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Meta: The Idiot's Guide to BNFdom
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
justalurkr says, meta on BNFness! Which can never end well. Ever. The BNF cabal is always watching and they have powers. But on the other hand, I've really needed to stretch my pretentious muscles for a while. They're atrophing from misuse and laziness.

This is your guide to how to become a BNF (simplified, to make it easier for the commoner)

Now, BNFdom is not easy, contrary to popular belief. Yes, you get lots of feedback no matter how crappy your fic is, people buy you major electronic equipment, sure, if you speak, everyone instantly obeys your least breath. And yes, it's nice to be able to strike down your enemies with the psychic powers awarded to you once you have hit critical mass on friends-of. But. It's not easy.

Here's a few fallacies I've come across, that I'd like to correct before we start, some common questions people ask.

Jenn, don't I have to be an amazing writer/vidder/poster to attain BNFdom?

Oh, that's so cute! It's like you think quality has anything to do with it! You haven't been in fandom very long, have you? No. Your epic McKay/Sheppard or Clark/Lex or whatever can be a a total piece of crap! It's all marketing. We'll get to that later.

I'm a nasty person sometimes. Will this hold me back?

Jesus, no. Nice can work against you in a variety of ways. Culturing an *appearance* of nice is helpful, though, but not required. When you get to a certain point, nastiness is often called 'brutal honesty' and people will actually like you *more* the worse your behavior is! Strange but true.

But Jenn, I'm a nice person! What do I do?

You my friend are fucked. I suggest hanging out at TWOP and losing some of that idealistic gloss there. Practice calling people names in the mirror. Randomly stage attacks on the weakest fen in the herd under another pseudonym. This can double as practice for your later adventures in serious sockpuppeting.

Now, onto the primer.

The Idiots Guide to BNFdom by jenn (input and pictures from svmadelyn and amused commentary from amireal)



There are many--shall we say paths to BNFdom. Fiction, vids, art, meta, archivists, the list goes on. Once you've decided your career path, however, there's no reason you can't go back and add a second or even third skillset to improve your chances for BNFdom. And keep in mind rule one--actual talent is not required.

1.) Make a name for yourself.

As stated above, most people have the erronous belief that writing high quality fic (make high quality vids, have high quality art, etc) is somehow required to achieve greatness in fandom. God, it's like you live under a rock. No. Quality is subjective and only those whiny bitches who believe spellcheck is a requirement ever care. No. What you want here is public appeal and good marketing.

So start with posting. Be humble, yet strangely sure of yourself. In the case of fic, make sure that first posting is a highly popular pairing in whatever fandom. Advertise it everywhere that lets you post. Remember, you cannot be worshipped if no one is reading/watching you.

2.) Get in touch with other fans.

Now, a big part that some people miss is feedbacking others. Not a requirement, but an excellent way to scope out potential minions for later use. It also gives the impression that you are a responsible fan, and honestly, nothing creats a bond like posting squee feedback to someone. Concentrate your attention, however, on BNFs (your future best friends). I mean, what are these other people going to do for you? Nothing. Skip 'em for now.

3.) Form a cabal of your own/learn about your fannish peers.

Right, this isn't forever, you can discard when you come into your own as a BNF, but for now, these people are the backs you need to stand on to achieve BNFdom. Seek out people with midsize flists who post enough to get attention but aren't A-list themselves. These are the people you court. Make sure they're the type that rec sometimes and feel socially obligated to rec friends.




Please note: This is a visual representation of a sockpuppet. This
is not an actual sockpuppet.




On your way up, you'll run into people who made random noises about how a BNF had trod on them. Make note of them. Sympathize, but only in their locked lj posts, to show solidarity and gain yourself a buddy and a defender during your dramas. But seriously--only in locked posts. You so do not need the BNFs sniffing that shit out.

