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Creaseworthy

New Member Feedback

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Hamish Lundy

I am going to premise this by saying I have not read everything written in this thread so I might repeat some things that have been said, have horrifically different opinions, or ideas that people have already said won’t work.

 

I’ve joined VH twice. The first time was in 2007 and I was on my own, I started a PHP workbook and had no idea how one was to get involved, it was daunting and completely unfamiliar for me and I left soon after. The second time was in 2014 and I’ve stuck around since. I think the key difference with that was that I knew somebody on VH and had them show me the ropes, add me into chats and generally introduce me to my sorting year who were amazing and very welcoming.

 

I was lucky in the sense that there wasn’t too much of a hierarchy in VH28 and if there was I was pushy and loud enough to not notice it and be welcomed into the fold. A lot of people don’t have that and we need to be aware of it. The hierarchy in year groups is something that still does exist too, I have become disenchanted with writing certain characters because of it. Is this a call out post to these people? Yes. Be aware of yourself in year chats, group threads and be more inclusive of those who aren’t nearly as active as you are. You know what is more important than your post count, ships, accolades and badges? Writing meaningful plots, developing your character and being part of a community of fans who are still passionate about the HP-verse years and years later.

 

Moving on from that: Something that should be done on VH for new members? As soon as we see somebody new posting in PHP we should reach out to them. There are so many facets to this site that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know when to start. Even PHP itself can be hard to navigate (I don’t think it needs to be changed though) for somebody who is entirely new to the community. A lot of people do reach out to new members and that is fantastic. Another thing that could be done is an easy to access and locatable link to VHot that can give a rundown of how VH works, how to meet the community (especially with Discord now being a thing) and key dates like sorting etc..

 

When it comes to recruiting new members and advertising I think it’s something that every member can do. VH moderators just need to set the tone of how they want the site to be viewed, sort of like marketing guidelines. I know we have a tumblr and that is fantastic but there are a lot of RP tumblrs and websites out there that are purely for advertising your RP site.

 

Another thing VH has in comparison to a lot of other RP sites? Longevity. Capitalise on that. Wow I am making VH seem like a business but that is also a good way to make this work, view VH as something you want to grow and sustain like a business. So anyway, the longevity: It was one of the reasons I chose to stick around on VH because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. Yes the landscape changes (which is something we really need to consider refreshing) but ultimately it’s always going to be people who love HP immersing themselves in that verse and building characters.

 

Prior to being on VH I would join a site, plot, build a character and then in four months time that site would die. A lot of other sites (especially on the Jcink platform) come with an expiry date. They don’t have the dedicated staff or membership group that VH has. Honestly a lot of the HP-verse sites aren’t very welcoming either and a tad pretentious. Let’s not be one of them.

 

TRIGGER WARNING: THE NEXT PART OF THIS POST WILL BE DISCUSSING THE RULES AND GUIDELINES AROUND DISABILITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS.

 

Representation matters. Does VH have this currently? No. I understand that people use VH as an escape from the real world but if you’ve actually read the HP books (and I’m assuming most people on this site have several times) you would know that it isn’t all flowers and happiness. I feel like the blanket ban was done many years ago, before my time and before a lot of people had become more educated in these matters. The world as a whole has changed a lot, people are more accepting (the majority are) and VH not acknowledging that mental illness exists seems like they are blatantly excluding a lot of people and I don’t think that is okay, I’ve never thought it was okay but I was just one small voice when I first joined and didn’t want to rock the boat.

 

There was a plot that involved DE’s and a student death a few VH years into my joining. People were severely injured, both physically and mentally, traumatised by what had happened and what they had witnessed and yet because of these guidelines it was basically business as usual at Hogwarts and while there were some changes due to the nature of the plot it wasn’t really student-centric because we weren’t allowed to write those things because it was going against the guidelines.

 

Like Lucia said above, I do understand that fiction and writing is escapism for a lot of people but I also firmly believe that every people should feel represented on a site and VH currently doesn’t do this.

 

This was further reflected in censoring new members. Something that I feel like I know all too well. Many times I’ve been part of open discussions in group chats only to be shut down by an ‘older’ more ‘valued’ member of the VH community. You wanted opinions? So be open to them. Trigger warnings are implemented on many other roleplay sites. If we are to change things here that is something we should do too. Because it’s very simple in the real world and crosses into the roleplay world: If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Nobody is forcing you to or if you do find something extremely offensive talk to that person and if you don’t feel comfortable doing that go to a mod or somebody you trust who will for you.

 

I was going to write an entire spiel about alumni too and how you spend three years building and developing a character only to put them to pasture but I am tired now and need coffee.

 

If anyone wants to talk to me about anything I’ve written here feel free to reach out to me via PM or Discord.

 

And to encourage transparency my characters are: Euphemia Macrae, Elke Pollard and Hamish Lundy.

Edited by Hamish Lundy

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Scrimgeour

Hi everyone. 

 

We, as a moderating team, wanted to make a post to attempt to clear the air in the spirit of being as transparent as possible. 

 

In hindsight (which, as always, is 20/20), hiding all the posts was not the best choice to continue a free and open discussion. And that is why we have been discussing whether there was a better way to handle it since more of the moderating team came online a while after the decision was originally made.

 

When the decision to hide the posts was made, we were not intending to offend anyone. Quite the opposite. We made what we thought was the best choice in a difficult situation. We were balancing the anger and hurt expressed by members regarding Zsuzsanna's comments on creativity versus our mental health and disability policy with our desire to keep this discussion going. The fact that Zsuzsanna's post was so critical complicated matters because we didn't want people to think that's why her post was being hidden. (We do not have a problem with criticism.) Nor did we want to single out Zsuzsanna or put her on the spot publicly. Whenever possible, we aim to handle such matters privately. 

 

There did not seem like any good solution to the problem. So we decided the best thing to do was take all the feedback (ostensibly meant for mod consumption anyway) and make it private. We thought that that way people could continue to express controversial, potentially offensive opinions privately to us. This also left us the option of getting further feedback from other moderators when they came online.

 

Clearly it did not work out like we hoped. We didn't realize that some people would take it quite differently, as an effort to stifle their feedback, or censor our members. Also, it's important to note that when moderators (or sometimes other staff members) ask for feedback on things, the topics and the posts within are usually eventually moved to a different forum not visible to normal members. Therefore, when the decision was made to hide the posts, it also was seen as an action that would likely have eventually been made anyway, after the discussion was concluded. However, since we still wanted the discussion to continue, we felt it would be better to hide the posts and attempt to refocus. Posts on VH are rarely ever actually deleted, even for reported content. They are most often hidden or moved somewhere out of the public's eye. The moderators value the time put into these posts and would not delete something so that it couldn't be restored.

 

Regardless, we inadvertently hurt people by hiding the posts, which we certainly regret. Most of the moderators are RL adults (though not all site members are adults, we have members as young as 13) which means we have jobs and distractions that keep us from responding immediately. We do try our best to respond to reports as soon as possible when we are taking action. For example - Undercliffe made a post explaining that offensive material had been posted and attempted to foster a positive exchange at the same time that the posts were hidden. We did what we thought was best at the time, not really understanding how it might come off to other members. We are only human, and we can only try to improve. 

 

Some final notes: 

 

We strongly disagree that people offended by a member's actions should speak to that member directly. Not everyone is expected to feel comfortable with that level of confrontation. If you are, great. If not, that is why the report button exists. 

 

Also we want to make it absolutely clear that, although we eventually decided to keep the posts visible, we felt the reports and complaints made about certain posts were perfectly valid. We don't want anyone to think they were not heard. 

 

We'll be stepping back out of this conversation now. If you have any further concerns, please PM the moderating team. Further feedback (on topic, please) is wholeheartedly welcomed from anyone and everyone. Thank you to those who have already begun continuing the conversation.

 

Sincerely,

Scrimgeour, Weasley, Snape, Fronsac, Gagwilde, Creaseworthy, Egg, Vulpus, Burke, and Undercliffe

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Clayton Stagg

All opinions below are what seem to be overwhelming in many of the chats I quietly stalk. I also just want to remind many members that moderators are all individuals who have their own opinions and personalities. Please do not see them as one entity.

