Archive for the ‘Future’ Category

11
Jan

Explanation & Hopeful Expectation

   Posted by: Nicolas

It’s kind of crazy to realize that I’ve been on HNZ for seven years… and an admin for six of those.
Seven years is about a third of my life, it’s almost all of my adolescence and my adult life.
In that time, I’ve changed a lot – and the site has too. I joined the site entering secondary school, fairly quickly became an admin, and remained on the site through my undergraduate degree into my current schooling.
HNZ has been an insane blessing in my life. Being on the site provided me rich opportunities to hone skills that would have remained in their infancy were it not for being thrust into a position like I had on HNZ. Where many users have seen the site improve their English language skills, I received the gifts of learning how to work with CSS, JavaScript, mySQL, PHP and my HTML improved drastically. Where creative writing was the focus of many, my ability to communicate with others well was where most of my growth occurred (which is not to say my creative writing didn’t also improve… because it most certainly didseriously). All of this just to say, my experience on HNZ has been somewhat unique to most people’s. HNZ has been a pretty different thing for me. Like you, HNZ for me has certainly been an exercise in creativity, but often not on the scale of my character(s) – where I never really succeeded in maintaining any – but instead on what could most benefit the site and its growth, and how best to implement such changes. It’s also been an exercise in commitment, and frustration, and realizing that sometimes I really mess up. I’ve been caused to grow in a myriad of ways because of my role on HNZ over these six years, it’s been the only HNZ I’ve really ever known, and I’ve loved every moment of it.

But my life continues to change – I find myself juggling school, an internship, a social life, continued online commitments, family, reading, and some things have dropped… admittedly, HNZ has been one of those things. I’ve been on the receiving end of an admin’s life taking over (the mantra of HNZ from time immemorial being “real life comes first”) and it’s not great to have a dead weight admin around. Knowing this, I’ve had countless conversations with Cyndi over the past year about what my stepping down from being an admin on the site looks like, and over the last semester the necessity of those conversations became even more apparent to me.

Remaining on the site apart from being an admin has never really been something I’ve considered because I can imagine trying to be an active part of the community on the board and just being an awful member… telling staff how to do their jobs, backseat moderating, not applying for the things I’d need to apply for. It wouldn’t be a smooth transition, it’d be pretty rough; I think I’d be banned in a week flat. So I came to realize that I just need to wrap up my character and take a clean move away from the board. My series of blog posts a few months ago were my way of sorting through what HNZ is and has been to me, and I hope the trio of them meant something to you, too. As I’ve made this slow conscious move away from the board, I’ve also remained cognizant that there are certain things for which I’ll need to be available for Cyndi and Donna. If something goes awfully awry: the hosting is still on my shared host, I still own the domains, and I still care about HNZ enough that I’m more than happy to help and fix problems at a moment’s notice (they have my mobile number) and even help make some larger projects a reality (need to keep my skills up to snuff!).

I also have a number of people from HNZ on Skype, and so I know that not checking into the board very regularly or having an official role on the board does not mean that I won’t still talk to the people who I’ve come to know, respect, and enjoy the company of over the last many years. I expect many a harassing Skype messages, saucey emails, drunken rants – I look forward to it. I also continue to volunteer as the support administrator for ZetaBoards & zIFBoards, and will be a continued presence on the Support Board where I’m always a PM or a support ticket away.

I also look forward to what I know is in HNZ’s future with Donna & Cyndi at the helm, free of my imposition. Cyndi having been the indomitable force behind renewing Quidditch on the site (unquestionably the highlight of the last couple of years on the board) and often having had a handful of long-term plans she’d like to see happen (if only the site would get behind them enough to make them happen! *cough*Ministry Elections*cough*) I know that the site is in amazing hands and there will be a wealth of really exciting roleplaying opportunities to come (after all, HNZ is a roleplaying site first and foremost – which is something I confess to forgetting perhaps once too often). Likewise, Donna has a great love for roleplaying and HNZ and even as she continues to learn a lot of the admin-ing basics I know that in very short time she’ll be an incredible force propelling the site forward, too. These ladies, with all the Global Moderators supporting them and the rest of the site participating and enjoying themselves, really do have me wordlessly excited for popping in and hearing what’s been going on, and seeing a place that I’ve known as my home in cyberspace for so many seasons of my life continue to grow and flourish beyond what I could have imagined.

It’s a new year, HNZ – and a new season for us all.
I’ll miss all the bi-weekly madness, spam silliness, shouty shouting, countless Kaitlyn characters, sorting confusion, April fools jokes, Werewolf incredulity, and of course all the creativity and laughter and love that the site has to offer.
In short, I’ll miss you.
I trust that I’ll always be a welcome visitor and, should it ever be reasonable or possible, find a home with HNZ on the Internet again.

