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Creaseworthy

New Member Feedback

Recommended Posts

Creaseworthy

We're looking to improve new members' experiences on VH by ensuring that the site is helpful and welcoming from the moment they find us and register to after they sort their first characters. To get a sense of what's working and what isn't working, we'd like to hear from you!

 

PM the feedback form below to both Undercliffe and Creaseworthy to share your own experiences and thoughts. You can write as much or as little as you want.

 

1. When did you join VH?

2. How did you find us?
3. Why did you stay?

4. For what reasons have people you've known left the site?

5. How do you find roleplay partners?

6. If you have a question about something on the site, how do you seek an answer?
7. Do you think Pre-Hogwarts Primary (PHP) is helpful for "learning to VH"?
8. What can we do to improve the sorting process for our members?
9. How can we better support new first year students?

10. Which aspects of the site are most effective in welcoming and helping new members? 
11. Which aspects of the site are least effective in welcoming and helping new members?

12. Do you have any ideas for welcoming new members or anything else you'd like to share with us?

13. Are you willing to answer any additional questions?

 

In this thread, you're welcome to share ideas publicly and respond to each other as a community. Please see the following post for discussion guidelines.

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Undercliffe

In addition to the feedback form, we're also encouraging an open discussion on this topic. Anyone and everyone on VH is welcome to share their thoughts, whether it's your first day on the site or whether you've been here since the beginning.

 

Please share your opinions about how VH does or doesn't meet new members' needs, as well as collaborate on ideas to help improve VH for new members. Unsure what we're looking for? Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What can we do to help new members get started on VH?
  • What can we do to help clear up new member confusion?
  • What can we do to help new members meet people and get involved?

 

So that we can help new members stick around and fall in love with VH, we'd like to know what we currently do that is most helpful to new members, and what we can do in the future to be more helpful and welcoming.

 

Please keep your posts in this discussion positive and constructive! This discussion should be a place where everyone feels comfortable sharing, so remember to be respectful of other members and their ideas. If you have any negative sentiments, we want to hear them but we prefer that you send them in a PM to Undercliffe and Creaseworthy.

 

We hope you'll join us in shaping the future of new member experiences on VH. No idea is too big or too small!

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John Lupin

I think I really like asking about demographics of VH and looking at statistical data of when people leave and when they don't leave because it helps to answer questions like this. But as of now, I only have anecdotal evidence, so I want to posit a question for discussion. It revolves a bit around the staying attraction for old members, but I think this might be able to inform your question about new members.

 

I've notised a trend (and this trend happened to me, which is perhaps why I notise it?) where people join VH because they don't have a broad, trusted community where they feel a sense of belonging. And then when they find whatever it is they're looking for IRL, when they feel comfortable and valued and safe, they leave. This, to me, seems pretty awesome. VH has been there for me in my darkest times and some of my brightest, and the community it fosters--when done well--is awesome.

 

Of course, some people leave VH for sad reasons, too. I'm sorry to all you VHers who didn't want to leave VH but had to because of extenuating circumstances. And perhaps this "trend" I've identified is mostly just hearsay to you because it's only happened to people I've known? Maybe I'm alone. Idk. I never know things anymore. #old

 

So I'm wondering what the correlation is between a VHer's age and their likelihood of being active on VH is. Or, perhaps I should be looking at whether a player is in school or not? I know for me, I was significantly more active while I was in school, but that could have been also because I was part of Quidditch both times. 

 

So: What are the things that have made the rest of you stay? For me it's been my VH friends becoming my RL friends, now that I'm not in quid anymore. But previously it was year chats and quid.

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Gracie-Mae Goodwin

I joined VH at a time when I definitely didn't "fit in" in RL. And I'm typically at my most active on VH when I'm going through tough times in RL. (Thanks to everyone for being there for me even if you didn't realize it.) But even when RL is going well, I stick around VH even if I don't have time to post much because of the friends I've made and because I really love dueling. <3

 

When I was new (as Brianne) there were a few things that helped me stick around until I really got into dueling and felt at home on VH: 1) RPs with my fellow unsorts, 2) a RP with a couple of already sorted students and 3) MSN. In retrospect, having connections within my year, connections with those outside my year, and OOC connections were all things that motivated me to stick around and stick with my character early on.

 

But I've also not always felt like I belonged on VH, either. I used to drop characters a lot. Even now, I'll drop unsorts or keep my sorted students only barely active when I'm having trouble getting a character to "click". Maybe I used to be excited about writing them and now I'm excited about something else. Maybe I didn't fit in as well OOCly with the year group, or maybe I realized that my character doesn't have many relationships of any kind - I find that it takes a lot more effort and is a lot more difficult to find RP partners and friends/enemies/etc for an older character than a newer one, so often in that case I fade my character into the background and focus on a new one. (I'm incorrigible.)

 

Of course, because I've been around VH a while, when I drop a character I don't leave the site altogether. But if new members decide to drop their only character, do they leave the site? How can VH help all characters* (but especially new members) find connections to other characters, both in and out of their year? How can VH ensure everyone has roleplays they're excited about? How can the site help VHers find OOC friends (if they want them)?

 

* I don't think someone should have to "out" themselves as a new member to get help or use resources that assist with this type of thing, plus sometimes old members who have been gone for a while can use the help finding their feet too. Also creating a new character isn't easy so I think a program or resource that helped with this would probably also be useful to returning members who wanted to branch out and RP with new people. (And I think encouraging everyone to meet new RP partners would help new members feel more welcome?)

 

Beyond that, there are a few areas I think could be improved that I'm surprised haven't been mentioned yet. I think VH has come a long way in terms of welcoming new members since I joined the site - we didn't even have PHP back then!  - but even though VH does a good job now, I think there is always room for improvement.

 

PHP: As I mentioned above, the things that kept me around as a new member were roleplays and chats. I think the PHP workbook is a great activity to do with a new character, but you can complete the whole thing and only be encouraged to get involved in at most one roleplay (if you choose to do that specific extra credit assignment). There's nothing that requires you to reach out to others via chat or PM either. Sometimes, if I don't have a lot of time when I'm starting a new character, I focus on the workbook instead of on roleplays. But I usually regret this because I enjoy roleplays more than the workbook and because I find pre-sorting roleplays to be really useful to meeting people in your year to roleplay with after sorting. (And if you have people to roleplay with after sorting, you're probably more likely to stick around to RP with them?) This might just be only me, but I think it might be helpful to adapt PHP to become more roleplay-centric and more interactive.

 

Open Threads: I think open RPs are vastly underrated. VH as a whole might feel more welcoming if everyone put more effort into participating in open RPs, both starting their own and joining someone else's. However, I know open RPs can also be intimidating and challenging. They require more creativity to start because you have to come up with the idea all alone (or else they risk being "bland" or "boring" posts). They require some courage because you don't actually know if anyone's going to reply to your topic. And they require more flexibility and open-mindedness than other RPs on both sides because who knows where the RP is going or if the other(s) in the thread are even going to reply?! Also, maybe not everybody feels they have time for open RPs - if we stay on VH for our friends, it's natural to want to RP with those friends. We might not think about reaching out to include others if we're struggling to keep up with the RPs with the friends we already have. How can VH get more people involved in open RPs? What would make open RPs more appealing? 

 

Mentoring: My experiences with mentoring (both as a mentee and a mentor) rarely work out amazingly. Inevitably, one of us poofs (sometimes it's me) or one of us gets busy and doesn't have time to RP (also sometimes me). I've been fortunate to experience mentoring as a mentee and a mentor in all houses, and to help run Gryffindor mentoring in the past. Huge thank you to all the prefects who take on the task of organizing and running house mentoring - it is not an easy job and it's often thankless, you guys are rockstars. But I think that despite everyone's best efforts, mentoring doesn't always succeed, and I think this is due to factors out of everyone's control. Honestly I personally have a hard time committing to house mentoring regardless of whether I'm a mentor or a mentee because of its rough track record - I sign up hoping it'll succeed but then the time comes to put in the effort and despite myself I wonder why I should bother when it was a waste of time the last ten times, you know?

 

House mentoring is limited in scope in that mentor/mentee pairings are typically not assigned until a week after sorting. Some new members don't ever submit sorting forms, others submit their forms but don't stick around until sorting day, others leave immediately after sorting, and some haven't left when mentoring pairs are assigned but already have one foot out the door at that point. You have to stick around for a while just to get a house mentor, so lots of new members don't reach mentoring. I think mentoring in general is a great idea, and the obvious way to bring mentoring to these people is by offering mentoring before sorting, which I think has been tried in the past as PHP mentoring? I think I've participated in this before and it's a great idea but I think it could be implemented a lot more effectively.

