torn between not okay and maybe kind of cute (kalpurna) wrote,
torn between not okay and maybe kind of cute

on the subject of damnyouwentz

Awww! My baby fandom is wanking.

Here's the thing. I think the way this issue was brought up is really unfortunate, and played out in some pretty distressing ways. Drama! Hurt feelings! Leaving communities! Personal attacks! Also, it seems to be largely community-internal drama, playing out in a public place, which is, you know, unpleasant.

Still, it's reminded me of my own issues with damnyouwentz, and I kind of wanted to post about how I feel about that community. Because, yeah – I think there are some things regarding how it's handled with which one could legitimately take issue, and I'd like it if we talked about it, instead of just waiting for a wanksplosion like this one. (Just to clarify – I'm not a member, and I certainly don't feel like I should be. I barely post fic, and I'm relatively new in the fandom, and there's a squillion people who should be higher on the list if they start inviting people in again. There is no axe here for me to grind.)

As far as I can tell, no one has joined DYW since about February or so. Now, I fully believe that there are reasons why you would keep a community small, valid reasons! If it's really just a community for the mods and their close friends to discuss the fandom without being overwhelmed by teenies, that's perfectly fine! God knows there are a lot of teenies, badfic, and inexperienced writers in this fandom, and I can understand not wanting to sift through all newcomers, if it's meant to be a place for a few friends to discuss their interests. If it's just a community for the old guard of this fandom, that's also fine. If it's just a case of wanting to keep the comm small for smallness's sake, there's no reason that should cause drama, either.

If any or all of those is the case, however, you need to be up-front about it.

I know that there are a ton of reasons why DYW hasn't been asking in new members, none of which have to do with elitism. From conversations I've had with community members, I absolutely believe that it's not the case that people think they're better than non-members. This is a PR problem, an image problem, not a problem of maliciousness or evil intent. The userinfo of DYW is misleading, and the community's exclusivity, combined with the implication in the userinfo that the mods will seek out and find any good writers in the fandom, contributes to the impression that if you aren't asked to join, it is because the amorphous forces behind the comm think you aren't a good writer. It used to be worse, implying that they think you don't contribute substantively to fandom at all, since picspams and primers were mentioned. Now it's just fic – but there are a ton of good fic writers who aren't in the comm, and the implication that all you need to do is write good fic is still insulting, inevitably, to all the people with previous fandom cred and lots of talent who are currently writing bandslash.

When I entered this fandom in April of this year, DYW was advertised, in its userinfo and by reputation, as the place to go for good fic. There was a time that it was literally the be-all and end-all of good fic in Six Degrees of Wentz fandom. That's simply not the case anymore. It isn't. There are some unbelievable writers in this fandom who aren't in that community. Hell, arsenicjade, who wrote the Panic! fic I've seen most widely recced by people who aren't even IN the fandom, isn't a member. There are fabulous, awesome, talented people who aren't DYW members – and people who ARE in DYW are, in my experience, the first to admit that.

But the bemused reactions of some mods and members to anger and resentment from outside the community is frankly baffling to me.

Entering this fandom in April, just when it was beginning to balloon into a medium-sized fandom rather than a small one, I experienced a kind of stretch-and-snap effect with regard to DYW. First, there were new people entering the fandom, lurking all over DYW and posting tons of bandom content in their own journals. Then there were more new people. And by and large, these were people coming in with pre-existing fannish credentials, who had histories and reputations in other fandoms, who weren't teenies, who were, frankly, the kind of people I'd want in my fandom. Then there was new fic, and lo, it was good.

Meanwhile, DYW didn't expand at all. Not at ALL. And yeah, at first there was some resentment about that, I feel pretty safe saying.

And then after a couple of months? It became so clear that DYW wasn't the be-all and end-all of this fandom anymore, so obvious that if you came in after February you were out of luck, that most of the resentment disappeared, at least as far as I could see. People figured out that the userinfo was not accurate, that what you actually needed to do to join the comm was – something else! Possibly go back in time? But whatever it was, it clearly wasn't just "hang around being awesome," because a whole lot of people were doing that and no one was being invited in. So the opportunity DYW had, to continue as the one, central location of all coherent adult interaction in FBR fandom, expired. It's no longer the case that it defines intelligent bandslash, and I say that with every bit of respect it deserves for the time when it did.

All of this is my subjective experience, and I have taken no polls, conducted no surveys. I'm just trying to start a conversation about something that has shaped the fandom I currently call home. Ultimately, here's what I'm saying. I think it was disingenuous of the DYW community to pretend like there wasn't a problem, like the rapid, massive expansion of bandom within established media-fandom circles didn't change the dynamic in the fandom, didn't redefine what DYW was and would be. I think that they didn't see the resentment, and/or didn't address it, and that things might have worked out better if they did. I also think it's largely blown over, among non-members, because damnyouwentz no longer occupies the place it once did.

This isn't a criticism of any of the members of the community; it's a criticism of the way the community is represented in its userinfo. What I'd really love to see, more than anything, is a clarification of the membership policies in the community's profile. I understand why the policies were different when the fandom was smaller, and it may take some time before that change occurs, but I think it would go a LONG way toward ameliorating DYW's elitist image if it were to happen.

ETA: And huge thanks to quettaser for being tremendously helpful in betaing this post! ♥
Tags: bandom, fandom, meta

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