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ajcardall
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2007 12:26 · Edited by: ajcardall
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I've been thinking about all this "change OTF" stuff recently, and here's what I've come up with. All of this is written with the utmost respect to those concered. This is not me instigating a flame war, or attacking anyone on a personal basis, but stating the facts (however cruel they may appear to be) as I see them. Please regard this as suggestions meant with the best intentions, and not personal grduges or vendettas in mind.

Anyway. What is wrong with OTF? Quite a few things: some beyond our control, and some we can change to make OTF was 'good' as possible, in this ever changing world that is the internet. I'll start with something we can affect:

Inactive Members in Leadership Positions.

This could be anyone from a project leader to the Commander-in-Chief, and is basically anyone who leads a team or project and above, and is inactive in and around chats, or on the mailing lists. This is killing OTF, because it pretty much means that very little can be done, or can be done in a timely manner. Projects, teams, departments and even higher functions have often slowed to a snail's-pace because of inactivity amongst the leadership. I feel that anyone with a position of power and leadership must be regularaly active on the mailing lists, and those in a position of power in the upper echelons, must be active both in the mailing lists, and in the chatrooms. The OTF leaders, and top brass, need to be seen to be active, and to be leading by example. The world leaders are all seen to be active (well, the vast majority) and they are in touch with those under them. I feel that the top brass are out of touch (highlighted by their initial idea that to help remedy OTF, we need more ranks, something 99% of us are opposed to). People will argue that they are busy with other committments and don't have time to check email every other day, or drop into the chat. Solution? Hand over the reigns to someone who DOES have time. If people had the best interests of OTF at heart, they would happily step aside for a more active member to take over.

As I said, this stretches all the way down to project leaders. How many projects at OTF are sat quitely gathering dust because the leaders have been inactive, and the membership simply given up with it? A lot, I'll bet. Again, if you do not have the time to work on it, step aside for someone else who DOES have the time. I think it's better to see a change of personnel than to see things grind to a halt. For example, on a higher-level, the promotions. They are seldom on time (they initial began as coming out at the start of a calendar month), but now appear in the middle/latter stages of a month. The promotions for October were issued on the 25th, just as an initial example. Now, I don't believe that this is because there are a great many recommendations and promoted officers to sort out (looking over recent batches of promotions, there are few), but because leading members don't - for what ever reason - have time or energy to put into the process, and into OTF. You will say that people are busy and have lives, so it's not their fault. I'm not saying it IS their fault in as much as they willingly delay everything, but, we have to be perfectly honest, it is their "fault" in as much as if they were more active, there wouldn't be a problem, would there? As I said in opening, this is NOT a personal attack, but a mere stating of facts as I - and others - see them. So, if these people are too busy, why don't they step aside for someone else to take over? Someone with more time to devote. I can only think of two reasons why not: 1. There's no else they believe can do the job (which, if true, reflects poorly on the current command structure), or 2., they don't want to lose what position/power they have, for personal reasons. People may argue a third, and say it is because they care about OTF. Well, if you do care, and if you are too busy to be involved on a daily basis, or too busy to chat regularly, show how truly you care and let someone else come in who DOES have the time, for the sake of OTF.

Leaders being unchallenged.

This is a great annoyance of mine. I feel that current leaders in high positions can not have their actions/performances challenged or reviewed, where further down the scale, you can, and anyone deemed doing a poor job can be removed. I propose that there is an annual assesment - by US, the general people - on how we believe our leaders are performing. If the results (and they should be made public) reflect badly on person/persons, than they should bd made to resign. You may argue this would be unfair as people would base on personal feelings other than genuine appraisal for how they're doing. Well, this is how voting works in the real world. People didn't vote for Bush simply because they don't like him. And if so many people, in the annual appraisal, say so-and-so is doing a poor job, and they say so purely based on feelings, then clearly so-and-so is doing something wrong to have rubbed so many people the wrong way, so even with that, it's a pretty fair system.

I just feel that the leadership needs to be judged by us, because they have our interests at heart. It's how parliamentary democracy works in the real world, and I believe it would work well here. You may also claim it is too much work. Well, it's ONLY once a year, so I'm sure people could find enough time in 365 days to do it, surely. If not, you lead the life of a world leader, and my sympathy goes to your nearest and dearest! But anyway, back on point. I strongly believe that the power holders should be judged on their performances, based on a nuber of factors (including level of activity, attitude etc...), and if the consensus comes back negative, they are replaced.

This would not be us voting new people IN, but purely judging those who are already IN. The replacements would be chosen by the remaining members of the EC. The finer details could easily be ironed out, should the general idea go ahead.

Excessive Red-Tape

You people will have heard me gripe about this time after time after time, but I feel wish good reason. To really highlight the problem as I see it, I'll link you to this Dilbert Comic (http://dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/ dilbert200711095244.jpg). I think it pretty much explains and sums up what I consider to be the problem, or at least, one branch of it. Now I've been in a position to see the red-tape for what it is, and believe me, it's rather horrendous. I felt, as SM of Entertainment, that I wasn't allowed to lead my department without checking and running everything by the EC et al, and this took time, because some members of the EC are inactive and never around, and this causes frustration for myself, but also those who in my department are waiting to crack on with whatever proposal it is! There seems to be so many levels of leadership it's getting to be comical (and would be, if it wasn't so frustrating). I mean, by the time everything has filtered through the hundreds of levels, the project is either out of date, the personnel have moved on, or we're scratching our heads and thinking "Did we suggest that?". And of course, there's always a danger that the project will be decline on the whim of one or two people (more on this later), without anyone actually involved in the project proposal/suggestion being able to contribute to the discussion over its fate! Now this is just one example of the red-tape. There are many more. For example, departmental reports. I know for fact that these are next to useless and seldom read. As SM I seldom updated the one for ENT and no-one ever noticed. Why? I bet no-one even reads them! And the EOM reports in the departments are also rubbish and a waste of time. If the leaders are active enough, they should KNOW who is working and who is not. I always knew who was working hard enough for promotion recommendation, and who was not. But no, for some bizarre reason, these have to be done.

