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The Ba Sing Se Times, Issue 34: 5 November

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48px-1025281.png Avatar Wiki is dying!
The 888th Avatar

In recent months, it has become a trend among users leaving the wiki to write a blog post announcing their departure, and these are now considered commonplace. While it is certainly proper to feel regret when individuals leave and to hope for their return sooner rather than later, this new phenomenon has also instigated isolated bouts of a syndrome: The deadly "Avatar Wiki is dying" fever.

The wiki is not dying. Like all websites, Avatar Wiki will go through some periods of higher traffic volumes, and some periods of lower traffic volumes. Activity levels will generally fluctuate depending on a number of factors, such as whether new information is being released, whether the site is doing well on search engine rankings, and simple luck. But even when traffic drops, there is a "floor". Since the release of The Last Airbender in July 2010, month-on-month drops have occurred four times. There have never been fewer than 180,000 visitors per month in that time.

So why all the "I'm leaving" blog posts? I suggest that their current prevalence is due to a shift towards making those kinds of posts rather than becoming inactive quietly, as people used to. With a staggering 26 active rollback users (there were fewer than a dozen eighteen months ago), this makes much more sense than panicking that "Avatar Wiki is dying". Take it easy, tiger.

Congratulations to Natsu11 and Theavatardemotivator, who have become joint deputy editors at The Ba Sing Se Times. Natsu will be primarily take responsibility for the compilation of the newsletter, while TAD will be the resident copyeditor.

48px-3390396.png Interview: The Bos

1. Does it feel different being an admin after being a fanon admin for over an year?
It's not majorly different; when I was a fanon admin, I always was very active in canon maintenance and would frequently do the deletions normally left for the main admins. And now, as an admin, I remain active in the fanon side as well, starting publication of The Generals and continuing on Mysteries. It's all in all pretty much the same, given how much I feel I need to do.

2. What are your opinions on the movie and your expectations for Legend of Korra?
I did not like the movie ... I had to sit through the whole thing with a moderate fan beside me trying to tell me who things weren't all that different. They were, and I was quite disappointed. The animation was good enough, but the acting and writing had a lot to be desired. Korra, on the other hand, looks like it will be quite a masterpiece. The style looks fluid and brilliant, and it looks like it will be a full series with as much epic-ness as Sozin's Comet. I'm a little hesitant about the technology, but considering the Mechanist had already invented half of it by the original series, I can let it slide.

3. How are your fanons going? Do you have plans on writing more series?
With college classes, I've been forced to put Wiki work on the back burner ... sad to say, yet true. I've been keeping an eye on things and trying to come up with ideas, but I haven't had too many as of late. I've already finished The Generals, so that will be coming out on a pretty regular basis (for those who care to read), and I'll get working on Mysteries and a special surprise as well (Natsu already has an idea as to what it is). As for my future plans, I've got another idea in the works, that as of now only Dragon of The West knows about and that is so far away from publication that I have no need to be mentioning it. But, I will say that I've written a few things here and there for it, as well as my most brutal scene ever. When it comes out, I think my fan base will be pleased.

4. Considering that you've won the Fanon Trivia Contest, you must have read many fanons. What are your favorites?
Favorite fanons: I've always liked the Wanted-verse, including all of Dragon's wonderful expansions. I honestly feel that his series helped make Wanted into what it became. I'm into Sozin's Blood, Child of Destiny, Alone, and HTF; those are the ones I've read all that's out. I've also liked Avatar: Legend Of Fire and The Runaway', but the author is gone now, so there's little chance they'll be finished. On my to-read list are Energy Saga, catching up on The 600th day and see what I can read of Rassilon's stuff when he publishes it. I'm not incredibly well-read in all the wiki's fanon, given my very specific taste, but these are some of the examples of what I see and enjoy.

5. What, in your opinion, needs to be improved on the wiki?
I see the wiki as constantly evolving based on the new users coming in. This, of course is great because of all of the new perspectives that are brought into play from newer, dynamic users. However, most policies were put into place for good reason, and I urge users to think about the origins of policies before proposing a forum to overturn them. I'm not saying all policies must stay, but that I see forums happening all the time about incredibly (in my opinion) minor issues. The wiki as a whole is amazing, probably in its best state ever, but it's clear the minor issues are still the bulk of our changes. Korra will bring about massive changes to the wiki, and we must be prepared. Large scale policies may need to be changed or amended, so we should keep ready.

6. You, of course, are a very experienced user. What are your "tips" for newer users?
Tips: A system I've seen work is to stick to asking few users questions. Connect with a user who is more experienced than you and direct your questions to them. They can get you the answers, or they can at least tell you where to find out. And, instead of simple memorization, conceptualize. I think that is the single most important thing that a Wikian can do. Find out the origin of policies, traditions, or the system of how Wiki coding works, and then find out why and memorize that. If we have a small group of analytical users, it will be better than a larger group of users who are unsure of what to do. We can then use the experience we gain to spread to newer users by taking them under the Wiki-wing and teaching. Then, they'll be able to teach the next generation of users.

