Neopian Times

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Screenshot of the Neopian Times, Issue 347.

The Neopian Times is the weekly Neopets newspaper first released on January 25, 2000. Released every Friday (unless time constraints can't allow it), the content of the newspaper is all user submitted, ranging from articles about certain Neopets features or fan fiction told through stories or comics. It also features an editorial by actual Neopets staff members, which answers user submitted questions about Neopets. The Editorial, up until around 2005, was run by site administrator and Neopets co-creator Donna Williams. The editorial directly communicates between the users and staff, making it the best source of information about Neopets straight from The Neopets Team.

Contents[edit]

Originally featuring only a few articles, the Neopian Times has become a large weekly project filled with user-submitted articles, stories and comics. There are 4 categories users can enter their submissions into: Articles, Short Stories, Comics and Series:

Articles acts as an information source. Users may either submit non-fiction writing to teach other users about a certain aspect of Neopets such as auctions or stamp collecting, or to give tips on playing the games. Articles can also contain fictitious news coverage of Neopia or interviews with notable Neopian characters such as the Soup Faerie, the Island Mystic or even Sloth's Mom! Articles are between 1,000 and 50,000 words long.

Short Stories contain Neopets-themed short stories on a range of different topics (comedy, adventure, horror, etc.). Stories can be about anything the user chooses so long as it is Neopets-themed and stays within the guidelines of the Neopian Times. Short stories are between 1200 and 4000 words long.

Comics contain pictures or art drawn/animated by users depicting Neopets situations, usually containing jokes or ongoing serious plot lines. Users can also submit other forms of art besides pictures, such as photos of Neopets merchandise or Adobe Flash animation. Comics are accepted in GIF and JPEG format, ranging 470 pixels in width and 200 KB in file size.

The final category users can submit to is Series, which can be the most difficult. A series is a fictional story too long to be a short story (more than 4000 words) which must be told over a series of parts. When a new series is submitted into the Neopian Times, it features in the "continued series" section in the following week's Neopian Times until its final part is published. Series average 6-8 parts with a limit of 12 parts (The Neopets Team limits the number so other authors will have a chance to be published, although there was no limit at the beginning), each part can be from 1,500 to a maximum of 50,000 words. A user can't have two series stories being serialized at the same time. A short (two- or three-part) series can also be used to tell a story that is too long to be a short story.

Along with all the user-submitted content, users can ask questions of The Neopets Team through the Editorial. Questions that are picked are said to be random, but are sometimes picked by the TNT if it's something they're being asked often or they think it should be answered. Questions from game play, real-life merchandise, rules of playing Neopets, suggestions. Questions that include a joke or praise of Neopets are often chosen but all the answers give some insight to Neopets. The Editorial is perhaps the most popular feature of the Neopian Times, due to the fact TNT is directly interacting with the community and valuable information can be gained.

Appearance[edit]

Over the years the Neopian Times has gone through many appearance changes. The first few issues appearance had a banner of a man and a woman in 80's style with the text "For an easier life". Users could send in short stories, series and comics (comics section didn't appear until a later date). Pages still exist, but the links to the stories and comics don't work any more.

The second version was released on (need date) and was made out of tables. While continuing to showcase stories, an official comics section was introduced in issue 57. This version also had a Guild Spotlight, showcasing certain guilds on Neopets, but was stopped in issue (need issue), around the same time the banner was replaced with a gold engraving of a Jubjub reading the Neopian Times. The link to these issues do not go to the old issues, but redirect to the newest version of the Neopian times.

The third look was a bigger version of the second look. A Quote of The Week was added, which quoted a line of text out of a story in that issue, along with a sidebar on the right which contained direct links to stories/comics, saving the user time by not having to search for individual stories in their own sections. Also, if a user was reading an article with a certain character in it that was in another one that issue, a direct link to it would appear on the sidebar as well. the buttons used to navigate the sections were made smaller, and the banner with the Jubjub was now changed to how many Neopians had read the Neopian Times instead of just saying 12,500,000.

The most recent version is similar to the third design, but it is easier to navigate (The featured stories on the front page are in a blue table for example). The navigation buttons were replaced with text and a random caption was posted on the left under the banner. The banner reads The Neopian Times with a blue quill on each side.

Editors[edit]

The first editor of the Neopian times was Josh, better known as Mr. Shankly. His trademark was his love of dung; most of the submissions in his last issue, issue 75, contained dung as a farewell gift, such as hippiesoul's short story The Dung Hero. The Editor who replaced him was Felicia, better known as Ms. Snowflake. She worked at Neopets in various roles (such as Email Support) and rose through the ranks to become the Neopian Times Editor until she left on issue 195 to become an accountant. Droplet, or Darcy, Snowflake's assistant, continued as editor and has been the editor of the Times up November 2006.

