Wondering if you should ever go to a con after the DashCon kerfuffle? Did you know that there are literally hundreds of cons worldwide about media things that Tumblr is into? This is a totally non-comprehensive list of conventions you might want to check out, limited to English-speaking countries because that’s what I know about. These are all conventions with a good reputation for being fun and well managed. They are annual events unless otherwise noted.
The fanlore page on cons is a great resource, too.
If you’re into Doctor Who:
Gallifrey One tickets sell out super fast. Many great guests. They usually have a Doctor. Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Chicago TARDIS Chicago, IL, USA.
Con Kasterborous Huntsville, Alabama, USA
L.I. Who Long Island, NY, USA
If you’re into slash:
Slash-specific cons tend to be small and social. These cons have no celebrity guests, they’re all about fans getting together and hanging out. The kind of place where you’ll be talking to someone, glance at their name tag, and realize they’re a fic writer or fanartist you’ve been following for years. Usually 18+ for full attendees, with a… um… bawdy environment.
Con.TXT based on reviews, this is a great con. Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Escapade the longest-running slash con. Meet your fannish foremothers! Los Angeles, CA, USA.
get__together 10 year old established slash con. Wellington, NZ
Sinpozium Sydney, NSW, Australia
Muskrat Jamboree Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (every other year)
Pacificon Seattle, WA, USA (every other year)
If you’re into anime:
Room 801 18+ Yaoi con. Sydney, NSW, Australia
Yaoi-Con 18+ Yaoi con. San Francisco, CA, USA.
Sakura-Con Large general anime/manga con with a lot of teenage attendees. Seattle, WA, USA.
Otakon Huge anime con with lots of artist and writer guests. Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Anime Central (ACen) Chicago, IL, USA.
If you’re into fanvids:
Vividcon this is the place to be if you make fanvids. Chicago, IL, USA
If you’re into Supernatural:
Note: the Supernatural cons with the actors as guests are for-profit cons run by an event production company. They are a completely different environment from fan-run cons. These cons are more expensive and don’t have much to do other than pay a bunch to meet the actors. If that’s what you want, have at it. I will not be linking to any of those cons here.
Wincon a small, slash-friendly fan focused con that started as an SPN con but now covers various fandoms. Different US locations every year.
If you’re into Harry Potter and/or YA books:
LeakyCon large con that was founded in the years after the books. Many non-HP guests from online media that will make you feel like An Old if you read the Harry Potter books when they came out. Also lots of YA author guests. Various locations around the USA.
If you want to see as many famous actors as possible, who cares about any other programming:
Dragon*Con Atlanta, Georgia, USA
San Diego Comic Con. You don’t need a link, right?
Emerald City Comicon Seattle, WA, USA
Fan Expo Canada Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Supanova everywhere in Australia
Do a web search for “comic con” in your area or ask around. Most major metro areas have cons that focus on bringing celebrity guests.
If you’re into Game of Thrones:
TitanCon Belfast, Northern Ireland. Has essentially become the Game of Thrones con since the show started filming there.
If you’re into Science Fiction & Fantasy books:
SF/F-specific cons are some of the longest running and numerous. Search “science fiction convention” and your local area to find one. They tend to have a mix of book, TV, and movie focus and author guests rather than actors. SF con culture has been around long enough that many of the people in their teens and 20s you’ll see at a con grew up going to them.
So, here’s a thought:
The types of fandom that are most often considered traditional and acceptable, and which are often either male-dominated or coded as masculine, tend to be acquisitive, whether in terms of knowledge (obscure trivia) or merchandise (collectibles). Whereas, by contrast, the types of fandom most often considered insincere, non-serious or “unreal”, and which are often either female-dominated or coded as feminine, tend to be creative, such as making costumes, writing fanfic and drawing fanart.
Which is arguably an interesting expression of gender dynamics within fandom, in the sense of being a direct response to gender representation within the canon of particular franchises: namely, that because men, and particularly straight white cismen, are so ubiquitous within popular narrative(s), they have less need to create personal fan interpretations in order to see themselves represented, or to correct/ameliorate stereotypical portrayals; whereas women - and, indeed, members of any other group likely to suffer from poor representation - do.
