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Let's Kill Private Threads!; (Kind of)
Topic Started: Apr 28 2012, 05:40 PM (4,376 Views)
MurderWeasel
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Hey, everyone! This is not exactly one of my occasional Roleplaying Discussion rants. This time, I've got a bit of a rant and a solution.

One of the biggest problems to me, in V4, was that private threads ended up everywhere. There was some pretty serious bloat, as some characters hopped from private thread to private thread, never really interacting with the island on the whole. This bugged a bunch of handlers, and I can honestly say I see why. SOTF is a collaborative roleplaying/writing site, and it's fun to work with everyone. When you see awesome characters, it's cool to be able to interact with them.

Now, I just want to be clear: I'm not demonizing private threads, despite this post's title. I completely understand that there are often scenes we want to go down in specific ways. I understand that private threads are a great way to accomplish that. That said, I think private threads were massively overused in V4. I've heard some folks talking about V5, and already planning extensively, and honestly, from all I've heard, it sounds like at best it's gonna be holding to the same pattern. That makes me kinda sad. An overabundance of private threads hurts the game's dynamic nature. It removes spontaneity and chance from the equation. It robs characters of the chance to get some amazing moments.

In V4, some handler from way back (I can't recall who) heard me say roughly this and suggested that maybe crashing some private threads could be in order, since, technically, they are suggestions, not rules. Technically, you can waltz into private threads. It's just really rude.

I don't like that solution. I think those of us who want to change stuff can do it really easily and politely, with action only from our end. I hope I can prove that private threads are fine, when used in moderation, but aren't at all necessary to the game or a good character. V1 had almost no private threads. Some of the most famous scenes in SOTF history came about through random chance, in open threads.

Let's recreate that!

To prove my point, I'm going to take an extreme position. I'm saying, right now, in public, where I will be held to it, that I will not start a single private thread in V5 proper. Yes, that includes death threads. The only exception is if I have to act in a staff capacity, like, say, writing terrorists where it is required for some reason.

More than that, if anyone thinks this is an interesting prospect, I'd love to have you onboard too. I'm putting this in my sig. You're welcome to as well.

Quote:
 
Let's show that private threads aren't necessary! I pledge not to start any private threads on island in V5. If I started a thread, you are welcome to join it.


I'm not saying I won't join private threads, as that would mean limiting my writing options and partners, which is exactly the opposite of what I want to see happen. I'm not saying I won't do one-shots, which aren't the same as private threads. I'm not asking anyone else to, either. This applies only to V5 proper, as well; pregame, being backstory and setup for the game, has a lot more room for private threads. But, yeah, every thread I start is gonna be public, and it'd be cool to get some other folks doing the same, just to show that you can have awesome characters and stories without falling back on private threads.

Just to be clear once more: I'm not taking a shot at private threads. In moderation, they're great tools. I'm not expecting much in the way of other folks joining on here, 'cause, honestly, it is quite a big commitment to make and will be limiting in some ways.

I just hate seeing private threads, like any tool, overused. I'd like to show that other options exist, because honestly I think some handlers are afraid that they'll have problems or their characters will be worse somehow without private threads. I want to disprove that. :)
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Laurels
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This subject brings up another thing I've noticed and want to ask about.

A few times I've looked back on V4 threads, I've seen a few with the tag of "PM for entry first". What are your thoughts on those types of threads? Is it better to try and get a private scene out of the way and then allow people to flow in naturally? Or is that just as obstructive?

I do agree that private threads shouldn't be overused, would this type of thread help in a way? I'm sort of trying to think of a compromise to this. I don't plan to overuse private threads, but since I'm interested in the free flowing private threads, would this be a good idea?

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BetaKnight
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Laurels, can you please clarify what you mean by "free-flowing private threads"? That seems to be a little bit of an oxymoron to me.
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Slam
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Laurels
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@Beta: Sorry, I just realized that I confused something Toben said. Ignore it.
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MurderWeasel
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Personally, I'm not a fan of "PM Private" threads. They feel, to me, kinda like a handler either trying to avoid looking like they're having a private thread, or that they're trying to control which other handlers their thread is public to. Neither option is really my thing. I've also never known anyone to actually PM for admittance to one.
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JamesRenard
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I'll tell you what, I agree with you.
At the beginning of V4, I thought private threads were especially detrimental, as the thread limit in place led to characters having to be put into already-overcrowded areas, and it cluttered them up even more. When you have 260+ characters and a reduced number of places for them all... yeah.
Let's show that private threads aren't necessary! I pledge not to start any private threads on island in V5. If I started a thread, you are welcome to join it.
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KamiKaze
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Alright, my stance on private threads is the same as everyone else's.

