The Party of Awkward Hats is Diminished: I was drunk, but many interesting guests are leaving and it’s a sobering thought.

I have an aversion to the word (ani)blogosphere, feeling like it’s an awkward hat that’s required in an invite to a party of blogs concerning anime.

And I have felt that the sphere is a fun party with so many people sharing similar interests and at the same time remaining very different. I’ve been both hyperbolic and reflective about blogging anime, and I’m still a rookie inexperienced with its trends. But I am very concerned.

Coburn just stopped, 21stcenturydigitalboy is on indefinite hiatus, lolikitsune isn’t blogging (almost/not quite as planned), lelangir is flatlining, Kaioshin Sama is dissatisfied and may have a mobile suit with a nuke in a parking lot, IKnight is undead, biankita is planning a funeral after having to attend too many weddings, TheBigN posts more on /t/ than on Drastic (along with most of us), and I had a post scheduled to publish on OH! 2 weeks ago but it suddenly died.

First, the obvious. There’s less content – the kind that I’m interested in – out there. The ones who are still at it and who  I enjoy reading write posts at a reduced rate, slowblogging if you will.

Secondly, and perhaps more critical to the utility I get out of blogging is the passing of my best commenters. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from a well-written comment, no matter how disagreeable.

A comment like THIS, is always welcome. But THIS, THIS, and THIS rock my world. We Remember Love is not quite the Iserlohn Fortress of Godly comments, but I think it’s not bad, more like the Macross Frontier of comments both substantive and lulz.

There are commenters still popping up that blow me away, thank goodness.

One thing I learned is that most comments come from other bloggers. In OH! we were each other’s commenters. It makes sense both in terms of the economy of the sphere, and that bloggers are at least writers of variable ability. And even if commenters aren’t bloggers yet, they could be in some future. I was a lurker commenter for months before I started blogging.

I asked myself, if I really wanted conversation and discussion, why don’t I just join forums? There’s so much less I can do in a forum post compared to what I’ve attempted to do here, or at least I can’t write as many words per post. More critical, perhaps is the control over the content and archving the blog platform offers.

I tell myself that coburn is the opposite of me: a blogger introducing himself to anime and claiming ground for himself, while I’m a lifelong anime fan remembering love for myself and others.

He’ll be missed, especially when he posts like this, this, and this. Coburn, should you remember love for writing about anime and find claiming your old ground too much of whatever it is you gave it up for, you can write here – by yourself or in collaboration with friends.

In the mean time I’ll just nurse this whiskey and sit by the piano where a lady named Yoko is playing something blue.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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37 Responses to The Party of Awkward Hats is Diminished: I was drunk, but many interesting guests are leaving and it’s a sobering thought.

  1. I agree that too many bloggers are dying. I, of course, go on a hiatus in the same fasion that Baka-Raptor does – which is hardly at all. I still will likely manage to post way more than your average blogger without even trying.

    But yeah, we did kind of feel like we were getting into things right at the behest of their demise. Still, though, I want to revolutionize it and make it take off again – usher in the next era of aniblogging. I’ve been around for 2 years but I’m jsut getting started – I don’t ever plan to stop blogging.

    EVER.

    EVER.

  2. About that comment you made regarding the difference between substantive and lulz posts, right now my problem with the blogosphere (among other things I’ll also mention) and why I’m just not reading much of it or participating to the degree I used to is because there is a massive saturation of lulz posts that are making it anything but informative or interesting to read.

    Now that’s not to say that humour has no place within the boundaries of this community that we’ve created, far from it in fact since I value good humour just the same as I value good intelligent discourse, the problem is that there’s simply to much of the same thing and a good chunk of it is of no real benefit to anyone at the moment. There needs to be more of a balance in the type of posts we are seeing, and that means equal amounts of good old fashioned fun in lulz posts as well as posts to get us thinking so we don’t just end up rotting our brains in the process of it all.

    Right now the pendulum has swung to far to the lulz side for my tastes, but even more problematic is that we are now seeing increased propagation of what has become known as the trolling post and the RAEG post, which I really don’t want to get into anymore then I already have in recent weeks because it’s too stupid to mention. My point is though that as this continues to happen I lose interest at an equivalent rate to which the same old messages are being repeated over and over and thus I go to do something else instead, to find a new medium with a new message, because well….nobody ever said that Marshall Mcluhan had to be taken so literally as to make a medium into one singular message.