 

I think some form of pre-hogwarts mentoring would be helpful? But in the past this has exclusively used prefects as mentors and while I think that's a great idea in theory, I don't think it works so well in practice. There are a lot of really nice, enthusiastic, welcoming people who aren't in fifth/sixth/seventh year yet, or who are in those years but who missed out on prefect. These people would be great mentors! (Prefect is also a more demanding job than it used to be which I think leaves prefects with less time to be welcoming because they're so overwhelmed by the other parts of their jobs, but that's probably not a discussion for this topic so I will save my rambling on it for another time.) Also, I think an ideal system would be one with some accountability and/or structure to ensure people aren't falling through the cracks. Some past systems have just listed "mentors" as people to contact but that forces the new member to take the initiative and reach out. Maybe something more involved than that?

 

But, if there was actually an effective pre-hogwarts mentoring, then house mentoring might need to adapt its purpose slightly to avoid being too redundant? (But this might be a benefit? Currently there are a LOT of different reasons someone might want a mentor so maybe trimming down the function of the program to primarily RPs/plots and/or making OOC friends in the house would help it run better? Also I feel like mentoring is a thing I feel obligated to do because "everyone does it" but maybe somehow removing that aspect of it would increase people's commitment to the program?) But since all the programs run independently, and since they're all run by different people each year (the current sixth year prefects) it might be impossible to actually adjust all the programs across the board?

 

 I'm not saying these are the only possible improvements, just that they're what's come to mind for me. I totally understand if these things aren't realistic or doable (or if I'm the only one who thinks they'd help), but I'm really curious to see if anybody else has thoughts or ideas to share, or if my thoughts have inspired anybody else's ideas. (I think I asked more questions than I answered? I'd love to see if anybody has ideas on how to answer any of the things.) I'd also be really curious to hear from new or relatively new members since like ... I've been here a while, I'm sure my perspective on some of these things is warped by now haha. 

 

- Brianne/Twila/Viola/Gracie-Mae/etc :wub: 

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Alyssa Hoofer

I wasn’t going to reply at first, though I did send in a form. I’ve read what the last posters wrote, and a lot of it does sound like me. VH isn’t my first roleplay forum, and it likely won’t be my last. I discovered roleplaying about the same time as I discovered fanfiction when I was fourteen. It opened up a whole new world to me. There were all these people that loved Harry Potter as much as me. They wanted to write their own stories to it, and they even wanted to roleplay characters from the books or their own characters.

 

No one I knew was into the books, but at that point, I’d lost most of my friends anyway. I was this shy girl in my first year of High School, and all of my friends were out-going. They met new people, and I was just the loser of the group holding them back. They thought I was weird for liking Harry Potter. To them, they were children’s books. So they ditched me, and I was very lonely for the first time in my life. My sister didn’t want me hanging out with her either because she was older, and she didn’t want her little sister tagging around. So I began googling Harry Potter discussions and to my disbelief, there were people who didn’t think I was a loser! They wanted to discuss future books with me. They loved writing fanfiction too! Then I found out there were actually roleplaying forums too.

 

I discovered that I could lose myself in this fantasy world with people, and I could create my own characters that interacted with other characters. Life for me suddenly got better, and I was happy again. All my friends were online, but I didn’t care. It’s still the same way to me and I’m 31 now. I’d made new friends in High School, but I’ve moved to a city where I don’t know anyone except people I work with, and I am single. So I am even lonelier now than I was at fourteen. I see my co-workers and that’s it. Otherwise, I am just all by myself with no one to talk to.

 

For most of my early twenties, I roleplayed, but not as much because of work and friends. I was able to do it at least once or twice a week but then life got in the way and I stopped for a bit because I had a very productive life. So it’s true what was said about RL being a good reason why people can be very active or inactive on VH. I co-owned Hogwarts role-playing forums until they died, and then I was lost again. I also felt a bit weird because I was a grown woman roleplaying teenagers, but then I discovered that I’m not the only one, which was reassuring. I searched google for more RP forums, and I found VH. I am pretty sure I found them before, but I didn’t join.

 

When I started role-playing on VH, I felt the same way I did at fourteen. I could lose myself in this fantasy world again. It wasn’t like that on my old forums because there were only about four of us in the end that was active until we deleted it for good. Here though, it’s still fairly active and I’m here almost every day looking forward to something new to post to, or to catch up on duels, lessons or just the role-plays I’ve started. I can also go on discord and just chat with people, and it can either be about roleplaying or just whatever. I love it, and that’s my favourite thing about VH. No other site I’ve belonged to has that. You’re just expected to roleplay but if you wanted to plot, it was usually PM. Some did have some OOC boards, but VH feels more interactive with the discord chats and the games.

 

Sometimes though, I feel like maybe I am not very good at it here. This is the reason why I didn’t want to post this originally because I didn’t want anyone to feel guilty, but perhaps I’m not the only one who feels this way. By sharing my experience, others who do feel this way can realize they aren't alone. Maybe it’s because I am not as good of a writer as others, or maybe it’s because I chose to play a shy character. I’m not sure what, but at times I feel like maybe I am a thread killer. I’ve noticed I post, and then afterward, it doesn’t get any more replies or the replies aren’t as much as they were before I posted. I post new open threads, and sometimes it doesn’t get responses. So it makes me think I started something that no one would have any interest in, or else maybe it’s just me and if someone else posted it, people would be more active.

 

I admit I haven’t explored the VH off-topic board as much, and so perhaps I should since this suggestion might have already been made. I feel like maybe there could be something that someone could ask for tips or maybe advice about their posts, and why it might be a turn off to people. They could ask what they can change to make it so people would want to reply. I noticed when I posted an open thread in the chat, no one responded and so it makes me think maybe it was too boring or something. Maybe my writing turned them off (I’m well aware that it needs improvement and there are better writers on the site) or they don’t like my style, or my character or something. Again, I’m not trying to guilt-trip anyone. The only reason I brought it up is that maybe others have been in the same situation, and so they felt that maybe it was better to just leave the site. Maybe they felt they weren’t a good enough roleplayer, and so they gave up.

 

That being said, I have other roleplays people have posted to and responded to, so maybe it’s the topic. Everyone in the chats are nothing but friendly with me, and I do have some plots going on with people.I love VH and the way it works, so I’d love to stay and not feel like I’m doing something wrong. It’s a nice escape from the loneliness I feel at times. This is a friendly place to roleplay at, but some people might still feel excluded anyway.

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Clayton Stagg

THINGS TO WORK ON AS A COMMUNITY

  • IMMERSION
    I've left VH once or twice due to loss of immersion. Many people just want to hop on VH and forget about real life stuff. Occasionally in massive chats or personal chats people will bring up RL problems or complain about specific Quidditch drama, mods, staff members, or general ways the site is run/people who have power but don't deserve it. Please be wary of where you complain and who you complain to as the negatives pile up quickly for some and they'll take the mindset of: Why bother? I've enough problems in real life to bother with this site stuff. Try to remember to stay positive in OOC chats! Save the negative chat for close friends and private conversations if you need a place to vent.
     
  • RECRUITMENT 
    If we want to flourish and try to add new members then it's really on us as a community, not just the responsibility of the mods. Members should really make it a goal to try and recruit 1-5 new members each IC year (which really isn't that hard, I promise!). There are tons of Harry Potter nerds and communities on the internet. We can push to become partnered with Harry Potter subreddits or other roleplay sites. We can stop by Tumblr communities and invite friends we think might be a good fit. We can try to write guest articles on people's blogs and online news articles about the site. If we each dedicate a week or two each IC year to try and recruit a couple members we will see the site organically grow in size over time. Most won't stay, but if we were to successfully add two active members a year we would notice a huge difference. Perhaps mods would like to add an incentive to members who successfully recruit five members who finish their PHP? A special reward in the shop like you did with the bank keys might be a smart idea once that's back up.
     

