There are versions of this post: The Long One and the Short One. Why two versions? I started writing the first one, intending it to be an all comprehensive guide to what FanLib's been up to over the past year. I've been watching them and I've been watching what fandom has been saying about FanLib. It's been a fascinating to watch and fascinating to participate in. I really love the topic. The long version says everything that I need to and want to say about FanLib. As I started writing it I realized that important points were being buried in my love of the minutiae. A short version, a greatest hits of FanLib in the past year, was needed. So there are two versions.
FanLib: One Year Later, The Short Version
On March 4, 2007, FanLib invited Lord of the Rings and other fandom authors, culled from various fan fiction archives and FanFiction.Net, to join their site and offered them an incentive based on the amount of stories they contributed. These incentives included things like iPods. A lot of authors took advantage of this. The site officially launched their public beta on April 8, 2007.
During April of 2007, FanLib saw increased daily traffic. Around May 10, 2007, parts of LiveJournal fandom became aware of FanLib, reviewed the site and developed a number of objections to it. By May 11, JDSampson, a FanLib employee, started participating in the fanthropology post in order to defend the site. Around May 14, a number of fans on LiveJournal registered their names in order to protect them from being used by other people on the site. On May 17, Chris, the CEO of FanLib, showed up on Telesilla's LiveJournal entry in order to defend the site. That same day, it came out that FanLib's CEO and another person involved with FanLib's management had been sockpuppeting on a Lord of the Rings message board. Around May 17, a semi-organized effort was undertaken to inform people about the site, their objections to it and asking them to ask others to boycott the site. This would turn out to be somewhat successful. FanLib had negative mentions on a number of services: Xanga, Tokyo Pop, GreatestJournal, InsaneJournal, MySpace, orkut, MySpace, and Xanga. The situation would later catch the attention of the media and was mentioned in publications like the Christian Science Monitor, Valleywag and elsewhere. Chris Williams would discuss the site with Henry Jenkins in his blog. The resulting kerfluffle resulted in a situation where some authors who had been using FanLib left and took their stories with them.
FanLib held a number of successful contests in the past year, between the fall out from their launch and the present. They include:
FanLib listened to and addressed concerned addressed both externally, like with Bryson, and internally on their forums, regarding the policy of submitting found images and problems with reporting Terms of Service violations.
By the end of June 2007, most of the references regarding FanLib were positive or neutral. By the end of October 2007, people seemed to have very little fear regarding openly supporting FanLib. This was generally the result of two factors: They had not heard of the original problems with FanLib, or they had heard of them, took a look for themselves and liked what they saw. Positive mentions would continue during the rest of the year and into the next.
In the period between March 2007 and the present, archives did not report any fall out as a result of FanLib. FanLib did not hurt traffic to their archives. FanLib did not cause them to face any sort of legal threats. Archivists did not perceive any change in the environment as a result of FanLib's entering the market. Some, like MediaMiner.Org and FanWorks.Org were watching FanLib to gather ideas for their own archives.
Between March 2007 and the present, FanLib has seen a steady increase in the number of unique visitors and total page views.
In the end, trends indicate that Fanlib shall continue to grow as part of the fannish community. They've created a sustainable project, which will be around for many years to come.
FanLib: One Year Later, The Long Version
FanLib's existence predates March of 2007. They did several events including an L Word project, a Harry Potter project and work with Meg Cabot and Diane Duane. The site decided to expand into fan fiction archiving, according to their original prospectus, to act as a bridge to maintain an audience between various events that FanLib put in. They didn't get Internet and LiveJournal fandom famous until May 2007 because of fandom reaction to their initial marketing idea.
It's been roughly a year since FanLib first launched their archive. When the events of May 2007 happened, there was a lot of concern about the future of fandom, with people seeing FanLib as a threat where the necessary response was for fans to empower themselves. People made predictions that FanLib would be done by the end of 2007. Others feared that FanLib's existence and their relationship with intellectual property holders would put fan run archives at increased legal risk.
So what's happened in the past year and what have the effects on fandom been? This piece of history meta will examine that and see how predictions accurate made at the height of May 2007 situation were.
Around March 2, 2007, FanLib first invited authors to join the site. They also advertised on sites like Quizilla. The site would see membership pick up around March 17, 2007 when their ad campaign, promising users iPods for submitting work in quantity, appeared to pay off. The site had a lot of submissions for a wide variety of fandoms around that date. Below is a sampling of first fandom stories posted around that date.
