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What is happening to our faction?

OOC Writer Account
Writer
G'day First Order,

Now, I didn't want to be -THAT GUY- but with what's been mentioned to me recently by other members of our faction; we can't continue to keep ignoring this, and pretend the problem doesn't exist. Let me begin by saying that, some others, as well as I, have grievances with the faction's current culture, direction and leadership. The impression I've received, since returning to the faction, is one of apathy and disinterest from our member's in the continuation of the First Order's story, and lore; with a marked decline in the respect we possess for one another's writing.

Just recently, I received screenshots of a heated discussion that transpired in the "Dungeon" Channel. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's a hidden chatroom within the First Order's discord channel. Reserved only for faction members who are perceived to be trustworthy by the user group's administration, where they are able to discreetly communicate away from the eyes of the general membership. This select few, due to the First Order's merit-based promotion system, often end up being populated by high-ranking and influential persons (Out Of Character) that seemingly direct the faction's overarching narrative.

Sometimes, the discussions that happen within this private chat can become heated, although they often remain civil, depending on the context. Recently, however, the faction's leadership have been content to sweep these discussions under the rug rather than address' the concerns laid out by our membership. It's not unreasonable that a member who participates in a codex contest, with the intent of submitting a planet, demand that his planet's lore and fiction be respected after winning. Especially, when the prize was having said planet become the subject of a First Order Dominion. It is disturbing to see that an Admin on the staff team doesn't recognize the importance of textual integrity, and simply brushed the issue under the rug.

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The Dismissiveness and flippant attitude of one of our Administrators in my view isn't acceptable. Though the discussion remains civil there is obvious frustration in all parties that we haven't been able to get our dominions started and finished reliably save the last month that went by where everyone pitched in for the SSD. It's not fair I do not think to claim that our Dominion failures are the result of any one Member or individual Staff members, stifling discussion and preventing our community's valued members from venting their frustrations is only going to foster resentment and dissuade from others bringing forward their concerns. The above screenshots were provided by a member of the Dungeon who is worried about the Faction's direction and behavior all around.


The First Order isn't what it used to be anymore; Where we collaborated to produce entertaining and amazing stories. The Faction has devolved into easily identifiable cliques, with the characteristics of these cliques usually being related to a character's IC affiliation with the Navy and Army for example. There has also been a significant blurring of our faction's identity. While I OOCly respect and enjoy writing with many authors in the Sith Empire, the whole point of this faction's lore was to be distinct from the Sith in theology. If the Knights of Ren are going to be considered more than "Sith Heretic Jedi Hunters" their writers shouldn't be limiting themselves to stories where they exclusively hunt down Jedi like some Sith Assassin. The lack of mutual respect within the Faction right now for the integrity of the stories we all write is quite frankly contemptible.

We've all voluntarily united on a writing website where we've joined a Faction, and I see members of ours complaining that they have to read a planet's lore and then have the parochial arrogance to claim that the desire for contextual integrity and consistent stories are responsible for stagnating Dominions. This assertion is ridiculous and humiliating for the recipient of such a claim. Do you know what is responsible for our stagnating dominions and faction threads? The sinister boredom that's consumed everyone, what motivation have any of us for writing with the faction if we aren't going to respect and critique each other's work? Where is the appreciation for our core membership who bust their backsides to enrich the First Order? Half of our Staff Team's discord activity is consumed with posting animal pictures completely unrelated to story-writing or collaboration in the Sith faction's discord server.

Our Faction's Leadership has no consistent message for the user-base on what we're supposed to be doing next; if anything there are contradictory messages. Back in February, I asked Samka if we could be launching another Invasion and continuing the War we'd all been looking forward too. Her answer was, and I am paraphrasing, "I'll look into one for next month." That Invasion thread never came, just a stream of dominions instead. Then it was revealed, privately, to me that we were waiting for the Galactic Alliance to be recalled or go minor so that the First Order could ICly claim victory. This is absolutely abhorrent; not only does it deny the First Order and Galactic Alliance's writers the opportunity to craft awesome, and tense conflicts, but it's ugly and opportunistic. I've openly blasted the Vero exchange as having both these characteristics because it did - but if you want to claim the greater integrity and honour, you best be willing to back that claim with evidence.

