Paraka (paraka) wrote,

Fannish Identities and the OTW

So, I've been going through a bit of a metafandom phase and have been reading some of the hot topics there over the past few days. Two of them have kind of collided, the Rebecca Tushnet interview and Laura Hale's outing of Noami Novik's fannish identity (although, really, is there anyone who didn't know? I knew 2 years ago when I first discovered her fanfic), both have brought up some issues people have with the OTW.

The specific issue I want to touch on, is the fact that the board uses their real names instead of their fannish ones. I can understand the argument of wanting to know the people involved before getting involved with an organization but on the other hand...

Do people really do that kind of research before using a fan resource?
Do people look up the owners of a fansite, like say, before looking at their pics? Do author's look up the fan history of the owner of a fanfic archive before they post their stories there? Or research a compiler before following the links on a rec list or master list? Will you not join an LJ comm without knowing or researching who the mods are? Because I can tell you, I sure don't.

I base whether I use a site or not on the content they are providing, perhaps on who else is using it, and certainly if I've already heard rumours about the people involved with it I might stay away. I might join/use a particular fanresource because I know who's running it, but really that's as far as I go. I know I've used a couple of fansites where, even if I *were* to research the owner/mod I wouldn't find anything, because running that site *is* their contribution to fandom. They don't run a blog, or write fic/make vids/do graphics, so if you find reference to them, all you'll see if the particular fansite they run.

So am I weird in not looking up information? If not, why is the OTW different? Shouldn't we let the product speak for itself? Let the services, their mission statements, their plans, and their volunteers (who do give up their fannish names) speak for the group? I would think that if the board were full of rotten people, we'd be seeing that in the works they produce. I think the volunteers would have said something by now as they deal with the board, we would have seen people quitting and making ranting posts warning us off. I haven't seen any of that.

And if you *are* someone who researches the people involved in running a site... well, at least of two of the board members run blogs under their real names (that I know of) and I don't think it would take a great deal of effort to find the fannish names of all the board members. I mean, they all have a profile listed on the OTW page with lists of their RL and *fannish* credentials. If you google "automated archive" the first hit contains both the board member's name and her pseudonym (in the URL and her email address). And I'm *sure* that by the first election people are *really* going to have trouble keeping anonymous, because people will want a bit more details on your fannish past if they're going to vote for you.

Plus, currently the OTW is being run mostly by LJ people, but they're hoping to reach out to other parts of fandom too. On LJ, you can really get to know each other, and can share a lot of personal stuff publicly. It's possible to be in other parts of fandom, such as message boards, or hell, just fanfic archives, where you give very little personal information away. So even if someone, like say, my sister, were to run for the board, and post her fannish name(s) you'd dig up very little about her other than her (bad) fanfic.

I know there's at least one person on my flist feels this way about the OTW and we've spoken about it a couple times and one of the reasons we discussed for our disagreement is that she sees the OTW and it's board as sort of fannish politicians and feels she should know their history if they're going to represent us. I... don't see why that should be the case. I mean, the OTW isn't the governing body of the country of fandom, the only people it represents are those who choose to associate with it and who have bought a membership. Also, as a Canadian... well I think politics are a lot different here than they are in the US (and probably other countries as well, but this particular flister is American). I mean, in Canada, we don't need to know every single detail about our politicians, we just care about what their current policies are and how they've done as a politician up until now. Which, translated to OTW, you could make the argument that their fannish history is their time as a politician up 'til now, but I think that's really broad. I care about their experience doing the particular job they are signing up for. So, I care that Rebecca Tushnet is a lawyer. I care that Naomi has done programming before. Both of those are RL examples. All future board members will have had to put so many volunteer hours in with the OTW before they can run, so I think those hours should count as their past.

And also... while I would rather that the people on the OTW board not have a wank filled history, I could deal with it if they can keep the wank out of the OTW and do the job they signed up for. I don't need the OTW to have a perfect fandom history. I don't need them to be BNFs. I don't care if they write crappy fanfic. I don't care if they are mostly a lurker. I care that they get the job they signed up for done.

But then again, as I said, I'm Canadian, and we've elected lots of people that are... special (we've elected a drunk, one who spoke to dead people, one who avoids the media as much as possible and have re-elected ones who mockingly pirouette behind Queens and choke protesters in public). Gotta love Canada :P

And randomly: OMG, Fanlib is shutting down? Didn't see *that* one coming.
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