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January 24, 2013
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MMD GEN-X Poster Girl by Trackdancer

So one morning I was going through my DA messages and there was one from deviant RaikuHoshigami with a rather interesting proposition. Basically, he suggested that I write an article on "Cyber-Bullying" as it pertains to MMD.

He raised some really interesting points with respect to this subject and in a nutshell these were all points that affect many of us here on DA who are MMDers, either directly or indirectly. Especially since outside of Japan, many MMDers are exactly in the demographic groups most likely to be affected by "Cyber-Bullying"; namely those who are in their pre-teen and teens. There are also instances to my direct knowledge where some who are in their early 20s have been negatively impacted in their experiences with MMD by others on DA. So, this is a subject worth visiting in a little more depth.

So what we will do here are the following:
(And I'm afraid we can only touch the subject in this article briefly as it is actually quite a complex topic)

  1. What is Cyber-Bullying as it pertains to MMD and why Cyber-Bullying is bad for MMD
  2. The "MMD Police" and why this is a "bad" thing
  3. What you can do if you're a victim of Cyber-Bullying

I've included at the end a list of links for more information and help on this topic.

First off, in the United States, cyber-bullying is illegal. California has specific legislation that deals directly with this type of activity. Most other States have this area covered under existing anti-harassment or anti-stalking legislation. Most major Police Departments also have anti-Cyber-Bullying units and they do take this matter seriously, more so than perhaps physical harassment cases. So be warned, if you engage in this type of activity, you can end up in serious trouble with the Law. Also, don't think that just because you're hiding behind a screen name on the Internet that the Authorities can't find out who you are and where you live. It's actually a lot easier than you may think.

Also a very important point. Cyber-Bullying can only occur between "kids". "Kids" being defined as minors as provided by Law. An adult that is engaged in this type of activity against a minor can be charged with harassment. At the very least this can lead to being charged with a misdemeanor (= hefty fine + other penalties) and in more serious cases a felony (= jail time). The penalties upon conviction for a minor are no less severe and can even lead to a mandatory stay at the local Juvenile Detention Center (Juvenile Hall in more common palance).

What is Cyber-Bullying as it pertains to MMD and why Cyber-Bullying is bad for MMD

Cyber-Bullying occurs when someone makes a nasty digital communication (remark /post /comment /picture /message /website /blog/trolling) that is designed to hurt or embarrass the recipient  Especially if this behavior is repetitive and when others are bought in to perpetrate further attacks on the victim. "Kids" and especially teens are much more likely to be adversely affected by this type of behavior than adults. In extreme cases, cyber-bullying have led to cases of clinical depression and even to suicides by victims in the USA; which is why the Government and other Authorities are increasingly concerned about the problem. 

The most likely form that this will occur within the context of MMD is when people make nasty remarks on someone else's MMD picture or video. For example, a lot of kids like to create OCs (Original Characters) that are a reflection of themselves - call them avatars if you like. So just imagine what would happen if a child spends hours with the PMD editor, creates a self-image for use in MMD, then posts a picture of this model on their DA page. Along comes someone and they post a comment such as: "That's ugly ...". How do you think that child will feel?

Let's compound the problem. So the person who posts the comment gets his friends to post similar comments; now you have a group ganging up on the child. In traditional bullying, a kid can run home, shut the door and is safe within the confines of his own home. They cannot do this when they're on the Internet because the Internet brings the world into their home.

OK, they can turn off the computer and the problem would go away right? Well unfortunately, no. First off, most kids aren't mature enough to do that and secondly, those postings will still be there the next time they go back on the Internet.

When I looked around DA, especially at the names used by many of the groups dedicated to MMD, I can see that this MMD community has had a lot of what kids refer to as "drama". This is where one group of kids pick on another kid or kids and basically there's been a series of online battles occurring within the confines of DA without the knowledge of most adults. The end result is that the community becomes fractured and many kids leave the hobby completely due to their negative experiences.

In Japan, the MMD community is demographically older. They probably have their own issues, but that's not the discussion here. Over here, "Overseas" as the Japanese refer to us, our demographics do include a much larger community of minors; and that is a good thing. I have seen kids use my models in ways that I would never have imagined. There is a lot of creative energy coming from the kids and that's really wonderful. By the same token, that behooves those of us who are adults to do something when individual kids (or other for that matter) are picked on. Kids get all over the place on the Internet. Most can be on their cellphone, IM, Twitter, Facebook and DA all at the same time in a manner that few adults could possibly emulate. For them cyber-space is their world and an environment in which they can thrive as fish does in water. Yet it can also be a dangerous place and as responsible adults we can and should help them when they get in trouble.

