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Damaris Denton

I've come back with some more thoughts:

 

PHP

 

I've never completed PHP. Ever. While I think part of the reason is because I came to VH before PHP was established, it has become something that I just skip when I make a new character. I usually fill out the intro post and then forget about it until it's time to fill out the Sorting form for that character. Here are a couple of ideas about mixing things up:

 

- Instead of posting workbooks, post lessons like in the school, and let people interact with each other.

 

What I think could be cool about that, is that not only would it let people really get a feel for what it's like to post in lessons, it would also function as open threads that people would be able to post in when they're just getting started on VH. It would be a great way for people who are new and people who are oldies to interact with each other. 

 

Mentoring

 

Shifting toward more PHP-based mentoring I think would be beneficial, but I think that it would be good to have dedicated mentors, kind of like in the Dueling Chamber, to be able to answer questions that come up. Because they will - if you don't have a sorted character yet, there's a lot of the site that you can't see until you become a student. Someone might want help understanding Quidditch rules or understanding the benefits of completing duel mentoring. A dedicated place where people could ask any question under the sun and get a response from someone in my mind would be the answer to that. It would also free up Prefects to focus more on putting on events or posting open threads in their common rooms, and not have to deal with things like matching mentors together.

 

- "Ask a Mentor" threads in each Common Room.

 

Sorting Week and Beyond

 

This when activity spikes really high. People have new characters that they're excited about - oldies too might have just been put in a house they were never in before. They want to see what their new house has to offer. Shifting things like mentoring would allow people to focus more on events/threads to interest in their new housemates. But one thing I'd like to encourage here, is maybe coming up with a few things to do ahead of time. I know RL happens, and sometimes it's difficult to do VH things - but coming up with a calendar of events BEFORE the year starts could help them get posted on time and keep boosting activity to show newbies (and oldies with new characters) what the site has to offer.

 

Creativity?

 

I'm not sure what to call this section. I think it could be folded into how the site is advertised. I know that when I first joined, it was a little bit overwhelming to take in the CCE guidelines in particular. I've entertained making characters who were apart of the races specified there or with the special powers, but it just seemed like so much work that I never bothered. One of the reasons I think that is is because I never really had a clear idea of what I wanted to do with a character who became a werewolf or was born part-veela. I know personally that my characters often change quite a bit from the time that I've sorted them, sometimes right away. It's hard to have a clear idea of how being this race would affect them, and I think it would be okay to allow people to register as any of those races if they so desire (with a guideline being that you can ONLY register as those, not a blue alien from Jupiter because that's not HP at all). 

 

In terms of special powers, I would say that keep the IC training requirements in place to officially receive the power, and allow people to train for the power and then say PM to say they've completed it.

 

So I'd allow people to register characters of HP races if they so choose, and keep posting requirements in place for special powers. I also want to echo what others have said about raising the rating to PG-13, with clear guidelines on what is allowed and what is not allowed. I believe just those two things could help expand what VH already has to offer in comparison to other rp sites on the internet. <3

 

 

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Grover Penn

WHUT UP, DAMARIS.  I wanted to reply because… good idea, but also, MORE ideas? ;-;

 

Instead of posting workbooks, post lessons like in the school, and let people interact with each other: Okay, so I super agree with posting lessons that imitate the formula of the lessons posted at Hogwarts.  I don’t really know what more to add?  It’s just a good idea, and I think this would also help both new members and old mingle.

 

The only hitch/thing that I think needs more consideration?  Not… everyone makes their character at the same time, so I’m just a litttleeeee worried late comers might post in a homework thread late and miss the bandwagon, as it were.  However, I think that’s a fairly small problem in the face of an otherwise good idea.

 

BUT, ngl, I would be really sad to see the workbook go … ;-; I know not everyone is invested in maintaining CLs, but as someone who LOVES working on their CLs, I really appreciate that the workbook gives me an opportunity to get a head start on all that.  Having to wait until sorting to figure out headings/coding/graphics can be a bit of a bummer.  Additionally, when I have a character idea that’s not fully fleshed out, the workbook helps me fill in the blanks.  So, proposal?  Keep the workbook, but make it ENTIRELYYYYY optional/fun.  Hand out the shiny certificates for actual class attendance instead.

 

Additional idea: In these proposed lessons, perhaps always have the HW option to start your own thread available.  I know Robin, Kay and I did that for one PHP homework assignment (because we were just writing too much for the workbook, it was getting cray cray) and it’s been a lot of fun so far.  I could probably elaborate on this more but, blah, I think you all get where I'm going with this anyway. XD

Edited by Grover Penn

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Olwen Hier

In regards to PHP: To what Grover, Damaris and others said above, I have several ideas regarding this and I think it's EXCELLENT. I think the workbook could stay as an extra credit thread in addition to the lessons spaced out over the year like regular lessons. We've got to get newbies used to interacting with their classmates, and joint lessons/threads outside of lessons are a great way to start a friendship. I think that once the lesson opens, it stays open. The lessons themselves wouldn't have timed requirements like some Hogwarts lessons do apart from closing on Sorting. Plus, I think grading would be made a bit easier since all the extra credit is in one place and all their regular grades are in one place. Timed activities to keep people interested through the year=yes. 

 

I also like the idea of older student pen pals/mentors/visitors, that don't have to be prefects, they can just volunteer for the job to make PHP more of a well-rounded experience. Maybe a field trip to Hogwarts during a week, like some schools do in preparation for Middle school or something. The PHP could stick to a couple of threads or we could post in the PHP to make things easier as if they were at Hogwarts for a day. 

 

In regards to CCE: I do like the idea of better attaining CCE through additional OOC requirements or at least have more specific guidelines other than an already 6th/7th year to make the process of being accepted easier and a little more transparent on what exactly you have to do in order to get a CCE character. Olwen was my first successful attempt at a CCE character, and I've been around for a while with several other attempts. While I never felt my creativity was stifled in any way (I appreciated the free-form of the app) I felt like it was vague as to what the mods were specifically asking for in terms of their character wish-list. 

 

Perhaps, to start, a special power like Leglimens or Animagus could be more attainable through a purple-spell like program. Still making it hard, and continuing with the character needs requirement because IC that's how it happens. If you want one of these powers for your character, you should have to work for it because the nature is hard to achieve. There's a reason why there's a problem with unregistered animagi in the books. It might give more new members incentive to stick around longer if they knew they could get their ideas looked at/approved. At the very least, clearer guidelines (like a checklist or something) on what you guys are looking for would help. :) 

 

EDITS: I do like the idea of training for the application. Maybe, for instance, something like animagi could look like this: 

(Note: doesn't have to be completed in a timeline like this, just the threads would have to be completed) 

Third year-Discover animagi. Two+ threads of research in the library, to see if this is something your character really wants to look to. One additional thread of Transfiguration homework. 

Foruth Year-Create your character need. Develop this through two + threads, show threads that showcase your character development in terms of animagi need. Two threads of Transfiguration practice + advisor meeting thread. 

Etc... 

Basically, proving that your character has gone through the character development necessary, expanding on that part of the app in order to have a better chance of getting approved. Sort of like the "easy" way we do OWLs. 

Edited by Olwen Hier

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Titania Baddour

Adding to my previous post HERE:

 

Chatting with @Margaret Schoenberger last night I came to realize that a really good thing about allowing more openness when it comes to CCE and canon characters would help the site be more inclusive. Many people have voiced concerns or even just acknowledgment of the fact that VH can be very cliquey and exclusive. Often the writers who are granted canons or CCE characters are those of us who have been around longer or who have proven themselves in some other way on the site, thereby keeping most of those CCE character benefits within those same circles? If that makes sense?

