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04 June 2006 @ 02:50 am
My Big Fat Suggestion Post  
I want to say first that I really truly love this community already. I want to help in any way possible, because I have never felt as at home and welcomed in any other community. I have liked some quite a lot, been welcomed very well, but you guys top the list. I say this now because I'm very detail-oriented and like to be extremely (read: frighteningly) organized, and I'm actually quite terrified that I'm going to alienate anyone that reads this.

To be honest, however, I like to think that any community that creates a separate comm just for suggestions and problems really truly means it when they say to post here. On that good faith, here comes my big fat suggestion post. And yes, it's a effing novel.

Complaint Community Suggestions
I think people are intimidated by the name, without realizing that the very fact that the community exists means that they shouldn't be. Furthermore, I think that the description in the userinfo is what prevents people from joining and posting in here.

Do you have a complaint about hh_sorting? Post it here! Please remember that if and when you do post with a complaint, make sure that you do not do so in a rude manner. Please be polite and respectful and we will be as well. Your voice will be heard here.

Complaints will be addressed by the Headmistresses and Heads of House, and all persons involved will be informed of consequences or changes after an appropriate decision has been reached. We will approach complaints respectfully and in a timely manner and will strive to make sure everyone is heard and understood. Thank you for remembering to be polite when registering a complaint, especially against another member.

The meaning is, 'Hey, we made this community so you'll feel comfortable coming here and voicing your concerns, complaints and suggestions.' However, what comes across is very negative--it isn't meant to be negative, but it really reads that way to me. It's important to remember that the information on the profile pages can be what makes or breaks someone's decision to join, just as much as the layout of the community itself can. I think the material point of the first paragraph is meant to be 'your voice will be heard,' but instead the emphasis is 'don't be rude.'

What I believe is missing from this information are two key facts. 1) this community is for both suggestions and problems, and 2) there is a post that has screened comments so that only the maintainers can see the post. Another thing to remember is if a potential member is like me, they'll check out all the listed communities before joining. I remember being intrigued by the idea of a community that cared enough to have a community just for complaints--but I was slightly intimidated when I read the description. It read to me, as a non-member, like a deterrent. Luckily first impressions aren't the be-all and end-all of the world, and I understand it much more, now.

I suggest very strongly that this description be reworded. I very presumptiously offer a version here, but I certainly don't expect you to use it unless you want to:

This community is for the voicing of suggestions, conflicts, and complaints for the community hh_home. It is important to us that our members feel comfortable, not only with each other, but with the communities associated with hh_home--we want you to know that your voice will be heard. If you have a problem you feel you need to bring up, or have a suggestion you'd like us to hear, this is the place. All we ask is that you respect the maintainers, staff, and your fellow students when posting here. Please be polite and respectful, and we will do the same.

Complaints will be addressed by the Headmistresses and Heads of House, and all persons involved will be informed of consequences or changes after an appropriate decision has been reached. We will approach complaints respectfully and in a timely manner and will strive to make sure everyone is heard and understood. There will be a post for which comments will be screened, meaning that only you and the community maintainers will be able to read them--so there is no need to worry that your situation will become public knowledge. Thank you in advance for remembering to be considerate to your fellow students and faculty when posting in this community.

Hogwarts Home Sorting
I want to tell you the truth, and even though I swore I wouldn't 'disclaimer' any of the body of this post, I really have to apologize, because it's probably going to seem insulting. I found this community a month and a half ago, when I was doing a search for sorting communities. I looked at a couple of the different communities--and in the end, my decision whether to join or leave was sealed by hh_sorting. I don't want to sound superficial--but as you've probably guessed, I'm very detail-oriented...and the sorting community above all the others appeared to be the least maintained. The layout wasn't as pretty as some of the other communities, and the links in the sidebar pretty much frightened me away--not because of how many there were, but because the layout of them was confusing. I quite frankly asked myself, if I wanted people to join my community, wouldn't I want the first page they saw to be one of the best? I'm REALLY sorry if this is insulting, but it's the truth. I see this differently than some people, because I'd expect that most would want the communities they spend the most time on to be the best-looking (and indeed, the House community layouts are lovely, as are all the rest--hh_complaints is actually my favorite), and as a community of people, our common rooms, challenge halls, graphics and library havens, as well as the great hall itself--THAT'S where we spend our time.

