Episode 99: The Shipping Answers

A spaceship flies over a planet.

In Episode 99, “The Shipping Answers,” Elizabeth and Flourish are joined by special guest and DATA PROFESSIONAL verity to analyze the 17,391 (!!!) responses to the Fansplaining Shipping Survey. How do these bazillions of people define “shipping”? Following along with verity’s interactive data visualization, they discuss topics including “active” vs. “casual” shipping, how fandom impacts shipping practices, and exactly how much people care about their ships being “endgame.”


Show Notes

[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by stefsax, used under a CC-BY 3.0 license. The cover is a free illustration by Yuri B.

[00:01:00] We introduced the survey in Episode 97, “The Shipping Question.

[00:02:28] Go explore the interactive visualization!

[00:03:06] Our interstitial music here and throughout the podcast is “Start the Day” by Lee Rosevere from Music for Podcasts 5, used under a CC BY 3.0 license.

[00:03:45] Find verity on Twitter as @regretsonmain.

[00:04:45] As far as coffee shop AUs go, verity recommends Esteefee’s Fair Trade series.


Define the noun “ship” in your own words. “the USS Enterprise or other vessel used for a voyage on sea or in space.” Define the verb “to ship” in your own words. “to arrange for an item to move from one location to another.”
A gif of FedEx trucks and planes: “I ship it like FedEx.”

[00:18:48] We highly recommend that you check out the raw data, including all free responses!

[00:30:55] You can read our write-up of the Tropes Survey, but here’s the relevant graph, illustrating that our network is extremely AO3 dominated:

A graph showing that most respondents to the Tropes survey read stories on AO3.

[00:31:58] Flourish knows it’s said “Ve-GEE-tah.” Sorry, Dragon Ball people!

[00:42:29] We read this letter, from Amy, in Episode 76, “Camp Austen.” It said, in part:

“I think I have a complete-180 experience of fic reading to what you two described. The vast majority of what I read on AO3—canon universe or AU—is based on source material that I’m either mostly or entirely unfamiliar with. This is because I search for stories by tag, rather than by fandom or character. When I pull up AO3 to find a new fic, my motivation is hardly ever ‘I want to read a Drarry fic’ or ‘I’m in the mood for some 1D today.’ It’s more, ‘I could really go for a fake dating AU’ or ‘I need a cathartic hurt/comfort scene with found family, please and thank you.’”

[00:54:25] verity’s write-up comparing our demographics to other fandom surveys is on its way! In the meantime, here’s CentrumLumina’s “AO3 Census.”

[00:59:56] IT’S TRUE! Some of us are measurably Neanderthal!

[01:00:20] We answered a bunch of the most common questions about the demographics section in one handy-dandy post.

[01:10:50] See the questions we asked and enjoy the raw data! It’s shared under a CC BY 4.0 license. Also, check out all our previous projects.

[01:14:32] We’ll update these notes to link you to Elizabeth’s piece as soon as it’s published! And, check out verity’s write-up about their methodology.


[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 99! I feel like I just said that like Captain Holt. [FK laughs] 9-9! And it—oh, yeah! That’s right! There’s a reason why I felt that way!

FK: Yeah!

ELM: And it is entitled “The Shipping Answers.”

FK: The shipping answers! All the answers that you will ever need about shipping.

ELM: No, that is—

FK: Is that how it works?

ELM: [laughing] Oh my God. So two episodes ago, we launched our Shipping Survey with the “Shipping Question” episode, which was more of a…it’s more of a rhetorical turn of phrase than an actual question, but.

FK: Yeah, the survey had more than one question on it.

ELM: I mean, the question “What is shipping?” is really at the heart of this. These are the answers, though! We have 17,391 responses to our survey. That is a lot of answers!

FK: And fortunately, we have a data professional, verity, to help us sort through them.

ELM: So you might know verity from fandom things, they have been in fandom and a fic author for a long, long time. I believe, a couple decades, and, uh, they are also a data wizard, and are going to be joining us to discuss the work they did cleaning up, a lot of the quantitative cleanup on this was, was verity’s realm, and Flourish’s realm was some of the qualitative cleanup. And I just sat there and supported them. While I edited this episode and everyone’s writing and yelled at Flourish for sending me incredibly long drafts of analysis, and I said “This is unfair, Flourish, to me and to our readers.”

FK: And I resisted yelling back at you that I had been buried in data for a long time and it’s really hard to find the story and I hate this and I hate you and I hate everything…and I think we should just call verity right now.

ELM: All right… [both laughing] No, no, wait, wait, wait. So we are going to be talking about all these results, and one thing that we should say is that verity has put together a series of vizzes, these are visualizations of the data, using a tool called Tableau. And if you want to go to our website, Fansplaining.com, you can get the link and follow along, if you happen to be sitting at a computer. I feel like this is best looked at at a computer, a desktop computer, not on a phone.

FK: Yeah. I mean, if you’re not, then check it out later. But do check it out, because it’s very, you know, it’s really great.

ELM: Absolutely…

FK: And you should see it!

ELM: …no need to actually sit at a computer while we go through these, but we are going to be looking at the visualizations ourselves as we talk about them, and so that could just be, you know, a fun way to follow along.

FK: All right. Now we should call verity.

ELM: Yes. Now is the time.

[Interstitial music]

FK: OK! I think it’s time to welcome verity to the podcast! Hey, verity!

verity: Hello! Thank you for having me on.

ELM: Thank you for coming on, and thank you, I can’t—I literally cannot thank you enough for all of the work that you’ve done on this survey.

v: Thank you! I had a good time.

ELM: [laughs] OK, really? OK!

v: 20 hours later… [all laugh]

ELM: OK so before we start talking about it, say as much or as little as you want about who you are, and contextualize in fandom too.

v: Sure! All right. So hello. I’m verity, I have been in fandom since December 1998 when I was 12, and now I am a data professional—which I think is the euphemistic way we’re describing my job—and I was very happy to be able to use my data skills to clean this data, using Tableau Prep primarily, and Excel, and to make this viz in Tableau for us to look at. I was also a barista for six years.

FK: [laughs] Go-to person for making coffee shop AUs realistic.

ELM: Yeah, that’s why it’s related to fandom, right?

v: Yeah. Clearly.

ELM: OK. All right. Data wise: What percentage of coffee shop AUs that you have read do you think are true to life?

v: Like, there’s like one. Everyone else I will, like, fucking fight them. On exchanges, I tell people not to write them for me. [all laugh] It’s bad, guys!

ELM: Yeah. Yeah. I mean like—I go to coffee shops and I can tell that that’s not what happens.

v: Esteefee wrote one for Stargate: Atlantis several years ago. That’s amazing, and it’s the only one that can stay.

ELM: [laughs] We’ll put that in the show notes.

FK: To be clear, we defend to the death your right to write coffee shop AUs, whether or not people who have been baristas in the past enjoy reading a version supposedly of their workplace. Just wanna be clear.

ELM: Yes.

v: Supposedly.

FK: We are not bad men who think coffee shop AUs suck for bad reasons.

ELM: Bad people of all genders are mean about coffee shop AUs.

FK: I’m thinking about a particular person whose name will not be named.

ELM: Yeah, he’s a pretty bad man.

FK: Let’s move on. We don’t need to, he doesn’t need to take up time in this podcast.

ELM: OK. Let’s talk about the survey. As we’ve discussed, we are going to be following along in the order of the viz. [all laugh] I’ll just say that as awkwardly as possible.

FK: [singing] We’re off to see the vizzard, the wonderful vizzard of Oz…

ELM: But obviously you do not—thank you, Flourish. Obviously you do not need to be like sitting at a computer following along, but if you want to, you can. But we’re not going to be, this is not like a…I immediately had this terrible, anyone who’s worked in a corporate setting and has had to take, like, a…a webinar?

FK: Yes.

ELM: You know, a webinar.

v: The scourge.

FK: Or worse, be sent some slides with an audio track that you’re supposed to, like, click through as you listen. It’s bad!

ELM: It’s brutal. All right! Viz. Let’s start at the very beginning.

FK: So when we started this survey, we were hoping that we would get, like, a really wide variety of people, including people who considered them “fans” and who did not consider themselves “fans,” and that was not the case. That didn’t happen.

ELM: Yeah. That did not happen at all.

FK: So like 99% of everyone said they were a fan.

ELM: OK, to be fair, how many people are sports fans?

v: A lot.

ELM: Yeah!

FK: I don’t think these were sports fans.

ELM: Well, I think that if you look at the other ones, “Have you…” People who said they have never been in a fandom, and we gave an example of Star Wars, that was like…people who said “I don’t know,” which is a, probably for all intents and purposes a “no” answer, though they chose a different one. Or “no,” and I know that’s not a good way to talk about data, but you know what I mean. That was almost 1,000 people out of the 17,000 people.

FK: To be clear, that was like five-and-a-half percent.

ELM: Still! I’m just sayin’. I’m just sayin’!

v: Can I really briefly contextualize the fans we are talking about, though?

FK: Yeah, do it!

v: OK. So one thing that’s really important to me, personally, when we talk about data and what we can learn from data, is understanding what is inside the data. [all laugh] What is the population that we are studying and sampling from?

FK: And who are we not studying or sampling from?

v: Who are we not studying and sampling from? So the people who took this survey, the survey was in English, and the responses were all in English. We believe that it reached a group of fans who were active on Twitter or Tumblr in April 2019. And that they were primarily, but not exclusively, dudeslash fans. And that’s, that’s just one small group of people.

FK: And we have reason—by the way, this is not just, we’re not just saying “We think this.” People said, like, what ships they had. And we looked at all of these ships and we’ll talk about that a little later, but that’s how…

v: That nasty, nasty data.

FK: But that’s why we say that a lot of people like slash who responded to this, cause people said that.

ELM: Yeah. The only assumption in that statement was that they were active on Twitter or Tumblr. We don’t actually know if…the survey left our hands, and could’ve been disseminated in other spaces too. That’s where we had engagement.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: We didn’t have, like, thousands of Facebook comments about shipping [laughs] like, on our post. There’s a limit to what we can know about, because we didn’t say, like, “Where’d you find this?”

