Author Death Toll Scanlations recruiting across the board!
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(Up to date as of March the second, 2019.)

Hey there, I'm Wraith, Death Toll's admin.

(The next few paragraphs are introduction. Skip to "Open positions" to get to the list of our staff openings, and to "Invitation to translators" to see the list of new projects we have in mind.)

We're an average-sized group that has been around for a while. We used to focus on survival manga, but have since diversified and nowadays we have few genre restrictions. You can find a list of stuff we've worked on here.

Death Toll kinda specialises in series that are hard to edit, including, over the years, works by Naoki Serizawa, Jun'ya Inoue and Yuuya Kanzaki. And we don't do blockbuster series. All this means that we're a good group for people who like to indulge their scanlation hobby in a moderate pace. Most of our series are monthlies, and we only try to make weekly releases for a few of them that have huge backlogs.

And, no control freaks here! Our tests, especially for redrawing, are notoriously hard, but once you pass, you have final say on your output (unless you screw up badly) and we're lean on QC. Also, we don't enforce any instant messaging platform. Other than registering in our site to receive PMs, retrieve work in progress and deposit your output, which everyone must do, you don't need to have IRC or Discord to join us, even though we do have channels in both.

Also, everyone here says "please". Other than the series you apply to help with, we won't ask you to do anything else you don't want to. We might ask for an odd job occasionally, but you're totally free to decline. And everyone can suggest new projects, provided that they are willing to help out with them.

Sounds good? Well, we sure like it! So, if you'd like to give scanlation a try, or are looking for another group to chill, here's what we're recruiting for right now:

Open positions (ways to bypass a test below this section)

(Note about the recruitment for Rain: We're caught up with volume raws and are already working on the volume. The sooner we get the editor, the quicker chapters will come out.)

Typesetting

Rain (shounen, action, fantasy)
Issak (seinen, action, historical)

Typesetting test: https://goo.gl/vQuPZA

Cleaning

Issak (seinen, action, historical)

Cleaning test: https://goo.gl/W41Cvx

Redrawing

Issak (seinen, action, historical)
Shounen Y (shounen, action, historical)

Redrawing test: https://goo.gl/KIuWmE

How to apply or bypass tests

i. Editor's applications may be submitted to me by PM here, at our site (https://www.deathtollscans.net ; to Wraith) at our Discord (https://discord.gg/9kTthjW ; to Wraith) or IRC (http://webchat.irchighway.net/#deathtoll ; to Momimomi); or as a thread in the Join Us section in our site. You may also post them applications as a response to this thread, whatever floats your boat. Bundle the PSDs in a compressed folder, upload it to a cloud and send me the link. Please indicate which series you'd like to work on from the open positions above.

ii. Translator applications (see list of projects below) MUST be submitted as PM as in (i), don't post them as a thread in the Join Us section or as a reply to this thread.

iii. Successful applicants will only be required to work on the one series of their choice, unless they want to do more.

iv. Experienced editors or translators can bypass the test by showing us PSDs or translations that showcase their past work. These should have the original layer or Japanese raws for us to compare. And we reserve the right not to be impressed and ask for more samples or demand that the applicant take a test.

Invitation to translators

I'm not deleting this list because it'd be a pain to make it anew later, but given our current staff needs, it's pointless to try to begin new project. So don't take what follows very seriously unless you are a translator dying to work on any of these series.

if you are a translator and interested in joining us to do any of the series listed below, we'd like you to remain aware that as of now we don't have edition staff to make any of them into full-fledged projects. We need you to make the bait. Translators are the soul of scanlation teams, and that's why we aren't recruiting, but inviting you to join us and search for the staff to work on series both you and Death Toll want to do. We'll use the current staff to make just one chapter, then cross our fingers and release it to see if we can catch some editors. When we get them, we'll be able to turn the bait into a project.

The list that follows was generated based on suggestions by our editors. A condition to suggesting something is to be able to help in scanlating it in case a translator shows up, so we have at least one of the positions filled for all of them. The link to the test is at the bottom.

And if you agree to work on any of these, but have another series you'd like to make (a couple genre restrictions apply), we'll do our best to get you a team, too.