The trouble here, imo, is first impressions. As an applicant, the first and only community I could join was hh_sorting, and your (quite fair, I applaud you for it) queue system meant that I had some time to wait before my app was posted. Because of this, and the fact that the rest of the communities are friends-locked, pretty much the only interaction I had with hh_home was the sorting community. I confess to being a very visual person(--unfortunately I don't for the LIFE of me understand the code for livejournal layouts, so I feel a bit of a hypocrite here--) and now that I'm a member of the community, and have seen the other nice visuals, I really want to ask that the sorting community be reworked, visually. That page is our application, as a community. Sorting sites aren't really judged by their main community, sadly--what people spend the most time on deciding whether they want to join are the sorting main page, the sorting profile page, and the sorting FAQ page (to make sure they add the sekrit c0d3 to prove they've read the rules).

BIG DEAL: In bold in the profile page, it says 'PLEASE READ THE FAQ OR YOU WILL NOT BE SORTED.' However, the FAQ post itself is a link with the words 'Application Tips.' This tripped me up, and as someone that knows how to elaborate, I took the word 'tips' at face value and didn't bother to read that thread. When I went to the sorting page and saw that everyone seemed to have some sort of animal and character listed in their subject and lj-cut lines, I added some off the cuff. I actually took a half hour looking for the FAQ (the community hh_faq isn't actually listed in very many of the community profile pages, which added to the problem) until I finally clicked an FAQ link on one of the main pages and found the post--after I'd written all but the last bit of my application. That is my very wordy and mostly unnecessary way of telling you that we should probably change either the link to 'FAQ' rather than 'Application Tips,' or change the bolded warning to 'Please read the Application Tips or you will not be sorted.'

Of the 17 links (19, but two are 'next 20 entries, recent entries') on the sidebar--which is the only way to access the profile information--the profile link is the 17th. This means if you link hh_sorting to someone as a recommendation, they have to hunt for it. Now, as members, sorting itself can be in the middle of our to-do list in terms of links, so as a member, I don't mind that link being hard to find--but as a new applicant, it turned me off until childofares suggested it in gwenlliana's journal. That's very sad to me, because this is fast becoming one of my favorite communities in the whole of LJ.

I hope I'm not sounding like I'm harping, I'm just concerned, and I have a bad habit of being wordy, because I want people to understand exactly what's going on in my head. So, my brutal short list of suggestions:

-Change the main layout. The colors are *not* complimentary (the pink rollover makes me sad).
-The 'Hogwarts Home' graphic on the profile page also makes me sad. No offense to the creator--if you're upset at this evaluation I promise I'll make it up to you somehow. Please, though--new graphic.
-I'll mention this farther down, but the links listing on hh_thehall are fantastic. Well organized, separated by type, and easier to read. I suggest we use this template for every sister community, but especially hh_sorting
-Add a link to the FAQ that says 'FAQ' so that potential applicants aren't confused.
-Mentioned in the 'typos please' post, but the wording about drama on the profile page is a bit confusing.
-Move hh_complaints down in the list of sister communities, at least on the sorting profile page. Though it's a fantastic idea, it gives a kind of a bad impression, being listed second under the main community--almost as if it's a staple of daily life at hh_home.

Sidebar List Praise
I really like the idea of having a 'floo network' on each community page so that we can navigate to each sister community with ease. I suggest very strongly that the text/layout for this information be copied from that in hh_thehall. It's sorted by type--'Assistance,' 'Central,' 'Games,' and 'Houses.' I can't rave enough about how fantastic I think that is--and it makes me sad that my main browser is stupid and doesn't read it correctly, heh.

