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13 June 2006 @ 09:52 pm
Nobody wants to be a BNF  
The drama of the hate comms has had a lot of people talking, and actually some very interesting discussions have ensued. norwich36 linked me to a fantastic article about BNFs. It's written by Hope (lexcorp_hope) who used to be very active in the SV fandom and is entitled Nobody ever admits they're a BNF. It's a really interesting read, no matter whether you're a BNF, a 'little person' or a nebulous inbetween person.

Hope's essay is an honest look at the negative side of BNF-dom, and through her eyes I got an idea of what it's like for someone who 'stumbled into' BNF-dom. I hadn't thought a lot about this before, because I had (naively, it seems) assumed that most BNFs set out to be BNFs, or at least at some stage stopped to reflect on their growing status and decided to continue in and embrace that role. While Hope describes the 'plight' of BNFs in extreme terms ('anybody who agrees with you is a minion', 'you must friend everybody who friends you, or you're an inaccessible elitist'), there's more than a grain of truth in these ideas--people DO have high expectations of those that they've ascribed BNF status to. In some ways it comes down to the following scenario:

A is new to fandom and has just got an LJ. A reads a lot of B's fic. A starts posting their own fic/meta/art. A is acutely aware of B's behaviour or non-behaviour towards them--if B comments back, A is happy. If B does not comment back or friend or acknowledge A, there is woe. If B comments back but without very much enthusiasm or only to disagree, there is woe.

It is possible that person B doesn't even know that they've been ascribed BNF status by person A (and X number other people), but that doesn’t prevent A's feelings being hurt.

Hope's essay is tongue-in-cheek. I was particularly amused at the 'secret meeting rooms' section of her essay (I can so easily imagine that scenario developing!). She pokes fun at herself ('Don't write essays on how hard it is to be a BNF') and she acknowledges that it's not all pain being a BNF. But she doesn't offer a solution to the problem of status in fandom. Maybe because there isn't one...

So, Hope's essay got me thinking a lot. Mostly, it just raised a lot of questions for me. Tough questions.

How do you define a BNF?
Wiki defines a Big Name Fan (BNF) as 'a member of a fandom who is particularly well-known, liked and celebrated for their contributions of art, fanfiction, or articles on fandom'. BNF-ness is subjective--it's based on the opinions of others. As the Wiki entry wisely points out, 'one cannot proclaim oneself to be a BNF, as to do so might invite derision or ridicule.' So, you have to wait for others to declare you a BNF. But how do they decide? There's not one accepted definition that all fans use--how could there be? If you said 'a BNF has over 1000 friends on LJ', how would you categorise someone with 400 friends, who the majority of fans in a particularly small fandom have friended? Clearly the definition of a BNF in a big fandom like Harry Potter would be different from those in a small fandom.

How does someone become a BNF?
Clearly there are multiple paths to BNF-dom. You can write fic, you can write meta, you can make art (vids, icons, manips), you can be a hub of social activity, you can run comms and organise new fandom activities, set trends, socialise. Fic and meta, in particular, seem to be traditional paths to BNF-dom. But what about icons? Can you become a BNF by making awesome icons in a particular fandom? Or vids? I think both of those are extremely important contributions to fandom that give people a lot of pleasure. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't often heard these people referred to as BNFs. Perhaps 'Big Name Iconers' or 'Big Name Vidders' would be more appropriate. I'd love someone in one of those fields to let me know their thoughts on this. Am I talking smack? Do you find the BNF tag does get ascribed in your field? Or, if I'm onto something, is it good to be free of the (threat of the) BNF tag?

Regardless of what you do or produce, you have to put in a lot of work to be a BNF. You have to post frequently and produce material that people continue to appreciate. To me, this initially suggested that BNFs set out to become BNFs. This was partly why I found Hope's post enlightening. I realised in reading it that this assumption of mine was illogical--it would be better to assume that there are many approaches to BNF status, as people are very diverse. I still suspect that some people craft their status intentionally (that doesn't make it automatically undeserved), but others may fall into it because they really enjoy writing/posting/creating and before they know it they've got people calling them a BNF.

Is BNF-status portable?
Some BNFs are multi-fandom. I'm fascinated to know what happens when they move fandoms. Do they have to get redefined? Or is their BNF status portable? If Hope's right, maybe it's freeing to move out of a fandom where you've been stuck as The Man. Or maybe it's tiring to have to start over again. Do newly migrated BNFs ever have days where they feel like screaming 'Aaaaghhh! If this had been a fic in my old fandom, I'd have had 100 comments by now!'?

How do you define a Smallville BNF these days?
And then you have the puzzle of Smallville. It's easy to say that we had Big Name Fans, in the early seasons before many fans, BNFs or not, moved on to SGA or elsewhere (no, I'm not complaining, just stating). We're a relatively small bunch today. Do we have BNFs in our little pond? Or do we hold ourselves up to those old-time BNFs and say 'well XX doesn't have as many friends as so-and-so did when she was in Smallville fandom, so XX is not a real BNF'? In a very real sense, we still live in the shadow of those early fans, and we know it. But is it silly to hold them up as a benchmark? Or is it useful? Personally, I think it's partly silly and partly useful, but I'm prepared to be persuaded otherwise!

Why is the term BNF construed as negative?
You would assume that being called a BNF would be flattering. I would argue that it IS flattering--it's saying that you think someone is particularly popular and well-liked in their fandom. However, many people protest at being described as BNFs. Partly this is modesty, partly it may be because the term has come tohave negative connotations. This is even pointed out in the brief Wiki entry: 'Fans report ambivalent feelings towards BNFs. The title BNF also carries a negative connotation of being arrogant and self-important. Accordingly, many people who are deemed BNFs resist using that designation.' Arrogance and self-importance, huh? Not very nice attributes. And not always fairly ascribed to BNFs. But whether or not it's true of an individual, unfortunately the term itself is 'sticky' with these connotations--presumably because a minority of BNFs truly do display these characteristics (not that surprising, seeing as a minority of the general populace display them). While I was writing this essay, enderwiggin24 linked me to this essay, which demonstrates the despair that can be felt about the term. No wonder noone wants to be a BNF these days!

Interestingly, enderwiggin24 also linked me to another post on the history of fandom in which the poster argues that the negative connotations of the term developed when popularity became more measureable--on LJ it's easy to see how many friends someone has, or how many comments they got on their last fic. I thought that was an interesting observation, though I can't verify it as I haven't been around that long.

