AS House Survey Results

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AS House Survey Results

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:27 am

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We want to start off by thanking everyone for taking the time to participate in the survey! You guys are the foundation of AS and your thoughts and ideas are invaluable. We really hope to continue with better utilizing polls and surveys and to prioritize translating those discussions into action so that AS can reach its full potential!

Below are the data results from the multiple choice component of the survey. Lower down in the thread you’ll find written out responses to individual submissions from the open ended questions at the end of the survey. We understand that the typed responses may not feel very conclusive at this time, but we wanted to at least make it known that everyone has been heard!

Thanks to the feedback we have received, a few clear paths have been brought forth and there will soon be a new poll to get a final decision on which direction to go in regarding the houses!
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Pie Charts (1/2)

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:28 am


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(Left) Interestingly, the least selected answer was 'yes'. Out of those who voted, sounds like they don't want to keep the houses, or at least don't find them vital.

(Right) While the 'yes' and 'no' responses are fairly even, 40+ percent selecting YES they would want to retake the quiz is really significant.



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(Left) Again, 40% is a lot. Ideally, this would be less than 20% as we understand there will always be cases of people being disappointed they didn't get sorted with their friend, don't feel they fit their house, dislike another member of their house, etc.

(Right) Two thirds answered no here - and that is noteworthy. What if more people made a point to participate? It would create opportunities for feedback, making friends, and generally boosting activity.



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(Left) Only 6.7% voting yes is a huge red flag, and something we already felt as staff. Having members confirm this is really important.

(Right) We do agree with this - whether it's an update of the quiz, a new one entirely, regular 'check ups' every so often to evaluate the current status, etc.

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Pie Charts (2/2)

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:29 am


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(Left) I (Thunder) found this one surprising. Given that some users feel that AS has too many events, I was really surprised to see so many people vote that, at least within the houses, they would like to see more Keeper-driven activities to participate in.

(Right) This it about what was expected - it's been voiced by some members that the Keepers try but that members don't reciprocate, while others have similarly voiced that Keepers ought to be doing more. It's interesting to see it split pretty evenly though and brings the question - what should Keepers be doing? What expectations or suggestions to members have?



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(Left) This is very interesting after many users also indicated there were not enough in-house activities / feeling keepers ought to be doing more. Do users prefer more in-house stuff and to ease up on the site-wise events? Or is there one group who want more of everything and one who want less of everything..

(Right) Very helpful info! Since there have been such mixed feelings about houses lately, getting a sense of how users would feel if we didn't have them at all is really desirable.



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(Left) It was really interesting to see how evenly split this was between the given options! Ultimately, sounds like 26.7% said Yes, while 56.7% indicated No / it should be adjusted, but then beyond that things were split regarding HOW it should be adjusted.

(Right) Again, this had a huge split but seeing that a solid 50% of survey participants said No is really important. What they feel would be a better balance is something we'd be really interested in hearing!
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Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:29 am

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Open Ended Responses

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:30 am

This section begins the open ended responses!

Overall, it's been incredibly interesting to see how evenly members are split on various house and event related things. Unfortunately, there were only 30 participants out of the entirety of AS which was a disappointment. We are generally viewing these 30 submissions as a sample of the member base as a whole. If you feel these percentages do NOT represent AS members overall, please make sure to participate in future polls and surveys! They are typically posted either in the announcements or the discussions area.
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Open Ended Responses (1/3)

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:32 am

We want to start off by thanking everyone for taking the time to participate in the survey! You guys are the foundation of AS and your thoughts and ideas are invaluable. We really hope to continue with better utilizing polls and surveys and to prioritize translating those discussions into action so that AS can reach its full potential!

Below are the data results from the multiple choice component of the survey. Lower down in the thread you’ll find written out responses to individual submissions from the open ended questions at the end of the survey. We understand that the typed responses may not feel very conclusive at this time, but we wanted to at least make it known that everyone has been heard!

Thanks to the feedback we have received, a few clear paths have been brought forth and there will soon be a new poll to get a final decision on which direction to go in regarding the houses!

