|Posted by Ember on November 29, 2013 at 1:50 AM|
Hey guys! It’s been a great month on the site, we’ve gotten the plot along and have welcomed a few new members. I am going to open a separate blog thread where we can discuss the plot, we need to decide whether to drag it out a little longer or make it Autumn in a week or so. First off, a little message from Lake: As you all know, if you post pictures made on other sites, you are to cite the work. Unfortunately, Lakesong, who has been searching the work and making sure it's all been properly cited, has found a few pictures that only lead to the home page (mainly ones from warriorcatsRPG). If you could, post exactly where you found/made the picture if you cannot find the artist name. If you are using a username, cite the website that they are using that name on that you got the picture from. If it’s the artist’s real name, just the name is alright. This also makes it easier for Lake to tell if it has been properly cited and also it helps others who want to use the same creator. It is very important that we do not steal art. Thanks to Silverwing for helping me outline and edit this Monthly Meow.
I’ve noticed a few of you have warriors sites of your own and figured I’d share some of my thoughts about being a site owner and what I find works best for running a site, maybe we can learn from each other’s fails. I don't mean to claim to be an expert on Warriors, roleplay or site management, just a fan with some experiance. What works for me may not work for you, it may not even work for me in the future. What I think it best is just from personal experiance, if you disagree I'm not saying that what you think is wrong. Nor do I mean to be putting down newer sites or discouraging you from becoming a site owner, I wish all of you the best of luck!
Silverwing was introduced to the series by our friend Shadowfang, she then forced me to read them. About a year later, I met a girl at summer camp who introduced me to Warriors roleplay and I became a member on http://www.leafstar-clans.webs.com. It was a lot of fun, but the site owner abandoned it and the plot crumbled as the older members left (that said it seems to have recovered fairly well despite having no one running it. Good job, members who stayed!). Silverwing and I decided to make our own site with her as the primary owner and me helping out as I could. Sadly, she became too busy to keep up with it and I took a bigger role in running the site. Going was pretty slow, but still fun, for a few years as most of our members were real life friends. The plot progressed -much more slowly than now-a-days- until The Great War ended. After that, many of the members stopped having the time to stay active or lost interest and left. The war between Night Clan and Moon Clan broke out mainly so we could merge Storm Clan and Moon Clan, who had too few characters to stand as separate clans any longer. We began to get more members at around the time the Snakestar became leader until we had so many we had to add a third clan again and finally a fourth! It’s really great to have so many lovely, creative, occasionally spazzy but overall really cool members! This is gonna turn cheesy fast, please forgive me, but this site really wouldn’t be anything without you and I need to specially thank Ivory and Clover, who have stuck by the site since before Bonestar was killed.
Responsibilities of a Site Owner: Being a site owner is great, don’t get me wrong: I really, really love running this website. Sure, updates are tedious and sometimes I get one too many stupid questions, but don’t read this as a “Holy Star Clan site ownership is awful and will consume your life and bleh, now I’m stuck with you people and have no real free time that I don’t devote to the site” because that’s just not true. As a site owner, you main responsibilities are to enforce the rules, keep all of the pages updated and manage the plot. For the rules, you will be in charge of deciding what is and isn’t acceptable (which I will write more on later) but also what the appropriate punishment is when someone breaks the rules. More important rules, such as multiaccounting, will fall almost entirely on you but you can divide work among moderators and administrators by giving them all specific pages to look after. Here, we all work to enforce rules on the forums but I have the art pages under mainly Lake’s wing. I do all of the page updates but depending on the size of your site and what records you keep you can divide the work with an administrator. You can either update the pages on a set schedule or as needed. For a smaller site, as needed should be fine. On a bigger site a set schedule will probably work better. This site is a mix of the two, I do updates at least once a week but may do it twice or three times if I find the time. I update the history page as things as happen, the info page as ceremonies are reported and the family trees as the mood strikes, adoption center as quickly as I can do it and the clan pages usually on Friday nights. I suggest you make a history page when your site first opens, I made it last spring and was having a lot of trouble remembering what happened when the site first started. When the site was smaller Clover, Sunken and a few other admin all worked on the pages as needed. As the site gained members I took over because it was getting too confusing and the pages were done sloppily. For larger sites, it’s fairly common to have leaders of the clans be administrators and in charge of their own page, with the site owner in charge of all of the non-clan pages or helping out as needed. Finally, a site owner needs to make sure everyone’s having a good time. You need to be sure that no one is being bullied by other members or being pushed away from the plot. Remember that an attack on a character doesn’t equal an attack on the character’s owner. This can be tricky, as less experienced roleplayers may come to you feeling other members are being mean to them when they’re just acting in character. It goes the other way too; don’t expect special treatment for your characters because you’re the site owner.