Allowing anyone to create anything would almost definitely "spread the wealth" of these sorts of interesting characters. Every demographic of writer on VH would surely have a better chance at RPing with a werewolf, a veela, a Legilimens, what have you, if members weren't required to submit an application for such powers. Yes, they do make you feel special when you work hard to app for one. Buuuut don't we want everyone to feel special? :c

 

PHP is super great and an excellent way for writers to get to know their characters and the site better. I know mentoring can be wobbly (I am absolutely wretched at it myself, I admit it), but what if there were some sort of mentoring program for new members? Like how Ministry officials usher Muggle students into the wizarding world? What if older student or Alumni characters could volunteer (IC and OOC) to guide them into the VH world? I'll think more about this but it could be a fun way to promote character longevity and to help new writers feel less intimidated by people who've been on the site forever?

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Damaris Denton

To add on to my previous points and look at what others have said, I would be in favor of keeping PHP workbooks as something that's a little bit more like your draft CL. Creating one can be daunting, so that could be more geared towards introducing that aspect of the site to new members.

 

CCE could be geared more towards being based on a merit system? I.E., you have gotten to x point (gotten a character to alumni, have more than x post for example), and now your new character can be part-veela/part-goblin/part-giant, etc. Maybe something like that could encourage people to stick around so they could achieve those rewards?

 

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Tobias Winchester
3 hours ago, Damaris Denton said:

Sorting Week and Beyond

 

This when activity spikes really high. People have new characters that they're excited about - oldies too might have just been put in a house they were never in before. They want to see what their new house has to offer. Shifting things like mentoring would allow people to focus more on events/threads to interest in their new housemates. But one thing I'd like to encourage here, is maybe coming up with a few things to do ahead of time. I know RL happens, and sometimes it's difficult to do VH things - but coming up with a calendar of events BEFORE the year starts could help them get posted on time and keep boosting activity to show newbies (and oldies with new characters) what the site has to offer.

 

 

Could there be a way for Prefects to be tagged like, way before sorting? I feel like some houses are a little rushed with the planning of things because they're waiting to see who the new fifth year Prefects are. If they got tagged at the start of summer, that would give houses four weeks to help organise things for new members to each house and activities for sorting week. 

 

I also find that house mentoring worries me because you have a WHOLE week before mentors are assigned (usually) and I think mentors should be assigned pretty much instantaneously. Otherwise you get people potentially new to the site, who are then new to a house, spending a week trying to work out what the heck they are doing. I don't know how you'd get around this though apart from to let Prefects know who has been sorted into their house BEFORE sorting night, so they can pair mentors up to them?

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Arabella Jones

I’ve been on and off VH for almost ten years now, and while I’m not new, I’ve taken a few breaks over the years, and every time I come back, something is different each time (the first time I came back, MSN was dead and I was so confused). I’m going to echo what a lot of people before me have said that VH has steadily grown over the years: there used to be a lot of drama, but now we’re relatively drama free (relatively, because wherever there’s a community, you are always going to have some issues), so I think OOCly we are doing great.

 

I wanted to bring up something that Wesley touched on briefly a few posts ago: we’re all great at welcoming others and that’s what I love the most about VH - the people, but...we aren’t so great at translating that ICly. I’ve created characters and joined the upcoming year right before sorting, and while fitting in wasn’t a problem, it was finding people in my year to RP with and have a substantial plot with that I had issues with, which led to those characters either going inactive or decreasing significantly in activity. It’s not easy to deviate from plots you’ve spent weeks on, and I’ve been guilty of it too, but it’s a fine way to unintentionally exclude someone (of course, this is on a year by year basis; I recently reactivated Arabella, an older character of mine, into VH35, and I can’t believe how easy it was for everyone to just slot me into their characters’ lives as if she had been there since day one. I especially want to thank @Casper Abernathy, @Chuck Berger, @Damaris Denton, @Jack Rodgers and @Kaleb Kennedy for that).

 

The above is a good stance on how to handle inactivity, as well. I’ve experienced the same thing as Stella: I got the cold shoulder when I came back with Micah, after going inactive due to extenuating circumstances. People I’d been friends with for years suddenly didn’t want to talk to me, and it was almost enough to drive me off the site again. Thankfully, VH26 was one of the most welcoming and lovely years to sort in, and I also had @Erin Flannery and @Aurora Andrews to get me to stay (amazingly enough, they’re both also the first friends I ever made on VH). I think what we can do to encourage people to reactivate a character instead of just tossing them aside is to treat them the same as new members. If you see someone reactivating into your year, welcome them (back) and let them know there’s a place for them at the table.

 

Another thing I want to bring up is VHRPC: this is one of the best ideas to ever exist on VH, but participation has declined over the years. I believe this is partly because the only place VHRPC is really promoted is on VHOT, and a lot of people don’t use the off-topic site anymore.  We need more announcements about this, and on the main site.

 

Not strictly a new members issue, but I know this is something that affects the attraction newer members have towards VH, and the possibility of actually keeping those members: alumni involvement. I don’t think mods and admins need to necessarily be involved with this at a core level, but rather, it’s something we need to work on as a community - what we need are site wide alumni plots (side wide plots in general, to be honest, but that’s already been said). This ties in with what Grover mentioned: we should be given guidelines that let us know what we can or cannot RP. Of course, this isn’t a perfect solution, because the site staff can’t come up with every single possible idea someone could come up with and write it down, but I think if people had an idea of what isn’t allowed (beyond the obvious), it would make the idea of sending a quick message for confirmation a lot less intimidating.

 

I agree with what everyone’s said about the content rating. Stagnance kills, and it’s very important to change along with the community, and it’s always important to keep an open dialogue. Communication is key. A higher rating doesn’t necessarily include the policy that was mentioned at the start of this thread, and there are definitely topics that should remain banned; a higher rating would give members more leeway to write creatively and develop their characters further on site (I know a lot of people feel anxious about RPing completely innocuous things because they don’t know if it will put them on notice or not). If we have managed to keep in line with the current set of rules, then I don’t see why it would be any different with a brand new set. Adding to this, I also agree with everyone with regards to CCE and canons.

 

Hit me up on greywaren#6971 for anything; plots, RPs, the whole she-bang. I’m always open for anything.

 

Arabella / Arwa / Ryszard :wub:

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Savannah Chancellor

I'm going to keep this fairly short (I hope) and focused on things like CCE, site-wide plots, and Pre-Hogwarts Primary because I don't really have a lot to add beyond what's already been said in this thread. I am also another vote for PG-13. I joined this site when I was in HS and now I'm thirty (though I wasn't consistent on the site at all for that whole time) and I have a full-time job. PG-13 I think would also help alumni threads and making the site have a more mature rating may help to keep new members as well as current members who have grown beyond a simple PG rating and want an escape that fits more where they currently are in life.  

 

Pre-Hogwarts Primary: I'm going to echo some similar thoughts here. I've never completed it to be honest. I haven't ever found it that helpful (my characters almost always change through roleplaying) and as it is currently structured is almost more of an OOC character development thing (which is good) but it does not in my opinion really foster ICly interaction nor is it very canon and I've always struggled with why my half-blood characters would even be going or why the ministry would be mandating it. Though I've had two muggleborns and I've struggled a little less with them because it makes a bit more sense for them. Personally I would make the workbooks/character development stuff a sub-forum of PHP that people can choose to participate in or not, but make PHP as a whole much more RP focused with a particular emphasis on open threads and interaction with the instructors and maybe even special visits from current students/alumni. I also think it does need a mentoring aspect for the new students. Waiting until sorting is sometimes too late in my opinion. This way we can get them integrated into things like Quidditch, dueling, etc. (if they have questions about it) ahead of time as the site can be overwhelming at times. I think I remembering feeling this way when I first joined. 

 

Site-wide Plots and Alumni: A vast majority of the site-wide plots revolve around DEs attacking students and then aurors stepping in and saving the day or some kind of version of that. I would love to also see different type of plots that do not even need to involve the DEs or aurors and that would put students in interesting and potentially even dangerous situations where they have to use magic to get out of said situation. I feel like site-wide plots often offer a lot of room for character development and growth - I know it did for my past characters but if you don't ever get to be involved in a site-wide plot, it can be frustrating and annoying. Many of the site-wide plots can also involve alumni. Like I personally would like to know more about what's happening in the wider wizarding world beyond the Daily Prophet updates. What if there was an outbreak of [insert wizarding disease here] at Hogwarts? (I know this was kind of done with one of the DE plots but it doesn't necessarily need to involve DEs at all, especially because I realize people are busy). Or @Grover Penn's suggestion, a troll in the dungeon that the first year students have to work together to defeat? Or a dementor attack and the professors swoop in to save the day along with maybe sixth or seventh years that know the patronus charm? Maybe a group of alumni starts a pureblood club? There is good and evil beyond just auror/DE and allowing alumni freedom to explore some of this would be interesting IMO. Or like there were always a group of werewolves in the HP books. Why not let alumni apply for adult werewolf characters? Also none of these need DEs or aurors, which will still allow them to have time to develop their plots and things as I imagine it can be difficult. And not all site-wide plots need to involve a lot of work. Also I love @Arabella Jones idea of moving VHRPC off of VHOT and onto the main site. Because instead of having to link threads, maybe it can just be the plot-of-the-year or something like that? 

 

CCE: As a full disclosure, I have a CCE character whose part-goblin. I would personally love to see more part-giant, part-goblin characters in particular, as I feel like there should be more yet some years will go by long stretches of time w/o ever interacting with one of these races. I think making these merit based as people suggested (hi @Damaris Denton) will make it seem less like a black hole that they can never reach. Especially the fact that a lot of the races are even closed for applying at the moment. I don't think it should ever be closed personally especially if the current way is kept. Because then you're potentially rejecting a great application even before they can apply. If people constantly see for example, that being a werewolf is closed to them, it can be off-putting. 

 

Prefect tagging: I agree with @Tobias Winchester that if its possible to have tagging sooner, that would be great. A week (or sometimes even less) is really stressful/not long enough. Or if we can't have tagging because seventh years should be able to get their threads completed, NEWTs done, at least maybe notify the prefects by PM earlier so that they can get started on ideas and planning for sorting even if they aren't tagged yet? A lot of planning happens by chat anyways.   

 

I may come back with more thoughts but that is what I have for now.

Edited by Savannah Chancellor
grammar lol

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Grover Penn

CCE accessibility: I know this is a page back, but I think Titania made a good point: I don’t think kids of off-canons really require regulation.  I feel comfortable letting off-canons manage their own families.  Obviously the mods exist to step in whenever they think someone has maaaaaaaybe taken things a little too far (example: “you already have 5 kids, and now you’re having triplets?”) but I like to believe that the mass majority of vhers are trustworthy and sensible.  XD

 

On to a rewards system though: I feel like at the end of the day, VH is a game.  A game heavily steeped in writing and creativity, but a game none the less.  A lot of games these days offer incentives to their players to keep them invested.  Basically, you put in the time, you try something new, you get rewarded for it, which adds worth to your overall experience with the site.

 

I think the best way to do this would be to convert the CCE into a panel that helps you achieve excellence.  I’ve got no ill-will towards the current status quo, but if people are looking to shake things up a little, maybe the CCE should be more tailored towards making sure applications succeed?  Kind of like a group of professionals you’d get to look over your resume before you submit it! XD

 

I say this because I think getting rid of regulation entirely leaves too much room for things to go horribly, horribly sideways?  Also, I strongly believe that we DO need an authority group to go “Hey man, this doesn’t make a lot of sense/here’s what we don’t like and why.  We’ve got some suggestions to improve your application.  How do you feel about making these changes and re-submitting?”  Basically, help members succeed; don’t tell them they’ve failed.

 

I think there are a few things to keep in mind if vh ever decides to go down this route though:

 

1) Things are inevitably going to wind up being first come first serve, therefore rejection is not always avoidable.  Members need to be comfortable with the idea that they might get told “no” not because their application was weak, but because 5 werewolves in one year is a bit much.

 

2) I could see this being taxing on the mods (potentially more forms to read through and more related threads to keep an eye on), so… definitely keep the potential work load in mind.

 

3) I think some people do fear that if the CCE rules were loosened, we’d quickly find ourselves bearing witness to like, a year with 20 part-veelas in it.  I don’t think this is something that we ACTUALLY need to worry about.  Just because you can apply for a special power/race doesn't mean you will.  If it's not pertinent to their current/planned character’s development, a lot of people are going to pass this over until they have the right character.

 

4) This might excite new members because now if they’re interested in a special race/power, the CCE is actively working with them instead of being the final arbitrators of their success/failure.

 

So yeah, to reiterate: I'm not sure if this is a great idea, but I thought I would put it out there nonetheless since CCE accessibility seems to be a reoccurring theme in this thread! :x

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Hedwig Lane-Foley

Hello, x.

 

I am busy at the moment, but wanted to check-in. It occurred to me that I hadn’t actually looked at the New Members forum in some time. I can see where these rules, as written, come across as a bit overwhelming and strict in their wording. I do think policies on-board should be clear-cut, so members who join with the intentions or potential to break VH’s safe space can be properly reprimanded, but maybe the order of these policies could be redone—or some things re-worded to seem accessible, or information added/taken out to address some other issues mentioned here.

 

I could go through examples more specifically, but don’t have the time for a full debriefing. One idea that comes to mind, however:

 

I wonder if something to add to site rules would be some written system of availability: serving some visual function of transparency. It’s easy enough to write ‘open for plots, please PM!’ or else ‘add me to AIM!’ in the sidebar of your profile, yet—unless someone is willing to take that first step and initiate, or else feel it’s really welcomed—I feel these messages are often overlooked, as VH lacks a blanket language with which to communicate. This may be contributing to the idea of cliques, or separation, or people’s perceptions that there is an unwillingness to engage with those outside of an immediate sphere/with new members.

 

We’ve added statuses to board profiles. Would it be possible to add a system within VH, into the page on New Member Resources, like a series of code words almost like a chat system with markers for ‘online’; ‘busy’; ‘away’; or, as it relates to members, a space for ‘help’, which we can copy and paste to our profiles—communicating with clear visual signals what we are vs. are not around for, or looking for, as defined by the board?

 

For example, the sidebar of my profile might read:

AVAILABLE: new member questions, year plots, and AIM chats!

 

Or else—

BUSY: Finishing off current year at school. Sticking to the few plots I have right now, but back ASAP, x. Miss you all!

 

AWAY: Back in December!

 

I feel this would also be more useful than using the absence/return forum. The absence/return forum requires scrolling through posts to see when someone is or isn’t offline. It also feels outdated now that we have the option to hide signatures. How would we know someone is away without linking via signature or digging for ourselves? I also feel people hesitate to post in this forum unless their absence is significant. In addition, it doesn’t paint a full picture of what staffers (or prefects, who’ve also asked questions to where they can step in) are currently around and online.

 

Besides, having a clear policy would make members feel they can easily add these AVAILABLE, BUSY, AND AWAY markers and state their needs, rather than stressing to come up with their own talking points, because it’s all policy. Or, where it comes to new members, something like HELP, with a specific listing of where they need guidance, would be a great asset—rather than just expecting newbies to post to the general questions forum, which takes a lot of navigation and courage in the act of exposure.

