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The Death of Fansites?

Does it seem to anyone else as though fansites reached their peak some time around 2002, and have been dwindling ever since? It seems to me as if fansites just aren’t as common, or as comprehensive, as they once were.

We have Wikipedia now, and most fandoms have one wiki or another. But I’m encountering fewer and fewer genuine fansites obsessively dedicated to documenting every single thing about a show/book/movie.

Could it be that people decided they can’t compete with Wikipedia, so why bother trying? Because let me tell you, Wikipedia is far from comprehensive. (Or rather, it’s ridiculously comprehensive when it comes to things that Wikipedia editors love, like anime and Dr. Who. It’s much less useful for things that don’t.)

One problem I have noticed with Wikipedia is that since “everyone can edit,” in practice this frequently means “everyone’s press secretary can edit.” Wikipedia biographies are spun, baby, spun. Chock full of prose which was clearly written by official functionaries.

Sometimes I worry that the rise of social media has encouraged people to spend more time talking about themselves (on Twitter and Facebook and blogs) and less time talking about their favorite subjects (on endearingly hideous yet comprehensive fansites).

(And then of course there’s that staggering number we talked about.)

Or maybe I’m just getting cranky in my dotage?

6 comments to The Death of Fansites?

  • “Or rather, it’s ridiculously comprehensive when it comes to things that Wikipedia editors love, like anime and Dr. Who. It’s much less useful for things that don’t”

    HAH. I said a variant of that (I think I used “The Simpsons” and “old Scooby-Doo episodes” instead) as part of my Why College Students Should Not Use Wikipedia As A Citation In Their College Level Papers spiel.

    Of course, there’s just the whole idea that it’s DUMB to use a general encyclopedia for information in your major field, but that’s sometimes a bit subtle for people.

  • Erika

    So true! I didn’t want to get into a derail about Wikipedia, but you will no doubt find this both hilarious and helpful:

    http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/wikigroaning.php

    I use it as an illustration of Wikipedia’s gaps, because sometimes they are hard to see unless – like me – you spend all day long looking stuff up there for work.

    (In my case I don’t need the absolute authority, and it’s just for a bunch of meaningless blog posts, so who cares? I just need to know if, for example, green tea Kit Kats were sold anywhere other than Japan, or whether last week’s episode of Destination Truth was episode 411 or 412.)

    It also serves as an excellent rejoinder to people who say “so what?” when you trot out the statistic that Wikipedia editors are almost exclusively male. And not JUST male, but clearly a small sub-set of males. The “so what” is, because you end up with a crappy and lopsided body of work. Which see.

  • Slager

    When I worked as a tutor in college, we were told that Wikipedia is a good place to start your research, but not to finish it.

    Anyway, for reasons that are too complicated to explain, I found myself in need of looking up information on the Baby-sitters Club series, and found a couple of those endearing, ugly fansites that I used to see so much, and it made me a bit nostalgic for the early 2000s. Ah, yes.

  • I find the more places I have to to talk about anything I feel like blathering about – the less I want to talk about me.

    So I’ve stopped with the Twitter and only post rarely on the FaceBook, and I’m blogging once a month or so. The Ravelry, however, sucks up a lot of my time, although I think I’m posting less than I used to. I’ve also thinned the herd of blogs I read.

  • No, I think that’s a fair estimation. I was a rapacious devourer of all things LOTR (well…all things LOTR slash) back in the day, and when I went to college I assumed that the fandom carried on, that it was always out there and that I was just too busy experiencing some of the things I wrote about to seek it out anymore–but that it continued to exist. But recently I wanted to show off some of my old haunts, like The Rolling Smut Factory of Epic Proportions, or The Theban Band, and while the latter remains as an archived site it is no longer updated. Blogs, too, are hard to come by now, this being obviously one of the exceptions. People do prefer shorter, swifter spurts of self, instead of the longer, breathier versions I came to enjoy in the past…and which I clearly prefer, way too long-winded as I am to cram all I want to say into 140 characters.

    On the other hand, what with everyone using social media like Twitter and FB, I know enough not to be personal with the people I’m friends with there. I don’t want my colleagues at work knowing the fandoms I devoted myself to so loyally in the past…nor do I particularly want them intimate with my jaded musings on their own profession. But the knowledge that I shouldn’t be saying anything _there_ means I don’t say anything anywhere. Because people don’t read blogs anymore, and perhaps more importantly the networks that kept them alive–LiveJournal, for example–are either dead or sold to people or companies who might as well have killed them.