A rough summary of Stoptazmo, …well actually this is a *research* paper that I wrote for my cyberspace and society class, wrote this like a few hours before the due date. btw this is not writing class so the instructor doesn't care whether this is in the correct format or not like those MLA bullshit.
Do whatever you guys want, criticize, make of fun, revise it.
Internet ForumIn this modern technological world, where computers and electronics are dominating the communication and entertainment media, the internet forums are increasing in numbers. The category of internet forums are ranging from regular entertainment discussion forum such as music, television show, movies, to every day life forum discussion such as, news, weather, life style, religion and political discussion, to hobbies discussion such as computers, electronic games, new technologies, western animation or comics, and Japanese animation (anime) or comics (manga). In this essay, I would like to observe a specific forum that I have been involved for quite some time. This forum which I will be discussing is considered as a manga forum which is mainly dedicated to Japanese comics (manga) discussion. However, besides its general description, I will also explain the uniqueness of this forum and point out some of the issues the forum and its member are facing with some interesting facts about this manga forum.
Before I talk about the actual internet forum, I will define what exactly an internet forum is. If we take a look at separate word, internet and forum, we can get a very good of general explanation of what it is. Internet is described as
“Worldwide, publicly accessible network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It is a “network of networks" that consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks, which together carry various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked Web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.” By Wikipedia (The Internet, Wikipedia).
Forums is described as “A public meeting or presentation involving a discussion usually among experts and often including audience participation.” By Answer.com (Forum, Answer.com). The forum consists of topics that are grouped by threads and posts, which is a comment to the topic of the thread by each member. Therefore, from these descriptions, we can conclude that internet forums can be described as public place that is interconnected by computer networks around the world that’s exist in the world wide web for meeting or presentation purposes which involving discussions, which topic of the discussions are mainly depends on the nature of the forum. The internet forum that I am discussing can be categorized as hobby discussion forum, as the participants of the forum are mainly interested in reading and discuss of some Japan comics that they read.
The uniqueness of this forum, that it is not only a place to discuss Japan comics but also provides quite many of Japan comics to be downloaded for free from their website. These comics that they download from the website are scanned comics from the original and then translated into English language. This procedure is called scanlating, scan and translate. The scanlating is done by some underground group that each member is voluntarily doing the job without getting any profits from it. The reason of this action is because most of the people who are interested can not read the manga in Japanese. This action is illegal by copyright laws but rarely prosecuted, maybe because scanlating can be considered as an ethical way for people to read those Japanese comics that has no official translation yet. Nevertheless, once particular manga has been officially licensed, some of the scanlation group will stop scanlating that manga and advise the readers to buy the licensed comic (Scanlation, Wikipedia). Officially licensed means that it is translated into other language, for example translated into English language in USA for example by the US comic book publisher company such as Dark Horse Comics and other independent American comic book publishers. In this particular forum, Stoptazmo.com, there are many specific threads created by the moderators (moderators are people who is assigned to manage and moderate and the forum) to provide their members’ needs such as discussing their favorite manga, which they might not get that chance in the real world. Some of the discussions can be smart or useless such as discussing the story development possibilities, their favorite character, and discussing or comparing the strength between one of the main character of a particular manga with the main character form other different manga.
Other uniqueness of this forum besides discussing the Japanese comics and providing the scanned and translated comics, it is also a place where the participants are socializing or networking outside the real world. Most of the participants are mostly teenagers, ranging from 15 years old and younger to 19 years old (Age poll, Stoptazmo.com). The socializing and networking method can be done by participating in any discussion and by sending private messages to other member that can take place via email and or forum private messaging feature. In this particular forum, the participants including the moderators take the socializing and networking into a unique networking experience. This unique networking experience happened after some socializing and networking for quite some time which was formed between the forum discussions and private conversations between each participant including the moderators. After some interaction, a more visual and classification rank is created in the forum, they called it the forum’s “family tree” (Stoptazmo Family Tree, Stoptazmo.com). This family tree consists of people that has bonded and accepted each other as their online friend or so called “family.” The rank of this family tree is based on the participants’ seniority and how well the participants can fit into the dominating participant groups of the forums. The highest rank is usually owned by the moderators that have been accepted by many regular participants, and the well accepted participants can take the next highest positions. The lower ranks can be occupied by other members that are new or have just been accepted in the forum. After for some time, the forum family tree will be updated because the members that were participating in the old family tree might not be an active member anymore or already left the forum indefinitely. Therefore the new members that have achieved the recognition from the dominating group of the forum can apply for the forum family tree or can be automatically added into the family tree if he or she wishes. The benefit of this forum family tree is not clear as of yet. It might be that it is just for fun or it could be some kind of an act to gain personal acceptance feeling that the members of the forum needed.
The popularity or status leads to another problem which involves the policies and rules of the forum. The forum has a written rule for the member to comply in order to save them from getting their account banned from the forum. The written rule can range from restriction of off topic post, restriction to make a thread as a complaint instead of useful topic to maximum size of regular member signature. Sometimes these rules are not applied to everyone because the status of each member is different and one member who is popular might get away occasionally or he or she will be given a lighter punishment. This forum policy might be considered as an Oligarchy policy.
The other problem of the forum or the member of the forum faced while the forum activity is taking place is communication. This forum is an English language based forum, in which the participants are expected to communicate with English language. Many members of this forum do not speak English as their first or second language and most of the time the moderators can be very irritated by the incompetence of the members in communicating with English language. The moderators can brutally ban the account of those members that speak bad English or using other language that’s not English. Even though the demographics of the forum members are not only from countries that use English as their first language (e.g. North America) (approximately 55% from country that use English language as their first language and 45% for the non-English speaking country) the moderators are very strict and sensitive about using bad English or other language (Demographic poll, Stoptazmo.com). Some other time the moderators also have to deal with some members that communicate in internet language such as the Leet language (Leet language, Wikipedia).
Another problem that is experienced by the member of the forum is that their privacy is being exploited by other member of the forum. It seems that some members of the forum might use his or her real name for the forum identification (nick name) or somehow use a nick name that has a connection with his or her real name. This information can be used by other member to collect other information using various technique of Google search (e.g. Google image, Google Earth or Maps) and by using the supposedly nick name of the other member as a clue to gather their information such as their location, gender, age, appearance, birth date and other personal information that is not intended to be revealed to that member of the forum. The information could be retrieved from a personal website or other social networking website such as MySpace.com, facebook.com, friendster.com, or Xanga.com by using Google search. Even though the other member might not use his or her real name for the forum identification, the other member could still find out their information if they use the same identification name (nick name) for their personal website, MySpace or other social networking website. Mostly, the victim of this privacy violation is the regular member who seems popular and mysterious or someone who claims to be a female or male but hasn’t been “officially” proven yet. Although, it is not written in the rule about privacy violation, the moderators can act as a forum police to track down and warn the violators.
Conclusion to this essay, that this phenomenal web based communication such as internet forum has shaped the teenagers of today society in terms of socializing and networking, how they spend their time outside schools and other chores, and how they use internet to find any information and entertainment besides using the conventional way such as the library or the book store.
http://www.stoptazmo.com/showthread.php?t=17203 (forum family tree)
http://www.stoptazmo.com/poll.php?do...lts&pollid=609 (forum member age)
http://www.stoptazmo.com/poll.php?do...lts&pollid=595 (forum members demographic)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet (Leet language)