Tokyopop Redesigns Website, Throws Out User Content

Tokyopop logo

Several years ago, Tokyopop tried to make its website “stickier” by adding all kinds of social networking features to emphasize the “manga lifestyle”. You had to log in to access certain areas of their site, and they encouraged discussion and posting of fan art. Brigid Alverson called it an attempt

“to create a kind of MySpace for manga fans… What they ended up with was exactly what you always get when you open a website to user content and don’t moderate it at all: Plagiarized fanart, pissing matches, porn”

Now, they’ve changed direction. (Not a surprise, given which company we’re talking about. Looked at positively, Tokyopop is the American manga company most willing to try new things. The flip side view of that is that they can appear to be notoriously inconsistent when it comes to sticking with these new approaches.)

Tokyopop sent out an email announcement that they have a new website coming April 26 — sneak peek shown below, complete with lorem ipsum filler text — that won’t have room for any of this user content. As they said,

In this new simplified web environment, we will no longer be featuring user-generated content. So, we wanted to give you a heads-up that any photos, videos, drawings, etc. that you may have uploaded to over the years will NOT be ported over to our new website.

We know that you probably have kept copies of everything you’ve uploaded, but we just wanted to be extra-sure and give you this notice so that you could pull anything down from that you still need … Because, after Tuesday, April 26th, that site and all its associated user content will no longer be accessible.

So if you’ve ever uploaded anything you want to keep, better download it now. I wonder if the company decided that the storage costs weren’t worth the benefit they got in claiming X number of registered users, or if there were legal concerns about encouraging fan art using other people’s characters. With the company’s increasing emphasis on Facebook, that may more effectively take the place of their own social features anyway.

Tokyopop new site design

Hopefully, by the time the new website launches, they’ll have fixed the “Forums” misspelling. I also don’t see a search box, which is unfortunate, since I often couldn’t find content on their site any other way. Note that if we assume that the left-to-right order is significant, Books are less important than online and POD manga and merchandise. Again, trying new things — we’ll see how long they stick with them.

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