Meet the Administrators - Zyn
rating: +77+x

As was the case for many other users on the site, Zyn was the first admin I came into contact with concerning some forum rules. Due to her tremendous impact on the community from her helpful feedback on the writing forums to the formation of her Butterfly Squad reviewers, Zyn stands as one of the most well-known, admired, and appreciated pillars of the SCP community. This status is clearly evident when observing her Ask Zyn thread from 2013 which continues to be active with over 1000 posts to date. Despite her busy schedule, Zyn graciously accepted my interview request. ~ WhiteGuardWhiteGuard

Who is ZynZyn?

Zyn was officially promoted to Administrator on the 3rd of March, 2017 and continues today as the Team Captain for the Forum Criticism Team. Zyn has been a member of this site since the 23rd of July, 2012, and her most popular page on the site by rating is SCP-348: A Gift from Dad at +1154. As previously mentioned, Zyn is also responsible for the Butterfly Squad, a group of skilled reviewers dedicated to aiding authors in their conceptualizing and drafting processes. She is known to address many forum threads per day which further showcases her unmatched work ethic and her leadership as the captain of the reviewers. The following interview will continue the previous format consisting of 11 questions from myself and 4 questions from the community with her responses.

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

Interview Questions:

How exactly did you come across the SCP Foundation? What ended up drawing you to the wiki? What inspired you to become a writer on the site rather than remaining simply a reader and reviewer?

I originally stumbled upon the SCP wiki after seeing a link on the subreddit r/tipofmytongue. This was in 2012, I believe.

I read some of the articles and tales, and decided to try out the SCP article format for myself and see if I could contribute something lasting to the Foundation universe.

After interacting with the community (and coldposting my first article, which got some great feedback even though it was rather cliche and non-memorable) I was motivated to improve. I wanted to be able to contribute something that the audience would enjoy reading, the same way I enjoyed reading when I first joined.

You mentioned in your ask staff thread that you enjoyed your high school's creative writing class. Do you believe that your experience writing in this class contributed to some of your success on this site? What did you learn from it?

It's been awhile since that class, but yes, that experience definitely helped me develop skills pertinent to writing for the SCP wiki.

The lasting lessons I remember most are things like "if you're running low on inspiration or motivation, try finding a different environment to write in" and "if you're heavily basing a character on your own traits, make sure you can distance yourself from them so critique of the character doesn't feel like a personal attack". And of course, always be polite to reviewers. Practice looking at your own work from the perspective of an outside reader.

On your author's page, you say that your favorite articles usually involve Safe class anomalies with heartwarming and emotional narratives. As a reader, what specific aspects create a really enjoyable article for you? Reflecting on your years of reviewing, what is an example of a draft you looked at that you were really excited to see become a fully-fledged article?

I tend to have very little time for leisure reading these days, so at surface level I'm admittedly more likely to enjoy shorter, "punchier" articles. Beyond that, I like anomalies that are unique, whether because they're an unusual entity or item that we haven't seen before, or because they're so wacky and unpredictable it gives the reader pause. I love to have a good laugh even if the humor is in serious professional-sounding tone. And if there's an emotional or memorable aspect (as in, the article makes me feel strongly for someone/something in the narrative, or it makes me remember something of my own life), even better.

I'll be honest, the drafts that I tend to be the most excited about are the ones I'm co-authoring, after I've reviewed an author's material and liked it enough to want to be more involved in the writing process. So far as articles written by other authors goes, the one that sticks out the most in my memory is SCP-2295 (The Bear with a Heart of Patchwork).

As a reviewer, do you find it challenging to review ideas and drafts that do not fit your preferences? What is your procedure when you find an idea or draft with potential, but you know that you would not personally enjoy it? Is it difficult to provide advice in those situations?

It really depends on the material. If something isn't to my preference due to headcanon or personal views on professionalism/realism, usually it's not an issue since I can still identify suggested edits fairly quickly. Reviewing becomes more of a challenge if I'm not familiar with the background (Groups of Interest, series plotlines, etc.) or comfortable with the themes (violence, mental illness, controversial topics, etc.).

In cases where I don't personally enjoy something but I can see it doing well on the site, I just state honestly that I think the author should seek out more reviews to get a better feel for the overall audience reaction. I do still try to provide some feedback on general elements like formatting and Foundation portrayal if applicable.

I myself don't think it's difficult to provide feedback in the aforementioned situation. It shouldn't be too hard for a reviewer to acknowledge their personal reading preferences straightforwardly, and it's common sense that one's own opinions are not necessarily reflected by the entirety of the wider site community. Just a matter of both sides being aware of context.

In the past, you mentioned that TroyLTroyL's SCP-091: Nostalgia was your favorite SCP article. Is this still true and would you explain why you gravitate toward this article in particular?

091 is still my favorite (though SCP-408 is a very very close second). I feel like it's a good example of the quieter, more peaceful side of the Foundation Universe, the small bit of good that exists to remind readers and in-universe personnel that not everything is hopelessness and grimdark. It's also pretty straightforwardly relatable to a wide audience, which is something I always hope is possible with my own writing. 091 has been a huge inspiration to me as one of the earliest examples of a harmless anomaly that stands out amidst the monsters and madness, and is high-rated partially because of that contrast.

You have also mentioned that DrEverettMannDrEverettMann's Mann's Proposal was your favorite 001 proposal with AelannaAelanna's Mackenzie's Proposal being a close second. Is this still true and what is it about these early proposals that charm you?

I would say yes, those are still my favorites. Honestly mostly because they're relatively short and to the point, and for me that just makes them feel all the more poignant.

As the captain of the Butterflies and the Forum Criticism team as well as your personal experience as a writer, what voting trends and discussions have you observed from the general audience? Which aspects have you observed to be present in highly-rated articles?

There isn't really a good way to neatly list all the trends observed since they change week to week and often are affected by factors like popular media and news, recent site members joining the wiki from specific fandom groups, or contests. The type of page in question factors in as well (compare SCP article to tales, works reviewed by lots of people to works looked at briefly by one person, etc.).

So far as discussions go, I can't really say there are any solidly consistent patterns I've noticed in particular, since new pages get all kinds of comments and sometimes conversation depends on how the author responds to posts. (Granted, low-rated articles tend to exhibit the same recurring areas of needed improvement and tend to receive the same sort of comments. There are several pages in the Guide Hub and lots of forum discussions that address this in detail! I could probably write an entire series about voting and commenting trends…)

I think the most consistent elements I see in high-rated articles are that they are very unique and/or very relatable. Alternatively, there's something immediately memorable about them, whether a particularly vivid image, a catchy phrase, or fictional situation that makes a reader think deeply about the implications.

We have a large number of inactive staff who have dropped out due to burnout and other outside circumstances. How do you avoid burnout with the high level of activity you personally contribute? What type of activities do you like to participate in apart from the site? Have you ever felt like giving up? Ignoring the circumstances which contributed to their departure, if you could see one of these members return, who would you like to see?

I avoid burnout mostly by pacing myself. I give myself a certain amount of time to work on the site, and then make sure to take breaks in between my usual daily staff tasks. Also, I try to train myself to step away and cool down if I feel myself getting frustrated. It helps a lot to talk to others (even if it's just incoherent keyboard mashing all-caps and symbols over chat) if I'm feeling overworked.

Outside of the SCP wiki, I take care of plants and two betta fish and also do some gaming and origami when I feel like it.

I don't think I've ever considered giving up being on the SCP wiki entirely—though I've definitely thought about taking leaves of absence.

With regards to the last question… I'm not sure. There have been plenty of staff who have retired over the years, and it's difficult for me to pick one out of them all.

In 2013, you were asked "What changes would you like to see on the site within the next year? Next 5 years?" Your 1-year answer consisted of establishing a culture where people comment on new posts asking "Have you gotten feedback on this?" to nudge them in the right direction for critique before posting. Your reply for the 5-year change involved "a more detailed system for accessing tales" as you felt that tales were disorganized at the time. Now that it has been 7 years, do you believe these desires were realized? Are there any changes you would like to see within the next few years?

