Chat vs Elitism

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Chat vs Elitism

Post by Guest on Fri Apr 29, 2016 4:25 am

I, as a returning member here, have a suggestion I'd like to make. Because we all would like to see this place succeed, to live again and to prevent the things that contributed to its downfall before. So, with that in mind, I have a suggestion that when we start again to get rid of one of two things:

1. The writing requirement

OR

2. The chatbox.

One thing that was a little off-putting about the forum before was the requirement of every rp post to have a certain number of paragraphs. It is nice to set a standard but it can also feel a bit pretentious. Nothing wrong with that if you like insular communities but if we're going to try to welcome new members and grow and keep growing, it would help to make people feel like they are welcome. That means getting off our high horse about how big our dic--posts are and encouraging people to have fun.

And if you think it won't be fun to rp with people who aren't at your "level" then I'd urge you to remember how many rps got off the ground with more than a page or two of posts here and THAT was with people who were at the same level. It is hard to write to impress people especially long posts that are exhausting to get out. We all have lives and responsibilities and it is not fun to constantly start new ideas, get everyone on board, have everyone post once and then never hear from everyone again, or to hear nothing but excuses. That happens in forums with even the most lenient of standards but not as quickly as it did here. It hurts more when you're forced to put so much work into every single post, for it all to be thrown away. Having a standard can actually make people not want to post because of the work involved in posting, the pressure to make it impressive, and the possibility that Ms. Always-Leaves who's back for a weekend and wants to cajole everybody to start another game will leave before the week is out and it's her turn.

And then there's the impression of exclusivity, where everyone's on the waiting list but nobody ever actually gets in. It might make people feel like it's a waste of their time to rp with someone who posts a sentence or two but when they go the extra mile for the requirement and still get people looking down their noses and rejecting them? That's snobby. Not that you should accept rps even when you don't want them but if that person had someone to rp with, who writes like they do, they'll be less likely to LEAVE. Because we want people to STAY. If they like the game and they are fun to hang around with, why needlessly chase them off by making them feel like they are less important or not good enough? Activity is key and you have to make people feel like they want to be here. I think the requirement for minimum amount of fluff paragraphs just to validate your right to post is a good thing to consider maybe getting rid of. As in not having it at all so that the type of environment won't exist here anymore. You know, that back stabby, desperately on top, passive-aggressive, under the surface toxicity which that type of thing can breed.

OR

The chatbox should go. I've been on a lot of forums and one thing that is hurting all of them right now is visibility. Chatbox is easy and fun and time consuming. You can lose yourself for hours in there and still not feel like posting but get your community fix anyway. But with no posts on the forum in the conversation threads, in the rp threads, it can look like there is nobody here. If there is nobody here posting on a regular basis, why should new members even bother making an interest check? Looking for rps is a game of risk; you put yourself out there when you're energized and ready for a story right now. Being writers, we're very often easily swayed by disappointment, whether it is from rejections outright or simply waiting for the hours ticking by and not getting any responses. Looking at a forum where people haven't posted in days why risk it? Why chance it on a losing table?

We have to be visible. That is something that, even if you keep the requirement for a posting minimum, will make people jump and take the leap(because if I remember, the requirement wasn't terribly bad; like a minimum of 4 or 5 paragraphs right?). Because at the very least, there are people here who will answer and respond. That's what it looks like. And once we welcome them in the conversation not only are they more likely to stay but... they've now become a part of the thing that will enable other prospective members to look and say "Hey! There are people here!"

The three different forums I'm on right now, one of them is trying to get people out of the chat to post on the forums because nobody new has signed up in months. Another one is trying to get people out of the addictive net of PM rping because they have unlimited Private Messaging and membership is declining and topics get bumped once or twice a day. Nobody knows we are here, they won't stay and they won't even sign up. Besides, what would you discuss in a chatbox that you can't make a topic about? Had a bad day at work? Post in the thread about bad days and everybody can chime in. Feeling silly and want to randomly sing about cupcakes in text? Make a random silliness thread. The jokes will be immortalized where everyone can see how fun and outgoing we are.