The red-tape also means everything is compartmentalised and filed away, and if it doesn't fit, it's discarded/a new level created to accomodate it. Why, for crying out loud? Why does everything need to be categorised and departmentalised? Why do you HAVE to join a department to contribute? Jesus, it just adds to red-tape, rasises the blood pressure and drives people away. It's not "fun", it starts to become annoying, and a chore. It's almost like we're trying to run OTF like a company, when it is a chatsite! Everything must be ranked, filed, approved, re-approved, designed, reported, checked and re-checked, and by the end, people are just thinking "**** off". I was.

A massive reduction in the amount of red-tape would be appreciated.

(More follows)

ajcardall
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2007 12:26
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Arbitrary Decisions Being Made By Individuals


This really pissed me off. People who could, at a whim, go against popular opinion and arbitrarily decide what to do with a project etc... I remember submitting a few projects, and getting almost always good reports, until one or two people deciced they didn't like it, and that was that, so I wasn't allowed to go ahead. Did I listen? Nope. Because at no stage was I invited onto this clandestine projects committee to argue a point, and who better to do so than the person who suggested it? All we're able to do is fill in some rigid form and hope for the best. (that's more red-tape for you, wayhay!). But yes, back on point, in no level should anyone have the power to arbitrarily decide what happens, and I don't care how up the ladder you are. If it's going to be the decision of one person, who doesn't seem to listen anyway, why have all the different levels, committees and sub committees? It should be done by majority vote and popular opinion, not on the whim of an individual. I would also like anyone who decides the fate of a project etc... to be able to also form a considered and balanced argument, and not use "I don't think so" as a valid reason. It shouldn't be what ONE person thinks. It should be what the majority on the committee think, and if you don't like it, then tough. That's life, and we don't always get our own way.

Prime Directives/ISA

Now this will be a hot topic, but I feel they need re-writing and re-thinking. There are far too many gray areas (innuendo especially, and boy do I have a story to tell about that.) I'm all for keeping it somewhat clean and presentable, but at times we seem to get swept off our feet. I support the idea of keeping it "family friendly", but we have to look at this way: if the children don't understand the innuendo, there's no problem. If they do, what're we shileding them from? At times it appears OTF is trying to be some moral lighthouse in a foggy sea of lewd-ness. To an extent, that's all well and good, but like I said, some people really take it to extremes and become slightly oppressive. Sadly, a few of these people are in a position to DO something other than say "Stop it", which makes me wonder how they got there. One of the best ISA members of recent time - and this is bias aside - was Svenja, and she 'asked to leave' because she was more tolerant than others and didn't reach for the armoury every time. Perhaps this means we need better screening for potential ISA members? Now, you must realise, this is NOT in ANY WAY an attack on the ISA Department, but merely stating of fact that SOME of the members can be a little... zealous. Again, as I said to begin, I shall not name any names.

Similarly, we seem to have a lot of double standards. I've seen, many times, higher-ranks getting away with things that lower members would be warned for. I've even seen ISA officers conduct themselves in a way that, only a few days ago, they were warning someone else for. This can't be allowed because it will cause a bit of tension. People wonder why ISA seems to be a target of hate, and perhaps if they took off rose-tinted spectacles, and examined the truth, they'd see why. I realise it is a very hard thing to do, and those who do it well (and there are a good number of them) have my respect and my thanks. However, as I said, some can be excessive/hypocritical, and this is what people remember. Humans always tend to remember the negative, and not the positive. That's just the way it is. So perhaps a review of the rules would be in order, so as to try and avoid future problems. Perhaps also we could have a publically visible and easily accessible cope of the ISA mandate, so we know when too much is indeed too much. I'd also like to people who feel wrongly accused to be able to defend and confront their accusors. I've been removed a few times (a few months ago. I was also threatened with banning), and if I tried to argue my case, I was merely warned to "drop it". Why? Why should I not be able to argue my own innocence? I'm not saying EVERY case should be brought to tribunal or anything, but there must be avenues (and not mock-avenues which get ignored) where people with genuine cases can say "Now look, wait a second" and explain themselves. It must also be impartial, and perhaps even the "magistrate" have his/her idendtity kept secret, to avoid any chance of 'bribery' (Ok, I know that's not really possible, but you get the general picture). This may sound like more red-tape, and I guess with respect that it is, but there are SOME things we just need, and I feel that this one such thing.

polson
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2007 14:05
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As far as ISA goes, I think it was Bria once that said it sucked to no end to have to remove a friend.

I agree whole heartedly. I'm mean enough that in a pinch I'll do it, though at this point in my OTF "career" all my friends have moved past me in rank (which makes it doubly hard, which is why I must make friends with newbies so I can shoot people out without feeling awkward).

Personally, if I think the situation's gone overboard with inuendo, I'll just chatsave it and pass it along.

ISA can be a tricky line to walk. I agree that some redefinition of the PD's can help that, but that would mean making the PDs more narrow minded and less broad. When you go broad with the rules, the response is going to be equally broad from the rule enforcers.

I think having the PDs is important, I wouldn't want to see them dismissed all together. I haven't got any personal problems with any of them in particular, but I see how some people do. But, I'm also of the mind that if you register here, you also agree to abide by the rules, even if you don't agree with them.

I say all that to say that looking at them again and seeing if anything needs tweaking is probably a good idea and sure can't hurt.

sg8472
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2007 14:45
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I'm just here to say I agree with Andrew, and have mentioned my thoughts on several of these points.

buck_murray
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2007 15:56
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SG, I can say that I agree with 99.9% of all of what you wrote, you wrote it out perfectly and how it needed to be said. I know that most of what you wrote and what me, Polson, and a few others have put into the forums, are some things that a LOT of people have on their mind and are not saying anything. I hope the right people (whoever that may be, who knows anymore) sees your post.

katrina
Moderator
# Posted: 4 Nov 2007 17:09
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Exactly the same things that have been said and/or thought for the last...seven? (give or take) years. Good points all, but even something that does get changed will eventually work its way back round here again. I never see any people around any time I look though, so perhaps it's bad enough now that people just stay away altogether? I certainly don't know.

