms for the majority of mid-sized or small fandoms on DW. And when there are, you don't have the activity of people using them to find fic, because if they wanted fic, they'd be on AO3. So fanworks, the central pull of LJ comms, aren't the central pull of DW comms any more. There are multi-fandom clearing houses for icon makers, those that survive, but I've never met anyone in comments of an icon post.

So what's left on DW comms are events (which are top down run by mods and a lot of work), canon rewatches (also have to be organised somehow), and responses to active canons and news about said (which at least can be more spontaneous). There are a couple fandoms that seem to be doing well on rewatches and episode reactions, a lot of fandoms just don't have enough people on DW to get that off the ground, and there usually has to be a fair amount of mod drudgery to get this going even if there are people.

Honestly, the majority of fandom-specific meta/plot bunnies, speculation, reactions and chatter on DW is happening in personal journals, and it's usually mixed in with a lot of other content such as personal journaling, other fandoms and who knows what. And to get people to comment on your fandom-specific stuff, you have to have people following you, which if you're a fandom old with hundreds of followers is one thing, but doesn't always work well, especially if you change fandoms a lot (sorry, everyone who doesn't care about Band of Brothers, which I realise is most of you.)

If you're a new fan who's seen, say, Venom and wants to have a bunch of people to chatter with about romcoms with tentacle porn (or whatever's going on over in that fandom), you could join the [community profile] symbrock comm, which mostly seems to be the mod posting a lot trying to get the poor thing off the ground, or follow one of the two mostly dead kink memes. Or you could do an interest or journal search to find people posting about Venom, and hope they don't have too much other boring crap you don't care about on their DW.

(I do care about people's personal crap on their DW, but that's usually after I've gotten to know them a bit usually mutual squee about whatever as an icebreaker.)

That's going to be a hard go for a new fan, because not a whole lot of people are going to follow you if you're not producing interesting chatter on your own journal, which is pretty tiring to keep up, and if you follow someone with more inertia, it's harder to have a relationship when you're one of fifty people commenting. I think DW fandom is pretty intimidating to break into, especially if you're more of a lurker type person.

I'm not sure what the solution to this is, other than to revive comm culture, and that, to be honest, is expecting a lot of the mods, who are going to more or less have to be creating things to keep people amused until they become self sustaining. I've tried it a couple of times, and it's never gotten me anywhere special.

I re-uploaded this icon because I made it for my LJ in 2004. It's older than like most of tumblr.

(ETA: I'm having trouble keeping track of comments that aren't top level. If you'd like a reply from me, maybe include my username so I'm more likely to spot it. Otherwise, please talk to each other, etc.)
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Date: 27 Dec 2018 02:56 am (UTC)
isis: (metafandom)
From: [personal profile] isis
I think we've had the pointer in comms to personal journal content for a long time. Remember the "fake cut"?

When I was in LJ fandom in 2003 (HP, SGA, due South) we didn't really have communities for the fandom. We had communities for specific pairings (usually the rarer stuff that was overwhelmed by the juggernauts), and for drabbles, and for flashfiction challenges. Eventually we had newsletters (I was the editor of a few of these in HP, and then worked on metafandom) and noticeboards (you'd post your fic to your journal and post a pointer at the noticeboard) which is how we all found each other and each other's stuff, but then we'd often friend each other.

There were the movers and shakers, and there were the lurkers, but I think the way I did LJ fandom in the 2003-2008 period was not so dissimilar to the way I do it now, here. Maybe some of it is volume; there just weren't as many people into fandom online back then? I'm no longer in any large fandoms. I can't imagine scouring something like MCU the way we did for HP (or even, scouring HP!) to do the newsletters. (Though [personal profile] sharpiefan has revived [community profile] despatches, an Age of Sail newsletter; maybe more fandoms will do that sort of thing now?)

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file size instead of word count

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Re: file size instead of word count

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 06:01 am (UTC)
amalthia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amalthia
I mostly joined communities and posted recs to my own LJ/DW. Though lately I've had a great time participating in the "land" challenges, like [livejournal.com profile] avland. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the fandom specific challenge communities but they are fun. I've met a lot of people participating in the challenges and I like that there are a mix of activities.

Date: 27 Dec 2018 06:41 am (UTC)
duskpeterson: The lowercased letters D and P, joined together (Default)
From: [personal profile] duskpeterson
I started off in media/booklit fandom in January 2002, when it was still mostly at Yahoo Groups, ff.net (which hadn't banned smut yet), and tons of archives.

