Episode 93: User-Generated Content

The cover of Episode 93: handmade felted Pop-Tart plushies.

In Episode 93, “User-Generated Content,” Elizabeth and Flourish tackle the thorny intersections between making stuff you love and getting paid. They start with the recent round of layoffs at BuzzFeed—including the revelation that a good portion of their traffic comes from uncompensated “community” members—and segue into a conversation about the uncompensated things fans enjoy doing, and the complicated ways that the tech, media, and entertainment industries profit off fans’ work. What is exploitative—and what is just fans having fun?


Show Notes

[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by stefsax, used under a CC-BY 3.0 license. Our cover is an image of felted Pop-Tarts by Jessica Wilson (Instagram, blog), used with permission. Look at how cute they are!!!

Felted Pop-Tarts!
A stack of felted Pop-Tarts!

[00:01:16] The saddest way to joke about BuzzFeed layoffs is by writing a BuzzFeed quiz.

[00:02:31] The blog post about the fact that BuzzFeed makes tons of cash off a Michigan teen; an article investigating WHO IS THIS TEEN?

[00:03:01] Alanna Bennett’s well-known racebent Hermione article.


A gif of Michael, on  The Good Place,  saying, “In the words of one of my actual friends, ya basic!”

[00:17:30] Teresa is in Episode 45, “Tall Princess.”

[00:15:23] We are indeed eligible for the Hugos! The spreadsheet Elizabeth was talking about is here; it’s by @renay, and it is really helpful if you’re looking at what to nominate or vote for!


Flourish and Elizabeth wearing matching Harry Potter sweaters.
Elizabeth’s family! She should just quit being a journalist and devote herself to developing a historical drama about them, right?

Elizabeth’s family! She should just quit being a journalist and devote herself to developing a historical drama about them, right?


[00:26:49] Elizabeth’s Harry Potter art is by Taryn Knight!

Four adorable fanart images representing the four Harry Potter houses, hanging on Elizabeth’s brick kitchen wall.

[00:36:49] Kenyatta Cheese spoke with us in Episode 88.

[00:39:31] Leslie Combemale spoke with us in Episode 27, “Fanart Insights.”

[00:43:40] We talked about these lawsuits over fan films in Episode 25, “Lawsuit at Axanar,” and in Episode 40, “Axanar [Lawsuit Intensifies].”

[00:45:25] We discussed the “schmoop plateau” in our $1/month special episode with Javier Grillo-Marxuach. To hear all about it, pledge to our Patreon!

[00:54:00] Well, do you like Brutalist architecture?

[00:59:51] We talked about decentralization of fandom in Episode 92, “Ask Fansplaining Anything: Part 3.”

[01:08:21] If you aren’t familiar with FanLib, read up on it at Fanlore.

[01:14:00] Our outro track is “As I Was Saying,” by Lee Rosevere, used under a CC BY 3.0 license.


[Intro music]

Flourish Klink: Hi Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Minkel: Hi Flourish!

FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!

ELM: This is Episode 93, “User-Generated Content.”

FK: Guess what we’re talking about?

ELM: User-generated content! [FK laughs] Yeah. UGC!

FK: So, this episode came about in a sad way…because of layoffs.

ELM: Yes. That was the impetus. I mean…these are topics that we’ve circled around a bunch, but yeah, the prompting incident…we are recording this the final week of January, and over the past few days, there have been a lot of layoffs in the media. If you work in the media or adjacent, follow any journalists on Twitter, you’ve probably seen some discussion of this. The most high-profile among them were massive layoffs at BuzzFeed, which, I think, partly seemed so dramatic because it’s such a personal—for people who follow the work of journalists at BuzzFeed, it’s very personality-driven.

FK: Yeah. I feel like I actually knew more people at BuzzFeed, like, not following journalists at all—like, I knew different names and so on, way more than almost anywhere else.

ELM: Right. Whereas, like...

FK: It was a little bit like Gawker in Gawker’s heyday, when there were people and you’d be like, “Oh yeah. Them.”

ELM: Yeah. Exactly. And obviously it wasn’t just journalists who were laid off. There were all sorts of producers and editors and community managers—but it just, it feels a little different than…you know, I was, I’ve been working in the media for more than a decade, and, like, I was at Conde Nast when they did, like, a 25% headcount reduction [laughs] for the entire company. You know? And, like, obviously a lot of people lost their jobs, but it wasn’t this kind of, like…someone joked for the BuzzFeed thing about the Hunger Games canon. [FK laughs] Where, you know, where they project their picture in the air when they’ve died?

FK: Yes. Oh no.

ELM: It started to feel like that, though! Which is not how it normally feels, like, when a big chunk of people get laid off in a group.

FK: Yeah, no.

ELM: That in itself was just kinda like, you know, these would be media questions. But the reason this turns to community questions is, the head of quizzes was laid off, and in his blog post he happened to mention—in a somewhat offhand way—that the, like, second-highest generator of quiz traffic was a teenager in Michigan who had made hundreds of quizzes. And everyone went, “Wait, what?” You know.

FK: [laughs] Who is this teen?!

ELM: Right! And not just this one person, though people did then go to talk to this one teen, this 19-year-old who lives in Michigan. But it was an angle that I hadn't seen anyone discussing prior to this, the fact that…not just quizzes, but a lot of BuzzFeed content is “BuzzFeed community member posts.” There are articles that I think are really good that are by community members. I know that Alanna Bennett, who was laid off, who's a pop culture writer—and in fandom and writes fandom-adjacent stuff and some direct in fandom stuff—I think the post that went viral that, I think, was an impetus in them hiring her, was the one about black Hermione? That was reading Hermione, reading it and visualizing Hermione as black, before The Cursed Child cast a black actress and all this. And that was a community post. And the fact that stuff that they can be very well known for, that has been such a high driver of traffic, for free, really came to the fore, and it was something that people didn't...hadn't been talking about at all, until this, the quiz guy brought it up.

FK: Yeah. I mean, we did talk a little bit about—in the past—about how a lot of stuff on BuzzFeed is, like, you know, “you put this on Tumblr, we’re putting it on BuzzFeed” is the attitude. But that’s a different thing. I mean, it’s related, but it’s a bit different. And that’s still somebody at BuzzFeed going through and, like, collecting interesting things from the rest of the internet and putting them together.

ELM: Yeah, I kinda think that’s the opposite. And that’s a complicated question, and as we’ve discussed—as we’ve discussed recently—BuzzFeed made its, made its peace with the fact that that was how they were going to…

FK: Yeah.

ELM: …create content, as curators highlighting, you know, the work of other people on other sites.

FK: Totally.

ELM: To be fair, they're not the only ones who do that; I think they are probably the biggest… 

FK: Yeah, not by far.

ELM: …biggest player on the internet. But this is people actively choosing to write for free, or to create quizzes, or listicles, or any other kind of content, for free, on BuzzFeed, and BuzzFeed being fully aware that this is a huge driver of traffic and revenue for them, and encouraging people to write more—without saying “Here’s a monetization path for you,” you know. They’ve apparently sent people swag, a word I hate, but like, you know, like…which is a kind of compensation, but is not the same as money, you know, and suggests to me that they were aware that they were getting something great for free.

FK: Completely. And then, it's also interesting, because, in a way that I don’t think I had seen before…at least a few people seemed to basically turn on this idea, right? There were people who were being, like, angry with this teen making BuzzFeed quizzes, because you’re making people lose their jobs, right? Treating people like scabs for creating community content. Which is an interesting…and difficult…issue to me. [laughs]

ELM: Yes. Yeah, I think that’s a, “treating them like scabs” is a really succinct way to put it, cause that’s how it felt. And I was horrified by the response, the people who were responding negatively to this woman, because she was doing something for fun.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Is she not allowed to do that? [FK laughs] They create, this is the thing too, like, one of the biggest problems I had with this—and when I was tweeting about this initially—was like, this is a conversation that needs to be contextualized within the broader internet. And I think a lot of people are talking about it in the context of journalism and the media. And there was a really great thread going around, talking about why newspapers are in the situation they’re in right now, because the same week as the BuzzFeed layoffs…and Huffington Post and a few other digital places…Gannett, which owns a lot of local newspapers, I just saw it described as a “bloodbath,” the firings that took place. But that is part of a very long story about local newspapers. And so people were talking about these digital layoffs on these, you know, online-only publications, in the same breath, and it’s like, this to me feels more like Mark Zuckerberg…you know, if Facebook gets a lot of value—which they do!—if Facebook gets value off of people posting things, original content, to their platform. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: This is more similar to that. Or, for example, Medium has gone through 100,000 pivots [FK laughs] and, you know, they go back and forth, where they hire journalists and editors and pay them, and then they pivot back to community generation. Y’know. And then they’re like, “you…” And to their credit, whenever they do pivot to the community, it’s often a democratizing access to monetization of writing. So they’ll say, “We want the Medium community to make money off of this.” And then, but then six months later they pivot back to wooing professional journalists and publications. So it’s not a stable space, but you catch that while it comes, while it swings your way. [FK laughs] So it’s like, this is a platform. So people are pitting this girl, and any other amateur quiz-makers, against the hired staff? And I was, I was horrified by that, that they were blaming her for that. 

And on the other side, I saw a lot of people that I respect Tweeting at this girl, being like, “Never work for free! You should get paid!” And it's like, how is she supposed to get paid for this? You know? It’s not like, as opposed to, to anyone writing an article…but it’s not like there’s a robust economy of freelance quiz-making [FK laughs] and she just didn’t happen to cash in on it! And I understand, like, you wanna get people compensated for their labor, but I also don’t understand why saying to her “You shoulda been paid” is fair, when the only thing you should be saying is to BuzzFeed: “You shoulda been paying her.” But to, to put the burden of blame on her, I thought, was very frustrating.