Just my two cents.

ajcardall
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2007 08:41
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Maybe we will be back here, and I really don't think we'll ever re-capture the old days. But, without going over everything again, I don't think people who come looking for chatrooms really want all the hassle of departments, red-tape and all the likes. They don't want rigid command structures and everything. A chat-room will suffice.

When I think about the main differences between then and now, one of the main things is "different people" who come around. However, I do think the things I mentioned above will go a long way to pushing OTF in the right direction, even if we never reach the end.

daecrist
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2007 12:46
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I'll be writing a point by point response here in a bit when I have some free time. Some good ideas, some bad, some that just aren't possible. Ultimately a huge problem is that we just don't have the pool of talented people that we once had. A lot of departments are falling behind due to lack of leadership, and it would be nice to just replace people (incidentally, my first act as QC was to fire an inactive SM and replace them with someone who has since been more active), but for the most part there just aren't people there anymore.

Heck, even in these forum topics we have a small pool of the same people with the same complaints. The community at large just isn't involved, because for the most part the community at large that we had once upon a time isn't there anymore.

That's a problem, and one we need to fix, but I'm not entirely sure how to do that with an outdated Web 1.0 site stuck in a flashy social-networky Web 2.0 world.

More to follow.

bria
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2007 15:07
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But OTF started off with only a few members.

Maybe we should go back to that and work our way back up.

demonvamp
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2007 15:54
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I'm getting really paranoid about this whole thing

daecrist
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2007 19:35
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Quoting: ajcardall
This is not me instigating a flame war, or attacking anyone on a personal basis, but stating the facts (however cruel they may appear to be) as I see them. Please regard this as suggestions meant with the best intentions, and not personal grduges or vendettas in mind.


Funny how people's best intentions on the boards seem to always instigate flame wars in spite of their best intentions, eh?

Quoting: ajcardall
This could be anyone from a project leader to the Commander-in-Chief, and is basically anyone who leads a team or project and above, and is inactive in and around chats, or on the mailing lists.



Inactive mailing lists have been a problem for as far back as I can remember in departmental work. Some are more active than others, but in my experience a good deal of the work gets done these days on MSN. Or at least it did back when anything was done at OTF. I'll admit that recently there's been a lot of inactivity in chat, on the mailing lists, and even on MSN etc.

Quoting: ajcardall
I feel that anyone with a position of power and leadership must be regularaly active on the mailing lists, and those in a position of power in the upper echelons, must be active both in the mailing lists, and in the chatrooms.


Agreed. I know that the EC list has been fairly active lately. I really can't speak for other departments, as I don't want the deluge of mail that would come along with being added to all the lists.

Quoting: ajcardall
People will argue that they are busy with other committments and don't have time to check email every other day, or drop into the chat. Solution? Hand over the reigns to someone who DOES have time. If people had the best interests of OTF at heart, they would happily step aside for a more active member to take over.


I couldn't agree with you more on this point. If someone is inactive then they need to step aside. This goes for the lowest team member to the VC. I have a feeling that this is aimed at a certain CiC in particular, though. I know that Andrew is insanely busy with life, it happens, but with the current system he's the one who pays the bills for the site and he's the person who started this whole thing, so I think that a bit of respect and deference is still due.

If Andrew is what you're referring to here, then when V3 comes it may very well be that the CiC is taken out of promotions. We still have to work that out, but Andrew knows that his being busy out in the real world is affecting promotions. I hate to sound like a broken record now, but any big changes will have to wait until we've moved to a new server, and Iain is currently busy with school projects. Of course we could always ask Iain to step aside because of his IRL obligations, though OTF's backend would likely collapse in on itself soon afterwards.

Quoting: ajcardall
As I said, this stretches all the way down to project leaders. How many projects at OTF are sat quitely gathering dust because the leaders have been inactive, and the membership simply given up with it? A lot, I'll bet.


Actually the projects list is pretty empty right now. The problem here is that we haven't had anybody coming up with new projects outside of Admin for a good year now, and we don't have the people to implement it. If you'd like to offer your technical know-how or spearhead a non-Admin project then I'd be happy to give you a job somewhere. The problem isn't from the top down with projects, it's from the bottom up. Ideas just aren't coming anymore, and the ideas that we do see from time to time are variations on the same tired old themes and complaints that we've had at OTF for a decade.

Quoting: ajcardall
They are seldom on time (they initial began as coming out at the start of a calendar month), but now appear in the middle/latter stages of a month. The promotions for October were issued on the 25th, just as an initial example. Now, I don't believe that this is because there are a great many recommendations and promoted officers to sort out (looking over recent batches of promotions, there are few), but because leading members don't - for what ever reason - have time or energy to put into the process, and into OTF.


True, promotions should be out in a more timely manner. October just happened to be a bad month for the top three levels in the promotion cycle. I got married, Hong was traveling and bedridden with a rather nasty illness when she wasn't on the move, and Andrew has been swamped at his work and took a well-deserved vacation. I would have liked to get online, but the hotel I was staying at didn't have free wi-fi and I had other things on my mind. In the future I can see if we can better work out our schedules around the OTF promotion cycle so that the Ensigns and Lieutenants aren't inconvenienced.

Now as for promotions in other months, the main problem again has been that Andrew is busy and the CiC is required to approve promos. This hearkens back to older days when the CiC was active, and as I said above we're probably going to change that somehow if we launch OTF V3. Beyond that, we're stuck with the current system for the moment. I wish I could snap my fingers and make it work better, believe me I wish that I could, but it isn't going to happen right now.