Those are my suggestions. I know some of it might not be fun to hear, especially since these are supposedly things that were heavily a part of the forum before but... the forum died. Twice with both of these things still going on. I just think in order to do it right we have to look at doing things differently, cutting things out when they don't work or are bad for our over all goals. I don't think we should half-ass it this time around. If we're serious about the place surviving then we need to honestly assess what works with forum rp and what doesn't. It doesn't hurt to look at what are competition is doing right.

Also, BONUS: Suggestion for something to add. The successful forums I've been on have all had this: a section for a release of tension. A place that is not as heavily moderated as the rest of the forum where people can gripe about just about anything without threat of banning(excluding things against the law or that compromise the safety of members, of course; just a section to let off steam and have arguments). People are cowards but we seek catharsis when something is hurting or bothering us. In forums where everyone is forced to behave and play nice with each other, despite having a personal issue, it breeds passive-aggressive behavior on the forums. Because people just can't help themselves, but usually, they don't have the balls to confront the person directly in private. Or if they do, power plays are enacted and anyone can check out of the conversation by ignoring the other person and shutting them up. Catharsis denied! That also breeds a community of gossip as people gripe to their friends in private.

It is healthy to get things out in the open, to express ourselves, our wants and needs and it can often help people reach an understanding with one another or at the very least reach an end where they've said what they needed to say and they can walk away from it. Forums that have had a "Flame" section where anybody can make a topic just to be an asshole, don't have as much runoff in the rest of the forum. If it's excluded to this one section where almost anything goes, then people will have an option rather than misbehaving in the nice parts of the forum. And oftentimes they are exposed for their own stupidity or assholishness. Or, sometimes, if someone is suffering an issue, a disagreement, posting it in public can feel like you have an audience that can be swayed your way. That's not always true and sometimes ends up in the opposite as that person is told "omg, stop whining" but it is easier than sending a message in private with nobody to back you up or see your side of things. It's like a very loose moderation scenario. So and so got to say what he needed to say and people either agreed with him or not.

It would have to be watched to just make sure that it wasn't used solely for trolling, but I feel very strongly about the ability of communities to self-regulate. Not bully but to release tensions. I do not see people rallying behind a jerk who is exposed as being in the wrong nor do I think it is fair for people to be turned away from someone in private because their friend gave them the "I'm the real victim" version, without giving the other person the ability to defend themselves. In a way that is its own resolution and often people are less likely to hang onto something that was aired publicly and that they felt they had control over. Because honestly, as much as we love drama and confrontation we also hate it. Plus, it brings in another extra flavor to a place to have age old dramas chronicled. Something to read while waiting for replies.

I've also seen such sections turned into a place of humor and joking, where people just let loose and do whatever to be silly and random. It would be great to allow ourselves the freedom to end an argument with laughter than letting it stew, turning into a grudge and occasionally getting our hand slapped for making backhanded statements on the forum. Something I offer up for consideration to help make this place actually civilized than just pretend with our butt cheeks clenched.


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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Sunwolf007 on Sun May 01, 2016 1:00 pm

I've read through the very detailed suggestion post and have a response to a few things brought up.

One: I've already gotten rid of the chat box and replaced the links with Monthly Features, which I've brought back. The idea was to focus on bring up unique aspects of the site while trying to direct people to places to post. It was pretty much the same line of reasoning that you brought up that convince me to remove it (this was also suggested by others). So, yeah I'm already all over that one.

Two: I've also heard from Avi on his feelings of the site coming off as Elitist. Since both of you brought it up and have very valid reasoning behind your suggestions I'm forced to seriously look at it. Looking at how the site used to advertise itself I'm now seeing what you two are pointing out. It's practically written all over the site. I don't agree with getting rid of posting requirements though. If I do that, then there is no differentiation between IC boards. I could create a new board focused on no posting requirements and then redo the verbiage in the top menu to open the site up to any type of writer. This could very well bring in new members since we're already a high rating on search results for 'expert RP' and 'Advanced RP'. If people feel welcome to join then they will do so. Over the inactive years only 4 people joined a year. With our search results we should have been picking up more so I'm forced to see that the way the site itself is being portrayed is turning people off (besides the inactivity). I could create a new mission statement and focus on creating a site that helps people become better with both writing and RPing regardless of their skill level.