FK: Yeah.

ELM: But I do think, it seems pretty likely, based on how people shared all of our posts about it, that most people found out about it from someone on those two platforms.

v: Yeah. And even, like, there are definitely groups that are on that two platforms who are dudeslash fans who are underrepresented. All right, we can move on.

FK: Cool, all right.

ELM: No, I think it’s really good to contextualize that. So, we asked if they were fans, most people said “yes.” It drops off when we get to do you consider yourself quote-unquote “in fandom.” Still, a majority of people, right? Like, so what—I can’t…

FK: Eighty…82%.

ELM: 82% of people who took it said they were quote-unquote “in fandom.” There’s probably some shippers who don’t consider themselves to be in fandom, that’s kind of an amorphous term, et cetera. Just so people know.

FK: So. Are you familiar with the verb “to ship,” or the noun “ship,” in the fannish context. So, like, most people said “yes” to this question, right? I will note that there was one hilarious person who said “yes” and then realized that they had been thinking that they were familiar with the ship the U.S.S. Enterprise. This was not a troll. God bless them. They filled out the whole survey really confused, and I am really proud of them for doing that. [laughs]

ELM: Me too but I’m just gonna say: the U.S.S. Enterprise, not a verb!

FK: A noun! The noun “ship.” That was part of the question.

ELM: Yeah…I mean…if you really didn’t know what it was and you were looking at this question, I could see that. It’s true.

FK: Yeah! There were other people who trolled us, by putting everything related to FedEx, and like, ha ha guys, very funny. But this person was pure.

ELM: I’m not gonna say I was disappointed that there weren’t more people who didn’t know what it was who took it, but it’s a hard thing to say, “Take this survey about shipping!” And you’re like “I don’t—I don’t know what those words are,” and you just ignore me, you know. So like, I didn’t realize it was going to be this stark.

FK: Yeah. It does sort of highlight that someday we might wanna take something that was a more…like, we might wanna try and make something that was a more generalized survey that was genuinely trying to get at that question of, like, what terms are familiar?

ELM: Like a general fandom survey, about lots of different kinds of behaviors. Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. Absolutely.

FK: verity, you look like you’re thinking things.

v: I mean…yes. You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinkin’ about those goddamn commas.

FK: [laughing] SORRY.

v: Someday, we will design a perfect survey, in heaven. [FK laughing] I mean, do you want me to talk about the commas?

ELM: Do you want to talk about the commas?

FK: Let’s talk about the commas!

ELM: So tell people about the commas, the bane of your existence.

v: All right. So here is the dealio. When you input things into a Google form, we receive them back in the form of the Google Sheet. And functionally, they’re comma-separated values, and when I am pulling them in for data analysis, I am frequently splitting them on those commas. And by “splitting them,” I mean dividing them into new columns.

We had a very important problem with some of the questions in this survey, because someone made the values that are the answers include commas.

FK: Uh, for what it’s worth, I assumed, because comma-separated values are so standard, that what the output would be would, you know, deal with this somehow! It doesn’t. I didn’t check. It didn’t occur to me to check. I made an assumption [laughing] and verity paid for that assumption. I paid for it too, a little bit, but mostly verity paid for it. Which, sorry.

v: It’s OK. It’s OK.

FK: But we learned! The next time, we are going to find ways to write this that don’t feature any commas in any place anywhere, because Google can’t handle it. Or we’ll use a different form software that deals with this.

ELM: I could turn any of these questions into comma-free questions, don’t you worry.

FK: So could I, so could I! I’m just…I’m…

ELM: I could do it grammatically correctly.

FK: I’m not sure that I could do that. [all laugh]

v: Very impressive.

ELM: “Grammatically correctly,” though, is not grammatically correct. [all laugh] So, that’s fine.

FK: Oh, whatever. It’s spoken language. Spoken language.

ELM: Just stack those adverbs. Don’t worry about it.

FK: All right, all right, all right. So wait, let’s keep going because we got a little sidetracked.

ELM: We did. Comma-tracked.

FK: [laughs] Comma-tracked!

ELM: OK. All right. So, while everyone…almost everyone, more than 17,000 people, said they knew what shipping was…well, it’s still almost everyone said that they have shipped or consider themselves a shipper. One of our beta testers who, of the original survey, who is a good friend of ours…

v: Mine too!

ELM: Oh wait! You know Nozlee? That’s right!

v: Nozlee, I love you!

ELM: Wait, should we—no, we’re not gonna call Nozlee out, are we? Should we?

v: Yeah! Do it!

ELM: I hope that Nozlee doesn’t mind me blowing up her spot, but I’m gonna do it right now. So when she beta tested the survey, she chose that she was not…we had initially written “Are you a shipper?” Yes or no.

FK: Right.

ELM: And she chose “no”! And wound up on the track that was for people who don’t engage with shipping. And then sent all these suggestions like, “I think you should do this and this!” And I was like, “…we did.” And then I realized what had gone wrong, so that was a vital, vital catch in the beta testing stage, so thank you, Nozlee. We all thank you.

FK: Yes, so we expanded the question: “Have you shipped, have you engaged in behaviors you’d call shipping, or have you considered yourself a shipper.” We tried to make it really broad.

ELM: Yeah because I, I—I’m also, I’m not gonna say I’m a shipper.

FK: Yeah, fair enough.

v: Yeah.

ELM: Nah, none of us want that. We’re all of a similar age.

v: Who says that?

ELM: We’re like “No. Absolutely not.”

FK: Anyway, so…

ELM: Anyway, so that, yeah. Just short-handing it to “shippers” though, it was 16,500 people, approximately, who said that out of the 17,000 plus who were shippers. So we did not get a lot of non-shippers. I’m sorry to say.

FK: But we did get enough people that we, like, broke down some of the things they said separately, and it’s really interesting what we said. So we’ll get back on that later.

ELM: Yeah, let’s get to them at the end. So yeah it was about 1,000 people, which I think is enough to actually see some interesting answers. So. For all those shippers, we then branched them further, and we said “Do you draw a distinction between actively and casually shipping something?” And, uh, I don’t know, what did you guys think of these results? So it’s about, maybe two-thirds said they did draw a distinction and about one-third, roughly, said they don’t?

FK: Yeah, so one of the important things within this was that we were interested in knowing, like, we didn’t say what “actively” and “casually” meant. But we thought that a lot of people probably did think that, like, there were like different levels of shipping or kinds of shipping or whatever, and we wanted to give people, like, the opportunity to say at least two different sort of modes in which they shipped.

ELM: verity, I’m curious, cause I think…I know Flourish, Flourish first. I’m gonna guess. Would you have said “no,” you don’t draw a distinction?

FK: I would have said “no,” I think.

ELM: Yeah, it’s interesting. And verity, I don’t know you as well. What would you say?

v: Oh! I absolutely do. But, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, I am a trash baby and I will read anything. So I definitely have things that I passionately ship and I love with my whole heart, and definitely I also have things that I casually ship, because sometimes when you need something to read, you need something to read.

ELM: But, you consider that shipping!

v: I do!

ELM: The casual trash baby stuff.

v: Oh, absolutely.

ELM: Because I think some people would not say—they’d be like, “Oh, I like that ship, I’ll read that,” but they wouldn’t say “I ship that.”

v: Yeah…if there’s something that I truly don’t ship, I don’t read it. There’s just some pairings that, they’re good for you, they’re not good for me. On the other hand, will I take a chance on a pairing that I barely know, in a fandom that I’ve like, heard about one time? Possibly.

ELM: Wild. OK, but here’s another question though. Say you’re reading, the main pairing in the fic is, like, a pairing that you’re really into. And there’s a side pairing that you’re like “That’s cool too!” Would you say you shipped those people?

v: Yeah!

ELM: All right! That’s very interesting to me. Flourish, would you say the same? Yeah, multi-shipper!

FK: Yeah, I wouldn’t draw a distinction…I wanna talk more about that when we’re actually talking about, like, people’s behaviors, because it’s relevant to that. So let’s, let’s just move on in the viz…cause OK. We asked people to, like, define shipping in their own words, but we know from experience that people define things in their own words and they, like, do lots of different things with that. So we also wanted to create a little more structure and ask people, like, yes-or-no questions about shipping.

ELM: So pause for a second. All the free answer stuff, so, none of the free answer stuff is gonna be in this viz, right?

FK: Only for the non-shippers, because there were like 700 of them, so we were able to code all of it really quickly. But mostly the free answer stuff, we’ve read all the free answer stuff—probably not literally every word of it. But we’ve read a lot of the free answer responses and used those to create context for the multiple-choice.

ELM: So explain to the listeners, or readers, if they don’t know what “coding data” means.

FK: Ah. So in qualitative research, you’ve got, like, 700 non-shippers, who all defined shipping, say. Right? And you look at all those responses and you sort of read a bunch of them and you see some themes in them. Like, for instance, someone might say “Shipping is romantic.” “Shipping takes place between two characters.” “Shipping takes place between more than two characters.” “Shipping is done by fans.” Right? And after you’ve read a bunch of them you begin to see these themes emerge. And then you sort of check off, you look at a response and you say “Ah, this person says that shipping is the romantic pairing of two characters,” so you click off those things. Next person says “Shipping is when fans create a non-canonical relationship in their own heads.” And so, ah, that has different things that you click off.

So you go through all of this and then at the end you have all of these very different responses, but you can see a bar graph or something like that of how frequently these themes appeared. And this is a really common qualitative research strategy, to get your mind around, sort of, the things that are going on in a bunch of free response. So obviously you can do that with 700 answers, it’s a lot harder to do that with 17,000 answers. We are working on the 17,000 ones! But it takes a really long time. So we may or may not ever finish those. But we did make sure that we finished the non-shipper ones, cause those we felt like were really important, for a variety of reasons that we can get to later.

ELM: Sure.

v: I am very impressed with all of the qualitative coding. That is not my strength, so props to you.

FK: That’s, this is like my favorite thing to do, so.

ELM: Oh! That’s great! Your favorite thing to do!

