[Foundation-l] Proposal: Fan History joining the WMF family

Laura Hale laura at fanhistory.com
Wed Nov 18 18:53:53 UTC 2009

Erik suggested I post this to the list for further discussion.

Laura Hale

Fan History Wiki is a project dedicated to documenting the history of fan
communities, and to a lesser extent, documenting the history of online
communities, popular culture and the tools that go to support these. The
purpose of this document is to provide a general overview of Fan History,
and to explain why this project would be a good fit for the Wikimedia

*About Fan History*
Fan History is a wiki that runs on Mediawiki.  It currently gets about
60,000 visitors a month, has over 820,000 articles, and a small but
dedicated contributor base.  Laura Hale created it in May 2006 as a means of
centralizing existing information, and getting more people involved in the
process of documenting the history of fandom.

Current objectives for the project include:

* Document the history of fan communities.
* Preserve the history of fandom, especially in areas that are deemed at
risk like Geocities.
* Provide academics operating in fandom starting points for additional
research and to provide academics with comprehensive data sets.
* Provide members of fandom a resource to find links to communities in
fandom, and explain parts of the culture in those communities to help them
adapt to them.
*  Provide members of fandom a tool to promote their work, their projects,
charity efforts by fans.
* Provide members of fandom a platform to share stories about what happened
in fandom so that important incidents won't be forgotten.
* Provide a comprehensive directory for fandom that anyone can edit. This is
necessary because of increased fragmentation in a web 2.0 world, and as
members of fandom transition away from various services because of downtime,
problems with policy, etc. It is also necessary because a lot of time in
fandom trying to track down authors and artists who disappeared and in
trying to locate fanworks that have disappeared.
*  Provide companies that deal with fandom a source to locate fandom
communities, understand how fandom functions, identify current issues in
certain fandoms, give examples of how certain issues were dealt with, etc.
By knowing that information, they can better interact with and cater to
fandom's specific needs.

* Reasons why Fan History Wiki would be a good fit for WMF:*

* WMF is trying to be more female friendly in terms of developing its
contributor base. Fan History's primary contributor base and audience is
            * A largely female audience is a historical truth for popular
culture fandom based around movies, and television. The audience around
manga and anime is becoming increasingly female.  In most areas, the
academics entering the field are female. Major popular culture obsession
items at the moment where there is a large female base include Twilight,
Harry Potter, Star Trek.
              * Fan History’s inclusion amongst foundation projects can be a
selling point for outreach in that area.  If needing to point to a similar
female dominated group doing similar work, the Organization for
Transformative Works can be cited.

* Our scope allows for more esoteric information that could not be included
in Wikipedia, Wikiversity or Wikinews that would still help work towards a
greater good.
             * The WMF Foundation supports quality resources that anyone can
edit. Fan History is primarily a cultural historical anthropology project
dedicated to documenting the history of fandom.
              * People have tried to do such research on Wikipedia in the
past but it frequently gets deleted because of the lack of research, it is
original research or it isn’t notable.  In terms of popular culture studies,
Fan History provides a place to do that.

* Fan History being part of the Foundation would allow closer relationships
with the science fiction community, the academic community and others with a
vested interest in the topic.
            * We’re already being used as an academic source in some places
because the research we do on the wiki is not being done by anyone else.
With more attention and increased awareness, this can be increased.  That
attention and use should reflect back on other WMF projects to justify those
sources as credible.
           * Fan History can be used as leverage to develop relationships
with programs like the Popular Culture studies work done at USC and MIT.
           * This would be a big step towards getting professional
historians and cultural anthropologists to using Wikipedia related projects
more.  Some would like such a platform to do their own work and are hesitant
to do it on more commercial sites like Wikia.

* Fan History’s preservation work would foster good will, improve
credibility of WMF projects, generate additional press and help WMF in
creating good relationships with other organizations.
            * We are doing important preservation work related to sites that
are closing like Geocities and have identified other sites at risk like
Tripod and Angelfire where we need to start working.  Most of the work being
done preservation wise focuses on just saving the raw content, not
screencapping and putting this work into its historical context.  There is
no competition in that context.

* Our preservation work would help improve credibility, as we become more of
a primary source resource.  It is easier to cite that work in ways that
people cannot cite Wikipedia.
            * The Internet Archive and other projects received a lot
positive press because of their preservation efforts.
            * Preservation efforts open up opportunities to work with
university programs, and other non-profits that have a vested interest in
saving that information.

* Fan History’s content lends itself to multi-language support and greater
unity across languages.
           * We currently do not have separate multi-languages but we have
enough content about other languages that can be stubbed on their own
language subdomains that we can start at least 20.
           * Large community of Russians, Germans, Poles and Spanish
speakers who are interested in the topic who currently lack a quality
           * Language integration across the project would help WMF create a
more unified community concept beyond individual language projects.

*What Fan History needs from WMF:*

* Improved back end support.
* Help increasing our base audience of contributors.
* Financial security.
* The continued ability to work towards our objectives.

*What Fan History offers beyond good fit:*

* Policies that have been tested to work inside the larger community that
meet different standards.
* Scalable policies that have been tested so there should not be huge
problems coming on board.
* An all female admin staff at the onset.
* Few copyright problems.  While we have some copyrighted images, we could
dump almost all and not lose anything substantive.
* A huge scope.  We cover over 37,000 fan communities representing
television, movies, music, video games, anime, manga, actors, theater,
radio, science fiction, cartoons, comics and sports.

*Compromises Fan History is happy to make:*
* Change our copyright from
http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Fanhistory.com:Copyrights to the same policy
used by WMF.
* Remove images with problematic copyright issues.

Fan History would be a good fit for helping the Wikimedia Foundation in
terms of helping the Foundation meet some of its goals towards providing
information, helping establish credibility and gaining a more female
contributor base.

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