Welcome to the fifth edition of “Interview with a Viner” series, in which I interview popular or influential users on the site on either a bi-weekly or monthly basis. This week's guest is @renchamp!
Cloudguy: For those unfamiliar with you can you introduce yourself and what would you say you're most known for on the site?
Renchamp: : I am Renchamp. I attempt to keep things moderate.
: I am a jack-of-all-trades type mod, as I moderate both the forums and the wiki. My primary love is the wiki, so I spend a bit more time there helping new editors hone their craft while also doing my own edits. I usually only dip into forum moderation when dealing with flags, so most of what I post is a warning. Probably 2/3 of my forum posts come from warnings. Is that sad? I'm starting to think that's a sad statistic.
*shifts blame to users, buries feelings, moves on to next question*
Cloudguy: How did you discover Comicvine and what grabbed your attention?
Renchamp: I discovered the Vine in law school. I was at the end of my rope during a study session and needed a new distraction, so I dusted off my love of comics (I hadn't read anything for ten years at the time) and did some research on what had happened with Cable since the mid-90s. I loved the Vine's format, but I hated that Cable's wiki page was so totally lacking in information. I did some lurking before deciding to begin editing the wiki. The thing that really got me was the points system. I love a good RPG; I have no problem grinding/farming, so the idea of climbing the wiki ranks really appealed to me. Wiki editing ended up being very addictive and I soon adopted the Vine as a part of my life. It is a smaller part of my life now that I'm a working man, but I still find time to indulge in this distraction.
Cloudguy: How did you end up becoming a Moderator?
Renchamp: Honestly, favoritism. Sort of.
As I understand it: I became chummy with RazzaTazz after the two of us exchanged pleasantries on one another's blogs. Razz was a mod at the time. We became embroiled in a wiki points frenzy to see which R-named user could have the most wiki points. (Sorry Roekon, we were gunning for you and you never knew it.) We discussed our writing endeavors, the good and bad sides of marriage, and many other simple and trite things that no one should really care about. In the course of our PM-ing, I noted that I was likely going to quit the Vine. Changes had happened to the site and it was starting to feel less like a community. (e.g. staff was less engaged, users couldn't browse blogs or reviews anymore, threads seemed more toxic, etc.) Razz hated to lose me, so she convinced pikahyper to vet me as a future wiki mod candidate. I was intrigued by the idea of helping the wiki get even better so I stuck around. Razz and pika spoke well enough of me that the staff permitted/promoted me to be a mod. The catch was that I was to moderate both the wiki and the forums, as my well-roundedness in blogging/reviewing/editing/commenting could be used in basically all aspects of the Vine.
So, kiss some butts? Or kiss the right butts. I don't know. I didn't ask for it. I don't really want it, but I also don't want to lose it because a) pika would have even more work to do, and b) I really enjoy having the ability to quickly alter errant wiki pages and help new wiki editors out.
It's also possible that I completely misunderstood my appointment and only got it because inferiorego and I were both in bands. Not together. And not the same type. But band brothers none-the-less.
Cloudguy: Since you became a moderator, you've managed to become quite infamous on the site. Why do you think that users see you as a tough mod?
Renchamp: Because I am a tough mod. Users are expected to follow the rules. When users don't follow the rules, I have no problem reminding them that they should.
I also subscribe to brevity, as I don't think some prolonged flowery warning will be any more effective than simply saying "language warning" or "warning for insults". The user knows exactly what the warning is for. This also goes for bans. If you clearly suck, you will be banned. Don't suck. How do you not suck? Read the rules and make the Vine better with your activity.
And to be honest, I have zero favorites on this site, as I can't get my head around being friends with people I have never met. It feels fake. That said, I will respect those to respect the site. I will not respect idiot trolls and the like. I know some users think that me being a little lighter with warnings would go a long way. Noted. This was noted years ago. I ain't changing. Staff and I have had plenty of conversations about my methods and nothing is changing.