As ever: all the best,

Nick


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12
Sep

What goes into implementing a suggestion?

   Posted by: Nicolas

Suggestions are something I care very deeply about, but I know that from a user’s perspective it can seem like they’re not very often considered, or the answer is “no” far too often than it’s “yes”.

Lately, James has taken to making suggestions fairly frequently; which is great. I like having ideas thrown around, and implemented one of his suggestions, pointed out that another suggestion has been an ongoing discussion on HNZ for a while now, and had to say ‘no’ to at least one major idea. I don’t like saying no without explaining myself, but I also decided to seize the opportunity to explain what goes into a ‘no’ response most of the time. You can read my original post here, but I know that not everybody reads every suggestion topic or reply and that specific topic will be buried soon enough: so why not immortalize the process in a blog post?!

Why not, indeed. So that’s what this is!
Boiled down, when we consider a suggestion we ask three main questions:

  • How hard is it to do?
    This can be the most difficult question for people outside of the staff team to answer, so I don’t want it to be something that dissuades people from making suggestions. Sometimes you’ll think something is quite hard but it’s simple enough, and other times you’ll imagine something to be quite simple (because the concept is simple) but it’ll be very involved to implement.
    This is also never the sole determining factor in a decision. I don’t shy away from difficult projects, but each question is considered in relationship to all the others. Our first consideration is simply getting a sense for how big of an undertaking something might be. What would it take to do it, assuming we do?
    I will say, though, that it can be incredibly frustrating when users assume things about whatever they’re suggesting and how simple it really should be to just do, without having any sense for things behind the curtain, as it were.
    So suggest freely, please! But also please remember that this isn’t something you can gauge, and trust us to be able to determine what a suggestion will take to make a reality.
  • How useful is it? To how many people?
    Plenty of ideas are neat and creative, but maybe not particularly useful. Sometimes neat things are done just for the sake of something cool being around even if nobody will ever really need it and it won’t make anybody’s life easier on the site. Once again, this will never be the sole determining factor in if we act on an idea but already you can see how these questions interact with each other. If the suggestion would be a colossal task to implement, but isn’t going to change anything tangible on the board, it doesn’t seem like a great idea to pour time and energy into something like that.
  • What impact will it have on site activity?
    We care about HNZ and its general health and activity, so when we make changes we need to be mindful of how it will influence the activity on the board: both positively and perhaps negatively. Sometimes a major change is suggested that we know may upset some users, and so trying to gauge what the risk of such a change is and if it’s worth doing despite that risk is important. Alternatively, some changes may promote increased activity and still others might be a net-neutral change.
    Obviously this factor, too, is never the sole determining factor in the fate of a suggestion – but it is weighed against the others. Perhaps a suggestion would slightly increase activity (great!) but would be a lot of hard work for the staff to make happen – we might feel that the staff time could be better spent doing something else that might encourage user participation on the site even more.

In my original post on this matter, I provided a few tangible case-studies for applying these criteria.
First, the Quidditch System was a fairly large amount of work (and, truth be told, work is still ongoing!) and while it’s highly useful, it’s only useful to set of users with active student characters on house Quidditch teams. At this point, it would seem adding it isn’t worth the effort. But Quidditch was always very popular on the site and spurred plenty of discussion and followup RPs – this knowledge allowed us to determine that it would be worthwhile because it’d let us have Quidditch played more easily and so more often.

Even small suggestions like being able to clear more than one notification at once work well with these questions: It’s not much work, it’s pretty handy, and it won’t really impact site activity either way – so why not implement it?

These questions are by no means a law, and there’s plenty of wiggle room for considering what people just want, or what might be an interesting project for us to work on (or a new opportunity for the site to grow, even if it’s risky), but it’s been a helpful guide and I think knowing about it will help people better understand where we come from when we approach suggestion topics.

Keep your ideas coming – even if they’re not all adopted, the ones that are make it all worthwhile!

~Nick


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23
Oct

Open, says me!

   Posted by: Amanda

Open roleplays are magical. Wicked. Wizard. Cool. Sweet. Groovy. Gnarly. The bee’s knees. Whatever word/phrase you want to use, this type of RP is bomb, but unfortunately seems to be endangered on HNZ.

What is an open roleplay, you ask? In short, it’s a roleplay that other RPers are able to join with their characters, where the action happens. It’s a sort of reaction game, where you bounce off the posts of other people in the RP. The thrill of it all is not knowing for sure where the RPs are going to go or what your characters will do or say.

When I first joined HNZ over four years ago, RPs were like this. They were extremely fun, engaging, and you were able to write and get to know all sorts of people. Stepping out of your comfort zone was easy. For the most part, RPs were active and people just kept posting.