Another minor thing--the background texture behind the sidebar itself appears to either be a broken link that causes it not to display or is simply missing in the layout. It makes it very hard to read :(

Common Room Suggestions
As a general member of the community (and as a very visual person, heh), I want to commend you all on well-designed common rooms, and a real sense of comaraderie. As a new member, I have a suggestion that may or may not be easy to implement, but which might help the whole listing of students thing.

As I said--as a newbie, it's really exciting to get sorted and be placed into a House. I am excited at the idea of my name showing up on the profile page, but appreciative that folks can be busy, and that your first priority isn't to add darsynia as a proud Gryffindor. My suggestion is that we put, in italics underneath the listing of students, a little blurb that states either that 'after X amount of time, new students should be listed. If your name doesn't show after X amount of time, please contact your HoH,' or 'New student names added to the list every two weeks, please be patient. If you aren't listed and think you should be, please contact your HoH.'

Not much, but it reassures newbies that the student listing wasn't a one-time thing, and that they're not going to be seen as greedy nags for bugging someone about getting their name up there. Also it gives a time frame after which it's not unreasonable to speak up about it--something that I know a lot of people would be hesitant about doing--so hesitant that they might just resign themselves to not being listed if it hadn't happened after a certain period of time.

ps. I'm NOT bringing this up for any specific reason other than I thought of it when I was proofreading the House pages, and thought it might be a helpful suggestion.

You might want to stop reading if you're not really interested in my opinion about this.

I'm going to try to not sound harsh, here: but I was really, really turned off by the rules on the profile page of this community. So turned off that I'm actually getting riled up just thinking about it.

First of all, they imply that anyone that is applying to RP there is an imbecile incapable of writing a fair and balanced character. No Purebloods? Why even make it a Harry Potter RPG? No wealthy characters? Uh, wtf?! Why don't you just make it a happy half-blood commune somewhere? This is actually me trying to write as if I'm not upset, btw. When I finished reading these rules I wanted to reply somewhere and suggest that the author take the 'no godmodding' rule and apply it to the rules.

I've roleplayed in a couple of different HP communities, and the impression I came away with was that the rule-writer had just gotten out of a very bad RP situation and was solidly determined that there was no way they'd allow the same thing to happen twice. 10. There are no purebloods. Why? Because they annoy me and no matter how well intentioned someone is with their particular character they still come off as a bigot. So, no bigots here! To tell you the truth? Like I was saying earlier, when I was looking at the community to decide if I wanted to join, I loved the idea of a sorting community with an RPG--you'd get to know the members and then you could RP with them! Then I read the rules. Then I said, out loud, 'to hell with that.'

I guess I'm just ranting, but I'm (present-tense) really offended. I think this is a bad impression to make on new folks (but I'm sure that opinion isn't widely held), and the whole idea of a conditional RPG based on (my conjecture) someone's past bad experiences, that cuts out major plot points, and tries to force a certain standard of living on potential new RPers is just ludicrous. Having the books not have taken place is one thing, but to remove the idea of Purebloods is not only irrational (how do you even do that? Are witches and wizards required to go out and find a muggle to mate with? The wording of the rule implies that you can't even say 'I come from a long line of wizard blood but I'm not a bigot' (ALA THE WEASLEYS, MAYBE?!), so I doubt that it's simply ignored, it sounds like you have to state definitively whether you're a half-blood or Muggleborn), but it's like saying 'I think the idea of Apparition is stupid, so that spell doesn't exist in this world,' or 'Sorting people into Houses at Hogwarts is separatist and promotes prejudice, so everyone is just a Hogwarts student.' These things are integral to the world, and when you take them away, you take away part of what makes it all work.

