Building Better Otaku Communities

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Recently, there was a major internal spat in an otaku community on Facebook. I’m not gonna even bother to censor names and mince words; yes, I am talking about the uproar that happened inside Komunitas Otaku Indonesia (KOI) S2. The spat was related to alleged nepotism and admin power abuse in a mascot designing contest, in which the winner was allegedly an admin. The contest involved a smartphone as a prize (a Xiaomi, was it? Who gives a fuck, anyway) and the contest was rigged so that the admin (or a friend of the admin) would win. Of course, the winning mascot design was called out as a fraud, because it was only a re-draw of an existing character with only modified colors and a style befitting that of the community. Now, I think there’s still a civil war going on. I don’t know, I promised myself no more drama after the big DAF fuck-up. Which reminds me, they’re still not refunding my tickets. What a bunch of fucktards.

Anyway, the recent KOI S2 drama blowup got me thinking. There are a LOT of online weeb/otaku communities in Indonesia, including but not limited to, the cringe-y as fuck Otaku Indonesia with the constant cancer posts to the “watchdog” of them all, BPAWI. In fact, there are also regional otaku/weeb groups in addition to national ones. It’s like every school has to have their own weeb community. I’ve jumped from one group to another, being a silent reader and leaving when I think I had enough. Currently, I’m a part of AV+ Community, which is the only reason I still open Facebook aside from maintaining my page.

A lot of these groups are, I would say, far from ideal. There’s either a case of horrible leadership, where the admin goes full Kim Jong-Un on their members, or members are constantly posting porn or cancerous content (“Like this if ur watching SAO”), or members are bickering in an unhealthy manner about an anime or religion. I, and perhaps I speak on behalf of many people, fucking hate that shit. The reason I want to join an otaku/weeb group is to have a healthy discussion on anime or anything Japanese, and not have tryhard 10-year-olds commenting bullshit or getting overly defensive when I say that the SAO anime was shit because of reasons 1, 2, 3 and so on. And those fucking Pac-Man emojis on Facebook, the epitome of cancer. So, what can we do to build better otaku communities?

1. Admins must rule with a benevolent iron fist

The internet is fucking anarchy. In an online community, an essential figure of order is the admin. The admin is Jesus, who gets to control everything in the group. Thus, an admin should be a good leader, not a fucking Kim Jong-Un Mark XX. Bad admins are the ones who force their views on their members or acts like a fucking dictator.

The admin should lay down some ground rules regarding interaction; however, the admin need not become a paternal policeman, deliberately seeking out offenders just so they can abuse the “kick” button. This is applicable during the early stages of development, when the community is just growing. Here, the admin should be strict on enforcing rules and welcoming members so they’ll feel like home. Joke here and there, warn members if they’re breaching rules in a non-confrontational manner, don’t allow cancer to grow. This is what I call “conditioning”. This allows the admin to shape the group into their respective vision and also ensures that members get what they came for. When the community gets larger and more active, the older “senpai” members will be able to “police” the newcomers. Furthermore, this “collective policing act”, especially when done against a negative contributor, can actually enhance a shared feeling of identity which can make the group stronger. But when it comes to spam, go ahead and abuse that “ban” button.

Of course, there are also cases where admins go mad with power. Just look at the admin of KOI S2. These types of groups will gradually collapse.

Also, as a leader, the admin should take a page out of Plato’s Republic and sometimes mingle with the people. Listen to what they want out of the group and work based on these. A good admin is one that can receive criticism well and not instantly kick people out if they have differing views. When a majority of members have similar opinions, then something is fucking wrong and the admin needs to address the problem. If the admin cowards out by kicking people out, then there’s no group to admin anymore.

2. Community, not tribe

A common feature in Indonesian weeb communities is that members tend to have an inflated sense of identity, e.g. “I’m a member of Otaku Indonesia, all other groups can suck my small dick!”  Jesus Christ, just fucking stop already. Communities are there to gather like-minded people or lonely people on the net trying to find friends who have similar interests. I know that drama and conflict occasionally helps people bond together, but emphasis on “occassional”. People come to communities to find helpful people or have meaningful discussions or find a girlfriend/boyfriend, not to squabble over which group has the largest dick.

Look, you guys have similar interests. The guys over at Anggur Merah have an interest in weeb stuff, the guys over at OI or KOI also have an interest in weeb stuff. There is no such thing as “shit taste”; it’s an arbitrary term coined by elitist assholes just to make their sorry lives feel better. The people in these communities have a shared interest in weeb stuff, so why the fuck do you guys have to insist that one community is better than the other while you can use the time to actually talk about the Mongolian cartoons that you like so much?

3. No more public shaming

It is common practice to take screenshots of stupid people, either their photos or status updates, upload them without or minimum context, and have a fucking inferno sprawling out of control, leaving nothing but ashes and ruin in its wake. Even famous cosplayers do it. And I thought they were suppposed to be role models. Fuck those pretentious pieces of shits. Anyway, this approach, deemed “edgy” by a lot of people, is the source of all the hate and drama and the not-nice things that are happening.

Unless used solely as a method to showcase evidence of a felony, provided that the screenshot has sufficient context that is unambiguous to the layman or outsider without any knowledge of the underlying events in the screenshot, this method is what tears communities apart. Why? Because it exposes a perhaps small issue within the realm of the community to a bunch of outsiders. And without proper context, commentators are free to form their own interpretations of the evidence, which also causes them to hold on to their confirmation bias and dismiss any contradicting arguments. Which also complicates the subject (i.e. the subject in the screenshot) to issue their right of reply, because by now, the screenshots have already spread like wildfire. Even if the names are censored, because at least someone knows. And yet, people still think it’s okay to do this shit. There are even communities centred on doing this on a regular basis. I’m looking at BPAWI, who thinks it’s edgy and cool to ruin lives of people online just because they’re voicing their stupidity at the wrong place and the wrong time. Except when it’s really shitty, like the KOI S2 mishap.

And what does this have to do with communities? Because stupidity captured by screenshots almost always originate from someone’s post in a closed community. If people can’t even feel safe in these communities, why bother?

So those are some ways we can strive to make better weeb communities. In summary, the role of admins is crucial, as they manage and regulate the group. But at the same time, members need to also control themselves by not developing over-inflated senses of tribalistic egos. And also, communities that deliberately make a living off of posting drama should be frowned upon. Even though I do enjoy a good round of keks once in a while, my overall sanity and that of other people matters more.

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