A second option would be the use of a secondary sockpuppet for purposes of friending Enemies of the BNFs to get the good stuff in their locked posts to use later in cozying up to the BNFs. Only recommended for those with either a healthy personality disorder (that's one primary identity and two sockpuppets and the history you need to make for all three) or you are the most anal person in history and keep up easily. This secondary sockpuppet can also come in handy during point eight below, Manufacturing a Flame War. We'll get to that later.

This is intricate work, as you can well see. A story bible might also be a good personal investment.


Diary
Diary

Tabs are your friend.




Internet relations can be complex and intricate to track. You'll want to figure out who talks with who, so an investment in colored markers and a big dry erase board would not be for naught. If someone has fallen a fannish tier or two, you won't want to waste your time on them, after all. And if someone hasen't posted, is "focusing on school", there is a vaccum. Fill that vaccuum.


DryErase Board
Dry Erase Board

Note: This does not have to be a full dry erase board. The half cork
board, half dry erase board is a nice and useful option.




Trust me, this comes in handy later.

4.) Let there be drama.

Real drama is hard to come by, to be honest. And you? Are new. Sure you have a few fic and a small cabal, but honestly, who gives a shit if you exist? What we need here is a big way to bring your name, in a positive, sympathetic manner, to the attention of others.

And honestly? Real drama is *messy*. It can, unfortunately, not show your best, most witty side. What you want here is manufactured drama, which is far easier to come by and far easier to control.

Here are your options:



a. real life drama - God, so awesome, so easy, and if you choose your drama carefully, so hard to prove wrong. Death and illness are passe and documentable, serious injury, again, don't unless you've been in fandom long enough to organize it properly and not for amateurs and newbies. Things to choose from--death of family member, horrifying break-up, stalking (very good one! Can require sockpuppet, however), fired from work, family struggles.

b. online drama - A sockpuppet is your best bet, a really stupid friend who you can trick into an argument a close second; third, an actual mortal enemy (not recommended this early in the game). Stalking is a classic, but personally I think a sockpuppet mortal archenemy is your safest bet. Constant ad hominen attacks, flamage; no one likes trolls. People may think your fic is shit and *still* defend it if you have one of these around. Which increases your feedback, which increases the perception you are someone to be watched, and you are an innocent victim. Win-win all around.

c. meta - this one can be tricky--it's not controllable, you can't really be absolutely sure how it will turn out, and it's so easy to have the entire thing blow up in your face. However, it does win points for avoiding common pitfalls associated with faking major illness or real life drama in that people might not care aboaut your real life drama, the unsympathetic bastards. Choose your meta with care--something safe enough that the BNFs all agree on and will draw them to you (quoting them brings extra points) but risque enough that you piss off whoever in the fandom is the resident busybody. Every fandom is different, but a few tried-and-true include warnings debates, incest debates, rps debates, badfic debates, and of course, fannish etiquette. But I cannot emphasize enough--make sure this is something that your future best friends the BNFs support! If BNF-Y loves incest, frame your meta as the beauty of incestuous love. If they hate RPS, talk about the lines being crossed. Use deliberately non-inflammatory language that's carefully designed to sound as condescending as possible to those on the other side of the debates but still makes you look imminently reasonable and even nice.

Know your fellow fen. There is always one hot button that at least one person goes apeshit over. By now, if you've been paying attention, you already know this. If you don't have a sockpuppet to attack you during meta, make sure and hit that hot button on the chance you can get that person to your lj to refute you. If you're smart--and hey, I know you're smart, you're reading this, aren't you?--you can totally bait that person into at least near-flamage and then plead your lowly status. They look like a bully, you look like a victim, and everyone, everyone loves a victim.



5.) Post frequently.

So you've posted something fannish--fic, vid, meta, art, whatever. You've had drama. Now you want to keep yourself in the active mind of fandom.

We're going for name recognition here. Rec the fic of BNFs no matter how crappy it is. Link to their meta like they are Jesus on the mountain speaking Truth. Just *keep talking*. Whatever fandom's public stance is, don't rock the boat--you're not in that place yet. If the fandom loves Character X? Drool over him. If they hate Y? Invent new reasons for hate.