- King of Ants (seinen, action, drama)
- Diamond Cut Diamond (shounen, supernatural)
- Demon Assassins (shounen, supernatural, action)
- ReMember (seinen, action, historical)
- Broken Blade (seinen, mecha)
- Sakura Device (shounen, comedy, harem)
- Psycho Bank (adventure, sci-fi, seinen)
- Nana Toshi Monogatari (seinen, sci-fi, psychological)
- Seifuku Aventure (seinen, comedy, romance)
- Soft Metal Vampire (seinen, action, comedy, mature, sci-fi)
- Demon 72 (seinen, action, supernatural)
- Chrome Breaker (shounen, action, supernatural)
- Yondemasu yo, azazel-san (seinen, action, mystery, supernatural)
- Evil Heart (seinen, martial arts, drama)
- Bambi (seinen, action, tragedy)
- Beast of East - Touhou Memairoku (seinen, vintage, drama, fantasy, historical)
- Akuma no Hanayome (shoujo, vintage, horror, fantasy, romance)
- Ryuuma no Gagou (seinen, action, fantasy, sci-fi)
- Zangekikan (shoujo, vintage, horror, mature)
- Shounen Kaitouru Bureddo (seinen, action, steampunk)
- Trash. (seinen, adult, sci-fi; we don’t do stories centered on BL or GL, but it’s okay if it’s tangential to the plot)
- Eisen Flugel (seinen, drama, fantasy)
- Zodiac Game (shounen, action, mystery, supernatural)
- Soukai no Eve (seinen, adventure, supernatural)
- Kore Kutte Meshi! (seinen, slice of life)
- 地上100 階〈脱出確萃〉(no idea; Kabuto wants to do it)
- X-Gene (seinen, action, sci-fi)
- Tensozoro (seinen, adult, drama, historical)
- Togari Shiro (seinen, action, tragedy, supernatural)
- Black-box (seinen, sports, drama)
- Kiichi!! (seinen, action, drama)
- Hyakki Yakoushou (josei, horror, mystery, drama)
- Yamikin Ushijima-kun (seinen, drama, psychological)
- Kuusou Kagaku Edison (seinen, action, mecha)

All the names of series can be found in Mangaupdates.

The translation test is at: https://imgur.com/bJdVglM (for submission, read number ii above)
Last edited 4 mo ago by Kendama.
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Hey, you gave up on Cutie Mutie? I’m very busy but I might be able to help you out. I think I still have some redrawing examples that I’ve done laying around somewhere.
Last edited 1 year ago by MangaDex.
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@teriguu: Cutie Mutie is on a hiatus because the artist is working on other manga. We've scanlated all the chapters available. However, even if it comes back, we don't have a translator as the one who did it retired. So unfortunately we might have to drop it, sorry.

By the way, bump! The recruitment ad at the beginning of this page has been updated to reflect our current staff needs.
Last edited 1 year ago by MangaDex.
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Bump! As always, our current staff needs and application procedure are described in detail in the first post.
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Bump! I only bump this up when it gets knocked off the first page, because I prefer to edit the original post of the thread instead of making new ones. It's up to date, and as of now we still need a cleaner. Refer to that post for details.

However, because most of our staff needs are supplied, we're tentatively inviting translators to join us for any of the series below, suggested by our staff: (details on applying for translation also on the original post)

- King of Ants (seinen, action, drama)
- Diamond Cut Diamond (shounen, supernatural)
- Demon Assassins (shounen, supernatural, action)
- ReMember (seinen, action, historical)
- Broken Blade (seinen, mecha)
- Sakura Device (shounen, comedy, harem)
- Psycho Bank (adventure, sci-fi, seinen)
- Hshs Sasero!! (seinen, supernatural)
- Seifuku Aventure (seinen, comedy, romance)
- Soft Metal Vampire (seinen, action, comedy, mature, sci-fi)
- Demon 72 (seinen, action, supernatural)
- Chrome Breaker (shounen, action, supernatural)
- Yondemasu yo, azazel-san (seinen, action, mystery, supernatural)
- Yamikin Ushijima-kun (seinen, mature, psychological)
- Beast of East - Touhou Memairoku (seinen, vintage, drama, fantasy, historical)
- Akuma no Hanayome (shoujo, vintage, horror, fantasy, romance)
- Ryuuma no Gagou (seinen, action, fantasy, sci-fi)
- Zangekikan (shoujo, vintage, horror, mature)
- Kuusou Kagaku Edison (seinen, vintage, mecha, drama)
- Trash. (seinen, adult, sci-fi; yuri side events are acceptable - we don’t do stories centered on BL, GL or hentai)
- Waltz (seinen, action, tragedy)
- Zodiac Game (shounen, action, mystery, supernatural)
- Soukai no Eve (seinen, adventure, supernatural)
- Gaku (seinen, drama, slice of life, sports)
- 地上100 階〈脱出確萃〉(no idea; Kabuto wanna do it)
- X-Gene (seinen, action, sci-fi)
- Tensozoro (seinen, adult, drama, historical)

Our translation test: https://i.imgur.com/blqk3D8.png

(Yeah, we know, that's a lot of manga. But hey, it's an open list. Anything we can do from it will make a staff member or more happy, so why not? Obviously we don't think for one second we'll be able to get all these series scanlated.)
Last edited 12 mo ago by Kendama.
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Bump!

Well, ignore the invitation to translators above. We're back to recruiting staff, so it's no use beginning new series right now.

I've updated the original post with our current needs. It's basically a typesetter and a few redrawers.

Well, whatever. This recruitment section is looking more and more like Batoto's, an exercise in pointlessness. I might do as I did for that one and turn it into a place for random, digressive posts.
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Bump! Big revamp in the first post at the top of this page, reflecting our current needs and wants.
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Bump! Read our original post to see which series we're recruiting for, and for which positions.
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Bump! Our original post still reflects our current needs and wants, so just scroll to the top of the page to see what they are.
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Well, bump. Our current recruitment needs are at the top of the page and applicants are welcome.

However… whom am I kidding, right? It's obvious this isn't working. And why should it, really? It was the same thing in Batoto. Hardly anyone who came to us did so because they had seen this plea, stashed away as it is in a remote forum where lots of groups come to scrounge for crumbs of attention from less than engaged readers. I won't even dwell at length on the fact that our obscure group was always unlikely to earn any preference.

Therefore, just as I did in Batoto times, I'll go back to my subversive routine of making this thread my place for random musings, with recruiting only incidental to it. It's easier than keeping a blog, and chances are even lower that anyone will read, so risk of embarrassment can be kept at a minimum. Not sure how often I'll do it, though. Depends on having something to say.

I think I'll stick to the form of these posts back then, namely some random trivia I read about long ago in Wikipedia, followed by some thoughts about scanlation.

Have you ever heard about maitotoxin? It's the most potent non-peptide toxin known to man, and is responsible for ciguatera poisoning. But just as the batrachotoxin from poison-dart frogs is actually produced by an animal they feed on (melyrid beetles), maitoxin doesn't come from ciguatera fish themselves, it bio-accumulates in them from their diet of phytoplankton, specifically from the dinoflagellates that produces it, Gambierdiscus toxicus. It then rises in the food chain as these fish are eaten and ends up reaching us.

Maitotoxin is not only extremely lethal (less than three kilos would be enough to kill all humans, depending on the route of administration), it's also a fascinating molecule, one of the most complex made by any organism. Chemists have been trying to synthesise it from scratch, but are currently in lack of funds to perform the final steps.

***

Now, I've been thinking about the never-ending discussion on whether once you become a pirate, you can still claim to have scruples.

I won't talk about the legality of scanlation. It's illegal, full stop. Since laws can be unfair or unjust or both, it can be discussed whether these concepts apply to scanlation. But I'm not trained in philosophy, and while looking at any sort of human behaviour from the vantage of point offered by ethics is undoubtely interesting, I won't step into that kind of minefield. After all, regardless of which conclusion we reach, people won't stop scanlating because of it.

What's left, then, is to consider the existence of differences among attitudes to this hobby.

I don't think I can break much new ground here, either. Most people have reached some sort of near-consensus that what happens outside Japan, doesn't concern who's inside Japan: unlicensed series are considered fair game and people pirate them gleefully like there's no tomorrow, patting themselves on the back while at it. (And by people, of course I mean us scanlators. Incidentally, feel free to replace "Japan" by "South Korea", "Sinosphere" or what have you.)

The kerfuffle among holders of conflicting points of view begins when a series is licensed. However, we can narrow the issue a little further, in that few people condemn scanlation of series that were licensed by a company that no longer exists, or that has consigned them to limbo. The infamous stories of series dropped by Yen Press or Kodansha or Viz after just a couple volumes spring to mind.

The bone of contention, as I see it, are series that are currently being released in English in some official form and with minimal regularity.

There are several ways to discuss the arguments here: three obvious ones are to give the ones against, and then the counter-arguments; to do the other way round, arguments in favour first; or to examine each aspect without taking a position a priori, and then reach a conclusion. I'll take a fourth route and mix the first two.

One thing that muddles the discussion is the (apparent) speciousness of some arguments in favour. They are easy to strike down and serve as good straw men for the detractors of the practice.

Take, for example, the argument that "I don't have money to purchase the official releases". Detractors will say, if not "Get a job!" or "Tough luck, poor sod!", something like "Why do you feel you're entitled to free stuff?" (More sophisticated ones might say "free lunch".)

What they mean, of course, is that this is a capitalist world where intellectual property and specifically copyright are acknowledged, and as such people should expect to be required to give something in exchange for the desired content. Some producers of content use voluntary donation systems (Patreon etc.), but a sizeable fraction of the readership of manga want evertyhing free now! (The expletive is mandatory.)

Be that as it may, it's a weak argument. Everyone acknowledges that our society safeguards one's right to charge for the products of their intellect.

However, I'd contend that at the same time it's a weak argument, it's also the most accurate description of the general attitude of manga readers, and it can be traduced into "Shut up, you goody-two-shoes. You can whine all you want - want a soap box? - but you cannot change what will happen anyway!"

Thus, people who don't have money will still get their manga, ethics be damned.

The above can be easily applied to the argument of "This manga is not available in my country." Essentially, it boils down to the same thing, with the qualifier that the group of people who cannot afford importing manga from English-speaking countries is bigger than and contains that of people who cannot afford buying locally. However, the former group may feel more justified than the latter, so it's good to make it clear that they aren't.

The scanlation ethicists (and I've unfortunately met a couple in the course of a few years) will feel vindicated that the above are essentially the excuses used by thieves. While explaining why it exists, they don't justify it. The ethicists retain their moral high ground - at least for now.

But, how to tell thieves from pirates? Isn't your grey my black?

***

The defenders of the moral high ground find their strongest argument in the contention that by scanlating licensed manga, groups either i) steal potential revenue and violate licensed copyright from the licensees; or ii) financially harm the original author by depriving them of an unspecified, but certainly non-zero amount of royalties corresponding to people who don't buy the official version due to availability of the bootleg one.

Number i) is the easiest contention to parry. Someone else did it amid a discussion in Batoto, a long time ago, by saying, "So it's okay to steal copyright from the authors directly, but not okay from the licensees?"

The obvious reply is that doing it to unlicensed series doesn't harm the author financially because they won't lose native readers, who couldn't care less about the existence of scans. Parry, counterjab, no?

The above two paragraphs are necessary to demonstrate that the moral-high-grounders consider prevention of financial harm to the original author their unassailable stronghold. Numbers i) and ii) are really aspects of the same concern. Of course, there's concern about the financial well-being of the licensee, but we can set this aside for the moment.

In order to reply to that, I think it's better to tell a story.

As some of you may know, I scanlate Ouroboros. It's been quite successful in Japan, being serialised for 24 volumes and spawning a live action adaptation for TV. However, it has never been published in a Western language, at least that I know of, and I think I'd know by now if there were a version in French.

So I was taken aback at finding out, many years ago, that Mangafox, of all places, blocked Ouro in my browser unless I used a VPN that made it seem I wasn't accessing it from within the Anglosphere. (I lived in an English-speaking country at the time.) That's typical behaviour of sites that try to exploit a legal loophole by alleging they don't show licensed content within the realm where the license applies.

I didn't give it much thought at the time, but a couple years later, I was taken aback at the systematic removal of Ouro chapters from Batoto in response to DMCA notices.

It was clear: someone was asserting English-language copyright over Ouro.

And yet, I've never seen an Ouro official release in all these years, in any language I checked, to say nothing of English.

This happened to many other series. The Batoto list of DMCA'ed material ran into hundreds of series, and that's already leaving out Naver webtoons.

The evidence points to one conclusion: Anglosphere licensees secure rights to stuff they end up not publishing.

I don't know how much a license costs, or what kind of arrangements companies do. Those that are subsidiaries of Japanese publishers might put English-licensing clauses stipulating conditions and royalties in their contracts with the authors, but that's just speculation, as far as I can tell the industry is quite opaque.

Still, it's obvious that money is exchanging hands to secure English licenses, and if nothing is published, that money is lost to the ones who spend it. That's not what I'm primarily interested in. Rather, it's the question: what is causing the companies to refrain from using their licenses and moving on to publication?

