Boy, have the editors of Ba Sing Se Times got an interview for you today. After a shocking move, akin to the retirement of The 888th Avatar as the editor of this newsletter, one of the most experienced and respected administrators stepped down as of last week. Vulmen, now a former bureaucrat and administrator to this wiki, has finally broken the silence in this interview to share with the community not only the reasons of his sudden retirement, but also to leave some final thoughts for those many who remain here to listen.
Since 2010, Vulmen has been a well known contributor on this wiki. He began his time here as a user in later months of said year, before becoming a rollback user after two months with his excellent work ethic. In a further two months, he was nominated for the position of administrator in January of 2011, which he promptly won in a landslide of community support. Within the year, he was a bureaucrat in another landslide vote turnout. If this doesn't show how far he has come and how much he has done to garner such admiration from this wiki's community, it will be far beyond the capabilities of this issue of the Ba Sing Se Times to change your opinion. The editors of this humble newsletter raise applause to the commitment, integrity, and responsibility Vulmen has shown in his tenure, and we hope that he will continue to contribute for years to come.
1. When did you consider quitting? Why?
This is an interesting one. You see, I considered quitting before I even had the position. I only accepted any role I received at Avatar Wiki via having a pep talk beforehand, as I never really wanted such a position. But that aside; I only seriously began considering resigning during the heavy storm of admin-hate. And believe me, every admin considered quitting. Not one of them deserved the disdain they were receiving, and having such targeted ire is never a pleasant thing. I greatly appreciate the community's support during those dark times, it really held the admins together - so, here's a personal head-nod to all of you! Thank you, guys and gals. Anyway; after that I had considered quitting off and on as time passed.
2. You stuck by it for so long, but decided to leave now. Why?
I'll keep this as simple as possible. Basically; I was losing the 'fun' factor of the wiki, and wanted to get it back. I never really wanted to be an admin in the first place, but I knew I could do well and am very responsible, so I took on the roles at the time. In the end; I guess it can be viewed as selfish, but I wanted to step away from it and focus more on things I enjoy.
3. What were unique experiences you encountered, in your long tenure as a bureaucrat and administrator?
Well; there are a number of answers to this. I would rather not dredge up a lot of the unique experiences and cause issue by doing so. The most unique thing I encountered as a 'crat here was the time the wiki began struggling with hate. That was a difficult time that crippled everyone in the wiki, and as such it shown just how difficult a time admins had it. Those with higher responsibilities have to do their best to be as thoughtful of tumultuous situations as possible, even when those situations means unfounded groupthink disdain against them.
Another unique experience is just how these situations, and others, were handled. Not by admins, but by the community. It truly is honoring to sit back and see (read) a host of other users who show understanding for what this wiki has become - and not to honor the role of admin/crat as "almighty." And to realize they are just as important and able to voice themselves as anybody else. The times that many users have stepped forward to make their statements and voices sound as one has been very rewarding.
4. What do you think will be the future of the wiki without you as one of the bureaucrats?
I don't believe my resignation should impact the future of this wiki. There are plenty of wonderful, deserving users still present to fill the necessary roles. I only hope that whatever path this wiki takes, its future will be very community-minded. The strength and survival of this wiki depends on respect of the community, cultivating it and future, newer users as they continue to join.
5. What will be your future involvement with the wiki?
I will still have a hand in the community life if possible. I rather enjoy being able to communicate with others and seeing the bond for each other here form and grow strong. I probably will still at times engage in issues like I used to; trying to help share knowledge with other users and poke my nose into some debates and situations. But ultimately that's not what I'll be focusing on. One thing I intend on doing is writing more Eyes of Katara, seeing how far I can get in that! That's...been a long, long task of mine. An enjoyable task.
6. What did you find most memorable about being a bureaucrat, and as a user, on this wiki?
Users. Seriously; all of you who are reading this (and those who aren't). It was honoring to be able to take such a role and be respected the way I was. If there's anything I would take joy from being admin/'crat, it's how friendly all of you can be. I know some of you felt you were annoying me with pesky questions but it's like I said - a path to knowledge is knowing when to ask questions. :) And it's nice to see people who are open enough to address concerns directly; asking for help or advice or just for a discussion.
7. Finally, what advice would you give for whoever becomes the next bureaucrat?
My advice to the next bureaucrat of this wiki is to first and foremost; be respectful. There is a lot of drama in being a 'crat, and there are an awful lot of judgment calls that must be made (especially in the realm of choosing user rights/rollback). A 'crat must be overall respectful and fair toward every individual; whether they are deemed annoying by them or totally cherished/best friend. Do not cut any favors, but do not be an iron hand!