FK: Well, it’s also complicated when you start thinking about it in terms of all the different ways that people get pleasure from making things and sharing them with people on the internet, broadly. Some of that’s a conversation about fandom, but I don’t even wanna make this about fanfiction, or something like that. Think about Giphy. Think about how many people make gifs, all over the internet, which end up on Giphy, and give Giphy, like, its content. Why does Giphy exist? Why does any of this stuff exist for Giphy, right? And a lot of that is, like, fans, genuinely. going, like, “I’m gonna make gifs of literally every single scene in The Good Place.” OK! That's labor! I mean, I pay people to make animated gifs sometimes [laughs] so I know for a fact that people get paid to make animated gifs, you know?

ELM: I’m sure that the people you pay do a great job, but famously, brands and, like, studios, make much worse gifs [FK laughs] than fans do! You've noticed this, right?

FK: [laughs] I almost always try to hire fans. 

ELM: I don’t under…I genuinely don’t understand why fans are so good at it, and every time, every time, like, a movie studio tries to do it, it’s bad. I just don’t, I don’t get it!

FK: I, I mean, I can tell you some reasons why, do you wanna know?

ELM: YES. I’m sure everyone else wants to know as well.

FK: So one of them is that a lot of times you’ll have, you know, a ruling down from on high that everything has to be watermarked, right? Or that everything has to be, has to have an ugly frame around it or whatever. That’s not the person who made the gif’s fault, that’s some jerk who decided that everything had to be watermarked or with a frame around it because we need people to know to go to #OurMovie.

ELM: Yeah. Mm-hm.

FK: Another reason is, a lot of times when they’re posting things, they’re not thinking about any actual use for it—beyond as a piece of content. So they’re like, “We’re going to share this cool little clip of something, because it is a clip from the movie that we’re allowed to share.” And that’s what they’re using the gif for, they’re not thinking about, like, why would someone post this gif? Is it a reaction gif? Is it this? In fact, they may not be allowed to use reaction gifs, because a lot of times, people who do, like, major movie…especially major movie social, have to clear every response that they make. So they can’t just respond with a reaction gif, necessarily, to someone, right. So they’re not even thinking in those terms.

ELM: This kind of…this reminds me of that line that I loved from that paper about political fanfiction, “the act without the affect.”

FK: Totally, that's exactly what it is. And I mean, I don’t…most of the people who are making those gifs are themselves potentially really good at making gifs, it’s just that they…the whole context of why you would make a gif, to know how to make the gif, is missing.

ELM: Sure. I mean, plenty of people who write fanfiction-like things, you know, are perfectly good writers!

FK: [laughs] In theory they could write good fanfiction, if they knew what fanfiction was!

ELM: Right! I don’t know. This, it’s something really, really hard to…it’s really, really intangible, and it’s kind of, kind of weird to try to wrap my mind around this sort of idea that something like fannish interest can actually, like, change the artistic creation that you’re engaged in, that you’re creating. That’s, it’s interesting to think about. 

FK: I agree. 

ELM: Great! [laughs]

FK: Anyway, yeah, so point being, though, that, you know, there's all sorts of…we, we talk a lot about fanfic on here, but if you think about something like Giphy where it’s both a fannish thing and also just a, like, “Hey, I wanna use a gif and so I’m gonna make the gif that I want” thing…all of this stuff, this is another space of user-generated content being a thing that is being profited off of. But we aren’t hearing about it, because Giphy didn’t just do a bunch of layoffs in a really public way, with people we know. Maybe they laid people off. I don’t know. But it wasn’t public. 

ELM: Right. But especially…that’s one of the reasons why BuzzFeed is kind of a fraught example, and why I’m actually thinking a lot about Facebook, when I do think about this. You know, like, Facebook tries to be everything at once, and it’s tried a lot of different things…I mean, much more so than me joking about Medium doing all its pivots.

FK: Oh, yeah! [laughs] 

ELM: It’s not like Medium has ever tried to also be your, like…the place where you make donations to charities, and the place that sells you, like, a…do you get ads for home goods in, Craigslist-style ads on Facebook for things in New Jersey?

FK: No! 

ELM: I don’t know why, but it knows I live in New York City…I think it knows I live in Brooklyn. That’s two rivers away. And I get these ads, they’ll be like “Do you want this, like, credenza, in, like, West Orange?”

FK: I don’t get this!

ELM: And I’ll be like, “No!”

FK: No!

ELM: I don’t even want it in Brooklyn, but, like, I definitely don’t wanna go two rivers for that thing!

FK: I think my ads changed a lot because Facebook knows that I’m married and have been for awhile.

ELM: These aren’t ads. These are, like, the Facebook Marketplace bit. In the…so there’s various things on Facebook where, like, it’ll show up on a sidebar or something. Most of the ads I get…

FK: Maybe I’m getting those, I don’t know.

ELM: My ads are A++. They are like, should I say it out loud so Facebook can listen? They are for, like, ModCloth and eShakti.

FK: I love—yeah!

ELM: I love dresses! They’re for various bra startups.

FK: I get a lot of bra startups too.

ELM: I wear bras!

FK: I don’t wear bras, so I don’t know why they think they're selling to me. [ELM laughs] The fact that you have boobs doesn’t mean you wear bras, people.

ELM: It’s true! But, you know, even if you don’t have boobs you might wanna wear a bra!

FK: It’s true! It’s true.

ELM: Anyone can wear or not wear a bra. [FK laughs] To be fair…I kinda need to wear a bra.

FK: [laughing] Alright. We’ve…let’s, let’s…that just took us down a side-note that we didn’t need to go down. Back to the topic.

ELM: I just wanted to let you know…anyway, it’s to the point where I feel, I feel bad. It’s a fraught stance to take, but I’m like...I’m fine with these ads cause they’re exactly right for me. And I understand why that’s problematic, but, like…I don't care!

FK: Mine are mostly fine, but then every once in a while they send me an ad about fertility, and I’m like, “fuck you.”

ELM: Yeah. That’s fraught. But OK. So the point is, all right. Facebook is, like, the ur- and the uber-, doing all the things at once. BuzzFeed, as far as the media goes, truly is—far more than any other brand I can think of—doing all the things. Right? 

FK: For sure.

ELM: Trying to make a footprint in, you know, in Hollywood, with—in doing all this video, and they do branded content, then they have the community side, then they have this hard-hitting national security desk—which has now been entirely laid off—that broke a story that led Robert Mueller to have to issue some kind of statement! You know what I mean? And so it’s just…they’re doing all these things, and so it can be really…as opposed to Giphy, which I think of as just a curator of gifs.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: I don’t know, it’s weird to think about, like, what can fall into their wheelhouse then and what can be capitalized off of for free, and what can’t be. And I think it’s…that’s why I think of it as somewhat of a platform, and less of a publication.

FK: Oh, it’s definitely—yeah, definitely more of a platform than a publication, I think.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: But in...but you are still having, like, pieces of content, things that people...creations that people have made...I mean, it is a platform, it’s more a platform than a publication, but you do still in both cases have creative works that people have made that are making money for the thing.

ELM: Right.

FK: I don’t know. I mean, you could think about this also, like…I mean, if we wanted to go into that fanfiction space or anything else, we could think about this as a Wattpad thing, too. Right?

ELM: All right, well, do you wanna pivot this conversation, Medium-style…no, it wouldn’t be that, it wouldn’t be a 180. Do you wanna pivot, like, 15 degrees and talk about fandom in particular? Because this is what…part of the reason this conversation is uncomfortable to me is that I am very ambivalent about user-generated content, as anyone who’s followed this podcast for the past year knows that we…I don’t know if we’ve both gone on a journey. Well, you’ve come with me. But I really feel like I’ve gone on, like, an intellectual… [FK laughs] That makes it sound pretentious. Like, but it’s in my mind. Like, a mind journey.

FK: [laughing] Let’s call it a brain trek? [ELM laughs] That’s less pretentious. A brain trek.

ELM: Yes! I went on a brain trek. Side note, we’re eligible for the Hugo awards, though I am fully aware that we are not a specifically science fiction and fantasy oriented podcast, we are eligible, and so I gave a list of what I thought were our best five episodes of last year to someone who’s organizing a really helpful spreadsheet, and I realized that every single thing I had picked out of the, like, eight finalists, literally all of them were, like, about capitalism. [FK laughs] And commerce. And labor. And I was like, “Wow, we really are going in a direction!”

FK: We talk about this a lot, Elizabeth!

ELM: Yeah! But I think it’s, I think it’s one of the most important things to talk about with fandom, especially at this exact moment.

FK: I agree.

ELM: It’s all been leading up to this. One of the reasons…so to circle…circle back. I’m sorry. Now I’ll ping you. One of the reasons why this whole thing with BuzzFeed and the community members has bothered me so much, is I simultaneously do think people should be paid for their labor, but I’m also very ambivalent about this question, because I think that people should be allowed to do things they like, and not have to think about the market and money. And I think that the latter stance there is…maybe not necessarily naive, but somewhat wishful thinking, because as we’ve discussed at length, even the “anti-capitalist gift economy” fanfiction spheres are not disconnected from capitalist structures and big media! And, you know, like as you said, if you really want to remove yourself from this, you have to stop writing fanfiction about Captain America! That was your line.

FK: Yeah! And fanfiction is the thing that, because of various intellectual property laws and so on, it’s the thing that is most insulated from this stuff, but the moment that you touch anything that’s other kinds of fannishness, right…like creating a fan encyclopedia. That’s connected to this. Cosplaying—certainly connected to this, in so many different ways, whether you want it to be or not, whether you wanna participate in those aspects or not. You can’t avoid the fact that, you know, like Teresa said when we had her on talking about cosplay. She was talking about how there are a lot of cosplayers who are getting paid by cons. And even though she doesn’t want to do that, it’s not…she can’t escape that aspect of cosplay.

