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Back September 4th, 2009 Forward
Thoughts on what's now being called "SurveyFail".

Okay, I've been peripheral in all of this. I've seen the links to it here and there (mostly on [info]stopthatgirl7's IJ, although the first one I saw was at Hoyden About Town) and I certainly haven't read all the items or all the links related to it. So I don't know huge amounts about this.

What I do know is this: as a fan, and a member of the larger fandom community (however peripheral) I know when I'm being respected and when I'm not being respected. I could tell these guys didn't respect us.

How? Well, there were little hints. Things like their responses (and lack thereof) to fans in various threads - most of the time they didn't reply, and when they did, it was either so completely off-base as to be ludicrous (such as the infamous analogy between heterosexual women liking slash fiction and men liking to view images of non-gender-reassigned male-to-female transsexual persons) or so full of jargon and technobabble as to be incomprehensible (such as any number of responses when people asked how the heck the data they were obtaining from what appeared to be a social science survey was going to be used to create a neurological model of a human brain anyway?). In each case, the way questions from fans about the nature and content of the survey were answered (or not answered) was a clear indication of precisely how little our responses were going to be valued.

We were Other. We were Not They. We were Deviant. Oh, and we were also apparently Stupid.

One of the things I like about fandom, to be honest, is the way fandom at large positively embraces deviance from the norms - and I say this as someone who is white, female, heterosexual, cisgender, and largely vanilla in personal preference. So fandom as an emergent entity stepped up to the plate, and faced with the charge of Deviance, proceeded to respond by saying "well, how Deviant would you like us to be?" and "You think that's Deviant? Oh sweetie, you ain't seen nothin' yet!" As a result, the two researchers are now the subject of Real Person slashfic, tentacle-porn art, various macros and similar.

Meddle not in the affairs of fandom, for we are certainly swift to anger, never particularly subtle, and you look good on the bottom. Or with tentacles invading various orifices. Or as the meat in a sandwich. Or riding the train. Or however else you're pictured in the inevitable cascade of "point and laugh" which will accompany the swift dissection of your actions. Fandom is like the abyss - you can't look too deeply into it without it looking back - and neither you nor fandom may like what's found as a result.

There have since been any number of straightforward responses to the actions of these nitwits, which included things like contacting the university they were supposedly affiliated to (they aren't); finding out whether their research methodology had been reviewed by an Independent Review Board (it hadn't); explaining whether or not their research would qualify as Decent Neuroscience (it doesn't); and even contacting their publishers and agents to find out whether any of them knew what the hey-hold-on-a-second has been going on here (as far as can be figured out, they're not saying). Fandom as a whole is composed of people, and while some of them may well be stupid, others are far from it; still others have extreme google-fu, and most can find the answers to various questions online. Others can screencap, and are excellent at recognising when things are heading into "likely to show up on fandom_wank" territory. On the internet, your stupidity is preserved for posterity, whether you like it or not.

To any future nitwits who want to attempt to "research fanfiction" - some hints.

1) Check whether someone else has asked the questions you want to ask (and whether they're willing to talk about the answers they've received to those questions).

2) Be respectful of the fan community. People in the fan community are not just fans. They are also (variously) scientists, computer programmers, doctors (both medical and academic), researchers, students, teachers, bureaucrats, office workers,writers, labourers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, men, women, children, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents - look, you name it, there's someone in the wider fan community who does it. This includes your discipline.

3) Be respectful of your research subjects. Now, really this one shouldn't even need to be mentioned - any sane scientist working with research subjects more complicated than amoebae should generally be learning this one from the word "go". But obviously it needs to be stated bluntly.

4) If you're asking for advice, be willing to take it when you get it. Even if the advice is along the lines of "go away and try again once you've done some preliminary study on the subject". Actually, particularly when you get that advice, because if you're getting it, you're being told "you aren't respecting us" in fairly clear terms.

5) If you don't do all (or worse still, any) of that, don't whinge about being socially, personally and professionally pilloried; personally and professionally reprimanded; slashed; put into images showing you being molested by giant squid; or whatever else fandom as a whole does to you in order to demonstrate an equal lack of respect in reaction to the amount you've shown us.

Now, back to the performing seals...[/Veronica Glenhuntly]

Current Mood: astounded astounded
Back September 4th, 2009 Forward