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The Media

The Psychology of Fanboys 289

Testiiiiing writes "'s Gundeep Hora publishes his thoughts on why fanboys act the way they do. 'For fanboys (and I use the term with utmost respect, at least for this article), their appetite to support their favorite company to beat the big, bad corporate heavyweights gets delusional at times. And why not? After all, we all like to cheer the underdog... reasonably. In addition to cheering for the little guy, fanboys also think it's their responsibility to spread the word about their favorite company. Combine their need to do marketing on behalf of their adopted companies and their products with the passion to make others see things their way, and you have a powerful group of people.'"
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The Psychology of Fanboys

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 18, 2007 @09:55AM (#19550111)
    M$ is clearly not an underdog, and I work with a guy who is quite a fanboy....
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday June 18, 2007 @09:55AM (#19550117)
    ...a "fanboy" (or, more often, "fanboi", and sometimes even "fangirl") when I disseminate correct information about Apple on slashdot, clarify a misleading story, or correct completely and utterly factually and provably incorrect claims. It's not even about trying to "convert" anyone to anything. I usually respond by asking if the person calling me a "fanboi" could point out anything incorrect that I said in my post. That is usually followed up with brilliant posts about sex acts.

    So, here's another question: this article is called "The Psychology of Mac Zealots"; what's the "psychology" of people who instantly call anyone who posts anything about Apple a "fanboy"? The article talks about how "fanboys" might be right, but also says that being anonymous and abusive (and therefore annoying) when making their point is a hallmark of a "fanboy". So how can a person who is neither (and also is correct about a factual point) a "fanboy"?

    It isn't about "rooting for the underdog" or trying to create "converts" (directly, anyway). It's about wanting correct information disseminated about something you're interested in. And if it adds factual information to the discussion, what's wrong with that? To me, saying that something is obviously better or "rocks" or that something else "sucks" with no logical reasoning to back it up is what makes someone a "fanboy".

    Cue the posts calling me a "fanboy fanboi"!
  • Hardly. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bynary ( 827120 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @09:56AM (#19550133) Homepage
    In addition to cheering for the little guy

    Sony is hardly "the little guy". In other words, fanboyism exists at all levels of the market.
  • When someone uses the term "fanboy", it tends to conjure up an image of someone who is so fanatical in their support that they ignore all logic and reality in pursuit of ensuring that their company is the one that wins "the war". (Whatever that may be.) As such, it tends to be a rather derogatory term used to discount someone from a discussion because their fanaticism makes their opinion useless.

    Unfortunately, there's a growing trend of abuse in relation to the term. More and more I'm hearing *real* fanboys preemptively use the term to discount others. For example, any true fan of a game system should be willing to acknowledge its faults as well as its strengths. I very much enjoy my Nintendo Wii, but I know that its low cost came at the expense of raw horsepower. That doesn't bother me. Similarly, PS3 fans should be willing to acknowledge that their system is incredibly expensive (in comparison to the rest of the market) and that there is a fairly small game library at the moment.

    Yet what I regularly hear is the PS3 fanboys jump in and yell, "Anyone who likes the Wii is a Nintendo fanboy! After all, how could you not like a $600 Bluray player! The game system is FREE!" Or something to that effect, anyway. ;)

    This constitutes an outright abuse of the term. Now I'll admit that it doesn't help the situation that many Wii fans (and even worse: fanboys) don't like Sony or their business practices. So they tend to cheer on any difficulties that the company may be having. (I'll even admit to this myself. I don't want Sony around if they're going to install rootkits, shut down distributors, sell exploding parts, ignore customer service, or the billion other anti-consumer things they've done of late.) That still doesn't justify the abuse.

    Similarly, a lot of Windows users are simply familiar with what they are used to. So they're not so much as fanatical themselves, they're just highly resistant to solid logic that's often used by the Mac community. They're also quite used to the Mac users of yore, who were very much fanboys. (I'm sorry, Mac OS 8 was NOT that great of an OS.) So they also abuse the term in an attempt to get people to stop pestering them about how much better the Mac is. They're comfortable, so they don't want to be bothered. Sometimes they even become a sort of inverse fanboy in that they hang onto ever possible wrong they see with the opposition. (Case in point: Java is slow.) Never mind if it's still true or not. It was once at least sort of true, so that's good enough.

    So next time you think of using the term "fanboy", think for a moment. You may be abusing the term and making yourself look bad at the same time.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:06AM (#19550259)
    Combine their need to do marketing on behalf of their adopted companies and their products with the passion to make others see things their way, and you have a powerful group of people.

    Right, here's the kind of reactions [] the marketing of a group of unstoppable fanboys achieve.

    I too am someone who witnessed the sad transformation of a Windows/Linux guy into a Mac fanboy. Now every little problem I have on my computer, be it slow connection, or program hang, or WHATEVER, serves as a reason that I should be constantly reminded "how much I need a Mac".

    "Man, you SO need a Mac!"

    "Shit, dude, you gotta get a Mac."

    "Macs are sooo cool, let's find you a Mac."

    Everything on a Mac is godly and I apparently and struggling to survive without that on my Windows system. Even shadows! How the heck can I work without shadows behind my windows?! Impossible.

