Of Comments and Crunchyroll

I thought I would turn this little, er, dialogue between Scott at Anime Almanac, gia, and ani-nouto and turn it into an all out war, or battle, or maybe keep it a little dialogue if everyone ignores me lol.

This discussion has kind of split off into two directions: the first about Crunchyroll and what they did and didn’t do thanks to TV Tokyo, and then the second part dealing with the blogging meta topic of whether comments are good or bad.

I’ll take the Crunchyroll item first.

Scott wrote about how he pulled aside the representative from Kadokawa at Otakon and had a discussion about fansubs.  Putting aside the facts of their conversation, it seemed pretty clear that she wasn’t aware of how bad the problem was. Then on down the line a few months later, TV Tokyo shows up and, according to Scott, forced Crunchyroll to take off their illegal content if they wanted to be able to host new episodes of Naruto straight from TV Tokyo.

There are two points of contention to the story.  The first is brought up by gia, who says that according to an interview she had with Crunchroll (which I’ll link once she posts it), they deny Scott’s story of them being “forced” to take down their content.  Now, I don’t know what the people over at Crunchyroll said, but this could be a matter of different interpretations of the same event.

For example, if TV Tokyo really said “we’ll offer to let you release new Naruto episodes as they air in Japan, but you have to take all your shit off first,” that would fit into Scott’s interpretation that someone finally made demands of Crunchyroll which made it a clean site.  On the other hand, from the point of view of Crunchyroll, they weren’t “forced” to take down their content because they could have always said no to TV Tokyo.

Now, I have a feeling that what occurred probably happened along these lines, but unless the story about Crunchyroll taking off all their illegal content is flat out false, I’m kind of with Scott in that I doubt Crunchyroll would have taken such a step of their own volition just because they felt like it, regardless of what they might say about it.  They may not have been “forced” to in the sense that Scott may have been leading on, but I would be shocked if there wasn’t either some arm twisting, some money waving, or both to come to that result.  I’m not going to believe them if they just say “well, we just felt like it.”

The second point of contention is how much responsibility Scott had of bringing this about.  Now, I’ve only ready a couple of pieces by him, so I’m not sure how much of his writing is serious and how much of it has a dash of snark to it.  In any case, I was at the same Kadokawa panel that he describes, and I too remember the person running the show saying things like “how do you know about these shows?”  At the time I didn’t know if it was some sort of language barrier thing (clearly English wasn’t her first language) or whether she was kidding, but from Scott’s description of his conversations with her, it really did seem that she had no idea how people could have known about their new shows yet (which, if that’s the case, then the Japanese really have no idea what they’re dealing with – or at least this person at Kadokawa didn’t).

The problem with Scott’s implied claim of responsibility (he doesn’t really claim responsibility in his post, though he did as much, however seriously, on twitter)  is that there is this cloud between his chat with the Kado rep and TV Tokyo approaching Crunchyroll which is obscuring what happened in between, making the situation look something like this:

How to Stop Fansubbing

1. Chat with Kado representative

2. ???

3. Profit! Crunchyroll gets cleansed!

Where 1 occurred, and 3 occurred (or will occur), but we don’t know what went on in step 2, and Scott is taking for granted that his conversation was perhaps a major driving force that caused things to occur in step 2 which led to step 3.

Maybe his conversation had some impact, maybe not.  I’d find it hard to believe that everyone on the Japanese side was that dense because surely the American licensors would have discussions with them about it at the very least.  And isn’t people downloading form the internet one of the reasons why many of these companies are afraid to post their shows online? (looking at the makers of Kurokami).

Of course, given that his “claim of responsibility” tweet came with a silly face, I’m not sure how serious one should take such a claim and ani-nouto may be a little off for actually taking such a claim of direct responsibility a little too seriously.

Connected to Scott’s post is gia’s digg comment, and ani-nouto’s counter-post about gia’s comment, with gia remarking that Scott should allow commenting on his posts because  there is “so much potential for *dialogue*” and ani-nouto shooting back by suggesting that comments are actually counter-productive to an open conversation.

Now, being a member of several blogging communities – the largest of which being the quite large political blog Daily Kos – I think I can say with somewhat good authority that yes, commenting can indeed result in open dialogue.  However, much of that is dependent on how the moderator of the blog or website chooses on running the show.

If the moderator censors comments they don’t like or otherwise tries to quash criticism then, no, commenting on that blog isn’t going to be conducive to creating any sort of constructive dialogue at all.  So if ani-nouto’s point was arguing against the idea that comments automatically create an open dialogue, then he wold be correct.  But that’s not what he’s saying.  He’s saying that comments can and perhaps to a large degree do result in the opposite effect and are counter-productive to creating open dialogue.

Now, just from a logical standpoint, how having people openly discuss what you write being anti-open dialogue seems to be wrong in virtually every sense.  Again, yes, if you create a site where you develop group think or smite everyone who disagrees with you, then commenting is pointless.  And of course, creating a response on your own blog is the ultimate way to offer a response.  However, commenting is immediate – it’s hard not to see comments as the author of the blog – and it’s there together with the post itself for others to see.  And if the blog moderator doesn’t censor critical comments, then they can be just as good as someone writing a response on their own blog.

