Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

27
Jun

Listen, we need to talk…

   Posted by: Nicolas

Two and a half years ago I left the site – but I stayed connected with Cyndi and Donna, lest they ever needed any help. From time to time they did, and often I heard snippets of their woes about the site – many of these were familiar, and some were far less so.

One thing which I heard again and again that I just didn’t understand was the problem with Skype. Skype, as far as I knew, had been a wonderful way for members to get to know each other more. While it had certainly taken away much of the on-board OOC discussion, that didn’t seem like the worst price to pay.

It took my return to the board, merely six months ago, to fully recognize the problem.

Skype is killing HNZ.

That’s not fair. Skype isn’t doing anything, really. I should rephrase that.

You’re killing HNZ.

At least, the HNZ that we all know and care for is dying a slow and painful death because of how Skype has been used.
The HNZ I know and love is welcoming, and passionate, and diverse! It’s a place where very different people get along because of a common love for writing and a common love for Potter – and more than get along! They collaborate and create beautiful, interesting, engaging works of art together!
That’s the HNZ I love, and I suspect it’s the one you love, too.
How has Skype been used to kill that?
It’s been used to ostracize people. It’s been used to spread lies, and rumours, and sad half-truths.
It’s been used to bully people. To harass, to gang up on, to be children toward, fellow members of the site.
It’s been used in every way possible to evade our board rules and our Netiquette guide.
This is not okay. This is not the HNZ I know.
Skype is being used to get away with things that one would never get away with on the board – and it’s letting some people act like children while others are being abused, hurt, and chased off the site.
I’m sure we can all agree that it’s the people who are being hurt who we’d much rather keep around than the people doing the hurting.

Something’s got to change.

Let’s start here:

  • Block the Bullies
    If you’re in a Skype chat with somebody who’s treating you the above ways. Block them, then talk to us. We can’t punish people for things off the board that we can’t investigate, but you don’t have to endure the abuse.
  • Check Your Facts
    If you hear something that doesn’t make sense, from a person who doesn’t make sense to know/tell you that – talk to a member of the staff or the person who it’s about.
    We’ve had people think the staff has a vendetta against them just because one user told them so, like they knew, when it absolutely wasn’t true – and it created deep tensions until we discovered the problem! Talk to people, and don’t trust nonsense.
  • Offenders Be Warned
    If one name comes up very often as problematic off-site, we’re going to have a chat with that person and their time on the board might come to an abrupt end. Assume that Netiquette applies off site from now on.
    We’re not going to be talking people out of leaving because of your abuse anymore. Instead, we’ll be forcing you off so the board can be legitimately enjoyed again.
  • Site Talk on the Site
    We think it’s awesome that so many people have met in real life, know each other personally, are friends beyond HNZ – but maybe talk to those people only about not-HNZ stuff on Skype.
    Try to keep as much HNZ talk on HNZ as you can. Need to plot? PM. Want to talk to a bunch of people? Spam or shouty (seriously, just treat it like a group chat convo where you know if somebody is a bully they will be dealt with because we have the records).

We can’t resolve this alone. We need all of you to cooperate, especially those of you who aren’t part of the problem but know what we’re talking about.

I know many of you noticed that this year’s birthday celebrations didn’t include a site-wide Skype chat. Not surprisingly, this is why. The staff have no interest in organizing something that is being used to push people further and further away from the board and its community. That’s not okay, and we’re not endorsing it any more in any way – and we’re going to steer clear of Skype and the poison that comes with it until this changes. HNZ should be an escape from this kind of behaviour that many of us have experienced in real life, not a community that repeats those behaviours on our own.

HNZ is a lot better than this.
We’re all a lot better than this.
Let’s do better together.

-Nick


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Anybody who was part of a conversation in Shouty tonight likely spied a seemingly random outburst on my behalf – raging against something which many probably see as a non-issue.

Excerpts from my glorious rantings included such gems as:

Neville also didn’t fit the Gryffindor image. Lesson: Stop ‘yer cryin’. Sorting hat did it right. Make it work. Develop a character. Dare to have your plans be dynamic.

The point is the sorting hat gets it right. A roleplayer would put Neville in Hufflepuff and say he has his brave moments but is mostly a Hufflepuff.

My point is that roleplayers are dumb. They plan a whole character’s life and have a tantrum if their character’s life is interrupted in its idealistic perfection at all by actually interacting with other characters or responding to situations

and

It defeats the purpose of an interactive RPG if we all define our character’s paths and have them go down them in a straight shot without room for deviation or error.

