I haven't spend much time on my computer last weekend, but enough to see that DeviantArt was kept busy by a troll that apparently did really well for as much as trolls can 'do well' on the internet. A little over 4000 pageviews in just 4 days the account is online proved not only the artists involved in the matter took offense... but apparently a lot of other DeviantArt members as well. Even those that seemed (to me at least) totally uninvolved with the troll or the particular type of art.
For those that wonder about the issue; It's about Foxbun's rather cynical joke about the 'closed species' matter. (I'm usually against name calling here. But this account has intentionally created for its goal. It has been all over the site already and would've been in the comments within 10 minutes, even without me mentioning here. I don't provide a link, though. Use your search engine if you want to research it.)
The term white knight is to most older members of DeviantArt (or the internet in general) a well known term, and not for its positive connotation. It's most used in the context of fanatic fangirls or groupies that defend a celebrity or (in this case) famous artist on basically every front, regardless of checking sources, or if this person is right and reasonable or not. This often leads to awkward situations, harassing people, spamming and entire wars against a single (sometimes unaware) critic, often with devastating consequences.
Seeing the huge amount hateful of comments on this single issue, and considering the fact that a few of the artists attacked where considered 'big shots' on DeviantArt, I consider this again a classic case of white knighting. And regardless of the person being a scam or not; I do not like the sight of that. Not at all. It reminds me a bit too much of the high school bullying where it was often 10 people against 1, and the rest stood by and just watched and laughed. I just can't help to cringe at that kind of behavior.
Sure, this person might be an experienced internet user. A troll, or whatever people might call it. But not all people are aware of internet rules and community etiquette.
In one of my early years on DeviantArt, I once made the mistake to post a critical comment on an artwork from a user that had a rather big fanbase. Despite my good intentions of actually of wanting to help this artist, and the fact that my comment was overall balanced, the comment was everything but appreciated. At least; not by her fans. Even before she could reply I got at least 5 replies in my inbox written by her fans. They told me, not in the nicest way, my comment was unjustified and that I was a **** [you may imagine] for even having the guts to write something like that to their idol. In the end the artist herself never replied to me, but the negative feeling that came with her drawings lasted a long time. I unwatched her for a while. And even when I found back the courage to watch her again (when I realized she wasn't the one responsible, but her fans were) I actually never commented again. I liked her art, but wanted to avoid her fans really badly.
A few years of experience and a lot more watchers have basically forced to view the issue from the other side as well.
And this makes it part of the reason why I want to share this with people.
Because as an artist I've learned that you can't completely control a watcher base. A few days ago I made a piece for the MH17 airplane disaster. Just, heartfelt, because as a fellow Dutchy (a lot of people from my country died there) I felt like it. Most reactions were positive. One, however, was negative. But before I even woke up the next day and had the chance to look at it and write a reply to it... another person already wrote something instead. Luckily this was a very sensible person and a very sensible and thoughtful comment. But the point is; with such exposure, people answer things before I myself can even get to it. And that's basically how part of this happens.
Part of it, I say. Because I firmly believe the other part is controllable with responsible behavior. There's a difference between making a journal about "Somebody insulted me. I feel bad today" or "Person-X insulted me. What a ****". The first statement is probably going to get you some cyber hugs and comforting reactions. The second thing will most definitely redirect all the hate towards that Person-X. And while that sweet revenge might bring you relief for a second, it won't make you anything more than just a big cyber bully. Overall; refrain from name calling, unless positive... or unless it's such a big blown up matter that everybody already knows it and not saying the word is like ignoring an elephant in the room.
As for people in whose name is white knightned (if that even is a verb). I cannot speak for all of them on DeviantArt here, but I'm sure there are many people with me on this one, that don't particularly like it when their "fans" go all out on someone or something. Having a reasonable discussion with someone about a subject, even in the name of some else, is totally fine. As long as it's done in a polite manner and with some solid arguments. Trolling people, harassing them, spamming them, calling names, bullying them... etc... is not cool.
It might seem cute and everything. Defending your idol. And sure, I can imagine people being protective towards someone else that else that already gets a lot of criticism -- I don't deny the fact that some people here are in fact exposed to harsh criticism. But doing bad things in the name of your idol only gives your idol a bad name and reputation. And that's the one thing you don't want as fanatic fan. People turning away from your fandom, because they might've liked the fandom itself, but can't stand the fans.
To return to the beginning of my DeviantArt journey. I was a newbie on the site, a non-native English person (took me ages to write a message in English) and unaware of the general culture on the site. I thought I did something helpful, and those reactions scared the shit out of me. That being one of the first experiences with that particular artist on the site, it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I never commented on the artist work again. Ironically not even up until today. I could've been an amazing fan, though. Considering that, back in that time, I was a basement dweller with basically no life and there were other people that I commented on all the time. But yeah, those so called fans just scared me away.
What I wanted to say is; just don't be that person that ruins the experience for other people on the website.
If the artist himself wants to be an ass and chase away his fans... that's up to him. Those are his fans, so it's his loss. But don't do it for another artist. If someone personally attacks you, your family, or your best friend... it's totally be okay to get involved. If someone attacks your art, it's okay to get angry. But don't get into a fight for an artist you barely know. Or at least not without doing a proper background check on the subject and having a solid opinion on the subject that's actually yours.
And as a final note. Before any of you go harassing to comment section saying "OMG! U support art theft!!!!" or anything like that, just because I mentioned this particular case; learn to read context. I don't support art theft at all, and I've never done so. But I don't support cyber bullying either. My stance on this case is rather neutral, and the only reason I brought it up is to serve as a recent example.