Airspeed’s Editorials – 4 years on the site!
Today August 8th 2014 marks 4 years of being a member of this site for me. With that in mind my next editorial has to be about my 4 years on this site.
4 Years On The Site!
First of all, because I know it will probably surprise someone out there, I do not own nor did I make this website. I started out here as a member just like everyone else (Except Jordan, who did make the website). It is amazing to look back on where things have gone from 4 years ago to now, I joined the site about a week after the forums were launched (the site had been up for a good few months as solely a news site before this point) so I was one of the first 15-20 members to sign up for the site, most of the people on the forums were the original group of moderators with a few other members and me! Now, 4 years on I am an admin on the site and basically run it day to day, with Jordan dealing with the more technical side of things with the actual running of the site.
Lets not get to far ahead this early, first I do need to explain how I even came to join this site, which kind of involves telling my whole story as an Avatar fan. Avatar first came out when I was 13 and I did watch it when it first aired on television, I watched all of Book 1 and 2 as they aired live, but like many other fans I lost track of the show a bit during the big break between Book 2 and 3. Thankfully it was around this time that my family finally got a computer and the internet and I first found out about what was going on with the show. I didn’t join any fansites at this time, partly because I had so little experience with computers and the internet in general and really didn’t know what a forum was! Instead the fandom for me was the comment sections of a site I visited that uploaded episodes of Avatar, this was AMAZING to me that I could at will watch any episode of Avatar whenever I wanted, I did not have to wait for the next tv airing. I quickly adapted to being part of this fanbase to the point where I was super up on all of the rumours and details around whenever Book 3 was going to air, all this without really knowing what a fansite was. Book 3 finally arrived and I watched along with fellow online fans for the first time ever as we experienced the experience that was how Book 3 aired. I still remember vividly to this day, staying up super late desperate for someone to upload the Book 3 finale, watching 1 part as soon as it was uploaded, then waiting for the next, it was so exciting, but also sad because as far as I knew Avatar was over forever. The show that had had such a profound impact on me was over, this was when I did finally find out what a fansite was and I tried a few out, but never really caught on too much and so minus buying the dvds of the show, Avatar kind of ended for me.
At least until news of The Last Airbender movie came out. The build up to this movie was the first time I really took part in forums and fansites properly, everyone was so excited for this movie, but as more and more info came out, more and more people turned against it, as you all know I remained positive, which is where I had my first bad experiences on fansites, to the point where it basically completely turned me off ever joining one again. So by the time the movie was actually released I was not on any Avatar fansites, the main forum I was on and am still on in a lower capacity now is a transformers forum called TFW2005.com. We had a nice group of avatar fans and we would discuss ATLA and a bit of the movie, as many of you know I am a bit of an Avatar continuity and detail nut, I know my stuff, in that thread everyone knew me as “The Avatar Guy” basically. I actually enjoyed the movie and as I have experienced everywhere this is not a very well accepted opinion, despite how awesome our group was I could not really discuss the movie effectively there with the movie so heavily disliked. This is where this site finally comes into my story.
A member of that site and also this one, though he has not posted here in a while, Tkemert20, messaged me on the Transformers site to say that he had found this new Avatar Fansite that had just recently started up a forum and they were looking for moderators, he was going to apply and wanted me to do so as well knowing how into it I was. I thought nothing of it and brushed it off, not wanting to join another Avatar forum and have a similar bad experience as I had had before. For some reason that I cannot really remember I decided to take a look at the site, I had a read of what some of the threads were talking about and what the members were like. This was a big turning point, I saw so much potential in this site to become an amazing community, not just another internet forum, a real community where everyone respects everyone else. At this stage I had 3 solid years of forum experience, even though I had never been on staff on a forum before, I knew and had ideas about how a good forum should and should not be run, I thought to myself that if I became a staff member and got some of my ideas going that this site could become something unique and special, so I joined and sent an email applying to be a moderator to Jordan, the first of many emails that I would send him.
I did not wait for him to reply and just started posting and interacting as a normal member on the site. Early on we basically were a group of 10-15 members, with 9 of these members being the original group of moderators who had applied day one and were already mods and the rest including me just regular members. It should also be noted that in the months leading up to and immediately after the release of The Last Airbender that we had started to hear rumours and the first pieces of info about The Legend Of Korra so everyone was super enthusiastic and excited. The forums had launched at the perfect time, just as news was picking up for a new animated Avatar series. We all got on very well, especially as I started what would become a site speciality, Avatar Trivia, I think minus some of the game threads which require heavy posting it is the thread on the site with the most amount of posts. I started it because as I mentioned above I know my Avatar and I wanted to see how people would do up against some of my toughest questions, the first trivia went down exceptionally well, with it quickly becoming a weekly thing. Eventually people got into the idea enough where other members could do the questions and I got a chance to test my Avatar knowledge against fellow fans for the first time, quickly storming to the top of the trivia charts, where I still am with 10 wins out of 12 trivias I took part in.
While this was happening I heard back from Jordan, he told me that he would be unable to add me as a mod for a while, but assured me that it would happen. He then told me about an important post he wanted to have on the site, episode summaries of all episodes of ATLA. He said every mod would do 3 or 4 episodes each and they would then all be compiled into a massive summary post. Excited to potentially get content I wrote published on a website I quickly wrote up summaries for 101, 102 and 103 the same day. Jordan loved them and said I could do more if I wanted, so I did 104-106. I waited a few days to see what the other moderators would write up, nothing else was added, so I wrote up the summaries for all of Book 1 Water. I waited about a week after that to see if the other mods would write any more, nothing. So I just emailed Jordan and said I would write all of them, a few days later I finished them all and the post was up online. The following day Jordan added me as a moderator in two sections on the site. It was at this point that I added the Prime part of my username, before I was simply Airspeed, hence why my @username has always been @airspeed and not @airspeedprime. Prime is a military title in Transformers Animated, so I added it to signify my promotion to moderator. For anyone asking, yes I did consider for a moment changing to Airspeed Magnus when I became Super-Moderator, glad I didn’t.
Since that time I gradually increased my role on the site from moderating more forum sections, to becoming the head moderator and being responsible for choosing moderators myself and probably most importantly becoming a content editor for the site as well as the main host of the site’s podcast, the Avatar Online Podcast.
I still think my greatest achievement and the thing I am most happy about being a part of here is the site’s podcast. Though we only started it in March 2012 it is one of the earliest ideas that I had. With various attempts between 2010 and 2012 to get it started, all of them failing simply because of schedules. Not to mention looking back now it would not have worked as the way we would have recorded would not have worked. What really made me eager to get the podcast started was how close Korra Book 1 was, we knew if it was to be in any way successful we would have to start it before Book 1 so we could cover it. In a way we chose the perfect time to actually launch the podcast, just a few weeks before Korra actually aired, I think it says a lot that a part from a few minor changes the podcast format has stayed the same since episode 1 and there has been over 150 podcast releases since then. With sites like Tumble drawing more and more fans away from fansites as their home for Avatar fandom, the podcast has ended up becoming a key aspect of the site. It is the thing that I look forward to the most every single week, getting to talk Avatar with fellow fans. Plus getting to know and become friends with people like Callum, Kelly, Troy, Rich, Greg, Peter, Harrison and many of the other hosts has been a huge highlight of the past 4 years, not to mention getting to interview Gene Yang a while back. Doing it has also made me a more knowledgeable fan, getting to refine my opinion on things on a weekly basis has really balanced me as an Avatar fan. At times it is frustrating and difficult to organise, record and upload, but these few negatives are completely overwhelmed by how much I enjoy talking Avatar.
I think that covers the majority of my story with the site, so now about the site itself. I am proud of the fact that this site in 4 years has become a respected place to get good Avatar news, that when we post something as news it is actual news. We can be trusted to deliver quality news and content. Actually if you look at some of my early posts on the forums compared to say this post, you can see that just writing for this site has DRASTICALLY improved my grammar, spelling and my overall skills as a writer, just like how doing the podcast has improved my skills at speaking out loud and being somewhat confident. Running this site really has had a huge positive effect on me. While I am a little disappointed that the site has not grown as much as myself and Jordan have expected in terms of number of active members and posts on the forums, I am also delighted that in 4 years the atmosphere of community and¬†positivity has remained, which perhaps has been helped by us maintaining a nicely sized community that gets on very well. For me I am happy to know that I always have a place to go where I am never afraid to express my thoughts on Avatar and Korra, I know that even if someone disagrees with me that they will be respectful and thus will get respect in return from me. Fandoms at times can be fairly negative places, so the positivity and passion for Avatar that I see here is always a breath of fresh air (Puntastic).