48px-3511228.png Unemployed with a MegaFonzie

Since I was booted from editing, I put out several job applications, making sure to bolster my résumé by adding my talents:

(1) Has memorized every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

(2) Has done extensive editing on the Avatar Wiki.

(3) Aang's staff. [snicker]

Unfortunately, no employer apparently wanted to go for someone as talented as me, seeing as they were sure I wanted a lot of payment for my awesomeness. Well, I didn't want much, just a few thousand ... a day. That shouldn't be too difficult, am I right? I mean, look at that one country with the crazy inflation! Those guys must be rich in the trillionaire business!

I might be a trillianaire in the Iar Sea, but I want to be a trillionaire in the real world, too.

Eventually, though, while peddling handcrafted plushies and secretly smuggling computer hardware in Ba Sing Se, I landed a deal serving tea at the Jasmine Dragon. Oh wait, no, just kidding, it was the Jazmine Dragon, some new-age ripoff hoping to catch customers off guard by rationalizing none would be able to spell. Somehow, the long line of vagrants, vagabonds, and one other word starting with a v I can't repeat here for the sake of the kiddies proved their pessimism right. While juggling my two new jobs [literally, I was juggling cups of tea and plushies here, trying to get both to the customer without destroying either], I found myself a nice apartment known as the cupboard in the kitchen, and there I holed up, shivering, wishing I were a Firebender. Sadly, I was stuck being a nothing until I realized that those bozos were writing comments like "I like this alot".

Finding one such customer, who was a darkly-dressed teacher at the local Academy for Land Operations and Tactics, a military institute of some kind or another, I asked him quietly, "What is an alot?"

From over the top of his nonexistent sunglasses - I very much wanted to retrieve that homemade flamethrower and burn him like a truck full of Chihuahua-shark hybrids - he opened his mouth, revealed to me a sickening maw full of broccoli and chocolate at the same time, and said: "What?"

Unfortunately, I could tell from his accent that he was, in fact, saying, "wut?"

I was about to go all flying kick-a-pow on him right then and there, but a little voice in my head whispered, "What would Kung Fu Action Jesus do?"

"Wait to be attacked?" I inquired. The Li'l Voice nodded. I leaned over the customer. "You said you liked our alots, but we don't serve alots here.

"Oh, you must be stupid, jay-kay. I mean like I like this tea alot." He gestured towards the cup now rattling from my Godzilla-level anger.

"What is a tea alot?" I hissed, my hand making the table vibrant.

He laughed out loud. "Alot means I liked it very much, dumb boy."

"He called me a boy. Can I kill him now?" I questioned.

Li'l Voice was sporting a helmet. And a grenade. "Oh ... yes."

With a battle-cry befitting a viking from Valhalla, I ran at him and karate chopped his idiocy. As I would later tell it:

"So there I was, toe to toe with five of the nastiest grammar violations you ever saw! Comma splices oozing from monstrous jaws! Spelling errors sharper than daggers! Slowly, all ten of 'em surround me. But do I surrender? No! I summon my highly trained killer instincts, and pounce! Hya! Kick-a-pow! Pew pew pew! Haa! And when the dust cleared, there were twenty less grammar violations in the world."

As his stupidity fell into pieces around him, he emerged holding a book of Iroh's wisdom and wearing thick hipster glasses. Bowing to me and immediately computing his tip in his head, he used his newly discovered psionic powers to levitate across the room and teleport away.

For a moment, I was concerned, but then I beat up his remaining stupidity and tossed it at the first person who walked through the door, figuring that anyone inattentive enough to end up at the Jazmine Dragon wouldn't notice the extra dumbness.

The first person to walk through the door? Sokka.

As the stupidity hit him, his eyes widened, he zeroed in right at me, and he yelled: "I want you to be my secretary!"

He then picked up Toph, kissed her fervently, set her back down, and turned his shirt inside out.

I stared blankly as he ran over to the owner of the teashop, some clown named Jar Jar Tinks, and hugged him while screaming, "Uncleirohuncleirohcanihavesomefreeteaaaaa?"

The next few days was a cliché whirl of hanging out - or shall I say haanging out? - with Sokka and Toph, who had been apparently looking for a secretary to answer all their fan mail. Since I've never been in a buddy montage, especially not an Avatar buddy montage, I felt it quite disorienting as all of the backgrounds simply began to switch. While Sokka and Toph were able to keep smiling and immediately doing whatever the new background demanded, I was the montage guy who hung around in a corner and pretended to be a confused snail sloth.

