Archive for the ‘crazies’ Category

1
Sep

The insult that is stealing

   Posted by: Nicolas

This post was started in March, saved as a draft, then forgotten about. I’m publishing it now for no reason, really.


It can be pretty frustrating, being a content creator on the Internet. (Or, as most of you on HNZ know I don’t create much content anymore, I fear – a content administrator. 😉 )
The problem often is that your stuff gets stolen, taken by other people, and you find out about it somewhere down the line when it’s too late to really react. It’s an unfortunate reality, and for all the safeguards that exist to prevent this, none of them work really perfectly – and none of them work very well when you consider the ZetaBoards forum platform.

That all said, it hasn’t usually been malicious third parties taking things randomly from us. In fact, random third parties more often request permission to use our content and attribute it to us. The real evil seems to come from members of our community.

Countless users of HNZ have decided, after some time, that HNZ might not be just right for them, for whatever reason. So they decide they’ll start their own RPG, but instead of spending time creating their own content (codes, documentation, etc.) they take what HNZ already had in place. This has always been quite confusing to me. HNZ isn’t good enough for them, so they want better and know they can do better – but in the process of doing better than us, they just take what we have and claim it as their own.

Traditionally, I’ve come across communities made by HNZ people with other HNZ people as the regular membership filled with HNZ content. Not just their characters and their RPs (which they’re free to do with as they will, obviously) but also our rules documentation, our forum images, anything that tickled their fancy, and I’m left amazed.

More recently, however, a beast of a different kind has reared its ugly head. HNZ now has a set of useful and dynamic tools that set it apart from similar boards. These tools include the gradebook, the shop system, galleons, etc. etc. etc. These are uncommon codes because they take webhosting and a little bit of coding know-how, two things a lot of people can’t be bothered with. So instead, they try to take HNZ’s.

The thing is, with an external host it’s pretty simple to track down who’s accessing your site, and how they’re doing it. I’ve caught four boards now trying to use the like system from HNZ, if not the gradebook and galleons as well. (They’re pretty much useless without approved staff accounts being able to set up galleons, or assign grades, or anything else, but it’s still the thought that counts – and this thought was malicious.)

Additionally, I’ve caught a couple of the same people stealing HNZ’s custom themes for use on their own boards.
Fortunately, being on the support staff makes it easier to prove stolen content is mine and have such communities closed – but it’s an inevitable and unrelenting frustration to see things stolen, and people believing that we’re stupid enough for them to get away with it.


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23
Apr

Cliques, Clicks… Wait! Who started this?

   Posted by: Nicolas

Over the past several months I’ve heard too much about this topic, mostly people complaining to each other, some random discussions over IM, and a few PMs sent to me. It seems to me that there seems to be a deluded sense that HNZ is either “one big clique” or just divided in to a whole bunch of cliques, with no real community.

Define: Clique

Those are the definitions I will work with for the sake of this blog rant, since I feel a well defined definition is better to work with than some vague one different people conjure up in their minds.

Is HNZ a clique?
No is the simple answer. We are a group of people who share interests (Harry Potter, Roleplaying), patterns of behaviour (signing on to the board), but we are not exclusive. Registration is open to everybody and we’re quite welcoming to anybody who looks for help or introduces themselves (I, for instance, encourage new members to PM me and subscribe to the Welcome Forum so that I can say hello to everybody who takes the time to say hi to us). I know that plenty of people who have joined HNZ have felt overwhelmingly welcomed, and this helped dispel some of the overwhelmingness HNZ can hold for people knew to RPing.
So while the site as a whole has some characteristics of a ‘clique’, because it is not exclusive to only a set group of people, it is not one.

Are there cliques on HNZ?
This one is slightly more difficult to answer. I suppose to some it may appear that there are. There are certainly groups on the board who interact with each other more than others, who have developed a strong relationship off of the board as well and that’s great! It’s also human nature. Unfortunately, or perhaps even fortunately, we don’t like everybody equally. We can’t relate to every single person on this planet in the same way, and that’s definitely a blessing. So the simple fact that I am close friends with person X, Y, and Zed doesn’t mean I refuse to speak to, or help, anybody else – and I trust that is true of most people on HNZ.

