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16557Re: A question about a claim in _Tolkien on Film_

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  • Michael Martinez
    May 3 4:30 PM
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      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, WendellWag@... wrote:
      >
      > I'm reading _Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord
      > of the Rings_ at the moment. In Susan Booker's essay "Tales
      > around the Internet Campfire: Fan Fiction in Tolkien's Universe",
      > she makes the following statement:
      >
      > > At the time this essay was completed in early 2004, a quick
      > > Google search revealed . . . _Lord of the Rings_ fan fiction,
      > > 354,000 [websites] . . .
      >
      > She makes various similar claims throughout the article. O.K.,
      > how can someone use Google to find the total number of websites
      > containing any particular genre of writing? She could be just
      > putting the words "Tolkien" and "fan fiction" (or
      > maybe "fanfiction") into Google and giving the number of websites
      > that it reports contain these words. Indeed, if I put "Tolkien"
      > and "fan fiction" into Google today, it tells me that it finds
      > 586,000 websites. It would be reasonable to think that in early
      > 2004 it might tell us that it found 354,000 websites. (Note the
      > rounding to the nearest thousand in each case.)
      >
      > Of course, this doesn't mean at all that most of these websites
      > are Tolkien fan fiction. Most of them just happen to mention the
      > words "Tolkien" and "fan fiction". I don't know of any automatic
      > way to find websites of a particular genre without picking up a
      > lot of them that only mention the genre.

      Technically, Google is only reporting "pages", not "sites". A site
      may have thousands of pages. A page may be all there is to a site.

      Furthermore, Google will include in those results any pages that
      have links pointing to them which contain one or more of the
      words "tolkien", "fan", "fiction", "fanfiction" in the anchor text.

      She could have narrowed the search by forcing an EXACT FIND search
      by putting quotes around the text. I get about 1700 hits today when
      I do that, but who knows how many of those pages actually just
      mention "tolkien fan fiction"? I get about 562 hits for "middle-
      earth fan fiction" and 10,400 hits for "lord of the rings fan
      fiction".

      But Google does not index the entire Web. There is probably far
      more out there that Google hasn't found (as well as stuff it has
      crawled but not added to the visible index).

      > In the next article in the book "Make Mine "Movieverse": How the
      > Tolkien Fan Fiction Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love
      > Peter Jackson" by Amy Sturgis, Sturgis makes smaller and better
      > researched claims. She talks about how many stories there are on
      > specific websites. She doesn't make any claims about the overall
      > numbers but only tries to distinguish between the various sorts of
      > fan fiction.

      It would, actually, be possible to compile a fairly extensive list
      of sites which host Tolkien fan fiction. I believe you would indeed
      find thousands of stories out there. The 2005 MEFA Awards
      (http://gabrielle.sytes.net/MEFA2005/) had, if I recall correctly,
      several hundred submissions. Some of them were non-fiction (one of
      my readers actually nominated a fair selection of my own essays, but
      most were disallowed because I was paid to write them). But the
      project promotes fan fiction primarily.

      It may never be possible to search for all Tolkien-inspired fan
      fiction, as many people will use words we wouldn't necessarily think
      of as the most important descriptors for their stories.

      --
      Michael Martinez
      http://www.michael-martinez.com/
      http://michael-martinez.blogspot.com/
      "Cuando Maria canta, ella canta para mí"
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