Interviewing Pillars: Ghostchibi
rating: +23+x

New users might not be very familiar with GhostChibi, but when I joined, they were an incredibly active site admin, Greenlighter, and author who was known by every single person within the community. Their impact on the Backrooms as a whole is clearly seen if you dig deep enough into the behind the scenes of the site, and despite their growing distance with the Wikidot, they are one of the most influential members of the space. I luckily managed to get an interview with the user before they became entirely detached from the Backrooms, and this is what they had to say. ~ WhoYouCallinAPinHeadWhoYouCallinAPinHead

Who is ghostchibighostchibi?

GhostChibi was officially promoted to Administrator on the 8th of March, 2022 and is best known for their position as an ex-Greenlighter. GhostChibi has been a member of this site since the 18th of June, 2021, and their most popular page on the site by rating is How to Get a Greenlight (100% Real No Fake) at +139. Although they are no longer a member of the staff or Greenlighter team, they left a considerably great impression during their period of activity and has produced a number of great works during their time as an author.

The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are Ghost's responses.

Interview Questions:

How did you get into the Backrooms Tech Support community? What/how many pages have you written for the Backrooms Wikidot? Were these your first ventures into writing? Do you look back on those works proudly?

I joined because etoisleetoisle begged me to join. As far as direct interest in the Backrooms, I actually had very little of it at the time. What got me to say "y'know what? sure" was the fact that the site was pitched to me as a fledgling writing community in a similar setup to SCP, and I'd recently officially left the SCP wiki (my timeline might be fucked up, but I think I joined TS after the debacle of not deleting Harmony's pages as she asked). I have a vested interest in the growth of writing-focused communities online, and I thought to myself that I could very much help TS steer into growth and quality improvement. Looking back, I'm not sure if joining a writing community to help it improve its skills without being very invested in the topic that the community revolved around was a good idea, per se. I got more into the concept of the Backrooms while I was in TS, naturally, but I don't know how much I helped with quality if I didn't know much about the Backrooms as a topic.

I've made 10 pages total; 1 level, 2 phenomena, 1 poi, 1 entity, 2 tales, 2 essays, 1 theme. I wrote the Bluebonnet Fields, Directed Control, the phenomenon about people waking up from noclipping in unsettling situations, the Actor, the Moon Hare, and two tales about the Actor. The essays are regarding to the writing process. Pomona is a theme based on vintage botanical illustration.

TS was definitely not my first venture into writing. I wrote and posted a few fanfics in high school, and right after high school I joined the SCP wiki. I've been writing and posting since I was like, 14 or 15 I guess? My writing history can get a driver's license now. Wild. Academia-wise, I have a Bachelor of Arts in English. I know most people (including me) joke about the uselessness of an English degree but I appreciate the courses I took and what I learned from them, especially at the university I went to. I don't think I would have had the same experience getting an English degree anywhere else.

I think most of my works are… decent, I guess? The only pages I would say aren't "good" are "THE END is HErE" and "How to Get a Greenlight (100% Real No Fake)", but the former was written in literal hours before the contest deadline and the latter wasn't meant to be "good" as much as it was meant to impress on a reader that being a shithead in the critique process would net you zero sympathy. The only page I ever think needs rewriting is "THE END is HErE". Most of my pages stick out like a sore thumb in the overall setting of the Backrooms, and I'm well aware of it. I don't know how that makes people feel, but I haven't been accosted by any liminal purists yet, so… They're not bad pages, and I'm not particularly ashamed of writing them or something. They're not my best work, but they don't need to be.

I’d like to take a little detour and move onto your experience as a ex-Greenlighter in relation to your writing. How you did you balance those two things you in Tech Support; do you think being a Greenlighter makes writing more stressful, or do you think critique gives you insight into the writing process in a beneficial way? Do you consider yourself mainly a Greenlighter or writer as a result?

I focused on doing one or the other at one time. Being a writer and being a critic are two different skillsets, and I tried to not do both at once. If I had a draft, I didn’t do crit unless it was to take a break from writing. I don’t think critiquing others really helped me much in terms of my writing. I was handling works from people less skilled than me most of the time, and I had to keep in mind that I was doing quality control for a website of mostly older teenagers and younger adults. I wasn’t bothered by this because I wasn’t doing crit for my benefit, and I joined TS so that I could help others more than myself anyway.

I don’t think I can really call myself a greenlighter. I was a bit shit with it. Not very responsive, and in the end I became a “yes/no” GLer which overall does little to help people improve their writing. I don’t think I was successful at being a greenlighter, all in all.

Are you still glad you tried your hand at critique? Do you think the efforts would have been better solely focused on being a staff member and writer?

I’m still glad I tried to do critique. It gave me a better idea of what the community’s skill level and expectations were, so I knew what people wanted to see in a page. That definitely helped me when it came to posting my own pages. I don’t think my writing necessarily contributed very much overall to the site, despite everything. Maybe if I’d stuck to doing more critique, I could have made more progress overall for the community. But that would also require that I have the time and patience for it. There’s only so many comma splices you can see before you get tired of correcting them.

When you first started reading Backrooms articles, were there any in particular that really jumped out to you? What compelled you to try your hand at writing for the wiki?

Not to sound self-important, but I read the first ten or so levels in order and thought to myself “I can do this better” with my writer’s ego and all. I did not do it better with my first level draft, which was an enigmatic level. Blanche’s page was the first one that I devoted time to (badly) critiquing, mainly because it had 4th-wall breaking properties and I’ve always been a fan of that kind of thing. From there I figured I could carve out a niche, and ended up writing stuff like the Moon Hare and the Actor.

In regards to page format, do you have any preference for what you read/write? You’re most known for your person of interest page, yes, but was it the actual format of that page style that made you write those, or was the idea for the pages what pushed you to try your hand at them? I ask because most people will read a level and try to force themself to come up with a level concept; do you ever find yourself forcing yourself to write anything, or does it all come naturally?

I can’t force myself to write anything. I have to let it come to me naturally. Despite being known for the Actor, I’m not a big fan of PoI pages as a type. The standard format isn’t conducive to creating intrigue in the same way a level or object page can, and I wanted to push the bounds of what a PoI page could be. I had an idea for A Funny Guy(tm) and I wanted to introduce him in a manner that was as obfuscated as it was explanatory. Technically, the Actor's page isn’t even a “PoI page” since it’s the start of a draft of a PoI page.

As for other page types, same thing goes for those. It took me years before I wrote an actual level, and that was because my growing sense of frustrated nostalgia about growing up in Texas came to a head and I was able to pour it into the shape of a level. That page could have easily existed in some other form (an object page about the bluebonnets, a phenomenon page about becoming literally incapacitated by nostalgia, etc) but it fit into a level because it fit as a setting. The “you wake up as if you’re a stashed murdered corpse” phenomenon actually started as a level concept where everyone who enters it starts off that way, but I morphed it into a phenomenon because the location was less important than the whole “you wake up in a situation that looks like you were a stashed murdered corpse” part of it.

You have hosted one of the only actually successful non-official contests of all time that garnered a number of authors to it; how did that actually come about? Do you think there should be more efforts to create non-official writing challenges to try and push people? If anyone else wanted to do this, how would you advise them to actually get participants?

It came about mostly because people like the Actor, and frankly I like seeing other people write him. He’s a character that’s meant to bend and meld to the situation and is happy to do so, and I felt like he was flexible enough for anyone to have a take on him without feeling over-constrained. I really wasn’t expecting as many people to participate as they did, and the original thing that started it was me joking about how everyone was obligated to write self-insert fanfiction with the Actor. God bless Aether48Aether48 by the way, I very much love those self-ship tales.

Should there be more non-official contests? Absolutely yes. Have more low-stakes unofficial challenges where the prize is bragging rights. The topics and challenge parameters can be more specific than official contests, and it offers the writing equivalent of a side quest (a contest being like a main quest in a game in this comparison). It’s a nice small thing to put effort into, kind of like a game jam or writing jam. Low stakes and high enjoyment for all, in my opinion.