MAKING MEMBERS STAY

  • PLOTS
    Unfortunately, there is simply not much that can be done to make someone stay if the site is not their cup of tea. A lot of people will give it a try and vanish before they get a good feel for it and that's fine. All we can do is open the door for them. The most important factor to keeping members engaged is to make sure they are working on character development, are excited about future plots, and have larger goals in mind they are excited to get to. Some people are awful at coming up with fun plots they look forward to which causes a lot of struggle. That is why I advise everyone to create a plot thread in VHOT with clear cut roles for characters you would like to see in your life. It may help keep someone around if they get really excited about a specific role they want to take in your character's life!

     
  • SITE WIDE PLOTS
    Site wide plots are wonderful but miss a huge point for me. First off, facing adults vs students render majority of our characters useless whenever an attack is organized and set up. While I do love seeing site plots unravel it's very, very difficult to get involved in the fun stuff unless you are very lucky. I've been on the site on and off for just about ten years now and most of the time site wide plots do not involve me, so it's an after thought where I just say "my character was there and witnessed terrible things". I do love site wide plots. Though I think we need two types actively going on in the community:
    • PLOTS DETERMINED BY THE MODERATORS
      These plots are obviously ones run by the staff. They are a surprise and a treat when they do unravel. Obviously, since we do not get notice before hand we shouldn't depend on these plots to add excitement to our character's lives. 

       
    • PLOTS DETERMINED BY THE MEMBERS
      I think we should work a bit more on organizing large plots that take place during our school years. This is absolutely up to the student body. Not the mods. Here are some examples of what I mean:
      • Next term Clayton will start up an underground dark arts club. His main goal will be to teach students the dark arts and then showcase what the students have learned to some staff members and ask that they consider implementing dark arts to the curriculum. Many students will be invited to join. Many students I imagine will be against it. Rumors will spread that death eaters are recruiting students and bad things are coming. There is plenty opportunity for everyone to get involved in the plot in one way or another. Anything from finding out a specific character is a member and you decide to blackmail them into being your homework slave for the rest of the term, to a student attempting to infiltrate the club so they can gather information. So far everyone I've explained the plot to has seemed very excited and I am feeling positive about it so far.
      • Another example may be if a student were to figure out a mixture to one or two illegal potions and decided to recruit some students to help them brew it. Maybe they lie and tell the students that they're sick and need this medicine on a weekly basis so they need to produce a lot for them often. As the illegal potions get distributed around the school and more and more students start to display side-effects of the potions people begin to worry. What'll happen to the students who were manipulated into brewing the stuff? Will they want to continue once they learn the truth and have a chance to make lots of money? What'll happen to characters who became dependent on it and use it to do well in classes, then one day they learn they can't get anymore? A plot like this could easily impact all the students from all the years.
      • Another one may be if a form of illegal dueling/broom games becomes popular among the students. What will the hospital wing do as they start to see nasty injuries coming in regularly? What do you do if your friend is participating and you want to tattle so they don't get hurt, but don't want them to get in trouble? 
    • Depending on how my first attempt at a school-wide plot like this, I'll certainly try to push for future ones as well so everyone can have a turn to be involved. I'm hoping these types of plots will get students excited and engaged more.
       
  • ALUMNI INVOLVEMENT
    I have a couple alumni I would love to do more with. I have one alumni who would be perfect for the potions plot idea I mentioned above. If he were to recruit students to end up brewing nasty stuff for him and a consequence of that happened to be the potion was easily distributed around the school then... Well, oops. While I know we cannot bring our alumni into the school, students can leave on weekends. I would like to encourage people to get more involved with their alumni if possible. Perhaps you want to mentor a student, teach them a skill, or hire one as an assistant that carries out tasks for you. Clayton's father uses him as a type of side-kick. He is constantly meeting with his father outside of school to get more work and assignments to help his studies further when it comes to the dark arts. 

It's quite late and I'm tired. This is all I'm posting for tonight, though I may continue with some more ideas/suggestions we can follow as members at a later date.

Edited by Clayton Stagg

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Alayna Weasley

I talked about this with a few people and might as well put it here too for productivity, but the biggest wall for me when I was new was the fact that I didn’t know that VH used a chat service to get to know people, plot, etc. None of the RP boards I’d been a member of up to that point used one. They had a chat box, or PMed each other, or the board simply just consisted of open threads that everyone posted in. That coupled with the fact that I was a shy little bugger with an inferiority complex… I got stuck in a crack. Closed threads looked to me like these people posting who were part of a club I’d never be good enough to get into. Open threads were a lot more around back then from what I remember, but it was still difficult to get real, meaningful plots and friendships from them when I didn’t even know how to reach out to these people outside of PMs (and they didn't know about the chat service either because they were all newbs with me :x ).

 

The only way I can think of to maybe close that gap is to reach out to these kiddos ASAP (having an active mentoring program before they’re sorted will help with that- but I think it should happen even before that point because there will be kids who won’t know to take part in mentoring or could be too shy to even sign up for it) and let them know how these sorts of things are typically done on VH. Maybe in the New Members Resources forum, have something there about the VH Discord server and instructions on how to install Discord? I know that you guys don’t want to necessarily endorse a specific chat service, but not mentioning anything about how so much of the VH plotting and relationship-making goes on there can really hinder new members. It did for me.

Edited by Alayna Weasley

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Ryan Buratsche

Ditto with the above. The other RP sites I've been on have been so small that they used a cbox where like all 5 members would be able to communicate with one another. Additionally, these sites had sections like VHOT, where people would plot more in-depth, and even though smaller sites would lay out their plots there, it could get pretty cluttered pretty fast. Using VHOT that in-depth I suppose is theoretically possible, but a chat service like MSN or AIM functioned and like Discord does function is much more useful to VH, because VH happens over time. It'd be tough to use VHOT alone to plot seven years (or more, counting alumni) years of plots. 

 

When I joined, I joined with an RL friend who gave me a head's up that people were on MSN--which was majorly helpful. Otherwise, I would have just squinted at closed plot threads and not known too much about where I'd be able to get my own closed plot threads. Making sure that people know where to find people I think is absolutely critical.

 

I also agree with the above--mentoring might be better suited to being something that happens in PHP (or around that time). It could end up being very beneficial to, because people who are new could show up at Hogwarts already knowing an older student and could have a pre-existing relationship that they could use for more rps. Is this person a good mentor? Do they give them the cold shoulder when they show up at school? Do they pull pranks together? Possibilities are endless.

 

In terms of open threads, I was also wondering if there was enough interest for there to be like a separate sub-server (?) idk discord terms or whatever, just dedicated to those. Open threads are some of my favorite on VH, and honestly, for a while when I was in grad school and bogged down with stupid and upsetting RL things, those were the threads that I was able to get on and do for a bit because they were silly, people were motivated to post, and they were all around a lot of fun. I love throwing out these ideas and seeing what sticks. 

 

I might come back when I have a few more thoughts. <3

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Bryony King

I don't really have much to say, a lot of my thoughts have already been voiced I suppose. 

 

Though I do want to add on to what Ryan and Alayna said. I did something (as Bry with a prefectly duty of such?) similar to almost a mentoring thing in PHP last year. Where she fixed up with Mr McRobbie and hosted an event thing at Fortescues where she was there in sort of a meet and greet sense. She addressed a group of presorts then gave them chances to ask questions, and Idk, it was fun from my side. I think presorts enjoyed it. 

 

Some sort of mentoring between presorts and sorted students would I think be pretty good, in particular for new people. 

 

I  remember how VH was so overwhelming when I first joined. Even though I had rp'ed for years I felt like such a noob, it was all pretty new. I usually try to drop new people a PM to make sure they aren't totally lost. Especially (again like Ryan said) with regards to OOC chats and such. 

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Lance Frost

: D

 

I remember wayyy back in the day presorts of any age were allowed to roleplay and have accounts, but then it was taken away and only 10-year-olds and up were allowed to be active on the site since it was getting out of hand. Now that we're not as active a site it might be good to allow people to have that freedom again.

 

If you was to appeal to more presorts having a larger range of plots, maybe you'd want to consider taking that rule back. We're less active as a whole so I think it would help add some liveliness to the world. I think it would be much more engaging if my eldest child can bring a friend home from PHP and get harassed by all their younger siblings and parents.

 

I love my children. I'm dying to bring this family to life we joke about the shenanigans they can get into constantly. Would be great for development.

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Julian Pritchard

So I'm not new, not by a long shot, but this is probably the longest I've stuck with any one character. Much of that has to do  with me. I.e. I am bad at initiating contact and it makes me really anxious. I would often make what felt like a somewhat heroic effort to ask a handful people to RP/plot with me, and then they would disappear or stop posting in our threads and I'd get discouraged and stop coming to the site as much.  

