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Proposal:Fan History joining the WMF family

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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation

If not English, in what language is this proposal submitted?:


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 Foundation.


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.

Approach to documenting history:

Fan History is about preserving, documenting and writing fandom history. To this end, Fan History:

  • Does not have a requirement for article notability.
    • The belief is that all the little details help to give a complete and more accurate picture of what is going on and what went on in fandom.
    • The belief is intentionally excluding information can be seen as assigning value statements to fandom. As a history wiki focused primarily on documenting history, we don't feel that is our place to do that. It is the place of others.
    • The belief is if minor information becomes too tedious, segments can be moved to other pages to tell histories of subfandom in larger fandom communities. Example: Premiere dates are found on many fandom pages. They include international dates for release. If this information becomes too much, it can be moved to another page: Angel movie premiere date for Germany and other German X-Men fandom info can be moved from the X-Men page to a page called Angel fandom in Germany.
    • The belief is that little examples of activity can later be written into a more prose type article which can contextualize those events, to make them appear less random. Those little details might be emblematic of bigger trends that won't be visible until you have a whole lot of them.
    • The belief is that little details can be moved off an article, if they aren't important. Information should also be moved, rather than removed. This belief is reinforced in our rules.
  • Does not have a have a list of people, fandoms and topics that cannot be mentioned.
    • The belief is that such a list would make it difficult to accurately present a history of fandom.
    • The belief is that cross checking such a list would create an unreasonable burden on wiki administrators and other contributors by requiring that they cross check such a list every time an edit was made.
    • The belief is that would run counter to the wiki spirit.
  • Reserves the right to not delete articles about people and events.
    • The belief is that doing this may involve forms of historical revisionism and that some events need to be told, outweighing the need for requests to delete.
  • Is about telling fandom history from the point of view of fans, by using a perspective that defines fandom internally, rather than externally.
    • The belief is that the method for critiquing ourselves is the most appropriate way to share this history.
    • The belief is that external methods for critiquing fandom may involve theoretical models that do not work in practice or that may be rejected by large parts of fandom.
    • The the belief is that fans are the most knowledgeable about their own history and can best put events in fandom into historical context.

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 female.
    • 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 resource.
    • 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://wmf4.me/81f7e to the same policy used by WMF.
    • As Wikia was willing to acquire us and indicated changing ours was not a problem, we are not that concerned.
  • Remove images with problematic copyright issues.


Fan History's motivation for proposing this is further our own mission.

Key Questions

  • Will this help WMF meet its mission?
  • Would this be a good thing for Fan History?
  • What compromises would need to be made by both sides?
  • What sort of autonomy would Fan History be given inside WMF?

Potential Costs


Fan History documents

Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Fan History joining the WMF family.

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