If I had to advise people on how to attract people to their non-official contests: Be popular yourself! Joking aside I do think the Actor challenge got eyes on it bc people know me and know the Actor. I think running challenges based on topics that you know a small group of people like is a good idea. I think the Actor had the right amount of people invested in him as a Backrooms character while also not being so popular as to have a huge following. My suggestion for topics would be to find areas of interest that aren’t too large. You’re more likely to get people who are interested in that topic but would otherwise be turned off from participating in contests because of too much competition/stress. Challenges are best run as bite-sized things. Keep them simple, keep them low-key.

It’s easy to focus on your bigger works when interviewing you, but I think it’s equally as important to be talking about your failed pages. Have you had any drafts you abandoned or reshaped into something else? Have you ever had any of your posted pages deleted? How do you respond to negative feedback? Do you accept it and apply it to your new page, or do you try and rewrite the page to fix any errors in it?

Abandoned or reshaped drafts: Sort of? The Bluebonnet Fields share part of their physical appearance from the enigmatic level draft I mentioned earlier (called the Backdrop), but that’s more because Texas just looks like that and both levels are based on Texas landscapes. The Backdrop was also a meta page in relation to being a writer, so that eventually bled into the Actor being made.

I’ve never had a page hit deletion (I’m shocked that “THE END is HErE” isn’t deleted yet, to be honest). As for negative feedback, it’s really a matter of figuring out whether the feedback aligns with what I want from a page and if my writing aligns with the community. I tend to see negative feedback trending toward differences in opinion/enjoyment, and while it’s easy to dismiss that as “oh well can’t be helped”, that also tells me if I’m straying too far from what the community’s overall idea of what they want out of this writing project is. It’s not a bad thing, and it’s kind of like having guardrails. I don’t usually rewrite old pages to fix errors, but I do keep negative feedback in mind when writing new pages. Someone once called the Actor “self-inserty” and while that might not be a terrible thing, it’s also kind of the opposite of what the Actor is supposed to be (since he needs to not be the writer/me for the narrative about creator-created dynamic to work). Taking that into account, I knew that I should show more of the Actor's personal thoughts about his narratives.

I’d like to delve into THE END is HErE, but first, it should be brought up that you’re currently the only author of an essay, and I believe that a lot of people have trouble writing for that page style. If you had to give someone some pointers on how to write an essay, what would you tell them? Do you think more essays should be written and promoted to readers? Do you think it’s an intimidating type of page to write?

I think people are turned off to writing essays because they’ve spent like all day for the most of their school life having to write essays, and the idea of doing that for fun comes across kind of like suggesting that people take up sorting broken glass as a hobby. The thing is, personal essays don’t have to be anything like writing academic essays. You could write them like academic essays, but there’s no need to do so. Essays should be an elaboration on a topic you want to talk about. Hell, people write essays on tumblr without realizing it. A twitter thread could become an essay with proper editing and formatting. The only thing an essay really needs is an argument, a stance of some sort.

I’m not intimidated by essay-writing because I have a lethal combination of “loves to argue” and “loves to talk about my thoughts”, and essays are basically a combination of those two things. For other people though, yeah it’s a bit of a rough category. There’s less of a buffer between the author and reader when it comes to essays. You’re not analyzing a piece of fiction; you’re being told someone’s direct opinion. I think essays are naturally going to be a very small section of writing on the wiki, but there’s no reason not to write one. They can be about anything. All you need is a desire for people to read what you’ve written.

Your first written work was a tale, THE END is HErE, which is a rarity for authors of this community. Most people firstly cover levels, and then try out tales when they become more bold. Why was this your first page? What inspired it? How did you approach writing it? What critique helped you the most while it was a sandbox? How would you approach writing it differently if you could go back in time and try posting it again?

