So social proof about Shakespeare Fanfiction is a bit different that what you'd normally think to go on. While I do have a number of friends that DO read fanfics that I've known in my personal, REAL life, I didn't turn to them in this case. I mentioned--briefly, in passing, hoping that you wouldn't pay too much attention to that little detail--that I've also written and edited fanfics. Back-story to this happening is necessary, though I divulge it reluctantly.
I actually stumbled across Sailor Moon Fanfiction when I was... what, 11? 12? I know I was in junior high, because I remember sitting in my dad's computer lab at the school (He's the computer teacher, of course). I had actually been looking for the shows original SCRIPTS--because back then Youtube was banned in the schools and I wanted to reminisce about my childhood (my younger childhood) by getting caught back up in it. Little did I know, I actually stumbled upon OTHER people spinning their own yarns about it.
Well, I played the silent observer for a long while. I would read--I went from Sailor Moon to Harry Potter to Danny Phantom, and after that I lose track--rarely comment (which is a method available on most Fanfiction sites for reviewing a piece, just like any regularly published work), and, once I got an account, I would save my favorites (another option available on www.fanfiction.net) so that I could go back and reread them if I so chose. It wasn't until My last semester in eighth grade, two years after stumbling upon Fanfiction, that I got up the nerve to post my own story. Yes, I've read it since then. It was a complete joke, I've taken down, and no, you can't read it. I have also added other stories, however. If you're extra nice, I MIGHT give you my pen name so that you can go and check out the few things I still have up, though I've since started working on original works rather than Fanfiction.
Well, about a year and a half later, I became a beta. Beta, while a term familiar to most when thinking about testing out a project or app or game (etc.), is slightly different in the Fanfiction world. Essentially, it's an editor. You have the option of stating that you are willing to edit and pre-read for other authors before the post a completed work. You give your strengths, weaknesses, manner of editing, all that jazz. Now, you're required to have posted a number of stories and/or word count before you can become a beta, just so the potential author you'd be working with has a chance to see if you are actually a decent writer and know what they're dealing with stylistically and grammatically.
Well, I've done it all. With the many different ways that I interact on fanfiction.net, I had a ton of revenues to go through. As a reader and reviewer, I could directly talk to the authors of Shakespeare works and find out about other authors, leading me to new stories. As a writer, I knew a number of...I'll say fans, but they've become something more of lackies... that are willing to act as my scouts when I post on my bio page asking for help looking for Shakespeare references and story lines. And as an editor, I get the chance to look at works far ahead of time, meaning that, when I edit for one person on a Shakespeare work, they direct other people to me. Not only do I get insider knowledge, but I also help make the stories a bit more presentable. I won't use any of those as text examples in my paper, however.
It's difficult to explain or show examples about this social proof, just because the site is somewhat protected. Just because the works are Fanfiction doesn't mean they aren't pieces that authors have spent a fair amount of time on. For one, many authors end up rewriting their fanfics into actual, non-fanfic works that they'd like published. I know this for certain, because I've done it before. Also, much of it is about privacy. With my editting in particular, I can't post the conversations that I have with my 'clients' because it would break confidentiality,--not a law-breaking kind of thing, but definitely a moral-breaking thing. So, this is about all that I can say social proof wise. I will say this, though. One of my lackies was the one to lead me to The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet.
By the way, if you wanted to read that fanfic, you can go about it in two ways. One is you can do a general search at www.fanfiction.net (the search option will be up at the top at the main page) by typing in the complete title. Or, because I'm nice, I have it linked for you here: The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet. If you're really interested in Fanfiction, though, I recommend the search option. Just teaching you a new way to go about the site.