"how web 2.0 (and especially tumblr) is ruining fandom"
October 24, 2018 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Obligatory flippant comment: is there anything that "web 2.0" hasn't ruined?
posted by tobascodagama at 9:51 AM on October 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

they make some good points, but I kept reading and now I feel ill
I need a new, healthier interest, maybe volunteering at nursing homes or something
(not that I am blaming the Youth for all this; there have always been batshit insane fans, and a stroll through the 1980s entries of the Fanlore wiki will confirm this)
posted by Countess Elena at 10:01 AM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

> is there anything that "web 2.0" hasn't ruined?

I have the ability to consume more dog pictures than I would ever need to. I don't know which way that answers your rhetorical question.
posted by cirgue at 10:21 AM on October 24, 2018 [12 favorites]

some people react to the inability to get away from content that they hate by trying to force that content to stop existing entirely. without actual moderating authority, they accomplish this by social pressure, intimidation, and shame tactics.
An interesting essay, though there's one point I might modify: Even well-moderated communities have become echo chambers in the past few years, in my experience. If moderators don't enforce the ideological drift of the site's core members, all of those pressure/intimidation/shame tactics end up being used anyway until the moderators get aligned with the new community consensus.

Also, if somebody thinks that Web 1.0 was friendlier, they didn't spend much time on large mailing lists in the late 1990s or Usenet in the early 1990s. :->
posted by clawsoon at 10:24 AM on October 24, 2018 [20 favorites]

I will never stop thinking it’s extremely fucked up that creators will get less credit and more shit, for trying to be progressive and inclusive but falling short in some way, than creators who don’t try at all.
I am very interested in this at this exact moment, because I just read this great comment by Miko in a contentious MetaTalk thread which mentioned the black sheep effect from group dynamics theory. In short: People who are full ingroup members will be condemned more strongly for opinions that deviate from the group norms than marginal ingroup members or outgroup members will be.

There are some exceptions, like if a member of an opposing outgroup expresses an ingroup norm at the same time that an ingroup member expresses the opposing deviant opinion. In that case, the group sometimes moves toward the deviant view because we can't agree with those horrible people on the other side.

I'd use examples, but many of them are painfully-experienced Metafilter examples or stuff from unpleasant other places on the Internet.
posted by clawsoon at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2018 [11 favorites]

Usenet isn't Web anything.anything, it's Usenet.

But, yeah, the crux of this article, and the big thing I think everyone should take away, is in that quoted bit and this item in a big list:
mob rule and shame culture as substitutes for moderation features
In the absence of toothful moderation, the only way to shape a community and its context is through bullying, basically.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

C.f., uh, Usenet for more datapoints there.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Usenet isn't Web anything.anything, it's Usenet.

Thankfully, Metafilter's community norms still favour accurate nitpicking. +1.
posted by clawsoon at 10:55 AM on October 24, 2018 [14 favorites]

I will never stop thinking it’s extremely fucked up that creators will get less credit and more shit, for trying to be progressive and inclusive but falling short in some way, than creators who don’t try at all.

[Points obnoxiously to own insight]
posted by atoxyl at 10:57 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

That was a really interesting set of points, presented clearly and well argued. Thanks for posting it. I'm not one for fandom myself, but the thoughts presented go well beyond that and deserve some further reflection.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think this is casting some unnecessary shade on Tumblr:

- In my experience, the block/ban feature on Tumblr actually works really well.
- They completely ignore that fact than many people have multiple accounts/blogs.
- "following/unfollowing an individual has more social & emotional implications than joining/leaving interest communities" This applies to Facebook but is absolutely not true on Tumblr.
- "Unmoderated conflict is polarizing. Web 2.0 specializes in causing unmoderated conflict." This is making the assumption that Web 1.0 is always well moderated, with the exception of mefi thats almost never the case. In Web 2.0 everyone moderates their own stream.
- "tumblr bonus: no time stamps and everything you post is eternal" Not being able to delete other peoples reblogs is I think a feature, in the same way that mefi doesnt allow deleting your posts or comments. Tumblr does at least have urls which make it possible to navigate to old posts, unlike facebook or Instagram where anything older than about 2 days may as well not exist.
posted by Lanark at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

Oh man do I have a lot of feelings about this. I might still be in fandom today if everyone hadn't upped sticks and moved to Tumblr.

Livejournal was far from perfect, but Tumblr was like "Here's everything that's sub-optimal about LJ, plus a bunch of shit that is even worse, and also the UI doesn't make any sense to anyone over the age of 17." It seems purpose-built to generate passive-aggressive drama, but I guess drama = content! so it's a feature rather than a bug.