Which isn’t to say that it’s impossible to be both an acquisitive and a creative fan - not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor am I trying to say that the only reason someone might be an acquisitive fan is because they’re complacent about issues of bias and representation, or that the only reason someone might be a creative fan is because they want to address an issue in the canon. Some people like to collect, some like to make, and some like both, or neither. It’s fine! But I do think that, when it comes to conversations about Fake Geek Girls and what being a “real fan” means - conversations which tend to be strongly gendered - the split between acquisition/creation tends to follow gender lines, too: that guys who know All The Facts and buy All The Merch are the REAL fans, whereas girls who just dress up and tell silly headcanon stories aren’t, and that maybe, there’s an interesting reason for why this might be.
[bolded for emphasis]
This is interesting. Especially because an extrapolation from that is that the ‘orthodox’, ‘traditional’ mode of interacting with a work - knowing, staying close to the first interpretation, valuing the refusal to budge from those first interpretations over being inclusive and fluid - is therefore masculine-coded, but it’s feminine-coded to be canonically fluid, intensely metacritical, artistically motivated, and to encourage creative deconstruction and reconstruction.
Which is probably a sliver of the backlash that grows into the Fake Geek Girl conversation - that people think the ‘text’ of their fandom ‘faith’ shouldn’t be tampered with or recontextualized, whereas other people insist that it has to evolve to meet the needs of the people who it serves?
I’m not sure how it accommodates for works like Welcome to Night Vale (a really good place, I think to discuss fandoms and their interactions with media), where the literalism of its canon is the establishment that blanks are required to be filled in by the audience. Fan-created artwork of any type, arguably, is as valuable a ‘history’ of Night Vale as Cecil’s radio show, because so many details are up in the air anyway, and have to be informed by the information you do still have (e.g. nothing says Cecil can’t be a blob, so what would it mean if he were a blob?).
This is absolutely fascinating to me now, and will surely make up a large part of actual notes I have about what I can now call ‘exegetical fandom theory’ and how people interact with and alter media.
Reblogging for commentary, and because the divide between literalism/exegesis is another fascinating lens through which to examine both fandom generally, and its gender dynamics.
See also obsession_inc on affirmational vs. transformational fandom.
Just about seven years ago, on 29 May 2007, hundreds of fans with accounts at Livejournal made the shocking discovery that their blogs, and those of some of their friends and favorite fandom communities, had been deleted without prior notice.
It’s estimated that Livejournal suspended approximately 500 blog accounts. The only notice of this was was the strike through the names of the suspended blogs, which led to this event being called Strikethrough.
At the time, Livejournal was the primary blogging platform for fandom. Its friends list and threaded conversations enabled fans to find each other and have discussions. Its privacy settings allowed fans to share as much or as little as they chose. It was a place to publish and archive fan fic, art, and meta. These features give some idea why the deletions of so many fandom blogs was devastating.
Speculation and uncertainty were rampant during the two days it took for Livejournal to finally respond to demands from users for information. At first, LJ stated only that it had been advised that journals listing an illegal activity as an interest could be regarded as soliciting for that illegal activity, which put the site at legal risk. It was eventually revealed that Livejournal and its owners at the time, Six Apart, had been contacted by a group calling themselves Warriors for Innocence, a conservative Christian organization with ties to the militia movement who accused of being a haven for pedophiles and child pornography.
LJ had based the account suspensions on the tags used in LJ blogs. LJ users list their interests in their profiles, and those interests functions as tags. LJ took the blanket view that there was no difference between blogs listing “rape”.”incest”, or “pedophilia” among their interests, and blogs with posts tagged “rape”. “incest”, or “pedophilia”. As a consequence, some of the accounts that were suspended were support sites for people like rape survivors and gay teens, as well as the fandom sites that posted book discussions, RP, fan fiction, and fan art.
