Admin Stuff Blog busy Changes crazies HNZ Livvy Plans Rants weekly updates

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Disclaimer: This is Nick venting. If you have no interest in reading Nick venting or you get upset/take offence easily then I advise you stop reading at this point. If you enjoy sarcasm, humour, and Nick at his wit’s end: read on, brave knight!

This is a three part blog rant. Each part will build off of the last mentioned part. We’ll start off slow, with the obvious, then work our way up to my deepest frustration. Then I might cool things down a bit with a few funny remarks, positive comments, or hints about the direction which I hope to see HNZ heading near the end. But be warned: this road is rocky before it is smooth (narrow before wide, uphill before downhill, take your pick).

So, as promised, the most obvious point:

I post updates/information on HNZ for my own good health.
It’s true and don’t let anybody tell you it isn’t! Myself and the rest of the site staff really don’t want to keep members in the loop at all. In fact, we hate not having to answer a thousand redundant questions because people have read the Weekly Update and global announcements, or read tweets or clicked rule topics. It annoys us and shakes us to the very core of our being when our hard work is actually used. It’s quite absurd, really. We simply post endless announcements (in the simplest and shortest terms possible) for our own health. It’s to benefit us and solely us. So I encourage ignoring all updates made by myself or others because really – it’s irrelevant to you and you should know that by now. ;)
Note: The above was sarcasm.

Next up to bat:
The Halloween Feast
Part of this may be Déjà vu for many of you, especially if you read my first ever blog post on HNZ – but it continues to persist despite my begging, pleasing, and obvious hatred of this: Members are still using the actual image of something to be their character in costume.
Sure, they’re witches and wizards and therefore some leeway is allowed with regard to how amazing their costumes should look. However, let’s be reasonable.

Nicolas King as a Banana

That is not Nicolas King as a banana! It’s a banana! Sheesh! >_<;

My next point of contention with the Halloween Feast is it has largely been left unroleplayed in.
There have been 30 some-odd entries to the costume contest – and at the time of my typing this, nowhere near to even 30 some-odd posts for roleplaying in the feast. That doesn’t seem very right to you, does it? HNZ is still and RPG first and foremost, correct? I’m tempted to not consider any costume contest entrants that are not roleplayed in the feast. Something for me to consider, I suppose, as right now it’s not really fair to those who are taking the time to have their characters be there. =/

Finally, the grandest rant of them all:
Site Wide Plots
Since the Dawn of HNZ (or very nearly thereabouts) people have requested, nay, demanded site wide plots. For what reasons, I am still unsure. They take a large amount of planning and dedication and often they do not allow for as great individual development of character as everybody doing, for the most part, their own thing and mid-sized plots involving handfuls of people popping up now and then.

So, Livvy and I and the site staff at the time (so not Kaitlyn), after New Years, made a resolution for HNZ: Larger plots. More focus on roleplays. More awesomeness.
Simple enough, right? Well, I thought so too.
The fact of the matter is, however, that it is now nearly the end of February and we’ve held up our end of the deal. Despite Livvy’s absence, despite Abby’s computer problems, despite all the usual busy-ness (and extra busy-ness) of the rest of our site staff… yes, despite all those things we have held up our end of the deal. We have provided, so far, the makings of an excellent TriWizard Tournament which every member of HNZ can take part in in some way, or some form. We have expanded Ministry/Auror and Death Eater plots. It’s currently only one large one, with a few key players, but there are more in the works. Sure, you might not be the one pulling the strings of the plot (Members never are in site wide plots) but it’s your job to play it up with your characters! Have them react to the plot! Have it effect their lives somehow! What has it done for the most part? Nothing. What have members of HNZ done with it, for the most part? Nothing.

Even regular things that effect only most of the site don’t get the attention they should. Case and point? The Halloween Feast.
Why is this? Maybe people aren’t reading announcements that are posted? Maybe people are lazy? Maybe people just don’t want site-wide plots as much as they think they do? I don’t know. Maybe you should tell me.

