The Three Rules of Fandom

There are many types of fans for many types of fandoms, but they aren’t as different as you think. After a little bit of pondering, I present to you the Three Rules of Fandom. These 3 commandments are meant to be broad-strokes guidelines for every person to follow in order to better their fan community.


As always, there are exceptions to each rule, but these are going to be as hard and fast as I can get.

  1. Share what you love with everyone.
  2. Don’t be a gatekeeper.
  3. Help make the fandom better.

I wonder if you’re surprised. Regardless, let me delve a bit further as to why these are the rules.

  1. Share what you love with everyone. defines “fan” as “ an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.” Thus the First Rule of Fandom simply asks you to show off that enthusiasm. Fun story: when applying for a retail position a few years ago,the interviewer and I got off on a Sailor Moon tangent. I’m not going to say being an otaku got me a job, but since I was passionate enough about anime that I started staffing conventions, I bet it didn’t hurt. The only constraint to the First Rule of Fandom is Common Sense. There are just some times where you need to tamp down the enthusiasm a bit, but I’m sure you are intelligent enough to determine when those times are.

  1. Don’t be a gatekeeper.

Also known as “Don’t be That Guy,” the Second Rule of Fandom refers to those who act as if it is their Mandate From Heaven to “police” their fan community, scorning and ostracizing people that aren’t “true fans.” Gatekeepers of fandom aren’t really gatekeepers; they’re more interested in making themselves feel more important by reducing others and restricting the fandom to a select few. Not only is that douchebag behavior, it breaks the First Rule of Fandom in the process. To me, there is only one way to be a “bad fan” and this is it. Unless there is a legitimate problem (e.g. someone’s breaking laws), let people be fans however they want.

  1. Help make the fandom better.

You may think that the Second and Third Rules of Fandom conflict with each other, but they don’t. These two rules play off of a standard of improvised comedy: Don’t say “No,” say “Yes, and”. Likewise, if you see someone in your fan community doing something less than desirable, direct them to something more palatable. Give them a better outlet to channel their love and you may get something amazing. If the fan community gets better just because of a simple nudge in the right direction, wouldn’t that be worth it?