FK: Maybe not my favorite thing to do. That’s hyperbole.

ELM: No no no! Own it. Own it. So, so one further point of clarification, since we’re going to be releasing the entire data set: I know that some of the free answers some people chose to write li’l novellas and very intricate, involved answers. All of those will be viewable, if anyone wants to see them!

FK: Yeah!

ELM: Obviously something, there is something lost in the process of coding, qualitatively coding responses.

FK: Definitely.

ELM: And that’s, you know, the way people frame their ideas. And so—it’s a very clunky pile of data, you know. Maybe it’s more like you can look at it and serendipitously see something that’s interesting to you. But.

FK: Yeah, and there’s other stuff too. Like, it’s possible that someone who’s better at natural language processing than either me or verity would be able to find some way to make natural language processing work with some of this stuff. Like, if you’re a computer scientist and you wanna take this as a thing, go for it. I tried some stuff and it did not. You know.

ELM: Are you asking my multiple friends who have higher degrees and work in machine learning and natural language processing…

FK: Yes!

ELM: …if they wanna do this?

FK: Go run with it, please, I would love that, this would be so amazing. It would be amazing!

ELM: Sorry to say that none of them are in fandom, but maybe!

FK: I don’t, it’s still an interesting corpus to work with!

ELM: All right, all right. I’m going to India with one of them, I’ll ask them.

FK: Wonderful. Yeah. It didn’t, it didn’t seem like, it wasn’t—for at least my basic level of skills [laughs] it did not seem like this was the kind of thing that this was going to naturally really help a lot with, but maybe I’m wrong? I’m not a computer scientist! I would love it if I was wrong. So.

ELM: Can you imagine? All right, I will ask. I will ask. OK. All right. So, parentheticals over. Back to the data. Does it count as shipping—I wanna say this was one of my…is inspiration the word? This is one of the reasons I wanted to do this survey, right, was because I saw people who I don’t think are in this kind of shipping-oriented fandom making strident claims about what “counted” as shipping for the last, like, three years. Mostly journalists and people who work in the entertainment industry. Even while we were promoting this survey I had some people who fall into this category kind of fansplaining at me what shipping was. In this fashion. And I was like “Nope, that’s not true! Take the survey.” [laughs] Like, “You’re not an authority on this, sir!” So.

But one of the things that really struck me was I saw some guy, and I think I mentioned this in our previous episode about the survey, saying that it didn’t count as shipping if it was happening in the show already. Like, you couldn’t ship a couple that was already together, that shipping was something—was wishful thinking only. And we were like “Sir, that’s not true.” And he was like, “You’re wrong!” And it’s like…you don’t know! You learned about this yesterday. So that’s why I wanted these questions in here.

And the sample size of the non-shippers was, it’s a relatively small one, but it actually kinda confirmed some of my suspicions on that one in particular.

FK: Yeah, so like, 12% of the non-shippers said that it doesn’t count as shipping if it’s canonical, and only like .5% of people who said they were a shipper did. So that’s like, I mean, on the one hand it’s a very small number of non-shippers, so I don’t know how much that means. But it was a significant difference in terms of percentage-wise.

v: Yeah. And I also wanna note that if you, as you progress in this viz, you will notice that sometimes you see percentages and a lot of times you just see response counts. Because especially because this viz is interactive and you can filter on a lot of things, sometimes this takes you below a hundred responses per, like, field, and I wanna make sure that it’s… There’s a big difference between 1% of 17,000 [FK laughing] and like 1% of 788 or whatever.

FK: Yeah, for real.

ELM: I think that’s a really important point.

FK: THAT SAID, it’s still a—I still think that is, it is, it is a debatable difference, but I think that it did show a difference, and I would be really interested if we were able to get more people who didn’t identify as shippers to talk about their perceptions of shipping. I think that, like, that leads me to think that it would probably be borne out.

ELM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think it’s really interesting too. Part of the reason why I’m interested in this question, and some of the questions I’m interested in around these results in general, is the relationship between the fans and the source material and when you have so many people in shipping fandom…and I’m not sure, when we get to these results I’m not sure it’s gonna, it bears it out as much as I thought it would. I was under the assumption that a lot of shipping fans were very invested in their ship becoming canon. And so in the “it doesn’t count if it’s canonical,” where does that—once it becomes canon you’re no longer shipping them? Then, like, I don’t know how that works in someone’s head. But the fact that so much is framed around canonical and non-canonical, in some parts of shipping fandom, makes that a really kind of a sticky question and a weird thing that’s filtered out of shipping culture and into mainstream pop culture conversations.

FK: Yeah, and we had a couple of people, um…you know, in the free responses, which I’ve been working in, basically complain that there was a lot of framing around canonicity, and some people who even thought that we were trying to say that shipping only counts as canonicity. I just wanna be clear, like: these questions were things we wanted to learn about. They were not, we’re not, like—by asking you if it counts as shipping if it’s not canonical, we’re not trying to suggest to you that it doesn’t. You know? [laughs] I just wanna be clear about that, in case anyone who took this survey was still thinking about that, because there were a lot—you know, maybe not like, massive numbers. But there were more than a few who were worried in that way.

ELM: Yeah. OK. Well, so, abandon these non-shippers and the fictional man that I’m still mad at. Talking about shippers in particular. So, when we broke it down, active, casual, draw-no-distinction, we had people talk about behaviors.

FK: Right. And so we gave people a bunch of checkboxes they could check off, saying, like, what they do when they—if they drew a distinction—actively ship something; what they do when they casually ship something; and what they do if they sort of, you know, don’t draw a distinction. Right? So if you’d said you didn’t draw a distinction, you got just one question; if you said you did, you got two questions, one for active and one for casual.

And this is actually—just to go back in time a little bit—this is why I would say that I generally ship things, because I…a lot of people would say things like, “Oh, I create content and I create transformative works if I actively ship something, but if I casually ship something I just, like, think about it, I just like the idea of it.” That kinda thing. And for me, those things…I do…like, there are ships that I ship passionately that I just think about really, really, you know? And there’s ships that I only casually ship, I think “Oh yeah that’d be fine,” but I write transformative works for them.

So for me, the behavior doesn’t really connect up with the two things, which is why I would sort of not draw a distinction between those two things, personally.

ELM: So I think this is a really interesting thing, then, obviously I don’t think this survey could actually ever…any sort of quantitative survey could ever dig into the kind of idea of measuring your fandom.

v: Yeah.

ELM: In terms of action versus affect. And the idea that, that action wasn’t an indicator of affect? Or vice versa. Like, you might be very prolific writing in a certain fandom, but emotionally you, Flourish, like, because of your personality and your preferences, may not be that emotionally invested in it.

FK: Right.

ELM: Whereas in another scenario you may literally live, sleep, and breathe thinking about a certain relationship and never do anything around it, and in a way that’s not measurable in any way. And that only exists inside of you.

FK: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

ELM: Am I just restating what you just said except longer?

FK: A little bit, but, but, but clearer. [laughs]

v: Yeah. I definitely think that my output for Teen Wolf versus my output for Buffy the Vampire Slayer would bear this out.

ELM: Yeah. But then that gets you into a question of, like, fanon and canon, right? If you really were diggin’ the Teen Wolf fandom space, and the Teen Wolf fanfiction space, right?

FK: Yeah, I mean…

ELM: Isn’t that a level of passion? But then your object of fandom is actually the fandom itself, not necessarily the source material, right?

v: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I, I feel like the…Teen Wolf fandom had so much more to give than that show ever did.

FK: Yeah.

v: It’s hard.

ELM: That gets it into really complicated space. And I feel like, I don’t know. I think it’s something that, like, it’s hard to measure. I think it can be interesting if, if phrased in a relatively articulate way, on an individual level. But I think that’s a really hard thing to talk about in big senses. Which is, I think, why we have so many conversations where we all talk across each other.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Because these mean really different things.

FK: Yeah, I agree. And for what it’s worth, like, there were other people who also said things like “I view active and casual just as, like, a degree to which I feel, and it has nothing to do with my behaviors,” and a lot of people wrote that in. So I think that this is just, like, a question. Now that all said—

ELM: That’s how I feel!

FK: Right. Well, that all said, we do see differences in people’s behaviors, right? People who said they actively shipped things tended to check off different things that they did as behaviors.

ELM: Like creating things.

FK: Right. As compared to people who casually shipped. And we’ll get into this a lot more; we’re doing some write-ups on this, so we’ll talk a little bit more about this in those write-ups. But it’s worth poking around in. It’s interesting.

ELM: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And I think that this, this slide in particular is such a good example of how this tool can really help you look at the data, you know?

FK: Oh yeah. Thank you, verity.

ELM: Such a delight.

FK: Really, if you are just listening to this, go when you’re done—when you’re at a computer go and look at the visualizations. Because they’re great.

ELM: 100%.

v: Yay! Oh. I see that our next slide up is shipping fandoms. [all laugh]

FK: One of the things we asked people to do was, like, list their ships. And this is where verity became, like, the MVP of this project.

ELM: Absolutely. Incredible.

v: Yeah. It was…I will be doing a separate write-up on the technical aspects of how I created this viz, which we’re not gonna get into on the podcast cause we could be here all day. But I wanna say, I couldn’t have done all of this fandom analysis without the help of all of my mutuals on Twitter, who when I was like, “Come clean this sheet of fandom ships!” showed up and did it. Because God knows I would not have known what some of these smush ship names were. [all laugh]

FK: So let’s be clear, verity’s created this visualization where you can see sort of what fandoms people were shipping in in the past and currently, and what ships they’re shipping, and if you click into one of them you can see more stuff. It’s like a big thing. But what’s important to note is, you know, we see, like, Marvel is the biggest current shipping fandom. And…what’s the biggest past shipping fandom? Harry Potter!

ELM: Oh, it’s Harry Potter.

FK: Harry Potter is the biggest past shipping fandom. And you can see as you click down through these things, again, some things—we don’t see, like, Twilight I don’t think even appears on this.

v: It’s also important to explain what we mean by “biggest shipping,” the visualization that’s running off the bubbles is running off the number of ships, not the number of shippers.

