- What the Hell is all this?
- This is Websnark, a commentary weblog. We comment on... well, stuff. Frequently the stuff that we find on the web, though not exclusively. Essentially, we write about whatever interests us at the time of writing.
- Who exactly are you people?
- Eric Alfred Burns and Wednesday White. Eric started the site in August 2004; Wednesday came on board in February 2005. See the Cast List.
- Why all the webcomics stuff?
- We like webcomics. A large percentage of the stuff we read online consists of webcomics. So it's often the stuff we're thinking about, which means in turn it's the stuff that we're writing about. You see? Of course you see.
- Wait -- I come here for the webcomics stuff. What's all this about superheroes or games or Jack Chick or your personal lives or crap like that? Isn't this a webcomics site?
- No. While webcomics make up the (vast) majority of what we talk about, this isn't a 'webcomics blog' so much as it is a place for us to write about whatever it is we want to write about. If that's TV instead, or fandom stuff, or trashy religious entertainment, or pop culture, or the Astronomy Picture of the Day, or even whatever happened to one or the other of us on any given day, that's what it is.
Also, these days? Chick tracts are also webcomics, by some definitions.
- 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 our humour typically runs to the sarcastic, Websnark becomes our place to snark about the web. Eric picked the name out. (Eric tends to be more positive than negative in his snarks, because he's a wuss. Wednesday tends to be a little less shiny, because she's a fussbudget. Balance kicks ass.)
Elsewhere, 'snark' has come to refer to weblog posts about webcomics; it used to just mean posts from here ("My comic's been Snarked!"), but the term's drifted. It's both appealing and humbling to see how the term's shifted meaning and focus.
- So, that means you're a webcomics site, right?
- What schedule do you follow when posting?
- When you read it, it's been posted. There's no set schedule. Sometimes, if either of us gets a chance to queue things up a little, we'll set them to post through the day at regular intervals, but there's no promise. We'll occasionally disappear for a few days as other commitments or health considerations take precedence. We try to get something out at least once a day, though.
- What gives you the right to criticize other people's work?
- Well, we pay for our hosting, you see. Which means that we're paying for the press this is printed on. And said press is in the United States of America, where the site's owner lives, which means the right comes from the United States Constitution. (Yes, even for the Canadian in the crowd, what since she's using that American press.) If you're reading this in another country... well, we get to publish it, but whether or not you get to read it is your own lookout.
- 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?
- Eric: 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.
Wednesday: Wait. I'm confused. I don't like anything.
- 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, opinions. They're not 'wrong,' they just belong to one or the other of us. We're not always going to agree. (Eric and Wednesday can't even always agree.) You are perfectly free to like things that we don't. You're perfectly free to keep reading things we've put on the 'You had me and you lost me' list. We respect that. We're also free to dislike them. And to make fun of them. It's what we 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!
- Eric: 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. We don't go looking for things to insult just so I can insult them. That's not criticism. That's just being mean. We don't care if you think we're funny while I'm being mean. We don't choose to be mean to people just because we have a website. When we are sarcastic (or even mean) to sites, it's usually after we'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 us links to Gonterman comics unless you actually like Gonterman's comics and you want us to read them because you think that one of us will like them. There are plenty of all-negative snarksites on the web, if that's what you want. We even read and enjoy some of them. But that's not our thing.
Wednesday adds: This is distinct yet again from trainwreck fascination, which I see as a valuable learning tool. I don't enjoy being mean, but I do enjoy figuring out why something's broken.
- Why do you have thumbnails of other peoples' comics on your site? Isn't that a violation of copyright?
- Nope. Even though we wouldn't call this a review site, much of it is critical commentary. It's perfectly legal to use examples of art we're commenting on or producing critical work about, under fair use, in the United States of America. Your local laws may vary, of course. Further, we 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 we also credit our sources. The combination means that we're perfectly able to use the art on my site, even without asking first. (Or even when someone says we 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) We don't want to inadvertently overstep the bounds of fair use, so we specifically excerpt or thumbnail only, here. 2) We 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) Much of the time, we're extolling the virtues of a webcomic. Naturally, we want to increase traffic to the site in question. 4) Websnark is not made of bandwidth.
- You think you're so smart! Do you think you can do better?
- Eric:Well, I don't know if I can do better or not. I certainly can't draw. I try to write pretty well. But in the end, that's not really the point. I write criticism because... well, I am pretty good at that. Mostly.
Wednesday: Not yet. I use writing as a learning tool, and part of the reason why I became involved with writing about webcomics in the first place was to sort out for myself what works and what doesn't. It's an ongoing testing process. But many critics aren't themselves primarily creators -- Roger Ebert, to use an overly worn example here, is not exactly best known for his screenwriting, but his film criticism is no less valid.
- I'm an webcartoonist, and I'd like your feedback. Will you give it to me?
- Glad to! No promises on how quickly we 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?
- Sorry, but no. You are fully free to comment on the snark, refuting it. We won't remove your comments unless they're outright inflammatory beyond responding to us. (We've never actually deleted a comment on the posts to date. We don't permit commenters to insult others in the thread, though, and have had to lock a couple as a result.) If you can convince us that we were wrong about something, we'll put up a snark saying so. But the original posts don't come 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 -- we'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 opinion. And, legally speaking, opinions are not libel, because they don't make a claims about you -- they make claims about one or both of us. They are the truthful assertion of what we think of you. See, if one of us were to claim you fucked dogs, and you in fact didn't fuck dogs, that'd be libel, and you could sue. If, on the other hand, we say that you seem like a dog fucker to us, that's an opinion being expressed -- in our opinion, you have qualities that put us in mind of dog fuckers. I'm not claiming you actually fuck dogs. It just seems, in our opinion, like you're the kind of person who would. That's not libel -- it honestly is our opinion of you. And you don't get to sue us because we have a different opinion from yours, y'damn dog fucker.
- What's that phrase in your masthead that changes periodially 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. We make no claims for its success.
- Do you have a list of past raison d'etres?
- Sure! A partial one, anyhow:
- 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!?
- Two writers. One cat. 4000 miles of ocean. Let's do this thing.
- Oh no! I have psychosomatic Kaposi's sarcoma!
- What's that creature in the corner of the screen? He's so cute! Where did you get him?
- Eric: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 our dedicated readers, coined the term "Snarkoleptics" as a title for the 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 we like it when people read our stuff. Also, it gives us 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, we 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 totally delights us. Sooner or later, we'll either ask to use one of those officially or make our own, but for now, there's no 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 we have are Eric's daily trawls. (Wednesday's still working on her equivalent ma.gnolia collection, since she finds it easier to make lists when there are extra toys involved.) If you produce something that we read every day, you might end up in one of the trawls. But right now, we pretty much link stuff in the actual snarks. As for linking buttons -- we don't currently use them. It's nothing against you.
- Hey, I want to send you e-mail. What's your e-mail address?
- The best place to send us 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 Eric. Not that he should have remembered that on his own or anything. It's not like he named the fucking website after it or anything.