 

In some chats I would hear: "Well a lot of unnamed people have expressed to me that..." I think they were mislead by a bunch of fake outrage that may have been exaggerated. If you strongly disagree with something please be sure your opinion is heard. Plenty of members will gladly lend you a hand and offer to listen then express your concerns discreetly from their accounts. People are just trying to understand both sides and having people be told "lots of people disagree with you" isn't helping. It isn't explained why or what the other side's view is and can very well just be made up. Expressing your ideas is very important and we want to hear them as a whole.

  1. People seem to agree the average age of VH has been increasing over the years. In order to make people stay long term we want to try and pin-point who the most active users are and try to build a community that meshes with them in the future. I do think gathering some demographics is important to know VH's target audience. I have created a poll LOCATED HERE getting general age ranges of VHers, and I would appreciate anyone putting in a vote so we have a more clear image.
  2. I know many students talk very often about how you must be 13 to join the site. Many wish we could bump the rules to be a bit more PG-13 as oppose to so PG. I think that is a rather big turn off for many of the communities I come from and would like to recruit remembers from. One of my friends had said: "Eh. It seems a little childish. Not sure if you can bet on me sticking around but I'll give it a try." They decided not to stick around, failure to express more colourful language being the main issue for them that made them not even want to try the site or develop their character more.
  3. TRIGGER WARNING: THE NEXT PART OF THIS POST WILL BE DISCUSSING THE RULES AND GUIDELINES AROUND DISABILITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS.
    I think a discussion may be worth having on altering/adapting a few rules, or adding a component students feel they are missing. In one of the chats someone even mentioned magical disabilities. While I do understand not wanting students to create characters who have issues that make them disconnected from reality or have heavy social/behavioral problems, I am impressed by the idea of perhaps modeling a few magical issues that effect people physically/magically/mentally off real disorders that do have a place in this setting. It can add depth and struggles people face every day in their real lives, all while being sure no real disorders are made a joke of. I think if people could apply for special unique traits like that it may be one more thing they are active and driven to contribute to the content of the site. There were a lot of extremes being thrown around in the chats where most people were overwhelmingly in support of more freedom, but I do think there is a middle ground where everyone isn't given a chaotic freedom that would heavily change everything over night. I would push we come back and address the maturity of VH in the future if our site is overwhelmingly used by a more mature audience depending on the demographics we collect. 

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Alayna Weasley

Before I start, I would like mention something that I feel is important to bring up. There is a difference between trauma and a disability. Trauma is what you go through after facing a terrible situation- like a death eater attack. A kid could react to being afraid and fearful after enduring a death eater attack, but a disability is a completely different can of worms. It’s caused by some internal factor, some part of your body going haywire, a chemical imbalance in your brain or whatever else, and that a person can’t control even if they wanted to. I have anxiety. I’ve had it since I was a kid. I used to make myself physically ill because I didn’t know how to regain control of the stupid voices in my head. It wasn’t until I started writing that I was really able to start doing that- VH in a lot of ways is a way for me to get away from those voices for a little while. I can pull out of my own head and go into the head of another.

 

If you want to play along with a magical illness or whatever? Go at it. Have fun! Be creative! But I would prefer for people not to bring a real condition into VH simply to make their character more ‘unique’. I think that’s disrespectful to people who have to manage those disabilities and conditions every day and is inappropriate.

 

That said, I do agree that upping the rating on VH to PG13 might help people feel not so restricted? And that could help in bringing new members in and keeping them here. If there is a concern of people trying to extend beyond a limit that you mods are comfortable with, you can always lay out those specific things in the rules. Like no member of VH can RP their character getting drunk, doing drugs, having sex, etc. I also personally think that the word filter goes a bit to the extreme sometimes, especially when some words even used in the HP books are filtered out? Of course, things that are VERY highly offensive should get blocked. But I think it goes a bit too far into the extreme sometimes- even if there are thirteen year old kids here, I’m sure they hear worse walking down the hallways. I work at elementary schools and I hear worse walking down the hallways.

 

 

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Isobel Blake

TRIGGER WARNING: THE NEXT PART OF THIS POST WILL BE DISCUSSING THE RULES AND GUIDELINES AROUND DISABILITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS.
 

I am planning on making a longer post, but I would like to respond to Alayna briefly.

 

Quote

But I would prefer for people not to bring a real condition into VH simply to make their character more ‘unique’. I think that’s disrespectful to people who have to manage those disabilities and conditions every day and is inappropriate.

 

The problem with that assumption is that it forgets that there are many members of the VH community with disabilities -- and not every VHer with a disability or mental illness feels the same way. I think a lot of us would appreciate all relevant opinions being heard and respected, not just the ones who complain the loudest or are closest friends with the mods, because honestly, sometimes it feels that way. That's why an appeal for discussion was made. 

 

spoke with a lot of people in the VH36 discord today, and I'm going to rehash a few of the opinions and arguments I both heard and have as my own. For many, it is disrespectful to imply that people with disabilities or mental illness do not exist in the world of Harry Potter; that they are not welcome on VH; that they are not allowed to write characters that reflect themselves; that their disability is not "PG". 

 

To them, it is is disrespectful that they are not allowed their own experiences. Not everyone with a disability wants to use VH as an escape from reality -- some want to be able to see themselves in their character. And that is simply a difference in opinion, one that I respect. I don't think or expect everyone should feel the same was as me or the people I've spoken with. 

 

However: one of the reasons this topic has been brought up in the "new member discussion" is that there are potential new members to VH who are turned away because they feel disrespected and ignored. They feel as though they are not wanted on VH. Perhaps that wasn't made clear before, because I know some people feel as if this is off-topic, but we are talking about how to feel welcoming as a community -- and if people are made to feel unwelcome because of this rule, that should certainly be something we are allowed to at least discuss. It's may not be an easy conversation, but I do think it's important.

 

I don't think there's a simple solution or one that everyone will agree with. I do think people should be allowed to voice their opinions, however.

 

People want to feel like they're being heard. To write off any polite recommendation of a discussion as "offensive material" is, frankly, offensive to me and many others.

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Hamish Lundy
Quote

 There is a difference between trauma and a disability.

 

Just wanting to respond to what Alayna said:

 

Yes, I acknowledge this but mental illness can sometimes stem from a trauma you have experienced. Given the nature of the rules/guidelines on VH mental illness falls under that disability umbrella. I myself have anxiety due to a traumatic experience I went through when I was younger and have my own triggers. I do what I can to avoid them. My point is that we aren't allowed to write about those mental illnesses because they fall under that disability guideline/rule. 

 

If you don't want to write about it you don't have to, you also don't have to read other people writing about.  A lot of people that are old members and new members would like for the representation to be considered.

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Casper Burridge

First off, before I go into a long rant over things, I just want to say I would love to see the site go from a PG rating to PG-13. It opens up a bit more opportunity for growth. Also, I would love if the word "pri ck" (without the space obviously) would be uncensored. I would love to use "they pri cked their finger" and not have it turn into a bunch of pound signs.

 

TRIGGER WARNING: THE NEXT PART OF THIS POST WILL BE DISCUSSING THE RULES AND GUIDELINES AROUND DISABILITY AND MENTAL ILLNESS.

 

The disability and mental illness rule is something that needs feedback on and something that needs to be discussed with an open conversation. Representation is important and having a more open discussion can create a less stigmatizing environment that disabilities (both mental and physical) are seen as some big bad that can't be touched. While I can see that it's done for members who do not want to see/read/deal with this, it definitely excludes members of the VH community who wish to write about it. I'm only going to talk about mental illness because that's what I have experience with. 

 

While I can understand that some members of this community wouldn't want to read about certain illnesses/disabilities, I do believe that there are a lot of people in this community that want to have the freedom to write about it. I think a good way of going about this is to give the option of your character displaying mental illness is if you have to deal with it in real life. For example, if someone deals with depression, then they should be allowed to have their character also deal with depression. And I think the same courtesy could also be extended to physical disabilities as well. Sometimes writing about what you're dealing with in a character can help you deal or understand with what you're experiencing in real life. Writing can be and is cathartic to people. If the disabilities and mental illness rule is extended to be more open, then I think the use of tags for threads should be added with trigger warnings, and that there should be a universal list of what to tag certain things. That way, members who do not wish to read threads that contain certain trigger warnings will not have to. There are many ways to go around members who do not wish to deal with these kinds of things. 

 

As the site grows older and those who have been on VH stay here longer and longer, at some point in time, people are going to want change. It's natural and bound to happen at some point. 