The interest and uploads continued into April of 2007. In April, according to numbers provided by FanLib, FanLib had 985 members and 4,542 submissions. Compete.Com shows this interest in a Velocity chart for the period between April 7, 2007 and May 22, 2007.
The site's growth and momentum surpassed some of the bigger and more well known multi-fandom fan run archives. According to Compete, FanLib's pages viewed per visitor in April 2007 was up to 24.5, an increase of 195.9% increase from March 2007. The site's rank was ,according to Compete, 25,750 in April 2007, up 87,509 from the previous month. To put that into a bit of perspective, according to Compete, AdultFanFiction.Net was 14,970 in April 2007, FicWad was ranked 67,548, FanWorks.Org was ranked 216,925, and FanDomination.Net was ranked 139,778.
Around May 10, 2007, FanLib came to the greater attention of parts of LiveJournal fandom with posts like one by yourlibrarian on fanthropology. She asked, relating to FanLib, in her post: "Thoughts? Are projects such as FanLib (or even fanfic.net which no longer permits NC-17 material) going to create 2 categories of fanfic -- corporate gen and back-blog explicit and dark fic -- even as genres such as slash inch their way into commercial publishing?" Skuf answered that question with "In short, yes."
The post brought up a number of objections to FanLib that would be echoed in the following weeks. Others, like telesilla, angiepen, quickbeam-cw and cofax brought forth more objections. A list of these objections includes:
By May 11, JDSampson, a FanLib employee, started participating in the fanthropology post in order to defend the site.
Around May 14, a number of fans on LiveJournal registered their names in order to protect them from being used by other people on the site.
On May 17, Chris, the CEO of FanLib, showed up on Telesilla's LiveJournal entry in order to defend the site. That same day, it came out that FanLib's CEO and another person involved with FanLib's management had been sockpuppeting on a Lord of the Rings message board.
Around May 17, a semi-organized effort was undertaken to inform people about the site, their objections to it and asking them to ask others to boycott the site. This would turn out to be somewhat successful. FanLib had negative mentions on a number of services: Xanga, Tokyo Pop, GreatestJournal, InsaneJournal, MySpace, orkut, MySpace, and Xanga. The situation would later catch the attention of the media and was mentioned in publications like the Christian Science Monitor, Valleywag and elsewhere. Chris Williams would discuss the site with Henry Jenkins in his blog. FanLib would be the talk at several conventions including MediaWest.
Around May 25, in response to criticisms of FanLib's Terms of Service, the site made changes to the document. The onsite response was generally positive, with members applauding the change and happy that FanLib had quickly responded to their concerns. Off site, people complained that the changes did not go far enough in protecting fan rights.
The resulting kerfluffle resulted in a situation where some authors who had been using FanLib left and took their stories with them.
While all this went on, people predicted the site's demise "If we stay away in droves, then they're dead in the water. I say we treat them like the pariahs they are. Without the fic, what have they got? Nothing." reads one comment. Others predicted the site would close by the end of the year because FanLib alienated its core fannish audience.
What was the impact of this? According to Google Analytic data provided by FanLib, traffic in June 2007 was down from the previous month's high. The drop in traffic is supported by the number of new users that FanLib provided. They had only 633 new submission in June. This can be contrasted with new member sign up. In June 2007, FanLib had 3,929 new members sign up. That was an increase from May 2007 when FanLib had 1,943 new members.
To a degree, FanLib lucked out. In late May 2007, an incident known as StrikeThrough happened on LiveJournal. As this event directly impacted LiveJournal fandom in ways that FanLib did not, the core audience of FanLib protesters became distracted. They had to worry about a situation in their own backyard. At the same time, part of the core anti-FanLib movement was busy being involved with the creation of their answer to FanLib, the Organization for Transformative Works. The external pressure was off the site because of these two factors. The media spotlight died. A number of people were still talking about it but they weren't talking about it to the same degree that they were before. There were fewer posted on life_wo_fanlib.
By July 2007, discussion of FanLib had really started to bottom out. New submissions were at an all time low, with only new 595 submissions. Things went on and FanLib became one of those things that people might reference but which largely became irrelevant in terms of fannish discourse. LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace, Quizilla, mailing lists were generally not talking about FanLib. People who liked the site were able to discuss it much more freely with out fear of consequences. The fandom project created in response had yet to produce a product. The only one to get off the ground in that period was FanWorksFinder. In August, BoldThrough happened in the LiveJournal community. This situation would bring a number of new FanLib references, but with out the same level of vitriol and sustainability that had been present in May.