Quoting: ajcardall
So, if these people are too busy, why don't they step aside for someone else to take over? Someone with more time to devote. I can only think of two reasons why not: 1. There's no else they believe can do the job (which, if true, reflects poorly on the current command structure), or 2., they don't want to lose what position/power they have, for personal reasons.


Please elaborate on who your dream EC would be. The people involved in promotions are the SCs, QC, VC, and CiC. The sector commanders are all fairly active, I know that I'm around, Hong is usually lurking in the background on MSN or e-mail, and Andrew, as I've said several times before, isn't available. So who would you like us to replace? For that matter, who would you like us to replace them with? There's a decided lack of bright stars moving up through the ranks these days as a result of the general apathy that's set in around the site.

Quoting: ajcardall
Well, if you do care, and if you are too busy to be involved on a daily basis, or too busy to chat regularly, show how truly you care and let someone else come in who DOES have the time, for the sake of OTF.


What is your definition of involved? If it means participating in e-mail lists then most of the leadership is quite involved, I can assure you of that. If it involves chatting regularly then things get spotty there, but you were complaining about lack of activity on lists earlier. I know that a lot of people work, or go to school, and often they can participate in the e-mail lists or on the forums, but not necessarily in the chat. You'll note that I lurk on the forums during the day while I'm at work, but if I were to hop into a chat room at the 8-5 then I'd probably get the office manager breathing down my neck. Perhaps we just have differing opinions, but I think that people can be involved.

I'd go on, but my laptop battery is about to die. I'll tackle another section of the post tomorrow at work. Until then!

quincyw
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 01:57
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Perhaps, then...

Officers of appropriate rank (CL7? SC/DSC?) should be allowed enough latitude to pick up on the slack. Kind of like... Ministers within a government, but without a portfolio, who roam around plugging gaps and who will make a difference.

To balance that (as in checks and balances), said Officers could be "voted" or "given their blessing" by the higher ups; and only second guessed and reprimanded when the authority is exceeded.

In simpler terms, someone's out there troubleshooting and keeping an eye on stuff; and it's up to someone higher up to wave the red flag and say stop, you've gone too far.

ajcardall
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 03:41 · Edited by: ajcardall
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Quoting: daecrist
Inactive mailing lists have been a problem for as far back as I can remember in departmental work. Some are more active than others, but in my experience a good deal of the work gets done these days on MSN. Or at least it did back when anything was done at OTF. I'll admit that recently there's been a lot of inactivity in chat, on the mailing lists, and even on MSN etc.


I noticed, when I was an SM, that a few people (even on the EC) were very inactive. I always tried to promote communication in ENT when I was around, and once, when a project was just simply not working, and too inactive, I just scrapped it. Maybe this is happening more these days, but I always got the impression people were reluctant to scrap dead projects because of the time/effort that went into creating them. That's true, yes, but sometimes things just do... die *l*

Quoting: daecrist
I couldn't agree with you more on this point. If someone is inactive then they need to step aside. This goes for the lowest team member to the VC. I have a feeling that this is aimed at a certain CiC in particular, though. I know that Andrew is insanely busy with life, it happens, but with the current system he's the one who pays the bills for the site and he's the person who started this whole thing, so I think that a bit of respect and deference is still due.

If Andrew is what you're referring to here, then when V3 comes it may very well be that the CiC is taken out of promotions. We still have to work that out, but Andrew knows that his being busy out in the real world is affecting promotions. I hate to sound like a broken record now, but any big changes will have to wait until we've moved to a new server, and Iain is currently busy with school projects. Of course we could always ask Iain to step aside because of his IRL obligations, though OTF's backend would likely collapse in on itself soon afterwards.


It wasn't "aimed" in that it was criticism - it would be unfair to criticise anyone who puts real life before OTF But it was "aimed" in as much as, for whatever reason, it is a fact. I mean it with all the respect and deference for the guy, as he has poured a lot in, but perhaps... well, perhaps we could tweak the structure so that Andrew would still retain power and position, as a 'thank-you' for everything, but everything is pretty much done under him? Kind of like the system of British Government, where the Monarch still holds power technically, but it is the Prime Minister who does everything, and the King/Queen is more ceremonial position. As I say, this way Andrew could still get involved as/when he is free; he would still have technical power, out of respect, as I said; and things may be pushed through quicker. Just a suggestion for you to ponder *L*

Quoting: daecrist
Please elaborate on who your dream EC would be. The people involved in promotions are the SCs, QC, VC, and CiC. The sector commanders are all fairly active, I know that I'm around, Hong is usually lurking in the background on MSN or e-mail, and Andrew, as I've said several times before, isn't available. So who would you like us to replace? For that matter, who would you like us to replace them with? There's a decided lack of bright stars moving up through the ranks these days as a result of the general apathy that's set in around the site.


They may well be active in mailing lists, and that's grand, but for me, I maintain that they should be visible and active in the chatrooms, too. Maybe I just keep missing the due to timezones, or whatever, but I just get the feeling that it's all behind closed doors now-a-days. I mean, correct me if I am wrong there, but it's just the way it comes across at times, ya know?

I'm not going to start saying x should replace y, and so forth, because that would be disrespectful, and that's something I'm trying to avoid here. But if you would like an idea or two for the EC, than my first would be to make it more 'open'. And by that I don't mean do everything publically, inform us of everything, etc etc..., but simply making it less 'clandestine' and 'behind-closed-doors' etc etc. I accept steps have been taken in this direction recently by yourself, and others, and would like to see it continue in such a vein.

Quoting: daecrist

What is your definition of involved? If it means participating in e-mail lists then most of the leadership is quite involved, I can assure you of that. If it involves chatting regularly then things get spotty there, but you were complaining about lack of activity on lists earlier. I know that a lot of people work, or go to school, and often they can participate in the e-mail lists or on the forums, but not necessarily in the chat. You'll note that I lurk on the forums during the day while I'm at work, but if I were to hop into a chat room at the 8-5 then I'd probably get the office manager breathing down my neck. Perhaps we just have differing opinions, but I think that people can be involved.


If they're active on the lists, than grand, that would naturally be the "biggest" step forward. I don't meant to suggest that leaders should always be around in the chats, and I understand people can be too busy to chat and drop by the rooms day in, day out. However, I know there's a general feeling that a few aren't around quite enough, and perhaps then they're not as much as a presence. If they're active behind closed doors - and I know this is much easier because reading emails don't take too much time and effort - than we start to feel they're out-of-touch, and again, as I said, not much of a presence about the place. I think they key is finding a balance, which can be difficult.

Cheers for taking the time to reply, and look forward to hearing your responses to the other suggestions out there.

daecrist
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 05:41
Reply 


Quoting: ajcardall
I propose that there is an annual assesment - by US, the general people - on how we believe our leaders are performing.


I agree that some sort of assessment would be a good idea, but I'm not sure how it could be done. The problem with what goes on at the highest level is that a lot of it spills over from the chat world to the real world, and a lot of it is stuff that people just don't hear about. I'd like to add more transparency at the top level, but the plain fact is that a play by play of everything that Hong or I do would probably bore everyone to tears.

I suppose it's the age old problem. People think that the higher ups are out of touch and don't do anything, and the reality that I've discovered is that if you aren't hearing anything then it means things are working for the most part. It's when you start to hear rumblings from higher up that there may be trouble. I've started a solution to the problem just by being here and talking to people, but I don't think that we'll be able to make everyone happy. It's all too easy to be an armchair CiC at the Outpost. Always has been, and I doubt anything I do will change that if we make it for another decade.

Quoting: ajcardall
If the results (and they should be made public) reflect badly on person/persons, than they should bd made to resign.


I agree wholeheartedly on this one. I've already asked a few highly placed people to step aside, and I plan on continuing to do so as I see problems develop in the future. Right now it's just that my hands are tied a bit with all this V3 nonsense and server switching.

Quoting: ajcardall
I just feel that the leadership needs to be judged by us, because they have our interests at heart. It's how parliamentary democracy works in the real world, and I believe it would work well here. You may also claim it is too much work.


Don't forget that in a direct democracy people tend to get exactly what they deserve. And to quote the pope's infamous quip: "This is not a democracy." I'm not so sure that direct elections would really benefit the Outpost. The pool of people for the high end jobs is rather small on a good day, and the constant fighting it would set off would be a nightmare. Not to mention that you'd have bad blood and people coming into a job with no idea what's going on.

Quoting: ajcardall
I'm sure people could find enough time in 365 days to do it, surely.


Just like they find enough time at the end of the month to make promotion recommendations?

Quoting: ajcardall
The replacements would be chosen by the remaining members of the EC.


You'd have two months of proposals, another two months of debate, and then two months while people are busy with school or on summer vacation. The final decision would finally be reached just in time for a new set of elections.
Quoting: ajcardall
I felt, as SM of Entertainment, that I wasn't allowed to lead my department without checking and running everything by the EC et al,


I wasn't QC at the time you were SM, but I feel that SMs should be given free reign in their department. The problem is that a lot of SMs just don't do much to shake up the departments these days, and there isn't a lot of innovation coming from the lower levels either.

I'm going to pick on Entertainment just because that's the department I came from and the one I know best to use as an example. Right now the only big project that's running in that department is Trivia. Simming has largely been replaced by MMOs, and games like BlackNova were draining server resources and getting to the point that people weren't playing them anymore. We still have people trying to run simms and trying to keep gaming going, but it's really just the same old ideas that have sort of fallen by the wayside several times over the years. Yet people are still trying to resurrect these dead projects despite no one wanting to do them.

There's a lot of stagnation in departments and a tendency to stick to old ideas just because that's what everyone is comfortable with. Anyone who tries something different is run out, or people have good ideas but then don't have the time or the inclination to stick around and implement them, or they find that our backend just isn't up to handling it.

There's only been one proposal by an SM that I've outright shut down as soon as it came up, and that was mainly because it was an unsuccessful project in one department that was trying to poach another successful project in a different department, only carefully worded in the hopes that no one would notice until after it happened. Other than that, SMs are given carte blanche. The problem, in my experience, is that most just don't use it or they can't use it because of a general apathy in their own department.

Quoting: ajcardall
some members of the EC are inactive and never around


This won't last for much longer.

Quoting: ajcardall
example, departmental reports. I know for fact that these are next to useless and seldom read. As SM I seldom updated the one for ENT and no-one ever noticed. Why? I bet no-one even reads them! And the EOM reports in the departments are also rubbish and a waste of time.


Agreed. I always hated these and never did them either. I think they should go. Promotions are already a referendum on people's performance. I can see why the reports were put in place, but they just don't work.


Quoting: ajcardall
Why do you HAVE to join a department to contribute?


I suppose because that's been the basic organizational structure at OTF for the past decade. If this needs to change then I'm sure we could, but there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Anyways, I'm getting a bit tired of this for the moment. I'll be back later to respond to more.

bria
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 10:17
Reply 


A few good points. The only thing I don't like about the part where we judge how well certain "leadership" people are performing is that, as Hal has pointed out, a lot of work is done behind the scenes. So we'd be judging people on stuff we haven't seen them do, which wouldn't really work.
What I would like to see is something where people can say "Lookie here, I don't think so-and-so is doing such a good job and here's why" and then so-and-so can either explain that they are doing a job and here's why, or maybe be replaced.
No idea how that would work though.

And the whole joining a department thing - here's the question. Are people annoyed because they can't contribute, or are they annoyed because they can't get promoted without being in a department? That's the first question.

In the former case, implement something whereby someone can do freelance work. Like Guilds have already, I believe?

In the latter case, maybe you can implement some chat-only privileges that are available to anyone over CL4 regardless of whether they're in a department. Like, if they come around and chat a lot for a month, give them HTML for the next month. If they keep chatting, give them custom avatar. Y'know? In-chat privileges for in-chat stuff. No one really cares about the administrative stuff that much anyway.

demonvamp
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 11:09
Reply 


Why can't we all just pitch in for the sake of fun. OTF isn't Second-job (gratuitous Second life joke). It's not some mini-government, nor is it a dictatorship.

Most people came here to have fun, join in and chill out. It's a web site, somewhere you go to when you should be working. If it becomes work intensive, or a place where a mistake mean everyone points at you and says 'fire the heathen scum' then no wonder we're in trouble.

By the way, join ENT (we have cake)

By the way, the cake is a lie.

bria
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 12:12
Reply 


By the way, I think a lot of people make the mistake of threatening to fire, shoot, or whatever people as though this were a company. If you're here voluntarily, then the attempt at blackmailing that goes "If you don't [blank] we'll shoot/fire you" doesn't tend to work so well. Me, I just say "Okay fine, I'll just go somewhere else."

Just a random thought. Never mind.

quincyw
Member
# Posted: 6 Nov 2007 14:41 · Edited by: quincyw
Reply 


Quoting: bria
By the way, I think a lot of people make the mistake of threatening to fire, shoot, or whatever people as though this were a company. If you're here voluntarily, then the attempt at blackmailing that goes "If you don't [blank] we'll shoot/fire you" doesn't tend to work so well. Me, I just say "Okay fine, I'll just go somewhere else."


But... You can tell when someone has passion for the job, or someone who's in there just for the ranking. I've been in or ran Simming for a period of about four years, spread over about the last five or six. (Numbers may vary, it's been a long time in either event)

I hadn't set my members much to do; and I'd even paced out the level of work accordingly. I set the lesser performing members simpler tasks, like thinking up premises (ideas for the Next Big Sim), while those with more time, or are incredibly passionate would do the bulk of the work.

The only time I've ever gotten to being quite angry with one of my guys was a string of emails going "I've been too busy with school and other commitments". A bunch of complete hooey because he sat quite a few hours of the day in some other non 10F style chat (I knew it was him, he didn't know it was me); and he couldn't give me ten lousy minutes.

Fair enough there's a level of expectation and how much work... But if you want to play big, do so. If not, someone else should be allowed to step up to it. Certain allowances, of course, should be made, but if work is being done, in or out, or officially or unofficially, then there shouldn't be any issue.

rag451
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2007 18:17
Reply 


It's been interesting to read the various threads in this topic. I last came to OTF as a regular chatter in Feb. 2004. I popped in sometime in '06, but haven't been back since. I left because I had become addicted to the Internet and too dependent on people in OTF for validation and friendship, two things I could never quite attain without alienating others or, worse, isolating myself as an ignorant malcontent. (Don't worry, I shan't return.)

Applying philosophy, or musings, as to what is wrong with OTF, what the place means, what it should mean, and so on is well and good, but in the end it's a chat room with some peripheral services and perks for those who have become noticed and entwined in the right circles. I liked going into the chat, finding people who I liked, and talking with them best I could.

This was all before MySpace and Facebook, where "free" websites were as far as Geocities and Angelfire. While OTF cannot compete against those mega churches of the Internet, it can still distinguish itself as a chat room with perks not found elsewhere. Polson is 110% right when she stated that the strength of OTF is its niche in science fiction. Lose that, and the place might as well shut down.

To that end, why can't the chat rooms be more personalized, say with skins? I'm no technician, but is it not possible, sometime down the line when the hardware is modernized, to let people login with their avatar, font color, etc. etc. etc. and choose to see the chat with a Star Trek face? In this way, you can be in Ten Forward, order a drink from Guinan (or whoever is tending bar now), shoot someone with a phaser, all this while someone else can login, select "Cloud City Cantina" as their skin and for all intents and purposes be in the CCC? This could combine chat operations, allowing participants congregate without having to login to two chats at once or choose between their Star Trek and Star Wars friends. The caveat to this would be for special events, where themed chat rooms like TF or the CCC or whatever would be opened up, allowing for an event to take place while others still chat in the universal chat room.

I never went higher than a CL5 if I do recall. Once I reached that level, I did want to go farther and felt encumbered by the "technical" language barrier. As such, I agree with others that active chat members should be rewarded for the hours spent in the room. How this is differentiated with the perks given to programmers is uncertain, since it would seem obvious that those who have contributed code to the place feel a different since of ownership than someone who, somehow, can remember their password day in and day out. Doing away with the ranks might make it more inviting, but it would require immense humility from the present rank-and-file that are addicted to custom avatars, ranks, and armory privileges, and rightfully so.

When I last updated my dossier in 2003 or 2004, I seem to remember I could add pictures and other small stuff to distinguish me from the other couple thousand people hanging around. Turning the dossiers into MySpace or Facebook-type homepages kind of defeats the purpose of paying for space on the OTF site/server and does nothing to prevent members from maintaining separate MySpace/Facebook pages. In short, "If you can't kill them, join them" is not an appropriate mission. Look up 'dossier' in the dictionary if you don't believe me. ;=)

I used the Spycam religiously for awhile, often for less than benevolent reasons. Getting rid of it keeps ISA from doing their job, so perhaps it would be best to restrict it to ISA members "assigned" to watch the chat or to those whose "duties" necessitate its usage. I'm sure members of the upper echelons of OTF use it to keep from having to answer the endless number of "Hihowareyas" from eager newbies and brown-nosing promotion-seekers, so I'm hesitant to suggest they part with it if those kinds of problems persist. The solution, therefore, must be cyclical. Beat one problem, and head off the some of the other problems it creates by enacting systematic change.

I'm disappointed to see OTF in such free-fall decline. Chat rooms are not part of my repertoire of online contact these days. I chat on MSN when I want and maintain MySpace and Facebook accounts to keep in contact with a select few people at work, school, and elsewhere. My life revolves around other things, as it has since I left, and I think the crux of OTF should be encouraging generation after generation of young people to come in, hone some kind of skill (whether technical, social, or otherwise), and encouraging participation that enables them to reach out into the real world and make a difference.

Obligating people to stay with the chat room because of their skills isn't right. From my point of view, a select few are responsible for the daily technical running of the website, probably to the detriment of other opportunities in their lives. Even though it might be enjoyable to them, the line between pride at a job well done and stress at pleasing others is a fine one I remember seeing many fall off of. The need for talented programmers is paramount to the physical survival of the chat, so any solution to its "emotional" well-being, that of bringing in more people, must encompass that first fundamental challenge.

At any rate, I have said more than my two cents and repeated rather blandly what others have already deftly honed in on. Best of luck!

lzrman
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2007 21:21
Reply 


Well Said!

eggburt
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 06:16
Reply 


I agree, the chat room is the key thing. Niches are important too.

I disagree with the spycam idea, I usually go into one room to chat, and then monitor the others from this room if needs be. Not all mature members who know right from wrong are in ISA of course.

Anyway I'm going to lerk around the chat room for a while rather then sitting on here.

jadzia_jones1
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 06:38
Reply 


Inactive Members in Leadership Positions.

I can only speak for myself so here goes - I tend not to go into the chats as I have out grown being cut in half with a light saber, brought a drink, or where everyone sits like lemons..
What I would like is to sit with a coffee and just chat.. Maybe one of the chat rooms that no one goes into can be made into an oldie room? Maybe cl6 and up? Or even better maybe members who have been here for more than 2 - 3 years who just want to sit and chat - not having to worry about trying to welcoming new members...

That doesn't mean that oldies stop using the other chats rooms.. Maybe they have to do a certain amount of hours in the chats per month before they can go into the oldie room ?


Just because I have not been in the chats does not mean that I have not been here - at mo, I am trying something different, I'm designing a web page for a Celebration Corner's Christmas Competition - will give info out later -
Bugger knows where my staff have gone, but I end up on my own trying to keep birthdays from sinking.. Which no way is it going to !

Update birthday web page ( sorry Buck will do before your birthday - )
Re doing the names day pages ( want to put names we have here in otf rather than 'real names '
I still have oddels of GIFs that need adding
My e-card page still needs looking at.
My news letter is so old that cob webs have over grown the pages
I still want to try my hand at bringing back birthdays into chats -
All this around my real life.. And I am sure everyone that had a leadership position is like me, as in we have real life's too..
As for being judged by ' us the otf members' is rubbish - you only see just a little of what we do. If you think something is not being done, go to your ranking officer, higher uppers should be the one's who kick butt. I don't mind being told I am not doing my job by my boss lady, but I would mind being tard and feathered by a linch mob in otf .

Jadzia

eggburt
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 06:50
Reply 


Isn't that what the Office is for?

Hope your well hun, haven't talked for a long time!

babel
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 15:13 · Edited by: babel
Reply 


I started coming to OTF when I was 31 and have talked with all kinds of people of all ages. Yeah, I've seen simming with lightsabers . . not for me, that BUT I have taken part in virtual events like foodfights. I like the polyglot nature of the chats. Not worry about welcoming in new members? What? This is one of our BIGGEST problems - that when new people do come in, they see the established groups and are put off by that. That people are so engrossed in their own chats that a newcomer is overlooked and possibly ignored.

Establish an 'oldies' room where we can sit and talk quietly and not be bothered by those pesky newcomers? Not an idea this old-timer would support.

Feeble
Moderator
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 15:14
Reply 


I promised myself I wasn't going to say anything else, but two things have struck me here and I do wanna weigh in once more...

Quoting: rag451
I'm sure members of the upper echelons of OTF use it to keep from having to answer the endless number of "Hihowareyas" from eager newbies and brown-nosing promotion-seekers, so I'm hesitant to suggest they part with it if those kinds of problems persist.


Does this not prove the problems with the ranking system in that people feel they have to brownnose to get noticed or feel worthwhile for the higher ups? Also, if the senior members occurred more often in the chat, quite quickly this star studded glammor falls away - for example, look at how people who make regular occurances in the chat are often accepted for who they are and not their rank, vs those who come in once in a while. In my view, this is a cop-out, and just highlights what everyone's been saying.

Quoting: jadzia_jones1
I tend not to go into the chats as I have out grown being cut in half with a light saber, brought a drink, or where everyone sits like lemons..


View above. I'm sorry - as people have said, that is what makes OTF brilliant. If you don't like it, then either ask people to stop, or how hard is it to ignore some yellow text?

Quoting: rag451
I used the Spycam religiously for awhile, often for less than benevolent reasons. Getting rid of it keeps ISA from doing their job, so perhaps it would be best to restrict it to ISA members "assigned" to watch the chat or to those whose "duties" necessitate its usage.


If we have only one room - as is being suggested by many - then the need for a spycam to view other rooms is obsolete. It is much nicer and less confrontational to know that who you can see is who there is. At the present, where many rooms need to be watched simultaneously, sure, but if we follow the 'skins' idea, or just simply have a generic Sci-fi chat with many different focal points, then we don't need the cam.

Quoting: jadzia_jones1
Or even better maybe members who have been here for more than 2 - 3 years who just want to sit and chat - not having to worry about trying to welcoming new members...


Doesn't this once again remove the idea of putting an encouraging old voice to the new chatters? I think we need to stop separating those who have been here for years from those who have been here for significantly less time - as a lot of people's love for the place is similar.

Jadzia, thank-you for your work on the birthdays, but seriously - I hope I do not speak out of line for everyone else - but I prefer to be wished well from a person I've spoken to in the last 5 years, not someone I have a vague recollection from. I don't particularly care for the yearly 'OTF wishes you a happy birthday, Pheeble aTemps' when I can go and speak to people and have an active conversation. This is exactly what the problems with OTF departments have become - it's all about the work and no longer about the chat.

