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Why is using your own Advice Animal bad etiquette?

Last posted Jan 16, 2013 at 11:03AM EST. Added Dec 28, 2012 at 01:41PM EST
20 conversations with 11 participants

Over time, I’ve generated a couple of new Advice Animal templates that I thought were reasonably clever, and I posted various versions (maybe 8-10, max) in a few places around the net to see if anybody would respond positively or pick up on them. I was recently told by a netquantance that I shouldn’t resort to “astroturfing,” that they have to grow in popularity organically. Okay, i get that, but how do they get any traction until people see them? I’m not trying to get them to go megaviral or get massive reddit karma, I just wish to prime the pump for the fun of seeing what other people might do with them. At what point does “bootstrapping” become “astroturfing?”

Last edited Dec 28, 2012 at 01:59PM EST
Dec 28, 2012 at 01:41PM EST
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This is a really good question. I’m gonna give it a think and get back to this thread.

Dec 28, 2012 at 02:54PM EST
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First off, your problem may be the advice animal “route.” It’s not very creative or novel. They’re sorta played out for most people at the hipster core of Web Culture.
 
Second (this coming from someone who isn’t as savvy as other moderators,) I think it’s a matter of it being “forced.” It takes away from the “pure” nature of memes as most users here see them.

Many (if not a massive majority of) memes aren’t “bootstrapped” or “astroturfed” (the two mean the same thing with differences in connotation and context.) Usually, something is used used once somewhere (origin), many people think it’s funny or appropriate for their own uses (spread), and people begin to use it in different ways and in different contexts (deviations, mutations, etc.) That isn’t to say that a meme isn’t a meme if it is astroturfed:

via Chris Menning:

Astroturfing occurs when a viral video or other phenomenon is staged or faked by an organization or other group of connnected individuals looking to promote a product, yet hide the fact that they are advertising. Knowing the difference between a grassroots movement and an astroturf movement is essential when considering a meme’s legitimacy.

…but it does take away from the spontaneity of the meme. When people see what you’re trying to do, then they’ll often actively work against it. The Internet does not seem to like to be, shall we say, “experimented” on in such a way. Trolling is generally targeted. A meme (I believe by its definition in Web Culture) needs to be used in various ways and in various contexts, meaning that the “target” is the Internet on the whole, and “seeing what other people might do with them” may imply that you’re experimenting or doing experimental science on the Internet. There is observation. And “lurking” and documenting is fine (heck, that’s what we do here, and some people still don’t like that,) but you’re consciously introducing an factor that wasn’t present before to induce behavior. It doesn’t “smell” right, I guess.

When you specifically desire to propagate an advice animal or any sort of potential Web phenomenon and you take action, it is immediately “forced.” “Bootstrapping” implies forcing a meme, so there is no difference in practicality between “bootstrapping” and “astroturfing.” There might be an implication that astroturfing is done by a group, but you, yourself, are an implementing entity, at the least. So it’s still close enough to astroturfing.
 
When you’re on the Internet, you can’t apply pressure to anyone to do anything. Implying that pressure immediately gets you backlash. It seems like you’re aware of that fact that you can’t make anyone do anything on the Internet. But that also means that (even with your efforts,) people don’t have to think the advice animals are funny, and they don’t have to use them.

That seems to be the case here.
 
If people want to use it, forced or not, then they will. You can use your own “catchphrase” or something and it might not be seen as you trying to get other people to use it, but using a unique advice animal (it’s funneh cuz advice animals are generally the same lulz oxymorons r cool) repeatedly will immediately come off as you trying to force a meme into use.
 
 
 
But enough psychobabble as to why it’s poor form.

You might want to look at the other supposed origins of advice animals and see how they came about. If you can “manipulate the Internet” properly, then you may be able to take cues from those newer advice animals and astroturf from there. See what kinds of advice animals took off in what contexts and determine what sites are most likely to use a certain advice animal.

But at the end of the day, it requires acceptance and use from other people for it to get going. If you don’t have that (regardless of how clever or funny you think it is and very well may be,) then you won’t have any spread.
 