FK: Right.

v: So what’s interesting is, like, when we’re looking at Harry Potter, and Harry Potter’s got like 16 fucking ships!

FK: Right.

v: But Glee, weirdly enough, has fewer.

FK: Right.

ELM: Mm-hmm. Does that surprise you? There’s a lot of characters in Harry Potter!

FK: There’s a lot of characters in Glee, too!

ELM: It’s true. Harry Potter’s just such a large fandom.

FK: Yeah, and same with like, same with like—I’m actually surprised that X-Files has a large number of ships people listed. Oh well, I guess there’s only two. But there’s a lot of people who like those ships.

ELM: Yeah, yeah, it’s by number. So. Yeah, it’s a fascinating thing. I think there’s a limit to how much we can explain this visualization, so this is the one that I definitely think people should go and look at. I also think that it’s interesting to see, just knowing roughly…I think there’s a real limit to, I think we all agree there’s a limit to analyzing AO3 output, but I think we’d see a lot of correlation…is correlation the word I mean?

FK: Yeah, you’d see the same things happening.

ELM: Yeah, you would see very, very similar trends. And this is one thing that we discussed in the previous episode, when we talked about how we set up the survey, is like, we started to go down this rabbit hole of like, “Well, are fanfiction archives really the right way to tell, you know, what people are shipping?” And it wound up being a weird little catch-22, because it’s like, “Well, you could ship it in your heart, but if you don’t ever post about it, then we’re never gonna know about it, and so…” you know what I mean? So then you wind up in this weird kind of paradoxical space.

v: The one question I really wish that you guys had asked is, like, “Where do you read fanfiction? Is it on an archive? Is it on a forum? Is it on a fandom website? Is it on a privately-maintained website? Is it on Ashwinder?”

FK: [laughing] Throwin’ it back.

v: Yeah!

ELM: You know, obviously it’s a different set of people but we asked this on our Tropes Survey, and it highlighted just how limited the actual reach of this was. Everyone said AO3 and it was like 99% AO3 or something ridiculous. And then like 80% of those people also read on Tumblr. I mean, obviously, yeah, it would’ve been a thing to add for sure. Though, though we were hoping that this would not just be about fanfiction.

FK: Right.

ELM: Right, like, obviously I bet that a lot of these people are fanfiction readers and writers, and obviously a lot of them said “creating and consuming transformative works,” though that’s not just fanfiction.

FK: Yeah but a lot of people in free response specifically called out fanfiction. That said, you know, I think that you’re right to highlight that this is a lot of fanfic. One of the ways we know that, I would say, is you can look at some, like, really big anime fandoms, like Dragon Ball Z, right, people care a lot about a lot of ships in Dragon Ball Z, and it is a huge fandom, but almost doesn’t exist in the AO3 sort of shipping space, and—I mean, I think it is one of the bubbles in here, I think I saw…

v: Is it?

FK: I think I saw Bulma and Vegeta show up somewhere. But like…

v: OK. God bless them.

FK: Yeah, that’s a thing. Definitely people talked about it in free responses sometimes. But it’s just not, you know, it’s just not a big thing on here. So we can really see that there’s just like different communities.

ELM: Mm-hmm. So that’s something that people should check out and play around with. It’s really really interesting.

FK: And the next sheet too, which shows you what the top ships that people were into were, including people who just said like “too many.”

ELM: The major—that’s the most popular response by a mile, is “too many to list.”

v: “Too many,” “a lot.”

ELM: Which is so foreign to me on a personal level.

FK: Yeah, cause you have had like, five ships, right? The way that you define shipping…

ELM: Six ships, Flourish!

FK: Five past ones!

ELM: Six! Yeah, six active. Right. Six active ships ever. I would consider that one active ship and five past ships. That being said, like, in a casual shipping space, sure! Like, I like Ben and Leslie from Parks and Rec. They’re great! Never in my life would read a fanfiction about them.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: But when I watch the show I’m like “Yeah! You’re kissin’!” Spoiler, they get together. It’s canonical now. [FK laughs] But when I was watching the show, I was rooting for them. So I’d say “Sure, I shipped them.” But that means, like, nothing to me. That means I liked those two. You know? And I feel like a lot of people use it that way, but for everything! Everything you watch, you have multiple ships.

v: There’s a new ship born in my heart every minute.

ELM: I can’t handle this! Oh my God!

FK: [laughing] All right, all right, let’s keep talking, because otherwise we’re never going to—we’re gonna, like, have some questions languishing.

v: OK. So all you need to know is that all of the top present and top past ships were manually grouped. So you should cherish them.

FK: Yeah, you really should cherish them. That was a lot of verity work.

ELM: Cherish verity!

v: I did have the help of a visual data prep tool, but I wanted to count each and every single one of you Destiel shippers. [FK laughing] So.

ELM: You should be very happy. Beautiful.

v: But yeah. And here we’ve got color highlighting different relationship types, again, thanks to everyone on Twitter who coded these for me.

FK: Oh yeah, to throw it back, this is how we know that y’all are a bunch of dudeslash readers. Because it’s—there’s femslash and there’s het in the top lists, but it’s a lot of dudeslash.

ELM: Mm-hmm.

v: Yeah. So if you wanna go on to Shipper Questions Part One?

ELM: OK. So some of the…I mean they were all generally connected, but we had some clusters of questions for shippers.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: So. This is, I believe, where the survey reunited, right?

FK: It reunited around, once everyone had sort of talked about do you, you know, do you actively or casually ship things, then we were like “OK. Now it doesn’t matter which you mean, we’re just gonna talk about shipping as a whole. And we’re gonna ask you some questions about shipping, whether it’s active or casual.”

ELM: OK. So what I’m really curious to know from all three of us, including myself [laughs], as we go through these, if it matched your expectations or didn’t. The one I wanna start with is the word “endgame,” and I’m not talking about the Marvel film that I’m not gonna see until June.

FK: Right. So we asked people, “do you use the word ‘endgame’ when you talk about your ships,” do you talk about whether your ships will be endgame.

ELM: And we really wanted to use that exact term, not like, “it will happen,” “it’ll become canon.” The term “endgame” has infiltrated shipping fandom, or at least some corners of shipping fandom.

FK: Right. And it’s important to note, we also asked, like, “If you have a non-canon ship, how important is it to you that it becomes canon on a one-to-five scale?” And these two questions taken together are interesting.

ELM: Right. So a much smaller percentage—based on the number of times I see the freakin’ term “endgame” show up in things on my dash, and I don’t think it’s just people I’m following. I see it so often! And it’s still, still was the—I think one of the least popular responses on here. The majority of people said “no,” the vast majority of people said “no” or “sometimes.” Well, there’s the “sometimes” I guess.

FK: I think that, I wonder if people were saying “sometimes” or “no” when they meant “Well, I don’t use it but I might reblog something that says it.”

ELM: Yeah, or seeing people use that.

FK: “I’ve seen people use it,” whatever, “someone made a gifset and I reblogged it without changing the words.”

ELM: Well, we said “your ship” though.

FK: No no no, what I mean is, I could envision reblogging a gifset that was like… “Stucky is endgame.” OK, I would never reblog that gifset.

ELM: “That’s it, it’s endgame.” Right.

FK: It’s not me. Right? “Stucky is endgame.”

v: Ergh. [all laugh]

FK: And I could reblog that, and like, not personally want to use the term “endgame,” but like, it was a really good gifset, and just like not change the words.

ELM: Sure, sure. OK. So for the people, the small percentage of people who said they do use it a lot, it was much more likely that they would care if their ship became canon. On a Likert scale of one to five, one doesn’t matter at all, five matters a lot.

FK: Yeah! So that was really interesting, right? We asked people how much they cared about their ship becoming canon, and the people who used the word “endgame” were way more interested in their ship becoming canon, like, significantly more. And almost every other group was sort of like “eh.” And then the people who don’t use the term endgame were, like, “eeh.”

ELM: OK, but this wasn’t surprising, is it?

FK: No, but it was great! It was interesting to see it. [ELM laughing] It was cool to—you can say, like, “oh yeah,” but at the same time when everyone uses the term “endgame” as like a phrase…you might think everyone uses it and everyone cares. And they don’t! Not everyone uses it and not everyone cares.

ELM: Here’s a few, here’s a few thoughts I have about all of this. So, I think that because of our networks and because of where this was spread and because of the responses that we got reflected this, there are a lot of transformative…

FK: Yeah.

ELM: …oriented fans in this pool of people. I think that transformative fans are probably on a whole less likely to be invested in are the creators going to bestow canonicity on my guys.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Or people of all sorts, but clearly guys. So. That’s one thing that I think we’re seeing. Another thing that I feel like I would observe is, the more I think about this, the more I just feel like the voices of the people who really want things to become canon are outsized and being amplified. Because often…

v: Yeah.

ELM: …that’s the time that you’re gonna see people saying “I will come to your house, creator of this show, and burn it down if you don’t make my cartoon characters kiss.” Right? And so you’re like “Oh my God, this whole fandom is full of people who are threatening the lives of these, these showrunners!” Right? “And they’re all obsessed with it becoming canon,” when really this may be just a, a group of people with a very strong social media game.

FK: Well, I think it’s that and I think also—when I was looking through the free responses, people had a lot of anxiety about not being perceived as that kind of fan. So like people’s responses…

ELM: Whoa, tell me more!

FK …were often like…but like, literally, some people used their free responses to say, didactically [ELM laughs], “By the way, never do this. Never go after a creator.” And there were other people who were like, “Just to clarify, I did say that, like, I would want to, like, talk to a creator, and like, you know, communicate to the creator that I like my pairing, but I’m not trying to make them make it be endgame, I just want them to, like, put them together in scenes and like I would never try to, like, force them to do anything.” People had all of this anxiety about it. And I think that people may be underreporting, too. Because of this anxiety and the way that we see this show up. And, you know, I mean, no one wants to be considered the “stalker.”

ELM: “One of those fans,” yeah.

