justira ([personal profile] justira) wrote2010-11-03 03:53 pm

[Make-Your-Own Meme] FictionAlley and Pepsi and Fandom

Hey it's a post from that ridiculous/amazing/this is the worst idea/this is the best idea Make-Your-Own Meme "blog every day of November" thing!

The original post explaining the project is here. Please feel free to continue adding topics/questions on the LJ or DW versions. If something comes up in any of these posts that you'd like to hear more about, please feel free to just make it into its own topic! HERE GOES NOTHING. YOU (SORT OF) ASKED FOR IT.

Once again, we interrupt your regularly scheduled topics (which I promise I will get back to I SWEAR) in favour of current events.

So there is this thing where FictionAlley is applying for a grant from the Pepsi Refresh project, which is a grant competition giving away lump pre-determined sum grants to proposals competing within monetary (but not category-based) brackets. So all the proposals asking for $25K compete with each other, across categories, but do not compete with those asking for $250K. The money is given in those determined amounts, e.g. Pepsi is not saying "we will distribute $X among Y number of proposals based on votes/need/merit/other criteria".

Here is an FA staffer's post on the subject: A Big Favor: PLEASE VOTE FOR FA, EVERY DAY, EVERY WAY. The comments there are now closed but there are some screencaps available.

Some further information is provided where [personal profile] nextian reposts (with permission) an email exchange she had with FictionAlley: so ... this happened.

So the thing is, as a member of the OTW, as someone who recently gave money to a fannish project and urged others to do so (or to give time/spread the word), this strikes pretty close to home for me, right? I support fandom as a legitimate cultural endeavour and I support the idea of fannish projects being deserving of grants and resources. But I am so sideways and so many kinds of unhappy/mixed feelings about this, and after (probably insufficient) cogitation and (also insufficient) flailing at various friends, trying to sort my thoughts and feelings out, I think all of my internal mess over this can probably be summed up like so:

1. Boy am I mad at Pepsi and the system that created it.

2. Within the above context I have no objection to FA going for the grant; arts are important and should be funded. Fandom is important. But within the below context:

3. I don't know every avenue FA has tried, but based on my perception, FA did not do enough to seek resources within its own community before applying outside of it, and still handled it in a way that, from here, seems illogical, insensitive, inefficient, and just... not good. Which is a failure of either process or communication.

That's the short version. Let's have the long one.

1. I am SO MAD at Pepsi.
First of all, fuck you, Pepsi, for handing out pennies when you are in a position to do so much more, and for doing so in a way that doesn't encourage targeted giving but instead pits public needs against each other and against arts. To quote [personal profile] sapote in a thread on [personal profile] nextian's entry: "I'm not particularly annoyed that Fanfic Alley has decided they want some of this money when the basic tone of the grant application process is DANCE FOR IT, NEEDY SCHOOLCHILDREN, DANCE FOR YOUR SODA MASTERS."

I encourage reading of the two threads [personal profile] sapote's involved in, which contain some interesting argument about grants and grant processes in general: first thread, second thread.

Of course I'm glad that SOME money is going to awesome causes. Of freaking course. But I am so mad about how Pepsi is choosing to do this and I am so beyond pissed at the culture and society that has created this platform for them, that has created this need where soup kitchens and womens' shelters and disability programs have to beg private organizations for cash. What the FLYING FUCK? So great, Pepsi gets to promote their brand and make themselves look generous and giving while they do the minimum possible good with the maximum available funds. AWESOME.

2. Go ahead and apply for grants! It is okay for fandom projects to apply for grants! Fandom rocks!
Within the above framework — which, let me be clear, I hate — it's a fine move to apply for the grant. Arts are important cultural and community enrichment and should be funded. And I agree with [personal profile] seperis (post: maybe unpopular fannish opinion) about how a lot of the vitriol over this really devalues fandom, fannish projects, writing, women— oh! lots of things.

I mean, look. I'm an OTW supporter. It would be so hypocritical of me to say that FA shouldn't be applying for grants, I mean, what the hell?

Fandom is important. Fandom is enrichment, fandom is art, fandom is community. The work we do, the connections we make, the way we grow and change through our fannish interactions: these are worthy, valuable things. YES.

