Being a fan online isn’t always an easy ride - we’re not short of drama and discourse, especially on social media sites like Twitter where wars between fans, stans and shippers is rampant.
The lack of care and moderation on large social media sites make these spaces not feel supportive or safe for members of fandoms. However, as soon as I heard about Fanexus, I knew that this was the site to solve these issues. Though the project is still in the development stages, I got to speak with Claire, one of the co-creators behind the new platform for fandoms.
So what exactly is Fanexus all about? It’s a website where people can share a diverse array of creative projects and thoughts related to their interests in a positive space. The types of works that can be hosted on the platform include art, fanfiction, discussions, roleplay, headcanons, worldbuilding, original character creations and more.
The goals of the site are to:
Be a social media platform that centres the needs of fans and creators
Combat toxicity/harassment and foster a friendly environment
Push back against homogenisation and promote variety and freedom of artistic expression
Organise and archive fan and indie content to preserve it and make it easily accessible
Allow people to have greater control over their online experience in terms of what they see and who they interact with
Fanexus is the brainchild of two friends, as co-creator Claire relays, “...one of us is a fan who has been a member of online fandom since 2003, and the other is a professional software developer, who has had to listen to the fan complain about the state of fandom and lack of suitable platform for years. You could say that things took their natural progression.”
In those 17 years, online fandoms have traversed across loads of different platforms, something I can also attest to having been a part of this area of the web for nearly a similar amount of time. From the glory days of Fanfiction.net and DeviantArt, which then moved onto Livejournal, then Tumblr and AO3. Nowadays fandoms can be found all over the place, which includes spilling into more mainstream sites such as Twitter.
The latter is particularly seen as a minefield for many creators, as it’s much harder to report and call out harassment on this site. For example, a lot of the discourse following The Rise of Skywalker descended into absolute madness. Lots of people couldn’t express their feelings about the film without other Twitter users jumping in with insults because they vehemently disagreed.
However, Fanexus is taking a stricter approach that is seen on the likes of Livejournal to help clean out any unwanted trolls from the site. “We have a strict policy against harassment written into our terms of service, and moderators to enforce it, but we hope the features of our site will also help reduce harassment.”
A sneak peak at what Fanexus will look like for users...
This will be done through a combination of content filtering options, private communities and privacy toggles on accounts. This is also important for any mature works, as the sites that host these types of creations are becoming more and more limited. Tumblr in particular went through a huge ream of backlash when it announced that it would be censoring a large part of its platform - leaving some creators in the lurch.
Fanexus is aware of that, and aims to keep these blockades to a minimum for creators. Of course, this will all be done in a safe manner, as the site will have an age rating of 13+, with an 18+ filter for NSFW content. Anyone under the age of 18 who is found to be interacting with mature content will be banned.
Another found issue for many creators is having works buried within the realms of the internet with no easy way for them to be discovered. Fanexus will utilise a hierarchical tagging system to identify works, as Claire explains: “If you go to the tag for a character, you’d be able to see its parent and child tags, which could include the fandom the character is from, whether there are different versions of the character, and what relationships they’re involved in”. As an example, ‘Thor’ could refer to the character from Stargate, Marvel or general Norse mythology.
This tagging system can be developed in the future, including new categories as the site begins to grow. It’s worth noting also that tags can be applied to practically anything. So say you’re into crocheting generally - you can still find others on Fanexus who have the same interests and display your works through the tagging system. Users can also create up to three blogs for free - so you can explore three different hobbies all on one platform.
... and another cheeky look!
Fanexus also has big plans for the future when it comes to design, with the aim to combine customisable abilities with accessible features. “It’s a platform that will allow you to follow other people and reblog their content to your own blog, but we also intend to add personal wiki functionality for each user, which could be adapted to function much like the old fan and personal sites of the 90s and early 00s.”
Eventually Fanexus hopes to replicate the likes of Geocities and Angelfire - where users can personalise their sites to a heavy degree to showcase their interests and aims on the homepage easily, getting funky with the design. Of course when this comes is dependent on what features the community want most as the site grows and improves over time.
If all of this sounds up your geeky street, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the site will be free to use. Of course, there will be premium options that can be obtained via a subscription or one off cost. The details of these are still in development, but one premium feature will be the ability to create more than three blogs, if the user has a long list of interests that they wish to share on Fanexus.
Fanexus is aiming to release in Beta within the next few weeks. If you wish to pool in your own ideas and feedback based on what you’ve read, you can join the official forum via this Google Form. Alternatively, you can also keep up with all the Fanexus news on the following platforms: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Mastedon.
Having a space such as this one will be liberating for fans from all over, and is a step in the right direction in allowing creators to flourish in all their glory. You’ll mostly likely find myself on there once it launches, and I hope to see you all there too!