empyrealrain (empyrealrain) wrote in gwslashresearch,

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Update - Social Hierarchies, and Reflections

Hey everybody (= See, I'm not completely crappy at updating.

Okay, so these past three weeks here's what we've been doing in class:

- First I had to make an annotated bibliography. So I had to sort through all of my sources, list about 15 out, and then write a paragraph per source saying what the work includes, how it's applicable, etc.
- Last week I had to do an annotated outline. I had to essentially make a table of contents for the thesis... for each chapter, I had to write what it will be about, which research it will include, the methodologies used for that particular chapter (e.g. interviews, surveys, etc.), and how the topic relates to my focal interest.
- This week, we received the annotated outlines back with checkmarks next to the chapters we're to have written in 3 weeks. Stupid me listed a lot of chapters (I'm ambitious) and now I have roughly 50 pages worth of of material due in 3 weeks. Ugh.
- For next week, I have to write up exactly how the data will be analyzed. I have been talking with Dr. I and Dr. W-O about it. I will also present next week... meaning I need to have some material to "share." Ideas?

As you can see, not much to say about it on here... Mainly I've been listening to my classmates' projects and offering ideas.

Alright, onto the exciting stuff.

What I'm Working on Now
I'm re-drawing the social hierarchies. I'm also re-analyzing them. I know I know, I already had them drawn up, why would I re-do them? Well, the new form will be included in the thesis. I therefore want to go more in-depth on the various levels and categories. Right now, the social hierarchy I have is a generic hierarchy that most sites use. It's a power hierarchy, witih the webmaster at the top of the power chain, and the un-responsive reader at the bottom. I also list their roles, ranks, and status. I'm tempted to just paste in my paper instead of going over it all again, but most papers last semester were written in a rush, and I doubt I want to share that. Eh, I'm going to copy and edit it. *lazy*

In the Gundam Wing online slash fandom, there are many different variations of hierarchies, roles, and statuses depending on the type of site being visited and the topic being looked at. Often, members of the fandom have multiple roles, statuses, and locations on the hierarchy depending upon where they are and what they are doing. This makes it complicated to assign one hierarchy, status, role or rank to a person, but generalizations can be made.

The sites focused on are the following: [sites here].

The general categories of status are producer and consumer. The producers are website creators; website moderators/administrators; authors; artists; and non-textual, non-art contributors to websites. There are two types of consumers: participatory and non-participatory.

Website creators are typically the people that design and publish a website as their own. Sometimes, however, somebody who wants to create a website does not have the skills or software to design a website, and another website designer is brought in. In this situation, the creator tells the designer what he/she wants done, and the designer carries out the task. A website creator is also typically a contributor to the website aside from the design. This may be in the form of essays, notes, information, or even creative works like those that the authors produce.

Although a website creator may take on administrative/moderating tasks, on the big sites the administrators and moderators are separate from the website creator. The administrators and moderators typically enforce the rules, handle any problems that visitors experience, and generally try to keep the order.

Authors are those who produce creative works in textual form. This is not limited to works of fiction. Although fan fiction is probably the most common form of creative textual works, authors also write songs; poems; and essays on a character, pairing, or something in the fandom.

Artists produce creative works in graphics forms. the art can be drawn for a story, fellow fans, a contest, or for fun. The images can consist of one character, a slash pairing, or any combination of characters from the show, whether the artist depicts them in pairings or not. The art work typically follows the same rating system as the fiction; the graphics can be anywhere from a G rating to an NC-17 rating.

There is also a minority of fans who contribute to websites neither artistic nor textual works. These fans may produce recommendation lists, or links to sites or works that they feel other fans might enjoy. They may scan in pages of manga and post them on a website for other fans to view. They may provide images that they did not create, but were found from other websites (such as official images of the characters).

For the consumers of these works, there are those who participate and those who do not. Participation is feedback; a participatory reader is one who reads a work or views a graphic and provides comments to the creator. This feedback is typically either praise or constructive criticism, although it can take the form of “flames” or derogatory remarks. Non-participatory fans are those who consume but do not provide feedback.

No status is exclusive. Many people belong to numerous status types. Although it is possible, it would be unlikely that an author or artist is not also a reader. Typically authors are also website creators, readers, moderators, and artists. One status almost assumes another, except in the case of readers. There are many fans who do nothing but consume works, contributing nothing material to the fandom. There importance should not be diminished because of the lack of contributions, however. Without readers, many feel that the fan works would not have as much of a purpose.