The actions of a select number of Faction staff towards members who attempted to leave amicably, after a disagreement, have also been disappointing. When Khonsu Amon's writer departed the Faction; it appeared and allegedly became a policy to purge his significant and valuable contributions in re-organizing the First Order's military, that provided greater depth and cohesion to our stories. This is not how a supposedly exemplary community or Faction should treat respected members who leave to pursue their own writing desires. Not only have we failed to adhere to the core themes of our Faction, as it was revitalized under Natasi Fortan leadership, we've also failed to appropriately reward or recognize quality writing and effort for the Faction. Even daring to scorn former staff members for leaving the First Order after they were driven away by hostile members of the group's administration or creative differences.

There was a time where I believed many of the faction's members considered one another friends. But with the hammer being dropped in the faction, and general discussions by Ara Zambrano, the mutual hostility and suspicion leveled towards one another that is being swept under the rug instead of resolved. I've come to the conclusion the First Order is approaching its expiry date with the pedal-to-the-floor, either with the leadership completely oblivious to this fact, at best, or quiet anticipation at worst. What would -I- suggest as a solution after highlighting a mere portion of the issues ailing this Faction? I don't know everything, but it's unacceptable that we continue to pretend that the aversion to open disagreement must end. The seemingly mutual disregard for one another's contributions to the faction must end. Last, but not least, quality contributions and writing work for the Faction must be at least recognized and ideally rewarded in some manner.

As it presently stands, the First Order is being carried by a paltry handful of writers in an abysmally small amount of threads. Without recognition of our contributions, it's likely that they'll go elsewhere, leaving the faction to inevitably be recalled. This conclusion is unacceptable for those who care about the faction, and the map-game thereafter. This eventuality will make all those Dominion posts that our staff insists on putting out, and the effort we've collectively pushed for, utterly irrelevant in the end. It's my belief that we need to re-engage our own Faction Story and Lore, rather than allow the inevitable to become reality. There is growing discontent and dissent within the First Order, that much is obvious and unless we drag the causes for it out into the light and examine them; the Faction will continue to flounder and sink. This is a conversation that will, and must be had, as our collective enthusiasm and engagement recently have been less than ideal.

If you, like me, believe that this faction has the potential to be awesome, you'll know where I'm coming from. The Staff shouldn't feel betrayed this isn't about loyalty, it's about what is perceived I think rightly about a collective waning in motivation, enthusiasm and love for the First Order as a faction. Could this temporarily be a slump? Yes, but it's unlikely this inactivity is attributable exclusively to members working on side projects and I think it's time we started an open discussion about the near-future where the First Order may end up being recalled or we voluntarily go minor.

Thanks for taking the time to read this wall of text, I appreciate it and suspect some of you might share my observations and/or concerns about the First Order.

[member="Ara Zambrano"] [member="Cyrus Tregessar"] [member="Samka Derith"] [member="Sieger Ren"] [member="Asharad Graush"] [member=Robogeber] [member="Madelyn Lowe"] [member="The Major"] [member="Luther Ando"] @Natasi Fortan @Varas Kyrel [member="Kyrel Ren"] [member=Eventide] [member="Khonsu Amon"] [member="Alkor Centaris"]
 
Prefsbelt Commander
Character
As it sits, [member="Kirchenhof"] managed to articulate most of my current issues in regards to the faction, and its future. As it currently sits, I believe the First Order is stagnate in terms of activity, and that some drastic changes need to be made in order to ensure we continue to sustain ourselves as one of Chaos' stalwalts for years to come.

The first issue, I have is with staff. And with none of them personally, although to say disagreements arise is a nice way of putting it. As it sits, I think there is a definite disconnect between the writer base, and staff. I feel as if decisions are no longer broached by a consensus, but are rather out of sight, and out of mind. And I don't like that. I understand that the staff of our dear faction have a multitude of committments to attend to. Ara works three jobs, Rolf can't access Chaos at work, and Alicia is an RPJ as well as an admin. This is all well and good. But it leaves the rest of us in the dark as to direction re: invasions, skirmishes, etc.

If I were to offer a solution, to this issue, without trying to break as many egg shells as possible, I would consider it a mandate of the next faction owner to reform the roles of admin and faction moderators. This to be done to clearly define their duties and responsibilities. Decentralise administration of the faction, in favour of allowing one or more admins to run respective parts.

Have a PR guy, who puts out ads. An art guy, to make fancy faction badges, and make sure to nurture the base constantly. A sign of a thriving faction, is their discord presence. And right now that lags behind. Abolish the dungeon if need be, but foster a new sense of community. Desegregate the discord, and provide our comrades with camraderie. Our friends with friendship.

