Fan Engagement Meter

Finding and Quantifying Text Reuse in Fan Fiction

  • Visualizations from Measuring Fan Engagement: Finding and Quantifying Text Reuse in Fan Fiction
  • Sponsors: Price Lab for Digital Humanities and Penn Libraries
  • Principal Investigators: Peter Decherney and James Fiumara
  • Principal Developer: Scott Enderle

What is the Fan Engagement Meter?

The Fan Engagement Meter identifies lines of film dialogue that fans most like to repeat, rewrite, revise, and riff on.  Does more fan fiction rework the scene in which Darth Vader tells Luke, “I am your father” or Han Solo and Princess Leia’s “I love you / I know” scene? Whose character inspires more fan writing: Hermione or Voldemort? And do these moments of high engagement correspond with other ways of analyzing the script? Do angry moments, for example, ignite more fan writing than sad ones? Are scenes with Bilbo and Gandalf rewritten more than scenes with Bilbo and Smeagol? These are just a few ways that fans and scholars may want to use this tool. See the menu above for links to visualizations for all the films we’ve analyzed so far.

How does it work?

The fan engagement meter looks for 6-word strings of dialogue in film scripts and compares them with 6-word strings of writing in the Archive of Our Own fan fiction repository. You can use the tool to find exact word matches or looser matches. An exact match might show the successful coinage of a catchphrase (“May the force be with you”), where fuzzier matches might show fans transforming a scene into something new. 

The x axis represents lines of dialogue, and the y axis shows the frequency of reuse. 

You can hover over points on the graph to see which blocks of text they represent. Within the pop up boxes, the dialogue will have a blue heat map underneath. Darker blue represents a higher frequency of reuse. 

The additional buttons in green, orange, and red allow you to compare the reuse of the dialogue with the other methods of analysis. You can compare reuse with dialogue affect or with the characters speaking in a scene. We hope to add additional comparative frameworks in the future. What would be useful? 

For now, we have included Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, because these franchises have some of the largest fan communities on an Archive of Our Own. But we hope to include more franchises, scripts, and even books in the future.

What’s next?

We have released a basic version of this tool, but we hope that it will expand in ways that are useful to scholars and fans. The most obvious way that it can grow is to include new franchises and scripts. We are happy to include additional scripts. If you would like a script to be included, you may submit it to our script submission form.  It must first be formatted according to our style guidelines, which can be found here.

We also have plans to add new comparative tools to identify different character pairings in sections of the film scripts and compare those pairings with the frequency of reuse of those sections in the fan fiction.  Do certain character pairings in sections of the film script correspond with more fan fiction engagement? What can the frequency of reuse in fan fiction reveal about how fans engage with character pairings and “ships”? We are also actively working on version 2.0. A key feature will be the ability to view the fan works that reuse specific parts of the script.

We would love to hear your feedback.

This page is maintained by The Price Lab for Digital Humanities and Penn Libraries Digital Scholarship