Community Signature Thus Far

HNZ’s Community Signature – it certainly doesn’t look full of cliques to me. Perhaps I should draw some lines on it to separate me from other people and give the complainers the satisfaction of knowing that they’re right. Hmm. A thought to be considered?

I wish I could stop this blog post there, but I can’t. I wish things were that simple, but they’re not. Not only are some willing to go so far as to say their are cliques and exclusive groups on HNZ – but that unless you are in a certain clique, a certain ‘in-crowd‘ you won’t get anything on the board. Your applications will be denied, your characters will never be given major roles, you’ll never be asked to help out, you’ll be entirely ignored by others, etc.

When I first heard that… it hurt… a lot. I spend a decent amount of time on HNZ. I try pretty hard to interact with as many people as I can, get to know people, and with all that I obviously try to be as fair as possible with things like applications. I’m sure when people say things like that, they don’t think of who might read them, and who it reflects upon or hurts directly, but I rather think they should start. I was in shock completely and wondered how many people thought that of me, of Livvy and I, and if I should even bother continuing to try with things on HNZ.

It’s kind of ironic, too – because the people who I’ve seen say things like that are the same ones that rave about HNZ being their home, and how much they enjoy the site, and how they like everybody in it – but then they got a few applications denied and obviously it was because Livvy and myself don’t like them (not because they didn’t put much thought in to the application or its effects on other areas of the board). Or their character didn’t become prefect/headboy/headgirl and it’s obviously because the head-of-house/admin are just choosing their friends (it’s quite clearly not even conceivable that things like that are largely in-character, where lesson attendance and character behaviour actually matters).

Livvy and I take great care to deal with applications on their own, but we don’t just consider the application, we also consider:

  • Past Requests
  • Warning history of the user (if you’ve caused trouble on HNZ recently, it makes sense for you not to get superb privileges
  • Quantity of requests coming in (if 50 pureblood requests come in one week, it’s likely that most of them will be denied, even if they’re all excellent).

We do not consider ‘Hey, Livvy is my friend, I’ll approve this plot!’ or ‘Oh, Julie is nothing but mean to me, I’ll never accept this!’ – because that’s not what HNZ is. I know, for myself, I have accepted applications for people that I know hate me with all of their being, people who I’ve never gotten along with, people I don’t even know, and yes – even my friends. ;) In fact, when Livvy makes a request for a plot I treat it, or try to treat it, just like I would anybody else’s request (the difference being that she can see my post, my exact response, and reply to it). I also know that were I to make any sort of request, Livvy would handle mine the same way.

It frustrates me to know end, knowing personally the efforts I go to in order to ensure I’m not seen as ignoring any one person or their ‘group’, I talk to as many people as possible, will just quote any random person’s post in a ‘spam’ topic and work with it, try to be almost super-human in how I look at and handle applications – then I feel like people just look at it all and slap me in the face by saying that the site staff/admin are just as biased/clique-based as could be.

I’d like to give a concluding example of how wrong this assumption on the part of some users is. Six months ago, I barely talked to Kaitlyn. I mean, I talked to her in GD, I had already given her her nickname of Sir Kaitlyn, but I thought she rather disliked me/was pretty mean to me at times, and barely considered her to be a GM. Other members of the site staff who did know her vouched for her, and brought to light some excellent points (how well she knew the board rules, how often she reported topics, etc. All things which would be useful in a GM). So I trusted the opinions of the others and Kaitlyn was made a GM in January. Before her promotion many of her applications had been approved (though I was rather neutral on her as a person, again, thinking she didn’t like me much) and after her promotion some of her applications have been amended/tweaked/denied – just like anybody else. Since her promotion I have gotten to know her quite well, and see her very differently then I did before – I’d even go so far as to say she and I are pretty good friends now. I think that’s a fairly good example of how un-cliquey I myself am, and how un-cliquey I see most of HNZ to be.

As I admitted before, it is human nature to group off, find people you’re close to, and talk to them the most – but to think that HNZ has an ‘in-crowd’ where if you’re not a part of it you don’t get anything from anybody is simply absurd, and, quite frankly, insulting.

