The Haruhi Suzumiya Guide to Running a Web Site

Matt Brown (Editor in Chief) — July 13th,2009
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Let's face it; starting and perpetuating an unfunded volunteer web site isn't easy. You have your awesome vision and perfect plans, and the world nibbles away at them with distractions, tedium, red tape, and general fear of your greatness. It isn't easy being you.

You're not one to let the world dictate how things are going to go down, though. Laws of physics, rules of common decency and etiquette, and lack of resources are immaterial. Time is the one true enemy. Time pays no heed to anyone's plans — like poison, it eats away at resolve, turning it like milk into the sour taste of boredom. Boredom is the death of vision.

The following is the essential toolkit for success, regardless of your project of choice. Inspired by no less a character than Haruhi Suzumiya, the embodiment of unshakeable resolve, the tips below are impractical, foolhardy, and just plain crazy. Because that's what your project is, and that's what it needs.

Recruit minions and treat them as such. Do not reveal your intentions fully.

Starting your web site requires a huge amount of tedious work, and you're not about to lower yourself to that nonsense. Locate the biggest sucker there is, and set him/her to work while you find other suckers for lesser roles in your organization. Your first should assume the role you want the least to do with, such as News Monkey, or Design Slave. Make sure that your minions know their place. Just because they aren't paid and are volunteering to sacrifice a number of life's perks to work for you, it doesn't mean they have a right to stop.

In general, the less your minions know, the better. It's OK to let them in on a redacted rendering of your Mission Statement, but by no means should you divulge any details that they could use to piece together your true intentions. Only when your vision is realized should they be allowed to bask in the glory of your genius.

Cast away all pretense of shame when drumming up business.

One's pursuits cannot be dampened by such trivialities as civil law and decency norms. A site needs undying (possibly even undead), rabid fans to survive. Bonus points if they're the type that'll love you more when you disparage them in public. In this business, a site chief that isn't prepared to place his minions' integrity on the chopping block for each and every page view isn't in it to win. Embarrass yourself, too, but only if it's fun.

Let the minions do your dirty work. That's what they're there for, after all.

Why should you worry about whether a page uses a div or a span? Whether the mascot is a unicorn or a badger? Whether or not OJ did it? Soul-crushing tedium is the realm of the minion. Anything they could be providing you, they should be, because otherwise, why should you keep them around?

You're the big cheese. You work the big picture.

Listen to suggestions and criticism, but pretend you don't.

The worst thing is a minion that defends the integrity of another. It's perfectly OK to back off and pretend to respect that, knowing full well you'll fondle the mascot again very soon. It's also OK to hear out the suggestions of those who think they understand what your mission is, but have no earthly clue. As long as it doesn't get boring.

Inevitably, you'll do something that makes your help think you listened to them. Of course it was your idea all along, but letting them credit themselves for your foresight makes them work harder. Win-win.

If you get bored, do something outrageous.

It's too easy to fall into the trap of boredom, and bad things happen when you're bored. Your fans might start to devour each other. Your minions will start to think for themselves, and maybe even develop a sense of self worth. Someone might notice that your mascot is actually your grandpa wearing cat ears and a speedo. You don't want this to happen.

Remember? You're in a fierce war against time, and radical action is the time killer. Make your whole team run a 5k in tutus if necessary, but keep it fresh.

If your actions are going to have disastrous consequences for all mankind, you'll be the last to know. So don't sweat it.

Chances are, your most loyal minion will fix whatever you did that was going to destroy the planet. If not, it was nice knowing you.

Let nothing stop you.