Nerdfighteria is a community subculture, based mainly online. It began in 2007, when the VlogBrothers (John and Hank Green) rose to prominence in the online community. As their popularity grew, so did coverage on Nerdfighteria, whose followers are individually known as Nerdfighters.
Hank Green describes it as "a community that sprung up around our videos, and basically we just get together and try to do awesome things and have a good time and fight against world suck." The Greens began The Foundation to Decrease World Suck, in order to donate funds and launch projects that would help a variety of causes. Nerdfighters and the Green brothers have collaborated on many projects such as the charitable drive, Project for Awesome, launched in 2007, and the convention focusing on topics surrounding the world of digital media, VidCon. Nerdfighters have been documented by websites such as The Hollywood Reporter, and The Wall Street Journal, with a following estimating in the millions.
Nerdfighteria is known for its online collaborative nature, as forums, spinoff blogs, meetups, and charitable events have been spawned by its members. Instances of the community collaborating can be observed in the creation of college campus groups at universities such as the University of Maryland and Texas Christian University. Another Nerdfighter club was founded at Auburn University, in which the members have stated their desire to do charity work with The Humane Society and This Star Won't Go Out.
The Nerdfighter subculture was able to force the release of the novel The Fault in Our Stars five months early. Additionally, during the first site of a 2014 Q&A tour, at the Dolphin Mall, the event had to be shut down early due to safety concerns caused by 5,000 fans crowding in order to get closer to the stage.
Symbols and Terminology
A prominent symbol in Nerdfighter culture is a double-handed gesture with crossed arms, resembling the Vulcan salute from Star Trek. Celebrities such as actor Benedict Cumberbatch and Olympian Jennifer Pinches have been documented demonstrating Nerdfighter hand gestures. The symbol has been referred to as a Nerdfighter "gang sign" or a "salute." Additionally, the initialism "DFTBA", standing for "Don't Forget To Be Awesome", is generally considered the motto of the community.
The collaborative nature of the Nerdfighter community has resulted in meetups, sometimes involving the Green brothers. In 2008, the Greens held an event in Chicago, which proved to be a turning point for both the Green brothers, as well as Nerdfighteria. Hank recalled the event as the first time he could sell his music, as well as a precursor for DFTBA Records. John added to his brother's comments, stating, "This was also the first time I met Rosianna, who is now my assistant, and the first time we really understood the power of nerdfighter gatherings, and it happened at the Chicago Public Library, one of the first places to get behind my novels in a big institution-wide way, and wow, what an important day in our lives." The event would be the first of several meetups within the community, as the Greens founded VidCon, which was first held in 2010, attracting 1,400 in attendance.
Censuses and Surveys
The VlogBrothers enjoy connecting to their audience and community, which sometimes involves the use of surveys.
In 2013, Hank Green began an annual "Nerdfighter Census." The census survey is hosted on SurveyMonkey, and its results are analyzed by Hank. In 2014, over 100,000 people filled out the survey. Hank discovered that 72% of the responders are females, 85% are non-Hispanic white, as well as mostly Americans between the ages of 13 and 30.
Charity events and activism
A key component of the Nerdfighter community is the involvement with charity events. Events such as Project for Awesome, have allowed a way for Nerdfighter involvement with charitable actions.
Nerdfighters work closely with another group that promotes community activism, the Harry Potter Alliance. Nerdfighteria and HPA were able to raise $123,000 for Partners in Health, enough to send five cargo planes to Haiti, as a way to assist the citizens of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
Various instances of micro loans from Nerdfighters funding entrepreneurs in developing countries have been documented. Overall, more than 46,000 Nerdfighters have loaned a total amount of $4.5 million, ranking #9 all-time across all teams on Kiva.org. Exercising the interactive nature of the community, the Greens made a deal of sorts with Nerdfighteria: to have the community reach over $1 million in funds donated to Kiva before the Greens reached 1,000 videos on their VlogBrothers channel. Nerdfighters were able to accomplish this feat.
Project for Awesome
A major event in the Nerdfighter community is Project for Awesome. The event, initially known as the "Nerdfighter Power Project for Awesome", launched in 2007, and occurs annually in December. On the topic of the overwhelming amounts the event has been able to raise, Hank has stated "YouTube was caught pretty off guard by the first P4A, but ever since then they've been hugely supportive."
This Star Won't Go Out and Esther Day
Another non-profit foundation associated with the community is, This Star Won't Go Out, founded by Wayne and Lori Earl, in memory of their daughter, Esther. The name of the foundation stems from the fact that "Esther" means "star" in Persia. The program itself provides funds and assistance to families of children with cancer. Esther Earl had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2006, and before her death in 2010, had developed a bond with the VlogBrothers and the Nerdfighter community. John Green and Earl met and bonded at a Harry Potter conference in 2009. She would be involved with Nerdfighteria and YouTube, as she was a vlogging personality, until her death on August 25, 2010, at the age of 16.
Shortly before her death, on August 2, 2010, the day before her 16th birthday, John uploaded a video in preparation for "Esther Day," which would be celebrated the following day. Earl stated she wanted the day to be about "family and love." Two days following her death, the VlogBrothers made a video titled Rest In Awesome, Esther, remembering her and all of her contributions to the Nerdfighter community, as well as the world. Nerdfighteria continues to keep her memory alive through her foundation, as well as Esther Day, which is celebrated each year on August 3. John Green states that Esther Day is the "most important holiday in Nerdfighteria," and that Earl, herself, has become a hero in the community.