Let me tell you, it's very difficult to be a confused snail sloth, especially since they do an excellent job of making themselves seem confused. Besides, I didn't actually know what one looked like, so I was simply sprawled out on the floor, having hoisted two arms over my head to act as feelers.

I don't think Sokka noticed, but I'm pretty sure Toph stared at me. Well, she can't see per se, so possibly I was just imaging things. Or imagining things. Whichever. My backspace is stuck I suppose I'm going where no TAD has gone before by writing a nonstop sentence with no grammar or spelling HAHAHAHAHAHA A LIFE IN PLASTIC IS SO FANTASTIC I'll just have to use strike-throughs whenever I get in a crazy mood, which happens often.

Anyway, I was promptly saddled with answering some fan mail for Sokka. It's kind of like Avatar Answers Wiki, but five time more active and fifteen-point-six-seven-three times less fun. There I was, holed up in the middle of nowhere-land trying to answer stupid mail for Sokka. The cupboard might've been bad, but now I was forced to do it under the dinner table while half the team was busy cracking rude jokes. Well, Toph and Sokka were anyway. Suki, who had spontaneously apparated here just in time for me to write her name down, was just pretending to ignore them.

Secretly, I think she likes it. I'd insert an eyebrow waggle here, but some of the more suspicious readers might take it the wrong way. Therefore, I'll insert an eyebrow waggle for Sokka instead.

Sokka: [waffles eyebrows]

You're doing it wrong.

Deliciously, deliciously wrong.

Now, my handwriting is so bad, I call it handwronging. I failed a test once because the teacher couldn't read it. Monkeyfeathers, I got my perfect audial memory after realizing I couldn't read my own notes. So good luck to whoever received my letters. Then again, I was also writing in English and had to use Google Goggles to translate the letters themselves. Er ... that probably wasn't the best idea to hire me.

Dear Socka,
I love everything about you, from your massive rippling muscles to [censored censored censored]. Will you marry me? Or at least mail yourself in a box to me? Don't worry, my medical record is clean as my wrist.
Love, the girl next door, Northern Water Tribe
Dear KND with a G,
I'm not sure how clean your wrist is, but I wouldn't poke you with a ten-foot-stick. Anyone who confuses me with laundry - and that specific article of laundry - is a no-no in my book.
Besides, do you know how much money postage is these days? What, you want to bankrupt me? Money don't grow on trees y'know, it dug up from the ground.
Without a speck of love, Sokka.
48px-743796.png Allusions to the book of Genesis
H-Man Havoc

Being a follower of my faith, I am well-versed in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. Recently, I've re-watched "Zuko Alone" and done an in-depth analysis of its themes, and I came across the notion that a few key events in the episode may allude to certain situations in the Book of Genesis, the first of the five books in the bible. Whether this was a coincidence on Mike's and Bryan's parts or an actual reference to the religious texts is ambiguous at best, but I will be exploring the latter possibility with this blog.

The first instance I will investigate occurs when Ozai talks to his father, Azulon, about transferring his older brother Iroh's birthright to him due to the former's failure in besieging Ba Sing Se and voluntarily withdrawal after his son Lu Ten's death in the ensuing battle. At the end of the episode, after Azulon's mysterious death, the birthright was switched from Iroh to Ozai, making the latter his father's immediate successor. This event relates to the story of the twins Esau and Jacob, whose origins are explained early in Genesis: Esau was the elder, and Jacob the younger, clinging to his brother's heel when the two were born. Jacob's mother, Rebecca, conspired with her younger son to get him her older son's birthright, because Esau had no intentions of leading or a sense of duty; all he wanted to do was hunt, which he did well, and thus he was admired by his father, Isaac, for that reason among others. Jacob managed to convince Esau to sell his birthright for a meal. Later, Isaac sent Esau off to the fields to catch some game in order to prepare a meal, after which he would confer his blessing to his eldest son. Rebecca overheard this and hatched a plan to get the birthright for Jacob instead of Esau, and this involved tricking Isaac (who was blind by this point) into uttering his blessing to his younger son. She dressed Jacob up in skins and covered his arms with hair (Esau was very hairy while Jacob was smooth-skinned), and she had him prepare a very similar meal. Despite a very close call during the initial execution of the plan, Jacob ultimately received his father's blessing yet subsequently had to flee when Esau returned and Isaac realized his mistake, shaking with rage since the blessing couldn't be repeated.

