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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
So, I'm re-watching HunterXHunter, and remembering exactly why I /hate/ the Chimera Ant arc, or at least the Gon parts. It's because that was the most smashing writing failure ever, and it could have been fixed so easily.

Because, see, as written, Gon is a filthy, selfish little traitor. We've spent the whole story seeing the bond between him and Killua grow, seeing what it's based on, seeing how iron-clad it is, and then we see Gon turn his back on Killua, deny him, lash out at him and ignore how selflessly Killua is supporting him, all for the sake of a man who, as written, means next to nothing. An old buddy. Someone who gave him hunting tips. That's all we're shown. And for that, Gon drags Killua, Killua who has repudiated his whole previous life for Gon's sake, through hell and finally tries to kill himself in front of Killua.

And it would have been so easy to fix! Just a sentence here and there, creating a persistent thread, about how Kite is Gon's only living connection to his father, stood in his father's place, taught him things like morals and ethics, is the one who made Gon who he is (the person who could pull Killua out of the darkness like he did). Just some subtle reinforcement of that, at key points, and this whole fiasco could have been fixed!

But no. We don't get shown any of that. All we get shown is Gon betraying the one relationship we have actually seen developed in depth. Total. Writing. Fail.

Fuck's sake, it's enough to make a person start shipping Killua with fucking Hisoka.
branchandroot: Hiruma saying ... (Hiruma ...)
Dear AO3,

I am once again stunned by the sheer ridiculousness of attempting to, what was it now, 'respect everyone's fandom expression' or something when you are not using the system that expression is associated with. To whit: Tumblr style "commentary" tags.

Because here's the thing, dear AO3, Tumblr does not index all those tags. They are not all searchable. And the searchability is determined by the site code, not the site employees. If I type into the tag search field of my dashboard, for example, "lettuce and gravy what", or click on that tag in the post of a moderately horrifying foodstuff, I will get the "no posts found" page, despite the fact that there are clearly posts using that tag. This is because that tag has not been used often enough, and by enough different people, to trigger the completely automatic indexing threshold.

Of course, if I go to the blog of the person who made that entry, and type "lettuce and gravy what" into their blog search field, or click on it while in their blog, I will get all the entries that person may have tagged with that phrase, via a search limited to their own account. This is, naturally, why many people use very idiosyncratic tags on certain types of posts, for things they suspect may be an indexed tag-stream (eg "tenipuri fanning" instead of "Prince of Tennis" on a simple reblog); this prevents a post from being aggregated in the tag-stream, but keeps it searchable on the individual blog.

Furthermore, only the first five tags of any entry are even eligible to be used in aggregating that post into a tag-stream, if one exists. All tags after that may be used to search within that user's blog, but will be ignored when fetching posts to be shown in a "all site posts in this tag" page.

All of this indexing and search scoping is automated in the basic Tumblr code. This is, in a nutshell, why Tumblr has not fallen over and died, suffocated under the weight of unique or rare "commentary" tags. Tumblr fails at documentation, but the basic parameters of how tags are indexed and used to search and present content are solid, and optimized to a high traffic site on which neither permanence nor locating all of a particular kind of content is a major priority.

Tumblr has evolved as a culture of ephemerality, in which commentary is given in the tags and therefore erased with each reblog, in which content is a constantly flowing stream that one watches pass and occasionally dips something out of, in which the only way any user can preserve content for later location is to blog or reblog it on their own account under some internally consistent tag rubric. (And then include the javascript in their theme to actually display their tag list.) I have a hard time imagining anything less suited to the permanent storage and reliable sharing over time of content.

But if AO3 really wants to hold their own funeral and attempt it? Indexing of that field has got to be automated.
branchandroot: Yuugi facepalming (Yuugi oy veh)
Dear AO3 decision makers,

How can you be lying so much? Your noses should be growing. Shame!

No, tag filtering is not down because FF.N had a brief witchhunt for too-porny fic and all-caps summaries, and now everyone is coming to AO3. You might wish that, but no, and a good thing, too, considering the actual reason.

Tag filtering is down because that filtering menu was written so astonishingly thoughtlessly that that menu alone took up almost two thirds of the server load. Not new accounts, not new fic being posted, not too many notification emails being sent. No. That one menu was sucking down so much horsepower that even a modest increase in traffic, as for example from a new movie fandom coming to read on AO3, flatlined the servers even before FF.N had it's latest little round of "no hot porn, we really mean it".