ELM: Right. And the fact that that exists in the space where she’s having fun…it’s like if there’s an orchestra, and it’s a professional orchestra, and I show up and I’m like, “I’m just gonna sit in!” You know? That’s always gonna be there. I might be having a nice time; I love…you know I love playing the cello, but like, if I am surrounded by people who are paid, I feel like that would…that would sit with me, you know? And I’d be like, “Well, other people are gonna make money off of this weekend. And I wanna just be here for fun, but people are being paid for the exact thing I’m doing.”

FK: And vice versa, too, right? You know? If you’re a person who’s there tryin’ to get paid, and then, you know…Teresa, I don’t mean to take your name in vain here, but since we had you on I’m gonna use you as an example, because you’ve got incredibly beautiful costumes, right? But she shows up in her beautiful, perfectly screen accurate Outlander dress, right? And there’s some other people trying to make money off of it there…I think both parties feel weird about that, right? Like, I can’t imagine it being otherwise. But at the same time… [laughs] So are people not allowed to make costumes and wear them for fun? Like, what?

ELM: Right! I mean, I don’t know. This just seems very…it seems very fraught. You know. And especially at any sort of scale, with any sort of exposure. Like, I can make a…you made me…well, to be, that’s a weird example because we’re offering it as our, like million-dollar Patreon gift.

FK: That means it extra…that makes it extra perfect!

ELM: But you know, you made me that Harry Potter sweater. That was an act of, like, a laborious act of love. [FK laughs] You know? And that’s a fanwork, right?

FK: Yeah, totally!

ELM: But it was just for me! And I feel like it could be very easy for people to say, like, “Well, you should be making these,” you know? Like, “You should be selling them on Etsy.” I mean, and you could, if you really wanted to, they’re really nice.

FK: Probably no one would pay the amount it would actually cost to have a fair wage for my labor. [laughing]

ELM: Do you think so?

FK: Yeah, I mean, it takes a lot of hours to make one of them. Actually, I don’t know. Maybe…

ELM: [hoots] Now you’re gonna quit your job and become a Harry Potter sweater maker!

FK: Definitely not gonna do that. I would get so bored knitting that sweater again and again and again!

ELM: Do it! Flourish, this is…do you know that I am descended from sweater makers, right?

FK: I do know that, but they, like, were manufacturing sweaters in factories, weren’t they?

ELM: Excuse me! So, my… [laughs] As you know, all Italians made sweaters. [FK laughs] Many Italians worked in the garment industry, and…

FK: Different from making sweaters! Working in the garment industry is broader…

ELM: And so, well, when he was young my grandfather was a cutter in a sweatshop, which was a normal thing for Italians at that time to be doing. Men would cut the fabric and then women would sew. And then he eventually was able to open his own sweater factory, and they made sweaters. But I mean, it’s like…people making the sweaters. Women making sweaters, you know. It’s not like robots are making sweaters.

FK: It wasn’t machine knitting?

ELM: I assume there were machines. But there were a lot of women there! There were a lot of…

FK: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah!

ELM: It was all ladies, it was all, like, little Italian ladies. In my mind.

FK: For sure.

ELM: I’m gonna make a movie out of this. I’m gonna make Mad Men, but for Italians making sweaters.

FK: So this is actually, this sweater area is actually really relevant, because Fair Isle knitting is one of those things that is now mostly done on machines because it’s not…you can’t make a Fair Isle sweater, even a hand-knit Fair Isle sweater, so now a lot of them are hand-finished that you get…that are made on various islands that are famous for making various types of sweaters. So they make them on a machine and then they hand-finish them or whatever. So it’s interesting; there’s a lot that’s, like, been written about this and, like, the traditions of sweater-making, and, like, what it means to have a sweater that is handmade versus machine-made versus all of this, and how the traditions work out. Man! You know.

ELM: Are you asking me to go try to find out who’s still alive that was involved in my grandfather’s sweater factory? So I can get some oral history for you?

FK: Ah…are you offering to do that?

ELM: Yeah! Then I would get to go talk to a lot of old Italian people.

FK: Yeah, do it! I wanna find out. [ELM laughs] Maybe that can be a special episode! Sweaters!

ELM: [laughing] It has literally nothing to do with anything!

FK: So what? Do you think that people, like, listen to special episodes because they want it to be to do with something? No! They listen to them because they want to hear us, like, hold forth on some weird topic.

ELM: I’m, I‘m not sure that's true.

FK: [laughing] People who, you know, support our Patreon, tell us if you would like a sweater special episode or not.

ELM: Oh my—[laughs] Anyway! Anyway. They were making sweaters for money, not as a fanwork.

FK: Right. Or as a hobby.

ELM: Anyway, sweaters aside...

FK: Where were we before the sweaters?

ELM: Well, the reason, the reason I was talking about…l mean, it kind of is at scale, since I was talking about a sweater factory. But the reason I was talking about at scale is, like, you making a Harry Potter sweater for me, that’s a one-to-one thing, like, we’re close friends, it’s a gift…if you made them for a bunch of people, that’s when I think people are gonna start asking a lot, “Why aren’t you selling these,” right? You know? And I feel like…sweaters are, like, a weird example, because they actually are a lot of work. Like, a lot of work, and materials and stuff. But there are a lot of other fanworks that aren’t as labor-intensive.

FK: Right, or are duplicable and…

ELM: Right. The bigger it gets, the more exposure it gets, then you get people…unless you’re in the one explicitly non-monetized space, fanfiction, when these conversations just get tangle-y…I can’t think of another kind of fanwork or fan activity right now that doesn’t have a monetization question kind of looming over it. Maybe model-making? I don’t know. Is that something people monetize?

FK: I think that they probably do. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

ELM: Like, if from scratch you made a model of the Millennium Falcon, people would say “Why haven’t you sold this.”

FK: Or “Why aren’t you working in special effects somehow, why aren’t you doing that?”

ELM: Yeah, that’s true. Well, people say it…but people say that about fanfiction writers, say “Why are you giving it away for free? Why don’t you go, why not actually be a real writer,” et cetera, et cetera. 

FK: I think that the other thing about this, one of the reasons it’s coming out now as opposed to in the past…in the past, people have always done pretty much all of these things, right? But now, one of the reasons why this is such a bigger deal is, I think, that these fan practices are visible in a way they didn’t used to be.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: To a broader set of people. And not just visible, but countable. People go to Etsy and look at what fans are making, you know what I mean?

ELM: Who’s people—just any people? Or are you saying people in the entertainment industry...?

FK: People in the entertainment industry. Sorry, I should be clearer. People in the entertainment industry go to Etsy and see what fans are making. Like, that is a thing that is public, it’s online, people do it. They go and they go “OK, what is being made here?”

ELM: Hold on, answer me this: why are the official merchandise items still not things I want?

FK: It’s a mystery.

ELM: Side note, can I just say…

FK: Probably the wrong people, probably the wrong people are looking at this.

ELM: Yeah, right? I went to Hot Topic, in the mall, over Christmas? I know, alert the media. It was pretty exciting. [FK laughs] And, oh, I also went to Spencer’s Gifts. It was not exciting and it made me wanna die and it made me…Spencer’s Gifts has not changed since 1999.

FK: Oh, oh dear.

ELM: It is exactly the same store. No offense, if any of our listeners enjoy it. But Hot Topic really made me feel this, like, surge of affection for, like, teenage girl…in particular, but teenage person fandom. And they had so many things, so many different properties in there right now. Like, way more than when we were teens. I was like, this is kind of incredible. Not to say that, like, a national clothing…er, clothing and accessories chain, like, validating your fandom with official merchandise means…that doesn’t validate it, right. But there were so many things that I felt were relatively obscure, like I only know because of Tumblr, and I bet people who don’t know fandom very well, who I’m friends with, had never heard of, that had, like, official stuff in there? I was like, that must be super exciting. You just go to the mall, still…I mean, I know that the internet exists, and you don’t need Hot Topic. But just the fact that there was so much in there, and…

FK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s something about having it physically there.

ELM: It was, it was really really nice. It just, it was the kind of feeling that I…it was the other end of the spectrum from what I usually feel from when I go to, like, San Diego and New York Comic-Con where I walk around and I go, “I don’t…I don’t know what any of this is, and I feel really alienated.” And this was like, “Oh, I know what all of this is, and I love that there are teen versions of me who can buy this. I don’t actually watch this show so I’m not gonna buy,” you know what I mean?

FK: Well, this, I mean, this is also…yeah, that validation. This is also a little, one of the nice things about Star Trek fandom is that suddenly, like, you’re walking into a world where, like, all the stuff. Any stuff you want? You can get that stuff. You know? [laughs]

ELM: Does that, does it make you feel validated?

FK: It does—well, look, it’s not just…and it’s not just stuff for dude fans, it’s also, like, all kinds of stuff for all sorts of people. You know, just because it’s such a big and old, like, and because the fans have so well-entrenched, like, that they will pay for stuff… [laughs]

ELM: Yeah, I feel that way about Harry Potter too. Not necessarily…even a lot of the sanctioned stuff is really nice, now. Like, having been on the studio tour, and the…

FK: Right, right.

ELM: And to the theme park and stuff like that. I feel like because it's so large…whereas what I think about what they were putting out in, like, 2001, some of the stuff I got, with my money from working at The Gap?

FK: Oh my God, I had such terrible…there was some terrible stuff.

ELM: I just, I…I took what I could get! I was like “There it is, at Hot Topic…” But so now, the, like...oh my God, was it Pottery Barn Teen?

