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FAQ: About Websnark.com

Well, if we're having trouble getting to the webcomics, we'll do the next best thing. We'll talk about ourselves. It's about time to do the next FAQ section -- the sidebar is looking awfully sparse.

So, without further ado...


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: ABOUT WEBSNARK.COM

What the Hell is all this?
This is Websnark.com, a commentary blog. I comment on... well, stuff. Usually the stuff I find on the web, though not exclusively. Essentially, I write about whatever interests me at the time of writing.
Who exactly are you?
My name is Eric Alfred Burns. I'm a writer and poet who lives in New Hampshire. I've written for some RPG companies you may have heard of, some magazines you probably haven't heard of, and a few websites that's a fifty/fifty shot.
Why all the webcomics stuff?
I like webcomics. A large percentage of the stuff I read online are webcomics. So it's the stuff I'm thinking about, which means in turn it's the stuff I'm writing about. You see? Of course you see.
Wait -- I come here for the webcomics stuff. What's all this about Astronomy or pop culture or fandoms or crap like that? Isn't this a webcomics site?
While webcomics make up the (vast) majority of what I talk about, this isn't a 'webcomics blog' so much as it is a place for me to snark about whatever I want. If that's TV instead, or fandom stuff, or pop culture, or the Astronomy Picture of the Day, that's what it is.
Why 'websnark?' What is a snark?
The word "snark" comes from Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" "The Hunting of the Snark1." It's a kind of beastie. In computer terms, a snark is some kind of threat or problem on a computer. However, the word has come to also mean sarcastic commentary or the sarcastic expression of opinions. He snarks, she snarks, they snark. That kind of thing. So, since my own sense of humor runs to the sarcastic, Websnark becomes my place to snark about the web. Though I tend to be more positive than negative in my snarks, because I'm a wuss. Also, it's worth noting some webcartoonists have taken to using the word 'websnark' as a verb meaning "a snark about my site appeared on Websnark," in the form "My site was Websnarked yesterday! Wt!" I find the idea that I've become an Internet verb to be a very appealing one.
What schedule do you follow when posting?
When you read it, I've posted. There's no set schedule. Sometimes, if I have a chance to queue things up a little, I'll set them to post through the day at regular intervals, but there's no promise. Since the site went hot, we've never completely missed a day in posting, though a couple of days had no posts of substance. I try to get something out at least once a day, though.
What gives you the right to criticize other people's work?
I pay for the hosting for this website, meaning I own the press this is printed on. So, I guess my right comes from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. If you're reading this in another country... well, I can publish my writings here in America. Where you actually read them's your own lookout.

If, on the other hand, you mean "where do I get off writing criticism," the answer is "I want to, so I do." It's up to you whether or not you agree with it or want to read it.
I love your site, especially when you really lay into crappy work! Why do you spend so much time saying nice things instead of bad things?
I hear this more often than you might think. It always surprises me, though. I mean, is schadenfreude really that important to you?