My LJ was locked down tight and it was a place that, if I wanted, I could talk shit about $fandompersonage and it was understood to be a private place for me to vent my spleen to my friends without involving the subject of my ire in any way. The way fandom on Tumblr operates, it's all just OUT THERE for everyone. You have to remember all these intricate tagging rules if you don't want klaxons to sound for the wrong person. I found it to be exhausting.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:20 AM on October 24, 2018 [24 favorites]

Usenet isn't Web anything.anything, it's Usenet.

Unfortunately, misplaced idealism. Usenet at this point is an idiosyncratic backend database to a few small illicit WEB content sharing search engines. There may be a few textual groups with some active holdovers but it's certainly 99.99% by volume text encoded media.
posted by sammyo at 11:25 AM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

when the reaction is righteous anger that everyone can reaffirm in one another, it creates an addictive emotional high. one way to reproduce it? find more enraging content to be mad about (and web 2.0 is happy to bring it to you).

As a recent social media quitter, this feels very relevant to me.
posted by ITheCosmos at 11:39 AM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I like Tumblr for a lot of things, mostly for artists of all sorts posting their work, some fandom stuff, and some mental health/neuroatypical discussion chains that are genuinely enlightening. But there's also quite a lot of what's talked about in the post above; tons of TERFing, SWERFing, and claiming that "'queer' is a slur" is received wisdom rather than an attempt to exclude bi/trans/ace/questioning/other forms of sexuality from gay and lesbian spaces, is all pretty par for the course. Plus, of course, just a whole lotta bullshit. It's a chore to have to sift through sometimes, TBH.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2018 [11 favorites]

The problem with block/ban lists is that if you are the target of a pile-on, you end up spending a very ugly afternoon playing whack-a-mole with trolls. Which is fine if it's one or two people, but I've seen pile-ons blow up to thousands of notes in hours. And it's an environment where you have entire social networks of people dedicated to using the search box to find people to pile onto.

And the inability to moderate content under your own posts means that they're quickly no longer your own. So tumblr has this cognitive dissonance going on where it's your "blog" in terms of superifical skinning, but you have minimal control of what happens under your blog.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

I might still be in fandom today if everyone hadn't upped sticks and moved to Tumblr.

Oh god, same here. And as well as all the reasons soren_lorenson mentions, I just can’t work out how to have a conversation on tumblr, one where multiple people weigh in and discuss one another’s points and it feels as natural and safe as if you were talking to your friends in your own home. So much of Web 2.0 seems based around giving you more!more!more! options, posts, people to follow, which is the exact opposite of what I need. I want to curate my experience for myself rather than rely on some algorithm to do it for me.

Of course Livejournal had its own fandom nastiness and explosions and pile-ons, but it all felt much less like a performance than Tumblr.

I really miss LJ.
posted by andraste at 1:35 PM on October 24, 2018 [15 favorites]

Tumblr does at least have urls which make it possible to navigate to old posts, unlike facebook or Instagram where anything older than about 2 days may as well not exist.

Oh, Tumblr’s working on hiding older posts. On the desktop, the best way to peruse older posts is to go to the blog’s Archive page. However, on the Tumblr mobile app (which Tumblr is slowly trying to move everyone to) you cannot view a blog’s archive. All you can do to find older posts is to scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, until you accidentally hit something you’re looking for. For older Tumblr blogs, it’s more like scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, ad infinitum. Older posts will become functionally deleted without actually deleting them.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:16 PM on October 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

LJ expats, I've been finding a lot of hope with pillowfort.io, which seems to be all the things I loved about LJ plus some nice Tumblr features with privacy and autonomy baked in. It's in beta right now but I really hope it takes off.
posted by fight or flight at 2:38 PM on October 24, 2018 [7 favorites]

Not being able to delete other peoples reblogs is I think a feature, in the same way that mefi doesnt allow deleting your posts or comments.

Except that it's a lot harder to tell the age of a reblogged post than a metafilter comment, and a reblogging makes everything seem new.

Sometime in 2014 I put up a tumblr post letting people know they could legally watch Gargoyles on youtube. It was true at the time. It hasn't been true for about two or three years, but the post still exists. Last I saw it, it had 25,000 likes/reblogs - some of those were just to comment that the links don't work, but because of the way that tumblr's reblogs work, that doesn't really slow down the spread. I've long since deleted the post, but I know it's still out there, gaining likes through intertia.

