Saturday, 9 September 2017

A straw in the wind or simply noise?

The Fimfiction statistics page is always interesting to poke around in. Annoyingly, they've changed the design of the "Stories Approved" display to a stacked bar chart, making it much harder to see at a glance whether E/T-rated stories have a higher count than M-rated ones. I hope that wasn't deliberate! :P

However, that's not my point here. In April, 986 stories were approved – the first time since December 2011 that the monthly total had fallen to three figures. That's the bad thing. But since then, the monthly total has risen every month. Not by much, but again there haven't been four successive rises in this figure since S2.

It's hard to tell whether these are just noise or a real trend. It'll be especially interesting to see whether this trend continues this autumn, since that might suggest that the movie is having an impact in either bringing people back to the active fandom or (even better) introducing newcomers to it. I don't expect Fimf ever to return to 2,000+ stories a month, but it's something.


  1. No statistician be I, but at a glance I'd say it's noise. The overall trend over the last few years has been largely a level if low one. Given that public interest seems to have hit its peak around the time the "brony" phenomenon really took off, and given that I suspect the movie will be average at best, I remain skeptical that said movie's influence will register as anything more significant than a local spike. Then the previous level will reassert itself after a couple of months.

    Truth be told, I'm not really interested in whether or not the numbers go up or down. They could go up if a bunch of trolls invaded the site, but I'd hardly welcome the prospect, or (more likely) if a bunch of "sign-on-then-forget-it" users apply, which would be empty.

    Quality of character interests me more than quantity of followership. For instance, I'm more interested in seeing old favourites like Cloudy Skies making a comeback, and in joining heavyweight contests like FanOfMostEverything's Imposing Sovereigns Prompt Challenge and Oroboro's Sunset Shipping Contest. The real prize is seeing so many perspectives, talents, and attitudes joined in a major project, albeit a competitive one.

    Mixing it up with the big boys and girls: that's where the fun begins. :)

    1. I don't expect the movie to be incredible, but then neither was the first Equestria Girls and that led to the much improved Rainbow Rocks. The upcoming film is certainly having an effect already though -- I've overheard considerably more families discussing it in shops etc than I ever have done talking about the show itself.

      I doubt the seven-year-olds who watch the movie will join the fandom, of course -- but their parents might! I know one or two people personally who got into the show after watching it with their children. And someone who was seven in 2010 is now 14, and a few of those people have eventually become bronies. Clearly it's not going to be a Disney-size influx, but I'd like to think we'll get a little bump of interest.

      Quality of character interests me more than quantity of followership.

      Up to a point, Lord Copper. While I would certainly have no interest in a fandom which consisted of ten million "I went to Equestria and became Twilight's husband" fics, I'd also find a writing subfandom which consisted only of, say, Writeoff medal winners pretty dull.

      From what I remember, I don't think the social part of the fandom plays much/any role for you, but it does for me. Not to the extent that it does for some people, but enough -- and a critical mass is necessary for things like UK PonyCon, or even local meetups, to operate successfully.

      So there's a bit of both in there for me: of course I want to see the big guns sticking around and producing more excellent stories, but it's also important to me that they're not the only people active. I'm never happier than when finding a good story by someone completely new.

  2. Huh. If nothing else, I didn't have you pegged as an Evelyn Waugh fan. You learn something new every day.

    A regular influx of fresh talent is certainly not something I'd be against. That said, I tend to be more conservative (not politically) in both my reading and my estimation of fandom trends than many others. I'm the sort of person who could happily reread an old story multiple times without it feeling stale but who doesn't usually go for recommendations without a lot of persuasion, so I'm biased towards established authors.

    All the same, quality is quality, fresh or not.

    Admittedly, I can't contest your point about the movie introducing adults via their children to the fandom. I don't doubt we'll actually get an influx; I doubt that it'll be more significant than a blip on the graph. Unless it's some long-runner like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or (shudder) a remake, I doubt it'll last long in the public consciousness.

    So I in turn can only say: Up to a point, Lord Zinc.

    I could be utterly, utterly wrong, of course. This is a probabilistic guess. It's a pity I'm not a gambler, or we'd have a very interesting wager on our hands.

    1. "Evelyn Waugh fan" would be pushing it so hard it ran out of breath. I've read Scoop, a long time ago, but the phrase isn't really something I directly associate with the book any more.

      I'm not a gambler either!