Staff Feedback Thread

seaturtle

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Staff Feedback Thread

This thread is meant for forum members to give feedback to the staff about how we're running the forums. If you feel like we could do a better job, or if you feel like something needs to be addressed, please be honest and let us know about it. We're willing to listen and hear every suggestion or concern you have. Please remember, however, to keep things constructive and to be civil. This is not the place to flame or rant, and we ask that you do your best to keep bias out of posts here. Any feedback or questions about the Marriland Forums (and not the staff) should be brought up in the Quick Q&A Thread [here].

Another important thing to note: this thread is meant only for constructive criticism/feedback for the staff as a whole. If there is a specific staff member who you have a concern/complaint about, please message an administrator instead of posting in this thread. If the feedback is more casual in nature, you might also consider sending it to them individually.

If for whatever reason you don't wish to post publicly in this thread, you can always message an administrator with any feedback and we'll bring it up to the staff team.
 
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Varhii

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You guys are great at getting a bunch of features going on this site and having it available before the old one even shut down. Thank you for your work and your continued work.
 

Bossvelt

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I think it's safe to say today was a DISASTER for the staff team today. I will make a bullet list of things that I found to be issues.

  • The initial problems was the sloppy way this change was rolled out. There were many holes in the main post and it was not appreciated how this was framed as if it was already a system that was in place when it clearly was not. Azurilland had been moving away from this sort of stuff till the end, essentially. Now you guys roll back to it and pretend like it was always a thing when it explicitly wasn't when this site was made.
  • Almost all of the community expressed their discontent with this change. Not because we all want to swear and say slurs but because of how ham-fisted this change came off. Despite that, there was really no compromise of any sort that was reached. Everything just fizzled out because people got tired. Not to mention, AT and Bubba in particular condescendingly expressed to members giving their opinion that they are not the majority. Ignoring how insulting that is to say your own userbase, when said members asked for staff to make a poll repeatedly, they merely ignored this. When challenged directly on this issue about majority, the staff just ignored the members.
  • When asked about the reason, the staff team replying to the members at the time (mainly seaturtle, Typhlosion, Thundawave, and Gokey) could not unite under a single answer. The reasoning and the story changed quite often to the point where the members had to prod and even get a bit aggressive to get answers. This is an issue that pops up all the time: the lack of transparency and honesty. The most shameful part was when you mentioned your fellow staff member shhmew and the way it happened. When asked who began this discussion, I was told well you all don't want to single anyone out or name any names. However, you did exactly that moments later and in a way that definitely can be seen as throwing shhmew under the bus. Treating your own staff member like this while they are not even awake is just gross. It wasn't done to be more open with us. Rather, it was done in an attempt to get me in particular to shut up. It felt manipulative. Beyond that, it was also very misleading as proven by shhmew's wonderful reply to the situation later on.
  • Speaking of shhmew, this isn't as backed up as the other issues, but I hope the staff is not making her feel bad for defending herself and voicing her opinion. If it does, I trust Merushii to deal with this accordingly. This bring me to another point.
  • About half of the staff is somewhat of an echo chamber. They SEEM to be willing to take criticism and what not, but when it comes down to it, that clearly is not the case. They just support each other blindly and try to back each other up in a way that feels so dishonest and manufactured. Now being a team is good, but not being an individual is not. It feels as if the staff looks down on other staff who do not agree with them. This is not a very good environment to have whatsoever.
  • I was warned for insulting the staff team. I am not going to argue my warning I feel I did deserve it tbh. However, this warning was made on the basis of being "fair" and what not. There have been MANY instances before in the chat where members have messed with other members and all that was given was a verbal warning and nothing else. It seems as if I got an actual warning just because it was staff members I was insulting. Not to mention, seaturtle/bubba, AN ADMIN, responded in an insulting and condescending way that not only was directed at me, but to another mod, shhmew, too. While I am not angry at seaturtle himself, I am upset that he got nothing for his reply while Thundawave was touting fairness. If I had NOT messaged Merushii, I am willing to bet nothing would have been done about this and it would have been forgotten about. Another issue I have with it is that this warning definitely seemed like a panicked reaction to the discourse that was happening. That is NOT the way to deal with a heated discussion. It felt as if Thundawave was trying to use a scare tactic to gain some control of the situation.
In conclusion, I felt as if the staff was just a complete mess today. There were hypocritical statements, statements that changed after being prodded repeatedly, and just outright misleading ones. There definitely has to be a discussion on working as a team while still expressing individual opinions. A huge gripe I have is that you all seem to want to show yourselves are having the same opinion when it's just obvious that is not the case. Another is that you all try to show yourselves as being able to take criticism and then just run away or even warn people when faced with it. A big issue is just how you all seem to just show a clear lack of respect for the community at times. How are you gonna respond with "well you're not the majority" to a member giving their opinion? There just needs to be better coordination and communication overall because this was beyond disappointing.