So it's like being famous?
Yes, I think it is sort of like being famous. Fame has a lot of perks--a big network of friends, access to the parties where all the cool kids hang out, people reminding you of what you've achieved… But it's not all fun. Look at the celebrity magazines--people take vicious delight in watching famous people mess up, famous people embarrass themselves. We justify this because they're deemed 'public' figures, but there's a blurry line, right? Sometimes people seek out fame, other times, they're thrust into it or it becomes too much for them to bear.

The 'little people' versus the BNFs
Yes, I'm broaching the subject--not to stir up hate, but because I think open discussion of the issues would be helpful to mutual fannish understanding. Amid the post-hate-comm fall-out, I've seen several people post or comment saying that they either don't understand the 'little people' concept or they think it's creating divisions and encouraging resentment and hatred to breed. Fair enough. But I do have an idea what is meant by the term 'little people', as it has been used in the recent kerfuffle. As with the term 'BNF' it's easiest to describe the most extreme version of a 'little person': the 'little people' are new people, people with very few friends in a particular fandom, or people who feel unrecognised. Unlike the term, BNF, it's a term that people can ascribe to themselves. So, despite appearances, it feels a bit empowering to use it. Is it divisive? Well, it depends on the usage. It could be used that way, or it could just be a useful term to coin in discussing the power dynamics at play within a certain group (in this case, fandom). Because there are power dynamics. There are 'little people' (or people who see themselves that way). There are BNFs (or people who are referred to that way). But neither status can be measured objectively with any success, and consequently there are vast expansive grey areas in between.

I know you are. But what am I?
Most of us are out there in the grey areas. We're not BNFs, even if we've accumulated a bunch of friends who love and adore us and what we produce. We're not 'little people' (except when we're irked!), because we've been around a while, and our f'lists have grown as a consequence. Occasionally we might invoke the term BNF to describe someone on our f'list in a conveniently neat way, or we may self-effacingly say that we don't expect much feedback on our fics because we're 'not that big' or 'not that well-known'. Maybe, some of us are BNFs in a really small circle, but we wish we could get into that bigger party over *there*! So much grey.

I honestly haven't reflected that much on BNF-dom until the recent dramas. But I'm glad I've done so now, because it's made me more conscious of behaviour in fandom, and how actions can be perceived by others. As we've seen, BNFs are not robots--they have feelings that get hurt. But they're also highly visible, so they're more likely not only to have people like them, but also to have people dislike them. Meanwhile, the 'little people' have feelings too, and (as described in the scenario above), some have already had their feelings hurt by one BNF or another, but feel they can't speak up about it without prompting an even more negative reaction.

What to do about it?
Like Hope, I don't have a lot of answers, though I'm able to sit back and reflect on the condition. At first I was thinking of this as two separate questions 'What can the BNFs do?' and 'What can the little people do?' But I realised in writing this up that that approach was absurd given that most of us fall into those grey areas. What should we all do? That's the more important question. This comes down to making conscious decisions about the way you want to conduct yourself in fandom. Everyone's got to find their own path, and we'll all make our own decisions about how we conduct ourselves. Personally, what I've learnt is that if you want to be a BNF or you want to be treated as the equal of a BNF, you've got to hold your head up high, own your opinions and argue them fairly and openly. You've got to extend courtesy to others and sometimes it pays to let things go. Developing a sleek duck's back façade can be very useful! Don't assume the worst of people--assume the best. Don't judge people too quickly--find out a bit about them first or probe their argument a bit further. And if we want BNF to be a term of praise not abuse then we need to start using it that way.

So. What do you think? How do you define a BNF? Do we all agree on who the BNFs are? Would you like to be one or do you prefer lurking in the grey areas? Do you ever feel disempowered because you're not one? Anyone got interesting anecdotes to share about BNF status (from either side of the fence)? Is Hope just ridiculously paranoid? Am I talking about ghosts that don't exist? I'd honestly love to hear from you. I'm sure some of you have thought way more about this topic than I have!
Current Location: kitchen bench
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Vicki: alanmyownghost on June 13th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC)
hope's essay was wonderfully funny and incisive. i've observed some of what she described, from my position on the edges of fandoms (i'm one who's happiest on the edge of things). it's sad, i think, the way rising popularity brings with it the risk of having people want to take a shot at you. it seems to be human nature: we build up stars and then tear them down, in fandoms and in politics and in society at large. we love you until you get TOO big, and then we destroy you.

the hate meme, which i read about in friends' entries on my f-page and then went to investigate, was definitely not my cup of tea. i'm enough of a pollyanna to want everyone to get along, not slice and dice one another. the hate meme reminds me of schoolyard games, where characters are assassinated and friendships crumble. but this may be partly generational. i've noticed that sometimes people a couple of decades younger than i find insults funny.

i like BNFs. i've friended several, the ones whose writing i admire and enjoy. they're just people, and i don't expect superpowers from them, though a brief thank-you when i write a heart-felt e-mail is always appreciated.

i think i've said too much, and the fact that i'm a little person (heh) means that i'm suddenly worried about taking up too much space! (seriously.)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on June 13th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC)
hope's essay was wonderfully funny and incisive
Wasn't it?! I really loved it. That's why I had to post about it. I didn't mean to go on and on so myself (little-people-syndrome!), but it just got me thinking.

I agree that it's human nature at work and that it's sad. And I'm also pollyanna-like and want everyone to get along. It made me sad to see friends or people I admired being berated. However, not all of the hate-comm-ers were bitching about people. I didn't get to see the SV one, but found the BSG one interesting as an insight into what people's fannish gripes were.

i've noticed that sometimes people a couple of decades
younger than i find insults funny

That's interesting. I hadn't thought of it as a generational thing. I find wit funny, even when it's insulting. If it's well crafted enough, I'll laugh, even if it's directed at me. But insults per se, no, I don't find them funny.

i'm suddenly worried about taking up too much space!
No! You are brill for commenting. *g*
(no subject) - myownghost on June 13th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 13th, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - myownghost on June 13th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
Natasha: Blasttheclexfactor on June 13th, 2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
I'll just state here that I'd never heard the term "Big Name Fan" or BNF until today, so that says alot about how much of a "little person" I am, but I can see both the positive and negative aspects of popularity. However, as much as someone who is considered a BNF may not want to be, can I just say that no one writes fics or makes vids or icons or artwork, posts meta and starts communities for no one to leave feedback or comment on. If that was the case then they wouldn't put them up on LJ [with a public viewing] or SSA or Level Three for ppl to read/view. I'm not saying that we are all out to get BNF status, but we do like a little recognition and validation within our fandoms. Admit it, I will.