As for the other bonus suggestions, I'll look that over again and get back to you. I want a little more time to process and do a little research on how to enact those changes if I feel they are a good idea. Thank you for the detailed suggestions and please let me know your thoughts on my comments!

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Guest on Sun May 01, 2016 1:14 pm

Absolutely! Thank you for taking the time to read them. Very Happy

I have some good memories of this place and I really want to see it succeed. I think there could be a place for us among the main rp sites, especially if we can grow our community and make it feel welcoming to others. Monthly Features sounds like a great idea and like I said, the post requirement wasn't so bad, it's just the air of "better than you" that might be a bit of a turnoff. So, I definitely agree that is a good compromise, having a no requirement section, so that people have a choice rather than feeling obligated to perform just to fit in at all.

As for the last, it's just a suggestion. One of the biggest forums I've been on got rid of their flaming section about 3-4 years ago and although they're still a large site and bring in lots of new members, sometimes they have a problem with offhand comments in the general discussion, people "venting" in their journals, and gossip is rampant. So, although they're doing well, I thought I'd suggest it as something I've seen work to dispel some of that behavior.

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Tue May 03, 2016 3:40 pm

I'm kind of thinking about it now, since it's sounding like a real conversation (that's already a breath of fresh air), but why not swap the elitism out with group learning?

Having any new content is going to be a big boost around here - seriously, I've clicked on this site at least five times in the last couple of days, and the last time I paid a visit was maybe in February for two seconds - and anything that gets people talking to each other should help a lot, too. So why not get a monthly RP Topic Thread going, where a question goes out to folks ("What do you do when your story slows down?" "How do you add someone new to the group?" "When is it okay to do X to Y's character?" or "How do you nicely skip other people's turns if they haven't posted?"), and then everyone, experienced or not, can pitch in with their opinions and get some brainstorming on?

It beats having no activity, it helps people navigate the secretly tricky bits of roleplaying, it's easy to manage ("Here's the topic, now the community can hop in!"), and it's an even playing field between people who think they're really good writers and people who think they're being judged or looked down on. Because there's no right answer to a lot of these questions, having a wide range of opinions might break down a lot walls people didn't realize they were running into.

Also Sunwolf, can I have a fancy colour for my name? Y'know 'cause... it... uh... boosts morale? Which matters? I guess? I just want some funky flair, I'm going to be totally, selfishly honest. Razz
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Guest on Tue May 03, 2016 4:11 pm

Tartra wrote:I'm kind of thinking about it now, since it's sounding like a real conversation (that's already a breath of fresh air), but why not swap the elitism out with group learning?

That would definitely fit in with the new direction for a community of writers looking to get better at the craft. Aww How would the Monthly topic thread work as far as construction and flow on the forum? Like would it be just one big thread that gets posted in or would it be a sticky that we cycle out every month?

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Tue May 03, 2016 4:22 pm

Maybe it gets its own category under the OOC, and maybe it gets a link in the main menu bar, inside the MF post. I'm saying/writing 'maybe' in case the layout changes. I don't think it needs to, but if it does, then it's up to Sunwolf.

I'm thinking a new thread for every topic and that that month's thread is the one stickied. The first post should probably explain the topic and give an example ("Sally was having her character walk down a hall when Tommy's character jumped in to stab her. Without using the words 'dick move, assface', what can Sally say or do to keep the story flowing?"), and then the rest is people weighing in. They're probably not threads that ever need to be archived, either, and there's no problem resurrecting a dead one that I can think of.
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Guest on Tue May 03, 2016 4:33 pm

Awesome! I like that a lot! I think it'll set the forum apart from others when we have our own kind of learning and discussion section where questions are asked and opinions and methods are offered. It'll also fit in with the over all identity of the forum, especially if Sunwolf will be adding a section without a post requirement. It will look tiered, like we're encouraging progress with these sections.


