Friday the 13th, Part 2

Yesterday I posted the first half of an interview with Brenna O’Brien, half of the webmaster team behind Friday the 13th’s unofficial fan site. Here is part 2!

What are the biggest challenges of running the site?

The biggest challenge at first was dealing with the enormous growth in activity. We started out with a small webspace, but it was soon clear that we were overloaded with traffic. Over the years we’ve kept having to transfer to more bandwith and more space, and the price has gone up and up. We have been against using ads on our site for unrelated items, but we decided we could have a couple banners for specifically Friday the 13th-related merchandise. The commission we get now from those items balances out the cost of running the site, so that is no longer the biggest problem. It’s the price you have to pay for being a popular site!

In relation to the forum, the biggest challenge is maintaining the integrity of the community and keeping an eye on all the discussions that go on every single day. It used to be just us two, but we have added many moderators to help with the day-to-day running of the message board. You need to have people that you can trust to make the same decisions you would, and who won’t abuse their power. It is a delicate balance, but one of the things the members say they appreciate the most is that respect is maintained and that the forum hasn’t degenerated into name-calling and flaming because of the moderators. We like to think of it like a coffee shop with lots of conversation going on, and if someone walks in and starts yelling slurs and obscenities then they are going to be shown the door.

From your perspective, what are the most interesting things going on in your site?

I think the most interesting thing that has happened because of the site is the bonds people have made outside the online world. We have had two Friday the 13th Camps, where people came from all over North America and Europe to meet for a week and pretend to be in summer camp again. There are many friendships and connections that people have that started with the shared interest of horror movies, but has gone way beyond that. One of our friends we met through the forum was even a groomsman in our wedding! I think that’s what I’ve appreciated the most about the forum – making friends that you can count on and trust.

Do you think there’s anything distinctive about horror film fandom that’s different from other kinds of fandom?

Well I don’t really have much experience with other fandom groups, but something I’ve noticed about horror fans is that they seem to have an outsider perspective, both positive and negative. Many have felt isolated and rejected in high school because they like blood and guts, and they feel like they can identify both with the killer and the victim. In particular with Friday the 13th, the killer is Jason Voorhees, a deformed boy who grew up alone in the woods. For most of the teenage boys on our site, they’ve felt like that at least once or twice. Like many other fans, they collect toys, posters, and movies, and being a horror fan is part of what defines them as an individual. I would like to emphasize that like most fans, they know the difference between fantasy and reality, and there’s no danger of violence crossing over into their real lives.

What advice would you offer other people interested in building fan sites like yours?

I think that you need to make your online environment as comfortable as you would want a real life environment. There are so many social cues that we can’t see when we are on the Internet, so you need people to maintain those norms and keep the community running smoothly. Problems start happening when people say things to other people that they wouldn’t say to their face, and the owners need to keep reminding everyone that there are real people on the other side of the screen. It’s very easy for flame wars to escalate and for a forum to descend into chaos, so maintain the type of respect and integrity in your online space that you would want in your own life.

Comments (1) to “Friday the 13th, Part 2”

  1. Thanks for the interview, Nancy! I’m happy to share my experiences with everyone. The title of this second entry made me laugh!