As a 'crat there will be an awful lot of questions and challenges dealt. They must be open to change, admitting that they are not always right and show willingness to listen to all suggestions - but in the end able to fairly concede to which way they see as the correct path, even if they personally do not like it. And this means even supporting a community decision they do not agree with.
So yes; first and foremost, count on aggravation. It isn't really supposed to be so - but all eyes are on you. Being a 'crat shouldn't be viewed as a leader, but by default it is, in the eyes of others. So act accordingly.
Brought to us by our very own DC, is the long awaited for interview with Gene Yang concerning his handling of the Dark Horse comic spin-offs of the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" cartoon series, relating mainly to the upcoming "The Search" trilogy and "The Promise Part 3"... Among other things. Enjoy! -- Ba Sing Se Times Staff.
Dcasawang1: Good morning Mr. Yang. It's truly an honor to have you here and be able to converse some time with you. There are, of course, a lot of things we would like to know about the Avatar Comics and your experience while making them.
Gene Yang: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. I wish I had more time to connect with people, maybe if I had better time management skills.
Dcasawang1: So, first I'd like to know about how you got to know and started watching the series.
Gene Yang: I've been doing comics since my early twenties, it's been a while. My cartoonist friends, all around my age, first introduced me to the series. Now, many of my friends with kids are getting into it; their kids start watching it on Netflix, and then they themselves get hooked in. I watched it the first time with my wife, the second time with my kids, and then since signing on to do the comics, I've watched the whole thing over again just on my own. I've watched it three times all the way through, then certain episodes; I've watched over and over again Zuko Alone, for instance, countless times.
Dcasawang1: What do you know about the reception of The Promise? What has been the reaction of the Avatar fans to the trilogy?
Gene Yang: I think it's been positive over all. I check goodreads.com pretty frequently, they're a community of readers. Have you been to their site? They comment about pretty much every book published in the American book market.
I've had some readers e-mail me directly with both criticisms and complements, but it's been positive overall. Not everybody likes it, of course, and a lot of the criticisms I've gotten are legit. I've tried to take them to heart so I can improve on my future writing. I think I should have extended the scene in the first book where Aang makes the promise to Zuko, for example. This is really the first book I've written with page length constraints, so it took me a while to get used to it; with my own comics, I can make them as long or as short as I want.
Dcasawang1: I guess you also have received critics about the 'sweetie' thing?
Gene Yang: Sure. :) I've heard from sweetie haters. I learned that me and my wife are dorks, basically; we call each other pet names all the time. :) We must be really annoying to our friends. I wanted the "sweeties" to be both a source of humor and an indication of the newness of Aang and Katara's relationship. As their relationship matures, the "sweeties" will get less frequent. I've seen that in the relationships of some of my friends, people who are in the early stages of love are usually GROSS.
Dcasawang1: About the comic itself. I guess there's an amazing finale for the third part. What can you tell us about it? Will it have a direct connection with the next trilogy?
Gene Yang: In the third part, we want to give some resolution to the Harmony Restoration Movement dilemma. In all of The Promise, we're sowing the seeds for the new world. [Avatar: The Last] Airbender took place in a world where cultures remained separate. [Legend of] Korra takes place in a world where cultures live side by side, where they intermingle. So how do we get from the old world to the new? We want The Promise to begin to answer that question. So in Part 3, we're going to hint at how that might happen. The end of Part 3 says "the end", but to be honest, it's not much of an end, it's a set up for The Search, which will be out next year.
Dcasawang1: What made you think of the idea of creating The Search?
Gene Yang: Well, The Search isn't really my idea. The comics all start with a conversation between Mike, Bryan, the Nick people, the Dark Horse people, and me. It's Mike and Bryan's world, they have the history of the Airbender/Korra world in their heads. Some parts are very clear, others are vague, so we talk through the vague parts and hammer it out. The big pieces of The Search were already in place; we know at least some of the back story because it was revealed in "Zuko Alone". Now don't get me wrong, Mike and Bryan gave me plenty of creative elbow room, but the emotional core of the story was already there, they'd already had it in place. I guess I should say that The Search was a collaboration, it was me building on top of their foundation with their input. :) Work with them has been really great. I've learned so much.
Dcasawang1: So, basically, in The Search, Zuko and Azula start looking for their mother, right? How's Team Avatar's participation in the story?
Gene Yang: I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to say... but yes. The title refers to the search for Ursa. The Search will focus on the Fire Nation Royal Family, on Zuko and Azula and Ursa. Aang, Katara, and Sokka are their to support their friend, but they're not the focus of the story.
