lol IDK if it was aimed at that but my conspiracy post was not me trying to be deliberately inconsiderate of Tapas staff and their own goings-on.
Listen, guys, I understand that right now, the world is sort of on fire and the economy isn't in a stable place. People are losing their jobs, being required to work from home, or being made to go into work in dangerous conditions due to being 'essential'. People are stressed and have even more going on in their lives outside of work. I understand that Tapas staff has been working diligently since that update was made (and yes, it hasn't been that long since the update was made, and two of those weeks have been spent with worldwide lockdowns being made and the workforce being ground to a halt). The current COVID-19 crisis has certainly put a wrench in a lot of Tapas staff's plans, both related and unrelated to the office.
But as time goes on, things will be forgotten. Priorities will shift. And now's an important time to reflect and remind Tapas staff that just because the discussion isn't updating every 30 seconds, doesn't mean it's not a problem anymore. I've already seen a multitude of questions and concerns in here that have gone skipped over, even after being repeated, entire threads even where Tapas staff has left the thread to die with no response. It might not be their intention, but from a user's perspective, it looks like the equivalent of ghosting.
Again, I understand the coronavirus has slowed a lot of things down, and even without it the Tapas staff has a lot of moving parts and stuff going on.
But it's the lack of communication that's got me and many others beating our heads against walls. And when that communication does happen, it's basically up to a coin flip whether or not we see a corresponding action.
The point of my post was to highlight some major issues with the current ecosystem of Tapas and how it's been slowly but surely becoming a scrubbed down corporate version of the vibrant place it used to be. Because even if Tapas isn't going to make comments on the subject, either due to not being able to due to the current worldwide crisis OR as simply as not being able to because yes, there are certain things Michael and Yoon apparently "can't comment on", that doesn't mean we should just forget about it and put up with it.
Despite demand, banners haven't been brought back. Novel formatting tools are still as watered down as can be. Thumbnails beyond the series landing page are no longer visible. Tags aren't even visible on the comics anymore (I'm feeling really bad for Harry Bogosian rn, a lot of his storytelling in A BETTER PLACE was done with tags you could read and interpret and it made it a really cool ARG - 'Alternate Reality Game' - experience of sorts. And I know he's not the only person to do that.) The front page is constantly the same genre/series that rotate through the banners and Trending and Recommended sections, regardless of whether they're Premium or just 'mainstream' free to read comics (again, Sarah's Scribbles, Fail By Error, etc. all of which I still keep seeing on every Comedy genre comic landing page, regardless of how small fish that comic may be). The music player isn't available on the app.
Basically any kind of individual expression that added to the unique experiences of each comic on this website has been scrubbed down so clean that all you can see is bone. Maybe it's presumptuous, but from my perspective, it's very obvious that Tapas is trying to bundle us all together with the same styles, formatting, and expression so that they can make it easier to sell us as a whole to investors.
And I feel that if Tapas' can reserve the right to give bare bones customer service voice explanations to very reasonable and justified questions, then the community should reserve the right to make informed decisions about their future here and whether or not Tapas is a place where they can grow.
I just happen to be doing some of the informing here. You can say that it's based purely on emotion, but the fact of the matter is, I've been here since 2013/14. I'm not some newbie coming in with conspiracy theories or some asshole being an asshole for the sake of it, I've been here for six-going-on-seven years - and stuck by Tapas and all its decisions through a whole darn lot of it - and so as a result, I've seen a lot of shit, from both Tapas and the community, for better and for worse, that has continued to shape and reshape my perspective and opinions of the website, based on a solid history of repeated experiences with the platform. And I'm not the only one - the proof is also in the veteran artists who would have been here just as long, if not longer than me, who've already left as a result of Tapas' actions and behavior these past few years. Just as I have the right to either leave this website or ride it out hoping for better (which obviously includes a lot of demanding btw lol), so too does everyone else here, and you can't make that decision without being informed.
To be perfectly honest, the lot of you like to say that our opinions don't matter as much, because the forums are only made up of about 50-100 people. But on the flipside, Tapas should consider themselves lucky that the forums aren't more commonly used by the public at large. They think it's stressful when 50 of us are bumping the same chat for hours on end? Try thousands. Because I guarantee you we'd be seeing a lot more mixed opinions if the forums were more accessible or advertised. Why do you think we see less complaints about LINE Webtoons compared to Tapas? Because they don't have a forum. Anyone who makes complaints about LINE comes here, for god's sakes. Give people an outlet, and you'll see a lot more discussion unfolding.
The fact of the matter is, I have the right as a user who brings free to read content to the platform to disagree with Tapas' methods, as well as their responses to said methods when they're called into question, as much a right as all of you, because like many of you, we're providing a service to Tapas with the traffic we bring in, many new faces who may have never even HEARD of Tapas without our help, alongside the work we post so that the website can actually have comics to showcase to the public. Back in the day, before Premium was a thing, it was Prime, and those users were only different in the sense that they got Ad Revenue. Then Premium came along and Ad Revenue became accessible to everyone, which is great - but on the flipside, a lot of our work is now getting intentionally buried in a system designed to favor the mainstream and trendy, because it brings in the most money. But they would have potentially never gotten the seed money to expand their services to include Premium contracts if it wasn't for the massive library of comics and reputable creators we had here. Could you imagine Comic Fury trying to go for investment options? To be fair, it's run by one guy, but I'm p sure the only reputable comic I've seen on that platform is Keiiii's Heart of Keol. And I'm not entirely certain if they're still mirroring there.