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EDIT
This is to Marriland. Although he is not staff, he does literally own the site so yeah. The way you framed your post feels incredibly manipulative. You do make it clear you aren't forcing the staff to make these changes, however you add that bit about "promotion" and how you don't feel comfortable with it. It feels like a tactic to make the staff do things YOUR way because they don't wanna lose your promotion. I feel like you are aware of this and intentionally use it to your advantage. So rather than have a nice productive discussion with the staff, it feels like it's a guilt trip. Not to mention, it goes against what you told us from the beginning. You told us multiple times that the community will be able to run and govern itself. As time has passed, however, it's become increasingly clear that you want to micromanage certain things because you do not personally find it to your liking. Sure, you do not force the staff, but it feels as if you make it very hard to not try to comply with what you ask for in some way. It worries me because I wonder will we get censored more because that's what you want and the staff will do it because they want your promotion? So, in conclusion, I am disappointed with the way you have dealt with things as well. While I am thankful you are hosting us, it feels like that is being used against us at times. Like we should just be happy we're being hosted at all and deal with what comes next.
Of course, I am open to hearing otherwise, but this is just what I personally notice.
 
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Thundawave

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Hey Boss! Thanks for bringing up your concerns here. First off, I won't downplay Wednesday’s events as anything other than a disaster, as much as I'd hate to admit. It’s been hard on me too, and it’s made me realize that I also need to take criticism better - I nearly cried. I'll go from the top down to make it simpler to follow my points.

I absolutely agree that we didn't handle this censor situation well from start to finish. That is completely our fault, and we hope to never let it happen again. We realized beforehand that this update could be jarring or unpopular to members who have become used to the more lax atmosphere, and we did not prepare to address the concerns properly - both in our initial post and in the response. In our responses, we should have thought more of the community's perspective - how exactly they would feel and what to say to them. What's done is done, however, and we have already begun discussion internally to improve our communication and consistency.

In this discussion, we have so far talked about the way we interact in response to member feedback - making sure that we’re treating everyone like humans and knowing exactly what we need to tell them before we release the updates. Not being condescending or giving incomplete explanations. You are also right in that a lot of us didn’t handle addressing the concerns well enough - too many of us were talking at you and not with you, making claims we couldn't always prove (e.g. the majority comment).

The inconsistency in our explanations was also terrible and something we don't want to repeat. You're right once more. When I woke up on Wednesday, I had seen the responses to the thread and brought it up in the staff boards to discuss how we were going to respond. This was supposed to be our procedure whenever we needed to address concerns that were beyond simple answers. But then I checked Discord, saw 500+ messages already in the #support channel, and made the bad decision to jump in as well. The damage had been done already. Staff also shouldn't have name-dropped even when under pressure. I will get back to the main name-drop in question later.

As for shhmew, she has received no punishment or major backlash from staff. People who felt concerned or personally attacked by her comments went to her directly and resolved these feelings peacefully.

The echo chamber/reception to criticism part is something that I personally have worked on improving (and still need to improve). We all individually struggle with different aspects, and as a team we will need to acknowledge exactly what each of us needs to work on. In exchange for efficiency and coming to decisions sooner, I tend to push my own opinion even harder when I notice a pause in discussion rather than further opening the floor to thoughts. I know that I can certainly make this less of an issue by wording my poking posts differently. As a whole, we as staff are also discussing how to reduce the echo chamber - the first step of which is to more carefully moderate the staff Discord, both for our communication and for eliminating gossip.