FK: Yeah! No one wants to be considered “one of those people.” So. Um. The other thing, the other thing that I wanted to mention is I think that a lot of people also wrote, like, said they didn’t care about things going canon, but then wrote big caveats around representation where they would say, like, “Well, I don’t care about my ship going canon, but I care about queer ships being represented.” And it wasn’t always clear to me that that means that they wouldn’t do some of the same things or talk about “endgame” or, like, you know, do all those things, but it seemed like people really, um, bracketed that off in their mind. Like, “Well, most of the time I don’t care. But if it’s about representation, then I care. But I’m not gonna answer this stuff.”

ELM: I remember reading one answer, I think it was probably early on, early enough that I was still reading some of the answers, before I was like “Oh, this is crashing my browser every time I try to open the form results,” but someone was talking about…

FK: Another fact of using Google Sheets. It starts crashing your browser after you get past about 10,000 answers.

ELM: It’s fine. I remember someone was writing about the, the context mattered in terms of who the showrunner was, which I think that is probably a very—or, you know, what the show is. Right? So, I think this is an interesting thing to talk about as we, like, neither of us…I know you’re watching The Magicians now, I just started, because we both wanna be able to kind of weigh in on this discourse. Right? But, like, television—there are different kinds of television writers, there are different kinds of networks, there are different kinds of shows, and the context matters, and you might say, “It’s more important to me to…” I don’t know. I’ve had multiple queer canon ships, and some of them have not been treated well, and knowing what those ships are opened up to in a certain kind of contextualized television writing…

v: Yeah.

ELM: It’s a part of it. So you can say “I’ve seen what they’ve done to,” you know, “I care about queer ships, or this queer ship, but I’ve seen what they’ve done to other ships, and so—not these people!” You know? “I would like it to be canon but not this way,” you know. I think it’s really contextual and I think it’s hard to make generalizations.

FK: Yeah, a bunch of people said that too, yeah. It was not just one free response there. Yeah.

ELM: [laughs] The one response I read the entire survey.

FK: No no no, there were a bunch of them. I mean, just to be clear.

ELM: But, all of this is to say, if you go on to the next slide, if you’re following around, the single most interesting thing in this entire survey for me—which kind of upends some of the theories that I have right now: “Have you ever shipped something without consuming the original source material?” The majority of shippers said “yes”!

v: Yes!

FK: I said yes.

ELM: Yeah. verity would say yes too, right?

v: Oh, absolutely.

FK: Why did God make—

ELM: Two hard yeses.

FK: Why did God make BBC Merlin such an unwatchable show if not [ELM laughing] to make me…

ELM: Look, you watched it though!

v: My mother loves that show.

FK: I watched one episode and I turned it off halfway through.

ELM: Sorry, that counts! You watched it. That doesn’t count for this.

FK: I read the fanfic first.

ELM: Oh. Well.

FK: So I shipped it without consuming it and then…

v: I’ve watched some fanvids, does that count?

ELM: No.

v: I’ve seen them.

ELM: No, no, it’s a fanwork!

v: I always like to say I’ve seen gifsets of it on Tumblr.

ELM: Yeah, that is a popular one. So this is wild to me, and this is what I’m gonna be writing about for my end of this analysis, right. The canon question and then this question, right. Cause this is like—literally flipping it on its head. And it creates this kind of transformative shipping world that’s really talking just to itself at this point. And I, I always think about…so verity, we had a letter-writer, maybe a year ago? I think it was around the time we did our AU episode. Talking about, they were asking if what they were doing was wrong. Flourish, you know which one I’m talking about, right?

FK: Oh yeah, I do.

ELM: It was such a memorable letter! And it just stays with me. If, if the way that they approached fic was wrong. And we were like “OK first of all: No, not wrong.” You’ll see when I explain why. But just—no one’s wrong here. [laughs] But, so basically they said that they didn’t care at all about the source material. Half the time they didn’t even know it. And they read by trope. And they just, you know, they would look for…basically treating it the way you may treat browsing for romance novels. “I like this scenario.” Like, click on that, and…it came up in the context of AUs and, like, what characterization means in the relationship between…et cetera, et cetera.

The one thing I said is, I think that this is much easier now on AO3 than it would have been on LiveJournal.

v: Yeah!

ELM: Then you get in this sort of chicken-and-egg thing, where lots of people are consuming this way. People are coming to AO3 this way. And you’re creating this ecosystem that just winds up being so distant from whatever’s going on in the world of other kinds of fans and the actual, you know, source material. I don’t know, it’s just so—so interesting to think about.

FK: That was fascinating. There’s also a bunch of stuff within this that we’re gonna talk a lot more about, I think, about the way that other fans’ behaviors affect the way you feel about your ships, and people really got into their feelings. I was actually, something that was interesting to me, seeing this sort of constellation of questions where we asked people, like, “How do other fans’ behaviors affect you?” “Have you ever started shipping things because of other fans?” “Have they made you less interested in your ship?” “Do you have trouble relating to fans who don’t share your ship?” And a lot of people came back—we saw sort of both sides. We saw some people who were saying, “Well, I have a lot of ships that are non-consensual badness—in terms of, like, consent—or like, they’re not, you know, there’s a big age…”

ELM: [laughs] Non-consensual badness in terms of consent.

FK: “There’s an age gap, or they really shouldn’t be together, and therefore…”

ELM: Right. Things that antis hate. Yes.

FK: Right. And so they were like, “People come and hate on me for this, for like, liking that kind of story, or being interested in those ships, and I can’t deal with that.” And then there were also a bunch of other people who said, “Well, I don’t normally have any problems with anybody except when their ship is bad. When their ship is about incest or about nonconsensual…” And I was like, “Oh man!” It’s really rare that I see both groups of these people, like, not yelling at each other, but just expressing their, like, opinions about shipping, broadly. So I’m really interested in diving into those results in specific, cause…yeah.

ELM: Yeah, yeah.

v: If you love things that are bad, please come find me on AO3.org. [all laugh] Continuing.

FK: Yeah. But, but it is—like, genuinely, because I think it was a nice…I actually thought it was nice to read that, because it seemed to me that taking it out of the context of a specific fight, I’m interested to learn more about how people think of this when they’re not in the context of a specific fight.

v: Right.

FK: When they’re just thinking broadly about, like, you know, “Should,” you know, “How do ships work? What do I want out of a ship? What do I think is OK to ship or not OK to ship?” But not with regard to a specific flame war.

ELM: Right. Yeah, absolutely. OK, so wrapping up the shipping questions, the one that we had a hard time phrasing but I think we got to in the end was, we wanted to get in something about gaze. G-A-Z-E. No, it’s both, don’t worry.

FK: Both G-A-Z-E and G-A-Y-S. [laughing]

ELM: Both gazes. So, the idea of imagining yourself as a member—as, like, embodying, like, “Oh, I am Draco,” you know. Like, looking at Harry. Or vice versa, or “I am both of them looking at each other,” or “I am neither and I’m just kinda hovering above them, Godlike.”

FK: Yeah. And I will now officially admit, I am in the minority here, I would’ve voted “I imagine myself as all members of the ship.” And that is by far the minority of the way most people in fandom interact with this.

ELM: Yeah that’s so you Flourish!

FK: It’s really me.

ELM: You just center yourself in all scenarios!

FK: And I am not centered here. It is not normal.

v: See, I feel like for me, Flourish, when I am writing I imagine myself as all members of the ship. When I am reading, I relate to but don’t imagine myself as anybody.

FK: Yeah I think that’s fair.

ELM: I think for me personally, and it even affects the way I write ships, but it depends on the ship.

FK: Huh!

ELM: So there are some where I’m really interested in both of their perceptions, but there are some where I’ve noticed whenever I think about ideas, or write them down, I will always be writing from one perspective. But it’s kind of reversed. I actually don’t even think there’s a space in here—maybe, not to actually articulate the way I feel about it amongst our choices, ironically enough. But it’s, the person I usually take the perspective of is the other person to the one that I relate to.

FK: Oh, that’s interesting!

ELM: Does that make sense?

FK: Oh, that’s fascinating.

v: It is interesting!

ELM: So when I write Remus/Sirius I always write Remus’s perspective, because I relate to Sirius—like, Sirius is my, yeah.

FK: That’s amazingly interesting. See, this is, this is why it was hard to write this, cause we were like “We really want to get something in here, but it’s really hard to talk about this in survey format.” [laughs]

ELM: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s interesting that a lot of people…I’m glad that so many people, like, people were sending us messages being like “I actually had to think about stuff,” and I think this is one of the questions that really makes you kind of analyze your own behavior. Right? Like, and I…for me, I don’t know. I find it very different between, like, a casual ship and an active ship. Like, I don’t think “Am I Ben or am I Leslie?” when I am rooting for them. That’s more like a passive participant, you know?

FK: Right. Yeah!

ELM: And then, the final question here in the shipper questions, “Possible to ship yourself with a fictional character?”

FK: The write-in results for these were often really pure. Can I just say.

ELM: Tell me more.

v: Aww.

FK: Cause people were like, people were like “Well, when I was 12 I did this, and I don’t really do it anymore, but everyone should do what makes them happy and it’s important for people to be able to do—” There were also a few people who were like “Mary Sues suck, fuck you,” and I was like “OK. All right.” You know. That’s a perspective,

v: When, this is, Flourish, we’ve known each other since we were 14, but here’s something you don’t know about me. [FK gasps] When I was 12, I wrote me/Billy Corgan RPF.


v: That will never see the light of day on the internet. But we’ve all been there!

ELM: Do you still, do you still have it?

v: Probably.

FK: My notable one which I don’t have involved Mulder and Scully coming to my middle school and being my friends.

ELM: That’s so pure. You had them crack a case, right?

FK: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t get very far in writing the case cause I was like 12 and I was mostly focused on the improbable physical appearance that my doppelgänger had. But. [laughing]

ELM: What, what skills did you bring to this case?

FK: Oh, I don’t think I did. I think I was psychic maybe? But like, it wasn’t really about that.

