They're Random, Baby!

HBO Image Posting Guidelines
Affecting all image submissions after January 12, 2003

HBO opened its doors on May 26, 1999, and from the very beginning, we positioned ourselves as the fan's fansite. We accepted any and all creations submitted to us, as long as they weren't pornographic and didn't infringe on another's intellectual property rights. We set up galleries for desktop images, modified logos, banners, random artwork, fan fiction, even musical compositions. Some images were masterpieces, others were simply screenshots with funny titles. It didn't matter; we took them all.

Times have changed. It's almost four years later, We have well over 1000 individual pieces of fan-created visual art and an equal number of stories in the fan fiction section. There's just no way to catalog everything in a way that lets people find the good stuff, without getting bogged down in the mundane stuff. I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out a fair way to filter all of the 'not-really-worth-displaying artwork into a single area that folks could just ignore, when it occurred to me - we could just stop accepting it. If nobody wants to see it (except the creator, of course)... why waste the bandwidth here?

Now, once again, before anybody gets their dander up... we're not telling you that you shouldn't create what you want to create. All we're telling you is that if you choose to create something that doesn't meet our posting guidelines, we'll decline to host it. You're welcome to post it on any one of a number of free sites, and point people to it in our forum... but we're going to save our bandwidth for images that we feel maintain the overall quality level of the current archive. (Yes, there are images - many of them - in the archives now that will not meet these standards; that's just the luck of the timing. We're not going to allow precedent to dictate what goes in from now on; we will not accept the argument that "my pic is as good as that one that you're already hosting," because the rules start now.

So... what are these guidelines? Good question. Here are some examples of images that we'll pass on from this point forward:

  • Unaltered screenshots with text pasted on top (either as a caption or a thought or speech bubble)
  • screenshots with scribbled-in artwork on top
  • characters extracted from one image and pasted into another, with no real effort expended at making it look like it belonged there in the first place
  • Random composites of screenshots with some text on top
  • Logos with a simple photoshop filter applied

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and if an image comes in that doesn't meet what we think our quality standards are (but has no line item here defining why), we'll add another bullet. Please don't argue with the decision we make; there are plenty of Halo sites on the web, and I'm sure SOMEONE will be willing to host your file for you... but if we turn it down, a dozen nasty emails will do nothing to change our mind.

We'll do our best to point to this document via email if we reject your image, so you'll at least know why it didn't go up. And if we reject an image, we haven't rejected an artist; you're welcome to try again. (Please take the guidelines to heart, though, before submitting the next try; it's really no fun sending out rejection letter after rejection letter.)

But wait, you say - you've told us what you won't take... how do we know what you will take? Simple. Fan-created work - if it's original, and it's clear that you took more than 10 minutes to make it, we'll almost certainly accept it. Composites are fine, as long as you make some effort to ensure they blend well. Don't slap together 6 screenshots, drop the Halo logo on top, and say "there - my masterpiece!". Try, instead, to use some ingenuity. Make sure shadows line up properly (check out this piece by Warbow for an example), make sure fringes on extracted characters have colors that blend with their background. Maybe most importantly... look through what's already been done, and don't repeat it.

Hopefully, this exposition will help you get your fan art accepted into our galleries, and will keep the collections fresh and enjoyable for visitors.