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September 26th, 2009

Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value For Nielsen Ratings

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I found the following paper interesting and thought I would share it. It discusses the prediction value of fanfiction fpr Nielsen Ratings. Written by Laura Hale.


On January 15, 2009, CSI had one of its highest rated episodes all season. On that day, people published 26 new pieces of fan fiction, the most stories posted on the same day as an episode had aired. On September 25, 2008, CSI had it third lowest ratings day all season and people posted zero new stories on that date.

Fan fiction is a really popular outlet for fan expression of interest in television shows. The stories are creative, explore plot lines in the show and, according to many fans, help market a series in a positive way. Fans often argue that their activities mirror larger interest in a show, and that producers should pay more attention to them and cater to their fannish interests as the example provided seems to demonstrate. Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value for Nielsen Ratings tests this fan theory and answers the question: Does the volume of fan fiction published in the period around when an episode airs correlate to Nielsen Ratings?

To answer this question, fan fiction daily posting stats were gathered for the one week period around television shows where fan fiction communities existed and Nielsen Ratings were available for that show. The fan fiction data was compiled from six archives: FanFiction.Net,, FanWorks.Org, FicWad, SkyHawke, and Freedom of Speech Fan Fiction. The Nielsen Ratings data included over 720 episodes representing thirty-nine shows. Once this data was compiled, it was analyzed using Pearson’s Correlation and linear regression.

The results confirmed what many fans already suspected: Levels of fan activity, specifically in terms of the production of fan fiction, mirrors interest specific episodes of television. Fan fiction can be used to predict Nielsen Ratings. The predictive value is strengthened in several cases when it is broken down by network, genre or specific television show. The best networks for predicting Nielsen Ratings are CBS, The CW, Disney, Fox and USA. Comedy, crime comedy, crime drama, medical comedy and sports drama are the best genres for predicting Nielsen Ratings. The strongest correlations for television shows for predicting Nielsen Ratings are Burn Notice, CSI, Eli Stone, Friday Night Lights, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Hannah Montana, Heroes, iCarly, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Life, Prison Break, Psych, and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles.

This information is potentially valuable to parties with a vested interest in a television show’s performance. By analyzing content patterns around periods with high volumes of fan fiction and high Nielsen Ratings, comparing that to periods of low posting volume and lower Nielsen Ratings, producers can make changes to maintain high interest amongst fans. Non-American television networks and advertisers can better predict how their shows will perform. This method of analysis can help organizations save money as it is cheaper to monitor and track than other analytic tools.

A copy of "Fan Fiction’s Predictive Value for Nielsen Ratings" can be found at:

The appendix can be found at:

August 5th, 2009

Writercon 2009, Minneapolis Panels

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I have posted write-ups of several panels held at last weekend's Writercon and thought I'd link to them here.

They are:

If You Build It They Will Come
Hurt/Comfort in Fan Fiction
The Role of Genre and Tropes in Writer Creativity and Reader Engagement
Podfic 101
Cage Match: Science vs. Magic

July 25th, 2009

This is fandom?

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I took a look at Participate: The Revolution of Fan Culture (which made me wish that, as in most cases where "revolution" is used, people used the more appropriate "evolution.") About 16 minutes in, it discusses fanfic and references LJ. However it gives only a passing nod to the vast amount of participation in places such as FFN and LJ, to focus instead on fan films and the fans who have become part of the entertainment industry (all the interviews are with people who make a living or make money from fans). This odd skew was perhaps most apparent in one interview segment where Lucas is referenced as the fanboy who changed things by being a geek and making a geek film. I thought an even better argument for Lucas being a fan and a revolutionary was what Lucas did for the technical side of filmmaking, not to mention the financial side by demonstrating the incredible empire-building power of merchandising. What troubled me is how "Participate" skewed the definition of fan, and also suggested that the "revolution" in question was in fact the commercialization of fandom.
Read more... )

May 23rd, 2009

Tracing usage

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I've mentioned in my personal blog that I think 2009 is the year when fan fiction has become, if not a mainstream pastime, at least a term understood by many in the media and requiring less explanation in the press. What interests me though, is how this term is being re-interpreted by a wider audience to become, less about actual fan fiction, than about what the speaker sees as related issues. In some cases we may agree with them, in others, the usage seems a little nebulous.

For example, this blurb in the L.A. Times discusses trailer vids as part of the "fan fiction universe." While I personally feel trailer vids aren't nearly as similar to fanfic as, say, AU vids, or commentary vids that do interesting things with POV, I would agree with the title which slots creative fan work in visual form along with its written form. In a similar vein, Jon Stewart's use of the term to describe FOX news' creative reinterpretation of facts, grasps the spirit of fanfic (even though I doubt much political fanfic has actually tread that particular ground).

