Mentioned, but not further discussed, in my “Snowclonelet composites” posting from 2009: X fag (roughly ‘X fan, X enthusiast’), which I became aware of back in 2008 and have now explored further thanks to a tip from Ben Zimmer.
First, I’d been aware of X fag attributing homosexuality (as well as enthusiasm) to the person referred to, as in band fag referring to a gay member of a marching band; note the high-school novel Band Fags by Frank Anthony Polito (also the author of Drama Queers). But somewhere along the line band fag lost the necessary implication of homosexuality and became usable for enthusiastic band members and fans.
Then, in December 2008 someone who wishes to remain anonymous e-mailed me about the generalization of X fag, all the way to the wonderful fag fag:
“Fag” has become an allround insult reappropriated as a term of selfidentification for a number of groups (at least online). “Fur fag” for furries [on furries, see here] being the most prominent, but I’ve even seen “Christ fag” used.
This week for the first time I saw someone refer to themselves as a “fag fag”.
That led me to google up (on 12/16/08) some other X fag examples, with varying degrees of derogation:
Urban Dictionary entry for “skater fag”: a derogatory term, less talented people yell out of car windows at skateboarders. usually hollered from a pickup truck. hey…..SKATER FAG!
i just don’t like you… AT ALL, because you rag on cars for diffrent sports, I have seen Drift cars 2step crack a windsheild and still run a crazy 1/4 mile, but to call someone a ricer fag for driving a import… [ricers, riced cars, rice rockets, or rice burners are Asian cars, usually from Japan, often souped-up or customized] (link)
Now, for the next step, you need to know something about the 4chan site and its /b/ board. From the 4chan Wikipedia page this morning:
The “random” board, /b/, follows the design of Futaba Channel’s Nijiura board. It was the first board created, and is by far 4chan’s most popular board, with 30% of site traffic. Gawker.com’s Nick Douglas summarized /b/ as a board where “people try to shock, entertain, and coax free porn from each other.”
… The humor of /b/’s many users, who refer to themselves as “/b/tards” [note -tard formation], is often incomprehensible to newcomers and outsiders, and is characterized by intricate inside jokes and black comedy. Users often refer to each other, and much of the outside world, as fags.
That brings us to Ben Zimmer’s link, to a “Know Your Meme” site on “-fag (suffix)” (with a wider discussion of the uses of fag as an independent word), which cites
moralfag, artfag, writefag, Eurofag, drawfag, newfag, oldfag, veganfag, ITfag, armyfag, photofag, moviefag
and provides some background and explanation (all this material is verbatim):
Poster A: The new Radiohead album. What say you?
Poster B: indiefags
On 4chan and other related chan communities, the term “-fag” is used as a suffix, appended to most words merely to denote that one is referring to a group or class, dependent upon the root word.
Is It Offensive?
Implicitly, yes. Intentionally, most of the time but not always. Whether a certain -fag is used as an insult or not can be determined based on a) the context of the discussion, especially the person using the word and b) the part preceding the suffix and not the suffix itself. It can even be used as a sign of affection within certain communities. In the context of the conversation among Anonymous, specifically /b/tards, or affiliated imageboard sites, “-fag” suffix is often used neutrally, and occasionally as a term of endearment.
with some notes on specific 4chan-derived usages:
Newfag: A new person, one who does not know the ways of their new online community, is not aware of all internet traditions, and could benefit from Lurking Moar [lurking more], or RTFM. (See also: Noob [newbie, newcomer]) [apparently, those who are most likely to call others newfags are newfags themselves]
Oldfag: A member who has been on the site or game for a long time, very knowledgable.
Drawfag: a member who draws a lot or supplies his artistry to the boards he frequents Deviant Art.
Writefag: A member who excels (or fails) at writing, such as a fanfic author. (see also: tl;dr ["too long; didn't read"])
Moralfag: Someone who seeks to use Anonymous for a greater moral purpose or to achieve some noble goal or cause. They are often harassed because most successful actions in which most of Anonymous will participate is generally based only on lulz, or humor.
Furfag: A person who has an over enthusiastic love for Furry or Furry based materials. As well one of the rare instances were the “Fag as a suffix” is always used as a derogatory connotation.
Tourneyfag: A person who competes in video game tournaments.
Touhoufags: A person who supplies a Touhou image with every post.
A vast amount of subcultural material here.