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Neopian Times Then and Now

by naama_mikeas


     Did you know that the Neopian Times was created before the Peophins, the Beauty Contest, the Soup Kitchen and the Wishing Well? And that it was released after the Trading Card Game (TCG), the Lupes and the Elephantes? Much has changed in Neopets, and there is no difference when it comes to the Neopian Times, which with 850 issues, celebrates the continuation of a project that involves several stories of the Neopian community. So, to better understand the current context of our journal, we have examined the articles published between the recent 795th to 845th issues and developed a quantitative and qualitative comparison to the articles published in the 150th to 200th issues, from the early Neopian Times. This way, articles published in more than 100 different editions were investigated, which generated interesting results and interpretations. What is the most popular game? Who is the most beloved Neopian Personality? What is the most popular Neopian Land? Stay with us and discover all this and much more.

     As a rule, the importance of the Neopian Times to the residents of Neopia is invaluable. The first edition was published on the 25th day of Sleeping, Y2, and initially included only a few articles. However, the newspaper is now part of a large alternative space (besides Neoboards and Guilds) for the community to express their thoughts. Here, this is possible in several ways such as: sending questions to the editorial, drawing comics, writing dramatic stories, series, and informative articles. You can talk about everything in Neopian Times, as long it's about Neopia. The possibilities are endless.

     However, the Neopian Times is not the same from 18 years ago. In editions prior to 149, the layout page was different and the White Weewoo that we are normally used to was not the symbol of this journal yet. It all has been modified a few times. In the first editions, our newspaper had a logo that, at first glance, does not refer to practically anything specific from the Neopian world. It had "For an easy life" written on it, meaning that the first goal of the Neopian Times was probably to make life easier for the players. Are you curious to see what it looked like? Check this out:


     After a few weeks, it was changed to a "Neopets Like" style, so to speak. The star of the Neopian Times is now a fully focused Jubjub, reading the many stories that built Neopia. This new logo also underwent some changes until the result you’ll see below, employed since the 10th day of Hiding, Y3, in the layout of all previous editions, to standardize and differentiate the "Old Neopian Times" from the "New Neopian Times ". To access issues prior to 150, simply go to the Archives Page of the Neopian Times.


     The (New) Neopian Times, the one that we know today, was published about four years after the first issue. The new layout includes a header with two quills with the newspaper name between them. The background contains some Neopian items, where the highlighted colors are white and blue.


     The changes in the Neopian Times did not only occur in the layout, but also in the content. To understand these changes, we have cataloged the Neopian Times Articles in the following ranges: 150th to 200th issues (2004/2005), and 795th to 845th issues (2017/2018). Each range has 51 issues, which represents, approximately, 1 year of Neopian Times. In total, 102 issues were cataloged. Only Articles have been cataloged. Short Stories, Comics, Series and Editorial Questions were not taken into consideration for this study. To catalog the articles we used the following categories: number issue, article title, author, the presence of collective authorship, country of the main author, article type, article theme and sub-themes.

     Regarding the number of articles published, in the 150th to 200th issues there were 656 articles published in total, and an average of 12.86 articles per issue. When it comes to the 795th to 845th issues, the number of publications dropped, and 455 articles had been published in total, with an average of 8.92 articles per issue. The decrease in the number of articles is not a surprise and is totally justifiable since the number of active users is not as big as it used to be.

     Among the 150th to 200th issues, the largest number of publications occurred in the 155th issue, with 21 articles in total. The lowest number of publications occurred in the 188th issue, with only 7 articles. Between the 795th to 845th issues, the largest number of publications occurred in the 800th issue, with 22 articles in total, and the lowest number of publications occurred in issues number 822, 825, 826 and 827, with only 6 articles. The graphs presented below show how the number of publications varied during the issues investigated. The White Weewoos marks the minimum and maximum points of the graphs.



     Comparing the two graphs we can identify the following pattern: the issues with the largest number of publications occur in the middle of the second half of the year (the 155th issue was published on August 27, 2004, and the 800th on October 6, 2017 while the issues with the lowest number of publications occur in the first half of the year (the 188th issue was published on the 28th day of Eating, Y7, and issues number 822, 825, 826 and 827 between the month of Eating and the month of Hunting, Y20). To explain this standard, we will take a tour into the next category: the nationality of the authors.

     In the 150th to 200th issues a total of 439 main authors were identified, whom are the ones that sent the article to the editors of the Neopian Times. This number does not count the authors who appeared only in collaborations. In the 795th to 845th issue, 269 authors were identified in total, which is 38.7% of the number of authors from old issues. In total, 186 (42.4%) of the old authors and 2 (0.8%) of the current authors have their account disabled nowadays, by the time we were doing this research. Ignoring the disabled accounts, we verified the country of each user in their profile, and we obtained the following graphs. Only two authors did not display their country on their User Lookup.



     First of all, it is important to emphasize that these graphs represent a tendency, and not the totality, since some of the authors have their accounts disabled, and other users do not display their real nationality for personal reasons.

     We can confirm that, both before and now, the majority of authors are from English-speaking countries, such as United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia and so on. This was already expected, since Neopets was developed with those English-speaking countries in mind.

     However, it is possible to see an increase from 7% to 10% in the 795th to 845th issues of authors from non-English speaking countries, represented in the graphs by the acronym Others N-EN. Still, in addition to this 10%, the Brazilian authors, who speak Portuguese, correspond to 3%, in total. With this, we can see that there was a small decentralization of Neopets, which reaches a larger audience than before now, and breaks the language barrier.

     Nowadays, unfortunately, the site is maintained only in English. However, this does not prevent non-English speaking users from being active and participate in the events, and much less to publish on the Neopian Times despite the difficulties with the language. Speaking for ourselves, Mikeas and Emilly (both Brazilians), the site has helped us a lot to learn English, and not only that, it has made us want to understand the language better. We can say that we feel very proud to be part of that 3%.

     When we know that most of the Neopian Times authors live in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, we are able to understand the pattern of publications throughout the year, represented in the first two graphs. In these countries, the school year starts in September and ends in July, and considering that the majority of users are students, whether, in basic or higher education, we believe that influences the number of publications. So, during vacations there is more time to write and to be more present in the activities of the site, which justifies the increase in the number of publications during August. In the months of April and May, users are preparing for their final exams, so they have little time to write for the Neopian Times, thereby reducing the number of publications.

     In the 150th to 200th issues, it was possible to find 38 articles written in collaboration, representing 5.8% of the total articles. In the current issues, there is an increase in this percentage, as it is possible to find 77 collaborations, which represents 16.9% of the total articles. Among the authors who published the most in the 150th to 200th issues, we can mention the users shadowcristal, blubblub317, and neopian_queen_liana, with 13, 12 and 10 publications respectively. In the 795th to 845th issues, we can mention lauren92_k with 8 articles and the users blade0904, califorthehomeless, madiwoo, kayahtik, k3l26, mel_liew_ming_li, talekdolorn, and water_park1993, all with 7 articles, in total. We want to thank you all for the huge collaboration with the Neopian Times.

     In relation to the types of articles published in the Neopian Times, we present the following classification:

     - General Articles: articles that describe something of the Neopian world and usually have the format of running text or topics (lists);

     - Guides: articles that teach how to do some activities on the site;

     - Interviews: articles that present dialogues between characters;

     - Stories: articles in which users present opinions about site activities or stories that involve Neopets;

     - Quiz: article that brings a Q&A Game to the reader.

     The number of article types found in the investigated ranges is shown in the following graph.


