August 04, 2009

I'm not a hippie

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
"Share the fun; spread the love". I think we all agree that's what fandom is about. However, as far as I know, we're not a hippie community, are we? If I pay for something, and then I want to share it, I think I have every right to share it in any way I please.

When I post scans, or a Hyakushiki episode at the Shoon LiveJournal community, and I request (not order) people to "please, wait a week before re-posting" or "please, do not re-post" and then say "thank you" in advance, I am not claiming a monopoly.

As the community maintainer, I'm just claiming an exclusive that will become an added bonus for people to remain members, and for more people to join the community.

I'm not so naive as to think that what I share will not be shared again by somebody else later on. I have no control over it anyway. I just ask people not to re-post it. If they do, all I can do is ban them from the community.

Also, I don't make any profit from sharing what I share. Much on the contrary; it costs me time and money. By saying this I don't intend to pass for a martir or a Jeanne d'Arc.

I spend money on fandom because I want to. I "waste" my time because I enjoy blogging and making fansites. And if I waste my time googling for alternate ways to watch and record a show when nobody will upload or share it, I do it because I myself want to watch it.

But I won't keep quiet when people who try to make profit from fandom and have tried to make profit from noble, if naive, fan projects, criticize me. Yeah, it's a free world and you can place ads on your blog, and webgain links, but if we're talking about the true spirit of fandom, I don't think THAT is the true spirit.

I won't keep quiet when people accuse me of being selfish. I have never tried to make any profit from my blogging (I avoid ads as much as possible because they're annoying and bother me), I have never put a watermark on my scans (yet I respect people who do) or the videos I've shared, and I have organized contests and given away stuff (like clippings and so on), paying for the shipping costs myself, just for the fun of it and for making the fandom more active. Again, I don't intend to pass for a Jeanne d'Arc, and I have many faults, but selfishness is not one of them.

If it's a crime to create a community and keep certain files and scans exclusive to it as little bonuses because you want people to find it worthwhile to be a part of it, then yes, I declare myself guilty.

Why do people upload clips and shows and share them on their blogs? I don't think it's merely for "spreading the love". Try and blog without sharing ANYTHING: not even streaming videos, or news, or pictures. Much the Japanese way, except they do post news, but then they're privileged because they're living where it all happens. Just blog giving your views and opinions. Then we'd see how many people would still follow your blog after a few weeks. The true spirit of blogging is not posting a clip, a download link, saying "Man, this show was great!", and throwing in a couple of witty comments.

Months ago it became increasingly difficult to watch or download Hyakushiki. The clubbox from which we all downloaded it became password-protected, TVU stopped working, so did TVants, J-net closed its doors...

Shoon only appears in Hyakushiki Ou these days, so as a Shoon fan, I was a little desperate to find a way to watch the show; any way. I resorted to a sort of "pay-per-view" online service. Not that much; 3 dollars every once in a while, but it's something I paid for anyway.

Now, I shared it at the Shoon community, happy to have a little exclusive thing I could share and asked people to "please wait a week before re-posting". Not even "please do not re-post"; just "please wait a week". 1 WEEK! Is that too much to ask? Was that selfish of me? I think not.

But of course there's people for whom, you know, blogging is a 24/7 job, and they just HAVE to make a post when there's something worth posting. You have known them for years, and they could have asked: "hey, I know you asked to wait a week, but would you mind if I re-posted it?". I'm so soft I would most likely have said "yes, sure, go ahead".

Well, instead of that they converted the video I had recorded to a different format, and posted it the next day on their blog, not only not crediting me, but passing it as their own. How nice is that?

Me being the obsessive fan I am, I kept on searching for some place where somebody might be sharing the show in good quality, and had the immense luck of finding somebody who can record Japanese shows in HighDefinition (HD). I had nothing to lose, so I asked if they might record Hyakushiki for me every week, and they said yes. Each file is over 3 gygabites, and the quality is amazing.

Now, re-uploading 3GB files every week for other people would be suicide for my connection, and not many people would be interested in such huge files, so I resize and convert them, which takes my computer over an hour and a half, then edit the file to cut the commercials, because with them the files are still too big, then split it with HJSplit, then upload it to MediaFire, then sometimes also make a smaller file for those who cannot download HD files, and then I also upload the whole file to the FTP of a Chinese-speaking Shoon community. Is THAT being selfish?

The person who records the show for me never asked for anything, but I felt awkward and cheeky (especially because once I mentioned I liked Shounen Club and they started recording it in HD for me too, plus Shounen Club Premium), so I asked if maybe I could make a donation, or something. They said it would be appreciated, so every month I make a donation of 15 euros (21 dollars) to thank them for the trouble. No, I don't intend to pass for a Joanne d'Arc, but if I pay for something and want to share it, I think I have the right to ask people not to re-post it. All you need to do to get the show is join the community.

And, as I said, it's the only show Shoon is appearing in these days, so I think it's not selfish if I want to keep the files exclusive to the community. V6, HSJ, Kisumai, ABC and junior fans who might not be the least interested in Shoon but want the show in HD to see Inocchi, Tottsu, Keito, Fujigaya, Takada, or Sanada are more than welcome to join the community, and I've advertised the Shoon community on the HSJ, ABC and Kisumai communities, so they know about it.

So really, is it selfish to ask people not to re-post some of the things I share? Those who know me know what an obsessive a huge Shoon fan I am, what crazy things I do for him, and that all I want is to help in any way possible to make him more popular in the foreign fandom, as well as for him to know how much support he has. If that makes me selfish, so be it.

P.S.: Laughing at a non-English speaker for their English is rather unfeeling when they're making an effort to communicate in a language that's not their own and so different from their own.
P.S.2: Please don't idolize bloggers, it's bad for our health and bad for your self-esteem.