16 July 2010

Geek forums and gender

So, I need a favor, dear readers! I have this project in my sociolinguistics class, and I've decided to study gender and geek spaces on the internet. What I need from you are suggestions for forums, because I avoid them at all costs and thus am not familiar with them. These are the categories in which I'm interested:

General science fiction
Joss Whedon
Star Trek
Star Wars
Doctor Who
Comic books/graphic novels
Gaming forums (WoW, etc.)

Please refrain from forums that focus on foreign geek things (like anime), because it would require some extra analysis that I don't have time for in this project.

So, what I'm looking for are large, mainstream forums or blogs that are still active, even if their object of fandom (say, Buffy, for example) is not. They need to be Euro-American centered.

Also of interest would be any non-mainstream blogs or forums that focus on gender in these communities. Are there clever, smart analyses of gender and feminism from the perspective of these communities that you can point me to? Are there smaller lady-centered, -run, -moderated, -friendly forums out there?

I'd appreciate any suggestions and direction here. Thanks folks!

NOTE: There are a couple of commenters who seem apologetic about offering me forums and blogs that aren't feminist or lady-friendly. That's okay! I'm studying the mainstream culture of geek communities, which I already know is usually not either of those things. I'm not looking for forums to participate in, just study.

UPDATE: I think I'm shifting my focus a bit now. I've got a number of mainstream dude-dominated geek blogs under my belt, but I'm really interested in how lady-centered geek blogs figure themselves in geek culture. So if you have suggestions similar to WoW Ladies, sites that specifically identify themselves as lady-centered or -authored, that would be fabulous! Thanks!


Nuclear Rainbow said...

You might already know this one but adventuresofayoungfeminist.com/ blogs about pop culture, and did posts on Joss Whedon series and Doctor Who. Maybe it is of some use :)


Elise said...

giantitp.com is a big gaming/whatever forum, also known for The Order of the Stick comic. Then there's Brilliant Gameologists, and EN World. All are very large into gaming, especially tabletop RPG's.

Meg said...

I can't help with mainstream forums because like you, I don't frequent them anymore. Having been a SA goon I reached my forum-boiling-point years ago.

Blog-wise, over at This Ain't Livin' there's a really great ongoing series on Joss Whedon and Feminism.

For Doctor Who, this is a pretty good roundup of some feminist articles.

I think though that one of your best bets might be to go looking through LiveJournal, DreamWidth et al. Because while these places are home to some of the biggest fails in recent internet fandom history (Race Fail 09, the Open-Source Boob Project, the more recent SPN Big Bang Fail) it's a fairly self-policing community in that if you write something offensive and put it out there, people call it out (and then write a shit ton of meta about it.) Also just the fact that they're predominantly female spaces adds to an interesting dynamic.

It can be kinda hard to navigate those spaces if you're not already immersed them, but you can watch most of the current big imbroglios unfold at metafandom, and for past one's Fan History Wiki is pretty good.

Wow, this got LONG, but I hope this helps and good luck on your project!

Anonymous said...

I'm not active there, but maybe Shrub blog? The title bar says something about feminism + video games. That's geeky.

And I don't play MMORPGs but I've seen WoW Ladies mentioned a few times.

I used to participate in geek/game forums but they all fell apart after awhile.

Suffering Sappho said...

I go to the Comic Geek Speak Podcast Forum (http://www.thecomicforums.com/forum2/index.php?showforum=101). It isn't really feminist, and I've actually had a post ripped apart for suggesting Iron Man has sexist elements to it, but they try to keep derogatory stuff off.

For a pro-feminist geek item, I'd look at Linkara's video reviews (http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/linkara/at4w) and the Comic Culture Warriors (http://comicculturewarrior.wordpress.com/). Even though they are all men, they are outspoken feminists who aren't afraid to call themselves such.

Linkara also has a forum, but it's pretty small. (http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=69).

Anonymous said...

I second the suggestion that there is a lot of stuff on LJ, among all the fail, there is some good analysis, I can give you some links but they are mostly just individual posts.
Also, just came across this blog today which I quite liked.

N/A said...

For comic books, try 4th Letter: http://www.4thletter.net/

It's run by an SA Goon, but it also covers a really eclectic variety of interests, from bad WWF comics, to African-American representation in DC and Marvel, to the occasional feminist-bent post from its lady contributor.

I'd also suggest examining the subforums of 4chan, such a /co/, /v/, and /tv/.

Mind you, you probably won't like what you find there, but it has become a high-traffic area online, and it does filter that traffic into media categories.

Pewter said...

For gaming related stuff

http://www.mmo-champion.com <-- major wow forum. The official forums will be somewhere at worldofwarcraft.com


Jamie Johnston said...

Ferretbrain is a little-known corner of the internet, not quite a forum or a blog but more like a webzine, that might possibly be of interest. We have no defined subject-matter, but Joss Whedon is a frequent topic, as is general sci-fi and fantasy and other geeky things; and we have no defined viewpoint, but explicitly feminist articles are not infrequent, and we have been accused, amusingly, of being 'fundamentalist about their own wishy-washy Liberal doctrine'.

