Of Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness fame, that is. Ever since i picked up the former late last year (Kinokuniya sales, banzai), the more i associate with society, the more i get disillusioned and disgusted with it.

So much so that i get elated beyond belief when i have a job offer rejection. Those who fancy a good bitchslap, read on.

An explanation is obviously in order. Out of all the pursuits i’ve been quietly been engaging in since my latest absence from le blog, the latest has been working (or attempting to work) as a QCer for a scanlation group, the name of which i shall decline to divulge. (HOWEVER, if you’re smart enough you’ll be able to figure it out from various clues scattered around this post.) To begin with, let us examine what is required of the post according to the group:

Qcers/Proofers are responsible for making sure the scanlations read properly in English and are cosmetically sound. A QCer/Proofer is to scanlations what an Editor is to an author or writer. [Or what a beta is to a fanfiction author.] Not only are qcers/proofers responsible for basic things like grammar, spelling and punctuation – but they also need to be keen on flow, tone and for any graphical discrepancies the editor might have missed.

So far so good. Let’s read on:

Qcers/Proofers are the final say in whether or not reading a scanlation is an enjoyable process or a painful one. A project can be edited beautifully, but if it reads badly, it’s just as bad a reading a poorly edited scanlation. While you may not want to tear your eyes out, you will probably want to dip your brain in acid.

Ah ha. Jackpot. After getting accepted on probation, my first job was (relatively) easy. Here be a sample:

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And the Head QCer’s reply?

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Comfortable with it? A lot less time? IMAGES EASIER TO IDENTIFY, BUT USED TO FOLLOWING TEXT? Primo, that last statement blatantly implies stubbornness with regards to flexibility, and is absolute bullshit as far as i’m concerned. So you’d prefer additional wastage of your precious time in favor of a Platonic approach, while having the gall to admit in the same breath that other methods work better? Secondo, I use a Mac laptop, meaning all you have to do is Shift-Command-4 and voila, instant screenshot. I am surprised that Head QCer also happens to use a Mac laptop and yet is unaware of this simple little shortcut that saves time. Tertio, this sounds just like the people who say things like ‘some members of (insert ethnic group) whom i know personally are decent people, but in general, members of (ethnic group) are (insert stereotype)’.

And they like sending things in .rar format. I tried iArchiver and many other things, all with a trial period of 12-20 days. I ended up having to do an elaborate dance of download (on Mac)-un-Rar (on desktop Windows computer)-re-download (on Mac), which takes an average of 10 minutes depending on decompression rate and file size.

My subsequent reply merely included ‘is there no room for “change we need”? Will follow format from now on.’ Infuriatingly, HQC automatically assumed that i was easy to take advantage of.

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Thank you…for redoing?? Oh, the audacity of a boss. And sorry, i tried out FFView and it threw me into a state of hysteria because of its horrible controls, muchos gracias. They consist of…nothing. Literally.

The following week, i was in for the shock of my life. The translation was unrecognizable in more than a few areas (i say this lightly), and i thank heaven they actually bothered to send me the raw scans so that i could correct the mistakes, because the 6 hours (and probably more) that i spent QCing was mostly devoted to consulting dictionaries and the net. Compare pre-QC:

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with my revision:

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and my submission email (for which i tried extremely hard not to be a bitch):

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Apparently they didn’t take my observation very well, and decided to drop me like a hot potato straight after that. (Censoring is in order, of course.)

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Translation: MYOB and do what you’re told to do. Please note that the response was wholly avoiding the sticky issue of translation in my submission email. While ‘Good riddance!’ did not immediately come to my mind upon receiving this (semi-grammatically incorrect – oh the irony) email, ‘HALLELUJAH!’ did. Naturally, i did not reply with a shorter version of what you’re reading now; that reeks of ‘i’m in the wrong but i’m on the defensive’. Instead, i gave them the more insulting silence (meaning i didn’t reply at all).