The problem with completly relying on someone posting their thoughts on their own blog include the fact that a) not everyone has their own blog and b) I could write this big long thing which is now well over 1,000 words and you know what?  Everyone in the world can ignore it and no one who read the original posts that I’m responding to might even know this is here.   While if you post a comment, it’s there for all to see (assuming the person who runs that blog allows for open commenting).

Also, while a blog moderator doesn’t have to respond to a comment, I think they’re more likely to respond to a critical comment than a critical counter-post on another blog because, in a sense, a critical comment is “invading their turf” while someone blathering about them on another blog can be dismissed as, well, someone blathering about them on another blog.

There are a reason why many of the more successful political blogs – and I’m guessing many of the successful anime blogs as well – allow for comments, and thats because it creates open dialogue.  Can a blog exist without comments?  Yes, but it tends to create the impression that what you say is absolute and unchallengable and that, surely, the peons reading your blog can’t have anything else to add to the discussion.

Yes, I can sit here and write a response, but in a sense, forcing people to do that is like saying that someone has to be on the same level as you – dedicated enough to have their own blog and care enough to respond to other people – to have the right and privildge of responding.

In any case, I’ve drifted a bit off the original point of whether comments are good or bad, but I think I can partially show that allowing comments is good by trying to argue that, all other things being equal, not allowing comments isn’t necessarily good.

So to sum everything in this long and meandering post up:

  1. Yes, I believe scott that, even if things didn’t go down exactly has he portrayed, Crunchyroll was probably…persuaded to quit allowing user created content, regardless of what Crunchyroll may say
  2. Saying that Scott’s meeting with the Kadokawa rep somehow ultimately resulted in Crunchyroll doing what they’re doing is probably a bit of a stretch without further information
  3. Yes, comments are good, overall.


Ani-nouto responds to my post (same link as above) saying thus:

How in the world can Daily Kos be a proof that an open dialogue is possible? Have Josh heard what open commentary happened when John Edwards was caught after a meeting with his mistress and love child? The “dialog” at Kos is only open in a sense that comments are in the open, but it’s not open to different opinions. Daily Kos is the pinnacle of oppression of speech, and “groupthink” is its second name.

Of course the gawker.com suggests that it was kos who banned the said user.  That’s highly unlikely as moderator bans are pretty rare unless you do something egregious and I have never known of moderators banning someone for the topic of a diary, with the exception of incessant 9/11 conspiracy theorists.  Indeed, members of the community usually call out for more tools to week out trolls, not complaints that discourse is too restrictive.  More likely the ban was caused by community members troll rating his comments to death due to the author continually posting things based on the enquirer without any better source (he posted 4 diaries total in a matter of a week, as opposed to the single diary by the person pimping the Bush Enquirer story who “is still active on the site.”).  Did he deserve to be banned?  Obviously not in hindsight, but this is picking out an exception and trying to argue that it represents the norm.

In any case, ani-nouto continues:

The problem with completly relying on someone posting their thoughts on their own blog include the fact that a) not everyone has their own blog and b) I could write this big long thing which is now well over 1,000 words and you know what? Everyone in the world can ignore it and no one who read the original posts that I’m responding to might even know this is here.

(a) wordpress.com, mee.nu, etc.

(b) Posting comments shifts the power to ignore towards the moderator. Posting a blog article shifts it towards the reader.

The problem with (a) is that not everyone has the time or motivation to keep up a full time blog (or even a part time one), and people aren’t going to start a blog just so that they can respond to your post (though I guess in rare occasions people do).  Indeed, there may be times when someone may think their input is important enough to post a comment on someone else’s post, but not important enough to take up space on their own blog to respond.

The problem with (b) is that you have to know tha the response post even exists for the reader to even make the choice of whether to ignore it or not – something which isn’t necessarily guaranteed (and if an author is going to block critical comments, surely they’ll block trackbacks to posts critical of them as well).  If comments are allowed and open, then the responses are right there with the original posts.  And, frankly, if a blog author has a tendency to censor comments, people who actually want to make a point aren’t going to bother commenting and are going to write response posts anyway (presuming they have blogs to do so).

Ultimatley it’s an issue of what do you lose by having comments vs. what do you lose by not having comments.  To me, you lose quite a bit by not having comments while, at best, having comments allows for a lively and diverse discussion, while at worst a blog author moderates their comments to the point to where it’s just like…not having comments.  So if the worst outcome of having comments is effectively having a level of discourse equivilent to not having comments enabled, how is having comments worse?

Finally, ani-nouto says this:

The real reason why more successful animebloggers allow comments is for the feeling of gratification and e-pen0r measurement. In extreme cases, such as Jason Miao, the blog exists only to generate more and more comments. Nobody gives shit about the open dialog (well, maybe we two do, and, actually, Scott may too, but certainly not owners of “successful” blogs).

Frankly, I don’t know how one can truly determine the motivation for allowing comments.  I can’t comment about Jason Miao because I’ve never read his site.  If people write crap just to get responses and never interact, then I’d be prone to agree that they only have comments for the sake of getting comments.  However, if they actually interact – and many of the anime bloggers that I know about do – then I’d have to say that comments are there, in part, for the creation of dialogue.  But again, that’s on a blogger-by-blogger basis.

