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Outpost 10F Forums / OTF v3 Ideas / Rank System Consultation
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skevington
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 08:48
Reply 


The EC is currently discussing the implementation of a number of vast changes around the place in an attempt to rectify the current slump in activity faced by the Outpost.

One of the areas we have identified for improvement and wish to gain feedback on is the ranking system.

The idea has been put forth and has received general support to expand the ranking system beyond what it is currently. For example, in the trek genre we are considering adding non-commissioned ranks to go alongside the officer ranks currently in use.

Other people on the EC have suggested that there be two sets of ranks. One set for department members and the other for non-department members which run side by side and are interchangeable.

We think that by expanding the rank system we can reward those who engage in both departmental work and those who only wish to spend time chatting as clearly not everyone wants to spend a number of hours doing department work alongside chatting!

Suffice to say: there are lots of ideas but we feel that it is important that the members be consulted before any kind of changes be implemented to this community. Therefore we wish to know what you think!

Do you support expanding the current selection of ranks on offer from 12 clearance levels to more?

Do you think its a bad idea to add more ranks? If you think so, then please let us know why.

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions on the rank system? Then post letting us know.


Regards,


Dmitri

ajcardall
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 08:57 · Edited by: ajcardall
Reply 


The rank system and command structure in OTF is far too rigid and outdated. More flexibility is definitely needed, if you ask me.

As it stands, those in power aren't held accountable, and that is absolutely disasterous. I really feel we need to move away from the current authoritarian structure, and more towards a democractic one.

In fact, why are ranks really needed in the first place? OTF has been on the wane recently - I think we all know that - and I think that's purely because chatrooms are on the out, and places like Bebo and MySpace are on the rise. OTF, I feel, needs to focus more on being a chatroom, and not adding more bangles, baubles and needless red-tape. I think we need to make bold steps and break from the old and try something radical and new, even if that means getting rid of a lot of things in place, to make OTF more 'simple'.

I feel it's trying to be too many things, and it's becoming stagnant and dying off.

I would expand and add more, but I've got other things to do. But I'm sure others have ideas anyway!

EDIT:

I think it's indicative of the dire state of OTF that to make it better, they discuss more ranks. Hmmm

darth_balco
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 09:03 · Edited by: darth_balco
Reply 


I think just keep the ranks the same but I think for getting CL5, i think the chatters that have been in good behavior, are here on frequent basis, and participate frequently in chat events like Trivia or a WG writing competition. Yeah, so what if they aren't in department to be eligible, but I think should give those that meet those areas I just listed a chance at CL5 because I feel those people are just as important as does doing behind the scenes work or just doing department work because if it wasn't for the chatters, where would OTF be without them?

In other words, try to work a way to reward the people that have been active chatters here for several years. The two rank system, those that are non-department and those that are in departments could cause more politics and clique mentalities.

Edit - Personally, I say ditch the ranks and promotions and let everyone have a little bit more fun by giving everyone the same toys like Custom Avatar and Rank. I say maybe it's time to ditch the Sci-Fi theme and try to make it into an open themed chatroom and focus on what I would like to say, OTF focusing on not making a Sci-Fi Community, but rather an Online Community. And let's put down our hostilities and such and let's just have fun chatting. However I know not a lot people agree with a bold move like that but that's just me and I could be wrong.

bria
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 09:11
Reply 


Gah, I actually find myself agreeing with Andrew.

The problem, it seems, is that people aren't coming to OTF anymore. By that, I presume you mean they aren't coming to the chatroom anymore. But here's the thing: With the exception of Lee, it's become very, very rare that I see EC members around the chats. The people who are worrying about no one chatting aren't doing so themselves. What we seem to have is people in charge of something they no longer actively participate in.

I can see two reasons. One is lack of interest (which I'd like to doubt, given that you guys are in charge) and the other is lack of time. A lack of time which is going to become worse and worse, the more you keep adding levels to the bureaucracy and paperwork.

Adding more ranks is, as far as I can tell, totally pointless. I've worked my way up to CL7 in what I always felt was quite a reasonable time span in relation to the amount of work I put in. I think that the people who do work are being rewarded enough, and those who don't do work don't deserve to be anyway.

As well as that, chances are that it's just going to increase competition and resentment and add an extra layer of meaningless pomp to distract people from what OTF is really about. I mean, I'm a member of other "communities" (like Deviantart, for example) and they don't have a rank system, yet loads of people go there and really enjoy it.