ELM: YES. [laughing]

FK: It was more about Mulder and Scully showing up at my middle school. I had a very vivid, like, I envisioned them like driving up to it. It was like a thing.

ELM: Ohh. That’s really pure.

v: So cute.

FK: [laughs] And later on they came to my, in the show they came to my town, and they did not use footage of Sacramento, California. So. That was not as good as what I’d imagined. [laughing] I was like “That, that is Los Angeles and you can’t lie to me.” Anyway. This is centering myself again.

ELM: Don’t worry, don’t worry.


ELM: All right, we have a very limited amount of time left but I wanna talk about the non-shippers a little bit.

FK: OK, let’s talk about them. So one of the things that I think is important to note, before we get into this, is that non-shippers still usually said that they had favorite fictional relationships and that they rooted for characters to get together romantically and that they sometimes feel disappointment in the way those relationships play out. Not everyone always said this, by far, but it was still the majority of people who said this. So let’s be clear about this: when we say “non-shipper” here, it’s people who don’t identify as a shipper. We’re not saying that, like, they don’t have feelings about fictional characters.

v: I mean, doesn’t everyone have a feeling about a fictional character?

FK: Let’s talk about what non-shippers—so the big thing that we did with non-shippers is we asked them to describe behaviors that shippers do. Like, “What do you imagine that shippers do?” And then we asked them, like, what the difference is between what they do and what shippers do. And these were things that we went through and, like, hand-coded. This was the qualitative stuff.

ELM: In terms of what they think shippers do, did any of that strike you as like, “Oh, they think that?!” Just looking at the results it seems like, yeah, shippers do those things. They write fanworks.

FK: I was actually, I was kind of surprised at how much the two things connected, like, shippers’ visions of themselves and what non-shippers thought they did pretty much were the same. I was a little bit surprised that fanworks was the biggest thing, that was the number one thing that non-shippers said. But it makes sense.

ELM: It’s also really hard to say through these, like, thousand people who found the survey through us.

FK: Right.

ELM: Like, they clearly are aware of fanworks.

FK: Right. But the thing that was interesting for me was the “difference between you and a shipper” bit. Because on the one hand, you know, the most common thing was just “shippers feel more intensely.” And then the second one was “shippers are mostly focused on romance and I’m not.” But out of those people, a huge number of them talked about being asexual or aromantic and having—or romance-averse, usually in the context of being asexual or aromantic.

Yeah, and we said that we would not, like, you know, we weren’t—we were not trying to see how people’s, like, orientations interacted with their shipping practices or anything like this, and so we’re not crossing demographics, like, self-reported demographics mostly over with this stuff. But it is true that there were a lot of asexual people and people who identified themselves in free-response as also being aromantic or romance-averse, who responded to this and who said that that was why they don’t consider themselves a shipper. Because they are asexual or aromantic and they don’t want that.

ELM: Yeah, but…

FK: In their fic, either.

ELM: Not to jump ahead to the demographics, but like, a third of all our respondents labeled themselves on the ace spectrum.

FK: And most of those people…

ELM: And 17,000 of them identified as shippers, so…

FK: Yeah, yeah!

ELM: I can see, obviously I can see some people saying that’s the reason they don’t engage in shipping, but it’s such a small number compared to the thousands of people who identified on the ace spectrum.

FK: Yeah, it’s true.

ELM: An actual extraordinary number of people, considering the current garbage-fire state of asexuality discourse in the broader…in the broader mainstream.

FK: Yeah. Well, all I would say about this is it makes me excited to someday actually run a survey that is intended to look at the way these things cross over, because I would love to know more about this from lots of people, you know. About the way this impacts. So, someday. That survey!

v: Someday.

ELM: This is the reason—so we got a bunch of questions along these lines, and like, people wanted to talk about how sexuality, romantic orientation, how it impacted their, the way they shipped or thought about shipping.

FK: And how, and how race did too, by the way, like, some people were talking about that as well.

ELM: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the reasons why I said, I had to keep clarifying we’re just—the demographics are just to get a general sense of demographics. Because I would’ve asked those questions differently if we had been correlating them, you know? I think it’s really, really interesting, and I also think that like, there’s so much that we can’t get into in a survey. When you go back to that question that I love about gaze, you know, there’s—about G-A-Z-E. [laughs] There’s so much interesting things to say of, like, “Well, and how about in your real life?” You know? Because your fictional embodiment of people can be completely different from your own personal way that you ID, or the way you have your own relationships, you know? But we didn’t ask those questions, and so it feels like cheap and not right to draw any conclusions on them.

v: I’m most interested in the demographic information that we collected in terms of being able to look at other fandom censuses and surveys that are done and being able to talk about how our responses might relate to theirs.

FK: Yeah, for sure.

ELM: Tell me some of your observations!

v: Oh. Well. That’s a great question, because I have—I’m going to do a write-up about that. So let’s just say “forthcoming.” There’ll be more information. I will say that, like, some of the things that I’m looking at are from, like, five years ago, ten years ago. Fandom changes. People’s self-identification changes. So for some of them, it’s because of the distance in time, has fandom become queerer because people have come out? Because more queer people have joined? Because our survey hit a particular queer segment? Like, it’s hard to say all of those things. But you know.

ELM: Absolutely. I think that in a very rough, anecdotal way, the last five years…because I think that, I imagine one of the things you’re thinking about is the completely overly cited CentrumLumina survey—

v: Yes I am!

ELM: The AO3 Census from 2013. Which I really appreciate for what it is, but every time I bring it up I’m like “This was done years ago, FYI!” You know? And I think that—

FK: And it had a smaller number of samples—it had a smaller sample size than on this survey!

ELM: It’s true.

v: Yeah, it’s 10,000.

ELM: I don’t know if you read the accompanying commentary on it, I think that CentrumLumina does a fine job disclaiming all of the limitations of the data set and everything.

v: Yes.

ELM: But I do feel like in the, since 2013, the number of people I’ve seen in my feeds who have learned about, like, gender spectrum, or any other kind of, like, non-cis kind of identifying, or learned about the ace spectrum, and have expressed the fact that they never even realized this was a choice, has been enormous, and mostly I see that in my fandom spaces, way more than I see it in, like, my Facebook feed, you know?

So it’s really hard to say, and maybe our demographics survey can get into part of that, saying “Has the way you’ve IDed changed in the last five years,” or the last ten years, you know, and give people space to talk about that. And say “has fandom had any effect on that?” “Oh, I saw lots of people saying ‘I actually think I might be non-binary,’ I didn’t know that was a choice, and then some people were describing the way I felt,” et cetera, et cetera, you know what I mean?

v: Yeah.

ELM: You guys know what I mean.

FK: We do. It’s also all really sticky cause the more we get into this, the more we get into stuff that’s really close to people, and the more we get into ethical questions about what we ask people to disclose and so on. So we’re gonna have to do a lot of thinking around all of this. Which is why we haven’t done it yet. But I do believe that we will someday get to a place where we can try. [laughs]

ELM: I am, yeah. I mean obviously when I was saying this all throughout, because people asked this, “Why didn’t you ask about disability, why didn’t you ask about nationality,” a whole number of things, a whole host of things. On the nationality one, I clarified that if we asked about nationality, I’d want to know so many other things beyond, like—that’s such a loaded question. Are you an immigrant? Are you in an ethnic minority in your country? Like, maybe not a minority in the world, et cetera et cetera…religious minority, all this stuff. None of that information I would ever ask anyone in a mandatory fashion. I just wanna make that really clear and we’re gonna obviously talk more about this. But like, we would never do a survey where we force people to disclose information they didn’t wanna disclose, you know?

v: Yeah.

ELM: I just wanna put that down in writing. Fine, great.

FK: There’s a lot of reasons why it’s hard to get good demographic surveys.

v: Yes. And you know, there’s some people who really very thoroughly disclosed demographic information we didn’t ask for. Including all 13 people whose answer to the “other” section of the race question I coded as “ya racist,” [all laugh] and I have saved in another table, and I will fight you.

ELM: Eeh. Wait, can you remember off the top of your head any of them, to give an example of what this means? Here. Oh, we got it.

v: Oh, my number one would be—this is slightly truncated, but—the person who wonders if their answer looks like they are trying for racewank.

ELM: Probably then.

v: You know, maybe that’s an inside thought. [all laugh] You know? That’s maybe something you should have kept inside yourself and not, like, transmitted through your keyboard.

ELM: Really!

v: Just maybe.

FK: Yeah I mean I think—we could, we could have a LOT about, like, the way that…

ELM: This section is such a mess.

FK: The way that race is constructed, the choices that we made around how we were going to represent race around this…there’s a lot to talk about there. It was a mess.

v: I just wanna note that the one thing I asked to be able to do in this episode was to call out the racist people who took this survey. I saw your data and I’m gonna fucking come for you. [all laughing]

FK: You are, OK, Verity cannot come for you because it is in fact—

ELM: No, it’s an an anonymous survey!

FK: —anonymous! So there’s no way that anybody—

v: Yeah, it was also anonymized, I only know your timestamps.

FK: Yeah, there is no way that Verity can come for you. Let’s be really clear.

v: Yes!

ELM: Can I give these people some constructive advice?

v: Yes!

ELM: White people. Especially people—people wrote like “white, but I don’t see why it matters,” right?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: That’s not a race. Just check “prefer not to say.”

v: Yeah!

ELM: If you are so offended that we’re asking this—like—that was a choice!

FK: It was a choice.

ELM: It wasn’t a mandatory, like, you could’ve just said “no,” but instead you chose to say “I don’t know why this matters! Can I speak to the manager?” No!

FK: I, I do want to give someone credit though because someone said “We all have a little bit of Neanderthal in us”—

ELM: [laughing] Stop it.

FK: And I thought that that was a creative response to this, so maybe comes all the way back around? I don’t feel like I’m qualified to say that, but it at least made me smile. And then say, “That’s not a race.” [laughing]

ELM: You know what, I didn’t realize actually that some people are like more than 1% Neanderthal.

FK: Really?

ELM: I just learned this! Did I make this up? Cause I can’t verify it.