However--don't overpost. Not every meme is your friend. And people see five posts from you a day is overkill. Be *prudent* in your fannish posting. Avoid the memes with graphic attached unless they are so awesome you cannot help it, but *limit yourself*. Those things are a good way to be filtered.

6.) Run communitie and archives.

This relates to the recognition bit. By this time, if you're at all competent, you are buddies with at least a few people that either run communities, run archives, or do regular challenges. Use them. Co-mod an existing community or get one of these people to start a new one with you. Ask to help at the archive if you have to, but that could end up with you doing actual *work*, which means less time to post about your worship of BNF-Y. Get them to host a challenge with you. Name recognition skyrockets.

7.) Approach a BNF.

This is, of all the things you'll do, the most difficult and sometimes the most dangerous. The BNF in the wild is a tricky creature, filled with self-importance and bone deep belief in their own superiority mixed with a pathological terror of criticism. Map your strategy carefully beforehand. Flattery can never go wrong--but not *too much* or you scare them into the stalkery-fan place and wow, it's hard to get out of that once they spread the word. Remember, all BNFs on the web know each other and are psychically bonded on a spiritual level--what one of them knows and believes, ALL OF THEM DO. Ask their opinion on something, always good, as it makes them happy to be reinforced in their belief in their own awesome rightness. Offer to preread their fic and give gushing reviews even if you have to vomit in between sections in sheer horror of what you are forced to read. I told you, getting here wouldn't be easy.

When you are comfortable that they see you as a bright mind to be guided, ask them to beta you. If they accept? GOLD.

8.) Manufacture a flame war.

You have your posting, your drama, your cabal, your name recognition, and your pet mentor/BNF. Now what you need is a good, old-fashioned flame war to seal the bond.

Now, a flame-war in fandom is not hard to come by, but your purposes require that you have a chance to defend a BNF in some manner, and also come out of it looking sane and witty both. If you can defend several BNFs at once, even better. This is when a trusty sockpuppet could come in handy. Making an attack post against BNF under a sock name is perfect--you control the content, the quality of flamage, and God, you look amazing outwitting the puppet. Hunting diligently until you can find a post that could *imply* criticism of a BNF and immediately going on the attack is also good, though less controllable, and you run the risk of hitting someone smarter and/or more popular than you are. Evaluate the risk by a quick read-through of the lj in question and their friend-of list.

Third and least reliable option is to find someone who hates the BNFs and somehow bait them into wild posting, preferably in your lj and away from their own flist. They are your object now to not only give you the chance to defend, but also to be a victim AND to publicly align your name with that of (other) BNFs. That is a lot of awesome right there. I don't recommend this to anyone but experts in internet relations.

9.) You made it!

If you haven't yet? God, what do you want, fandom on a platter? Go and try again with a new BNF. Eventually, one of them will cave.

At this point, discard cabal. They can only drag you down and interrupt quality time with your BNF best friends. Luxuriate in your new soulbond with them. Accept accolades as your due. Enjoy yourself! You get gifts now!

And that is how you become a BNF.



Later editions will be So You're a BNF! What Now? and Maintaining Your BNF Status Through Multiple Fandoms. Stay tuned.

ETA: Edited to correct justalurkr's handle


*brings cookies and tea and joins you in your bitter corner*


So You're a BNF! What Now?

1. Find someone/a group of someones/something to oppress.

2. bring snacks to the meetings.

3. Shower before mind melds, it's only polite.

Good, good! *praises* Remember, the key here is to go at it with *all your attention*. This should be the center of your life.

o.O!

That is even more work than expected! I always knew that I was too much of a slacker, but not only would I have to produce stuff regularly, I'd need dry eraseboards and sockpuppets?!?

Highly recommended. I'm sure someone does it without them, but do you really want to be behind the curve in twenty-first century BNFs?

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*content* This is what they get for not inviting me to the meetings. Damn them. Damn them to *heck*.

(obviously, I wouldn't say hell--they might read this!)