 
Do you have any other questions? Or is anything unclear from this answer? amanda thinks there isn’t a difference, and I think I’ve said the same thing. I just posit that the lack of difference is why it’s poor form.

Last edited Dec 28, 2012 at 03:29PM EST
Dec 28, 2012 at 03:23PM EST
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I definitely understand your points, Verbose, and agree with all of them. For a long time, I never even considered trying to “make” a new image macro; I assumed they just kind of spontaneously congealed over on 4chan (a site I admittedly rarely frequent) by a subculture I neither knew nor understood.

Then, I read the KYM entry about the seemingly deliberate and calculated origin of Successful Black Man. It occurred to me that SBM is perhaps one of the most consistently funny AA memes (at least to me) precisely because it was created with a very specific, clearly defined, easily grasped Gestalt from the very beginning.

SO, I thought, if he attempted something original, maybe I should, too. Besides, a lot of image macros get played out quickly through endless repetition and variation of a few popular iterations. If I run across an image I haven’t seen on /r/adviceanimals, I’ll click it just for something fresh, and usually upvote it.

Okay, so the accidental success of the original Advice Dog makes for a very charming backstory. But backstory isn’t the same as humorous enjoyment. Compared to the somewhat hit-and-miss catalog of Advice Dog macros, I have found that a fair greater percentage of attempts at SBM humor hit the mark and leave me chuckling.

So, does the origin of an advice animal really matter THAT much?

Last edited Dec 28, 2012 at 03:51PM EST
Dec 28, 2012 at 03:50PM EST
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So, does the origin of an advice animal really matter THAT much?

Well, yes, in some way. This is mainly related to the community it originates from or whether it was based on a different idea.

Certain sites and communities just have a reputation of “forcing” memes. “Forcing” memes happens all the time, a lot more often than people even want to believe, and plenty well known current memes wouldn’t be around if the original community didn’t force it at first. But that doesn’t take away that people still don’t appreciate meme “forcing”.

Like 9gag has a reputation of forcing pretty much everything, r/adviceanimals has a reputation of forcing advice animals. Does that change the fact that it is or is not a meme once it has spread? No. But it does change how it might be accepted.

If you read the Overly Attached Boyfriend section in our entry on Overly Attached Girlfriend, you’ll read that there were at least a dozen of attempts from people to create an Overly Attached Boyfriend variant. The one that eventually became it was accidental, and the uploader didn’t aim at turning it into an advice animal. Attempting to launch a new advice animal based on a different popular one was something those others did, those basically tried to “force” a meme, and that is where they went wrong and why theirs weren’t accepted.

Last edited Dec 28, 2012 at 04:11PM EST
Dec 28, 2012 at 04:09PM EST
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So, in other words, if you’re going to create an image macro, it better be topically relevant to what’s going on in the RW at the moment, so that its commentary stands on its own, or else be so spectacularly entertaining and original that people enjoy it enough to respond to it whether they think its forced or not.

Dec 28, 2012 at 05:21PM EST
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Are we discussing this in general, or in relation to the entries?
If it is the entries, this site is not a platform to promote your own work.
If not, we should move this thread to general.

Dec 28, 2012 at 05:23PM EST
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MDFification wrote:

Are we discussing this in general, or in relation to the entries?
If it is the entries, this site is not a platform to promote your own work.
If not, we should move this thread to general.

It doesn’t seem to be taking a turn to researching a potential meme, discussing any particular entry, or even researching memes in general.

However:

  • Meme Research: The topic is memes. Entry research, theories, trends, editing help, database maintenance & related

I think “theories” about astroturfing/bootstraping are applicable here. The current discussion also addresses why forced memes aren’t taken to as well as organic ones. “General” (Main board. Hot internets, fun finds, fresh news, questions – anything besides meme research) is meant for basically anything that isn’t Meme Research and doesn’t fit into the Just for Fun or Site-Related categories.

I think it should stay here.

