OTW Signal, November 2020

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

For some readers, the name Geocities may ring no bells, but for other fans, it was their main fannish platform in the early days of the web. Last month an article reminded readers of what has been lost. “Along with Tripod, GeoCities became a huge step in the democratization of the Internet, allowing anyone with an Internet connection to easily publish info on the web.”

Since GeoCities websites were created by people from every walk of life, each site had its own folksy feel that reflected the personality of the author…While personalizing their sites, GeoCities members would bedeck their pages with banners promoting personal causes, ads for their favorite software (like the Netscape web browser), holiday-themed animated GIFs, images from their favorite TV shows, and more…By the late 1990s, GeoCities’ popularity exploded, and it became the third most visited site on the web.

The news that the site was going to be shut down pushed many people into action to save the contents, including OTW’s Open Doors project. If you visit their website, the Geocities Rescue Project details the message the OTW sent to fans looking to save their own content or memorialize their favorite pages and fanworks.

Nostalgia is a theme this month. Nylon was the latest outlet to focus on fans’ behavior in response to the events of this year.

Kate and her friends aren’t alone in finding themselves back in old fandoms during this strange time in 2020. It’s a wider trend being observed across all types of media fandoms by fans, academics, and culture critics alike. Elizabeth Minkel, co-host of the Fansplaining podcast and co-creator of the fandom newsletter The Rec Centre, says, “I’ve seen a lot of people talking about getting back into their teenage fandoms […] People saying ‘I hadn’t read fan fiction since I was in college, and I’m 30 now and this has returned to my life.'”

Earlier in 2020, several articles looked at fandom behavior at sites like AO3, and explored what fans were doing.

On AO3 News, a May post offered numbers showing increased page views, works, chapters, comments, and kudos in the first months of the year. One graph showed that while growth at the site has increased visibly year over year, the jump in March was unprecedented.

Whether your usual fandom activity picked up this year or if you’re back in fandom spaces after years away, you clearly have plenty of company!

OTW Tips

Fanhackers is an OTW project that helps you find existing research on fans and fandoms. It collects information about published research and, where possible, links to copies of said research. Right now, there are about three thousand entries in the bibliography on various fannish topics such as fannish tattoos, the gift economy, or an oral history of Anime, Comic and Games fans. Visit our article on how our bibliography works!

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
  1. idiot3 commented:


    The news that the site was going to be shut down pushed many people into action to save the…

    What is this? Please explain.