8 October 2010
For those who are fans of the Gundam franchise or are familiar with the Gunpla (Gundam plastic models), Ngee Khiong is a blog that they are quite likely to visit. For years he has been providing the English-speaking community fans with timely Gundam-related or Gunpla news, as well as other mecha-related and large hobby event news.
On 1st October Ngee Khiong has decided to stop his main blog, stating that he was disappointed with how the Gundam and Gunpla community has turned out over the years, making him didn't feel like wanting to be a part of it anymore. His final post, explaining his reasons explicitly on what he has become disappointed with, with was up 4 days later.
After reading his final post I was a bit sad about what the community has done to him, and was planning to emphasise the problems I have seen with the Gundam / Gunpla community, but I've changed my mind and instead I've decided to write about my personal experience I had with his main blog in a more positive way rather than "bashing" the community with details or examples. It would be quite a long text post, which is something I don't do usually, but I do want to share my humble thoughts out as a fellow blogger and a friend of Ngee Khiong.
I remember that I first encountered Ngee Khiong's blog when I was searching for Gundam 00 episodes to watch. That would be almost exactly 3 years ago I'd think, since Gundam 00 was first aired in October 2007. Back then his blog was not a big hit yet, but I would still visit it now and then for updates. His news, less frequent to what it has been this year, were added with a bit of his personal touch and opinions with a good sense of humour now and then. I remember I was really excited when he replied to my first comment too (yes I know, I was that naïve ^^;), which encouraged me to do more interaction with him as a blogger. And so I decided that I would definitely stick around his blog more and comment now and then like chatting in a way.
Eventually the blog's popularity grows. As more timely news came in, readership increases as well. Understandably the comments became too much for Ngee Khiong to reply to, so he stopped replying unless it's something specific. Bad apples drop by now and then, but overall atmosphere still seems good for quite some time.
It's around Summer 2009 when he disabled comments on all of his posts, as he was getting bugged by abuse of comment section, mostly by one particular person, and it affected other readers too due to the unfriendly atmosphere the commenter has created. The chatbox, which had always been there ever since I first knew of the blog, was still up and therefore people commented and chatted there instead.
So this went on for 14 more months, until Ngee Khiong has decided to close down the chatbox. The chatbox was plagued with spam and people intending to disrupt the flow of discussion now and then, and Ngee Khiong expressed his fatigue on having to do IP bans all the time. Soon after his announcement of closing down the chatbox, there came his annoucement of closing down his blog as well. From his announcement he was originally planning to keep it up until March 2011, which would have marked his blog's 5th anniversary, but at the end he decided to close it on 1st October, the same date the chatbox was scheduled to cease existing as well.
His annoucement came as a shock to many readers, and I wasn't fully anticipating for it to happen either, even though there were hints from the solemn colour scheme, as well as someone on the chatbox mentioning "長痛不如短痛". And so it happened, with the reason stated that he's "extremely disappointed with the development of the Gundam and Gunpla community". He later published his final post, with his full explanation on why he has decided to quit blogging, including but not limited to discriminations, divisions / segregations within the Gundam and Gunpla community, and the amount of negative influence he has faced associated with his blog.
Perhaps Ngee Khiong has been a bit sensitive over what the Gundam and Gunpla community has been doing, but then even though he has tried his best to brush off the negative things as much as possible, receiving hate mails after hate mails and having his blog linked / "associated" with the hate stuff continiously and over a long time has put him on a toil eventually. It must have been hard for him to bear, after seeing his favourite hobby having so much negativity within the community that he used to love to share with. He may have been a high profile blogger in the Internet or at least from the Gundam community, but he is also an ordinary person in real life, just like most of us.
The whole thing really shouldn't have turned out like this. A hobby is supposed to be enjoyed with, not the other way round. It is supposed to be very simple, but it didn't turn out to be so. It's a real pity, but I do respect his decision. I just hope the burden will be lifted for him. At least his EX blog is still up and running, and he's keeping his humours and writing style just like the old times.
"Feels like old times already."
Image from YouTube, footage from StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
I would have written this post in much negative way, but after thinking about it I decided it's not worth doing the 'bashing' and all that sorts; it would do more harm than good, and Ngee Khiong would probably not want to have it that way either.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise, so I've decided to look at it on a more positive side. Given that I check his blog every few hours or so every day, it will feel a bit strange not to do so now, but I'm sure I'll get used to it eventually. Even though Ngee Khiong will no longer update his main blog, he has given us all the links and sources where he got his info from, and as he said a lot of the information comes from Chinese-speaking community as well. In addition to Japanese sites and Chinese-speaking forums, there are also English blogs like SRW Hotnews and Gundam Guy that are still running and providing news for the English-speaking community. Just as Neo-Era of Gunota Headlines (another great Gundam-related news blog which stopped 2 years ago) has said on his final post that "anime fandom today is more Japan-savvy than it was 5 years ago. Imageboards, largely unknown to English-speaking fandom then, pick up on news pretty quickly. The latest rumors & magazine scans can be seen on other fine sites and are passed around message boards every day." I think with so many sites and info being much more available to us than it was, we should be good enough to try stepping into the new grounds ourselves.
As for the closing words, I want to use this oppurtunity to say "Thank You" to Ngee Khiong for his hard work providing the fans and community with the timely news and info all these times, and I hope to see him continue his blogging in his own pace well and sound on his other blog!
@ Ngee Khiong:
I assume your MG G-3 OYW ver. is in the same condition as I have sent it to you? I haven't built mine either! XD I wonder whether either of us will get around to it eventually, or we ended up finding it too precious to assemble ^^;
The older Ngee Khiong banners are from his 3rd anniversary post