Doesn't everyone keep saying "It's not about promotions, it's not about ranks"? And if it is - what's the point in having a chat room at all? I find it silly when people need promotions and ranks in order to feel appreciated. Have we lost the ability to say "Well done, you did a really good job"? In my experience, that kind of thing makes me feel at least as good as a promotion.

Anyway. I'm against adding another layer to the rank structure. Don't emphasise this stuff too much, otherwise it WILL be all that people care about, and then you can just give up on the "chatroom" idea. And yes, the other thing, which I stand by, is that the people who are in charge of this whole operation need to be more than just a rank and a name without any actual participation in the thing they're trying so desperately to reanimate.

ajcardall
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 09:12
Reply 


Ok, I've decided I will add more.

What's wrong with OTF, in my eyes, is this: red tape. There is a stupid amount of it for a chatroom, and it isn't needed and causes frustration. And now we're discussing adding more?! No. I think we need to be removing some. Why not change the ranks in such a way that their impact and importance is diminished and reduced? Why not give more people custom avatars, or whatever?

I'm going to be brutally honest (because too many people around here are not), and the problem is (and this is not a personal attack on anyone in particular, but a general comment) that the leadership are making too many errors in judgement, are blind to the big picture, and are trying to preserve power that they have. No. But nothing can be done about it, because as I said previously, they can't be held accountable, and anyone who dares speak out is punished, threads locked, or banned. OTF is becoming too oppresive.

I have a sneaking suspicion that those who disagree with this will be the ones with something to lose.

If you want to increase popularity in OTF, slacken off. Cut away red-tape. Get rid of all the crap and deadwood. Be more relaxed in the chatrooms. I feel the rules are becoming - or at least, were - too stifling and killing any fun. I remember a confrontation I had with a few ISA members, about 8 months ago, about innuendo. I won't go into details, but it greatly proved my point, and a lot of people agreed with me - if not publically.

This will rattle feathers, but frankly, I couldn't care less. If you really want to save OTF, then look at the big picture, take the bold steps, and don't cling onto old ways when they're clearly not working.

Ithankyou.

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 09:55
Reply 


Alright, I'll be swift.

No more ranks. DO NOT add more ranks.

Seriously, I wouldn't mind having custom avatars and ranks/titles for everyone. I know a lot of people (like Svenja and you, Lee) worked hard for CL7, when you get custom avatar, and it feels special, but let's just let everyone have them. But also keep the Outpost's avatars.

The most drastic change for me: Cut down the number of chat rooms. Only one generally gets used at a time. The rest are just dead weight. Put all the avatars into one or two rooms, delete the rest (keep the Department Offices though). Whatever room(s) are left, make them open themed. Hence why all the avatars I suggested.

And seriously, I think innuendos aren't too bad. We do need to be more relaxed.

bria
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:06
Reply 


The only problem I see with letting everyone have custom avatars is that lamers etc could login with pictures of... whatever.

But maybe bring it down to CL4 or CL5? You know, because at that stage people have worked and have proved to be upstanding members. Like I said, the problem I'd have with everyone having custom avatars is that people will abuse it, and if they do it's actually a graphic thing, not just words. Get my drift?

And the innuendo thing... yeah. I don't like crude references much, myself, but playful banter and stuff like that is what makes it fun.

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:14
Reply 


Alright, I could see it being brought down to CL4 or CL5. Definitely not CL1-3 though, now that I think about it.

But I still stand by my "fewer rooms" statement.

darth_balco
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:17
Reply 


Well we could just take out the lamers who are going to abuse such a privilege if it was made accessible to everyone.

I agree with cutting down the chats, that's not a bad idea.

I also think we could do without the spycam. Yes, I know it's purpose is for keeping an eye on naughty little lamers but sometimes people just sit in the spycam instead of actually being in the chatroom to chat.

I'll say it again, open-themed is the way to be. We could get a lot more traffic in without potential members being turned off by thinking, "oh my science fiction? But I just want a place to chat about everyday stuff" Yes we don't talk about Sci-Fi all the time but if I was potential member like I was when I first came here, I had that thought in the back of my mind.

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:22
Reply 


I'm all for an open-themed chat. I think I said something like that myself (after your first post). And if we cut down the rooms, we wouldn't really need the spycam since everyone, both the "good" chatters and the lamers, would all be in the same room(s) anyways.

