I’ve been a part of a few on-line fan communities and the differences between them are striking. For the most part stars seem to get the fans they 'deserve'. For instance, fairly easy going stars get easy going fans. Exacting, perfectionist stars tend to have hard to please fans.
The very approachable and universally well liked Ice Dancers Torvill and Dean used to have very dedicated but friendly fans. Their on-line fan message board was a lovely, welcoming and fun affair. This was before their new-found and thoroughly deserved Dancing on Ice fame, but somehow I don’t think much has changed. What probably happened is that the boards had an influx of younger but equally nice and enthusiastic fans.
The on-line fan club of former tennis player Pete Sampras on the other hand was a strictly led, rather dour affair. Here’s where I learned a valuable lesson: lurk, lurk and then lurk some more before you jump in. I posted in haste, and hadn’t noticed that the unmistakable leader of the forum had the same username as the one I foolishly took. Of course this resulted in many misunderstandings - and, I might add, not much hilarity. Laughing amongst ourselves or making gentle fun of Pete were generally frowned upon. Bit of a nightmare, that one.
And then there’s George. The George Michael fandom is a bit of a mixed bag just like the man himself. George has both the most loyal and patient and most critical fans out there. Reading some comments about George on what is supposed to be a fan message board you can’t help thinking: "With friends like these …"
Before it got replaced by Facebook and Twitter conversations, I used to visit the English General Discussion sub-forum of the Planet George Forums but soon stopped because of the overly critical atmosphere. Mix in a fair bit of homophobia and the fun went right out of it. The Dutch sub-forum is still going strong though and it’s is lovely, lots of silly jokes and people are always ready to help one another. Well worth a visit if you're a Dutch George Michael fan.