Community Central


On my Fear of the Name "Fandom"

He has brought truth and you condemn it. The arrogance!
~ Kreia
Kill the Wikia boy and let the Fandom man be born.
~ Maester Aemon

I'm directing this at Brandon, for two reasons: I'm directly replying to stuff he's said in the comments (for example, see here and here), and I consider him a pal of mine from days gone by. That said, if some other Staffer feels the desire to jump in here, so be it.

Okay, Brandon. You know me. You know I always do my best to support Wikia's changes. I really try to see the best in stuff, and I'm still doing that here. (I even pushed for Discussions to get enabled!) I'm not going to dispute the desire for a new name. I understand the desire for a better umbrella term that better encompasses news, stories, wikis, etc. I get that. Y'all want something that shows the bigger (and better?) things the service formerly known as Wikia offers. That's great. All the more power to you. If I can still have my wikis—and you've made it perfectly clear that there's still a huge portion of employees working on wikis—then I'm more or less content.

What I am going to dispute is the name choice of Fandom. I'll grant, you guys painted yourselves into a corner when you selected that name for the current Fandom feature. I have a bigger problem now though, as you're looking rebrand the entire site with that name. What's my problem? Fandom. Fandom absolutely has negative connotations associated with it. Fandom is associated with a toxic atmosphere, with an elitist attitude, and with general rudeness and unpleasantness. Not to mention the fact that many associate Fandom with sexism and other forms of prejudice and harassment on the internet. No, I'm not saying every fan group is like that. But there is that association with the term.

I would really like to see some hard data backing up the claim that "On the whole, though, that's not how the public in general views the word 'fandom.'" In many pop culture based circles that I frequent, including but not limited to Wikia, fandom is not a good word. I'm an all around geek and nerd. I embrace that. I love Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and comic books. And guess what? That's acceptable. As Atvelonis said, “Pop culture has become more prevalent amoung the general public. Not the word “Fandom”.” I listen to podcasts on all sorts of stuff (Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc.). The generally accepted thought is that fan groups are not necessarily bad, but the term “fandom” is associated nearly exclusively with those groups that are toxic in some form or other. As 452 said, “While people in “fandoms” on tumblr might embrace the term, to others, it negatively describes hardcore fanboys.”

Yep. Yep yep. Yes, every day of the week and twice on Sundays. In my experience with a multitude of mediums and media, this is the case. You don't have to take my word for it though. For fear of this devolving into an anecdotal fallacy, I'll put it on you. A lot of us here have many experiences that have formed out beliefs that “fandom” is a toxic word. Prove to me it isn't. Where is the study, the test group, or the statistics that show “fandom” is not associated by the public with toxic fan groups?

Oh, by the way, that article you linked to contains the following quote: “Fans graduated from grateful consumers of culture to a force to be reckoned with, capable of propelling a creator’s work into enormous popularity, but also prone to inflicting various forms of punishment when they are displeased. The fans of the BBC series Sherlock have been feuding with its producers, who alternately appease and bait them, for a couple of years now. Recently, fans enraged by an image posted by a storyboard artist for the animated series Steven Universe hounded the woman off Twitter. Quitting Twitter over harassment borne out of “fantitlement” has become something of a rite of passage for creators. Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Avengers fame, ever the trendsetter, has done it twice.”

Oh, right, that's what most of us associate the term “Fandom” with, more or less. That article was about how fan groups have grown. It was not a discussion of whether “Fandom” is a loaded term with specific associations.

I really hate that the crux of my argument boils down to “You're wrong”. I do. I've written a lot here to try and show that I've thought through this more than just looking at your “On the whole, though, that's not how the public in general views the word 'fandom'” and saying “you're wrong”. But the fact is, I 100% believe you are wrong. I don't think Wikia, or whoever is in charge of this, understands what is associated with the word. I'm not blaming you, Brandon. I'm not mad at you, or at Wikia. But I do care.

So, I'd like more than “We disagree that the word "fandom" is seen as something incredibly annoying.” Sweet. We've established that we disagree. Could you defend your position more?

Final thoughts: “So we're confident that the Fandom brand will be a positive one.” “That's a very positive thing, and the Fandom brand will be a great way to highlight those positives.” Awesome. I'd love for this to become a positive thing in the future, but that's not how it currently stands, in my experience. Unless you are adopting the position that Wikia is actively trying to “take back” the term or some such—which I've seen no indication of so far—such comments do little to alleviate my current fears of the perception people will have of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Wikia.

Thanks. I really appreciate anybody who takes the time to read and respond to this.

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki