Me and Intl Wota

Filed in American Wota 4.0Tags: ,

I was originally planning on writing a long piece about International Wota and my current role in it… except there ain’t much to say. I dropped out a little after I shut down Ame Wota 3.0, came back for a week or two last month, and then dropped out again. I’ll be coming back as a regular contributor sooner or later, once my other online projects – AW 4.0, another wota site, and a non-wota site – are all settled in and running smoothly. Give me another month or so. (At least.)

And… that’s about it, really.

As for why I left in the first place – I felt burnt out after a year-plus on IW, and my fellow admins said I should take a break. So I did. After a couple months I thought I was ready to come back, and then decided I wasn’t quite ready yet. In my absence, the new admin Troika of maiZe, pengie, and broomhead have done an excellent job. (And just so we’re clear, I’m no longer an official admin. The Troika call all the shots now. And that’s how it should be.) Along with editors Wu-san, Henkka, Celestia, and Jim, I have no doubt that Intl Wota is in excellent hands. There’s been some wonderful new recruits – most recently CK, Misa, Amy, and the legendary MorningBerryz – and we now have a staff of over two dozen, half of whom contribute on a regular basis.

Think about that. This time last year, I was the one writing the vast majority of entries for Intl Wota. Now, I’m not even in the mix. Who’d’ve thunk it?

The main pleasure for me now is watching Intl Wota grow without my involvement. There’s a bit of a pull-and-tug for me – sometimes I wanna be knee-deep into the blogs and the coverage, other times I’m glad that I’m devoting my time and attention elsewhere. I still keep an interested eye on our community, of course, as the Links in the sidebar clearly indicate. But it definitely isn’t the same as being on Intl Wota – writing on that site drags you into the center of the debates, allows you to give a blog you enjoy a huge boost in clicks, and guarantees you a regular readership for your opinions.

On the other hand… Well, it is great to just sit back and see how Intl Wota does without me. If we wanna get snarky, I can compare it to one of those sim games – you put together all the elements and characters, build it up some, then watch to see how it goes. I know most of my fellow Intl Wota staffers want me back, but they’ve proven day-in day-out that they don’t need me back. And that makes me proud like you wouldn’t believe.

Of course, the reason Intl Wota continues to thrive is because our community of Japanese music and idol bloggers have done the same. Intl Wota is a reflection of that community, not the other way around. And I can think of a couple of notable anecdotal evidence to support this growth.

First, there’s the attrition rate. In the past, it was a lot easier to keep track of the attrition rate – bloggers dropping out due to lack of interest or time or both – and basically keep a sort of running tally in your head. This blog is still around, that blog hasn’t posted in a couple months, that other blog is no longer up on its site. Now, it’s much more difficult to keep track – which isn’t because the attrition rate has dropped noticeably. New blogs still pop up, bloom briefly, and then disappear. It’s the nature of blogging – the DIY ethic makes it easy to jump in and just as easy to jump out.

However, there are now a significant enough number of long-established blogs that have stuck around, that built up a presence, and which now define the landscape. The attrition rate doesn’t feel as fatal because there’s now so many long-term survivors, so to speak. New, high-quality blogs still come up and make themselves known – and Intl Wota is precisely designed to promote them – but there’s a much more solid foundation now than there was a year ago, never mind the years before that.

Second, there’s been all the activities that individual bloggers in our community have engaged in, in terms of migratory habits and multi-blogging.

Lord knows how many have followed a migratory path from one service to another to maybe a third. Intl Wota and myself have had a hand in this, since and now host a dozen or so blogs that were previously on WordPress or Vox or Blogger. Pengie has done the same with unchained, which I guess could someday mean unchained would be the Montagues to Cult of Pop’s Capulets or something. The reasons for the move are varied: some of it is to escape the threat of Terms of Service breaches, but I think the vast majority has to do with finding the right fit of ease-of-use and potential features that the right hosting can provide. I think some of it is psychological as well – being more integrated with the center of the community, gaining extra visibility.

Many in our community also keep multiple blogs – a main blog and a worship site is often the case, or a split to reflect different interests or even different approaches (i.e., one blog for longthoughtful reviews, another blog for short snarky stuff). In the broader blogosphere, it’s more common to keep a broad range of interests contained on one blog or site – there’s a catch-as-catch-can attitude to those blogs as a singular view of different aspects of the world. (And we still have examples of that, as Go of jrocknyc and MorningBerryz show quite successfully.) However, since Japanese music and idols are such a specific interest, it often pays to compartmentalize and make clearer to readers what you’re offering and whether or not they want it. It also gives the blogger more leeway to try out new things that don’t seem as good a fit in a main blog, or even to just experiment for the sake of experimentation.