FK: Yeah, that was a great collection.

ELM: And we were all like, “Why are we all adults? Cause I just wanna make my house look like the Gryffindor common room, cause I’m basic.” Yeah. It’s fine.

FK: That is exactly your…that’s your thing! Just embrace it.

ELM: It’s not! You know I’m out of Harry Potter. Leave me alone. [FK laughs] I do still have Harry Potter fanart on the walls.

FK: You do. Fanart which you paid for.

ELM: I did pay for it! Yes. 

FK: Which, I mean, you know, I’m not saying that’s wrong, but…one of the things about this, and something that people…I guess it used to be more fashionable to talk about this, in fan studies circles, than it is today, was, you know, fan labor. I mean, people are still talking about this! But about fan labor and the way that fan labor creates free advertising and free interaction, and I feel like that’s only…if we want to expand this even further, that’s part of everything people are doing on social media, for instance, right? Like, why is, you know…everything is targeted to get fans to be louder and more expressive.

ELM: Right.

FK: And why is that? It’s not because of the goodness of people’s hearts! [laughs]

ELM: Sure, but do you think that things have changed, or do you think it’s just truly exposure and volume?

FK: Well, it’s hard to…

ELM: Here’s an example: 1977, you go see Star Wars in the theaters and then you go tell your seven friends in person on the playground.

FK: Were you ever on a street team for something? Do you remember these?

ELM: No, what’s a street team?

FK: Genuinely there were cases, there were times…I can’t remember when I encountered this, but it was like, before the internet was a central thing, where you would get given, like, a bunch of fliers, or like, stuff to hand out to people, to spread the word about a movie or a TV show or something like that. And it would be called this “street team,” I don’t know why that term got…

ELM: Were you a child in Hollywood? Like, does this…where does this happen? 

FK: This was in Sacramento, California! It was not, like, a Hollywood thing! It was like a…here is a middle, relatively middle-grade city! [laughs]

ELM: No one has ever asked me to run through the street with fliers advertising, like…

FK: I think that I encountered this through a…because I was…

ELM: Mrs. Doubtfire. [laughs]

FK: Because I was at a dojo and it was, like, for martial arts movies. So they would go to dojos…

ELM: Oh, that’s smart!

FK: …and try to advertise martial arts movies to kids at dojos and dojangs.

ELM: Wow, all right, no one ever came to my theater camp in the summer. [FK laughs] No one ever came to the ice rink, and I’m sure there were movies about hockey.

FK: Oh, no doubt.

ELM: [gasps] Mighty Ducks! No one ever, in the early 90s, that was a lot!

FK: The Power Rangers, like, did tours. The Power Rangers came to my dojo more than once. A Power Ranger, to be fair.

ELM: I think this may have only been a thing with martial arts movies. [laughing]

FK: Maybe! But anyway…my point being that people did do that.

ELM: But I’m even talking about, like, take away, take away the knowledge of the studios. Literally, in this scenario, whatever. Say it’s when we were alive; it doesn’t have to be Star Wars. Say, I’m trying to think of a movie that I saw that I was really into. The Land Before Time. [FK laughs] You know, and I’m gonna tell all my friends on the playground. “It’s so good, go see it!”

FK: “Go see Land Before Time!”

ELM: Right? And I’m gonna tell 10 people to go see it, and then they’re gonna say “My friend said! Take me, I wanna see it.”

FK: Yeah! I mean, it’s called word-of-mouth.

ELM: Yeah! It’s literal word of mouth, actual mouths talking to other mouths…on the street…right? That wasn’t ever something that you would ever actually be able to quantify in any way. You’d have to assume…you wouldn’t even assume! You would say “Oh, they must have seen our commercials.” But who knows? Because there was very little, especially with children…

FK: Well, I think that people would say…I think that people would say, if something is outperforming the amount of money we spent on the commercials, then it must be word-of-mouth.

ELM: It must have had good word-of-mouth.

FK: I think that that's how people would treat it.

ELM: But that’s an inference, right, because there's actually no way to measure what happens between mouths.

FK: Yeah, for sure, for sure. But now there are ways—and in fact people get obsessed with the ways that they have to measure, even when it’s not very useful. So, like, people get really obsessed with a lot of things about, like, the way that an official social media account is performing, just because you can measure that.

ELM: As opposed to, like, mentions?

FK: It’s easier to get more data about an account you own. So people get really obsessed—

ELM: Sure. Wait, cause you can get rough, kind of, janky demographic data from Twitter.

FK: Yeah. Of course, you can get information about, like, how many mentions, and you can get some amount of information about demographics, but it’s a lot more detailed—things that come through your official channels. You get a lot more information. Like, on Facebook you can get a lot of information about people who follow an official page, but you can’t get that same kind of information about people who are just talking about…

ELM: Right, absolutely.

FK: Or even using a hashtag.

ELM: The reason that I say it’s not the best data…there was just some study that talked about how off Facebook's demographic data reporting was, right? They estimated there were more males on Facebook than in the entire world? [FK laughs] Or something ridiculous. That couldn’t be right, because there’s like two billion people on Facebook and there’s like eight billion people in the world. Whatever it was, maybe it was teenage boys or something? It was some, some number that they said there were more than there actually existed on Earth, and it was like, no. Nope.

FK: Yeah. But point being, though, that people get really obsessed with this stuff whether it’s accurate or not, and whether it’s the best stuff to be measuring or not. And then that turns into this question of, “Well, how do we get people to react more in the spaces that we can track?”

ELM: Right, right.

FK: Which is basically, like, how do we get fans to say things, because we think that that's going to create more word-of-mouth, which is free advertising for us. But then sometimes it’s like…you know, with queerbaiting or ship baiting, it’s like, super counterproductive.

ELM: Sure. Do you feel like it’s the industry…entertainment industry on the whole values quantitative over qualitative…not even analysis, but like, fan reaction? They would rather have 1,000 people talking about their movie than have 10 people creating Harry Potter sweaters?

FK: No, I think…well, I think it's really hard to say what people care about in this context. Because different people in the entertainment industry have different takes on this, right?

ELM: So some people in the entertainment industry do care about the 10 people making Harry Potter sweaters.

FK: If they’ve seen them, yeah, absolutely. So if you’re a director and the only things that you…you encounter fans at Comic-Con, and you go to Comic-Con and everyone at Comic-Con is a certain type of person—whatever that type is. Whether that type is, you know. And you see someone wearing, you see 10 people wearing Harry Potter sweaters, and you just directed a Harry Potter movie, those 10 people—what they say—is probably gonna have more weight with you and have more impact on what you do than anything else, because you're not sitting there refreshing Twitter. You’re also not sitting there looking at the Twitter data day-by-day. You might get a report on that from the studio or from someone, at some point, but that’s not where you live, right? You live in your world of directing, and then you live in occasionally doing a junket, you hear what the press asks you, and then you, like, get fan questions. Right? So for them, the qualitative, their personal experience, I think, is usually very…I mean, I shouldn’t speak and I can’t speak for everybody. But I think it’s usually very important. 

By comparison, if you look at people in marketing, say, quantitative is usually very important to them because that's how they can point at something and say “This has moved the needle.” Right? And obviously, the ultimate in quantitative measuring is how many tickets did you sell, or how many—you know, how many Nielsen families did you get to watch. But even below that you get “OK, what can we measure in social media.” And then those things interact in weird ways, right? Maybe if it's a TV show then Marketing sends the writers’ room a list of wish, you know, things that they want so they can hit their goals, and the writers’ room may or may not take that on.

ELM: Wait, how often does that happen?

FK: I have no idea.

ELM: You can’t just toss that out there!

FK: I don’t know how frequently it happens. I would be surprised if it did not happen, if people didn’t…they probably don’t frame it that way. No one would frame it as, like, “Here are some story asks,” but people would probably frame it as “Here are the issues that we see trending.”

ELM: “This is what people are talking about.”

FK: This is what people are talking about.

ELM: But it’s not “Can you try to address these in the next season.” Cause that brings us into the territory of the way that fandom thinks that the entertainment industry works, which…

FK: Yeah, because…you couldn’t do that because a writers’ room would tell you “Get the fuck out of my creative process,” genuinely. People would react incredibly strongly to that. People do react incredibly strongly to that.

ELM: Right. So there’s no way of saying how much that report back from…I mean, it’s heard, it's given, but it’s, it’s…there’s no way to really tell…unless you were directly talking to each and every individual, how much of that gets internalized and then reflected back in the writing that happens in the future.

FK: For sure, and then there’s also the question of what choices get made by what people, right? So, for instance, let’s leave TV land for a moment and go to films: you come into a film, and you have the cast in place sometimes before you’ve got a script. You know? And the cast are in place maybe because investors think that those people are monetizable, somehow, and therefore they’ll put their money into this film for this. And so then by the time you get to the person who’s writing it, they write it and maybe they know or maybe they don’t know about who’s cast. And then you get to the director, and the director sees all of this, and they’re like, “Welp, here’s the script. Here are the people who I’ve been given.” You know, maybe he gets to cast some people but maybe he doesn’t, it sort of depends on where he’s brought in on…

ELM: Oh, and “he.” Huh, Flourish?

FK: It’s almost always a he.

ELM: Wow, maybe you should be trying to change that with your language. That’ll make the difference.

FK: [laughs] I’m just trying to be realistic here.

ELM: “They.”

FK: You see what I’m saying… “They." Sure. We’ll say “they.”

ELM: All the openly non-binary directors in Hollywood. Fine. Whatever.

