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Sadrienne

Staffing The old vs the new

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Tally came back in November. If you've been around the RP community for a while, you might remember it from 2006-2013, we had a good long run that ended when I got a sudden case of "overwhelming life things".

 

So the board (and the community) has a history, even though we've only been back at it for a few months.

 

The current memberbase is about half-half... half from the previous run, and half new since the reboot. We kept all of the character canon (except the parts people wanted to shed from their characters), and we fully acknowledge the events RP'd on the site before. The first few weeks, when it was really strongly the "old crew" coming back (because I'd mass mailed the old board before I even thought about advertising anywhere) I created a "reunioncity" discord channel to catch up characters and brainstorm what's happened since.

 

Now the community is more balanced.

 

But one of my members insists we have a clique. She claims there is a distinct "old crew" and "new crew" where the "old crew" gets favoured and the "new crew" is left to fend for themselves. This... would be very worrying for me except that I do not see it. I know exactly who the new members are and who the old ones are, and I see them mixing just fine. I chose a "new crew" person for the one staff position I've opened up. New members are getting engaged with veterans and those who only joined last month, the Discord is active and friendly and generally a happy place.

 

Yet she still claims that she feels "left out" because of her newness.

 

The other day we were having a discussion while I was skinning the theme for the IPS board. I was complaining, as I do, that skinning is hard. One of my members (one who has stuck with Tally since that first week in '06 gods bless him) brought up the horror of my theming existence: the black and green skin. Not just any black and green skin, but the HORRIFYING HORRIBLE PIECE OF POOP that was so bad I actually took it down after a week. It was eye-hurty. 

 

Another member who was there at that time (it was like, '07?) jumps in with a LOL. These are the only two members that go that far back, so they explained to the rest of the class about this skin and what made it so "epic". We tried to find it on webarchive, but thank goodness it never got captured. But it became a Thing. Tally's tagline for the reboot was "back in black", a reference to the AC/DC song. So of course... the crew starts shouting #BackInBlackAndGreen at me.

 

Hilarious. I'm hella amused. I do my token protest, but it's all in fun. 

 

And the above member jumps into DMs and says "Can you make them stop talking about the black and green skin?"

 

Which I'm very confused by. She says, "It's very exclusionary when the old crew talks about things that the rest of us weren't here for."

 

Um... maybe? We do go to the effort of explaining the in-jokes, and note that by this point several newer members had jumped on the bandwagon and were also chanting for the black and green skin. So I mention that to her, and she says: "Yes but it's not just about me either. It's about the optics. You have guests that can view this too."

 

Yes... yes I do. And what they're seeing as a community bonding over a common joke? Is that bad? We're not in there refusing people the ability to participate because they weren't there. My co-admin wasn't even there at the time. 

 

And I don't dismiss it out of hand, because perhaps I do have a level of blindness given that I was there. She tells me it "creates an atmosphere and a conversation that I can't take part  in, and that others will feel excluded from as well". But if no one else seems to have an issue jumping in, is that the case? Or are there other people hanging back that I'm not seeing?

 

I genuinely don't know.

 

She suggests banning any conversation to do with Tally prior to the reboot. I think that's a bit extreme. I ask her if in two years time I'll have to forbid talking about anything that happened now for the sake of new members and the optics. She says that's different. I don't see how it is, and it matters to me because---trust me. I plan on being here in two years time.

 

Then she brings up the "reunioncity" channel. I say I'm thinking of deleting it because I feel that if anything, that creates a noticable divide between the new and the old. Not that we don't tag newer members in it to enjoy our crazy stories of the good old days. But... wouldn't it be better to have these odd rambles (and honestly it doesn't happen that much, we talk more about what's happening to the characters now) in general where newer members to the community can learn the in-jokes if they want? Rather than locking it away in a channel that kind of screams "old crew only"?

 

And that's where the conversation ended, abruptly. I was told to forget anything that was said because she'd clearly made a mistake.

 

But I'm still confused. Should I be limiting the discussion on what happened at Tally prior to the reboot? Should it go to a separate channel? I feel like we've actually done a good job of integrating the previous community with the newcomers, it's just this one person who seems to feel that there's a divide. 

 

What would you do in my position? What would you do if you were the member coming into a partly-established-but-new community? What would you want done?

