You may have heard of Nerdfighteria, or even met someone who is a Nerdfighter and wondered what, exactly, that word means. Or you might yourself be a nerdfighter – in which case – welcome to our nerdy community and be sure to check out our Nerdfighteria forums (must be registered and logged in)! Today your questions will be answered as we go over the basics and bring you a brief introduction to the Nerdfighter community.
Back in 2006, Hank and John Green, two brothers in their 20s, were having a chat about how they didn’t communicate with each other much and what a shame it was. Hank knew about a new video sharing platform called YouTube and suggested that they take a challenge for a year to only communicate non-textually (i.e. video or phone) and alternate posting short videos to a shared YouTube channel every day for the entire year as a chance to get to know each other better as adults. They established some basic rules: do not use any printed text, do not go over 4 minutes (or face a punishment), and a video must be posted every day (within reason… or, you guessed it, punishment). They launched on January 1, 2007, and built a small but loyal following.
Vlogbrothers and Nerdfighteria
The Green brothers named their channel “Vlogbrothers” and soon John encountered an old arcade cabinet that, as far as he could tell*, was for a game called “Nerdfighters.” Realizing how awesome it would be to have a bunch of nerds fighting for awesome all over the world, the fan community claimed the moniker and became known as “Nerdfighters.” “Nerdfighteria” refers to the community as a whole.
Nerdfighters, defined: People who instead of being made up of cells and organs and stuff are actually made out of awesome. They fight decepticons (those who increase levels of worldsuck) on behalf of Nerds everywhere!
DFTBA: During the year, John made a video about the phrase “Don’t Forget to Be Awesome,” which he saw written on his friend Katie’s arm, and the community’s catchphrase was officially adopted. DFTBA has permeated pop culture and will turn up in unexpected places.
*The game was, in fact, Aero Fighters but it had very hard-to-read font.
Accio, Deathly Hallows
In July 2007, something happened to change the Green brothers’ video project in a huge way: namely, Hank wrote and uploaded a song called “Accio, Deathly Hallows” about the anticipation of the Harry Potter fandom for the final book in that series to be released. The song quickly went viral, catching the attention of thousands upon thousands of Potterheads all eagerly awaiting the fate of their heroes. Suddenly John and Hank’s YouTube channel was bursting with new subscribers discovering the nerdy, quirky, and very fun videos posted every day of the week. (This author is one of these “Deathly Hallows” generation Nerdfighters.)
Project For Awesome a.k.a. P4A
By the end of 2007, the Vlogbrothers had enough subscribers that they decided to use their platform to reduce worldsuck, which is essentially all the bad in the world. They hosted the first ever Project for Awesome, or P4A, in December that year. They and members of the Nerdfighter community used YouTube’s algorithms for what videos made it onto the front page of the site to “game” the system: by uploading videos about charities and non-profits, then liking, commenting and sharing the videos en masse, they took over the front page. Project For Awesome has been hosted by the Green brothers every year since then, on the second Friday and Saturday of December, and even though the YouTube algorithms have changed since then the event is more successful every year. In 2015 alone, it raised $1,546,384 for charity. You didn’t misread that: over $1.5 million for charity in the course of one event.
According to their website:
DFTBA Records was founded in 2008 by Alan Lastufka and Hank Green. DFTBA produces and distributes for creative, independent personalities. Our artists have made a name for themselves on YouTube, cultivating huge audiences based not on marketing or saturated radio play, but on talent. We’ve taken these YouTube stars and helped them reach a dedicated and larger audience with quality merchandise.
Crash Course and Sci Show
When given a grant to make educational digital content, the Green brothers ran with the idea, developing Crash Course and Sci Show, YouTube channels which are now bigger than the Vlogbrothers channel. Crash Course takes you through various courses with weekly videos and are based on AP curriculum and other sources. The goal is to provide an overview of high school/upper level courses free of charge to an audience hungry for knowledge. It’s been a rousing success. Sci Show is similar but focused instead on scientific news and answering questions on everything from anatomy to astronomy.
Hank Games both With and Without Hank and AFC Wimbledon
Several years ago, Hank started a gaming channel on YouTube called HankGames, and it quickly became the place where John played FIFA, complete with his (sometimes) eloquent commentary. It became popular enough to monetize and, as a way to give to a good cause, the funds raise go to support AFC Wimbledon, a fan-owned football club in the UK, with a pretty great history.
Lingo and In-Jokes (a tiny fraction of them, anyway)
- DFTBA: Don’t Forget to Be Awesome [watch]
- French the llama: According to the Nerdfighteria wiki, A phrase serving as another meaning of FTL (For the Lose). This phrase was first coined by a Nerdfighter who successfully tricked John Green into believing “French the Llama” was the meaning of FTL. It is used to show surprise, in the place of “Oh my gosh!”. John is trying to make it a “real thing”.
- Pizza John: References a time when John grew out a mustache, made a video about how much he loves pizza, a screen grab was taken and turned into a meme, and it developed into a popular enough image that every year DFTBA Records puts it on limited edition merchandise and calls the sales period “Pizzamas.”
- Corndog Hank: Hank loves corndogs like John loves pizza. [watch]
- Puppy-sized Elephants: John wants one because of how adorable it would be. [watch]
- Giraffe Love: And the people who love giraffes. Another leftover from YouTube’s early quirks when the image from the exact middle of a video was the thumbnail, and the Green brothers’ most-watched video was one that had a thumbnail of two giraffes…. Many more references followed. [watch][People who love giraffes who love giraffes]
- Secret Siblings: YouTube used to allow video responses, and anyone leaving a video response to a Vlogbrothers video was called a “Secret Sibling.”
- Your Pants: A game started by author Maureen Johnson, in which you add the phrase “Your Pants” to book titles to increase hilarity. Eventually the name of the first Nerdfighter forum and then other subsequent forums. Because “Let’s talk in Your Pants” is hilarious. [read]
- Nerdfighteria Island: The “world” inhabited by all Nerdfighters. [watch]
- Nerdfighter ning: The forum based community of Nerdfighteria existed for years on the Nerdfighter ning. The ning was closed in early 2016 due to the rising cost of hosting such a large community on the site, and the site moderators migrated to another forum. [current Nerdfighteria ning]
- Evil Baby Orphanage: Originally proposed as a thought experiment by John who wondered about what to do if given the chance to go back and remove baby dictators, say, from the timeline. Now a successful game. [watch]
- Complete Lexicon: You can find pretty much anything you need to find in this fantastic lexicon!
Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers: Hank Green’s punky nerdy awesome band, which tours across the USA.
Lizzie Bennet Diaries: The Emmy-award winning multi-platform adaptation of Pride and Prejudice produced by Pemberly Digital.
And beyond! There are so many other projects happening all the time, and the best way to start is to pick a place and hop right in.
Think you might be a Nerdfighter? Then you probably are one.
The biggest takeaway of Nerdfighteria is that if you think you might be a Nerdfighter, you probably are one. The goal of the community is to be welcoming and open to anyone, be they Brotherhood 2.0 vintage or if they just discovered the community yesterday.
We are not so different, Nerdfighters and Iggles. We are both epic nerdy communities – so if you’re a nerdfighters who has stumbled upon this article – welcome! We have Nerdfighteria forums (must be registered and logged in to view) and tons of people every month who list nerdfighter as their top 5 geek love. There’s some kind of crazy magical energy between us Nerdfighters and Iggles. I will leave you with a playlist called 25 Essential Vlogbrothers Videos. Welcome, and DFTBA!