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This fandom is so very strange · 3:06am Nov 17th, 2021

And not in the ways you would think?

Hi. I wrote yet another Deltarune shitfic. I'd link you to my Offprint page as well, but all my stuff there is waiting to be published, so shrugging emoji.

But I want to take this opportunity to talk about fandoms in general, because like...

I have no idea how to interact with them.

The fact that MLP:FiM has Fimfiction, not to mention EQD, as major, centralized hubs of fanwork and activity is, as far as I can tell, highly unusual. It's not the way things work in capital-F Fandom. And we are so fucking lucky we have it.

Granted, the first DR fic I wrote -- just over a week ago! what is wrong with me? -- is seriously doing numbers. In three days, it had quickly become my most successful story on Ao3, by all metrics, eclipsing stories that have been there since 2013. This is probably because Deltarune is hot right now, though the second, more serious fic hasn't done as well. The funny thing is, 400 views around here? Well, nowadays, that's pretty decent, but not that long ago, it would have been disappointing, especially for someone who's had over 1k followers for as long as I have.

But again, that's because Fimfiction is such a centralized location. You're assured to get eyes on pretty much anything that's posted here, even if it's just a few at a time. This place is crawling with people who are here to read horse words, and read them they do, versus general sites like Ao3 and, where everyone's there to read one thing out of the million available choices.

But this comes at a price. Because EQD and Fimfiction are so prestigious (yes, I'm calling Fimfiction prestigious; even though it's not hard to get published, there's still power in having your fan work on a central, specialized website), anyone who wants to gain that prestige has to follow the rules. And these are rules that, let's face it, have generally been arbitrarily set by one person. There are a handful of people in this fandom with tremendous power to shape the face of its fanwork output, and regardless of what you may think about how suited those people are to wielding that power, I know many people would much rather beat their own drum in some darker corner of the internet where they have total freedom.

It's similar to Youtube's algorithm, in a lot of ways.

Where am I going with this? I forget. Point is, I have no idea how to interact with these generalized fansites, nor with decentralized fandoms that exist as tiny islands across the vast ocean that is social media.

For instance, that story up there? I posted it to Ao3 and Offprint, then copy-pasted the link on Tumblr and Twitter. Will I get any hits from these? I have no idea. (Fimfiction did it right with that referrals widget in the statistics page, I don't think anyone else has anything like it.) All I can do is add in #Deltarune and hope the popularity of that hashtag sends people to me. Will it? I don't fucking know how either of those websites works. But hey, I got 400 views on the first one, maybe it does a little.

But could I be doing something more? Are there other resources for people interested in non-MLP fandoms? I know I tried going on two different Discord servers, but one required you making an account on another website (I hate making new accounts), and the other greeted me with instant mockery, so I left. :/ Twitter is awful for following anything. Tumblr is... just dumb. Outside of a fan forum somewhere, shades of my earliest fandoms in 2000, I don't know what else to do.

Anyway, I didn't want this to be a "someone please help me" kind of blog post. I would rather people talk about how they do fandom, and/or the differences and difficulties of using our fandom's particular websites. :B That is all.

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Comments ( 43 )

As someone who has recently gotten way into Owl House and started writing fic for it (not published... yet)...

I have no freaking clue.

I did manage to find a discord server for it that's pretty chill, but that's about it. I otherwise have no idea how to navigate a decentralized fandom space.

Literal teenagers seem to manage it just fine though, from what I've been able to tell. Maybe we're just spoiled.

Author Interviewer

It's weird, too, because when I started off, there were no centralized fan sites. The X-Files fandom was the most organized one I knew (not that I knew many), and it consisted of a few major forums and endless author-centric web pages.

Then social media becomes a thing, and this fandom gets all its stuff and yeah, I guess we're just spoiled now lol

From what I've been able to glean from exploring Frozen and Tangled stuff, it seems like your best bets are random Discord servers and Twitter. I'm not fond of either option, so... I mean, I think Discord is great, but public servers where anyone can join just ain't it.

For games, there's also their official Reddit sub as a viable option, and that's not bad for keeping up with news and such.

Author Interviewer

I guess it also depends on how you want to interact with a fandom, too.