I’d like to preface the following by stating that it’s not directed at anybody in particular. The conversation in shouty definitely brought it back to mind, but this has been something that has bothered me for some time (as you’ll see in my rant to follow).

My point is a simple one, and I think it ties tightly back in to what Amanda posted nearly a year ago in her post Open Says Me – the fun of roleplaying (to me, at least) is the insane things that just happen. How two people in the real world, with very different lives, writing styles, and ideas, come together in collaboration to create something epic – each controlling a character and writing in half of a story, all the while actively enjoying and reacting to the half that they have no power over. Influencing their own half of the story. Veering off course wildly – perhaps never to return.

Ever since Sorting on HNZ began people have gamed the form. I’m no fool: I know it’s done, and it frustrates me. Not because we suddenly have 1000000 stereotypical Slytherins demanding Slytherin or death to all (though, don’t get me wrong, that’s absolutely dumb) – but because it steals some of the excitement away from the sorting process and the actual roleplay. You, as a roleplayer, have developed a character with certain hopes and dreams you have – but you’re a roleplayer in a text-based, play by post, RPG. You’re not an author of a fanfiction. You, perhaps unfortunately (though, in my view, quite fortunately), have merely 50% of the control. Sometimes less. You can shape your character. You can mould your character. You can put your character in the right place at the right time. You can’t determine their fate in every respect. Because you need to work with other people. When we refuse to do that, or we game the system, we rob not only others of a proper and full experience – but I think we rob ourselves of some of the excitement of roleplaying, as well.

Fanfictions are great. Novellas, and literature: can’t get enough of it. But HNZ isn’t for those things. HNZ is for coming together as a community and crafting something brilliant and unique. Bringing our own ideas to the table and compromising with other people to see what new and exciting things will come out of it.

My case-in-point for this argument is a topic I had when HNZ was perhaps the most fun it ever has been for me. It’s a roleplay which, while I cringe to link to it now after so many years, still makes it in every reminiscing sufficiently veteraned members of the site makes. Countless lists of favourite roleplays include this thread. A Brotherhood Sized Bet. If you haven’t read it: do.

That thread, an icon of HNZ’s past and of what is great about roleplaying, happened almost entirely spontaneously. My entering it, unplanned. What happened to my character: grossly unexpected. I had no idea. And I had to react to it as I read the post. No preparation, no planning ahead, no avoiding the topic lest it should change something key about my character, no shutting down the roleplay as soon as I didn’t like where it was heading.

We all have plans and goals for our characters. That’s natural and to be expected. But, as in life, it’s the journey that our characters go on that counts. Fast tracking and pre-planning everything, while ensuring it happens, steals something gravely important about the experience that HNZ offers from you. Something that definitely should never be stolen away. I miss it severely and I don’t want to see others never having experienced it at all.

“Make it work. Develop a character. Dare to have your plans be dynamic.” I think that’s a fair summary of what it is that needs to be done. Developing a character should be an active process, ongoing and changing as roleplays happen and partners in the roleplay throw in unexpected, amazing, surprises – like life offers to us each and every day. Have plans be organic, not static – make the roleplay interesting, not scripted and entirely two dimensional. Boring. When somebody offers you something in a roleplay that didn’t quite fit the master plan, or the sorting hat puts your blood supremacist sadist in Hufflepuff: make it work. It’s an opportunity to have a lot of fun, not a sentence to death and destruction for your character (though that could be fun too, couldn’t it?).

Hoping you’ll soon find your characters entirely out of control, developing whole new lives of their own, and surprising and surpassing even your wildest thoughts and plans for them,

~Nick


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1
Jul

What the HELL is a [Pureblood]?!

   Posted by: Nicolas

I’ve been seeing a lot of pureblood applications and denying my fair share of them. But why are so many of them denied?

Put simply, I’m not convinced that people on HNZ really understand what it is to be a Pureblood.
The Pureblood Site Doc explains that:

J.K Rowling has stated that ‘true’ pure-bloods do not exist in the magical world, and that any family that claims to be entirely ‘pure’ has simply erased muggles and squibs from their family trees.

This means that “pureblood” by definition can never be entirely met. So what, then? The site documentation goes on to explain what we’ll consider a pureblood:

With this knowledge in mind we have set our definition of a ‘Pureblood’ to be that all great-grandparents and any direct ancestors below them were all magical. This, of course, also means that your character can have two magical parents and still not be a ‘pure-blood’.

What the document fails to explain is that your character can also have two parents who are not pureblood and still be, themselves, a pureblood (for the considerations of HNZ).