There's probably many things that adults can do to help; but this is what I've been doing for a year on DA so maybe you might get some ideas from what I am about to put forward. Mine is not the definitive solution; it is merely my way of doing things.

  1. I keep my DA pages "G" or at least "PG" rated. When I depart from this norm I make sure that my work is safely behind the mature filter.
  2. I will respond to 99% of any comment posted on my pages in a friendly matter. There's always that 1% to which my ability to formulate an intelligent response totally fails.
  3. There have been times when Deviants have come to "my side" of DA complaining that they have not been receiving "nice" treatment elsewhere on DA. My response has always been that they are ALWAYS welcomed in my small corner of DA. I have always done this for a purpose, and that is to provide people of all ages a "safe haven", in as much as I can, within the boundaries of my pages. People can come here, read about Miku and the other Vocaloids doing insane things and have a good laugh, grab a nice model to play with, read one of the tutorials and learn something or just look at my MMD pictures (and get another good unintentional laugh). My work was designed to make my pages be a safe place to hang out. Just peruse through the different sections of my DA pages and you will find evidence of this policy everywhere. I can't stop the drama, nor can I necessarily stop the bullying, but I can provide kids (and others) somewhere safe to go should they need it. It's one of the least things that I can do to contribute to this community.

That does not mean I am necessarily a "nice guy". I am not. I have chewed out people and quite aggressively at that if my buttons have been pressed the wrong way. That said, I am a skilled communicator and can usually differentiate between the posting of kids from those of adults so I will, in general, gauge my more aggressive postings accordingly.

And this leads nicely to the next point.

The "MMD Police" and why this is a "bad" thing

I am a big advocate of the First Amendment Freedom of Speech. Which is one of the reasons I've argued that within certain legal contexts, there's no such thing as an "illegal edit". And if you think about it, how can an edit be "illegal" especially since in most instances, an illegal edit, if not protected by the First Amendment can reasonably be argued as being protected under Fair Use guidelines? Please don't misconstrue what I am saying here as my being a supporter of model redistribution where this clearly breaches the copyrights of the copyright owner. That is a separate matter all together.

So, if someone wants to edit (say for example) the Windows100% model by Mamama of See U. So long as it's just for show, that's fine by me. Besides, I don't speak for either Windows100% magazine nor for Mamama. I have no idea what they would think about the edit. If they have an issue with it, that's between them and the person who made the edit. It is not my place to go to that person's page and post some negative remark stating that the edit was "illegal". Now, if they also decided to distribute that model, I might say something, but one can put the point across politely and nicely. What happens beyond that point is really between them and the copyright owner. Seriously, it really is none of my business.

Does this kind of reasoning make sense?

So, some people seem to make it a habit to go on to other peoples pages; sees something that they consider to be an "illegal" edit and use that as an excuse to attack the author. Note, that they have the tendency to attack the author and not just point out the transgressions that they have perceived in the work. There is a big difference and you can usually tell by the tone of the posting. 

Have you ever wondered who appointed them to protect the copyright owner? Certainly in 99.99% of the time, not the copyright owner right? So who do those who portray themselves as the "MMD Police" really represent? 

Here's my answer: "Themselves".

Just as my opinion is worth "diddly-swat", so is theirs. All they generally accomplish at the end of the day is to hurt someone else's feeling so that they can feel good about themselves. Which is why I have a consistent policy of taking a very aggressive stance towards anyone posting a comment questioning the "legality" of an edit. The MMD Police almost never have the moral high ground simply because they never had it in the first place - think about this for a moment. And if you're stuck for an answer to this question just ask yourself again who they really speak for.

But the thing that really gets to me and makes me angry with this type of behavior is because of its potential to do real harm to the emotions of the author, and generally, this will be a kid or a teen. Unlike most adults, they would not have developed the emotional armor to protect themselves and can easily be seriously hurt by negative remarks. 

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me", is not a defensive strategy applicable to kids and teens. All you need to do is watch children at play in the park to ascertain that name calling does lead to tears. It takes years for us to develop the layers of emotional protections that most adults have to shield themselves from the negative behaviors of others in society. Honestly though, even for adults negative comments can be hard to deal with. So it doesn't take much logic to see how this impacts kids and teens, and why "cyber-bullying" or for that matter any type of bullying is bad.

Think about this point a bit further and maybe perhaps you will understand why I attack the MMD Police "on sight" regardless of the poster's age. Sometimes they are kids, and I will back off (or they get scared off), but very often they are not kids and this is disturbing. Something is very wrong with this picture don't you think when older teens and adults attack younger kids? And how do I know whether the poster is a teen, adult or a kid? If their language doesn't give them away, their DA pages generally would. Which is why I always take a peep at their DA page before responding with my own posts.

DA is a place where people of all ages and abilities show their self expression to the world. Art is a very personal expression. Every piece of art contains a part of that person in that work. When you attack a piece of art (except as perhaps a trained art critic) you can easily end up inadvertently attacking the originator of that art personally and hurtfully. This is one of the primarily reasons why I almost never ever write a critique, unless I know the person well. Even then, it's phrased very, very carefully.

These are the two main reasons why I detest the MMD Police with a passion. First they are self appointed individuals who believe they have the moral right to attack someone because of some perceived infringement of copyright (which in itself as I have outlined elsewhere is a highly complex legal subject). Secondly, almost in all cases that I've personally seen, they then pursue their activities against someone who in most cases is virtually defenseless. If these are not clear cut examples of cyber-bullying or in the case of an adult, cyber-harassment, I really don't know what it is.

The only person who can speak for the copyright holder is the copyright holder themselves and their appointed legal representatives. Anybody else is just a busybody, who if you want to stretch the logic only slightly, can actually do the legal copyright holder more harm than good. So really, the so called MMD Police is really helping no one other than themselves and hurting others in the process of pursuing their own selfish agenda.

If someone is editing a model they really shouldn't, there are positive ways of telling them what they are doing is not correct without hurting their feelings. And in general, when you don't attack people, they will generally do what you ask. It is simply effective communications put into action and is really easy to implement even on the Internet. So if you are moved to make a negative point, put it over in a positive manner. Seriously, it's not rocket science.

What you can do if you're a victim of Cyber-Bullying

If you find yourself a victim of a cyber-bullying attack (regardless of how you personally want to define that), do the following. Bear in mind that these are only suggestions and the links I've provided at the end of this article gives other strategies you can employ to protect yourself. Also, my strategy applies primarily to your experiences on DA.

  1. Get away from the computer until you calm down, or at the very least, away from the post that you find upsetting. Things that I do when something upsets me online is to "walk the dog". On some days, my dog gets a lot of walks ... 
  2. If you must stay online, go do something else such as finding a nice new model to download and play with in MMD. Or go play an MMORPG. One of the (only) great things about Korean Free-to-Play MMORPGs is that they provide hours of mindlessly enjoyment grinding on the same mobs over-and-over again. This is a great therapy to work off frustrations and pent up anger.
  3. When you return to DA, HIDE the post that you find offensive - don't respond to it. Then BLOCK the person who made the post. If they return under another ID, repeat the process, but also REPORT them to the DA Staff. It is against the DA TOS to harass other DA users.
  4. Do not be afraid to get help, ideally from a parent, a school counselor or another responsible adult. Do this face-to-face ideally as it makes a big difference. Even if you may think that it's only a "little thing", if it bothers you, seek at least their advice or opinion. 

A Note On Constructive Criticism

It has been bought to my attention by Deviants: mbarnesMMD, FeatherlessHeresy and Andvili, that I should mention that "Constructive Criticism" should not be mistaken for Cyber-Bullying. Within the DA environment, constructive criticism is a helpful mechanism in which other Deviants will try to offer a "critique" on a work that is on display. For subscription accounts, artists can specifically ask for critiques, but free accounts can't and these will end up in the comments section, which may cause them to be mistaken for something that they are not.

Critiques/Constructive Criticisms are intended as helpful commentary on the work on display. Deviants trying to help an artist develop will spend some time and thought to comment on what they like, don't like and suggested avenues to explore to improve either the work or the artist's skills. As such they can be an invaluable aid for artists. These are not personal attacks nor should they be mistaken for cyber-bullying posts or comments posted by "trolls" even if they present a negative view on the artwork.

Let me give you an example for clarification:

"The basic composition is fair, but you might want to review your color choices. Also the expressions on the model don't really work in portraying the emotions you are trying to relay with this piece. Additionally, the background choice is poor as it is distracting."

Rather a negative post, yes. But it does not attack the artists; it is just the subjective opinion of the work from the commentator's perspective. It's designed to tell the artist how this particular viewer finds the work. People are different so other people may say essentially the same thing in a different way. Critiques, which are also referred to as constructive criticisms, are an intrinsic part of the DA culture - after all, this is a site devoted to the Arts, right?

A cyber-bully attack is different. Here is a crude example:

"That sucks cuz you suck, a fat monkey can draw better than that."

See the difference?


DA is a great place for MMD. Plenty of nice people, great selection of MMD related works to view, plenty of useful information on MMD and of course a huge selection of free models. It should also be a safe place. People do get passionate about MMD and I've seen arguments, and provided that this is about the hobby, that's "normal". However, when it gets personal you don't have to put up with it. There is help out there, all you need to do is reach out for it. You don't have to face these problems alone (and shouldn't).

That said, if you yourself behave like an idiot and someone calls you out on it (like me): that's not cyber-bullying, that's just you asking for it. At the end of the day, treat others as you like to be treated by others and generally that's a good policy. And if that doesn't work in certain instances, please do remember that you do have other remedies. 

The Law certainly takes cyber-bullying seriously; so if it does happen, know that you don't have to put up with it and there is help available; some of which are just at the end of a click on a mouse button.

Useful Links

DA - blocking people from your profile page:

Miku Hatsune (C) Crypton Future Media, Inc. (Japan)

The opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are presented for discussion purposes only.
An article on cyber-bullying as it pertains to MMD; based on a suggestion by ~RaikuHoshigami.
Add a Comment:
Vallie Featured By Owner 6 days ago
I feel bad for the old veterans of the MMD community.
I only just came on loosely to make some things for the Oculus Rift only to find the MMD community's water long since poisoned by their own doings.

Makes me ponder if MMD ever did have 'good ol days'
Trackdancer Featured By Owner 14 hours ago
Thinks have quieten down a lot these days. In general people in the MMDC tend to be nicer now but then again, my block list did grow quite a bit over the course of 2014.
lian005 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2014  New member
Cyber bullying is one of the major problems for kids as they are exposed to different social media websites.

Internet safety for kids are indeed these days and parental control programs helps protecting kids. I also use a parental control program for my kid's safety.
Trackdancer Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014
I have issues with software like that (not that they are inherently problematic). On the one hand, I want to respect my kid's privacy on the other hand I want him to be safe. My solution is to keep all our computers (except the tablets) in the same area of the home so all I need to do is look over at him to see what he's actually doing on the Internet.

And yes, he's had some issues in the past, but I was 'right there' when he needed it. And now that he's older, I need to look over his shoulders less as he's armed with the skill and knowledge to deal with a lot of issues and I'm still a yell away if he runs into a real problem. As for his tablet, the main problem he has with that is keeping it virus free as he downloads way too many games.
KitsuneShadoru Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Just a confession and ask though.
I've been seeing some "illegal edits" (aka no editing models being edited and distributed) and I POLITELY tell them to take it down. My reason is because I wanted to make the non-Japanese MMDC a little better like the Japanese MMDC, clean, fun and, rule-breaking free. Does that count as cyber bullying? I mean, I was telling them to do the right thing and not start war with the Japanese MMDC again-
Trackdancer Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014
No that's not cyber-bullying - but honestly, you're wasting your time. People that are stupid and selfish enough to do as you indicated, aren't likely to do as you 'politely' suggest. Best thing to do is to just not support anything that they do - they'll usually go away eventually if they don't receive the attentions that they crave and leave the rest of us who actually like MMD and respect the works of others in the community alone to enjoy these works as they're supposed to be enjoyed.
KitsuneShadoru Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Alright I understand :)

Well that person I stated don't really understand what is wrong and what is right- so yeah she's hard to advice-
YukinaMomomiya Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Student Digital Artist
You Know Someone In DA Named Ruchii P Just blocked me for NO REASON, i don't know why she block me
Trackdancer Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
LOL - I get blocked all the time. Usually after an argument with some smart a** teen - I get ticked off easily. ;)
So my best advice is to just shrug, add them to your own block list and move on. At the end of the day, its more fun communicating with people who actually like you and can put up with your quirks, right?
YukinaMomomiya Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Yep, You're Right :>
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