Welcome to TheFanlistings.org! Have you stumbled upon us or a fanlisting and wondered what this nonsense is all about? Well, you've come to the right place for answers! This guide will attempt to answer all your TheFanlistings.org (often referred to as TFL) related questions. If you have any specific questions about TFL, please also check out our FAQ.
Fanlistings: What Exactly Are They?
A fanlisting is, quite simply, a listing of fans. Fanlistings are similar to any other group or club you might join. You can join a fanlisting to 'show your love of something.' Most fanlistings have small codes, buttons, or plaques available which you can display on your own website if you'd like. Our site definition of a fanlisting is:
"A fanlisting is simply an online list of fans of a subject, such as a TV show, actor, or musician, that is created by an individual and open for fans from around the world to join. There are no costs, and the only requirements to join a fanlisting are your name and country. Fanlistings do not have to be large sites (although some are); they are just a place where you can sign up with other fans. TheFanlistings.org is the original (but not official) web directory for fanlistings, dedicated to uniting the fans."
I Still Don't Get It!:
Fanlistings are just a fun idea of something to add to your site and a way to collect fans in one place. The concept was created to join together fans of certain subjects, as a way of creating tighter fandom communities.
Well, What Is TheFanlistings.org (TFL) Then?
TheFanlistings.org is a web directory OF fanlistings. We were the first web community (opened in 2000), and we are also the largest (over 20,000 fanlistings). While we share the fanlisting concept with other communities, we are proud to hold these two titles. We aren't 'officially sponsored' in any way, so fanlistings listed here aren't the 'official' fanlisting of a subject. Our site is not a business - our directory is updated and run by volunteers.
So, How Do I Get Started?
If you want to join fanlistings, head over to our Listed Fanlistings section - all the TFL fanlistings that TFL has listed currently are found here. The fanlistings written in grey with no links have already been approved, but they are under construction and are not yet opened. These cannot be applied for at TFL since they are reserved. Fanlistings that are linked are open for visitors and joining. Most fanlistings will have the following sections: About, Join, Codes, Rules, Members, and Extras. "About" usually gives a brief bio of the site. "Join" will usually contain a join form where you can sign up. You need to give your name and country. Most fanlistings also require an e-mail address so they can contact you (e.g., if the fanlisting moves). EVERYTHING else is optional. "Codes" will contain a range of buttons (e.g., 50x50, 75x50, 88x31, 100x35 and 100x50) which you can download and upload to your website, then use to link back to the fanlisting. The "Members" list will contain all the fanlisting members, and "Extras" contain miscellaneous items.
Does TFL Cost Anything?
No - it costs nothing to join a fanlisting or to list your fanlisting at TFL. Everything we provide is free of charge. However, it does cost us to host this site (more than $100 US a month), so if you would like to support us, we would appreciate it!
Do the TFL Fanlistings Have to Have Content?
No, content is not required. Most fanlistings do not contain extra content, but there are a few that do. Some fanlistings are a part of large fansites as well. Fanlistings may seem 'pointless' without additional material, but the idea behind fanlistings is to be simple and fun.
How Do I Get Involved in Building Fanlistings?
The first thing you need to know is that TFL only lists one fanlisting per subject. If you want a fanlisting listed at TFL, you need to make sure that the fanlisting subject isn't already taken. If it is, you can still go ahead and build the fanlisting - but TFL won't list it. You can check out our Links section for a list of other directories that may be able to list your fanlisting if we can't. Also, we recommend that if you want your fanlisting listed at TFL, don't build the fanlisting prior to approval by TFL. For popular subjects, we can have between 20 and 100 applications, of which only one will be approved.
So, how do I apply and get approved?
TFL uses a system where people 'apply' to have their fanlisting subject listed at TFL. So, if a new movie or book comes out, or if a subject is closed or removed from TFL, it becomes 'open' for applications. Once you're ready to apply, read TFL's rules and agree to them. Then, click the apply link. Please notice that each category has specific rules which should be read before applying. After reviewing and understanding the rules, fill out the application form. The application has several parts:
- Your Name: Either your real name or internet name
- Your E-mail: Use a real one that you check regularly. Also, be sure to list TFL as 'Not Spam' in your email client. Our emails are often treated as spam because so much e-mail gets sent by us!
