I’ve avoided posting personal things on this blog, but I can’t figure any other place to post this. I also want to avoid complaining, but I feel that it’s necessary this time.
When I got into Vocaloid in 2009 I was overwhelmed by all the artists and their music. For someone with no Japanese skills it was really difficult to keep track of everything. So I started collection information, first in private Google Docs documents. Then I realized that I should share it with the rest of the world, make it a website and allow others to contribute. VocaDB was launched in August 2011.
Since then it has grown much bigger than I expected. That makes me happy, knowing that the project has been at least somewhat successful. At first it was ok that I was in charge of everything on the website, but as it got bigger, it became more and more difficult.
It’s impossible to understand what it’s like managing a huge project like this unless you’ve experienced it yourself. At least now we have plenty of editors, even some people making sure that the guidelines are followed.
Still, even that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of hidden work. Someone has to create those guidelines, write the wiki pages. Doing that requires understanding the big picture, making sure that the guidelines are fair and work for everyone. There’s a huge number of things to consider, different use cases, corner cases, exceptions. It’s always a compromise for everyone. The main problem though is that there’s also a lot of responsibility. It’s impossible to please everyone, so there will be negative feedback no matter what you do. It’s a very thankless job.
To be clear, feedback itself isn’t the problem, it’s the unconstructive complaining by people who only see their own point of view and don’t have the patience to consider a compromise. I guess on the internet it’s too much to ask for adult arguments. In the ideal situation there would be some sort of committee, a group of people making those decisions, but all the people mature enough for that are too busy with their own things.
VocaDB is a hobby project for me. I also have a day job that’s mentally demanding. Additionally I’m the only one taking care of VocaDB’s technical side. That work is usually completely invisible. Implementing something that sounds simple can be days of work. Just planning how it should be done can take hours. I don’t even want to think how many hours I’ve spent programming VocaDB. I realize drawing, blogging and music making also involves hidden work, but at least there’s some kind of concrete end result.
All this would be fine if I felt there was a purpose. I created VocaDB so that others wouldn’t be as ignorant as I was. But I still see that majority of the fans on forums and other communities aren’t interested in being informed. I see the same questions asked over and over. Questions that would be answered by VocaDB. But I see far less people referring to VocaDB for the answer. I can see other groups successfully raising money for blogs, concerts and forums. VocaDB can’t raise money for running the server. It’s not about the popularity of Vocaloid, this just shows where the priorities are. Database isn’t “fun”.
I realize that no one owes me anything. I went into this out of my own free will. I try to keep that in mind. In fact the main reason I’m still working on VocaDB is because I personally benefit from its existence. I can’t imagine being a Vocaloid fan and not having VocaDB around. But VocaDB won’t keep running by itself. It doesn’t help that if I know there’s something broken, I feel obliged to fix it, even if no one is asking. I know there’s people using VocaDB and I don’t want to be the one to provide a poorly functional service. That’s a huge source of stress, but that’s my own problem, can’t blame anyone else.
I’m not asking for “thanks” and I don’t think that there’s anyone who could help with the programming or maintaining the guidelines. It’s been tried, didn’t work.
I should mention that actually editing VocaDB isn’t that bad most of the time. It can actually be enjoyable. It’s all those other things (educating others, resolving conflicts, development, management), that I wish could be distributed more.
It’s just that I don’t know what to do with VocaDB. To be clear, I am proud of what we (myself, all the editors and other people who have helped with translations and art) have achieved. I have received help from many people, and I’m thankful. VocaDB is by far the biggest source of Vocaloid discography information. But for me it’s also a constant source of stress, a burden.