One of my lab’s areas of research and writing is participatory media and online fandom – that is, communities of people who create and consume fanworks.


Computational projects in fandom to empower marginalized communities. Many fandom participants learn computational skills both to create fanworks that increase representation (e.g., modding videogames) and to contribute to projects that help their communities (e.g., building their own platforms). What insights can these projects provide for broadening participation in computing for underrepresented groups? (Lead Researcher: PhD Student Brianna Dym) [Funded by the National Science Foundation]

Fandom as a support community. Online fandom can serve as a social support space for LGBTQ people who may not have support structures in their physical lives, particularly during the coming out process. How does this infrastructure form and how can we help support it? (Lead Researcher: PhD student Brianna Dym, in collaboration with Bryan Semaan at Syracuse University)  [Publications: CSCW 2019] [Public Scholarship: Medium post] [Funded in part by the NSF]

Privacy and ethics in fandom. Fandom communities, which have a large number of LGBT participants, have specific privacy norms and concerns. How can researchers and platforms research and design around those norms, and how can we better support these communities? (Lead Researcher: PhD Student Brianna Dym) [Publications: CSCW 2018 poster, TWC essay 2018] [Funded in part by the NSF project PERVADE]

Design and content moderation in fandom. Content warning systems are highly contextual tools in which a user’s need from that tool differs from person to person, and changes over time. How do we design better content warning systems that are both accessible to those that need those warnings without making a spectacle of that need? How do we design a non-disruptive content warning system visible and permeable only to those that need it? (Lead Researcher: PhD student Brianna Dym, with Morgan Scheuerman and Rebecca Wait)

Platform migration in fandom. How has fandom moved across different technologies over time? For example, what caused the shift from LiveJournal to Tumblr? (Collaboration with PhD student Brianna Dym) [Press: Slate interview] [Public scholarship: Tumblr post, Slate op-ed] [Presentations: AOIR 2018]

Fandom, crowdsourcing, and accessibility. Exploring possibilities of accessible comic books for the visually impaired, using crowdsourced descriptions from comic book fans. (Collaboration with Shaun Kane in Computer Science and former CS undergrad Christine Samson) [Publication: ASSETS 2016 poster]


Queerness in fanfiction and video games. Analysis of content tags on video game fan fiction, with an eye towards how gender identity is represented and re-written. (Lead Researcher: PhD Student Brianna Dym, with Jed Brubaker) [Publication: Game Studies 2018] [Public scholarship: Tumblr post]

Social norms and design in fandom. Interview study of designers and users of a large, open-source fan fiction archive that was built to specifications of an existing community with existing social norms and values. Focus on principles of feminist HCI. (Collaboration with my former PhD advisor Amy Bruckman, with Shannon Morrison) [Publications: CHI 2016 (Best Paper Honorable Mention), TWC essay 2018] [Public scholarship: paper blog 2016, Tumblr post][Presentations: Open Repositories 2018 Keynote]

Learning in fan communities. Analysis of interview data with (predominantly women) fan fiction writers about learning technical skills while participating in fandom. (Collaboration with my former PhD advisor Amy Bruckman and Ben Shapiro in Computer Science) [Publication: CSCW 2017]

Copyright and online fandom. How do social norms, laws, and platform policies around the gray areas of copyright (e.g., fair use) shape online creative communities such as those dedicated to fanworks? (Collaboration with my former PhD advisor Amy Bruckman) [Publications: CSCW 2014, CSCW 2015 (Best Paper Award), CSCW 2016, AOIR 2015ACM XRDS 2013, dissertationlaw review article 2013law review note 2008] [Funded by the NSF] [Press: The New York Times, Engadget, The Escapist] [Public scholarship: Fair Use Barbie, Queer Killer Beespaper blog 2014, paper blog 2015, blog post 2016]


Dym, Brianna and Casey Fiesler. “First rule of fandom”: Ethical and privacy considerations for research using public fandom data. Transformative Works & Cultures, forthcoming 2020.

Fiesler, Casey and Amy Bruckman. Creativity, Copyright, and Close-Knit Communities: A Case Study of Social Norm Formation and EnforcementProceedings of the ACM: Human-Computer Interaction, GROUP, 2020.

Dym, Brianna, Jed Brubaker, Casey Fiesler, and Bryan Semaan. “Coming Out Okay”: Community Narratives for LGBTQ Identity Recovery WorkProceedings of the ACM: Human-Computer Interaction, CSCW, 2019. [Blogged]

Dym, Brianna, Jed Brubaker, and Casey Fiesler. ““theyre all trans sharon”: Authoring Gender in Video Game Fan Fiction.” Game Studies 18, no. 3 (special issue on Queerness and Video Games) (2018).

Dym, Brianna, and Casey Fiesler. “Vulnerable and Online: Fandom’s Case for Stronger Privacy Norms and Tools.” In Companion of the 2018 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, pp. 329-332. ACM, 2018.