Like, Twitter is perfectly fine for something like Critical Role, where I'm just watching the content and not making anything. I actually spent a half hour today browsing fanart, never done that before. And other than the occasional comment into the ether, I don't feel the need to really talk to people about much on the regular.


You don’t remember the Sailor Moon Archive or grep.sailormoon? There were repositories, back in the day, but the rules tended to be strict.

I've tried writing for and interacting with a couple other fandoms in the past, but the way you describe them as a scattering of tiny islands across social media really is accurate. The best way to get traction I found was linking stories on fandom subreddits, but even that's nothing compared to the cohesiveness of poni.

For all its flaws, and there are many, Fimfic really did spoil me. Nothing else out there compares, both in quality and ease of reaching readers.


but the way you describe them as a scattering of tiny islands across social media

The Google Archipelago


The Google Archipelago


The fact that MLP:FiM has Fimfiction, not to mention EQD, as major, centralized hubs of fanwork and activity is, as far as I can tell, highly unusual. It's not the way things work in capital-F Fandom. And we are so fucking lucky we have it.'ll_Drink_To_That_Bro_Banner.jpg

I know many people would much rather beat their own drum in some darker corner of the internet where they have total freedom.

It's weird to call it "having total freedom" when the broad majority of people who complain about FF's rules want to impose additional rules, specifically to eliminate all the authors, stories, and content they don't approve of. Then those same people will patronize AO3 and not show any signs of cognitive dissonance despite that archive allowing everything under Celestia's Sun.

We might not always see eye to eye, but I honestly don't know how Knighty deals with this kind of rancor. I certainly wouldn't be able to handle it emotionally.

I mean, I write a fair bit of non pony but I tend to shove it on FANFICTION.NET and let it sit.

Back in my transformers day I managed to make some pretty popular meta posts and make friends with some popular blogs (one of those friends is now a contract cover artist for the comics). But usually I just write things and throw them at the wall because I'm pretty shy. I do like this site and how, I dunno, centralized it is.

One of the fandoms I've started to write for is so itty bitty it doesn't have any proper centralized tag on ao3, so I'm not horribly worried about if it'll be seen. There is a discord for it but like I said, I'm way too shy for something like that. Servers overwhelm me!

(also in one of the fandoms I write for I might have alienated myself from a good majority of people because I had some pretty controversial takes and the fandom is too small for my rejection of common fanon to fly. but that's whatever I get by on good ideas and solid prose)

Yo you should join the owl House shitposting group on Facebook

A good part of why I'm in the pony fandom, and still in it years later, is because Fimfiction is such an amazing hub for both stories and the fandom. Let's not forget that it's not an accident, it's the result of years and years of hard work - and I doubt Knighty makes a profit from any of this.

I do wish Genfiction had happened, to give other fandoms the advantages we've had; but I dread to think of the work that would be involved in setting that up and managing it.

The funny thing is, back in the bygone days of 2011, I cultivated some of my earliest Fimfic audience by posting links on Tumblr. But yeah, even after plenty of experience with both and Spacebattles, I have no idea how most people are meant to make themselves noticed in the greater fanfic ecosystem without some pre-existing presence to allow them to cross-promote. To say nothing of the navigational nightmare that is AO3.


To say nothing of the navigational nightmare that is AO3

what are you talking about, you're supposed to write your entire fic in, the tags

Author Interviewer

I was never interested in Sailor Moon because it was for gurrlz :B

Admittedly, I have to admit that many of my personal fandom-related problems also stem from the fact that I am not good at interacting with people in general? I am uncomfortable when we are not about me, etc.

Ironically, Genfic would just add another generalized fanfic site into the mix. One with good architecture and blogging (Offprint is the only other site I know that has blogs, but that's cuz they're Fimfic with blackjack and hookers), but still just sort of continuing the problem.

This post got my head spinning on all the ways the User Experience of FiMfiction has completely effected my desire to write pretty much anything. It all subconsciously goes through the: “But if it’s about ponies, more of my friends will read it” thought. Which is bizarre and feels like it was a tactic taken straight out of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

The overarching UX of FiMfiction and the friends and acquaintances I have here compel me to keep visiting and making content even after I have mostly become a soul-less corporate drone with a far diminished imagination from when I had… like… thinking time.

