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cruiscin_lan ([personal profile] cruiscin_lan) wrote2010-04-11 08:34 pm
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A Guide for Fandom Newbies.

A Guide for Fandom Newbies.

Might as well get this out there right off the bat: I have a bleeding heart for fandom newbies.

I don't know why. Maybe it's because my initiation into fandom came with much kindness, acceptance, and handholding - all from one particular lovely stranger on the internet, who saw my plea for help on the TWoP forums, and gently led me over to LJ and introduced me to communities and users who inspired and encouraged me ([livejournal.com profile] aurilly, you're still the best). Never in my fandom experience have I been made to feel bad for what I like to do, even though my taste and interests can seem admittedly questionable. Never in my fandom experience do I feel as though I've been unfairly attacked or flamed. And always in my fandom experience I've felt as though there are others around I can approach for advice or encouragement or answers, and I really wish that others could have the same kind of fun, exciting, and welcoming experiences I have.

At any rate, I get irrationally upset when I see newbies slighted or insulted or mocked because they're still getting used to the social mores of either fandom in general, or because they don't fully understand the rules (explicitly stated or unspoken) of the communities or forums they participate in. I wish everyone could be a little more tolerant; when someone makes a mistake, point it out and suggest how to correct the error, instead of getting capslock-happy and running them down without offering a solution or encouragement.

Still, if you post spoilers without cutting them, or double-post to news comms, or pull another similar stunt that indicates that you are still cutting your fandom baby-teeth, then it's your own responsibility to find out what you did wrong and correct the error.

So this post, newbies, is for you. Here is all the advice I can think of that might help you navigate your way through fandom, whether you're new to fandom in general or getting into fandoms that are new to you:

  • Make friends. They're fun to have. I've never met any of my fandom friends IRL, but they're still some of the people I consider nearest and dearest to me. There are lots of different ways to go about friending people, such as friending memes or finding people whose creative fanworks you appreciate and enjoy, but there's a variety of different ways to make friends (see point below). And don't be afraid to engage anyone in comments or via PM, no matter how much of a no-name you may feel next to them. We're all human, after all (except me - I'm actually a really sophisticated spambot, given how many times I've failed captcha lately). Most people would love to have a discussion with you - that's why they're in fandom, after all.

  • Participate. Sign up for exchanges. Dally on prompt memes. Read and comment on what other people write or draw or post. This is a great way to make friends.

  • Your kink/ship/genre/character interpretation/favorite color is not mine, but that's okay! It's great to have preferences. We all have certain preferences. But that doesn't mean we all have the same preferences, nor should we. Great discussions and meta can arise from the areas in which we disagree, but let's not get carried away with everything to the extent that we hurt others or allow ourselves to be hurt. There is no One True Way in fandom. (This could easily apply to many fandom oldbies as well).

  • Don't spam. Be wary of cross-posting the same information to several different communities. Users who follow the same communities will be annoyed because you'll effectively overwhelm their flists and bury other interesting posts.

  • If you're posting to a community, make sure your post is relevant to that community. Check the rules before posting so you do it right. Communities are not your personal journal, so you can't post whatever you want to them. If you're not sure whether your post is relevant, lurk more. See if it's already been posted, or see if it fits in with the other sorts of posts to that comm.

  • Cut any possible spoilery material, and learn the appropriate way to warn for spoilers. What counts as a spoiler? For the most part, anything that pertains to material that hasn't been aired or released could be considered spoilery. Videos of promos that have aired on television may or may not be considered spoilers, but I would suggest playing it safe and cutting those (videos are big anyway, and not everyone likes them popping up on their flist without a cut). When does a spoiler expire? Again, play it safe. If the episode aired last night or a few days ago, cut it and warn. How do I warn for spoilers? Be specific not about the spoiler itself, but about the canon material that it pertains to. "Spoilers up to Season 1, Episode 16," is a good example. "Spoilers for the third book in the series" is another. "If you know that Sylar and Quinn Fabray eloped at the end of The Deathly Hallows, then you're good" is not a good example.