And applying for grants is great! Applying for grants doesn't just give you a chance at money, you know. Applying for grants also increases your visibility and the visibility of your need. And that's pretty awesome! I think it's fine for fandom to be visible and for fandom needs to be visible. We're legitimate culture and we need support just like other arts do! (Plus! applying for grants teaches you to apply for grants!)

So in the above context: go! submit that grant!

But I still think FA's move was at least questionable for the reasons below.

3. There were other and probably better ways to do this, wow.


Fandom has so many resources for helping in situations like this. This is aside from a rather long list of particular questions I have about a lot of the details of the FA situation, which I considered listing but honestly, they don't seem relevant. I could go into this, but some has already been mentioned in the linked comments/posts, and well, honestly seems obvious to anyone who's read the material. I can sum it up by saying that I think FA mismanaged their funds and resources and public communication and are continuing to do so. I think $25K is excessive for their current needs (that or they're misrepresenting their needs/plans). And that's great for me I guess, but I have nothing to do with FA and don't actually know much about their internal situation (and I hope that people who are more familiar will come forward somewhere eventually and clarify what is going on).

I am, however, a member of fandom, and I believe in preserving fandom history and fandom community. If FA had actually made a thorough effort to reach out within fandom and asked for help, I honestly believe they could have gotten really far, or at least gathered a lot of good/interesting ideas, because hey, fandom is pretty huge and diverse and our collective fingers are in MASSES of pies. I would have been in line to throw a few bucks and suggestions their way, whatever my personal feelings, because again: these things are important, right?

For example: did they try to partner with any of their now-published authors to raise awareness/funds? Or, why did FA not talk to the OTW? The OTW could have helped raise awareness and funds, or this could have slotted right in under the Open Doors project. Why not? I mean, I honestly don't understand this. I understand if the OTW is not your thing, but I also don't understand a decision where "the OTW is not my thing" will turn you in favour of pitting yourself against some of the kinds of projects currently in competition over at Pepsi Refresh.

That is the part where I get stuck. I fully support the legitimacy and value of fandom and fannish endeavours, but I just don't understand why you would compete for general community funds without trying your fellow fans first. Not because fandom is shameful or should be kept out of the public eye or because it's not worthy of those funds, but because I thought that's what community was. I thought that's what fandom was. Sharing and support, growth and learning. And if it turns out your own community can't help you, then you turn to bigger and bigger communities, right? If the FA staff can't give all the needed support, then try the FA userbase, then try... etc. until you get to fandom at large, and then community funding.

Pepsi sucks for setting up this situation, but if FA needed that money and couldn't get it any other way — like, you know, many of the competing projects need money and can't get it elsewhere — then hell yeah, apply! But it just doesn't sound like that's the case.

Guys, what happened?

ETA: Answer: This happened! FA has asked to be removed from the challenge. It sounds like their financial situation has improved but could still use continued support; I hope they get the funds/support they need.

ETA 2: [personal profile] seperis has collected more links on this subject, which cover a lot of angles (including the Pepsi angle and the fandom funding angle and the OMG SPREADSHEETS angle) and basically this is a good place to go for more thinkings on the matters and click links within links. (disclaimer: I am linked in there but you already read me, go read other people!)
seventhe: (Internet)

[personal profile] seventhe 2010-11-04 02:22 am (UTC)(link)
Now that I've read the other links here, I am much less confused. It's an interesting issue; how does fandom fund itself? Does/Can fandom fund itself?

I am also intrigued (for my own purposes) at how FA helps authors get into the world. >.>
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)

[personal profile] hl 2010-11-04 07:21 am (UTC)(link)
They're huge, and a central, big archive... I can't believe the HP fandom has gotten so slow that they couldn't get enough from their own community.
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)

[personal profile] hl 2010-11-04 05:10 pm (UTC)(link)
I know single fandom sites (and non profit orgs that support such sites) that support themselves very well through member donations.

Since I commented, though, someone mentioned that most of FA's userbase is tends towards the very young and thus may not have read money.
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)

[personal profile] hl 2010-11-04 05:32 pm (UTC)(link)
No, I apologize, I was a too abrupt. I was trying to say my point without being sidetracked, because...

