Sunday, August 14, 2011

search words Sunday: "out in the failfan sense"

The most interesting search term that brings people to this site is "out in the failfan sense". It only brought four people here, or the same person used it four times, but clearly, someone else is struck by the way failfans use "out".The other terms are about Kynn or failfans.


  1. Was there a historical term for this before "outing" became associated with sexuality, or was "outing" borrowed by the homosexual community from pseudonymous interaction?

    Does anyone know what was it called when someone revealed someone elses pen name, or discovered names and pictures of food critics?

    I ask this because revelation has always been a risk in pseudonymity, to be weighed against the possible benefits of the public acts you preform and the potential retaliation if you're found out. Pseudonymity is not a right, it is a community convention predicated on your position in the community and the way your actions are perceived. A person writing obscene graffiti under a pseudonym probably should be "outed" by people in their community, but a person risking their career to provide information to the press probably shouldn't be.

    It's always been a part of the pseudonym game, after all the holder of a pseudonym is trying to have a public persona without becoming public for various reasons, and living that contradiction is difficult, especially if your actions are controversial and you aren't careful and clear about the importance. (As in coffeeandink's case. . . she obviously wasn't Deep Throat in terms of keeping it confidential.)

    So yeah, to restate the question, did the Bronte sisters "out" themselves as the Bell brothers at the time, or was there another word for revealing someones identity that we could use instead?

  2. I was trying to remember when I first heard the term. I'm guessing it was when I was in New York in the early '80s, but I could be wrong. Wikipedia says the term became popular in 1990.

    I don't think it's wrong to apply it in other contexts. Words move in and out of communities. "Straight" for example was about drug use in the '60s, and then the gay community appropriated it, along with the word "gay". Appropriation is fine and natural. I just like to tweak the failfans with their bit of appropriation because they get so upset when anyone else appropriates something.

  3. I think before "out" became the shorthand, people talked in terms of pseudonymous folk being exposed or revealed. A bit of fun could be had by a comics fan looking at the way people talked about revealing secret identities. "Unmasked" would come up a lot, but it wouldn't apply to Superman.