OTW Signal, January 2023

Every month in OTW Signal we’ll take a look at stories that connect to the OTW’s mission and projects, including legal, technology, academic, fannish history, and preservation issues that are important for fandom, fan culture or transformative works.

In the News

Our Open Doors project announced a big new initiative in October. This article in Slate interviewed both our volunteers and other fans about what it entailed.

Over the last year or so, however, Open Doors’ Fan Culture Preservation Project has expanded, finally giving them room to launch the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project. So far, they’re making their way through the backlog of scans that Zinedom has already accumulated, which Dawn estimates is “a couple thousand.”

These came from various sources, with Dawn doing a lot of outreach herself simply by searching Facebook for names she came across in zines and making phone calls. Janet Quarton, a Scottish Star Trek zine publisher and preservationist, scanned about 500 zines herself in 2013. But even Zinedom’s digital collection is only a fragment of what’s out there. One Zinedom participant has a collection of around 8,000 physical zines from the Star Trek fandom alone

The interviewees talked about the importance of having the zines available for both fans and historians. The zines reveal the breadth of fanworks, the demographics of participants, the beginnings of popular tropes and story styles and more. And while some of the style of the zines may be lost through conversion into AO3 posts, there is a gain in accessibility.

If you have zines yourself, visit the Open Doors website for more information about their work.

After Twitter’s change of ownership, a lot of news stories came out about users wanting to leave the site. OTW Legal Advocacy volunteer Casey Fiesler was interviewed about her study of fan migration, done with Brianna Dym, which looked at how fans responded to changes at Tumblr and LiveJournal.

“There has to be a compelling reason to leave and a viable alternative option,” Fiesler told me. “An immediate viable alternative option … People are impatient.” She evoked the example of Tumblr’s ban on NSFW content in 2018, which resulted in a catastrophic loss of users for the site. Many of them tried to get their communities to relocate to the newer platform Pillowfort, but it lacked the infrastructure to handle such a huge influx. Other Tumblr users, inspired by the fan-owned fiction-hosting site Archive of Our Own, attempted to start their own social-media platform.

Both internal Twitter documents and other checks on follower counts confirmed that there is indeed a decline in use of Twitter. But the fandom activity which continues on LiveJournal and Tumblr, as well as formats long considered to be in decline such as posting boards, shows that fan groups may exist long after the first waves of users start leaving.

OTW Tips

Open Doors helps import online archives to AO3 as well as its new zine digitization initiative. But individual fans sometimes want to import large batches of their works there as well. AO3’s Documentation Committee has created a tutorial to help people with the import process.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or news story you think we should know about, send us a link. We are looking for content in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in an OTW post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

OTW Signal

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