I present to you, once more, our community signature:

Community Signature Thus Far

No sign of cliques there for me. Just a bunch of people who are enjoying HNZ and how great it is, hoping that it will last out another five years. Am I missing something that you see there, somehow?

~Nick

P.S: Additional plug… HNZ’s birthday is awesome and ongoing! Be sure to check it outtttt!


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Disclaimer: This is Nick venting. If you have no interest in reading Nick venting or you get upset/take offence easily then I advise you stop reading at this point. If you enjoy sarcasm, humour, and Nick at his wit’s end: read on, brave knight!


This is a three part blog rant. Each part will build off of the last mentioned part. We’ll start off slow, with the obvious, then work our way up to my deepest frustration. Then I might cool things down a bit with a few funny remarks, positive comments, or hints about the direction which I hope to see HNZ heading near the end. But be warned: this road is rocky before it is smooth (narrow before wide, uphill before downhill, take your pick).

So, as promised, the most obvious point:

I post updates/information on HNZ for my own good health.
It’s true and don’t let anybody tell you it isn’t! Myself and the rest of the site staff really don’t want to keep members in the loop at all. In fact, we hate not having to answer a thousand redundant questions because people have read the Weekly Update and global announcements, or read tweets or clicked rule topics. It annoys us and shakes us to the very core of our being when our hard work is actually used. It’s quite absurd, really. We simply post endless announcements (in the simplest and shortest terms possible) for our own health. It’s to benefit us and solely us. So I encourage ignoring all updates made by myself or others because really – it’s irrelevant to you and you should know that by now. ;)
Note: The above was sarcasm.

Next up to bat:
The Halloween Feast
Part of this may be Déjà vu for many of you, especially if you read my first ever blog post on HNZ – but it continues to persist despite my begging, pleasing, and obvious hatred of this: Members are still using the actual image of something to be their character in costume.
Sure, they’re witches and wizards and therefore some leeway is allowed with regard to how amazing their costumes should look. However, let’s be reasonable.

Banana
Nicolas King as a Banana

That is not Nicolas King as a banana! It’s a banana! Sheesh! >_<;

My next point of contention with the Halloween Feast is it has largely been left unroleplayed in.
There have been 30 some-odd entries to the costume contest – and at the time of my typing this, nowhere near to even 30 some-odd posts for roleplaying in the feast. That doesn’t seem very right to you, does it? HNZ is still and RPG first and foremost, correct? I’m tempted to not consider any costume contest entrants that are not roleplayed in the feast. Something for me to consider, I suppose, as right now it’s not really fair to those who are taking the time to have their characters be there. =/

Finally, the grandest rant of them all:
Site Wide Plots
Since the Dawn of HNZ (or very nearly thereabouts) people have requested, nay, demanded site wide plots. For what reasons, I am still unsure. They take a large amount of planning and dedication and often they do not allow for as great individual development of character as everybody doing, for the most part, their own thing and mid-sized plots involving handfuls of people popping up now and then.

So, Livvy and I and the site staff at the time (so not Kaitlyn), after New Years, made a resolution for HNZ: Larger plots. More focus on roleplays. More awesomeness.
Simple enough, right? Well, I thought so too.
The fact of the matter is, however, that it is now nearly the end of February and we’ve held up our end of the deal. Despite Livvy’s absence, despite Abby’s computer problems, despite all the usual busy-ness (and extra busy-ness) of the rest of our site staff… yes, despite all those things we have held up our end of the deal. We have provided, so far, the makings of an excellent TriWizard Tournament which every member of HNZ can take part in in some way, or some form. We have expanded Ministry/Auror and Death Eater plots. It’s currently only one large one, with a few key players, but there are more in the works. Sure, you might not be the one pulling the strings of the plot (Members never are in site wide plots) but it’s your job to play it up with your characters! Have them react to the plot! Have it effect their lives somehow! What has it done for the most part? Nothing. What have members of HNZ done with it, for the most part? Nothing.

