The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: May 23rd, 1998

Much Ado About Nothing, Take 2

By: Ben Goodger

If you were to take the cross-section of Sailor Moon websites on the internet and examined their content, you'd find something not to far removed from this schematic:

  • "info" consisting of character profiles (often taken from FAQ), and sometimes an introduction to the series
  • image gallery
  • awards program
  • miscellaneous pages like webrings, links etc
This sort of set up is designed to appeal to the following type of user: new-to-Sailor Moon person looking for information on the show. They don't have their own webpage (perhaps), so are simply out and about for information and possibly media.

Sorry to say this, but for the most part, this person does not exist. This "stereotypical new user" has long since left the stage, with the obvious fall in popularity of the show since its demise. It's a simple fact that most visitors to your site will be people with Sailor Moon websites, or people whose close friends have Sailor Moon websites.

So really what we have is a bunch of pages online that are serving up information to people who already know. Sure some people may not know much, but most pages don't delve into the show with too much complexity, so it's fairly safe to assume the material presented on 70-80% of Sailor Moon webpages is common knowledge. This is an interesting point could it be true that the "info" section on most SM webpages is redundant? What of the other sections? I'll investigate a few of these here.

Information

What seems to be one of the pre-requisites to a Sailor Moon website is "cool info." Hm. This usually consists of some material either copied or paraphrased from the FAQ or Hitoshi Doi's (or other popular) Sailor Moon website. If this information (which it is, unless the page maintainer has seen fit to mix North American and Japanese series in the process of HTML-ising the material) is "cool," then I'm a baked bean.

When people want info, scripts, synopses or whatever, they have places they go. It's pretty much accepted that Hitoshi Doi's Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon website is the place to go for synopses and most other Sailormoon facts, and that places like The Script Crypt, and Ken Arromdee's Sailor Moon FAQ are the place to shop for episode scripts and answers to commonly asked questions. When people look for information on Sailor Moon, they're far more likely to look for it in these (well known and reliable) locations than some country-bumpkin hick webpage hidden within Tokyo/Pagoda/Eeek/Eeek/Eeek.

Am I saying information is pointless? Not exactly. What I'm saying is that people don't want to know what colour does it for each senshi/scout/ if they do, they'll read their copy of the FAQ and not surf around for a site to find it. When people want summaries, they'll go to Doi. This may seem a very dim view to be taking, but as I said its not the only truth. When people visit webpages, they're looking for something new, something different, in short something that will leave them feeling satisfied.

There is something you can put in your webpage that no one else has your own thoughts. You're reading thoughts now. This column and the others here are part of what makes sites like these unique. You've most likely got opinions too, you've got feelings about Sailor Moon or Sailor Moon webpages (if you don't, perhaps you should be writing about gerbils instead of our beloved Senshi/Scouts/eek). Why offer people something that they've seen before? Why waste your webspace serving up the same old tripe as the person in the folder adjacent to you? You can make your page vibrant and original by writing down your thoughts.

You mean I have to THINK?!?!

The main difficulty with writing down your thoughts is that it requires you to go through a delicate process which is known as "thinking." Far be it from me to sound patronising *grin* it's just that there seems to be such a LACK of thought put into Sailormoon Webpages that I feel there should be some instruction in this area. Writing your opinions into editorials like this or character summaries requires you to sit down at a word processor or note pad and actually chew over what you think. This represents the major difference by writing down YOUR feelings you are making the step from copying out material written by someone else to crafting your own.

What I'm saying is that people dream up these grand unsinkable webpages, pages that will provide the viewer with pictures, info, multimedia and so on. The problem is that few of us have original pictures and multimedia, and the "info" that is used turns out to be the same that's available from the places people go in the first place. The page ends up sinking because it doesn't offer anything that the people visiting see it worth returning for. I look at my counter stats regularly, and although I don't get many hits, I do notice quite a few repeat hits. My site offers monthly updates in many of its sections - editorials, Crystal Points, Knowledge Base, Resurrection and so on. The site is NOT static, and it is NOT information. I've chosen to serve up my own thoughts on just about every aspect of Sailor Moon, from a character (Hotaru) to webpage making (Knowledge Base) to general issues (this column) and other webpages (Crystal Points). As a result it's a site I feel is worth returning to.

As I said at the start, I don't think there are many people who don't have webpages or are new to Sailormoon that are looking for information. Most people visiting other sites have webpages themselves. Thus providing "cool info" may be a bit redundant. Once again, I reinforce that editorials and reviews are important, and are something that everyone can gain from whether they be new or experienced moonies. Make your page "accessable" to everyone, put a bit of yourself into your material.

Its not that I'm against information sites in general there are some very good sites offering information, its just that I don't believe that that's what people are looking for when they visit pages. I know I'm not, I don't bother reading the info sections in 99% of sites I visit because I either already know what's there, or simply don't want to know, and I know quite a few people who don't bother either. What we do read though are people's opinions. We are far more likely to email you about your thoughts than your presentation of FAQ material. I've had more responses to my editorial column and my site than any previous, info-based version of Millennium.

Xplo made a good point though, 'are opinions the magic beans that can save a website?' Well if they offer originality, then in a way yes. However they shouldn't be your only option. If you've got Nakayoshi and access to a scanner, SCAN! If you can spin a yarn, write fanfics! Whatever the case, don't let your site become part of the endless blur of grey, "cookie-cutter" (thanks, Lee) webpages. I went to a site the other day that did as the Amazoness Quarted proclaim: made me smack my head at the stupidity. It wasn't the site itself that I disliked, but the opinions of the person that ran the page. I disagreed with their thoughts, and it provoked a response more than most SM webpages would have got out of me.. sure the site seemed to have an attention-getting purpose, but after sending in my feedback I felt more fulfilled than I had from surfing pages that say nothing about their owners.

Summarising:

  • Most people don't give a tin toot about basic raw facts if they need to know, they'll got to an established authority.
  • People don't go to sites looking for the same material, they're after that ever-elusive originality.
  • If you do something, explain why you're doing it for instance why are you supporting SOS, Free the Images, Stop the image thieves etc? Why are you linking to that site? Give mini-reviews, and write a personal profile of yourself, and where possible put a picture up.
  • People will respond to your own thoughts its diversity of opinion that make this world great, and that makes the internet the Communications Revolution. Take a side. Sa y something risky. You'll ultimately be glad you did.


Comments on this article can be sent to: Ben Goodger.


Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.


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