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Weasley

A reminder that I asked for no further discussion about the topic of our mental health and disabilities policy. We've allowed it to continue for a while to let people say what they felt they had to say, but now I ask you again to cut it out.

 

You've made your points. We are continuing to receive reports and PMs from people upset by this discussion.

 

It's only tangentially pertinent to the topic at hand - New Member Feedback - and as far as it is, I'm sorry but it is not a step we're willing to take to attract new members.

 

This is a very fraught, divisive and emotional topic. I assure you that we've had these conversations before - at length and repeatedly - and heard all these arguments before. Not only in the far past. The mods argued many of these same points amongst ourselves not long ago. Even again today.

 

I honestly believe that both sides have had good points and valid opinions, but we chose the current policy and we are sticking with it.

There are many places online where people are free to roleplay these subjects. VH is not going to be one of them.

 

If people are interested in continuing to provide feedback and ideas unrelated to that policy, please do. But if members continue to ignore my request, we'll sadly have to close the topic.

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Professor James

I hardly remember being new, but what I do remember is feeling intimidated by people I perceived to be better writers than me, people who were cooler than me. I remember feeling intimidated by chatters who were abrasive and yelled their opinions the loudest, feeling bullied into submission by anyone I considered in a higher level of status than me.  I rarely rp outside my sorting year because I am actively frightened by the judgment of others (I can’t even post this on my student). 

 

Joining a new year chat when I want to sort again now is really hard for me (even still). 

 

If php had existed when I was new, I would have liked a guide of various role playing examples: ie it’s ok to have one liner threads it’s ok to write as much or as little as you are comfortable with etc.

 

Because most of what I have read and observed and experienced is that problems with new members and joining a community are largely internal and differ greatly for everyone. So just having the most amount of resources and in varying formats so that something might click for someone is my recommendation/feedback. 

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Rowan Allard

I remember being new like it was yesterday - because it practically was yesterday. In VH years I'm still a baby who has literally zero idea what they are doing and I am still worried that something I post might be seen as against the rules and I'll end up banned (or worse: expelled!). That being said, allow me to wax poetic about my time here so far. 

 

People here are genuinely so welcoming and kind. I had a ton of fear coming into a site that was so well established; I was positive that I would find no one to talk to/thread with. My fear of being some weird outcast was put to rest rather quickly as people welcomed me wholeheartedly. I was honestly shocked at the reception, and I am so so thankful for it. 

 

That being said, I can echo James' statement of being intimidated by people here - people who are better writers, well known, faster posters, etc. I was intimidated by some of the people that I consider really good friends; heck, I was intimidated by James herself ! The openness and acceptance from people on this site was amazing, and eventually helped me to get over some of my genuine fear of being inferior. Not all of it, of course, but some. 

 

Also, allow me to say that PHP was one of the genuinely best things as a new member. It gave me a place to stretch my legs on the board as well as helped me to find my pace when it came to writing for VH. I know a lot of veteran users seem to think it's not important/they don't want to do it. But as a new member, the people who willingly replied to my ridiculous open threads in Crystal Fountain Park are the reason I stuck around. 

 

Honestly, I know that retaining new people is hard; I just wanted to add my two cents here to say that i could have very easily been one of those here one day, gone the next members. Had it not been for the kindness shown to me by literally everyone from other new members to mods. I came for the plot and stayed for the people - VH has a lot of interesting concepts and unique aspects, but the best aspect of this site is always going to be the users.

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Ann Kadel

To add to my previous post, as I’ve had some time to do a bit of reflection:

 

As humans, we are rather odd in the sense that there’s a lot of innate competitiveness.  We, as a species, constantly seek to determine whether we are “good enough”.  And we compare other peoples’ outcomes against our own, using it as a benchmark to evaluate ‘success’.  

 

The staff on VH work extraordinarily hard to try and ensure a safe and fair environment.  Of course ‘fair’ is subjective to perception.  And in many ways, VH tries to minimise the exclusion that people might feel around these comparisons - e.g. lessons are graded by attendance and not ‘quality of written work’, quidditch and duelling are hinged on sets of rules with officiators who aim to keep game play as fair as possible.  Many of the events are participation/effort-based, as opposed to being contingent on subjective ‘quality’, because in many ways, VH perpetuates the idea that each and every individual is good enough.  

 

That is the real beauty about VH - that we do not judge people based on their lives, that the systems, aims to reduce inequalities, and that everyone can start on an even footing.  We, as a community, have contributed to the construction of this wonderful ideology.  It’s important to note that the system is not perfect - it’s subject to human factors, just like everything else in the world.  Despite this, VH has taken the idea that every individual adds value, and transformed this into a system where we are not judged by our real life circumstances.  But with such systems in place, it’s easy to overlook the efforts of individuals.  It’s easy for simple gestures to be devalued, and for people to get lost in the crowd.  

 

What we need, is a change in mindset from VHers as a collective- that every single member does add something to the site, despite all of our differences.  We all need to realise/acknowledge that every single gesture (no matter how big or small) adds value to the site, and to someone, and not to be discouraged by the efforts of other people/groups.  VH has a lot of really hardworking people, implementing a variety of initiatives to cater to a wide range of demographics.  Like any system, there are gaps because we’re all different.  As members, we should aim to look at these gaps, recognise them for potential for individuals to take initiative and be a human being, instead of assuming that someone else/ the system will cover it.  It’s amazing the impact that one little PM, or one little message on IM platform, or even joining an open RP of someone whom you don’t usually interact with, can have on helping people to feel included. 

 

Because, the truth is, you are all fabulous, and have made a difference in someone’s life through VH interactions.  

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Killian Dracel

I've been on VH since VH2, and sorted in VH3. That's a really long time, and VH has seen me at my best, and at my worst. Fact of life. What drew me to VH was the fact that it was part of HPFF. I just happened to click on it, and never left.

 

One of the reasons why I never left is because VH had, at the time, a live chatroom that was (for the most part) completely in character. I absolutely loved having live RPs in chat like that, and I really miss it. It was a way that we could do something that was as in character as we wanted (or not wanted, as the case sometimes was) and it wasn't permanent on the site. You could copy and paste it for yourself if you wanted a record of the RP, though, which was cool. And, you couldn't control what happened in there as people came and went as their availability dictated. But it was all IC, and it was awesome. It made me feel like I was my character, and not just typing out a story OF a character. (Does that make sense?) I would love to have that chat back again, with the guidelines that it is actually a live IN CHARACTER thing.  I know we brought the chat back a while ago, but I don't think it was the same.

 

The live chat is really what made this a community for me. I know we have discord, but to me it just isn't the same as the chat that was on VH years ago. It had all the common rooms and the Great Hall, and it was a fantastic place to make friends (or in character enemies). Back in the day, I'd be RPing with someone in that chat, AND talking to them on MSN in another window.

 

It also kind of allowed for those RPs where some students snuck into other common rooms. LOL. Fun times.

 

After I had made that initial connection with people in that chat, though, I stayed. I made lifelong friends, and because of them, I'll never leave VH and will continue to welcome new people as they come. <3

 

--------------

 

I've also been thinking about this, and I am sure the mods have in some way or another, but have we considered doing advertisements? I know they cost money, but as VH takes dontations for keeping the site running, is it possible to take donations to run some ads all over the place?

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Lucius Cronus

I first found this site in 2002. I'd never RPed before. I didn't even like writing, but I liked the Harry Potter series. I didn't read any of the rules, registered with my real name, made a graphic that I thought was bomb af with the photo manipulation program that came with my mom's scanner, and immediately plopped myself down into RPing. For about a weekend. Then I left. I don't know why I left that time. Maybe I saw a squirrel. 


I came back about a year later with more of an attention span but still no writing talent. 


Unfortunately, it's incredibly hard for me to remember exactly what it was like as a new member to VH, and of course VH was basically an entirely different site back then so even if I did remember it wouldn't be helpful information now (bring back the Unsorted table!). Sometimes I wish I could discover it for the first time again, to see what new members see and discover things like I did before. Sometimes I feel like pulling a rando off the street, shoving the site in their face and asking, "Whatcha think?" And then just studying them for hours.


The main reason I've gone on long breaks from VH is RL, that horrible thing. I have somehow (thankfully) avoided the not-so-great things that have caused others to leave - I don't know how I did it, but I would like a pin that says 'drama free since 2003' to celebrate my accomplishments - but of course it's important to remember that any group of humans that spends any extended amount of time with one another is going to have its share of disagreements. 


I started writing on this site when I was 17 years old and I've always told myself that I will quit when it is no longer fun for me. When it's no longer a hobby, when it becomes a chore. And, yes, there are times VH has felt like a chore, and I have taken my break and returned when I was ready. And VH was always there. In the 15 or so years I've been a part of this community, I have graduated, uh... three characters? So maybe I haven't been a new member for a while, but I have been a less active returning member more times than I should probably admit.


And let me tell you, coming back is hard. It's seriously HARD. Things change so quickly, people come and go, and time flies. But it's worth it because of the people. The best time to come back to VH is around sorting time because it's like a fresh start and everyone is in the frame of mind of meeting new people and being welcoming and happy and sticking sorting hats on their heads and preparing their liquor cabinets. Sorting time is the best. If you try to come back mid-year, it can be like being the last puppy to he food bowl, searching for scraps of RPs. Sometimes I wonder why it's so difficult to keep the momentum from sorting week going. We should find a way to spread that energy year round. 


I remember coming back after my longest break. It was around 2007 and all of my old VH friends had new VH friends and I didn't know anyone else so I forced myself in with them like the obnoxious person I am. But I never quite felt the connection because I was still this sort of... outsider, in a way. I hadn't sorted with them, I hadn't been around in forever, VH had changed a ton and grown without me and I felt like I was just trying to be on VH because it was VH at that point, trying to capture this old feeling. So I left again after about third year, I think. 


But, again, I came back. And I stuck around long enough to meet new amazing people, reconnect with old friends, and sort, fall in love with, and graduate another character. The key is people. People, people, people.


And honestly, coming back is getting easier and easier. I think VH has a lot of great ways to connect with people now more than ever before, between Discord and VHOT and PHP (which I agree could use a bit of work) and mentoring and such. I am especially happy that we have a VH server on Discord because I think it's a simple and effective way for students, staff, and administration alike to communicate with each other. If we keep expanding on our ability to communicate and find a place for everyone from the beginning, we'll be well on our way to attracting and retaining new members as well as those returning. I agree with Professor James that more resources would be a tremendous help, as well as maybe contact information for anyone willing to help get new members nestled into our community. 


One very important point that I want to make for new members especially is that, like any hobby, VH is what you make of it, not what the rules outline. Some people see the site and say "no thanks, not for me" and that is completely okay. We all have our preferences obviously, our own opinions on how things should run, and our rules aren't the same as the next site's or the next. But if you spend time on VH and really learn about the community and the system, grow with it, and embrace the creative ways you can write the kind of character you want to write, you'll be surprised at what unique possibilities do come out of it. Spend time with the awesome members and the caring staff, challenge yourself to meet new people and explore new ideas. I'm STILL discovering fun aspects of VH that I'd never tried before (quidditch? homework? who knew?). 


And never be afraid to reach out to anyone. The people here to help you can't help you unless they know what you need or want to try, so don't be afraid to speak up. We're all human, even if some of us seem scary (lookin' at you, James). Overall, we're all here for the same reason. I can only speak for myself, but I would be more than willing to talk with anyone who needs advice or has questions about how things on VH work and I'm sure other members would too. I have not met one person on this site who isn't completely devoted to its success and creating an environment for everyone to enjoy.


Hit me up Luke#2287

Edited by Lucius Cronus

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Tobias Winchester

I've been on vh on and off for a.. long time..  but realistically, Toby was my first return to vh in about 7 vh years, and the last char I had before him that I was serious about was pretty low on activity by the end of their time.

 

So, as a kinda new member as Toby, what made me want to stay? Big up vh31. (Oh and my bro @Silas Harding-Clarke who sorted with me.)

 

I was in the group chat and actually feeling daunted because there were a lot of people who knew each other already, characters had plots, people had friendships and then @Irene Redgrave said something to me and I messaged her and it was like EVERYTHING CLICKED (I have never told her this, the shame.) From that point on, vh31 became my key sticking point.

 

Now, I'm totally aware that for some people,  vh31 has not been the same experience for them, and that's cool. I have another student on vh right now in a year that's been mentioned several times as open and inclusive, and I honestly do not feel that way in this year. And that's not to say they aren't friendly - or that vh31 isn't friendly - it's that certain people bond better with certain year groups. It's like RL: I enjoyed my class at primary school, I hated my form in secondary school, I loved my class at college, yeah? Everyone's different, different personalities and things blend and meld.

 

But I feel like if you don't fit in your year... it can be an awfully long slog for seven years to get through. That's why retention in the first few years is a problem, I think.. you're giving up like, 3 RL years of your life to get through to graduation, and you want to enjoy every moment. The solution? Sort in another year, but that means waiting another 3 months rping pre-sort and trying again and some people don't want to do that.

 

I dunno how to fix that, but I wanted to say that, as a kinda new member, finding the right year group really made me stay.

 

Maybe opening up vh to allow year groups to form earlier by letting people rp younger, would make it easier to find the year for you? idk

 

OK I GOT TWO MORE THINGS

- quidditch. My last serious char before Toby was a quidder, and I didn't actually bond with their year group. I didn't need to bond with their year group, however, because I had my quid family. I think quite a few people substitute their year family if they don't quite fit with their quid family, which is why it BREAKS MY HEART that I cannot play quid properly. I've returned to vh as a certified adult with a job. I can't use my phone or a computer at my job, so I have a very narrow window when I am actually around and available to play, and this means I have a slim chance of ever playing quid, and therefore a slim chance of finding a quid family and it makes me SO SAD some of my favourite past vh memories are quid ones. Ive also noticed that it is getting harder for teams to find enough players so maybe this isn't just my own issue, and maybe we could look into changing quid to make it more inclusive and open? I know it's one of our biggest selling points for new members.

- duelling is great for this because new members can access, get mentors, go in at their level, meet others, etc. PHP could maybe take some pointers from it?

- site stuff. Look ok I went back and forth on posting this but in the interest of transparency, I'm gonna be honest. People are always going to feel left out due to the hierarchy of vh with mods and site staff. If new people are coming to vh for rping, it kind of sucks for them that they can't do site wide plots, that there is a designated mod and group of character rpers doing all the fun stuff. I know there is time to apply but these are few and far between (how many vh years ago was the last?) and it starts to feel a little unfair because the mindset always becomes 'only these people are involved' and 'you have to be an amazingly rper ' and I think that's a turn off for new members. What if they come to vh with amazing plot ideas?? Also, I'm sorry, it it sucks to be a student and your only option is to be tortured by a DE.  

 

Someone said earlier in this thread that that there should be more site wide plots, and I agree. I think people should be able to submit ideas, one is chosen, the mods do a quick set of apps to get people to rp it out, then everyone is retired and the process starts again. This means that every time there's a new plot new people get to be involved and it's not the same characters/people all the time. People can apply then if a plot is relevant to their alumni, or maybe their character's parents would be involved, or a shop keeper or creature or something. Or we could have student-driven plots. I think a mod stamp of approval is needed to bring authenticity to it, and also to then utilise things like the wwn and daily prophet, and also mods can work behind the scenes to get the right staff involve doing  a student plot if needed.

 

Also yes, yes, I know people can submit plots to the mods, but it really sucks to submit one and see someone else rping it out, or get no say in it, or watch as elements from your idea are taken and used and there's no credit to you for it? What I mean is like, if a new person or whoever submits a plot, they are in charge of seeing it through, and the mods are there to oversee, so they hire characters if needed, tag people. check the plot is vh-appropriate, etc.

 

I just think it's be super cool as a selling point to new members to say that in your first year you could be in charge of a site-wide plot >.> idk and not have to wait forever for some apps at some point

 

 

OK THAT'S IT

 

(oh and one more vote for pg-13 here if members have to be 13 anyway.)

 

(oh and a side note to add Luke, he is the MOST chill and I once thought he was evil.)

 

omg typing on an iPad sucks so many edits

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Rosie Roux

I’d been on VH before what I consider my ~official~ VH joining date, my writing style back then was like two lines in vividly coloured pink comic sans and then dropping off the face of the earth after first term. It was Bad. And then, after not being here for a couple of years, I stumbled across the site again and decided to give it a proper shot. So I sorted Theo in VH24, and what really helped me stick around then was the initial group of friends I made (Bronte, Duchess, Darcy… who all went inactive and BROKE MY HEART) who really got me involved in plots and actually inspired me to use AIM which further broadened the circle of people I spoke to. VH can be a really lonely place if you don’t have at least one person you can talk with, so for new members I think reaching out to them and highlighting how we use discord to communicate would be really helpful at keeping them on board. And if we see new members, PM them the yearsite because we obviously don’t link to them on this board itself so unless you know people in the year it’s kinda hard to find (and newbies obviously don’t yet have the knowledge year sites even exist let alone how to go about getting to one.)