On the other hand, this post about the accurate imagineering of a car seems to be using the title to describe creative speculation. While this certainly describes some forms of fanfic, it's a bit of a stretch to apply it to car design specifically. More importantly, while fanfic is certainly speculative, this seems to put a certain emphasis on anticipating canon which seems to be very typically male to me – as if the purpose of fic is to guess (correctly) where canon will go and "winning" if one guesses right.

Whereas it seems to me that most fanfic I read seems to take a very different POV about canon, in exploring areas it's not expected to go, or reworking areas where it's been. Whether with characters or storylines, the fanfic focuses on reopening doors that have been closed off, or blazes new trails, sometimes ones where the creators were unable or unwilling to go.

All of which is to say, in what ways do we see the wider media grasping the elements of fan fiction in its more traditional sense, and where is it being broadened or applied in rather different ways?

April 18th, 2009

Poll on Recs - Fun! Take! Also, Pimp my poll!

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I made a poll - in two parts, actually - on Recs.

Part I. Recs: Who/When/Why? is here at my IJ. It asks about how often you follow recs, like to see them, who and what they're good for, and so forth. Plus, ticky boxes!

Part II. Recs: What? How? is here at my IJ (the following post). It asks: "On a scale of 1 (NEVAH) to 5 (OMGYES) with 3=*shrug*, I like to see recs that .... " and then there are various extensions, such as "I like recs that:
... include some rating of how much you liked it (stars or such)
... quote some of the fic
... do not say it's OMG PERFECT if it isn't
and more!!!

I would *love* for a bunch more people to take it. So far, the 15+ answers are indicating some very solid trends regarding how much detail, of what kinds, a "good" rec should have (to be widely interesting). But there are some fascinating splits in opinion too, as well as a few surprises.

There are many reasons people like recs. Most say they like a lot of them - at least one or two every day - yet most fans admit they only "sometimes" go read or view the recced work.

Why is this? Are recs being presented in ways that could work better? Do they reach the right people? Mention the right things?

Please take the survey and help fill in the picture! Thank you so much. I will compile the results in a while, or if anyone else wants to do things with them, collaboration would be FTW! Both polls are public, and wide open for comments.
Tags: , ,

Poll on Recs - Fun! Take! Also, Pimp my poll!

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I made a poll - in two parts, actually - on Recs.

Part I: Who/When/Why? is here at my IJ.

Part II: What? is here at my IJ (the following post).

I would *love* for a bunch more people to take it! So far, the 15+ answers are indicating some very solid trends regarding how much detail, of what kinds, a "good" rec should have (to be widely interesting). But there are some fascinating splits in opinion too, as well as a few surprises.

There are many reasons people like recs. Most say they like a lot of them - at least one or two every day - yet most fans admit they only "sometimes" go read or view the recced work.

Why is this? Are recs being presented in ways that could work better? Do they reach the right people? Mention the right things?

Please take the survey and help fill in the picture! Thank you so much. I will compile the results in a while, or if anyone else wants to do things with them, collaboration would be FTW! Both polls are public, and wide open for comments.
Tags: , ,

January 29th, 2009

Are you reading less?

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Having come across the Google Insights page today, I decided to try out some fandom related searches. The results suggested that there has been a steady decline in fan fic searches over the last four years.

December 7th, 2008

Which fandoms produce good fanfic?

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I have a question which I hope someone out there can answer. A friend has been reading the Dresden books and enjoyed the SciFi series. She wanted to know if I could point her to any good fanfic. Unfortunately, I didn't watch the show (and haven't much enjoyed the books) so I've no idea if there is much of a fan base out there. Anyone have any pointers?

She also raised another interesting question which has made me go all thinky. She wanted to know what sorts of source materials I thought tended to give rise to a lot of good fanfic. Of course, the big problem with that question is how does one define "good fanfic"? Really, the answer seems to be that, if you are finding a lot of fanfic that you want to read, and it proves satisfying once you read it, then that fandom has a lot of "good" fanfic.

So, putting aside the fact that many of us are going to have different ideas of what "good" is, I am still intrigued by the question itself. So I thought I'd put it to a vote. What factors does a canon text have that you think contribute to a substantial body of good fanfic?

Take the Poll!

October 22nd, 2008

Acafen vs Squeefen, round 235

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The last few rounds of [info]metafandom have focused on the aca-fen vs anti-aca perspectives on enjoying fic. And it's moving along in predictable patterns. (Not because they're inane or boring patterns--I find them fascinating every time--but because they've been done before, and there's only so many directions this can go.)