Moderators and Administrators: Sunken and I often make jokes that I am the queen and she is my hand, carrying out my bidding and occasionally slapping or high-fiving people. Sadly, this kind of falls apart seeing as most of her job is to tell me when I’m being an idiot, letting me bounce ideas off of her before I talk to members about it. For the mods, you’ve probably heard me refer to them as my extra ears and eyes on the site. As for naming moderators and administrators, I suggest starting out with one moderator you really trust and building up a bigger army- I mean, team, as you need them. While they certainly help cut down the work you need to do and help with new members or with enforcing minor rules, your older members will help hold down the fort in the event you suddenly can’t handle it on your own. New members come in waves; you need to be sure you’re not naming moderators or administrators that will only be useful for a week or so before it calms down again. You need to decide what their boundaries are or you may end up with a brand-new moderator kicking people off the site for double posting. Here, I deal with more major rules and if a moderator sees or suspects they’re being broken they report it to me. Rarely do they decide on an appropriate punishment or carry it out themselves. Avoid naming mods or admin just because they’re your friend, this will end very badly. Don’t be afraid to demote moderators that break rules or are no longer needed, but be sure that you don’t make a big drama out of it.
Record keeping and Updates: Record keeping is important. It’s your choice how much you want to keep; currently I’m doing the bare minimum for a site this size. As I said before, big updates usually are done about once a week. Once I’ve finished the week’s update I update the records, which currently only consist of a word spreadsheet with all of the living characters: their name, approximate date of birth, original owner and current owner. You should make a rule for how often and how site updates will be done and stick with it, procrastination will only make it worse. For your records, start early on and don’t slack off. It may seem silly if you only have a handful of active characters, but you will curse yourself if you start later on and have a lot of catching up to do. Don’t delete your guestbook posts, you can always fall back on them if something goes wrong with your personal records and/or pages. If you have several people working on the site, make a google doc that they all can edit recording when and what updates are done and by who.
Rules: Rules are a vital part of roleplaying. You need to have rules, but can’t be too suffocating with them. Take care with your grammar and make sure they’re very clear. Avoid having unwritten rules that you expect people to follow, things like what needs to be approved by the site owner and who can become high ranks are often left out of rules but still expected to be understood. Don’t do this, it’s just confusing. Don’t be afraid of changing your rules if something isn’t working and don’t feel bad about doing it, your members will understand. Bigger sites generally require more rules to keep their members in line, while smaller sites have members that keep each other in check without many strict rules. That said, if something works then don’t change it, don’t feel obligated to change things if you don’t really need to.
You need to decide what will be done with inactive members and their characters- deleted or put up for adoption? To what level is powerplaying or godmodding acceptable? Killing a character without permission is allowed, but is maiming a character or taking it prisoner? Be sure to know what is and isn’t considered appropriate for your site, while foul language and sex are fairly obvious, how are you going to handle sensitive topics (sexuality, rape, mental disorders)? Here I have no issues with things like that, as long as it’s handled respectfully. Will you place some restrictions on violence and gore? Warriors does have a fairly young fanbase, but even the original books can be pretty bloody- here we don’t have a limit on it, but you may want one. Character limit is important too, avoid having an “as many as you can handle” policy. 2-10 characters a clan is pretty common, with more for sites with fewer clans and less for more sites. Right now on this site, if you divide yours evenly between the clans you can have five each. You may want to even make the rule “5 per site” or whatever number you choose to avoid having one clan too large compared to the others. You may also want to put some rules on the characters themselves: acceptable names and appearances. Do you want some suffixes reserved for medicine cats? Do you want only names that would be acceptable in the real series? This excludes names that are already compound words (Bumblebee), things that cats wouldn’t understand (Candyheart) and names that would never actually be given to a warrior (Deathwish). Do characters need clan names or are kittypet names acceptable? Will you allow unrealistic appearances? On this site we allow impossible combinations of colors, but not impossible colors like pink fur or rainbow eyes. You also need to consider rules regarding double posting or off topic posting, advertisement, correct roleplay format (tense, perspective, is textchat acceptable?), size and color of signatures and forum posts (are pictures allowed in signatures?), rules for the art and video pages (don’t steal art!), who can name high ranks (will the leader, or will you? Will you both work together to find someone you both approve of?), character adoption procedure, what must be approved by admin or site owners, whether characters need to be approved before being role-played. Whew, that was a lot, huh? And I probably left something out.