Dcasawang1: Was it difficult to come up with and write Azula's character?
Gene Yang: Azula's voice in the original series was very clear, she's confident and conniving, always has the upper hand. In the comic, she's spent a significant amount of time in a Fire Nation asylum. How does that change her? We talked through that quite a bit before I started the script. We'll see how folks react to it. I don't think it was the particular character, it was the dynamic. The dynamic betweeen Azula and Zuko was difficult to write. We wanted it to feel new and fresh, not be a repeat of what had come before, but at the same time feel like a natural outgrowth of what came before. We do want to explore Zuko and Azula's relationship a little more. It's been a lot of fun, challenging, too.
Dcasawang1: A probably tough question. What have you liked most so far, Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra?
Gene Yang: Ah, that's a tough one. I think the action is much better in Korra, but I'm still partial to the characters in the original series. It may just be that I've spent more time with Aang and his friends than Korra and hers. And even in the original show, the characters got more and more compelling as the series went on.
Dcasawang1: Korra comics would be interesting.
Gene Yang: Korra comics would be great! I'd love them as a fan. I really feel like Korra Season 1 was too short, maybe they could flesh things out with comics. So many interesting characters that didn't get enough screen time. I would love to see more of Aang and Yakone's past. And I would have liked to spend more time with the Air Acolytes. See? Nick should have doubled the number of episodes. What'd you think of Zuko's descendant?
Dcasawang1: Iroh? He was one of my favorite male characters in The Legend of Korra. Seemed to be a lot like Zuko, and I really hope he gets more screen in the upcoming seasons.
Gene Yang: I really liked his character too, but I could not get used to Zuko's voice coming out of his mouth. Zuko is such a singular character, my favorite from the original series.
Dcasawang1: About Avatar Wiki. Do you still keep visiting the site sometimes? How has it helped you while writing the comics?
Gene Yang: Yes, I visit. I read up on character histories to remind myself, I look up information on weaponry when I'm writing fight scenes. It's really been helpful, especially with The Search. So much of The Search is about the past, I checked the Wiki constantly while I was scripting. You guys put a lot of work into it.
Dcasawang1: Thank you. I'm glad it's been of help to you. :)
And the last question: Have you heard news about The Last Airbender 2?
Gene Yang: No. Hm... I still haven't seen the first one, I refuse to. Part of the reason I got the writing gig was a webcomic I did calling for a boycott of the first movie ( http://humblecomics.com/blog/index.php?entry=entry100524-195255 ). An editor at Dark Horse saw that comic, she was also a fan of my other comics, so she called me and asked me if I wanted to work on the Airbender comics.
Dcasawang1: Alright. Thanks for having answered to all the questions and accepting to come to this interview. :) I really appreciate you dedicate time to fans.
Gene Yang: No problem. I really appreciate your support and all the work you guys put into the wiki. It's been incredibly helpful.
Recently the wiki has been introduced to a new forum system, which resembles Message Walls. With these new forums we've brought back the Ba Sing Se University Forum, created a Help Desk, and modified the Admin noticeboard to follow the new format. However, the War Room Forum remains the same, and we will choose which system we prefer, the new system or the older one. I'd like to take some time to show the pros and cons of the system.
I will admit that there are positive things that make the new system appealing to uses. The nice thing about the organized format is that its easy to find exactly what I want, because everything is organized nice and neatly, without having to scroll through a bunch of stuff you don’t want, and the fact that you can link to specific posts. Another great thing about the new system is that its really easy to use without trial and error or worrying that you'll screw something up, it's literally just typing your message into a box. The other thing that I really like about the new system is that I can follow any conversation and I don't have to be checking up on anything.
Other things that I think are a plus of the new system is the fact that I cannot be edit conflicted, (though I can be ninja'd, which is not as much of a problem though somewhat irritating). It's also nice that I can see community messages quickly if they are highlighted, so I don't have to worry about missing something important, and other users can see them as well so everybody can feel part of the community.
However, there are also many things I dislike. While the organization is nice, everything is boxed off and is not as open or inviting as they were prior to when everything was visible. I also find it harder to read comments than before in this new style, because everything is lined up and it's rather easy for me to skip comments, and its harder to get people to stay focused about the single topic. Also, the Message Wall-esque format doesn't seem to be very conductive of serious talk, I've seen a lot of goofing around and really short posts. Not that there is much of a problem with that, but for the War Room, I think it's better if we have a format that conducts more serious discussions.