    All I’m asking for right now is a little more variety for my time spent perusing your average blog. I’ll even share in people’s frustrations if they are genuine and try to rationalize the common insecurities we share like I am doing right now, but not when I can’t trust if what I’m reading is the bloggers actual opinion. Not when just about anything can turn out to be a troll post or faux outrage that is just meant to garner more hits, more comments and to make everyone else as miserable as the author themselves. How is that benificial to anyone I ask?

    That is why I am dissatisified with the blogosphere as it is, and like I say every once in a while, sometimes I actually don’t think it would be a bad idea to nuke the whole thing and start over with some lessons learned from the weaknesses of the current structure and a newfound desire to create a community with more benefits and less time wasting gimmicks. Then again they always said I was a dreamer and little more……

  3. @kaioishin: I actually fully get where you’re coming from, I get tired of joke posts very quick and I play along but I suspect I never laugh as hard as anyone else. There’s always a sense of ‘this guy’s not a comedian, why is he reusing this joke, etc.’ As for blogger drama, I don’t read it, though I do occasionally create it. However, I really want to avoid it, which is why I haven’t made a post bitching about a certain blogger who pisses me off a lot. I pretty much learned my lesson from my WAH rant post that troll shit never gets you anywhere.

    I don’t think I’d go so far as to say we nuke the thing though. I just think bloggers need to pull themselves out of the ‘circle’ a bit. Less of all this inside joke bullshit when we all pal around too much. We start to look like a forum that’s taking up too much space.

  4. animekritik says:

    The solution seems to be then to slim down your Google Reader and only read nice, wholesome blogs like this one! That’s what I love about the internet, you do get to choose what you connect to, and what to pass up.

    I guess you can’t control what people are going to be saying in their comments, but think about it, in this digital age where everything’s so fast and people are so busy running around, if someone stops to comment then there’s obviously something in your post that really caught their attention, otherwise why did s/he bother to comment? So just by being commented on, you’re being complimented..even if it’s a one liner pointing out a mistake or something.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’m really not interested in putting words in commenters’ posts, but there is a way to make your own blog uninteresting for trolls.

      I’ve been lucky that I don’t get trolled here in this blog, but part of that too is how I don’t reward trolling, and/or derailing comments by biting on the bait.

      But my purpose in this post is to make examples of the kind of comments that I want to write myself in reaction to other blogs’ posts.

  5. schneider says:

    >>TheBigN posts more on /t/ than on Drastic

    You make it sound like the /t/orrents board of 4chan, which is an utterly ghastly place. 😛

  6. Do you think that this might just be a cyclical occurrence? I know that my output often goes through phases where I feel really inspired to write and words just flow really easily. At other times (I’m probably going through a dip at the moment) where I come up with topics, but end up scrapping it and starting over from scratch so often that it becomes annoying, which is made worse by the fact that when I do post, I’m still not entirely too pleased with what I’ve written.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I haven’t been around long enough to track trends, so I can’t really comment on whether there is a cyclical nature to the hiati(?) hiatuses(?)

      When people say real life gets in the way of blogging, I somehow get the impression that they mean to say that this otaku life, this hobby, is less real.

      Not as important, to be sure, but it’s as real to me as any of the things I do.

      I’m much older than most of you so I have more control over my own schedule, maybe that’s why I can do this at the pace I’m going at. I’m going through a productive spell which I’m thankful for. Like you sometimes I just have nothing, even though the material for writing is almost always there.

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  8. Kabitzin says:

    Do not worry, bloggers are a renewable resource.

    • Owen S says:

      I see what you did there. Doesn’t the level of… renewability vary from blogger to blogger though? Some renew less and less each time, whereas some manage to make the renewing consistent.

      IN BEFORE INNOVATOR JOKES

    • ghostlightning says:

      I agree with Owen. Obviously I only mourn the passing of the bloggers that I enjoy reading. There must be a whole undocumented set of blogger turnover that we don’t see.

      Maybe you can share some data from nano? I’m intrigued by an idea of calculating a ‘vitality index’ of the aniblogosphere.

  9. Baka-Raptor says:

    I can’t afford to go on a hiatus. Too many things to write about. I’ve been “behind schedule” since day 1.

