Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Sunday
Apr082007

What is a "filkhog"? How can I avoid being one?

The term "filkhog" is usually applied to someone who performs more times during an open filk circle than their fair share. What exactly a "fair share" is, of course, varies from person to person. The term is also used as a verb, i.e. "Gomer sure was filkhogging in last night's circle, wasn't he?"

Sometimes people accused of being filkhogs defend themselves, saying that people in the circle WANTED to hear them, or that their songs were requested, or that they had the perfect followers so HAD to sing them right then and there. Let's take these arguments one at a time:

1. "But people in the circle WANTED to hear me!"

It's probably true that you had some fans in the filk circle who would have been happy if you had sung most of the songs during the evening. But (and I hope your ego can take this blow) chances are good that most of the people in the circle were hoping for a more balanced atmosphere, were looking forward to performing themselves, and/or were also looking forward to hearing a wide variety of performers.

2. "But all those songs were REQUESTED! I didn't want to disappoint the people who had made the requests."

It's always flattering to have one's songs requested. However, that still doesn't give you the excuse to filkhog. If you're unable to fulfill the request in the circle, then you can always apologize to the person later on and explain that you didn't want to filkhog. Offer to perform the song in the next open filk circle in the weekend, or even in the hallway if both of you are free (be sure to do this far enough from current programming so you don't disturb other attendees).

3. "But I had the perfect follower!"

Many of us have been in this position. You just sang a song shortly before, but suddenly you have THE PERFECT FOLLOWER and are dying to perform it. My advice: gauge the atmosphere of the room before you leap in. If there are a lot of people who have been waiting to perform their songs, they're unlikely to appreciate you jumping the queue, no matter how perfect your follower might be.

From Phil Parker:

"A filkhog is someone who is perceived by the other filkers as taking more than his fair share of turns at the filksing and making other people unhappy thereby. I don't think it's at all possible to produce a useful objective definition, because behavior that everyone was happy with by performer A on night X might make lots of people unhappy if performer B on night Y did exactly the same thing.

If you're a brash, confident performer who doesn't have any trouble getting songs in in a busy chaos circle, you could be a filkhog if you don't watch yourself. If you have enough of a repertoire that you're never at a loss for something to sing, and you're not restraining yourself from jumping in every time you have something that fits, there's a good chance you are a filkhog. The tricky part is figuring out how often you need to restrain yourself. Steve Macdonald's rule of thumb is a good place to start: If there are N active performers in the circle, and you last did a song less than N-2 songs back, you should probably wait unless there's some really special reason why your life will be ruined if you don't chime in right then. If you do do two songs closer than N-2 apart, you really need to wait some extra time. This rule is based on the assumption that you only are really wanting to jump in some of the time; if you are always ready to follow any song, you would be doing a song every N-2 turns, and you're probably filkhogging if you keep that up.

If it's hard to find the line where one starts being a filkhog on one's own, it's really hard to find the line where one starts being a filkhog by taking too many requests. My own feeling is that you can take a couple of requests without counting them as your own turns for deciding if you're a filkhog, but if you do more than a couple of requests in the evening, you have to count the rest of them as your own turns. If you get more requests than you can do without either being a filkhog or not doing the songs that you yourself want to do, it is better to not do all of the requests than to either frustrate yourself because you didn't sing the songs you wanted or to make everybody hate you (a little bit at lesat) by being a filkhog."

Suggestions? Comments? Please post them below:

Reader Comments (3)

[...] on making friends at filk conventions? Tips for shy or nervous filkers? What is a filkhog? How can I avoid being one? What are one-shots? How can I get the most out of a filk [...]

[...] doesn’t the filk community notice/appreciate me? What is a ‘filkhog’? How can I avoid being one? Any tips for shy or nervous [...]

This is good stuff!

April 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua Kronengold

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