Also, the new format includes
like Kudos buttons, which allow you to give "Kudos" to a comment. Now, some users like these buttons and use it to give Kudos to others (and themselves), but others question its usefulness. Really? Do we need a button to like arguments in serious discussions? I personally feel like the Kudos button would be of better use in a less serious area, such as the comments. Other users are mourning over signatures, this new format pretty much means that signatures will be gone for good, maybe appearing on some talk pages here and there. I don't really take issue with the lack of signature, though it was signatures that originally got me interested in coding as I attempted to learn how to code my own.
Personally me, I like the War Room the way it is and I do not want it to be converted to the new forum system. Were it up to me I would revert the Admin noticeboard to the old system, though I would keep the help desk, General and Ba Sing Se University forums, they are nice features and I think they could be useful in the feature and are better suited for this new format than others. However, it is not up to me to decide these things, but I will be opposing the conversion of the War Room. However, it is up to the community so I will ask you guys, what do you think of the new Forum system?
(First off: I’m a Kataanger but NOT a Makorrian, so everyone knows
where I stand heading in.)
The comparisons to Kataang and Makorra irk me in a pretty bad way, and
well…I just don’t get how any Kataanger could support Makorra in the
same way they do the former.
The thing of it is, there are so many differences between the two.
Kataang was a beautifully developed, true love that started out as
friendship, but the similar experiences and backgrounds of the two
helped it become a lot more. They matured fantastically and, though
they are young, could definitely be set for life with romance (and
indeed they were).
But Makorra…it was so woefully underdeveloped. The problems were set
up early in the game once Mako and Asami began dating. Mako looked to
have all these feels for Asami, but then decided he would start giving
Korra looks. Excuse me - did Aang ever give any other girl a look once
he started crushing on Katara? I know Katara had an infatuation with
Jet, but that was before she started having feelings for Aang.
In my opinion, it is presently Mako that is giving me big problems
with this ship. While Aang and Katara had genuine love for each other,
Mako just didn’t have it the same way. He was his own house divided,
and totally screwed with Asami’s heart to get to Korra. Bryke, what
are we to take away from Makorra? Liking and kissing another girl
while in a relationship with one is perfectly fine? That’s true love?
Did standards since 2008 plummet? Also, Mako has been a hypocrite - he
dared break off his friendship with Korra in 107 because of her
investigation of the Satos - two episodes later, he’s all head over
heels for her, threatening to kill innocent Equalists over her. Yeah,
and don’t tell Asami about your kiss of Korra either - smooth move,
I also don’t appreciate how Korra interfered with Mako at all. KORRA!
HE’S. ASAMI’S. BOYFRIEND. Lay off of them. Pema, sorry - that was bad
advice you gave her. Sure, if a relationship’s done for, you can move
in I guess…but, with Masami, it was still active and in class-A shape.
A horrible judgment call by Korra.
Please someone show me where Katara and Aang pulled either of these on
one or the other. That was a true, deep love - where their shows of
affection meant a lot; showing how close they had gotten. With
Makorra, all we got was a hollow “I love you”, and that only came from
Korra because she was happy about getting her bending back. She never
showed signs of true love for Mako, it all seemed to be mere
infatuation that went undeveloped.
| Click to continue reading!
Mako…the way he screwed with Asami’s heart…I just…urk. He was just not
honest to her at all. Played with her feelings and everything, then
just tossed her aside for Korra. Plus, like I said - in 107, he
claimed to care for Asami so much, only to be like OMG KORRA!!!! two
episodes later. Like, where did that suddenly come from? No. freaking.
With Katara and Aang, you had a constant care and worry for one
another that developed all throughout ATLA. Katara would get worried
sick about him on several occasions after she met him - it was first a
friendship, then as they continued to share experiences with training
and adventures, they got close…and Aang also returned great worry for
her - getting her off the revenge trail in 316, for example. He
shouldn’t have kissed Katara in 317, sure - but she wasn’t in a
committed relationship at the time! They were both confused over
things, plain and simple - Katara for fear of losing him, and Aang for
fear that she didn’t like him that way. Never once did they interfere
with existing loves, nor did they toss other loves aside to bring
In conclusion: Kataang was a well-developed romance that flowed
beautifully with several key developments, and was built by honesty,
trust, comfort, and deep love for each other. Makorra was woefully
underdeveloped, missing these key steps, with even the confession of
love seeming very hollow. And that, in my opinion, are why
Kataang/Makorra comparisons are just…urk. I don’t get why other
Kataangers can think Makorra is as beautiful as Kataang…