When I get even 9 comments about something I've written or drawn or even when I make my little snappy outbursts at AlMiles, it feels good that you guys, even ones not on my flist, comment postively, rebutt my argument, or even just say "Haha, you crack my shit up!" We want response, no matter how small, though the more comments we get, the better. When someone on your flist (or not) or even if the SV ledger links to your LJ, you feel like, "Wow, I didn't know [what I said] was that important". When you have ppl joining your community (which you put up for ppl to join) it feels like one big SQUEE.

And once again, I forgot where I was going with this...

Oh yeah, so even if we may feel the stigmatization of the label BNF, I think we can all admit (in an anonymous group) that we like belonging to the Grey Area Fan group.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: fangirl x-files iconbop_radar on June 13th, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC)
no one writes fics or makes vids or icons or artwork, posts meta and starts communities for no one to leave feedback or comment on.
*giggle* Yeah, totally!

When you have ppl joining your community (which you put up for ppl to join) it feels like one big SQUEE.
Yes, yes, it does! And it should.

Grey Area Fandom is clearly the path to happiness... ;)

As is sleep... *sigh* I should never post right before bedtime!
Sterling Dragonflystrlingdragnfly on June 13th, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC)
This is probably going to be rambling, so I'll apologize upfront, okay?

I don't like labeling someone as a BNF, not because I don't think they deserve it, but because I feel it places unfair expectations on them, simply because they're good at what they do. It's human nature to admire someone who has an extra touch of talent, and that can lead to forgetting there is a person behind the name, one who is entitled to have bad days and temper tantrums and whining jags.

A lot of it stems from the internet. How many of us honestly expect Hollywood stars or famous professional writers to respond to feedback that says 'wow, I loved X book', or 'damn, you really sucked in this movie'? Sure, it's great if we do receive something back, but for the most part, it's unreasonable to expect it. Yet we do place that expectation on fandom writers/artists, and if we don't get it, then we become disillusioned or angry with them.

The internet can also give us the false impression that we 'know' someone, simply because we read what they have posted in their journal, where in reality, we only see the small part they are willing to share. This can lead to disappointment (anger, what have you) when the person acts in an unexpected manner.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on June 13th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)
that can lead to forgetting there is a person behind the name, one who is entitled to have bad days and temper tantrums and whining jag
This is a very good point--I think we've seen that in the last few days. And as you point out, fame on the 'net is a lot different to fame in real life--we expect these people to interact with us.

in reality, we only see the small part they are willing to share
Yes, I find this fascinating. Some people really mould and monitor their online identity--and fair enough! On the internet we have complete control over what we show/tell to whom, and can choose to display only our best attributes. Perhaps that contributes to unrealistic expectations.

So you reject the term altogether? I can see how you (someone) could reach that point, for sure, after reading and reflecting on the matter.
Kate: Clark blue t-shirtmskatej on June 13th, 2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
Great essay K-bear. I don't have anything to add really. I have no answers either!

I do love how SV isn't full of scary BNFs anymore though. We're such a great group of people. *pats us on the back*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex gossipbop_radar on June 14th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
We are great! It is true. *g*

The comments on here have made for some fascinating reading--thanks for popping by!
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on June 13th, 2006 10:21 pm (UTC)
people who get called BNFs are usually spending a significant portion of their time to pull fen together
I think that's true of a lot of BNFs, but not all. If we could choose how the term was used, I'd say this would be a pretty good place to start as a definition. I think another problem with the current use of the term BNF is that it comes with a stereotype--fic and/or meta, with some organising on the side. But in entering into SV fandom, I've seen just how varied people's contributions can be. Some of the people I most value don't post that much in their journals--but if they weren't around giving feedback, welcoming new people, and linking people to other people, then fandom would be the poorer for it. Ender (enderwiggin24) is a prime example--she found out I was writing this essay as I was writing it and mailed me some relevant links in time. That's awesome! But such people can be kind of 'invisible'. And I agree that leaving detailed or thoughtful feedback should be viewed as a very valuable contribution. It takes effort and consideration and binds us together as a afandom. Reccing is really valuable too.

Contribution to community--I like it!

And thank you for commenting despite your current frustration with fandom--I know a lot of people are feeling like that right now, and I really didn't want to stir up bad feelings with this post.
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(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Valentine Michel Smith: tw raelenvalentinemichel on June 13th, 2006 03:09 pm (UTC)
At the risk of sounding like someone who's been in fandom far too long:

Does it matter? BNF, BFNTM*... Because honestly? It's the 'Net. What does status here mean beyond um, status here? Are human beings so desperate for approval/validation/love that we'll seek it anywhere?

That said, I wouldn't mind some minions. My laundry's piling up. ;)

*Big Fandom Nothing. Now I need an icon. *g*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on June 13th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
Hee. You are totally allowed to sound like someone who's been in fandom 'too' long, if I'm allowed to sound like someone who hasn't been there long enough. ;)

Are human beings so desperate for approval/validation/love that we'll seek it anywhere?
Uh... yes? *g* That would be my personal observation on humanity. But having said that, it would be waaaaay better if status on the internet meant lackeys to do one's ironing--I just bought my first-ever piece of ironing-necessary clothing. I nearly wept when I found out. My boy (an obsessive ironer) just stood back and smiled knowingly...

Big Fandom Nothing!!! *loves* Oh, that's wonderful! Hee.
mahaliemmahaliem on June 13th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
I'm always a bit in awe when I come across someone whose fandom work (fic, vid, manips, archives, rec pages, etc.) is brilliant and am a little hesitant to friend them. But then you learn things about them - like they want to kick their boss, they had sushi for lunch, their cat threw up on the carpet - and you recognize that they are people just like you.

You might still be awed by the work they produce or how they bring fandom together, but you now see them as ordinary people with amazing talent who are having fun in fandom.

But I believe that some people must never get to the point where they see them as ordinary people. There's no feeling of connection on the human level. That's the only reason I can come up with to explain the need some feel to criticize them so harshly. When they criticize, they aren't hurting someone's feelings but attacking an authority figure or icon or something.
HeroHunter.  I, Storyteller.: lexsmilebydrkcherry_iconsherohunter on June 13th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
I agree with you.

I don't actually have much to say beyond that (lol) but I certainly have made friends with people who are far better at fic than I am and who have humbled me with their presence in my LJ (you included, mahaliem). Others I have not connected with. *I* don't go around saying bad things about them but some people do, and that's sad.

But hey, never mind me, I'm just here for Fanboy, Fun and CLEX!