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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Sunwolf007 on Wed May 04, 2016 11:51 am

Tartar, the types of topics you mentioned really belong in the 'Writing and Role-Playing in General' section. Those topics are exactly the kinds of discussions I would love to see and it would totally make FoG stand out from the other sites! I agree that this should be highlighted in the Monthly Features, and am working on how to incorporate your idea in the MFs. Since we already have two different RP MF categories I don't see a problem with having two writer based categories.

As for giving you a fancy color. I can't just give out color names to everyone who asks. It would defeat the purpose of having it in the first place. That being said, if you were to post those topics you mentioned you would probably have the new MF category on lock down. (Damn! My smartphone won't let me add a smilie. Imagine the winking one placed here, lol.)

I'm also planning on adding a user group that you get added to after a certain number of times being on the MFs. It would be a permanent highlight like the group that features users who have completed an RP. (But that's supposed to be a secret for now, lol)

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Wed May 04, 2016 11:55 am

Hahahahaha! Well darn, but it never hurts to ask, right? Very Happy

And as for the Topics Thread idea, I'm glad you're up for it! I'm not sure it's something I'm up for running myself, though. I'm pretty short on time these days, which is why I'm out of the RP pool (but that's why I'm psyched to read that you're opening it up to writers of all types). I can probably offer suggestions to whoever does end up running it, though.

Then again, if there's a fancy colour on the line... Razz
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Sunwolf007 on Fri May 06, 2016 12:00 pm

Ok, here is an update! I've finished creating the new layout and correcting the verbiage on the site. I've also added user groups and explanations to the ranks tab on the top menu. I haven't had a chance to implement Tartar's new suggestion yet but am working on it. I think we're ready to start advertising/pushing links.  Cool

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Fri May 06, 2016 1:20 pm

I like it. Very Happy That's definitely a lot cleaner. Personally, I don't like seeing '&' used when there's all the time in the world to spell the word out. It's a little lazy to me, that vibe it gives off.  

All right - I'm going to put on my critiquing hat and offer some suggestions. If you like 'em, take' em, but it's your site. Razz

For the opening blurb:

Footsteps of Ghosts (FoG) is a writing & and role-playing forum where we do not foster any particular literary style; rather, we encourage our members to pursue the writing that resonates most deeply with their own artistic instincts,. while at the same time We strive to pushing at the boundaries of theirour perceived inclinations assumed limitations. Find yourself in the fog, and take your first steps into meaningful, in-depth writing &and role-plays.


I added more 'our' uses to make it feel more inclusive, and I think I kept pretty true to the poetically froo-froo style. I like the froo-frooness, so don't take that for anything less than a compliment. It's the site's charm!

Just a note - nbd, just throwing this out there - I did that all on my phone, so I'm gonna need some applause.

For the Caligoans rank, you might want to add that it's for completed RPs rather concluded, or else everybody who's had their threads archived would technically count (unless that's the point and you're gonna make me one hint hint. Just kidding. Unless you're really going to do it).

Lastly, there's some white writing - I guess it's the site's header text - under the header image. It looks really out of place. I'm not sure if it's only on the mobile site, but I'd strongly suggest taking it out and letting the blurb speak for itself - or at least toning it down to some kind of gray.

So, yeah! I guess links are good to go out. I hope we get more things like interest checks and stuff up to make everything seem alive. I saw some forums games the other day! I've never been too keen on joining in with those, but it certainly helps the site look busier.
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Avi on Sat May 07, 2016 5:06 am

Tartra wrote:Lastly, there's some white writing - I guess it's the site's header text - under the header image. It looks really out of place. I'm not sure if it's only on the mobile site, but I'd strongly suggest taking it out and letting the blurb speak for itself - or at least toning it down to some kind of gray.