As far as fic-posting was concerned, a lot of people crossposted (through cc or bcc) to various fanfic lists, and some also crossposted to their own individual-author list. There were a ton of fanfic lists, some with very small audiences, others quite large - I think Allslash was the largest. Thematic lists were quite popular - for example, a list devoted to hurt/comfort stories. Some lists had quite a lot of meta discussions going on (we're talking multiple posts/comments, daily), while others remained quiet. It really depended on the moderation, which I think is true to this day.

When LJ came along, the biggest change was that you could post at your own journal or website or favorite archive, and then link at a comm to your fic. There wasn't any difference between that and an lj-cut.

The other big difference was that people could link to discussions taking place at other comms and personal journals, and comms like metanews tracked such discussions. I can't convey how different that was from list culture, where you only knew what was taking place at a list you weren't subscribed to if a member of a list happened to mention it to you - and in most cases, list rules forbade that, except in a very general way.

Even before AO3 came along, the old archives were dying out. Most of them required moderators to post the stories, so you had a two-fold procedure where the author posted their story to the list, and then the mod posted the story to the archive. This sort of procedure was hard to sustain in the long run, so AO3 adopting the ff.net model of an archive where authors could post their own stories really sped things up.

Where AO3 failed miserably was with its collections. These *should* have taken the place of comms, to a certain degree, but the search engine for collections was and is so miserable that it became impossible to easily locate thematic collections.

Unfortunately, as you observed in your post, nothing else came along to replace them. InsaneJournal (which is where a lot of fanficcers went before DW came along), Dreamwidth, and Tumblr just didn't establish the community culture that had been such a big part of LJ, Yahoo Groups, and, I'm guessing, all the way back to the beginning of media fandom. I really don't know why; Tumblr certainly had a large enough percentage of fanficcers to do so. I agree with you that this has been a major loss for fandom.

But I also notice that the Tumblr exile has resulted in an influx of new comms here at DW, so maybe all is not lost?

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 08:23 am (UTC)
linaelyn: (too sexy for my staff)
From: [personal profile] linaelyn
This is amazingly fascinating and relevant and good and if I didn't have to get up at oh-dark-thirty to go to another goddamned christmas family gathering of doom (one of which ended up with an extended ER visit for elderly relative, so far) I would totally have something interesting to say here...

....but all I gots for you is this icon I made in 2003.

Thanks for this post. It made me smile and it made me think.

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 10:00 am (UTC)
nenya_kanadka: Reality has a homoerotic bias (@ homoerotic bias)
From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka
This is really interesting, because I did see a lot of that happen on LJ. I'm trying to think if I was in any major comms early on, but of course at the time the network of journals + comms + new people met via comms felt pretty seamless.

I do love AO3, and I've actually met a couple of people ([personal profile] gaslightgallows, [personal profile] rivendellrose, and [personal profile] indiegal for a start) through comments there. But eventually you have to take the conversation elsewhere...back to your DW, or your DW inbox, or email, or something.

For B5, which I think was my last big fandom before Disco, I did the "meet people through AO3 comments, follow their LJ or DW" thing + "lurk/reblog/occasionally post on Tumblr" thing a bit, but at the time Tumblr was vaguely functional and so was my bandwidth in town.

I think with Disco right now, my character-focused (but open to chat about the rest of the fandom) Discord server fills a lot of the same need LJ comms used to back in the day. There's like, there's always someone there to talk to, and people bring stuff to it because they know someone there will be interested. But it's still not fic-driven, even though the mods put on events and stuff. Last year the DW comm worked REALLY well for one specific purpose--like you mention, they're great for reactions to live updates of canon. Comments in the triple digits on every entry, etc. But when there's not live updates, there isn't the draw there. I hadn't realized that fic was such a big part of that (that on LJ you had to post your fic on LJ, in a way you don't with DW now). Huh.

So right now, I've lucked out into a couple of active communal spaces. But if I were getting into a new fandom right now...IDEK, man. Like if I suddenly had Doctor Who fic feels, what would I do? Failmeme sometimes works for medium to large fandoms (and I note that [community profile] spacefungusparty had a lot of nonnies in it). The Expanse? I know like...three people from it, because they post fic to the AO3 tag. And one of them's also in Disco.