(no subject) - mahaliem on June 13th, 2006 11:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 13th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Saber ShadowKitten aka Henry Jones Jr: SV Lex Villainsabershadowkat on June 13th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC)
I can answer your question on being BNF and moving to a new fandom. I actually changed my penname going into Smallville, because I didn't want people to read my stories "just because I'm Saber". In the same token, I didn't want people to avoid giving my stories a try because they didn't like my writing in the Buffy fandom. That's a problem a lot of the more well-known writers have when they switch. People stop seeing their stories as individual pieces, but rather as "Done by X, so of course it's good/bad."
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on June 13th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
Wow! Thank you. I appreciate you letting me know about your experience. I could imagine that happening, but hadn't seen it first-hand.

People stop seeing their stories as individual pieces, but rather as "Done by X, so of course it's good/bad.
I think that's a problem for everyone. It also doesn't allow new writers to improve! Haviny personally watched some authors improve over time, and other authors who normally write very well kind of 'bomb' on one piece or another, I'd say it's a really good thing to keep in mind--don't prejudge a piece of work because of the name attached to it.
shadowplays are figments of their own imaginationsciaan on June 13th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC)
I think BNFdom varies a lot by fandom, and by groups within fandom. I'm sure there are people who would count as BNFs in Clana circles, on DTS or something, that I've never even heard of. But if someone's written a whole bunch of Clex fic, I'm more likely to have heard of them. I tend to think that a BNF is just that: someone that most people will probably have heard of, in whatever fandom or fandom circle. So most people who read Clex fic have at least heard of, say, Jenn, even if they haven't read any of her stuff, or they've heard of Madelyn and the challenges she's done, etc, just like they've heard of the SSA and the CLFF.

On the other hand, there are the people who are no longer active, people who have become sorta the Dead White Males of the fandom. Hope, for example, I've heard mentioned a lot, but she left the fandom before I really showed up. Or someone like Te or Livia, people who wrote a lot of fic in the early days and are still on all the rec lists, but aren't doing anything in the fandom currently, as far as I know.

I think SV is actually weird like that, in that a lot of the biggest names are gone, but people still see them as the ultimate BNFs in the fandom, and so the newer names who are on everyone's friendslists can't possibly be BNFs, because they weren't here Back In The Day, even though they're producing most of the current stuff. So in a way, that takes the pressure off most people who are active right now.

I think BNFdom is more easily transferrable on LJ than in forum or mailing list based fandoms. If you've become really famous on a certain forum for a fandom, and you go to a new one for a new fandom, people won't know who you are unless they've also been to the other forum. But if you're on LJ and active in one fandom and lots of people friend you, then when you start posting on another fandom and ficcing for it, and the people who have you friended start reading your stuff and then check out the show and then join that fandon, they still know who you are. So since LJ is based on interconnections between people, rather than the discrete spaces of various specific lists and forums, it's easier for someone to be visible in multiple fandoms at once, and you can see what fandoms they're in. You can't know what forums they read, or what mailing lists they're on, without also being there yourself, can't track someone across multiple websites easily.

So LJ creates more of a sense of general "fandom" rather than just specific fandoms, and there are people whose names I recognise as being big in fandom, because they get linked from metafandom a lot, or show up mentioned by other people, or whatever, and I know who they are even though we don't have any specific fandoms in common.

And I think that contributes to a lot of the stuff people were wanking on about BNFs dragging their minions into fandoms and there being dilletantes who are just in it because So-and-So is, and not because they like the show, and all the hate that seemed to come up in the memes that had NOTHING to do with the current fandoms and everything to do with stuff from years and years ago in different fandoms.
shadowplays are figments of their own imaginations: secretsciaan on June 13th, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
And I have been a BNF before, once, in a very small fandom. So it was entirely unlike the experience would be in a larger one, and there weren't as many negative consequences. Mostly it just made me feel cool and popular, and that's something I'd pretty much never been before. So it was odd, but nice. It's had no impact in my experience in other fandoms, though, since there's been basically no overlap in people.
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Lily: sv lex pink mouthcandidlily on June 13th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
To be honest, I've never really thought about it before. I always just assumed that the BNFs were treated the same as regular fans, but with more comments. Though now that I think about it, they do have a different role in the eyes of the fandom. Which is crazy, really. I know for my part that I leave comments on people's journals that I have on my flist, because there's a reason they're on my flist. If they don't have me friended back, which I guess would be likely for a BNF, I try to avoid commenting too much. Because, as stated, there's probably a reason I'm *not* on their flist. In response to your comment about BNFs being fic- and meta-writers, I completely agree. I know some BNFs that make icons, but then there are other things. indilime is my mind's example of a BNF... she's metafandom and known across LJ. She doesn't write, but she posts all sorts of info in her fandoms and makes kickass icons. So I guess, to me, a BNF focuses they're attention on fandom more often than not, and has enough people on their flist to the point that they stop friending people back. Or something.

Wow, that comment was longer than I expected it to be. :P
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex lovebop_radar on June 14th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
In response to your comment about BNFs being fic- and meta-writers, I completely agree.
Oh good. Phew! I wasn't talking complete smack then. *g*

indilime is my mind's example of a BNF... she's metafandom and known across LJ. She doesn't write, but she posts all sorts of info in her fandoms and makes kickass icons.
Cool example!

a BNF focuses they're attention on fandom more often than not, and has enough people on their flist to the point that they stop friending people back
HEE! I love that definition. Mostly because I've seen people on my f'list hit the 'omg, I think I have to stop friending people back!' stage. *g* If the comments here prove one thing, it's that BNF can mean different things to different people.

Wow, that comment was longer than I expected it to be. :P
Yay! I love long comments. *hugs*
(no subject) - saeva on June 17th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 18th, 2006 07:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
blowjobs for jesus: TW just chillin'kristiinthedark on June 13th, 2006 10:44 pm (UTC)
I love that you wrote this. I was already thinking about it, and now it's given me more to think about.

The first time I heard "BNF", it had negative conotations, and that's held true almost every time after that. I didn't know that it had ever not been a negative thing. So, to me, BNF doesn't so much mean popular, as diva-like behavior. Or what's perceived as diva-like behavior. You can be the nicest, kindest person, but if you have do certain fannish things, like not answer comments or answer only certain friend's comments, you'll come across as a diva. It could just be that you have absolutely no time to do anything other than write or do icons or essays, but the perception will be that you think everyone else is beneath you, and eventually "everyone else" is gonna start biting your ankles. I'll refrain from saything whether or not I think there are actual divas in fandom. But power and the lack thereof is a not-very-nice thing sometimes, whether it's on the internet or in RL.

