Copycat Rant 2004-06-09 13:21:09
Ok, I feel the need for a history lesson right now. In general I keep my cool about sites that copy off of Newgrounds, but I realized today that kids don't even know who is copying who. It seems plenty of users think that a "Flash Portal" is a common concept, all Flash Portals inherently look alike, and there is no way around it.
My rant was inspired by this thread.
In 1998, I started working with Flash. Back then, there were only a few notable Flash sites. Each site generally showcased the work of one person - the webmaster of the site. Newgrounds was my personal showcase.
In 1999 I created "The Portal" to showcase the Flash I made that wasn't big enough to be a "Newgrounds Feature". Fans started submitting their own Flash, so I showcased it in The Portal. I'm sure I wasn't the first guy to host someone else's Flash work, but Newgrounds did explode as the first community of Flash authors. I was receiving so many submissions via email that I worked with my friend Ross (an amazing coder) to build an automated version of "The Portal" (now referred to as the Flash Portal due to the existence of the Audio Portal) that same year.
So YES, Newgrounds was the first Flash Portal. I don't make many bold claims, but I will tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that we created the entire "Flash Portal" system that seems so common today. We were the first one to automate submissions, we were the first with the "three columns", we were the first with awards, we were the first with blams, saves, under judgements, and EVERY OTHER FEATURE you find on Newgrounds that is familiar on other sites. That is one thing I don't bullshit about... We have spent the past FOUR YEARS refining this system and making it what it is.
Nowadays, there are a lot of copycats. This past year has seen the biggest boom of copycat sites to date. Plenty of them have nice webmasters who really are cool guys, but none of that changes anything. They know where they got their inspiration (and much more), whether they admit it or not.
Every little aspect of NG has taken a lot of thought. We put tons of thought and work into our submission form, and now other webmasters simply copy the html code, paste it into their own page, and edit the values to submit to their database instead of ours. IT ISN'T THAT HARD TO RECREATE THE NG PORTAL, BUT CREATING IT DESERVES SOME CREDIT. I've spent countless hours brainstorming, as did Ross and as does James to this very day. We are still working on new features that require expansive planning. No doubt, a few years after their launch, they will seem simple and common as well.
I have never been a fan of copycat sites, but I've always accepted them as the reality of the world we live in. People see something they like, so they want to have their own version of it. That is just how people work. However, I was very disappointed by the above thread when I saw how many kids think a Flash Portal is just a Flash Portal. For years, NG was THE Flash Portal. Now it appears NG is "just another Flash Portal". That sort of thing really pisses me off, so I just had to say it.
You can go ahead and visit those other sites, but always know where it started. As one of the few Flash Portals that was actually started by a Flash author/enthusiast, I know the bottom line for artists is to get their work out there. Because of that, I can't simply say "don't showcase your work on those sites because it hurts my business." However, I do feel those sites cheapen everything that Newgrounds worked so hard for, and I think it is lame that fans of those sites don't even consider how they took all of our ideas and simply mirrored them for their own gain.
So once again, I just had to say it.