How is that even possible?!” you may be thinking to yourself. Well, it’s quite simple, actually. Just take a look at this helpful chart I’ve made:

Pureblood Explanatory Chart
Nick’s awesome art explaining HNZ policy

In the above image, only the person in red is a pureblood. The rest of the family, though, is obviously magical. Why aren’t the pureblood’s parents also purebloods? We simply don’t see their great-grandparents (another set of 8 people per parent (16 more people if you consider them together), one of which could have surely been non-magical – who knows?). Maybe their parents are purebloods. But then the odds of their grandparents also being purebloods? Extremely unlikely – another 12 people per grandparent to consider.

So, when a person submits a pureblood request but says that their character is a pureblood because all the way back to their great-grandparents are also purebloods… that’s just ridiculous. And approving 15 purebloods at once is something we’re extremely unlikely to undertake.

So, when you apply for a pureblood remember these simple things:

  • Your character’s direct ancestors, up to their great-grand parents are required to be magical but not purebloods
  • Your character can be the first pureblood in their family.
  • Approving 15+ purebloods at once is not something we like to do, or likely will do.
  • Your character can’t be part-giant/part-veela/part-monkey and still be a pureblood
  • Nick likes cookies and Cyndi likes chocolate
    These point will help you a lot!

I hope this clarifies a few things and helps you in all future pureblooding adventures!

~Nick

Post-Script: And try not to be too cliche in your applications! Originality gets you 5 million bonus points. The cliche applications are:

  1. My character is pureblood, thinks they’re better than everybody else, will hate everybody – not being a pureblood will change their character tonnes
  2. My character is pureblood, thinks they’re better than everybody else, but this will change and they will see the error of their ways
  3. My character is a pureblood, but doesn’t think anything of it. They will show that not all purebloods are bad. (Or they will crusade for the rights of people who aren’t purebloods.)

If you could shy away from those topics… that’d be grand. 😉


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24
May

HNZ: My hopes, plans & ideas

   Posted by: Nicolas

So, normally I use HNZ to blog rant about whatever has been annoying me, on or off of the site. I’ve even considered writing a “how to blawg rant” sort of blog rant where I would analyze my own blog rantings to see what made them so humorous to some and offensive to others. This post, however, will be more blog and less rant. Surprising, I know.
So, without further ado, the blog itself:

Contrary to what it seems like, I do have a lot of ideas, hopes, and plans for HNZ. Some of them are a lot larger than others, and some of them are quite unrealistic, but nevertheless I have them and strive toward implementing them.

Some of the ideas you’ve already seen thrown in to action with little to no consultation with the site, some of the ideas I’ve heard as suggestions and am just waiting for the right form to execute them in, others are ongoing as I type and many, many, others are just little inklings of thought in the back of my mind.

So, where does Nick see HNZ going? What big plans and hopes do I have for the site? I’ll share a few with you now. ^_^

Right, so first I’ll start with some of my more minor ideas – easy to implement, but I mostly want feedback on or need the help of members to do.

  • Twitter Profile Field
    The Twitter profile field was added to HNZ, but I’ve been thinking about updating its coding just a little such that if the user has inserted a link to their twitter account it becomes clickable. It’s a small thing, and easy to do, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra three lines of code on the site.
  • Constant Feedback (Through the proper channels)
    Recently the giant suggestions topic disappeared and in its place came the Suggestions & Feedback forum. This was in an effort to invite users to openly post their own suggestions or feedback about the site, then facilitate discussion on the topic instead of just having one response and things moving on. You’ll notice, however, that the forum is no longer just ‘Suggestions’. It is ‘Feedback’ as well. This means we want to hear what you think, not just grumblings over MSN and whatever spam topic is open. An excellent example of this is Interactive Lessons. Recently a discussion has been opened about them where users were invited to share their ideas and opinions. Now, interactive lessons began several months ago and I’ve heard grumblings about it on and off since then. What stopped those users from posting feedback, constructive criticism, and their own ideas? Nothing on my end, I should hope – but I don’t know.
  • A better understanding that Livvy & I work as a team
    This has become difficult as of late, because often it is only one of us that warns any given user, or one of us that replies stating an application has been denied. Often, when it is the same admin and the same user over time, the user develops animosity toward the one admin and favours the other, somehow thinking that our opinions differ, when this is very seldom true. Hopefully I’ve taken a step toward mending that, where one of us takes all the heat, in the most recent update to the applications system – but we’ll have to wait to see.
  • All (or most all) Applications on Webpages
    Right now we seem to be caught between two systems. The older, ‘copy/paste this form to apply’ system (still used for Hogwarts Staff, Professors, Shopkeepers, and Ministry Officials) and the newer webpage/mostly automated application system (as seen with Purebloods, Plot Requests, Special Abilities etc.).
    The trouble with updating is many-fold. First, making the webpages is time consuming. This is not a large concern of mine, but it is one to consider in conjunction with the others.
    Next, for Professors – applications are only open when we are specifically hiring for a post. Otherwise, the form is moot. How, then, are we to indicate when/if we’re hiring – and would we have to update the form every time we need a new professor?
    The final trouble is the shopkeeper application. Shopkeepers can open their own shop (note: that is currently on hold) or fill a vacant shop. If they are trying to fill a vacant shop, the same trouble as professors pops up.

