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Inevittable

PhD research: The Early Days of the Westeros Forum and the ASOIAF Fandom

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Hello all,



As part of my PhD research I’m looking for input from those of you who have been members of this community before the Game of Thrones TV show was made.



I need to find out what the fandom was like in the early days, before the HBO adaptation had been confirmed, and then through that first year or two while the first season was being written, filmed and marketed.



I would very much like to find out about the following:



What was the atmosphere like in the forum in the early days?


Have you have ever had any contact with GRRM?


How has your perception of GRRM changed over the years?


What changes have you’ve noticed in the fandom over the years?



But I’m also keen just to read some free discussion and reminiscing about the past.





Some small print...


I am currently studying towards a PhD in Media, Culture and Communication at Keele University. My project title is ‘An online ethnography of the fan community of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the Game of Thrones television adaptation’ and my aim is to investigate the history and current practices of the fan community of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones.



With the permission of the owners of this website I am initiating this thread to try and encourage discussion about the topic described above. This topic is just one part of a much larger research project, and you may notice other threads around the forum.



An information sheet is available here, which will hopefully address any questions you may have about the research. The information sheet contains information about the research process, and also information about how your posts to this thread will be used. You are under no obligation to take part, however your help in the project would be much appreciated.



By posting in this thread you are agreeing to the statements on the consent sheet which is part of the information sheet linked to above. By posting in the thread you are agreeing that you are over 18.



If you have any queries please let me know.



PS: There is a thread here which you are very welcome to join to discuss the research project or ask questions.



Many thanks,


Inevittable



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Are we talking "early days" or before the TV show? At least to me those are two very different things. :p There's over a decade of fandom that covers. Not trying to be difficult or anything, but "the early days" to me at least denotes the old EZboard before the move in I think 2005.


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Are we talking "early days" or before the TV show? At least to me those are two very different things. :P There's over a decade of fandom that covers. Not trying to be difficult or anything, but "the early days" to me at least denotes the old EZboard before the move in I think 2005.

All the old timers bully me because I only started reading the books in 2004 :(

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Speaking for the book threads I don't think the TV shows made that big an impact, the big recent impact on the atmosphere was the wave of incomers after the publication of ADWD and the rise of new distinct fandoms like the Stannis fans.



Before ADWD (summer 2011) the book threads were much quieter with a slower turn over. They have been revitalised since ADWD, but perhaps that means that they have become a foreign place to the old timers. The pace really hasn't let up since the publication of ADWD. Presumably the TV programme has fed into that, but I don't notice anything distinctive about that cadre save for a tendency to occasionally complain about aspects of the screening or some confusion over differences between what is in the books and what they have seen on TV.


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I'll leave it to you all to decide what you consider the 'early days', because I suppose a lot of people with have their own definitions.



So, to clarify, I would like to find out about any time pre-TV. If you include years and new publications in your posts then it will help me to figure out a rough timeline if I need to.



Many thanks!


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All the old timers bully me because I only started reading the books in 2004 :(

I started the books in 2004 and joined the site in 2006, a few months after AFFC came out, but I can't say I've been bullied by old-timers.

ETA: To answer the OP, I am a little annoyed that the increased audience of this site has led to increased server load issues, and very annoyed that it's led to an influx of some really cancerous trolls. I mean, we had a fucking Holocaust denier.

On my perception of GRRM: I used to have a lot of faith that he'd finish the books, which has eroded. When the HBO series became a reality, I was still sure that he could wrap up books 6 and 7 before the show caught up. In the last year or so I've come to realize it's not going to happen, and the series could well spoil a bunch of stuff that's yet to be written (or at least published). In fact it may have already started.

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I started the books in 2004 and joined the site in 2006, a few months after AFFC came out, but I can't say I've been bullied by old-timers.

ETA: To answer the OP, I am a little annoyed that the increased audience of this site has led to increased server load issues, and very annoyed that it's led to an influx of some really cancerous trolls. I mean, we had a fucking Holocaust denier.

On my perception of GRRM: I used to have a lot of faith that he'd finish the books, which has eroded. When the HBO series became a reality, I was still sure that he could wrap up books 6 and 7 before the show caught up. In the last year or so I've come to realize it's not going to happen, and the series could well spoil a bunch of stuff that's yet to be written (or at least published). In fact it may have already started.

I was joking.

My experience is similar to yours, though I mostly lurked for my first 8 years on the board.