Phase 1: "I not acafan; I no like acafandom. Acafandom=mean."
Response: "Wy u no like acafandom? U dumm. Acafandom=fun."
Phase 2: "Stoopid ppl no like acafandom. They dumm."
Response: "Thx for dis post; ur rite, they dumm."

(Hopefully, by writing that in Kitteh, it's obvious that I'm exaggerating to make a point, and nobody actually called anyone else "stoopid" or "dumm.")

Notice what's missing? )

September 8th, 2008

Rowling wins Lexicon case--but only barely

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Quick note on break from work.

Final Decision

(Can I say how much I despise JBig compression? Of course I can. Will anyone reading this have any idea what I'm talking about? Of course not.)

It was indeed ruled infringing. However, "a reference guide based on existing books" was not; just this case. At a quick overview, he seems to have quoted a hair too much, and not have arranged things in quite a unique enough way. In LJ's Fandom_Lawyers, Heidi8 points out that "they only awarded damages of $750 - the minimum allowed per statute - for each of the nine books."

(Sometime soon, I'll have a searchable version of the PDF available if anyone would like that.)

Excerpts inside )

August 28th, 2008

What is RPF anyway?

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Someone on my flist posted about a newfound enjoyment of specific kinds of SPN RPS, and asked about other people's changing attitudes towards the genre. I was going to answer but figured this would get long so I decided to write a post instead.

I think everyone agrees that RPF/RPS is a form of fanfic, though why this agreement exists seems less clear. I would guess that it's because (1) It's usually written by fans, who are often writing other kinds of fanfic (2) It's non-commercial (in many respects) and (3) It follows various fanfic conventions that we see in FPF whether that's format, archiving, tropes, and so on. So it kind of looks and quacks and waddles similarly even if many circles consider it an uglier form of duckling.

But is it really? Take the survey!

August 16th, 2008

Fanworks-relevant copyright case: Kelly v. Arriba Soft

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I've been thinking about the case of Kelly v Arriba Soft. Short synposis: Arriba Soft Corporation, later, had an image search engine with thumbnails. Leslie Kelly insisted that their use of his images constituted copyright infringement--these are entire images, resized to thumbnails, offered without permission, for commercial purposes. The courts disagreed; they ruled that thumbnail images are fair use. (There was also an issue of inline linking, "click the thumbnail to see the full image." That part was less resolved--but less relevant to fandom; we don't have a "click on fanfic to open the original book or movie" option.)

PDF of final ruling available at 20030707_9th_revised_ruling.pdf; opinion filed February 6, 2002; withdrawn July 7, 2003; re-filed July 7, 2003.

The ruling mentions: "Although Arriba made exact replications of Kelly’s images, the thumbnails were much smaller, lower-resolution images that served an entirely different function than Kelly’s original images." I think of fanfic as working with the textual equivalent of "thumnails" of the original: short snippets that let you identify characters, places, timelines--but with a different purpose from the original. And while, unlike search engines, it's hard to claim that fanfic has a great public benefit, it is easy to claim that it's a creative art--and unlike search engines, it's noncommercial. This may balance out the original first-factor aspect of the ruling.

Checked against the four factors, with quotes from Wikipedia: )

I am not a lawyer. I am not a law student or paralegal. This is not legal advice. Rather, this is a way to think about the "copying" involved in fanfic and other fanworks: the use of elements created by someone else, edited and arranged for different purposes and a different audience. A work which aguably enhances the market value of the original (and I only say "arguably" because I don't know of any hard statistics, although we seem to all be aware that more fans=more money for original and more fanstuff=more fans).

This, much more than the Acuff-Rose case, may be the legal ruling most relevant to fanworks creators.

(crossposted at my journal & [info]metametameta.)

August 14th, 2008

Thursday prompts for Meta Friday

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We will all kindly ignore how many of these I've skipped. The lack of Thursday prompts has been an illusion; you just didn't see any you liked. Those were not the prompts you were looking for; scroll along.

Today's topic is Corporate Greed. (Wanna guess what inspired that?)

The best things in life are free; but you can give them to the birds and bees--I want money )

August 4th, 2008

Severus/Remus in canon

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Apologies if you've already read this, but I blame [info]slashpine, who suggested I posted here. 3000 words or so of meta about moments in canon where a relationship between Severus and Remus looks like a real possibility.

Snupin Canon )

July 28th, 2008

A question and a plea for help

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I recently heard about the whole Fan History wiki drama and I was horrified to find that there was a page for me there, along with links to my old site on FFN. I have written to Laura at FH and she's taken my page down which is fine.