I can answer that: It's a problem with one of the ads. Apparently, there are some ads that are actually broken still in Forumotion's rotation! It's incredibly weird, but depending on the ad, you can notice what look like dead pixels on your screen. These are actually a single pixel that are the same color as the default Forumotion theme. Yeah, how's that for weird? I considered looking into why, but for the most part I haven't felt the need to bother.

Tartra wrote:Also Sunwolf, can I have a fancy colour for my name? Y'know 'cause... it... uh... boosts morale? Which matters? I guess? I just want some funky flair, I'm going to be totally, selfishly honest. Razz

Take mine. I never wanted it in the first place and someone has been too lazy to oblige my multiple, direct, and rather rude requests to remove it.

[Edit] Well, holy shit, he actually changed it. I guess I take back what I said about having it, because I technically no longer have it (thank God!).
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Sat May 07, 2016 5:42 pm

Avi wrote:Well, holy shit, he actually changed it. I guess I take back what I said about having it, because I technically no longer have it (thank God!).

Sunwolf may not giveth, but he will effectively taketh away. Which is great, because I remember seeing a few Members of the Month keep their flair for months on end. I can't compete with that!

Avi wrote:I can answer that: It's a problem with one of the ads. Apparently, there are some ads that are actually broken still in Forumotion's rotation! It's incredibly weird, but depending on the ad, you can notice what look like dead pixels on your screen. These are actually a single pixel that are the same color as the default Forumotion theme. Yeah, how's that for weird? I considered looking into why, but for the most part I haven't felt the need to bother.

No, not the dead pixels. There's "FoG is a writing and role-playing forum that caters to all writers seeking to improve their literate capabilities and connect with their peers." in bright white under the main image. It's not centred or anything, either. It's just an aesthetics thing, but it looks out of place with the way it is.

Also, wow, people are coming back. This is pretty great. Smile
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Sunwolf007 on Sun May 08, 2016 6:07 pm

Tartra wrote:
Lastly, there's some white writing - I guess it's the site's header text - under the header image. It looks really out of place. I'm not sure if it's only on the mobile site, but I'd strongly suggest taking it out and letting the blurb speak for itself - or at least toning it down to some kind of gray.
Unfortunately that blurb is one of the things that helps search engines find our site. If left unfilled FoG would be harder to find. I know it looks a bit out of place but if we keep it to one line description it doesn’t look as bad and I was able to center it. Until I find a way around it displaying we’ll have to live with it.

On another note, thank you for the edits! I think it cleaned up the homepage quite nicely.

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Sun May 08, 2016 7:26 pm

It looks a lot better just being centred. Smile And I noticed you edited it, too! So that's another big plus.

And you're welcome!
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Loki on Mon May 16, 2016 5:35 pm

Hey guys, guess who stumbles across the old stomping grounds? Very Happy

I have a contribution to add to the topic of the chat because it seemed to have played a part in the unraveling of the core members that frequented these parts. While I agree that the chat box had to go, I also feel that it needs to be replaced with something better.

I don't know if any of you frequented the IRC back in the site's heyday, but I feel that it played a major role in the vitality of these forums. For me, personally, it was a place for me to interact with members while waiting for the story to progress. It was a place for live brainstorming sessions; for people to get help from others to draft up a character or discuss plot points. It was a place for people to hype up the RPs they were in, both to generate interest in the game, but to also generate interest in RPing with one another. Most importantly, it was a place where the sense of community was fostered into something beyond RPing and its discussion. I frequented this place just as much for the people as I did for the RPs.

When the admin nixed the IRC in order to replace it with the chat, I watched as the core membership gradually fell apart. As much as they tried to hype it up, the chat box just couldn't compare with our little IRC community and while the switch may not have been the cause, but it certainly played a role in the activity drop. I won't argue that a chat room takes posts away from the OOC portions of the forum, but the activity it generated among members more than made up the difference.

Whether it is another IRC or even a skype group, I recommend having something that members can use to interact with one another when you start building up the core group of regulars. The stories may bring members here, but that sense of community is what keeps them coming back.
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Guest on Mon May 16, 2016 5:50 pm

Thank you for your input, Loki and hey, welcome back!