 

I don't know that there's much that can be done to help this kind of phenomenon. I know, for VH36 with Julian, finding the year group chat early definitely helped. I've now spent a long time chatting with my year mates and feel a lot more comfortable asking any of them to do a thread with me/duel me/do a joint lesson. This ties into what Ryan and Alayna said. It took me sorting a character and having my mentor point it out to me to realise that people communicated over chat. Even then, though, I felt like I could probably get away with just using VHOT and PM's to plot. The importance of getting onto MSN didn't really dawn on me until I found out that year chats were a thing, a good number of VH years later. Even if I knew they existed, though, the onus was often on me to poke people and ask whether it existed yet or not and for an invite. This was fine once I'd been on the site for a while, but makes it really hard for newer people to figure out what's going on. 

 

What we tried to do with VH36 (and by 'we' I mean mostly @Hazel Wheeler) was to PM everyone we knew was in our year (mostly using the PHP workbooks to guide us) and let them know about our chat and other things we might be doing together as a year at the time (mostly year avatars and year plots). I don't know how effective it was (I know we missed a few people since not everyone posted a workbook and a fair number of people never replied), or if this has become common practice (I hadn't been on VH for a long time), but I think it might be an idea to make that a more official thing? A little in the vein of what Gracie was saying regarding pre-hogwarts mentoring, I think it might be helpful to have a handful of veteran VH'ers who know they are sorting in any particular year to actively volunteer to do that work of making sure new members find their way into the community.  

 

I realise that this a thing that we usually hope will happen organically but, I think, left to their own devices people to tend both stick to what's comfortable and assume that other people have the same knowledge they do. 

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Ann Kadel

My suggestion, is probably going to be a rather unpopular one, but a perspective that I think needs to be spoken.  

 

When I first joined VH back in 2010, there was a real beauty to the community - there was the right amount of structure, and members were autonomous to make meaningful contributions.  People took it upon themselves to say ‘hi” via PM, to offer their services if I had any questions.  People RPed with me, when I was a lonely teen, struggling to brave it in the adult world.  People didn’t have to be Prefects, Heads, Members of Staff to be friendly.  People were friendly.  People talked to me, without any real obligation to, and RPed with me.

 

As the community became more structured, I think this collegiality started to disintegrate somewhat.  As certain things became the designated roles, there seemed to be a shift in our way of thinking.  A sense of fear seemed to precipitate that we’d be ‘stepping on toes’ if we took initiative to do something for our peers.  Somehow the role of Prefect became more structured.  People wanting to run house activities needed to run it with a Prefect/ check it with a house prefect first.  VH became more paternalistic, with a group of people beavering away in the background, making sure the cogs all worked, while the rest of VH remained oblivious to all of this.  I think, in many respects, VH has become a fantastic site, and very well serves its function - to be a fully functioning Harry Potter RP site, with all these intricate and fascinating aspects.  But when a good proportion of the VH Populace is predominantly seeking a safe haven, a place in which they can obtain a sense of belonging, the paternalistic nature of structures tends to have the contrary effect.  

 

To truly have that sense of belonging back, we almost need to de-establish some of the structure, and empower members to actually reclaim some of the responsibility in helping the site function.  Responsibility is a way of making people feel included, and I think we could do so much if we gave a lot of that responsibility back to the members.   

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Gracie-Mae Goodwin

The point of the discussion is to discuss together right? I'm baaaack <3 And I had a lot to say so I sectioned and bolded it by topic (and included names as a reference for the posts that the things I'm discussing came from for clarity).

 

Open RPs (Alyssa and others who feel similarly who I am sure are out there) - I have had trouble with open things not getting responses too! I think this is a failing with VH as a system rather than with any of us personally. I know I don't always go looking for open RPs to join, and a lot of people seem to ask for RPs in chats instead of looking for already-posted threads on the board. I think something like a discord channel for this (as Ryan suggested) might help a lot.

 

Immersion (Clayton) - I agree completely that as a community we should avoid constant complaints in our group chats, and especially constant VH-bashing because usually that just makes all of us look bad. (Though I think it's fair to be frustrated with VH from time to time, but that's what private chats are for!) However, I disagree on one point you made about this: I think it's okay if people bring up RL problems or complaints as long as they do so tactfully and as long as that isn't the constant focus of the chat. For many people, VH is a support system and I enjoy "being there" for my VH friends, and I've seen just how much a chat full of encouraging people can help someone who's having a rough day in RL. If someone needs a friend to talk to or a shoulder to cry on and doesn't know where to turn, I wouldn't want them to feel like they couldn't say something in mass chat and I think it's important that people feel supported in our community.

 

Recruitment (Clayton) - While I would love to help recruit for VH and I think it's a super admirable goal to get members involved in this ... honestly I wouldn't know where to start on this and I wouldn't feel comfortable doing so without some kind of instruction from a mod about how they want VH represented and what is or isn't okay to do. 

 

Chat - I want to voice my support for what Alayna and Ryan said regarding new members and chats. <3

 

PHP Mentoring (Bryony) - From what I've heard, the people who participated in "PHP Mentoring" last year really enjoyed it, and I think Bry did a great job! But ... when I made Gracie-Mae for example, I eyed the thread and thought it was a cool RP experience, but it was already a few posts deep so I didn't feel like I had hit the timing right to join in. Something like this is definitely cool to have, but people probably fall through the cracks for it? (Not that it's an issue that someone like me falls through the cracks because I don't feel I need a "mentor" really? But I probably wasn't the only one not to post in it which is my concern.)  So I think things like this are great but that there's more we could do to try to make sure everyone feels welcome, too!

 

Super Young Presorts (Lance) - Wow it was not that long ago that presorts could be any age now I feel really old D: Anywayyy ... I think I once had like a 7 year old presort before the rule? It was fun to be in a family with so many people but at the same time I didn't really enjoy the writing and I enjoy RPing the Hogwarts experience a LOT more. Having RPed as part of the young presort crowd and RPing now, I like now better. I also think it's a lot less intimidating to join a year as a presort when the others in the year don't have RL YEARS of posts established haha. Also I don't really feel that presorts miss out on any plots this way - your char can still bring a friend home and your NPC family can interact with them. (Some people NPC their younger siblings before the sibling is old enough to register, which seems to work just fine.) It takes a tiny bit more creativity to do this, but I don't think that it necessarily limits anybody. I like VH as is in regards to presort ages. <3

 

Year Chat Welcoming (Julian) - Okay I would just like to say a huge thank you to @Hazel Wheeler and @Julian Pritchard (and others!) who went out of their way to make VH36 super welcoming. I've sorted a bunch before and I think this is the most welcomed I've ever felt on a new character. Every year should do this. But I'm not sure if it'd be best off left to happen on its own or as something that's assigned/organized/applied for. I think if it was an officially designated role, we might run into issues like the one Ann mentions where people are afraid to step on others' toes. (For example, I was not a "welcoming" person for VH36 but since the role wasn't an official one I felt okay reaching out to someone who was RPing but who hadn't found the year chat yet to give them the link. And we should want everybody to feel like they can do this! But if it was an official role I would probably not have reached out to anybody for fear of "stepping on toes" because I have been told off for that before on VH and it's not fun.) So ... I think we need people to be super welcoming but I'm not sure if it should be an actual position or how the best way to handle this is. I also feel like it used to be more common on VH for old members (whether or not they were sorting a first year) to reach out to new unsorts and chat with them, RP with them, and plot with them which helped make the site feel more welcoming too and at some point this has declined which is sad. QQ

 

I don't know if the rise of year chats is related to a lower amount of welcoming between people of different years? We live in our little year-chat bubbles and if people aren't in our year chat, they're outside our bubble and our VH-universe. Year chats do a great job of building community within a year (and I'm not saying we should get rid of them, I really like them) but I think they can limit the scope of our interaction with the site. We get comfortable in our year chats and suddenly it's harder to branch out of our year. How can we encourage everyone to welcome the new people, not only those sorting characters that year? How can we still have our awesome tight-knit year chat feel without focusing only on our years?