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Are you the only staff member? I think you have a newer staff member too. Ask the newer staff member to discuss with her in private and ask her why she is feeling left out, what makes her feel left out, what would be ways to include the others, in her opinion (except not ever talking about the history you have, because it is wonderful to have a history of the site) and have the staff member give her suggestions (from new person to new person) how to diminish this feeling.

 

Definitely she is exaggerating, but her feelings have a reason outside the board which she can't realize. In her mind it's an association with something else, previous, which triggers the discomfort. This is why I recommend the discussion to happen in private between the new staff member and her. 

 

It might be something familiar for me too. Unfortunately, I still have as co-administrator one of the oldest persons on the site, with me since 2010 (even if not staff since 2010). We are still too few to have reasons to get a new staff member. And while ours aren't as talkative as to need a Discord site (I would wish one, but for now it would remain unused. Later, if we grow bigger, I am open to the possibility), we also have a new site which is a sequel to the old one, so new but with history. And 3 new people seemed to have integrated, while a fourth couldn't :(

 

 I think it is something inside preventing them (general they, mine who left, yours who feels left out, me who feel left out in other communities too, but I understand that my perception might be skewed and that timezone availability has something to do with it too, as when there were more Europeans I felt more integrated) to fully integrate in a collective...

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If I was a new member coming onto a previously established Community I would /already/ have a basic understanding that things happened prior to my existence and those things will at some point be talked about. 

 

Perhaps your singular member has been left out in the past, and is merely seeing your group through jaded glasses. She might be better off joining a board that is completely new if she has such a personal issue.  If everyone else is mingling just fine (you can always pm a few newbies separately asking if they feel left out or clique-divided) then the issue is with her personally. 

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Some people like to yell about "cliques" when they aren't the center of attention. Sometimes the world doesn't revolve around Sally and Sally is going to feel left out, and that's okay. Sally is going to have to grow up and realize that not everything is, or has to be about her. Just because Sally isn't the star doesn't mean that the rest of the cast is being "cliquey".

 

There is nothing wrong with OG members reminiscing about the "old site". There is nothing wrong with "inside jokes" just because some members aren't on the inside of them. Old members talking about stuff that happened when new members weren't there isn't a "clique". If old members are actively shunning, ignoring or otherwise cutting new members out of conversations and/or plots THEN and only then is there a problem. 

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3 hours ago, Mousie said:

But I'm still confused. Should I be limiting the discussion on what happened at Tally prior to the reboot? Should it go to a separate channel? I feel like we've actually done a good job of integrating the previous community with the newcomers, it's just this one person who seems to feel that there's a divide. 

 

What would you do in my position? What would you do if you were the member coming into a partly-established-but-new community? What would you want done?

 

Never limit discussions and conversations based on one person's complaints! Everyone joining a new site probably feels disconnected initially. I know I do. However, it's on me to read posts, connect with people, as questions and join in. As long as the other members are friendly and encouraging, that is all anyone should expect.

 

What would I do in your position? Absolutely nothing more than you have been doing. Zip, nada, nothing!

 

What would I do....joining a partly-established-but=new community? Just what I've done. Drop in, chat, get to know people, laugh at old jokes, join in with new ones.

 

What would I want done? As stated above...friendly and encouraging staff and members.

 

This is harsh - but I have only one word for the complaining member.... Snowflake!

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This person will never be happy. 

 

If they keep it up you could always ask what they would like you to do - except limiting conversation. Explain that you are not your member's mother, you are not an dictator. You cannot control them. But by asking them, you place the burden on them and can go from there besides on what they say. 

 

If you do get rid of the channel, I'd recommend changing it instead to a general plotting or whatever.

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Occasionally, I get the same thing from Embers' new players.

 

When you join a board older than a few years, there's gonna be some inside jokes, some older things talked about, etc. And there's pretty much eventually gonna be someone claiming it's exclusionary and cliqueish, no matter how many times you remember to explain things to newer players. It's just part of an older board, IME. I do what others suggest; ask how to improve this perceived exclusionary environment, and if they can't give me anything besides "make them stop," they're just whinging for the sake of whinging. Especially if this older stuff is somehow valid to the board now, or the conversations going on now, they're basically getting upset because someone's talking about a thread they're not in (see how silly it sounds?).

 

So, yeah, ask if they've got suggestions, but beyond that I'd just let them quack in the corner. Just, be aware there's likely to almost always be some person somewhere among your post-reboot players that feels left out, and trying to silence one side is pretty tyrannical, and stuff we don't do.

