Pouet.net - Home of the glöps

By Adok/Hugi

Since late 2000, pouet.net has been serving sceners from all over the world as an online demoscene resource. It has grown to one of the most popular sites, but also one of the most controversial scene sites. On the occasion of its fourth anniversary, it's about time that pouet.net gets some more attention in Hugi than just a couple of links to it inside the news corner.

The French demo group Mandarine was mainly known for their demo Caillou, a funny one with cartoon-style graphics and an interesting colour set, before two of their members, Analogue and Kenet, launched the first version of the new scene portal pouet.net. That was in the year 2000. Since then, there have been several revisions, and at the time of writing this the current version is 0.9.2.

Basically, pouet.net serves as a file-database. Information on scene productions of various categories as well as download links are stored there, and anybody is free to add new ones. Thus, pouet.net in theory has the potential to store links to any scene production ever released (and available on the Internet). It's not limited to PC, but open for virtually any platform. You can list the productions sorted by name, groups and parties. Of course there's also a search engine.

This alone is already pretty handy; after all, except old Hornet no scene server has ever presented so much information about the files stored on it before you download them: Pouet.net displays the name of the production, the group that made it, its type, the platform it is for, the party atwhich it was released, the place it got in the competition, the date of its release, the date on which it was added to the database, its popularity (i.e., the number of accesses to the page at the pouet.net server that includes the download link), a screenshot and some additional text, which is usually either the file_id.diz or the .nfo file of a production - provided that the user who added the prod entered this information.

But what makes pouet.net so special is that users are free to leave their comments on the individual prods. This is an excellent idea. Before pouet.net, there was a site with a similar concept, the Calodox Demolinks Exchange. However, it was more like a bulletin-board in which everybody was free to drop the link to a production, include a review of it and rate it. Pouet.net is the very first scene site that is based on a structured data-base and permits users to write as many comments of any length they want.

A lot of people make use of commenting and thumbing a production up or down. Thus, for their first time ever, many scene artists actually do get plenty of feedback on their releases without explicitely asking for it. On the other hand, pouet.net facilitates public discussion of releases, which is very interesting.

It is really a "democrazy community" site. Everybody is free to speak of his or her mind, there's no (or hardly any) moderation. You may get flamed by single individuals for your opinion, but basically it's civilized.

In addition to discussion on the productions in the database, there's a bulletin-board system open for virtually any topic. Currently there is much more activity in this BBS than in the comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos newsgroup. Maybe that's thanks to the fact that the contents of pouet.net change every day, as no day passes without anybody adding a new production to it. (Which, by the way, shows all skeptics and pessimists that the scene is still far from being "dead".)

It's interesting and fun reading people's opinions and ideas on certain matters and what arguments they use to convince others that they are right. Pouet.net has motivated sceners who would otherwise have remained silent or debated only via IRC or personal communication to write down and publish what they think. Many of the thoughts expressed would be sufficient to write a full article, but it seems like most people are more comfortable with simply expressing their notions than with composing an elaborate essay around them.

6648 users are currently registered at pouet.net. Like in all online communities, some are more active, while others are more passive, and there are some people who've gained a particular status of popularity. One of them is Optimus, who is notorious of long postings in the BBS as well as an addiction to writing one-liners. He's also famous for his contributions to the threads series "It's a geek's life", where he was one of those who posted the largest number of images of real-life goods that were named like demo sceners, groups and productions.

Some of the other pouet.net regulars are Tomcat, ShaneTheWolf, DiamonDie, Tomaes, Steffo, Eggbird, Gargaj, Dipswitch, Maali and Plek. In their discussion contributions and comments they have revealed some of their special traits and tastes, and so people who have read a couple of them know more about their personalities than if they had just watched their releases, without having met them in person. In this way pouet.net serves a very important function for the international demo scene: It gives sceners from all over the world the feeling that they are members of one family in which everybody knows everybody else.

An interesting feature is the fact that people can submit their own logos. Thus there is a great multitude of pouet.net logos of different styles. The logo displayed when you open a page is selected by a random numbers generator, but the popularity determined by voting also seems to play a role. This alone makes pouet.net worth visiting more than just once.

Registered users are also allowed to submit their own avatars as 16x16 GIF files. At the moment there are about 1700 different avatars, which is a real lot; when pouet.net went online, it was far less than 100 (if I remember correctly). Once somebody has uploaded his or her personal avatar, everybody else is able to use it themselves as well.

Another feature that has not been present since the very first day pouet.net went online is the inclusion of a link on every production's page with the remark that people shall spread this link in order to "increase the popularity" of the production. Linking to the page at pouet.net instead of linking straight to a zip file has the advantage that it enables and encourages your potential readers, listeners or watchers to read other people's comments and post comments themselves.

As of August 3rd, 2004, pouet.net contained a total of 12,748 productions by 3,587 groups. Would you have guessed that there are so many groups in the scene before reading this?

Furthermore, there have been exactly 112,266 comments on productions.

Pouet.net supports a vast range of production types and platforms, and these lists have often been extended. Currently it distinguishes between the following production types: 128b, 256b, 512b, 1k, 4k, 40k, 64k, 80/96/100/128k, artpack, bbstro, cracktro, demo, demopack, demotool, dentro, diskmag, game, intro, invitation, musicdisk, report, slideshow, votedisk, and wild.

The platforms productions for which pouet.net contains download links to are: Acorn, Alambik, Amiga ECS, Amiga AGA, Amiga PPC, Amstrad CPC, Apple II GS, Atari XL/XLE, Atari ST, Atari STe, Atari Falcon 030, BeOS, C16/116/+4, Commodore 64, Dreamcast, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Gamecube, GamePark 32, Intellivision, Flash, Java, Linux, MacOS, MacOS X, Mobile Phone, Ms-Dos, Ms-Dos/gus, MSX, NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Nintendo 64, Oric, PalmOS, Playstation, Playstation 2, PocketPC, SEGA Master System, SEGA Gensis/Mega Drive, Thomson, Ti-8x, VIC 20, Wild, Windows, XBOX, and ZX Spectrum.

So you see: There's definitely a lot more covered than PC. Nevertheless pouet.net seems to be mostly used by PC sceners. Most names appearing in the pouet.net bulletin boards sound familiar to experienced PC sceners. But perhaps (some of) the ones who don't would do so to C64, Amiga and other platforms' sceners.

In my humble opinion, the threesome of Scene.org, Pouet.net and Ojuice.net these days form the heart of the international demo scene. The three of them are indispensible communication resources. Of these, pouet.net is the second least likely to be replaced by a competition site after Scene.org. As a matter of fact, there is no site competing with pouet.net yet.

Although pouet.net is a place with a high fluctuation of flames and personal injuries, which not everybody is self-confident and stable enough to endure, it is for sure a great innovation and a really useful addition to the Scene's Internet Resources. Therefore I wish pouet.net and its maintainers a long life, happiness, financial well-being and a lot of kids.

(And what's a glöp? Glöps are awarded to people who contribute to pouet.net in some way. The number of glöps you have got is your score. But what exactly is a glöp?... This will still remain a secret.)