13. Don’t even think of sending in an app that says your character is rich. I’ll ixnay that faster than you can say Harry Potter. There's not even any reasoning. I get the feeling this is related to the Pureblood issue...The whole point of wizarding being as old or older than some nations is about the permanence of some things. How you can have wizards having existed since before the 10th century, but they're all as poor as churchmice (yeah, blatant exaggeration, sorry), I have no idea.

I know, I know. Just don't join. Well, this is a complaint community, and I'm complaining. As a fanfiction writer, it was like being slapped in the face to be told I can't write a Pureblood that isn't a bigot. The rules of this community state that we're not supposed to be rude or insulting--and that was. Very.

Master Disclaimer: I am very blunt. I do not, however, mean to personally insult anyone whose graphics, descriptions, or various other things that are mentioned in my suggestions post.
Please come to me, however, if you are offended. I'd much rather hash such things out rather than leave someone with a permanently bad taste in their mouth. That being said, though I really WANT to, I'm not going to include any other disclaimer in the post, or you'll be sick of them. I'm an apologetic person by nature, lol.
childofareschildofares on June 4th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
Don't be shocked, but we really do mean that this is a place to speak and we will listen. I'm extremely grateful that someone stood up and said something! This comm was rushed quite a bit and we are just now getting to the point of being able to play catch up but to be honest, I've been looking at the same things for so long I don't know what to even try to fix!

I completely agree with you on the sorting comm. I hate the header and the sidebar. I do like the colors because they are light but the rest I can't stand. I HATE that layout. And I made it, so no one can get offended.

hh_complaints- Hmmm to be honest I hadn't thought about how negative it sounds and you are correct..it does sound really awful and needs to be changed and stressed that it's not just members that can post here but anyone. It's also for applicants and people thinking about joining. I like your version much better and if it's ok I plan on using it.

HH_faq needs to be added. I was thinking moving the application tips and the link to the FAQ to put them side by side. and easily acceptable. Oh and adding them to the links list!

I'm really glad you like the common rooms and complaints! I think Slyth HoH Kayla, and Puff HoH Anna made the common rooms and Headgirl Natalie made the complaints comm.

Err the only problem with the hall's sidebar link is that I have no idea how she did it (Mariana is no longer with Livejournal) and some people can't see anything but the sidebar link because it covers the comm. I love the organization of it too but I personally have no idea how she did it.

See the blazing you'll be sorry...: Triodarsynia on June 4th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
Well, the best way to go about it is to prioritize. Sort what has to be done by easiest, and also by importance. I'm sure that there are other things than what I've mentioned that you want to accomplish, so I wan't get all high and mighty and start listing my things, hehe. I would put in my vote for the sorting comm being the most important.

As for the sidebar--what I'll do is ask a few folks on my friends list. At least two of them are layout goddesses; I'll see what I can come up with on that score.

My suggestion about the main page layout is to involve the community in the redesign--but it's important to tread carefully, there. It's still your baby, and you want to be sure that when a layout is chosen, it doesn't turn out to be something you hate--even if the rest of the community voted 'yes.' I suggest maybe a layout contest, or, to make it even more accessible, a header contest! Specify a few sizes and see what folks come up with--that way, if you like two of them, you can put one on the profile page! It seems that we have some very talented folks with layout setup, so incorporating something like that shouldn't be too hard.

Yes, I confess that since I'm pants at layout code, I'm greedily suggesting a header contest because that means I can contribute, heh.

Thank you again for making this community, and hh_home!
show me your teethchaotic_vanity on June 4th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
I know how she did it. And it's not a big deal to code something the same way for the sorting comm, but I can't do it so much for the ones that are in S2 already. I mean, maybe I can but I'd have to find a tutorial. I don't know if they need it, though.
childofareschildofares on June 4th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
Isn't the sorting comm in generator? I thought it was S1. I think only the common rooms and staff room is in S2. Unless my hair dye is seeping into my brain again
<o>: AD//new son risesdolcianiblows on June 4th, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
It looks like generator to me.