Site Hosts: Before you make your site, you should look into other site hosts. While I consider webs to be the least of the evils, you may find the others work better for you. Webs is easy to use, can make unique and attractive websites, SB2 allows HTML and CSS code if you know how to use it and both SB2 and 3 have a variety of templates. The apps are all well integrated as well and very functional- with the possible exception of the message system, especially when it comes to group messages. While the storage space is great, bandwidth can be a big threat to sites. There is very little customer service and bugs can take months to be fixed, the timing out problem has only recently been fixed. It is free and doesn’t push too hard to get you to get a paid membership, but you may be forced into it by bandwidth. Free memberships do have ads, but they are small and easy to ignore. Paid memberships are very cheap, if you need them, and there is almost always a 60-70% off sale going on. Their statistics are hosted by Clicky and fairly good for a reasonably sized roleplay.
Weebly is another common choice; it’s easy to use and allows forums and chatboxes. I don’t have much experience with it personally, but from what I can tell there aren’t very tough restrictions on storage and bandwidth. The templates looks pretty good, it may or may not allow HTML or CSS coding. They have a good statistics system, and no forced advertisement.
I’ve never used Wix for site building or roleplaying, but I have used it before. It offers fully customizable websites and I’ve never ran into a bug on there. However, there are only chatboxes and each page takes a long while to load. Each page also has to be individually constructed, so just getting the website running can be a lot of work and it can be hard to navigate unless you’re very careful with being consistent. Silverwing suggested blogspot, which is hosted by google but has a lack of templates- I don’t know much about it.
Onward to site layout! Go through all of the themes, play around with them until you find something you like. While Site Builder 3 does not allow CSS code you can still make yours unique with your choice in layout for the pages, background, text color and heading. Check out other warriors sites to gather ideas, but don’t make yours exactly the same as everyone else’s. Generally, a simple site design is better than a loud, obnoxious one. No flashy .gif backgrounds or headings! They make our eyes bleed. Every time you use one a puppy is shot. And a kitten. Be consistent with your design: don’t change the color scheme too much for every page. Make sure that everything is functional as well as attractive, pages should be easy to locate and navigate. Site Builder 3 doesn’t require much knowledge of computers to work, it’s fairly intuitive. That said, if you’re having a lot of trouble making a site, come and get me, I’d love to help you!
Ah, the chatbox or forum debate. Chatboxes are becoming more common, but most people have used forums before so they probably won’t discourage many members from joining your site. Forums promote longer posts and discourage text chat, plus they support rich text and you can easily go back and read old posts. However, they can be difficult to navigate and eat away a lot of bandwidth, plus having to refresh the page can be very annoying for members used to roleplaying with chatboxes. With chatboes you don’t need to refresh the page and they use far less bandwidth, but some don’t allow you to restrict who can post on them and can harbor spam. They’re known to promote shorter text-chat posts and just kill grammar over all, plus most don’t keep archives where you can go back and reread old posts. You should decide which one works best for your site, while I personally prefer forums the bandwidth constrictions on Webs websites make chatboxes more practical, especially for larger sites.
Clans and Plot: Another way to make your site more unique is with original clans or unusual geography. The canon clans are well balanced, each having their own strengths and weaknesses but you may notice members gravitate towards Thunder Clan and Shadow Clan, leaving River Clan and Wind Clan to sit uselessly in the background most of the time. On this site, we actually have exactly the same problem with people putting the majority of their characters in Night Clan (which has become this site’s “Shadow Clan” and Moon Clan (this site’s “Thunder Clan”;). It’s also easier for new members to get into the site if it is very similar to the books, they won’t have to memorize the new clans and maps. However, you will be forced to start your site with four clans -maybe leaving you with only two or three cats in each for months at a time- and will have less freedom with what you can do. It may be a challenge to name leaders and deputies, you will be forced to name people you barely know or don’t trust. With your own original clans and location, you have a lot more freedom and can add or merge clans as the number of active members changes but it can be very hard for new members to get into the site. Whichever direction you decide to take, before you begin roleplaying on the site you should have a brief history written and a plot already going and if you have original clans you should have a clan descriptions. This is to avoid the site becoming stagnant as you try to figure out what is going to happen with only a handful of other people whose attention you will likely lose before long. I had a site a while ago, not a Warriors RP but still an RP, that had an interesting world but no planned plot at all. I assumed it would fall into place as we explored the location more, but, of course, that didn’t happen and the website never got off its feet.
Recruiting New Members: Likely the hardest part of running a warriors site is finding new members. You should ask other members to promote the site as well as spread word through your personal network of friends- generally the members that stick around the longest are the ones you know in real life. Use other sites to advertise on: DeviantArt, Tumblr, Facebook and Youtube are some good places to start, as are other Warriors sites. Be sure not to be annoying about it and ask if there isn’t a specified place for advertisement. Don’t spam other sites or advertise if they don’t allow it –it will reflect poorly on your site- or leave the work entirely to chance or your other members, you do need to work to get the word out. Likewise, don’t badmouth other sites or site owners, you’re all in the same community and there’s no need to be so competitive.
You may not even want many members. I know that I could not run a site with no more than 30 active members, the plot wouldn’t go anywhere and I probably couldn’t keep up with the pages. With a lot of members you can have a larger cast of characters and the plot will rarely stale, but the plot will be pulled in so many different directions at once with everyone trying to make themselves the star it probably wouldn’t make much sense. When members leave, it won’t be as big a deal. More members are harder to handle, you will have to spend much more of your time coordinating with admin and mods and will probably have less time to enjoy roleplaying. With a small site everyone can contribute more to the plot and have important characters, people are less likely to be left out. However, the plot can become too centralized and not support many side plots. Everything could even depend on a handful of characters, so if a member leaves the plot could screech to a halt or become stale as people lose interest and are not replaced with new members. There is also the problem of inbreeding, after a few generations everyone will become related and you may have trouble supporting old family lines.
General: In short, site ownership requires a lot of dedication, according to Silverwing “Believe it or not, a RP site is not a one night stand: it can take months for some plots to develop” and that’s not even mentioning the struggle to just keep the site active. Site updates are tedious but need to be done no matter how much you dislike them. You will not get a lot of members overnight, this site has been open nearly five years and can’t compete at all with the giant sites, but I like it that way and couldn’t realistically run a site with that many members. If you do have a site and end up not having enough time or losing interest, delete it or make someone else site owner. Don’t hoard the URL, there are so few good ones left. If you still have active members open a thread or blog entry about it, chances are that if they care about it still someone will step forward to take over. If someone does take over, don’t expect to still have control over the site. They may agree to make you an admin or even site owner again if you do return, but don’t be offended if they don’t. If you can’t find a suitable replacement but still have active members find several active, thriving sites and share the links. Take care with your grammar, especially on the rules and home pages. The occasional spelling error or grammar mistakes is acceptable but put forth real effort and have someone read over it. Be fair giving out high ranks, don’t hog them all for yourself. Try to have any one member have only one leader or deputy (maybe even medicine cat, depending on your number of clans and members) at a time. Be sure that there is a balance between experienced leaders and new leaders so you can keep the plot running smoothly.
You need to communicate with members. Have blog posts and group private messages discussing plots, let people PM you with ideas. Before every battle or gathering open a PM with all of the leaders and/or deputies of the clans and map out about what you expect to happen, the outcome of battles should be determined before the battle to avoid powerplaying. While you may have to play characters that don’t belong to you, only do it when it is completely necessary for the good of the site. The most common situation you’ll need to do this in is leaders in a gathering when the leader is not active and neither is the deputy, if you can you should make an older warrior speak but this may not be possible. Any action that you make with someone else’s character shouldn’t personally affect the character. Even if you have permission from the owner you should be sure to not to overstep their boundaries, most of the time even if they give you permission they don’t want you casually playing the character.
Don’t start drama. Just don’t do it. Don’t be upset when people leave the site, it probably has nothing to do with you personally, they may have just lost interest in roleplaying with Warriors in general or are too busy to keep up with it. Don’t be territorial over your site, either, it can be very frustrating when you get a lot of new member that are running around acting like they own the place, try to be patient with them. Some of you may have noticed, but I have this issue with new members, for whatever reason I really hate them. It takes me a few weeks to feel like a member isn’t trying to hijack the plot. It’s insane and I know it is, but I know I’m not the only one who does it.
So, those of you who have sites, do you have any advice or warnings to give other site owners? Horror stories? What do you find most fun about being a site owner? Least fun? What made you want to own a site of your own? What are some things that you do on your site that we do differently here? What’s the hardest part about being a site owner? If you’re a mod or admin on this site or another, same goes for you. If you don’t have a site and haven’t had one before, do you think you would enjoy it?
• Apprentice Ceremonies:
• Warrior Ceremonies:
• Apprentice Ceremonies:
• Warrior Ceremonies:
• Apprentice Ceremonies:
Leaders, please do not forget to post on the guestbook when you do ceremonies.
Categories: Monthly Meows