Now imagine that with something more insidious than a broken link to gargoyles on youtube.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:41 PM on October 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

(update: over 33,000 likes, though it's been a while since someone has tried to take me up on doing a rewatch this weekend)
posted by dinty_moore at 2:43 PM on October 24, 2018

I've been on tumblr for years, and I still have basically no idea how to go about, like, talking to people there. Back in the LJ days, I at least knew how to go about it, even if I mostly lurked in practice. On tumblr, I basically reblog into what feels like the void, and mostly steer clear of whatever the current Discourse is. It's really not a platform that in any way encourages community or discussion, and with no privacy controls, everything's some variety of public. Which is, I think, one of the biggest negatives about tumblr. A bit of bad luck can expose what you thought was a harmless post to the teeming masses, none of whom have context for your specific blog or online persona, many of whom are eager to take everything in bad faith. Or hell, bad luck can expose your legit bad post to the teeming masses, but whereas back in the day on LJ, you could have locked the post down and controlled your exposure to responses to it, there's not really any such option on tumblr, short of abandoning your tumblr wholesale and starting over.

In some respects, I didn't know how good we had it back in the LJ days. Fandom had its problems then too, but at least in LJ/DW based fandom, you could curate a moderated experience with communities and friends lists. As the linked post points out, tumblr leaves you with unmoderated tags to follow, and that's like moving from a nice cold water fountain located in a building that you have the key to, to an outdoor sewage spigot that sometimes has clean water but mostly doesn't, and flows in a constant torrent.

I straight up nearly never go into any fandom tag on tumblr. On the occasions that I do, because I'm looking for a photoset or gifset to reblog, I limit the tag to photo posts only, the better to get that trickle of clean water as opposed to the torrent of shit. It feels, to me, frankly impossible to do fandom via a tumblr tag subscription. I don't need all that sewage in my life. And, frankly, I have no interest in the hundreds or thousands of randos who are in a fandom tag. If I don't know you via fandom osmosis, or thanks to some fic or art or whatever, or thanks to some actual interaction we've had, I straight up don't especially care to have your shit all over my tumblr experience. Tumblr's really not good for cultivating that kind of network or community, it expects you to broadcast everything to everybody, unmoderated.
posted by yasaman at 2:48 PM on October 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

To those nostalgic for Livejournal: Has Livejournal changed in a way that has removed its old features that you like, or is it just that nobody you know goes there anymore?
posted by clawsoon at 2:58 PM on October 24, 2018

Livejournal is now owned by a Russian company and is now headquartered in Russia and they banned all LGBTQ content and are otherwise censorious. It's not a viable option anymore.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:00 PM on October 24, 2018 [16 favorites]

Ah. That would put a damper on things.
posted by clawsoon at 3:01 PM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I mean, there's the awkward affiliation with the Russian government, but most people I knew abandoned it long before that (because the Russian government was hacking lj).
posted by dinty_moore at 3:01 PM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I occasionally do wade through fandom tags, which is how I found out there are still people out there fighting the Ray wars 20 years later. In case we really want to get nostalgic for the way we were.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:03 PM on October 24, 2018

That said, all of Livejournal's functionality is recapitulated by Dreamwidth, which started as a clone of Livejournal that was not corporately owned and was owned and maintained by fannish interests. It remains hosted in the US and is largely funded by paid membership accounts. It's functionally the same as Livejournal without the risk of Strikethrough or Russian meddling--at least, no more than the rest of the internet. It also has the functionality to import entire Livejournal back entries and allow crossposting.

I've also been hanging out casually on Pillowfort, but I have a massive soft spot for DW.
posted by sciatrix at 3:04 PM on October 24, 2018 [11 favorites]

Dreamwidth has the same features as LJ, plus no censorship concerns and no advertising, but alas, it's lacking the actual active, big userbase. Since people can post fic straight to Archive of Our Own, and tumblr has all the fan art and other fannish activity, all the momentum and inertia are over on tumblr. And I guess twitter, and Discord.