I feel like the Houses are completely and utterly unneeded. It was fun when AS was still relatively big/active, but now it just feels like a huge rip-off of Harry Potter (and a bad one, at that). It's time to move on and, honestly, it feels like the Houses do add a bit to the clique-y feeling of AS that people seem to nag about as people, who are more active (e.g. Halcyon members) will tend to stick with the active people more and the less active/more introverted Houses are mostly left alone. Now, that's nothing that can be helped as it's the responsibility of the users to keep active and not the staff, but it does raise the question if the system needs to be changed or if it's impossible to revive it. I'd just like to give a shout-out to the wonderful Keepers, who are still doing their best to keep the Houses a thing and an active one; they're efforts usually go unnoticed by 80% of the users, but it's wonderful to see them not give up and continue trying. Thank you!
We are disappointed in the cliquey feeling that is emerging and wish to fix that if possible. It’s disappointing and disheartening to hear that so many of our members feel as if they cannot connect with new people due to this feeling but it is a hard thing to get rid of entirely. Some users enjoy the House and points system while others do not, so we are going to do our best in finding the best possible outcome to make as many people happy as possible. We appreciate that you acknowledge that our Keepers are doing their best to keep things active, but can only do so much without community effort because ultimately you guys are the foundation of AS! That is something we are struggling to do -- get activity up and people excited for things once more. As we know, a majority of our user base is older and thus have more responsibilities whether it be school, work, or both. We would love to hear any ideas you have in possibly changing things up for the better!

There should be a recount of active members. It isn't really fair if the same house wins every year because they have the most active members. Maybe we should merge the houses so that there are only two.
It’s true that we haven’t done this in a while. Keepers were asked to PM each member on their list to see if they were still active or wished to be considered as such. Those who didn’t respond within a given time frame or responded that they couldn’t be active were removed from the list. However we did keep their House in their profile field as we did not want anyone to become confused and retake the test to try and get a different House. When we first started the House system, it was halfway through the year and Sagacitas had won for the first time in 2017 and in 2018 it was Halcyon.

The idea of merging the Houses so that there are only two is also extremely interesting. It is definitely something to consider and discuss the possibility of, so thank you for that suggestion! We’ve been discussing and thinking on how such a transition would go! Houses would need to be redesigned and most importantly, we would have to consider how this would impact things such as cliques, friendly competition, and so forth.

NA, the questions sum up the feelings very much. I have to add for the last couple that I don't feel that some events are advertised or explained as well; maybe I'm missing it when the announcements come but I've never understood the social media events at all or known how to participate in them, and haven't been able to find anything that answers either (hope that that isn't a rude way to put it), and likewise I feel that other events are just under-advertised. It is hard for a small community like AS but I do feel that the "prizes" for winning these events are lacklustre too and possibly don't give people as much motivation to participate. Perhaps special permanent username titles/colours or some such other prize (e.g. a piece of writing, artwork, something more material) for event winners? For end-of-year points tallies, perhaps something for the house in general to take into the next year and/or some sort of merit to the user/s with the most points, a bit like the aforementioned rewards.
You are not the only one to voice this sentiment! We try to advertise as much as we can, but also not in a manner that makes users feel suffocated. We have received some feedback that at times events - such as the social media event - were pushed too heavily and made users feel suffocated or pressured to participate which is the opposite of what we want. What we have done so far is an announcement, noting in the sidebar, and in the social media. However, you are right that things could be improved. Two things we have been trying to work on so far are consistency and having good timelines, so your feedback is super helpful. Additionally, we advertise the event in the sidebar and also try to have Keepers to bring it to everyone’s attention to encourage participation as well as advertise it via our social media accounts.

In regards to the social media event and information about it specifically, there is a subforum within the Events forum, where you can find this thread! If you’re ever uncertain about anything on AS, the Attendants are a great resource, even if it’s just to say ‘What is this event? I don’t get it’. If they’re unable to assist, they will either find out the answer for you or send you to the correct staff member.

For the prizes, those are interesting ideas! We have admittedly been really stuck on this and how to adequately award people within a House. If you could elaborate more on how you imagine this working, that would be wonderful! When you say things like “piece of writing, artwork” do you mean that it comes from a staff member? We would love to discuss details and see if this is something that we can implement!