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I think getting rid of the channel that is for the oldies would be a good step. I don't think banning discussion is ever the way to go, but do keep in mind that "in jokes" cause the feeling of an "in group". This is not innately bad, but it's something the new member might have noticed. I'm actually incredibly sensitive to being an outsider, so I to some extent relate.

 

While this is not a roleplay specific example, I think it's applicable here and might lend insight. I moved to a new area and some of my friends like to make inside jokes. Even when they tell the story it's like a giant sign flashing: "oh right. You don't know this well known event. Let me help." It is friendly, I know they mean it well, but it is also infuriating. Yes I moved of my own accord; yes everyone I talk to is going to have a past. But there is a difference between telling a funny anecdote and dropping an inside joke when you know that you'll have to explain it. There is actually no reason to do the second. It is rare that someone else will ever adopt your inside joke--usually inside jokes aren't funny, they're only funny in the moment, so bringing them up and explaining the story just demonstrates a disconnect. (I mean there's a reason that people often say "nevermind, you had to be there.")

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I don't think there's a problem and this is coming from someone who often feels left out of things.

 

There would, however, be a problem if the old members were treating the new members differently and actively ignoring them, making disparaging remarks about their role-play, or things about their character, starting and abruptly stopping threads for no reason while still carrying on among themselves, or not letting them be a part of something when they're interested in it, heck, even sometimes setting things up so that the characters of new members' constantly fail at everything while the old members' characters are allowed to develop. This is what I would call a clique, and I've seen it happen, but just having fun talking about past events isn't.

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I'll preface this by saying I'm someone who's very awkward and sensitive when joining a new community.

 

Your new member is being unreasonable. She wants people to basically stop talking about anything she can't participate in. What would happen if, in an insane hypothesis here, you did ban speaking of the other incarnation of your site? Would other conversations she can't be a part of be banned too? What if people start talking about a music genre she dislikes? Would you be expected to stop that too, so she doesn't feel left out?

 

I would take a moment to talk to her and ask what could be done to help her integrate better. Note that it needs to be worded in a way so that she knows you won't change the community to suit her. You will try and help her fit into the community.

 

I hope that helps a little!

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15 hours ago, Thyme said:

While this is not a roleplay specific example, I think it's applicable here and might lend insight. I moved to a new area and some of my friends like to make inside jokes. Even when they tell the story it's like a giant sign flashing: "oh right. You don't know this well known event. Let me help." It is friendly, I know they mean it well, but it is also infuriating.

 

Thank you so much for your perspective! I know how hard it can be coming in to a thread like this and contradicting what has been said so far. So I really appreciate it.

 

If the majority of our conversation was focused on things that happened before the reboot, I would definitely be concerned. Not just because it's a discussion that our newer members will struggle to participate in, but also because I want the main focus of the community to be now and not then. I don't think any of us should be "living in the past" so to speak. 

 

And most of these conversations branch off things that are happening now. Along the lines of "this thing is happening, remember that time...?" and then a brief explanation is given. Usually it's not much more than "Remember that time Alan fell off the roof?" and those who do give their "Yes, lol!" and the conversation moves on. Unless questions are asked by newer members, and then the discussion gets a bit deeper into how/why it happened.

 

I mean... why do those who were there need to rehash the events unless there's interest in it? So we don't. And some of the discussions the member was upset by were happening between old and new members, and due to new members leading those discussions. 

 

7 hours ago, Shades said:

I would take a moment to talk to her and ask what could be done to help her integrate better. Note that it needs to be worded in a way so that she knows you won't change the community to suit her. You will try and help her fit into the community.

 

This was a daily thing for me. I tried explaining that as the board moved on and the "old crew" finished catching up, things would get more and more focused on what was now and less on what was then. Not that it was ever excessively focused on then at all. At least---I didn't think so, but I know that over time it will become less of a thing. That's just.. time for you.

 

I offered her plots and backstory with my characters. She had plots and backstory with other people's characters. 

 

But then she would go and look deep into the numbers as to what sort of members had what sort of characters and claim that there was "favouritism" because old crew members had created more non-human characters than new crew members. She showed me percentages. Told me it "looked bad" and that the community was more divided than I claimed.