To understand what was happening with FanLib, you needed to really watch FanLib and its supporters. FanLib was busy and doing a number of things in terms of events, policy changes and feature additions. The rest of this piece will largely look at FanLib did in the aftermath of the May 2007 marketing problems to see what happened and how those concerns about FanLib manifested themselves... or didn't. It will also look at positive comments regarding FanLib and at communities that seem to have embraced FanLib.
Some communities never really objected to FanLib. The CSI fandom is an example of such a community. FanLib's relationship with CBS was seen as a positive by members of the community, who were still nervous about the powers that be intervening on their message board as a result of a couple of unhappy Grissom/Catherine shippers. Well known authors such as losingintranslation joined early. They were later joined by some authors like darsynia, jenbachand, mingsmommy, Smacky30, just_thinking, klee wyck, csishewolf and sidlechick87. losingintranslation was by far the biggest advocate though, posting to YourTaxDollarsAtWork on May 9, 2007 to say of the site's launch:
Yes... And the FAQ isn't up yet, because it's currently in the *open beta* stage of development, so they are trying to get everything in place before writing up the FAQ's.
The alert system is almost ready to go online, but we threw a little monkey wrench in there when we told them everything that should be in there. laugh.gif So, it will probably take a little bit longer for it to be ready. We'll just have to see. You can, however, "subscribe" to authors to make it easier to see what's going on.
jenbachand would turn out to be another advocate for the site. She would eventually go on to become a regular blogger on FanLib.
In June 2007, FanLib launched one of its most popular contests, a Star Trek contest featuring Wil Wheaton and George Takei. The contest had several stages and lasted a month. In the end, there were over eight hundred submissions. At the end of the contest, many participants stayed and participated on the forums and uploaded their other Star Trek fan fiction.
Wil Wheaton mentioned the contest on his blog and subsequently defended FanLib after Mel commented saying, “The company that managed to piss of [sic] 95% of fandom by now by taking other peoples' work and trying to earn money with it?” Wheaton responded, “I simply won't lend my name, image, or credibility to anything that I don't believe in. I have no reason to distrust the guys behind FanLib, and as far as I can tell, they've done everything they can to correct a pretty stupid mistake they made early on, which has taken on a life of its own.”
In June 2007, members of life_wo_fanlib (FLocked post) criticized Bryson, a FanLib moderator, for saying things that they considered offensive, sexist and inappropriate. FanLib responded to this by taking away his moderator status. After that, he pretty much disappeared from the site. Moderator posts since that time have been much more neutral and more to the point. There have been no complaints on the forums or off the site similar to the complaints lodged against Bryson.
The word that FanLib was bad never really seemed to reach FaceBook. The few mentions on the site always seemed rather positive. One example dates to July 10, 2007. Ashtin Odoy,a FaceBook member, said:
There is a somewhat new site out. its fanlib.com. it has a very different layout than most fiction sites out there. the sailor moon section isn't that large yet and most of it based off of the live action series, but its growing. if anyone goes there look me up. pen name is superkawaiifoxy. ^_^
Despite earlier missteps, FanLib gained traction in fandom by June 2007. The site had an increasing number of unique visits, and only a few of the older large archives, such as FanFiction.net and AFF.Net had more unique visits. FanLib had more unique visits that month then FictionAlley.Org, which is one of the larger and more popular Harry Potter archives. FanLib had a core audience by July 2007. Existing fan fiction archives, lacking the benefits that FictionAlley.Org and FanLib had with organization and that AdultFanFiction.Net and FanFiction.Net had with already established large audiences, weren't going to catch up.
Having talked with several archivists at the time, most were aware of FanLib from the events in May 2007. They were watching FanLib, trying to gauge if FanLib would have any impact on their traffic, and on their legal liability. FanDomination.Net, FanWorks.Org, RockFic, MediaMiner.Org and a few other small archives had concluded that FanLib ultimately posed no threat to them. Two months after everything had gone down and no one was reporting any cease and desist letters on Chilling Effects, on the front pages of their sites or on fandom_lawyers.