With all this extra effort on the part of myself and the site staff, I find it amazing that some members still have the absolute audacity to request/suggest “site wide plots”. Applications for various things with the field(s) about site improvement often get a classic line about site wide plots. Alright. OK. We got it! We acted on it! We’ve started to implement it. Small things at first (though, by my calculations, the TriWizard Tournament is not small) and large things later. But what is to be our motivations for those larger things when these things that we have now are completely ignored and/or used very minimally? I don’t see any reason to keep on trying with it. People that are still suggesting site wide plots need to open their eyes and try to take part in the ones that are sitting right in front of them. They only work if everybody is in them, and right now – everybody is not in them. Heck, it’s the people who I very rarely hear wanting these types of plots taking the most part in them. Does that seem wrong to you?

Otherwise, I think HNZ is doing quite well. :) It’s active almost all the time. (Yes, during the day it’s slow because of school, but it’s never really dead. It’s not like many boards where a day goes by with only two posts or a week goes by with no member log ins.) It’s exciting, and a lot is happening. I enjoy getting the positive feedback I receive, and I also enjoy taking constructive criticism, talking to people about it, and molding HNZ to become better as a result. I really do love HNZ and I think all you members are awesome. I think, however, that a lot of members do need to pay more attention to what does go on – and not complain unless they know what they’re talking about. Ignorance is my chief grief with regards to the site right now.

I caught up on a lot of HNZ things today, and will have more to catch up on tomorrow. I think I’m doing fairly well as short handed as I am – but I’m quite anxious for Livvy’s return and the site staff being in full force once more (once Abby gets her internet back up and if/when Linda’s busy-ness decreases). I thank every member who has offered to help me over the past several weeks, and especially those who have. I also thank all of you who have listened to me vent and just dealt with it (I know I can be super annoying sometimes ;) ).

P.S: I hope you find the title to this blog post as poetic as I think it is, given all I’ve mentioned.

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Snow and more snow!

Yes, this blog is mostly about snow. It is white, it sparkles in the sun, and very cold. Sound like a Twilight vampire? Maybe that is why it is an epic fail! All snow does here is cut out of school, which means less HNZ time in the spring for I will be busting my ass in Calculus. Guess what? We have much more today than we ever had this winter. Even though I really hate going to school, it still sucks that we have to stay in during the summer. I might be eighteen when I actually graduate. Which will be in August. School until August. I will go ape-wild.

They salted my roads. That is a plus. Maybe this time we won’t have to go without water. I can only hope. I love my showers. So much, you don’t even know. I can shower all day if the hot water was on forever. But it runs out too quickly. It makes me sad.

What else makes me sad is knowing that we have no car. Yet. God will provide though! My mom prayed, this is actually ironic, for snow so she could get out of work. She has been having a rough time at work. And… We have so much snow, it is ridiculous. She was like, “Not this much!”

Some people get on my nerves, and I don’t show it. If something is changed, there is a good reason. Don’t complain over it, please. It just adds more stress. The single set of smileys is perfect. Toki works soo hard on them. They look so cute! My favorite out of them all has to be the lol one. I just love it! Mine is adorable too. I love the black hat!

I am managing lessons very well with the characters needed. I am really sad about Niccy and Kalif. They are soo cute! Why must they both be so stubborn, realize they love each other and make many, many babies! I can’t wait for Hades and Pat to step in. Oh how much fun it will be getting the parents back together! It is strange how we have everything planned out, and we get so mad about characters but know it is just going to end up all right. That is the best part about RPing. I just adore it.

Anyways, enough for now.
A promise is a promise, Nickles.

~ Kaitlyn

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Admin Stuff Changes emoticons General Discussions HNZ Rants weekly updates

The Problem of Change

Change in life is inevitable. This is true of any life form, as adaption/reactions to environment are one of the key factors in determining if something is living, or not. How can an organism react or adapt to a stagnant environment? It cannot. It is obvious, therefore, that environments and circumstances change and that living things must change with them.