     From the chart, we can see that, both in the past and now, the largest amount of publications are General Articles. Dividing the values presented in the graph by 51 (the number of publications investigated on each range) and considering that in the past, 13 articles were published per issue (12.86 on average), the 150th to 200th issues were composed, on average, of 6 General Articles, 4 Guides, 2 Stories, and 1 Interview. Currently, with an average of 9 articles per edition (8.92 on average), the 795th to 845th issues were composed of, on average, 5 General Articles, 2 Guides, and 1 Story. The last remaining article to complete the average of 9 articles per issues does not have a determined nature. However, it does have a greater probability of being a Interview.

     About the themes that the authors approach in the articles, we can identify 11 major themes:

     - Battledome, articles that approach aspects of the battledome, highlighting strategies for a better performance in it;

     - Games, articles that talk about the games spread all over Neopia, whether they are Flash games such as Kass Basher or PHP Games, such as Dice-A-Roo, or Neopian contests, such as User Lookup Spotlight. And even games that have an external factor to Neopia were considered, such as the Trading Card Game;

     - History of Neopia, articles that inform us about how Neopia was created and what it is, for example, where the names of the months in the Neopian Calendar came from;

     - Items, articles that make a list of some type of items, exposing its characteristics and utilities;

     - Neopets Colors, articles that highlight a color, giving examples of how to take care of your pet depending on its color, how to customise it etc;

     - Neopets Life, those that talk about things that the users do on daily base in a more general way, such as taking care of pets, chat in the Neoboards ... That is, this theme can be broad, which includes many things, from simple to complex;

     - Neopian Characters, generally, Interviews that highlight some Neopians personalities, the reason of their fame, what they do every day and their contributions to Neopia;

     - Neopian Lands, articles that take us to some region of Neopia, describing their culture;

     - Neopian Times, articles that highlight our loved newspaper on its own, usually giving readers tips on how to be published;

     - Site Events, articles that talk about the events that occur on the site, like the Altador Cup; and

     - Species, articles that describe some Neopian Species, be it a Pet, a Petpet or a Petpetpet.

     We present the following table with the number of articles and percentages of each theme in the ranges investigated. For our discussion, we will look at the data presented as percentages because, there is a very large discrepancy between the quantities of articles in the two ranges investigated: 656 for the 150th to 200th issues and 455 for the 795th to 845th issues. The use of percentages reveals the relationships we want to establish more easily. The percentages highlighted in red are the most representative.


     From the table we can highlight the following points:

     - The articles in the 150th to 200th issues mainly talked about Games, Neopets Life and Neopian Characters;

     - The percentage of Games dropped from 30.6% to 16.7% in current publications, representing the second most recurrent theme now;

     - The theme Neopets Life, became the most recurrent since its percentage increased from 21.2% to 30.8% in the articles of the 795th to 845th issues;

     - The third most recurring theme in the 150th to 200th issues was Neopian Characters. With a recurrence of 6.8% in the current issues, the category Neopian Characters gave space to Items, which increased its recurrence from 4.6% to 11.0%.

     - So, nowadays the most recurring themes are Neopets Life, Games and Items.

     Inside some themes we can find subthemes, which we will explore below, creating what we will call the Top 3 of the Neopian Times, Then and Now.

     Starting with Games, the most cited games in the 150th to 200th issues were Trading Card Game, Neoquest (I/II) and Neoboards Avatars Collectors, with respectively 18, 13 and 9 recurrences. Although not in the Top 3, the most cited flash games were Meerca Chase II and Destruct-O-Match II, both with 4 recurrences.

      The most presented games in the 785th to 845th issues were Neoboards Avatars Collectors, Neoquest and Gormball, with respectively 10, 6 and 3 recurrences. Although not in the Top 3, the most cited flash game in these issues was Faerie Bubbles, with 2 recurrences.


     In Items, no specific item stands out. However, according to the official Neopian Classification, the most mentioned items in the 150th to 200th issue were foods and books with 16 and 4 recurrences, respectively. Gardening and Weapons are in a shared third place, both with 2 recurrences.

     The top 3 of the current issues are foods, with 24 quotes, books and paint brushes with 4 quotes each.