Anyway, that's what BNF means to me. I dont' know if that made sense at all. :P
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on June 13th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
to me, BNF doesn't so much mean popular, as diva-like behavior
Yes, I don't think you're alone there. And part of the reason for that is because people are more inclined to be critical than to praise. If 'BNF' is not the right term to use for someone who's a really important contributor to a fandom, someone who is very prominent and who maybe helps connect fans with other fans, what is the term to use? Do we need another term, free of connotations? (I'm still thinking this through myself.)

It could just be that you have absolutely no time to do anything other than write or do icons or essays, but the perception will be that you think everyone else is beneath you, and eventually "everyone else" is gonna start biting your ankles.
Yes. The time issue is very real to me, because I have limited time online myself. So I always feel compassionately towards those that describe being stressed about getting through their f'list or not commenting enough--I so understand how they feel! They're nice people who have the right intentions but just don't have the time. And it's extra hard for people with a full-time job and/or kids/other major RL commitments.

In some ways, it's easy to just sit back and analyse the situation and think 'yeah, that's kind of inevitable--it's human behaviour patterns at work, the good and the bad'. But it's also made me really think about actively doing something--I'm thinking something like 'community contribution' awards that people could get nominated for. Maybe I'm just clutching at straws, maybe it would create even more envy and division... ach, I don't know!
(no subject) - kristiinthedark on June 13th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 12:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
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BUT HARRY STYLESestrella30 on June 14th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
it's funny, because I remember when I first got into fandom years ago, the term BNF was something, I dont know, a real achievement, it seemed like. they had been around a while, were smart and funny and generally - it seemed - well liked. these days I'd rather be called a raving fucking bitch, than a BNF, and man, does that kind of sum up how the name has changed.

BNF's now really are looked at, kind of with a sneer. 'oh, she will/wont/did/does do that cause shes such a fucking BNF.' It's like a curse word now, and (and here's where I get personal) i think *that* is why I was so, I dont know, hurt and upset, but more shocked than anything else when I started seeing my name being flung around last week. not that I think I'm awesome, because I dont, but because I dont generally think I *do* the things that BNF's do. I answer EVERY comment, on posts and fics and everything else I post about. I'm NOT exclusonary. All I do is run challenges and post fic, and my god, is that so BAD?

BNF's get a rep becuase it's true, a lot of them do have diva like behavior. But, I think that people that just tend to get a lot of comments becuase they *comment back* and *engage people in conversation* therefore leading to more comments, etc, shouldnt be slapped with a label that can apply so BROADLY, and again, not always with the nicest intentions.

the whole thing is really interesting. thanks for writing this up!
blowjobs for jesus: Clark sex godkristiinthedark on June 14th, 2006 01:01 am (UTC)
Ack! Not my LJ and I feel like I'm butting in, but I just want to tell you... you are the most non-BNF ever. When I first met you, I thought to myself, *her*, right there. That's who I want to be when I grow up. :-) In other words- hey, know what? I think you are so awesome.
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 01:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Nora Norwich: Clark brainlessnorwich36 on June 14th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that I read in some history of fandom somewhere that the actual term "BNF" actually preceded media fandom as we know it--it came out of sci-fi fandom from the days when the only way you met other fans was through zines and cons, and BNFs tended to be the people who organized cons or edited zines. Though I can't actually remember the source of this knowledge.

I agree with ciaan that what constitutes a BNF is pretty contextual, and is going to vary a lot in big fandoms v. little fandoms, or different subsets of fandoms. In fact, I can think of a lot of flame wars over something an individual BNF said in which someone from another segment of fandom popped by and said "BNF? How can this person be a BNF when I've never heard of them?" (For example, I've never heard of the icon-maker [Bad username: &timesfate] mentioned above, though that's probably not surprising since I like to make my own icons so I don't go searching for those made by other people).

And I had more things to say, but my blood sugar is too low to concentrate (hence my icon!) so I'll try to come back and comment more when I'm mentally alert. But I really love this essay.

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Gaius dancebop_radar on June 14th, 2006 01:51 am (UTC)
*adores the icon*
I wouldn't be surprised if the term BNF did predate media fandom as it is today. The Wiki entry has a very sci-fi focus and mentions cons and stuff. And I know from radioreverie that what constitutes a BNF in music/band fandoms is totally different again.

"BNF? How can this person be a BNF when I've never heard of them?"
That made be both laugh and grimace in horror, because I can so imagine that happening and the flamewar that would ensue! It seems absurd to me because I *know* there are stacks of BNFs I don't know. But LJ can give you the impression that you're at the centre of the universe when you're not.

*hands you some low-GI food for the blood sugar*
Thank you for commenting, hon! I'm so glad to see you here. You always have something great to add. *g*

(Aside: looky! I have a Gaius icon!)
(no subject) - norwich36 on June 14th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 14th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - turlough on June 16th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Becky: [other] bring me sunshine *sings*sadface on June 14th, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
I love how clear and consise you are. It pleases me so much.

I also have nothing to add. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on June 14th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC)
Thank you, Becky! I'm glad it pleases you. *g* Thanks for letting me know!
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on June 16th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks so much for commenting and for the compliment on the post! I'm glad you found it interesting. Sorry if I've been a little slow to reply, but I'm sure you've noticed the deluge of comments on the Smallville Love Meme post after this!

I *really* love your division between BNFs and BNWs! What a great way to split the good connotations away from the negative. If only we could adopt this more widely, perhaps the term 'BNF' would cease to seem like an veiled or not-so-veiled insult. Like you, I think it's sad that the term gets used that way, because I can see a need for a term to describe the truly amazing people that do so much to shape a particular fandom.
Ash: Bats & Supesbarker9 on June 15th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
To be honest, this is the first time I've heard about BNFs. lol! It is quite interesting. I've been watching Smallville for years but only really got into the fandom last year when I started out a little story. It's Bale and Batman's fault. *grins*

It's sort of true: where have all the fans gone? lol! But from what I read above, I don't really have anything else to add to that. I do consider myself 'a little person', even with me being in multi-fandoms. I tend to be the quiet person who listens and maybe might speak if I think it's valid. lol!

I love writing and all I hope is that people are enjoying it. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex mysterybop_radar on June 16th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
Good to meet you--thanks for commenting!

where have all the fans gone?
Uh, well, I think there are more fans out there than we realise, it's just that the fandom is perhaps more fragmented these days. Not meaning to pimp my own post, but the turnout to the Smallville Love Meme has been phenomenal.