I feel like there isn't really a need for houses. The events AS runs are fun but I just join them for my friends, not for my house. It is nice to earn points but I don't really care about them. Some point systems also feel unbalanced in regards to effort vs points. It would be nice to see more focus on the sense of the community as a whole (like the Great Hall) instead of having different parts of the community compete against each other.
Thank you for your feedback! If you could please elaborate on which events you think are unbalanced regarding point systems in terms of effort vs points, it would be greatly appreciated so we could look into adjusting it accordingly! We are always trying to find the best way to reward effort with points, however it can be difficult to find the right balance, so any user input would give us valuable insight into this topic for 2020 and future years. And we agree -- we try to get people engaged in other ways, but unfortunately threads like the Great Hall and even the House Common Rooms are fairly inactive most of the time. Having a large area to talk, such as the Great Hall, is a great opportunity to get to know new people. However, it could be intimidating for a user to join in. This is definitely a possible idea, to not have houses and to rather focus on the website as a single group again. There was some hope that creating smaller groups of users could encourage feelings of comradery and friendly competition as well as smaller, less intimidating spaces to meet people, but it's clear that it has lost its spark and is in need of some changes now for sure. We are all ears for ideas on what changes to make and thoughts on what overall goals to have!

I think the houses are a good way to create smaller communities, and provide a smaller more obvious place to discuss things with other scribers. It’s also an extra boost of motivation for some of the events and the afflatus activities because of the competitive aspect of things, although I understand that it’s not necessarily very balanced if there are houses with more active members who take part. The in-house events are a good idea as a break from site-wide events, however personally with the likes of the poetry or art events I have no interest in taking part in them because neither are areas I have any skill and/or interest in participating with. I do notice as well that at times the house common rooms can be on the quiet side, so maybe coming up with some specific way to stir up discussions would be good? Putting out a question of some kind or something that could be discussed in each of the houses, I don’t know? Overall I do think the houses add to the site, but they’re perhaps not being used/acknowledged to the best that they could be!
This captures a lot of what we hoped to accomplish with the House system - smaller communities within a larger one to help make it easier to connect and converse with others! However, we also don’t want members interacting solely with their Housemates and want them to interact with those outside of their House as well. If possible, we’d definitely like to find ways to encourage the use of the Great Hall to help people connect and communicate with each other more.

In regards to the in-house events, we definitely thought that having those would be a nice break from the more rigorous site wide events for users to participate in. They were meant to last much shorter in comparison so that the rest of the month could still count as a rest period. However, we do agree that perhaps poetry and art were not the best choices for those events as not many people partook in it. We acknowledge that art and poetry is not everyone’s strong point due to skills or interest level. However, with the feedback about poor advertising, we also wonder if that could have played a factor into its low participation. If you have any suggestions for alternative in-house events, we would love to hear them!

Finally, the House Common Rooms are on the quiet side which is disheartening. We want to try to liven things up, but are uncertain how. What kind of discussions do you think would be beneficial? Often, the Keepers ask their House members for what they’d like to see but get very little feedback in return. Or, the Keeper gets something going - such as an in-house prompt thread - but it never takes off after interest in such a thing has been expressed. It’s a vicious cycle of trying to get discussion and activity going, but being met with silence. Not the Keeper’s fault, but also not the member’s fault! Both have to work together in order to achieve the common goal of livening things up.

The winter event is nice, more events with varied submission types would be cool.
We’re glad you enjoyed this year’s winter event! We thought a lot about what we wanted the event to consist of and thought it would be cool to have something where people can showcase their talents in numerous ways in ways different than writing! However, we get that some people really enjoy writing prompts or poems, so we wanted to include that as an option as well. We know how stressful writing can be and hoped that this would provide less stressful alternatives, especially right after Nanowrimo. We hope to incorporate this concept more in other events if possible and wanted by the userbase!

I think houses are a great way to motivate people to participate. Personally, if we took away houses and point value, I wouldn't participate in most of the events. I do think House Keepers need to be more active, though. Perhaps allowing more active non-staff users to be Keepers would be better because on a whole, staff aren't super active in the Houses.
As a Keeper myself, I do want to share some of our own frustrations. We want the Houses and its members to be active! We want everyone interacting with each other and with us; however, when we are met with silence it becomes disheartening. It’s a vicious cycle honestly. If the Keeper is inactive, then of course the House will be inactive. However, much in the same manner, if the House is inactive then the Keeper will be inactive as well. It’s important to find that balance.