FK: Well, we’re gonna find that out. We’ll put it in the show notes. [laughs]

ELM: You know, like, all this to say we obviously, we are aware that they were U.S.-focused categories of race. Like, we tried to clarify in one of our asks about the Latinx/Hispanic clarification question, which is very very standard on U.S., anything where they ask about race in the United States. We’re aware. This is also an American podcast. That being said, some of you who said they don’t have race in your countries? Like, countries I’ve lived in? Definitely have it.


ELM: The United Kingdom is the thing I’m thinking of.

FK: Great. So. Now that we’ve all had all of our feelings about that [all laugh] I am not looking forward to doing a demographic survey someday. I feel like this is a giant bomb that is going to be something I’m desperately trying to defuse.

v: Yeah.

FK: And I will try. For your sake, Elizabeth Minkel, who keeps saying that we should do this. I will try. Someday.

v: Yeah. And I honestly—I feel like the demographic information is so much more important to contextualize what else we’re getting from the survey. Cause even if we did a demographic survey, it wouldn’t reach everyone.

ELM: Yeah. Absolutely.

FK: Well, if we were to do something like that I would think that we would definitely, like—asking people to talk about how their demographics impact their experience of fandom. That would be the stuff I was most, would be most interested in within it. And that’s also hard to ask for ethically, because it’s very personal! And potential for harm is in there! So ha-ha, this is difficult. We’ll figure it out. [laughs]

v: Yes.

ELM: Ha-ha.

FK: [sighs] OK.

v: Goodness.

ELM: OK. I think that we’ve almost hit all of the slides, but I feel like we skipped a couple.

FK: Yeah. So one of the things that we asked people is if they think most shippers are female. And we specifically asked it this way. We know that there are a lot of people who are not male or female who are shippers, some of whom may even be on the air in this podcast right now!

v: Maybe like two of them? I don’t know.

ELM: Possibly. Possibly!

FK: But, we did want to ask this because it’s a stereotype that we hear a lot, right? People often will say things like “Oh yeah, shippers, they’re all ladies.” And it is a thing that a lot of people believe!

ELM: I will say, yes. So the thing is, it’s not as high as one might think.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Non-shippers were even less likely to think than shippers, just over half of non-shippers said that they thought that most shippers were female. Pretty high percentage of “I don’t know,” so congrats to them for admitting they didn’t know.

But for the shippers, only 60% or so said that they thought that most shippers were female. And one thing I suspect is that some people may have over-thought this one a little, or maybe not over-thought, but actually under-thought, because they started to think about “Well, gender—there’s no gender binary, blah blah, people have all sorts of…” You know? The question was, “Are most shippers female.” A majority. Not like, “What do you think the full spectrum of genders are, contained in the shipping world.” And so maybe if we had phrased this as, “Do you think most shippers were assigned female at birth?” Then all the people who were thinking about it that way would have not gone down that rabbit hole. I don’t know. Maybe lots of people think that shippers are dudes too?

FK: I also think that this gets a little complicated, and this sort of illustrates one of the problems with this question, because not everybody uses the same vocabulary. There are definitely people who took this survey who, when they got to some of the demographics questions, were like “I didn’t know what asexuality meant.” And I suspect that there would be people, if we said “assigned female at birth,” who would be like “I don’t know what that means.” So, there’s a lot to balance here.

But it was still interesting to find out, you know, that a lot of people thought that, but not everyone.

ELM: Yeah, but do you think that my suspicions might be correct?

FK: Oh, yeah. I think so. Some people wrote in and said this, they wrote in and they said things like “Yeah, don’t you know about the fact that there’s a lot of enbies” and so on. It was like, “Yes! Also good thought!”

ELM: Yes, the answer’s yes.

FK: “Glad you’re mindful of this! Not the question.”

ELM: [laughing] Also good thoughts.

FK: OK. Then the other thing that we asked about, to try and see what people perceived, was “How old do you think most shippers are,” in comparison to yourself. So like, it was framed like, “Do you think that they’re all ages? Around my age? Older than me? Or younger than me?”

ELM: OK, so first of all, the ages of the respondents—very interesting to me. The majority of people overall—so these are shippers, right?

FK: Uh, this is everyone right now.

v: No, this is everyone.

ELM: Everyone, OK. But most of them are shippers. So the by far biggest category of people who took it: 18 to 24. Which, interestingly, is the demographic that people always say that fangirls are.

FK: Yeah, so to be clear…

ELM: And you shrivel up and die at age 26.

FK: Yeah. To be clear, there were actually…so there were like 6,600 people who were 18–24. There were like 3,700 people who were 25–29. 3,500 people who were 30–39. And like 1,000 people in their 40s…

ELM: You’re doing that thing where you read the exact numbers off the chart.

FK: The reason I’m reading all of these numbers is to say that if you total all the people who are older than 24, there’s as many of them as people who are under 24.

v: Yes.

ELM: Yeah, and, to be clear, I think actually one of the biggest, wankiest topics in the age discourse is teenagers versus everyone else. Right? And I mean, maybe this just didn’t reach teens, but people always keep saying, like, Tumblr is only something like 15% teens or whatever, in most people’s demographic reporting, that kind of thing. And, you know, we saw a similar response. We only, we had fewer than 2,000 people who were under the age of 18. That being said, this is who the survey reached. It’s not to say that any of this is indicative of…

FK: Yeah.

ELM: “How many teens are in fandom?”

v: As much as we hate to admit that the passage of time has occurred, the people who are like “Oh! Teens on Tumblr” five years ago, at like peak Tumblr time, are now in, like, the 18–24 range.

FK: True!

ELM: It’s so true. It’s so true.

FK: Speaking of the passage of time, this was also relevant. So when we initially looked at this, we asked people sort of when they found out about shipping, and most people said 6–10 years ago. And at first I looked at this and I was like, “Holy crap. I thought shipping became popular 6–10 years ago,” and then we crossed that with the age data, and we discovered that it was like, all these 18–24-year-olds who said they found out about this 6–10 years ago. And that puts you firmly in the middle of your teens, which is about when a lot of people start getting involved in online fandom.

ELM: It’s an interesting thing. And we did clarify this was the one demographic category we were going to correlate, because the way we asked the questions actually were kind of framed around… “Do you think shippers are older than you or younger than you?”

FK: It’s also less culturally determined. Like, your age is kind of your age.

ELM: Right, exactly. [laughs] Time is a construct, Flourish.

FK: Ah, well, it can be a cultural construct, but I feel confident that it is more static than most of the other categories we’re talking about here. [laughing]

ELM: So, the one big question that was framed around your own age, your own demographic category, was “Do you think shippers are your age, older than you, younger than you, or,” originally Flourish had written, like, “a corresponding array of ages” or something?

FK: “A representative distribution of ages” which I still think…

v: Flourish!

ELM: Several beta testers did not appreciate that language.

FK: [laughing] It’s more accurate! Anyway.

ELM: Actually I think it was Aja who said no to that in the beginning. Like, “Please stop.” Oh, cause you wrote “a representative distribution of genders.” [laughing] Anyway, the point of that question, a little leading, was to be—I was curious to know, like, people are always like…I don’t know. I think most shippers are like, “these young people,” or whatever. And to see if you’re older than a certain age, if you think most shippers are younger. But actually the vast majority of people, well over half, said “it’s a representative distribution of ages.” So.

v: Thank you for—

ELM: That being said, a significant number of people said they thought shippers were younger than them, but maybe that’s, that’s people who are on the older end of the life spectrum.

FK: [laughing] Stop. “The older end of the life spectrum.”

ELM: Yeah, didn’t you know? Age is a spectrum.

FK: Great.

ELM: [laughing] You’re always moving across it.

FK: I mean…

ELM: It’s true!

FK: You could visualize it that way.

ELM: Sure! Why not?

v: Great.

ELM: And you’re kind of phasing in and out of parts of it as you progress through time?

FK: Elizabeth? We’re off topic.

ELM: We gotta go. We gotta end.

FK: OK. I think that we made it! Did we make it to the end?

v: We did!

ELM: We did. Obviously there’s like literally a million words written that we haven’t talked about yet.

FK: Oh my goodness. Like, I knew, like…when I, I sent you a first draft of thoughts about just, like, my own little article and you were like “This is literally twice as long as this is gonna be.” And I was like, “There’s just so much to say!”

ELM: No, in fact what you said is, “Well, I’m only at 8,000 words right now, but it feels more like 20,000,” and I was like “Absolutely not. That’s a no from me, dog.”

FK: [laughing] I hope that at this point you can see why there’s, like, hundreds of thousands of words in this. We’re restraining ourselves. We won’t make anyone read, like, a monster of anything.

v: But we, we should shout out the other person who’s helping us code.

FK: Yes! Kate mac Phail has been helping incredibly much with the qualitative coding, and she, I think, is gonna keep helping, so the non-shipper stuff is in large part thanks to her, and any further qualitative coding that happens, like, super amazing. So also gonna be called out in all of our articles. We want to make sure everyone knows.

ELM: Flourish, do you need any more volunteers for qualitative coding?

FK: I—you know, I’m a little torn because we can’t pay volunteers. But if people are willing to…

ELM: [laughing] That’s why I said “volunteers”!

FK: Yeah, well, I just wanted to be really clear about it, because like…

ELM: Yeah yeah yeah.

FK: I don’t wanna be…one of the reasons that I was like “sure” if people said that they wanted to help? Like, Kate volunteered to us without us asking? But I do wanna be clear, we don’t, you know, the podcast does not break even. We do not have the money to pay people to do this. That said, if you want to learn something about coding, if you want to do fandom a solid, whatever, like, totally happy if someone feels like spending some time helping with this.

ELM: Yeah, absolutely. Especially the first one that, projects like this—yeah, I really feel bad that we can’t pay anyone, but like, it is—it is a way, especially, to get experience, if this is something that you’re just starting out in this realm, and.

FK: I will teach you about qualitative coding. If you’re a college student and you need to do this…

ELM: Put it on your résumé.

FK: I’ll teach you about it.

ELM: Yeah, seriously.

FK: So. Cool.