A second issue which I believe presents itself in regards to our current status as a faction, is the lack of need to be here. We need to get people invested in the faction. Show people we have a presence, and a place for them in and around us. Show them that we care for them. That we want them as apart of our team. They are apart of our team.

As it sits, while we do do the cursorary greetings in our discord, and regularly reach out in 'getting to know you' threads, we need to reenergise as a collective. And I know, personally I have been slack on that front, with work and school, but if we could organise a system, where a senior member fosters a newbie, and try to incorporate them, and have them learn the ropes, we may yet again see our activity thrive.

Finally, I think we need to do a diplomatic reset, with the rest of the board, and collaborate more with others. There has been some talk for some time about collaborations with the ORC. About doing X, Y and Z thread with certain individuals. But this is all talk. We need action. Throw up some threads in ORC space. Do diplomacy with the Sith. Hell, even declare war on the SJO. We should try to foster an open relationship with other parts of the board, and try to reset this reputation we have as baddies. As awful OOC. Because we're not. We may be neurotic, but we do not deserve that.

My apologies for this rambling splurging of thought. I have had a lot of thoughts I have wanted to articulate, and have most likely not articulated them particularly well, at all.
 

Ara Zambrano

Sarathiel Ren
Character
For the sake of textural integrity as you like to call it, I'd like to post the entirety of the conversation that occurred earlier today. If you wish to start a witch hunt against me for defending a faction member's right to participate in a dominion with a story of their choosing, please do so without cherry picking the content of the conversation you are quoting to exclude other staff involvement.

https://imgur.com/a/ulDJsUg
 
The Restless
Character
I am going to give my two cents into this. As the two Aussies made some interesting points, I would like to raise a couple more that has not been mentioned by either as should be taken seriously as a Faction regardless. Respect is a very key issue. Some Discords are often way too leniant with the way they handle things such as the constant poodoo posting. I know for a fact some people have had an issue with trying to keep everything classy in the Discord. But we are the First Order, Everyone comes from different backgrounds and so does not take everything that is said willy nilly very well, some people might even get offended by the things are said this is coming from personal experience as well and why the Admins try hard to keep order. Because you might not be saying the wrong thing you might not think that, but to the other person they might take very harsh offense to it because of their upbringing and so is not appropriate behavior by any means. We are supposed to be a mature very behaved like minded group of folks, not a bunch of drunken fools at a fraternity.

Another issue is instead of using this as a perhaps crucifixtion of the Admins, or a witch hunt as to politely put it enough, saying this issue or that issue is because of Staff. Here is another capital idea that could be brought into the fold as it has always has been done since the Faction's upbringing. Run these issues to Staff! Not create a thread over one bad day, the main issue is the members not running the ideas to staff and getting the go ahead. At least imo I could be wrong, I could be right maybe it's because Im one of those that prefer the old-fashioned way of trusting the Admins to do what is right by the community. By no means am I or were I ever disputing the pointers given out already, they are great. But blaming it all on the Admins will get you absolutely nowhere in the process unless you reach out to them, and most likely they will probably think it is a good idea, which brings in another point. Disrespect of Staff. I have seen many times too often when certain members didn't have his or her way and just blantely blast a certain Staff member or the entire team, when you forget we came this far was because of THEM! I for one do not wish to see this internal struggle and would only wish to see the Staff treated fairly, as we can't all be like the other Discord chats that some of you may stalk and admire but, you have to admit that do a damn good job of what they do. Personally I don't see the proper respect the Admin teams deserve when they do this job and never get thanked enough, but are often persucuted because he did this, or she did that. Wake Up! They are trying their hardest to keep the faction sustainable and if the issues were brought up above maybe a little more than once and perhaps in public. I am for sure thinking they would be open to giving it a shot to boost faction morale.