The reason, the real reason, is not an increased load. It's the incredibly poor programming choices initially made for that menu. You put up graphs demonstrating this fact on your own blog, for pity's sake. So, please, stop lying through your teeth about how it's all because of how beautiful and popular you are, and incidentally how evil the competition is. That's really embarrassing to watch.

Also, if you want to convince people of how hard you're working to fix it, try not making experienced programmers jump through one-way-mirror paperwork and "training" hoops to help. Then you might manage to not burn out the few programmers who are still locked in, and possibly even avoid setting yourselves up for yet another clusterfuck down the road. Concept!

Yours in deep exasperation,
Branch

P.S. Repeat after me: "Blacklight", "Solr", "not reinventing the wheel". Honestly.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Apropos of yet another round of exasperation with commenters who somehow think they're fit to be my beta or that it's okay to put a review in the comments:

Let us remember, please, that comments on fic are a direct, one-on-one conversation with the author, in the author's space.

If, during a party, some dishes were served that you happened not to like, or a dish was prepared in a way you found odd, you would not go find the host and/or cook and inform them that you suppose they made a good effort but that lamb had too much cardamom in the sauce. Not unless you were an asshole, at any rate. A good friend might sneak into the kitchen for a taste beforehand and note that maybe the sauce could use some alterations, but once it's done and on the table? If you don't like it, you just don't eat any more, possibly mentioning to another guest you know shares your taste that they should stick with the olive spread. This is a party, not a restaurant. You didn't pay for this food. You are the beneficiary of the host/cook's generosity and a guest in their space, and there's nothing to be served by telling them they didn't make the lamb the way you, personally, like it. You won't get lamb the way you like it, next time; you'll probably just not be invited back, since you clearly have such a huge problem with the host's lamb recipe that you just had to tell them about it.

Fic doesn't even carry the potential pressure to stay that a party does. There's no shadow of an excuse to buttonhole the author and complain over a fic not being written to your personal preferences.

Reviews are different. Those are in the reviewers' space (or should be, thank you very much) and those are for the benefit of readers. Pointing out both what you liked and didn't like is not only excusable but, indeed, the very business of a reviewer. An author who demands only positive reviews is delusional and living in diva-land. An author who demands only positive comments to the fic itself, and that reviews be addressed to their actual audience not to their topic, is telling readers to remember whose "house" they're in and who they're speaking to.

Besides, what do you think will happen, if you do comment that way? Will the author go and revise that finished story? No. Will the author magically start writing just the way you want them to? No, not even the ones who think they should try.

But doesn't the author want to improve in her art? asks the devotee of the Holy Concrit, puzzled and offended that their faith offering has been rejected.

Some fandom-states subscribe to the Church of the Holy Concrit as their official faith, and accept or even encourage all readers leaving "how to improve" comments. Some most signally do not. Anyone tempted to proselytize their personal faith in heathen lands might find it instructional to look up the Crusades (One through Nine) and just how little result they had outside of vast death and destruction. In little, that's pretty much the pattern you'll see over Concrit, too.

Teal deer: in someone else's fandom space, check the profile/info/about before you assume it's hunky dory to tell them to their face all the things you, in your towering judgement, didn't like about their fic. Failure to do this may result in a swift smack on the nose.

Didn't like someone telling you your comment was substandard? Remember that feeling.
branchandroot: butterfly on a desk with a world in a bottle (butterfly glass desk)
I can't do it. I just can't.

I cannot bring myself to use "bloodline limit" as the translation for kekkei genkai.

This is one of those situations where it would really have been helpful for someone to think for ten seconds put together about how Japanese is put together before translating it 'literally'. Indeed, 血 means "blood" and 継 shows up in words having to do with inheritance. And 限界 translates to "limit" or "boundary". And when you put these together, if you are translating with the utmost in infelicitous literality, you might wind up with "bloodline limit". But that utterly mangles the meaning and structure of the original phrase.

What the phrase indicates is [contextual noun] limited to inheritance by blood. In this case, ninja-magic talents, often with some particular physical expression.