Although there are a variety of types of sites that the fandom inhabits, the power hierarchy is generally the same for each. Website creators are at the top. They have the power to publish or destroy a site, and they are typically in the minority that has the technical know-how to create the site. Therefore, this knowledge makes them elite. However, on archival sites such as Fanfiction.net, the website creators are typically invisible. Their presence is only noticeable when the site undergoes an upgrade, or a technical bug causes them to pop up and post a message to people saying what is wrong and when it will be fixed.

Moderators and administrators have the power to enforce rules, which may involve banning a visitor from the site or editing his/her work. They are given their power by the website creator, and this is the only power they have to answer to. They are more visible than the website creators. They may post articles or updates on the rules or what is occurring on the site, but they are relatively absent from the site.

Authors and artists have the power to create and delete their own works. They are considered extremely powerful by readers because it is they who determine what happens in a work, when a work is updated, etc. Authors and artists must abide by the rules given to them by the moderators, but they are relatively free to do whatever they wish within their works so long as it remains within the rules.

Participatory readers have no power in what is created. The only visible power they have is their power to react to the works. They can usually post comments or reviews, or they might email the creator with their feedback. However, participatory readers have an immense amount of invisible power. Without the consumer, many feel the production would have little meaning. Therefore, without the readers who show that they are in fact consuming these works, the websites would have no purpose. They would have no audience. The feedback also has a bit of power, as sometimes authors may incorporate into their stories ideas that their readers gave them in feedback. The readers may also recommend a particular work to their friends, thus increasing the popularity of a work.

Non-participatory readers do consume, but because they do not do so in a visible manner, they are powerless in the way that participatory readers are so powerful. Non-participatory readers are at the bottom of the hierarchy. They cannot influence what is popular or what an author creates.

While I have focused on a power hierarchy thus far, there is another type of hierarchy – that of popularity. Depending upon which pairings are featured in a work and the quality of the author’s writing, a work may or may not be well received by the readers. It is the readers who determine which works rise to the top of the fandom, and which will forever be shunned or criticized by other readers. This hierarchy is too complicated to get into here, as it is ever-changing. The slash fandom is made up of several subsets of groups who prefer one pairing over another, and for each subset there is a separate popularity hierarchy.

Dangit, it destroyed my formatting.

Okay if you read it all, kudos to you. Essentially I just define what each role does, then I go into rank. I have a pretty little figure that goes along with this paper, but it was drawn by hand, so boohoo for you.

So there's a lot that can be expanded upon in this section - namely the power of the readers, and how roles/ranks are completely dependent on locale of the fan. In one site, he or she may be a god, in another a nameless reader. As you can also see, I completely slithered away from doing a popularity hierarchy. I could've very easily done a generalized hierarchy like I did for power, but I'm not *that* ambitious. And it is more complicated because what is popular amongst one group may be unpopular amongst another. And how shall we determine popularity, by number of views? Reviews? Links to it? By how often it's discussed? It's a very.. ambiguous area.

Anyway, that's what I'm semi-thinking about working on (in other words, plan to get to eventually).

Because I promised you guys something to reflect on, let me launch into the new idea I'm pondering/asking around.

Reflections AKA What I Want to Know
So last time around I asked: What do you think a culture is, what does it mean to be a member of a culture? And I asked for any thoughts/ideas about history of fandom experience. Great responses you guys (= I loved them. And when I was showing Dr. W-O the community (I didn't know what other site to go to) I let her see the length of the posts and she was uttelry gleeful that you guys are talking to me about it. I'm not sure whether or not I should feel insulted that she is so surprised that people talk to me...

This is going to require fine-tuning I know it. Too broad and you're going to go, what?? Too specific and I'll be biasing (not that it's objective as is, but y'know).

What about anime appeals to you? I know, this is a difficult question. Because anime isn't a genre, it isn't one show. It's a media style. Nevertheless, I know each of you have your favorite anime shows... why? Why those shows? How do you feel those shows are different from other types of series?

Most specifically, why Gundam Wing? What about the series appeals to you? What drew you in?

And, what about slash appeals to you? What drew you in, why do you like it?

Oh man am I vague. Too many questions? No worries. I'll repost them and bug you about them incessently until I get them answered (= And when you do respond, plan on me doing follow up questions to whatever you say *cackles gleefully*
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