Send in the pitchforks.
Cloudguy: If an opening for the position of moderator came up, what do you look for in users?
Renchamp: Honestly, mods hate when users jocky for the position, so we almost never go with someone who straight up asks to be a mod. There are always exceptions, but exceptions don't make up a rule.
We really just do a general survey of the users and take note of the ones we think most add to the Vine. If we need a Battles mod, the other Battles mods typically put forth a user's name who has shown that they aren't toxic to the forum, is well-respected, and would do a good job. Same with a general forum moderator. If you spam threads, troll, deactivate alt after alt just to change names or avoid warnings, or just downright suck then you have no chance at all.
Cloudguy: So, in other words, if you want to be a moderator; stay in line or be a kiss-ass? Or both? Jokes aside, being a moderator is probably a difficult job that requires you to look at the pettiness of people and decide where to draw the line. But what's it like being a mod on the wiki? I can imagine you've seen quite a few funny "edits" over the years.
Renchamp: Staying in line is key, but there is wisdom in the adage "It's not what you know but who you know." But there is also wisdom in knowing that fake relationships are pretty see-through and can do more damage than good. I can always tell at networking functions who is trying to get a quick hand to place a business card in and who is really trying to establish a mutual relationship. So, don't suck up. Be genuine. Mods are people, too. We can tell if a relationship is one-sided.
As to wiki moderation, it is a lot of fun. Sure, there are idiots who never learn (don't plagiarize; don't think your way is better than the Style Guide; don't add new releases too early; don't point whore), but being in an area that is always improving is a nice place to work. Most of the editors are respectful and want to learn. Being able to see new pages garner the right attention and essentially explode with information is a beautiful thing. We are constantly adding to the database, so there is always something that needs attentions. Especially the indie pages. I love when an editor takes an indie universe under their wing and really pimps it out.
I'd also say that there are no funny edits. I wish I could relate some story where an edit went through that detailed Superman's preferred brand of underwear because it sufficiently hid his thunder, but I personally wouldn't find that amusing. We wiki mods probably take our job too seriously. We have the largest comic wiki on the internet. Silly edits get instant warnings. Stupid edits end in wiki bans. And it doesn't matter who the editor is. We have wiki-banned users with over 200k wiki points before. It sucks, but it is sometimes necessary. How's that for wet-blanketing a fun question?
Cloudguy: What sort of band were you in? I always knew you were a lawyer, but no idea you were a musician too.
Renchamp: Ha! It was this stupid funk/island hybrid that really went nowhere. Don't get me wrong, it was a lot of fun and we wrote some tunes that I am very proud of, but we weren't that great. We played a few shows around Utah and Idaho and recorded some demos. We made some friends.
I played the bass. Still do for fun. It's a five-string Fender Jazz bass, which didn't really lend itself the best to funk grooves. I grew up on punk music, so I thought playing funk with a punk flair added to our mystique. (Holy crap, am I the reason we sucked?)
Cloudguy: Honestly, I'd love to hear some of your music based on how you described it. It might not be as bad as you think. But who knows?
Renchamp: There is an episode of Boy Meets World where the dad reunites with his old band mates and they jam. The dad realizes that he is terrible and must have always been terrible. The mom comforts him by saying she just thought he looked good in the band. That is how I view my band career. It was fun. I got married. I see now that we were likely deluded as to our abilities. I will say, however, that my crowning achievement was learning "Do You Right" by 311; not because it is super complicated on the bass, but because it was such a big part of my high school life.
Cloudguy: What do you prefer more, Comics or Manga? And why do you prefer them?
Renchamp: Hands down comics, but only because of exposure. I have read very few manga and I kinda liked the different narrative and art styles. But comics speak more to me because I've read enough of them to know what I like and what relates best to me.
Cloudguy: Who's your favorite Manga and Comic character and why do they appeal to you?
Renchamp: I don't have a favorite manga character. I just haven't read enough. This could change one day.