The second connection involves the first event as well as a second event towards the end of the episode. After Ozai declares his desire to usurp Iroh's birthright, Azulon says that his youngest son would be punished for his defiance, so as that he (Ozai) experiences the pain of losing his son. The connection with Genesis involves a much younger Isaac and his father, Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only legitimate son (he had another son, Ishmael, with his wife's maidservant, Hagar). Reluctantly, he took his son to Mt. Moriah, built an altar, and bound Isaac atop it. Abraham raised his knife and brought it down to Isaac's neck, but God stopped him right before any blood was drawn, saying it was only a test, to see how far Abraham would follow His orders. He then commanded Abraham to kill a ram spotted in a nearby bush instead. Going back to the episode, we know that Ursa, Zuko's mother, vowed to protect her son at all costs. It is later found out in "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse" that Ozai had every intention of killing his son (directly contradictory to Abraham's reluctant obedience to attempt to kill his own) and that Ursa prevented him doing so by volunteering to hatch a plan that would result in Ozai becoming Fire Lord, which resulted in Azulon's death (perhaps by her hand) and her subsequent disappearance. This ties in with the latter part of the second biblical instance (Abraham sacrificing a ram instead of Isaac) as well as the implied aftermath of the birthright incident (although never mentioned in Genesis, it is implied that she bore the brunt of the blame for Jacob getting the birthright, as the latter was already long gone).

Those are the two events that tie Zuko Alone to the Book of Genesis. Hopefully you enjoyed the blog, and feel free to comment below.

from the fanon portal
48px-Avatar6.jpg Undiscovered fanon

The Avatar of the Fire Temple is a great fanon by Jall. It follows a mixed story based on a novel. For anyone who likes a different story, I'd recommend this. This romance story is very good; whether the idea is from the novel or not, the drama and romance are still great. Actually, I have never seen a better drama series on the wiki, since there are few of them. Whether Jall is still active or not, this mix of drama and romance makes a really nice short story which is something nice to read. I won't reveal any of the plot's twists or main ideas to keep you wanting to know more about this or read it, so I say it out loud again: Read it people!


General Iroh
The Ba Sing Se Times needs YOU.
Have a great Avatar or Avatar Wiki joke?
An interesting opinion about the wiki?
A fanon that desperately needs readers?
A review of a fanon you'd like to publish?
Just write a column,
and send it in to the editor.

48px-3565124.png Work overload

As I am a (fairly) friendly and helpful user - a main goal of mine is to make sure that the community is always happy - and I decided to write a column on one way to stay happy on the wiki.

And by happy, I mean sane.

Sometimes work at this site drives you to the level where you're crazy. Believe me, at the end of this summer I had to work on my fanon, edit The Adventures of Omar|Omar's fanon]], and write fanon reviews twice a week. It was chaos, and by the time school started up again I had to leave the heartbreaking message on Omar067's talk page saying I could not edit his story anymore. As I don't want anyone else to go through that pain, I've realized that the only way to the escape this insanity is to never enter it. Start small. Stay small.

You may be wondering why I am bringing this topic up now. Well, it's come to my attention that recently many users have just been loading too much work on themselves, some working on three or four fanons at once, along with huge projects. Working on that many projects at once will most likely cause some or all of the following things:

  • The projects will take a long time to complete.
  • Some projects will go through long inactivities.
  • Some great ideas will be cancelled due to working on other projects.
  • You may have quit groups or stop working with others.

Special mentions

  • Aang20791, for his tireless work on the wiki's media articles
  • Powerfullest, for unceasing effort into content editing

Recipients may use the {{User special mention}} userbox on their user pages. Suggest users for this to the editor!

Random poll

How much Avatar do you watch per day on average?

The poll was created at 12:04 on November 5, 2011, and so far 27 people voted.
48px-1025281.png Technical updates
The 888th Avatar

This report outlines any notable technical changes made by Wikia and by Avatar Wiki admins in the last two weeks.

  • In response to some design changes to blog listing elements, CSS fixes were implemented by yours truly to maintain their visual ease-of-use. This resulted in some changes to the blog list on "The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra".
  • A list of frequently asked questions was added to "The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra" by yours truly. The intention is to to attempt to reduce incidents of repetitive questions.
  • The IRC freenode channel #wikia-avatarfanon is now under the control of yours truly. It now redirects to our main channel, #wikia-avatar, as there is little practical use for maintaining two channels for one wiki.
  • An auto-save feature for the edit window has been implemented by Wikia. "We've added a new feature to our Visual Editor which temporarily auto-saves your work as you are editing, just in case your browser crashes or you accidentally close the window before you hit save. If this happens to you, simply go back to the same page, click "edit," and you will see a prompt asking you if you want to restore the draft of your edit. The editor stores the draft for six hours."

  • Never heard of The Ba Sing Se Times? Find out more here.
  • You can also receive a delivered edition of this newsletter to your user talk page, particularly useful if you fall behind in staying up to date. Subscribe here.
  • Have something to say about one of the columns? Have a suggestion for the newsletter? Want to contribute? Comment right here on this blog post.

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