*lurks moar*

ETA for icon dating from my last LJ huge comm posting experience. :P
Edited Date: 27 Dec 2018 10:02 am (UTC)

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 10:39 am (UTC)
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
I'm getting my fandom discussion on Discord now, but that's mostly Person of Interest. It definitely depends on the discord. The POI one does this weird wiggle between the discord and the DW comm for official announcements and permanent posts like the timeline for the big bang, with tumblr as a kind of backup to DW. I find it confusing.

I miss communities.

Date: 27 Dec 2018 02:07 pm (UTC)
peachpai: (armand loves the blender)
From: [personal profile] peachpai
I think the thing that baffles me the most is the death of kink memes. The two explanations I can think of off hand are just not very satisfactory: either people are less worried about anonymity and posting directly to ao3, or the puritanical culture of LJ had made younger generations less interested.

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 02:48 pm (UTC)
independence1776: Drawing of Maglor with a harp on right, words "sing of honor lost" and "Noldolantë" on the left and bottom, respectively (Default)
From: [personal profile] independence1776
Honestly, the majority of fandom-specific meta/plot bunnies, speculation, reactions and chatter on DW is happening in personal journals, and it's usually mixed in with a lot of other content such as personal journaling, other fandoms and who knows what.

That's honestly been my experience of journal-based fandom. Once Tumblr took off, the ratio shifted mostly to personal posts. But it's also hard to tell what was monofandom settling down from fandom attrition, Tumblr becoming THE place to be (because the Silmarillion side of Tolkien fandom saw a surge of people on Tumblr during/after the Hobbit movies who acted like they'd invented Silm fandom and didn't care about the community already in place), and the whole "adults have adult responsibilties that mean fandom can't be a primary priority." And the corner of the Silm fandom I reside has functioned as long as I've been in it as monofandom archive + personal journals. The archive's community now mostly resides as a place for moderator announcements. We have a Discord now that's honestly revitalized people randomly discussing things-- but it's not on DW.

Activity in comms means mod work. That's always been my experience. And newsletters are probably the most useful intra- and inter-fandom ways to point toward fanworks and discussion. But that's a siginifcant time committment.

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 04:00 pm (UTC)
sparowe: (AmbReigns)
From: [personal profile] sparowe
Two observations. One, how integral Yahoo! Groups were for me in fandom. AOL message boards for LotR led to that, and that led to LJ. Though you made me smile with your mention of web-rings... that's been awhile.

These days I find that fandom is generally (for me) through Twitter and reddit, but it never includes fic. I'll read some; generally FF.net (even now!) or AO3, but none of my latest crossover stuff is there. I don't write fic publicly anymore, because too many of my things are inter-linked and I don't want my fandom life creeping up on my real one. Which is how you get situations like with Ambulance Chaser and the fact that you and one offline friends are the only ones to see it. If I wanted to write fic about a current fandom, I'd pretty much feel the need to make a completely separate FF.net ID to do it.

So what are LJ and DW without that? I don't know. You've got me posting fic, now, however locked down. Otherwise, I just want to keep that presence for when I do want to talk--because when I do, it's not going to be somewhere more mainstream like FB (which is infected by family) or Twitter (which is bluntly honest like here, but less personal at the same time). I miss how things were, sometimes, but I wonder if I would even be able to keep up? Or--am I actually doing that, just through a variety of sources.

Good post, something to think about. :)

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 05:30 pm (UTC)
umadoshi: (fancrone - china_shop)
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
I have no thinky comments, but I like this post.

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 07:08 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
My point being that personal journaling was fun, and people did get linked to my stuff from the newsletters (especially in SPN fandom), but the place you met people was either other people's comment sections or, most prominently, fandom-specific communities.

It was SO LONG AGO for me I'm having a little bit of trouble remembering, but while I did join a bunch of comms, I remember 'meeting' people in their LJs -- especially during Buffy and Angel when people would post recaps and meta and fic after episodes aired. And they'd link to each other or do mini link roundups. I actually found the comms more intimidating, because they were bigger and I didn't like speaking up in front of a large lurking audience. But I think we are in basic agreement.


ETA I think another thing is, LJ was kind of It in those days -- there was Open Diary and Diaryland and Blogger, but no Twitter, no Tumblr, there was Myspace, and I thiink when I first got on LJ Facebook wasn't even open to non-students yet. Now there's not only DW, there's a whole lot of other social network platforms plus Discord and whatever.