I probably have only done private threads twice, that I can think of at the top of my head, and that would be Carol's death and the one where Marty killed Michelle. The former was of the "PM first" variety, but only because I wasn't sure if it should have been private, so I just put "ask first", since, after all, not only was it Carol's death, but a pretty major moment for Reiko's character development; it probably would have been a good idea to let us know ahead of time before posting (before you ask, I honestly didn't know at the time I made it that Rizzo was going to die in there as well, though Rocky did mention he wanted to kill someone off first before Carol). The latter I was asked to by Fio, I recall, but then Geno asked if she could post in there, and... yeah. Gravity.

I do see private threads being necessary in some circumstances, mostly if a major piece of character development and/or a death is happening, which makes sense. But if you're making private threads every other time you post one, yeah. Guess what? That is... well, for a lack of a better way to say it, kind of obnoxious. It honestly makes me think that you only want to RP with a select group of handlers, and not go out and meet new people. I'm sorry if it comes off as mean, but it's true. Public threads can be just as amazing as private, and it can be humorous to start a thread about something like, I dunno, someone trying to clean themselves up or something "normal" like that and have it by the end involve someone dying, a house on fire because someone tossed a Molotov, references to Death Note, and many other shit that makes you go "Okay, how did we get from here to here?".

I guess my point is, part of the fun behind roleplaying is how unexpected everything is. Like, you really don't know what is going to happen after you post something, and when you see someone's responses to it you can be pleasantly surprised. Private threads, in some cases, remove part of this fun. So, yeah. Putting the pledge in my sig-thingy.

Public threads. They're more under appreciated than you think.
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Let's show that private threads aren't necessary! I pledge not to start any private threads on island in V6. If I started a thread, you are welcome to join it.
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Ares
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I get where you're coming from Toben, I really do, but there is a need for private threads and there always will be.

I understand that the site is collaberative, but if I've worked something out with someone that will help the character development (say a kill for example) and we're in the middle of it when Captain Heropants von Heroton III comes barging in for the sake of SPONTANEITY!!!! It becomes a major pain in the ass. This happened A LOT in V3. I understand that people want to RP but I can honestly say that I don't trust enough people on the site to read through the thread and maybe say to themselves, "Well dang, it looks like these people are trying to do something here. Maybe I should just put my character somewhere else." No. I've seen and been victimized in some cases by a careless handler not doing some damn due-diligence before they post.

That is why I cannot jump on board with a kill private threads band-wagon.

And to conclude, because that came across as harsh and mean, I have to lighten the mood by saying I wrote all of that while on my blackberry taking a poop.
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VinnyMcQ
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My biggest concern for private threads, or more specifically the 'pm for entry first' type is that I feel that is intimidating to newer handlers, or anyone who isn't exactly confident in their own writing. And since no one wants that I'll put this in me sig
I'm not as awesome as this song makes out
I'm angry, underweight and sketching out
I'm building bonfires on my vanities and doubts
To get warm just like everybody else

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Let's show that private threads aren't necessary! I pledge not to start any private threads on island in V5. If I started a thread, you are welcome to join it.
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Blastinus
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Apr 29 2012, 02:03 AM
I get where you're coming from Toben, I really do, but there is a need for private threads and there always will be.

I understand that the site is collaborative, but if I've worked something out with someone that will help the character development (say a kill for example) and we're in the middle of it when Captain Heropants von Heroton III comes barging in for the sake of SPONTANEITY!!!! It becomes a major pain in the ass. This happened A LOT in V3. I understand that people want to RP but I can honestly say that I don't trust enough people on the site to read through the thread and maybe say to themselves, "Well dang, it looks like these people are trying to do something here. Maybe I should just put my character somewhere else." No. I've seen and been victimized in some cases by a careless handler not doing some damn due-diligence before they post.

That is why I cannot jump on board with a kill private threads band-wagon.
This was my primary concern as well. Far too often in V3, there'd be some sort of mood going in a thread and then something ridiculous would happen, like a character just jumping in and shooting at everybody, and the character-building opportunity would be ruined. On a couple of occasions, during a person's dying words, someone would quite literally walk into the thread, shoot at the person, and then walk back out in the same post. While getting rid of private threads would make V5 a bit more spontaneous than V4, you'd have to make some rules about people popping in and out and/or having their character appear just to spread chaos. At the very least, people would need to realize that jumping in and acting like an idiot would make their character vulnerable to being counterattacked.
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MurderWeasel
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I actually totally agree with Dan. Like I said in my first post, private threads have a time and place. They're really convenient and they avoid that sort of nonsense.