On July 9, Business Wire ran an article about FanLib and OurChart, this article cleared the misconception that Hilary Rosen had any relationship with FanLib. The article cleared up one of the misconceptions about FanLib that was still circulating: That FanLib had a relationship with Hilary Rosen and that she was on the board of directors for FanLib. The article clearly stated that FanLib had done an event with Our Chart, a company headed by Hilary Rosen, the former CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. When I asked FanLib about about their relationship with Rosen, they confirmed that Hilary Rosen was not a member of their board of directors, the "Learn to be a Writer" project was a Rosen project that FanLib was not affiliated with, and that there was not much of a relationship beyond the business one hinted at in the Business Wire article.
On July 24, 2007, a power outage hit San Francisco. Several sites went down as a result, including FanLib.
In August, LiveJournal fandom was distracted by BoldThrough. Anti-FanLib elements were pretty quiet. They'd discuss FanLib but often in relation to how LiveJournal must have taken lessons from FanLib.
Outside of those references, in July and August, discussion of FanLib was pretty much stagnant. The positive references also began to slowly out number the negative references.
In August 2007, jdsampson created a critique form on FanLib. Some people were very pleased with that. On August 28, on the TelevisionWithoutPity Friday Night Lights forum, mmcdonald64 who is Maryilee on FanLib, talked about how FanLib added a critique board and how happy she was with the discussion. Other people, over the course of the next several months, would talk about their positive experiences there and how it helped them grow and mature as authors. They also talked about how the presence of a critique forum made FanLib appear as if the site cared more about quality than other fan fiction sites.
On August 3, 2007, FanLib announced a Weeds contest. This contest was the result of an ongoing relationship that FanLib has with Showtime, whom they had worked with to produce a FanLib contest earlier in the year. FanLib started reaching out to fans again with this contest. On August 3, Weeds on MySpace posted an e-mail from Christine, FanLib's person to them, and encouraged people to participate. There was no blow back for the person for posting that message and they didn't seem aware of any negatives regarding FanLib.
On August 6, na-no-nai mentioned how happy they were that the mods quickly dealt with a plagiarism situation on the site regarding their fan fiction. The people commenting all thought this was a sign that this author made it and yeah for FanLib for handling it quickly. FanLib would continue , through out the rest of the year, to respond quickly to plagiarism reports and to delete the offending material.
On August 7, Suite101 mentioned the Weeds contest. It continued the positive mentions of FanLib related contests. Around August 20, the Weeds event was mentioned on a Weeds MySpace group. The latter is one of several positive FanLib, Weeds contest neutral/friendly post which indicates a lack of awareness of the big FanLib kerfluffle in May 2007.
On August 8, nikkidragon squeed over being made a feature author on FanLib. This theme would continue on LiveJournal, MySpace and on boards like YourTaxDollarsAtWork.
On August 10, sandrashran mentioned her art and writing projects on the TrekFanArt mailing list. On August 12, Terrell Himmelheber commented to tell her how great her material was. There were no real negative mentions ever for FanLib on the list and a list moderator is active on FanLib's forums. These authors came in to FanLib through the June Star Trek contest. They would continue to mention FanLib sporadically into March 2008.
As of August 12, 2007, FanLib had 8,737 members. This was an increase of 2,498 members since June 24, 2007.
On August 16, chaletian mentioned that loved they Wil Wheaton videos. The Wil Wheaton videos were done for the FanLib Star Trek contest and they would continue to help FanLib gain traffic in the ensuing months.
On August 20, the Leisha Hailey Fan (de) Daily News mentioned the release of season 4 of The L Word, which includes "The Fanlib Winners - a short featurette on the writers of the L Word Fanlib contest, in each of their hometown" Through out the year, references to the FanLib L Word contest would appear. Almost universally, these references were positive in regards to FanLib, The L word and Showtime.
In late August 2007, FanLib's Dark is Rising event was mentioned all over the place, such as in the backs of The Dark is Rising books with movie tie-in covers. FanLib, as the sponsor of the event, was not mentioned. Fans of the book were not necessarily been over joyed with the movie, seeing it as trying to be commercial and appeal to the masses. They see it as a betrayal of fans of the books. This theme is one that is echoed on LiveJournal and FaceBook. These non-positive mentions were not a result of FanLib but attributed to other factors such as what some consumers viewed as a poor quality product.
jdsampson is a FanLib employee who defended the site in May. As a result, a lot of people friended her to watch what she was doing. She did not friend many of them back. On August 30, she plugged her older stories on her LiveJournal. The FanLib kerfluffle didn't cause her to withdraw from fandom. Her lack of interesting posts fanning the FanLib flames resulted in a number of people defriending her. The amount of people who defriended her continued on in to March.