As for the idea of non-staff users being Keepers, while an interesting idea, it is unlikely. Perhaps maybe having a deputy of sort? We do have the title of “head boy/girl/person” though we have not quite figured out what we want to do with those roles apart from awarding them as possible prizes. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have 2-3 of these roles amongst non-staff to help run the Common Rooms. The Keepers are meant to keep things in order and as such need to be a part of the staff. I think having members that are active assisting in making the Common Room active would be a great help and extremely beneficial while the Keeper can ensure things go smoothly and step in if any issue arises. The more I think about this, the more I like the idea. What may not have been explained properly is that users can make threads in their own House subforums. If you want to start a game, or a discussion, you can definitely use that space. Just consult your Keeper if you are ever unsure!

I think that the houses are completely imbalanced. Look at Amaranthine. I know Cas is doing her best, but, come on. I'm sick of coming in last place every time because nobody but me tries LOL
You are definitely right in that active members are unbalanced and the sorting results themselves are sometimes unbalanced! It’s tough because there isn’t a clear ‘right’ answer. We have looked into some changes to the sorting quiz but want to stay true to the houses and their characteristics and, like you said, Cas is certainly trying! It’s exactly for the frustrations you have that we are doing this survey - maybe we need to restructure the houses and the quiz, maybe we need to eliminate some houses and have just 2 or 3. Perhaps we need to abolish the houses entirely. We don’t know the ‘right’ answer and really value your feedback in helping to decide what path to take!
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Open Ended Responses (2/3)

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:32 am

I love my time here on the site, but I almost feel as though the events are too much. The need to constantly have an event happening makes the site seems more competitive than fun and interactive. While it's a cool accomplishment to write a short blurb for 100 days in the summer, it seems too competitive. I'm sure there are people who enjoy the events and enjoy the challenge, but it feels like some people do it to fish for points. It puts houses that don't have many members (or many active members) to a disadvantage even if there is no prize at the end. Just a thought, and I'm open to a conversation about it as well.
We appreciate the feedback and understand what you are saying. We have been getting a lot of mixed opinions about events being too much. Some people say that there are too many, while others say that there isn’t enough. Some people say that the events require too much work, while others have no issues with it. It’s definitely hard to find a balance and we are trying to play around with things to find something that a majority can feel content with! We know events like 100 Days of Summer and NaNoWriMo tend to be the most popular and that the recent winter event was very well received.

On the issue regarding lack of prizes, we do agree there. We want to offer some sort of prize, yet we are not sure what that prize should be as we don’t have merch. Not to mention, shipping out merch is costly. There is also the issue of not everyone within a House participating -- though I suppose that could be rectified by keeping track of who participates in what event -- and it not being fair for everyone to receive a prize when they didn’t participate. The points, at the moment, are meant to be an incentive to participate in events and things such as the Afflatus but we definitely see your point in some people possibly participating purely FOR the points and not the sake of writing.

We would absolutely love to hear any feedback or ideas you have regarding prizes or making things more fun and interactive! When initially creating the events, we wanted a healthy dose of competitiveness, but most importantly we wanted everyone to have fun and enjoy the events and tried to emphasize to everyone that they did not need to participate in every event nor the entire event if they were unable to do so. These events were meant to be another way for a user to develop their writing skills.

It just feels like the Houses aren't super balanced, which is hard to do of course, but it doesn't feel quite fair when one house is always trailing behind.
This is a perfectly valid observation and you aren’t alone! We agree that it is hard to keep the Houses balanced and it is something we have struggled with in the past and have attempted to fix. For a short time, it appeared to have worked. Unfortunately, it looks like the quiz needs another update and we are looking into it. Hopefully we can rectify this issue soon!

The houses should be fun and not stressful. Also, friendly competition between houses is good but there is a very broken sense of community and unfortunately, it can cause cliques to also form within houses based on what I've seen.
We do not want the Houses to be stressful. When they were first brought up, the idea was for them to be another fun way to connect with other users on the site. However since then you are right in that things have become somewhat disconnected and the sense of community is not what it once was. Fixing this is easier said than done, and staff has really been struggling to come up to implement effective strategies. We are truly all ears if you have any ideas! Unfortunately, cliques are hard to prevent but we do see how they can form. We welcome any and all suggestions so we can take them into consideration to hopefully improve the Houses and the community as a whole.