FiMfiction is the idealized version of what social media should be. And that’s likely only the tip of the iceberg of what makes it so compelling.

Author Interviewer

I haven't put too much effort into it, but it's weird thinking about how some of the ponyfic ideas I've had over the years could be easily divorced from ponies and applied to other media. c.c

I remember Ao3 contacting me directly with an invite to join. I did, but didn't do anything with it.

Maybe I should change that. Put some of my stories on there.

Truth is, I've never done anything outside of horsewords. I have wondered about it, though; what the heck to Harry Potter fanfic writers do, for example?

You don't know what you got till it's gone. Fimfic really is some gold standard stuff, and it spoiled us rotten.

The trick is that Fimfic is a social AND fanfic site where other places are one or the other and you need to navigate between the two. The other trick is that for most fandoms the social part might be between several different places. Right now, I'm deep in the Invader Zim fandom, and my social stuff hops between Tumblr and a couple of Discord groups, and I very much need both to get any eyes on my work. That said, the bulk of it's been the Discord because that leads to the Tumblr, and people following the Tumblr is an extra update/hype machine. (I could probably get more eyes on fic if I ventured into twitter but uhhhhhh lol fuck twitter all my homies hate twitter)

Even then, though, it tends to be struggle to get hits on Ao3 no matter what unless you happen to get lucky, get shoutouts/recs by people with lots of followers, write for a popular ship, or all of the above. I've been on the site since 2013 and my most popular story there got that way because the Discord server loved it and people reblogged the link a bunch. That and also I make the words good and suspenseful fic=more clicks

Software evolution in action... you gotta take the dead ends along with the true progress. But I suppose you could go back to walking uphill through the snow (both ways) to put out a mimeographed fanzine.

As some people have said above, tags are the way to get views over on AO3, and if you want to get views on a story from an unfashionable fandom, cross it over with something else that happens to be wildly popular at the time.


Author Interviewer


write for a popular ship

Oh, right, that's why the first story did numbers and the second one didn't: Noelle/Susie. :B

Though why it also has a nearly 10% kudos rating is beyond me. XD


We might not always see eye to eye, but I honestly don't know how Knighty deals with this kind of rancor. I certainly wouldn't be able to handle it emotionally.

A while back he did express dislike of this website. I don't remember the specifics, but it caused a bit of panic. It is understandable that a combination waning pony interest and people's conflicting senses of entitlement would turn him off to this site.

But fimfic is still such an amazing thing.

As a Chinese I think I’ll throw my two cents in here, though I admit I never cared much about Chinese pony fandom anyway. At the beginning I think translators post their translation on their personal Sina blogs but no one uses them anymore. There was once upon a time many Chinese bronies who used Baidu Tieba (sort of Reddit-like with lots of specific subdivisions concentrating on one topic or one fandom, but functions more like a traditional forum, so you can post stories/translations on it) but since the company who owns and manages it sucks hard it lost most of its users over the years. The brony fandom had already been on the decline for years and those little forums essentially ceased to exist in any meaningful way, as far as I know. About three years ago some people made a Chinese Fimfic clone and that seems to work more or less okay though. Stories and translations posted there with more than 10 likes are considered a success and I’m happy to report that up till now my most popular translation has 58 likes which is really a lot. Discord-server-like groups also exist in the social media app QQ while lots of major Chinese social platforms have their own dose of scattered pony fans, but in general, yeah, it’s a mess.

I always think Fimfic is absolutely the best thing that can happen to a fandom, not only because it has a good UI, lots of useful functions, talented authors, amazing stories, generally friendly and reasonable people (really, if you think Fimfic is bad, that’s because you haven’t seen the extremely toxic atmosphere that is prevalent on the whole Chinese Internet), but also because there are just so many English-speaking bronies that all gather here. It’s still a lively place after all these years and we even see old legends returning, while in China the community became too small to sustain itself effectively. I think for many other countries it’s worse, like the French Fimfic clone MLPFictions unexpected shut down in 2017 and the whole French community was, like, completely gone in just one night. All in all, I think the moral to my 2AM (Beijing time) rambling is “appreciate what we still have today and be nice to each other”. I would like to see this website live on for another ten years and more.

