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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006, 12:41 am

I've noticed that nobody else has posted about this, so I thought I'd bring it to the comm's attention: The Msscribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography by "Charlotte Lennox."

Aside from some great general history of the Harry Potter fandom, the "biography" also charts the actions of constantine/delawarean/delewarean from 2001 forward, with some rather dramatic--and often well-documented--claims about wank, sockpuppets and fen behaving badly. It's created a massive splash in the fandom, especially because so many BNFs in multiple sectors are mixed up in it, and the final denoument is still (at the time of this posting) to come.

I'm the one who made the post about broad fandom factors contributing to wank--this is almost like a case study of a single individual who apparently brought a lot of spooge to the yard. Even people outside the fandom might find this interesting, if only in the trainwreck sort of way.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 06:50 am (UTC)

I glanced at it, but I didn't understand a word of it. So very different, I'm glad to say, from the home life of my own dear fandom.
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 09:49 am (UTC)

Why is it important that this "history" be preserved?
This question always starts up in my head when old fandom events get dragged up. It's one of those fascinating things about human nature in general that we're all interested in our history and where we come from and in terms of fandom we don't have so many books/museums/school history lessons to tell us so we seem to create our own ways of keeping these stories alive.

Thing is fandom moves so fast and if you read all the bad_penny stuff there are places where it explains that posts have been capped before they disappeared and that interests me because if this hadn't happened now and in 5 years someone tried to look abck would they have been able to piece this togehter?

I hate the pain that bringing this all up again is creating but as a historian I am very interested in how we as a stupidly fast moving fandom community are finding ways to remember not just the good bits but the bad as well and it makes me wonder what else we've forgotten.

< / long winded ramble>
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC)

Maybe there should be a fandom_joy community, and people could post about lovely fandomy things that happened to them...
It's nice to be nice...

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 11:59 am (UTC)

Why is it important that this "history" be preserved?

This post by gives some good reasons why. It is, as she says, an important sociological document; in years to come I'm sure researchers will be earnestly trying to write books about online interaction and fandom communities. It is history, even if it's going on now.
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 12:59 pm (UTC)

Remember the couple of "Why can't fandom get along?" posts from not too long ago?

The shit msscribe pulled is why.

If you read the whole thing -- comments included -- you'll see one section of HP 'shippers going "Now I know why my 'ship was hated so much. I never understood it -- I wasn't around when this happened!" You'll also see "opposing team" shippers with lightbulbs having a similar reaction of "So this is why there's been so much bad blood..." You can see some parties on both sides trying to bury old grudges.

And, please, before you dismiss this as "just fandom crap", go read Charitywank. The only fandom_wank report ever locked has been made public (with replies frozen, for reasons that will be clear) so people can understand msscribe, along with others, went beyond "just fandom" to publically attack a sick woman whose daughter dared to burst the bubble "HP fandom takes care of its own."

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)

I think the drive to presevere fandom history is related to fandom as a self-conscious entity. It's one thing to like a media property, but to consciously self-designate as a fan and get together with other self-designated fans, that creates a unique community, and there's always interest in knowing the history of your community.

In the Msscribe case, I think there's also a sense of "cautionary tale" about the story. She as able to pull off her deceits because the fandom was (is) fragmented and relations among important people (archivists and admins as well as BNFs) were wank-ridden and mistrustful. In a way, it serves as a warning about how to handle major crises within a fandom, which may or may not have been among Charlotte's intentions.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)

I don't know what is more weird- that someone allegedly did all of these things, or that someone took the time to document it in such detail! Though, I suppose it is the more unusual of things that are historically remembered.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)

I guess the answer has always seemed pretty self-explanatory to me. We're a community (although not, perhaps, a very cohesive one.) And as such we're always going to be talking about more than just the one topic that brings us together. I don't think there's a single person on my friendslist who managaes to only talk canon all the time (although it could be argued that this has more to do with who I friend than anything else.) So the fact that we're all interacting with each other seems to naturally give way to friendships and arguments both. Let's face it, for most of us? Canon is great but it's not the only reason we participate in fandom. So I don't really get the question. This stuff happens because it's the nature of interacting through a format like livejournal where people are encouraged to blog about their lives and not just the newest harry potter book. Livejournal is not a single format discussion list, it is a (somewhat) open community of people who have some similar interests and some original ones who all communicate with each other.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)

I've actually noticed an increased conciousness about fandom history lately in my discussions with various people. I think it's a sense that fandom, especially in the age of easy information - and easy deletion - needs to preserve its history.

