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Update: Since the reaction to this idea seemed pretty lukewarm, I've decided not to move ahead with this. If someone else wants to build an event on this idea, feel free to do so.


This is a conspiracy to get some good questions and answers in less-trafficked tags.

If the response to this proposal seems positive, I'll move ahead with implementation in a week or so.

Proposal

We should form viewing circles—groups of users who are all following the same series at the same time. Hopefully, this will mean that when people ask questions about the series, other users who are also following the series will be able to answer them. The circle doesn't have to stay in lockstep; it's okay if you slip back by a few episodes, and it's also okay if you end up way ahead.

This proposal comes from several frustrating experiences I've had. The and tags never seem to lack for questions or answers, but it's a real crapshoot in other tags, especially when it comes to currently airing or less popular shows. If you ask a question about a show that no one else is following, you either get no answers or you get overly general answers from people who haven't seen the show and are guessing based on tropes. Conversely, a lot of people won't even look at a question if it concerns a series they aren't following. So decent posts languish with few upvotes, and the users who write these posts get discouraged and seem to either give up and leave or spend a bunch of time in the review queues closing id requests. It's just a bad experience all around. While this is somewhat unavoidable, there's a lot we can do to improve it, and this proposal is one idea I came up with to do so.

Also, a lot of people mentioned that they discovered new series by reading id requests. Now that id requests are gone, this could be a good way to discover something new.

Process

If this idea hits off, we can do it maybe once per season. You can also do manga; I don't think we really need to separate out manga.

Here's how we can form circles:

  • Someone (probably me) will create a meta post to form circles.
  • Everyone should write answers mentioning the series you want to form a circle around. It can be a single series, or it can be a franchise (e.g. all the Fate shows), or a small set of shows around some kind of theme (e.g. shows inspired by Eva, shows based on Key visual novels, manga by Shirow Masamune, the films of Satoshi Kon). If you're doing multiple shows, you should mention the viewing order you'd like to follow so things can stay in synch. It would also be nice to mention where someone can watch the series (legally, of course), and whether it's been completely released or is currently simulcasting.
  • We should all upvote answers that mention series we're interested in following.
  • You can commit to a circle by leaving a comment saying "I'm committing to this circle". It's not official, but it's nice for the person who created the circle to know that others are interested in committing. You can also make suggestions or request clarification before committing.
  • People are inevitably going to drop out as life happens (or as the show starts to suck), so large groups are probably better. I would encourage everyone to commit to popular, highly upvoted circles so the circle can survive these inevitable dropouts.
  • For the same reason, we should all join several circles, not just one or two. That way if you can't stand to watch a show anymore, you can drop it, but still be involved with other circles.
  • It's completely valid to join a circle watching a series you've already seen, if you'd like to rewatch it and maybe answer some newbie questions with your deeper perspective on the series. You can also possibly join a circle if you've seen the series and aren't going to rewatch it, just to assure everyone that there are experts on that series around the site.
  • It's also perfectly okay to "join" a circle long after it's been formed and started watching the series—you know that other users on the site have seen the show, so you can ask questions with some confidence that there are experts around. And there might also be questions from the initial viewing still hanging around without good answers, that you can provide an answer for.

I prefer to do this on Meta rather than chat. Not all of us go to chat, and not everyone who might be interested in a circle is going to be on chat at the same time. Plus, doing it on Meta lets interested people vet the suggested circles to make sure someone else is actually interested in joining.

Please leave comments, questions, and suggestions here. If people seem interested, I'll create another post where we can actually form circles.

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    I don't mind the circle organization happening on meta, but for discussion chat really is a better platform - plus you can organize 'events' for a particular time, create dedicated rooms with a nicher focus (unlike the main room where a lot of discussion may happen in a day). – Toshinou Kyouko May 31 '16 at 7:33
  • @ToshinouKyouko I'd prefer if people can participate in a circle without being required to go to chat. If some circles want to agree on doing certain things in chat, like weekly discussions to help generate questions, that's fine, but my goal is to bulk up the main site, so I hope that circles will use the main site as a platform and not get all their good ideas out in chat. (Plus, I'm biased—I don't go to chat. If this system takes off, I might change that, though.) – Torisuda May 31 '16 at 16:48
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    Hey downvoters, how about taking five minutes to let me know what exactly you found objectionable about this idea? That way, maybe we can talk about how to fix it. – Torisuda Jun 4 '16 at 19:26
  • @Evilloli That took way more than five minutes... – Gao Jun 5 '16 at 4:52
  • @Gao Well, your answer was too thoughtful. Stop all that thinking, it takes too long! (I appreciate you taking the time :) – Torisuda Jun 5 '16 at 5:09
  • @Evilloli It didn't take too long, but I was having trouble turning what was just a hunch into words. Don't know if it makes sense or is at all precise, but there you go. – Gao Jun 5 '16 at 5:14
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In addition to circles, I would like to propose a mutual contract (with possible bounty) system. Which basically is an agreement, by two (or more) users, where one party (the contractor) picks an anime of their choosing that they want someone else (the contracted) to watch, and the other party (the contractor) agrees to watch in exchange they watch an anime of their (the contracted) choosing.

