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I read Reposting and You – a fandom etiquette discussion and as with other similar posts I largely agreed with the basic premise (nb I don't feel like arguing about it with anyone either way), but was struck by the statement "feedback is the currency of fandom" and the assumption that people primarily create (or at least publicly post) fanworks in order to get feedback, and that a typical reaction to not getting "enough" feedback (where "enough" is of course very personal and depends on context) is to keep creating fanworks but to stop posting them publicly.

I'm not arguing that this isn't true for most fans, maybe it is. But it's not true for me, unless I'm misunderstanding the metaphor or something.

Before I begin: exceptions like me in no way invalidate posts like the one above, since their argument still works if a large but not overwhelming majority of fans react to feedback in the way they describe. I am inspired by such posts, not arguing against them :)

And now, a long ramble as I poke at my motivations for making fanworks.

So: like most fans I desperately crave positive feedback. If I don't get much I feel sad and discouraged, and if I get lots it encourages me to create and post more fanworks. The fact that fanworks get a lot more feedback than original ones is one reason I create less original works proportionally.

But I would say that overall my two main motivations for making fanworks are:
(a) making other people happy
(b) Feeling talented
In both cases, feedback (positive or otherwise) is a measure of the extent to which I have succeeded, not an end unto itself. (A third motivation is practice. This is one of the main ways I motivate myself to complete original works or obscure fanworks I know I probably won't get any feedback on)

I have never created fanworks to become popular, because for me "people whose fanworks I like" "people who like my fanworks" and "friends" tend to be largely separate groups, and crossing the streams does not always end well. I have made some wonderful friends through my fanworks, but I make a lot more through posts and comments etc.

I have sometimes used positive feedback from fanworks to FEEL popular/liked when I was feeling particularly lonely and depressed, but I usually ended up feeling dirty for spending so much effort getting praise from the teenagers who make up a lot of my fandoms. "Congratulations self, you impressed someone you're old enough to be the mother of" etc.

I have a lot of ISSUES around asking for/seeking out things. Maybe my reaction against the idea of fannish "currency" is a result of my quasi-socialist Christian guess-culture upbringing, which was all about putting others needs above your own. The idea of doing something for "money" is much less appealing to me than the idea of doing it for others, even if in both cases the underlying motivation is wanting to make myself feel good.

Like a lot of creators, I am constantly barraged by negative thoughts about how much I suck, how terrible the things I create are etc. Positive feedback reminds me that (a)I apparently don't TOTALLY suck and (b) That even if my work DOES suck it still made someone happy. But having been creating fanworks long enough to have a moderate feeling for my own abilities and other people's tastes, I need these reminders in general rather than on every work. And there is zero appeal to hiding my work away unless I think it's bad: then I would make less people happy! Also I sometimes cheer myself up by thinking "if it really is terrible it will make other artists feel better about themselves".

Being able to tell myself "there is at least one person out there who desperately wants THIS EXACT STORY/PICTURE and if you don't make it chances are noone else will" is incredibly motivating, I find it much harder to motivate myself to finish less unique works unless my muse is super insistent, I keep thinking "other people have already done this better".

I am one of those people who needs a prod to create things. I wrote one whole story from ages 16-28, and only started writing fanfic because I was friends with someone working on the AO3 and wanted to help out by beta-ing the posting template. Knowing that LITERALLY ANY FIC would do helped me get past my self consciousness, but I wasn't expecting any feedback beyond that (and now it is one of my most popular works lol)

If nobody comments on a work I think "EVERYONE HATES IT IT WAS TERRIBLE". But I think that if there was a popular website for art/writing where I got credit (I do like getting credit, I can't entirely articulate why) but nobody could leave comments I would crosspost there. I wouldn't post there exclusively, I do want SOME feedback, but as long I was getting my recommended intake of ego boo from Deviantart etc the knowledge that more people were able to access my work and were silently enjoying it would be gratifying. The couple of times I've come across people commenting on recs to my works rather than at the work itself I thought "Hey it would have been nice to hear that personally!" but mostly was just really chuffed to be recced.

Circling back to the post that inspired me: I am a little annoyed when people post my (sourced) art to tumblr, especially since I do have an art tumblr they could have reblogged. But I am mostly just really flattered! (But enough artists don't feel that way that posting without asking permission is still plenty rude)

When it comes to actual money my attitude is quite different. I haven't tried all that hard to make money from my original art but if someone sold (sourced and credited!) copies of it without permission and didn't give me a cut I would be PISSED OFF.

And...that's all I can think of to say! I have a feeling I've forgotten something, though. Anyway, if you got through all that: how do other people's reactions compare? I'm sure a lot of the people who subscribe to the "feedback is fannish currency" thing ALSO value making other people happy and reassurance that their work isn't terrible, so I'm not sure how unusual I actually am.

EDIT: Further thoughts (at 4am...) based on the comments:

First: not all feedback is positive! And nor should it be, in my opinion. So really what we're talking about here is positive feedback, and that unstated assumption should be made explicit *edits post*

Second: What exactly is "currency"? Actual money can be traded back and forth for almost anything. (Positive) feedback can only be given, not traded (I can't say "I got 100 kudos, if I give them to you will you write me a fic?") and the receiver has no control over what it's "spent" on (eg the positive emotional effects) nor can they save them for a rainy day etc.

Thinking about the "business model" I guess in this metaphor posting fanworks is like busking: you produce your work in a public place and hope random passers by will throw you some coins, but there's no guaranteed income. If a busker makes no money, or not as much as they can elsewhere, they will probably stop. Hmm. Ok, that makes sense, though I see myself more as...like, a public artist who does leave a hat out but isn't there purely to get paid (which is the approach my busker friends took, but they only did it as a lark). Does that work as a metaphor for other people?
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