Author Interviewer

Yeah, oof, I rarely have to think about how other countries might have to deal with fandom. I mean, the media that I'm into that comes from another language -- anime, Kamen Rider -- tends to have a large number of English-speaking fans, so there's rarely any worry for me finding content I can enjoy.

I do hope your end of the fandom continues to thrive, though, because I know you all do great work with the translations! :)

Thanks! But really, as a brony I exist mostly on Fimfiction and I just post my things on the Chinese websites and call it a day. Sometimes you do have to wonder if the dominance of the English language over the world is a good thing though.:applejackunsure:

Yeah its a struggle to try and interact with people :/ I have been making an effort but ugh.

The fact that MLP:FiM has Fimfiction, not to mention EQD, as major, centralized hubs of fanwork and activity is, as far as I can tell, highly unusual.

It's highly unusual now, but when FiM was first kicking off it was still the norm for fandoms to have large - prestigious - hub sites, with a few smaller orbiters, and with the creative output of the fandom pushed to the fore. This model generated a strong coherence within the fandom, allowing the formation of sub-groups orbiting around a few central points, and made discovery easy; everything was available and searchable from the web.

Corporate social media has spread fandoms out like too little butter over too much bread*, but also silo'd content away from the world in ways that weren't exactly predictable in the old days of the open web, especially once enclosed and proprietary chat programs like Discord started to gain real prominence.

It's a pervasive problem with the internet in general. Gigantic, all-purpose data collators like twitter destroy community coherence on all but the most superficial level, by forcing everyone into a single, ever-churning feed of trivia and nonsense until they're lost in the noise. Meanwhile, the aforementioned silos make discovery impossible by hiding everything away in a box that encourages the development of an insular culture that's hostile to intrusion by outsiders. I honestly resent the whole thing. I'd rant more about it, but this isn't my blog and it would be rude to go off on an essay.

Suffice to say you're not the only one. FiM might be the last fandom I truly engage with.

*It's one of those quotes I just can't resist.

Author Interviewer

No way, English sucks. XD I was actually thinking about this earlier today and decided I'd much rather everyone was speaking, like, Spanish, that's a nice, regular, easy language to learn. Certainly easier than English.

I highly recommend making your whole rant into a blog post. :D

Fimfiction is a blessing.

The primary reason for its success and endurance is sheer population - in any fandom there are a finite number of fans, authors, and artists. MLP got so huge that even 10 years down it still has thousands of people consuming the pone here. Most fandoms simply wouldn't have the numbers to keep a site like this going.

MLP's format and release was another big one. Season 1 left a horde of people hungry for more, and so created their own and consumed that of others, all while leaving nice comments which encouraged said others to write more. Couple that with a setting wide-open for worldbuilding (even now), and you have a thing that can be written about indefinitely (as, indeed, it has).

FimFiction's format is a big winner as well. We have people who've never written a story or who haven't written in years still be active members of the community thanks to reviews, blogs, or just making comments. That helps keep things alive and strong because you don't need to be actively publishing (which can grow tiring) to remain involved and relevant.

But again, it all comes down to numbers and passion. MLP is the largest, most passionate nerd culture event in the last twenty years. Only Undertale and Disney-Marvel come close, and the former is limited by its small setting and the latter by its atrocious baggage.

The weird thing is, Google does that while referral thing *for you*. You could add your own Google analytics codes to tumble themes or whatever. DA makes you pay to embed it. All ao3 or whoever have to do is use analytics.

I've only ever read one non-pony fic (The Metropolitan Man, a period piece Superman fic which was excellent) in no small part because every other site makes my eyes take direct poison damage. Knighty et. al. really have spoiled us. Even ye olden Google Doc links from EqD were pretty okay compared to some of the readers on aggregate sites I've looked at.

That said, yeah I have absolutely no idea how to go about interacting with other fandoms, at all. Hell I'm not even sure how I ended up here anymore, except that I heard about My Little Dashie somewhere and had to see what sort of person would write pony stories and the sort of quality we were dealing with.