The two parties may set some conditions, like the minimum number of episodes/seasons, how long they have to finish it and what they need to do in order to establish that they've finished a series. Typically, these contracts should follow the Law of Equivalent Exchange. Rep bounties may be offered as compensation. Additionally, you may ask the other party to ask (and self-answer) a question for additional bounty (inspired by @senshin previous bounties for tags event).

You can fulfill these contracts on your own or as a group. I will offer to stream any series available on Crunchyroll or Funimation via Rabb.it (no region restrictions) for any individuals and circles, as long as they set a schedule ahead of time.

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    This is an excellent idea. With this you can join a circle casually if you want, but if you're really serious about it, you can also make a contract. And contracting someone could also be a great way to get yourself to try watching something you might not have looked at otherwise. – Torisuda May 31 '16 at 4:09
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    Per @ToshinouKyouko's comment about using chat for discussion, I think a good way to organize contracts would be for a contractor to propose a contract in the Meta post, then interested people can leave a comment on the post suggesting a "price" for taking the contract. The contractor and contracted can go to chat to work out the details, and then come back and edit the meta post to indicate the contract has been taken and include the terms (episodes/season, timeframe, offered bounties and any terms on the bounty award). – Torisuda May 31 '16 at 16:53
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    I don't think bountys would be a good fit for it. Dont forget reputation is a token economy. This would make it seem as a currency, and as shog9 mentions 'Reputation is not a currency. Any attempt to make it into one will be met with severe opposition.' – Dimitri mx Jun 5 '16 at 1:47
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Re: Proposal

I share your sentiment, but by forming viewing circles, this only increases the chance of the followed series getting more timely answers and votes to questions asked around the time the viewing circles are watching them, which may draw in more traffic and interest to the main site if they are currently airing shows. I don't know if it would encourage people to ask more questions about less popular shows, though.

Personally, before I start watching any completed series, I try to search the main site by tag name and see what questions there are and remind myself to look for/record the answers when viewing so I could go back and give my input when I am done with the series. This way, I can provide more complete answers and also spot and possibly correct the posts that seriously spoil the content without warning (I don't mind spoilers most of the time). And of course I also vote on the questions and answers, if any.

Re: Process

How do you co-ordinate this efficiently? And if you encourage people to commit to large, popular circles, how would it be different from the status quo? If it's informal and the purpose is just to have fun, then sure it doesn't matter. If that's the case, I would still prefer it to be an event attached to a chatroom because as a certain Tomato said, chat is a somewhat better platform for this purpose.

Positive aspects

I think your proposal is workable if it's only restricted to currently airing shows. Otherwise you have too many options for less impact. We should arrange the viewing sessions at the earliest time possible: as close to the release time of the latest episode as possible.

For less popular, non-airing shows, I think bounty offers is still the best method to attract answers. If we continue what senshin did, grouping each bounty offer by theme (e.g. Studio Ghibli's films), it will also serve the purpose of introducing anime to members who could filter by genre/theme if they so choose, and these anime grouped by themes might also require the same/similar area of expertise to come up with questions/answers, and having seen one might benefit knowledge of another.

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    Thanks for a thoughtful answer. Here's how I would respond: 1) The status quo is Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, DBZ, and formerly id requests. We used to at least get questions about shows like Madoka, Fate/Zero, and Bakemonogatari, which are popular, but nowhere near the level of Naruto. Because of IRL circumstances, I haven't watched much anime for the past six or seven months, so I don't even know what's popular with the otaku crowd now (Konosuba?), but whatever it is, if we can get more questions on it, I consider that an improvement. Doesn't have to be enough to rival Naruto, just more. – Torisuda Jun 5 '16 at 5:34
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    2) I was purposely being vague about how to organize circles because it's a pretty big thing for people with lives to commit twelve weeks to watching a show and writing posts on it. I wanted to keep circle organization flexible and circumstantial. But I did like ʞɹɐzǝɹ's idea as a sort of premium-level for really committed people. – Torisuda Jun 5 '16 at 5:37
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    3) I was hoping that circles asking and answering questions about a show would be like a series of repeated shots in the arm, rather than a single long-term cure. Part of the reason Naruto and One Piece have so many questions is that they just keep going and going, so mini communities coalesce around them. With shorter shows, you don't really have that effect because they're over quickly. I was hoping to fake that mini community effect several times over several shorter shows. – Torisuda Jun 5 '16 at 5:41
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    4) A lot of us in the 3k–7k rep range who aren't into the Big Four shows seem to kind of drop out of the site after a while and spend all our time in the review queues. I know that I personally start to feel like it's futile to ask any questions, because no one else is watching what I'm watching. I could self-answer but if that's all I ever do, I might as well just be writing on my blog. My hope was that this proposal would reengage some of those users with Q&A, which is also why I didn't want the whole thing taking place in chat. – Torisuda Jun 5 '16 at 5:44

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