Your guess is as good as mine. I haven't researched that thoroughly, just asked around casually, so maybe the answer is known already. Be that as it may, someone decides that the return won't be worth the investment. They conclude they won't break even.

Given that Anglosphere manga publishers are prone to inexplicable behaviour (they licensed The moon is beautiful tonight, but first, die when all scanlation readers knew the series had devolved into absurdity), I can't say I have much faith in their ability to make good market projections. It took them a good couple years to see the potential of Attack on Titan. Still, and here's the crux of the matter, could it be that some licensed manga are never published in English because there is a scanlation already?

Blockbuster manga, or manga that seems to have above-average potential, are published in English even when there are scanlations, but can the moral-high-grounders say with certainty that no manga has had its official translation nixed because the licensees perceived the potential as lost to the scanlators?

Let me say it plainly: if we go by this evidence, it might well be that scanlating unlicensed (or to be precise, unpublished) manga is actually worse for the original authors than scanlating licensed manga, in that it may rob them of the opportunity of being licensed or seeing the licensed version published at all.

How many licenses have we killed in the cradle?

By the same token, scanlating a licensed manga might not harm the author significantly. We don't know what the terms are. Perhaps the author doesn't get a cut of sales, but instead earns a fixed amount per publication. And if the licensees decide to go ahead with publication even when a scanlation exists, I can only think they have already factored in the possible loss of revenue and concluded they will make a profit nevertheless. After all, nobody goes out on a limb in the industry. They are supposed to know what they are doing.

The obvious rejoinder is that this is all speculative. I cannot point with certainty to a case of mangaka that has lost revenue because the series was never published, or even licensed, due to scanlation, because I cannot tell which ones were nixed for that reason. And that's naturally true.

I could be evil and turn that against them, saying that they cannot also point to a mangaka who lost royalties because of a published and licensed manga was being scanlated. After all, lost revenue is revenue that never was, and can at best be estimated. Perhaps they are making a killing despite the scanlator gadflies.

But I won't. I'll merely point out that I doubt a company will ever publish Ouro in English. It's a mystery manga, and if readers know from the scanlator who the culprit is, what's the point in waiting for an official version? And yet, it was licensed at a point.

So I think we can make a strong case that there is no such thing as a moral high ground. Scanlating licensed/published manga cannot be proven more noxious than sticking to unlicensed ones. Being half a pirate is as absurd as being half pregnant.

In my view, the only reasons to do or not do something in this shady hobby are practical ones. If the licensed version is caught up with Japan, and being simultaneously published; or if the published chapters are just a little behind and being regularly released by the licensee; or if there's a technical obstacle (BTOOOM!, for example, was too hard to scanlate) that makes it preferable to leave the hard work to the licensees even if it will take a long time, then it's better to optimise the free, unpaid time of hobbyists and concentrate on something else. That probably tells you what my opinion of groups who work on WSJ stuff is, but that's another story.

Maybe someone in the knowing will prove me wrong and show us figures from within the industry, or otherwise debunk my assumptions. Until that happens, in light of the available evidence, I rest my case and suggest to all: embrace the rum-swigger inside you, live and let live. There is little or no real difference between pirates and privateers, at least for their victims.
Last edited 5 mo ago by Kendama.
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Pmub!

Our recruitment section and invitation to translators have been readjusted. If you're interested (as if!), it's the original post at the top of this page.

Now, carbon detonation. Have you heard of it?

I hadn't, but yesterday I was reading about astronomy in Wikipedia and stumbled upon this concept. Apparently, when a main sequence star "dies" - it runs out of small atoms to fuse, and isn't heavy enough to fuse heavier elements (beyond carbon), it suffers a partial collapse and turns into a white dwarf, a lump of degenerate matter about the size of the Earth and the mass of the Sun. It's not heavy enough to derive energy from neutron degeneracy, so it doesn't evolve into a neutron star, so the only thing it emits is heat as it cools down.

