I really do think the biggest problem about show runners, authors, and suchlike responding to fandom—online or otherwise—is that they’ve fundamentally misunderstood what fandom is.
They see a group of fans and they assume that they, the author, is like unto a god for these fans and that they can send decrees down to them from on high.
That’s not what fandom is at all.
No one is more critical of art than fandom. No one is more capable of investigating the nuances of expression than fandom—because it’s a vast multitude pooling resources and ideas. Fandom is about correcting the flaws and vices of the original. It’s about protest and rebellion, essentially. Fandom is the voice of a mob that can do better than the original, that often flies in the face of the original, that will accept nothing less than the best the medium (and the human at the helm) is capable of. Fandom is about putting debate and conversation back into an artistic process—-especially if the artist or author in question has become so vain that all criticism is ignored, distrusted, thrown back in the criticizer’s face. (Moffat, I’m looking at you.) Fandom is about mutual creative expression—-there are no gods in fandom and every time someone thinks they’ve become a god of fandom, fandom corrects them again. (Cassandra Clare, I’m looking at you.) Fandom doesn’t need permission and it’s certainly not waiting for it. (Robin Hobb, I’m looking at you.) And fandom doesn’t actually want your attention; often, they’d rather you left them alone to get back to what they’re doing better than you anyway. (Supernatural, I’m looking at you.)
I would bet dollars to donuts that most of the people who run into this post could name five fics off the top of their head that could go head-to-head with canon any day of the week. I could name five fanvids with more biting commentary than a NYTimes review of the same film. I’ve definitely—and this is the easy one—seen hundreds of thousands of better fanart than the promotion materials for a lot of mainstream films and television shows.
Fandom is not worshipping at the altar of canon. Fandom is re-building it because they can do better.