The truth is that I'm annoyed by the 'this day and age' arguments about fandom by journal fandom people. There are plenty of monofandom archives, and fandoms outside of journal fandom, and fandom people in and out journal fandom that are monofannish, and the inherent dismissal of those realities in saying 'fandom now does this' or 'fandom now uses x platform' tends to piss me off.

But I shouldn't have taken it out on you! -_-
stealth_noodle: Ace Attorney's Wocky Kitaki cannot fathom this fuckery. (this makes unsense)

[personal profile] stealth_noodle 2010-11-04 12:34 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm so boggled by this. I haven't visited FA since... oh, geez, like 2002 or something, but back then, at least, they could have tossed up a donation link and had their hosting expenses covered by the end of the afternoon.

I wish I were seeing more people pissed off at Pepsi over this instead of directing all their ire at FA, which isn't the one pitting homeless babies against entertainment. :/
stealth_noodle: Max gives a thumbs-up and enjoys a delicious drink. (refreshing beverage)

[personal profile] stealth_noodle 2010-11-04 05:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh yay, one of those links has a spreadsheet! I am going to go frolic in it. Om nom nom numbers.
obsession_inc: (Default)

[personal profile] obsession_inc 2010-11-04 07:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Had I known people would be so excited by spreadsheets, I would have come out of the closet on my spreadsheet geekiness A LONG TIME AGO. :DDDDDDD
anatsuno: a barcode representing anatsuno's username and account number on Dreamwidth (barcode)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-11-04 12:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Great post!

I just wanted to comment on one point, which is that the Open Doors project - which seems to not be set up completely yet, anyway - appears to concern itself with helping to preserve stuff that's otherwise closing down / is in danger of going away. That is to say, I don't think it would apply here, because what FA aims to do is not preserving a bunch of static pages but continuing to be an active community, with new forum threads, new fic getting posted, etc. At least that's how I understood it...
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-11-04 03:17 pm (UTC)(link)
It totally did! I am so glad you answered at such length. Thanks a lot. :D
vrazdova: (Default)

[personal profile] vrazdova 2010-11-04 02:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm. I like this sane-approach to the topic, and I agree 100% with your thoughts. Even reading the original post and the screencapped comments therein, I couldn't say I was disgusted by the request or anything - but yeah, it just seems like the wrong venue. (And tbh $25K seems a bit much for a fandom project.) Directing the anger towards Pepsi is the best route, I agree. DANCE FOR YOUR SODA MASTERS, indeed! It turns granting money into a popularity contest and lets the bigwigs at Pepsi not have to do any work deciding for themselves where they'd like to donate money to give themselves tax breaks :/
obsession_inc: (Default)

[personal profile] obsession_inc 2010-11-04 04:21 pm (UTC)(link)
I love everything about this post, and, by association, you as well. I keep going back to Heidi's post from August 31, the day before they finally, haphazardly, asked for money in a single post, about how she had tried, and been frustrated by, the Pepsi Refresh Project application process "last month"-- whether that was the beginning of August, or July, I can't tell. Which means that not only did they do a bad job of asking for funds from their own community, they did it after they had already tried to get into the Pepsi thing already. I can't even fathom that; it's just not how fandom as I understand it operates.

Pepsi sucks. I had no idea how much until I started looking at the numbers. It is just piteously awful-- both the tiny (for them) amount of money involved, and the way they make people compete for it. The more I look at it, the more horrified I am.

eta: here from [personal profile] seperis, btw.
Edited (oops, forgot to say how I got here) 2010-11-04 16:21 (UTC)
obsession_inc: (Default)

[personal profile] obsession_inc 2010-11-04 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Hahahahaha, MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY FTW. [personal profile] seperis knows EVERYBODY, it is amazing.

I kind of want to delve into it further when I have some time, break it down into more useful categories than they have-- when you look at the data, there are a lot of common projects that actually end up in several different categories-- such as who the project benefits. Maybe by state, too. It started out with me laughing at FictionAlley, but now I'm really pissed at Pepsi and I kind of want to analyze this shit out of this.