I also forgot, one thing people used to do was advertise their fic on LJ, and then post it on their own dedicated sites. Or they'd do both, so they could get the LJ comments.
Edited Date: 27 Dec 2018 07:17 pm (UTC)

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 07:31 pm (UTC)
chelseagirl: Alice -- Tenniel (Default)
From: [personal profile] chelseagirl
Really interesting. I was actually more active fannishly in the days of email lists, Yahoogroups and so forth. LJ became mostly a place to keep up with friends from those fandoms, and then meet interesting new people. I think for a time I had trouble getting sufficiently fannishly enthused about things, and for awhile participating in steampunk became my main fandom -- until I finally started doing Yuletide in 2013.

My primary fandom right now defies all logic and operates through Facebook of all places, but it is an older show with an older group of fans, many of whom were not in fandom in the way we all are. It's also a totally atypical fandom for me in so many ways, but what inspires one to write is what inspires one to write!

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 09:12 pm (UTC)
darjeeling: Jing | King of Bandits Jing (ANIM | score the calvary is coming)
From: [personal profile] darjeeling
This is a really fantastic post and I'm gonna have more intelligent things to say about it later, but this is where DW needs a Like or +1 option because this is good discourse.

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 10:23 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: in red serge Benton looks askance (Benton looks back)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Well this explains a lot of the period I missed. I was in mailing lists and then eGroups and those became Yahoo and then I was just on irc.

I was pulled out of the 'broth' with a letter of comment and introduced to blogging that had happened while I was 'adrift'.

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Date: 27 Dec 2018 11:24 pm (UTC)
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)
From: [personal profile] schneefink
That all makes sense.
I remember a Doctor Who comm on LJ that linked to posts about the episodes on personal journals, I thought that was a convenient mix of de-/centralized, but of course that works better with active and big and currently ongoing canons like Doctor Who than for many others.

Date: 28 Dec 2018 12:15 am (UTC)
doranwen: female nerds, rare and precious (Default)
From: [personal profile] doranwen
Interesting reading everyone else's experiences! My first intro to fandom was fandom-specific sites, actually - I ran across LOTR parodies, and from there I found ff.n, but that was totally not designed for community. So I read fic on ff.n and a few other sites, but they weren't really fandom. It was getting into Smallville and stumbling across Kryptonsite (which is actually still up, amazingly), and a few other SV-related sites. And pretty soon after that I got into Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and that was a forum + archive site, plus an IRC channel, which I spent several years on. I wrote almost nothing then - used to swear I wasn't a writer (ha!) - but I did a lot of reading and chatting and saving fics to my hard drive (because even then I was paranoid about fic vanishing).

I think that's how I got to LJ? Because a whole bunch of us FoLCs (Fans of Lois & Clark, yes we had our own name, lol) had LJs, and so that kind of set me up with an instant circle of online friends. And then a few people I knew in real life also got LJs, and that made an interesting mix. But people drifted out of L&C fandom, which was what held us together, and life got busier and busier, and I got overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the comms and LJs I was following, and eventually just quit following anything. I wrote like five fics total in all those years (something like six years in all?), plus a WIP I still have (X-Men Original Movieverse, gotta love it). Mostly I just read stuff on ff.n as I came across it.

And somewhere around there, I don't remember when, I discovered the Yuletide fic exchange, which was having its first year of being run fully on AO3 when I ran across it, and I started doing that. For the first few years I only did that, and then I discovered they had an IRC channel (I don't even remember which year I found that out - at least four years ago, maybe?) and hopped on there, because I was used to IRC from L&C fandom (even though theirs had, by this point, gone completely dead). So I actually got more and more involved in fannish things from writing fic to post on AO3, then got a DW around the time of strikethrough (but only officially switched over last year sometime). I've been trying to use it more this year - subscribing to fannish comms like fandom calendar and then someone linked me to fictional fans which is how I got to this post.

I spent years lurking, is the thing, and I've learned that I don't do well with a lot of social media - so I never really touched Tumblr or anything like that. (I don't even have a Facebook.) Also, I tried looking at Discord when everyone migrated there from the Yuletide IRC channel - and I do not like it at all. The inability to turn off all emojis is just one reason. So I am still on the now-tiny IRC channel. (Also, I miss instant messaging. No one ever uses it anymore, it feels like.)

