This guest blog was written by Mike Bawden in 2016 but Mike never published it . At that time we had just been sued by CBS, and the “haters” were a new thing. I think it is interesting to look back at what was going on then, as it has relevance to so many situations now in Axanar and fandom. It is kind of mind boggling that some of these “detractors” as Mike calls them, have turned into full blown stalkers. Cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying laws are actually quite interesting. But more on that soon…
A guest blog by Mike Bawden
The morning after I posted our new FAQ’s, there were two comments. Both were left by people who are known to us as “detractors” of Axanar Productions and have attacked Alec personally on social media. There were, as expected, lots of negative posts and comments left on the CBS/Paramount vs Axanar Facebook Page. It’s sad and it’s frustrating knowing there are people “out there” who are intent on tearing down a project you’re working on and the people you work with.
But it begs the question: “Where does all this anger come from?”
As part of my volunteer duties for Axanar Productions, I’ve spent the past three months reading and sometimes responding to comments made by our “detractors.” From that experience, I can define seven archetypes of people who fall into that general category, some with legitimate concerns and others whose concerns are not-so-legitimate. I break them into the following groups …
- People who are honestly upset with the claims of copyright infringement, generally don’t like fan films and find them artistically lacking in some way. For the most part, these people express their displeasure and move along. That’s fair. Not every project is going to appeal to everybody.
- Those who are outraged over the treatment they received from one of our moderators on social media or by someone else associated with the project. Nobody likes being dismissed as irrelevant – we understand that, and have taken steps to address our own shortcomings (see further down in the post).
- People who feel they aren’t being heard when they have a question, a critique or even an offer to help. We’re continuing to try and address those issues when they come up (and they come up in every venture – whether it’s artistic or commercial). Again, you can read about some of our plans to address these concerns below.
- People who have a “personal beef” with Alec – either first-hand or through second-hand research (meaning, usually, what they’ve been told by others). For the most part, there’s no changing the minds of these folks. They view Alec with disdain and that attitude is reflected in everything they say and do to damage the work Axanar Productions trying to do. It’s not that they can’t separate their dislike for Alec from our work, they just refuse to do so.
- There are some who find some kind of notoriety among their peers by making outrageous comments, positing wild conspiracy theories and making unfounded claims that they hope will get picked up by the echo chamber they’ve set up for themselves.
- There are a select few of the “detractors” who have found their posts and claims about Axanar Productions, Alec and Rob drive traffic to their websites. Is there a commercial advantage to doing so? If there is one, I can’t believe it’s too much of one – the audience involved here is pretty small – but having the ability to drive people to your website gives one a sense of control that can be intoxicating.
- And finally, there are those folks who just enjoy piling on. They seem to have very little empathy for any people who may get hurt in the process and have no desire to even hear another side to a story.
So what is Axanar Productions doing about this?
Well, for starters, some of these people have legitimate concerns we’ve discussed and taken action to address. We are interested in the opinions people have and the questions they may raise. We’ll address issues to the best of our ability and attempt to communicate our actions clearly and accurately. We’re always interested in getting better and doing good work. Honest feedback is appreciated.
We also try to answer questions honestly and accurately.
Unfortunately, in some cases, that means the questioner may not be satisfied with the answer we give. Answers and solutions may evolve over time, too – so sometimes “agreeing to disagree” may be the best answer available for a while.
As an answer to the concerns raised about how a few people have perceived their treatment by moderators on our various Facebook ages and this blog, we’ve added more moderators and established an appeals process for those who find themselves “banned” from those pages.
And, of course, I will continue to answer questions on social media and address larger issues here – but between my schedule and the number of questions asked (and accusations made), I’ll answer what I can have to let the rest slide.
As for the bullies, harassers and conspiracy theorists, I will engage only when I think it’s really necessary. Honestly, I hold no delusions that I’ll be able to sway this small group of 15-20, very angry and vindictive people.
I hope, in some small way, the bile they spew at Axanar Productions and Alec gives them the sense of validation they seek. If it does, then i have just one thing to say: