Below are various tutorials I've created to aid in your design process, creating fanlistings, and how to manage and install CMS. If you have a suggestion for a tutorial, or a comment of any kind, please feel free to get in touch with me! If you have a tutorial that you think we should list here, please contact me. If you found a tutorial useful, credit would be appreciated.

So you want to build a fanlisting, but don't know how to go about it? This is just a short article on how to go about creating and maintaining a hopefully good fanlisting. ^_^ I know I would have loved something like this when I started out, after all!

Love your Baby

This is by far the most important thing! You must love the subject of your fanlisting. Don't make it just because you think it will get a lot of members. If you want to make a great fanlisting, you have to be passionate about the subject!

I realize that not everyone can get the fanlisting they're passionate about. But that doesn't mean that you should just give up! Sometimes, the ones that are best-run are the smaller fanlistings -- that way, you can focus more on adding more and more extra stuff and features to the fanlisting (and make it a shrine!) than just plain maintaining the members list. I know I adore maintaining some of my less popular fanlistings, because I know I can add more and more stuff to them.

Also, think of your first few small fanlistings as the training ground. Maintaining a smaller fanlisting will help prepare you for bigger things! It will give you an idea what to expect and how to plan for your future fanlistings' growth. You'll get a good idea on how things are run at The Fanlistings Network, and prepare you for maintenance of bigger things. Not to mention, if you do a really good job with your fanlistings, the category staffers will soon notice that and trust you with more demanding subjects, if you are a fan of those demanding subjects.

All in all? Love your fanlistings, no matter what their size, shape, color, or style. They all deserve love, whatever they are.

Now let's go to the actual making and maintaning of a fanlisting...

Thou shalt seek approval.

Before you ever start, get approval from The Fanlistings Network. If it's an anime/manga subject, the network to go to for approval is The Anime Fanlistings Network.

In the actual scheme of things, getting approval is only a spice. You can run whatever fanlisting you like! But normally, people usually seek for approval at those two networks, so you might as well check first if you can get approved for the subject. Make sure that the subject doesn't exist yet at those networks, read the rules and FAQ carefully, and apply.

I can't stress enough how important it is to read the rules, not only for when you're creating and maintaining listings, but also for applying. If the rules above the application form says that something should be done, you should do it. If it says so-and-so can't be applied for, don't apply for it (but of course you're free to run an unapproved listing for that, or seek approval at another network that allows that subject).

Why? Because it will save you and the staffer handling your application time and effort. If the application is invalid, it'll just be sent back to you. That's sad. :( Plus, all the staffers there are simply volunteers. They don't do this for ANY pay whatsoever, so let's help them by reading the simple rules. :)

Lastly, don't make the fanlisting first! Even if you think you're the only one who'll be applying for it, who knows? Someone else may end up getting approved. This has happened two (or is it three?) times to me over the long time I have been at the network: I expected that I was the only one who applied for something, but it turned out that I wasn't. So, don't make the fanlisting site first! Save yourself the pain if you get rejected. :)

When you get approved...

Time to start building!

So you've been approved! (Or, you don't care about approval.) That's great. It's time to build the site. The basic fanlisting has these pages, or sections, or parts:

Join page/section/part

This is where the site's visitors will be trying to join the fanlisting! The most basic (very very very basic) way for this is to provide an email address or a way of contacting you online to get added, though usually, people will forget about joining if you don't provide a form for them. So, it's better to get an email form for this part.

There are only two required fields for this form: the name of the aspiring member and the country where s/he lives. If you would like to require the email address, that's fine too! For TFL-/TAFL-approved fanlistings, these are the ONLY things you need/may require. No other fields should have asterisks or anything on them to signify that the field is required.

On that same note, you cannot require that an aspiring member should write a "code word" or "password" to join the fanlisting. Saying something like "you must write "hello there" in the "what do you say" field so I know you read the rules" is really rather useless because you are required to add EVERY aspiring member as long as s/he gives his/her name and country (and email, if you like).

Additionally, a number of the more seasoned fanlisting "joiners" only get irritated when you do this. Some might not even join if they see this sort of field! (I know I have straightaway closed the site at some instances when I see these sort of things.) So, you had better play it safe and not put them in. ;) After all, the goal is to list as many fans as possible.

Additional tips and hints

These are optional things you might consider doing. These are all from a fanlisting member point of view, and might prove helpful and will make your fanlisting look better taken care of.

  • Make sure you list your email address somewhere so that if the form is having problems, people can email you easily.
  • Have a field where the visitor can select if they want their email address displayed on the site or not. I always end up having to squeeze my request for not listing my email address somewhere, and it's always a bit irritating. In this day and age of spambots harvesting emails from every site imaginable, this is usually a good idea.

All in all, the important point is -- make the fanlisting easy to join!

Members list page/section/part

This is where the members will show up. You are required to list at least their name and country! You are not required to list their email addresses here, though you can. (If they ask you not to list it, however, please don't!) Also, you're not required to list the members' websites if you don't want to (i.e., they're direct linking your codes, they have a site that's offensive to you, etc). ;)

This is usually a straightforward page -- a table or a bulleted or numbered list will do.

Additional tips and hints

These are optional things you might consider doing. These are all from a fanlisting member point of view, and might prove helpful and will make your fanlisting look better-taken care of.

  • If someone asks to be removed, remove them! This is just a simple courtesy on your part. You could also land on troubles as removing members on their request is part of fanlisting maintenance.
  • If you're updating manually and plan to use "member numbers" for keeping track of members, and someone asks to be removed, remove them! You can just add the next member where the old member was.
  • If you're updating manually and separating the pages, please don't just randomly separate them. It's stressing and irritating to have to wade through pages and pages and pages of member lists just to look for your name. You can separate them by country!
  • If you're going to use a guestbook script (please note that guestbook scripts are not allowed at The Anime Fanlistings Network), you have to maintain it, make sure people are listing countries, etc. An ill-maintained members list like that is good grounds to get removed from TFL!

More and more pages.

There are other pages that you can add to your fanlisting site to make it more robust. The usual is a rule and a codes page.

For the rules page, word your rules as clearly as possible, and make sure you don't infringe upon another subject. If your fanlisting is for the third book of the so-and-so series, don't say something as vague as "you must be a fan of so-and-so series". You must be as clear as possible.

Also, you're not allowed to ban certain people from joining the listing, i.e., "you must be female" or "you must have a website". You should accept all fans, after all! Please also note what I mentioned regarding the use of code words. ;)

For the codes page, usually a wide range of button sizes is very helpful! The most usual code sizes are 50x50, 88x31, 100x35, and 100x50. You can also add codes of other sizes, like 31x88 and 200x40. It's all up to you, but it's usually good practice to have codes of lots of sizes and lots of types. If you need help making them, there may be people willing to help you out at the respective message boards of either network.

Another important reminder is the text on codes. If, say, your fanlisting is for a series, don't make character-centric buttons that only have "fan" on them, as that's kind of like saying the people who use the buttons are a fan of the character, not the series. Worse, don't put the character's names! What I usually do for codes is that I just put the subject on it. Even initials, if the subject name is too long, will do good.

Also, if people donate buttons to you, remember to credit them! :)

More important site stuff.

There are other things that are important if you want to make sure people can join if they go to your fanlisting. The navigation has to be clear, especially to the join and members lists! Always remember to check your join form from time to time to make sure it's working correctly.

Also, make sure that your fanlisting is viewable and navigable in other browsers!! Not everyone uses the same web browser! So make sure that it's not destroyed when viewed in other browsers. Having a website be responsive is usually ideal.

A minor-ish thing to consider is that your fanlisting layout (especially) should not be offensive. Lots of people browse the fanlistings daily, and some may end up not joining your fanlisting if it's too graphic or explicit (of course, this may also depend on what fanlisting you're running). ^_^

Additionally, if it's possible, you can also use scripts to help you manage your fanlisting. The script Enthusiast is a great way and ideal to use to help you make maintaining your fanlisting and making it even easier!

When you've got things going...

So you've done your fanlisting site, uploaded it somewhere, and submitted the moved form and members start to come in, your work is only half done! You need to maintain your fanlisting. Adding new members is just a small part of it, but you need to do this at least once every two months, even more frequently if it's a busy fanlisting. Also, maintenance is not just adding members, but also updating member information and removing members upon their request. Not doing so can land you on Troubles!

You need to also notify people if you've updated the fanlisting by putting in the index or updates page the date you last maintained the fanlisting. Don't use automatic javascript update dates! That will only land you in the troubles list at the network, so don't do it!

For dates, it's also usually a good idea to stay away from plain-number-dates, i.e., 03-10-2004. Is that October 3, or March 10?

The best part of the fanlisting, for me anyway, is being able to build on the site. As time goes by and you get more time to work on it, you should add extra content to it so that fans may keep coming back! I usually add things like summaries or biographies or track lists or lyrics, a "testimony" of sorts, a page for downloading wallpapers, etc. This is why a small fanlisting is great: it's not too busy that you won't have time to work on extra content, and you can build up on a lot of aspects of the subject!

You can also affiliate with other fanlistings whose subjects are related to yours. Affiliating or exchanging links mean that... well, you link to each other on your fanlistings! I usually place affiliates on the index page of my fanlistings, though you can put their links in any accessible place.

Maintaining is very important when it comes to fanlistings. If you find that you can no longer take proper care of your fanlisting, or you've lost interest in the subject...

It's bye-bye time.

Letting go of a fanlisting can be something as simple as sending in a closed form at the network they are approved under. Or, you can simply not update it and ignore all other emails from the network, and they'll remove the fanlisting -- however, note that if you keep doing this, you may lose chances to get other fanlistings as the staffers prefer that fanlistings go to people who will be maintaining them! So if you're not interested or can't keep up anymore, send in a closed form.

However, you can also opt to adopt out or give the fanlisting to someone else. Adopting out or giving the fanlisting to someone else is done so that the members list is preserved and people won't have to rejoin the fanlisting. Adopting out a fanlisting can be done by emailing the members and asking if anyone would be interested, or posting at the network's message board and putting it up on the adoption center.

Once you've chosen a new owner, you can do either two things: ask the network to put the fanlisting back to upcoming and provide the new contact information of the new owner, or wait for the new owner to finish the fanlisting and adding back the members and then sending in a moved form along with the owner's new information. Sending the information of the new owner is important! This is so that you won't be bugged by the staff anymore about the fanlisting. ;)

And before I go...

Fanlisting making and owning should be an enjoyable experience. In the end, it's just a fanlisting. If you don't get approved, it's no big deal. Life goes on. And you're free to make a shrine or an unapproved fanlisting.

So go and have fun. ;)


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