I think that the houses aren't entirely necessary; I don't always feel comfortable to poke my head around and speak, especially considering they can become fairly cliquey. Saying that, I know that I personally did the quiz and never interacted with my house for the longest while, so I think either way each house needs a reshuffle - to squirrel out the inactive members. I don't know how you can push the users to talk to one another, however.
Is there anything that you think could be done to make it easier for someone to poke their head in and speak in areas such as the Giant Chat Room or the House Common Rooms? Perhaps a thread in each House subforum where new members post introductions before joining in the rest? I know some, if not all, of the Keepers send a little mini form alongside their welcome message so that a user has something to post and “break the ice.”

The intention for the Houses were not for a cliquey feel, though we can see how it can feel that way and agree that it can be intimidating. It’s definitely hard to break that clique feeling people perceive, especially when other users are content with their own small circle of friends. I can relate to this feeling entirely as it is something I have struggled and still struggle with myself in the real world.

some events really aren't advertised well, which is sad because then i can't participate in them as they pass me by. the site is welcoming, i like that attendants greet people and send out birthday messages! i feel like there isn't much though that brings the community together, like, i could go on just roleplaying with my friends and not notice that anybody else ont the site really existed. not sure how to fix that though, the house system doesn't work that well and I didn't even know the afflatus was a thing until i'd been on the site for months. idk. feel like there could be more effort from the community as a whole to reach out to each other, seems a bit hard to penetrate into the few groups that actually talk!
It’s definitely a balancing act to advertise things clearly but not suffocate our users! We typically advertise via announcements, the Afflatus, the side banner, social media, and Keepers aim for regular mentionings within their House Common Rooms. In addition to this, I know that our attendants also include things such as the Afflatus, the Social Media Event, the event list of the year, and so forth in their welcome messages to new members. Perhaps we should advertise a bit earlier and in a clearer way, especially since this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this feedback about poor advertising about events!

We are glad that you like what the attendants do with greeting members and sending out birthday messages! We also agree that creating a sense of community can be hard and that’s why we’ve started this discussion. We want to work together on improving things so that AS can be fun and enjoyable for everyone!

We typically don’t advertise the Afflatus since it does have its own forum on the homepage where all current and past issues can be found!

also the banner. sorry to mention. it's always out of date. please update banner more frequently.
That is entirely on me. I keep forgetting to update the banner. I sincerely apologize for this. However, we have chosen to fix this issue by dividing duties differently now for a few things such as the sidebar and team page so that things are kept up to date more consistently!

Don't have too much to say. I'm not a fan of the current house system and honestly wish that I could remove myself from my current house. I don't like the dissidence created within the site for a need to breed competition, making the site feel less friendly and more alien, especially to newcomers.
We are sorry that you feel that way and understand that others likely feel the same way that you do. Is there anything you feel could be done to make the house system better for the site and you? We would love to hear further thoughts if you are willing to share them with us.

tbh ive noticed the amount of people on as has shrunk over the years, and i feel like the only thing that would make the houses more active would be an influx of new users. as of right now it seems like everyone kind of has their own group/clique of friends that they've gotten to know over the years, so no one really has to interact with their house, if that makes sense? idk lol
Like many of you, we too have noticed that the amount of active members has shrunk quite a bit over the years. Along with it, activity has drastically shrunk as well. With talks of advertising and other methods/suggestions of increasing the flow of new members into the site, we hope we can get things going once more and add an influx of new members! The process will certainly be slow and gradual at first, but hopefully picks up quickly. We are currently looking into advertising options and trying to best decide how to go about it. There should be an advertising and merchandising survey going out in the very near future as soon as things settle down a bit! Keep an eye out as we would love to hear feedback and see how members feel about some of the options we are considering!