The problem, as I think Svenja was trying to point out, is that pictures are more graphic (imagine that) than words. Words are easier to ignore than a picture. Some lamer could come in with a picture of someone's private parts. Even if you remove the person, that picture will still be there, and, like I said, it'll be harder to ignore, and some people find it more offensive.

darth_balco
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:28
Reply 


Good point, will be much easier to just put the custom avatar at like CL4 or Cl5 than trying to constantly phase each bad picture a lamer will put up.

The only themes that would be around would be holliday or anniversary themes. For example, it's Halloween so a Halloween theme would be up for that day, and so on. Like how Google changes it's homepage for a holiday or certain awareness month.

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:29
Reply 


Is there even a size-limit for avatars? I know that generally we use 45x55, but I don't think the special login restricts that. So, theoretically, someone could come in with with a 700x1000 avatar. Lamers would love that.

If (and it's a big if) we lower the rank for custom avatars, we should have a guide or something for people who want to use custom avatars but don't know 100% what they're doing, like avatar sizes and whatnot.

bria
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:38
Reply 


Nope, no limit, at least not at present. *l* Not in the preview function anyway. Didn't want to login, 'cause you know.

I still think that we need to see more personal involvement from the people in charge. Instead of hiding behind rank structures, email addresses, and promotions, why not come into the chat and actually talk to people? Why not TELL people they're doing a good job instead of devising another automated, impersonal system to do so?

darth_balco
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:38
Reply 


I would say we have a size limit range, if that makes sense. No smaller than 45x55 but no bigger than 60 X 70.

Also for the paid accounts, say someone makes a really popular site (like a facebook type of site,for example)that's on the OTF server that's making big revenue, give them a piece of the profit. And give them a voice in the EC. I mean if they are pumping mean into the funds that keep OTF going, shouldn't they have a voice too?

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 10:45
Reply 


Yeah, I too feel that OTF Command personnel need to become more involved. Yes, I know that they're doing a lot behind the scenes, but sometimes it feels impersonal.

sg8472
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 11:05
Reply 


I didn't read all of the responses, so apologies if I'm repeating something that has already said.

The point I picked up on most of all, is Andrew's comment regarding sites like Bebo and mySpace. It's true, the most popular sites on the internet these days are the social networking websites like those mentioned, where people can upload pictures, connect with friends, leave comments in their own time, and personalise their only little internet realty. Also, with apps like MSN and Skype chatrooms are becoming even less appealing. The choice of ways to communicate are expanding way beyond simple chat-rooms.

These forums have probably been seeing more activity in recent months than even the chat-rooms have.

Simply put, OTF needs to evolve, like it did several years ago. OTF needs to become OTF Version 3. The best way I see for this community to survive for hopefully another 10 years is to jump on the band-wagon.

We already have a profile system in place, why not try to expand upon that? Become more Bebo/Facebook-esque! Allow people to leave comments, connect to friends, add widgets, customise skins, make your page public or private. Send invites to friends who you think would be interested in this place!!! Maybe not upload pictures... yet, but it's a thought for the future. These kind of websites, if they become popular, can also be great for advertising, ie. making some money for maintenance, additional servers (to eventually allow picture upload?)!

The chatrooms are there, and they're done! There's nothing more that can be done that will have any huge, long-lasting impact, but the extra appeal of a chatroom alongside a social networking site won't likely hurt.

I also think it's time to break away from the ST/SW/FY segration. Just become a single Sci-Fi and Fantasy community, and open it up to fans of other sci-fi shows.

Simply put, OTF is becoming outdated!

skevington
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 11:32
Reply 


Wow! These responses are really helpful and i've started up a debate on the EC list solely intended to discuss the issues raised here point by point. I think the things you're saying are very true and as i did mention the rank issue was just one line we were looking down. This is why we decided to come and talk to all of you.

We don't want to go enforcing something the members really object to. It would be pointless, right?

We have talked about expanding the dossier system and about abolishing the unused chat rooms and merging the chat rooms as mentioned but it is early days at the moment and we're simply in the discussion and debate phase. It seems that there are no shortage of ideas so please do keep telling us what you think.

Even if you're merely reiterating what someone else has already said it places further emphasis on a certain issue and if lots of people feel the same way about a specific issue we are going to know that's the way for us to go as a community.

Great stuff!


Dmitri

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 11:34
Reply 


Quoting: skevington
but it is early days at the moment and we're simply in the discussion and debate phase.


NO! I want results NOW!!!

skevington
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 12:12
Reply 


But Rome wasn't built in a day.

majin_fett
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 12:25 · Edited by: majin_fett
Reply 


Are we Rome?