I've said how I feel about the chat programs in general as giving the impression of inactivity by showing a forum full of people but nobody posting. I just wanted to clarify that when I said "chat" I meant chat programs in general, not a history lesson on what happened here, since I abandoned the IRC long before the last owners made the switch and the drama occurred because of it. I don't see why we would need something like that or why posting in an OOC thread is different with planning stuff in a chat that can't be saved and if you weren't there for the discussion then you're SOL for knowing what the rest of the people in your group rp planned out. Furthermore, if everybody isn't cloistered off in a separate screen with a chat program they won't need to be linked threads because they'll probably see them right away on the forum. And there's private messages for discussion. A hidden community might be great for keeping members but we'd kind of like to keep a flow of people coming here for when current members die in activity and interest. And they'll do that if there are posts, current, engaging and frequent.

I've seen forum communities thrive without any sort of live-chat programs and I highly recommend, since we tried it the old way already once before, for us to try something different this time around and see if that changes things.

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Mon May 16, 2016 6:35 pm

If there's enough people who want an IRC or a Skype group, go for it. They take ten seconds to make. Just - y'know, because it'd be a public group chat, make sure everyone treats it as an inclusive, FoG-wide thing instead of hoarding it for one story's OOC or another's.

So chatting about your RPs = A-OK. Highjacking it to the point that other people feel like they're intruding on something they thought was general small talk or community banter = not too keen, keep it open to all us litte FoGgers. But like I said, even a Google Hangouts call takes ten seconds to organize, so if anyone wants a private one for their story, I'm not going to rain on that parade.

With that said, we're don't have enough regulars to breathe life into a forum and a FoG live chat just yet. Let's put a pin in the idea for now, try to get the threads going, and then come back to this. Smile

Also, what drama? I keep hearing about this drama surrounding the chatbox. That is clearly something I missed, and sure, let sleeping dogs lie, but can I get a tl;dr for curiosity's sake? Now I mean 'what drama' in the old 'Let's just forget about it!' way.


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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Loki on Mon May 16, 2016 7:22 pm

@Ten, I can see where you are coming from with your positions and completely understand the appearance of high-attendance, low participation. I also agree that it shouldn't be a substitute for an IC or to a limited extent, the OOC for an active RP. It did, however, make for an amazing workshop resource; talking to other members and bouncing around ideas for something that isn't even ready for an interest check helped me get the motivation and direction for no few of the games I started.

Regardless, we are all in agreement that rebuilding a base of active members is certainly the utmost focus. All I'm saying is that you at least keep the option for an official chat medium open should, somewhere down the line, members be expressing interest in one. As Tartra said, it's quick enough to set up and chances are by that time members would already be doing something independently, but making an official one (in my mind) promotes a sense of belonging.
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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Sunwolf007 on Tue May 17, 2016 7:22 pm

Hey, welcome back Loki! It's been a while!

Anyway, I do see where a type of chat can be helpful. I even use it for planning sessions with RPers. I have no problem with having a chat box or IRC but right now, as Tartra said, there really isn't the activity for one. I definitely see the benefits of having one (I did really enjoy it back in the day) but it can be a source of divisiveness and lack of posting. I am more specifically worried about moderation as I don't really have someone who would be able to monitor a chat. Plus the fact that right now there isn't enough of a demand for one makes me not want to use one right now. As you both pointed out it is something to consider at a later, more active time. I am by no means definitively opposed to bringing it back, I just need to see a need for it first.

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Re: Chat vs Elitism

Post by Tartra on Tue May 17, 2016 7:38 pm

Ah, yeah, moderation. I'd like to think we'd all get along, but toss a little stank on the way a person reads someone else's text, and drama could worm its way in pretty quickly.

That's also why I'm really not cool with the idea of having venting threads, too - the 'Flame' section suggested earlier. If you're angry with someone, going to a free-for-all category for 'release' is the absolute worst idea, and I've seen nothing but that in the forums I used to go to with one.
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