FK: Anyway, point being, though, I think that people view, often…it’s changing a little bit, but some of those qualitative things, like, how can I put it… When you make fanart, I do think some people are saying, like, “We would love to have more good fanart that we can share back to the community so that we have more stuff to share and, like, it keeps going,” from a user-generated content perspective. But I think that most of the conversation around why…what do we want people to get talking about and why, is like, “We want that bounce of people for advertising purposes.”

ELM: Right.

FK: So that we can keep our jobs—because we can prove then that, you know.

ELM: Right. This brings us back to the conversation we had with Kenyatta, which…as far as I can tell, the model they have is not the one that everyone is using to engage with fans. But, they’re also working on properties where that is the…definitely the right strategy. As opposed to, like you’re saying, some of that really doesn’t work for film, because you’re not trying to build this long-standing kind of community over years.

FK: But even within Kenyatta’s context, if you really wanted to come at this from the mean Marxist standpoint, as I think he said, then you would say: “You’re encouraging people to make this kind of fanart that is the right kind of fanart, that doesn’t push shipping or anything like that, so that you can reuse it. And you’re trying to get people into this virtuous circle—and of course it’s a great community, but who’s profiting at the end off of that community?”

ELM: Right.

FK: I don’t take this stance! [laughs] Obviously, because I also work in this space. But it is…that’s part of the user-generated content conversation.

ELM: Sometimes I just think about that moment when Kenyatta so, so smoothly dismissed Marxism as “very 20th century,” and I just, like, crack up. [FK laughs] I just can’t, it's so good. Delightful.

FK: It was, that was. [chef’s kiss noise]

ELM: It was one of my 2018 highlights.

FK: Finger-kiss quality.

ELM: OK, to bring this back to user-generated content.

FK: Right.

ELM: You already kind of brought it back, but let’s firmly re-center it. Obviously it’s a space, when fans are involved—and when fans aren’t involved, let’s bring it all the way back to BuzzFeed—where it’s ripe for exploitation. The people at BuzzFeed who were writing to these community members who were high traffic drivers, and sending them, like, stickers and, like, water bottles or whatever, knew exactly what they were doing. And I think that is exploitative. Especially…in the BuzzFeed case, they’re having people do something side-by-side with…especially, and minors, or teens, you know? 19 isn’t a minor. But they’re having people who are not of adult working age doing the same job, essentially. They are paying adult media people to make quizzes as well. And they were paying some of them and not paying others. Is that not exploitative on BuzzFeed’s side?

FK: I mean, a movie studio pays people to draw art.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: All the time. Concept art, but also art for…you know, art for social, sometimes. Illustrations, whatever. Fan artists are also being encouraged to draw fanart in various ways. Is that exploitative?

ELM: Well, I think context matters here. It’s not like there’s some sort of Warner Brothers art site dot com, though it would have a better name than that, where the professional people they hired would art sit side by side with fanart. Though that is something that they’ve started doing in the last few years.

FK: And it happens at cons, right? With our—way back when, when I talked to Leslie Combemale, that was her whole thing.

ELM: I feel like because we’ve been going through our archives, you are—they’re very fresh in your mind right now. I mean, they’re fresh in my mind too, cause I’ve had to go through all the archives too.

FK: We both did!

ELM: That’s really—good! Good callbacks.

FK: Yeah! But when we talked to Leslie, this was one of the issues, right? Was people who worked on the films and got paid for it are then…they can’t, you know.

ELM: Yeah. But one of the issues I had with what Leslie was saying, was her definition of “fanart”…and this was something that I hadn’t really experienced at the time, until I actually went to a big con, but the way she was framing fanart is a very specific kind of fanart. And it really is stuff that kind of looks like exact copies of the official art. You know? Visual style.

FK: Which is a real thing, but it is…

ELM: Absolutely, and it’s huge, but it's also something I was never exposed to before I went to cons.

FK: Right, and she was…and she was very clear that she didn’t care about a lot of the other stuff, which was more transformative.

ELM: Right, whereas, like, I can’t…while the Harry Potter art on my wall, actually, I was gonna say I can’t…it doesn’t look like anything officially sanctioned, I actually could…you’ve seen it. It’s super cute. 

FK: Yeah, they could.

ELM: They could!

FK: They’re just a few years away from deciding “All right, let’s freshen up!”

ELM: Cause it’s really charming. And it’s, like, you know—such a soft style.

FK: It’s, it’s, a little bit…it’s in line with the Pottery Barn stuff. It really kinda is. You could see the Pottery Barn stuff, like, segueing [seg-ing] into—segueing [segway-ing]

ELM: Did you just say “segging”?

FK: I did, because…!

ELM: Did I infect you?

FK: You infected me with your wrong way of saying “segue”!

ELM: Yeah, big reveal to everyone, I only learned that s-e-g...how do you spell it? S-e-g-u-e? I thought that that was pronounced “seg,” and that “segue” [segway], which I had only heard out loud, was spelled differently somehow.

FK: And we discovered this on the podcast, which is…

ELM: Like, a year ago.

FK: Like, the only time that you’ve ever said something wrong and I have said it right, and now I’ve been infected! [laughing]

ELM: Yeah! “Seg!” Also, I…one of my co-workers just told me he also just learned this. So I feel fine about this. We’re professional editors, and I feel fine about it. [FK hoots] 

Anyway. I do think that people are doing this now, sort of…it is a little bit different, to me, in the sense of, like, I don’t know of any examples where the platform itself—and the place that’s hosting the content and profiting off the content—makes it look indistinguishable, makes the amateur and the professional look indistinguishable from each other. BuzzFeed puts “Community Member” at the top; it is clear, but I bet a lot of people gloss right over that and they just say, “Take the quiz. What Pop-Tart represents my Patronus?” You know? Like… [laughter]

FK: Yeah, no, that’s absolutely true. Because a lot…in the entertainment industry, even places that use a lot of fanart, they want to be very clear that it's fanart. They really, really, really want to have a distinction between fanart and official art and they make that really clear.

ELM: Right, you know, and I think that…you know, we brought this up in the Kenyatta episode. Obviously he copped to having done a bit of this in the past; we talked about the other ways that they try to really get some…equity…for fan artists, which is saying, you know, hiring them to do further art. As opposed to profiting off the original work that they made. But I am very critical of the trend, which I think was really at its height a few years ago and I feel like has cooled down a bit, of like, the fanart contest, done by the big brand, and you could have the big opportunity to have your thing showcased, and also when you submit it you sign away your rights to it, and they get all the residuals—depending on where they use it—forever and ever amen.

FK: Yeah, that really hasn’t been such a big thing recently, but I think that that’s partially because of…

ELM: They realized it was exploitative?

FK: Yeah, genuinely! I think that that conversation has happened a lot more in the past five years. I’ve seen it change in the past five, ten years.

ELM: Yeah, you’ve heard people acknowledge that that’s not…you know. It’s just, and it’s also so patronizing. It’s like, “Don’t you want the opportunity to play with the adults here?” Right?

FK: Yeah, I think there’s that, and there’s also a lot more recognition that it actually is…especially in the fanart space, that it’s like, uh…there’s not a clear delineation between professional and fan. And I think that that’s actually true in broader spaces as well, right. So I think that that’s one of the reasons why the recent lawsuits around fan films have been so heated, but I think that’s also…you know, that’s a negative side, but there’s also the positive side of more people recognizing that fanworks are a thing that connect very smoothly up with professional works in this space, sometimes.

ELM: Mm-hmm. This is one of the things, too, not to always bring it back to fanfiction, but you know I am…like, one of the ways that I think fanfiction…aside from all the legal stuff, one of the ways it really is different…there’s fanart and officially sanctioned art that, you know, if I were to show them side by side, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Especially if they’re hiring people do to, like, more interesting conceptual stuff and not just…

FK: Right.

ELM: A straight-up…I’m thinking of, you know when I was little I had, you know, I had the Lion King official poster framed on my wall, right?

FK: Oh, yeah. Ohhh.

ELM: Oh, it was so good. And I had Beauty and the Beast, and then I got the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [laughs] This is when I was like sixteen, when it came out, too! I got it framed and put it on my wall. Like, the official poster, you know. The big guy, too.

FK: Yeah, oh yeah.

ELM: The one they had in the movie theater!

FK: Yeah!

ELM: You know? You know. You’re like, “I know what you’re saying, stop saying it.”

FK: I know! [both laugh]

ELM: I’m thinking of, like, less that, and more…there’s plenty of official art that comes out, or things they put out. And if you were to put it, I were to put it side by side with some fanart, even if it’s stylistically different, you might not be able to tell which one because they’re such…there are so many very talented fan artists who are also pro artists, and et cetera, et cetera.

FK: And who are working in the same, yeah.

ELM: Right. Whereas fanfiction, formally, is so variable, and structurally, and most fanart is a drawing of the characters, you know? And, like, most official art is a drawing of the characters? Obviously styles vary, but like, fanfiction, you know…I’ve been thinking about it when I’m thinking about the schmoop plateau, structurally.

FK: Yeah, it’s fairly rare that you read a work of fanfiction where you’re like, “Yeah, that could just be a tie-in novel.”

ELM: Yeah, or…

FK: It’s not, like, every fanfic is like that, remotely.

ELM: I think that’s one of the reasons that it intrigues me so much, and I think probably you too, and I think a lot of people who like it, is…is that it’s formally so unique, and it has such an interesting relationship to…you know, et cetera. We don’t have to…

FK: Having read a million Star Trek tie-in novels, some of which started out as fanfiction, it’s interesting. You can really, really see, like, this is a tie-in novel; this is fanfiction; this is a thing that could be a tie-in novel or a fanfiction.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: Y’know? And there are some things that could be either, but there’s a lot of stuff that could definitely not be, on either end.