Inside references[edit]

Over the years as the Neopian Times community grew, the writers began to have an influence over the content of the Times, the White Weewoo being the most prominent example. The author laurensama, also known as Linny, wanted a White Weewoo to resemble Hedwig from Harry Potter so much, fellow authors hid White Weewoo references in their stories, comics and articles, and even made it one of the symbols for the Neopian Times Writer's Forum. An official drawing of a White Weewoo was finally seen in the story The Weewoo of White, and an official item image was found on October 23, 2003. Snowflake gave the authors who were published in that week's issue a White Petpet Paintbrush, and the White Weewoo was released on October 28 (or 26/27) - the date could be seen as a Neopets holiday for writers.

There is also Chet Flash, a fictional and non-existent character in the Neopian Times, who is seen pretty much everywhere in comics, articles, and even stories. The exact date of Chet Flash's first appearance in the Times is currently unknown but the idea of such a character began in a NTWF forum thread.

Criteria for publication[edit]

The rules and guidelines for entering into the Neopian Times are strict, due to the fact the TNT can't control user-submitted content but must make sure the content is family-friendly for the world to read. The main rule to always follow is to keep all entries Neopets-themed. From there, content must follow the basic rules which all users must follow while playing the website: No highly intimate material such as dating/kissing, violence inappropriate to younger audiences, real-life or fictional religion in Neopia, crude or disgusting Neopet behaviour, Neopets acting like real-life animals (e.g. eating out of dog bowls), hybrid species (two different species combined into one, unless it's created by The Neopets Team), or real-life family dilemmas (parents in a custody battle over a child). Users also can't write about the sponsor products which are featured on Neopets, even if Neopets are shown interacting with them. Articles speaking the rules and guidelines of Neopets are also prohibited, along with articles taking place inside Jelly World, due to the continued joke of TNT saying it does not exist. Stories and series that break the fourth wall are frowned on, but references to avatars or games are allowed if they do not. In contrast, articles and comics often use the fact of Neopets being a website for humorous or other purposes.

One of the more difficult topics to write about in the Neopian Times is the users themselves, and how they are presented in the world of Neopets. Users who write about themselves as the owners of their Neopets is the most common and allowed form - many users portray this, but what they are as a species makes it more complicated. Female users can easily say they are faeries, while male users cannot as there are no and will be no male faeries in Neopets. However a user presents themselves or humans in general in the Neopian Times, they must always make their writing or art Neopets-themed, and never include real-life times and places such as speaking of the planet Earth (and its solar system) or about humans' origin in Neopia.

There are some plot devices which are debatable in terms of having them enter into the Neopian Times, one of the most common being the appearance of technology (cars, planes, computers, radios, phones, television, video games). Many of these items make appearances in the website and not just as sponsor material. The Space Station also has a large amount of technology which can be made available to the rest of Neopia. Characters such as Nigel drive a car (a Ferrari no less), Brucey B was called on the phone during Brucey B and the Lucky Coin, and games such as Skies Over Meridell and The Return of the Return of Dr. Sloth show flying devices have been created on the planet of Neopia.

The mortality of Neopets is also an issue, because while user Neopets cannot die, those in plots can, making death an almost taboo subject to write about. Action scenes where Neopets are under constant threat of death (or excessive violence in general) may be rejected, despite the fact that many Neopets plots contain similar situations. The dead Neopets themselves also cause concern, as they can become zombies who wish to eat other's brains or become a Ghost. While what happens to the dead is mostly a taboo subject in Neopets, it was a major topic in The Tale of Woe, which not only dealt with the graves of dead Neopets but also included communication with long-dead spirits.

Many authors argue, however, that death is not as touchy a subject in the Neopian Times as one may think. Certain stories have included characters on their deathbeds, deaths from terminal illnesses, and even suicide at one point; however, the final on that list was many issues ago, and the topic of suicide may still be risqué. It is possible that death is perfectly acceptable, on the condition that it is not overly bloody or gory.

Other items which may or may not be included in articles are things which don't exist in Neopets at the time of writing into an article, such as colours (example: Asparagus Kacheek), uniquely-coloured Neopets (Fire Neopet with green flames), several types of creatures (Neopets, petpets, petpetpets, faeries, or monsters), diseases, items, or alternate worlds/planets/realities. It is not clear how welcome plot devices such as these are, as the Neopian Times has featured stories talking of different worlds and characters not on Neopets. Many would-be submitters complain that due to the nature of fan fiction, these limits cut back much of the creativity writers can put into an article.

Trivia[edit]

  • The issue count (week 1, week 2, etc.) was reset in the third version of the Neopian Times; this may be the reason why early issues of the Times are considered books.

External links[edit]