There was lot of chatter recently over decisions made in CD. I think this week’s conversation regarding Admin elitism is a wonderful segue into upcoming changes and how the story process unfolds. Decisions have been made based on feedback we got from all players, the overall OOC health of our sim and Hathian’s story.
For those of you who prefer a synopsis of the novel below, I have provided bulleted Summary!
Before I get into all of that, though, I want to take a moment to define our administration. It seems recently that the pervading thought is that Admins are here to respond to every IM at every moment and take care of every problem. That we are here to serve “You”. In a way, that is correct, but it greatly oversimplifies the role of an Admin in CD. I invite you all to our help page that details the path to get what you want in the quickest manner. The roles amongst CD staff clearly separate “Admins” from our Story Weavers who are the first step into getting your ideas approved and that’s a different role than our Moderators and Mentors.
All those that fulfill these roles are volunteers, and each has a focus so that no one is too overwhelmed to roleplay. Like our players and like our leaders, we are real people with real jobs and a real desire to also roleplay. Each member of our community deserves RESPECT and a consistent lack of respect displayed towards anyone will not be tolerated. Staff, especially admins, deal with dozens of requests each day that deal with actual issues that prevent people from roleplaying or, if ignored, could truly impact someone’s life. Did we not answer your question about your idea fast enough? We are sorry, we may have been handling a horrible stalking situation that was impacting someone’s real life. We may have been distracted with one of our other sims we manage. Or we may have been trying to fix the broken processes and experiences in the HPD and HGH. Perhaps, we were busy with equally important desires and requests of another player. We may have intended to get back to you, but forgot. Can you possibly forgive us that we might have not gotten back in time? Before you feel offended and ignored, maybe give us multiple friendly reminders? Because we certainly try to exercise the patience required to repeatedly deal with the same issues every day and with a smile!
Maybe that was blunt, but I am rather protective over those who have selflessly volunteered their time to help Nadir and myself maintain Crack Den. Your IM comes amidst properly submitted proposals and abuse reports. The amount of care and discussion that goes into all of our decisions are not seen, and maybe that is where these misunderstandings occur. Please understand that nothing is done in a vacuum.
From deciding to barr certain display names (which impacted one of our admins) to shutting down different storylines, we have had to make those hard choices that we know could cause us to lose fantastic writers in order to preserve our atmosphere. We knew in order to put HPD first, it might throw a wrench in the personal stories of officers. We ripped away structure from groups and ripped away guidelines just to prove that CD is not always about black and white rules. We have lost amazing roleplayers because of it, but we already see an improvement in the kind of roleplay occurring. It is more welcoming, less daunting and the results have helped create an environment that is (believe or not) less elitist to new players.
Let’s take a recent example that might have been misunderstood as elitism or favoritism. I am picking this because it’s fresh on our minds and because I know it was me that said “No” the first time and I happily will call myself out! This is also a great example of how stories commonly unfold in the Den so it’s a good way to see how we take big ideas apart, let them stew and then let them come to fruition:
Recently, the Rejects got the approval to attack Seaside, kidnap CD Youth and subject them to dark roleplay that was within their comfort, limits and what we determined as reasonable for the character’s age. Why on earth would we allow this, but not an attack on the HPD or its officers? I will provide the same explanation that we provided to the Reject leader when the original request was to …. attack the HPD and its officers.
“The attacks revolving HPD are repetitive and don’t involve the sim. The HPD is tired of it and needs a break after the last storyline of kidnaps and deaths. If there is going to be something extreme it needs to pull in our players who don’t have stories that revolve around the HPD or gangs. What can the group do that will tug at the community as a whole and not just glorify the gang? What would be dark, but different – not just a graphic attempt to ‘shock’. What can be long living?”
