From an end user perspective, fixing problems with a website and its community seems simple - you can force the moderators to "do their job", or ban certain types of posts, or get rid of "low quality shitposting" and it will fix everything and turn back time and everything will be like it was when you were happy. However, in practice, these solutions tend to be myopic and don't address the root issues of the imageboard format.
Accessibility and ease of it are always the bane of anything good - when the common person has the ability to participate without any hurdle, inevitably, they will, and that comes with all the downsides of having "normal" people in your community. It's ironic, of course, that imageboard users tend to try and police the people who use them and the community at large, trying to tell others what can and cannot be posted, how they should post, what they should do before posting. In a way, it's entirely antithetical to the root of the format itself, which is being able to anonymously post and participate in discussion. Because of this, you're able to get a wider variety of people, insight, and discussion all in the same place. Imageboards forgo all conventions of other, more traditional internet based discussion formats. There's no right or wrong way to post - this brings out both the absolute worst in people, who feel as if they should be able to post whatever it is they desire at any time, regardless of the detriment and effect it has, but it also brings out posts of genuine worth, from people who do not have to hold their tongue in fear of moderation that doesn't like them due to slights, userbases who will judge what they are saying based on who they are and not the merit of their words, and fear of being censored for not continuing the "circlejerk".
With the benefits that an imageboard brings, you unfortunately gain the downside of never truly being able to connect with people whom you speak with on a semi-regular to regular basis. As with smaller websites like Samachan, you're definitely speaking with the same 20-50 people on a regular basis, but you will never know each other past what you post in each thread.
Samachan exists in a weird middle state, where a minority of users want it to be a community, they want to make connections, they want to find a place where they belong, but the format of the site fundamentally does not support that. No matter if you don a tripcode, a name, or any meaningful identifier, instead of making friends and getting to know people, what you find is that you're purposefully choosing to make yourself the "other". While the most popular web forum in Japan does not require users to post with identities, the most popular English speaking web forum requires that users sign up with a profile that grants them a username and allows everyone to track all of their posts they've ever made. "You" are tied to that online identity. In comparison, imageboards are a very Japanese concept, one that doesn't flow together with Western senses of identity and individuality.「出る杭は打たれる」, as it goes.
There have been times in Samachan's history where I've considered scrapping the imageboard format all together, and moving to something that could be community oriented. The only reason I continue to run this website is because of the "community", how ever little they may be tied together. It would be a lie if I were to ever say that I hadn't seriously thought about it. Running an actual community where people can make friends, gain meaningful connections, and have it be something more than "that site I occasionally post on that's smaller that the other, more well known sites that use its format". As the person who has to run this, and has to deal with all the drama, work, and strife that is related to this website, not having any "reward" you get out of running it definitely does run you tired. Imageboards are a great format to run if you don't care about your site at all. They don't require you to care, outside of deleting things that would get you in trouble with the law. However, for people who do care, you'll find that it's quite possibly one of the most emotionally draining and tiring internet websites to run. There hasn't been a day since I opened this website that I haven't checked it or thought about it. It's the first thing I look at when I wake up, and the last thing I look at when I go to sleep. I care more about this website than anyone who has ever used it, uses it, or will ever use it. So, as someone who has ran this site for 4 years+, if you're thinking about making an imageboard, I can wholeheartedly tell you - save yourself the time, money, and headache. You're not going to beat 4chan, or any of the other multitude of competitors. You can't offer anything better than they do, and no matter how hard you try to rouse your community into making the site bigger, better, or anything, it will become apparent that you don't provide a community to your users, you provide a dumping ground for whatever decides to come along.
To put it into perspective, when you look at Samachan, you wouldn't be in the wrong to think that it's a slow, almost unused website. In reality, it's actually fairly successful for an imageboard. It has a dedicated userbase, seasonal anime threads reach into the 100s of replies, and it gets posts everyday. There are imageboards in the same vein of Samachan (anime focused imageboards) that have existed for longer than Samachan, and have less activity, less traffic, and less daily/total posts. In our short 4 year history, we've been spammed by hundreds of imageboards advertising their sites, and almost every single one no longer exists. In terms of imageboards, Samachan is a survivor, and will continue to be far after imageboards that were created before it, and after it. It's the nature of the game.
My disappointments, my frustrations, my hopes for the site. I've long put all of these aside. Samachan isn't the community I wanted it to be in 2015. I'm still not sure if Samachan is even a community. I do know that as long as people continue to come here, continue to show enthusiasm, continue to give me emails with their ideas, continue to engage and participate, Samachan will continue to exist.
It seems for many that I exist as the judge, jury and executioner of the site - the person who decides whether it lives or it dies based on their feelings at a moments notice. But this isn't true - Samachan isn't me, it's not the imageboard itself, it's not even the format; Samachan is YOU, the person reading this, the person browsing this website, the person posting and participating and enjoying anime. And as long as you continue to be here, Samachan will always be here for you.
I'll end my post with something I ended every news post with back in 2015. At the time, the intent was to end every single news post with this;
Thanks, and enjoy Samachan.
4 years of fun!
When we opened the Live board, the originally intention was that it would be a nice way for the community to connect and do things together. Over a year and a half later, it became apparent that the board was detrimental to the website as a whole, despite our best efforts.
So as of April 1st, 2019, Live has shut its doors for the final time.