This is true, also, in the life of a forum and a forum community. Change on a forum, and in a community, is not possible to avoid. In fact, avoiding change often will become the death of a forum and its community. As circumstances change on the board and for the people who make up the site – HNZ must change as well.

Now for the most part change has been, and will always be, extremely welcomed on HNZ. On InvisionFree we changed from the InvisionFree default theme to a theme custom designed by Athene. This, a major change, was accepted for the most part quite easily. (There are always those who complain, but they were fairly quiet in their protest) Next, we had a series of new forums open (Character Development, Plotline Development, Guide to roleplaying). These too, for the most part, were welcomed with enthusiasm and are now an integral part of the forum today. Soon enough a domain was purchased for HNZ by Athene and after much frustration with trying to set it up, the domain simply forwarded and masked to HNZ. While this instance of change was not a complete success, the point of my mentioning it is that the members were entirely supportive and patient while things were fiddled about to get everything operational.

In fall of 2008 HNZ converted to ZetaBoards, with the support of most of the community. Then followed easily six months of transition in to the brand new forum software – trying out the codes that would best suit the board, removing them, about as much as you can imagine. Still, members were patient and supportive. Also in fall of 2008, HNZ was set up to its present domain of . This, too, took some time to set up properly but guess what? The site was still supportive and patient – this time it paid off and the board is still using its custom domain name.

The list goes on and on. Of large changes which were worked in to the board and generally accepted with ease. New lessons policies. New forums. Seasons being corrected to match those of New Zealand. Board codes being added. Different styles of updates, competitions, and events being tried over time. Still the board allowed it all.

There have been times when change was considered, opened to site vote, and then shot down. One instance of this that comes to mind, for instance, is the possible use of the ZetaBoards AIO (All in One) code which could have been the money system on the forum, because of its incompatibility with Internet Explorer. That had been my uneasiness with the code at the time, so I understood and respected the site’s decision. (Note, too, that that code has since been made Internet Explorer compatible but has not been re-propositioned to HNZ because I do respect the first decision made by the board and there are still other negatives to trying to install it.)

With all this in mind, at how exceedingly open the community of HNZ has always been to change, even if that change didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped, one might imagine that changing smaller things on the board would be welcomed evenly more openly/widely, or even just not noticed/commented on at all. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

As some of you have read in my blog “That Which We Call a Rose“, the recent change in name from “General Discussions” back to “Spam” in our random chatter-type topics was met with not insignificant opposition. I fear that opposition to such seemingly insignificant change has come up once more.

This evening a goal I have had for several months came in to effect: HNZ is now using only one set of emoticons. For quite a while, HNZ had been using three sets. I managed to reduce this to two. Then, Tony (out of the awesomeness of his heart) made a custom set for HNZ. This were all added to the board, but some of the other sets remained behind. We had three sets again. So, slowly but surely, I phased out emoticons of the other sets. Asking Tony to create replacements for the emotion being represented each time to ensure that nobody would be unable to express a meaning in their post with the selection of emoticons. This afternoon the final two emoticons were replaced: Console and Frantics.

The new emoticons for console (:console:) and frantics (:frantics:) are extremelyawesome and (dare I say it? yes.) cute, I think. However, they are:

    1. No longer animated


  • No longer the exact same yellow emoticons


So this is obviously cause for uproar. My opinion is that the site looks more cohesive and professional on one set of emoticons – and these emoticons are special, made by Tony, and therefore unique to HNZ – unlike the generic IPB emoticons found on most forums based off of that system. I knew the change would be noticed, and disapproved of by many. But I also felt the change needed to happen, and that it would be small enough that people would just get over it – no matter how attached they may have been to the old emoticons. I loved the purple glomp. I also loved a few of the Yahoo! emoticons – but they’re all gone now, right? It’s not like I’m just doing whatever I like – I’m doing what I think best for the site, and when it comes to such small changes as this, I should hope that can be understood.

