The term “fandom” is used to refer to the collective fans of something such as a sport, hobby, or series of books. Typically, the members of a fandom feel interconnected by their common interest, and a fandom can often be a subculture as well. Only the most devoted fans are included in a fandom, separating them from people who may casually enjoy the thing in question. The term is very closely associated with both the fantasy and science fiction genres, with many well known examples of each having very dedicated fandoms.
Although some people think that the term sprung to life when the use of the Internet became widespread, “fandom” is actually an old word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of it was in 1903, to describe sports fans. Throughout the twentieth century, fandoms expanded to include people obsessed with particular musical groups, films, movie stars, books, and hobbies like model building. In some cases, someone may identify as a member of multiple fandoms.
Members of a fandom tend to be very interested in all of the details of their object of interest. Many people, for example, could be “fans” of Star Trek, meaning that they enjoy the series and they may be familiar with some Star Trek trivia. Fewer people could list all of the actors in the series, discuss continuity errors, or argue passionately that Picard was the better Captain. These fans will drink in any available information about their hobby, and they are often extremely knowledgeable. Their dedication also tends to make them an object of derision, with many people poking fun at deeply committed fans.
Often, members of a fandom connect with each other through things like conventions and zines. They may also organize games and conferences, or compose art related to their hobby. Fan fiction and art are common among fandoms, and some people also compose music, make sculptures, or create tribute films and shorts. These pursuits indicate how passionate enthusiasts can become.
With the rise of the Internet, many fandoms have taken their interest online. Numerous websites are built and maintained by committed fans of everything from Harry Potter to model trains, and these sites may network extensively with each other. Fans can gather information, participate in conversations, or post their original artwork and writing to community forums. These sites have made it much easier for members of a fandom to connect, even if they never meet in the real world.