Fandom and the ethics of world-making: Building spaces for belonging on BobaBoard


  • Paul Ocone Meiji University



Community building, Fan spaces, Online anonymity, Platforms, Tagging practices


BobaBoard is an in-development social media platform for media fans who are striving to create a space of belonging and acceptance for what its founder describes as a "niche group of weirdos." This emerging community is creating a protected space where media fans can explore and share their sexualities through both an anonymity-first design and a core ethos of anticensorship. However, these goals are not simple or easy to implement, and there are both affordances and limitations to BobaBoard's approach. Through digital ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation and interviews, I found that the strategies and innovations through which tensions surrounding anonymity and (anti)censorship are negotiated illustrate emerging community ethics around the cocreation of fan spaces and the exploration of sexual fantasy in these spaces. These community ethics, or the ethics of world-making, demonstrate the possibilities of collaboratively creating protected spaces for sharing desire and sexuality.


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