When I first came onto the board, I read the book discussions for about a year before they seemed to get reptitive. Then I got back into the books forums after AFFC was published for about 3 or 4 months. I think a lot of other people followed a similar pattern: Participate in the book forums for a while, get bored and eiter spend all your time in the miscellaneous section or leave altogether. This dynamic seems to have changed after the TV show was picked. It seems that there's critical mass in the fandom that different perspectives (such as feminist or marxist critiques) or sub fandoms (like Stannis) can gain following and argue with and amongst each other, kind of like Harry Potter fans can still argue about whether or not Hermione should have ended up with Harry. Either that or people are genuinely interested inthe 50th iteration of R+L=J.

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These are just my perceptions but you, of course, are welcome to them. I had my eye on book AGOT from the time it was first published but didn't get around to reading it until just after ACOK was released.



In terms of the message boards, I go back to the tail end of the old EZBoard and transferred to this board as soon as I found out about the change. Back at the EZBoard and early on with this board the membership was, of course, smaller. And, even though everyone seemed to know everyone, it didn't seem unwelcoming to me. I just started hanging out, reading threads, and jumping in where I felt I had something to say. I think in the beginning many of the board regulars did actually know each other from attending Cons together, etc.



I eventually did get a chance to physically meet GRRM when he attended a Con close to where I live. He was great and, if anything, actually meeting him made him even more just a real person to me. That's why you'll never catch me complaining about him not having the books out on my schedule, his working on other things, etc. I afford him the same consideration I would like for myself and, of course, he's not my bitch anyway ;)



Obviously, the fandom and the number of people signing in on this board has skyrocketed since the HBO series began but it seemed to me to be growing steadily before that as well (maybe Ran has the actual numbers?) Also, it seems to me that basically all the same questions keep getting brought up but that's completely expected considering the newcomers are going to continually have the same questions when they show up. Then, of course, there's the inevitable show vs. books debates but that's completely to be expected as well. In addition, I think there's a normal progression from the book forums that originally bring people to the site to the miscellaneous and general chat forums. That's where I usually lurk now but I do still check out the book forums from time to time - especially after a new book is released.



Finally, in my humble opinion, this is a wonderfully moderated and welcoming online community (even though I probably have far less experience with the length and breadth of internet forums than many here).

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I started posting back in 2003 right before the birth of my daughter. I started in the book threads and rapidly transistioned to "general chatter". I met GRRM back in 2007 at Trinoc-Con in Raleigh NC.

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... just some very quick comments from a person who is new to both the books and television series, and this forum. And I promise, I'll make a quick exit from the thread.:)



I don't spend much time on the internet, but when I am relaxing and on a forum I like to be engaged and engage others. This forum is by far the most energetic, dynamic, and interesting I've ever been a member of. That said, I find because I'm new to the books/tv series that I can't really participate in those threads as I hate knowing what's around the corner, or how plot lines will eventually play out.



My only complaint is that I think some of you who have been here for so long, aren't as welcoming to new members as you could be. :)


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I think I only started posting after the tv show, but I lurked before hand, because my brother showed me the books when the tv show was announced. I blew through them and had to get my fix. I haven't noticed a big change really. Just website not letting me on when a new episode comes out, or a season starts.


I've seen very little evolution, but I have been around long enough to lurk general chatter because I have read and discussed everything in the book forums dozens of times now. I'm pretty sure that until the books, or show are finished, then the board will stagnate.


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Thanks for all your responses so far,



I'm also interested in finding out what what happening elsewhere in the fandom (besides on the forum) before the TV show.


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I started reading ASOIAF when I saw AGOT in paperback at a bookstore in the mall back in 1998. I was a big fan of Raymond E. Feist back then and was looking for something to read while waiting for his next book. When I saw the map in AGOT it appealed it and me and I decided to get it based mostly on that. I also saw ACOK in hardcover and decided to go ahead and buy that at the same time. I read both books quickly, for me, and eagerly awaited ASOS and go that as soon as it came out in hardcover.



I was on my first "real" computer at that time, on dial up internet, and wasn't involved much in any internet communities so I didn't find the forum until a few years later.



I found the old EZ board in 2002 when I was trying to find out why ADWD hadn't been published yet. I had done a reread of the series earlier that year to get ready and was wondering what was up. I found the EZ board and the explanation about the five-year gap no longer happening and that now the next book would be AFFC and then ADWD. I saw some interesting thread topics and stuck around as a lurker and finally joining and making my first post by the end of 2002.



