Then what is FanLib? A naked advertising agency wearing a fanfiction archive suit? Yes.
According to partly_bouncy's recent summary of FanLib at fanthropology, the two branches of FanLib -- the fanfiction archive and the writing contest marketing campaigns -- are one big amorphous blob.
If true, this is an about-face since the spring of 2007, when the Williams Brothers frantically distanced the new fanfiction archive venture from the my2centences marketing materials dug up by Mary McNamara and others.
Remember the coloring book comparison, where FanLib assured the intellectual property holders that writing contest participants would "stay within the lines"?
To Henry Jenkins, on May 25, 2007, Chris Williams said, "As a company, we have two distinct parts […] the beta site, FanLib.com […] and official online storytelling events. […] Each event is governed by its own clear rules and terms of service that are separate from those for the FanLib.com beta site referred to above. This is necessary because contests, sweepstakes, prizes etc. need their own rules and regulations."
"Official online storytelling events" are FanLib's writing contest marketing campaigns, which, since
In spite of Chris Williams' protests, I think partly_bouncy is correct in saying it's just one business, and I think this has always been the case.
Much -- okay, everything -- about the FanLib fanfiction archive did not make sense from a business perspective. But if the fanfiction archive is simply a ploy to get a larger pool of people sucked into the "official online storytelling events," it (and the funding from venture capitalists) makes sense.
As a FanLib member, I am spammed regularly, on average twice a month, about goings-on at FanLib. Except for the occasional administrative communication (urging me to flag porn), all of the spam is about FanLib's official marketing campaigns: Star Trek, Weeds, Dexter, Uglies, BattleStar Galactica, and 10,000 B.C.
There are also offers (win a FanLib T-shirt!) designed to boost site statistics by rewarding members who write the most reviews, or upload the most content (vids are now included).
On February 11, 2008, FanLib emailed members to ask them for the contents of their address books -- to "invite friends to view your submissions" -- possibly increasing FanLib's pool of email addresses.
Sheesh, it's so easy to grasp now. FanLib's fanfiction archive was just a ploy to get the email addresses of people likely to participate in their marketing campaigns. That's it!
Oddly, although partly_bouncy said FanLib does not think of itself as a fanfiction archive, she draws comparisons with the the Organization for Transformative Works, which is unapologetically a fanfiction archive, and says, The fandom project created in response to FanLib has not produced a product.
She expects a "product" to be the outcome of OTW? Huh.
Partly_bouncy's post at fanthropology is awash with unabashed editorializing in favor of FanLib:
"A large number of people accepted FanLib into their fannish experience without any ideological problems. The site grew from 2,829 members in late May 2007 to 19,000 members in late-March 2008.* Participation on the site is up, with the audience accessing more pages when they visit the site. FanLib's message board members have become a dedicated and active group. They've formed a true community. The people who are there don't have any problems with FanLib and its corporate nature. They see the positives associated with it: Better customer service, less fandom related drama, issues being dealt with in a timely manner. FanLib will continue to attract a large audience who accepts this as many teens and others understand that advertisements and the ability for site operators to profit off a site are fundamental to providing a quality service to the audience. Product, quality product, in the end is what matters to fandom and FanLib has demonstrated they can deliver one that can be worked into people's fandom experience."
Nice referral, and I hope she gets a T-shirt for it.
*According to FanLib, they had 29,000 members in April, 2007. I do not know the reason for the discrepancy. Oh, crap. Yes, I do. I made a mistake. They only have 20,000 members, and 29,000 submissions. Wow, those are some seriously small numbers.
Partly_bouncy is correct that not much attention is being paid to FanLib these days.
She writes, "On December 15, cryptoxin mentioned FanLib in a post about the Organization for Transformative Works, saying 'I understand the backlash against FanLib, but does anybody still consider them a meaningful threat to fan cultures?' No one answered the question and no one demonstrated that FanLib was stil [sic] a meaningful threat to FanLib [sic] these days."
I dispute her claim that happened because "…FanLib had demonstrated that it was no worse than any other fan fiction archive. It had taken steps to be more inclusive and had actively reached out to fandom in the preceding months."
FanLib is being ignored because it bombed as a fanfiction archive. Its investors may be pleased with it as a mechanism for direct mail marketing, but to fandom as a whole FanLib was a tiny blip that quickly faded.
We will never know if the fanfiction archive was shuffled under the marketing campaign umbrella because that was FanLib's plan from the get-go, or because of its dismal growth. We do know the intellectual property holders who fund the FanLib "contests" are funding the fanfiction archive, too. No one is surprised. Or even excited.
Thanks to ardwynna_m, who brought the fanthropology post to this community's attention.