I knew that part, but what I didn't know was that it isn't necessarily the end of the story. After all, a white dwarf still affects its surroundings by gravity, and it can accrete matter. Well, if certain conditions are met, the added matter may once again take its mass above the threshold needed to reignite fusion, this time of carbon, which by the time of death was the heaviest product the former star could produce by fusion. However, the process is not orderly like that of a normal star, which regulates its own internal temperature by expanding its volume. A white dwarf can't do that because its matter is degenerate and doesn't follow the same laws of thermal expansion. Instead, it violent ignites in a runaway fusion reaction that causes it to go supernova in a matter of seconds. The white dwarf literally explodes, emitting a shockwave in the process. A famous supernova, SN1006a, is thought to have followed this pattern.

***

Now, a rather thorny issue. Should speedscanners enjoy the full benefits of scanlation etiquette?

I'll explain what I mean by that shortly, but first, let me come out straight and say that I'm divided on the issue. The manga reader in me says no, the scanlator in me says yes. The reader says, "you might make them take more care with their product if you fire a warning shot!" and the scanlator says, "they might retaliate and speed-snipe one of your series!"

So, what do I mean?

To get to that, I have to give a working definition of speedscanning. Basically, speedscanning as a term defines groups that don't pour that much effort in quality of edition or translation, sacrificing them in the altar of speed so readers can enjoy quick, regular releases of the series they like.

When I began scanlating five or so years ago, I was a little surprised that speedscanning wasn't more common. Given that all of us scanlators are unable to take care of all the series that are being serialised in Japan right now, to say nothing of those that were serialised in the past, I'd expect that more people would throw perfectionism to the dogs and get 'em damn chapters out. As a reader, I have a fairly high tolerance to poor editing, though I'm less forgiving of poor translations, and not only because I am a translator, but because a stilted text makes for a painful reading experience.

But nowadays I think I understand why only beginner groups, some monetised groups and a few agents working on blockbuster manga resort to speedscanning.

Scanlation is a hobby, and a hobby is fundamentally a work of love. It's like gardening or cooking, taking photos or building miniature aeroplanes. Once you get a liking to it, you want to do it well. You begin having aesthetical concerns and asking yourself, "I think I can make this look a little better". So people who have a hobby mentality - even people who were originally dying to just read the next chapter - end up finding a balance of quality an speed that they can tolerate, and in my experience speed tends to cede some ground to quality. Most groups redraw and go to some length typesetting well.

(By the way, did you read the one-shot Atelier du Noir released, Kilroy was here? The story is underwhelming, but it's possibly the best B&W typesetting I've ever seen, and that's counting official publishers.)

I made this digression so I could give grounds to broadening the concept of speedscanning a little further to encompass all people who, for one reason or other, don't follow this common path of self-improvement in their hobby, including those who aren't even fast. There are a few groups out there that don't show any polished product despite taking quite some time to produce their releases.

(Let me add that I don't think we should take unrequested criticism to a scanlator's doorstep. How we go about our hobbies is our business, and unless we ask the peasants for feedback, everyone is entitled to tell critics to go play in traffic. However, from the peasants' side, everyone is entitled to voice their opinions on quality of scanlation, so long as they do it on neutral ground. By neutral ground, I mean "not on the scanlators' Discord server, IRC channel, Chatango box and their bloody mailbox". In other words, in the places where the scanlator isn't the host of the party and therefore not entitled to any deference.)

Now, let's define scanlation etiquette.

It entails many things, but what's important for the purpose of these musings is the self-restraint scanlators show about sniping each other's projects.

Scanlation etiquette is one of the most effective forms of natural law I know in the present day. It's remarkably successful in avoiding friction between groups and what's even better is that nobody had to codify it. It's not a written law, nobody asserted it, we all just gravitated towards a balance of non-aggression that enables precious resources of time and staff to be optimised by not being wasted in redundant work. It's not perfect - in the past five years, Death Toll was forced to engage in two scanlation races with groups who wouldn't take a clue - but it mostly works. I find particularly noteworthy that the vast majority of groups elect three or six months as the threshold of hiatus in scanlation beyond which a series is fair game and the concept of sniping no longer applies. Nobody told us these magical numbers, we just converged into a rather narrow time range because it looked sensible to lots of people.

Etiquette is so effective that even series that would be easy to snipe - those that pose no technical difficulties in terms of edition or translation - are more or less left to the original group's care, even when there would be demand for faster releases and there is a backlog.

Snipers do exist, though, and we can count several scenarios for sniping: blockbuster series where there is a buck to be made for an early release; series that are popular, though not monetised, and where releases have been unable to chip away at an existing backlog, even if they are released at a steady pace (for example, monthly scans of a series that has a huge backlog and is also released monthly); settling of accounts between groups; just watching the world burn, etc..