 

Yet, I had zero restrictions on what new members can make. I had not denied any applications for special non-human characters from anyone. It was purely that the newer members were less interested in creating non-human characters. So there was absolutely nothing enforced there that could be considered me favouring the old crew, but it was regularly thrown in my face.

 

I am more than willing to accept that perhaps I'm blind to such things, given that my experience is mostly in running a board over a long time, so I heard her concerns and tried to help where I could. Just... nothing I did worked. 

 

She left this morning. Which is regrettable, but I don't know what more I could have done to make her happy within the community. It was like she refused to see anything but potential faults.

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I happen to be co-admin on Tally (WOO! REPRESENT!), and I'll back Mousie up in that we do try to keep the discussions more about current events. I mean, most  of the time we don't even have to try, because people prefer to talk about the trouble and mischief their characters are getting into now. We do have the occasional nostalgia moments of 'remember when', and when those occur, I actually go out of my way to look for the old forum and post a link to the old thread that people are talking about, so that new members DO have a chance to see the shenanigans that others remember so fondly and can share in the joke with the rest of us.

 

I have personally worked with new members who want to make something new and different. We haven't restricted people, and always try to make a character work somehow, even if we need to discuss small changes that might need to be made.

I have also personally offered plot ideas and connection ideas to people and directed them to other players they can discuss things with, so that there is a really good mix of old and new players getting involved with each other in stories and plots. In fact, most if not all the old players will offer up plots and connections.

 

We try to integrate new players and their characters with our own, both new and established characters. But there's only so much we can do and when someone seems to only be able to view things in a certain light, it can be difficult to help them see it any other way. I agree with the thoughts of a few people though, that she probably needs to join a brand new forum/concept if she doesn't like people getting nostalgic now and then.

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Ooh. I can see how you'd feel worried about old vs new. Honestly, I'm the type of person who loves hearing stories. Two of my co-admins go way back before me and have inside jokes. So, they let me in on it and explain it to me. Their way of telling me about events is pretty hilarious. I also listen to when a member and one of my co-admins used to play on another site irrelevant to mine, even in chat on Discord where other members can read it. 

 

I'm surprising myself with this, since it doesn't really feel it's been that long, but even Studdy has history. It's been a year and we have a lot of IC stories, inside jokes, etc that we've tossed around on Discord. "Remember in the beginning when...?" And some of our newer members were like OH DO TELL. We like story times. *shrug*

The nature of community is to be ever evolving. This former member of yours, I guess, was incapable of seeing that. There is always going to be old mixing in with the new and vice versa. Her fresh blood would've been adding onto the history of Tally's community. It's unfortunate she was unable to create her own memories. I am loving some of my newer members who are refreshing the scene with their own perspectives and humour. <3 

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2 hours ago, Mousie said:

But then she would go and look deep into the numbers as to what sort of members had what sort of characters and claim that there was "favouritism" because old crew members had created more non-human characters than new crew members. She showed me percentages. Told me it "looked bad" and that the community was more divided than I claimed.

 

Yet, I had zero restrictions on what new members can make. I had not denied any applications for special non-human characters from anyone. It was purely that the newer members were less interested in creating non-human characters. So there was absolutely nothing enforced there that could be considered me favouring the old crew, but it was regularly thrown in my face.

People follow trends. On twitter, I've seen a lot of character trends come and go. When I first started, there were a lot of dwarf characters, now, there's not so many. When Marvel and DC movies come out, there are lots of accounts based on characters in those universes, then they slow down and disappear after a while. If an actor is in different productions, you'll suddenly get character versions that are amalgamations of the characters they play. If someone has a 'unique' take on a character, you'll sometimes find that others become inspired by it. People will create characters that they are interested in playing and sometimes this is influenced by what a lot of other people are doing, so I wouldn't worry if the older group's characters are different to the new ones. When I was on a Star Wars forum (quite a long time ago, now, and the forum no longer exists), a lot of people had Middle-Earth name handles instead of Star Wars ones because the community was made up of both fandoms and it was while the Prequels and the Lord of the Rings was coming out. Later, though the Star Wars fans remained, people who were fans of other fandoms would pop up while a show or film was being made and then go sometime after the hype died down.

 

If I went on to a Star Wars forum now that existed when the prequels came out, the older members would more likely be interested in the original trilogy, the Legends canon and the prequels, while the newer members will more likely be interested in the Disney canon.

Edited by Icewolf
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