Japanese grammatical structure sometimes leaves a noun unspoken, to be filled in contextually. Standard English doesn't generally do that, and the job of translators is to make a phrase that works in English. In this case, however, the attempt to provide the original phrase with a noun resulted in using the wrong one. "Limit", in the original phrase, is serving as an implicit verb--that is, a form of "to limit" rather than "a limit". "A bloodline limit" (observe that "limit" in this translation is the noun) is an incorrect 'literal' translation.

And while I'm willing to use a lot of moderately nonsensical or not-entirely-felicitous catch phrases that fandom has previously agreed on just because they'll be recognized, I can't bring myself to do it here. Nope. It's going to be "bloodline talent" for me, adding in the noun and leaving the genkai unspoken in context instead; I feel that's sufficiently communicated, in English, by "bloodline", which I kind of have to use to achieve any recognition at all. If I'd been the initial translator, I'd probably have used "blood bound talent"; hell, maybe I should use that anyway.

Now just watch and see how many wee fangirls who probably couldn't even tell me the difference between a noun and a verb in English, let alone anything about Japanese phrase structure, try to tell me that I Got It Wrong. I should probably make this post public so I can just link them to it and have done.
branchandroot: falling leaves against branches and moon (tree moon leaves)
Okay, I think I might feel moderately human and alive again. Which means I have energy to be cranky about Diane Duane's very bad habit of reading her religion onto physics.

It shows up in just about all of her books--the idea that "evil" equals "entropy". This means that she is essentially reading "evil" as "any energy that is not applied to useful work", and I'm sorry but that's pointing in directions that make my skin crawl. It's imposing extremely subjective valuation onto a basic thermodynamic principle which has no ethical dimensions whatsoever. Duane's formulation sets up humans (and a few really-not-alien-at-all species) as the entire measure of good and evil. Things that benefit us are good. Things that harm or even simply fail to benefit us as much as possible are bad.

It also leads to just plain bad science.

The most egregious example is probably in The Wounded Sky, wherein the Enterprise winds up in a space without entropy and everyone therefore stops experiencing "entropic" emotions like anger, hate, resentment, etc, leaving only the allegedly "non-entropic" emotions like joy, benevolence, etc. In physics terms, this is an absolute crock. All emotions are essentially entropic, just like all actions; they require energy consumption, and that results in energy scatter. If non-entropy could possibly be applied to emotions at all, a more likely outcome would seem to be a huge increase, or possibly decrease depending on the new laws of energy conversion, in intensity of all emotion. Universal physics doesn't play favorites according to the good/bad endorphin response of one flyspeck species.

If she wants to write thinly veiled religious screeds, which it seems clear she does, fine. But I object to dressing those out with the dignity of physics, which they have in no way earned, and contributing yet more to the sad tally of anthropocentric pseudo-science.

(Incidentally, why can't she bloody well write McCoy as being totally awesome without turning him into some blandly brilliant and "enlightened" Marty Stu? That pissed me off even more than the physics, which is saying something.)
branchandroot: Battousai with gleaming sword (Battousai swordgleam)
*howling with absolute disbelief*

AMANO, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, YOU GOATSUCKING HACK?!

*breathing hard*

I had already realized, well before this thank you, that Amano is dedicated to making her women useless frills, to handicapping even the few who are allowed to fight, to portraying the ones who are actually reasonably strong as absolute psychopaths, to making sure that they lose to the men every goddamn time. And I had realized, well before this also, that she has rolled back character development to nearly Issue 60 levels. And it was clear that Chrome was going to be the especial victim of both these trends, for the present arc.

BUT THIS! SHE HAS ACTUALLY CONTRADICTED HER OWN ESTABLISHED FACTS. HER OWN DAMN FACTS FROM THE LAST DAMN ARC WHERE THEY WERE REALLY DAMN CRITICAL TO THE PLOT! SHE CHANGED THE FACTS TO A DEGREE THAT IS FLATLY IMPOSSIBLE TO RECONCILE WITH PREVIOUS ACTION!

I don't believe this. Even though it's Amano I'm-a-flaming-misogynist Continuity-what's-that Akira, I still can't quite believe she actually just did that!

The only bright side I can wrest out of this pathetic clusterfuck is that the present arc is now clearly and canonically AU to the rest of the manga, and I therefore have a bulletproof reason to completely ignore it.

Right. There needs to be fic. Something where Chrome meets the first Mist, one way or another, and kicks his goddamn ass.


ETA: Spoilers for most recent issue in the comments.

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