Letter from the Encyclopedist
One Month's Worth of New Knowledge

by Daniel DeLorme,
Well, it has already been one month since we launched the ANN Encyclopedia. So after 31 days of operation, what is the verdict? I have to say I'm rather delighted. There was a good response, but not so big that it would have overwhelmed our current capabilities. What does this mean in concrete terms? From when we launched the encyclopedia to the moment I'm writing this, we are listing 2458 informations added by staff members and 4018 by regular users. Opening up the encyclopedia to the public seems to have been the right decision, n'est-ce-pas?

Apart from much data being entered, some other good things have come from interaction with our users. Often I would be faced with data entered in the wrong place, or in the wrong manner. This tells me that the instructions aren't clear enough and that I need to flesh them out, to be more precise. We pride ourselves on having a user-friendly interface. After all, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for you to contribute information. Probably the biggest change came when I realized how many people were forced to make an error report on data they just entered when they merely made a small mistake. It is possible to edit the non-credit informations one has entered (such as the number of episodes, the running time, etc) but it wasn't possible to correct any mistakes in credit information! Once a cast or staff member was added for an anime, it was impossible to change it! Needless to say, I remedied that situation as soon as I could.

Other issues have come up concerning the scope of the encyclopedia. For example, someone tried to enter cast members for a D.N.Angel radio drama. While this is indeed related to anime in a certain fashion, there is only so far we can go in "holding the sum of all anime knowledge". Another issue we had but which wasn't so easy to resolve was about Korean anime, and in fact this is what prompted the latest editorial. In the end we decided against including Korean animation based on purely practical reasons: we already have a lot of work ahead of us with only Japanese animation. But we were sorely tempted, as some of the titles submitted looked incredibly good.

One of the biggest "problems" we keep being faced with is that sometimes real life refuses to fit into a neat little database. Not that this is unexpected, but annoyingly often we are faced with something that makes us wonder "how are we going to fit that into the encyclopedia?" For example, let us take the case of Sailor Moon. Many fans consider it as one big TV series composed of 5 seasons. Looking at the release of the episodes in Japan confirms this: each season started as soon as the previous one finished. On the other hand, each of the seasons has a distinctive name as well as some (but not all) different cast and staff (especially if one considers the dub). Making sense of it all is quite simply hell, and this is not the only anime cursed with a complex release structure. The difference between "new series" and "new season" is not always as clear we would like it to be. So, Sailor Moon: 1 TV series or 5? We are still trying to figure it out.

Ah, and this month we are welcoming a new staff member! Jonathan Mays (a.k.a. Miagi) entered so much information into the encyclopedia in 3 days that we figured we might as well invite him in. In addition to entering gobs of data, he will be taking over part of my management functions, which will allow me to focus my efforts on developing new features for the encyclopedia. Welcome aboard, Jon!

In closing, I want to send out huge thanks to all those who have participated. Check out the contributors page to find out who that is. And please, do not hesitate to send me questions. I would really like to know what you think of the encyclopedia, and especially what could be improved or added.

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