Over the past several months I’ve heard too much about this topic, mostly people complaining to each other, some random discussions over IM, and a few PMs sent to me. It seems to me that there seems to be a deluded sense that HNZ is either “one big clique” or just divided in to a whole bunch of cliques, with no real community.
Those are the definitions I will work with for the sake of this blog rant, since I feel a well defined definition is better to work with than some vague one different people conjure up in their minds.
Is HNZ a clique?
No is the simple answer. We are a group of people who share interests (Harry Potter, Roleplaying), patterns of behaviour (signing on to the board), but we are not exclusive. Registration is open to everybody and we’re quite welcoming to anybody who looks for help or introduces themselves (I, for instance, encourage new members to PM me and subscribe to the Welcome Forum so that I can say hello to everybody who takes the time to say hi to us). I know that plenty of people who have joined HNZ have felt overwhelmingly welcomed, and this helped dispel some of the overwhelmingness HNZ can hold for people knew to RPing.
So while the site as a whole has some characteristics of a ‘clique’, because it is not exclusive to only a set group of people, it is not one.
Are there cliques on HNZ?
This one is slightly more difficult to answer. I suppose to some it may appear that there are. There are certainly groups on the board who interact with each other more than others, who have developed a strong relationship off of the board as well and that’s great! It’s also human nature. Unfortunately, or perhaps even fortunately, we don’t like everybody equally. We can’t relate to every single person on this planet in the same way, and that’s definitely a blessing. So the simple fact that I am close friends with person X, Y, and Zed doesn’t mean I refuse to speak to, or help, anybody else – and I trust that is true of most people on HNZ.
I wish I could stop this blog post there, but I can’t. I wish things were that simple, but they’re not. Not only are some willing to go so far as to say their are cliques and exclusive groups on HNZ – but that unless you are in a certain clique, a certain ‘in-crowd‘ you won’t get anything on the board. Your applications will be denied, your characters will never be given major roles, you’ll never be asked to help out, you’ll be entirely ignored by others, etc.
When I first heard that… it hurt… a lot. I spend a decent amount of time on HNZ. I try pretty hard to interact with as many people as I can, get to know people, and with all that I obviously try to be as fair as possible with things like applications. I’m sure when people say things like that, they don’t think of who might read them, and who it reflects upon or hurts directly, but I rather think they should start. I was in shock completely and wondered how many people thought that of me, of Livvy and I, and if I should even bother continuing to try with things on HNZ.
It’s kind of ironic, too – because the people who I’ve seen say things like that are the same ones that rave about HNZ being their home, and how much they enjoy the site, and how they like everybody in it – but then they got a few applications denied and obviously it was because Livvy and myself don’t like them (not because they didn’t put much thought in to the application or its effects on other areas of the board). Or their character didn’t become prefect/headboy/headgirl and it’s obviously because the head-of-house/admin are just choosing their friends (it’s quite clearly not even conceivable that things like that are largely in-character, where lesson attendance and character behaviour actually matters).
Livvy and I take great care to deal with applications on their own, but we don’t just consider the application, we also consider:
- Past Requests
- Warning history of the user (if you’ve caused trouble on HNZ recently, it makes sense for you not to get superb privileges
- Quantity of requests coming in (if 50 pureblood requests come in one week, it’s likely that most of them will be denied, even if they’re all excellent).
We do not consider ‘Hey, Livvy is my friend, I’ll approve this plot!’ or ‘Oh, Julie is nothing but mean to me, I’ll never accept this!’ – because that’s not what HNZ is. I know, for myself, I have accepted applications for people that I know hate me with all of their being, people who I’ve never gotten along with, people I don’t even know, and yes – even my friends. In fact, when Livvy makes a request for a plot I treat it, or try to treat it, just like I would anybody else’s request (the difference being that she can see my post, my exact response, and reply to it). I also know that were I to make any sort of request, Livvy would handle mine the same way.
It frustrates me to know end, knowing personally the efforts I go to in order to ensure I’m not seen as ignoring any one person or their ‘group’, I talk to as many people as possible, will just quote any random person’s post in a ‘spam’ topic and work with it, try to be almost super-human in how I look at and handle applications – then I feel like people just look at it all and slap me in the face by saying that the site staff/admin are just as biased/clique-based as could be.
I’d like to give a concluding example of how wrong this assumption on the part of some users is. Six months ago, I barely talked to Kaitlyn. I mean, I talked to her in GD, I had already given her her nickname of Sir Kaitlyn, but I thought she rather disliked me/was pretty mean to me at times, and barely considered her to be a GM. Other members of the site staff who did know her vouched for her, and brought to light some excellent points (how well she knew the board rules, how often she reported topics, etc. All things which would be useful in a GM). So I trusted the opinions of the others and Kaitlyn was made a GM in January. Before her promotion many of her applications had been approved (though I was rather neutral on her as a person, again, thinking she didn’t like me much) and after her promotion some of her applications have been amended/tweaked/denied – just like anybody else. Since her promotion I have gotten to know her quite well, and see her very differently then I did before – I’d even go so far as to say she and I are pretty good friends now. I think that’s a fairly good example of how un-cliquey I myself am, and how un-cliquey I see most of HNZ to be.
As I admitted before, it is human nature to group off, find people you’re close to, and talk to them the most – but to think that HNZ has an ‘in-crowd’ where if you’re not a part of it you don’t get anything from anybody is simply absurd, and, quite frankly, insulting.
I present to you, once more, our community signature:
No sign of cliques there for me. Just a bunch of people who are enjoying HNZ and how great it is, hoping that it will last out another five years. Am I missing something that you see there, somehow?
P.S: Additional plug… HNZ’s birthday is awesome and ongoing! Be sure to check it outtttt!