    Also, quitting is for little girls who beg their parents to sign them up for ballet lessons only to realize they hate it one week later.

  10. coburn says:

    Heh, as Kaoshin noticed, this post cries out for post-sized commenting:

    When we get that closed circle feeling I think it comes down to the format we’re using. It’s a level of formality beyond a forum – but without the user-friendly structure of the episodic blogger. This is, I think, what we needed something like OH for – to offer a range of content in one place, with the kind of structure in posting that editorial (or actually funny) blogs can’t often maintain.

    Thing is, as we saw there, comments were still the engine – the anime-watching community as a whole wasn’t the support for us – we were our own support. Ideally we would have gathered the sort of authority which would have allowed a strong post to send ripples into the chans and the big forums. For the brief duration, we were still a sub-community playing at journalism, not the public journalists of the anime fandom. Our readers were still a particular and loveable subset – the RSS checkers, the willing writers. I’m inclined to romanticise them, because I’m still part of that crew.

    I find myself wondering how far I always wrote with the aim of producing the precise content I wanted to be reading. Not just wanting to google my way to another good blog, I wanted find a living companion piece for anime noobs with my own particular tastes. Oh, and I wanted it in the form of considered essays, rather than clumsy message board interactions. And I found a few places which were something like that, but not enough of them, so I tried to make my own.

    The issue being that I wanted content on what I was watching right now. Some idealised doppelgänger with the same hard drive content throwing fully worked out interpretations of each show back at me so that I could mull things over more fully. So what I was doing was not discussion, or conversation, but a sort of mimicry of fully developed critical spheres.

    It makes me think that what OH really needed was three times as many authors, and collections of posts with the same format (like your own on characters). Actually, come to think of it, either you or Pontifus could probably deliver something like that depending on the growth of your sites. If I ever slim down enough to fit my slippers and tutu, I’ll e-mail you a post or two.

    • ghostlightning says:

      OH! writers should weigh in on the points you made here.

      Thing is, as we saw there, comments were still the engine – the anime-watching community as a whole wasn’t the support for us – we were our own support.

      Yes, fully tying into…

      It makes me think that what OH really needed was three times as many authors, and collections of posts with the same format

      THIS. Riex really had the right idea. I’ve theorized a lot with the likes of lelangir and Pontifus about the development of post templates. I’ve tried to do so with characters, and a few other (much harder to produce) formats like ‘Great Battles in Anime History.’

      A larger staff of writers would’ve made a larger commenter pool which also has a higher yield of comments with the intent to actually contribute something to the discussion (even if only for allegiance’s sake). It would’ve made for a ‘community’ feeling, rather than a closed identity of a few, which I sometimes felt we were.

      I wanted it in the form of considered essays, rather than clumsy message board interactions.

      THIS TOO. Hence the aforementioned formats. I would counsel Pontifus as to building a larger pool of writers – people like animekritik and gaguri should fit in well if they’re so inclined. But the case of Yukan should also be considered – that despite the massive amount of writers and commenters, it still died.

      If I ever slim down enough to fit my slippers and tutu, I’ll e-mail you a post or two.

      Looking forward to it!

      • Kabitzin says:

        So, did Riex vanish? You have to consider who will be spearheading the effort. When you take out the head, the body dies, too. If OH! is really dead, OH! and Yukan stand as examples of this.

      • ghostlightning says:

        Not exactly Level 7 data, but I’d rather not speak for Riex. What I can say that there are exciting things happening in his life and he had to make choices that affected all of us.

        No one’s upset at him or anything, just so you know.

        Yes, the head is quite vital – and perhaps even more so in an autocracy such as OH! no matter how benevolent.

  11. yukan died most likely because it was totally fucking uninteresting >.>

    Anyway I’m with Coburn on OH and the closed circle. These were precisely the reasons Riex shut the site down with intent to make something much bigger before he disappeared. LBrevis, otou-san, gl and I have been discussing our own site in line with what you’re discussing – massive and memeless.

    @baka-raptor: haha, I’m with you, the well of things I want to talk about is so deep I can’t see the bottom.