THE END is HErE is probably a great example of what not to do as a first page. I had the benefit of having writing experience in general, but it was an extremely last-minute submission to What If Con that had very little critique (if at all, I don’t remember if I got any). I wrote it because I was gripped by the idea of The End being sentient/sapient and that being why it fucked with people so well. Tales were already my area of expertise as the closest thing to standard narratives, so I went for it. I was basically writing with crunch as my motivation, although I was having a lot of fun at the time doing it. If I had a second chance at posting it fresh, I’d give myself way more time and get far more critique before posting it, especially since it was my very first page and I had little idea of what the community wanted/expected out of authors. Definitely don’t do what I did for a first page, because even as skilled as I was, it turned out to be a very mediocre page bordering on a bit boring/confusing.

Your most recent level, Bluebonnet Fields, currently only has a rating of +18; why do you think this is? Do you think the number is representative of its quality? Do you think the voting culture on TS needs some change?

I think people just haven’t seen it, and I didn’t really put much effort into advertising it either. I think it’s a better page than, say, Moon Hare or even “Maybe, Maybe Not” (the murdered corpse phenomenon). I think its rating is more representative of its lack of visibility than anything else.

In an ideal world we wouldn’t worry so much about voting and numbers. I think it’s a good idea to have that kind of community curation, but it unfortunately comes at the expense of making our brains obsessed with the “bigger number better” thing. I think people need to get better at understanding that more than just quality dictates a page’s (positive) rating, and if that becomes more widely understood and taken to heart, people will also stop being so hesitant to downvote for quality reasons. People don’t want to be dickheads, generally speaking. They feel bad about receiving a downvote, thus they hesitate to make someone else feel bad too.

How well do you think your pages represent you? Are pages like Bluebonnet Fields less about showing the reader the actual level and more so about showing the reader one thing that makes up you? Is it important that each of your posted works feel individualized and personable? Do you find any of that when reading other people’s pages?

Bluebonnet Fields was absolutely about me way more than it was about the level. The imagery was very important to the page since it’s that imagery that makes my brain turn to tv static, but that page was more about my feelings than it was about bluebonnet fields. Other pages are less like that, like Moon Hare being a mostly narrative-driven page. Directed Control and the Actor are somewhat personal by nature but they’re meant to focus more on the creation than the creator.

I do think my works are best when they’re clearly something written by me. I do my best when part of myself ends up on the page. I love ideas that I don’t relate to, of course, and pages like “Maybe, Maybe Not” aren’t about me at all. But I still think Bluebonnet Fields is better than that, or even Directed Control if I want to sound a bit self-absorbed. It doesn’t need to be about me all the time, because that would make me an awfully boring writer, but I do want people to read something I write and go “damn, yeah, that is a ghostchibi page.”

Sometimes I can sense the personal nature of pages, but I find that most TS pages are very “object-focused” in the sense that they’re created to describe a place, an item, a person, etc. They’re made more to elicit a response from the reader, rather than act as a conduit of feelings from author to reader. Maybe I’m bad at detecting an author’s personal feelings, or more likely I just don’t read enough TS pages.

A question I believe has to be asked: why did you post Phenomena 1? Why wasn’t it no-clipping?

Honestly? I did it because I could, and I knew it would make a statement in its own right no matter which direction the rating went. I wanted to have a metanarrative phenomenon, and it didn’t need to be in the P1 slot. It could be P5 and Noclipping could be P1. But by doing this, one of two things could happen:

  • The page drops to negative because the impulse to make the first slot hyper-important to the Backrooms would override the recognition of good writing. This would inevitably create a discussion on voting habits and culture in the community, forcing people to reconsider how they vote.
  • The page remains positive, because the overall community would value quality over slot number “appropriateness” and people would learn to chill out a little bit about slot numbers.

I’d also be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit funny. [Joker voice] it’s not about the slot number, it’s about sending a message

This concludes the interview. I hope you enjoyed it! I would like to thank GhostChibi for agreeing to do this with me. My next interview will be with Praetor3005Praetor3005. If you have any questions for him you would like for me to ask, feel free to leave your question in the discussion portion of this page, I will choose my favorites from among them.

This is the first of a series of interviews of Tech Support members that will be published to this site. It should be stated that I took heavy inspiration form how the SCP Wikidot handled their interviewing format; thanks to them for giving me the inspiration for this.

Thank you for reading!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License