- Your URL: TFL requires that you know HTML and have graphics skills to apply. To provide proof, we require a link/url of a website you have created. Template sites are not accepted.
- Subject: The subject of the fanlisting you want to apply for (e.g., 'Orlando Bloom', 'The Phantom of the Opera 2004 movie').
- Subcategory (if applicable): The subcategory this fanlisting would go in. For example, Clay Aiken American Idol performances would go in the 'Performances' subcategory of Music. If you are unsure what category your fanlisting belongs in, see the category rules page for examples, or check the "approved FLs" to get an idea.
- Additional Information: Use this if your fanlisting subject has additional names (like stage names or different spellings) or for links to related information (e.g., IMBD page, home page of subject)
- Comments: You can leave comments on why you want the fanlisting or questions for the staffer.
Then press send. You will get a confirmation page on our website that the e-mail went through. Staffers are required to update their category at least once a month. They are also required to wait at least one week before approving fanlistings for subjects closed or removed from TFL. This gives applicants enough time to get their applications in, but also gives the staffer time to decide who is best for the fanlisting. We do not approve on a 'first come, first serve' basis. Within a month, you will receive either a rejection or an approval email from the TFL staffer. If you're approved, start building!
I'm Listed! Now What?
Once you've received confirmation that you've been approved to build a fanlisting, you have four weeks to make your site. You can build your fanlisting anywhere - on your domain, on Freewebs, on a friend's domain. The only requirement is that sites must be accessible to everyone, so hosts like kit.net that block non-country visitors aren't allowed.
If you have never made a fanlisting before, and need some help, have a look at the Sample Fanlisting. It should give you some ideas.
All fanlistings listed at TFL require the following:
- A members list that includes names of members and their countries
- A last updated date (in detailed format: 07 May 2005, rather than 07/05/05)
- A link back to TheFanlistings.org
- A notice on the splash page if the fanlisting only works in certain browsers
Most fanlistings also include a Join form where visitors can submit their name, country, and e-mail address (you can require an e-mail address or not). All other information must be optional. You can have a Rules page for visitors to read- though again, anything other than name, e-mail address, and country must be optional (this includes rules that require "code words").
Many members will want something to display on their websites. You can do this by providing buttons/codes for them to use. The most frequently used sizes are 50x50, 75x50, 100x35, and 100x50, and sometimes 200x40 and 88x31. It's best to have at least one button/code in each size, though many fanlistings give visitors a choice of several buttons/codes per size.
In addition, it's nice to have an About page that gives background on the site, some brief information on the fanlisting subject, why you like the fanlisting subject, and an explanation of what a fanlisting is (not everyone who visits your site will know).
Fanlistings update and list members in various ways – some people do it manually, others use fanlisting management scripts like BellaBuffs or Enthusiast. How you update is up to you, just be sure to update once every two months!
One way to attract visitors and members is to have an attractive layout. Fanlistings don't need to be extravagant, but having a layout that is easy to navigate and see, and which is interesting or nice to look at, definitely helps. Affiliating with other sites or fanlistings is a good way to get new visitors.
When you've finished your fanlisting, submit a Finished form to the category in which your fanlisting subject is listed. You can find the link to the finished form in our menu under "FOR FL Owners." Include the web address to your new fanlisting, and use the same name and e-mail address that was on your application. After pressing send, you will receive a confirmation page on our website. The staffer in charge of finished forms will either send you a confirmation e-mail when your URL has been listed or will contact you if there are problems with your fanlisting that need to be fixed. Staffers are required to update once a month, so please be patient while waiting for your fanlisting to be listed. You can, of course, immediately promote your finished fanlisting!
What Are Fanlisting "Codes"?
Codes, sometimes called buttons, are small images that are used to link back to a fanlisting you've joined. Like pins and badges that you would wear on your clothes, codes/buttons are a way to show your love or support for something or that you are a member of a certain group, in this case, the fanlisting. They are placed on your own personal website and are linked back to the fanlisting so that other people may see the code and know that you are a fan.