As for a final point I like to bring up, and yes this might be in regards to earlier fiasco but I like to think this will be a head scratcher. Yes we have all put work into our writing, our subs, our posts, our characters and that was with creative freedom was it not? So I'm gonna add to this by bringing up an example of Dominion we had Months ago. Planet called Totmond, never ever was finished. Why some of you maybe wondering, because of that same creative freedom being limited based on a certain people's mindset for story. This was the exact same issue that was argued over in the screenshots. This was the issue that caused the death of a dominion, and the issue stems from creative control. Now when you limit creativity, a person's imagination based on perhaps how one see's the lore. That in itself will kill factions, kill characters, kill threads, and pretty much kill boards itself if you attempt to some how control another person's creativity as if in a 1984 ish world. The issue that goes with that being if you limit creative freedom based on your personal taste you may not want to face it, but as Totmond was basically the picture of that, attempting to control another person's creative freedom to make it your way will pretty much drain muse and kill all interest in any momentum whatsoever.. The best thing to avoid another Totmond incident or any other's that limits or control's another writer's own creative freedom, because lets be honest creative freedom is how we are able to write to begin or even create this faction, controlling or attempting to limit it is setting you up for failure no matter how you wish to percieve it and that is another reason why we have BYOO to begin with. BYOO in such threads such as dominions allow for people of all kinds to write what they wish to write, but keep in mind respecting lore is key, but in roleplay anything could happen no one can dictate that alone no matter how hard they try, even if you try like a dictator to control that freedom as a writer to write what you enjoy. In order to not really have such issues regarding creative freedom would be to relax, as the creator of planets for example in the issue said person tried to bully me to include this or that, when I had no interest and then attacked a certain staff member the second time in a row in the past couple weeks. As someone who has written a planet himself for an entire month to compete in the last codex contest I have this to say. Chill out! If you have a certain sect you put so much work into creating a dozen threads, try not to pile it into one thread for your fifteen seconds of glory, all the while forcing everyone to do your bidding. I am not about that life as when a writer's creative freedom is put in jeopardy or the writer is bullied for not agreeing with the idea then do not harass said writer nor try to blame it on the staff as you could not face the truth yourself. And shame on you for trying to do so in the first place, as a writer I encourage freedom in all aspects, I encourage you to broaden your horizons but do not EVER! Try to stifle another writer's creativity for your own benefit.

I digress with that had been somewhat personal but looking at this I see that this is mostly a witch hunt in most regards, caps taken without permission from me or those involved which is a violation of privacy in fact and should have never been invoked to begin with all to crucify Staff over childish matters that were thought already resolved to raise these so-called issues that were never Ever!! brought to begin with.

Think about your actions very carefully and how you treat fellow writer's, Faction Members and Staff! Good day
 

Alkor Centaris

Son of Liberty
Writer
I'll bite on this one, despite being largely removed IC from the faction of late. I understand entirely why Carlyle is disgruntled here. Even when I first got involved with the faction, due to how awesome everyone seemed to get along and the story they wrote was phenomenal, Carlyle seemed to get the short end of the stick behind the scenes. The young man does the faction a credit with his writing, contributions, and creativity. He has poured time and emotion into solely the First Order for longer than I have known him. I don't seek to excuse his trolling or demeanor by saying this in the least, but he has been dismissed more than a few times on things he feels passionately about. I think it's reasonable to say it is unfair that no one has even once attempted to meet him in the middle.

Oft times, he lets his emotions get the better of him, and he engages readily with contentious people. I may be slightly off base in saying he has never been pulled to the side, but from where I'm standing, no one has ever tried to cool his head, reason with him, and/or accommodate him. I see a great deal of "this is enough," "this ends now," and a plethora of warnings. It's not inaccurate to say that there is a vast disconnect between the proverbial "cliques" in the faction. Those who do not partake in fleeting often do not care about that element of the writing. Fair enough- but that should not discount the massive contribution to lore, to dominions, or to invasions that he has done.

I speak up now not to condemn the staff, who by and large I believe do have the best interests of the faction at heart, but in defense of a youth who has been repetitively burned.

That isn't to say anything about the state of the faction. That's truly not my concern.

-Cheers and Beers,
Alkyholic
 
Prefsbelt Commander
Character
Ara Zambrano said:
For the sake of textural integrity as you like to call it, I'd like to post the entirety of the conversation that occurred earlier today. If you wish to start a witch hunt against me for defending a faction member's right to participate in a dominion with a story of their choosing, please do so without cherry picking the content of the conversation you are quoting to exclude other staff involvement.
Ara, I would like to first and foremost state that while we might not see eye to eye on most things if any, this is not a witch hunt. I mean this. We may not be on the best terms right now, but this is an open and frank discussion which needs to happen in regards to the state of the faction and the direction we are taking. And this is the forum for it. Not discord PMs, or any private discussions. The board provides a good, public forum for us to discuss our issues, and perhaps more importantly, in a civil manner.

Staff should be praised, and lauded for the work you perform for free. Nothing should take away from the fact you are all volunteers who lead us, and perform tasks for us. But this does not at all absolve staff of criticism. And if this criticism can at all produce a productive outcome for our faction, and our position on the board, then it is one worth having.



Kyrel Ren said:
Another issue is instead of using this as a perhaps crucifixtion of the Admins, or a witch hunt as to politely put it enough, saying this issue or that issue is because of Staff. Here is another capital idea that could be brought into the fold as it has always has been done since the Faction's upbringing.Run these issues to Staff! Not create a thread over one bad day, the main issue is the members not running the ideas to staff and getting the go ahead. At least imo I could be wrong, I could be right maybe it's because Im one of those that prefer the old-fashioned way of trusting the Admins to do what is right by the community. By no means am I or were I ever disputing the pointers given out already, they are great. But blaming it all on the Admins will get you absolutely nowhere in the process unless you reach out to them, and most likely they will probably think it is a good idea, which brings in another point. Disrespect of Staff. I have seen many times too often when certain members didn't have his or her way and just blantely blast a certain Staff member or the entire team, when you forget we came this far was because of THEM! I for one do not wish to see this internal struggle and would only wish to see the Staff treated fairly, as we can't all be like the other Discord chats that some of you may stalk and admire but, you have to admit that do a damn good job of what they do. Personally I don't see the proper respect the Admin teams deserve when they do this job and never get thanked enough, but are often persucuted because he did this, or she did that. Wake Up! They are trying their hardest to keep the faction sustainable and if the issues were brought up above maybe a little more than once and perhaps in public. I am for sure thinking they would be open to giving it a shot to boost faction morale.

I will reiterate what I said above, and do agree that staff perform a vital service for our faction. But they should not be above criticism. And if members of a faction do not feel as if they are comfortable to raise these issues privately or otherwise, then it is up to the admins of a faction to reassess their behaviours to understand why this has happened. We've all known Kirchenhof for a long time now, and he is a reasonable individual. I believe that if he felt he could discuss these issues, he would most certainly have, and ergo we have this thread.
 
Kirchenhof said:
If the Knights of Ren are going to be considered more than "Sith Heretic Jedi Hunters" their writers shouldn't be limiting themselves to stories where they exclusively hunt down Jedi like some Sith Assassin.
I really have no say here, I'm like the biggest example of a groupie/freeloader on this website in terms of participating in factions, but this sort of mindset is exactly what pushes away new members and anyone interested in participating in factions like these (as in those which are very well organized and structured with a clear vision of what they want to be). It's one thing to provide different avenues for character development in role-play, or to provide alternative objectives in stuff like dominions and other such threads, to the more standard-fare. It's an entirely different thing to try and control each character that belongs to a given order of force users in a faction so that they only grow in a very limited and desired manner in order to conform to a single ideal archetype.

If a writer wants their Ren character to focus on hunting Jedi, whether or not you think the Knights of Ren should be a bunch of Jedi Hunters or not, is both none of your concern and not something you can control. Continue to provide alternatives to stuff like that for people who want to take those alternative routes, but this:


Kirchenhof said:
The lack of mutual respect within the Faction right now for the integrity of the stories we all write is quite frankly contemptible.
Is of the highest level of irony if you're implying that Kyrel or other Knights of Ren should conform to your view, or other member's views on what Knights of Ren should be.

Respect that other writers will not always agree with you, open up other alternatives to storylines you feel are overused, and there will be members that make use of them - and there will be members that do not. Just remember that fighting over someone's idea of character growth and development, or their decision to do something else, is only going to alienate both them and any new members that don't want to deal with that sort of overbearing presence in their character's growth from the faction.
 
I respectfully disagree with this grievance and will keep it short:

1. No one should be forced to write anything, either scene, character, tone, etc. I understand a thread may not be for every kind of character, but there is no forced participation here.

2. Sharing private chats is disrespectful because you've now created more victims in this than just the admins. Your fellow members of the First Order have also had their words exposed to the board, things they may not have meant for public consumption. It's disconcerting to see that this grievance took priority over other writers' privacy.

3. The admins of this faction work incredibly hard, are not paid and are adults who have jobs, families and full time lives. Instead of complaining so vehemently about the direction of the faction, why don't those with issues, jump into help? Create your own sub-faction. Open up a faction thread. Recruit more members.

Constructive criticism is fair and welcome. But the inflammatory way this criticism has been shared is very uncalled for IMO.
 
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