EDIT: I'll stop. I really don't want this thread going off-topic since it's very important.

kayana
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 12:26
Reply 


Hmmm let me share my thoughts on the matter.

Regarding ranks, I totally hear you on how much red tape we have and how we need to cut down on it but my personal thoughts about expanding ranks is NOT to have more sucking up and work on members but a way to include more priviliges for members and make it easier for people to progress and enjoy new aspects of OTF. The way I see it, CL7 is the end all be all for ranks and I think a lot of people get fustrated because they never reach it (we all have lives too after all) OR they reach it and now it's like, "so now what?"

I don't want to make people even more promo hungry but I was thinking, with more ranks and say less priviliges per rank perhaps people would be less focused on the "seniority" of each rank but more about what you can do with each rank, kind of like in WOW. Before you start protesting please read on to my next idea!

In conjunction with that, I've been thinking about introducing special chat "ranks" as well that are based on no of hours chatted. The more hours you chat the more priviliges you unlock like say custom smileys, or a gift to put in your dossier. That way, for OTFers who simply want to chat, they don't feel left out either and can look forward to having new toys and games to play with. This will be done REGARDLESS of recs from seniors but simply on hours chatted so that no one feels left out.

As for chats, yep, I am definitely of the view that I would like to streamline things. Just need to think wisely about what should stay and what should not.

And Bria, I do chat a lot chica, just not in the past month or so!

kayana
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 12:28
Reply 


Thank you all for your comments, and please please do add your (honest) thoughts on this- at the end of the day these are the things I/we need to know! Let us know what you like/don't like/want to change please

crazytexan
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 12:42 · Edited by: crazytexan
Reply 


First of all, who on the Executive Council thought of this idea (adding ranks) in the first place? That person should be taken out back and shot. (metaphorically)

-Don't add more ranks, affiliations, or genres. Just DON'T do it.

-Cut out the unused chatrooms. Sorry, but the D'D and the Rotarran haven't been visited on a regular basis in years. On one side it isn't putting a strain on system resources or anything, but still. Pull the trigger and remove these two rooms. It's been discussed for years and every year no one can let them go. Back these rooms up on the server and be done with it.

-Cut the red tape and the added layers of leadership. Is it necessary to have two Sector Commanders per genre?

"I have a sneaking suspicion that those who disagree with this will be the ones with something to lose." - AJ

I couldn't agree more. And what could they possibly lose? A sense of power, authority, maybe even respect? Oh no. We're doomed!

-The OTF leadership (at all levels) needs to be more active. If you can't put in the time due to your real life commitments like career, education, family/friends/significant other, other hobbies, etc... then reassess your time commitment to OTF. If something has to give, then OTF should be at the top of your list. Don't let an online chatroom interfere with your life. Trust me on this one folks. I value the experiences and people I have come in contact with at OTF over the years, but there comes a time like in any relationship where it has to change, it has to grow, and sometimes a person has to end it so they can move on toward other endeavors.

-Please don't spruce up the chatrooms just for the sake of it. For an event or holiday, that's fine, but adding more avatars, and different chattops every so often in hopes that it will convince the OTF chatters that progress is happening, they're not fooled. Most of the people hardly notice anyway...

-Back off on the rules, for OTF's sake. Let things slide and have fun. Be excellent to each other, stop politicking and being unreasonable and illogical in your day-to-day issues at OTF. "It's just a chatroom" but it always has the potential to be so much more. It is time for results, not excuses.

If ya'll take this thread off topic I'm going to beat you all senseless...

richard_smith
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 12:59
Reply 


I think it should be easier for people to advance. Sure keep the Department system and those people who get involved advance more quickly. Those who can't make a time comittment or latch on anywhere are on a time system.

I had a problem finding a place to belong and quit coming in for a while. Now that I am useful I cam back to haivng fun in here. Not that rank had a big part in that but if there was some sort of time schedule and more member benefits would keep people coming in.

dierna
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 13:41
Reply 


I like the idea of having custom avatars and ranks. But not for everyone. The noobs should have to earn em by behaving, chatting, and such.

In the TMNT forum I hang out in they recently implimented custom ranks but only for people who have certain amount of posts and have been a member for a year or more.

The departmental system should stay tho.

bria
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 14:55
Reply 


I agree with Ceet, because he rules, and he has a lot of sense.

I am 99% sure that if we remove the focus on ranks, if it's possible for everyone to just come in and have some fun, and if the people in management actually got involved in what they are managing, OTF will recover all by itself. The responses to this thread alone should convince you that people are interested.

It just seems to me as if everyone's saying "Oh no, OTF is going down the drain, we're not modern enough, no one's coming around anymore". And the attitude towards fixing that is to make this - an online chatroom - more attractive by updating the look and adding events and rewards and avatars left, right and centre. And all the while, people are being warned against the slightest innuendo (and yes, that WAS tolerated more a few years back) and basically unable to enjoy themselves properly. I mean, family friendly well and good, but how many kids are going to latch onto a subtle innuendo, and if they do, what are you trying to protect them from?

And I'm convinced that some of these things are happening because some people are so obsessed with keeping and practicing the "power" they have, that they forget about why they've got it in the first place. Example: I used to be in charge of Trivia. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it, but after a while I'd done everything, and essentially got bored and lost interest. It happens that way with most things. And when I noticed, I stepped down and made way for someone who still had the necessary enthusiasm for the job. If I'd hung on just for the sake of having the title or taking the credit, my team would've suffered.

So, what it boils down to is, stop being anal about rules, stop hanging onto ranks and rewards in order to attract people, and go out there and just talk to each other. If you create an environment where people can hang out, talk, and have some fun, then they'll come and do just that. But you won't do it by adding a new chat top, more avatars, or more rewards and ranks.

fat_man
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 16:12
Reply 


I'd actually seriously consider shutting down the site for a while.
a month maybe more. Then once its reopened everyone will be like "Zmog, its back lets go chat like"

I'm actually serious it would work. for the short run only.

Other than that i can't say much more than anyone else did the ideas i am for include:

Removing the excess chats.
And the rigid inflexibilty of the rules. this isn't to say i'm not for them, but consider a PD review, which i've been saying for what the last 5 years or so?

A bit more advertisement on the internets wouldn't hurt much either. that is to say we used be top of the top sci-fi sites in votes etc. But now we barely make into the top 30.

Take a look at other sites see what keeps them relevent and up to date?
We are in our comfort zones right now as a community and thats not doing much to entice new chatters or old chatters to return.

polson
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 16:48 · Edited by: polson
Reply 


This is all very interesting. I've said alot of what's being said here before and in response I was called "ungrateful" "unthankful" and "unappreicative". Very, very interesting.

Well I'll impart my two cents. I apologise for repeating what anyone else has already said. And I say all this believing I'll lose my custom rank and avatar when the brass has finished reading it.

1. If you dump the sci fi, I'm outa here. Sci fi is the reason I came here, sci fi is what makes this place so unique, so interesting I think, and so cool. I love the fact that we use phasers as a form of chat moderation. We have cool department names. We look like aliens. We all have that comminality that when all other forms of communication fail, you can talk about a rift in the space time continuum and everyone knows what you're talking about. I don't chat anywhere but here because I just couldn't get into those other themeless, bland, boring chat rooms.

2. On that note, trash the Rot and the D'D and do a trial period with a new themed room. I'd suggest Stargate, you all know that, but find out what is the latest and greatest and popularest in the sci fi/fantasy realm and run with it. See what happens!

3. Innuendo. I'm with Bria on this one. I enjoy playful banter. I do not enjoy crude innuendo. There is such a thing as taking it too far, and there is a short list of people who I know will go to far with it if they're given an inch. I don't know how to solve this problem, I confess.

4. Ranks. I've said it before, I've said it a thousand times. I do not agree with the current system. It rewards those for their hard work, so long as it's "measurable" in department work. There is no allowance here for people who come to the chat, day in and day out, over years, and are as much a part of this place as the guy who fixes the script every time we get bombed by ISEs. And yet..."hmmm...you fixed the script five times this month. Promotion for you! Hmmm...and you...you've chated here for ten years, being a part of what makes this place a community, a part of the memories, a part of the family of OTF...I'll just...pat you on the head and tell you to join a department and put in the mandatory four months and then we'll think about promoting you." I say character counts in spades over work ethic. Yes, work ethic is important, it makes this place happen, but if you've got people without character running this place in the end, you've made a grave error in judgement.

If you add more ranks to reward those who fit nicely into your work ethic world, you will only further demean the people who make this place home through the chatroom. I cannot condone that.