Both desires have been addressed, as it's now fairly common to see site members notifying coldposting authors that they should seek critique, and I feel like the current tag system and tale hub displays are a big improvement over the previous setup for sorting tales.

With regards to the future, the change I want to see the most is more site members engaging in the reviewing process and helping others improve their reviewing skills.

From Pokémon, do you believe Absol gets a bad rap when it is just trying to help warn people of the danger or do you believe the label "doom-bringer" is deserved?

Absol definitely gets a bad rap, since Absol is bringing the warning, not the actual disaster.


rakka eda ni / kaeru to mireba / kochō kana

"Thought I, the fallen flowers
Are returning to their branch;
But lo! they were butterflies."

Arakida Moritake, translated by William George Aston

The following questions were picked out from the community feedback present on the previous interview's discussion page. The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are Zyn's responses.

Community Asked Questions:

What is something you love about the wiki community that you haven’t talked about? Additionally, what is your favorite part about working with the other staff members? Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~ DianaBerryDianaBerry

I love how there are so many unique hobbies and stories site members have—over the years I've chatted with someone who owns two axolotls, someone who does historical reenactments, someone who rescued a kitten from heavy machinery… there's a fair bit of overlapping interests and I really enjoy being able to just talk for half an hour straight about topics like Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: the Gathering lore, indoor plants, tropical fish, and on and on.

Staff don't give me a hard time when I call my betta fish my cats/dogs and share pictures of my fish making silly faces. I appreciate that a lot.

As a longtime member of the site, you’ve seen a lot of change on the wiki. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen from when you first joined to today, and do you think it was a positive or a negative? ~ TheHouseOfBalloonsTheHouseOfBalloons

I would say that the biggest change I've seen is the shift of focus from horror and grimdark to expanding the Foundation-verse with works of plenty of different genres. Personally I consider this a positive—I feel like we could all use more stories where we end feeling determined or at least hopeful, even if they're in the minority.

What inspired you to create the Butterfly Squad? εїз? ~ Truc LinhTruc Linh

Butterfly Squad initially started when I would do mass forum crit-calls in IRC chatrooms, pinging lots of people at the same time. Someone suggested having nicknames or callsigns, and someone else compared the descent of critters upon the forums to a swarm of butterflies descending from the skies. We liked the mental image a lot and I started a sandbox to keep track of preferences when I got questions about matching authors to reviewers. Eventually that was prettied up and posted to the mainsite so authors could look up reviewers themselves without needing staff to be the constant go-between.

As a writer who tends to prefer benign anomalies and happy(ish?) stories, how do you go about writing stuff that often doesn't heavily feature struggle, conflict, suffering, and all those other unpleasant topics that fiction (SCP in particular) often rely on to drive a plot forwards? ~ TheMightyMcBTheMightyMcB

Usually I try and find a core object/narrative that immediately inspires a sense of wonder and/or light amusement. Alternatively, I work with a memory from my own life that made me feel particularly emotional. Then I sort of build on that in pieces—I rarely ever write a draft straight from start to finish. I guess that makes it easier to ensure that the different elements of the piece fit together well enough so there aren't any plot holes or narrative questions I as the author can't answer?

For the most part I can usually go with my gut feeling until I have a rough draft, and beyond that it's a matter of getting lots and lots of reviews to be certain that people enjoyed the read. I try to focus on writing material that pretty much anyone in the audience can relate to; it's just a matter of using positive emotions and scenarios rather than negative themes. My foremost hope with my writing is that readers will remember the positive feelings they experienced when reading the piece, and will want to return and reread to experience those positive feelings again.

This concludes the interview. I hope you enjoyed it! I would once again like to thank Zyn for agreeing to do this with me. Thanks again to the community members who provided questions: DianaBerry, TheHouseOfBalloons, Truc Linh, and TheMightyMcB. My next interview will be with DrMagnusDrMagnus. 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.

Thank you for reading!

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