In terms of content on the site, the overall style has not changed too much, but things have come and gone. We have covered all of the latest Avatar and Korra news since the site started, but the other content has evolved over time. Before Korra started much of our additional content was archive driven, going back over Avatar The Last Airbender as the site was not online when it aired. Hence my reviews of all 61 episodes in addition to posts like the episode summaries. We also started doing character posts, long detailed posts covering the stories of key Avatar and Korra characters, they were received well, but in the end we decided to stop doing them as Avatar Wiki basically had this style of post covered. So from then on out I made the decision as the then news editor to switch from these summary style posts to doing more review/opinion based posts with an emphasis on community. Hence the community opinion posts that I am sure many of you have seen and even participated in, these were a huge success, but proved difficult to organise regularly so I fairly recently replaced them with these Airspeed’s Editorial posts. Community Opinion will probably return at some stage, but more than likely it won’t be until Korra ends.
It was the start of Korra and the podcast that really made it clear to me what type of content the site needed to put out. Of course news is great, but to be fair every avatar site covers the news, that is the obvious and default content of any Avatar fansite, what would really make the site unique and keep people coming back would be the opinion posts. Hence why every episode of Korra gets a video review (my youtube channel), podcast review (Korra Roundtable) and a written review. These 3 together mark the 3 stages of opinion I have on an episode, my video review is recorded soon after my first viewing and so you get immediate and initial reaction, the podcast review brings in the other hosts opinions and we discuss every scene in the episode it really helps to fully shape my final thoughts on the episode and then my written review is very much my final thoughts on the episode at least until the book is over. Again initially I tried to involve others in this like getting a second opinion in the written reviews, but again difficult to organise.
Which leads to the last main pieces of content we put out, community based posts. Stuff like the Awards we do for each book of Korra (Book 3 Change awards will start as soon as Book 3 ends, keep an eye out). Our Book 1 Air and Book 2 Spirits awards have proved to be some of the most popular posts that the site has put out,but it was a bit of a risk when I fist came up with the idea as even voting requires a a decent amount of time spent typing out your answers with so many awards, we could have just done a few site polls and compiled the results, but we wanted detail and it ended up working well. Even stuff like our Fan Art Contests have proven very popular. Posts like these require a lot of time on my part so they do not happen that often, so they are often saved for special occasions.
One final thing I want to mention about site content is just our focus on Avatar comics and merchandise. It is something I have noticed over the past 4 years that the comics don’t quite get the same attention as Korra in our fandom, so early on after the announcement of the comics I made the decision to really cover them just as much as I cover Korra, because I like them just as much as I like Korra. At the end of the day when Korra comes to an end next year, it may be the comics that really keep our fandom alive. Some of the site’s most popular news posts have been comic news and coverage, I hype up a new comic release just as much as a new Korra episode, hence why I try to get comic and book reviews out as early as I can so people know that they exist.
There of course have been some dark times on the site, the worst of course being the now legendary Hack attack that hit very soon after the end of Book 1 Air. The site was hit hard by a huge hack attack, which took down the site to the point where we lost around 6 months of forum posts (I.E all of the posts while Korra Book 1 aired) and new members, this probably is to explain for the site’s lack of growth, as many people did lose their accounts suddenly. Although myself and Jordan do not talk about it much at the time, there was a sense of dread among us after we discovered what happened, we really did think for a while that the site was done, over. How could we recover after losing the best 6 months of content the site had ever had. Thankfully Jordan figured out a way to at least get the missing news posts back from the missing 6 months but not the forum posts, then we had to rely on social media and people spreading the news to alert people who lost their accounts that they simply needed to register again with the same username and we could add back their community points. Myself and Jordan spent basically 12 straight hours adding back the missing news posts, thankfully the members who were on the site long enough to avoid their accounts being deleted were great as were the members who immediately rejoined, what could have been something that completely tore the community apart, ended up bringing us closer together as a group. It will always be a milestone for every AvatarTheLastAirbenderOnline.com member who experienced it to talk about “I was there when the hackers attacked”!
In a similar vein we have also been hit by some big spam attacks, which have never took down the site, but have caused a lot of annoyance. Thankfully these were dealt with effectively.
Overall I think it says a lot about our community that moderators really have not ever been needed on the site, in 4 years we have had little to no real drama on the site and I have never had to ban anyone. It has allowed myself and the other moderators to really just be normal members with a few extra responsibilities, which has been great. It has always been one of my main goals since I became a moderator and specifically the head moderator, to stress to all new moderators that they should not change their posting style, they are literally just a member, with some additional responsibilities on the site. I always stress that if the mods act like normal members it sets a clear example for any new members.
In conclusion I am proud to be part of this site, my Avatar fandom home. Lets hope we keep going for another 4 years and more!!!
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