 

Empowering Members by Reducing Structure (Ann)  - Uhh I know you disclaimered this by saying you thought it'd be unpopular but ... I support this. I remember a VH where people took it upon themselves to be friendly without it being their job and I miss that VH. (Also I have a current prefect and I don't think I have time as a prefect to be friendly because of all the other things prefects do ... so hopefully people who aren't prefects are not expecting the prefects to be entirely responsible for friendliness because idk if that is realistic QQ Everyone should be friendly!) I don't really know how you convince a big group of people (read: all of VH) to all change their behavior but a change in structure sounds like it might help? I like the sound of this idea, and especially of what it aims to create. <3

Edited by Gracie-Mae Goodwin
adding a word because words are hard oops

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Bryony King

@Gracie-Mae Goodwin I definitely agree. Personally I wasn't sure how it would go down, hence my apprehension to only do the one. If I had known it was going to be a success I would have done a little more with it, aimed a little higher maybe?

 

Maybe it's something that prefects incoming for the next few years could take into account and host some cool events for presorts? Whether they're new to the site or oldies

Edited by Bryony King

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Viola Wayland

@Bryony King Oh I mean you definitely did more than enough!! No one person should feel responsible to welcome an entire first year class haha. There's so many of us on the site who can help out (and who want to help) that it definitely shouldn't fall to one person. You did awesome!

 

Also I think it'd be cool to get everyone involved in welcoming the presorts. To connect back to Ann's point ... if welcoming the unsorts is a prefect "job" then people who aren't prefects might feel as if they are not welcome to also be welcoming because then they risk being seen as that person who's doing the prefects' job for them or stepping on their toes. I would love it if more people got involved in this kind of thing and if it didn't all fall to prefects. There shouldn't be anything to stop any sorted student from reaching out and being a welcoming face for the site or from running an event for the unsorts or first years.

 

Also a lot of prefects are busy and there's a lot of other things expected of them that aren't just being welcoming, so they might not always have time for it? Or we as prefects need to adjust our priorities - welcoming the unsorts and first years seems more important than a lot of the things I've done as a prefect so far this year but I've been so wrapped up in doing the other things that I haven't felt I had time for much else with my prefect. (The number of times that I have said "I did not sign up for this" when I have felt overwhelmed this year is alarming. QQ) Something seems not quite right about this and it's probably related to why prefects aren't as "welcoming" as they used to be - there just isn't time with how big the job has become and how many expectations there are.

 

I kind of see prefects as the people who set an example for other students, so the fact that they might not have time to go out of their way to be welcoming could be part of why others might be hesitant to reach out, or might not realize that they could/should be reaching out to unsorts and first years to welcome them. But maybe this is just me?

 

@Everyone what do YOU want from prefects? Roleplays? Thread Invasions? Welcoming faces? Events? (But people say they want events and then some of the events that prefects host get hardly any participants, why?) How can we reduce work/strain on prefects to give them the chance to set an example as welcoming people?  Or how can we empower EVERYONE to be a welcoming person?

 

- Viola (& Gracie-Mae)

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Bryony King

No, it's not I guess. But I would have definitely liked to have done some more of that sorta thing later on/closer to sorting or something so people who made their characters later or didn't quite get a chance to rp in the first one. I think maybe anyone, not just prefects hosting things in future would be nice. Even the PHP instructors or something? 

 

But then I guess I'm just a sucker for like...big group open threads in year groups and beyond. This goes back to open threads a bit more I guess? I'd love to see more on VH. They're my personal favourite. I like them because it gives me a chance to actually rp with different people at times. I mean I don't know about other people, but I end up rp'ing with a lot of the same people all the time and like, I get too comfortable. And i do reach out and annoy people sometimes but I am wary of who I bug and if I'm annoying people too much. So idk more open threads to mix it up may be awesome. They'd also help new members get to meet/plot/talk to more people on the site. 

 

With regards to welcoming people I don't think it should be strictly up to Prefects to welcome people. Prefects have a lot to be doing and not always an easy job? I don't think they should have things added on their plate.  Like it doesn't take much to send a PM and anyone could be nice and friendly? And should be nice and friendly to new people.  I send some new people PMs trying to de-whelm them when they join and seem a little lost. But I think I'd do that anyway despite being a prefect or not? I mean yes Prefects are obviously chosen as like a leader role or something, but I think that should be something everyone on the site is more aware of. Being more welcoming to new members that is. 

 

But yes please tell us what you want from Prefects? I tried to do a lot of open threads and 'fun' things (I did say tried) and they were usually a flop. So answer Viola's questions please

 

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Alayna Weasley

I think the biggest issue with open threads sometimes is that if a person happens across one, but there’s nothing in it that their character would IC react to, they don’t post in it. Like Alayna for example is very shy. She doesn’t like attention being drawn to her, or confrontation, or anything like that. So an open protest thread that's very loud or even just something basic wouldn’t be something that she would stop and interact with too much unless there was someone in that thread that she knew well and she had a reason to say something.

 

Of course it’s hard to get a feel for what different characters will react to, etc. when you’re posting an open thread meant for everyone, but I think if it were something more interactive that would maybe help the problem a bit.

 

Like a prefect auction. Wouldn’t even have to involve all the prefects- it could be one prefect trying to auction off their friend who doesn’t even have to be a prefect with them. It could be just some hot person and they’re trying to auction them off to get money to buy themselves a new dress robe. Or someone could’ve lost a badge, they’re trying to find it. Or someone’s looking for ideas on how to improve the school. They put up a poster- PLEASE LIST HERE IDEAS ON HOW WE SHOULD IMPROVE THE SCHOOL. And then people troll it.

 

Or maybe one of the male prefects start running around in their knickers.

 

Little things like that that give shy characters, outgoing characters, crazy characters, green characters- ALL characters something fun and weird and silly and engaging to interact with would be most likely to draw in activity.

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Ethan Smith

I have been thinking of what to add, most people have wrote what I was thinking. When I first new, I was welcomed by many people. This was back in VH14 when i decided to finally come back and make a character again, it had been some time. Everyone was welcoming. I didn’t know that MSN was a thing so I just would PM people in my year before i was sorted and after I was sorted I would PM others to chat with them and kind of plot things with them.

 

Open threads I find harder as characters get older, I think that it could be due to the fact that you might feel like your character is to old or young to interactive with this person. I try to post open threads now and then to see if anyone post in them, but nine times out of ten they are not responded to. Unless, like Alayna thread it is a protest thread or something along those lines. I feel like that the ones where people don’t have to post super long replies are something that more people post in.

 

For prefects for some fun threads, I would think something like an open thread where the prefects are off… like they all took a hate potion or something, and they are not acting like themselves at all. Like depending on the number of prefects you can get, they could be one in the dueling chamber sidelines acting like they know everything about dueling, even though they know nothing about it. And they ask questions and someone that answers it correct gets a point or something like that.

 

Like Alayna said about someone running around in their knickers in the hallways and its confusing people. The threads don’t even have to be games at all. Just something fun and have more people interactive with others. Open threads like that have younger and older students interactive with each other.

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Stella Peabody

I've been on and off VH for several years now, so this is all coming from the perspective of someone who has felt "new" to VH several times after long absences.  I've tried to organize my rambling thoughts into headings, and this ended up turning into a novel, so apologies!

 

PHP

 

I feel like PHP is good at teaching you the very basic rules and etiquette of VH.  The workbook is also a great tool for character development. 

 

But I don't feel like it does a good job of preparing new members (and veteran members too) for what VH is actually like.  PHP kind of exists in this vacuum.  You can do your workbook at your own pace, so some people do theirs all at once and some people take months to finish. I don't think PHP properly simulates the pace and intensity of VH post-sorting.  There aren't rolling weekly lessons or activities that have deadlines, like duels, Quidditch, and actual lessons.  With my first character, I spent weeks loitering around PHP without much to do, and then was totally overwhelmed when sorting came.  There were four weekly lessons now, plus house activities, plus dueling, plus Quidditch, plus ordinary RP's.  It was really hard to keep up, and I think PHP didn't really prepare me for what VH is actually like. 

 

Possible solutions to this include more interactivity and time-sensitive activities.  Something where the PHP instructors facilitate interactive games that  simulate the time sensitive nature of dueling and Quidditch, with teams, points, and deadlines and extensions.  The workbook is good for what it is, but I also think there should be occasional new and fresh lessons that are posted in real-time, with instructors and PHP mentors posting interactive rp posts to interact with the presorts.  Extra credits could involve tagging people or roleplaying with new people, instead of just character development.  There could be bonuses like shop items if the presorts post before a certain deadline in real time, for instance.