 

It’s difficult, otherwise, and improbable to assume established members have the time or capability to seek out all those who feel on the outs and meeting their unvoiced needs—or else check-in with everyone else with where you’re at on the site right now. VH is a wonderful sandbox, where so many love to write and socialise, but it often toes the line between being an extracurricular and being a job. Any updates to policy should be in service to foster care, and limit social misunderstandings + workload. Being able to say ‘BUSY: not here for x reason’ in one personal place cuts through a lot of social misperceptions/misused time.

 

Essentially, my idea is to have guidelines/a written system which aims to make new members seeking help that little bit easier, and to limit miscommunications between site members who may never have the chance to speak one on one otherwise. 

 

If not something this complicated, maybe we can use the status updates as OOC functions and not only as IC-type content? UPDATE: Have any questions, check in with ____. UPDATE: Open for plots! Please PM! UPDATE: Busy, but back to write outside of current threads soon. It might be a bit more spammy, but it’s there.

 

 

 

 

________________________________________________

Shorter note, as to plot involvement/inclusion, I remember when we tried to do a Wizarding radio, with members sending in ideas of happenings around the castle. I really liked this, and think it’s a good and easy way for people to feel we’re all building the world inside the castle together, and that everything is happening cohesively: within a shared space, and without the need for organising mass plots at every interval and burning out. Could members send in smaller plot ideas/happenings around Hogwarts to mods, which they could post every week, or month, etc., on a noticeboard of sorts/announce, and people RP those smaller, shared moments? I think it would be a way to make the site inclusive and keep up the energy of site-wide plotting year-round, without the mass workload that goes into larger storylines.

 

But I could write more and on about my love forever, so I’ll stop there and get back to rl work, xx,
Hedwig

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Jake Morent

*deep breath*

 

Okay, well I've been reading this thread for a while and knowing that I had to post in it, but I held off because I knew I was probably going to ramble, and I didn't know if I felt like writing for an hour yet XD. I guess it's about time i do, so beware guys I assume this will be long. I don't know what I'm gonna say yet but I guess we'll find out. I'll try to bold things I think are extra important, don't worry. For some reason I feel like I have a harder time lately staying coherent and making sense on long rants and keeping my thoughts straight, so I hope this comes out right. Anyways, OFF WE GO!

 

So I'm not exactly a NEW member anymore, but since Jake is my first character, I'm a newer member than most, and I very vividly remember my first days here. I guess what I'll do first is think about what worked for me, and what didn't. Just talk about my experience in general. What made VH special? What things could have been done better? 

 

Part 1: THE PRE-SORT 

 

I've always been a big Harry Potter fan, and I had tried a couple other Harry Potter RPGs in the past, but I've never ever stayed active on any of them. That's because there are some things that VH does that the other ones DON'T do. Some people might want to be writers. For me? I just wanted to feel like I was attending Hogwarts. I wanted immersion...and VH offered that in interesting ways. Of course the only way to find out about that was to join and sort. 

 

Now here's an interesting part. When I signed up on some day where I really felt in the mood to join a Harry potter RPG, I made a Jake Morent account - but because sorting wasn't for a month I went off again, and forgot about the site. Now, don't get me wrong. I think the fact that we have to wait for sorting is a necessary evil. Heck, I wish the terms were longer (I know many other people very much disagree). But the sorting can really take place at any time and the only way to know when it is is to stay on the site. There isn't as much to do before sorting (that's another thing that can also be examined later) and there very well may be people like me fine with just signing up and waiting to sort.

 

The funny thing is, a month later when I was thinking about HP RP sites again, I remembered 'hmm what about that one site?' I logged on and realized sorting was actually that weekend. That was great for me, obviously. I think I got my form in the day before the deadline, since by luck I just happened to check that week, and I'm very happy I did. Had things gone differently though, I might have missed sorting, and had to wait many more months, and I might have done PHP or maybe just maybe I might have left forever, I dunno.

 

So here's something that I think would be pretty easy to do:

 

Give newly signed up members an email notification when sorting forms are open, and again a few days before they're due. 

 

I wonder how many people we lose, because like me, they sign up but then decide to wait for sorting and forget to ever come back - especially if they are months away. Just something to be like 'HI FUTURE HOGWARTS STUDENTS: SORTING HAS OPENED!" and then another notification a few weeks later that says 'REMEMBER: ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT TO SORT' could make a huge difference. If we want to get extra fancy we can actually make them a Hogwarts letter haha, and do something fun, thematic, and enticing that makes people say 'oh yeah that site seemed cool let me go fill out that form'. But either way this would ensure that people that signed up and left don't miss the sorting deadline. If we already do something like this, I'm sorry, I didn't realize. But if we don't it's something simple that could make a big difference in keeping new members. 

 

Part 2: Pre-Hogwarts?

 

Now I can't speak much for Pre Hogwarts Primary. I didn't do it. I considered it but decided against it in the end because of the time of my signing up (I was around a sorting and would have had to wait the entire year). I think one reason against it though is that your RP opportunities may be limited. I think the workbook does look really cool though maybe not to sustain you for a whole year. I like the people who suggested having actual lessons that are focused around teaching how RPs and the class system works on VH.

 

One thing I think could be cool is you could even make the PHP kids play some getting to know you games, which is realistic (the kind of things you'd do on a first day of school in a real school) and would let everybody learn about their characters. That could be a fun way for characters to get to know each other, both from an Ic perspective, and OOC learning about each other and things like that. Man, maybe there should be an OOC component as well? But I was just thinking IC for the characters. 

 

And maybe homework could encourage people to do open threads, like others said. I liked those suggestions. I know that there are already open threads, but maybe if there was a grade for it you could force people to participate in a snowball fight or whatever fun random thing would get them to interact with each other. 'Forcing' them I say only because like others said it might be easy for people to hole up with their friends, and this would allow everybody to interact with each other equally with some supervision for new members. 

 

I guess the argument against it is that some people do PHP at different times. I dont know how you fix that, but again, I didn't do PHP so my opinions here are not speaking from experience.

 

Part 3: Sorting!

 

Okay, so now we get to the parts that made VH so special to me. Like I said I really wanted to feel like I was attending Hogwarts. I wanted to feel like I was sorting, like I was part of this new house, like I was taking classes, like this is my new school. To interact with friends, and enemies, etc. This site does that so well in most ways, or maybe I just got lucky. 

 

But I felt the magic right from the very beginning when I joined. The way sorting was done I was so excited waking up in the morning wanting to go online and see where I got sorted - to see where the hat put me. I love that rather than everybody signing up at different times and finding our houses then, we all put in our forms, and we all find out at the same time where we got sorted, just like in canon. 

 

I love that after I signed up I got an invite to the Gryffindor AIM chat, where a bunch of Gryffindors (I don't remember everybody who was there, but I'm positive that @Euphemia Macrae was, and thank you guys for that) made me feel like I really had been sorted into my new house, and had pride to be a Gryffindor. The prefects did a really nice job of scooping up the new students. The PM gave all the relevant links, and I was given the link to the AIM chat by somebody. And I also had people reach out to me when i was new, welcoming me, asking to RP, asking if I had questions. I don't think anybody made them do that, they just did, and it was very appreciated. Looking at my PMs, @Hephesthea Tretucker was one, as well as @Lily Yang

 

So in both an official and unofficial capacity I did feel very welcomed and helped, and that really made me feel like this was a nice community eager to help new people. If other people had different experiences I understand, but that was the one I had. 

 

Then the mentoring program got set up. I actually liked the idea that maybe mentoring could be set up a little EARLIER. I think the prefects do PM the new students and tell them about mentoring, to make sure they sign up, but maybe it could be an area of the site that new users are pushed in even more strongly and could be faster with handing them somebody to help them. I understand the point of the application form is to make sure you end up with a good fit. I understand the argument for that, but I could imagine people that don't get as lucky with being welcomed might not stick around long enough. It's...a tough question.

 

Mentoring I guess can be a mixed bag, and Ive never been on the mentor side of things. I don't know how its monitored or how you ensure that the mentors are doing what they've signed up for. I think its important that we check in with the mentees and make sure they're being seen to and reassign them if not, but again, maybe we have a system in place for this already. One of my mentors PMd me once and then I never heard from them again. The other mentor talks to me daily still to this day. (I LOVE YOU ABI STANCIL). Having a mentor is great, especially when that mentor is warm and dedicated to making sure you feel comfortable and making sure you know you have a place to fit in. My mentor introduced me to her friends, so I knew people, she threaded with me, chatted with me. Its great. It's a very valuable program, but if I had just had the mentor who didn't talk to me, who knows where I'd be now.  

 

Then there were the classes. The class experience is great because you get to interact with your other classmates and feel like youre really there interacting with the world. I think more prof/student interaction would be nice (I love profs who personalize to the classes to make it feel more real - Knaggs stands out here), but like...Ive seen some other RP sites where the classes/homework were done individually, not forum based. I liked feeling like I was really in a Hogwarts classroom and I could do things and people would react to it. 

 

That sense of togetherness really made this site stand out as special. I hope that we make sure to poke people in the direction of the discords because even though I realize that its not officially endorsed and I understand why, its such an important part of getting to know people and feeling like you're part of a community. None of the other sites I tried had ANYTHING like this, when I logged on I felt like I was pretty much on my own, to make some wanted ad or something (which was overwhelming) and try to find something, but it didn't feel like a COMMUNITY. None of them encouraged people to IM (it was done through PM) and the IM way is just so much more personal.  Those sites didn't feel like being part of a class. But this site DOES and part of that is that you're always together, you're talking with your year, and with your house. It really lets you foster a sense of togetherness. I don't know how things would work without the year chat. 

 

Honestly its hard starting out and not knowing anybody and feeling like nobody knows you. I feel so lucky for two people really over anybody else. My mentor, Abi Stancil, who I raved about before and also Grace Foster, who was like my unofficial second mentor. We just started talking, she took me under her wing, and went out of her way to rp with me because I had been having trouble finding something that really clicked. That again was because I met her in the year chat.

 

In some ways I got so lucky I still can't believe it. I guess in summary it's the members of VH that make VH such a great place. And those who go out of their way to welcome and RP with new people really make a big difference. I'm sure both Abi and Grace know what a difference they made to my time here. One of those was official and one of those was unofficial. And I think that's good. We should have systems in place to make sure new users are helped, and also make sure to remember that just because we aren't a mentor or something doesn't mean we can't make a difference.

 

Dueling, quid, sorting, the OOC community on AIM/Discord....this stuff really makes this site feel special. And I think most people here are great so thank you all. I'm legit surprised how many people I know well here and I don't think that could have happened on any other site. So er...I guess this whole section is mostly to say I think we do things pretty well. Im sure people had bad experiences that were nothing like mine, but for me at least, the system really paid off.

 

Thanks to everybody who ever made me feel welcome and my awesome year, of which too many people are awesome to name but I feel so blessed being in Vh31 and I hope other new members felt just as good in their years. I'll even say 'Gary is the best' but mostly because I want to see if he's even reading this.

 

Post 4 - Now I'm Here (Plots)

 

So I guess now we're up to talking about the site itself. I know I've talked about long enough already but there's one thing I do feel like I have to bring up. 

 

I love so much about this site. Seriously. Joining this site was one of the best experiences I ever had. I don't think I ever could have enjoyed another HP site more, and it was everything I wanted it to be and the people are wonderful. Really, I have to say that. I genuinely love this site. There is one area though that Ive always been bothered by and I have a lot of feelings on it and I just want to express them, and that's the nature of the plots. 

 

What Savannah said pretty much perfectly says what I was going to say. When the death eaters first attacked, back when Jake was a second year, it was very exciting. A giant plot, they were attacking everywhere, things were crazy. The RP was traumatic but it did give a chance for development. I always had this vision that maybe one day Jake would get redemption. Maybe there'd be another attack one day when Jake was older - maybe a seventh year. Maybe he runs into the same death eater in the forest - the one that got him when he was little. Maybe this time he'd stand his ground, instead of cowering. Even if he's afraid maybe he wouldn't back down. Maybe he gets a lucky shot in, manages to knock a death eater out, and escape. And it would be this big moment of bravery as he faces the challenge he failed at as a child and this time he is able to face it.

 

As time went on, I began to realize that this big redemption moment wasn't likely to happen. If anything made me feel disheartened about the site and let some of my enthusiasm go down it was that. No, it didn't make or break anything, but it did deflate me a bit. As the attacks happened again in Jake's fourth year, I realized that it was going down much the same way as the one's before it. While some of the death eaters were captured and defeated, as far as the role of a random Hogwarts student (who is the average user of the site...the new user....and the majority of users) nothing was different. It began to feel like the only role for students in the death eater plot was as victims to get bloodied and battered and tortured. I found it disheartening to realize that what it felt like (from my point of view) was that the main characters of the plot were the aurors and death eaters, who were already (I think) the members of the plot committee. So instead of writing a plot for the students, it seemed like the plots were being written for the plotters.

 

I guess this part kind of comes down to a philosophy thing. To me I feel like...ideally... the 'main' characters are the average users, and the plotters are ambience characters that are supposed to give the students something to react to or participate in. In a perfect world, in my mind, when you sign up for the plot committee you're thinking first and foremost, okay, how can I make a cool experience for the average users of the site. And Im sure they do think that, but I don't always feel like it pays off. I think of Order of the Phoenix, where Harry and his friends formed Dumbledore's Army in rebellion of Umbridge. How they went to the Department of Mysteries and held off some death eaters. Yes, some of them got hurt, but they also were able to protect the prophecy and even get the better of some DEs, before the Order of the Phoenix did swoop in. In Deathly Hallows, Neville, as ordinary a guy as they came, proved he was a true Gryffindor by chopping the head off a snake that had a horcrux inside it and helped bring down the dark lord. 

 

Harry Potter faced crazy danger and survived many times, sometimes getting some wins for the good guys. Yes, Harry Potter was the chosen one, but most of what he did was not because he was some magic prodigy, in fact he wasn't always that extraordinary a student or wizard. And often it wasn't magical ability that he used but just perseverance and determination. Even if you say that Harry had some of Voldemort's power, and so had an unfair advantage it wasn't just Harry that was participating in things. All his friends were working together.Ron Weasley helped save the Sorceror's Stone as a normal eleven year old boy because he was good at wizard chess.

 

If you think of VH as a kids book, its a pretty sad kids book, because the students don't ever win. In fact, the students don't really have much agency at all, even for small victories. If you try to follow the journeys of these characters, as far as the main plot goes, you'll mostly end up sad. And if we took the students that were affected by the attacks or site plot in some way I wonder what the ratio is of people who ended up triumphant, to people who just ended up traumatized. I mean I dont really remember one student since Ive been here that exited these plots a winner even in any way as simple as 'I held them off long enough to save the day'. 

 

You could say, 'well it's more real this way', but Harry Potter is fantastical and that's part of what makes it fun and exciting. If Fluffy ate Harry in Book 1 and that was the end, it wouldn't have been very fun to read. We've sort of created a sad world which I guess is dramatic but I guess what I wish we could see is adventure and triumph. With the PG rating especially (which honestly I don't mind either way besides that the brutality of the attacks seems out of sync with this) it seems weird to me how bleak the actual site plots are, if you look at it from the student perspective. I mean we used to literally get shackled and tortured at the school itself.

 

I loved what Savannah was saying earlier. Plot ideas like a troll enters the dungeons, and the first years have to band together to fight it off. There could be things like that, or students could just have bigger more active roles in the main plot. Maybe a Slytherin is working with the death eaters to try to join them, and try to let them into the castle. Maybe another student suspects him (like Malfoy's plot in Half Blood Prince). Maybe a death eater corners a student, but the student's friend gets a lucky shot and knocks him out. Or if we think its too unrealistic maybe the enemies are more in the range of what a student can handle, and instead of aurors saving the day we save ourselves. As far as the shackling and torturing goes, maybe when Flamel was in charge, its the students who band together to try to get rid of her. You could say there's nothing stopping somebody from IC making a Flamel protest group or something. The problem is that it didn't seem likely that any plot was likely to work, because I feel like we maybe don't feel empowered to actually win. What was the payoff to Umbridge torturing Harry all year? He sends her off into the forest with the centaurs. On VH these plots don't really seem to have a payoff. 

 

I don't know what this comes from exactly. I think maybe partly it comes from people being attached to their characters. Rather than saying 'Okay we are the villains for the players to defeat' they might think 'this is my character, he's a villain'. And they protect their character instead of 'fulfilling their role'. I sort of think of pro wrestling (Yeah Im a big WWE fan <_<) where the role of the bad guy is to get the crowd to hate him and then eventually get beat by the hero. The mark of a good wrestling villain is the one that makes you really want to see him lose which in turn makes the fans love the hero even more. I kind of feel like it should be the goal of the good villain to make the hero's win extra satisfying.

 

What I'm saying is I wish the students could be the heroes.

 

Yes we can make our own fun, and our own crazy plots, I don't deny that. I just don't think it changes the fact that the plot team could be something even greater by including the students in the plots. Now this DID happen with the Tournament of Champions. I loved the philosophy behind that and how it gave 40 student characters the chance to participate and be a hero. I really think the tourney was the best idea I've seen since Ive been on the site it was awesome. I would love to see more of that, but Im also just talking about the regular plots beyond the tournaments, which I know have been part of the site for a long time (even though this one had different rules that were appreciated in terms of how they included people). Maybe things will be more like the tourney going forward, and personally I HOPE so, but I'm commenting on how I've seen things the past years since I don't know.

 

Soooooo all this rambling and complaining for what? The real question is how do we fix it? I feel like part of it is just thinking in a certain way and being more willing to give and take and plot with the student characters. But maybe what we could also do is have a system for applying for participation in plots as student characters or as alumnis. So basically, the plot committee's focus changes a bit. Rather than writing a plot where they star in it, they find the BASIS for plots that will affect the school and then look for people, including students, to fill roles. Or maybe they make it so students can submit these plot ideas, both personal and widespread, and the plot crew could sift through submitted plot ideas, and let students participate.

 

Would it be totally fair? Probably not. I don't think anything ever could be. Maybe other people do have ideas about how this kind of thing could be fairly implemented. It would just be great if I felt like I, as a random user that is not on the plot committee, and is just a random Hogwarts student...felt like there was a chance I could do something important one day. Just as Jake. Not as an auror or a death eater, but as Jake Morent, Hogwarts student.

 

I'm sure there'd be drama associated as there is with all good things. Im sure there's probably drama over prefects and special powers too...the way I see it though this only increases the amount of potential participants. I just think overall it'd be a positive. And maybe it's not even something official, maybe its just more abilities for a student to contact the mods or plot team with plot ideas in mind and have a general feeling that it very well might be accepted.

 

Now here's the thing...

 

I've brought this up in chats before and have been told that this IS how it is. That you CAN submit plot ideas. That all I had to do was ask, and maybe it would have worked. Maybe that's true. Maybe all that Im asking for we already have. But that's still a problem worth bringing up especially when it comes to NEW users. Maybe anybody could do these things, but the problem is just that nobody's asking. 

 

So then I guess the question is why is nobody asking? 

 

It's possible that some people have been here a long time - and they know that if you ask you might just receive. If we think of just the random new users who haven't done that, they might not know. I've been here for two years, but I didn't really know or feel that way. I can't speak for everybody and won't try to. I'm just saying maybe a lot of people don't know this is encouraged or allowed. I haven't seen very much of this taking place - but maybe thats not because the mods are rejecting ideas, but because people aren't suggesting them. I bet if people thought they could though, they would. I wonder how many, like me, are just assuming we can't. So maybe then the actual suggestion is If we CAN submit plot ideas and be part of the plots, take steps to make sure students are aware of this and feel comfortable doing so.

 

Perhaps the problem is actually a communication issue. Perhaps we have more openness with plots than we realize, but maybe something could be done to better communicate to the sites users that they should feel open to come forward with plot ideas. And just a greater effort to make sure they are included in the plots, beyond just as the role of victim. 

 

Um yeah....I just completely rambled more than I meant to. I hope nobody was offended and that I didn't come off as harsh or complaining. That isn't what I mean to do. Im not trying to attack anybody. I guess I just want to fully explain my feelings. I could say what could be better or just make a suggestion, but it wouldn't be helpful if people didn't think there was a problem in the first place, so I just wanted to explain why I thought there was.  I know not everybody agrees with this. That's fine too. I guess I could have kept this much shorter and just said I agree with Savannah but oh well, its too late now. 

 

But in summary, VH is really great and welcoming, The people are amazing. I love the site. I wish the students had more plot relevance and feel like they could but I still think this site does things that no other site does, and I can't imagine enjoying another site more.

 

If you read all this you are seriously brave, thank you <_<

Edited by Jake Morent

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Grace Foster

OMG Jake!

 

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Weasley
1 hour ago, Jake Morent said:

So here's something that I think would be pretty easy to do:

 

Give newly signed up members an email notification when sorting forms are open, and again a few days before they're due. 

 

I wonder how many people we lose, because like me, they sign up but then decide to wait for sorting and forget to ever come back - especially if they are months away. Just something to be like 'HI FUTURE HOGWARTS STUDENTS: SORTING HAS OPENED!" and then another notification a few weeks later that says 'REMEMBER: ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT TO SORT' could make a huge difference. If we want to get extra fancy we can actually make them a Hogwarts letter haha, and do something fun, thematic, and enticing that makes people say 'oh yeah that site seemed cool let me go fill out that form'. But either way this would ensure that people that signed up and left don't miss the sorting deadline. If we already do something like this, I'm sorry, I didn't realize. But if we don't it's something simple that could make a big difference in keeping new members. 

 

Hi, just peeking in to say that we already do this. About a week before sorting I send a mass email to everyone in the Member group who has registered since the previous sorting.

Admittedly, it's been very sporadic in the past, but I've made it a point to make sure it goes out every sorting since VH34. 

 

Thanks everyone for your feedback. Carry on!

 

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Jake Morent
44 minutes ago, Grace Foster said:

OMG Jake!

 

 

:blush:

 

(And that's great Weasley, happy to hear that, I figured there was a chance it might be already done but wasn't sure)

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Devlin P. Whitehorn

Okay wow there is a lot to unpack here. Let me see if I can get through my thoughts without losing the point.

 

I had a friend within the last year that I tried to bring over to VH. When I saw this topic, I poked her and asked what her thoughts were and she agrees with several points already mentioned. She thinks that the site rating should definitely be increased (with maybe a separate forum for more mature topics) and that there needs to be more inclusiveness. Which is something that has already been touched on, so I'm not going to rehash it here.

 

As for me, my situation is like several posters here. I first came to VH around the time of VH6, and while it was nowhere near as welcoming as it nowadays, I stuck around for a bit. One of the mods was really nice to me when I freaked out thinking that I wouldn't be able to be sorted, which I'm still grateful for to this day. And even though I didn't have any real connections with people, I do remember a few fondly.

 

I left for a few years, and when I returned, my new character only lasted until fifth year before I retired her because there weren't any real plots with her. My VH20 was my first ever alumni, and since then, I've managed to do several things (Quidditch, dueling, school-wide tournament) that my younger self would have been over the moon about.  I've had a great VH experience so far.

 

However, there are a few things that I think need a bit of modification on.

 

I usually do not have an issue with rules that the mods have, because I get where they're coming from with them. The only big one I've not agreed with is the restriction when sorting into Slytherin. I think in light of recent years, when more of the wizarding world has been made known to us thanks to JKR, to keep muggleborn students out of the house is a bit silly, IMO. And for new students coming in, it may be discouraging trying to create a certain type of character, because it's yet another restriction in character creation. It's minor, but it could also be something that turns someone off from the site.

 

Previous comments about the CCE are things that I agree with. Trish is an off canon character, but honestly, most people don't know that, because the canon characters she's related to aren't ones that immediately come to mind. As we get further and further away from the canon storyline of the HP series, I think that it's reasonable to have the off-canon not be as tightly controlled as it can seem it is. There still needs to be monitoring, of course, and that list of canons is nice to double check for reference, but if someone wanted to some obscure character in the HP universe, I don't see why they should have to go through a long process for approval.

 

I agree that having more plots for people to work off of would be good.  The last DE attack was a nice one for me writing Trish, because I had something I could build from for the first time ever. She's a footnote in the overall events, but I was able to add character development and future threads from it. Which is super nice, given how it doesn't usually happen.

 

I don't think that all site-wide plots need to involve the DEs, but I'd like to see them more frequently. Because it often seems like 'let's wait for x number of vh years before having another big plot' deal and sometimes that results in someone not having a chance to participate. Like in the past, there have been some events that require (and rightly so) you to have a student character fifth year or higher to participate. Which is fine and good unless you're a person new to the site with only a first or second year character, because the next time such an event happens again, your first character is out of school and your next one is only a third year. Which can dim the excitement of such events if they keep happening.

 

I'd like to see more opportunities for extra-curricular activity RPs. I've been here long enough that I remember that there used to be a club setup in the lawn forums that eventually got removed, but I think there should be more chances to have a formerly recognized organization within the school. VH is supposed to represent a student's time at Hogwarts, and I feel sometimes like that doesn't happen? Obviously, this would require some sort of organization to encourage people to be active in the activities, but I think it's possible. And for new people, it might be a lot easier to have their character be part of a chess club than dueling or Quidditch.

 

Speaking of Quidditch...it might be time to consider revamping it a little. With the way things are going, I feel like within a few years it's going to be less...viable. It took me two tries to actually be accepted on a Quidditch team, and while the first one could be blamed on my crappy internet at the time, the second one came to nepotism to some extent. While I understand that people are going to want to choose players because they know that they're reliable and know the rules, for new people, it can be extremely alienating. Which can lead to situations similar to right now, where some teams are having difficulty filling their rosters. And I've heard a few complaints from people about the board shutting down during Quid week, which is a fair thing to be upset with. 

 

Overall, the reason I've stayed with VH so long is because I've had such a lovely experience with the people here. I've met one of my best friends on the planet through VH, and I'm so grateful for this site being in my life. I applaud the hard work that's gone into making this site run for as long as it has, and I hope that I've been at least a little helpful D:

 

(also jake, ilu for that novel of a post)

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Ekaterina Valentin

So I wasn't sure I really had anything to add but maybe I should just put it out there and let it be sifted through.  I don't want anyone to feel I'm upset with them or mad or unhappy.  Things are good now, these are just my experiences and suggestions.  

 

PS:  @Jake Morent  I just may out do you in length here  lol

 

I came to this site after a several year hiatus from rp.  I had become burned out and lost touch with the characters I had worked with for a good four or five years.  Thankfully, a long-time friend from that era who I had lost touch with found me on IM again and we stayed in contact for about a year.  Occasionally, @Maksim Valentin would talk about the fun he was having with Maks and another character or two he rp'd here.  

 

During one of these conversations, he mentioned having been trying to find someone to rp Maks' sister.  I kind of offered and it was accepted and I dove in right before sorting week with learning the rules (Yes, I read it all), working on her sorting application and getting started.

 

Things I wish I had been alerted to sooner?  VH Year Chat.

 

Yet, it took me a long time (read that until quite recently) to be comfortable in my first year chat.  This led to the fact that most everyone had time to participate in PHP and I had no clue there was a PHP or even time to try to be part of it, where they had begun bonding and I was an outsider.  There was another catch to my year.  Many of Kat's class had previous characters on VH.  Alumni that had interacted.  I'd feel so much an outsider when everyone began going remember when this and this and this........   When I'd try to participate, I felt awkward and not part of the group so I'd leave.  I tried going back twice more and it was the same.  

 

After a few VH years of being out of the chat and basically just rping in class and some duels, Kat's year set up a server on Discord and a PM went out to all who weren't already there.  I'm glad it did because I did try one more time and I'm feeling more at home there now than I ever did.

 

Things I've learned?

 

Year Chats did not always make a difference because, rarely did I find one right away when I sorted.  When I did, some died shortly after sorting or sometime, I got lost in the chat.  That's not uncommon for an introvert (table for 1 please!) :)  Sometimes it's much harder for

us to feel we belong in large groups of any kind, even when its rather anonymously.  But sometimes, they were the reason I am still here.  

 

Getting people into year chats as soon as they can after registering and remembering that not everyone has characters that already interact with others here aka they don't know any one else, can go a long way to keeping people here and active.

 

 

VHOT:  I know some like it but I found it hard to navigate and use.  There is also the fact that I have other activities I participate in on line (Ravelry groups, etc) and one more site (or several if you find year boards) just does not work for me.  PS on those year boards.  I never knew about any or found them.   For some they may be great but for me, it would be so much easier to have a "here's an open thread" thread in one of the upper forums (or a tower forum in the school) for people to post their open thread links on then on a completely separate board.  Or perhaps a help forum that includes that plus a "want ads" thread for adopting family characters.

 

Making a new character & PHP:   While in Kat's first year, I suddenly had another character come to life, Alice.  Since then, two more have been added to the cast living inside my brain, Sophia and Aggie.   These three have had the advantage of working through PHP.   I've noticed that as soon as sorting is over, there's new characters coming to life for the next vh year.  And, sometimes, people who are already acquainted/friends/rping characters together start rping their new kids in PHP and it's back to that being harder to connect and break into the circle.  Once again, especially for an introvert by nature.  

 

The workbooks have value and use, especially with the chance to flesh out a family tree and answer questions about your own character to help with development.  But I agree with others who suggest some changes to PHP.  They would definitely help.  Lessons like the sorted students do would be a major help to a totally new arrival at VH.   Knowing what's expected when we get to those classes makes a difference.  

 

Some sort of interaction with sorted students would be great as well.  Perhaps field trips from one of the classes that would fit with this?  Or a quid team coming to talk about the sport in an interactive lesson?  Or some of the more advanced duelers, again for an interactive lesson thread?

 

Additional thoughts? 

 

I'd like to see a few more opportunities for adult characters to rp.  Maybe business hirings, ministry positions even minor ones, etc.  Yes, Hogwarts is a school but it exists in a world that involves more adults than just professors and staff.  Plus, its not fun to invest 7 vh years (and 3-4 real life years) in a character and then have nothing to rp with them later.  

 

Right now, I can't think of anything else, except thanks to all of you who didn't give up on me.  VH31, 32, 33 and 35!  <3 you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aurora Braelin-VonHaus

Speaking if extracurriculars...

 

Remember way back when... When the school board had a budget for all those clubs we used to have? Maybe we should bring back some various clubs. We don't need to have a club for everything, but say...

 

Choir. We saw in the PoA movie the choir singing at sorting. Maybe a club could be formed for that and the choir kicks off sorting every year. That's a way to give some students a chance to RP for the benefit of ambiance on the site. RP with a deadline and generally show the powers that be that this character/puppeteer is actually responsible. Looks good on that virtual resume, basically. Because we all know how hard it can be to help out in your houses if you're not a prefect (not always true, but it's definitely a feeling).

 

Chess Club. Gobstones Club. Exploding Snap. We can easily bring this to life on VH, and these aren't even the clubs that existed in O!VH.

 

And anyone who has played the games of HP knows that there's basically a Dueling club within each house. And houses have champions, etc. We could have fun with that...

 

Clubs were definitely a reason why I connected so well on VH and I'd like to see more? Clubs also bring students together who normally wouldn't get together for an RP. Something to think about.

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Coraline Depyr
On 08/01/2018 at 6:01 AM, Arabella Jones said:

I wanted to bring up something that Wesley touched on briefly a few posts ago: we’re all great at welcoming others and that’s what I love the most about VH - the people, but...we aren’t so great at translating that ICly. I’ve created characters and joined the upcoming year right before sorting, and while fitting in wasn’t a problem, it was finding people in my year to RP with and have a substantial plot with that I had issues with, which led to those characters either going inactive or decreasing significantly in activity.

 

THIIIIIIS.

 

I'm not your target demographic but WTHey.  I come and go from here a LOT.

 

1.  The rules forum is MASSIVE.  Nobody wants to read all that.  And when people don't want to read something, they won't.  They'll skim it to find the part they need to know to answer the question on the sorting form.

 

Also, a lot of the "guidelines" are covered by other rules.  You don't need a whole section on not allowing self harm if you're already a PG rating.  Yes, people will try it.  And then you explain to them that violence against yourself is still violence and they have broken the site rating.  You don't have to pre-empt every possibility.

 

In fact, if I had to guess, I'd say reorganising the rules and guidelines forum is the best way of gaining new members.  When I started RPing (literally when VH opened), having lots of rules was a sign that the admins were serious and the site wasn't full of trolls.  Now, it's a sign that the admins are control freaks.  Not saying our admins are, but that forum's structure has never been reconsidered.

 

:ETA: And you should separate the school rules and the site rules.

 

1a. Get rid of that question on the sorting form.  It's a joke, isn't it?  It HAS to be a joke, because all the possible replies bar the correct one are ridiculous.  But it means the sorting form has to load twice more, and the person filling it out has more chance of losing their answers.

 

2.  I'm not sure if the site rating needs to be increased, but I think the point needs to be made that the site isn't really PG.  There are rules against kissing, for god's sake.  That's G (or even below, there's kissing in Disney movies).  I don't know what the admins are aiming for with the site rating.  I know what kind of content most servers will allow, and I've seen the writing of a fair few of VH's members.  I don't think they're so bad that kissing needs to be banned.

 

I do think the MPAA rating system is terrible for RPG.  It's designed for finished, visual works.  RPG is an ongoing, mostly written, activity.  I wonder if the admins have seen the rpg rating system.  Or considered just outlining what kind of limits they want to place on the content of the site.

 

3.  Adding onto what Jake said, make the school years change on a set date.  No need to make them much longer or shorter, but wouldn't it be easier if we all knew sorting was going to happen in September and March?  Also, if you did that, you'd be catching the RL school term of both hemispheres (roughly).  I know it's not really that long (because I hate the short terms) but you see what I mean, right?

 

4.  Inactivity.  How does it even work?  The rules say if you go inactive you might not be reactivated, but that's it.  I can't even figure out what the trigger to make a character inactive is, because from talking to other people, it seems to vary.  What are you trying to accomplish with inactivity?  Are you trying to encourage more people to stay active (in which case you should tell us how long we can go without posting before we go inactive)?  Are you trying to encourage more people to make new characters?  Because that's what I do.  Are you trying to weed out the upper years?  Because that's what happens. 

 

I'm just guessing, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who returns, sees my latest character was made inactive and goes "cool, I'll just wait till the next sorting".

 

5.  Since you asked, I've always had a love-hate relationship with PHP.  I think it's cute as an introduction to how VH works, since VH is very different from most HP sites.  The prompts for interacting with the other pre-sorts are great but a lot of the character development stuff assumes everyone writes the same way.

 

6.  I agree with Aurora about clubs.  Heaps of people used to meet through clubs.  Also those silly competitions we used to have.  Ones you all probably think are "unrealistic" *cough*battleofthebands*cough*.  It might not have been strictly canon, but it was fun.  And sometimes you have to bend canon for the sake of people's enjoyment.

 

ETA TW for the disability rules etc

 

My opinion on the disability rules hasn't changed from what it was last time I brought this up.  I RP for catharsis, not escapism.

 

I appreciate it when people want to play a disabled or mentally ill character, even if they get it completely wrong.  Even if it's my illness and they get it completely wrong (although, it's worth saying that everyone's experience of disability/chronic illness/mental illness is unique so... there's that).  Ideally I'd like them to do some research, but even if they don't, it's an indication of empathy, which is ultimately more important to me.

 

Also, the rule doesn't work.  We can't play a physically disabled character, sure, but there are plenty of characters on VH who have things like anxiety and depression and more.  So long as we don't diagnose them or give them something totally obvious like auditory hallucinations, they don't get banned.

 

And since I'm writing about this, I think the anti-bullying & anti-slur rules are excessive.  I agree with them in OOC areas, but there are a lot of things VH carries over into IC that make it seem like there's not a good ability to distinguish between what a character believes and what a player believes.  I know of at least one character who had to be modified because the player was worried they would be too offensive for VH, which is such a shame because it was such a good character.

 

 

 

Edited by Coraline Depyr
even more thoughts!

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Weasley

I want to thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts. We appreciated hearing from all of you!

 

At this time, I am going to close this thread, wait a day or two so people can read this post, then we'll move the topic to our private lair for further discussion and perusal.

 

I hope you can understand this is not an attempt to stifle feedback. The moderators are simply overwhelmed. It's been a highly stressful week for us for several reasons. And for many of you as well, we know.

 

As useful and illuminating as the feedback can be, it's also just... a lot.

 

We asked for it. We expected it wouldn't be all roses. We appreciate it so much. But boy, do we need a breather.  We have A LOT of irons in the fire right now and several large projects we're trying to accomplish and I'd like us to be able to return our focus to those. 

 

I would also like to note that we were very happy to see that so many of you had similar ideas and suggestions to plans we already have in motion! I think some of you will be pleased as we roll out some projects/changes in the coming months.

 

Thank you again. Peace and love and carburetors.

 

 

P.S. if I'm closing this while you were just about to post, please know you can still pm it to us. <3

 

 

Edit: on second thought, I guess it's exactly an attempt to stifle feedback? >.< 

Like I literally want to check the flow of feedback for a bit so we can recoup and get some work done. I just mean it's not that we don't care what you have to say. 

 

 

 

 

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