Dec 28, 2012 at 05:42PM EST
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MDFification wrote:

Are we discussing this in general, or in relation to the entries?
If it is the entries, this site is not a platform to promote your own work.
If not, we should move this thread to general.

I have no intention of promoting my own work here. I am simply trying to discuss the theory behind forced/organic meme generation, specifically as it relates to image macros.

Dec 28, 2012 at 06:21PM EST
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This is actually a good point, but Verbose did say*, Advice animals have kind of ruined the spontaneity of memes as they are basically super popular, evolved snowclones. Right?

Not specifically, but you get my point, advice animals evolved from advice dog, they’ve just been copied and ‘re-mastered’ from various templates that people make; the idea of advice animals, along with the top and bottom text usually delivered in a first line-punch line format is overall a meme, but the remakes and original work that are, in a way, mass produced are not, in my opinion.

Because of that, people don’t take too kindly to new guys posting new advice animals around the net because it just keeps advice animals alive which they don’t like at all because what you’ve posted isn’t completely your original work. Sure, you make the joke and the whole idea around it, but it’s still a template you have taken, therefore people find that unoriginal. And don’t get me started on a (technically unoriginal) derivative becoming a meme entry on here!

* Well, kind of.

Last edited Dec 28, 2012 at 07:03PM EST
Dec 28, 2012 at 07:00PM EST
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I kind of look at advice animals like limericks – the form is specific, but open ended. The breadth of templates out there are sort of like the tools in your toolkit, or the playing field you play on, or the blues run a jam band riffs off of. It defines the parameters, the conduit for the creative payload. That being said, I’m a snob that thinks the vast majority of both limericks and improvisational jazz are dissapointingly sophomoric. So, yes, the form can become overused. But that doesn’t mean I never want to hear another limerick.

Last edited Dec 28, 2012 at 11:38PM EST
Dec 28, 2012 at 11:35PM EST
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It’s because, simply put, they’re almost never funny. They’re expected, because seeing the background is like letting a punchline slip before telling the rest of the joke. They’re also not very creative or novel. It’s akin to Mad Libs. Maybe they’re a good laugh once at a party, but if a comedian built his entire comedic act around Mad Libs he’d be booed off the stage on a regular basis.

Last edited Jan 15, 2013 at 07:52PM EST
Jan 15, 2013 at 07:51PM EST
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Pseudogenesis wrote:

It’s because, simply put, they’re almost never funny. They’re expected, because seeing the background is like letting a punchline slip before telling the rest of the joke. They’re also not very creative or novel. It’s akin to Mad Libs. Maybe they’re a good laugh once at a party, but if a comedian built his entire comedic act around Mad Libs he’d be booed off the stage on a regular basis.

I find “not funny” a bad argument. Tastes in humor differ for each individual, and those advice animals we do have entries for wouldn’t have gotten those if there weren’t people who actually found them funny. People hate the Big Bang Theory, yet it still has a fuckhuge fanbase. Those that hate the show would most likely never laugh at a Big Bang Theory joke, while the fans would. Same applies to Advice Animals.

If you would go with that the majority dislikes them, I can agree with you. There is certainly more hate out there than love. But you can’t fully confirm that, as we don’t have a clear estimate of people that like Advice Animals (whereas the haters commonly make it easy to identify them through comments).

The popularity of an Advice Animal isn’t based solely on whether or not it’s funny. People also like it if they can relate to the character or if they perhaps know a person who shares the personality depicted in the Advice Animal. The more they can place themselves or their social lives in the Advice Animal, the higher the chance of them liking it.

Funny thing though how this doesn’t apply to the overly positive Advice Animals like Overly Manly Man and Over-Educated Problems. There everyone suddenly relates to them and loves them (hell, you even have a top comment on Over-Educated Problems).

Last edited Jan 15, 2013 at 08:25PM EST
Jan 15, 2013 at 08:22PM EST
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To be fair, I never said they were subjectively not funny. (Unfunny? Nonfunny?) I guess I just have higher – read: pretentious – standards for humor.

Speaking of which:

There everyone suddenly relates to them and loves them (hell, you even have a top comment on Over-Educated Problems).




Checkmate? So soon? Dammit.

Jan 15, 2013 at 08:52PM EST
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Tanshanomi wrote:

I kind of look at advice animals like limericks – the form is specific, but open ended. The breadth of templates out there are sort of like the tools in your toolkit, or the playing field you play on, or the blues run a jam band riffs off of. It defines the parameters, the conduit for the creative payload. That being said, I’m a snob that thinks the vast majority of both limericks and improvisational jazz are dissapointingly sophomoric. So, yes, the form can become overused. But that doesn’t mean I never want to hear another limerick.

The thing about advice animals for me is that they’re the fastest most efficient way of telling a joke quickly and thats why I think we have so many.

The top line is the set up, the bottom line is the punch line and the animal provides context for the the joke to make sense. Advice animals are just a name we’ve given to really simple jokes. Also, I made this observation on “soul searching sophomore” and I got the top comment. I’m not trying to brag but point out that even though 90% off comments were “boo advice animal” there is clearly a huge number of users who don’t feel that way but are less vocal

Jan 15, 2013 at 09:14PM EST
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To be fair, I never said they were subjectively not funny.



Objectively*. Dammit. The 30 minute editing limit is the bane of my linguistic perfectionist existence.

Jan 15, 2013 at 11:18PM EST
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From what I’ve seen on the site, whenever someone generates a new Advice Animal spinoff, it’s automatically deemed a “Forced” or “Deapool” entry.

One of the reasons they might do this is perhaps because the meme IS forced or truly a dead pool worthy entry or “meme”.

Another is just shear annoyance at the amount of spinoffs. We have nearly 80 sub entries, so when you enter in a new one, it’s a little annoying when you constantly see new “memes” that can be easily created and replicated. Just take an animal head, make a colourful background and personify some human trait. Like “Bad Manners Hippo”. Throw it into an easily trending site like Reddit or Tumblr, and boom, new “meme”. Just the sheer amount of creations can piss people off a lot, and when you try to say that a limited lifespaned one day trend on Tumblr is now a “meme”, that can REALLY cause some heads to explode.

So it’s just sheer annoyance at the amount and constant overuse of the template that makes us hate Advice Animals, not the animals themselves.

Jan 16, 2013 at 12:33AM EST
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[insert reasonable logical intellectual paragraph]

Damn it guys.

Why can’t I write a single paragraph that can be as good as your guys’. D:

Jan 16, 2013 at 12:44AM EST
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@RM:

This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This.
I’ve said it more than enough, the funnyness of a meme doesn’t have anything to do with its memetic value or not. Yet it often seems to be forgotten by the majority of the userbase that these things must be reviewed objectively.

Which leads into my main argument…

Wait, what was it again?
Seriously, I can’t remember.

Basically, sure, there’s a lot of them, and the overexposure is grating, but that doesn’t stop the fact that even when it’s manipulated by the Reddit machine, if it spreads, it’s still a meme and it should be documented as such. (Somewhat) related example: If you know what I mean. It started on 9gag, which is an instant “ew no” for most users, but if you told me that it wasn’t a legitimate meme now, I would slap you upside the head with a trout and tell you to stop pretending to know memes. In the same way, advice animals are still memes if they fall under the requirements for being one.

Jan 16, 2013 at 02:21AM EST
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I’ve been discussing this further with the netquantance I spoke of originally, which has given me some additional insight.

I posted an original image macro (not an advice animal, but close) in a comment thread on a particular special-interest blog we both frequent. It was obviously intended for that specific audience, which only the regular readers of that particular site would “get.” .

He responded very positively (“I LOVE it!”), so I asked him what the difference was. He responded that it was not really a meme, but rather an inside joke, which is what “authentic memes” always start out as. That macro found its value within that one single usage. It had completely fulfilled its purpose without being “picked up” and re-used.

I think that was the best answer to my question I’ve heard yet. It definitely clarified things in my head.

Last edited Jan 16, 2013 at 11:04AM EST
Jan 16, 2013 at 11:03AM EST
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Skeletor-sm

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