As for Bubba's situation, I would like to update you on that and explain more of my reasoning for how I handled it. I understand your frustration and how I could have come across as hypocritical for not saying much in the moment. On Wednesday night, Rin and I gave Bubba a staff warning for his out-of-line comments in the #support channel. I'm sorry I couldn't act on it instantly, as I needed Rin to be up to speed first before handing it out. I was already of the mind to give it to him. Staff warnings operate differently from member warnings - accumulating three of them within six months results in demotion. These warnings are given for breaking policies related to activity, behavior, and contributions. Usually we hand these out as a collective admin team - but when an admin is in question, as in this case, I absolutely had to consult the other admin who wasn’t in question - Rin.

Other staff handled the verbal warnings that you mentioned, and this highlights another problem - we’re not good at relaying information about verbal/official warnings in the Discord, which would absolutely cause issues in consistency in our enforcement. I had almost zero idea about these cases until pretty much now. I will bring up with staff that we should discuss and report any Discord warnings - verbal or official - in the staff boards so that no one will have such a gap in knowledge or moderate inconsistently.

I understand that after what went down, you and many others in the community feel confused, disrespected, and overall really disappointed about a good portion the staff, myself included. Your concerns are indeed valid, and we have already begun the aforementioned discussion about improving our communication and consistency. We are also preparing modifications to the censor policy as a result of Wednesday's discussions, which we will bring to all of you when we finish. Please stay tuned for our proposal on that in the next few days.

I also realize that my statements or promises may be tough to believe at first sight, but the differences will hopefully be more apparent over time when we show what we’re telling you. I hope you give us that chance.
 

Bossvelt

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I will wait to see what comes out of this response. Really all I can say about it.
I at least appreciate that most of what I said was not deflected or attempted to be justified, though.
 

Mystical

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In the post that contains some of what went down on the discord server, there was an argument/complain about how much work the staff has to make in order to have this webpage up. We as members know you are doing this out of your own accord with no payment and are grateful for it. But what you don't realize or keep forgetting is that many members of this community would be more than happy to help you if only you asked. There are some members on this community who are good at coding and could have helped with the coding and programming. So I don't think it's really fair that you want to take all the weight on your shoulders without asking for help and then complain about it as if we forced you to do it. This goes for other things as well. So if at some point you ask for help and don't receive it, well, then you have your right to be upset. But if you refuse to even ask for it, then it's on you and not on the members.

Edit: my point is, if you need help, don't hesitate to ask. Don't feel like you have to do everything yourselves. But if you do decide to do it yourselves, then take responsability for that decision. That's all. Have a nice day ^^
 
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seaturtle

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Hey Isa!

You're right when you say that working on things ourselves is our own decision, and I think it's easy for us to forget that. Using it as a sort of shield to deflect criticism or mistakes isn't the way we should be approaching any situation- we should be focused on improving, not on justifying our actions with excuses. We can definitely work on that as a team.

I do want to say that for some things, like coding and other site management functions, it's not as simple as just asking for help and getting it. Giving anyone who volunteers access to the site's CSS or other code is a security problem. For some things like that, it's not plausible to have non-staff members making edits to the site itself. We've reached out to a few people for help when what we know about Xenforo or CSS coding falls short (shout-out to Screem and Vigilance), but staff members should be the only ones to carry out those changes. That doesn't mean it's OK to use workload as a shield or to guilt trip members during a discussion (more on that below), but it's not always as easy as just asking for help.

In some situations we might be able to get help from members (e.g. MarriProm or coding advice), but I'd argue even if we are alone we still shouldn't be complaining about having to do all the work. The relationship between staff and members is a lot like the relationship between a company and their customers. No business would get anywhere if they blamed it on their customers every time their product failed to sell. If we aren't able to get people to want to be active on the site, that's our problem and not something the members can be blamed for. Does that make sense? Staff is expected to put time into the site, but members don't have that commitment- so it's on us to make people want to get involved.

I feel like I'm starting to ramble a little bit here, but overall I agree that we as a staff team need to do a better job of presenting solutions instead of excuses. Working on the site isn't something we should be complaining about when it's a volunteer position that we're doing willingly. We'll work on that in the future- thank you for bringing it up to us.
 
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