What this flurry of activity says to me is that the individuals in our community are taking their blogging seriously, upgrading the services and the options open to them, finding new ways to express themselves, committing themselves for the long run… And that can only bode well for our future as a whole.

If there’s anything I’d like to see that hasn’t materialized yet, it’s having a substantial rival for Intl Wota, another meta-site that can be taken as seriously and which could be as important a resource as IW has become. I don’t mean copying IW’s style of coverage, as that’d just be foolhardy and superfluous. I’d expect a rival site would approach our community in a different way, bring a different set of incentives to the table. And more selfishly, such a rival site could fire up the Intl Wota crew in the spirit of friendly (repeat, friendly) competition.

I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon – at the moment, it doesn’t seem all that necessary. After all, Intl Wota and the J-blogosphere we inhabit is still a small part of the larger overseas wota community, which is defined more by its forums and download sites than by its blogs. And let’s face it, the overseas wota community is, in the grand scheme of pop culture fandoms, a guppy next to the whales of domestic entertainment and even the otaku nation.

However, we’re building slowly, steadily – if you told me last September what my situation with Intl Wota would be now, I’d have either scoffed or thought IW was dying. Neither is the case. I’m not sure what 2009 will bring – for myself individually, for Intl Wota, or for our community in general. So if a tipping point seems a long way down the road, at least it’s now possible to imagine it out there somewhere. And maybe plan for it a little. Right?


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11 Responses to “Me and Intl Wota”
  1. pengie says:

    No way, Ray. unchained is the Jets, and Cult of Pop is the Sharks, and we’re gonna have a throwndown one night on the streets while broomhead and maiZe sing a touching rendition of “Tonight” on a balcony somewhere…

    I have actually thought this out.

  2. Ray Mescallado says:

    “Momoko… I just met a girl named Momoko…”

  3. jim says:

    Allow me to add to these observations…

    Rival site? I’m starting one after dinner.

    Nah, maybe later. I thought about it tho. Maybe if I give up learning Japanese and everything else. I blog too much already. Something that covers stuff in between IW and ZB, or stuff they wouldn’t be covering anyway, not really a rival.

    And…your AKB tag is now bigger than your H!P tag, what the HELL, man.

  4. Julia says:

    ^@pengie’s comment, ensemble version of Tonight please. But now I just hear “ANITA’S GONNA GET HER KIIIIIICKS TONIIIIIIIGHT” in my head.

    CoP sisters FTW.

  5. Ray you are the Godfather of the J-Pop/culture blogosphere here in the west…I got goosebumps reading this really not kidding. What you’ve created here is unmatchable in my opinion and it really promotes what we all love as a community and I can’t say thank you enough. My brother originally created the MB site so the gender mistaken identity really can’t be helped at this point and more importantly I think it’s best to leave it anonymous at this point to avoid further confusion. 😛 Sorry wacky I know.

    You know I was so confused when you seemed to disappear from IW which is your very own creation so thank you for explaining. You’re the best Ray…thank you! ^-^

  6. wu-san says:

    not much to say. you know how I feel.

    good job *thumbs up…big gay hug*

  7. Oops forgot to mention that he just signed up the blog but the posts are all mine…but he used to reply to some of the comments so that’s where it may have gotten confusing. All of the J-Pop collections are mine though. ^-^

  8. Ray Mescallado says:


    This is gonna sound weird, but when Saburo used to mention having lunches with MorningBerryz, was he talking about you or your brother? It was Saburo’s comments that had me thinking MB = male.

    Also, let me say that your contribution to our community has been especially valuable. You and Hello!Blog’s Tom have been the most consistent lights for H!P fandom, and your generosity in sharing the histories of pop idols has been one of the best parts of your blog since the beginning.


    Big gay hugs are what I’m all about.

  9. Ray I guess it would be best to leave things as they are as none of it bothers me at all…this has been going on for awhile but I just never said anything about it. Too much time has passed and it’s far too out there to explain at this point. Thank you for your understanding. ^-^

    Your words mean so much to me and I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement. You truly have created a most unique and powerful source for the J-Pop/Japanese culture fan to be part of. 🙂

  10. Misa says:

    You’ll know you’re done with me when I’m the one hosting the rival site.


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