    I'm suspecting that when you sum up the total of positive and negative effects of rabid fanboys defending their limited view on the world, the picture isn't nice. I'm sure there are people who will despise Mac and Linux without ever seen them, just because of the overly zealous fanboys that nagged them incessantly.
  • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:07AM (#19550269) Journal
    I don't agree fully, although your POV is logical :-) I've always thought of "fanboys" as simply HARDCORE UBER-FANS regardless of whether they're right, wrong, trolls, etc. Sometimes being a fanboy has nothing to do with liking the "underdog," or the dominant player for that matter. G.I.Joe fanboys collected all the action figures, read the comics, watched the cartoon, drew their favorite GI Joes, argued for Snake Eyes's total domination in every Pirates vs Ninjas debate, etc. Total fanboys. But, nothing "factual" to disseminate, no "underdog" to root for, no saying something "rocks" or something "sucks," no logical reasoning necessary :-)
  • by abaddononion ( 1004472 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:08AM (#19550277)

    So, here's another question: this article is called "The Psychology of Mac Zealots"; what's the "psychology" of people who instantly call anyone who posts anything about Apple a "fanboy"?

    I agree with you. I thought the notion that fanboys root for the underdog is ludicrous. I mean... how long have Playstation supporters been being called Sony fanboys? And the PS2 was SO not an underdog last gen. According to this mentality, there is no such thing as a Microsoft fanboy, or a Square-game (i.e. Final Fantasy) fanboy. That's just pure nonsense.

    This is a very poor way to attempt to classify fanboys. I doubt this guy even uses teh intranets. (itsajoke. If someone's a fanboy of his, I dont need to be lectured on how he's a long-time internet journalist, or whatever, if that's indeed the case.)
  • by svendsen ( 1029716 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:09AM (#19550295)
    I'd like to know how anyone can be a fan boy for anything that boils down to luxury items? I mean the answer is easy: you bought something and need to justify why you bought it even if it sucks. You'd rather say product A is amazing and is a cure all vs. damn made a mistake need to fix it. You can also tell how unhappy a person is with their product by how much energy and effort they put into attacking the competition.

  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:12AM (#19550321) Journal
    It's a silly situation, because for every five level headed Apple supporters like you, there's one rabid Apple fanboy who posts 10 people's worth of comments where he/she actually does stretch the truth, and basically acts ignorant towards reality and such. This in turn brings out not only the anti-apple zealots, but also plenty of people who just decide to troll the fanboy for fun. As is usual in most debates involving more than two people, the noise of the extremes drowns out the real discussions that should be occurring, and everyone ends up frustrated and pissed off.

    The only real solution is to ignore the noise as best you can and hope that others try to do the same. It's not a great solution, but the alternative would be a highly restricted, highly moderated forum, which has its whole own set of problems, and isn't what /. wants to be anyways.

    All that being said, I think even the most rabid of fanboy-ism has a number of causes, some born out of a real and well earned affection that's sort of run wild, others caused just by boredom or a desire to argue with people. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. Large companies like Apple or Sony operate at a level of sales well beyond a point where the words/actions of their fanboys can make or break the company.
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:13AM (#19550335) Homepage
    Yes but do you "correct information" when it would put Apple in a bad light*? Being objective is a two way street. If you only provide information in Apple's favour then yes, you are in fact a fanboy/girl/person. Just because what you say is correct doesn't mean you're not one. I'm not saying you are, and I'm sure as hell not about to check your posts to find out. It's just something to consider.

    *: Any response to the effect of "Apple never does anything that puts itself in a bad light" would be an instant confirmation of fanism. Every company, person, organisation, and thing has negatives.
  • by niceone ( 992278 ) * on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:17AM (#19550385) Journal
    Yeah, I know people can argue about which stuff matters.... but In This Case There Is No Stuff. Nothing. The Entire Article IS Ccompletely Empty Of Anything That Could POSSIBLY Be DEFINED As STUFF.

    Ah, that feels better.

    (Sorry for the random CAPS, the lameness filter told me "Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.", well I was trying to yell, thank you very much).

  • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @10:26AM (#19550439) Homepage

    They're not fanboys. They're minions.

    You say it as a joke, but it might be partially true.

    Through history there have been many people who where more than willing to adopt heavily critized, but very success political standpoints. Just see this rise for fascism in Italy or Germany, or the presence of creationists on slashdot.

    *Okay, so Godwin me.
  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Monday June 18, 2007 @11:33AM (#19551307)
    Fanboy seems to be the calling card of someone with passion behind a product or company. Take away the tech and IT and gizmos and they're just fans. As in sports fans.

    Hardcore fans have their team. THEIR team. Armchair coaching while watching the game, collecting memorabilia, indoctorinating others with how awesome his team is and, if they're doing less than awesome, it's because of external influences and not lack of awesomeness.

    Well yeah, but aren't these sorts of people idiots? I remember reading Byte magazine and liking the interplay of the industry - seeing how one side could invent something revolutionary, and the other side could respond to it by tweaking what they had because they couldn't afford a revolutionary change. Or how Intel and Amd would both arrive with the best processor they could do each generation but inevitably one would win. And the problem with fanboys is that they fixate on one side and buy their products even when they are temporarily bad. But that actually messes up the process - if you care about technology you should buy the best performing alternative in each generation because losing money is is a powerful incentive to improve.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.