But in general, snipers are pariahs of the scanlation scene. Or at least that's the general line other scanlators I know take. I think once you made it into a practice, you cannot expect much solidarity from other scanlators outside of your immediate circle. And you can't complain (as if there would be someone to complain to, anyway) if someone snipes you in turn.

I wonder, though, whether sniping speedscanners is as contemptible as sniping series that are done with proper attention to translation and edition.

For example, as a reader I'm currently following a webtoon that is being Google-translated and a rom-com manga that's not being redrawn. Neither group is particularly speedy, though they do churn out a chapter every few weeks. (I'm not going to say which series these are because I don't want to engage in casuistry and disparage their work in a way that can be traced back to them.)

I don't have the time or the personnel to snipe them. But suppose I had, and I managed to deliver human-translated, fully redrawn chapters in a timely manner.

Given those conditions, it would still be sniping if I made a release, since they aren't stalled. The question is, should people frown on that?

(Mind that this is an is-ought to issue. Whether people frown on that or not says nothing about whether they should.)

I wonder. There's no definitive answer. My gut feeling is that at least a warning shot - doing one chapter and seeing whether the other side reacts by increasing quality - should be tolerable to the scanlation community.

I do believe that the main deterrent to sniping is what it does to your reputation. Reputation is important because it may affect your perception by potential staff applicants, your ability to establish joint projects and whether someone will extend a helping hand when you're in dire straits. That's one reason why speedscanners are normally lone wolves, newbie groups and short-lived outfits. If you begin a hobby without much interest in improving and building a name for yourself, chances are you aren't motivated enough to do it for long. So perhaps low-q releases should be exempt from protection.

The obvious solution would be to offer help to the speedscanners when you spot them doing something you're interested into. Then again, why not to do that to the group that was sniped in the first place?

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(I'll try to bump this up whenever the thread is knocked off the front page of the Groups forum.)
Zephyrus
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I just wanna say...this blog is probably the most entertaining thing I've read on this forum ever.

Well done @Kendama!
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Belated bump.

The truth is our recruitment needs have changed a little, and before that happened I didn't feel much of a stimulus to bump. Not that bumping would have brought us remotely closer to getting actual staff in this god-forsaken forum where recruitment pleas come to die, right? But if you entered this forum by accident, our staff needs are listed at the first post.

So, have you ever heard of the precautionary principle? The wiki about it is fascinating.

While I'm sure everyone knows some form of it, like "first, do no harm", it wasn't articulated in a philosophically rigorous way until modern Ethicists pondered the matter. The very expression in English is a literal translation of the German word Vorsorgeprinzip.

In its more common form, it entails a negative prescription: don't do something if you don't have a rational assessment of untoward consequences and there is a tangible chance they will outweigh the benefits. (My wording.)

One would think that is clear enough, but the devil is in the details. Or as analytic philosophers might say, we should attach precise, agreed-upon meanings to the words we use. What is "a rational assessment"? How to define "outweigh the benefits"? And if you put in the balance that benefits may accrue to different people than those who suffer the untoward consequences, inevitable conflicts of interest arise.

The main objection from progressivists, the people who advocate unbridled technical and scientific progress of humanity (which is different from "progressives", a word that is woefully devoid of meaning), is that the precautionary principle is a form of Luddism: since untoward consequences cannot be ruled out a priori, rigorous application of the principle would result in paralysis. It has been even argued that the precautionary principle could be invoked to abrogate itself, which would mean it has no practical value. And instead of thinking in terms of abstract Ethics, we should just keep doing what we are already doing - risk assessment-guided decisions.

Personally, I think that is unfair, but the fault may lie in the way we think of precaution as a negative prescription.

What if we think of the precautionary principle as positive? Meaning, instead of telling us what not to do, deploying it to tell us how to choose positively among alternatives?

My own, personal formulation of the precautionary principle is that we should choose the route to achieve a given goal that entails the fewest risks, or failing that, the fewest unknown factors.

That may sound pedestrian enough, almost vicarious common sense, but I don't see it being deployed nearly as often as it should in actual decision-making, to be honest. If I list examples, I'll open a can of worms and controversy will never end - assuming people actually read this, but it may be only Zephyrus, so I'll just leave this in the air.

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Now, peasants.

You know. The ones that used to be called leechers.