On September 2, pgirl1986 made a larger post which included a line saying that they moved all their finished work to FanLib, a new site they had discovered. This would be one of several FanLib positive mentions during September.
On September 8, 2007, FanLib launched their official blog, No Hiatus. The blog would have a number of features, including "Fandom 411" posts which would give an overview of canon, Five Questions that featured members on FanLib answered, weekly updates as to new features on FanLib and more. Schinders, one of the main bloggers for the site, would also do a number of interviews with people connected to various television shows. These interviews were occasionally picked up and linked around in their respective fandoms. One interview was Ed Westwick from Gossip Girl. Some of these posts would get picked up and linked around fandom. One example of this was a post by xohhthatscenex that linked to a No Hiatus entry on the writer's strike and how it would affect Supernatural.
On September 20, 2007, FanLib announced a Dexter contest. This contest would be mentioned the following day in the New York Post.
In October 2007, FanLib saw an increase in the number of unique visitors to the site, the biggest increase since in total unique visitors since their April/May publicity. This may have been due in part to the Uglies contest, held in October. The contest and the site were promoted by Scott Westerfeld on his blog and in the back of Uglies books. Contest participants like harada-sis-08 also plugged the contest, urging people to go and read their submissions. In October and November, another contest, a horror contest was held on FanLib where users won prizes for submitting fan fiction or embedding fan vids from the horror genre on the site.
In October 2007, one of the more popular threads on the forums was started. It was the The Person Below Me... thread and would still be going strong, 502 pages later, in March 2008. The thread did a couple of things that brought people in to participate. It helped up people's post count, helping them to become featured authors on FanLib. It helped members learn more about each other and make friends on the site.
On October 3, coolgrin linked to the Dexter content on the dexter_fanfic community. She also cross posted it to dd_dexter. These are two of the largest Dexter communities on LiveJournal. The response was largely FanLib friendly, which confirmed that people could mention FanLib with out fear of being slammed for promoting an evil site, or do so with out knowing about all the things that went on back in May. The people who didn't like FanLib had to respond to FanLib positive posts elsewhere in order to complain about FanLib for fear of reprisals.
There were other, similar mentions for FanLib's contests around that same time period. On October 2, on MySpace's Dexteronshowtime, the Dexter contest was mentioned. There were 8 comments and 23 kudos. The whole reaction was positive. On October 6, Cassie Hughes mentioned the Extras content on after-darkness.com, a science fiction message board.
In May 2007, FanLib ran a Ghost Whisperer contest. The fandom was pretty small. At that time, there were twenty-nine Ghost Whisperer on FanFiction.Net, zero on Quizilla, zero on FanWorks.Org, zero on FanDomination.Net, zero on FicWad and zero on AdultFanFiction.Net. Seventy-seven communities on LiveJournal listed Ghost Whisperer as an interest. Of the ones dedicated solely to this show, two were general discussion communities, and one was an RPG. None are fandom fic specific. There were zero groups on Yahoo!Groups dedicated to fan fiction for this fandom. Four people listed Ghost Whisperer as an interest on DeadJournal. Zero people listed Ghost Whisperer as an interest on JournalFen. A search on Vox for Ghost Whisperer fanfic showed zero results. There was very little discussion about the show compared to other CBS shows. The peak discussion for the show coincided with the time that FanLib ran a contest based on the show. FanLib's Ghost Whisperer event was important in that, by October 2007, FanLib had become the site known for being the place to find Ghost Whisperer fan fiction.
In November 2007, discussion of FanLib again picked up as the number of unique United States based visitors on FanLib took a bit of a dip. The discussion of FanLib had separated from movements created in response to FanLib's existence; they were not moving in sync.
FanLib launched another feature in November: User created contests.
Also in November 2007, FanLib expanded, to host fan art and allow users to embed fan vids.
