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Heizei_koukousei

Meta - Addressing Fuwanovel Forum Issues

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I want to create a place where we can identify the over-arching issues with membership on this site currently and propose solutions. What is the general reason so many people have left?

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Is it because the original intent of Fuwanovel has been more or less met (VNs are much more popular in the West than they were 5 years ago)? Though with more VN enthusiasts around you’d think that this community would be growing.

Is it because Tay is not here? Are we lacking someone with charisma to unify members? I can understand that not many may have those traits or those who do may not have the time to propose fun and engaging community events

Or is it because members found other places to share their content? I’m sure a lot of discussion occurs in private discord groups, potentially valuable information for posterity. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have conversations in a public space as forums were intended to be since the dawn of the internet?

Or and this is probably the most likely reason with the others only contributing a minor amount; the toxic nature of some community members? Or is it all community members? This is an honest question only designed to get some reflection. I don’t want to believe that people on the internet are inherently inconsiderate. Sure many are, but NOT ALL. None of us know each other in person but we definitely have created friendships that mean more than that. 

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And then how can we resolve these issues? And obviously there’s no immediate one day fix. But can we not make it one persons responsibility to make this a fun place? We already know here on Fuwanovel that not all events have to be visual novel related!  But we also have a lot of people who have worked really hard to generate thoughtful content, those who write reviews and recommendations and have only a small audience, can we reach a wider audience with that polished work? Or maybe how do we bring those talented creators back? Or maybe we can expand the scope of this site, and bring broader awareness of Eastern culture to the West. I’m sure many of us have passion beyond pop culture VNs/anime/manga! How could we minimize trolling and inflammatory remarks and maximize honest discussion? People tend to gloss over written rules, that’s part of human nature, can we think outside the box to encourage people to participate in a way that everyone can enjoy? How can we encourage people to return?

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Finally after identifying issues and proposing solutions, what can we start planning now that can be implemented later? When would be a good time? For example Summer is coming and people should have a little more time on their hands. And this ties in to the real world, We should all be aware that the world is suffering, with COVID-19, and protests around the world. But I don’t think we need to wait until the world improves because it’s never going to. In fact, we should be working harder during these trying times to create places where people can get a respite from reality. 

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Well, I'm writing on a phone so I'll be brief... 

1. You probably through your absence missed the worst times of institutional paralyses due to Tay's disappearance. This was partially resolved by Emi taking charge, but generally, nothing could be done on Fuwa for literal years because Tay went AWOL. When it got (partially) fixed, there was no energy left to ressurect the site as something more than the Forums, which is also staying alive through inertia more than anything else. Because no main site content = no traffic and no new people. 

2. The main roles of this site are not as important as they once were. People get news and discuss them on Reddit. Socialise on Discord. Organise fan translation... Pretty much nowhere because those are dead. :P I'm being hyperbolic, but only a little. Fuwa is a cool community... But is in no way essential as it once was. The "fix" I was hoping to spearhead for that issue was making it something like an editorial/review hub once more... But few people, me including, had any kind of energy for it, and none had enough for long-term commitment. 

3. When it goes to the community itself and the atmosphere on the site, I think it's overwhelmingly positive. I'm not objective here of course, but I don't think it's toxic members of any kind of cultural flaw that keeps Fuwa down. Unless you count lethargy as one. :P

I don't want to discourage you and any initiative to energise the community is welcomed. I'm not sure there's an answer to this crisis though, different then the community being old, slightly anachronistic and really not having time or energy for all that reforming/rebuilding business. :>

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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7 hours ago, Fiddle said:

It's because OriginalRen is no longer with us. In the end, we were all here for the opportunity to court him.

Ah yes the golden boy of Fuwanovel. ‘Twas definitely one of the most charismatic members of these forums, people like him are who we need to carry on :wahaha:

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Since I joined this site my activity has always been pretty sporadic, and I don't know too much about what was going on post 2016. But I think Fuwanovel never really recovered from its withdrawal from hosting Torrents. I don't think it was a coincidence that the most active years of Fuwa was when torrents were hosted which brought an influx of new users. It seemed 2015 by in large was pretty active, but I think it was mostly from the momentum of the previous years. 

I know one of the main goals after torrents were taken down was to make Fuwanovel a hub for information, but I think @Plk_Lesiak is correct in pointing out that by in large Reddit fills that purpose.