I remember drifting from the book forum to the Literature - other authors - forum where I began to hear about all these other great authors and books. They hardly ever have let me down in finding new great works to read and warning of what to stay away from. Then I found the Miscellaneous forum. Right from the start I could see it was a great group of people highly intelligent and witty that posted there/here and as I continued to hang around and slowly increase my own post count, my respect and apperception as well as feelings of friendship and kinship for these people only grew. Though I hope to do so eventually, I've never met anyone here in real life, but that doesn't change that I consider so many here my good friends.



I have the utmost respect for GRRM and I understand his issues with getting the books done. I'm an amateur writer, but I've written enough to know about getting blocked, I sympathize with any difficulty he's having or had. I may have been frustrated with the wait between books before, then finding AFFC and ADWD seeming to meander too much with too much filler - but still feeling GRRM writing filler is more fun to read than most authors writing at their peak - but it still ends up that now I'm just not that invested in the series anymore. I still love to read GRRM's works and I've come to like the tv series after initially finding it jarring compared to the flow of the books, but I don't have the passion for any of it that I did right after ASOS where I couldn't get enough ASOIAF. I hope GRRM finishes the series but mostly I wish him the best and hope he is enjoying his life. I think he's a great guy and a great writer regardless if the series is ever completed or not.



The only contact I've had with GRRM was when he was offering a deal on his website for his collected short stories book Rretrospective along with copies of Tuf Voyaging and Windhaven. I bought them directly from him, we sent a few emails back and forth, mainly him making sure I got everything ok and he signed each book for me. It was fun to see upon receiving the package it was like getting a package from a friend or relative, not a professional company, everything bundled up by hand and plastic shopping bags stuffed in to make everything secure.

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I'll leave it to you all to decide what you consider the 'early days', because I suppose a lot of people with have their own definitions.

So, to clarify, I would like to find out about any time pre-TV. If you include years and new publications in your posts then it will help me to figure out a rough timeline if I need to.

Many thanks!

The first Con was in 2001, I think PhilCon? That was also when the Brotherhood without Banners were formed, which is the fan community that meets up at conventions and stuff. See link here about it.

At that point I had only been around for a few months. I registered on the EZboard forum in March, 2001, after having lurked since early January when I finished "A Storm of Swords". Back then, the environment where generally quite pleasant, but there was a pretty general disapproval of Cat and Sansa in the book threads. The Stannis love wasn't prevalent as it is today.

The history of the Board is written by someone, I am sure. I distinctly remember reading it!

EDIT: Might want to sift through this thread, it contains a lot of old posters and a lot of nuggets of history, like ByTor, Alfred of Hewsdale and the old eesite and what have you. I remember reading the old eesite but I only had a modem at that point (it was the dark ages of the Intrawebbs).

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I was joking.

My experience is similar to yours, though I mostly lurked for my first 8 years on the board.

I shoulda thought about it a little more and figured you were, because yeah, I rarely see bullying from the old-timers, though a lot of brash and ignorant newcomers who think their thoughts are irresistibly novel, heaven-sent paeans of original thought think they're being discriminated against when people tell them their shit is old and stinky.

I'm not sure how long it was that I remained mostly on the book forums, but I am pretty sure I was at least a Council Member before I became a regular in Misc, and the NFL thread was my first regular hangout. It was clear to me from my first exploratory lurks that Misc, especially the politics threads, demanded a higher level of discourse and argumentation.

I've been a member of a number of different online communities, from video game forums to band forums to football forums, and this is the best-moderated, highest-quality site I've ever been on, with some really intimidating and incisive minds whose posts continually educate me on any number of topics. I am more liberal now than when I joined, and a lot of that, especially on gender and LGBT issues, is directly attributable to this community.

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This board has never quite been like other boards. The level of intelligence has always been sky high and I'd argue the members likely had one of the highest collective IQs of any message board community on the internet back before the TV show brought in a new generation.



I first joined the ezboard back in 2001 or so, right around the time to be insanely jealous about members not just meeting but being able to party with George R.R. Martin at WorldCon. While being part of the board for so long, I've always personally been a standoffish person who never really "joined in all the reindeer games" but I have been a near-constant observer.



That said, this board was - and still is - one of the least tolerant I've ever seen when it comes to dealing with flames and insults (I say this as someone who has been banned more than half a dozen times after arguments got heated). It comes from those early days when the board was like an extended family. There may have been different opinions and beliefs and cultures and races and ethnicities but we all had one thing in common: love for this obscure but increasingly popular series of fantastic books.