The answer to your question is quite simple, however. I snark about the things I encounter on a daily basis. The things I tend to read are things I like. Now, if I like them, I'm not going to insult them on a regular basis, am I? So, there's going to be a lot more "this is so fucking cool!" from me than me trash talking things. It's the way it is.
How can you say such mean things about [Megatokyo/It's Walky/General Protection Fault/Whatever]? That's my favorite webcomic! You suck and are wrong! And bad! Wrong and bad!
These are, by definition, my opinions. They're not 'wrong,' they're just mine. We're not always going to agree. You are perfectly free to like things I don't. You're perfectly free to keep reading things I've put on the 'You had me and you lost me' list. I respect that. I'm also free to dislike them. And to make fun of them. It's what I do.
How can you say such nice things about [Sluggy Freelance/Something Positive/PvP/Whatever]]? That webcomic sucks! You suck and are wrong! And bad! Wrong and bad!
Once again, you'd be surprised how often I get this one. I like stuff I like. If you read the snarks, you'll figure out what it is I like about them. You might not agree with me, but I hope you'll at least see my point. Still, it all comes down to the same thing as the last point -- I like what I like. Don't sweat it if you don't like it.
You don't seem to read one of my favorite webcomics. Can I suggest it to you?
Absolutely! Some of my favorite recent finds -- like Freefall and Questionable Content -- came from people suggesting comics to me. I can't promise I'll get to them soon or snark them when I do get to them, but I truly enjoy reading webcomics and cartoons of all stripes, and so I'm always glad to have more to check out!
Hey! I know a webcomic that's really terrible! Would you look at it so you can make fun of it?
Um. No. I don't go looking for things to insult just so I can insult them. That's not criticism. That's just being mean. I don't care if you think I'm funny while I'm being mean. I don't choose to be mean to people just because I have a website. When I am sarcastic (or even mean) to sites, it's almost always after I've been following that site for years and really liked it at one time (or even still like it now). So, don't bother e-mailing me links to Gonterman comics unless you actually like Gonterman's comics and you want me to read them because you think I'll like them. There are plenty of all-negative snarksites on the web, if that's what you want. I even read and enjoy some of them. But that's not my thing.
Why do you have thumbnails of other peoples' comics on your site? Isn't that a violation of copyright?
Nope. Even though I'm not sure I'd call this site a review site, it is critical commentary, and it's perfectly legal to use examples of art I'm commenting on or producing critical work about, under Fair Use, in the United States of America. Your local laws may vary, of course. Further, I always either thumbnail art (so that the 'salability' of the original image is not diluted' or excerpt bits of it before putting it up, and I also credit my sources. The combination means I'm perfectly able to use the art on my site, even without asking first. (Or even when someone says I can't -- no one gets to restrict Fair Use.)
Hey -- I clicked on a thumbnail to get the full sized comic, and it took me to the webcomic itself! Why don't you have full sized images on your site?
For several reasons. 1) I don't want to inadvertently overstep the bounds of fair use, so I specifically excerpt or thumbnail only, on my site. 2) I don't think it's fair for Websnark to become a 'first stop' for people who want to read cartoons -- they should read those cartoons in the context the webcartoonist intended, on their site, seeing their site design, advertisements and so forth. 3) Most of the time, I'm extolling the virtues of a webcomic. Naturally, I want to increase traffic to the site in question. 4) I'm not made of bandwidth.
You think you're so smart! Do you think you can do better?
If you have a look at the one webcomic I used to draw, I think it's safe to say I can't do better. However, just like you don't have to be a director of multimillion dollar blockbuster movies to have an opinion about Independence Day, I don't have to be a webcartoonist to have opinions about webcomics. You will notice I almost never insult or even criticize the art in those strips, however. I'll knock the strip as a whole, but I won't trash someone else's drawing skills. Not when I clearly can't draw a straight line to save my life.
I'm an webcartoonist, and I'd like your feedback. Will you give it to me?
Glad to! No promises on how quickly I can get back to you, though!
I'm a webcartoonist, and I don't like the snark you wrote about me. Will you take it down?
I'm sorry, but no. You are fully free to comment on the snark, refuting it. I won't remove your comments unless they're outright inflammatory beyond responding to me (I've never actually deleted a comment on one of my snarks to date. Even when they're insulting to me, but I won't let people be nasty to each other in the comments, for example). If you can convince me I was wrong about something, I'll put up a snark saying so. But I won't take the original snarks down. For better or worse, when they go up, they go up for life.
Seriously, dude. I don't like what you said. If you don't take it down, I'll sue you for slander.
Okay, first off, slander is oral in nature -- I'd have to publicly speak lies about you to slander you. The term you're looking for is libel. Second off, this is a commentary site. Everything on this site is my opinion. And, legally speaking, my opinions are not libel, because they don't make a claims about you -- they make claims about me. They are the truthful assertion of what I think of you. See, if I were to claim you fucked dogs, and you in fact didn't fuck dogs, that'd be libel, and you could sue me. If, on the other hand, I say that you seem like a dog fucker to me, that's an opinion I'm expressing -- in my opinion, you have qualities that put me in mind of dog fuckers. I'm not claiming you actually fuck dogs. It just seems, in my opinion, like you're the kind of person who would. That's not libel -- it honestly is my opinion of you. And you don't get to sue me because I have a different opinion than you do, y'damn dog fucker.
What's that phrase in your masthead that changes every week for?
That's the raison d'etre of the site, as the French say. The reason for its being. And it stays crunchy in milk with the great taste of raisins in every bite. Mostly, it's there to set a tone. I make no claims for its success.
Do you have a list of past raison d'etres?
Sure! As of this writing, in the order they've appeared, they are:
  • We snark, because we love.
  • Because "Comixpedia" was already taken.
  • No, no one gives a crap what I think.
  • Because my cat never comments on my opinions.
  • Because Charlie Brown never got to kick that football.
  • Less expensive than Scotch and less painful than running your head into the wall; it's win-win!
  • Someday we're all gonna get killed by someone who likes Yu-Gi-Oh.
  • Noted for its clever turns of phrase, and... stuff... like... you know, that... stuff....
  • Fishing for compliments since August.
  • 50,000 words in 30 days? Simple. Making them cogent? You've got to be kidding me.
  • Jesus Christ, I'm drinking wheat!? How the Hell do you drink wheat!?
What's that creature in the corner of the screen? He's so cute! Where did you get him?
That's Snarky! He's a Snarkasaurus. He was created by Ursula Vernon, the webcartoonist of Digger, when I asked for someone to do quick doodle art for my Comixpedia column "Feeding Snarky." That I got such a fantastic piece back from that request blew me away, and I later commissioned that more complete piece from Ursula to be the site mascot. He's sleeping because a guy called Mckenzee, who's one of my dedicated readers, coined the term "Snarkoleptics" as a title for my fan base.
I love your site? Can I link to you? Or to individual entries? Or stuff like that?
Sure! Of course! Hell yeah! The only way a site like this grows is if people tell their friends about it, and I like people reading me. Also, it gives me a serious lift when people like (or hate) something so much they post a link to it. There is no greater joy for a writer than impact. Further, I think "link policies" aren't only unenforceable and potentially illegal, they're just downright rude. It's the Web. Links are what create it. Jesus Christ on a stick, be glad when people want to see your stuff.
Do you have a link button I can use?
Not at this time. A couple of people have created them for me and use them on their own sites, and that makes me feel happy down in my belly. Sooner or later, I'll either ask to use one of those officially or I'll make one of my own, but for now, I don't have an official one.
Will you link to me? And use my linking button?
Only in the context of a Snark, right now. The closest thing to a links page I have are my daily trawls. If you produce something I read every day, you might end up in one of the trawls. But right now, I pretty much link stuff in the actual snarks. Someday, I'll put a blogroll up, and then I'll link the blogs I read and stuff like that. As for linking buttons -- I don't currently use them. I'm not against them, and if I ever adopt my own button I'll also use other folks' buttons, but for now... nuh-uh.
Hey, I want to send you e-mail. What's your e-mail address?
The best place to send me e-mail is at WEBSNARK at GMAIL dot COM -- decode it and let fly. It's like a reverse rebus, isn't it?

1As reader NathanielK reminded me. Not that I should have remembered that on my own or anything. It's not like I named my fucking website after it or anything.

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Comments

Actually, that's Mckenzee with two Es on the end. Just be sure to get it right on the bowling shirt.

Dowh! You'd think I'd know that by now.

Annnnnd corrected. Sorry about that.

Hmm... you say you'd critizise people's comics upon request maybe, but I don't see any submitting thingy, nor even an email address anywhere. Is there any way to contact you?

I wouldn't mind a critizism of my comic, at http://www.fantasycomic.com (including the art, if you find it in your heart to do so). It doesn't update every day, and my part of the ordeal is lacking, but a truthful commentary would nonetheless be appreciated.

I'm sorry if I missed an obvious email-link or anything.

I was also noticing the lack of an email link. What up with that?

This is just me making absolutely sure we can, you know, post questions again. It is not actually a question.

Except, you know, I'd like to know if it's on.

And what rights I have, since the US Constitution doesn't really apply to me here.

Well, since Eric owns the press it's published on, I'd think that as far as the actual posting goes you're covered. Don't quote me though

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