I have made several posts like this before, but they haven’t really lead to anything. This time I’ll have to give a deadline.
I’ve been running VocaDB for almost 10 years. The first code was written in December 2010. Since then I have graduated from university and gotten married to a sweet and caring person. I have struggled with personal life and also work life, but I feel that now everything else is settled and good, except for my main hobby project, VocaDB.
I’m still very much a Vocaloid fan. I check Vocaloid songs almost daily, I’m planning on going to Japan next year when they’re finally having concerts again and I really appreciate all the music artists, painters, programmers and other people making it happen.
I’m also proud of writing VocaDB. It has scaled beyond my wildest expectations. 250 000 songs, 14 000 albums and 50 000 artists. I’m happy how the search engine works and I’m happy how I designed the versioning system. I can still compare VocaDB’s functionality and performance to other, much bigger websites. I’ve also motivated a huge group of people to work on editing and moderating the website. People, such as myself, who want to contribute to the community, to give something back, help others while helping themselves.
I’ve seen websites come and go. Early when I got into Vocaloid, there was a forum/imageboard that was very active at the time. But eventually the owners gave up, neglected it and it was taken over by spam. I see other websites in similar condition, no one fixing issues. One thing you might not understand not being a programmer is that if you have a website that has user interaction or integrations with other websites, things will eventually break. Interfaces will be deprecated and removed. Certificates need to be renewed. Spambots will get more sophisticated and break through the defenses. A dynamic website needs maintenance. VocaDB has a lot of dynamic content. In fact almost all of the content is user-provided. We also have integrations with multiple video streaming websites, such as YouTube and NicoNicoDouga.
The content needs management work, guidelines and practices. Vocaloid world is changing. New Miku voicebanks are not based on the Vocaloid engine. New rules will need to be planned. If everyone is doing things their own way, it will be chaos, disorganization. Rules need to be planned so that they benefit most people, without too much compromise to corner cases. That requires seeing the big picture, how every rule or feature fits in with everything else. I’ve tried to take inspiration from other similar websites, such as vgmdb, MusicBrainz, Discogs. Some features such as tagging are from Amazon. Some rules are from the Metal Archives. We need to review new users, advice them, promote them to trusted users, select moderators.
There are numerous smaller jobs such as renewing the domain name yearly. Also making sure money is coming in and out enough to keep the site running. The server needs to be updated. There’s a list of all the roles in the wiki.
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to see VocaDB abandoned. I want to see that the security updates are installed, the spambots are blocked, even that the new guidelines are established when needed. If VocaDB was going to die, I want it to go gracefully, probably turning it into read-only mode so that people can browse but not modify anymore. But it would be better of course if there is a person or group of people, reliable and mature enough, to take responsibility of keeping things running without my involvement. Over the years I tried to recruit people into that, but for a hobby website with no compensation, it’s not easy.
Running VocaDB has become an increasing burden to me. I’ve always been stressed whenever I see something broken. I’m the kind of person who would want to fix any issue right away. I cannot sleep if something is broken. Sometimes I get up at night and fix the problem, before going back to sleep. I don’t like it, and my wife doesn’t like it either. It has also always bothered me that majority of people don’t appreciate or understand what kind of job it is running a website like this. Maybe I’m just old, but I feel that if someone is doing me a favor then I would feel grateful at them. I can’t blame them since they don’t understand my situation. This has led to me being rude to those people who don’t deserve it, and I don’t want that anymore either. Lately it has been feeling that me being here is just making my life and other people’s lives worse, which is just silly.
I never wanted any sort of glory for running VocaDB. Maybe some appreciation. For years now I would’ve been happy if someone trustworthy came and offered to take the responsibility of running the website. I’ve spent many, many days thinking about what to do with the website. I know it is useful to a lot of people, but I also have to move on with my life.
So now I have to ask you what to do? I’ll give one week until 16th of October for users of the website to come up with an idea, such as nominating a group of people who formally take responsibility of running this website, including the server. If nothing else comes up, then I will turn VocaDB into read-only mode and move it to a low cost server. Obviously this question involves UtaiteDB and TouhouDB as well, being on the same server and thus funded by Patreon.
Concretely, in a week I want to look at the staff roles list and see all of them with some other name besides myself. For more important roles such as server administration, there should be at least 2 names. I can assist during the transition of course, and it doesn’t all need to happen in a week, just a concrete plan with names.