Thanks for speaking up here! That's a very stylish icon.
(no subject) - barker9 on June 16th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
thecaelum on June 16th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Found this via metafandom, and this is an excellent read. You raise a lot of really interesting questions.

I've had a few experiences on both sides of this one, and I find I prefer to be less visible and less known. It started to feel very strange to me when I realized that people were examining me and what I was doing. It was an uncomfortable sort of self-conscious feeling, as well as being somewhat flattering.

I do think that (general) expectations for more visible fans can be a lot more harmful than useful. That's not exclusive to fandom; it is something that tends to go along with popularity. A fandom community seems to feel a certain amount of ownership in its more visible fans, and sometimes that can lead to negative behavior on the part of that community. I see a lot of people demanding things from more visible/popular fans, and to me it seems really inappropriate. Things like Writer X should write more of a certain type of fic or pairing, for the good of the community. Vidder Y should only vid this, or stop vidding this, for the good of the community. Meta Writer Z should only write meta on certain topics, for the good of the community. This can and often does conflict with what Writer X/Vidder Y/Meta Writer Z are actually interested in contributing.

Hope's essay was a good read the first time around, and I found it just as good this time. Thanks for the link to it. She'd know, she put up with a lot of good and bad behavior from the SV fandom while she was in it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on June 16th, 2006 07:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting! You back up the general consensus in these comments that popularity being coupled with expectations is not unique to LJ.

I see a lot of people demanding things from more visible/popular fans, and to me it seems really inappropriate.
Yes, the sort of comments you describe sound inappropriate to me. I suppose at a certain point people start to feel that a visible fan 'belongs' to a fandom--and sentiments that might have started out along the lines of 'oh, I really like so and so, I wish she'd write XX' start to turn into 'she should write XX'. To me, it's clearly not fair to tell someone else what they should or should not be doing/writing/creating. If a favourite writer stops writing your favourite pairing, regret is natural, but voicing that regret as aggression or criticism is neither fair nor polite.

Speaking of being polite, you may not remember, but when I was new(er) to fandom I took someone's side in an argument against you. I regret doing so, because I didn't know the full circumstances of the argument. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise for being a shit. It's weighed on my mind ever since.

Hope's essay was a good read the first time around, and I found it just as good this time.
I was so glad that norwich36 linked me to it. It certainly is a great read and I'm glad you enjoyed revisiting it.
(no subject) - thecaelum on June 16th, 2006 07:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 16th, 2006 11:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
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That snorkel's been just like a snorkel to me!: fangirlnesssailorptah on June 16th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)
See, if BNF-ness were just the state of being very well-known within a fandom, I might wamt tp use the term for myself.

I say "might" because I don't have a very good outside perspective - it's hard for me to tell if I'm famous in the first place. (I know how many people visit my website, for example, but I have no idea how many don't.) I tried to ask, once, in one of the LJ communities; it was founded before I got into the fandom, and I was looking for objectivity. (I didn't ask if I specifically was a BNF; I just asked what people thought about the term, and who they thought was such in this fandom.)

And then I learned that the term "BNF" has horrible horrible connotations to enough fans that I might as well have set off a nuclear explosion. I was fishing for compliments, I was elitist, I was arrogant, I should have known better than to mention the word, etc, etc, etc.

I would love to have rational discussion about the idea, and I see a lot of it on metafandom (like this post, for example), but after that incident I've gotten kind of paranoid about the term.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on June 16th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC)
Yes, I think it's rather awful that the term has gathered these negative connations so thoroughly. Because I think it could be a term of praise. And not only that, it's just useful to have a term for people who are really big and well-known in a particular fandom. For instance, I have friends in other fandoms and if they ever got into SV or BSG, they might ask 'so who are the BNFs in your fandom?' They want to know who to head to as a good place to start, who to read, who's actively organising things.

I thought it was interesting that medie above mentioned that in her own mind she divides BNFs into 'Big Name Fans' and 'Big Name Wankers', the latter obviously taking the negative connations. It gave me a giggle and made me wish that we could 'free' the BNF term.

You're not alone in your paranoia either!
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: K Lexbop_radar on June 16th, 2006 11:57 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link to your post. I liked the structured analytical approach you took to the topic. It also made me wonder if some of the BNF-related kerfuffles/wanks could be attributed to disagreements about the basis for status.

I find it far more presumptive to think I can drop my name and people will bow before me, even in 'my' longterm fandom. (snerk)
I agree with you there, though it does seem true that there's NO right way--damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Even so, there were people who felt slighted because they weren't on my list, as if I were trying to make sure their fiction WASN'T read.
Wow. Yes, I can so imagine this transpiring. It's that extra leap in assumption-framing that comes about when people's feelings are hurt. We go from 'it's sad that I'm not included' to 'they hate me and left me out deliberately'. It again emphasises the need for us all to nurture our own self-esteem and not leave it in the hands of others.

it's downright annoying at times to worry about how what I say may be perceived. And again, isn't that a bit arrogant to assume people care? Or is it more irresponsible not to? It's a tough line to walk, and feels artificial.
Wow, yes--I can imagine it would be.
intheyear2004intheyear2004 on June 16th, 2006 08:17 am (UTC)
All good and well. There are a lot of BNFs who are genuinely nice people and don't really seem to care much about their status.

Otoh, there definitely *are* people who use their BNFness to gain material advantages which I consider exploitation of their status. Examples: Cassie Claire (HP) got an iPod and even a new computer from her fans; monkeycrackmary (then LOTR) asked (and got) repeatedly for contributions to her website and LJ - she even asked for a paid LJ for her cousin; just recently mistful (HP) asked for a paid LJ and more icons - and these are just a few examples of many. And to those I say, what a pity, but hate memes are just the flipside of fame.
Sarahmorganmuffle on June 16th, 2006 10:09 am (UTC)
*here from metafandom*

The thing about the exampls of BNF's using their status for material gain is that I don't think that's always what they set out to do. The much talked about laptops incident for CC happened when her (or her boyf's I forget) computer got stoledn and some of her friends suggested a collection for her amongst themselves. Possibly it should have been tightly locked so it was just her friends but hindsight is always 2020 and I don't think any of them really considered what might come of it. Of course by the end of the whole wanky mess everyone looked bad but that doesn't mean what they set out to do was wrong.