I suppose I do have one possible suggestion. Since hosting VNs was what made Fuwa popular to begin with, why don't we do that again? But this time not with illegal torrents, but as an actual VN publisher/licenceser. I know that'll be a lot of work and probably won't happen, but its the only way I can picture Fuwanovel gaining relevancy again. And given that Fuwanovel does still have somewhat of a significant presence in the VN community, if someone were willing to put that much work I think Fuwanovel could make it as a publisher. But again, this is just me spitting out my 2 cents.

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58 minutes ago, Zalor said:

I suppose I do have one possible suggestion. Since hosting VNs was what made Fuwa popular to begin with, why don't we do that again? But this time not with illegal torrents, but as an actual VN publisher/licenceser. I know that'll be a lot of work and probably won't happen, but its the only way I can picture Fuwanovel gaining relevancy again. And given that Fuwanovel does still have somewhat of a significant presence in the VN community, if someone were willing to put that much work I think Fuwanovel could make it as a publisher. But again, this is just me spitting out my 2 cents.

I was actually thinking we could partner with one of the companies doing official translations. Don’t we have members of the forums that have relationships with MangaGamer or JAST? We could even be “sold” to one of these companies and let them manage our main site as long as the forum is able to main semi-autonomy 

Or similar to @Zalorwe could try to get rights to a title and get funded via Patreon or something, but I do think the barrier to this would be extremely high. It would be impossible to compete with other companies this late in the game. Having to source talent, manage payroll, find a VN with enough clout that isn’t already licensed out, would be an awful lot. 

Honestly nothing would be considered a sell out move though because the trajectory we are on is one that ends with fuwanovel not existing anymore anyway 

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39 minutes ago, Heizei_koukousei said:

I was actually thinking we could partner with one of the companies doing official translations. Don’t we have members of the forums that have relationships with MangaGamer or JAST? We could even be “sold” to one of these companies and let them manage our main site as long as the forum is able to main semi-autonomy 

Or similar to @Zalorwe could try to get rights to a title and get funded via Patreon or something, but I do think the barrier to this would be extremely high. It would be impossible to compete with other companies this late in the game. Having to source talent, manage payroll, find a VN with enough clout that isn’t already licensed out, would be an awful lot. 

Honestly nothing would be considered a sell out move though because the trajectory we are on is one that ends with fuwanovel not existing anymore anyway 

Yeah, and again I was just spitting out an idea despite knowing how unfeasible seeming it is. The core problem with any of these solutions however is that Fuwa has always been mostly a communal hub for VN fans/hobbiests. To change it into something almost professional (like becoming a liscencer) would be changing fuwa in a big way. And I'm not sure who would do it considering that leadership in Fuwa seems to be kind of quiet. And this gets back to the other key problem, Fuwa need revitalized leadership.  

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Tay has disappeared.  It is more or less official.  

Emi has to deal with rl, so she doesn't really have time to be here.

Nayleen is apparently still around.

Any otaku forum's primary purpose is to serve as a home for its community.  Everything else is secondary.  To be blunt, Reddit, Facebook, and the other major sites can't produce the kind of 'at-home' feeling a forum can (not to mention that they are evil monstrosities that exist solely to drain people of their information so it can be sold to third parties), and Fuwa is my home on the net.

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6 hours ago, Heizei_koukousei said:

I was actually thinking we could partner with one of the companies doing official translations. Don’t we have members of the forums that have relationships with MangaGamer or JAST? We could even be “sold” to one of these companies and let them manage our main site as long as the forum is able to main semi-autonomy 

Or similar to @Zalorwe could try to get rights to a title and get funded via Patreon or something, but I do think the barrier to this would be extremely high. It would be impossible to compete with other companies this late in the game. Having to source talent, manage payroll, find a VN with enough clout that isn’t already licensed out, would be an awful lot. 

Honestly nothing would be considered a sell out move though because the trajectory we are on is one that ends with fuwanovel not existing anymore anyway 

The point about those relations though, is that people who were involved with fan translation of Fuwa and wanted to transition into professional work for localisation companies already did so. Those that didn't probably have little interest in taking official responsibilities in any Fuwanovel-based localisation company... The lack of leadership is an important barrier for sure, but even when we removed the most important hurdles and got full access to the site last year, there simply weren't enough people to work on content – you can notice how basically I did some things for the main site and there was zero follow-up (which, in return, made me demotivated). Suddenly finding the energy in this community to not just create stuff, but do so in a commercially-viable manner? Well...