 

Because I was young when I first joined VH, I remember just being intimidated by everyone and I was desperate to make friends but was too worried about making myself look like an idiot. Everyone seemed to understand everything and I didn’t want to look like a fool and ask an obvious question, I felt bad roleplaying with people because my writing wasn’t as good as theirs… I wasn’t very comfortable in year chats until Theo reached like… fifth or sixth year. Young me was very lucky individual people were either very welcoming and reached out or picked up on the fact I was always internally freaking out. So, on reflection, maybe welcoming new members with PMs is a good idea and something I know I’ll certainly look into doing.

 

PHP for me isn’t something I really do simply because I know how the site works and I do the majority of my initial character development like a year before actually sorting them so I feel like the material isn’t necessarily useful for me on either level it operates on. It is, however, a great resource for new members and I feel like more activities/games/roleplays there would really help both old and new sorters interact before sorting which would also help keep people here.

 

I do make the workbook for the lazy daisy certificate though aaah.

 

I echo what Jenna said about how having something about writing styles would be cool. When I first joined I remember writing in my style at the time and got called out in the thread itself that if I wanted to continue writing with this person I’d have to write more because I wasn’t giving her material. As a newcomer that was absolutely horrendous and part of what turned me off the site for a long while. So really, it’s just general awareness that not everyone can or wants to write paragraph upon paragraph, people might not be as ‘strong’ as other writers… but shunning them for it helps no one? Be open to all different roleplayers! And I get people will come to disagreements because VH is a board full of people from all walks of life, but when Theo got Head Boy some downright horrible stuff got back to me (RE people thinking I shouldn’t have gotten the badge and making their opinions pretty clear) and I was rather absent from Theo’s seventh year because of it. He was my first character and I was still young so I didn’t know how to handle it (generally be more aware of the fact people might not be as confident as you? Especially newer members and especially especially young members.) It’s easy to take this site very seriously but there’s a difference between venting about a frustration to someone and taking your anger to another forum and being malicious about it (I know I’m not the only one who encountered this.)   

 

Despite that chunk of pity, since sorting Theo, I haven’t really left VH. There’s been times where I’ve poofed but only for a couple of weeks. This site has been here for me throughout all my educational milestones (I’m still friends with people who were giving me GCSE advice and now we’re telling each other university gossip) and many personal ones – I genuinely can’t see myself not being on here? As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more confident with throwing myself into the site – Ollie’s my first proper duelist and my first quidder and also the character I’m actually active in group chats on (propz 2 vh34) – and I’m aware I’m lucky to have been given the opportunities I have on here.

 

I like Toby’s idea of opening up the board so younger characters can roleplay, especially as the site isn’t as busy as it used to be. It might also help keep inactive levels down because older members can get a greater sense for their character and either gel with writing them or drop them and try again. And increasing advertising the site around sorting could be beneficial if we wanted to throw some donations towards that.

 

To lovingly steal from Toby’s post some more, I remember a couple of VH years ago now there were apps for students to apply to be a part of the team to help think of plots for the site or something along those lines. I remember filling out the form in a rush, because I adore coming up with huge plots, but I reached the end point and it was asking for an example of a plot I’d introduce and I blanked and never submitted the form. The beauty of VH is that it is a community effort, you can bounce ideas off one and other and work together to see them come into fruition. And I’m with Toby, DE plots are fun and TWT (if you’re in it) is such a great opportunity but I think we need to look beyond them and think of something else. Let the DE’s have external plots from the students – what are they up to these days, you know? Have the implications of these plots impact the sway of the board. In the books, you’d read about increased DE/dark activity across Europe so letting them explore that through their characters would be interesting and not just have them attack Hogwarts because I mean, it’s so common it’s a meme on CAH because it’s not like Harry Potter is here to motivate them into attacking students, you know? This applies to aurors and other adult characters too. Virtual Hogwarts is obviously going to have emphasis on Hogwarts, but more far spread roleplays would still impact the school.

 

I also like having people be in charge for plots if that is a feasible scenario.

 

Sorry this is long xoxo

(in the spirit of being more open, hit me up on discord ollie celeste#7151)

And add me to the list of people who can't believe Toby would write all of that from an iPad
 

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Addison Toft

I spent like 40 minutes writing a post, and then trashed it because Luke said everything I wanted to say. People come to VH because they like Harry Potter, or they want to write a story of a young witch/wizard growing up. People stay on VH generally because of the people they meet. If they don't connect with someone, then VH becomes a lot less attractive, and then it's easier for them to set it down and not look back. The friendships you make on VH are really what keep things going.

 

Unfortunately, you can't force those friendships. It comes down to people having the initiative to put themselves out there, but it's also a bit of luck too. The best thing we can do for new members, IMO, is create as many opportunities as possible for new members to fall into a social circle that fits them, and helps them feel like they genuinely belong. Expand PHP, create a PHP discord channel, set up a sitewide mentoring group, etc.

 

People have mentioned VH is very welcoming, and while I'm not going to say that's wrong, I think eventually VH kind of... closes up? It's easy to be open at the start of a new sorting class, because everyone's character is new and people want to build bridges for their characters, but eventually circles begin to settle, and if you don't find yourself in one, it can be really difficult to feel like anybody cares about/is interested in you. As someone who doesn't always feel comfortable in mass chats, things like the AIM/Discord settings don't really help that either, because sometimes people are talking about things you don't really feel you can contribute towards? And even if people invite you to do stuff with them, it's still hard to not feel like... "Sure we can do this thread together, but I'm not your first choice" (whether or not that's true). It gets even worse when you feel like there are people out there in varying stations of authority/status/popularity who are against you (again, whether or not it's true in reality).

 

I was lucky to have found people I felt comfortable with, and have created what I know will be lifelong friendships with, on Addison, but I haven't always been that fortunate with past characters, and those characters died to inactivity.

 

All this is to say I agree with Luke's post (y)

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Kelly Ashcroft

Just a full disclaimer: I have read a lot of people’s posts but not everything. I’m fully aware that I may be repeating people, but HEY! Repetition shows unity. <3 <3 <3

 

Let's talk about me first, because I love talking about me! I joined VH in 2014 with Kelly. I had a couple previous accounts in 2012ish but I consider 2014 when I officially joined because that was when I wholly got immersed in the site as a whole and when I first committed to a character for seven years. I’m not technically a new member, but I know that compared to a lot of people on VH, I am. I was brought here by a friend of mine IRL who loved the website solely for quidditch, and ironically, that was the last thing on my mind when I joined.

 

First off, there is no denying that since the time the site started, we are older as a community. Do I think this means that the rating should go up to PG-13? Yes. Do I understand the potential downfalls of a rating change? Also, yes. I understand that mods may worry people can take advantage of this, however, I have full confidence in the mods and members to ensure this doesn't happen, especially if ground rules are established. I know this is a trite subject, but I think it's time that it's not cast aside and given actual consideration.

 

Lately, the reason I stay is AIM/discord and the friends I’ve made. I've never been a person who is super active in year-chats and part of a "clique," however, smaller chats have kept me going. However, I would like to add my input as one of the few people who rarely used any messenger service yet roleplayed actively when I first started on VH. A big part of why I evidently stuck around was how nice and embracing certain members of the community were to me through PM (full disclosure: this is not everyone's experience these days but I am encouraging it to happen MORE. If you feel something nice about someone, TELL THEM). Everyone, EVERYONE likes to feel noticed.

 

When I was a new roleplayer and an insecure, struggling writer, it did not take long at all for people on VH to message me and tell me they loved my writing/character and wanted to roleplay with me. Compliments from people like @Ryan Fowler, @Draculous Knightly, and @Voldric Tagnikzur -- people I hardly knew at the time, yet went out of their ways to reach out to me -- increased my self-confidence to an extreme degree and even though a lot of my involvement was my ultimately my own efforts, these motivated me. Writing is ultimately for yourself, but hearing from other people that they like writing with you/like your roleplays and your characters is EXTREMELY uplifting. There is a lot to say about complimenting people, and I don't mean this directed at mods: I mean to direct this at every single member. Many people do not realize how much a simple message can impact people and really make their days. 

 

So this is basically just an encouragement/URGE: I go out of my way to read up on new characters and really figure out individual characters/ask people questions and compliment people I admire because of how much it helped me and my initial immersion. You should too.

 

On another note, I agree with a lot of the things said above and I'm probably not going to add much (LOL SORRY I JUST LIKE FEELING INVOLVED), but I'm just emphasizing my support on a few subjects:

 

1.       I would also love if there was more opportunities for us, as members, to get involved in site-wide plots (I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING TOBY/ROSIE SAID). I know it’s easy to apply and get rejected by the powers that be, or to suggest an idea and not be granted personal involvement, but I think that as a whole, people underestimate how many plain old members would be willing to put in a lot of work for these things.

 

2.       Cliques are indeed a big thing I’ve experienced. Some people only roleplay with the same few people and there's not much to do to stop that as it is their decision, however, there are a lot of people willing to branch out of you don't let yourself get intimidated. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of people very embracing and to feel like I’ve fit in with each year-chat, but I know a lot of people don’t feel this way and I completely understand why. I'm having a hard time thinking of possible fixes for this issue, but I think some people are unaware of how cliquey they are. An increase in awareness and an overall urge to branch out would be good, as well as (refer to point #1) - more opportunities for side-wide involvement so people don't need to meet people in order to first get involved.

 

3.       GIVE US MORE ALUMNI STUFF. I actually have no idea what to do with Kelly unless I go and marry her off at the tender age of 19? I want to roleplay with her so badly, but what do I do? Yes, I KNOW THAT VH FOCUSES ON STUDENTS. I love this about VH – I love that we can create characters from a young age and develop them from there. This does not mean there can't be more opportunities for alumni and adult roles. I do not think this would take away from students. I actually feel like it could help with student characters because from what I’ve seen, once students get to seventh year they are less active which has a lot to do with.. I want to say, nothing to look forward to? I felt like I was one of the few people active in my seventh year on VH29 and that was sad. Basically, I think it’s very possible to continue the student-based site while adding more stuff for alumni, and not just dueling, because not everyone is interested in dueling.

 

Anyway, thank you VH for everything you've added to my life, thank you to the awesome people I've met, and cheers to its continued success.

 

<3 Kelly/alts.

 

(P.S: to add to the open spirit like my hero Rosie, hit me up on discord, grayden | kelly | axel#3076)

Edited by Kelly Ashcroft
i typo

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Margaret Schoenberger

Like many people said and to specifically follow up on Damaris's point, year chats have really helped me out. I made Briar in VH31 after returning from a pretty long break and I didn't know anyone because my old friends had left. I felt super lost but luckily, @Addison Toft (who I hope knows I care a lot about <333) PMed me and joined my open thread and from there, I joined the VH31 year chat. The chat helped me make friends, etc. and even though ultimately my interest in Briar faded quickly due to schoolwork, it sort of set up VH again for me.

 

When I made Margaret for VH34, I already knew that there were year chats thanks to VH31 so I was able to quickly befriend a lot of people in the year and join in threads, which helped with my activity levels in general. And now I feel most years have these year chats, even years that are far from being sorted now, and it really helps people develop their characters, make friends, and ultimately help people stay active. I have a presort in VH37 and the year chat is already so lively and wonderful, and there are a number of brand new VHers I've had the pleasure of meeting that way! I am really shy and oftentimes scared to PM or message people one-on-one, so having a year chat makes it a lot easier to talk to a ton of people, including new members. I'm sure it's the same way for some people.

 

SO going back to Damaris's point, I know that new members get a welcome PM now which is super helpful. Maybe there can be a link to the VHOT thread on Discord chats with year chats in the PM? Or maybe a link to join the Official VH Discord server so no one has to wait around for someone to invite them by PM? Not a lot of people check VHOT so they might miss the thread. 

 

Also just as a positive feedback - I have no idea how this happened but I remember on my old characters, I used to spend ~90% of my time on VHOT and only 10% RPing. People were super focused on graphics and their LALs which are all great but the main focus of VH is writing. Something's different now and there are less people on VHOT and more people writing plots, so whatever happened between the time I left and returned as Briar made a difference? I remember we had HoNaRoTeR that encouraged the nakedness of graphics and a focus on writing, and it seems VH has sort of made a permanent shift to that, which I really like. :)

 

ALSO EDITING TO SAY I feel like I've met way more new members within like the past 1-2 VH years than I have ever in my entire existence on VH, so I feel like the steps we're taking to draw in new members are working. Wasn't there a time VH was advertised on various HP networks? Maybe that really helped out?

Edited by Margaret Schoenberger
typo + extra

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Alaska Howwell

I'm not going to write paragraphs because a lot has already been said. But I just read Margaret's response and I wanted to react to this bit:

 

46 minutes ago, Margaret Schoenberger said:

Also just as a positive feedback - I have no idea how this happened but I remember on my old characters, I used to spend ~90% of my time on VHOT and only 10% RPing. People were super focused on graphics and their LALs which are all great but the main focus of VH is writing. Something's different now and there are less people on VHOT and more people writing plots, so whatever happened between the time I left and returned as Briar made a difference? I remember we had HoNaRoTeR that encouraged the nakedness of graphics and a focus on writing, and it seems VH has sort of made a permanent shift to that, which I really like. :)

 

 


I joined VH in 2014. VH28 was so kind and welcoming and I also found myself in a Quid group full of people I enjoyed talking to. But I also found a lot of people to rp and duel with through VHOT, especially the wanted section. I loved reacting to people's wanted threads and PM'ing and chatting with them about rps. I'm a very anxious person so just the very thought of saying "hi" on AIM and asking someone to RP with me, was daunting. I already felt a lot more comfortable just leaving a message and someone starting a conversation with me. So, when I returned from absence a few days ago, I turned to VHOT for rps with my ickle, and found the topics being a lot less lively than I was used to. This scared me because it had been such an easy way of approaching other people. I agree, focussing on graphics rather than writing is not the point of VH, but I personally think it would be nice if there would be a little more life on VHOT then there is now, because it's a nice way to get into contact with people without using AIMDiscord, and a great way to come into contact with a lot of different people.


Also, like Margaret said, it would help a ton if someone linked the year discord chat in the welcoming message. I found the general VH one pretty quickly because it's somewhere in a tab at the top, but it took me a while to find the topic with all the chats on VHOT. And I think it helps a lot as a new member to be able to talk to the other pre-sorts.

 

EDIT: I realized I had more to say than just that. Regarding cliques, I have felt a lot of the times that VH wasn't for me because I didn't fit in. I wasn't part of a clique, didn't really speak to anyone on a regular basis, and that made it hard to stick. I think some of that is just luck, you have to be lucky to meet the person you click with. But I also think it's important to try not to drive people away because they don't feel like they fit in (I mean, this isn't high school, so why does it feel like that sometimes?). It would be lovely if everything was less closed off, less cliques, less closed threads, more gigantic plots everyone (even the uncool people) can participate in.
 


<3 Alaska/Ellis

 

(ps transparency and such  Ellis Maywood#8232  <3 )
Edited by Alaska Howwell
I thought of more, and added my discord

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Owen Farraday

I'm not on VH for the roleplaying.

 

VH is and has always been an OOC thing for me. My first "VH experience" was being dragged into an AIM chat and meeting a lot of people. I enjoy writing, but it's not my main purpose for being on this site. I am on VH for the activities offered. Dueling, Quidditch, classes (at first, now I've gone through them several times). It's one of the reasons why having multiple characters sorted doesn't work for me (I can't play Quidditch on several characters at the same time, I'm not going to duel on three accounts). It's one of the reasons why I don't mind dropping my alums after graduating and letting them just ~be~ (I don't feel attached to them enough to want to keep developing them). It's one of the reasons why I don't do plots really (my characters are really more of the background characters that just fill up the space).

 

When I joined as Owen, it was just around a sorting time so I didn't wait long before I had access to all of these activities but I agree with people that you need to do more stuff for the pre-sorts. The waiting game would be too long.

 

So here's what I think we do well and what I think could improve.

 

Things VH Does Well

Single VH Discord Server - I know you don't like to promote this but THIS IS HUGE! Back when we were mostly MSN, you had to individually add people to get to meet them. I definitely felt a lot of disconnect from people in other years and even in other houses. This single Discord Sever is a great way for people to meet everyone on VH in a single place and form friendships. I've met a lot of amazing people through it and it's great. I spend more time in the Discord sever than I do on actual VH.

 

Bridging the Gap Between Houses and Years - This was a big barrier before and we made great strides to helping people connect across the houses. When you first joined VH, it was very mysterious what's going on in other houses and there was very little interaction across house lines. Perhaps now it's because people have multiple characters across houses/years and so they meet everyone else, but I think this ties back to the single discord server.

 

Sorting Week Activites - THIS IS A BIG ONE! When I first joined VH, the sorting week activities was a single thread in the common room. You were expected to go out and RP and figure stuff out on your own, but the big thing to welcome you was a thread. Now each house has a bunch of activities planned for the first few weeks which I think is amazing. This helps ignite the excitement that VH offers, it helps introduce you to many people (back to the OOC thing), and it helps you put your characters into new situations to see how they fare. There was a high level of energy and excitement during that week across all houses that I loved.

 

Activities - VH offers Quidditch and Dueling and if you join those things, it adds a layer of fun to the site. I'm honestly impressed with the people that are on the site that don't duel or don't do Quidditch, because I don't know what they spend their time doing on VH. But people may love RPing so perhaps avoiding those things is their cup of tea. But for me, if VH didn't have these things, I would not have stayed long on the site.

 

Decreasing the Drama - I'm sure there's drama still going on between people, but there was a lot more drama back at the start of VH's days. It's decreased dramatically, and I don't know if that's just because the people that started a lot of drama have grown up/left VH/been banned/what have you, but the overall feeling of VH is pretty laid back and calm. I wanted to point this out because the VH community used to be pretty toxic and now is very welcoming. This could have been mod driven or member driven, but thanks to everyone for creating this atmosphere! <3

 

Things VH Can Do Better (especially to keep new members around)

Activities for Presorts - I haven't done PHP. It's not my thing because, once again, I'm not really here for character development or RPing and I am le lazy. I definitely suggest expanding on the activities or things that presorts can do because it will help keep them around. If you sign up and sorting is months away, VH won't appeal to you and you'll leave it quickly. But if you sign up and there is an active community of presorts, I think it will do wonders for keeping people around.

 

Year Discord Servers/Chats - Like people have said, year chats are a big proponent of keeping people around. I know VH doesn't want to encourage chats because they are unable to monitor things off the board, but a place to find your year's chats (rather than just through PM) could be big. Even if it's a running list and people can PM it to a mod so they can put it up somewhere, I think it will allow people to build connections on VH.

 

New Activities for Students - Dueling and Quidditch are great, but I think the site will need a new activity to add a fresh of breath air to this site. When I first joined, Dueling and Quidditch was exciting features, something I'm still actively getting better on. The exciting thing about it was that a lot of other sites didn't have such a system. I think we should consider new ideas for something to add to our site that will make VH stand out again. Some ideas that quickly come to mind (I'm sure there are more other people can offer) are: Magical Creatures Tournament (battle a herd of dragons, race hippogriffs, capture grindylows, what have you) where it is all points based, Divination Readings (a band of Seers come to the school and provide people a glimpse into their future similar by filling out a form with questions like with our wands), find a way to add Gobstones to the site (I can help think of rules and how to make it all points based, but it's canon so maybe). I think a new game/activity that points based would be really welcomed to VH.

 

Easier Way to have an CCE Character - I've thought about this a lot and I think it ties back to the common thread in a lot of other posts: VH can be boring and stifle creativity. I understand the need to limit the characters that have a special power, but I think VH has been around long enough that you might want to add a merit-based system to allow users to be allowed the ability to sort one with a special power without waiting for an application. Perhaps your application approval method is merit-based already (I dunno, I've never applied) but similar to how the Dueling Chambers has a Purple Spell Program where people can get a purple spell by doing X number of Red Tier duels, I would like to see the chance to get a Half-Giant character because I was able to get three characters to Fifth Year with an O average or whatever (I'll let you decide the rules). This ties back to VH feeling like it has a very steep hierarchy where the low members of the site feel they could never climb. 

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Titania Baddour
10 hours ago, Owen Farraday said:

Easier Way to have an CCE Character - I've thought about this a lot and I think it ties back to the common thread in a lot of other posts: VH can be boring and stifle creativity. I understand the need to limit the characters that have a special power, but I think VH has been around long enough that you might want to add a merit-based system to allow users to be allowed the ability to sort one with a special power without waiting for an application.

 

Times have definitely changed since the days of original canons. People fighting tooth and nail to play Harry's kids or canon characters as adults are over. Canon students now are completely invented by creative members with cool ideas and not necessarily any concern for the honor or popularity formerly associated with applying for and being granted a canon character.

 

The application process for Felicia, whose grandmother is the offest of off-canons, was long and daunting, and during a stressful time in my life just something that I did not need. Having to wait to write her was physically painful. I understand that the mods are VERY busy people with a lot of demands to meet and responsibilities to uphold, so this is not a stab against slowness or protocol. Simply put: the process is antiquated and kiiind of maybe a waste of moderator time and energy. Thinking specifically about puppeteers who had canon or off-canon characters in earlier VH years, must we really apply to play our own children? (The very thought makes me squirm a little bit.)

 

Similarly, proposals regarding personal plots that may breach CCE rules get rejected too easily, in my honest opinion. This may come from feeling personally wronged by a decision made after what I felt was not nearly long or courteous enough consideration, but truthfully it was hurtful to have crucial character development quashed because any unsanctioned involvement with werewolves, veelas, goblins, Seers, Animagi, and so forth could potentially "break a rule."

 

I don't believe people are attempting to register alien characters on VH, or writing overarching gory plots that will bring the site crumbling to the ground. As Owen said, we have an invaluable trove of incredibly talented writers whose creativity is being stifled by old rules. Honestly, if someone shows up saying their character is half-veela: fine. If someone's dad is a werewolf: fine. If someone claims to come from Jupiter: maybe not fine, check that one out? But like...let things floooow and intervene only when they have potential to get out of hand.

 

Writers very much like feeling special. We love exploring this magical world. Who gives a damn if there are "too many" half-giants/quarter-veelas/werewolves roaming around Hogwarts? Why do individuality and fun and intense and brilliant character arcs have to be so unattainable??

 

There is so much love and also heat and tension in this thread already because we are all smart and passionate people who want to make VH a better place, so that is going to be my only contribution to this discussion for now <3 I love you all.

 

Edited by Titania Baddour

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Grover Penn

I kinda want to weigh in on this just because several people have made points that made me think of this:

 

Students are having trouble finding the line:  by this, I mean it’s sometimes difficult to navigate what spontaneous fun is acceptable on vh, and what requires direct mod supervision/permission.  I feel like in general, your average vher has a good idea of what makes a fun/engaging RP, but they hesitate to see their ideas through because they’re not sure how many hoops they’re going to have to jump through to see their plan executed.

 

Just to voice an example without going into too many details: I’ve been wanting to instigate some troll-related fun in Diagon Alley for a while now; a kind of mini game where students, alumni, whoever wants to participate, have to come together to either subdue or defend themselves against a severely confused and therefore violent (and possibly illegally hired/acquired) security troll.  Success/failure would be determined by dice rolls, and would likely ultimately end in the people succeeding (yay) or the people restraining the troll just long enough for the appropriate authorities to arrive (also yay!)

 

The problem is: I don’t know if this crosses a line.  Maybe this is something that I would need mod approval for, or maybe because it’s just a harmless, rp mini game, I don’t need permission at all!  Both are acceptable and wouldn’t upset me personally, but because I don’t KNOW I find myself waffling on bringing this idea up a lot.

 

I know an answer is just a PM a way, but I have this complex where I generally just don’t like BOTHERING other people.  And yes, at the back of my head I know the mod team is more than happy to answer questions, but sometimes worry isn’t rational! XD

 

I feel like this might be a deterrent for a lot of people re: voicing ideas.  I think a lot of people have commented on how easy it is to feel intimidated on this site, and I’m no exception.  9 times out of 10, if I have to go through a third party to get permission for something, I’m just going to go “never mind,” and forget about it.

 

My solution to this then would be to ‘cut out the middle man’ and maybe write some guidelines on what VH considers a ‘within the boundaries of the rules’ site-wide rp to be.  More often than not, if I can find an answer/reassurance in the vh rules, I am wayyyyyyy more likely to ‘try the thing’.

 

PS: I agree with pretty much everything that has been said about changing the board rating. <3

Edited by Grover Penn

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Wesley Mercer

I wasn’t going to post here, even before the latest events occurred, I told myself I wasn’t going to post here yet here we are. VH like every other aspect of life has its ups and downs. You make what you can with what you have; sometimes it feels like a dysfunctional family but aren’t the top rated realities made about dysfunctional group of people? I agree with the statement that VH used to be a toxic environment (Quidditch often played a part of it) but I also agree that it has gotten better-ish? Is it perfect? No but neither are the users. We’re people, we have flaws, we make mistakes, you live, you learn, you move on.

 

I myself have my fair share of mistakes on the site but I’m not going to go into details because that’s not relevant. If you want to know so badly you can ask around or you can message me. Point is you can only live in the past for so long before you have to get on with your lives and we as a site need to move forward not backwards. So I’m going to break this down into multiple parts to make a point about certain things sorry for length I’ll bold the important stuff so you don’t have to read through all my rambling:  

 

–PT. 1–

 

There was a time where I was new. Almost eight years ago to be exact and I joined VH at a time where I claimed to be done with Harry Potter. You can ask anyone who knows me well, Harry Potter for me ended with Order of the Phoenix, and even in 2018 I have yet to see the second half of Deathly Hallows movie. I honestly can’t remember why I googled what brought me to VH. I was lucky enough I guess to have found the site right when sorting was about to happen so I made a character, submitted a form and then disappeared. I reappeared when the character had already been sorted maybe a day or two after it were sorting. I RPd a bit, didn’t know anything about MSN, and I’m not a social person (I’m the kind of person who wants to talk to people but unless someone messages me first I’m never going to do it) and had no idea what I was doing then so I vanished maybe a month or so later.

 

That’s also the story of many newbies.

 

When I went on VH again it was the start of VH19. I technically wasn’t new but I still felt like I was. This time I had an msn but I didn’t really use it. It wasn’t until a fellow newbie who was far more social than I was started talking to me that I made use of msn. I got to know people who I’m not even sure are still on the site but it kind of helped me open up to talking to others. Slightly.

 

I was the person who had a character in every year and I’m not proud of my early characters: underdeveloped, unnecessary, and embarrassing writing in default font. I cringe at the thought of them, I like to pretend they don’t exist and that VH18 to the beginning of VH23 never happened. I have to admit though that the beginning of my meaningful VH relationships happened during that time stamp. In VH21 I had the pleasure of meeting @Anna Wolff; talking to her was one of my first attempts to be social because frankly I wasn’t. If it hadn’t been for her I would have probably left. My characters weren’t something I was attached to at the time, and I’ve dropped quite a few characters because of many reasons.

 

Through her though, it was a domino effect of meeting others who’ve influenced my life such as:  @Lilia McEvans, @Melissa Tavella, @Olliver Tavella, @Tomas Nevin, @Margerette Edwards, @Samantha Winter, @Julia Banner, @Ajax Devereaux-Snyder, @Benjamin Ladd, @Leslie Dahlberg  and more who came later on in my VH adventure.

 

It wasn’t until VH24 that everything clicked for me. I had a group of friends and I would participate in S!Quid so I wasn’t scared to reach out anymore. I’m glad I did because VH24 was probably one of my favorite VH years because I finally felt like I was part of something. The Death Eater attacks on the train were godsent, I had a chance to develop a character that I had no intentions of keeping in the first place, a character that not only inspired a plethora of memes between my group of friends but that most probably know me by: Wesley Mercer. World Cup also helped me expand my group of friends and connect with others I wouldn’t have probably talked to otherwise.

 

THE POINT TO ALL OF THIS : We need more site wide plots, we need more inclusive site wide plots.

 

Part of why I loved the World Cup was because the majority if not all of apps were accepted and people played at least one game. There was something to do even if you weren’t playing: you could RP how the cup was going and then the closing ceremony! RIP The Sparkle Lord. The past events like the Triwizard tournament felt limited. Not everyone who submitted an app got chosen, not everyone had an interest in it and because it wasn’t at Hogwarts you could literally ignore all of it. I wasn’t around for the latest house tournament that happened because no quidditch meant I had no reason to be around so I can’t make an opinion on that.

 

But when you’re new and you see that only certain people get chosen for things it’s intimidating. A lot have mentioned there’s a hierarchy on VH, and it’s true. When you’re new, however, it hits hardest because you feel like you have to be “in” with a certain group in order to get things. Actually, sometimes you don’t have to be new to see things that way. Whether or not it’s true that’s up to debate for another occasion and not something I’m going to bother with. I’m just reiterating things that have been said before.

 

–PT. 2–

 

VH needs to be more welcoming ON SITE.

 

Yes, the year chats are a thing but like others have said year chats can either make or break your VH experience. I’ve dropped characters because of the toxic environment in some year chats. When you’re new and you’re in a year chat where you’re not comfortable, is there really a point in staying? Heck, when you’re not new and you’re in a year chat where you’re not comfortable in is there a point in even keeping the character? When you’re new you’re under the impression that these are the people you’ll be RPing with but they already have set groups, approaching them can be intimidating, whatever reason you have is valid. And not to mention that some people just aren’t comfortable in mass chats. Some people struggle with talking to others first.

 

Besides, cliques are still a thing. I’ve been in them, I’ve been turned away from them, the point is they exist. You can’t force someone to branch out if they don’t want to therefore I don’t think you can expect people to go out of their way to make someone feel welcome. The mods and the staff have to take the first step, they have to be involved with aiding in the creation of programs to help new members feel welcome, keep them from disappearing shortly after sorting because not every case it’s real life. At times we say the issue is real life but sometimes it’s the environment.

 

I know that others have mentioned a form of universal mentoring for pre-sorts but I think we need a mentoring exclusively for new members. Why only new members? Because then you don’t get established members “mentoring” other established members. If we made a mentoring thing for just new people, the people who willingly volunteer for this know that these people are not only new to VH but possibly new to RPing. Not only would they show them around (how the site works, people to contact if they have questions, etc)  but also RP with them, ask if they’re comfortable with a group chat and invite them to the year one or invite them to your friend group, make them feel like they have a place here.

 

Point being: you can’t rely on year chats to make people feel like they belong here. You can’t expect everyone to play a part in the welcoming committee but you can give presorts more opportunities to do their own thing.

 

PHP is limiting. With the character development options being seen as extra credit, the majority of the homework involves getting to know how to work the site: the shops, coding, the bank, the rules, etc. When you find the site right at the end of a sorting, you have three-ish months to do what exactly? You finish PHP early on, and then what? If you’re not comfortable with the mass chats or not comfortable with discord, etc, you’re limited to PMing for RPs, using VHOT which has been extremely low in activity, or waiting for someone to post an open thread.

 

We don’t have many open threads and when we do, if it’s an established member’s resort it’s not uncommon for their friends who are sorting as well to post in the thread. As a new member posting in an open thread where 3-4 people whose characters already have a pre-existing relationship are participating in can be awkward. You can’t presume that every new member is the kind of person to jump right into something. There are people that are like that: bold, and ready from the get-go. Not everyone is. We need to help those people feel like they’re a part of the community.

 

Basically: there needs to be more things for pre-sorts to do that expand past PHP. Let it be games, activities, a thread where current professors volunteer to show up at PHP and talk about Hogwarts and what to expect, etc.

 

–PT. 3–

 

Also times have changed. Sorting classes are getting smaller and often comprised of established members resorting. We need to expand on getting the site out there. I know we have the Tumblr but the Tumblr RP community has its own issues too so we can’t rely on tumblr to do all our advertising. Especially with our sets of rules for canons and CCE characters (a stark contrast of a lot of Tumblr RPs where you can do whatever you want). We need to expand on marketing to recruit more members, to actually make them feel like they’re in an actually welcoming community and not an extra in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

 

After all, reputation is important, there’s a thread about this. I’m just saying imagine being new and coming across this thread, how everything went from 0 to 100 real quick? Just something to think about.

 

Anyway, because this got way too long and I’m so sorry for that, I agree on the whole increase the rating thing too. <3

Edited by Wesley Mercer

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Kean Teagan

i decided to delete this. 

Edited by Kean Teagan
doesn’t matter. there’s probably screenshots.

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