Being a BNF seems to be to be a very unenviable thing. Every action you or your friends make is under a huge amount of scrutiny and often face enormous jealousy and illwill from others. That's not to say that some of them might be obnoxious idiots but the level of venom over incidents such as heidi8's recent accidental unlocked post (which quite frankly could happen to anyone) do remind me that mostly us little people ask far too much of our BNFS.
(no subject) - intheyear2004 on June 17th, 2006 08:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Saeva: Farscape + Crichton's Lost His Brain (nisaeva on June 16th, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
I thought I'd comment on a part of your post I haven't seen addressed in the comments (though I did skim), re: iconning.

First, I find it interesting that you lumped in icons with vids and manips, though didn't mention headers or wallpapers, to begin with. Many iconists, most I would say, don't also vid and vice versa, for example, because iconning and vidding is as different as fic writing and iconning or meta writing and fic writing. They're really completely separate areas of fandom with completely different groupings of fans/subsets, etc. While I'm tangentally connected to the vidding fandom I really can't speak for them, so I'll speak now for graphics making (in this I include icons, banners/headers, wallpapers, and the manips connected to those).

Regarding the graphic making fandom, there *are* well-known fans within this area and a pattern of how they're known so I'd say that we do have big name fans, so to speak. I'd call them "popular graphic makers" though, just because I've never heard BNF used in that context. Like with fic writing or meta writing, very few graphic makers become BNFs by *just* making icons.

For example, after a short time in the graphic making fandom most people know teh_indy, who's notable for her icons but also for having one of the most comprehensive resource sections ever. Most people also know dearest for her resources (made, not collected from other sources in this case) and also colorfilter for the same. Both gender and colorfilter also make icons (and gender vids) but, well, its not what they're known for.

Then you get into fandom distinctions. Many, though certainly not all, BNFs are a) multifandom and b) active in maintaining or otherwise involved in communities. For example, the maintainers of comms like good_fanicons and icon_crack are fairly well-known both for their graphics and because they're involved in maintaining multiple comms (misstress_tink seriously runs something just under a dozen, as does paigegail). You can make a name for yourself just by making graphics (perhaps the best example of this is iconofilth, but it's rarer.

What you might note here though is the community focus and the lack of connection to "real life" or even other fandom personas.

Some fans, like pumahmistress, who's fairly well-known in SF circles because of her BSG, Riddick, and X-Men icons among others, use their primary journal to also post graphics, but many others like myself, iconofilth, teh_indy, etc. use graphics journals which are separate from their real journals. (For example, saeva is my journal, where I post meta, fic, and icon announcements, but nihil_est is the journal I use solely for graphics.) Many also use communities, very often shared communities, like lickourlegs, the shared community between likegunfire and frostthepie (both fairly well known graphics makers).

Shared communities are actually very popular, which both tightens the bond as a community and keeps down the isolation of talent (or perceived talent) that causes the term BNF to pop up in the first place. They also increase exposure because someone might come to look at Graphic Maker X's icons and stay to peruse Graphic Maker Y's graphics as well (especially since these comms are usually shared by people with similar visual/graphic taste, if not similar fandoms). -- To note: they're also popular because it means you don't have to sign in and out of LJ to post icons. *laughs* Icon makers are, like everyone else, lazy.

[oh, oops, I went over the character limit! tbc]
Saeva: Ronon + Headdesk - samjack_girlsaeva on June 16th, 2006 09:52 am (UTC)
As for the question of having to post often, that can apply sometimes and not apply others. You have to "pimp" -- i.e. crosspost -- your own work, get involved in the community, and very often know what you're doing. And you have to be *good*. Not just entertaining, like with fic sometimes (not to dredge up that debate but in fic what's popular and what's good can really vary), but technically very proficient. You have to know your program, you have to know your style, and you have to be able to consistently produce quality work. Some people might not like your style but on a technical level they'll also be unlikely to find flaws (unlike, say, grammar flaws in fic). I've never seen a BNF in iconning who was not technically proficient and I doubt I ever will.

Unlike with fic -- which because of fic writers tendency to stick to one or two fandoms and write stories of a certain genre tends to be popular across the board or unpopular across the board (i.e. thisbone is well-known for writing brilliant Sheppard/Ronon kink fic) -- icon posts can wildly vary in popularity. It's a matter of knowing which communities to post them too, finding the right balance, and, like with everything, getting lucky. Also, since you need screencaps -- either made by yourself or downloaded -- people tend to stick to fandoms which have quality screencaps available and thus certain fandoms will have a serious barrage of iconists of various skill levels and others will have next to none (or only very good iconists) even if it's a popular show.

The point being there is that to become an big name fan based off graphics one either has to have really original work (like iconofilth or zoicite) or be massively involved in the community across the board.

So, I think it definitely functions different from fic or meta. Making good icons isn't enough. A lot of non-BNFs in graphic making make wonderful icons but they'll never be bigger than their fandom, if even that. (There's also wonderful writers who aren't BNFs but as a whole it's easier to build up your status *just* by writing well than it is just by making good graphics. It's especially easier to build up your status with meta.)

... And I totally lost my point somewhere, but I hope this was interesting just in an educating sort of way. To sum up: there's definitely BNFs in graphic making but they rarely just make icons. Also, they tend to be friends with each other and have that protection of an inner group. And, because graphics makers are less wordy in general (myself not included), it gets *labelled* less. It gets taken down to just names mentioned or links offered, or people nominated all the time at fandom_awards, etc.

- Andrea.
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 16th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - saeva on June 16th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 17th, 2006 07:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
Part One: Icon Wank - saeva on June 17th, 2006 11:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
Part Two: Icon Tendency - saeva on June 17th, 2006 11:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
Part Three: Icon Ability - saeva on June 17th, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Part Four: Icon Community - saeva on June 17th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Part Five (A): Icon Originality - saeva on June 17th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Part Five (B): Icon Originality - saeva on June 17th, 2006 01:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Part Six: Icon Alliances - saeva on June 17th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Part Two: Icon Tendency - bop_radar on June 18th, 2006 11:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Re: Part Two: Icon Tendency - saeva on June 17th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Part One: Icon Wank - bop_radar on June 18th, 2006 11:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on June 16th, 2006 11:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
author_by_nightauthor_by_night on June 16th, 2006 10:32 am (UTC)
I'm not in the Smallville fandom - am here via metafandom - but I admit, while I've always wanted to have a "bigger name", having a Big Name means more stage time on fandom_wank, more fic reviews saying you're a stupid arse who deserves to be shot in the butt, and more people assuming you're a pretentious snob.