  • Please, for the love of all things you may consider holy - spelling and grammar count for something. It's not that big of a deal, really, but it does affect how people perceive you, so be mindful of that. On the same note, read your comments out loud for tone, because sometimes words can convey meaning that's less explicit, and it's possible to cause offense without meaning to.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] scornedsaint: never be scared to ask for help. LJ (and html) can be scary--I've been here 6 years and I'm still trying to figure it all out. Either ask someone your friends with or PM the mod of a community and hopefully they will be kind enough to help. The same goes for fic--finding a someone to read over a fic is helpful because things can always slip by once you've read it so many times to yourself.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] aurilly: try to blend in... Newbies should use comments on other people's fic to get their personalities across, not fic headers.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] zinnydark: Don't shove your opinions down someone else's throat, but don't be afraid of them either. Throw you ideas out there and see what comes back to you. Jump in the fray; politely disagree or add on to someone's meta and see what happens. Sometimes you'll find the best people in those with opposite opinions. Debate is half the fun! If the discussion is getting a little heated and you're getting a little emotional, don't be afraid to walk away for awhile. People will think much less of you if you start name calling than if you don't respond at all.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] audaciously: Realize that your fandom(s) may not be someone else's preferred fandoms, but that's okay. Not everyone is going to want to be in a fandom for a specific shows. I have shows I absolutely adore, but I have no interest in participating in the fandom. This doesn't make me a bad fan. I'm also not a bad fan because I have more than one fandom. Some people have just one, and that's perfectly okay, but it is possible to split your time between multiple fandoms. We may share a couple fandoms, but there's no need to get mad at me if I have more loyalty to Fandom A over Fandom B. When it comes down to it, no one's a bad fan for having a different opinion.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] etoile_dunord: it's a good idea to give a nod to the rules/etiquette when posting to comms. Mention that you used the tags to look for similar posts before asking a question, for example, or use a comm's standard fic header. Even if you've done days of research before posting, not communicating that you know what you're doing will often leave people unsure how to react to you (or help you, as the case may be), and that will just discourage feedback/interaction, which nobody wants. Also, even if you're just trying to be respectful, prefacing posts/comments with something like "I hope this is ok," will only make people think you didn't bother checking the rules first. If it's ok, just do it. If it's not ok, no preface will change that.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] ipleadthe5th: Fandoms and forums aren't all created equal... Newbies will find it very useful to lurk and get a feel for the place before participating.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] bluejbird: the most important thing for newbies to remember is not to judge an entire fandom based on a couple of people. I think it's so easy to have a couple of bitchy people shout you down when you make a mistake, and drive you out of fandom because you assume everyone is going to act the same way.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] kitsune13: fandom is for the FANS. Fandom is *our* space to create what we want, and to connect with other fans about our favorite stuff. The actors -- as sweet and supportive and friendly and approachable as they seem -- are NOT fandom. There is nothing intrinsically shameful about anything we do, be it fanfic, fan art, vidding, whatever -- even RPF -- but, well, it's OUR stuff. And yeah, it's on the Internet, available for all to see. But fandom is a specific community context, with its own history and norms. Sometimes actors seek fandom out, but that's their own call -- everybody's entitled to engage with fandom in their own way, and that includes the actors. But it's not really appropriate for fans to try and bring fannish stuff to their attention -- that's not allowing other people (the actors) to control their own fandom experiences... If your fannish goals are centered upon some kind of imagined connection with the actors, that way lies disappointment and madness. But if your fannish goals are about having fun with other fans, with creating stories and art and meta and squee and what have you with others, through the medium of your chosen fandom/pairing/character, you'll have a much better time.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] biruuu: It doesn't hurt to sit on your hands once in a while until you figure out how everything works. At the same time, newbies shouldn't be scared to jump in whenever they feel like they're ready, and shouldn't feel too bad if they make mistakes at first (as long as they understand what those mistakes are and how to fix them).

  • from [livejournal.com profile] sajina: I always felt most comfortable when I know something more about the fandom before I join. Whether I've watched a couple of old episodes of a series (esp for long-running shows, like Stargate or Doctor Who) or read wikipedia entries (for example for information I might have missed about a certain character) - with a little background information a newbie could dive in discussions/comments a lot easier.

  • from [livejournal.com profile] takhallus: If someone does PM or otherwise try to give you some advice - take in the manner in which it's intended. People might pull you up on things but just apologise and get on with it. No-one will remember you made the mistake and you won't make it again.

  • Note for the oldbies: Please play nicely with all the new kids in the sandbox. When you throw sand it gets in everybody's eyes.

    I could come up with more (especially things that apply to writers of fanfic) but I think this is basic primer is good enough to start out on. Anything I missed, flist?

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