ELM: Exactly. Yeah. And, like, and when I think about…even when we’re not even talking about, like, kind of canonical oriented, you know, like…did I tell you about the, how I had to try to explain the relationship between Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight the other day to a bunch of people who weren’t in fandom? Did I tell you this?

FK: Oh my God. [laughs] So you had to start with explaining a billionaire AU?

ELM: Right! So I went to this networking drinks thing, and it was like, people who work in kind of, like…media but not as journalists, you know, like, more of a management kind of level. And I was late, and so…and it was like eight people were at a table and the person I knew there introduced me, and he was like, “Elizabeth is, like, a, writes about fan culture and goes to Comic-Con,” and I was like “Yes I do!” [FK laughs] And then someone said something about Fifty Shades of Grey, because they had heard that it was from Twilight. And for some reason, somehow I was trying to say, like, “Oh, well, you know, it was already…it was already, like, a human AU,” and then they were all looking at me… [laughing] Like, “What words are you saying?!”

FK: Like, what! A human, a human billionaire AU?

ELM: I was saying, they already got rid of the vampire thing! And then I was thinking how weird would that sound, like, they already made them not vampires. And people were being like, “What do you mean they’re not…” You know.

FK: “How can it be fanfic if they’re not vampires?”

ELM: I mean, and so, like, the fact that, like, I just realized how, how many levels of galaxy brain you just automatically…was very funny to me. So it’s like, I don’t know. That’s one of the ways that this, this becomes more complicated, I guess. And that’s why the models are so, are so different when we talk about money and fanfiction too. Because it’s, it’s really, the pull-to-publish model that works for so many other fan creations—even the straight-up monetizing for…you know, the stuff with, like, with wikis, a lot of that is just ads. Right? I mean, I don’t know what’s going on with Wikia slash Fandom.com.

FK: Oh my God, don’t get me started!

ELM: The less said about that the better. In case anyone missed it, several years ago Wikia bought the…

FK: Rebranded.

ELM: Rebranded themselves as Fandom.com. Which…I have some feelings about. [FK sighs] That’s fine. But, you know. So I guess that’s, that one’s a little bit different, in terms of being compensated for labor.

FK: Well…yeah. One thing that I will say, is that I think fanfiction, like other forms of fan creativity or fanwork—so I can be as broadly inclusive as possible—does get more respect when people recognize it as money-making. And I’ve said this a billion times on the podcast, but I do think that’s one way in which these things are similar, even though it’s a very different situation for fanfiction—as compared to a wiki or compared to whatever, right. Wikis are more…you get more credit for having SuperWiki when you know that SuperWiki gets used by the production. And one of the reasons that you do is that you know there is a guy at Star Wars who keeps all the canon, right? Because there’s a job. Someone has that job; here are fans; they’re doing this job; they’re doing it well enough that it could be professional. Holy crap, that’s worth something. Right? 

Fanfiction, as much as people love mocking it, I think, is more respected when you have Fifty Shades of Grey or something happen. Because then people who don’t have any investment in art, or don’t have any positive or negative feelings about fanfiction as far as aesthetics go, can just be like, “Oh, but you can make money off of that. That’s how we assign value to things.” And that’s sad and weird but it's true.

ELM: But it’s also, in the sense of, like, it’s…it’s the only fanwork that I can think where the only way you can profit off it is actually if you sever some of the ties…you know, unless Star Wars wanted to, read a really great fic and was like “Well, let’s make this one a novel,” or something like that.

FK: Right. And that’s happened a couple of times, but it’s not common practice anymore.

ELM: Right. But the fact is that, like, I can’t think of another fanwork where, you know, you file the serial numbers off your Harry Potter sweater…and then it’s not a Harry Potter sweater any more, because the letter would be gone. So.

FK: [laughing] It’s true. Then it’s just a sweater.

ELM: You know what I mean? But I can’t think of any other example where actually taking away the, the fannish connection, is what gives it monetary value. And that’s super weird.

FK: Yeah, for sure.

ELM: Cause that’s…I don’t know. And now I’m thinking back to the beginning of this conversation, thinking about how the affect matters and the fannishness matters, and you can tell the difference between someone creating a fanwork of something they care about and something that they don’t, you know?

FK: Yeah, and fanfic is also one of the few things that is not user-generated content that's easy fodder for everybody. Kenyatta does not repost fanfic for the Doctor Who…it’s not like Kenyatta himself does this, necessarily.

ELM: Don’t do it, Kenyatta!

FK: It’s all on you! Everybody At Once does not repost fanfic to the Doctor Who tumblr, right? Neither does my company repost fanfic to the various social media accounts that we run.

ELM: Don’t do it, Flourish.

FK: We don’t do it! We repost fanart, we repost cosplay, we repost, you know, community events, like if people send us pictures from community events like a…fans of a thing, sure, we’ll post that. We’ll be like, “Look at these great fans! Gettin’ together, doin’ a beach cleanup!” or whatever, right? But fanfic is a no-go. So that’s interesting, because it in that way is truly, like, not user-generated content for the project, for the IP. It is user-generated content for Wattpad, maybe.

ELM: Sure.

FK: Or for Fanfiction.net.

ELM: Right. There’s also a sense of…I mean, people can make whatever decision they want, I guess, where they wanna host, what community they like, too. I mean, you could say “I only wanna post on AO3 because I don’t wanna be user-generated content for a website.”

FK: Yeah!

ELM: That's a valid stance! I think that's a stance that some people have, they say “I don’t wanna post my stuff on a place where someone’s gonna make ads, gonna make ad money off of me.”

FK: Totally! 

ELM: “Because I’m not being compensated,” and I think that’s really valid. And it's interesting that the AO3 is the only fan…like, in the broad scope of fandom, the only space where I feel like that is truly a choice. Like, there are very few nonprofit, explicitly non-commercial spaces. You know, a lot, a lot…

FK: Historically there were some small archives that were totally fan-funded.

ELM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But this is, like…

FK: That’s not the case anymore, so much. Those have been rolled right into AO3.

ELM: I’m talking about right now. Like, a lot of, a lot of fan activity—beyond fanfiction—is hosted on sites that are ad-supported, right?

FK: Absolutely.

ELM: Like, wikis are ad-supported. 

FK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You post fanfic on Reddit, you post greentext fanfic on 4chan, God help you, you know. Lo and behold.

ELM: Or…things that we may not think of as full “fanfiction” but are still, like, fan creations. Like headcanons.

FK: Right, right, right.

ELM: On Tumblr or DeviantArt or wherever you wanna post your imagines.

FK: Or Twitter.

ELM: You know. Not to gate-keep. They can be fanfiction too, I guess.

FK: Some might be and some might not be, and people might think differently about it.

ELM: You know what I mean!

FK: Yeah, totally! Totally. Totally. Or, yeah. Or even your roleplay, right? Do you do Twitter roleplay? Do you do Discord roleplay? There’s a lot of Discord roleplayers out there.

ELM: But then there’s a question of well, broadening it to the whole internet question. And that brings me back to the platform thing. You know, like, where are the Michigan teenagers gonna post their quizzes? That’s the platform. They made a space, an easy template for you to make quizzes on, and they get to profit. And if Facebook made a cool quiz feature, you’d be putting it on Facebook.

FK: Michigan teens would make them there, yeah.

ELM: You think that on capital-L, capital-O, capital-L, Facebook's new teen meme platform…

FK: Oh my God. 

ELM: Are you familiar with this? Someone, I can’t remember who it was, was like…it might have been Gav who was like, “The second they named it LOL, you knew this was gonna be a shitshow.” [laughing]

FK: Yeah, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right.

ELM: I don’t know, like, just, like, people love makin’ polls on Twitter, right? You’re creating…is every tweet creating content? You’re creating value for Twitter!

FK: You absolutely are!

ELM: Yeah! 

FK: And Twitter, if they really…if someone wants to research what people think about brutalism, they can look at, you know, they'll get my tweets.

ELM: [laughs] Is that your one poll, Flourish?!

FK: People like brutalism! Yeah, I mean, there’s also just a question of where are you gonna do this, if part of the pleasure is having a large number of people see it. Because obviously, I can put things up on my website all day, I have a single serving site that is WhoKilledLaura.com, which is a Twin Peaks site, you know. I could put my fanfic up there. I could put stuff there. No one would ever see it. 

ELM: This is exactly what I meant at the beginning, when I said “at scale.”

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Right? You know? Like…and, like, you making the sweater just for me, I could make a Pop-Tart quiz just for you. I’ll make you [FK gasps] a private—and if I made you a private Pop-Tart, to be honest, if I wanted to make you a “What Pop-Tart” quiz are you, I might wanna do it on BuzzFeed, cause they made a fun…

FK: I only like strawberry, so don’t make it anything else.

ELM: I don’t actually like Pop-Tarts. At all. So…I don’t, I can’t take any of these quizzes.

FK: To me they are a disgusting, disgusting pleasure. [ELM laughs] Anyway, let’s move on.

ELM: I don’t like pastries, mostly, so…you know this. Don't look so shocked.

FK: I really did not know this! You don’t like pastry?

ELM: Especially fruit pastries; they stress me out. And I don’t like pie, either, while we’re here. I like pumpkin pie, but like, apple pie stresses me out.

FK: I definitely did not know this, and I make pie pretty frequently. I guess I must never have given you any.

ELM: No, often I will eat a pie if someone makes it, to be polite.

FK: Oh! Maybe I have given you a misery-pie!

ELM: I don’t…I don’t think you have ever made me pie, but just for the reference, just for future reference, if I ask you to bring dessert to my house, please don’t bring a pie.

FK: OK, not, not fruit pie…how do you feel about, like, pot pies?

ELM: No, I’m good.

FK: OK. No savory, either.

ELM: What vegetarian pot pie are you gonna make for me?