The reaction to this on FanLib's forums was positive. It helped FanLib to capture the audience at sites with heavy fandom audiences like DeviantArt. In preceding months, FanLib users had been uploading fanart to these sites. Some of them also discussed their FanLib submissions and art related to their fanworks. They were also discussing their stories with their fans, trying to recruit fan artists on mailing lists like TrekFanArt. At the same time, there were a number of conversations FanLib's forums, which indicated that FanLib had a user base that included vidders and fan artists. When FanLib allowed different types of content to be uploaded or embedded, those users responded by uploading a large amount of content that they already had. Their contributions made November FanLib's top month for new submissions so far.
To celebrate this expansion, FanLib ran The Biggest Fan Giveaway.
On November 2, maryilee plugged her FanLib blog status on her LiveJournal. She encouraged people to leave comments and posted about how she was excited to get her t-shirt from FanLib. One person commented to say that she would check out FanLib as a result of the post. Maryilee has long been one of FanLib's biggest supporters and most active supporters. She would go on to plug FanLib on her LiveJournal, on TelevisionWithOutPity and in a few other places in the ensuing months.
In late November 2007, there was an article in the Press of Atlantic City that was FanLib positive.
In early December 2007, FanLib launched a Battlestar Galatica contest. The contest would be plugged in several places, including Counting Down and Galatica SITREP. The winner of the contest was esr960 from Illinois for his entry, I Gave Birth to a Cylon Love Child!. He won a Toshiba HD DVD High-Definition Player, a 12' x 2.5' one-of-a-kind signed Battlestar Galatica convention banner, and will be featured on our home page. The contest would brought in parts of the Battlestar Galatica fandom and helped to create a more active fanbase on FanLib.
On December 9, the BSG wiki blog promoted the BSG contest. This was done around the same time that FanLib became an official sponsor for the wiki project and, based on the comments on the blog and wiki, covered all the blog's hosting costs in exchange for promoting FanLib.
By early December, anime fandoms, which had fewer problems with FanLib than media fandom, had really taken off on FanLib. As of December 18, 2007, there were 1,843 pieces of Naruto fanworks on FanLib. By March 26, 2008, the number of Naruto fanworks had grown to 3,084. Given the current submission volume, the total number of Naruto submissions should be doubled from the end of 2007 by June 2008. Inuyasha was another Anime that took off. As of September 20, 2007, there were 184 on FanLib stories on FanLib. As of January 4, 2008, there are 636 stories, 117 images, 89 videos, 20 poems, 16 screenplays and 6 lyrics on FanLib. As of March 26, 2008, there were 1,050 stories, 249 videos, 474 images, 42 poems, 25 screenplays, and eight lyrics. The category is doubling at a rate of every four months or so. Bleach didn't have the same explosive growth but it is still impressive, especially with the vidding crowd. As of May 23, 2007, there are 104 Bleach stories on FanLib. As of January 30, 2008, there 113 stories, 50 videos, 29 images, 5 poems and 3 screenplays on FanLib. As of March 26, 2008, 198 stories, 82 videos, 26 images, seven screenplays and six poems. This increased growth was enough to make Bleach one of the top 50 fandoms on FanLib.
FanLib ran another contest in early December. It was an I am Legend contest. mimsgarden from New Hampshire won for her entry, The Last Fan. She won an Alienware Area-51 m9750 Notebook, $500 gift certificate to Blick Art Materials, Life Gear™ Survival Kit and was featured on FanLib's main page.
On December 9, mmcdonald64, who is a regular FanLib forum member from Chicago, plugged Friday Night Lights on the TelevisionWithoutPity Friday Night Lights forum. And then did it again. FanLib would become one of the bigger and more well known archives for Friday Night Lights on the Internet. Its major competition would be FanFiction.Net and LiveJournal.
On December 15, cryptoxin mentioned FanLib in a post about the Organization for Transformative Works, saying "I understand the backlash against FanLib, but does anybody still consider them a meaningful threat to fan cultures?" No one answered the question and no one demonstrated that FanLib was stil a meaningful threat to FanLib. Most of the people watching had long stopped watching FanLib and by late December 2007, FanLib had demonstrated that it was no worse than any other fan fiction archive. It had taken steps to be more inclusive and had actively reached out to fandom in the preceding months.
By January 2008, FanLib had over 15,000 members. The forums continued to be active and there were a lot of new submissions. FanLib's presence in smaller fandoms was being helped by posters who actively promoted the site and their own fanworks in fandoms like the Blues Brothers.