Update 2

anitations has jumped in with this:

I think one irony behind Josh’s use of “open dialogue” is that posting without comments actually fosters more “open or unhindered” dialogue because you have a clarity which is supported precisely by that inextricable authority (author-ity?). Literally, comments are directed up towards The Author (pun intended). Response blog posts are directioned horizontally – they counteract the authority of the other blogger or, especially in this case now, negate it, hence The Power of Meta. We know the relationship between words/knowledge/discourse/power and the blog is a very effective vehicle for power.

Fair enough, though I guess I’m of the opinion that, for the purposes of creating open dialogue, the direction from which the response comes is irrelevant.  Does a response posted as a post at another blog carry more weight and authority than a comment?  Yeah, I’d agree with that, which is why sometimes a person will feel that posting a comment isn’t enough and they need the platform provided by their own blog to respond.

But I’m not really trying to argue that comments are better than or equal to posting a response on your own blog (indeed, I would agree they aren’t).  Part of my point is that many people either don’t have a blog (for varying reasons) or a response may be important enough to post as a comment, but not important enough to take up space on your own blog as a response.  So by turning off comments, you’re denying two whole sources of potential responses in relation to your post: those without blogs, and responses not of sufficent importance to warrant their own blog posts.  Indeed, I would harbor a guess that those make up the vast majority of comments as, if something were impotant enough to be it’s own blog post, there is a decent chance that it already is.


11 thoughts on “Of Comments and Crunchyroll

  1. The problem with completly relying on someone posting their thoughts on their own blog include the fact that a) not everyone has their own blog and b) I could write this big long thing which is now well over 1,000 words and you know what? Everyone in the world can ignore it and no one who read the original posts that I’m responding to might even know this is here. While if you post a comment, it’s there for all to see (assuming the person who runs that blog allows for open commenting).

    it seems that if you email author he will usually update the post with your comments.

    what is interesting is the prejudice (yes, prejudice) towards closed comments. Did we forget about email? Seems like it. What is that indicative of? I dont know.

  2. If an author posts good email comments (good and bad) then that at least mitigates not having comments to some extent.

    The problem with emailing comments is that they aren’t public. If someone publicly calls you out, you have more of an obligation to react/respond/correct yourself/defend yourself. Not so much if it’s private via email.

  3. They weren’t forced, they were “mandated” or “sanctioned” to drop illegal content.

    Same difference.

    Also, I miss comments on Anime Almanac. It’s one of the best and most thoughtful anime blogs out there.

  4. On the other hand, there’ve been so many times I’ve read a post on ani-nouto and thought “This is horribly wrong or misguided…” and not been able to post to correct it. Gotta side with Gia here.

  5. Right, given that Crunchyroll just happens to be dropping user-uploaded content at the same time (the same day even I think) that they’re going to start showing Naruto, it’d be hard for them to argue that the two events are independent.

  6. Pingback: Gaming Dungeon » Blog Archive » Crunchyroll’s legitamacy

  7. I thought it was ironic that the ani-nouto guy should pick on Gia, who does, in fact, allow comments on her site.

    Admittedly, anime fans are prone to immaturity, but it’s always struck me as inconsiderate to your readers to not allow for comments.

    It’s also a bit hypocritical for him to simultaneously say: “comment on your own blog” yet criticize the Daily Kos for allowing comments but placing limits on what dialogue is allowed there. Ani-nouto doesn’t allow any discussion. He’s not really in a position to criticize those who do allow discussion though retain editorial control.

  8. “Admittedly, anime fans are prone to immaturity”

    Actually, all commenters on just about any site are prone to immaturity, but that’s where moderating comes in if you choose to do it.

    The moderation I do is basically getting spam that slips through the filter. Of course, I only average like, 1 comment a day, so it’s not all that difficult to manage.

  9. Pingback: Omonomono » Comments on Comments

  10. I think people who criticize Daily Kos for not allowing “free speech” are being patently dishonest.

    First of all, it is a private enterprise, not a democratic republic, so obviously they don’t have to abide by first amendment rules. The goals and purpose of the blog is quite clear: it is a progressive partisan blog community whose main objective is to push for progressive ideals. Obviously the goals wouldn’t be met if all they do all day was fume over right-wing trolls that are free to post whatever illiberal subject matter they like.

    That’s why there is no contradiction in letting people post Enquirer stories about Bush, since they make fun of right-wingers anyway, while banning others for posting similar tabloid stories on Democratic candidates. Sure, in hindsight, the Enquirer was right, but back then there aren’t a lot of people who takes scoops from the tabloid with a lot of credibility, and they only see unecessary smearing of an otherwise uncorruptable candidate. Since smearing candidates goes against the purposes of having running a liberal-leaning blog, it’s a no-brainer why it had to go.

  11. cr wants every user to get a membership to watch some anime but what happed
    to the free videos and the mods are so bad i try to ask one but didnt’ send me
    a pm what the hell is wrong with them?

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