And here I just thought we were all here for the porn. What was I thinking?!

Aww. It's like porn can match unlimited power.

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Ahh yes, the backup plan! For when even the rules fail!

*makes note*

For those who will take fame any way they can get it!

(Deleted comment)
I'm reading and reading and thinking, yk, I'm DOING ALL THIS. Well, except for the public RL angst and the sock puppet, but I've seriously considered creating a second ID for fic reviews.

Scary, scary.

- Helen

A good sockpuppet is irreplaceable. Or a friend wiht no actual personality of their own.

......David Hewlett is a BNF. OMG!

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I like how you think! Initiative, using the opportunity given! Tell me more about--myself.

Hm, if I flatter you by saying that this was totally awesome, will it count as my first halting step on the way to BNF-dom?

It's a very, very good start.

oooh! *runs out and buys dry erase board*

*praises* Smart, smart! Also post-it notes. Madelyn swears by them.

Thank you for setting my fears at rest about my bulletin board, because I *really* didn't want to go back to Office Max for a new one!

My very first fandom (X-Files) had a fair number of, um, colorful BNFs. The fact that the best writers of SGA are all sane and charming people is one of the nicest things about this fandom.

Flattery can never go wrong--but not *too much*

(See how that flattery was kind of oblique? Like, I praise a whole bunch of unspecified people and *imply* that you're one of them, but it's not a direct suck-up. Plus I don't say who the best writers are, so you can just assume that I'm talking about whoever *you* like best.)

(Also, I could rec this post in my journal without telling you that I'm doing so, and hope that the rec just filters back to you through the grapevine. No? Too indirect?)

(Damn, this is hard, even with instructions! ;-D )

I'm *impressed*. Subtle, classy, makes me preen and smile to myself. Two thumbs up!

You know, becoming a real life BNF pre-internet was so much more difficult & expensive. Show up at cons, drink heavily, flirt with existing BNF's, make sure your costume was barely disguised (or flat out) lingerie, possibly volunteer for a few hours (making sure it was a highly visible position). Start a fanclub and install yourself as President for Life--hold fake elections and intimidate everyone into voting for you, even the opposition. Actually put on a convention, making sure your synchophants are in place to talk you up to the attending BNF's from other cities. Be a guest at other club meetings, schmoozing and boozing and flirting your way in as their BFF. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Before that you had to invest time and money and effort and thought in APA's and letters to other APA's & 'zines (the real ones, not these nancy-pants story zines), and letters to the editors, etc. Organize the first ever Convention! That got Forrest Ackermann set as BNF for nearly 70 years!

Now, with your handy guide, Teh Internets have made BNF-dom more accessible to everyone! If they just apply themselves! With Sockpuppets!

I notice that you didn't include on your list, "After BNF-dom, What's Next?", because the REAL GOAL is to morph and transform into a SMOF: Secret Master of Fandom. But that's probably best--I mean they'd have to kill you if you exposed them.

I am so *proud* to be able to do this for fandom. You'll notice also this post has a.) kept me in the public eye and b.) carefully and cleverly emphasized my brilliance and wittiness.

These days, with careful work and obsevation, BNFness can be achieved from your own couch! God do I love modern times.

I notice that you didn't include on your list, "After BNF-dom, What's Next?", because the REAL GOAL is to morph and transform into a SMOF: Secret Master of Fandom. But that's probably best--I mean they'd have to kill you if you exposed them.

SHHHHH! THIS IS A GRADUATE LECTURE LEVEL SEMINAR! INVITATOIN ONLY! DON'T TELL!

*raises hand*

I know you're going to address this in a later edition, but I can't wait to get your opinion:

When BNFing across fandoms, which do you feel is the better approach:
A) Maintaining the same username from one to the next.
B) Establishing a new identity in each new fandom and building a little cred before having a minion 'leak' your primary identity?

Checks off #7.

*glows* You make me so proud.

Sadly, this question is restricted to graduate level studies in BNFdom. But I will say this--the second method? Does provide needed drama.