I know I've left my DW to gather dust, and that's only partly because I'm getting my writing and/or screaming into the void out elsewhere. Fandom's moved to tumblr, twitter, and Discord, and if you want to still be in the fannish loop, you've got to maintain some presence on one of those. I await the next fandom platform migration; far bigger fish than me will be the ones to start the move and I and most others will just be following. Hope it's not to Discord, that's just fancy IRC.
posted by yasaman at 3:09 PM on October 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

My issue with the discords and slacks is that they're too closed - I feel like I'm wandering around the neighborhood hoping someone lets me in their clubhouse.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:12 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yes, I've never had a chance to get into one of those. Also, everyone on Tumblr, except for content creators who are using it as one of several outlets, is so young. Which is fine! I'm not going to go shake my cane over at kids on their own lawn. I check the tags to see cool fan art, fic and theories about stuff that interests me, but if I interacted I would feel like HOW DO YOU DO, FELLOW KIDS. I just wonder if I'm missing somewhere that fans in their late twenties, thirties and upwards go. (Possibly this is the universe telling me to grow the hell up and only read literary works that have been nominated for major prizes, but it can go on telling me that.)
posted by Countess Elena at 3:22 PM on October 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

One side of the problem is how the lack of boundaries on platforms like tumblr intersect with kink. In my experience back in the age of forums and MUDs, in order to get access you had to get through a warning screen, register, agree with some ground rules, and introduce yourself into the starting threads with community members on hand to suss out trolls and spammers. Of course there was lots of drama even with that, but you just couldn't just jump in and search for someone to harass or dox with a few keywords, and the kinky stuff was better sandboxed away from other fandom stuff.

But a lot of this is a cultural problem as well, with subcultures dedicated to finding people to "call out" and reward each other with little dopamine heart clicks and reblogs. Usually the target of that are people with a relatively small number of followers,which has made me deeply cynical of internet slaktivism. People take a low-effort and low-readership post, exercise the outrage muscle, and use that to justify their prejudices about large and diverse communities. You're not at all obligated to like who I am or what I do, but devoting an entire blog to the principle that I should be publicly shamed for it is a bit excessive.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:44 PM on October 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Countess Elena, I'm pretty sure my entire tumblr dash is fans in their mid-20s and older. There are plenty of older fans on tumblr.

I give a hearty NAH to any idea that there's some "too old" threshold for fandom. Fandom being solely for teenagers and young people is, to my mind, the newer, weirder idea. Because even when I was one of those teenagers in fandom, I knew a significant percentage, if not a majority, of my fellow fans were older women. They, after all, were the ones with time and money to spend on fannish pursuits and things, the ones with money and expertise to build the tools of fandom (individual archives back in the day, conventions, etc.), the ones with the skill and practice to write good fan fiction. Sure there are fandoms where the majority of participants are younger, but fandom as a whole is still a decidedly mixed age group. It's just some new tumblr purity nonsense that's insisting it's "predatory" for older fans to participate in fandom alongside younger ones.
posted by yasaman at 3:53 PM on October 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

It's funny, but my corner of Tumblr (and a few associated Discords) actually is mostly people in late twenties and thirties--mostly because we have limited patience for the younger teens and, tbh, people who are older are more interesting to me as peers most of the time. So my last main fandom is Guardians of the Galaxy, and I did a lot of following back and chatting to people who had interesting takes, and then I stepped into a Discord server associated with a big-name fan whose ethos of respecting other people I liked, and then I got irritated with some of the early-twenties folks in there and stepped out to a small server with a few other people who are all in our mid- twenties to early thirties. It's nice! And my main is basically... yeah, people who say interesting things in my fandoms or interests, which again means mostly late twenties to thirties (biology nerds, academics, psych discussion, fandom history, the folks yelling the most at the current attempts to raise a crowd to defund the OTW) and range up from mid twenties up into forties.

But I don't go into the tags, I have actual triggers associated with Tumblr, and I no longer do asexuality activism there with the sole exception of stepping into historical arguments that cite me and politely (or bluntly) correcting people who are being wrong about how things were in 2010, or who have weird ideas about community dynamics, or who are in some way citing me. I don't do that anymore because the ~*~Ace Discourse~*~ gave me panic attacks when I was a more involved community blogger, and I can't do it and remain mentally healthy. Not an option.

And I fucking hate tumblr for conversation. But it's what's there with people checking it! I need to pour a little more activity onto that Pillowfort, because that genuinely does seem to be mostly fannish adults rolling around and talking to one another--the FandomOlds comm is one of the most commonly frequented communities I see!--and I would love to see it bloom a little more and pick up a bit.
posted by sciatrix at 3:58 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Related: Why Did Fans Flee LiveJournal, and Where Will They Go After Tumblr?

I do use Tumblr (early 30s, like most of the folks I interact with there), but only because that's just where people are. I also find it really hard to start conversations on Tumblr -- I think because they kind of have to be one-on-one. There's no discussion board or whatever, so if you want to have a conversation beyond leaving tags on your reblog, you have to actually reach out, which is not my jam. It's also really ephemeral -- there are folks who only post their fic and art on Tumblr, and Tumblr is not good at being an archive.