Here’s to hoping people understand and we’re able to enjoy Tony’s awesome creations together,

(Also: Tony gave us an extra emote this time! :voldy: )
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Admin Stuff Blog crazies HNZ Livvy Plans Rants Solo

So, as most of you should know, Livvy (Cecily Zdablooptybloop) has been absent since about the 20th of January. That means that I have been administrating HNZ on my own for over two weeks at this point, and Livvy intends to be gone likely until things resettle for her at the end of February or beginning of March.

I knew, when she told me how long she’d likely be gone, that this would be tough and her being away would be uber suckage – but I don’t think I truly realized how different things would be. I knew, for instance, that I would have to process all sales receipts on my own, and fill in for everything else Livvy does on HNZ so frequently. Those things in themselves make it quite difficult for me to play both our roles on HNZ – but I hadn’t realized (although I did within the first week of her absence) just how much I relied on Livvy for things other than handling her sections of the site. For instance, I loved running ideas by her, discussing things I had just thought up and would likely mull over on my own for another month before putting them in to action (yes, that’s something we do fairly often), or bouncing random ideas off her, commenting on certain member’s behaviour and discussing how best to deal with certain situations. She was also normally the one to keep me up to date on what was happening in character on the board (as, generally, I’m so involved with running the actual board, and the technical side of things, that I am quite clueless). We really do have quite the partner dynamic to running the board and that simply disappeared as soon as she left.

All of a sudden not only were all the routine tasks on my shoulders, but all the special plans we had for the coming months fell solely on me as well, and I was suddenly no longer able to bounce ideas off of somebody constantly. It was likely this last bit that has been the toughest for me. I can do sales receipts, I can even figure out how we would deal with most applications on my own – but I can’t bounce ideas off of myself. I can’t get Livvy’s perspective on things just from my own mind (of course, she and I agree ninety nine and a quarter percent of the time (yes, a fraction with a percent. Love me, math people. 😉 ) ) and I certainly hate implementing things that I’m not sure she’ll support upon her return.

Assuming I ignore the relationship in running the board that I cannot have when Livvy is gone, the tasks themselves simply pile up and make it impossible for me to do very much of what I’d like to do on HNZ. There are the normal tasks that have always and will always exist:

  • Member group changes (Normally split between us)
  • Applications for everything (about ten a week) Discussed by both of us
  • Warnings/Member Disputes (Discussed between us and sometimes Global Moderators – member is contacted by either Livvy or myself, we split this)
  • Answering FAQs(Normally split between us)
  • Posting announcements (Normally split between us)
  • Sales Receipts (Normally Livvy)
  • Updating Site Documentation as things change (Normally me, sometimes pawned off on Livvy)
  • Replying to suggestions. (Normally me, sometimes pawned off on Livvy)

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, what I can think of right now, with regard to standard site operation.

Then, there’s the awesome timing of Livvy’s hiatus (through no fault of her own, obviously). She left and sorting was still happening. No big deal, I normally handle most of sorting. I took it on myself to even deal with every transfer application on my own to not pester her as she prepared to leave – despite that being something we traditionally do together. The real kicker is that this is to be a TriWizard Tournament year on HNZ. A lot of the planning was still only rough outlines, no formal posts had been written yet, and it had been Livvy and my intentions to run it together. That, obviously, has not panned out. I have been running it largely on my own and I hope it should go well.

TriWizard Tournament?!

Yes! The TriWizard Tournament is ongoing and chances are you aren’t doing your part! *sad face* Check it out and post here!

The TriWizard tournament is a substantial amount of extra work: from planning, to posting, to organizing, to prodding champions to get off their bum-bums to telling the SUPER HELPFUL ( ^_^ ) volunteers how they’re supposed to do what they need to do. =D

I also believe HNZ’s TWT is cursed. The last time we did this Alicia had to leave and we sort of strategically killed the plot line at task two. Now this time, Livvy has had to leave us for a month and we have no intention of it dying… unless the champions don’t start posting (Can you tell I’m bitter about TWT activity? No? Not obvious yet? Hmmm. I’ll work on that.)

Needless to say, I have been getting tonnes of help and support from our awesome Global Moderators. They’re all super busy right now, too, but they’ve stepped it up quite a bit for me, and for Livvy. We’re working on keeping things as active as we can and up to date as we can. I think, without the global moderating team, I would have collapsed by now. I wub dem guys. ^_^ (They’re even letting me bounce ideas off them once in a while! They’re not as good as Livvy … (no offence, guys) but still – it’s nice enough =D )

With Livvy gone, though, I have noticed some other things about the site:

  • Some members are mean no matter what. Ignore them. Don’t let them get to you. If you do, you’ll hate HNZ and not want to do anything at all.
    I was very close to just going on my own break at one point because of member comments and gossip in the past week
  • No matter how much you do, people don’t have to thank you for it if they don’t want to.
    True story.
  • No matter how fast you work, people want you to work faster.
    Also a true story. I’ve been clearing out applications about once a week. It’s the most I can do, seeings how I’m running most aspects of the site for now. However this is still not quick enough for some members. I still get PMs ‘reminding’ me to process things that I know about, and I still get very frustrated by that. 😉
  • Nice people should be glomped. All. The. Time. If you don’t, they’ll forget you wubbles them. They forget soo0o0o quickly. =(
    Unfortunately, I have learned this in the past week. I fear I have hurt somebody’s feelings, not by my words (though they passed it off as by my words, I think… my words were simply the unrefined truth about something on the site), but by my lack of words. Words which I had assumed to be understood.

I am, obviously, quite anxious for Livvy’s return and have quite a bit of February left to go before that will be a reality.
Any support from the members of HNZ in this time would be greatly appreciated. I’ve kept it up for over two weeks now, and I’m wearing down a bit. I can keep it up, but I need to know that

  1. The site is behind me
  2. and

  3. The site is patient with me
  4. and

  5. I’m not going to hear mean things about me through the grape vine when everything I’m doing on HNZ is for the members. I get very little out of being an admin, and I think it’s the site that truly profits. I guess that’s just one man’s opinion, though.

Thanks for reading this, guys, and be sure to keep Livvy in your thoughts/prayers over the coming weeks – she needs it. As much as it sucks that she’s gone, her absence is necessary for her and the easier this time is, the quicker she comes back. ^_^ So ya – keep her in your thoughts. =)


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Blog General Discussions HNZ Names Rants Shakespeare Spam

That which we call a rose…

General Discussions VIII was closed today and a new topic was opened: Spam Again… Again!” This change, even in topic title style, has sparked considerable discussion and I feel I should share my entire thoughts on the topic. Give the history of the topic we’re using, my reasoning behind the change, and my own thoughts on all the feedback I’m getting so it’s all out there once and for all.

General Discussions has, for the past eleven months, been Hogwarts New Zealand’s general/random chatter topic. Where members can go to get to know each other, talk about anything and everything, and just truly enjoy each other’s company. Now, prior to March of 2009 HNZ still had topics that were, in fact, exactly the same as “General Discussions”. These topics, however, had been called “Spam”. This “Spam” topic had first been started by Bellatrix Green with a first post that included “Pee in to the wind!” It was, truly, a topic to do pretty much anything and everything. This topic was started in 2007, my first year on HNZ, and was the first topic in the board to reach 50 pages. It was then deleted and Spam 2 began. This, too, reached a certain number of pages before being deleted. This pattern continued up to Spam 7, with Spam 6 being revived and a Spam 6 part 2 having been begun at one point.

Then the titles for these topics started to get even more creative, with such titles as “§pam for the Ages“, “Spam, Egg, Bacon and SPAM“, and even things as random as “Exploding Penguin“. It simply became a fun tradition on HNZ. Starting ‘spam’ topics once they reached a set number of pages, making a fun name for it, and having the same awesome chats with the same (and new) awesome people. The memories were, and are, all priceless and they really do deserve the mention they receive from members who were around for such events.

However, during Spam Light, I started to notice a trend of true spam; that is to say, a trend of pointless and annoying posts about nothing. Breaking board rules was becoming the normal. I recall going away for a time, coming back, and finding the topic a mess. So, after dealing with said mess I was tired of ‘spam’ (in the true sense) and thusly was tired of general chat topics which opened the doors to ‘spam’. I discussed this with Livvy, who felt similarly, and Spam Light was closed until we decided what to do next.

We decided that the best course of action, however poorly received was to open a topic with a new name, but the same meaning at heart. We felt that “spam”, as a title, was confusing newer members – telling them that it was okay to literally spam the topic named spam. So we opened General Discussions. This topic had firmly laid out rules, and a very obvious threat attached to it: if spam appeared, the topic would be gone for good. We still wanted the atmosphere and the heart of the original ‘spams’, but didn’t want to run the risk of confusing new members. This seemed, to us, a logical alternative.

Immediately the community reacted. Admin were the bad guys who wanted to destroy HNZ and its OOC Community. Of course we did not, but that was how we were received. Members, generally, didn’t see the point of the name change and disapproved of it. They felt that the new topic format had to be entirely formal and serious, and that we had taken away a part of what the experience of HNZ was to them. Others simply viewed this “General Discussions” idea as “Spam with a fancy name” and so General Discussions, the first, by its end, had turned out just as poorly as Spam Light. It was closed for a time, and General Discussions II was opened with even more defined guidelines, a netiquette guide to accompany it, and the hopes of things turning out differently.

They did, very fortunately. There were the odd members who tried to spam the topic, but they were dealt on an individual basis and the topics continued. GD III, GD IV, GD V, GD VI, GD VII and GD VIII – which brought us in to 2010. 2010. The new year. A new decade (some think) and new years always mean new, fresh, starts. New chances. New goals. New everything. So, today, on February the sixth of that new year, and almost a whole year since the original falling out in Spam Light, I decided it was time to give GD VIII its rest and open a new topic. That new topic, I felt, could be brought back to its ‘Spam’ origins, if not just for the nostalgia of old members but also for the enjoyment of new members and maybe even a little bit as an experiment on my end of things, to see if continuing “General Discussions” for eight instalments was wise or necessary. (In addition to this reformatting of the topic title, I also recovered many older Spam/GD topics to be viewed by members of HNZ at their leisure here)

As I stated above, this was met with mixed reviews. Older members seemed to appreciate the change back, the fond memories of their earlier days on the site, the ability to access some of those long lost topics, and hope for newer members of the board to have similar experiences as they did in the series of general chat topics to come. Newer members, however, have seemed to disapprove of the topic title change immensely. Stating they “Miss General Discussions” and other such statements. Of course, both the topic and the people are still precisely the same – but the title has changed and therefore nothing is the same any longer.

In this situation, it is clearly impossible to please both parties – and both options have a positive and a negative. I feel that opening up the older topics for viewing, and giving members another shot at the fun times of being able to start their own general chat topic as one dies, choose their own title, and give the first post of the new (soon to be eight hundred page) topic their own spice, is worth the possible trouble of a few members trying to legitimately spam. Of course, that is the sad truth: with this change of style back, members will be more likely to attempt to spam. With three global moderators (who are all amazing), I felt like that was a manageable consequence/risk, but it definitely is a downside to the change.

I can understand new member’s and their comfort being in “General Discussions” and not anything “Spam” related, however does it make that much of a difference? Need I fight another war and taking all the beatings people wish to give me through their words over a name change once more? Does the name change the type of topic it is? The type of conversations it holds, or the type of people who are in it? I would argue not. The only thing this name change does is offer sentimental value to older users, and allow for more opportunities and involvement of members in the creation of future random chatter-type topics. I didn’t expect this kind of adverse reaction when I created the new topic. Not at all.

So does it change that much? The name? I don’t think so. It changes a bit – but the essence of the topic itself is still the same, is it not?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Shakespeare got it right, there, I think. But it seems HNZ disagrees.

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