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Fans watch the band Blink-182 persize onstage at KROQ Weenie Roast 2016. Photo lớn by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for CBS Radio Inc.
This article is part of a series on người culture & its many related topics.

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Imagine that two of your co-workers — likely but not necessarily 20- or 30-something women — are talking about that thing you lượt thích. Let"s say it"s The CW"s Arrow-verse. You walk over lớn join their conversation, but they appear khổng lồ be speaking in foreign tongues:

"Did you see last night"s ep? I love sầu Snowbarry."

"God, it"s such a trash pairing. I OTP Westallen so hard, though."

"Yeah, they"re total cinnamon rolls. I can"t khuyến mãi with all the ship wars in that fandom, though. I"m mostly there for the meta."

"Do you read any fic?"

"A little. There are some amazing AUs on AO3 but the fic chất lượng is pretty sketch, so I usually just read headcanons on Tumblr."

If you followed the entirety of that hypothetical chat, congratulations: You"re a dyed-in-the-wool thành viên of fandom (và probably a người of DC Comics" fictional television universe). You know that these two fangirls are engaged in a complicated rundown of numerous complex relationships both on the TV show itself và within the community of fans that has sprung up around that show.

But to lớn most of us, fandom jargon — what we might điện thoại tư vấn fanspeak — is a world unlớn itself. Because fandom has so many internalized special definitions and linguistics, it can often seem impenetrable, especially khổng lồ a newcomer or outsider.

That"s why we"ve sầu compiled a basic glossary of the most comtháng terms & concepts you"ll see in fandom culture. Soon you"ll be talking the talk & feeling the feels alongside your fellow fans — or at least you"ll be able to understand what the bạn in your life is talking about.

Part 1: What even is "fandom"?

A fandom is simply a community of fans, be they online or off, active sầu or passive. The word "fandom" is both a collective sầu noun, describing many fandoms & subfandoms as one giant body toàn thân of fans, and a singular one referring lớn a single fandom. The earliest known print usage of the term comes from an 1896 Washington Post sports column describing "local fandom."

The idea of fandom grew h& in hvà with the rise of male-dominated science fiction fandom in the early 20th century, which mostly centered on books và short stories. It wasn"t until the "60s and "70s that women began forming fandom spaces for themselves, mainly focused on sci-fi & genre television.

These spaces have largely evolved inkhổng lồ what constitutes "fandom" on the internet today: communities of fans focused on creating fanworks, as well as on actively consuming truyền thông in a collaborative digital social environment. Fandom is vast và huge, và it"s anything but monolithic. Many fans will often distinguish between several hugely different tín đồ cultures: sports fandom, which is its own cultural juggernaut; traditional sci-fi và fantasy fandom, a descendent of its early-20th-century beginnings; pop music và celebrity fandom, which tends khổng lồ congregate heavily on mainstream social media spaces (think Beliebers, the Beyhive sầu, Swifties, Directioners, & other countless tín đồ bases that focus on specific performers); & online, female-dominated, fanworks-based fandom. In most fanworks-based communities, you are generally assumed to be female unless you say otherwise.

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It"s important lớn distinguish between these vastly different corners of fandom because they aren"t all in conversation with one another — & when they are, they often approach the conversation very differently.

Part 2: Basic fandom concepts

Headcanon: A sub-branch of "fanon" is actually called "headcanon." When someone invents a piece of fanon they really believe sầu in, it may not be accepted as a general part of fandom, but it still stays tucked away inside its creator"s brain; it thus becomes his or her personal "headcanon." Fannish: An adjective describing something related khổng lồ fandom or having characteristics of fandom. OTP: An abbreviation of the phrase "one true pairing." The term OTPhường is generally reserved for a pairing that you really, really ship, the one you believe in above sầu all others. For instance, I might ship Gilmore Girls" Jess/Rory lớn a hardcore extent, but Rory/Paris will always be my Gilmore Girls OTPhường. OT3, OT4, etc.: The polyamorous version of an OTP.. For example, if Captain America: Civil War had simply ended in an OT3, the film might have resolved the complicated jealousy and rivalry occurring between Iron Man, Captain America, & Captain America"s longtime best friover Bucky. Fanworks: Fanworks are stuff you make in honor of a canon; how you define "stuff" & "make" is largely up khổng lồ you. Common types of fanworks include things like tín đồ art và fan vids (exactly lượt thích fanfic but with pictures & videos), meta (serious discussion about canon or about fandom itself), cosplay (dressing in costume as a fictional character), bạn comics, người films, podfics (recordings of fanfiction made by other fans), filk (fannish song parodies), tín đồ theories, & everything from fannish sewing patterns to fannish tattoos. In short, it"s just about anything you can think of making to support, defend, exp& upon, discuss, or celebrate your fandom. TPTB: A fandom abbreviation for "the powers that be." This is fandom"s way of describing the creator, creative sầu team, and/or production team behind a canon. The use of this term is waning in modern fandom (in favor of "creators," "showrunners," etc.), but it"s still in use, especially aý muốn older fans. The term has the side effect of reminding fans that ultimately, creators have sầu power over canonical material and, to lớn some extent, over fandom itself.