On January 9, 2008, Ashford University mentioned several positives for FanLib, including:
30,000 teenagers registered for the HarperTeen FanLit online writing contest, contributed, reviewed, and voted on chapters of which six were chosen for the final short story, “Reflection Perfection.” The contest, which is a collaboration with social media company FanLib, generated more than 6 million pageviews on HarperTeen and drew a community of more than 200,000 visitors.
It discussed how the L Word event produced by FanLib had a positive effect for the show:
The end product was published as a free downloadable e-zine and an extra on the L Word DVD. The contest generated over 3-million page views and 175,000 visits. Showtime also announced that the ratings jumped 51% over the previous season.
This piece was one of the most positive and indepth regarding FanLib that had been done in a while and seemed to show that what FanLib was doing was positive, was something that fans wanted and that such projects were likely to continue in the future.
On January 18, Hollywoodscoop made a positive mention of FanLib, in reference to their L Word “You Write It” contest with OurChart.com. It reminded fans to tune in to watch the fan written scene. The winner received $1,000, credit as the FanLib/OurChart contest winner on screen at the end of the actual episode, and a trip for two to “The L Word” set in Vancouver to watch the filming of the scene that included her winning submission. There would be a number of these mentions in the coming months.
On January 24, Broadcasting and Cable : The Business of Television ran an article about FanLib titled "FanLib turns fanaticism into very good will." The article was positive, highlighting Chris Williams and FanLib's positive relationships with intellectual property holders and opportunities that FanLib has provided fans. They mention Molly Fisher, who won The L Word “You Write It” Contest. Because of her participation in fandom, and specifically on FanLib, she won a "trip to Vancouver to sit on the set and watch her scene being shot."
Fandom has a lot of small fandoms and small communities. FanLib's success in courting these fandoms has been fairly decent. It took almost ten years for FanFiction.Net to get 78 stories for Alias Smith and Jones, with the first story not published on the site until two years after it was founded. By February 8, 2008, FanLib had two Alias Smith and Jones stories.
Comparatively, for some larger, older media fandoms, getting a large amount of fanworks was a bit more difficult. In the Angel fandom, FanLib hasn't become a hugely important archive. On various Angel mailing lists, the site just isn't discussed. As of February 21, 2008, only 122 stories were found on it. Still, compared to FanFiction.Net, a site with seventeen times the visitors, FanLib did quite well; FanFiction.Net added only 235 stories during the same period. The Buffy fandom saw similar growth for FanLib. From March 2007 to December 2007, Buffy grew by 274 fanworks. FanFiction.Net grew by 765 stories.
In February 2008, I surveyed fan fiction archivists to seek their opinions again on FanLib and to ask how the site had effected them. FanWorksFinder, RockFic, MediaMiner.Org, FanWorks.Org, FanDomination.Net, and a Silent Hill archive had suffered no negative consequences as a result of FanLib's entering into fandom. MediaMiner.Org had watched FanLib, to get contest ideas for their own site and to reflect on their own policies in seeing how FanLib had implemented things. FanWorks.Org also looked at FanLib to see how it could improve. Chilling Effects lists no fan fiction related cease and desist letters in the period between July 2007 and February 2008. fandom_lawyers also makes no references to threats of legal action that can be tied to FanLib. While some archives lost traffic, those cases cannot be attributed to FanLib, but rather to other factors tied in to the specific archive, the fandom or other issues.
Way back in June 2007, a thread was created to discuss the gender representation on the site. As of March 16, 2008, it had the following results:
That sample, while extremely small and representing only 0.2% of FanLib users, is roughly seven percent different from Quantcast's February 2008 estimates regarding the gender composition of FanLib's audience.
The large female presence is not a surprise, especially given recent trends in on-line participation. What is somewhat surprising is that compared to larger fan fiction archives that FanLib is in competition with, FanLib has the largest percentage of female visitors. One of the concerns back in May was that FanLib was ignoring the female base of fandom and was creating a product, which would not attract that audience in what some critics saw as a desire to cater to a male demographic. FanLib has successfully captured an audience that is more representative of traditional depictions of fan fiction fandom that academics describe than some of its larger competitors.
In February and March, there were a number of discussions on the forums regarding people giving fan fiction, message board posts, fan art and fan vids one star with out any explanation for why that rating was given. Some users really did not like this feature. They thought it allowed people to negatively rate things with out consequences and that it rendered star ratings meaningless as the star ratings offered no context for why people rated things the way they did. Others said they liked it because the anonymity as it meant they could rate stories fairly with out worrying about retaliation. There generally has been no consensus regarding this issue and FanLib has not taken action to change the system.