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I think the community in general has fragmented.  It's still there, but it's spread across Discord, Twitter, Facebook, and other places for unstructured discussion, in addition to the many forum alternatives such as Steam, VNDB, and Reddit.  As others have pointed out, fan translation is accounting for a smaller proportion of releases, and as a fan translation hub Fuwanovel is thus losing its ability to draw new members.  To stay relevant, Fuwanovel would have to eke out a new niche, something that distinguishes itself from the many alternatives.

I do think that forums are steadily losing ground to alternatives, especially Discord and Twitter.  These are far more frictionless for new users, as they allow you to interact with many different communities with a single registration, and you can participate without needing to organize your thoughts or have any subject matter knowledge.  The small cliques that form on such platforms are also often more comfortable since these platforms enable users to congregate with likeminded people and avoid people they disagree with.  It's more difficult to do this on a forum, which usually draws a more diverse community (if it's large enough to sustain activity to begin with).

Edited by sanahtlig

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well, i see this place as personal blog of Clephas, with occasionally not boring comments of others

private circles of like-minded people is a better place to spend time, than suffering hundred tons of morality and irrelevant rules

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On another note, the main reason that forums are failing is, of course, because of the major social media giants.  The other reason is that forums are from the age when people actually were willing to be civil with people who disagreed with them.  In the age of dogmatic shout-outs, there is a lot less demand for a deliberative setting, which is pathetically sad.  It's almost like we went back to the age before the car or even the age before the printing press, when people acted like the entirety of the world is their small village or neighborhood (in a psychological sense).  

As for fantranslation, there will always be a small number of people who like to translate things on their own, but most will be willing to sell the translation to an existing localization company at the drop of a hat.  After all, translating VNs is a ton of work that eats away at time no matter how much you pace yourself, and it is extremely lonely, because very few groups stay together long enough to get things done (there is always someone who ends up doing much more than their part and burning out and a bunch of others that feel ashamed they aren't doing enough and fade away).

Is Fuwa irrelevant?  At present, the answer is a qualified no.  No forum with members is ever irrelevant to the community, however small, it serves.  However, because Tay didn't hand over the keys to the front page or most of the other parts of the site, there is no way for anybody to run this place anymore.  If he had at least let someone else have the authority to do everything involving the front site, Fuwa probably would have stayed much more relevant to the larger community.  Unfortunately, without that ability, there is literally nothing Emi was able to do to keep things running.  

Discord and Twitter are useless for forming communities, for different reasons than Facebook or Reddit.  Essentially, whoever shouts out the most or the latest is the one who 'wins' there, so there is no 'discussion'.  There is only a bunch of shout-outs that it is too much trouble for most to sort through.  This is also the reason why individual Discords become irrelevant so fast... once people realize there is no way to catch people's attention without being an ass, they feel empty and decide to go elsewhere, where they repeat the same cycle over and over.  

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2 hours ago, sanahtlig said:

I do think that forums are steadily losing ground to alternatives, especially Discord and Twitter.  These are far more frictionless for new users, as they allow you to interact with many different communities with a single registration, and you can participate without needing to organize your thoughts or have any subject matter knowledge.  The small cliques that form on such platforms are also often more comfortable because these platforms enable users to congregate with likeminded people and avoid people they disagree with.  It's more difficult to do this on a forum, which usually draws a more diverse community (if it's large enough to sustain activity to begin with).

I think we should foster new users, but eventually they have to become independent members. Thus I think diversity is important, and being around people you disagree with is crucial for growth and learning. I don’t think we should always avoid people we disagree with, otherwise what would we talk about? As long as we can handle people disagreeing with us like adults and try to understand their position rather than attacking and trolling them. I think avoiding people you disagree with is just an easy out. I do understand that people enjoy having a close circle of likeminded individuals but we have always had private chats and forums existing concurrently, remember IRC channels?

Even disagreement at an administrative level can be beneficial if handled responsibly. With disagreement comes compromise.

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social media sites are superior to older chat services and forums since every newcomer feels to have an equal start, with all real-world friends and familly members, rather than dealing with older decorated members, possibly arrogant and even hostile, though most naturally you can't expect them to babysit lots of people.
also you get your own personal page, rather than dealing with petty dictators in shape of moderators. if you want to put time in writing lengthy articles, your personal blog in a most likely enduring host is a better choice.
you are causing doubts that maybe on 2021-01-17 something really bad is going to happen to this site, though the admin seems to do his main and only obligation.
on social medias you can easily expand your circle, build circle in circles, even if a group is disbanded you won't lose your contact, you can easily rebuild it, maybe somewhere else.

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