The Decay of Swappers
Written by Adok
Let's say the whole truth right at the beginning: Mailswappers have always been the consumers of the scene. Unless they had a second skill, they did not contribute to the making of scenish productions. Usually their motive to start swapping was to obtain good scene stuff easily. At the same time, they, however, also spread stuff in the scene. That is why they served an important function in the past. For some demo sceners this is the only difference between a mailswapper and a lamer.
Nowadays we only have an active mailswapping culture in Poland, which by the way has also started to die. Everywhere else in the world, swapping is of no importance any more due to the Internet. We all know that. Hardly anyone except a few dudes whom progress has not reached yet still exchanges programs and long letters via snailmail. But what has happened to the old swap legends, those people who had a hundred contacts and always sent the freshest stuff?
These old swap legends are still alive. Partly they are also interested in the scene. But as a former Neutron member puts it, most of them are not doing more than "laming around". Lemming, member of Orange, Diskhawk, ex-member of N-Factor, and Akira, the ex-swapper of Pulse who led the mailswapper charts in Imphobia, are still around. Their activity, however, is limited to occasional IRC chats, downloading scene productions, showing up at parties, and expressing irrational complaints about the sorry state the scene is in nowadays.
Even worse: Some ex-swappers display really lame behaviour. For example, CoolPhonE of Defect and Tatanka, who flooded the adverts section in Hugi not very long ago, has recently taken over the #pixel channel on IRCNet and kicked out all people from IRC by using flood bots, until Assa of Acme managed to disconnect him and retake the channel. I could not understand his motives and still cannot understand them today. After all, a month before that he had been collecting support.sheets for Hugi diligently. Hopefully, this was just a temporary attack of childishness.
Instead of just wasting their time idling on IRC, why don't the swappers do something useful for the scene? Confronted with this question, most of them give a simple answer: they cannot contribute to making demos or intros because they have never learned to code, to paint or to compose. However, there are still many possibilities to take part in the scene in a positive sense.
For instance, they could become editors of scene mags. Why don't you old swappers who complain about the scene of today write articles about the days of the scene you liked, about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings? That would certainly be interesting to the people who have not been around so long, which is the majority of the scene.
If that's too much for you, why don't you just spread diskmag votesheets, upload productions to ftp servers or just do some betatesting for demogroups? Those are simple services everyone can do and for which you will be warmly thanked.
A positive example of a former swapper who still contributes to the scene today is DC-1. He maintains ftp://demo.cat.hu, one of the biggest scene archives available. Take him as a model.