 

Another problem with PHP that others have mentioned is that there's only one optional extra credit that actually prompts you to interact with other people.  It's really hard to establish relationships in the PHP phase if you don't already know people.  Open thread opportunities are also kind of sparse, as everything has to take place in PHP, Diagon Alley, or homes and holidays.  I think PHP should more actively encourage roleplaying, especially with new people.  The corkboard is okay for advertising open threads, but I wish there was something a bit more structured.  Like a roleplaying match service where you'd be paired together randomly with roleplay partners and given an optional prompt, like "use these 3 words in your roleplays" or "a roleplay involving these objects."  Boom, your character has people to interact with, and it's less intimidating than an open thread.  Even something like a "rp with the person above you" thread (thanks for the idea, @Gracie-Mae Goodwin!)  might facilitate more rping in a way that's more structured than open threads, which can be a bit scary and hit or miss.

 

I also think there should be more PHP mentors, and not just prefects!  I loved what Bryony did this year, and having a connection to a sorted student feels so good when you're new or returning to VH after a while.  Sorted students could even get in on the rp matching program idea I had, organizing activities and facilitating rps.  It's nice to know your character will know an older student when they arrive at Hogwarts, even if they didn't make many friends at PHP or their PHP friends didn't sort or go inactive.

 

(In)activity

 

It's really, really hard to come back after going inactive.  VH can be a very loving and accepting community in some ways, but I also think there's a big stigma against people who go inactive and try to come back.  My first character, I wasn't prepared for how overwhelming VH would be.  I joined a bunch of things and then got too busy to follow through.  I accidentally let a duel time out and felt SO terrible that I didn't log into VH for a while and went inactive.  I finally logged back in and a few people had sent me messages while I was gone asking me not to flake out on duels and lessons.  When I tried to get back into the swing of things, a lot of people gave me the cold shoulder.  People told me that they didn't want to duel me or rp with me because I would probably just go inactive again.  No one was obligated to do anything with me, of course, but it was very hurtful for me and I ended up just letting that character go inactive permanently because I felt like the consequences of reactivating were too much and not worth it. 

 

Part of this was that I had unrealistic expectations about how VH worked and how much I could handle.  I was still new, so I didn't realize how activity levels and the pace of everything worked.  I didn't realize that you didn't have to keep up with weekly lessons, and that a lot of people left lessons until the end of term and post them all at once.  I'd be too busy to do lessons for a week and then I'd be FOUR lessons behind and I didn't understand that I didn't need to do them right away.  I also didn't really understand how to pace duels or juggle multiple at once.  I saw some people speed dueling and none of the example duels I looked at had time outs or extensions, so I felt so horrific the first time I timed out.  

 

So part of the problem is educating new members about how VH REALLY works, not just in theory but in practice.  Some people barely do lessons and some people do all the extra credit.  Some people are able to manage dozens of duels at once, and some focus on RPing and do a bit of student quidditch.  I know some people use CL's to track threads and duels, and other people use tags or spreadsheets.  Give new members actual tools and resources that will help them manage their time and obligations.  

 

The other part of the problem is the general attitude, I think.  The last time I had an inactive character was a couple years ago, so things might have changed.  But it felt like there was a massive cloud of shame looming over my head whenever I tried to come back from inactivity.  Like Gracie-Mae said, it felt easier to start a new character than to have to feel other people judge me and decline my requests for rps and duels.  I'm not sure if you can really change something this deeply ingrained, but something that really helps is hearing that established and well-respected members of the community have had a hard time keeping up and have gone inactive.  Maybe some kind of master thread in the new member resources with tips and tricks for managing deadlines and staying active, plus testimonies from veteran members about how they came to VH, if they've struggled with inactivity, how they stay on top of things, and different examples of how people manage the obligations differently.  I really like the player testimonials for each house, so something like that for different play styles and activity levels might help. 

 

 

House Mentors

 

I've had really mixed results with house mentors and house activities in general.  Sometimes it's a really helpful and fruitful relationship, and sometimes they're too busy with other real life and VH obligations to do much with you, ic and ooc.  I've never been a house mentor so I don't know the other side of it or how to improve it, but I do think there should be more accountability for mentors to actually do things with their mentees. 

 

I've also always liked general house mentoring threads where all the mentors and mentees are invited to participate.  So if you have a mentor or mentee who's not particularly active, you still get to participate.  Sometimes I ended up bonding way better with some of the other mentors I met that way, and they became my surrogate mentor more than my assigned one did.  So more activities mixing and matching mentors and mentees might be something to try, to accommodate different personalities and activity levels? 

 

Welcoming People Who Aren't New

 

VH is generally very good about welcoming new people.  When I was new, I received several messages from people welcoming me to the community and inviting me to AIM, VHOT, and roleplays.  But for my second character and beyond, it felt like by putting "no" on the question about if I was new on my PHP workbook, I was missing out on the welcome wagon.  In some cases, I had been gone for months or years and would put something to that effect in the workbook, so people wouldn't assume I had other active students or already had friends.  Still, people didn't really reach out to me or welcome me back. 

 

I think we need to foster a culture of welcoming EVERYONE, even people who aren't new to VH.  Especially for people who are fairly low activity, or come back after a long time, or who don't have a lot of OOC friendships with other VHers, they're not new but they might as well be new.  Just because you're not new doesn't mean you know other puppeteers, or already have plots, or tons of people to RP with.

 

I think the VH36 discord channel does a great job of creating an environment where everyone can come and chat and find RP partners regardless of whether they're new or not.  But we as a community could be a little more conscious of welcoming everyone and reaching out to anyone who looks like they might need a friend or rp partner, regardless of how new they are. 

 

 

 

 

I didn't realize I had so many opinions about all of these things, so I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks.  Thanks for letting me work this all out and get it off my chest!

 

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

WARNING: This post contains comments about VH's mental health and disability policy which members have reported as offensive. ~Weasley

 

Okay, well here I go.

 

First and foremost, I would like to take the time and thank @Atlas Wyrmwort for recruiting me because that is literally the only reason I found my way here, and please believe me when I say literally. Not only am I new to VH, but to the whole Harry Potter world itself, and if not for the presentation of the invite I wouldn’t have bothered at all. I’ve been roleplaying since I was in grade school, and everything I have become accustomed to VH acts as the antithesis. So by default I would’ve passed by it without a second glance or thought. I do like it, and I do love some of the people that I have met, but I have quite a few grievances.

 

Discord

I would like to address this first and foremost, especially because the application itself was something I recently had to pick up due to a lot of the roleplays I am in now using them instead of having Out Of Character threads. I have an ample amount of servers specifically for VH with a plethora of users listed and online but that do not live up to their uses. These servers, to a person that may either only use Discord for only VH related things or perhaps only have a small number of servers, may not seem to take up space but they do. I’m not interested in having a bunch of servers if they aren’t going to be utilized, and while I understand the concept of why these servers were created, until they can live up to their potential I really don’t think more should crop up. I do love a few of them, however, so that is not to say that all of them are without purpose. This may not actually be a VH thing, but I figured I would make note of it regardless.

 

Welcoming & Pre-Hogwarts

Ironically enough, I initially didn’t feel as welcomed as a lot of people in here have posted. When I first joined I felt very much alone, and if not for Atlas I would’ve just let it be. VH is dysfunctional, and I do not say this with malice or to be unkind, but in comparison to what I am used to the structure is almost lacking. It’s very, very easy to get lost and overwhelmed, though I am happy to say that @Bryony King, sending me a PM my day of registration, and @Julian Pritchard, also sending me a PM and inviting me to the VH36 Discord, were both wonderful. I do not take their kindness or warmth for granted as I write this.  

 

I’m not certain how many people are honestly just fresh to VH (and out of them, how many actually stick around), but I know that by the time I really got to our Discord I felt like I wasn’t going to ‘fit in’. All of these plots and relationships and ideas already seemed to have been formed, and really, I just stuck around because I enjoyed the people in the chat, but I knew Zsu wasn’t really going to stick around. How did she fit? Where did she fit? Did she actually fit? VH is literally a toss and go, or rather, it comes off that way as a whole, and it has so many don’ts that it felt rather stifling (which I will address in its own section.)

