OTW Signal

OTW Signal, September 2021

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

An article about teens running fan pages — for TV shows made before they were born — tried to answer why these shows continued to be so popular to a new generation. It pointed out some differences in where fans gather.

Social media has provided a platform for fans to show their love for something, usually through creative endeavors like fanfiction, video edits, or fan art. As social media platforms have gone in and out of fashion, fandom accounts have changed homes. For millennials and older members of Gen Z, they were on Tumblr. Today’s teenagers are on TikTok and Instagram.

While many older accounts and platforms have disappeared, taking earlier fanworks with them, new fans of older content can still find work archived at AO3. Preserving works is also the mission of OTW’s Open Doors project. The very first archive that Open Doors imported to AO3 was for the WB/CW teen drama, Smallville. In addition, many fandoms whose works were added to AO3 soon after its public beta in 2009 were for other teen dramas that were popular at the time. Apparently they still are!


Going back some decades before the 1990s/2000s, one viewer’s newfound love for Star Trek’s Captain Kirk included searching for reasons as to why she had become such a die-hard viewer.

I spent several evenings reading peer-reviewed scholarship on slash fiction (remember the 8 p.m. curfew?). Some academics claim Kirk/Spock is an instinctive reaction to the show’s sexism. The women are so boring that you imagine romance between the men. There are more fun interpretations, though: Kirk/Spock has been disowned by the Star Trek franchise and therefore represents queer resistance to capitalism! The emotional captain and rational Vulcan are an example of Aristophanes’s divided self, and their coupling transcends gender!…From this perspective, my Kirk infatuation was just me picking up on the great intergalactic saga of the world’s first space husbands. It was delightful and harmless and possibly progressive.

No word on whether that peer reviewed scholarship came from our own Transformative Works and Cultures, but there was certainly an enthusiastic response to Open Doors’ announcement that same month that The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive is Moving to the AO3. So this ship still has quite a hold on many in the fandom, whether new or longtime fans!


Another project Open Doors has worked with has been Yahoo Gedden. In late 2019, fans assembled to save Yahoo Groups after Verizon decided to shut down the mailing list service. Approximately 300,000 fandom groups have been saved. The Yahoo Gedden project has reached the fandom identification stage and can use your help! They need to identify the fandom for each group so that the data can be sorted by fandom. You can work at your own pace and the work will be done via a shared Google Sheet. No software or other tools are needed besides your phone/computer and access to the Internet. See the spreadsheet for details on how to help.

OTW Tips

Looking for older works for those older fandoms? One way involves using AO3’s search form, selecting the autocomplete tag that shows up for it in the “Fandoms” field, and then scrolling to the bottom to have the results sorted by “Date Posted” in “Ascending” order. Here, for example, are results for 2007’s Gossip Girl. Happy hunting!


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.

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