My favorite comic character is Cable. As a kid reading comics in the 90s, he was just what I wanted out of a character. Pouches. I mean big guns. I mean cringy dialogue. I mean anti-hero status. Gosh dang, I got Liefelded, didn't I?
Honestly, I love the time paradox of the character. He has lore in the past, present, and future of the X-Men. His dad is younger than him. He has a tragic limitation that shows his strength. Domino hangs around him from time to time. Deadpool is his best frenemy (screw you, Spider-Man). He is always looking to do what is right, even if it isn't popular.
And all those Elfring guns, yo.
Cloudguy: Speaking of Liefield, what's your opinion on him and his constantly changing in quality art?
Renchamp: I have no problem with Liefeld's art. Is it over-the-top? Duh. Is it sometimes bad? Duh. But did it help shift how we look at comics? Yup. He was perfect for the era in which he started. The 90s basically required someone like Liefeld, whom I call the Michael Bay of comics. In-your-face, violent, and often campy.
I am also okay with him continuing to work today. His flaws are so much more obvious now, but I like variance. Not every comic can look the same because static kills commodity. Some people have a problem with Adrian Alphona, JRJR, and so on, but they do the same thing for me: spice up my comic life.
Cloudguy: What do you think of the current state of Comicvine?
In the words of President Trump: "Sad." I miss the days of browsing blogs and reviews. I miss staff involvement. I miss the five "friends" that have left the site. I miss feeling like this is a community of users that love discussing comics. Now this place is my wiki home where I ban the same troll alts and give warnings to users who know better.
On the other hand, we have an ever-expanding wiki that just gets better with each new editor. And Cable's page has never looked better, although I still have a long way to go before it is complete. (I'm still stuck in 90s comics as far as his page goes.)
Cloudguy: Do you think the lack of editorial content from the staff is driving older users from the site or could it be something else?
Renchamp: I think older users are simply that: older. We are curmudgeonly in thinking that things now are not as great as they once were. We miss staff content (especially k4tzm4n's stuff). We miss community spotlights and random contests and so much more.
Also, being older, many users simply leave because they move on from investing so much time in a website and focus more on a new kid, college, and so on. It's rare that a few of us older statesmen have the ability to devote as much time as we do to the Vine.
I wish we got new content from staff. It isn't going to happen.
Cloudguy: It is a shame that some of our older users are leaving, but do you think they'd ever come back?
Since the staff aren't giving us any new content, the last article posted to the site was about this time last year. Do you think the community should start to put themselves forward for writing interesting content? While it's not their job, people do read them and find them interesting. Take myself for example, I do these interviews and post reviews quite often and they always seem to get traffic. It would be a fantastic way to get the community invested in something.
Renchamp: The community has tried to step up in the past and things typically fizzle. I would love users to PM me with article ideas. I would pin interesting stuff in a heartbeat. In fact, I would commandeer the Contests Forum to pin exceptional threads that are worthy of a special forum. If we got a nomination thread going, the Contests Forum could end up being an unofficial hall of fame for threads that took a lot of effort.
Cloudguy: While you may be a moderator, if you became a staff member, even for a day; what would you post about?
Renchamp: I would love to have a feature where I review and analyze gimmick comic books, like Power Pachyderms and Generic Comic Book; stuff that is supposed to be bad. I'd give a history of the ideas behind the gags, compare the books to contemporaries, and discuss any cultural impact.
I think a feature discussing the ramifications of important between-the-panels situations would also be fun.
Cloudguy: I think your idea of analyzing those sorts of comics would be quite fun. What's stopping you from doing it now?
Renchamp: Time. I would rather read a comic to add to the wiki than do a feature that would get overlooked since we just don't have a vehicle to get this type of project to the masses. It would be fun, but ain't nobody got time for that.
Cloudguy: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you'd like to say before we wrap this up?
Renchamp: Just that everyone should listen to the Front Bottoms, be civil on the Vine, and call their parents once in a while. Cheers.