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January 10, 2010


Oh shit, Rotwang made a weblog

"The demon code prevents me from declining a rock-off challenge."

Today's episode:

"Honesty Appreciation Week, Day 1"

Thanks to FOD and rillawafers for asking me to be this week's featured blogger on the funnyordie.com homepage. (Especially considering I only had two blog posts total.) I've loosely agreed to the topic "what I like/dislike in comedy", which for me, in my computer programmer mind, translated to "how I determine the value of a video". I'll more or less stick to that topic over the next five days of weblog entries this week. And a nod to last week's featured blogger, Steve Pilot- (I coincidentally commented on your blog without even knowing it was featured, btw).

If you're not one of my (like 4) regular readers, I wrote an introductory entry here. If you've been on FOD a while and you remember the *wangs (wangrot, hotwang, shotwang, botwang, barnwang (my favorite), sherlock wangs, fratwang), then you should know that I am the original wang, which the others are mocking and attempting to dilute. (No stupid Wang Chung joke here.)

To start the week off, I'm going to begin by circling in from a 1000 miles above. Before we talk about the comedians, we must begin with the stage. All art is judged in context, so let me discuss the context, which is funnyordie.com

I'm a software architect, I make and run web sites professionally, for the past 12 years. I used to be high up in IBM's technical hierarchy. I have to tell you all what a rare thing this is. This is a comedy video critique site. It's committed to being a critique site by the name and logo, and the rating system.

To give you an idea how rare this is- you have to imagine what the business plan for funnyordie.com is like. Most business plans for web sites typically talk about making a "positive environment" where users "interact and connect" and yada yada. A critique site is different- it's got an edge to it. It's bolder. Users are encouraged to judge and be judged. You put a video on youtube, you can disable ratings and comments. Not here.

There are three key features that are essential for funnyordie.com, which facilitate critique:

1. As mentioned above, the domain name, logo, and rating system are all conducive to honest feedback and commentary. This is like the constitution. The mission statement. It's funnyordie.com.

2. The fact that authors of videos can NOT delete comments posted about their videos, nor disable the ability to comment, nor disable ratings. (Well, unless you're FOD management, then you can use the hypocritical "Chosen One" absurdity. If the domain name is the constitution, then Chosen One status is like the Patriot Act; an imposition on the founding philosophy by the administration. (And by the way, I've read that Obama wants to renew it. Another campaign promise kaput.))

3. To my knowledge, FOD staff has never deleted anyone's comment besides spam. They've never stooped so low as to delete any of mine, and I've been, like, the biggest thorn in their side. So thanks for that FOD, credit where credit is due.

The day any of those three things change, you won't see grumpy old Rotwang around anymore. (And FOD staff will celebrate with a mimosa party.)

Add it all up, and you have something amazing. A critique site with free speech. In my capacity as a) a harsh and vocal critic and b) the guy who argues with the staff, I'm qualified to say- HOLY SHIT I THINK WE HAVE FREE SPEECH! And both the FOD staff and management deserve credit.

Now everyone get on your fat asses and go use it.


And in my capacity as a web developer I'm qualified to say that the FOD staff overall does a good job from a technical/design/production perspective, at least from what I can tell from the front end. (Well, except for dealing with comment spam. guys, come on, it's out of control. See my first weblog post, on Jan 1, 2010.) I remember back in 2007 when you couldn't rewind a video after you watched it, you had to, like, reload the page. The site is much more polished now. I have suggestions for new features, (of course, it's what I do for a living), but I'll save that for now.

By the way, speaking of the FOD staff, Eric Appel from FOD had once joked that the fake wang guy was actually the FOD staff. He was probably kidding, because the FOD staff are probably more professional than to take cheap shots like this:

I haven't seen the fake wang guy in a while, but I imagine if he sees this, he'll come out of hiding, into the light, and show my ugly faces.

Now that I have the context out of the way, tomorrow I'll get closer to the topic and talk about how I determine a video's value.