[quote][justify]hi!! this is ichi and i have a few thots on some things so! i figured i'd use this instead of hogging up channel space where it could be buried!
so, houses and points. at first houses were fun i suppose, but i feel as though it has since then turned into a kind of like... i don't know, i feel as though the house system makes the site feel split up and not as cohesive and community-centred if that makes sense? like all of our events focus on house vs house etc., and competing for points that don't really... have any meaning if that makes sense? like... i'm honestly not too fond of them. i think, and i know this is probably not gonna happen but ... the disbandment of houses and points. i wanna do events without the need for a competitive feeling to it. i just wanna have fun. plus it might help to develop a better sense of community, since i've heard a LOT of overwhelming feedback from MULTIPLE people that AS does not feel like a community, but rather, groups of friends that stick together. i know we're trying everything in our power to prevent that, but i do believe that the sense of division plays into it a bit? like don't get me wrong, i LOVE the events we have. they're a lot of fun to participate in, but i feel like it's too house and point-centred. i just wanna do it to have fun! i wanna use the opportunity to develop my characters and write and create things for them! same for the afflatus! like... i understand that points are used as a sort of "incentive" for participation but regardless, it already stands as -- if you don't wanna participate, then don't. i'm not sure if any of this makes sense? i'm not trying to turn this into a complain-fest but i just! idk! i wanna see more site-wide community based events! ones that disregard houses or even points! or hell, the longshot of just reworking the houses/points altogether. i'm more than happy to discuss this more in the channel ofc <3
[/quote]
Hey Ichi! Glad to have your input. You are definitely right that a few members have started to float around the idea of removing the houses from AS and refocusing the events on general fun and community rather than specifically competing with certain other members/groups. You make some valid points and it's definitely become a topic of discussion. Since we've been getting a lot of feedback about the house system, we're soon posting a poll and discussion that may determine this very thing and what changes ought to be made. We know users want to see improvements and changes, not just endless discussion, so hopefully this next conversation will help with moving things forward for everyone!

Hi! I'm not sure if this is the right place for this, but the anon box never seems to get checked! i PM'd an admin aide about EB and they never responded... it seems like admins and aides are not active, at least, I don't really see them around the site much! Maybe if the head honchos were more active then there would be more community? Maybe partnering new members with older members to roleplay/show them round the site, too!! I don't think the house system is any good either... though the keepers try nobody else does... maybe it would be an idea to scrap them. Activities are stil super fun!!!!!!! Maybe we can just do those without points for fun!!! Maybe something else as a prize like artowrk!!!! I used to love the staff-design pets on CS, maybe something staff made!!! I'm not really sure what you could do but i dont really care about points :((((((((((((((
We have been falling quite behind on the anon box and we really apologize for that, but we are working on catching up. After this we hope to stay on top of it much more frequently! In regards to the EB board request not being responded to, I do find that unusual. If it was sent to me, I sincerely apologize as I may have overlooked and/or forgotten about it if I wasn’t able to get to it in time. We encourage you (and anyone else in the future) to send a PM to both admin aides or give us a nudge if we seem to have forgotten. We never intentionally do so! Please shoot me a PM if you haven’t already gotten your permissions to the EB and I’ll fix that as soon as I see it! I may not actively post on AS but I lurk often and check in several times a day.

I find the idea of partnering new members with old members intriguing and would like to look more into it. Perhaps ask what the rest of the userbase thinks! It’s one thing to have a staff member - an attendant - send a welcome message to highlight some of the areas but it’s another thing to make a friend right off the bat. I do think it could improve the sense of community on the site especially if the userbase is interested in this!

hullo! i hope this isn't too upsetting as feedback :((
i don't really interact with my house bc there's no one to interact with. people don't care about the houses as much as staff believes they do and we all want to just have fun for ourselves/our friends and write without having to participate bc our "house-members" will think we're bad and not making enough points for the house. though, the keepers are doing a great job in trying to get it to be active again, it's not worth anything if people don't even acknowledge it and just look at the thread, only to poof. it honestly feels like the houses grew redundant once the activity disappeared and it should be decided if they're even needed.
not gonna lie, it's intimidating to be a part of a quieter house and have to look at a house which is full of active people who talk/write/participate a lot and feel pressured that you also have to do stuff. it just makes me demotivated :(
i haven't really seen the big deal of the houses but i ended up joining because it was a fad two years ago and now i'm regretting my decision. so, yeah, if the houses do stay, at least give the people the option to be unsorted/empty again if they want to go that status again. thank you and good luck!!
Not upsetting feedback at all! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! We have definitely been hearing that the houses have lost their luster for some members and that there may be an unhealthy amount of pressure resulting from them existing, at least for some people. It's certainly true that it takes everyone together to get the houses more active and that things are sometimes unbalanced in activity both among houses and within them. As we’ve worked on responses to the feedback submitted via the survey, we’ve noticed that people have a mixed opinion on what should be done with the houses. Some believe that it might be worthwhile to try reducing the number of houses from four to two while others believe that the houses should be removed altogether. It’s tough to gauge what the best option is going to be and we hope to reach a decision together that makes a majority of the userbase happy!
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Open Ended Responses (3/3)