I have a lot of nostalgia for LJ and just, like, straight-up message boards. I remember being in a war with another Star Wars message board back in the day. Good times.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:02 PM on October 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

Thank you, everyone, for validating my confusion over tumblr. I was forced onto it for work, and never understood it. I apologise for spouting into that void.

I see your livejournal nostalgia, and raise you diaryland.
posted by eustatic at 5:28 PM on October 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

Related: Why Did Fans Flee LiveJournal, and Where Will They Go After Tumblr?

The graph in that showing the rises and falls of various fandom spaces was pretty funny. I reluctantly finally left LJ fandom at pretty much the exact point where the LJ/Tumblr/AO3 lines intersect.

The lack of community and lack of moderation on Tumblr really ruined it for me. I used to be able to quickly spin up an LJ comm to do fun stuff like have a ficathon or a charity auction, promote it on my own journal and a couple communities and get a tight knit little group of 20-30 people I already knew from Just Around The Place working together on a project. I had mod powers and could delete and/or ban if I had to, but I almost never had to because I was interacting with the same 50-60 people everywhere I went (drilling down from fandom to era to OTP to preferred fic style).

It's not like there wasn't drama (boy howdy) but you could get away from it back into your own walled garden where people couldn't follow you.

The one quasi-successful thing I ever did on Tumblr was a bit of meta and you can't actually have a discourse about it. You write your meta, you shoot it off into the void, you see the steady stream of so-and-so-you've-never-heard-of reblogged this and you have NO IDEA WHY. If they added commentary to their reblog, you can then reblog that, but then you're cluttering up everyone's feeds with endless reblogs of THE SAME POST with comment threads that quickly
letters because the threading is so borked.

And all I get from my fic on AO3 is anonymous kudos. Which, like, cool y'all thanks but man do I miss the heady days of substantive comments on my fic.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:47 PM on October 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

I sort of feel like Tumblr is the UI equivalent of that frequency mostly only teenagers can hear.

So...that’s what you get.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:51 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I see your livejournal nostalgia, and raise you diaryland.

Totally had one of those, and my teenage self thought it would be a good idea to submit my diaryland journal to review sites? Which were a thing? They'd rate your diary/blog and tell you how funny or interesting your life was, and also how much they liked your layout. And my sixteen year-old self thought that was a good idea to submit.

Teenagers, man.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:15 PM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

The word on the street is that people are even now moving from Tumblr to Discord and Twitter, which I'm not looking forward to because I hate both those platforms for fannish interaction. My friends who're very into Tumblr still made all their friends by being invited into Discord servers.

There are still some active circles of Dreamwidth, though it depends on who you follow and what you're into. I've been digging fffriday and that new femslash anon meme lately. RP is alive and well on Dreamwidth, too.
posted by storytam at 9:55 PM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I know nothing about Discord. I don't really interact with people about fandom, I just lurk in tags I like to find art and fics I like. I can't really imagine doing that on Twitter. How can you do any of that on Discord?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 10:53 PM on October 24, 2018

And all I get from my fic on AO3 is anonymous kudos. Which, like, cool y'all thanks but man do I miss the heady days of substantive comments on my fic.

Yeah, AO3, or at least the parts of it I hang around in, tends to go only for psotivity in comments, rather than actual criticism. There are no actual rules or something, but the community spirit is verymuch inclined that way.

Doesn't help that there aren't any proper discussion fora, unlike on fanfiction.net.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:56 AM on October 25, 2018

I just can't get into discord but that's because I just can't get into chat rooms these days with all other things I have going on as well as me just plain outgrowing the rhythms of chatrooms. I like the look of pillowfort though, but is it worth it? I can't take another imzy.
posted by cendawanita at 4:01 AM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Discord is basically just the new AOL chatroom. Not AIM. AOL chatrooms. (It's not IRC because IRC wasn't a walled garden.)

When I was like 12, AOL chatrooms provided a good outlet for fannish stuff. Now that I'm very much no longer 12, I'm not into lurking on a chatroom any more.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:40 AM on October 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I guess I'm a weirdo because I still hang out in DW (and to a lesser extent) LJ, for fic exchange and ficathon communities. And I just signed up for a tumblr fic exchange thing, despite not fully understanding tumblr.
posted by creepygirl at 10:26 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

« Older "I also planned to put it on a hot dog."   |   from holiday jams to S&M-club electronica to... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments