Some Concerns About the Forums + Staff Team

Hello ShanniiWrites community!

I’m going to be really careful as to how I word this and what I say. :sweat_smile:

I’m sure we all are aware of the recent shutdown of Episode’s roleplay community and the lockdown many countries are under? Thus, everyone’s demeanor is slowly changing and we have gained a lot more publicity and an increase in users. Notice how I’m saying we?

I wanted to speak my mind and address before it escalates and turns into something much more. I personally feel like the head representatives of ShanniiWrites - not naming names specifically - have been way more strict of the guidelines and think they’re… Well… greater than us. Back in the early days, it was an equal playing field. We were all growing together and putting everything we had into making the forums successful. Now that it’s reaching its peak in success, the teamwork is deteriorating as well as the feelings of comfort.

I and many of my associates agree that ShanniiWrites is turning into Episode. We have the fear of speaking our minds, of being muted, of being silenced.
I joined ShanniiWrites August 7th 2019 because of my ban on Episode. Now many of us have been here a lot longer - and the time they have been here is very much valid and I think they can also see how much the forums have changed more than I can? I care so much about the future of this forums but we cannot go forward if we’re taking dramatic steps back.

What are your thoughts?
Is the forums changing or evolving?

This is not harassment, it is not disrespectful, it is not tone policing. This is constructive criticism and my voice, which I am very much going to use. I am not singling anyone out, I am not insulting the ShanniiWrites community and I have no intentions of doing so.
If you feel that I am disrespecting or insulting anyone, please let me know and I will rephrase.

Anonymous Questions Form - https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScNX8LMYi5oCU0GHrZLmoRBcUR7YsVdxLbGd198EFDJF6VX2w/viewform?usp=sf_link

Not-So-Random Random Tags

@ForumStaff

38 Likes

I’ll take this one, I don’t think you’re being disrespectful in the slightest, can I just say. I can tell this has been building for a while. I’ll lay a couple things out here.

Yes, tensions have been running high due to a number of factors. Episode’s roleplay section shutting down for instance, and lockdown as well. There have been changes in the personal lives of the people in charge around here and Shannii’s mental health in particular hasn’t been the best. I won’t go into too much detail, but trust me when I say the timing of a post like this couldn’t have been much worse.
I’ll handle any specific criticisms of the way we handle things or with staff members or the like, but not on a public thread. My job is to handle discussion about our staff members in DM, as to not publically shame or seem like we’re harassing anyone. If you have any issues, please message me privately and we can discuss them there.

Why do you feel afraid of being silenced? We have laid out our rules publically and plainly for all to see, specifically to make life easier for everyone. Staff and users alike, so how, exactly, are we becoming like Episode as you put it? Is it because we’re losing our transparency? I can tell you now that isn’t the case, we’re just as transparent as we ever were.
There’s one thing I can think about. Is it because we simply have rules? I think I know what it is you’re upset about, but that isn’t something I’m willing to talk about in a public thread. The Forums aren’t changing, they’re growing. The changes being implemented are good, there are just some growing pains that will accompany them.


Are there any further specific criticisms you would like me to address? I hope you don’t feel as though you are being silenced, as you didn’t break any rules with this post

26 Likes

Thank you for raising your concerns to us, but trust me. We make sure this kind of mindset doesn’t spread through the staff team. We have removed people for this exact reason in the past

22 Likes

Hey!

It is still my complete dream to make this place a fair place for all of the users. However, there have been a lot of changes that I need to address on here from a “the forums are changing” point of view. Let me address them here!

  1. We are still struggling to pay for the forums – Since we lost AdSense, we have really struggled to pay for the forums. I’m still paying over $50 a month out of my own pocket to run this place when I am still only earning minimum wage and working two jobs. That’s with me factoring in all of the support from our lovely Patrons, and I think that people forget that! It means, unfortunately, that I’ve had to shift my attentions to making the forum a place that is advertiser-friendly. I need to make certain changes to allow us to keep our advertising opportunities up. That includes cutting down on swear words on the General Forums.

  2. There are more people, which means more offences to address – as the Forums get bigger, there are more things we need to come down hard on. Unfortunately, we’ve had one suspension recently on the forums and a few bans, which is both incredibly low considering we have a community of over 400 users and also incredibly awful considering we are all friends and we want to make sure that everyone feels welcome. However, what we’re noticing is that as more diverse people join the forums, we’re having more issues with arguments, sexting minors (yes, that’s a real problem we’ve had) and people being antagonistic. I guess more issues come up as the population increases! Unfortunately, I also feel like I can’t know you all like I used to before. I used to speak to everyone. Now, with my mental health and the increase of users and everything else, it all feels so impersonal and I feel really sad about that.

  3. The Tone Policing rule has always been a thing – We have always come down on the tone policing thing. It has always been a very important part of my rules on the forums. Why? Well, when I was on the Episode Forums, people used to say thngs like “that wasn’t very nice to say, take it back” or “that was incredibly rude” and it just killed conversation and made everyone argue even more. So Discourse has an in-built rule about not tone policing (criticising the way someone says something rather than what they actually say) and I built and expanded on it based on experience.

  4. I have to delegate – Back when the forums were young, Deluge and I were living together and it made things a hell of a lot easier because we could chat to each other and be there to deal with all the issues in our small community. However, even then, we would end up staying up until 5am UK time every time an argument or issue broke out in America and it just wasn’t fair on us. Now we have over double the users we did then. We’re also not experts in RP and stuff like that, so we had to delegate and change stuff to suit. I understand your concerns, but at the same time, how things were back then was actively unfair on the people behind the scenes who put in the time and effort to make this place safe and fair. We had to make changes.

  5. We have had disciplinary issues within our staff team – I don’t know how much you know about this, but you’ve probably seen some blow-outs in public. Certain staff members have had some serious disciplinary issues and it has had a massive effect on the morale of the team. I don’t know how much people have been saying behind the staff’s back in that regard, but I tried to remain professional by not saying anything in public. If we want to ask any questions, please DM me about that for privacy reasons.

  6. Being fair to everyone means taking a few privileges away from some – The titles, the fact that the rules needed updating, all of that kinda stuff… I did it because newer members had issues and because of our patrons and because people were saying the atmosphere we had here was pushing Episode fans away. For a bunch of different reasons!

  7. Keeping this place open – There were some things that are actually dangerous that we were getting away with because we were small. Like, we weren’t really coming down on underage sexting back then! We weren’t stopping people from doing stuff that they shouldn’t and if we got in trouble for it, I would be the one who would have to pay a fine or go to jail or something.

At the end of the day, I understand concerns and I will be happy to address any specific ones, but in terms of the overall vibe of the forums changing, I have to safeguard myself: mentally, legally, financially…

28 Likes

We were always very equal here (I hope) except I’m the one who paid thousands of dollars to keep the forums open and I’m the one who’s legally responsible if anything goes wrong on the forums, so I have to be super careful. I don’t think anyone is below me, but I put in a hell of a lot of work and money to keep the forums running and with everything that’s been going wrong lately, I think certain people have forgotten that when they attacked me in PMs and in public, not naming any names.

Certain people seem to have forgotten that I do this without any rewards except the chance to speak to you all and I love doing it! I’m not asking for gratitude. I’m just asking for those certain people to understand that when they work against me, they work against the forums because if I go into debt or I get into trouble because of the activity on the forums, they’re gonna shut down.

26 Likes

But to be 100% fair to everyone, I would like to open an anonymous questions form for this thread (if that’s ok with you @BlackBlood. This is still your thread?)

20 Likes

Lemme address a few things though

We have to, unfortunately, for both legal and financial reasons.

This is something I will be adding to the Staff Rules (we’re gonna have rules specifically for staff members so that they don’t intimidate users or abuse their power).

I really appreciate you saying “we” because I hope we’re a community!

I would like to know, without being rude to anyone, when anyone has been unfairly threatened with a silencing or muting or ban. I will deal with it if that is the case! My doors are always open!

21 Likes

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScNX8LMYi5oCU0GHrZLmoRBcUR7YsVdxLbGd198EFDJF6VX2w/viewform?usp=sf_link

Please feel free! I know it can be stressful to ask the heads directly

16 Likes

Why is Meghan on trust level 0?

It depends on whether Meghan is ok with me sharing my side of the story publicly? @MeghanWrites

20 Likes

Why did certain people get chosen as leaders even though they’re publicly very immature on the forums?

It depends on how users are immature, to be honest. We all make immature jokes and act silly from time to time, but we need leaders who are cool under pressure, understand the rules, don’t cause unnecessary drama and are active. There are lot of our silliest leaders who are able to step up and act mature if necessary. We’ve made some mistakes in that department, but the heads and I are only human and we do make mistakes and hire people we really shouldn’t have

21 Likes

Can you do anything about the Episode hate threads? Idk, one of the main reasons why I had become more inactive was because I hated seeing so many people talk about the Episode mod’s wives and children and bringing their personal lives into things. It’s one thing to give Episode constructive criticism, but that…? Man, it’s too far and it doesn’t weigh well on my conscious. You say that you want these forums to have a separate identity which I totally support, but then people keep making threads about it and spiting it and it seems… hypocritical? I was afraid to say this because I felt people would attack me. By no means am I defending Episode, I just feel as if people are stooping to Episode’s level and representing the Shanniiforums badly when they make accounts on the Episode forums just to troll them or advertise these forums…

Well, I don’t want people to not speak about what they want to on the forums. There are loads of threads that are actively distasteful to me and, as an assault/abuse victim, some that actively trigger me. I just try to stay away from them, personally.

That’s not a dig! I just don’t want to choose one user’s comfort over another’s. We have loads of different sections of the forums that hopefully appeal to different people. I hope people who dislike some threads just spend time on others to make sure that those threads aren’t the only thing we’re known for, if that makes sense

20 Likes

Also, please don’t do this

16 Likes

How do you go about choosing new staff members? Is it a group decision?

The Heads of Moderation decide and we try to make sure that our staff members will all get along, too!

16 Likes

Like me for example, I’m slowly turning people into ducks now :smiling_imp::green_heart::duck::eyes::sparkles:

19 Likes

qu-quack?

13 Likes

Quack :innocent::green_heart::duck::eyes::sparkles:

10 Likes

I’m fine with you sharing it. I’d kinda like to know as well, because I didn’t break the guidelines :neutral_face:

Ok Meghan. Thanks.

You keep saying this, but you did break rules and every time I explain which rules, you say you understand and then go back to saying that you didn’t break rules?

Our staff team working together well is such an important part of keeping the forums running. Sometimes you are an amazing, active and helpful staff member. Other times, you seem to be actively antagonising people, me in particular.

For example, you did throw in a “God doesn’t exist” "joke" in one of our voice chats. Of course, that’s not against the rules, but it did offend me. So we changed the subject. You saying that it wasn’t what happened when we have multiple witnesses is what is known as gaslighting, which is an abuse tactic.

What is against the rules was you antagonising me afterwards by not letting me listen to music. The constant “trolling” asked you to stop is harassment. When someone asks you to stop annoying them and you don’t that counts as harassment, and the Discord server is still part of the forums.

The implying I’m stupid in Gaelic because we had a disagreement is also against the rules. When I mentioned it yesterday or the day before, I said that I changed the rules because of what happened. Looking back at that discussion, actually Deluge had said at the time that we were making a rule about not alienating people by switching languages to offend or exclude them. You were involved in the rule-making process and you knew it was a new rule, yet you did it anyway. That’s a really bad thing for a leader to do. You are supposed to set an example. If you break the rules, then other users will be confused as it’s part of your job to know what the rules are.

You admitted and acknowledged that you shouldn’t have tone policed in the thread that we had our disagreement on. You may have misunderstood what I meant when I said the not all people who say they’re writers are thing, but when I explained and you continued to talk about the “way” I said it, that’s tone policing and it’s against the rules.

As a leader, the fact that you continued to argue against the rules with me after I quoted the rules and explained is confusing to other users, once again. If you don’t understand the rules, we can discuss them. Open a thread! DM me! However, it’s your job to know the rules and you arguing against them is confusing and unfair.

Then, when I explained that I only had a problem with the tone policing (even though I didn’t particularly like our discussion before that, I have to put up with it because you’re allowed to voice your opinions just as much as everyone else), the fact that you accused me of attacking you and told me to take you to DMs when I explained? You had switched the argument and done a knee-jerk contradiction.

These are a few examples of issues we’ve had. However, Deluge had given you warnings about your conduct before. It often seems like you’re trying to attack me personally. Considering I have told the staff I have been suicidal since January and I have expressed time and time again that I am uncomfortable with the way you’ve been attacking me, that is harassment.

Now in terms of the 0 trust level? At the time when we had our massive argument, I got upset. When you stepped down, I put your trust level down, but it got stuck at 0 even though I’ve tried to put it to 3 twice now. I thought it was on 3 again, but I can look into that.

28 Likes

What are the RP staff doing?

I think this is a @CrazyCaliope question

14 Likes

How did fraud get from being a normal member to mod?

We had a moderator step down and we needed a new moderator who was old enough to deal with the Restricted Section! I think we’re gonna try to keep our mods as adults and people who prove they’re as mature as adults because we’ve had issues with mods abusing their power in the past

26 Likes

Why have new users been chosen as leaders when they’ve only been here for a few months compared to others?

Unfortunately, being here a long time doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a good staff member. I think I’ve made a few posts about what we’re looking for. One of our big problems with our longer-term users tends to be that many of them have been inactive recently when the applications start and we want to make sure our staff members can put the time in

20 Likes