I've gotten more cautious about posting things publicly in the last few years, to the point that I don't even really post on my DW much - until a few months ago, every single post I had made since switching over was a fanfic exchange letter. That habit will take a long while to break, if ever. So yeah, I miss comms and comm behavior - somewhere central to discuss fandoms. I like too many fandoms - and there are too many fandoms I don't know nor care about - to want to go back to the style of interacting where everyone posts about everything on their personal blogs. I don't want to see everything about everyone's fandoms - just the ones I'm into. So I haven't hardly friended anyone, because honestly - it'll just overwhelm me, having to scroll past too much. Give me fandom-specific communities where I can subscribe to *those* and then it'll be manageable. (I also kind of miss forums on fandom-specific sites, but those are all pretty well dead at this point.)

I am probably asking for wayyyyy too much. :( Basically, I figure I'm doomed to feel lonely and disconnected like forever. (It doesn't help that I get into fandoms that are long dead - and I need fandom-specific betas to help me finish writing things… so I end up with all these WIPs sitting forlornly on my hard drive.)

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 01:25 am (UTC)
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
From: [personal profile] megpie71
I think part of the whole difference between LJ 15 years ago, and DW today is where the users are coming from contextually.

For example: I got involved in LJ when I started switching over to the web from Usenet - ISPs in Australia weren't carrying NNTP servers, and I didn't want the fuss and bother of trying to maintain a paid subscription on a server somewhere else, especially since the number of people who were using Usenet was dropping down. So I got a Livejournal account, and started looking for all the people I knew from Usenet, as well as looking at/for various fandom stuff. (This was also about the point where I started switching over from mailing lists and Usenet as my main fandom interactions, to web-based things).

So I was coming from a group of sources which weren't really about "real-time" interaction (which was great for me, because I've always lived in Australia, and mostly on the west coast of Australia, which means I'm about 8 hours out of synch with both the USA and the UK) and I wasn't really expecting it. I was used to looking for communities and groups to interact with in order to get my fandom fix - that was how you did Usenet, and how you did mailing lists, after all. I've never really gotten out of that habit - I'll still tend to look for groups rather than individuals in order to be able to find things.

What's changed in the meantime is the way most social media networks do things. They're not about discussion per se - they're always much more about the fear of missing out. There's none of the acceptance of time-shifting. If you want to be "up-to-date" with what's going on in most social media formats, it's accepted you're going to be logged in and connected permanently, and if you aren't (because, gods forbid, you actually need to sleep during the period where most people are online because you're 8 hours out of synch with everyone) then that's your problem, isn't it? Social media is also much more interested in the connections between individuals - groups are purely secondary. So the contemporary social media environment is much more about fragmented individuals connecting to other people temporarily in order to get something (entertainment, usually) from them, rather than about groups of people coming together to share something together.

So we have a bunch of people who aren't used to looking for groups or communities, and an environment which was set up (because it's ultimately coming out of the Usenet era) around communities and groups as much as it is around individuals.

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 01:27 am (UTC)
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
From: [personal profile] elf
Thank you so much for putting all this in words. I'd noticed that my Tumblr friends were willing to join DW but had no real idea what to do here, and I was flailing with trying to help them.

The part about "you have to post interesting new things" is a big step for people who got into blogging through curation. On Tumblr, you reblog things, or you reblog and comment, and as you get known for being a person who reblogs awesome stuff, or has awesome reactions, you can start posting original stuff and getting it reblogged and commented on. But unless you're making Super Amazing Art (or ficlets, or vid-bits, or whatever), your original things will be ignored until you have a rep for being someone who takes part in the "this is awesome" conversations, which can happen without saying a word, just by sharing selected awesome content.

It's a big jump to go from that to, "First, make a bunch of interesting and delightful content for a few weeks. Then go comment on other people's interesting and delightful content, and some of them will go check out your content and maybe comment on it. Then the two of you will read each others' content, and hey, Now You Have A DW Friend. Repeat until you max out your follower limit."

Date: 28 Dec 2018 01:53 am (UTC)
jjhunter: Serene person of color with shaved head against abstract background half blue half brown (scientific sage)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
I would argue with '"First, make a bunch of interesting and delightful content for a few weeks', actually! Would recommend starting with, or doing in parallel, the finding people & comms that seem interesting and subscribing, and making an effort to comment.