Aside from charity drives, Nerdfighteria also offers funding and support for AFC Wimbledon, a fourth-tier football club in England. In January 2014, John Green became an official sponsor of the club, and later in the year the Green's sponsorship led to a Nerdfighter logo design, with the DFTBA catchphrase being featured on the club's kits. In 2015, AFC Wimbeldon was drawn to play a match against Liverpool F.C., who John has been a lifelong fan of. Green flew to London to spectate the game in person.
- "Nerdfighters". Nerdfighters. ning.com. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
- Dean, Michelle (March 13, 2013). "A Note on Nerdfighters". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- John Green; Hank Green (December 27, 2009). How To Be a Nerdfighter: A Vlogbrothers FAQ. VlogBrothers (YouTube). Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Kligler-Vilenchik, Neta (June 27, 2014). "Nerdfighters: The Online Community Behind the Box-Office Hit". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Horan, Molly (December 17, 2013). "Project for Awesome Will Remind You to Be Kind". Mashable. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- O'Brien, Kathleen (June 24, 2014). "Author John Green and his Nerdfighters Work for a Friendly Online Atmosphere". NationSwell. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Alter, Alexandra (May 14, 2014). "John Green and His Nerdfighters Are Upending the Summer Blockbuster Model". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Lewis, Andy (May 1, 2014). "'Fault in Our Stars' Author John Green's Multimedia Empire". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Fitzpatrick, Anna (June 4, 2014). "Intro to Nerdfighters 101: A John Green Primer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- "John to sponsor Dons kit". AFC Wimbledon. July 9, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- DiGiorgio, Zoë (October 20, 2013). "Nerdfighters club on campus celebrates love of nerd culture while fostering community". The Diamondback. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Spain, Molly (March 6, 2014). "TCU Nerdfighters looking to "increase awesome"". TCU 360. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Barkdull, Mark (September 19, 2014). "Auburn Nerdfighters kick their way into becoming officially recognized". The Auburn Plainsman. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- Green, John (July 27, 2011). 150,000 Autographs. VlogBrothers (YouTube). Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Alter, Alexandra (May 14, 2014). "Some Nerdfighters Say ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Film Departs Too Much From Book". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- Green, John (May 21, 2013). "Nerdfighter Benedict? Or just failed Vulcan?". Tumblr. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia (September 18, 2013). "John Green fandom 101: Nerdfighters, Vlogbrothers, and pizza". The Daily Dot. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Mancini, Mark (January 15, 2014). "5 Famous Nerdfighters". mental_floss. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- "Shailene Woodley, 'Fault In Our Stars' Movie Star, Learns Nerdfighter Salute (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. July 25, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- Shore, Jennifer (November 9, 2012). "How 2 Brothers Turned a YouTube Experiment Into a Charitable Mission". Mashable. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- Romano, Aja (June 26, 2014). "The definitive guide to the Vlogbrothers family tree". The Daily Dot. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Green, John (September 13, 2013). "How were we ever so young?...". Tumblr. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Pham, Alex (July 10, 2010). "Vidcon conference celebrates YouTube culture". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Levine, Meredith (June 6, 2014). "The Online Fandom That Launched "The Fault in Our Stars"". Recode.net. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Green, Hank (June 19, 2013). CENSUS ANALYSIS!. hankschannel (YouTube). Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Flowers, Lennon (June 23, 2014). "How Harry Potter Fans Are Changing Hollywood -- And The World". Forbes. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Reimold, Dan (December 5, 2011). "Student nerdfighters unite! Geeky movement aims to fight 'world suck'". USA Today. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Smith, Markette (August 30, 2012). "Nerdfighters Work For Good In D.C. Area". WAMU. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- "Kiva Lending Team: Nerdfighters". Kiva. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- Garcia, Antero (October 11, 2013). Critical Foundations in Young Adult Literature: Challenging Genres. Sense Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 978-94-6209-397-3. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
- Matthews, Cate (December 20, 2013). "YouTube Marathon Raises Unbelievable Amount For Charity". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- Green, Hank (December 17, 2007). Project for Awesome: Explanation and Humane Societies. VlogBrothers (YouTube). Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- Horan, Molly (December 17, 2013). "Project for Awesome Will Remind You to Be Kind". Mashable. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- Jamal, Zakiya (June 7, 2014). "Meet Esther Earl, the Brave Girl Who Inspired The Fault in Our Stars". People. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Green, John (August 2, 2010). I Love Hank: Esther Day 2010. VlogBrothers (YouTube). Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Green, John (August 27, 2010). Rest In Awesome, Esther. VlogBrothers (YouTube). Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- Jaworski, Michelle (August 3, 2012). "Nerdfighters come together to celebrate Esther Day". The Daily Dot. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
- Earl, Evangeline (June 12, 2014). "My sister Esther inspired ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’ The movie is her sequel.". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- "AFC Wimbledon announce Nerdfight deal". Goal. July 9, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- "Dons agree sponsorship deal". AFC Wimbledon. January 7, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
- "Why did the man who wrote The Fault In Our Stars fly to London just to see AFC Wimbledon?". The Irish Examiner. January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.