I'm rather surprised to see the earlier term fall into relative disuse over my years as a scanlator. But I think they aren't total spongers for some groups, in these days of Patreon and commissioned scans, so "leechers" has become imprecise.

But they are still peasants. To borrow from a certain politician, the way I see it, it doesn't matter what the peasants are saying, but what the scanlators are doing.

What role, if any, should peasants play in scanlators' decisions, I wonder? And in what regard should we hold them, again if any?

Death Toll is the epitome of obscurity. So we don't have to deal with the amount of flak high-profile groups have to tackle from them. But even so… the pesky bugs still exist.

Don't get me wrong. Bugs play an important role in an ecosystem and I know we're doomed if the grim warnings from ecologists about climate change-driven mass insect extinction are born out.

Equally, peasants are important in one, and one only, way: as the formless chaos whence new scanlators emerge.

And that is why I think they are owed the same civility and respect any human being deserves, at least until the moment they stop reciprocating. Then, they should be reminded of their insignificance.

Because unless you're in this for the money, it's not just that peasants don't matter: it's an unhealthy mindset to work under the delusion that they do.

Let's be honest: scanlation is a dreary hobby. It entails mastering an East Asian language and/or advanced Photoshop skills. It takes a lot of free time. And because many series last years till completion, it's a long-term commitment to see a project to conclusion.

And it's only productive in the sense of personal accomplishment, and perhaps finding ourselves people to talk about this or that amazing series with (which is the reason I became a scanlator). So it's the quintessential hobby, as opposed to hobbies that may produce some wider social gain, like… well, cataloguing insects. (The first ones to provide systematic data about the insect extinction were amateurs.)

So scanlation is our business. How we go about it is tantamount to a decision on how to use our free time. If there's one decision that belongs to the realm of the private, that's it.

So peasants are entitled to nothing. Not forecasts of next chapter releases. Not a saying on decisions of which project to pick up. Not a voice in whether a group wants to redraw or speedscan.

Sure, they are entitled to squirm and whine in neutral grounds about what they dislike, as we all are. Comment sections are free. I am a reader just as I am a scanlator, so other than the series I work on, I should show the exemplary behaviour of a peasant and keep any complaints restricted to comment sections. Waltzing into a scanlator's Discord channel to ask for quicker releases, or complain about margin notes, denotes a sense of entitlement and callousness scanlators should do all in their power to smite, in my opinion.

(Though of course nobody is perfect. Recently, I saw some atrocious proofreading and quietly contacted the person in charge via private messaging. But we should resist these urges as much as we can. And they would have been in their right to tell me to go play in traffic.)

If we deign to pay any regard to peasants' demands, that should be seen by them as a privilege, not as something due to them.

I think the most honest response peasants deserve is the brutal "if you don't like it, learn Japanese or find a translator and form your own group, or shut up and go jump off a cliff".

Of course, when a peasant drops by to say a kind word, we should reciprocate with equal kindness (but beware of backhanded compliments). But I would advise against basking in praise, though we haven't ever experienced that much in Death Toll. Thriving in praise is just as much a form of being in thrall of peasants as listening to their complaints. Say, "you're welcome", and go back to what you're doing. Spend a couple more words if you're very enthusiastic about the series in question. (I always beam wide when I meet a fellow fan of my pride and joy, Ouroboros.)

Again, that doesn't apply to sponsored scanlators. If you've tied a noose around your neck, then you should appease the hangmen; it's a hell of your own making. It only saddens me a little - not much I can do about it - when I hear stories of how peasants get pampered by sponsored groups and carry their bratty behaviour over to groups that aren't. I guess the subtle distinction is lost on them.

As I said a few posts ago, I write these rambling thoughs in full awareness that nobody is going to read them, and without rhyme or reason. Death Toll hasn't been the target of peasant nastiness (or praise for that matter), nor do my opinions reflect any of my colleagues' own thoughts on the matter. I just felt like writing about this.

I'm not advocating gratuitous nastiness, either. No reason to be sarcastic of hostile to the peasants if they aren't doing anything harmful. Being civil and even cordial in a nonchalant way, and being generally decent will give them their due as human beings, and no reason for them to refrain from crossing the Pearly Gates and joining us as scanlators from time to time. That much is cause for celebration, and to be thankful peasants exist, while keeping them at a healthy distance.
Last edited 5 mo ago by Kendama.
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Sasuga Death Toll, even their way of recruitment is marvellous.