 

I was fortunate enough to join an open thread with @Gracie-Mae Goodwin and @Alyssa Hoofer, and they helped me realize that if I wanted to become immersed, I just needed to do it myself. I do not think that people really realize this, but it’s easy to say ‘Hey, welcome!’ and then that’s it, cold turkey, not a follow-up in sight. There’s this idea that ‘new’ does not necessarily mean ‘new’, and that’s an issue. From observation, and speaking with others, the ‘new’ or ‘fresh-blood’ feel left out. There are open threads, yes, I am not contesting that, but in comparison to the amount of private threads –especially for someone that is just sorting mind you, it feels the opposite of welcomed. It feels as if VH really is just some sort of exclusive thing, and the fact that a lot of people do not actively go out of their way to actually invite someone to a thread or to plot, there is a validation as to why people feel the way they do.

 

Of course, the flipside to this (because there is nearly always a flipside), is that people also need to be proactive in reaching out for plots. Once I realized that I needed to take the initiative, that is what I did, but everyone is not like me and some people are not (nor may they ever) feel comfortable asking someone to make a thread with them or help them along, etc. I would like to take the time to thank @Emmett Blaze, @Behati Gadot, and @Isobel Blake for including me in a plot as well; you all are also part of why I’m still around. <3

Possible Remedies: This is very, very tricky considering all of the factors that play into this, but I’m going to toss ideas regardless. While I know that there is a mentor/mentee system, it is flawed. It is flawed because some of the mentors never show up or show up and then disappear –which can be understandable considering people do have lives, but there isn’t a fallback in place. Why not have dedicated groups or sections to help newcomers or people that may want to participate but are uncomfortable or too shy? I’d have no issue signing up for something like that, creating threads and/or tagging people so they know that there is in fact a place for them and there is in fact a support system for them to find their way. Or even just a simple thread that says that there are people available for PMs should anyone want to be informed about potential threads or the like. I think having a place specifically for people to come and get their feet wet without the fear of potentially being ostracized or intimidated would help.

 

 

Plots

Honestly, where are they? This is a large board, and the way it is set up literally means that the characters/players are the ones that drive it…yet to me it just seems empty. All of these miniscule plots that are being cooked up between individuals and groups are beautiful –I love them, but should we not also have larger plots that focus on the school itself? Should we not be allowed to have smaller plots get watered and contribute or act as catalysts to larger plots that could affect a larger body of people? What it really means to live within the walls of Hogwarts, shrouded by magic and both the good and the bad that comes with it? That brings together most if not all the characters/active members and also allows for growth? Should there not be something exciting to look forward to, something that will shape (whether positively or negatively) characters and the way they see themselves, each other, and the magical realm they live it?

 

As it is, VH toes the fine line of being absolutely boring as a whole. It’s as if it is so afraid of its potential that it strays away from anything that isn’t remotely frolicsome. Anything subtly interesting has been from particular individuals, and yes, I do very much understand that there are quite a few rules and regulations that have others frightened of going too left  or too right, and that will certainly have its own section as well. But really, and forgive me if it seems out of turn considering I am new to the site, where are the plots? Why should I stay on VH for years to develop my character if ultimately she is not contributing to anything? There’s nothing to really look forward to once she graduates, the jobs are bare and unless a person becomes a teacher, the plots and interaction as part of the VH community become scant and literally just individual based. That is sad.

 

Some of us create characters that start off as one thing and then take a life of their own. They have hopes and wishes and dreams, and when we start to write for them, they take over. So where would my character, who wants to be an Unspeakable, fit in when she graduates? The answer? She won’t. If she is around, it would be to visit with friends that are still on the grounds or the occasion duel –I’m not going to stick around for that sort of thing, point blank.

Possible Remedies:  Have more site plots readily available and executable. Lack thereof? Create threads that ask for ideas, I’m sure there would be a lot more people that would pipe up if they felt that they had a chance of pitching something and it honestly being considered. But please, with that in mind, be open to the ideas themselves and not closed minded and bias. VH needs spice, it needs something intriguing and fun, but it does not need more blandness.

 

Also, Alumni should not be so easily excommunicated. They deserve plots as much as newcomers considering without them, VH would most certainly not be where it is today. Include more possibilities for jobs; branch out to them being able to incorporate their lives after Hogwarts while still being part of the Hogwarts society. There is so much raw potential here, so much that could help elevate VH, and I just don’t like that it seems to be going to waste. There is a forum for Azkaban that I was excited to see, but the excitement died immediately. That is a missed opportunity, much like the lack of variety of possibilities for plotting.

 

Creativity

This may not be a popular opinion, and that is fine as the rule section suggests ‘overwhelming preference of our community’ voted or expressed opinions about this. A big turn off for me (and a reason that I nearly said no thank you) to VH was the collection of rules that stifled creativity. I understand that this whole roleplay involves characters of all ages, but the honest fact of the matter is that limiting a person’s ability to create is terrible. I’ve never roleplayed and been told that I could not roleplay about someone having disabilities, mental or physical, or any particular emotional spectrums. I’m sure there are some eyes rolling, but the reality of the matter is that if someone is uncomfortable; why not just say it to the person? The bulk of us are adults, and yes, some of us roleplay to get away from reality, but there are some people that want to take their realities and morph them into whatever world/theme/etc that they are presented with. Also, it’s a shame that people have to ask others if they think they’ll get banned for saying a word that isn’t even remotely offensive. And really? I don’t like that there are so many Mary-Sues and Gary-Stus here, it’s deplorable and cringe inducing, but VH has helped with their creation and acceptance.

 

People here are also quick to shoot down something that seems too [insert here], and considering I have been roleplaying for so long and have never encountered such a wariness before in a community is saying a lot. One moment people are gung-ho about the possibility of something new and different, yet it can easily turn on its axis with the mention of it possibly being something Mods would disapprove of. I understand the idea of not having intimately explicit things or gore, but the rest? No, no I do not understand nor do I agree. The Harry Potter world was filled with many things that VH denies here, and that’s strange. The stories had sustenance, the world crafted had sustenance, and the stark dismissal of parallels or ideas from the book are concerning. If people are uncomfortable with a potential plot –they do not have to join it. As a matter of fact, it’s very clear on VH that for the entire ruckus people make about ideas and concepts, their participation on matters that do not directly concern their characters in some way, shape, or form, is nonexistent. If you are not going to participate, then your opinion is irrelevant, and yes, it is as simple as that.

 

Clayton mentioned starting a Dark Arts Club and I think that is an extraordinary idea. There is nothing wrong with rocking the boat, and really I think being able to express yourself or a least your ideas without the heavy ‘NO’ lingering about is important. Also, VH ought to be PG-13 instead of PG as I feel as if that would align more with the content of the books themselves. For VH to be ‘the most canonically plausible’, it would need to greatly reevaluate how strict it is about things that are clearly defined in the books. Also, to register on the site, you have to be at least 13 years of age. Can someone be younger and still register? Why of course, youthful fire and all of that, but if they are lying just to become part of the site and sign-up regardless, legal liability is off the table (should that be part of what you all are concerned about.)

 

Possible Remedies: Shift VH into PG-13, it will not burn to the ground, and honestly I would love to hear others outline the grave differences between PG and PG-13 ratings. What is the real harm, the real risk? Plenty of children (quite a few of us on VH included) have grown up hearing or witnessing things that were above PG and yet we were neither scarred nor ruined. I’m not suggesting allowing graphic or gory subjects, but I am suggesting reevaluating what really works and what doesn’t. That listening and hearing what people are saying are important.

 

Reconsider allowing others to have the freedom to project themselves into their characters; if someone is uncomfortable, they ought to voice it to whoever is making them feel that way. If they feel disrespected then that opens up a discussion, but I think it’s a spit and slap in the face to crucify someone and their ideas the way VH tends to. I also would like to challenge this whole thing about the ‘overwhelming preference of our community’. I am certain there are valid points, but I am also certain that some of these points are simply because people don’t either know how to deal with the idea of something other than perfection and idealism or they don’t want to.

 

The use of slurs being forbidden is wonderful, but I think telling someone that they cannot have a disability/emotional trauma/issues is basically telling someone that only certain races  are allowed. If I’m a person of color and I was told I could not play a person of color –I’d leave and wouldn’t suggest or refer anyone to whatever site/roleplay/forum I was on. Please open this back up for consideration and discussion and allow people to have a dialogue about it.