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:33 am

Currently, I think the houses have potential but do not add a ton of appeal to the site. AS is very small so I feel fewer houses would be more beneficial to still allow for competitions between the houses while reducing demands on staff to hopefully give some more time to dedicate to the houses and specific in house events
This is something that has been suggested a few times during the discussion and also throughout these comments! It is something that we think is worth considering to try out before ultimately deciding whether or not we should rid of the house system entirely.

I've been a member of AS since 2014, so seeing its activity decline has been really sad to me! I was apart of many friend groups from there and now only seem to consistently speak to two people, my girlfriend being one of them. I wish I knew how to help, but what I miss the most is the community vibe. I remember when houses were initially implemented I loved my house, it was extremely active and energetic- although I'm a Vipera and we certainly weren't massive, it was a tight-knit little community of wonderful friends who spoke on a daily basis both on and outside of AS. At first the absences could be blamed on differing schedules and the like, but no one came back after a while. I miss what it was and miss roleplaying on there consistently; although the few times blue attempted to recreate a few activities like our prompt thread, no one participated. But without AS I'm not sure where I'd be, so I'd love to watch it blossom again. It's worthy competition in the online writing world, just wish it would be taken more seriously and passionately by its team of staff members. Strider left an amazing legacy and it deserves to thrive.
This is something that we’ve been brainstorming and trying to come up with ways to better create a sense of community on AS. The houses were a great idea initially and had a lot of promise, but activity did die down over time and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. The creation of the discord server is one way that we have attempted to create a better sense of community, through allowing a communal discussion area. Staff are also brainstorming several ways in which we can bring more users to the site, so that hopefully activity can blossom again!

re: house interaction - my house thread is kind of dead, so while i feel comfortable posting there, i'm not really active (because no-one is.)
You aren't alone in sharing this unfortunately. Despite efforts, the houses have become pretty unbalanced. It might be due to the quiz needing further changes, it might be due to the personalities of certain houses, other reasons, or a combination really. Several members have suggested doing away with the houses entirely, and another idea has been to reduce the number of them and reconfigure their descriptions. Ultimately - it's true what you say about activity and interest being lacking in some houses, and we wish we had an easy, clear idea to fix things. Hopefully through member participation and feedback we can make a decision soon about how to proceed with the houses.

I mean this in the kindest way, but the houses were a horrific idea from the start, as were the events. They were a main start of the site beginning its decline. Writing should not be done for points, it should be done out of love for it, and competitions involving role plays just isn’t a good idea. You’ll be getting people writing for the sake of it and half assing things and cutting corners for deadlines and meaningless points, which isn’t okay and just encourages burnout and writing for the worst reasons. The houses are also just a divide within the community, not something that brings them together. It’s just clique-y, and the participation in them and events feel so shoved down your throat and it just pushes me away and makes me feel alienated and uncomfortable. I’ve been here from the start, and the site was so much better before the first competitions. There was a point where I didn’t even feel like my writing was safe on the site. I also feel like there’s too much of an emphasis on the community as well. It just pushes people away from each other when you see things about it everywhere, and all of it feels so very disingenuous and far too official sounding. There doesn’t feel to be any heart behind it and it reminds me more of a teacher telling children to play nice and be friends and include others at lunch tables to an annoying degree. This is no comment on the staff saying it, as I have spoken with several of them at least once and Snow and Anika are absolute sweethearts and I still feel awful that the things I was going to write with them just never came to be because of me, it’s just how all the announcements come across.
You are totally fine saying that! There were definitely some pros and cons to the houses from the get-go and it was not a unanimous vote. From what I understand, the idea was to promote friendly competition, create smaller, less intimidating spaces to meet and bond with others, and to foster creative discussions in those smaller areas with people interested in seeing you succeed, with teamwork to earn points. That said, it did ultimately make some people feel divided, isolated from friends when they were sorted into different houses, there have been feelings of frustration from less active houses, and some members have felt that it makes things more cliquey and intimidating rather than less.