She was basically told “No” after a couple days of… possibly unintentionally getting ignored (Sorry, Rory!). She then came up with a better plan. One that we knew was walking a fine line on the rules, but that could be fun for a lot of folks. She picked an idea that pulled in a forgotten group (CD Youth) and we saw it as an opportunity to show the community that Youth are NOT completely untouchable. No one knew how it would play out or if the community would respond well to it, but wow! It seemed to bring everyone in from all walks of IC life and spur on the idea of a long-standing vigilante idea that could repeatedly allow normally ‘good’ folks into the mix of twisted justice. It wasn’t all about the Rejects, the focus shifted to those different parties trying to rescue them. To how the citizens respond and not just what the Rejects were doing.
It took patience from Rory and creativity from different staff and players to figure out how to make the idea work. It took being able to trust those who led the idea and how they OOCly handle issues because with every big story comes OOC disagreements. It took the acceptance that appearance and perception matters in a big community like this and it couldn’t appear that the story was completely self-serving. The gang couldn’t do everything they wanted, exactly how they wanted. There are so many aspects to consider before just saying “yes”. Ideas may be good, but execution is just as important as are the characteristics of those doing the executing.
The characters involved embodied the theme of poverty and desperation (which was why fantastical offers of millions were ignored as IC traps). The community had to pool together money because everyone should be too poor to just be able to front that kind of cash without giving up something else in their lives. The players had to make sure they accepted only what determined to be reasonable amounts of money by the greater admin staff. They had to accept the fact that NOTHING actually unfolded according to “plan”! There were unpleasant parts at times, but they knew it was important to not complain, just work with it and make sure the story was as much fun for others as possible. Ideas and stories should serve the community. Not ourselves. We are saying ‘Yes’ based on our belief on how you OOCly handle yourself and the idea itself.
Which brings me to the upcoming changes. These come from an ongoing initiative to develop a readable Hathian backstory and enforce agreements from our group and business leaders to uphold the IC economic lifestyles and OOC decorum that should be common in CD. We are focusing on folks with stories that capture the soul of Hathian…. Not just pushing group or character agendas. We want people to remember that this is a forced fantasy sim and that not everything will be in your control. Leaders are being asked to watch the balance of types of stories they approve within their groups (because business leaders can approve, too!) so the experience in Hathian can be cohesive and never favor just one group or type of roleplay.
This means we often have to say ‘No’ to some really active players. It means people who usually hear ‘Yes’ are being turned away. It means we risk losing those who speak the loudest. We know the risks and still push forward because we want to keep CD from getting stale and overburdened with the OOC planning and drama. We want random, unplanned stories not hindered by limits that require permission & excessive negotiation before a simple attack. This is important. We don’t want people to tiptoe around OOC sensitivities regarding ruining someone’s “plan” for THE plan should be to have fun and roleplay. We don’t want people to focus on being on top, being the biggest and baddest or winning.
So you have a story arc that you feel will involve a lot of people or large groups? Go see a Weaver, ask to join the private forum and pitch your idea. Admins are not your first stop! Is your idea just something about your character and not contingent on others? Just do it! If it falls within our basic rules – you don’t need our permission to hang someone off an overpass or attack someone you have a personal vendetta against even if they are a cop. Work with your fellow players on your ideas and should it end up becoming something bigger… well we have a whole host of RP leaders and Story Weavers to help you. Again, no need to depend on an “Admin”. We are working to improve the Story Weaver group as well, so if you have ideas on how to improve those shortcomings we welcome the help! Post your ideas below!
I hope seeing “Our” point of view helps those with issues understand that we are not elitist and always try to remain objective. This post isn’t to try and convince you to not be upset about your experiences, but to show you that you are likely upset for the wrong reasons. What I would love to see are responses with suggestions on what could be improved or even volunteers to help fill the gaps (keep in mind, you must be in good standing in the sim!). Please, don’t use this as a way to try and call people or instances out. Did you have a negative experience? Let us know in a respectful manner what could have made it easier or more understable without naming names or trying to vilify our players or staff who truly do mean well.
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