Part 3: Fanfiction terminology

There"s a lot of special jargon associated with fanfiction, & with the practice of "shipping," mainly because the vast majority of fanfic involves shipping khổng lồ some degree. So fandom language often focuses on identifying what kind of fic is being written and who"s being shipped with whom.

Ship subclassifications:

Het: Short for "heterosexual," this term refers lớn pairings involving a straight male/female couple. Het fanfic is "het fic." Femslash: The female/female equivalent of slash. Femslashers generally want to lớn be considered separately from "slash" in discussions of fandom because their ships are often quite different. Femslash has historically accounted for the smallest portion of fandom, but recently femslash pairings have surged in popularity thanks khổng lồ major canonical queer ships lượt thích Korrasami for the TV show The Legover of Korra and Clexa for the TV show The 100, and non-canonical but still popular ones lượt thích Swanqueen within the fandom for the TV show Once Upon a Time.

Fan archives

There are countless fanfiction archives in existence, lượt thích the massive sầu wealth of fic at sites like AsianFanfics, innumerable tiny forums for individual fandoms, & blog sites like LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Dreamwidth. Most fanfiction archives tend khổng lồ be for-profit or ad-supported models. Currently, there are three especially predominant archives:

The different types of fanfiction

Canon fic, or in-universe fic: Fic that builds off the existing canonical storyline. AU: Short for "alternative sầu universe," AU places canonical characters into a different setting, universe, or timeline, or otherwise alters something significant about the existing canonical storyline.Popular subgenres of AU include the "historical AU," when characters are sent baông xã in time to a specific historical era; the "coffee siêu thị AU," in which characters are taken out of their existing storyline & placed in the context of meeting randomly in a coffee shop (usually one half of your OTP is a barista, and the other half is an annoyed, harried, caffeine-addicted patron); the high school or college AU, in which your characters are aged older or younger and sent to high school or college as the case may be; và the "Hogwarts AU," in which all the characters of another universe are sent to Hogwarts. Crossover fic: A cousin lớn the AU, this kind of fic combines two or more sources. Think Archie vs. Predator. PWP: Short for "Plot? What plot?" or sometimes "porn without plot," this is a type of fic that"s "Hard R" or NC-17 and mostly exists khổng lồ explore two or more characters getting it on. WIP: Short for "work in progress." Many fics are posted in serial installments, và all too often, WIPs are heartbreakingly left unfinished. Genderbending: Genderbent fic is fic that changes the gender of one or more of the canonical characters.

Part 4: Issues in fandom

The fourth wall: This is an extremely complicated và controversial idea that there is, or at least ought to lớn be, an invisible "fourth wall" that exists between fans and creators, & lớn a different extent between fandom & the outside world — a wall that simultaneously protects fans against outside scrutiny and judgment & protects creators from knowing what fans are talking about and allowing fandom activity to influence them. With the increased mainstreaming of fandom, và the advent of social truyền thông, fan-creator interaction is more comtháng than ever, but many fans remain freaked out by it và can often be heard commenting that they "want the fourth wall bachồng."

As these terms make clear, fandom is a complicated beast full of nuance, evolving language, & introspection about everything from why we fall in love sầu with fictional characters lớn the need for diversity & progressive representation in media. It"s also full of surprises, so if you"re a fan, congratulate yourself on being in one of the most fascinating communities on the web.

Fandom is also not homogeneous, and we"ve left out many terms that are in comtháng use among various subfandoms and subcultures within fandom. If you want khổng lồ know more about fandom và its terms, or specific fandoms, we recommkết thúc checking out Fanlore, the fandom wiki run by the Organization for Transformative Works. Got another fandom term you want defined or added to lớn the list? Let us know!

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