Delphi study findings: the resources fans use

This post focuses on the information sources and resources that the 31 members of my Delphi panel mentioned in their responses.

The main finding in this section of the study found that overwhelmingly, the primary or source text is the key source of information for cult media fans. Whilst online sources take up the largest percentage of sources used by panel members, offline sources, or those that are neither specific to digital or analogue forms, were also widely used, thus supporting the view that fans are comfortable using a wide range of resources to gather news, seek out trivia, research projects, and share information about their fandom.

The first round of this study also seems to show that fans use a wide variety of resources, from ‘official’ sources to fan-made resources.  In the case of official sources, this is not merely restricted to the source text or canon, but also includes such things as interviews, tweets and Tumblr postings from actors/writers/creators/producers, printed art books, promotional materials and other merchandise.  As for fanon and fan-made resources, there are obviously other fanworks, but also fan talk, wikis, rec lists, social media, and so on.

The following table gives a run-down of all the information sources and resources cited by the Delphi panel’s 31 participants. The list is broken down into three sections – online, offline, and specific to neither of these media.

 

Online Offline Non-specific
Fanfiction.net Art books Primary/original source/text
Message boards Comics News and press releases
Fan sites DVD extras/commentaries Interviews
Fanart sites (e.g. deviantART) Magazines Articles
YouTube TV shows/documentaries Promotional materials
Tumblr Library Other fans
Twitter (official and fan accounts) (auto)biographies Friends/family/colleagues
Facebook (official and fan accounts) Radio shows Actors/agents/producers/creators
AO3 Stores and shops Newspapers
Google Drive/Docs Books Scientific/academic papers
Podcasts Movies Fanworks
Social networking sites CD’s/records/soundtracks Reviews (print, AV, digital etc.)
Gossip sites (e.g. Celebrity Dirty Laundry) Overhearing fan conversations
Screenshots (of games, movies etc.) Teachers/professors
Soundtracks Reading groups
Wikis (e.g. Wikipedia, Marvel & DC Comic Databases) Theatre/stage/performance
Databases Imagination!
Spoiler pics/lists etc.
Mailing lists
Archives
Livejournal
Rec lists/link lists
Google search
Mediafire/Dropbox
Dreamwidth
WordPress
Live tweeting
Blog posts
ComicBookResource
Marvel.com
Ebay
Adultfanfic.org
Yahoo
Live-plays/walkthroughs/guides
Kickstarter/Patreon/Twitch
Instagram
Google Translate
Memrise
Comicology/My Comic Shop/Midtown Comics
Rage comics
Memes
Gamespot/IGN etc.
Fic-find communities
Cosplay.com
Game trailers

If you want to read more about the findings of the Delphi study, you can read my paper, “Being in a knowledge space”: information behaviour of cult media fan communities.  The paper is also available through my Publications tab above.

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Fan gatekeeping at the European Fan Cultures Conference 2015

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Yours truly at EFC15 (left), with Camila Monteiro (right).  (Source: Facebook).

Earlier this month I was thrilled to be present my research so far at the European Fan Cultures conference at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, made possible by the stellar organisation of Simone Driessen, Leonieke Bolderman, and Abby Waysdorf.  I was on Panel 2B, the ‘Fans as Gatekeepers’ track; and as it happens, that was pretty much exactly the title of my presentation, which was Fans as gatekeepers: The role of cult media fans in collecting, preserving and sharing fanworks.  This presentation summarised the research done for my doctoral thesis so far, particularly focusing on the results of a Delphi study conducted between February and September 2015.

I was initially nervous of presenting my findings, since my background, whilst it is the arts and humanities, is not specifically in fan studies, and my current focus is, as I have mentioned before on this blog, on Library and Information Science (LIS).  I therefore cannot pretend to be as familiar with the discipline of fan studies as those who study in the field, and presenting to those who do can be daunting.  I need not, however, have worried.  The conference included presentations from scholars that represented a wide range of backgrounds, from marketing to psychology to human geography.  There was a diversity of theories, methodologies, and practical applications that is rarely seen in other fields; and I think this speaks to the recent growth and huge potential in fan studies to embrace different disciplines – and vice versa.  The conference turned out to be a great space of researchers of different backgrounds to share ideas, find unexpected commonalities, and to broaden horizons by opening up one’s peers to possibilities and ways of working that they might not have previously entertained. Even the live tweeting reflected this:

All this helped to dissipate my initial anxiety, as I was pleasantly surprised to realise that there was a warm openness to these different approaches to fan studies, and that my own LIS approach to fan studies was received with interest.  Even the explanation of the Delphi study – that research method that no one has ever heard of and takes a million years to explain – was met without too much resistance!

Cornel Sandvoss (of Fans:  The Mirror of Consumption fame) gives a fascinating keynote.

Cornel Sandvoss (of Fans: The Mirror of Consumption fame) gives a fascinating keynote. (Source: Facebook)

I won’t go into too much detail regarding the presentation – if you’re so inclined, you can view the slides at this link: Fans as gatekeepers EFC15 (best-viewed when played).  To summarise both the presentation and the results of the Delphi study, consensus amongst panel members was surprisingly high, and, most gratifyingly, the majority of statements in which the highest confidence was placed was on those that regarded the information behaviour of fans.  This means that, amongst the study’s panel, there was an extremely high level of agreement about how fans collect, organise and disseminate fan-related information and fanworks.  It became clear, through these results, that information management, sharing and sourcing are all significant aspects of fan activity, but that it is so intrinsic to it that fans aren’t even aware of it as being ‘information work’.  This became clear during the question section of the presentation and in conversations afterwards, when audience members shared their own recognition of this being a part of fan practice, but not usually in a self-aware way.  This was heartening because it meant that this was an area of research that had little coverage and was worth further investigation.

Lastly, I wanted to add that I was amazed at how much overlap there was between my own research and the research of those present.  My own panel included presentations on fans as producers (produsers?) of user-generated content, and on the ‘fan press’ or fan journalism – all of which are concerns of LIS.  In a wider context, I was surprised to learn that more than one conference attendee had done past research on fan wikis, and that – put bluntly – I was not alone! Which is always a good feeling.

All in all, I can safely say that the conference was a fantastic experience, with a friendly, welcoming vibe and some great opportunities for networking.  Many thanks to the organisers for making this a such a super experience for a first-time presenter and early-career researcher.

(The abstract from the conference can be viewed here).

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Fan info behaviour – Delphi findings so far, part 1

Just over a week ago I closed the first round of my Delphi study on the information behaviour of fans – many thanks to the wonderful participants who responded and were so generous with their time and thoughts!

An update: I am currently going through the responses and putting them through a textual analysis.  I’ve broken down the responses into several themes and sub-themes, which should help me to formulate some general statements to give out to the participants for Round 2.

Of course all this needs refining, and I’m sure more details will come out of the woodwork after I’ve gone through the responses another half a dozen times.  In the meantime I’ll be keeping anyone who’s interested in the progress of the study informed via this blog, so watch this space! 🙂

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