Use that to help yourself tune what you personally enjoying posting about, and what you want to share with people - and if what you like to do is curate in your own space, linkspam posts are GREAT and fantastic, and there will be people who will follow you for that if you do it consistently and make an effort to comment now and then on the posts you feature (even just a 'hey, thought this post was cool, FYI that I've featured in a linkspam here').

...is there a limit to how many individual journals & comms & feeds you can subscribe to on DW?

Anyway, I think the misconception that "you have to post interesting new things" as a first step is a major hurdle that simply doesn't have to exist. You can participate in communities and comments sections without ever posting at all in your own journal if you choose, and it's very possible to still grow relationships that way such that people to grant you access without subscribing to you.

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 02:07 am (UTC)
moetushie: Icon by me (jimmy stewart)
From: [personal profile] moetushie
I really can't seem to do fandom on DW. My flist is friendly and (now) active, but I usually get crickets when I post about fandom stuff. Crossposting fic also seems pointless, so I keep that on AO3. I've mostly moved on to multiple Discord servers to get my fannish discussion fix -- as well as the Yuletide/EAD discords, I'm on some specific Jojo discords, a Silmarillion discord, and the FFA discord. Between all those, I can usually talk to my heart's content. Drawback: all of this is fairly ephemeral, more so than even Tumblr (where, if you tagged consistently, you could find things), and includes a lot of scrolling.

I wish I knew what went wrong with kink memes! Then again I always wanted to post everything to my AO3 or sock so I could keep the feedback in one place. Maybe I was part of the problem?

Date: 28 Dec 2018 02:11 am (UTC)
jjhunter: profile of human J.J. with goggles and a band of gears running down her face; inked in reds and browns (steampunk J.J.)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Have you encountered [personal profile] melannen's wonderful post How To Make Discussion Happen On DW yet? There are some excellent tips and tricks there which could be easily translated toward generating more discussion on fandom stuff you post.

Would also recommend trying posting some of that fannish stuff directly on comms like [community profile] fictional_fans; it may be easier to find an audience there just as eager as you for getting their fannish discussion fix.

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 04:09 am (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
I think there's a real problem with the fact that those who've been here for a while have been here for a while, i.e., we've found a core group of people and are comfortable with them so that we're not going out of our way to meet an entirely new group but rather maybe want to add a few more folks.

Plus the other issue may just be burnout. Of course LJ was different 15 years ago, simply because a lot of us were the very people creating and sustaining the infrastructure. I don't think you could pay me to ever run metafandom again or a flashfic community or... My fannish organizational time goes into other projects (for better or worse), and there's nothing left. So the answer would be to have a new generation build that infrastructure but they're not comfortable with this interface (or maybe did it on Tumblr and are also exhausted?)

I do wonder (and I don't want to sound all kids these days but maybe I do? :) whether there's an instant gratification and short attention span gong on here as well. I started my LJ with a handful of people and created quite a bit of content before I started hoping people would read me. And it was exhausting in the beginning but also exciting and...now it's spread over too many platforms and a lot of people are getting the fast exciting exchanges on discord, get recs on twitter,... But in a way this conversation here shows that it's still possible, right? :)

(Also, fictional_fans is a bit like metablog used to be, right? Well, the meta parts of it :)

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 05:01 am (UTC)
ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (Default)
From: [personal profile] ilyena_sylph
This is a really excellent post!

Date: 28 Dec 2018 05:17 am (UTC)
detectivepopcorn: (scarlet witch)
From: [personal profile] detectivepopcorn
Good post! I love reading interesting meta and people's personal experiences with social media, especially the sites of years past.

I grew up using forums, instant messengers, and LJ to find fandom content. Back then, the internet felt smaller somehow, and most sites that were big focused on a specific niche (Gaia/all the avatar-site clones) or had a rabbit hole of communities to explore (LJ, message boards with forums for different interests). For fanfic, FFnet was pretty much it, unless you went looking through LJ. Instant messengers and chat rooms were the only 'real-time' forms of communication/interaction the internet had. Most people didn't sit online on forums all day waiting for new posts; they checked once, maybe twice a day and that was it.

But now there are so many sites built around instant content generation, and their apps are all about pushing notifications to your phone/mobile device, so you can't really 'escape' or else you feel you're missing out because everything moves so fast. I think sites like DW and LJ, since they don't have the instant content sites like Twitter or Tumblr do, tend to fall by the wayside and are really only used by us 'dinosaurs' who remember how it used to be and like the slower, more relaxed pace.