Since the apparent problem lies with the magic word criteria, let us return to requirement 2, and one of the additional skills/requirements they added in as an afterthought:

  •  Qcers/Proofers are the final say in whether or not reading a scanlation is an enjoyable process or a painful one. A project can be edited beautifully, but if it reads badly, it’s just as bad a reading a poorly edited scanlation. While you may not want to tear your eyes out, you will probably want to dip your brain in acid.
  • Anal retentiveness and/or OCD tendencies. Basically you must have a very sharp eye for detail. You are a perfectionist when it comes to the work you do, however, not so much that anything you work on never gets done.

Conversely, take a look at the undesirable elements of a potential QCer:

  • Unable to work in a team environment. Sometimes, you may have to put your ego aside and remember that you’re part of a team. Working with a scanlation group means working with different people. There’s nothing wrong with having strong opinions, but remember that in the end everyone has to think about what’s best for the group and not what’s best for just you.

Translation: put aside your ego to preserve the collective group’s ego.

Consider Viewpoint 1: I, as a troublemaking, unorthodox anarchist, threaten group cohesiveness. Ergo, i impede work progress as a whole, which is of course going to have a domino effect and harm everyone who reads scanlations in general.

Now this: If i am indeed an unorthodox troublemaker (i’ll leave out anarchy for now), but what i suggest/do is beneficial to ‘the finished product’ (i.e. the scanlation), and consequently the wellbeing of scanlation readers by not making their brains yearn for acid OD, why should i be obliged to forsake the very nature of my job as a QCer in order to uphold the status quo?

In other words, this implies that i’m not justified in being OCD because i happened to criticize my precious, unknown comrade who happens to be a completely BS and incompetent translator? Is this some kind of Gurren Lagann-esque duty vs. loyalty dilemma? Why don’t you just close down the job openings, for God’s sake? My job was to QC, and to QC means being anal about everything. Including translations. Doing a good job is one thing. Shirking 3/4 of your work because a) you know the editor/QCer is going to clean up for you, or b) you are aware that this is a payless, and therefore you decide to do just enough to float by – anyone who does this ought to be shot, preferably Soviet-style, and then unceremoniously dumped in a mass grave. The term ‘working for free’ implies one of two things: either you are a sucker, or you have passion for that particular job. People who claim no.2 as their joie de vivre in cyberspace and yet do a bad job are either self-delusional or hypocrites. And all this has absolutely Nothing.To.Do.With.Bleedin’.TEAMWORK.

What’s best for the group VS. What’s best for you? Why not try thinking What’s best for the community, i.e. those unwashed masses who read the finished product? The sad reality is that nobody cares about boardroom wars on Cadbury chocolate advertising when they eat it, let alone the manufacturing processes, or if you’d like to go that far, the exploitation of child labor back in the cocoa fields. Likewise, few people outside the scanlation industry give a damn about teamwork, but they’re going to be pissed off if the scanlations aren’t good work. ‘Free’ is not a term for you to hide behind; in effect your ‘job’ is just an unpaid version of what the good people at ChuangYi and other translation manga distributors sweat blood for, so i don’t see any reason to put any less effort in it. Bottom line is, if something other than your usual method works, are you going to stick your head in the sand and continue bleating ‘our tried-and-tested is still teh no.1!’?

To top it all off, let’s end this diatribe with the case of Dune in Casshern Sins episode 20 (hey, you thought there wasn’t gonna be any animu reference?). Dune, who i wasn’t exactly fond of due to his doglike devotion to Luna (who turns out to be the ‘gray Swan’ of this series), says the following as he dies trying to protect Luna (as if she needs any protection, actually):

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And what does Luna say?

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Substitute Dune for the suckers whose brains run around like little rats in the thinkbox they’re given, and Luna for the community in general, and you have a recipe for disaster. Society thanks noone for following the rules to get the desired results, at least not outside the classroom. In other words, why be a nerd?

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