Yes, Tapas is a company. They need to make money.
But it's the way they've gone about it that's entirely disingenuous. I would have no qualms with Premium series if we weren't being made to feel that it's Premium or nothing. I would have no issues with the ink system if it wasn't so questionable in its conversion process that has already raised many eyebrows. I would have no issues with a few buggy updates here and there, Facebook just updated yesterday and its app has been baloney since this morning.
But it's the lack of transparency and communication. The fact that every answer to each question is either a generic, soft-boiled customer-service-rep response, or a rigid "sorry we can't answer that question". So where are the people who can? Why are we seeing less and less from the PR side of Tapas as time goes on and why is it that we only see it when shit hits the fan? Why can't there be good news, either of the current goings-on or what's to come?
Tapas needs to re-prioritize what they really want for their platform as a website/app and as a brand. They absolutely need to find a PR specialist who can retrain them on how to engage with their community, because it's obvious after becoming so corporate these last few years that they've fallen out of practice.
And if they do re-prioritize and that idea of what they want Tapas to be is not something I'm comfortable with associating with? I'll definitely take advantage of the door. Honestly, depending on how staff responds to this, if they ever do (I understand that I'm not the most conventional person to have a discussion with lol) this is probably going to be the defining moment as to whether or not I continue to use this platform. I was fine with not getting rising statistics out of it (for any of you who've seen my recent thread regarding a personal sub count that's been practically locked in place for a record 4+ years, you know what I'm talking about lolol) but if I'm not getting joy out of it, that's when I draw the line.
And if you guys come to a similar decision, whether it be tomorrow, a month from now, or years from now, please don't ignore your freedom to do so.
That being said, we're also free to stand up and demand better because the majority of us make up this website as users who do Tapas a service of providing our work, in bulk, for free. Some may say that yes, they do a service by providing the platform ... but they're not the only platform out there. And unlike other platforms, Tapas seems to have made it their mission to give us less and less reason to continue posting here. At the moment, the giving/taking ratio is very skewed between the userbase and Tapas. I understand that Tapas wants to be able to provide options to creators to make a living off their work through things like the Ink Support System and Ad Revenue, which is supposed to separate them from other platforms like LINE, SmackJeeves, and ComicFury ... so why make it so hard for us to actually get visibility and hit those markers we need to hit to actually get paid out? I can't even remember the last time I was at the $25 benchmark required to pay out. It's been at least two years and I'm giving it a gracious estimate based off the top of my head, I'm fairly certain it's been far longer than that.
Don't form connections with corporations or let yourself be held down by some imaginary obligation to a relationship that doesn't exist. You can still cherish the memories that come with this place, but don't think for a second that you don't have a choice or that every decision you make is penultimate. Give yourself some credit for what you brought to the table, because if you hadn't, those memories wouldn't exist in the first place. Don't let Tapas take all the credit for them - if you hadn't made those memories here, not only would you not have noticed, but you would have made memories that were just as valuable - if not more so - elsewhere.
Explore your options. Do what's best for you and your work, because both you as an artist and your work, something only you could possibly create, deserves better.
And most importantly, be informed. Ask questions, and then ask them again and LOUDER when they aren't heard. Be patient for those answers when you have to be, but don't settle for ghosting or for plausible deniability (i.e. "we can't answer that question"). And for god's sakes, whatever decision you do make, please stick by it. Responses from staff are great, yes, because it's more than some companies will provide - but please, for the love of god and all that's holy, don't reward them for the bare minimum of responding, because that's all it's become at this point. That's like if your kid painted all over your walls, you yell at them, they respond "oh whoops i painted on the wall" and you go "OMG you're such an angel, i forgive you, don't worry about it!" I'm not saying don't ever move on from these issues or don't come to an understanding with Tapas, but don't forgive them just for responding. Forgive them when there's enough time for them to have taken action and stuck to those actions, including in their future decisions.
I mean jfc why do y'all think I'm so unapologetic towards Tapas at the moment, when years ago I would have stood up for them at every turn? Because after years of those mistakes stacking up, they've proven that they think rectifying issues they caused should be bare minimum for satisfaction. I don't want to just see them fix the issues they caused, I want to see them learn from them so that these issues don't happen again. And the fulcrum of their issues is sans communication, next to lack of transparency and honesty. The unannounced and buggy-to-hell/watered down/LINE Webtoon copypasta website updates and the lack of visibility towards smaller 'non mainstream' comics and the like are all just the tip of a much bigger iceberg.
Thank you, and I hope you're all safe and healthy in these times.