Plus there is just SO much content available now. Most fandoms have pages' worth of fics on ffnet, AO3, AFF, and other niche sites. I think back then fan-produced content felt more valuable because you had to work to find it, and because there was less of it. Now you can find thousands of fanart images for most fandoms with a google image search, and even more if you search the tags on tumblr or twitter or instagram. Having that much content available at all times seems to take away the understanding that, hey, an actual person made this and is probably really passionate about it! We all probably realize that on some base level, but why get hung up on one image, there's thousands more to look at, keep scrolling! (This goes double for fanfic, I think, because fics take more investment to read than just looking at fanart, and some people tend to avoid certain fics altogether depending on their tags--or lack thereof)

And we've got the whole issue of the big social media sites focusing less on community/giving like-minded people a place to find each other, and more on virality and just having a big userbase. I don't think those sites are meant to be used for real conversation or posting detailed art/fic (because of the fast-paced nature of said sites, the average person's feed fills up so fast anything that can't be easily digested gets pushed down towards the bottom and eventually forgotten). And since a vast portion of the internet userbase has gotten used to curation and reblogging/sharing without interacting in meaningful ways, sites like LJ and DW seem intimidating. "You mean I actually have to.. talk to people?" Sometimes just commenting (even with something nice!) on someone's post is anxiety-inducing ("will this person think I'm weird? they don't even know me, I might look like a creep! What if I say something stupid?"), and since these sites don't have a like button or an easy way to acknowledge someone's post without direct communication, I can see why younger, more introverted folks might shy away.

And all of this isn't even taking into account the woes of being in small fandoms or into rarepairs, or the current "anti" ridden fandom climate that makes a lot of people afraid to stick their necks out by creating content that no one batted an eye at 6 years ago.

But it's fascinating in a weird way to see how much fandom and online spaces/culture has changed in such a short span of time.

Date: 28 Dec 2018 03:51 pm (UTC)
sjnt: (Harlots: Shades of Green)
From: [personal profile] sjnt
I like how you unpacked everything in this comment.

Plus there is just SO much content available now.

And if you want more than a handful of people to read and engage with your content, you have to do a lot of work to sell it/get people's eyeballs on it/keep them engaged. That's what exhausts me about social media: feeding the beast.

And since a vast portion of the internet userbase has gotten used to curation and reblogging/sharing without interacting in meaningful ways, sites like LJ and DW seem intimidating.

I'm a fandom old who's also new to DW, and for the last couple of months have been turning over the "why are things the way they are question". And I think this point and the one above have a lot to do with it. And it's not just in fandom, right? Back in the early '00s there were so many interesting blogs to read - about books and politics and music - with lively comment sections. Not so much anymore.

On the other hand, so I don't sound too "get off my lawn!", the new fandom spaces have a lower barrier to entry, and thus allow more people to participate as content creators themselves? (I say this as someone who's tried but never stuck with Tumblr, Twitter, FB, etc.)

Edited Date: 28 Dec 2018 03:52 pm (UTC)

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 02:18 pm (UTC)
seleneheart: (seleneheart - Courtney Davis)
From: [personal profile] seleneheart
I'm going to be using my original (i.e. first) LJ icon that dates from 2003.

I don't have much to add to this (which is wonderful, btw) because your fandom experience seems to be fairly similar to mine, just with different fandoms.

I experienced a certain amount of *weariness* in regards to actively participating in fandom right about the time Tumblr really got going. It was perfect for someone who didn't have energy for much more than lurking.

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Date: 28 Dec 2018 09:49 pm (UTC)
fjbryan: (brothers toplit-caras_galadhon/elbereth1)
From: [personal profile] fjbryan
Took some time to read this post plus all the comments. Great post to prompt some deep thinking.

I started with LJ, early 2000s. It had the virtue of being one-stop shopping: fic, icons, visuals of every sort, squee about new shows and films, inside dope about particular stars. The works. People posted short, long, personal, impersonal, but it was the "room where it happened." You could become friends through long comments even with a bland journal (that was me, bland journaler).

