Friday, February 8, 2013
Editorial: EQD, Quality Control, Pony Fame, Fandom Evolution and You!
It's time for another one of those good old fashioned EQD editorials!
As the fandom continues to evolve, and EQD changes along with it, I wanted to give a broad idea of what exactly goes on behind the scenes.
Included in this neat little editorial here is a simple explanation on why this site filters things, along with a bit of opinion on what makes each piece of content popular. Head on down past the break, and become enlightened on the inner-workings of the blog!
(Or just toss your favorite art/fanfic/media thing in the comments if you aren't in the mood to read. All are welcome!)
I'm going to start off with a bit of history here, since a good amount of you started visiting the site long after our early days. EQD began as a blog dedicated to sorting news, art, fanfiction, and media from around the fandom into a single place (primarily from a website called 4chan, where all of this began). Back in the day, we pretty much accepted anything, from fanfics built out of screencaps to 30 second long Giggle at the Ghosties remixes.
As time went on, and both the site and fandom expanded, we started limiting what we would and would not take. The earliest major incarnation of this was the Pre-reader system, where fanfiction would go through a review process before being accepted to the blog. 200 word fanfics about Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie suddenly finding each other irresistible were no longer accepted, to be replaced by 2500 word stories with much more complex storylines and grammar requirements.
Eventually this was adapted into music review, where a group of fandom musicians would vote on each track individually for everything from "how pony is it?" to the mixing and mastering. It has since been modified endlessly, but it's still the way most music is sorted.
Drawfriend posts are the only ones that have not ramped up exponentially since then. They started off strict and remain about the same.
But why do we need quality control you ask? Why doesn't EQD just post everything every 10 minutes throughout the day?
The big one is burnout. If we dump every single Vinyl Scratch dubstep song without any kind of limitation, people give up on bothering with music posts. Genuinely amazing songs would be lost in the swarm, and talented musicians would lose the much needed motivation to make more. We actually saw this pretty heavily early last year and into the summer. Music quality control almost didn't exist, and music posts still haven't completely recovered from months of it. Since then it has undergone more changes than a teenager in a clothing store, and continues to evolve, with "Spotlight Music" posts showing off the best songs we get, and the experimental "Music of the Day" giving the music that didn't receive enough votes in review for spotlight a second chance via the swarm mentioned above.
EQD is, in essence, a spotlight blog. The things posted up are supposed to be on the "great" to "best of the best" scale (along with our sillyness, but that's not going anywhere anytime soon). Its goal in life is to sort through the massive amounts of pony in the fandom so you don't have to. The best example in both limits and quantity is the Drawfriend post. A Deviant Art search for "pony" can show hundreds, even thousands of images a day, but you will only see ~50 here on EQD.
Why does X musician or Y artist always get so much attention?
You may see quite a few artists who pop up in Drawfriend posts almost regularly, or musicians who always seem to be in a spotlight post as opposed to Music of the Day. I'm going to jump on music again, as it's the easiest to explain with.
There are loads of musicians out there from pretty much every genre in existence, and quite a few new ones at that. The reason we see so many posts with the big names, is the same reason why they are big names in the first place - they consistently release good, appealing music. Each of them has their own recognizable style, from Wooden Toaster's unique take on electronic, to Mandopony's catchy vocals. Sure, there are a few duds. I can name a few of Mando's songs that didn't make it up, or ended up in Music of the Day. But we can't and won't punish people for repeatedly creating quality stuff.
But why do some of these big name songs seem to be posted without any delay?
There are a few reasons for this. First off, if you have ever followed me (Sethisto) personally, you know I get excited when "awesome" stuff pops up. There is nothing more enjoyable to me on this blog than posting something I'm sure the majority of you will love. Kindness for example was a more recent one. Here is how the release of that song worked out:
1.) Checked Steam, two non-pony (but fans of Loyalty) friends linking the song with different variations of "I just checked your dumb pony site and you still haven't posted this, you should just let me run it!"
2.) Check skype, 5 chat rooms linked it/talking about it
3.) Check the submit box, 20 emails about it
4.) Give it a listen, followed by "HolyCelestiaThisIsAwesomeAsLoyaltyomigoshomigoshomigosh".
Needless to say, the non-robotic side of working on this site comes out, and I really wanted to share this discovery with all of you.
Sure, Kindness did get a leg up for being a Mandoaousticbrony hybrid song. Theres no denying that it wouldn't have spread nearly as fast and spammed every form of communication I have if it wasn't from two well known musicians. Some say bias, I say I was just excited and wanted to show you all something cool! Most music on EQD goes through a ~24 hour review process, so an amazing song from a brand new musician might take a while to be noticed. That doesn't mean it's not going to get a ton of love once it's seen though! My second favorite thing on the site is spotlighting someone completely new who blew us all out of the water, and seeing people flock in to check it out.
(Note: This does not mean have your friends spam the submit box with your music, there is a huge difference between genuine love and 20 people sending a youtube link :p)
There is also an expectation on our part to get some large releases out on time. It's classified as "news", even if it's not something official from Hasbro or The Hub. As an example, I'm not a huge fan of the "bronies react" series, but a good amount of you are, so we (usually) post it quickly.
But what about us lesser known or new authors/musicians/artists/video creators/ect?
The pony fandom is two years old, which is a long time in this light-speed fast, completely internet dominated culture. Breaking out of the masses for a bit of "brony fame" is tough, but far from impossible! The general public is usually pretty good about not being too strict on a lot of things.
That doesn't mean they will be completely accepting of absolutely everything though. Some genres of music, types of fanfiction, and styles of art are more accepted than others. On the music side of the coin, original vocals and remixes of official songs generally spread faster than entirely instrumental pieces. That doesn't mean to completely give up on the genre! There are of always exceptions. An instrumentalist who has a unique style can still break the mold. The Living Tombstone is probably the best example, and one of the most popular musicians in the fandom.
The key here is word of mouth. An EQD spotlight might get your item a relatively big surge, but if that army of people didn't find something enjoyable, they aren't going to spread it, and that is where the majority of your audience will come from.
In other words, set yourself apart! Do something fresh that the audience will want to share with their friends. Unlike the real world, everyone here started from scratch. Kkat wasn't born into an audience of tens of thousands with Fallout Equestria. A bunch of people read it, liked what they saw, and their friends swarmed in. Don't just pump out dubstep remix after dubstep remix. Throw your own spin on it!
As the fandom has grown, the fan-created entertainment is slowly becoming more and more complex. The bars on just about everything are much higher than they were a year ago. While you or a friend of yours may see something rejected from the site, don't take it personally! Nothing is perfect, and EQD's evolution is filled with hiccups. This site is not run by an automated algorithm, so absolutely every single submission we get is judged on a case by case basis, be that within 5 seconds (Art) to a few weeks (Fanfiction). This can of course lead to human error, but for the most part, I think we have done a pretty good job of running it so far!
Hopefully this has given you a bit of an understanding on what exactly goes on behind the scenes! Feel free to suggest, yell at, or praise in the comments.
Editorial: EQD, Quality Control, Pony Fame, Fandom Evolution and You!