cest_what: (Default)
I swear that this is the last post I'm going to make on this subject, but I think I've worked out what it is about Homestuck's failings as a social fandom that bothers me so badly.

The problem is not that there's no one to talk to. I've been late to more than one fandom, and been pretty content wandering about abandoned fic archives reading everything I could and boring my friends list with my three-years-late flail.

The problem is that there's discussion going on, interesting and lively and highly visible discussion, but it's inaccessible. There's nothing wrong with a BNF-heavy fandom, BNF blogs can be really excellent sites of discussion and engagement and ideas. But not on Tumblr. Tumblr assumes that the goal is not mutual communication, but celebrity - many people hearing your voice and seeing your art, without you hearing anything from them that isn't related to you. So the only ways to speak to somebody are:

1) the Ask box, which you are expected to use to ask the cool and interesting opinions of the person you're talking to, not to express your own opinions

2) private messaging, which is explicitly called "fan mail", just to drive home that even though mutual communication is possible, it's not the point

3) commenting on posts, which is set up so that the only way for the poster to respond to a comment is to make a whole new post for it, again driving home that the point is not a conversation but feedback on your awesomeness

4) reblogging with commentary, which is understood to be a method of creating dialogue only secondarily, and at the original poster's discretion - there's no feeling that it's the polite thing to do to engage with the commentary on reblogs of your text posts. A lot of the time you probably don't even see it.

So because so much of Homestuck fandom has actually been born on Tumblr, rather than migrating there from LJ, fannish engagement is fundamentally constructed to be top-down, or centre-out. It's not that you can't engage with fandom ideas, it's that only the people immediately around you will hear. You can't affect the conversation. It's controlled - not deliberately, but controlled all the same - by people in the centre. Even writing fic doesn't feel like a contribution that affects fandom, with no conversation around it.

I feel, basically, as though I've been relegated to being a consumer of my own fandom. Like sitting on a couch with a small group of friends, chatting as we watch pop culture commentary on TV about something we love. I can talk about what they're saying with the person next to me, but that's about it.

(I know it's not quite as clear-cut as that, and that there's more than one hub of conversation, and that probably more gregarious people than me, or people more comfortable with the dynamic of Asks maybe, can manage to work this system to connect with the fandom in a meaningful way. But it's definitely a simile that works for me.)

The things I love to pieces about Homestuck fandom, the things that make it the best fandom I have ever been in, are that I adore the canon like nothing; that unlike the only other fandoms where I've loved the canon this much (due South and Hikaru no Go), it's also exactly the kind to inspire me to write the kind of stories I'm best at; that both canon and fic are full of girls; that it's also the most multi-shippy place I've ever been; and that people create the most AMAZING fanworks, I am constantly in awe of the fic and art and videos and everything else that fans of this webcomic create.

The thing that makes Homestuck the worst fandom I have ever been in is that, despite having written 6 Homestuck stories, having spent eight months reading and being excited about it, having talked about it everywhere I have a platform, having written meta, speculation, reaction to updates, having participated in a major fest, having recced fic, having engaged in every single way I know how ...

... I don't actually feel as though I'm in it.


Anyway, the conclusion I'm coming to is that, I guess, I can't actually do this anymore. I'm not going to stop loving the webcomic, and I'm not going to stop reading Homestuck fic at least fairly regularly, but I have to either pull back quite a bit from Fandom altogether for a while, or I have to branch out so that Homestuck isn't my only fandom.

So hey. Uh.

Avengers is cool, right?
cest_what: (skeleton ryan)
There was yet another round of "Oh god AO3 is going to the dogs or the teenie badficcers whatever" complaints in my corner of tumblr just recently. (Which is always sort of equal parts sad and hilarious, partly because it's the tumblrfication of tagging at AO3 that most gets to me anyway.) And basically what came out of it was a bunch of conversations about the kudos/hits ratio being the best marker of quality.

If you could sort by the kudos/hits ratio that would obviously be the best (although I guess it would create a skew against multi-chapter WIPs in the same way sorting by hits skews in favour of them), but it's still pretty invaluable, imprecise as it is.

Anyway, it made me really curious about how different my most popular fics list would be on this criteria rather than the hitcount one. So I spreadsheeted. 85% of my fic at AO3 was uploaded before the kudos system was introduced, so it's not hugely meaningful, but still, here are my top 10 most popular fics by kudos/hitcount ratio, with chatter:

A few of them are definitely surprising )

I'm increasingly glad for the kudos system. As a reader for the quality gauge and as a writer for the little parcel of reassurance every day that I'm not throwing words into a void. Fandom is so lonely and lacking in social engagement for me now, compared to what it was. I have a few excellent fannish friends, but I don't feel like I'm part of a community. Tumblr is so terrible as a fannish platform, the only way to talk to people you don't know is to reblog or comment in a way that requires them to make a whole new post to acknowledge you, or to use the Ask Box, which is all Please expand on your important opinions and not at all This is interesting and here are my thoughts - which is a dynamic that makes me way too uncomfortable to ever use Ask Boxes. And even with fic, even with well-received stories, you deal in handfuls of AO3 comments from strangers compared to piles of LJ comments from your extended friends list.

And I think the HSO is especially driving home the loss of a sense of actual community that I have going from Bandom to Homestuck? The HSO is the most vibrant, ridiculously active fanworks fest I have ever been involved in. And it's still. so. lonely. There's still so little conversation and feedback, it's just this whirlwind of creation. Which is awesome. But I miss knowing a whole crowd of other creators and having them know who I am, and having long comment thread discussions, and feeling like part of something.

But hey, every day I get a kudos email and I don't know till I open it if it's one person letting me know they appreciated that one fic I never liked very much, or if it's a super-popular day and there are a whole bunch. It's nice.

(This post brought to you by PMS and the fact that it's winter. You're welcome.)


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c'est what

October 2014

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