Coming very soon is the 5th birthday of the website. 5 years of discussing anime on this tiny internet stop. With a little luck, we'll have another fulfilling 5.
In this new year, I'm giving you all a shared resolution you can't break - continue enjoying Samachan!
It's almost the end of the year, and the end of the decade, and it's very likely this will be the last news post of the 2010s, barring something unforeseen happening, and I honestly don't know what to say. I can't ask for anything more, truly. These Christmases I've shared with Samachan have been a blessing, and to see the site have a userbase that consistently uses it is all I could ask for. I'm thankful for each and every one of you who takes the time to come talk about anime or manga or anything you're passionate about on Samachan - you're the reason I keep this site up; it wouldn't be Samachan without you.
What the 2020s hold in store for Samachan are something we're going to find out together, and I wouldn't want to do it with any others. If you were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I would genuinely say that all I want is all of you.
Thanks for making what I do worth every second. Take it easy this holiday season!
Merry Christmas, Samachan!
When I first started to throw around the idea of making what would later become Samachan in 2014, I had grand hopes that it would eventually become something that many people could enjoy and that it could provide a refuge to people who had a love for the medium, but didn't enjoy the various types of people it attracted.
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!