We're fairly Euro-American and definitely 'non-mainstream' in the sense that nobody has heard of us (although, excitingly, SE Smith did comment on an article the other day, but I think that was just because the article linked to something SE had written).

That said, we mostly talk about the actual objects of fandom rather than the behaviour of fans and the dynamics of fan communities, so we may not be quite what you need.

Anonymous said...

Dunno how Buffy centric it still is but http://www.bronzebeta.com/ is the spin off of the original Bronze posting board from when Buffy was still on. It's actually been around since 2001, when the WB shut down the original Bronze after the move over to UPN, and UPN didn't have an adequate forum up for the community.

It's a pretty loose community of Buffy fans who have more or less been posting since the show was on. I was an active member of the Bronze from 1997 until its closing in 2001, but I wasn't as active at the Beta. Still, some people will know my name. Tell them 'stina sent you.

Jo said...

The Something Awful forums might not actually be a bad place to start. There are sub-forums dedicated to gaming, books, TV and film, with, for example, long-running megathreads devoted to Star Trek and Doctor Who.

SA has quite strict moderation, and hateful posts attract sanctions - probation, banning. But it's certainly not a safe space, and the humour (and/or attempts at it) can be very harsh. The forum membership is largely male, and North American - although I'm neither of those things and still spend a fair amount of time there.

Gender critiquing of media is not particularly common and can receive a rough reception along the usual "it's only a movie" lines. But it seems to me that SA is gradually mellowing over time, and that posts on sexism in media are both more common and less derided than they used to be (I've been an active forums poster for five and a half years).

The Laissez's Faire subforum (listed under Debate and Discussion) has hosted some fantastic threads on deconstructing popular media, with much discussion of the male gaze, the Cyborg Manifesto, references to Žižek and Foucault and Butler etc. LF is also full of ironic trolling, though, so sorting the wheat from the chaff can be tiring.

Phew, what a lot of :words:. I hope some of the above is useful, at least.

Oh, and avoid FYAD at all costs.

P.S. Hi Meg, are you still an active poster?

P.P.S. Also seconding Jamie's Ferretbrain rec. I spent a happy few hours there not long ago, having stumbled across an article ripping Jacqueline Carey's appalling Banewreaker duology into tiny little pieces.

Amanda said...


Reddit's SciFi subreddit. Mainstream, general sci fi, but not super active in comments.

Meg said...

Hey Jo, nah I haven't posted since around 2007. I was mostly a GBS/NMD/GWS/DIY poster. Honestly, SA was probably the impetus for pushing me more and more towards feminism (and farther and farther away from them.)

I was able to put up with the meanness and the humor, but after a few ridiculously bad posts on GBS which really brought out the MRAs and Nice Guys™, I realized how many of the people I talked too were sympathetic to that type of stuff.

Not long after that I had a fairly negative experience meeting some goon friends irl. And that was really the last straw, I quit posting about a month later.

I really don't see it ever becoming someplace I'd feel super comfortable going back too, but it does hearten me to hear that it's mellowing out a bit and that you've found pockets that are at least talking about these things.

konkonsn said...

I'd recommend the Penny Arcade (webcomic that discusses gaming and geek culture) forums, though to be honest, I only really visit their Debate and Discourse section, so I'm not sure how friendly the other spaces are. The Debate and Discourse has some pretty good LGBTQI discussions that happen, though they tend to focus on gay men (as I believe men are the majority on the forum).

There can be some hostility depending on the feminist topic; rape threads get a number of apologists and people who aren't familiar with the feminist language/views, mostly from guys who have a persecution complex that all girls will claim false rape against them for anything if we redefine rape and blah, blah, blah.


Axiomatic said...

If you could tabletop gaming under gaming, such as D&D and Vampire the Masquerade, then I would suggest you check out rpg.net.

tekanji said...

I run a small site called the Iris Gaming Network that focuses on intersections between gaming and social justice. The blogs aren't all that active right now, but our forums have a few active threads at the moment.

Jo said...

Hi Meg, I totally understand your stance and have seen some very ugly posts, too. It's one of the reasons I usually avoid GBS. I just catch up on my favourite music and book-related megathreads, read LF, and chat in the goonmeet thread for my city.

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience meeting goons IRL. I've been much luckier - although I've heard people say that Eurogoons tend to be more chill than their North American counterparts (as a crude generalisation). I actually met my lovely boyfriend through the forums, kind of, and that's working out amazingly well so far :)

Around the end of '09, LF put together a series of huge outreach posts on the topics of feminism, affirmative action/racism, and privatisation, and posted them in GBS. It was an attempt to make the (largely white and male) readers of SA aware of their privilege, and while there was - as expected - a lot of resistance to the ideas put forward, the threads went over much better than I'd feared, with many posters saying that their eyes had been opened. I think - hope - it's indicative of how SA is changing for the better.