Something about scanlation

Something about scanlation

Lately I’ve been working shoulder to shoulder with several scanlation groups, thanks to FoOlReader mostly, and I got to see some of their workflow.

Straight to the point, here’s some unobvious suggestions about what a scanlator should and should not do.

The website

If you’re a lone wolf in scanlation, you might be ok with just a place to release, so any free blog (blogger, suffices. Note that what you do is not legal, while bitterly accepted, so it’s very easy for your free blog to get closed. Always keep backups of your files and links.

A team of at least 6 people will need a server. Settling on e-mailing and using upload services is a waste of time. If you start a scanlation website, by the 10th release your site will have the visitor flux of a 2-3 years old scanlation team. Your visitor flux will increase only if you release more frequently, and it’s not proportional in any way to the age of your site.
Your site should be based on WordPress, your frontpage should not be a forum. Forums look really clunky when used as portals, and are a real pain to deal with. WordPress offers an incredible variety of themes, and most, with just few tweaks anybody can do, will look clean for your activity.
Use Simple Machines Forums 2.0 if you want a forum. I suggest having one if you rely mostly on advertising, because it generates simple pageviews, therefore more money to pay for the next month.

SMF is also useful as login system, because it allows you to select which pages a user will see. In example, I can set a page to be seen only by the team. First of all, make a “team” group with SMF, and then, PHP newbies, this can interest you.

Add this to the top of the file, with no spaces before the < ?php:



This loads the forum functions anywhere. Later, I can just use the boolean to decide what to display in a IF clause:

if (in_array("25", $user_info['groups'])) {  /* YOUR CODE */}

25 is the ID number of the team group. You can just write this on the top of a PHP file when you want only team to see that page:

<?php require_once("/var/www/forums/SSI.php");
if (in_array("25", $user_info['groups']))
} ?>
/* the rest of the file goes here */


Install a Mediawiki (wikipedia script). It’s the greatest tool for dealing translation and proofreading, before editing. There’s a Mediawiki plugin to integrate the login system with SMF: it will let your team use their same forum login, you can select which group should be able to login, and keep your translations private.

Of course, if you have a good enough server, don’t forget to adopt a FoOlReader. You can use a FoOlReader also for proofreading, so the proofreaders don’t need to download the chapters to check them. We use it also to keep RAW, so we can retrieve the missing SFX much faster.

The team

On a way different tone, teams are dealt in many different manners. FoOlRulez has been even called elitary and strict, because of our way to deal the system. In fact we:

  • Don’t accept people who already work for other groups
  • Don’t allow our people to work in others’ project without credits to our team
  • We don’t have hierarchy, and at most we have work division.

Feeling of belonging to a team is the most important aspect, in my opinion at least. Belonging to many teams means not belonging deeply to any of them. Furthermore, it makes the members really unreliable. The leader should know how much work there is on the shoulder of each member, and be able to sort it so nobody starts disliking it. Knowing the load on the members is primary.
The same way, you shouldn’t let your team members be dragged by other people in their projects. Someone wants a translation from your group”s translator? Good, this is called joint, even if it’s “just” one translation for one chapter. Your group’s name must be on the release, as the member used his time that he could spend on one of your group’s projects.

We don’t have a hierarchy. Z-Virus checks the quality of the proofreaders and sets standards, and I set the standard of the editing. But that’s no hierarchy, just practical division of the work. People with more skill help people who are still learning. In the end of the day, respect is built between members, and that’s really human, if you ask me.
Hierarchy just means there’s someone wanting power. In groups that are as small as ours (20-30), a project manager is good enough, maybe two or three. If you want power, gain with trust and quality of your work, and don’t ask for it (ah, and don’t forget to be a nice person!).

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10 Responses to “Something about scanlation”

  1. Rockmanshii says:

    “Feeling of belonging to a team is the most important aspect, in my opinion at least. ”