It's also true that community has been pushed a lot. It first stemmed from members speaking up about feeling uncomfortable, about other members lacking common decency, etc, and that's.. very hard from a staff standpoint to take any action about. We can only do so much in encouraging people to be 'good' to each other and we aren't everyone's mother. You may very well be right in that the communication of this encouragement may have been disingenuous, disconnected, or too official. Should you or others have thoughts on how certain things could be better worded in the future, you are welcome to submit them! It can be challenging to find a balance between being your normal member self and being a part of staff and having that responsibility and authority - so there may have been some mixed signals in tone, or leaning too far in one direction.

If the houses are going to remain, I think there should be more than one or two "keepers" of each house that is maybe proportional to the number of members in each house. Sort of like the american house of representatives. So there's perhaps that level of representation of the people that some users seem to want without the possibility of feelings of elitism. And there's also a larger variety of personalities on staff. At least in my case, I don't necessarily feel comfortable with approaching the keeper of my house because I'm not very close to them and they aren't really a person I think I would ever feel comfortable confiding in. (This has nothing to do with the person themself or how they act; I think they do a great job in their position! It's more just a personal feeling of clicking with certain personalities.) But if one of my friends was one of these people responsible for engaging with staff, then I would definitely feel more comfortable approaching them about things and I might also be more active in the general threads on site. I suppose that means maybe adding more attendants on site, or a sub-attendant position? These people could be selected by voting in polls within the houses instead of the staff handpicking them. And a vote is cast when the member level of certain houses reaches a benchmark. So for example, for every ten users in a house, there is one representative. The head keeper of the house (who does all of the editing on the front page of the house and who is the main organizer of the house) takes names from the users in the house who would like to be a representative (maybe over like a two or three day period) and then places them in a poll. Then the members have the opportunity to vote (maybe voting lasts for a week to allow everyone a chance to participate) and whoever has the most votes becomes the next representative. And maybe to avoid those feelings of elitism that might come up, maybe every few months, there's a poll or an anonymous survey asking the members if they think anyone should step down and the position be filled in a new election. That way there's a balance of power and a handful of people who can bring the grievances and opinions of the people to the staff members.
This is a SUPER interesting idea and is the first time we've seen it suggested.

I see some pros and cons to this. With every position we've ever made, unintended feelings of distance from other users has resulted over time. Part of what you described is exactly what the Attendants are designed to be, plus we don't want larger houses with potentially more Keeper type people to then feel ruled by a clique. That said though, some aspects of what you have proposed are very intriguing and could be applied to both the houses as they stand or if people did ultimately want to consolidate them into fewer houses. It's definitely something that warrants some discussion. The plan right now is to decide the overall future of the houses, but once that is settled, your idea could be part of a discussion on how to implement the new changes!

I feel like there's a huge gap between house numbers. I gathered the number of members listed in each common room and it's as follows: Vipera has 130, says 135; Halcyon has 66, says 69; Sagacitas has 49, says 177; and Amantharine has 17, doesn't list total. Essentially Vipera and Amantharine are huge outliers on both spectrums for what I counted as the actual active number, whereas Halcyon and Sagacitas are fairly equal. It's fairly unfair in competitions to think that Amantharine has any hopes to compete with the other houses with these statistically unbalanced houses and Vipera has an advantage due to the amount of users listed on their common room. A good way to balance this is to possibly do a point distribution like a handicap in golf. Possibly not, I'm just a numbers nerd.
While my initial reaction is to say that members likely wouldn't want to see other houses given a handicap.. honestly, it's not for me to say. I'd certainly be curious to hear what other members have to say about such an idea! Additionally, without further discussion on implementation I can't really speak about how feasible it may or may not be right now, but I definitely like where you're coming from in thinking of new strategies to even the playing field when the sorting quiz or just member activity isn't achieving that already. Perhaps this could be a suggestion in our upcoming thread where we fully determine the future of the houses!
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Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:33 am

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House Poll

Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:34 am

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