I have asked previously for emails to be sent out with promotions explaining the reason for the promotion. A "hey, this is why we think you're great" add on. I was told it was logistically impossible and too much of a nightmare for the EC to bother with. My response was to challenge OTFers to tell the people they recommended for a promo that they did so and why. I don't know if anyone has taken me up on that, but I know that I do it. I always send emails or IM's to those I've recommended with a little note telling them why.

Would I like teh ranks to be kaput, custom ranks for all, with folks just telling each other "hey man, you rock in this way..." ? Totally. Do I think it's going to happen? Not a chance clancy. I haven't much faith in the system.

All of this is the reason I was unhappy with my promotion from CL4 to CL5. By chosing to be the "LT for life" I felt like I was making a statement to the effect of everything I've just said. Like I was standing up for the people who chat here for years upon years without ever getting a "hey man...you're part of why this place is so great". When I tried to explain this, I was told I was being ungrateful, unthankful and unappreicative.

If the magic OTF fairy is out there, I'd like to be a CL4 with CL7 privaleges. If you don't have any of those in your bag, I'd like an email with my next promotion/demotion/award stating why I earned it.

dierna
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 17:33
Reply 


Quoting: polson
I'd suggest Stargate


I second that!!! A Stargate chat would rock and I know MANY people who would come for that!!

Feeble
Moderator
# Posted: 25 Oct 2007 18:05
Reply 


Ok, so I think I said most of this before, but here's my few thoughts:

Lurking and the spycam: Spycam - Agree, get rid of it, expecially if you're axing chat rooms. If you want to chat in the chatroom, chat. Going through with this lurking issue as a problem (and I don't know how you solve it, but) recently (without even taking into account the spycam) how often have you seen 5 or 6 people on personnel list, but then enter the chat to see no one has said anything for half an hour? This is bizarre to me. Not only is there a problem with the emphasis on ranks, but also on chat time. What is the point in awarding people 'Top Geek' if all they've done is sat and press refresh every 9.59 mins? That doesn't make a difference to our chat rooms.

As for awards - to me, it has seemed that awards are so unbalanced and disproportionate to the chat room - often they come down to cliques or expectations of what someone /should/ have done. We have become a VERY cliquey society, which is threatening for new people when they come in. This is not necessarily a new thing, but maybe something that needs to be overcome in higher ranks of OTF management... how are we to follow suit and recognise that someone's been working really hard at trying to get a thing to work, when we continue to give silver and gold awards (or whatever they're called these days) to heads of departments simply because. The big problem here - and I remember Ceet complaining of this when he was starting to become the big thing he is now - is that how often do peeps in the positions of 'power' come in to actually -chat- and engage with the community?

I for one don't like the idea of going towards a more facebook/myspace/bebo type community. The advantage of OTF chat room vs IMs and messageboards is that it is a community of people talking in real time (more or less). I would suggest (the only technical suggestion i can think of, given its one that discourages new members and has always been brought up) maybe going towards an automatically refreshing chat board, if someone can design it (because it does seem to be a sticking point and has been for the last 9-10 years). We're behind on this technology and I think it does discourage people pressing the refresh button (as lazy as that sounds!). But, we /are/ a community founded on chatrooms, lets not forget that.

Ranks - don't make new ranks. That's just timewasting and will irritate the people who've been more and more irritated over time. Ranks are somewhat silly anyways, really people should do the work that they want to do for OTF because they want to, not because they're going to be a CL7 in the long run (what does that even mean?)

avatars - I would personally be a rather large advocate for personalised avs... given the recent debate, avs are somewhat the way we define ourselves online, how are we to define ourselves through the lens of someone else's idea of what a selection of avs should be?

Rules - my main issue with the rules is we got one set of rules for those who we like and those who we don't. Innuendo from a new community member is slapped down harshly, where as I can get away with murder pretty much. I think we've become SO regimented that we've lost all sense of fun (which is shown by lurkers and people less willing to talk about anything vaguely serious) but also we've lost the ability to become a support network. I've read on certain people's blogs their suicidal thoughts, and the struggles they are having in real life, under the PDs, if they were to bring up certain topics to do with what is going on in their day to day life, we have the right to shoot them out. This is a grave grave mistake in my own opinion.

I think in order for this whole examination of OTF to work - we have to look at what makes OTF work and what makes people continue to come back. For me, this has always been fun, support and good people from around the globe. I believe we've lost the fun and the support elements as a community, and as such it seems to me to be a place people come to kill time and occasionally add some more technical trinkets on to try and make people more dazzled with the pretty shiney things.

I could go on for hours, but those are my few cents... to start with

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