As an aside, this is NOT an April Fools' joke. Come April 2nd, the board will still be gone.
I'll treat the rest of this as a FAQ about the closure of Live, to better format my thoughts on the matter.
Q: Why are you closing Live?
A: The board ceased to be fun for any of the Team involved. It became a chore to moderate, a chore to interact with, and it eventually stopped feeling like it was a suitable fit for the website.
Q: If it was a chore to moderate, why not moderate it better?
A: On multiple occasions, we introduced new rules designed to combat the things we thought were bad about the board, and they did nothing. Flagrant disregard from users to follow simple rules such as "Don't respond to trolls." made it extremely hard to keep a lax environment on the board. This, coupled with my inability to properly ban problem users when they were being a detriment to the board, made it warp into a state it should have never been allowed to get to.
Q: Why not just let the community continue as a whole and let them moderate themselves?
A: Because it's not what I want for Samachan. The entire reason I pushed the distinction of "Main boards" (Samachan proper) and "Live" (live.samachan) was because it was never meant to be the focus of the site. Live sucked away activity from the main boards like a vampire, leaving in its wake entire days where there would be 0-2 posts across the site, yet the Live board would have over 1k-2k posts a day. If Samachan's fate is to become a glorified chatroom with little relation to Anime, Japanese culture, and the things we love, it might as well become an IRC channel to save me the server costs.
Q: Is there a possibility of Live coming back?
A: Not under the Samachan.org domain.
Q: Now that Live is gone, why should I continue to use Samachan?
A: If that was the main attraction for you, you are the reason the board was shut down. It's regrettable if you don't stay, but the focus of the site has always been the image boards and the people that use and enjoy them.
Q: Live was much more active than the other boards, why would you shut it down?
A: Yes, Live was more active than the other boards. While it would be ideal if the main boards could break the stigma that some posters give them regarding the time they put into each post and could increase in activity more, I realize it's likely not going to happen. That activity came at a price, and we're hoping that it goes into the main boards even more than it has now.
Q: Why not just leave it closed during the week and open it on the weekends?
A: While this system addressed one problem slightly, it didn't address the equal issue of the board culture. It was the same circlejerk of a few users each weekend, and closing it during the week did nothing to remedy this, and instead made it worse.
Q: Where do I go now that Live is gone?
A: We have a board named "2D/Everything" that allows a wider scope of content. Anything you discussed on Live that was already not breaking the rules is allowed on this board. Do not be afraid to make threads or posts, the barrier of entry has not changed.
If you have any questions that weren't answered by this post, feel free to email me, or make a thread asking me on the 2D/Everything board. (Only for a week after its closure. Past a week, email me.)
Total posts on Live: 260,048
Average weekly post count: 3,171
Highest sync count: 37
Average sync count: 9
Happy New Year, Samachan! Congrats on making it through another one!
Samachan's had a busy year! And going into the 2019 year, things will be different around here! New life and new live will be showing up on Samachan in the last year of the 2010s!
We felt the Live board was too overpowered and was unfun for the other boards to post against, so we're nerfing some of the abilities that the board has.
1. Lowering the file limit from 20MB to 8MB.
We felt that having such a large file size on this board but not the others encouraged people to post things that they should post on the other boards. Live was encompassing all topics that the other boards specialize in, and it stopped being a jack of all samatrades and into a master of all.
We felt like with Live being around the entire year with no breaks, there was absolutely no way the other boards could compete against the instant gratification that the board brings. As such, it's returning with on a schedule for each week.
From Monday through Thursday, the board will be in a read only state where nobody can post on it. We hope that this will allow the other boards to compete and gain the activity back that Live was siphoning from them. From Friday-Sunday Night, the board will be Live and kicking, so please join us for our Live Weekends!
3. Moderation changes towards certain post styles
The immediacy of live was bringing a form of posts that we were feeling was devolving into a circlejerk that was antithetical to the site's focus on being the best Anime/Japanese culture website on the internet. Live isn't about "who" is using it, it should always be about "what" the topic of discussion is. Moderation was also extremely lax and we felt some users got the idea that they could freely break rules, and in some cases, users didn't even know that certain things were against the rules due to their failure to read the rules, and moderation's failure to enforce them.
1. Encouragement to watch certain shows per season
We're getting more shows subbed forever, and because everyone can now tailor what they want to watch towards their specific tastes, we felt this was leaving certain shows unwatched by large portions of the userbase. So starting from next season, we'll be encouraging the community to watch certain specific shows each season as a way to keep everyone talking about the same things. This idea was taken from how some shows can be each season, or how some threads towards games like Fate/Grand Order or Love Live! School Idol Festival can be.
2. Buffing the file limit
We wanted the Anime/Otaku board to have an edge over Live, so we decided to raise the file limit to 20MB. Share those big collages you've made of your 2D wives!
1. Encouragement to post about what ever makes you an otaku.
Do you like painting model robots? Do you like to play Dungeons and Dragons? Do you love idol groups? Please, post about it on this board. Let Samachan know what makes you otaku. Western culture, memes, politics, etc., are still not allowed. Keep the spirit of the site in mind. If you don't understand this, feel free to send me an email.
2. Buffing the file limit
This board was hit hardest by Live, so we also raised the file limit to 20MB. Feel free to post lots of pictures of the things you love!
We hope that you join us in the New Year as we head towards our 4th year of Samachan!