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I've only been a part of this board for a couple years, and even then I lurk more than I post, but as someone who read the books just before the series came out, I can definitely add that the fandom has changed quite dramatically since the HBO adaptation, especially in regards to its size. One thing I've noticed is that some people who've been fans of the series for many years have offered thinly veiled disdain for the newcomers, although I should note that such attitudes aren't usually expressed on this site. Some of the fans I know IRL carry a certain sense of superiority about themselves, largely due to the much greater commitment to the series that they've put in compared to someone who tunes in to HBO every season, and so there is a definite divide between fans of the books, fans of the show, and fans of both.



Of course, I'm talking about a sample of like, four or five people here, so take that with a grain of salt!



One thing I will add about this board, though, is that it is by far the most civilized and open-minded internet forums I've ever come across. I certainly haven't been here as long as many of the other users have, but I do feel a strong sense of community, thoughtfulness, and almost professionalism, I guess. On no other board have I seen people so often called out for the integrity of the sources they cite, or the content of their arguments, etc. It really is a cool place, and I feel lucky to have stumbled across it!


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Started the books in 2005, joined the board in 2007.



The fandom was definitely much smaller in the pre-TV show days, yet this board was never lacking for posters. Back then I was much more interested in the discussions in the book-dedicated subforums and didn't frequent General Chatter much. Over time, as I caught up on most theories and discussions, the book subforums started seeming repetitive so I stopped visiting them, except when a new book came out. It got 'worse' with the announcement and release of the TV show. The sudden spike in popularity of the asoiaf universe at that time was colloquially referred as the fl00b (flood+noob afaik) around here for a while :). In retrospect an apter description would be "the show boomers". I am not sure what's the appropriate time lag between fandom generations, but I think we should've reached generation X by now. Perhaps post-show would be gen Y and so on.



I think the biggest difference between the pre-TV days and now is that the fandom seems to be slowly diverging - on the one side we have the book loyalists, who watch and perhaps enjoy the show, but perceive the books as canon and any deviations the show makes as non-canon. On the other side we have the TV show usurpers, who first experienced GRRMs universe through the show. Some of them have never even read the books, some have skimmed or spoiled them to catch up, others are avoiding them to avoid spoilers ... but they are more willing to accept the show as canon or at least as canon as the books are.



As for your GRRM-related questions - I've never had contact with him, nor have I sought any. The man was pestered enough as it is even back in 2005 for me to bother him too. I let him write in peace and enjoy his work when it's ready.



Whether he's changed or not, I can't really tell. Those who've met him and know him better would probably know more. Frankly I hope he hasn't, for I do not wish him to change.


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The fandom was much more close-knit back in the days before the TV show. It was possible to know, or at least be familiar with, almost everyone active on this site (and those on others like ToTH). And it was much easier to integrate new users into the community -- we got to know them, and they learned what is and isn't acceptable behavior around here. This last point is important, as you've seen with many of the other posts in this thread: we take a dim view of morons, bigots, trolls, and rape apologists, because all of that shit brings down the level of discourse to something we consider unacceptable. With an influx of more than 70,000 new members over the span of three years, that system of integration has broken, and the TV subforum is, for the most part, a giant cesspool. A number of the n00bs have managed to break free of that stigma (love you guys), but I'm definitely more skeptical of n00bs than I was four years ago.



I see GRRM at least twice a year, sometimes more. We chat via email or on the phone occasionally. My perception of GRRM hasn't changed drastically -- it's just broadened as I've gotten to know him as a friend, rather than just as that dude who writes killer stories. I am extremely happy for him that he's found great success with ASOIAF and GoT, although I know that the transition to recognizable celebrity has not been especially easy for him. As head of the BWB, I do what I can to mitigate those stresses, but there's only so much I can feasibly do.



Changes in the fandom: It has gotten larger and broader. It is a fandom for its own sake (it kind of already was, but it's now more so). What I mean by that: A huge percentage of people who love GoT or even ASOIAF would NEVER identify as a fantasy fan, or even a genre fiction fan. Shit, there are tons of show fans who can barely fucking read. They'd rather eat a bullet than do "any of that nerdy shit." (Direct quote I once heard, BTW.) In the early days, one had to be mostly bought-into the idea of genre fiction as a legitimate pastime to even want to pick up ASOIAF -- that kept the fandom relatively focused. Basically, any interpersonal differences we used to have were differences in degree. With the show, we're now seeing a difference in kind.



I have some very complicated feelings about fandom -- ironic, given my role as Baroness -- but that's probably a discussion for a later time. Are you going to WorldCon in London?


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