    @blogger turnover: See, there is a reason the death of anibloggers seemed much bigger to me. When I go to blogs like animanachronism and omonomono and look at their blogrolls, there are a ton of defunct blogs. Some of them, I read their posts and found they wre awesome, but they hadn’t posted in a month or two. These deaths were mostly very recent. So it felt to me like the sphere was just capsizing. Plus blogs I’ve been reading since I started like Towards Our Memories and, as mentioned, Drastic MY Anime Blog, are almost never posting in spite of their authors always being online >_>

  12. Martin says:

    I find that there’s a definite ‘turnover’ of blogs. In the past two or three years I’ve seen some excellent blogs die but equally some excellent new ones have popped up (even if some of those die too!).

    I think it’ll settle itself down as most things do but as long as the aggregators are online and accepting new submissions things should be fine. I personally don’t visit Nano and the AB antenna as often as I ought to but the biggest problem for new blogs is getting a foothold in acquiring a readership; get onto one of the aggregators though, and you’re part of the fresh blood in the circle.

    Repetition in subject matter is another issue but I think that could be down to the current season being notoriously rich in generic and/or mediocre shows. I commented on Owen’s blog recently about how there’s always SOMETHING good despite the recurring complaints of “the new season’s rubbish!” but the fact remains that there’s been a lot of ‘meh’ in recent weeks so people don’t have as much inspiration.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Repetition in subject matter is another issue but I think that could be down to the current season being notoriously rich in generic and/or mediocre shows.

      This is part of the problem, I think. Especially if bloggers write episodic reviews that offer marginal analysis.

      I really don’t care if a new blog is writing about an old show, as long as there’s something fresh about the perspective – even if the conclusions are similar to what exists.

      I wasn’t as bothered that OH! had a large amount of articles on Evangelion and Gurren Lagann. The authors were writing from a powerful place imo.

      Owen shared in a GR note how a subject (F/sN) can have such quality that it will yield different and interesting things for new writers to post about (he was referring to ETERNAL’s post on Fate route). I agree – as I’d easily gobble up any new writing about Macross ~_^ (so finish your backlog so I can read your posts about it).

  13. animewriter says:

    Nice post, I have the same feeling about the “Ani” blogosphere, at times I feel that it’s become too disconnected from the majority of the anime viewing community as a whole. Sometimes, I think that “we” write posts that are just talking to the converted (fellow anime bloggers) instead of the other 99% who just watch anime because they like it.

    I also can understand your feelings about well written and well thought out comments, but I personally don’t mind getting very short comments stating “I loved this show as a kid” and so forth.

    I also think that the anime blogosphere sometimes tends to get too analyatical when it comes to the shows they cover. I think that the average anime fan watches a series because it touches on a certain emotional mood they’re experiencing in their lives.

    “This is part of the problem, I think. Especially if bloggers write episodic reviews that offer marginal analysis.”

    Being a episodic blogger I can understand this problem, but on occasion I don’t offer much analysis because nothing much happens in that episode that deserves in-depth analysis, sometimes a dying whale is just a dying whale, nothing more.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Sometimes, I think that “we” write posts that are just talking to the converted (fellow anime bloggers) instead of the other 99% who just watch anime because they like it.

      Mea culpa. I champion mecha anime not to anime neophytes but to existing anime fans. For one thing I don’t have to extremely speak in beginner terms. Also, there is a reassurance that there is a sense of relatedness between us: even if you like mostly Key Game adaptations (unknown territory for me) for example, and I know mostly real robot shows – we have much common ground: even if only an understanding of how long seasons are, what to look for in OPs and EDs, etc.

      sometimes a dying whale is just a dying whale, nothing more.

      Yes, this is why I don’t have the motivation (and perhaps talent) to cover something episodically. So I just toss out a non-spoiler thought on twitter re and episode, and it somehow slakes my thirst to opine on an episode.

  14. TheBigN says:

    Jeez, you don’t post in like two weeks and stuff like this happens. 😛

    This is what I remarked in omo’s recent post:

    I already have ideas lined up that I can easily knock down if I feel like it, but at the moment, I just don’t. It’s not like the ideas are bad, but it seems like it would be okay to hold them off for a little longer. Something like that. I’ll come back to them eventually, so I believe. 😛

    In this case, “eventually” doesn’t mean months or something like that. Besides, you still see me around commenting and twittering (and in digitalboy’s case, posting on forums), so I’m still around. :3

    But it always surprises me when I see people like coburn or Jeff Lawson “take a break” (because I never assume that they quit) from anime blogging because they did it constantly, so I understand some of how you feel.