 

Open Threads: As this has been touched on, I won’t spend very much time on it. Open threads help pull people in, regardless of their status of being new, returned from hiatus, or active. The issue I’m finding is that people just don’t tend to respond to them. There are a number of facts that play into this: shyness, people are only interested in ones specific to their friends, people getting bored because after posting the original poster disappears into the ether. Time plays a factor as well, but if I could find an open thread of interest, I’d post in it just because. My issue is that I have a hard time finding them because they get lost and buried beneath fluff.

Possible Remedy: I love Open Threads, but as I stated there are way too many variables that play into this so trying to pinpoint solutions is hard. I would like to see a common place where someone could go and check for open threads without having to get lost. Correct me, as I could be wrong, but is that what the Corkboard is for? If so, could there be one in a more central location where anyone could see it on their Home page? I’m not at all saying this would absolve all issues related to Open Threads, but I do think it may help a bit.

 

 

I didn’t mean to write as much as I did, but I’m unapologetic about my opinions. I sincerely hope that everyone that has submitted their feedback, regardless of the forms they have taken, gets what they submitted read and considered. Asking for feedback is great, and I appreciate this opportunity afforded because it does open up for a lot of criticism.   

 

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Undercliffe

A huge thank you to everyone for your feedback so far! We have been reading all of your opinions and ideas and you can be assured that all feedback will be taken seriously. We really appreciate your honesty and your willingness to share your thoughts! 

 

However, due to the sensitive nature of some of the feedback we are receiving, we have decided to make all previous posts in this thread private. Edit: This has been reversed, please see Weasley's post below. <3

 

This thread is still open for discussion, but we ask that you try to keep this discussion more or less on the topic of what we can do to help new members in particular. Feedback regarding the OOC rules of VH as they relate to all members is still welcomed but should be submitted privately. If you have any feedback that relates to another area of the site, we encourage you to privately send your thoughts to a moderator who is in charge of that area. Thank you!

 

We'd love to hear more about some topics of discussion that have been mentioned already:

  • What are the things that have made you stay on VH?
  • PHP
  • Open RPs
  • Mentoring
  • Discord and helping new members find the chat
  • Year chats
  • Being more "welcoming" as a community
  • Prefect roles (as they relate to welcoming new members)
  • Inactivity & welcoming people back
  • Anything else that relates to how VH can help and welcome new members!

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Weasley

Good morning! After much discussion, the mods have decided to restore the hidden posts in this topic. 

 

Earlier this morning the mods decided it might be best to make the feedback private because of reports received regarding a recent post. After further review, in the interest of keeping the discussion going, we've decided instead to put a sensitive material warning on the topic.

 

We ask that discussion of the policy regarding roleplaying disabilties not continue. It's off topic. It is not up for debate and comments can be very hurtful to many of our members. 

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Zsuzsanna E. Maverick

In all due respect, finding out that all the posts had been made private was very, very hurtful. If anyone had an issue, then that could’ve been directly addressed to me as we all are adults and that would’ve been the respectful thing to do. If people were offended, and for some strange reason did not want to directly approach me –fine, I understand deleting or even making my post private. But that doesn’t validate making everyone’s posts private.

 

It’s clear it was my post, and I have no issue taking responsibility for it. I knew it would stir the pot (and thus why I initially had decided against posting because of this backlash), but everything that I stated I stand by and I am not sorry for my words. I am sorry if anyone was individually hurt, as that was not my intention, but the way that this was handled hurt my feelings. Apparently I either do not have any feelings, they are inferior to others’, or they aren’t adequate enough to be taken into consideration. I’m new, I’ve talked to others who were new as well for Pre-Hogwarts, I’ve talked with others who were thinking about joining –and things that they shared with me I thought I’d share here.

 

So I did, and do I regret it?

 

No.

 

Will I bother with voicing my thoughts here again?

 

No.

 

This feels like exclusion at its finest, and that’s fine, you do not have to worry about me making the mistake of trying to be open and honest about my thoughts or any thoughts shared with me from here on out.

 

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Ryan Buratsche

So I was thinking about what Stella had mentioned in terms of inactivity and then thought about how you get a lil message when you register a new character. Maybe when you reactivate you could get a little message that is like hi hello welcome back :D and for example is like hey VH is on Discord now, check it out! or any other resources that might be pertinent to getting people reacquainted with the site. After all, not everyone who comes back and revives their character does it after the same amount of time and I know from personal experience of lurking on and off for a couple of years that lots can change and it can be a bit until you get your sea legs again. 

 

I shall see if more comes to me. <3

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Lucia Isaacs

I joined in July 2010, just before I went off to university. I had a lot of free time in limbo between school and university, and I’d been marathoning the Harry Potter movies… I really wanted an MMO style thing, and in my search I found a Yahoo Answers page somewhere that recommended a few sites. I joined a ton of them but this is the only one that stuck. I was fortunate that Elle Morofgod reached out to me on my first day, and helped me learn the ropes. That made me hang around. RP partners were found via VHOT wanted ads and poking people on MSN, and I’m fortunate that I have a small group of friends who I plot with, RP with and talk to outside of VH. I’ll admit I’ve become a bit more insular these days, but the attitudes of some VHers just puts me off - I know that’s part of the problem, so I totally welcome debate about VH’s future.

 

A lot of the people I know have left the site for a plethora of reasons. Some just became too busy, which we can’t really do anything about. Others have left in fire and fury, whether it be drama brought about by Quidditch, or just friend group crap, or even if we look at the decline in posting since Zsuzsana and Scout’s posts – it drives people away. I know others who have simply just outgrown the site, and I can understand reaching that point. If I have questions, I search in the Q&A forum, or I just post there, or PM a prof/mod/someone who knows more than me? I haven’t used the forums in a while, so I can’t really give you any feedback on those specifically.

 

Maybe a shake up of the curriculum of PHP is required. A lot of it is about how to use the board, some of it out of date, some of it relevant, but very little that actually gets you involved and socialising on the site. Maybe it could be worth adding a PHP channel to Discord? I don’t really know. I think VHOT used to be more regularly used for plots and meeting people, but now, people just congregate in cliques on Discord and make it really hard to approach people and make themselves (probably unintentionally) intimidating and difficult to engage with. When I first joined the site, one of the first things I noticed about VH20 was that there was a definite hierarchy among the users – the really popular kids who ran everything, who made graphics, usually, and were the ones who everyone wanted to talk to, some who were almost breaking into that, the lower tier, and then the newbies, who, unless they were equally loud, didn’t get anywhere. It’s challenging, and it kind of faded in and out for a few years but now, there are definitely a group of “faves”, and a lot of people have no interest in hanging out somewhere that feels like a rehash of their own high school cliques.

 

Granted, there’s an argument to be made that sociologically, it will just happen that way. People will become popular, there will naturally be threads that are more read than others because of preferences etc., but if we’re aware of it, we might be able to tackle it? Unfortunately, a lot of the influential members are the faves and the cycle just goes round and round.

 

Most effective are letting people get thrown straight in – they can RP from the get-go, they can get a wand immediately. However, things can be overwhelming and people can be crap, and sometimes timing just sucks – anyone who finds the site at Christmas is out of luck as site traffic looks like it slows down because people are elsewhere. Sorting is a bit of a snag. I love the camaraderie of the sorting class, but I feel like the sorting process itself is long. 4 weeks is a long time, but, as someone who has sorted in the past, I know how much work it is, and I can’t think of a way to be quicker with that. But I do know that people like instant gratification, and sitting with a pre-sort tag, faceless, grey and limited is not appealing to people. How to fix that? Not a clue. Which I know is unhelpful, and I know you’ve probably been told it before, but I want to flag the issue, even if I can’t provide a solution, in case someone smarter than me can. However, I do think a huge positive is that VH does what it says on the tin. In the rules, we’re clear on this being a safe space, and I firmly believe that it is important. I joined VH at a low point. I stayed on VH during a really low point. VH helped me cope with some of my really rough patches… because I could just forget all my crap in the real world and throw myself here and not have to think about it. If that makes me immature? So be it. Fiction and writing, for me, is escapism, and that’s how I will always use it.

 

I am always happy to answer further questions about my VH experience.

 

Is VH perfect? No. It, like every site has its problems in rules, format, features.

Are the mods perfect? No. You’re human, you have real lives that take precedence over VH and that is the way it should be.

Are your users perfect? Far from it. Again, we’re human and we have flaws.

Edited by Lucia Isaacs
Spacing. h8 u googledocs

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