Of course, I also have some much larger plans than those – many of which are just pipe dreams, but thoughts I’ve had nonetheless.

  • Member Run: Aurors & Death Eaters
    This is something I, personally, would like to see in the future some time. A few trusted members taking on Aurors and Death Eaters, keeping Admin in the loop, and ensuring things stay active and exciting. Livvy and I have tonnes on our plates, we’re trying to organize and encourage DE/Auror activity while still monitoring it/tempering it so it doesn’t get out of hand. In the past, Death Eaters have been self-run, and I think both groups could do so with OOC leaders from the member base. Maybe just not yet.
  • Ministry of Magic: Election(s)?
    This is something that is likely happening, and soon. Possibly starting in Y10, if I can get some things together for it.
    Gellert Coote has been Minister for Magic for at least eight years. That’s a fair length of office term, and it’s time he retired. So who is next to lead the Magical Community of New Zealand and its Ministry in to the future? Well, I’d like that to be up to the residents of New Zealand themselves. I think it’d be a grand way for members to get involved in the site. Create characters to run in the campaign (or, better yet, use existing ones) have speeches, slogans, buttons and banners, make election promises nobody can keep, expose skeletons in each other’s closets… and then… voting day! New Zealand elects its newest leader.
    Of course, some OOC strings would need to be attached too – as having such an important character for the whole site makes things a bit complicated. The roleplayer of that account would need to talk to Admin frequently and keep us in the loop on things – but I think that’s something fun to look forward to that could add so juice to the Ministry-aspect of HNZ. ^_^
  • A New Custom Theme?
    HNZ has been using the same amazing theme made by Athene Perthro for nearly two years now. It’s excellent, I love it, it means “HNZ” to me – but sometimes change is nice. Something fresher and newer could likely entice visitors to join the board and I’m always one to see what new things might work.
    This is something I’ve pursued to some degree previously, but unfortunately it hasn’t come through, so it’s something I keep in my mind. If we were to have a new theme designed for HNZ – or even coded for it (though I could do that myself, really) – it would be a nice way to liven up some aspects of the board (though I always intend to keep Athene’s skin in the theme chooser).
  • Web Hosting for HNZ
    This is one of the larger dreams really that I have for the site. I say dream because of how unlikely it is to happen, but it could be quite awesome if it ever did.
    What would web hosting mean? Well, it would mean that we would be able to integrate some PHP to the forum and host many things ourselves – such as the galleons script which, currently, is being graciously provided and hosted by my friend Scott (Slayer766) on his web host. This would also mean that HNZ could be given a front page of sorts before accessing the forums, which would contain quick links, information, announcements, a login system of sorts etc. which could all be tied directly back to the board with ZetaBoard’s upcoming API.
    Now, why is this unlikely to happen? The simple fact of web hosting costing money. The most basic plan with the company I buy HNZ’s domain from is $72.24(CAD) for a year of hosting. I already pay ~$25(CAD) a year for the domain and my privacy protection on the domain – so that would be nearly $100 a year spent on the site. Not too terribly much, when given that it’s a whole year – but it’s a fair amount when I don’t have a credit card to pay through (so I buy stupid prepaid ones) and my job isn’t that great. Plus, I’m going in to University and will therefore be in debt the rest of my life, the way it’s looking. I also never want to put up a paypal link asking members to donate to HNZ, nor do I want to start a project that costs money without personally having the means to back that project for an extended period of time. It would suck if I paid for a year, then couldn’t pay for the next year and somehow no members came through with donations, and we lost whatever we’d become so used to/dependant on.

That’s about all the plans/hopes/ideas/dreams I think I want to share right now.
I would like to comment that in the past week, maybe two weeks, I have thoroughly enjoyed the air about the community on HNZ. A lot of negativity and animosity seems to have been taken away somehow, and I’m very optimistic for the future. ^_^

Thank you all for making HNZ so awesome, and I welcome you to share any feedback on these hopes/plans/ideas of mine. ^_^

~Nick


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