I started my FFN page in 2000.  I haven't logged in there in about 5 years. I desperately want to take my stuff off FFN but (a) I don't remember my password and (b) I no longer have the email address I used on FFN. So therefore a password recovery doesn't work.  Nowhere on FFN can I find any sort of link to any kind of customer service, contact email address or anything of that sort.

Does anyone know how I can get in touch with someone at FFN who can get my account and content deleted, before Fan History's bots trawl it again and re-post it?

July 27th, 2008

Back to Basics: Slash Thoughts

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When I first started reading slash, it was Kirk/Spock, generally Pon Farr or "forced to perform for the aliens" stories. Then I lost track of fanfic for a long stretch, then I was introduced Harry Potter fic--a Snape/Harry AU slavefic where Voldemort had won the war. (I likes it dark.) Eventually, after reading hundreds of HP stories and dozens of Trek:TOS stories, and a handful of other fandoms, I started looking at *everything* through "slash goggles."

I never see a TV show or movie without deciding which characters are most slashy (House/Wilson, Dent/Wayne), and which would be interesting but not particularly believable (Chase/Foreman, Joker/Gordon). By "believable," I mean of course "as a relationship;" any two characters could ingest the sex pollen and bang, there we have it.

My husband will never forgive me for this, for pointing out slashy pairings in commercials. (I mean, commercials for movies, not ones that have their own slashy pairings. I have got to get around to writing that Geico caveman fic.)

So--as this is a "spark conversation" post, not a "what elf thinks about slash" post:
  • Do you wear slash goggles?
  • Do you put them on sometimes and take them off at others, or are they permanent implants?
  • Have you discovered clash-of-slashvision with friends, where you saw entirely different reasonable pairings from a show?
  • Did you run across a fic or essay that made you completely reconsider a pairing?
  • Are there crossover pairings you're dying to read, but you know nobody is going to write?
  • Have any other slash-related thoughts you've been wanting to share, but considered the subject too basic to write "official meta" about?

July 26th, 2008

The Ongoing Situation

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Link Roundup:
On July 19, [info]purplepopple/partly_bouncy/Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale (she is public about all these names) made a post on fanthropology about "How to maintain fandom privacy." (I'd link to it, but it's gone now.) It was a list of 15 things like "always assume anything you post online may become public" and "never give out your real name, even in locked posts" and "do not join social networking sites, message boards, or public fanfic archives." She also either changed fanhistory's policies, or reminded people that they existed--and these were there standards for respecting people's privacy: if the information can be found online, it's okay to make it easily googled.

It was, to say the least, not well-received.

Ithiliana posted How to Save Fandom From Being Outed by The Mean Girlz (TM). And Dejana posted Sometimes a brain can come in quite handy, pointing out that
partly_bouncy got ahold of astolat's real name. It's entirely possible it was posted in an obvious place and should have been better protected, and was added to FanHistory without anyone knowing that was Not Okay. Accidental outings happen. But then people tried to remove the info and... the site owner restored it.
If it's ever been revealed anywhere, FanHistory feels it has a right to print it, whether or not you object, and the precious line between fandom life and real life will not be respected. Even if it was posted under a friends lock. Even if it was said to a buddy in chat. If it's out there, they're taking it. All for the sake of, I assume, some pompous desire to bring The Truth to the world, whether or not it's actually useful or relevant to anything.
And they're off... Details and links inside ) It's a huge wankfest. If you like wank, follow links, read other posts in the journals, read the comments... it's all gone 'splodey. If you don't like wank... I recommend staying away from the wiki in question, and not giving her any more ad revenue or site hits she can use to try to pimp fannish activity to her potential investors.

Because we deserve better.

July 20th, 2008

OTW discussions

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Reposted & slightly expanded from a comment in a thread at LJ, because I'd like to see a broader range of discussion on the topic.

There's a new round of [info]metafandom discussions about the OTW, sparked by the NPR interview with Rebecca Tushnet. My husband heard it; he said it made fanfic sound very normal--a hobby with some exotic fringes, which sounded like "suburban ladies hire a stripper for a bachelorette party," not like "weird lesbian sluts corrupting cultural icons." Anyway. OTW went public, which stirred up some controversy. (I haven't heard the interview; I missed it on NPR, and I can't listen to their stuff--it's streaming sound only, which is incompatible with dialup.)

The discussions about the interview have hit several journals. Some pro-OTW, some anti-OTW, some WTF-is-OTW. And a lot of the anti-OTW post have screened or blocked comments that are either pro-OTW or argumentative about terminology (which is not always the same.)

Thoughts on the Pro/Anti OTW discussions )
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