Fansites may offer specialized information on the subject (e.g., episode listings, biographies, storyline plots), pictures taken from various sources, the latest news related to their subject, media downloads, links to other, similar fansites, and the chance to talk to other fans via discussion boards. They often take the form of a blog, highlighting the latest news regarding the fansite subject. They often include galleries of photos or videos of the subject and are often "affiliates" with other fansites.
Fanlistings are another common type of fansite, though they are much simpler than general fansites, and are designed simply to list fans of a certain subject who have chosen to submit their names (and sometimes links to their home pages). Many do not contain much information on the subject at all, aside from a small introduction. They are generally made with the thought that visitors will already have knowledge of the subject. However, several are a part of a bigger fansite, used to amplify the fanbase's experience. Most fanlistings are unofficial.
Most fansites are unofficial, but a few are officially endorsed, where the subject will supply material and reimbursement for the expense and bother of running the site. To state that they are unofficial, many fan webmasters put a disclaimer on a visible place on the website, which sometimes also includes the copyright of the site. Many celebrities prefer to create and run their own sites, in order to control the content and perhaps retail their personal views. They employ their own webmaster and own the copyright.
By the early 2010s, Facebook groups became a popular alternative to independent fan sites.
A study suggests that unofficial fansites are often built as an alternative to the "hard sell" approach of official fansites that carry commercial messages. A classification system developed by Wann breaks down eight motives of fandom. These motives, particularly those related to group affiliation and self-esteem, are a driving factor in the creation of unofficial fan sites.
Satisfying the social psychology needs of group affiliation and self-esteem by visiting fansites, and, in particular, participating in the community aspects of fansites, appear to serve to increase fan behavior.
Research on interpersonal attraction indicates that people generally prefer to socialize with those who are similar to them. For example, sports fans fulfill this need by attending sporting events in person. In the online world, fans fulfill this need by building or participating in online fansites.
Many fans prefer to visit unofficial fansites for fan-related services, but still prefer an official fansite as the primary source for accurate information since it affords the closest affiliation with the target itself.
- "Fan Psychology: Designing Effective Fans Services Online (Whitepaper)" (PDF). Amberlight Human Computer Interactions. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 25, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- Wann, D. L. Schrader, M. P. Wilson, A. M (1999) Sports fan motivation: questionnaire validation, comparisons by sport, and relationship to athletic motivation Journal of Sport Behavior (JSB), 22(1), 114–139.
- Rubin, Z. (1973). Liking and loving. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.