Online Fandoms: How The Knowledge Contained And Shared By Fans Can Benefit Education

With the rise of the internet, educators and students have access to more information than they did in previous decades.

Persons interested in learning more about a particular topic may search for sources that discuss the topic they want to learn more about. They may also communicate and interact with a broader array of individuals who share their particular interests and may have more knowledge than they do.

Online communities of people interested in specific topics, often referred to as online fandoms, hold significant educational value when the information is accurate. This value complements traditional education by providing diverse perspectives and up-to-date insights.

Fandom as a way to spread knowledge

A fandom is considered a subculture of people sharing a common interest. An online fandom is a fandom that thrives on the internet. They create online spaces where they can safely talk and share knowledge about their interests. The first occurrence of online fandoms was message boards or mailing lists devoted to specific topics. The more common platforms for online fandoms nowadays are Reddit and Discord.

Participants in a fandom often share knowledge about a specific topic. Fans of a movie franchise might share casting news, interviews with creators, or their theories about a particular character and plot point. Fans of a specific history topic, such as World War II, will also share similar tidbits of knowledge.

The advantage of an online fandom is that information can be shared with a broader audience. Going back to the World War II example, a story about a female French Resistance fighter might be part of France's history curriculum but not Canada's. A fandom participant in Canada, hearing about the story online for the first time, can then spread it in their area. Platforms like are instrumental in facilitating such exchanges. Fandoms not only spread knowledge but also serve as a repository of information.

Fandom and disinformation

One disadvantage of fandom, however, is that it may be a party to the spread of disinformation. An unverified anecdote on a history forum can spread and become "truth" even if actual historians have found no evidence for it.

While online fandoms can spread disinformation, members of fandoms can also help halt the spread of false information through fact-checking and cultivating continuous learning. Fact-checking is a valuable skill for fandom participants to cultivate, as it enables them to verify information before sharing it.

As in the example we gave above of the "female French resistance fighter," fandom members in France can fact-check the story and provide evidence that it is true. They can scan and repost texts or even link to journal papers and other resources to which people in different areas might need more access. Thus, they can provide evidence of the story's truth or debunk any additional "colorful" details that less knowledgeable fans might have added.


Fandom communities allow for exchanging ideas and information about specific topics of interest. Fandoms help create repositories of knowledge that may be useful for educational purposes.


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