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  16. otou-san says:

    “Massive and memeless.” Digiboy I love that phrase. basically says what animewriter puts like this:

    Sometimes, I think that “we” write posts that are just talking to the converted (fellow anime bloggers) instead of the other 99% who just watch anime because they like it.

    Real Life (Riex’s real life) got in the way of OH, but I think we may continue on with these ideas. Lots of missed opportunities there — although I don’t blame Riex and think it’s awesome that he’s following the very adventurous path in his life— but one of the saddest parts is that it had a hand in felling Coburn before his time.

    But the truth is (and check out Martin’s latest post if you don’t believe me) there will always be quality stuff out there for the rest of us insular circle-jerkers to read and think on. So as we mourn the loss or slowdown of old faves, don’t forget the new guys with something genuinely awesome to say.

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  18. usagijen says:

    *looks at months old backlogged posts*

    Inspiration strikes, sometimes it doesn’t, and people’s passion for blogging wanes every now and then… it’s entirely up to them to relive that flame again. It’s but natural(?) for bloggers to go through a certain phase when they start to question why they’re doing this, whether or not they’re just watching anime for blogging (like some sort of obligation) or they’re genuinely inspired by what they watch. Some people get past that stage as enlightened beings (though still prone to the occassional mishaps), some crash and burn, while others just fade into existence.

    I do hope that the ‘blog deaths’ we’re seeing is just part of this so-called ‘phase’, and that they’d somehow find themselves back, and renewed.

    Anyways, I don’t know what I’m saying anymore, all I know is that I feel as if I’m drifting from the aniblogging community as of late and I have to do something to get my ass back on track!

    Spring is just around the corner, and I do hope that will rev up the rest of the bloggers’ “blogging drive” again 😀

  19. ghostlightning says:

    @ digitalboy

    Use of memes (in the common occurrence in the sphere) is not a bad thing in itself. It is when its use is for the purpose of excluding the user or a group from others when problems occur.

    @ Kaioshin Sama

    All I’m asking for right now is a little more variety for my time spent perusing your average blog. I’ll even share in people’s frustrations if they are genuine and try to rationalize the common insecurities we share like I am doing right now, but not when I can’t trust if what I’m reading is the bloggers actual opinion. Not when just about anything can turn out to be a troll post or faux outrage that is just meant to garner more hits, more comments and to make everyone else as miserable as the author themselves. How is that benificial to anyone I ask?

    I think this articulates my own dissatisfaction as well, when it does occur. It would be great if the post and the blogger is authentic. Derailing a discussion for trolling’s sake (or the other way around) isn’t fun to read at all – unless one’s purpose in reading is to appreciate such activities in particular.

    @ TheBigN

    WRIET MOAR, I’ll be reading ^^/

    @ otou-san

    The current outliers mentioned in Martin’s post can be included in the circle. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the posts and commentary contain more value to those who are ‘outside.’

    @ usagijen

    […] all I know is that I feel as if I’m drifting from the aniblogging community as of late and I have to do something to get my ass back on track!

    THIS.

  20. omisyth says:

    Wow, all of the comments here are so awesome that I feel completely dwarfed. In any case, for every awkward hat that unfortunately leaves the party, 3 more show up, and as is evident through the beginning of the Blog Pimping Chain Letter (which I hope to join sometime soon) there will always, ALWAYS be good content out in the blogosphere somewhere.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yeah there’s always good content, so the sphere may not be dying based on the small sample size I’ve made. However on a personal note the bloggers I mentioned are/have been good to me and We Remember Love. That’s a big part of why I miss them.

      Shamelessly assuming I write reasonably decent and interesting posts, lolikit and lelangir hardly write comment anymore – and I enjoy commenting on their posts, and their comments usually are great reads and liven up the discussion.

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  22. maggeh says:

    I never thought of the ‘sphere’ as dying. Namely cause you can’t kill what you don’t know. If a tree falls in an empty forest and falls on top of the man, does anybody hear him die?

    Which brings to question another question. Define what it means to be heard, and whether ‘anybody’ means simply anything with a body, or is narrowed down to imply a living human being; that is, something who is capable of understanding the pinned man’s pangs of pain and impending doom.

    Also, if the forest is empty, why the fuck is there a tree? Woodcutters aren’t doing a good enough job is men can die in empty forests.

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