Typically, codes are images and text related to the subject and most fanlistings have a selection available. Typical code sizes are (width x height): 50x50, 75x50, 100x35 and 100x50.
How are Fanlisting Decisions Made?
TFL is a huge network, and we get many applications for each subject, especially popular topics like Harry Potter and new movies. Staffers use a range of factors to decide who to approve for the fanlisting.
Key factors in deciding on an applicant are: the total number of fanlistings a person has; the number of fanlistings currently on upcoming; the number of fanlistings in the 'fandom'; the number of fanlistings currently on troubles; the care of current fanlistings; ownership history and previous troubles record.
Factors that may be important in a difficult decision are: codes; design skills; the number of fanlisting layouts designed by the owner (as opposed to using donated layouts); and cross-browser compatibility. Comments on the application form may be considered as a factor, but these are not as important as the other factors listed above.
Issues which are not considered at all are: applicant's host; number of joined/related fanlistings; perceived interest in fandom; wish-list/kill-for lists; comments on LJ/blog; and a staffer's personal knowledge of applicants outside of the application.
Fanlisting decisions are not made on a first-come-first-serve basis. That is, the first person to apply doesn't automatically get chosen. Because our staffers are from all around the world, it wouldn't be fair because others may not even get a chance. Also, things like movies open at different times around the world, so we try and give enough time for people to see the movie or read the book and then apply.
Our staff or ex-TFL staffers do not get preference for fanlistings; it just wouldn't be fair. It is true that our staffers do have a number of 'good' fanlistings. However, we want to point out that many of our staffers have been 'in' the network for a long time, giving them a better chance of accumulating their fanlistings over time (i.e., when TFL was less popular), and many of these have been adoptions or were approved to them before they came on staff.
Subjects that get many applications are often decided by a group of staffers, rather than just the category staffers. We often get more than 10 staffers to help decide on a 'popular' subject to ensure a fair choice.
What Does the Troubles List Mean?
You may have noticed the troubles page or had a fanlisting placed 'on troubles.' The reason we have/do this is that fanlistings over time can have problems (e.g., dead link, not updating) which frustrates users - so we regularly (once every two months or so) check all the sites listed at TFL and make a list of 'problem sites.' Every fanlisting owner is contacted twice and given one week to resolve the problem and let us know. It is absolutely essential to have a correct e-mail as there is nothing worse than finding out your site has been unlisted!
The things we check sites for are broad but include: dead links (entire site or essential pages, such as the join form), not updating (members or update information requests), script/browser issues, problems with the TFL link, and problems with the last update date.
What Else Is At the Site?
TFL has quite a lot of additional content, from interactive features to information. For information, we have our Links Centre and our 'For FL Owners' section with tutorials and tips. Interactive features include our awards, Livejournal community, and message board. TFL also has a Network News mailing list which major changes at TFL are posted to.
Who Runs This Place?
TFL is fan run, meaning the people that run it also run fanlistings and join them! It was initially opened in 2000 and run by Janine, but as it got bigger, more staff were brought on to maintain it. In 2002, 'ownership' was passed onto Abby, Bonnie, Sasha, and Summer. There are around 40 staffers right now. Six staffers make up the 'senior staff,' which means they look after the 'day to day' issues of TFL: inquiries, complaints, management, and making sure the staff are okay and that the network is being maintained. We also have staffers in charge of design, our server, and development of our database. We currently have around 40 staff in charge of network updates; these staffers deal with questions about categories, applications and fanlisting forms, and management of the 20,000 fanlistings listed here - a tough job! In addition to the permanent staff, there are around 100 trouble checkers who review TFL's listed sites and make sure they are all working okay.
I've Got a Question!
If you have a question, you have several ways of getting an answer. You could make a post over at the TFL Message Board – it is very active and friendly. Another option is to use our contact forms – you can post an e-mail to a category staffer if your question is about something in a specific category, or to the senior staff if your question is more general.
Thank you for reading through our guide, and we hope you enjoy your experience with fanlistings!