A big part of this is an experiment. I know I'm not gonna get most of the site on board, and I know I'm opening myself up to that sort of thing. It's a risk I'm totally willing to take. And, hey, if it explodes on me, that's cool too.

I guess I'd just like to make sure to clarify that the sensationalism is just for my (and now a few other people's) experiment. Mostly I just wanna raise awareness about how overused private threads can get. I think there was a pretty huge (and, honestly, probably fully-justified) backlash against V3's issues, and it resulted in almost every kill/death thread in V4 being private. I'm just hoping, as a site, we've matured enough that it won't be such an issue in V5.
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Megami
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There are a few really big issues with private threads, honestly. First and foremost, if you have excessive amounts of handlers using them, and being incredibly selective with who they RP with, it's actually hampering other handlers' ability to roleplay, especially since thread caps are imposed on most zones. If you have an enormous game going on, or a small island, or some variation thereof, and every section is overflowing with private threads and 'capped out', it hinders other peoples' ability to start new threads in that area. They can't start new threads, they don't want to be rude and intrude on 'private' threads, so what do they do? Float aimlessly around the island until they eventually get bored and let the character go inactive? That isn't fun for anyone, and I certainly wouldn't appreciate it, would any of you?

I can understand wanting to have moments of character development and planned storyline, because that's a type of collaboration with other handlers as well. However, if you take all the spontaneity out of the game, you may as well just write a story instead, because it isn't roleplaying anymore. I think the best private threads are short, quick ones. If you draw it out for months and months in the same area, that's a really selfish thing to do to the other handlers in the community. Another issue with it is that people may think they're getting some great character development going on by pre-planning every miniscule little detail about their character's time on the island, but truthfully, your character isn't going to be nearly as well-rounded and interesting to read as if you hop in somewhere spontaneously and just let the dice fall where they may. The most interesting characters in SOTF history -- at least, in my opinion -- had very little pre-planning put behind them. The planning that was done was pretty bare-bones. Stuff like "Adam eventually finds Amanda" or "Bryan and Mariavel turn on each other", for example.

Now that said, I completely understand not wanting to have your character's tragic death scene ruined when John T. Random pops into the thread looking for a place to relieve himself in the woods. That's where I feel like this should really come into play:

Quote:
 
7. Please at least have an understanding of the topic you will post in if you are not the first person to post in the topic. We don't want any misunderstandings. It wouldn't be good if you are walking peacefully into a gunfight and your character is oblivious to it all. If you plan on entering a topic, please take the time to read said topic beforehand, it'll save you a lot of grief in the long run.


That has been a part of the SOTF Rules and Guidelines for about six years now, but I don't think it's ever really been enforced or acted upon. All that it really amounts to is that we want handlers to have the respect and maturity to not pull stunts like the one listed above. What I'd really like to see, on a personal level, is a forum where people don't feel obligated to make threads private. People shouldn't have to fear other handlers entering and ruining topics that are important to their character, because handlers entering the topics should have the courtesy to have read and understand the nature of the topic, first.

It's so important to respect the people you're roleplaying with. Nobody's character is "more important", or "more deserving", or "a better character". One handler shouldn't have to cut their character's final moments short because Johnny Awesome just walked into his thread. He shouldn't have to wait to die because Johnny wants to give him an epic speech about how awesome he is, first. Likewise, Lisa Lu shouldn't have to avoid the lighthouse because Johnny Awesome is in there having the epiphany of the century with his buddies from the football team. Mutual respect between handlers is a very important thing, and maybe it's something that hasn't been emphasized enough.

Overall, I definitely agree with Toben about trying to do away with private threads. They have their uses, and they have a time and place, but people shouldn't feel obligated to make threads private. It's a roleplaying forum. Part of the fun of it is reading other people's work, meeting and learning about their characters, interacting with handlers you've never collaborated with before. People should be reading threads besides the ones that just pertain to them. They should make an effort to find out about the other stories going on on the island. And, if they want to get involved in an ongoing thread, they need to have the common courtesy to do a little reading and see what that thread is about, first. Realistically, if you heard gunshots going off nearby, would you charge onto the scene with your cast-iron skillet to fend off the attacker? You can be involved in a thread without immediately trying to be the center of attention, and you can let the scene that's going on play out before you spring into action. A little courtesy goes a long way with things like this, and it really is the difference between feeling forced to make your threads private and being more open to other characters showing up on the scene after Lisa dies.