Even regular things that effect only most of the site don’t get the attention they should. Case and point? The Halloween Feast.
Why is this? Maybe people aren’t reading announcements that are posted? Maybe people are lazy? Maybe people just don’t want site-wide plots as much as they think they do? I don’t know. Maybe you should tell me.

With all this extra effort on the part of myself and the site staff, I find it amazing that some members still have the absolute audacity to request/suggest “site wide plots”. Applications for various things with the field(s) about site improvement often get a classic line about site wide plots. Alright. OK. We got it! We acted on it! We’ve started to implement it. Small things at first (though, by my calculations, the TriWizard Tournament is not small) and large things later. But what is to be our motivations for those larger things when these things that we have now are completely ignored and/or used very minimally? I don’t see any reason to keep on trying with it. People that are still suggesting site wide plots need to open their eyes and try to take part in the ones that are sitting right in front of them. They only work if everybody is in them, and right now – everybody is not in them. Heck, it’s the people who I very rarely hear wanting these types of plots taking the most part in them. Does that seem wrong to you?


Otherwise, I think HNZ is doing quite well. :) It’s active almost all the time. (Yes, during the day it’s slow because of school, but it’s never really dead. It’s not like many boards where a day goes by with only two posts or a week goes by with no member log ins.) It’s exciting, and a lot is happening. I enjoy getting the positive feedback I receive, and I also enjoy taking constructive criticism, talking to people about it, and molding HNZ to become better as a result. I really do love HNZ and I think all you members are awesome. I think, however, that a lot of members do need to pay more attention to what does go on – and not complain unless they know what they’re talking about. Ignorance is my chief grief with regards to the site right now.

I caught up on a lot of HNZ things today, and will have more to catch up on tomorrow. I think I’m doing fairly well as short handed as I am – but I’m quite anxious for Livvy’s return and the site staff being in full force once more (once Abby gets her internet back up and if/when Linda’s busy-ness decreases). I thank every member who has offered to help me over the past several weeks, and especially those who have. I also thank all of you who have listened to me vent and just dealt with it (I know I can be super annoying sometimes ;) ).

~Nick
P.S: I hope you find the title to this blog post as poetic as I think it is, given all I’ve mentioned.

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7
Feb

Admin..ing Solo

   Posted by: Nicolas

So, as most of you should know, Livvy (Cecily Zdablooptybloop) has been absent since about the 20th of January. That means that I have been administrating HNZ on my own for over two weeks at this point, and Livvy intends to be gone likely until things resettle for her at the end of February or beginning of March.

I knew, when she told me how long she’d likely be gone, that this would be tough and her being away would be uber suckage – but I don’t think I truly realized how different things would be. I knew, for instance, that I would have to process all sales receipts on my own, and fill in for everything else Livvy does on HNZ so frequently. Those things in themselves make it quite difficult for me to play both our roles on HNZ – but I hadn’t realized (although I did within the first week of her absence) just how much I relied on Livvy for things other than handling her sections of the site. For instance, I loved running ideas by her, discussing things I had just thought up and would likely mull over on my own for another month before putting them in to action (yes, that’s something we do fairly often), or bouncing random ideas off her, commenting on certain member’s behaviour and discussing how best to deal with certain situations. She was also normally the one to keep me up to date on what was happening in character on the board (as, generally, I’m so involved with running the actual board, and the technical side of things, that I am quite clueless). We really do have quite the partner dynamic to running the board and that simply disappeared as soon as she left.

All of a sudden not only were all the routine tasks on my shoulders, but all the special plans we had for the coming months fell solely on me as well, and I was suddenly no longer able to bounce ideas off of somebody constantly. It was likely this last bit that has been the toughest for me. I can do sales receipts, I can even figure out how we would deal with most applications on my own – but I can’t bounce ideas off of myself. I can’t get Livvy’s perspective on things just from my own mind (of course, she and I agree ninety nine and a quarter percent of the time (yes, a fraction with a percent. Love me, math people. 😉 ) ) and I certainly hate implementing things that I’m not sure she’ll support upon her return.

