Commercialization Consent Thresholds

Bear with me now on what sounds like something totally jargon-y for a moment.

Platforms that fandoms and communities live on all have operating costs, but how platforms address these costs and who participates on platforms as a result are interesting groups. One of the dividing lines (in addition to the age of the platform) are how platforms operate.

Fans that don’t mind themselves or their work being commodified, advertised against exist in certain spaces. Fans and communities that want brand money to stay out of their expression exist on other platforms.

There are lines in the sand drawn with regards to being found by outsiders or powers that be.

These lines are what I would like to think of as commercialization consent thresholds. For instance, AO3 is a non-profit, FanFiction.net is for profit, and Wattpad is actively brokering deals between authors and entities outside of the fanfiction ecosystem. These three attitudes (along with features and interfaces) are likely to draw different kinds of fans with different attitudes about the role of brands in community spaces.

In the PBS documentary Generation Like the concept of “selling out” was a hot topic. The interviewers asked young people about their thoughts on their favorite creators working with brands. From a digital native perspective, these fans understood that working with brands was part of the growth and career trajectory of their favorite creators (at least in the USA).

Working with brands and being open to commercial interests seems to be a changing attitude in audiences. The question of consent comes into play in the implied nature of each platform, and their attempts to position themselves in the market, and the way their constituencies talk about each platform.

Does consent for commercialization go hand in hand with reputations of platforms, in addition to the legal TOS that users agree to? Does this impact fan choices on which platforms to use and express themselves? Does it make a difference if the fannish works are affirmative (curative) or transformative (creative)?