Though oddly, I hear about it often mentioned in the negative - about preserving the history of negative events. Which makes me wonder if there's indeed a cautionary element to it.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 07:49 am (UTC)

broad fandom factors contributing to wank

It might have to do with the fact that the source property of this particular fandom was unequivocally aimed at children, and at adults who, for whatever reason, prefer children's books to adult ones. The whole thing is full of cliques and manouevring for position at the centre of in-groups, just like the playground of a girls' school. I'm sure plenty of HP fans are adult, and act it, but by its nature such a fandom must attract many who are either going through adolescence or stuck in it.
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 10:22 am (UTC)

do they have the same prevalence of wank as HP fandom?

I don't know either (this is always the problem with crossfandom discussions, isn't it?) But does the very fact that we don't know argue that there is something special about HP, which everyone knows is full of poison? Hell, I never read an HP fic in my life, and I've still read the shipper wars, with a sort of horrified, distant fascination! I'm still trying to get over the amount of venom I saw displayed towards JK for daring not to believe in a particular ship...
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 11:38 am (UTC)

That all sounds reasonable, especially the last bit. I come from a small fandom with no real BNFs, and there are folk once in it who have now moved elsewhere in fandom, but whom I still know and interact with because they're them.

OTOH, I've dipped a toe in one other fandom, again pretty small, which seems basically civilised but did have a very acrimonious personal bust-up a while ago (over whether someone's artwork was completely original or based on photos; it's amazing what seems to matter enough to start a war about). Knowing each other personally (even cyber-personally) probably works in small fandoms' favour most of the time, but when things do go wrong, I can imagine it would get very bitter.

Dr Who fandom also seems to have more than its fair share of fans who loathe the ground that carries each other, but I don't know if that's a "big" fandom by today's standards?
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)

What went on in B7 in those days (before my time; it's really unusually amicable now) was specifically focused on slash and anti-slashers (though there might well have been other motives behind it). That's a divide that seems ro cross all fandoms (and again might be specially important in one like HP where some would see any sex as inappropriate because of the source material being kids' stuff).

Certainly you get aggro in all fandoms from time to time, but what's odd about HP is that there don't seem to be any quiet friendly times.... Though no doubt it's also possible to be in the fandom, keep away from that sort of thing and never notice it.
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Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 10:35 am (UTC)

I wonder if that can be traced - at least partially - to the sheer size of the fandom.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)

the source property of this particular fandom was unequivocally aimed at children, and at adults who, for whatever reason, prefer children's books to adult ones.

That sentence actually represents a strong point of contention within HP fandom. Many fans--including educators and academics--choose not to read the books as children's literature, or see no point in dichotomizing "children's books" and "adult ones." I, personally, see nothing wrong with reading a book marketed to kids, especially when I find the writing style better and the story more engaging than much of the stuff marketed to adults. (Danielle Steele, anyone?)

That said, though, you do bring up a valid point: because of the way the HP property is marketed, it includes a diverse group of fans with often conflicting expectations about the canon and about fandom. In my earlier post to this comm, this came up in the comments, along with other factors that also apply particularly to HP fandom--massive size, fractious fandom, open canon, etc.

HP fandom is quite wanky, but then again, so is the discipline of linguistics, and I don't think think you can blame that one on linguists categorically being stuck in adolescence.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC)

Many fans--including educators and academics--choose not to read the books as children's literature

How they read it is their affair but it doesn't alter the age level at which the author was aiming it (pretty low, in the first two or three books).

I, personally, see nothing wrong with reading a book marketed to kids, especially when I find the writing style better and the story more engaging than much of the stuff marketed to adults. (Danielle Steele, anyone?)

But why choose Danielle Steele as a comparison? Why not Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Tolstoy... Of course well-written children's literature is better than airport schlock like Steele (not that I admire JKR's writing, which strikes me as fairly two-dimensional).

We all read kids' stuff for relaxation. I do, and certainly see nothing wrong with it. But I would be worried about myself if I didn't also read something more demanding. Mind you, the sort of people involved in that fandom saga cannot have the time to read anything.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC)

I'm sure plenty of HP fans are adult, and act it, but by its nature such a fandom must attract many who are either going through adolescence or stuck in it.

I think that's a very unfair statement to make. It's like saying "Star Trek attracts mostly people who have no social skills, so that's why they all live in their mother's basements and retreat into a fantasy world." This is, of course, not true at all. Sure, maybe some Trek fans are like that, but that's a very small minority of Trek fans. Making blanket assumptions about why someone is attracted to a certain fandom is, quite frankly, very rude. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I heard that George Lucas has stated that he views kids as one of the primary target groups for the Star Wars movies. On a different note, JKR has repeatedly stated that she doesn't view her books as solely kids books. It was marketed towards children, it's about children, but the author has said she writes the books for all audiences, not just children. Of course, this is different than writing primarily for adults, but like I said, Star Wars was also created for an all-ages audience.