Assuming I ignore the relationship in running the board that I cannot have when Livvy is gone, the tasks themselves simply pile up and make it impossible for me to do very much of what I’d like to do on HNZ. There are the normal tasks that have always and will always exist:

  • Member group changes (Normally split between us)
  • Applications for everything (about ten a week) Discussed by both of us
  • Warnings/Member Disputes (Discussed between us and sometimes Global Moderators – member is contacted by either Livvy or myself, we split this)
  • Answering FAQs(Normally split between us)
  • Posting announcements (Normally split between us)
  • Sales Receipts (Normally Livvy)
  • Updating Site Documentation as things change (Normally me, sometimes pawned off on Livvy)
  • Replying to suggestions. (Normally me, sometimes pawned off on Livvy)

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, what I can think of right now, with regard to standard site operation.

Then, there’s the awesome timing of Livvy’s hiatus (through no fault of her own, obviously). She left and sorting was still happening. No big deal, I normally handle most of sorting. I took it on myself to even deal with every transfer application on my own to not pester her as she prepared to leave – despite that being something we traditionally do together. The real kicker is that this is to be a TriWizard Tournament year on HNZ. A lot of the planning was still only rough outlines, no formal posts had been written yet, and it had been Livvy and my intentions to run it together. That, obviously, has not panned out. I have been running it largely on my own and I hope it should go well.


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The TriWizard tournament is a substantial amount of extra work: from planning, to posting, to organizing, to prodding champions to get off their bum-bums to telling the SUPER HELPFUL ( ^_^ ) volunteers how they’re supposed to do what they need to do. =D

I also believe HNZ’s TWT is cursed. The last time we did this Alicia had to leave and we sort of strategically killed the plot line at task two. Now this time, Livvy has had to leave us for a month and we have no intention of it dying… unless the champions don’t start posting (Can you tell I’m bitter about TWT activity? No? Not obvious yet? Hmmm. I’ll work on that.)

Needless to say, I have been getting tonnes of help and support from our awesome Global Moderators. They’re all super busy right now, too, but they’ve stepped it up quite a bit for me, and for Livvy. We’re working on keeping things as active as we can and up to date as we can. I think, without the global moderating team, I would have collapsed by now. I wub dem guys. ^_^ (They’re even letting me bounce ideas off them once in a while! They’re not as good as Livvy … (no offence, guys) but still – it’s nice enough =D )

With Livvy gone, though, I have noticed some other things about the site:

  • Some members are mean no matter what. Ignore them. Don’t let them get to you. If you do, you’ll hate HNZ and not want to do anything at all.
    I was very close to just going on my own break at one point because of member comments and gossip in the past week
  • No matter how much you do, people don’t have to thank you for it if they don’t want to.
    True story.
  • No matter how fast you work, people want you to work faster.
    Also a true story. I’ve been clearing out applications about once a week. It’s the most I can do, seeings how I’m running most aspects of the site for now. However this is still not quick enough for some members. I still get PMs ‘reminding’ me to process things that I know about, and I still get very frustrated by that. 😉
  • Nice people should be glomped. All. The. Time. If you don’t, they’ll forget you wubbles them. They forget soo0o0o quickly. =(
    Unfortunately, I have learned this in the past week. I fear I have hurt somebody’s feelings, not by my words (though they passed it off as by my words, I think… my words were simply the unrefined truth about something on the site), but by my lack of words. Words which I had assumed to be understood.

I am, obviously, quite anxious for Livvy’s return and have quite a bit of February left to go before that will be a reality.
Any support from the members of HNZ in this time would be greatly appreciated. I’ve kept it up for over two weeks now, and I’m wearing down a bit. I can keep it up, but I need to know that

  1. The site is behind me
  2. and

  3. The site is patient with me
  4. and

  5. I’m not going to hear mean things about me through the grape vine when everything I’m doing on HNZ is for the members. I get very little out of being an admin, and I think it’s the site that truly profits. I guess that’s just one man’s opinion, though.

Thanks for reading this, guys, and be sure to keep Livvy in your thoughts/prayers over the coming weeks – she needs it. As much as it sucks that she’s gone, her absence is necessary for her and the easier this time is, the quicker she comes back. ^_^ So ya – keep her in your thoughts. =)

~Nick

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