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Anon culture in fandom

  • Jul. 18th, 2010 at 4:13 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
So I'm working on my next post for the Symposium blog and I'd like to write about anonymity in fandom. But I need your help!

I've been following the latest anon meme that sprung out of the ViVidCon debates (is there some kind of Fight Club thing where you're not supposed to link to it? or actually name it? I'm going to err on the side of caution here, but let me know if there are standard anon meme rules or norms I should be observing), and it's been pretty fascinating to see the different dynamics of how discussions play out there vs. on LJ/DW. I've checked out a few other anon memes in the past, but this is the longest I've ever followed one. Yet I haven't left any comments on the meme, so I can't claim to be a participant-observer -- there's something about posting anon that just weirds me out (personally, not when other people do it). I'm not sure what it is, but I definitely got weirded out the couple of times in the past that I posted on anon love memes where you tell people on the flist how awesome they are. Which, hey, people on my flist are awesome, and deserve to hear that! So I don't know what my mental block here is.

So I'd love to hear from any of you about the pleasures (and perils!) of posting anon, or participating in anon memes. I'm also thinking of saying something about kink memes, which are the other major place that I'm aware of that carve out a pro-anon space in fandom, and seem to be on the rise over the last couple of years. But I know even less about kink meme culture than anon memes! So any observations, insights, experiences you'd like to share about kink memes & anonymity would be welcome.

And I think I need a third thing, right? I figured I'd at least reference the WoW/Blizzard Real ID controversy, but it would be nice to have a third instance of anon culture in LJ/DW-based media fandom, if anyone has suggestions.

Anon posting for comments is on, naturally (ETA: and IP logging is off). Thanks in advance!

ETA 2: I've fallen way behind on responding to comments, but I'm reading them all & appreciate all the perspectives & experiences & context that everyone's offering.

ETA 3: The first part of my Symposium blog post on anon memes is now up.

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Comments

(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 18th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
lol tl;dr
The most obvious benefit to posting anonymously is that you have the freedom to say what you want whenever you want and for whatever reason (although most anonmemes now tend to have some rules on content [eg no comments on people's religion] that are inforced by mods). No names means no accountability (unless you screw up and post logged-in).

Of course this freedom can be used for "evil" - trolling is common in many forms (trolling other named accounts is usually frowned upon, but trolling the meme itself whether by fucking up the page through coding or just by being an asshole is a normal occurence). But that freedom can also be used for "good" - discussing personal problems or sensitive topics, airing greivances you would otherwise be afraid to bring up. There is a difference between hatememes and other anonmemes, simply in that hatememes are used solely to hate on suggested people or topics.

Lastly, I read a couple of the other replies to this post and wanted to comment on the difference between 4chan and other anonmemes on LJ. The differences lie in tone, in-group slang, and speed. 4chan has been around for a long time now in internet time, and caters to a different demographic than most LJ fandom IMO. The general tone of the site is quite different because of that demographic - the primary users of 4chan are young men, and their slang reflects that. Instead of calling each other "bb" (short for "baby"), they call each other "fag" or variations on it (like "dayfag" for daytime users, "nightfag" for nighttime users, "tripfags" are users identified by a tripcode), not to mention the various names based on the board names (eg /co/ is the comics board and "/co/mrades" are normal /co/ denizens). Also, a large amount of content on 4chan's boards would simply not be acceptable on an LJ-based anonmeme. Trolling is accepted and far more aggressive than what is typically seen on LJ, and -isms of all kinds are regularly employed by the users (try finding a serious poster on a LJ anonmeme joke about someone else's "faggotry"). Finally, because of the age and organization of the site, the boards and threads move extremely quickly - not always true of LJ anonmemes.

Most importantly, the site itself is constructed to delete old threads. 4chan has no long-term memory. LJ meme does. This leads to a larger catalogue of slang, in-jokes, and what is considered acceptable in-group behaviour.

I apologize for rambling at you, and hope that even a fraction of this is informative to you.
(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
Except for when GJ went down. ;_;
(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
so much lost ;_;
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
[personal profile] crypto wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
Thanks, those are all great points, totally helpful, and I really appreciate the distinctions you make between LJ anonmemes & 4chan's boards. I've seen way more examples of anon being used for good than for evil. I think a lot of people who've been around fandom longer assume from past experience that anon meme = hate meme, but that feels to me more like the first wave of short-term LJ anon memes than the current wave of permanent/on-going memes.
(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
No problem! I love anonmemes for the sheer entertainment value, and it's refreshing to see someone with an open mind on them for once. :D

I agree that most long-term fandomers do conflate the two from past experience. Bad experiences plus an uninterest in them does not grow into a desire or willingness to learn how they've changed or what good they can do. It probably doesn't help that memes become a fandom-wide source of interest primarily when something bad is happening - the link between anonmemes and bad behaviour, no matter how tenuous, can do a lot to sway the opinions of the general public. Not to mention that some people get trolled by anonymous memers - dropping a link to a thread that shit-talks you is pleasant for no one.

Plus there's the ever-present idea held by someone that an opinion is only valid if there's a name attached. lol internet.

I think your adorable icon makes me chatty. sry bb. D:
(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
I don't know about anywhere else on 4chan, but /pco/ and /coq/ (the het&yuri and slash/yaoi fanworks forums, respectively) have a decent leavening of women on them, especially /coq/. it's the one part of 4chan that I've ever really hung out on (I used to be a regular on their Watchmen threads, before 4chan split the het and slash onto different boards and all the main action in Watchmen fandom shifted to the lj kinkmeme), and I know several other writers and several artists on lj, both male and female, who are also /coq/ browsers/posters.

I'm not sure all the male posters (who IMO are still probably the majority) realize that a good quarter-to-a-third of the gay pr0n ficlets and art they're LOLing over or fapping to are written/drawn by girls, though.
(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
Isn't plus4chan a completely different site? All the chans have different cultures, and I'm not sure how easily you can generalize; I mean, even the female-heavy /cm/ is going to be different from the female-heavy /coq/.
(Anonymous) wrote:
Jul. 19th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
Re: lol tl;dr
Those boards aren't on 4chan though. +4chan is a completely different site with a different reason for existing. I don't think you can, at this point, compare 4chan and +4. /coq/ is definitely a lot more laid-back and easy-going, with next to no trolling.

Your last sentence could very well be true though, since there does tend to be some overlap between +4's /coq/ and 4chan's /co/ (especially when fanart threads kick up for tv shows or movies).