Having said that, though, your claim does have some validity. Since HP is marketed to children as well as adults, a lot of the fandom is young, and this is their first experience in fandom, so they're more susceptible to deceit. However, the people being the wankiest are adults. I don't think it's because being a fan of Harry Potter makes you "stuck in adolescence," but because the fandom is enormous. The larger the population, the more likely it is that there's going to be crazies. Not only that, but it began after internet use was already established as a mainstream thing. Because of this in not only HP but other fandoms, communication is easier than it's ever been. The downside of this is that it gives more opportunities for people with different opinions to fight.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)

Hi, sorry for butting in.

and this is their first experience in fandom, so they're more susceptible to deceit.

For me, that's the key reason. Many of the "well known" or "important" HP fans (trying to avoide the BNF term here) were relatively new to fandom when they got into Harry Potter. Whatever age they happened to be, their inexperience with fannish things made them more susceptible.

There were quite a few experienced fans in HP fandom at the time, but it seemed to me that those fans weren't as involved in HP as the fandom newbies. They were on the fringes, and didn't become involved in the politics and fannish wars and such. A few things pinged the radar of the more experienced fans (like, her story about losing her job--just didn't sound right), but since they weren't very involved in HP as a fandom, they didn't dig into it more deeply.

Of course, I could be completely mistaken about the make-up of earlier HP fandom, but that was my impression.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)

Whatever age they happened to be, their inexperience with fannish things made them more susceptible.

Exactly. Barring the ones that really were being wanky, immature assholes, the generally nice fans who were taken in by all this came across as inexperienced in fandom ways, and inexperience does NOT equal immaturity.

Tue, Jun. 20th, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC)
eveningblue: fascinating story

Thank you for posting this link! I am not in HP fandom, nor have I even read any of the books, but I started reading and got completely sucked in. Charlotte Lennox is a very good writer and Msscribe a fascinating creature. Gripping.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)

I've been hearing about this, and usually by the time I'm online I'm rarely able to muster the brainpower to dissect this. I'm literally going to need to set aside an evening to read this, and because of my perverse curiosity, I probably will.

What fascinates me is not just that this is posted, but also the discussion around it. Accusations the poster is herself the woman in question, or a BNF under an assumed name. Relations of experience. Generation of metawank, etc.

I'm just going to have to watch this.

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)

Heh - you'll need a whole evening. It logs in at about 90,000 words, not to mention the thousands of comments! Well worth it though, especially to someone interested in the social aspects of fandoms.

I know you didn't ask, but here's my two sense in regards to the identity of Charlotte: I think it is extremely unlikely that she's MsScribe. True, MsScribe has attacked herself with sockpuppets before, but it was always to present herself in the best possible light. There is absolutely no way that anyone reading this would think well of her. Also, Charlotte's style is very dry - there's no name-calling, spewing of vitriol, etc. MsScribe's puppets were always extreme assholes that attacked quite viciously.

My own guess? She's the same person behind mina_de_malfois. (Have you heard about her? She's a fabricated "BNF" of a non-existent fandom that gently pokes fun at the social aspects of all fandoms, reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse.) Both "Charlotte" and "Mina" have made references to being very good friends, which is odd since neither of them technically exist. : P As to the identity who's behind both of them (assuming one person is writing both)? No clue.

I'd be interested in reading your take on it after you've read it - you always have insightful things to say on the subject of "fanthropolgy." Moreover, you're an outsider, so you'd be able to be objective. I know I am personally too enraged to make any truly objective observations. : )

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC)

I have to admit that I read most of it, got lost in a lot of it, and watched the train wreck itself with a sense of deja vu.

In lesser detail, and lesser numbers, this happened in Rat Patrol fandom where a Mole got in, proceeded to spawn sock puppets, make miserable the lives of anyone who showed a vulnerability and was finally unmasked after making outrageous statements regarding RP fans meeting in the WTC during September 11th, and others.

She was unmasked in 4 well-written postings, and the fandom shook and bitched -- and 300 sock puppets proceeded to unsubscribe.

But the MSSCRIBE is vastly bigger and more vicious, and it needs documenting because this is a behavior that repeats itself over and over again, erupting faster and faster because of the Internet.

I was part of the Star Wars wars back in the early 1980s, Partly_Bouncy, and read your comments with some interest. If you want to talk with a person who was a well-known writer, and a survivor, message me and I'll put you in contact.

There is another fan war that doesn't come up much and that was Highlander where the factions for each actor proceeded to savage each other badly.

After SW, I have sat out most wars (except RP which got hit twice), but you can see it starting to explode in Dr. Who (via a friend's LJ who is deeply fascinated with the new Who.)

From my experience though, newbies don't listen until they've been thoroughly blooded -- and most of the blood will be theirs.