     It was possible to identify several subthemes within the theme Neopets Life: caring for your pet, customization, dailies, economy, galleries, goals, guilds, holidays, Neoboards, Neohome, Neomail and others. The subthemes in the Top 3 are: in the 150th to 200th issues, caring for your Pet, economy and holidays, with 35, 24 and 14 recurrences respectively; in the 795th to 845th issues, holidays, customization and economy, with 46, 18 and 15 recurrences.

     We also managed to create a Top 3 for the most recurring Holidays in the Neopian Times: in 150th to 200th issues, Halloween and Valentine's Day are the most recurring, with 4 instances each. In the 795th to 845th issues, they are Halloween, with 15 recurrences, and Valentine's Day and Christmas, with 8 recurrences each.


     In Neopian Lands, the most recurring lands in 150th to 200th issues are Brightvale, Meridell and Maraqua, with 8, 6 and 4 recurrences respectively. Currently, the most prominent Neopian Lands in the Neopian Times articles are Faerieland, with 5 recurrences, Tyrannia, with 4 recurrences, and Mystery Island with 3 recurrences.


     As the other subthemes contain a few articles, we decided not to point out a Top 3, but only the most quoted subtheme. The most cited Colours in the Neopian Times are: in the 150th to 200th issues, Grey. The color had recently been released at that time, so it is one of the most recurring in this range. The most quoted color nowadays is Alien, in particular Alien Aisha, since it is the only one that can be painted that color.


     There are several Neopian Species, and among pets, petpets and petpetpets, the most cited are presented below. The most cited Species are: the Chia in the 150th to 200th issues, and the Hissi in the 795th to 845th issues. The most cited petpets are: the Meepit in the 150th to 200th issues, and the Weewoo and the Kadoatie in the 795th to 845th issues. Only two articles talked about Petpetpets in the investigated ranges: "Need for Flea Collars?" (178th Issue), and “Guide: How to Attach Your Petpetpet Easily” (844th Issue).


     About Site Events, in the 150th to 200th issues only 2 events were presented, which were the plots Curse of Maraqua and The Return of Dr. Sloth. In the 795th to 845th issues, the events on the site gained more highlights, having a recurrence of 24 publications, where the most mentioned event was the Altador Cup, with 13 recurrences.


     And now one of the most awaited moments: the most Famous Neopian Character. Without much ado, in the 150th to 200th issues the most quoted Neopian Character was, nobody other than Dr. Sloth, with 14 recurrences in total.

     However, the neopian faeries, in general, also receive a highlight, being quoted in 20 articles. However, no particular faerie has been as quoted as much as Dr. Sloth. Not even the Space Faerie managed to stop him this time, so that even the Happiness Faerie (The Good Side of Dr. Sloth) was featured in one of the articles (Issue 175, Article “Happiness Faerie: Is She Really Happy?”). Dr. Sloth may not have conquered Neopia at that time, but he certainly managed to conquer the Neopian Times.

     However, trapped in the Space Faerie Amulet, Dr. Sloth has no more power over the Neopian Times, and so the faeries currently dominate the theme Neopian Characters. One of the most cited faeries in recent issues is Kaia, the Shenkuu Faerie and warrior in The Wraith Resurgence Plot. Kaia was even interviewed in one of these recent articles (Issue 801, Article “Character Introductions: Kaia”). But we still do not really know if it was Kaia or the Darkest Faerie answering those questions.


     After this deep review of Neopian Times’ articles then and now, we have reached a conclusion that is a consensus between the authors of the present work: many things have changed in the Neopian Times, but one thing remains the same, and that is our gratitude for the Times. We know how hard it is to maintain the journal every week so we are deeply thankful for Scrappy and for all the users that write, draw, compose and that keep making this possible. And with that, we would also like to say thanks to you who is reading this article and wish you a happy 850th Issue! Until next time! - naama_mikeas and millyhz.


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