Livejournal grudgingly issued a partial apology to users on 31 May, but it took months for the organization to sort through the suspended blogs. According to Livejournal, most of the suspended accounts were restored. Not all of the suspended accounts were restored, and some of those that weren’t belonged to the support groups and fandoms.
One result of Strikethrough was that many communities and individual fans locked their blogs so the content could be viewed only community members, or those on their friends lists. Other fans opened accounts at blogging platforms like JournalFen, The Greatest Journal, or Insane Journal. There was definitely an atmosphere of mistrust and paranoia that hadn’t previously existed, and part of the problem was that Livejournal had not come through with promised clarification about what sort of content violated the ToS.
So, of course, it happened all over again.
On 3 August, Livejournal once again suspended a number of accounts without warning. This time, the account names were bolded, and the event became known as Boldthrough.
These deletions were the result of decisions made by a group consisting of members of LiveJournal’s Abuse Prevention Team, made up of LiveJournal employees, and Six Apart staff, that had been set up to review blog content. This group was had been empowered to declare blog content offensive, a violation of the ToS that was defined by the team as content not containing enough serious artistic value to offset the sexual nature of the material. The team was empowered to terminate accounts without warning.
Anxious and angry LJ users had to wail ten days until LJ issued a response. Eventually, the ToS was changed to state that accounts deemed in violation of the ToS would in future be deleted only if the offender refused to delete offending content.
Just a few days before Strikethrough, LJ user astolat proposed a new blogging platform and fan fic archive be created by fans, for fans. This was the birth of the Organization for Transformative Works, a non-profit organization dedicated to provide access to fanworks, and to protect and defend fanworks from commercial exploitation and legal challenge. Strikethrough and Boldthrough definitely pushed the project along. OTW opened DreamWidth in beta mode in April 2009, and began open beta testing of Archive of Our Own in November 2009.
In mid-January 2010, DreamWidth came under pressure by an undisclosed group who tried to convince DW’s server and PayPal, among others, that DW was a platform for child pornography. DW refused to give in to the harassment and intimidation, and promptly notifed users about the situation. The only consequence of the group’s pressure was that new requests for paid services were temporarily put on hold until DW was able to find a new payment processor service. DW remained true to its Guiding Principles by keeping users informed throughout this incident, and respecting freedom of expression by refusing to delete any posts or blogs to satisfy the demands of the group of trolls.
Which brings us to Tumblr.
Tumblr was launched in 2007. While not all fans have embraced it, citing reasons like character restrictions in replies and asks and the difficulty of finding others who share one’s fandom, it’s certain that the majority of fandoms are well-represented.
However, in July 2013, fans once again expressed outrage when Tumblr - without warning – removed without warning accounts flagged as “NSFW” or “Adult” from public searches, made those blogs inaccessible to Tumblr users not already following them, and deleted a number of tags from its mobile app, including #gay, #lesbian and #bisexual. In a manner unsettlingly reminiscent of Strikethrough and Boldthrough, Tumblr did not immediately respond, and the response posted 24 hours later was widely regarded as a non-apology apology. Tumblr claimed it had been trying to get rid of commercial porn blogss, and eventually asserted that all the removed accounts had been reinstated.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from this, it’s that of George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Most blogging and social networking sites are in business to make a profit, and fandoms make them uncomfortable. They inevitably take steps to control the content being posted, to keep outside groups or their new owners happy, disrupting fandoms and deleting material that fans had considered to be safely stored.
The only solution I can see is for fans to copy and back up the things that are important. Maintain active accounts at several sites. Keep a list of your friends’ pseudonyms and emails.
Because the only thing that’s certain is that it’s going to happen again.
I intend to make proper footnotes at some point, but until then, here’s a list of sources used in writing this article:
Thoughtful summary and great collection of links.
One addition/correction: Dreamwidth is not an OTW project, though both OTW and Dreamwidth were developed by fans partly because of frustrations with LiveJournal, including but not limited to Strikethrough.