Scanlation Ethics Rant

We get quite a few comments on this site and via our email. The main 3 categories can be broken down in as:

  • Thanks (we always welcome this :P)
  • Scanlation Speed / Quality
  • Money

Typically I write up some long-winded reply in the comments (e.g. last one on scanlation quality can be found on:

but in the interest of laziness, I’ve decided to post a response here for once just so I can refer to it in the future.

Scanlation and Money (Warning: Long ass rant)

The problem with scanlation is that the mangaka (in this case: Yasuhisa Hara) does not receive any money from us translating it into English or from it’s increased popularity outside of Japan.

One hopes that raising awareness of a manga would entice an actual publisher to take a chance and publish this in English or other languages but on the other hand, the existence of free translations somewhat counteracts this.

Translations accepting donations or running ads is something so ubiquitous nowadays that it’s hard to take issue with it. Personally, however, I have mixed feelings about this.

Essentially we’re operating in a grey area here, a sliding scale of what is ethical and what is not. Who’s to say how much compensation in donations or ad revenue is ethical before we cross the line into profiteering off of the authors work. Sites like Mangajoy and are clearly attempting the latter but what about other scanlation groups like mangastream or even smaller groups?

Recently, while bored when commuting to work, I read a few chapters of a Xianxia novel called Coiling Dragon from Wuxiaworld. The site makes roughly at least $500 a month (my estimate) from donators and promises more chapters for each new milestone in donations that is reached.

I have no idea how much mangastream makes but they release shonen jump flagship titles so I’d assume a damn lot. I’m interested if any of that flows down to the people who actually work for them (doubt it).

What excellent business acumen! Except for the fact that it’s not actually legal for them to do so (especially on licensed titles). I vaguely recall a time when Naruto became licensed and mangastream temporarily shut down scanlation on this but then picked it back up due either to its popularity or how much lost revenue it would cost them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually have no problem with this. After all, if mangastream didn’t scanlate Naruto, someone else would have (and they would have made a killing doing it too).

But if a reader asked me whether I thought they should donate to a translation or not, I would tell them absolutely not. We’re not doing this for money and if they are, they’re making money via ads and not relying on your donations anyway.

If you’re really interested in helping out the scanlation scene, learn to actually clean, redraw or typeset. I’m pretty damn sure anyone over the age of 16 should be able to learn how to do these. Unless you’re dyslexic, in which case, stick to cleaning. You will need 2 hours a week to contribute so don’t give me any excuses about not having any time unless you work 3 jobs and are up to 100k in student debt.

But as to whether a person does end up donating or whether translations want to accept money, that’s their prerogative. In the past, we’ve accepted donations to help pay for our raws and server (which I might shut off soon). If we wanted to, I’m actually pretty confident we could have made at least ~$8000 over the last 2 years, particularly if we kept it open when we were doing 8 chapters a week.

Eventually I might turn donations back on just because people keep pestering me and now that we’re no longer working on Kingdom at full speed but if I could turn back time, I still would have deleted the donation widget from the site back in 2013.



Filed under Rant

26 responses to “Scanlation Ethics Rant

  1. Dragon

    It’s a shame that the author can’t benefit from the surging popularity kingdom has gotten over the past couple of years. The only way i can support Yassa is by buying the raws, which im incapable of reading. So that”s not really practicle. I do hope that kingdom gets published overseas.

  2. the bird of the chapel

    I like this ethic of yours, and I’ve accepted it too wholly. I really wish Kingdom gets translated so I can buy the entire damn thing. It’s the best way I can support the series (besides the fanblog). I also keep my adblock up at all times in manga sites for the same reason lol.

    • Dragon

      Disabling adblock on those manga hosting sites will not benefit the authors in anyway. All youre doing is generating ad revenue for those websites.

  3. insane multitasker

    My pipe dream is to wake up someday to read that the author wanted to publish an english translation using Turnip Farmers’ work. 🙂

  4. Snowdrop

    I just want to thank you for all the work. Yes, it seems like because of the raws in other language, people are able to translate/scantalate it fast. However, you would have been able to do so had it not been for the fact that the good japanese version is not out yet xD Still, I want to thank you for making this popular. Yes, others tried to do your work but people who read this manga from the time you were releasing several chapters a day know that you are the one who helped make this manga popular to readers who would never even dare read it. I read Kingdom because of its fast release and awesome story. Thank you again.