On February 22, 2008, the 10,000 BC contest started. whigworld from Kentucky won for the entry Diary of a Mad Brak Woman. They won a Tiger Skinned Nintendo Wii.
In mid February, some users expressed concern over other users submitting images they found on the Internet. In response to this, FanLib cracked down on this material. The crackdown was very evident in categories like original fandom, which saw a noticeable reduction in the number of total fanworks found in the category. FanLib also changed their report abuse notifications from:
The revamped version dealt more clearly with issues regarding appropriation of other people's materials, incorrectly using tags in order to gain a larger audience, and people submitting non fandom related content. It also gave people who were reporting content an easy way to report plagiarism and art theft. FanLib also changed its policies from just deleting the images when reported to banning users from FanLib for uploading fan art and fan fiction which they did not have the right to upload as they were not the creators.
On March 9, some one asked "Where can I find Harry Potter fan clubs online?". Some one replied with http://www.fanlib.com/fandom/Harry_Pott
People continued to be pleased when they were made featured authors or had their stories featured on FanLib. grumpymagrat is one such author who expressed this feeling on her LiveJournal in March 2008.
In March 2008, FanLib announced their newest contests, a Painkiller Jane contest and a Wake contest.
As of March 26, 2008, FanLib has 19,000 members. The site had grown at about a two thousand a month during the last three months.
The past year has demonstrated that FanLib has built a platform for success, that they will continue on in the future with a dedicated user base and will continue to find companies that are interested in working with FanLib to promote their products. The fears expressed by some people in May 2007 never materialized. There was no increase legal threat; no archive received a cease and desist letter, and none of the large archives felt that FanLib's existence increased their legal exposure in fandom as a result of competing with official contests. Fan run fan fiction archives did not see any decrease in traffic, nor change in the type of submissions they received as a result of FanLib's emergence. Some sites, like FanFiction.Net, did respond by adding features such as allowing users to upload images in their profiles. Other sites, like MediaMiner.Org and FanWorks.Org, looked to FanLib to see what worked to see how they could copy it on their own site. During the past year, FanLib has set a standard for features that archives should have, or pushed other archives to add features in order to compete with FanLib. FanLib has not demonstrated itself to be a threat to fandom; rather, FanLib has successfully integrated itself into fandom and the marketplace in a positive manner.
A large number of people accepted FanLib into their fannish experience without any ideological problems. The site grew from 2,829 members in late May 2007 to 19,000 members in late-March 2008. Participation on the site is up, with the audience accessing more pages when they visit the site. FanLib's message board members have become a dedicated and active group. They've formed a true community. The people who are there don't have any problems with FanLib and its corporate nature. They see the positives associated with it: Better customer service, less fandom related drama, issues being dealt with in a timely manner. FanLib will continue to attract a large audience who accepts this as many teens and others understand that advertisements and the ability for site operators to profit off a site are fundamental to providing a quality service to the audience. Product, quality product, in the end is what matters to fandom and FanLib has demonstrated they can deliver one that can be worked into people's fandom experience.
FanLib ran a number of successful contests that were of interest to both fans and intellectual property owners. These contests represented a cross section of fandom including Star Trek, Weeds, Dexter, the horror genre, Uglies, general television fandom, fan vidders and fan artists, I am Legend, Battlestar Galatica, 10,000 BC, Painkiller Jane and Wake. Contests provided fans with a chance of compensation for doing what they loved. People expressed concerns that contests would force writers to think inside the box. FanLib proved them wrong; FanLib awarded fans for their activity and creativity. FanLib did not create a box where fans had to write inside a pre-constructed framework. In a number of their contests, there were no limits; these included such contests as their creativity points contest. There, writers and readers were awarded for participating with the submission of any type of fic be it slash, het, gen, subversive or non-subversive, alternative universe or canon rigid. FanLib's official contests run in conjunction with intellectual property holders might have required that people write inside the box to win cool stuff, but they didn't have to do that in order to archive works on the site from those fandoms. It was still an open field for fandom to be as creative as they wanted.
In the end, trends indicate that FanLib shall continue to grow as part of the fannish community. They've created a sustainable project, which will be around for many years to come.