Were/Vampire Group Activity Check Announcement
#1
Quick beginning note: You’ll see the phrase “x% throughout this post. That’s because the percent is a placeholder (somewhere between 50%-80%) that the community will determine by voting. More deets at the end!

Hi strangers!

Starting in July, we’ll be introducing an activity requirement specifically aimed at members of were and vampire groups. Groups will require a certain number of active characters to keep from disbanding. For a character to be considered active, they must have started/joined and finished a thread in the last two months.

At the end of every two month period, we’ll run through to check which characters who started and finished a thread within the two month window. (If a thread started right at the end of a prior month, we’ll count that, too!)

What kinds of threads count for activity?

  • Threads should be at least ten posts long, with at least four posts from your character
  • Yellow Pages threads will not count, with a few exceptions for very meaty YPs
  • Threads don’t have to be with another group member (but are welcome to be!)
How many active characters does a group require?

  • All groups will require at least 3 active characters
  • Groups will require x% of their total group members (rounded down) to be active
What happens if a group doesn’t hit their x% minimum?

They’ll enter a grace period. This means the group will have one month for a character who previously failed the activity check to complete a thread (started either during or after the activity check window) or to acquire an additional member that would be enough to reach their x%.

If at the end of this grace period a group does not reach their x% goal, the group’s least active members will become rogues until the group hits at least x% active members. This may require the removal of just one member or several depending on the overall size of the group. Least active characters will be determined by who has least recently completed a thread.

Leaders may be marked inactive this way if their activity is too low. The rest of the group will have the opportunity to choose a new leader IC. (We’ll handle timing for this case by case!)

If a group has fewer than three active characters by the end of this grace period, they will automatically disband regardless of overall group size. If a group fails an activity check three consecutive times, they will be disbanded without a third grace period.

Are there any exceptions?

Exceptions will be made for groups on a case by case basis. Some examples might include: if players of characters who regularly pass checks are on a sudden hiatus; if a character nearly completed a thread but their partner(s) went suddenly inactive; if significant threadlock prevented characters from completing threads.

What happens to characters that haven’t completed a thread in the activity window but whose groups as a whole pass?

Nuthin’! This rule intentionally allows space for some members not always reaching the activity check time window. Players won’t be contacted, though the whole group will be given a heads up that they passed the check.

Who handles tracking and communication for this process? Will leaders need to remind members to post?

Staff will handle all of the tracking and messaging for the activity check process. We’ll alert groups if they fall into the grace period, then reach out to individual members to give them a heads up that their character is at potential risk for “going rogue.” (Heh.)

Leaders are not responsible for asking group members to post, and this is by design. We highly encourage players to post their leaders frequently and lead by example, but it’s never any player’s job to manage the activity of others.

That said, groups at serious risk for disbanding (fewer than three active members or approaching their third consecutive failed check) are encouraged to have open talks about if the group is something they’d like to continue writing or if it might be time for characters to part ways and explore new stories.

How are characters removed from the group in-game? Does the leader have to kick them out?

Leaders (and players of leaders) won’t be in charge of removing “least active” characters from their groups to reach the x% threshold. Staff will contact these players to let them know their character has been marked rogue.

From there, players can choose to write that their character’s metaphysical bond with the group severed due to that character’s absence or distance from the group, or they can simply write that their character willingly left the group.

Characters removed in this way can rejoin, but we highly encourage players to consider if they have the bandwidth (or muse!) to be an active member of the group going forward. It’s very okay to decide not to return to a group, and we want this to be an opportunity for players to step back (even before an activity check) and evaluate their rosters without guilt.

What happens to leveling progress if a character leaves a group or the group is disbanded?

Leveling progress will remain and not be reset. If your character needed three months in a group and completed two, then one day joins a group again, they’ll only need one month, etc. If your character completed all their group requirements but was waiting on some other threads to level, they’ll be able to level as a rogue if desired!

When do the activity checks happen?

Our tentative activity check calendar will be:

  • January to February (groups who don’t pass this check will have until March 31 to rectify)
  • March to April (grace period end: May 31)
  • May to June (grace period end: July 31)
  • July to August (grace period end: Aug. 31)
  • September to October (grace period end: Oct. 31)
  • No activity checks for November to December
The activity check period will always be suspended for November/December every year since the holidays make posting hard for almost everyone.

Why is this change happening?

Group activity is tough!

Making a group is super exciting. Characters come alive, thread together, and unite for a common goal. However, once a group is created, there’s often a huge drop off in group character activity. Many characters join a group, then largely stop appearing in threads unless required to for group events.

This increasingly fills the board with groups that have only a small percentage of active characters. It becomes a cycle: because it’s hard to feel motivated to interact with characters who don’t post much, other characters in that group also post less or begin to post exclusively outside their group. Leaders might feel a responsibility to try to encourage other characters to post but feel uncomfortable or even exhausted doing so.

The result can be a lot of discouragement. We’ve heard from a number of players that while making a group is exciting, actually playing in a group is often frustrating and unfulfilling because activity dwindles and characters don’t truly exist outside of occasional group threads. Groups become a method for a few active characters to reach leveling goals without much participation from their fellow group mates. (Leveling is also not the primary goal of Passing Strange, and as several folks can attest, a rush to advanced is not often very rewarding.)

Players who want to drop characters also feel pressure to keep them on their roster (even though they’re not being posted) because that inactive character keeps a group afloat. That’s not fun for anyone!

It’s also discouraging for new members (and existing ones) to see a huge number of claimed territories and a lengthy group list, but little activity within those groups. This makes finding a place to start a new group harder and joining an existing group less appealing.

We know this may lead to some groups disbanding, and that’s okay. Disbanding can and will be a natural result for some groups. It’s organic storytelling and can lead to new plot directions or new future leaders. Disbanding is not failure, and the storylines and progress made by characters in those groups won’t be erased.

Above all, we want to make groups a place where relationships form and grow, even if that means there are fewer or smaller groups. Groups made of active characters who post regularly feel more energizing, alive, and fulfilling for everyone involved. Activity encourages activity!

We also know that this may be especially impactful for players with characters in many groups. We encourage you to talk openly with other members of those groups about which characters you can reliably keep active and which may not count toward that monthly total. It may also be a time to review your roster and consider which characters you enjoy playing regularly and which you may be keeping on just to support a group’s numbers, if any.

This activity check is also designed to encourage thread completion. New threads are tantalizing, and many of us have a habit of jumping into new threads that leave us without time to post in existing ones. But we’ve all felt the drag of a thread we’ve accidentally let go on too long: waiting a while to post encourages us to wait a bit longer next time, and a bit longer next time, and suddenly the thread isn’t very fun for you or your partner anymore.

There will be growing pains as we get used to these new activity requirements. However, in the long run, we’re certain it will lead to more satisfying writing experiences and happier character rosters sitewide.

What’s next?

Tell us your input! Feedback, questions, comments, concerns, or cheers. We’re here for it. (Use the #ASS channel for discussion!)

We’re also looking specifically for your help in determining what percent we want in the “x%” section above. To help with that, we’ve put together a chart that shows how many active members would be required depending on group size. We also listed current group sizes to help put everything into perspective! View that image here.

You can vote on the percent survey here!
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