  5. ace

    apologies for being one of the people who made you write the long script (not because of the donations). I just like 90% or so of your readers stick to turnip for the quality work you offer and the fact that you are entirely doing it out of passion and not money but also having chosen kingdom one of the best manga being writen with a superb writer to translate, I personally am a fan of historical manga since you get to learn from them.
    just as stated the quality you offer is beyond reproach which some of the best scan teams are still struggling to achieve. however I respect your space and time and would therefore withdraw my petition for you to pick up ad astra.

  6. ichimaru gin

    I only give love, easy love easy life ❤

  7. GonFreaksss

    Without you, there is no way Kingdom is this popular. We do appreciate everything you have done in the past two years. As for quality, nothing compares to your scanlations. Its certainly worth the wait

  8. One follower

    I like you fellows even more now. Your work is much appreciated.

  9. jozze

    Well said! Modest farmers that are growing turnip, I commend you for your decisions! There is a special place in heaven just for you.

  10. dragon baller

    Oshit-san, I didn’t ex孔垂長pect that you will reply me for this long text, that’s an honor for me.
    The main reasons I think even the mangaka is benefiting from your scanlation is:
    1-if viz licensed a manga,it is because it became popular in the west (not in Japan), there are a lot of mangas with popularity in Japan, but haven’t been licensed, so if kingdom is licensed in the future, it will be because of you.

    2-with the scanlation in English, all devoted manga readers who have read it, became to higher the manga rating by voting in mangaupdates, which raised the manga from the depths to the top 10 manga of all time, even Japanese enter that website to check manga, so when they noticed kingdom in top 10, they became interested in it, eventually they will buy the volumes from shuiesha.

    3-from my prospective: when someone scanlate a manga, it will be more advertising For the manga than TV ads or shuiesha ads.

    Thanks for your hardwork, i t will be more perfect just if you scanlate the remaining volumes extra chapters and omake, right now, there are 5 volumes extras remaining I think.

  11. restacity

    Bravo, well said, this world need more people just like you.. 🙂

  12. Loki

    I think imperial scans have access to early raws of the magazine, would it be possible for you to contact them to know if they can be shared?

  13. Tam

    Touching on another point you made, I started Scanlating when I was 14 years old. I keep hearing “I’d love to help but I’m not qualified” from people. I wasn’t qualified, I just picked up a copy of photoshop and played with images until they stopped looking like shit. Over 90% of the people doing scanlation aren’t “Qualified”; they do the work, learn and improve by doing, by making mistakes, and eventually get seen as “Qualified” by others.

    Been in a few groups over the years, and I can tell you that the majority of staff are under 18 years old. These High school and University students have spare time and are willing to give it, so please also keep that in mind when you’re questioning a group’s “professionalism”.

  14. I like yr reasoning sir.

  15. Dedicated supporter

    Oh I will donate, good sir. Even if I have to break into your house and stuff loads of $$ under your pillow, money fairy style. >:D

  16. blasev

    its hard to be you, but still this in one of the best response I’ve read. tumbs up

  17. coprea

    While I agree with all you said a 100%, I want to at least point out that the Guy doing Coiling Dragon asked the Author for permission (more than once, by his claims), and the Author (I eat tomatoes) didn’t seem to care at all, so he is operating legally.
    I also would like to say that 3 to 4 chapters a day is pretty great, the Novel has 800 chapters and in less than a month half has been translated.

    Aside from that I can only say that many more than you think might agree with you, I personally stay away from sites that make huge amounts out of other people work like that, but the thing is that as long as people get to read the things they want, they won’t complain.

    As I said I stay away from sites like, but if you were to drop Kingdom, Then what choose would I have if I want to read it? Either I read it there or I learn Japanese or Chinese.

  18. Seb

    If this was ever licensed and published in English, I’d buy the shit out of it

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