Fiesler, Casey. “Owning the servers: A design fiction exploring the transformation of fandom into” our own”.” Transformative Works and Cultures 28 (2018).

Dym, Brianna, and Casey Fiesler. “Generations, migrations, and the future of fandom’s private spaces.” Transformative Works and Cultures 28 (2018).

Fiesler, Casey, Shannon Morrison, R. Benjamin Shapiro, and Amy S. Bruckman. “Growing Their Own: Legitimate Peripheral Participation for Computational Learning in an Online Fandom Community.” In CSCW, pp. 1375-1386. 2017.

Samson, Christine, Casey Fiesler, and Shaun K. Kane. “Holy Starches Batman!! We are Getting Walloped!: Crowdsourcing Comic Book Transcriptions.” In Proceedings of the 18th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 289-290. ACM, 2016.

Fiesler, Casey, Shannon Morrison, and Amy S. Bruckman. “An archive of their own: a case study of feminist HCI and values in design.” In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2574-2585. ACM, 2016. [Best Paper Honorable Mention] [Blogged]

Fiesler, Casey, Cliff Lampe, and Amy S. Bruckman. “Reality and perception of copyright terms of service for online content creation.” In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, pp. 1450-1461. ACM, 2016. [Blogged

Fiesler, Casey. “The role of copyright in online creative communities: law, norms, and policy.” PhD diss., Georgia Institute of Technology, 2015.

Fiesler, Casey, Jessica L. Feuston, and Amy S. Bruckman. “Understanding copyright law in online creative communities.” In Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, pp. 116-129. ACM, 2015. [Best Paper Award] [Blogged] [Press: Escapist]

Fiesler, Casey, Jessica Feuston, and Amy S. Bruckman. “I Am Not a Lawyer: Copyright Q&A in Online Creative Communities.” In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Supporting Group Work (Poster), pp. 291-294. ACM, 2014.

Fiesler, Casey, and Amy Bruckman. “Copyright terms in online creative communities.” In CHI’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2551-2556. ACM, 2014. [Press: Engadget, NY Times]

Fiesler, Casey, and Amy S. Bruckman. “Remixers’ understandings of fair use online.” In Proceedings of the 17th ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work & social computing, pp. 1023-1032. ACM, 2014.

Fiesler, Casey. “The chilling tale of copyright law in online creative communities.” XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students 19, no. 4 (2013): 26-29.

Fiesler, Casey. “Pretending Without a License: Intellectual Property and Gender Implications in Online Games.” Buff. Intell. Prop. LJ 9 (2013): 1.

Fiesler, Casey. “Everything I need to know I learned from fandom: How existing social norms can help shape the next generation of user-generated content.” Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 10 (2007): 729. [Burton Award for Legal Writing]


Transformative Spaces: How Fandom Creates Communities of Support for LGBTQ PeopleSlate. November 5, 2019.

Why Archive of Our Own’s Surprise Hugo Nomination is Such a Big DealSlate. April 9, 2019.

Fandom’s Fate is Not Tied to Tumblr’sSlate. December 5, 2018. (With Brianna Dym)

Bring on the Queer Killer Bees: How Marvel Completely Misses the Value of FanfictionMedium. December 29, 2017.

What I Learned About the Internet From the Babysitters Club. Slate. February 1, 2017.

#Serial: Fandom Community Meets Armchair LawMedium. December 19, 2014.

Fair Use Barbie: Changing the Narrative and the Legality of Remix. November 27, 2014.


Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information OnlineWired. June 11, 2019.

Despite the looming fear of social media exodus, many fandom Tumblr users will staunchly remain on the platform. Polygon. December 10, 2018.

Tumblr’s porn ban is another internet blackout for sex workers. Wired. December 7, 2018.

Tumblr’s Porn Ban Could Be Its Downfall – After All, It Happened to LiveJournal. The Verge. December 6, 2018.

Before Tumblr announced plan to ban adult content, it was a safe space for exploring identity. The Washington Post. December 4, 2018.

How Tumblr’s adult content crackdown could alienate users. CNN. December 3, 2018.

Why did fans flee LiveJournal, and where will they go after Tumblr? Slate. March 29, 2018.


Growing Their Own: Lessons from the Community-Driven Development of Archive of Our Own. Mozilla. 2019. 

Casey Fiesler. Fansplaining. 2019.

Growing Their Own: Building an Archive and a Community for Fanfiction. Open Repositories 2018 Keynote. 2018.

Death and the Fangirl. Fansplaining. 2016.

How Copyright and the Internet Fuel Creativity. TEDxCU Talk. 2016.


In Fall 2018, I taught a class titled “Investigations in Information Science: Online Fandom” where students engaged in data science and survey work to conduct empirical work about fan communities. You can find some information about research findings from this class here on Tumblr.

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