Flying Colors Foundation update
I know I’m a little late to the party on this one, but seeing as I did write a blog post promoting the Flying Colors Foundation, I felt the need to speak up. I was first approached by the Flying Colors Foundation on February 8th about writing a blog post to promote their organization. From the little research I did at the time they seemed to be on the up and up, plus multiple prominent anime Youtubers were also involved. At the time I figured everything was ok as there was no way Glass Reflection, Akidearest, Digibro, Mother’s Basement, Gigguk, and the Animeman could have all been fooled into something nefarious. Plus, I was ecstatic at the thought of being included with some of the big names in the anime fandom, when my own blog was only hitting 1.5k views a month, and nowhere near the size of the others involved.
Their stated goal of trying to survey the anime community and share those results with the anime industry in Japan seems like a good goal at first glance, but at a closer look it starts to make less sense. Now assuming that each of the six anime Youtubers subscribers and my few followers are unique individuals and that each one takes the survey, that makes a total of 4,268,801 responses in the best-case scenario. It is more likely that the survey will struggle to hit its goal of 200,000 respondents. This might sound like a lot at first glance; however, let’s put things into perspective here. Crunchyroll alone has 20 million registered users and of that 1 million are paying subscribers. So it seems to me that if the movers and shakers in the anime industry want to know about the overseas fandom, they will talk to Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, Netflix, and other companies that sell anime and anime related products. I mean real dollars and cents will go a lot further than a bunch of surveys. I’m kicking myself for not seeing this much sooner.
I could go into the non-profit nature of the Flying Colors Foundation, their founders, and their connections to other businesses, but at this time I feel that others have done a better job in that regard. I was surprised to see that the story even made it into Forbes Magazine.
The survey starts out innocently enough asking the age at which you watched your first anime and what that anime was, and it even went so far as to ask what you watched your first anime on. The questions are innocent enough, and I guess the goal is to determine which anime is the best gateway anime to draw more people into anime. This would be a nice thing for the industry to know if the anime industry actually cared about the non-Japanese market, which is debatable.
The next set of questions deals with a person’s interest in anime activities, including which anime Youtubers you follow. The problem here is that some of the questions use a 1-10 numerical scale, which can be unreliable in many cases, as one man’s 5 is another man’s 7. The only reason I can see for asking about which Youtubers a person follows is for the Flying Colors Foundation to determine which youtubers they have partnered with are bringing in the most respondents. This is of course pointless unless the Youtubers are getting some sort of kickback from the Flying Colors Foundation, which to my knowledge they are not. The final question in this segment asks about social media use, which really serves no purpose in a survey about anime.
Asking about the respondent’s attraction to anime, their top anime, and their viewing habits, makes sense. Asking about other hobbies not so much, and seems more than a little out of place. The only place I could see a question like that making sense would be a Netflix survey to try and determine what other things anime fans would like to watch so a person ends up watching more Netflix. Just like with the questions about social media use that served no purpose, the Flying Colors Foundation asks about pirating anime, which I cannot find any reason to have on the survey. Another pointless question is about who you watch anime with, which again I can’t find a reason as to why the anime industry would really care about who a person does or does not watch anime with.
Anime watching habits over with, the survey shifts gears to the respondent’s anime spending habits, and involvement in the local anime community. I can see people taking this 1 of 2 ways: 1- it is data mining, or 2- it’s looking to see what merchandise the Western fans like to buy and where they buy it. My own personal opinion is that it is more of the first option than the second, when combined with all of the other questionable parts of the survey.
The final set of questions are the ones that should have set off immediate red flags for me and did set off red flags for a number of people. In my defense real life issues and the flu have been keeping me busy and a little distracted. The questions asked included, age, gender, race, relationship status, education, employment, income level, home country, and mental health issues. There really is no reason for the Flying Colors Foundation to be asking people about mental health issues. Mental health issues have nothing to do with the anime industry and I can not think of one legitimate reason as to why such questions would and should be on the survey. This strikes me as being pure data mining, not to mention very intrusive, and one of the main stake holders in the Flying Colors Foundation has or had prior involvement in a healthcare organization.
Tin Foil Hat Time
The only thing that remotely comes to mind at this point is that someone is trying acquire data on the community in the mistaken belief that the anime community as a whole has more mental health issues than the general public. That information in hand said individuals could market mental health services directly to anime fans. FYI- the most recent study I saw showed that anime fans tend to have fewer problems than the general population.
Tin Foil Hat Time Over
At this point the question is not that the Flying Colors Foundation was data mining, but for who, and for what purpose. My guess is probably a company or companies that sell anime and/or anime related merchandise.
At this point I don’t know what else to say other than that I am annoyed and embarrassed that I was caught up in what has appeared to be a pretty terrible survey at best, and a fairly obvious data mining scheme at worst. I’ll have to be even more vigilant if and when opportunities come my way in the future. In light of all the recent press and questions about their organization, the Flying Colors Foundation is shutting down at the end of the month and all the data collected will be deleted.