The splintering of fandom from there has been watching an egg crack. Nothing we do will put it back together again, and folks who have come of age since the egg cracked know nothing different. The fic left for AO3, and OTW never wanted to be and does not now want to be the place where all of fandom resides. The visuals (vids, icons, gifsets, whatever) left for Tumblr. Those departures made settings like LJ or DW relative ghost towns. Without new content coming in from new fandoms (pix or fic), the tumbleweeds seemed to roll by. I followed my favorite authors to AO3, subscribed to them or specific stories, and from time to time dipped in to Tumblr--it was the only place to get visuals for new fannish interests I had.

I will admit that I found Tumblr impossible to follow. I installed XKit to block the second, tenth, twentieth reblog of a picture I'd already seen once...and discovered that I was thereby missing the party in the comments section that everybody else was happening. But without the XKit filter, I felt like I was being visually steamrolled with repetitive junk. That's a generational difference, obviously--many younger friends on Tumblr loved the sense that their dashboard was swamped with pix of their favorite hottie. I stopped dropping in. Since I use Twitter and IG for work purposes, I wasn't spending time there hunting for fandom.

I kept my DW account, but mostly out of inertia than active posting. Most of my primary fannish friends remained on LJ (an old fandom that saw no need to move elsewhere). I got a Pillowfort invite in wave 3 and joined, but like DW, it was tumbleweeds at the time.

I'm somewhat encouraged by how Pillowfort is constructed, in that the Tumblr generation will find it easy and intuitive--likes and reblogs are simple there, so it feels familiar. You're right, their financial model is bollocks. In the meantime, a chunk of fandom has moved to, of all places, Facebook. And the weird thing there is, it is LJ comms of yore. For some, it means having a second FB account, which used to be difficult but isn't any longer.

Discord simply puzzles me. I haven't figured out an entry point: is there a master list somewhere of every Discord in fandom?

icon from my entry point in fandom, with thanks to caras_galadhon/elbereth1 for making it nearly 15 years ago

Date: 28 Dec 2018 09:58 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
I started with LJ, early 2000s. It had the virtue of being one-stop shopping: fic, icons, visuals of every sort, squee about new shows and films, inside dope about particular stars. The works. People posted short, long, personal, impersonal, but it was the "room where it happened." You could become friends through long comments even with a bland journal (that was me, bland journaler).

Yeah, I think this is a really good point -- at its height, LJ had music comms (audiography!), icon comms, fic comms, cooking comms, whatever, plus media fandom, and a healthy amount of book fandom and even actual authors. That was actually a bit unusual, and I don't think we're going to see its like again -- maybe the closest is Twitter, where you can post videos and links to songs and art and so on, but it doesn't host anything and flies by really fast. I do think a big part of what people are frustrated by or even mourning is the general loss of centralization, which happened not just when fandom lost LJ, but to a lot of people all over the web. A lot of the time, the internet feels overwhelming now -- too fast, too disconnected, etc.

I installed XKit to block the second, tenth, twentieth reblog of a picture I'd already seen once...and discovered that I was thereby missing the party in the comments section that everybody else was happening. But without the XKit filter, I felt like I was being visually steamrolled with repetitive junk.

Yeah, I definitely was grinding my teeth the ninetieth time I saw a post come around (especially if it was WRONG), and the tags just really weren't like comments and I hated the Usenet feeling that commenting-while-reblogging gave posts. You know, the

>
>>
>>>
>>>>

problem. Tumblr sort of tried Disqus at one point (I know, ugh, Disqus, but better than nothing) and I have to wonder what might've happened if they'd been able to fold commenting into their system. Oh well.

Discord simply puzzles me. I haven't figured out an entry point: is there a master list somewhere of every Discord in fandom?

I don't think so -- I don't think people want there to be one either (it's sort of bleakly amusing how people complain about LJ being elitist but for a lot of Discords you have to be invited). Some servers will have lists of related places, but you have to know how to get there in the first place. It strikes me as being more related to DMs on Twitter and the PMS on Tumblr -- private conversations (but then people think it's fine to quote Discord conversations elsewhere, so not that private!).

Date: 28 Dec 2018 11:46 pm (UTC)
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverflight8
I definitely agree re: comms, and I joined LJ in 2009 (like right during racefail).

There was also a pretty strong journalling (not necessarily fandom) side and that's much more personal, this is what happened today kinda thing (also omg my homework suxxors) which was adjacent to the fannish spaces, I feel.

That is a cute icon that deserves to be reuploaded.

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