What's the point in trying to get newbies to come if the old-farts (and now I'm going to use that term in its full disdain, not given their time and devotion to the place, but the mentality of some people) don't want to encourage and foster love for the place IN THE CHAT?!

I'm sorry, but this has now made me outrightly angry.

babel
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 15:17
Reply 


Quoting: rag451
I'm disappointed to see OTF in such free-fall decline.



I wouldn't go quite that far. There *are* issues that need to be addressed and these forums are providing a place for people to air their views, comments, criticisms, ideas, whatever. I am 100% positive that we CAN address the issues and move onwards and upwards!

babel
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2007 15:31
Reply 


As for myself, in my real-life (what a silly term, but it'll do) job I am essentially an office manager. I don;t deal with Guilds as i do with my staff at work - it;d be silly. My job has priority and some weeks, like recently, I have to switch off from OTF to concentrate on work. We all have times like that.

OTF isn't essentially wrong as a concept, or doomed, or anything like that. We *do* need to move with the times. Look at covering other sci-fi or fantasy shows/films/books etc. Skins for chatrooms? Great idea. Wonderful. Expanded dossiers? As far as I know, it's a real possibility. Changes to the chat rooms? Absolutely necessary.

Increased focus on news/gossip? YES. We should be setting ourselves as a prime soure of info about, say, Star Trek XI. Dierna has done a great job for years but we need to increase this much more and get a buzz going, pull fans in to talk about this stuff. A 'news' column on our frontpage, updated daily, with the big sci-fi/fantasy stories there with links to articles.

You see we can talk about rank and priviledges and inactive old-time members all we like but the lifeblood of OTF has always been new people joining. That should be our primary concern - how do we make OTF appealing and accessible for new members? Maybe some of us have become jaded and a real influx of new blood to a revamped, 21st century OTF would inspire us to BE more active in response.

bria
Member
# Posted: 27 Nov 2007 09:05
Reply 


Quoting: Feeble
Does this not prove the problems with the ranking system in that people feel they have to brownnose to get noticed or feel worthwhile for the higher ups?


Well, not really. The people I've seen whinge for promotions were mostly people who just wanted a promo without putting in any effort. That's their problem, not the rank system. Not saying the rank system's without faults, but whinging for promotions isn't a sign thereof, in my opinion.

Quoting: Feeble
I don't particularly care for the yearly 'OTF wishes you a happy birthday, Pheeble aTemps' when I can go and speak to people and have an active conversation. This is exactly what the problems with OTF departments have become - it's all about the work and no longer about the chat.


Agreed. And it doesn't just go for birthday wishes. I'd prefer a personal "well done" to a promotion or award any day. I got that several times, and it just feels good.

Apart from that: Get rid of the spycam? Bad idea. That was one of the reasons why my mother even allowed me to join way back when I was under-age and innocent: the knowledge that the rooms were under observation to some extent.

And a seniors' only room? Why? How often, lately, have you seen any lightsabers or bar orders in the chatroom? And if you think it's hard work welcoming newcomers, or annoying when new people join the conversation, then seriously - what kind of community are we? If we go "Ugh, not another n00b" every time a new member enters? Doesn't that attitude go entirely against the whole "We need to attract more people" spiel we've all been churning out over and over?

Is it a case of "We need to attract more people, but I don't want to talk to them, thanks!"? In that case, I respectfully suggest that it is not the chatroom theme, nor the rank system, nor any other such factors that are at the root of the problem.

jayneway
Member
# Posted: 5 Jan 2008 19:10
Reply 


'evenin' all

Only just read this thread, I know it's over a month old but like many other members it's testament to how seldom many of us visit and participate.

I actually disagree that OTF should remain a niche in sci-fi/fantasy. I don't believe OTF's overriding identity is based solely on genres, it's evolved past that point to be more about community and inclusiveness. I agree with a member's post on another v3 thread that OTF should be opened up to more dynamic content on current TV shows and films including entertainment news feeds, spoilers, discussions, reviews, etc.

I watch a ridiculous amount of TV and would love OTF to be a place that I could come to discuss/vent about the latest episode or how much Mark Ruffalo looks like Vincent D'onofrio (don't they?!). While there is nothing stopping me from starting up forum topics it's much more of an effort when all the news/gossip/etc is elsewhere.

Personally I love OTF's look but it's starting to look heavy and cluttered. It's very sci-fi-based and while I know many love its niche feel, I'd like the whole site stripped back to be more neutral and inviting to new members who visit the site who may be offput by how overpowering the sci-fi element is. I love Star Trek but honestly it's not the only thing I watch in my life. If I came to the site for the first time today I wouldn't have even made it into the chat - would've taken one look at the homepage and went "whooooa this is way to hardcore for me".

Other than that, generally agree with above comments.
And in response to another thread, I code too (owing to my Engineering/EC days back in the 90s).

tiamai
Member
# Posted: 7 Jan 2008 09:18 · Edited by: tiamai
Reply 


Quoting: daecrist
There's a decided lack of bright stars moving up through the ranks these days as a result of the general apathy that's set in around the site.



there's a decided lack of anyone moving up through the ranks recently. It seems to be the same people every couple of months. Surely there ARE more people contributing?
Quoting: babel
OTF isn't essentially wrong as a concept, or doomed, or anything like that. We *do* need to move with the times. Look at covering other sci-fi or fantasy shows/films/books etc. Skins for chatrooms? Great idea. Wonderful. Expanded dossiers? As far as I know, it's a real possibility. Changes to the chat rooms? Absolutely necessary.



I agree. It needs to cover more sci-fi and fantasy, or more up to date sci-fi. but this has been said before and received a resounding no. Although, I will say that whenever we do get a 'change of scenery', like the Lost weekends, Speak like a Pirate etc, it has been enjoyed by almost everyone, including myself.

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