FK: I’ve made vegan pot pie! It’s pretty…

ELM: No thank you.

FK: OK. I’m not trying to make you think it’s great. I just am truly astonished at this revelation.

ELM: If you really feel the need to do this, I had a vegan shepherd’s pie recently, it was great.

FK: Eh, not pastry, it’s not pie. 

ELM: I know. But it was…I know, I know. But it was good.

FK: That’s why you like it, cause there’s no pastry.

ELM: Yeah! No, instead of pastry it was mashed potatoes, which are a delightful food.

FK: No! I mean, vegan shepherd’s pie is a classic food to make when you’re vegan. It’s really good.

ELM: It’s really good. Great.

FK: Great. Well, now, now I have learned something about you, and something not to bring to your house.

ELM: Thank you! I appreciate it.

FK: But it’s blowing my mind cause I love pastry. I love pie crust, specifically.

ELM: I know. A lot of people do!

FK: It’s cool! You don’t have to. You’re not required.

ELM: Thank you. [FK laughs] How did we start talking about this? Oh, what Pop-Tart are you. Uh…yeah. Right. So, if I made…

FK: You’re definitely not a Pop-Tart.

ELM: No. So if I made a “What Pop-Tart Are You,” or a “What’s a Color Skittle Say About Your Personality” or whatever…I like Skittles.

FK: I don’t, really!

ELM: Oh my God! [laughs]

FK: I mean, like…they’re fine…

ELM: Skittles are so good, what’s wrong with you?!

FK: They’re kinda gross…I don’t like fruit-flavored candy very much! 

ELM: Oh, I love fruit-flavored candy! Now, it’s all coming out now. Our differences! [both laughing] That’s good though. It’s probably for the best.

FK: Yeah. We can—we now know how to divvy up fruit things!

ELM: Yeah, if someone brings a pie to me, then I’ll bring it to you and I’ll say, “I don’t want this.” And you say, “Someone gave me these Skittles, I’m so unhappy!” And I’ll take them off your hands. That’s great! OK, solved! Uh, OK. So I, I don’t know, I don’t know what this quiz is gonna be, but if I wanted to make a quiz for just you…I don’t know! It’s, it’s the…the context matters so much, and the scale, and the volume, what kind of people were engaging with it, and how many clicks it gets, and who gets the money from those clicks?

FK: Yeah, it is—it is true, that you making me a quiz is different from wanting scale for a quiz. And those two things are different pleasures, and for a long time, you would never have made a quiz that would have reached, you know, whatever, 500,000 people. Like, that just would not have been a thing unless you got paid for it. That wouldn’t have happened.

ELM: I still personally will not do that. That’s not likely to happen.

FK: Don’t worry. I’m not expecting it. But you see what I’m saying, right? Maybe is that something that we should just be like, “Well, that’s a pleasure people did not historically have and that we shouldn’t want either”? You know what I mean?

ELM: Yeah. I just…

FK: I’m not saying, I’m not advocating for this point of view. I’m simply proposing it as a possible point of view that someone might have on this subject.

ELM: Right. I, I feel like this is really…it’s a facet of digital life that is really complicated and doesn’t have an analog counterpart, right? And I don’t think people know how to handle it. And the kind of collapsing, the context collapse and the sort of ideas of, like…you know, everything can sit side by side and look the same, so why should we pay for it? Right? If you're willing to do it, why should we pay for it? If you enjoy it, why should we pay for it? And like, you know, I think it’s really hard. I think this girl and thousands—not just her, I love that she’s now the only quiz-maker ever—but, there are thousands and thousands of people making quizzes and writing…

I feel like I often read these community posts that are fairly eloquent kind of, you know, speaking-truth-to-power sort of, like…you know. Anti-racist, or anti-queerphobia or whatever, sort of posts. And it’s like, I love that you put this here and not on your blog, because they created a platform on which it can be disseminated. And lots of people engage with it, because they know what BuzzFeed is, right? And they’re not gonna find your random thing. That’s great! I don’t think everything needs to be, you know, I think people should be able to create stuff without…you know, like, it shouldn’t…I just feel like the never, never create anything for free attitude, it’s really really fraught. That being said—I don’t want BuzzFeed profiting off people’s labor, you know? So it’s like…I don't know. It’s, it’s, it’s tricky. I don’t know how to feel. How should I feel?

FK: One way you can feel about this is how we closed out one of our recent episodes, talking about wanting decentralization in fandom. At the time we were talking about this, does fandom have to be in one place, but one thing you could think about is a distributed platform—and obviously that has not worked out super well with, you know, some Twitter clones that I can think of, but on the other hand, just because it hasn’t worked out to this point doesn't mean that it’s necessarily a bad idea. You know? And similarly is it, you know, do I feel bad if I edit Wikipedia? No, of course not, because that's something that's sort of like a…not that I edit Wikipedia, because God, Wikipedians are terrible, but…if I did, I wouldn't feel bad about that, right? It’s, it’s, it’s adding something to a shared resource. So I don’t know.

ELM: Yeah, Wikipedia though, and, like, Fanlore…those are supported by donations. No one is profiting off of those.

FK: Right. Yeah. But I also don't feel bad about writing things on Dreamwidth, not that I do that, not that I think that that’s, like, the right place for fandom to go back to or something, but I know how it’s supported, I paid for it, I was one of the people who paid startup money into it and, like, now I have a thing, and like, I know how they work, and like, fine! You know?

ELM: Right! I mean, do you feel bad when you write a blog post on a commercial plat—you know, when you write, like, a three-paragraph Facebook status or you write a Tweet thread or you write a Tumblr post that’s more than a paragraph? Do you feel “Oh no, I’m giving away my words for free”?

FK: No, but I do feel like it’s a different…I do feel different about it than I do about posting on something that I feel like I am…that I have paid for in a different way or that is a community function. I do feel different about it. Not bad, exactly.

ELM: Oh, yeah, no, but I’m just saying, do you feel, like, exploited when you publish your words on a commercial platform? Do you feel like they’re profiting off of your thoughts?

FK: No, but then again I’ve never had anything that went…I was never that girl who wrote the BuzzFeed quizzes, you know what I mean?

ELM: You sure weren’t.

FK: Right? I was never that girl. So I don’t know.

ELM: You don’t know what Pop-Tarts are good!

FK: I don’t know what kind of Pop-Tarts make you a kind of person.

ELM: That being said, like, we both write for relatively, relatively pennies on the dollar, for Fansplaining, you know?

FK: Yeah, it’s true.

ELM: I mean, I think about this every time I publish an article with Fansplaining. Because a number of the pieces I’ve written for us in particular…cause a lot of things that…actually a few of the things that you’ve written, I think, easily could have been things that would publish elsewhere. But a few of them were, like, analyzing our surveys, which is like, very much something that belongs within our…within our own space. But a good portion of these pieces are things that coulda been published elsewhere, and I think about this sometimes, and I’m like, “Being a professional writer is fraught.” 

And I know a lot…the rates that people pay, a lot of writers wind up making less than the minimum wage on an individual piece, right. Because they pay $250 and you have to do three days of research or something and, I don’t know. I’m not doing the math very well. But you know what I mean? Like, you have to do a lot of work, right? And that’s not to mention when it comes out, especially if it’s around a kind of fraught topic, especially if you are a…you know, some kind of marginalizations…and then you have to spend, like, two days defending yourself, you know. Like, that kind of thing. Right?

FK: Yeah, for sure.

ELM: And so like, yeah. I think people should get paid for their writing. That being said, the idea…and I say this as someone who has made sure that my income does not come from writing, but comes from, you know, other kinds of jobs, being a full time freelance writer, I don’t know, good luck. [FK laughs] Like, if you could work for someone…there are other costs, and other benefits, that aren’t to do with money. And I say that with, like, full acknowledgment of like, money’s important and paying the bills is really important. But that being said, like, yeah. There's a huge toll that’s not monetary, a huge loss that’s not monetary, when I publish a piece and a bunch of trolls start attacking me. Or…when I publish a piece and the editor doesn’t really understand fandom, and then I have to spend all this time trying to even justify why this is even worth publishing, right? You know what I mean? And so, like…

FK: I do.

ELM: And so, like, there’s value in putting our stuff up for relatively, basically for free.

FK: Right, and if you’re an artist I’m sure that there’s…it’s great to make money but sometimes you just wanna draw the thing that you can’t stop imagining.

ELM: Absolutely! Yeah!

FK: Because it’s fun!

ELM: These aren’t even…like, doing fanworks! Right? This is just creating content, and I like writing articles, and I like thinking about stuff. And I also really love writing a long piece where I get to mull over ideas, and people read it who are interested in them, and they don’t wanna tell me that, like, fanfiction is garbage. They just wanna, you know. They’re past that, right? You know what I mean? And so it gives me more control over the audience; it’s like I get to write for people I really wanna talk to. I don’t know. So it’s just really hard. I just think it gets so reductive in this conversation.

FK: Well, do you think that we have solved anything in this conversation?

ELM: No. You always frame it around what we’ve solved, or not, and we haven’t solved anything. Nothing is solved.

FK: We really never solve anything.

ELM: This is kind of on you to continually frame it this way. Stop. Stop it. [FK laughs] Nothing’s gonna be solved.

FK: I dunno. Nothing’s gonna be solved. We also haven’t come to any conclusions.

ELM: Here’s the conclusion I'm gonna take away, cause I’m gonna tie back to, I’m gonna skip from the teenager in Michigan all the way to what I was just saying.


ELM: I think, if you can pay the bills, and you…all right. Mm! No! I don’t know! I was gonna say, like, if you wanna do it for free, what brings you joy, you should do it. But you’re not, no person is an island, and I think the reason that this girl felt so responsible is she felt like, she felt like a scab! Right? People were calling her that! You know what I mean?