ELM: So yeah. And, we’ve said it on Tumblr but we should clarify again that all of this data is under a CC, Creative Commons license, free to use if you wanna use it in a project, free to cite in a…people ask us this all the time about their academic works, you know, “I’m a college student, can I quote you or cite your research?” It’s like, of course!

FK: Yeah, and all of our previous surveys are also under Creative Commons licenses. So there’s a lot of data that we have gathered and that fandom should use. Anyone in fandom! Or out of fandom.

ELM: Yes. Yes Flourish. [laughs]

v: And if anyone has any questions about the quantitative analysis, they should feel free to come and chat with me.

ELM: How do they chat with you, verity?

v: They can find me on Twitter on regretsonmain, all one word. [all laugh]

ELM: That’s really good. Really good handle.

v: Got a lot of regrets! Also a lot of very horny Chinese BL content. So.

FK: Good luck.

ELM: Good, slap that content warning right on it!

FK: All right!

ELM: Perfect. All right, well, thank you so much for everything, Verity, and thank you for coming on to talk about this with us.

v: Happily! Thank you for having me.

FK: Awesome.

ELM: Bye!

FK: Bye.

v: Bye!

[Interstitial music]

FK: You know, it was a total delight to have verity on the podcast. We’ve been friends for so long, and it was just great.

ELM: Well I have not been friends with verity for long at all, and I also thought it was great.

FK: That’s great! From both directions!

ELM: Yes.

FK: That worked!

ELM: That did work. So, what are, what are, like, some of our takeaways? We, you know, we kind of—it got into the weeds a little bit at the end there just talking about the demographic stuff, but like, what’s the biggest thing that struck you? Not demographic-wise, in general.

FK: [laughs] You know, honestly I was really intrigued by the answers that people were giving to some of the questions about the way fandom had impacted their shipping practices. And I’m not sure that that’s—it’s not, like, an easy takeaway, because it’s not like “Oh yes, X percentage of people said this.” But it really, really struck me, and I’m really looking forward to digging more into that, those free responses. I’m really excited to get into that, and this is the kind of takeaway that leads to more work. So I don’t know what to say about that.

ELM: So you’ve talked a little bit about how you got to see kind of like both sides of the anti and anti-anti coin, you know, like, “I like to ship what I like, but when I think about people getting mad about the kinds of things that I’m shipping that impacts me,” or “the only things I don’t like are when people do this kind of ship.” I mean, one thing that’s interesting to me is a lot of the things that you were describing with those responses, those aren’t necessarily specific to ships. Like, as we’ve discussed at length, I can write my very wholesome, canonically wholesome pairing in any of the ways that some people are citing as problematic. I can also write your Reylo fic and, and remove all murky Force and consent issues, right? You know?

FK: Yeah, totally.

ELM: And so I just think that’s kind of funny, because that’s not necessarily people… “Ship” gets so grey. That’s such an amorphous term in that context.

FK: That’s exactly why I was interested in it, you know? I was just interested in what people sort of thought they were doing, or…you know, felt they were doing, when taken out of the context of a particular thing that was setting them off. You know what I mean?

ELM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. That’s interesting.

FK: More, more work there. What about you?

ELM: Well, if you were listening to this episode later than a week after we put it out…so the second week of May 2019, Year of our Lord, then you’ll be able to read my first piece about this. I was immediately most struck by the kind of really different directions people were coming at this idea of the relationship between canon and ships and canon and fanworks, the fact that so many people said they shipped things that they didn’t know the source material for is, is kind of an incredible thing to put side by side with other…as I said when we were talking to verity, but you know, the conversations happening in other parts of fandom.

FK: Mm-hmm!

ELM: And people are using the same exact language and talking about very different things. And kind of contrast that with all the “endgame” stuff, the “I want my ship to be canon” stuff, I think it all, you know, it all works together. And so, as you can probably read, when I have written about it, will write about it in the future, from when this comes out it will have been about a week. So yeah. There were some of my thoughts. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t squawk one more time at the fact that for many people, “to ship” is the default state with which they view media.

FK: It’s true. It’s true.

ELM: I didn’t squawk yet. WHAT IS GOING ON? [FK laughing] What does that mean? Words have no meaning!

FK: And yet you used the word “ship” to refer to a lot of feelings that you have too.

ELM: What do you mean?

FK: Well it was just, I thought it was interesting, because at first you were like “I only have six ships,” and then you were like “Well, I would say that I ship these characters on Parks and Rec cause I sort of root for them to get together,” and I was like, “You’re edgin’ into that territory! You’re edgin’ into it! You’re not there, but you’re edgin’ towards it, more than I thought you were!”

ELM: Actually, I probably would say…here’s actually a nice, neat distinction I can make for myself. I verb ship…

FK: Ooh!

ELM: …those casual ships. But I would never describe Ben and Leslie as a ship I have. Even, even a casual ship. I don’t think I would say that’s one of my casual ships. But I would say—and to me that’s something active as you’re watching it, it’s like rooting.

FK: That is a super…

ELM: And that is to say, that’s something I felt emotional investment in as I watched the show. I can also recognize a ship, a, you know, I can see a ship from a mile away, like when I saw Captain America for the first time…

FK: It might not be your ship, but it is a ship.

ELM: Yeah, I wasn’t like “Those are the guys for me,” and it wasn’t even the way I would feel about, like, “Go Ben and Leslie!” Right? But I could still say “That’s a ship right there.” And so some people would say they shipped that, just cause they see it and they’re like “I don’t hate it.”

FK: All right. Well, I think we’re gonna talk about this for a lot.

ELM: Ship ship ship.

FK: Yeah. Many more episodes. But we should probably wrap up now. One thing that we would be remiss not to mention is that the way that we do things like run these enormous surveys is through support from listeners and readers like you through our Patreon.

ELM: [laughs] You make that as awkward as possible.

FK: Yeah! It’s just how I do. You know I love awkwardness. I love awkward ships. I love awkwardness in life. Anyway, patreon.com/fansplaining. You can pledge and when you pledge you get a variety of great things, such as tiny zines, extra episodes, early access to episodes that we’re putting out for everyone…so you should do it! Go pledge.

ELM: Your name in the credits.

FK: Your name in the credits. That’s a very popular one.

ELM: Yeah, we never plug that but that’s one of the most popular levels.

FK: It’s actually I think the most popular level.

ELM: Yeah, no, I believe $3 a month, the extra episodes, is the most popular, but following on the heels rather is $5 a month, name in the credits. Plus all those special episodes and early access. If you have some cash to spare, we’d like it. If you don’t have any cash to spare, another way to support us is to rate us on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, to leave a review, to share our transcripts—at fansplaining.com you can get, every episode has a transcript, show notes, and the audio, all in one page for each episode, if you can share those with other people in fandom. The survey was a huge booster for us to get, to reach new listeners, lots of people said they were just discovering us. We wrote up a little post explaining some of our, you know, explaining some starting points to get into it, but please keep spreading us around. That’s the way we get new listeners, through word of mouth, other people in fandom who wanna have these conversations.

FK: Yeah! And if you have any thoughts or opinions or anything to say to us, you can reach us at fansplaining@gmail.com, or we also have a phone number, you can leave us a voice mail. And that phone number is… [laughing]

ELM: 1-401-526-FANS. I did it! I did it!

FK: Aw, shit, you got it! You did it!

ELM: I did it, I did it!

FK: All right. You can also send us ask on Tumblr if you really want to, not the best way but you can. Or talk to us on Twitter, we’re Fansplaining in both those places. We’re also Fansplaining on Facebook. Instagram…is that how you live your life? That’s fine.

ELM: You can follow us on Instagram.

FK: You could also send us messages on Instagram if you really wanted to.

ELM: If you really wanted to.

FK: So anyway, reach out to us, we love getting listener and reader mail slash voice mail. And we read it on the podcast! So. We’ll talk back at you.

ELM: But we won’t do it next time, because guess what’s happening next time.

FK: What’s happening next time?

ELM: What number is this?

FK: 99.

ELM: And what number is that?

FK: 100! 100 episodes!

ELM: Oh my God. Was that an impersonation of the Count?

FK: I don’t know what it was. [ELM laughing] It was just the voice that came out of me when I thought about 100 episodes, like, a spirit came into me…

ELM: Oh, but there’s so much going on here. Our next episode, I mean, we actually have recorded more than 100 episodes because we’ve done…


ELM: ...almost a dozen specials. But, but…


ELM: This is a—this is a—please don’t put that sound on our audio. [laughing] This is the official hundredth episode is coming up next, so we’re gonna do a little reflecting about how Flourish used to be awful and then is now great, has really learned and grown.

FK: [through laughter] Yeah, that’s what that episode is gonna be about!

ELM: So get ready! Buckle up! Prepare! Anyway, in the meantime, go to fansplaining.com. Look at these beautiful vizzes. Push all the buttons. Do all the filters. And send us any questions or comments or thoughts that you have. And, like, use our data, please.


ELM: Yeah?

FK: All right, I think that’s it, Elizabeth. Goodbye.

ELM: Well, it’s too abrupt! On our—


ELM: On our hundredth episode eve—

FK: Goodbye.

ELM: You’re just going to shout “goodbye” at me?

FK: What could be more appropriate?

ELM: Yeah, that’s right. OK, goodbye.

FK: Goodbye.

[Outro music]

FK & ELM: 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, Menlo Steve, Katherine Lynn, Clare Mulligan, Heidi Tandy, Megan C., Sara, Josh Stenger, Tablesaw Tablesawsen, Jennifer Doherty, froggy, 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, Jennifer Lackey, Tara Stewart, Dr. Mary Crowell, Secret Fandom Stories, Felar, Bradlea Raga-Barone, Jennifer McKernan, JungleJelly, Molly Kernan, and in honor of One Direction and Captain James McGraw Flint.

Our intro music is “Awel” by stefsax. Our interstitial music is “Start The Day” by Lee Rosevere. Both are used under a Creative Commons BY license; check the show notes for more details.

The opinions expressed in this podcast are not our clients’, or our employers’, or anyone’s except our own.