The information reported here is from a survey that originally took place in January of 2008. This work was a part of my Master's thesis, a project investigating the relationship between fan fiction and romance novels. In 2008, I was hoping the survey would tell me more about the different kinds of fan fiction survey participants liked to read. Clearly, one survey distributed online via word-of-mouth can't claim to accurately represent larger trends across all fan networks. It does, however, give us a glimpse at what some fans were reading and enjoying in 2008. It also gives us a snapshot of media fandom just prior to the launching of Archive of Our Own and Dreamwidth, during a moment when much of media fandom was still centered around LiveJournal.
Then: How the Survey Spread
The 2008 survey ran for two weeks. By the end, over 7,000 people had visited it and about 3,400 chose to participate. Information about the survey was distributed across LiveJournal, InsaneJournal (original user account expired), in the Fanthropology community, and to anyone with a LiveJournal or InsaneJournal account that listed "fan fiction" as a user interest. No personal contacts were used to spread this survey. Instead, my goal was to reach as broad a group as was accessible on these websites. (Of course, just by selecting these websites, certain groups of fan fiction readers may have been contacted more than others.)
Then: What Was in the Survey
After screening for age, the survey asked some basic questions about the kinds of fan fiction participants liked to read and whether they were interested in stories with romantic elements (in either fan fiction or print). The main portion of the survey was the next piece, where participants were asked to list some of their favorite works of fan fiction. The survey requested that everyone share some favorite story titles, authors (and a link to content, if it was publicly posted online). Finally, the survey closed with some general demographic questions. Since this survey screened out anyone under the age of 18, it's important to remember that these results reflect the tastes of adult readers of fan fiction, rather than speaking to the reading preferences of younger fans.
This website has been organized into sections that each focus on summarizing a different aspect of the 2008 survey. These overviews are accompanied by my thoughts and questions about fandom today and requests for feedback from you. As you read through the site, you'll notice that each section is open for comments and questions. My goal for this website is to open up a space for fans to discuss the results from 2008, add their own ideas, and reflect on their experiences. Along the way, I have tried to point out the areas of my findings I continue to have questions about. I'll also try to explain some of the ways I crunched the data back in 2008. You may look at this material and spot trends or issues that I didn't. If so, I hope you will bring these things up in the comments for others to think about and discuss as well.
Remember, these comments are being collected for research purposes. Comments left here and the pseudonyms associated with them could potentially be used in presentations/publications associated with this research. If I do this, it is because I want to share your thoughts with others and give you credit for your contributions. However, I also take your privacy very seriously. If you are concerned, for any reason, about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, there are ways to screen your identify further. Visit the Protecting My Identity page to initiate this process. You are also welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. (And, if you'd like to know more about me first, check out the About Me section below.)
Now: Talking Elsewhere
You'll also notice that this site connects with a Tumblr account and a Twitter hashtag. These posts on Tumblr and Twitter are designed to help the conversation spread elsewhere, rather than being locked into this individual website. Feel free (and encouraged!) to post, reblog, tweet and retweet elements of the project on other websites. If you do, please use the #fandomthennow tag. As long as the content is tagged, I'll try to keep up with the conversation and join in where I can on these other websites.
Please remember, these comments are also being collected for research purposes. Again, I take your privacy very seriously. if you are concerned about your public posts being connected back to you or to your pseudonym, visit the Protecting My Identity page for information about screening your identify further.
For the 2008 research project I was very interested in the kinds of stories that fans produce, circulate, enjoy. Since this survey was so interested in individual stories, it may have been a strange looking questionnaire for many participants. It was also time consuming for them to complete. Nonetheless, the response rate was incredibly high. I owe everyone who participated in 2008, and all who helped spread the word, a huge and emphatic thank you for taking the time to participate and share their thoughts with me.
I also want to thank my awesome squad of web-project peer reviewers and advice givers for the current iteration of this project. In particular, I'd like to thank Mel Stanfill for the careful read-through, as well as Kristina Busse and Alexis Lothian for their advice. Finally, I'd like to thank Tasha Oren and Michael Zimmer for all their support and input as I put this together.
I am Katherine Morrissey, currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technolog. I recently defended my PhD in English (Media, Cinema and Digital Studies) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). I also have a Master's in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. My research focuses on the ways that digital production technologies and practices are reorganizing cultural production, representations of female desire, and production networks for popular culture. My research is grounded in my experiences as a queer feminist, geek girl, and acafan. I have been actively participating in fan communities since 1996.
At RIT and UWM, I've taught courses on film, television, and digital media, writing, participatory culture, and romance genres across media. I also have professional experience in web and graphic design, as well as communications and marketing in the non-profit sector.
For updates on this project in the coming months you can check the katiedidnt.net website, follow fandomthennow on Tumblr, on twitter at @fandomthennow or by tracking the "fandomthennow" tag on these social media sites.