OTW Guest Post: popliar and tullycat

Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.

popliar fell into fandom via Buffy, many years ago. Her biggest fannish phases have been popslash, bandom, and now kpop, with various stops at Yuletide fandoms along the way. tullycat got into fandom via Harry Potter (crowd boos), and bounced from TV fandoms to hockey rpf to kpop rpf. She started fandom on Tumblr and is Dreamwidth naive, only used LiveJournal to read fic, but never had her own account. Today they talk about the formation and work on the Dreamwidth community paradisediner.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

popliar: I was a teenager when a friend first linked me to X-Files fanfiction. I didn’t really get it at the time but after I got hooked on Buffy, I started reading fanfiction regularly and for the first time participating in fandom too. I wanted to find connections and talk to other fans, and also to dive deeper into the world of the show, and it was such a revelation to find there was a whole community of people out there doing just that.

And they had infrastructure! Websites and mailing lists and message boards and all sorts of ways to meet people and join in. I lurked for ages, but eventually started posting and never left. I was younger than many other fans but they were very kind and welcoming. I had a very gentle introduction to fandom thanks to the older fans at that time, who showed me the ropes about writing and beta-reading fics, giving feedback, and archiving fics.

tullycat : I dipped my toes into fandom when Twilight was going to be made into a movie and read discussion boards about who should be cast, and then had a less than ideal intro to fanfic, so it wasn’t until two years later that I joined Tumblr and slowly started branching into the fandom side. I don’t think I really realized non-canon ships could be shipped until I started following fannish blogs. After a year I started to mod a Hunger Games RP universe and have modded various fests in recent years, so I have always liked creating communities in fandom.

How did the idea to form Paradise Diner come about?

For several years now kpop fandom has tended to centre on Twitter – it’s the place where news is officially announced, translators live-tweet, and memes go viral. It tends to move blindingly fast, with all the good and bad that entails. We thought it would be good to start a Dreamwidth community to try doing kpop fandom at a different and slower pace, and to be a place for fans who prefer Dreamwidth as a medium — we’re just about the only regularly active kpop community on Dreamwidth!

Paradise Diner is not intended to replace kpop fandom as it exists on Twitter but to be an alternative space, where you can have long-form posts and slower conversations that may last for a few days rather than just a few minutes. We’d been considering starting a community for a while, but the thing that really tipped us over the edge was Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter– it seemed like the perfect time to try alternative sites.

The name “Paradise Diner” is a reference to a shooting set that has been used as the setting for countless music videos and advertisements since last year. It seemed like a fitting name because it’s the place where kpop meets, and there’s something a bit spooky and liminal about it as a location.

This is a fairly new community. Are there things you’re still testing out about how it’s run?

We started the community in October 2022 so we are still very new. After the initial rush of recruiting new members, we’ve settled down into a routine of regular weekly posts and ad hoc posts. It’s been interesting seeing what things carry over well from other formats and what doesn’t. Some of the questionnaire and meme type posts that work on Discord and Twitter have transplanted well but others have not. There’s still a bit of trial and error involved.

We’d like to try doing more with polls, maybe try to set up a favourite songs bracket or something like that (everyone loves a ticky box, right?) and see how that flies; and there’s been some suggestions about running fic prompt posts which sounded really good, if we can find time and there’s sufficient interest. Although we’re all into kpop in this community, kpop itself is composed of many smaller fandoms for individual groups and soloists, so it’s about finding the common ground between all those sub-fandoms and giving a space for fans of the same groups/artists to find each other.

It’s been really encouraging lately seeing more people posting about idol survival shows like Boys Planet and Peak Time, which are an entire genre of TV show and a fandom in themselves. The conversations have been fascinating!

Are there groups or communities you’ve been in that have influenced what you’re trying to do?

There were some very active comms on LiveJournal for bandom back in the day that were great places to get updates on tour news, promote fanworks and events, and for people to post primers about their favourite groups or ships. We’d like Paradise Diner to become a similar type of hub for kpop fans on Dreamwidth to keep in touch with the community and across fandom updates.

In more recent times, we’ve looked to c_ent on Dreamwidth for inspiration on how they have kept their community ticking along. Just seeing how they ran things was really useful.

How did you hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?

We mostly interact with the OTW through AO3. In terms of preserving fandom and AO3 becoming such a huge centralised library for fanworks, the OTW has made an indelible mark on fandom and changed the landscape. popliar can remember a time before AO3 when I had to really hunt for fic archives, but for some younger fans, the ease and convenience of AO3 is all they’ve ever known.

However, if the OTW is to be a peak body for fandom, or at least this section of fandom, we think it’s fair to keep asking questions and challenging the OTW to represent our diverse community better and take action in response to community feedback for change. Last year the OTW posted its vision statement of 2022-2025 – more details about how this vision will be put into practice would be very welcome.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

This may sound cheesy but it’s about the people! Come for the fandom and stay for the fans. Some of the friends we made in fandoms years and years ago are still good friends today, even when our shared interest in the original fandom is long dead. And then they’ll be the ones to pull you into the next fandom, or maybe you’ll drag them along into yours, and the cycle just keeps going.

We encourage suggestions from fans for future guest posts, so contact us if you have someone in mind! Or you can visit our Pinboard account to catch up on earlier guest posts.

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