So maybe being in the background isn't so bad after all.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: books!!bop_radar on June 18th, 2006 07:34 am (UTC)
*giggle* Yeah, that seems to be pretty much a consensus across the board... and if you do end up as a BNF, it pays to be philosophical about fame!
fantasyenabler on June 16th, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)
Surfing in from metafandom...

I haven't read the essay you allude to in your text. (I'll have to when I have more time.) However, I wanted to say that your essay was very enlightening to an LJ newbie like myself. (And while we're defining terms: when do you stop calling yourself a newbie? I've been on LJ since August, but I've really only been using it half of that time since I lost some months in the act of uprooting and replanting my Rl life.)

Speaking as a newbie, I haven't spent much time contemplating the existence of BNFs. Yes, there are writers I stalk--and *hopefully*, I mean that in the best way possible--such as Minisinoo, Miss Porcupine, and Kerithwyn, but I hadn't really considered their relative roles in fandom hierarchy. Maybe it's because I'm so busy that the vast majority of what I do on LJ is on a fly-by basis, but I honestly just thought of them as "the people who write stuff that I think is cool and insightful."

Now though, you've got me thinking about the stuff I've missed in terms of politics and fan interactions. I like to think I've been fairly courteous in my interactions up to this point, but now I want to be even more watchful. It's my worst fear to be one of those people who think they're just wanting to share and communicate, but really are just screaming, "Pay attention to me!"
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ameliebop_radar on June 18th, 2006 07:44 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm really glad you enjoyed the essay.

when do you stop calling yourself a newbie?
GREAT question! When you find out, let me know! I've been around for about the same length of time, as it happens. There doesn't seem to be any consensus on this, so it depends on context--if I'm talking to people who've been here for years, I may still call myself a 'newbie', but to new-er newbies, I wouldn't.

It's my worst fear to be one of those people who think they're just wanting to share and communicate, but really are just screaming, "Pay attention to me!"
Heh. Yeah! I know what you mean.

Maybe it's because I'm so busy that the vast majority of what I do on LJ is on a fly-by basis, but I honestly just thought of them as "the people who write stuff that I think is cool and insightful."
Yeah, that's not that bad a thing! I think it's when you get kind of 'bedded down' in a particular fandom and have a regular presence that people get more sensitive about/more aware of your actions. But of course it pays to be courteous whatever the circumstances. *g*
(no subject) - enderwiggin24 on June 18th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
Wychwood: SGA - city exploringwychwood on June 16th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
Here via metafandom.

This is an interesting post; thank you for taking the time to write it. And linking Hope's essay, too, which was great :).

I have to say, what Hope talks about does sound very familiar. I try to avoid hate memes as much as possible, but one thing that kept coming up in all the discussion around them is this idea some people have that BNFs only have minions, that they have raving fangirls who will read anything they write, however bad. This does seem to be a fairly common stereotype. But at the same time, my personal experience has been that people read BNFs because they are *good*, and that really good writers get known and read. I have one LJ friend who is at least approaching BNF status, simply because her fic is excellent. She's not been in LJ fandom long, people aren't flocking to her because of a reputation, or minions, or whatever, it's just that - people like her stories, so we read them. She hates people mentioning the BNF thing, though *g*. She writes because she loves to, and although she likes feedback (who wouldn't, really), it's obvious that being the person who gets 200 comments on a story can be pretty stressful.

I define a BNF fairly loosely. Basically, someone who everyone knows. If you're into McKay/Sheppard from SGA, you will have read astolat's fic. And resonant8's, and half a dozen others. I don't know who the BNFs are for the other significant pairings in SGA, I don't know too many BNFs in fandoms I'm not part of, etc. It's very situational. I think that within a given group / subgroup (pairing, for instance), people will probably agree on who the biggest-NFs are, though. In my experience, if you ask half a dozen people from the same general fandom group to pick four or five top BNFs, you'll get a heavy overlap.

I wouldn't want to be a BNF myself. Too much stress. On the other hand, I don't feel disempowered, at all. I talk about what I want to talk about, I hang out with the people I like, if I want to express an unpopular opinion, I'll do so. I have found, personally, that when it comes to fandom, people listen to subject matter more than anything else. If you consistently organise great fandom stuff, write well, do interesting meta, etc, you will become more popular; if you don't do, you probably won't.

Oh, and with regards to the "too much attention is paid to BNFs" thing?
a) There were a few anonymous fic challenges around at the end of last year, and we found that, overwhelmingly, the stories that people read and loved and recced and left feedback on most were the ones by the BNFs. Not because we knew which ones they had written (we didn't), but because they were the ones that people generally likes best.
b) There is at least one story in SGA fandom that pretty much everyone has read and the vast majority of people adored. This story was posted by someone with only one previous fic in the fandom, and who apparently had status in another entirely separate fandom which has very little in the way of crossover with SGA fandom. So, effectively, the author was a complete unknown. But purely based on the quality of that one story, it became The Story That Ate Livejournal that month. It's possibly true, now, to describe that author as a BNF, or at least to say that everyone remembers the story. But everyone didn't read the story because of who wrote it; we remember the author because of that fic.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ameliebop_radar on June 18th, 2006 07:54 am (UTC)
Thank you for your comment. I know what you mean about the stereotype of BNFs having only minions. I think it's an easy accusation to throw around, because BNFs, like all people online, usually have people who are 'loyal' to them. It's easy to characterise this as fangirling or minions, but it's not true of ALL BNFs, as you point out. (I do think it's true of some though.)

The anonymous fic challenges are very telling! And your anecdote about the SGA story that Ate LJ was very interesting too. I agree that really good writing generally gets the attention it deserves regardless of identity.
Ladycakesrustehroll on June 18th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
As someone who has finally admitted that yes, it's possible I may be a BNF (but my fandom is TINY, ragh, it's way not my FAULT), this was interesting and definitely helpful.


I dunno, it seems sorta lousy in a way. You don't know if someone actually likes your story or they're just saying they do because they don't want to disagree with you.

I can see the possibility of getting stale as a writer because of an influx of praise and not so much actual concrit.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: House everybody liesbop_radar on June 18th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree there is lousy-ness involved! ;)

I can see the possibility of getting stale as a writer because of an influx of praise and not so much actual concrit
I think that can be a problem for lots of people, whether they're BNFs or not. Many people are unwilling to give concrit because they're not sure how you'll take it. I think it comes down to having a few people you can trust to preview or beta your work or at least give feedback. It can take a while to build up that trust/honesty relationship, but it's invaluable.
(no subject) - rustehroll on July 2nd, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on July 4th, 2006 08:22 am (UTC) (Expand)