Typically you don't have a sidebar with generator; normally it's in between your header and your entry box.

hh_sorting might be Clean and Simple or something. Not sure.
childofareschildofares on June 4th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
ohhh I think it was punquin elegant with sidebar now that I think about it.

I really hate that comm. But I like the 2 colors and I can't remeber what they were :(
show me your teethchaotic_vanity on June 4th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
Well, it is S1 but it's not Generator... It's Punquin Elegant with Sidebar, and the reason it's those colors is because you picked Yellow/Green pastels... isn't it?

Everything I did or Kayla or Natalie did is S2. Those I can't/kind of refuse to change anything in the sidebar because it will take forever, and I mean that literally.

But, for anything that's in S1, which would be RPG, Shops, Library, Sorting, Hiatus, and the Hall I can do overrides or someone else can if they know how or want to. But most of them don't need new coding; just the sorting comm.
childofareschildofares on June 4th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah I agree. Shope is fine, Hiatus..hell no one uses it anyway, the library is fine except I need to change the font color to black as folks are having touble seeing it.

So yeah...just sorting. And I take full responsibility for the craptastic layout as I never did one before :)
show me your teeth: spiedermanchaotic_vanity on June 4th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Whooo! I love you. In general, I love when people are honest. Thanks!

The banner in the info for hh_sorting was a 5 minute deal as I went to bed. You know, type the text, brush my teeth. Duplicate a layer as I brushed my hair, etc :D Honestly, I make icons--not headers. Big graphics are not so much my thing. So I would totally give you +20 points if you wanted to make a new one! And if you see anything else that you think is less than beautiful, let me know :)

I don't know about other HoH's, but I announce about every two weeks for people to tell me if their name isn't listed. But it's still a good suggestion. The only problem is the... length of time it's going to take to make changes to the CR sidebars. It's in the coding of the layouts, which involves... a lot of things that when I talk about them, people always tell me I'm confusing :)

And the hh_complaints is changed. A few minor corrections to your suggestion for grammar mistakes, but otherwise I liked what you put down and I think Selene did as well, so we used it.
<o>: AD//tobias pukedolcianiblows on June 4th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
Actually, we could have a contest of sorts for a header, then have everyone vote on their favorite at the end. Might be a cool way to get everyone involved, use up a challenge week, and earn points, lol.

I like the idea of putting names up every week (you or Selene will have to do it; I don't have access) but I don't think we need to go and change the entire layout. We have all the links listed in the userinfo.

In any case, once you friend your CR you don't really need to go to the actual page, you know?
childofareschildofares on June 4th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
You don't have access? I thought you did?

Oh God....did I screw up again?
<o>: AD//scientistdolcianiblows on June 4th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC)
No I did and then I didn't. I do now, though.

You didn't screw up, don't worry!
show me your teethchaotic_vanity on June 4th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
You should have access now. Sorry, dear. I'm glad you said something.

Contest is good. Maybe Cheryl would run it?
<o>: Colbert Report//flashdancedolcianiblows on June 4th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
Whoever runs challenges/contests should run it.

I have access now. S'all good.
show me your teethchaotic_vanity on June 4th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's Cheryl.

Anna Bananabraceface__ on June 5th, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)
This post is basicly amazing. I mean, i completly get what you mean about being organized and it makes perfect sence to me. I'm actually glad you've evaluated such things. This community needs people like you, who speek they're mind. ^_^

I really like what you've written for the userinfo in hh_complaints I really haven't read over that kind of thing, and i agree with what you said about possible scaring off some of the members. I agree with Selene, we should replace the text with what you've written. It makes his community seem a little less..rule based and more open to new suggestions.

I quite liked you common room suggestions as well. I agree that some people may be waiting to have they're name on the list. I have a hard time keeping track of when people are sorted into my common room. And if someone really wants they're name there right away it would be nice for them to say something, rather the just wait and wait. I feel like..the puff common room is my responsibility and i'm very open to suggestions. Please, if there's ANYTHING else that you think need to be changed i would really like to hear your ideas :D