Just my two cents.
Edited by Megami, Apr 29 2012, 02:58 PM.
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nope
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Megami absolutely nailed how I feel about it, so I just wanna toss a few additional points in:

I. Dan is right that there were some really severe issues of etiquette in v3. There was also flood of confused new handlers jumping into an already established version. Most of us that are still around were either lucky enough to have some really awesome oldbies take us under their wings (hi Aaron <3), or we've learned from our mistakes. v4 never really had that problem- most of the handlers had been involved in a very, very long pregame and got things sorted out well before the island. So yeah, while the private thread boom was probably a reasonable response to v3's rampant thread-crashing, it was in all likelihood really not an issue anymore

II. While I totally agree that there's a time & place for private threads & that they're not completely without merit, v4 took it waaaaay too far. There were some characters that would go months without being in an open thread. It's still terrible etiquette, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. It sends the message that you don't trust the average handler to not screw up your story, or that you don't feel that we're good enough to write with you. It doesn't matter if that's not the intention, it gives that impression very clearly. Frankly, if you're not willing to write with others, this is a very difficult place for you to have fun or be successful in

III. In the end, you're doing yourself a huge disservice if you're confining yourself to private threads. First off, you're missing out on tons of opportunities and interactions that you could use to really strengthen your own characters. Plus, having to really think through how your character will respond to an unexpected situation can tell you way more about them than trudging through planned event to planned event. & even aside from all of that, you need to realize your readers are also fellow writers. This can backfire on you pretty easily. Active handlers are probably reading to find characters to interact with first, & out of interest second. If they see you're a private thread junkie, they might approach you to see if they can squeeze in- or, they might write you off as a possibility for interaction & follow you less closely. Then, going back to the attitude thing: hopping from private thread to private thread just looks rude. Sure, you may be writing a solid character & people may recognize that, but do you really want people seeing you as kind of an arrogant jerk when the time to need a hero card comes around?

& just wanna note: I'm saying this as someone who's been on both ends of the spectrum. I had my own string of private threads in v4 & I can honestly say I enjoyed myself way less because of it, & I still really regret all the great handlers I missed out on writing with. Private threads just don't have enough pros for the cons to be worth it. I'm personally going to try to stay private thread free in v5 if for no other reason than it's in my own best interest & it's damn boring otherwise
Edited by nope, Apr 29 2012, 01:47 PM.
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D/N
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Like Dan, I get where you're coming from, and agree that private threads got way done in v4, but I won't be getting fully on board and pledging here. If you're trying to tell a story with your characters, sometimes private threads are needed. It just, eh, a very delicate balancing act. Kami and Vinny make really good points about how it can be cliquish and make new or less confident writers feel less welcome, but at the same time, no one wants this:

Quote:
 
Al Roker looked around the campfire at the other members of R.A.D.D. as he prepared the smoke signals. Al had come a long way with Mitzi, Bitsy, Ramona, Ryan Reynolds, and Walter Mondale, and although they had lost friends along the way, the six of them had finally discovered how to get a signal to the authorities! Time was certainly of the essence for the tight-knit group, so it was paramount they move quickly. "You guys ready?" he asked.


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Remi Pierce continued from Wherever.

Remi stumbled into the clearing and smiled as he saw the group sitting there. They were an attractive group of popular characters, er, classmates that is, and if he joined up with them, he was certain to be a memorable part of SOTF indeed!

"Hey guys! Are you escaping or doing something important? Can I join up with you?"


So it's a double-edged sword. There's frustration both from Remi's handler, who feels left out and feels like he doesn't have any avenues to get interesting things going with his character, and from the other handlers, who have this guy barging in and ruining a great thread while transparently trying to latch his character onto them.

I also think that some people gravitate their characters to private threads after slogging through some really bad, go-nowhere open threads. You know, the ones that have five characters wander into the same area, stand around, wonder if the other people are trustworthy or not or whatever, one guy goes inactive and the thread drags on, and two months later it's declared a dangerzone and nothing has been accomplished. Suffer through a couple of those and you just want to stick to RPing with people you know and make a private thread in hopes of getting something done (of course, many of those private threads end up being much the same, so yeah).

Megami really had the best idea here, and the rule she posted sums it up pretty well. We're not gonna be able to get away from private threads entirely, but maybe we can get closer to the idea.

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