And now I'm here forever. :shrug:

Author Interviewer


And now I'm here forever.

yeah :')

I didn't know Undertale fandom was big enough for cons. Pretty sure Homestuck was, for a time, reasonably large though. And obviously Star Trek is the original fandom and much more enormous. They even invented slash. :V

Some more observations:

1. Maybe it's the rise of smartphones that made people abandon the niche websites and forums while plunging into those big social media platforms. Use an app, no need for browsers, scroll down mindlessly and be entertained because you only have several minutes to take a break from life. In comparison even reading a 2k-word one shot is a chore.

2. This however doesn't explain why lots of people use AO3 and Like, there are millions of Harry Potter fans and combined those two websites host nearly a million fanfictions (lots of overlaps, I assume) but it seems that the fandom still hasn't bothered with creating a dedicated fanfiction site of their own, even though the two website have trash UIs, no mobile app and AKAIK no giant companies behind them.

3. Googling "my little pony fanfiction" and you don't see Fimfiction anywhere. Makes me wonder how the heck so many people come straight here while AO3 and only has a relatively meager collection of pony fics.

I was hoping someone would bring this up, because I remember those days though I also wasn't engaged in any fandoms large enough to warrant it. (That and in the late 90s/early 00s, I was a kid/young teen who barely knew how to really internet yet, since internet access wasn't always there at home. I used to read large fics chapter by chapter using computers at Circuit City or printing them out at the library) That said I do remember fandom at large being housed in forums, and back in 2005-09 I'd mirror-post my fics there and get extra doses of feedback. Really, forums were the place for all fandom activity if the fandom itself wasn't big enough for a whole dedicated site. I saw wars and factions rise and fall and merge through forums, territories and ship alliances marked by avatars and animated signature banners.

I miss forums.

I haven't had much experience with other fandoms, so I can't really speak on that, but I will say what initially won me over when I joined the pony fandom was how so gosh darn friendly everyone is.

Even with the occasional drama, I still find the pony community to leagues above, say, the Minecraft community where I started.

This does have me wondering what’s happened to the Vorkosigan fandom, now that the infamous List has been rendered obsolete.

They were a trip. Cheering on the guy experimenting on kids with CRISPR, all to get their supposed sci-fi future. SMDH They couldn’t see how that was eugenics.

I'd wager this has a lot to do with the time period bronies became popular in. In the early 2010s, people were just discovering that you can become successful through an online brand. Making high quality YouTube content was popular, creating websites was unique, everyone wanted a slice of that internet pie. These were teenagers and this was their passion. Most bronies were at a stage in their life where they had a lot of free time to invest into these projects.
So yeah, the bronies of then happened to put a lot of work into cultivating that, and it led to some incredible and influential creations.

Author Interviewer

Ugh. When I was that age, no one knew what the internet was. D: My life is the worst.

I mean, I jumped into Disney's Z-O-M-B-I-E-S fandom last year. Wrote two fics for it (we have about 360 in total on AO3), and they've done all right. The Discord server for the fandom is very young and dead (braaiiinnns), even though the last part of the movie trilogy will be out next year in 2022.

I endure. I've been through Sailor Moon (in a time where there was sites like Angelfire, Geocities, and the famous A Sailor Moon Romance website), Harry Potter (which took place entirely on Livejournal, completely missing the other HP fanfic sites that were out there), and when I came back to MLP, I almost didn't want to leave PonyFictionArchive when Fimfic started up. Took some convincing to move over here.

AO3 isn't a social space like Fimfic and EqD are. It's primarily an archive, and if you want interaction, you go elsewhere. Shame that it's Tumblr or Twitter.

I'm in other Discords for fanfiction in general, horsewords here and there, and in one that's for people over 30 (because WE OLD, BABY!), and I still have a hard time being able to articulate what I'm working on, because it's weird as fuck most of the time.

You know, I find myself back here remembering what you said about MLP being so strange...

I loved Star Ocean: The Second Story (a 1999 JRPG) as a kid, and finally got an emulator to play it and fell in love all over again. I want more. I have theories, opinions, and favorite ships. I want to read fanfics devoted to epilogues, quirky romance comedies, lemons, and expanding on story events. I want to dig through mountains of fan art for my absolute faves.

But there's... none of that. 20-odd stories on that were posted 15 years ago. A dozen or so entries on deviantart, a few pages on Pixiv. Nothing more. Barring replaying it myself again, the journey just... kinda stops. :|

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