FK: And yet at the same time it is a great pleasure to make something and give it to people for free!

ELM: Yeah!

FK: That is, that is also a pleasure!

ELM: I thought I was coming to a conclusion!

FK: And in fact we would call people, we would say, if you have a lot of money and you make things and you charge people for them, we would call that miserly, right? We would say that that is wrong.

ELM: Yeah but like—okay but then—then we’re like, working in the, from the exact opposite end! Think about the people that you know try to monetize their fanfiction, and people are like “You’re going against the spirit of the community, like, why…” You know what I mean? You literally cannot win. So over here you’re, like, makin’ quizzes for the joy of the quiz, and they’re like, “You’re givin’ it away for free. You’re problematic.” And then, you know, you shift into a different space and you say “I don’t wanna give it away for free, I’m doing labor!” And people are saying “You’re a monster, how dare you! You don’t deserve that,” right?

FK: Right. Absolutely.

ELM: Aaa! It's so fraught!

FK: It’s fraught. Fraught topic.

ELM: [wails] So I, all right. I mean, I think the one takeaway here is: those are about user choices. Those are about my choice as a creator to want or not want money and me and the community warring over what, what the norms are, et cetera. What is not in question is people with money exploiting user-generated content. That is happening, right? I don’t care what any amateur quiz-maker wants, BuzzFeed knew that they were getting...

FK: A lot.

ELM: The cow for free. I don’t know what the expression is. That’s a problematic expression, I’m not gonna use that one.

FK: Pick a different one.

ELM: That has to do with [laughing] with ladies and sex, right?

FK: That has to do with ladies—yeah.

ELM: They knew exactly what they were doing. And the fact that, like, even the quiz guy who got laid off was like, “It’s capitalism! They’re gettin’ great traffic on free content!” And the fact that they sent them water bottles. They know. The fan artist contest who promises exposure? They know. The social media people, hoping that the fans just generate all the conversation and do the work for them, know.

FK: Absolutely, and while I think these are in different categories…for instance, because there’s not a direct one-to-one correlation of, like…I don’t sell ads on your genuine excitement about a movie, right? So it’s not one-to, it's not all the same thing. But it is all related to the way that, yeah, that people are exploitable in our current world in various ways. And whether we’re OK with that or not, we may draw the lines in different places, but it’s not…those things are not about individual choices.

ELM: Right, and I think the problem is if your business model…if you shift your business model or you build your business model on user-generated content, that’s when I have a problem. 

FK: Right. If it’s 100% on user-generated stuff, and you’re like, not…

ELM: Right. Which is, it’s one of the reasons why I…am hesitant to fault Wattpad, even if sometimes I look at some of their decisions and I’m not thrilled with them. I often see them as kind of capitalizing on something that just happened to happen.

FK: Right. And they are genuinely committed to paying people for writing.

ELM: Absolutely. 

FK: Not everyone gets paid for all writing, but yeah.

ELM: But they're not FanLib, they didn’t create that space…and not even talking about fanfiction, but original content too. They didn’t create it saying, like, “We’re gonna make you a portal and you can write your little stories and we’ll sell ads against them, or maybe we’ll turn them into something bigger and better!” They created a place for people to write, and then they watched what happens. And they’ve taken advantage of that. If your business model is contingent upon user-generated content, then I think you have a problem. Then I think you wind up like, I don’t know. I can’t think of a successful example.

FK: Twitter.

ELM: I mean, is that user-generated content? That’s also, like, saying…that phone lines are user-generated content, though. That’s why Twitter is really, really hard. That’s why social media is hard. Is that content or is that just…

FK: Communication.

ELM: Whether it’s that Twitter built the soapbox in the town square, or Twitter built the phone lines, or whatever analogy you wanna use. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why we can’t regulate it…I mean, there’s a million reasons including, like, our senators are 1,000 years old and don’t actually understand how the internet works. But the fact that people cannot, the FCC, they don’t agree on what social media platforms actually are. But an argument can be made that Twitter is not a publishing platform, it’s a communication method.

FK: Oh my God, OK. This is too sticky. We have, we have to, we have to wrap up. We can’t get into this morass right now.

ELM: Fine.

FK: We have to wrap this conversation up. It has to happen.

ELM: Fine, let’s wrap it up!

FK: Even if our goal is not to solve anything, we could go from like, quicksand of deep, difficult conversation to, like, next pool of quicksand, for hours.

ELM: Yeah, I’m gonna start talking about Jack Dorsey and then we’ll be off to the races.

FK: NO. OK. So. Guess what? We have some news! Some wrapping up news to talk about right now! [ELM laughs] Don’t we?

ELM: We do!

FK: We’ve got a new website! 

ELM: Fansplaining.com! Which was the URL before, but it’s a different one now.

FK: Yeah! So we have just moved over, it’s really exciting, we’re no longer dependent on Tumblr…although our Tumblr still exists.

ELM: That's fansplaining.tumblr.com. We’re still gonna use it like a Tumblr, we’ll reblog, we’ll take asks there, and we will post every episode there, but it will not be our main site.

FK: Right. And because we are now on our own site, we’ve got a little more flexibility with things, so anything that you want to throw at us about it—like, if there’s things that would make it more accessible to you, stuff like that. We can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to do everything, but we’re totally excited to hear from you.

ELM: Yeah. So if you go over to fansplaining.com, you’ll see all of our 93 episodes, plus…no, 94 episodes, cause we did a double. Plus 10 special episodes, I believe?

FK: 10 special episodes.

ELM: Plus every single one of them has a page that has audio, transcript, and show notes all in one link.

FK: Yep!

ELM: Also, we have migrated it, all of our Medium articles onto there too. Unfortunately, if you go to the Medium page, you’ll still see…Medium doesn't let you redirect the links. So you’ll have to click through. If you are sharing…a lot of them have been shared a lot, so unfortunately, anyone that clicks it will have to click through, but if you wanna share any of our stuff we’d love it if you used the new link.

FK: And…you can still contact us through all of our social media, including the Tumblr, we’re still around there, but we’re really excited about our new site!

ELM: Yes! We are. So definitely check it out, Flourish did a ton of work on it, thank you very much Flourish!

FK: So did you!

ELM: I mean…I, I, you definitely did a lot more work on this, but that was to make up for me doing most of the other work, so. [snickers]

FK: All right, we're gonna let this pass. How did we get this new site going? Well, one of the ways we got this new site going is because you guys have been so supportive of us over the years.

ELM: That had all the smoothness of a PBS pledge drive transition. I am so impressed.

FK: Yeah! Thank you!

ELM: I really feel like, I really feel like you were channeling the WMHT pledge drives of my childhood.

FK: I was trying! So, so, the way that you can support us monetarily is through Patreon. Patreon.com/fansplaining.

ELM: Speaking of money and content.

FK: Speaking of money and content. You can also support us in non-monetary ways, for instance by sharing information about us on social media, speaking of free advertising!

ELM: Yeah!

FK: By telling people about us, word-of-mouth. By sending us questions. Our ask box is still open; anon is still on. You can also email us at fansplaining@gmail.com as always.

ELM: Or leave a voicemail.

FK: Yes! And what is that voicemail number, Elizabeth?

ELM: All right, I'm not looking, but I think it’s 1-401-516-FANS.

FK: That’s not it.

ELM: Did I get it right?

FK: No, you didn’t get it right.

ELM: Damn it! [laughs]

FK: You got it almost right. It’s 1-401-526-FANS.

ELM: OH! 526. 1-401-526-FANS.

FK: That’s 1-401-526-3267.

ELM: Our two favorite ways are sending us an email at fansplaining@gmail.com or leaving us a voicemail, and with both of those if you say you wanna remain anonymous, especially with the voicemail, you don’t have to tell us your name. Just say “I wanna stay anonymous,” but we don’t have your name. So. We will not share it. Um, I know some people like Tumblr because they can be anonymous, but it’s much easier for us if you have a longer question if you send us an email or you call us.

FK: Yeah! OK. So those are the ways that you can contact us. Is there anything else we should talk about?

ELM: No.

FK: OK. In that case, Elizabeth, I think I am going to go and make some some user-generated content.

ELM: Are you gonna make a pie?

FK: Is that user-generated content?

ELM: Yeah. Isn’t everything humans make user-generated?

FK: [sighs] Ya broke me.

ELM: If you make a pie, are you not just taking away the labor of, you know, the monetary compensation of the pie-makers?

FK: We are ending this conversation right now, Elizabeth Minkel. Goodbye!

ELM: Bye, Flourish!

[Outro music]

ELM & FK: Fansplaining is brought to you by all of our patrons, especially Kathleen Parham, Bryan Shields, Boxish, Grace Mitchell, Christine Hoxmeier, Desiree Longoria, Jennifer Brady, Bluella, Georgie Carroll, Goodwin, Earlgreytea68, Chloe-Leonna Steele, Menlo Steve, Katherine Lynn, Clare Mulligan, Heidi Tandy, Megan C., Sara, Josh Stenger, Tablesaw Tablesawsen, Jennifer Doherty, froggy, nubreed73, Amelia Harvey, Meghan McCusker, Michael Andersen, Helena Romelsjö, Willa, Cynsa Bonorris, veritasera, Clare Muston, sekrit, Maria Temming, Anne Jamison, Jay Bushman, Lucas Medeiros, Jules Chatelain, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Stephanie Burt, and in honor of One Direction and Captain James McGraw Flint. Our Creative Commons licensed music is “Awel” by Stefsax and “As I Was Saying” by Lee Rosevere. Both are used under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and you can find out more in our show notes. The opinions expressed in this podcast are not our clients’, or our employers’, or anyone’s except our own.