There’s a trend on HNZ now of closing RPs. Closed RPs are generally pre-planned and bar other characters from joining. One of the problems with this type of RP is it ignores that all the areas of HNZ’s world, including the school, is a dynamic environment. Things happen. People walk around. There are interruptions. Typically, a closed RP puts the RPers and their characters in a whole world of their own. It’s hard not to feel alienated when practically every RP you see prevents you from participating. I can’t imagine how jarring this is for new members, no matter how much they are welcomed by the community.

Don’t get me wrong and think that I hate closed RPs. I don’t. They’re fine in certain circumstances. However, I don’t feel there’s any excitement in having everything planned to a T and being limited to reacting to only certain characters. I’ll even go so far to say that I usually find participating in a closed RP to be dull. Most closed RPs don’t have the life that an open RP does.

At this point, I’ve got to stop my ragging on closed RPs. I’m writing this blog to explain the benefits of an open RP. So, without further ado, here are some reasons why open RPs are just awesome.

1. They’re inviting.

2. You get to write with and meet new people.

3. You don’t plan things out too much ahead of time.

4. You get to develop your character and their relationships in ways you don’t get with a closed RP. Show us how your character treats the person who interrupts them, not just how well they get along with their BFFs.

5. They’re fun/exciting/engaging. You’re never entirely sure what’s going to happen in the next post.

6. They’re usually active. (No waiting literal months for a response!)

7. They’re more fun to read.

8. There’s a smaller chance of burning out on said RPs.

9. Can I say again how FUN they are?

I will finally have a firstie in Y14 (I haven’t had a student for about two RL years.) This is the pledge I will make to all of you: With that character, I will participate in and create only open RPs. I want to practice what I preach.

Don’t ever be afraid to start or join an open RP. They’re not scary, I promise. An open RP doesn’t have to be ridiculous, either. You can have a great open RP while still using your judgment and abiding by the rules of the site and the universe we RP in.

Hopefully, the open RP will get past its neglect and disuse and return to the site in a blaze of glory. We can do this! Help make HNZ an even more enchanting place to get lost in!

If you’d like to join me in saying that you’ll RP, for the most part, in open RPs because you know how awesome and needed they are – just add the user image to your signature and let others know, help spread the word:

Open RPs
[url=http://blog.hogwartsnewzealand.com/2011/10/open-says-me/][img]http://img.hogwartsnewzealand.com/upload/openRPs.png[/img][/url]

Thanks for reading!

~Amanda

PS: Feel free to leave comments and/or questions. I’m interested to know what other people think about this topic.


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20
Oct

The Great Move

   Posted by: Kaitlyn

I am starting to get more and more nervous now. Why is that? Well, most of the people that have known me has the girl from Georgia (Oh yeah, from the same place our Kait aka Kiera Potter, small world?) Though after I started working at Wal-Mart, I quickly learned that it is a physical job, but love it none the less, and people actually talked to me. It was nice, yes. I originally got the job to start saving up for Michigan, and helping out mom because she is being garnished for a surgery I went through three years ago. While helping her out and earning so little money, saving up was just not going to be happening within the next two years. However I figured, hey, get the garnishment stopped, I’d be able to save easier, right? But, then something came along to where I may not have to worry about it.

Mom got laid off, thus being offered a job in another state. Where? New York, one hour away from Canada, in a big city named Rochester. At first, I thought that it wasn’t going to happen, and whatnot, but now I am sitting in the living room, looking at boxes and I have been told to pack my room. It was like a smack to the face. The worst part, I am scared. Utterly scared that we will end up losing everything again, and then ending up in a worse mess than before, though things seemed legit with the forms and mom’s drug test. There was another option, where I could find rides to Walmart, on crazy hours, and fight like hell to maintain a living on my own. However that is almost impossible too. I don’t have a car of my own, thus I would end up losing the job with winter coming. So, I have to go to New York before I can go to Michigan. I would end up losing my job, yes, but in a big city, mom’s work is wanting to hire me too in something. It would be cool working like 12 dollars an hour where she is making almost double than what she was making here, before the garnishment.

On an added note, I talked mom into helping me save up, because she helped Christian and Sarah get a place of their own, why not me too? So, after we get settled, I start college and have a job, with mom’s extra funds, she is going to help me find my goal. Though first, get a car of my own. Once my credit is up a bit, maybe a lease for one but I don’t want to wait a year. So, Used is my best option. I am New York Bound soon, and then later, who knows how much later but it will happen, I will be in Michigan.

This is being posted mainly to let everyone know, I am going to be in the process of moving across the freaking country, and might not have internet for a while. I have a feeling, this would be a great trip, and a better life for mom and me both. Just some thoughts running through my head right now.


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