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 September 2019 Site Update

Discussion in 'Announcements Archive' started by Nyctibius, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Grand Potoo Administrator

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    GREETINGS, MY UMBRAL FRIENDS

    Wow, August has been a wild month for this site. We’ve hit some awesome milestones and developed some fantastic new things, and even learned some lessons along the way. I’m not sure what else to say to lead in, so let’s just dive right into it.

    SOMETHING OLD...

    Last month’s update promised more. More medals, a new theme, and a dedication to user feedback. In August we’ve developed a new subforum and a handful of new features based on user request, thirty new medals, and three new themes. Twenty-four of those medals are free as can be, though both of them are themed around the Zodiac. One west, one east. If you feel like flexing your stars and beasts, ask either myself or Nev or Candi, and we’ll set you up.

    Nev, meanwhile, went and found not just one theme to replace Drift Dark, but two more fantastic light themes for those of you who prefer them. Titanium is our new primary theme, renamed to Umbra, and for light options we’ve also got Tungsten and Carbon. Go check them out. They look really damn good. I mean the light ones, not Umbra, you’ve all probably seen Umbra. But Umbra looks awesome too. On top of that, new features, new forums, and utterly ceaseless work… basically, Nev killed it.

    Safe to say we delivered on our word. And you guys have been beyond incredible, too: through the entirety of August we have maintained the #5 spot on TopRPSites and #2 on RPGFix (though the last few days did see us fall to 3rd, which is still amazing). We cannot express our thanks enough for your dedication to keeping Umbra in the limelight. We hope we can continue to earn that sort of loyalty from you guys. Speaking of…

    SOMETHING FAMILIAR...

    DONATIONS
    I’m just going to get right into this one. Month to month we ask for donations, and have a series of incentives to help make it seem more appealing to people. I’ll talk about that in a minute. Now, each month we ask for only thirty bucks. We did some quick maffs and figured out that if we got thirty dollars a month for twelve months that would essentially pay for the site. That means it’s right around $360 dollars for a year’s worth of Umbra, which all told is pretty reasonable.

    We only need $360 a year.

    This month you wonderful, mad bastards gave us $145.70. That’s 486% of our monthly goal. Between July and August we’re already nearly halfway to our budget.

    Words are not enough to thank you all for your generosity. I know a lot of big fancy words and every single one of them is, in point of fact, completely worthless right now. You all deserve the world and then some. This month, these are the names that got me shook:

    baman begins ⧫ Candi Cosmo ⧫ Dream Catcher ⧫ Infinity ⧫ lyriclyrandom ⧫ Nytera ⧫ ReireitheSmileFaery ⧫ Sojourner ⧫ Tarieles ⧫ Ruby

    This is what these incredible people earned, and what you could too:

    Any amount will earn you the giving apple medal: donation thanks.png
    Anything up to $5 will entitle you to the Event Medal set.
    A donation of $10 or more will slide you into the golden Supporter user group.
    Is there anything else we could offer you guys? At this rate it feels like those rewards are not nearly enough, and moreover we’re always striving to find new ways to enhance every aspect of the experience.

    NEW! WRITING ADVICE FORUM
    Additionally, I’d like to draw attention to a new forum: Writing Advice! If you have any questions or desire to improve as a writer, this is where you’ll want to go to ask anyone willing to answer. We have some severely talented people on this site, and I have no doubt that the kindness that’s been on display so far will extend to anyone willing to stick their neck out.

    I’d like to say more about what we’ll do to welcome the new and/or inexperienced, but I think I should save that for the next segment.

    I want to also take a moment to commend all of you for your incredible kindness to one another. I’ve said it before and will likely say it again, but Umbra was founded on the idea that kindness and fairness would be our core tenets. Our users so far have been incredibly kind and pretty dang fair, too. An example that comes to mind is when requesting new features. Nev and I really sincerely hate to ever say no, but being a couple of volunteer-style full-time workers on here means that we aren’t always armed with the knowledge or ability to implement something right away. When we can, lovely. When we can’t, it sucks. But you guys who have asked and been met with a ‘sorry, we can’t’ have been beyond cool. Your graciousness does not go unappreciated.

    USER CONTRIBUTIONS
    Let’s address something I’ve been ruminating on for a while now: medals. With a creative community comes the desire to contribute, and so far the only contributor we’ve allowed is… well, me. Not just me, of course, there’s also Nev’s friend Capreo, who is a crazy talented artist (we wanted to link to her, but she doesn't have any active portfolios up at this time). But here’s what’s up: if you love designing medals and feel like you’re good at it and wanna add some to our collection, that is awesome. Contact myself or Nevermind for details about what that entails.

    A LITTLE EXTRA...
    On a final, less happy note, let’s take a second to talk about site drama. Yeah, it’s not fun, but it needs to be addressed. As this community grows, new personalities may clash with older ones. People might misinterpret something, or words might be misused and cause unintended offense. Or you’ll just run into a butthead. Take the time to read over the rules and familiarize yourself with them, including how you ought to respond to people who rub you the wrong way. We have an ignore feature on the site for a reason. Use it!

    If you feel a situation has gotten out of hand, or even if you're just genuinely hurt and upset, contact a member of staff ASAP. We want to help and will never retaliate against anyone for submitting a complaint. Everything should be handled professionally and discreetly… inasmuch as volunteers can manage to do that.

    I think that covers current events pretty well. Let’s look toward the future, and what’s coming for our site and our users.

    SOMETHING NEW...

    This is probably the most exciting part for me. We’ve been working on some new features behind the scenes, and while there’s at least four things I’m excited about I have to start with one. I guess I'll start small.

    First off, we’re planning on writing a series of guides to help new users acclimate to RP forum usage and standards. Not rules, so much as insights on what does and doesn’t work. RT advice, what is and isn’t cool, and anything else we can figure out to help people feel comfortable and at home--with Umbra, or anywhere else they opt to go.

    Secondly, I’m proud to announce a whole new medal set. I won’t be cranking out another 24 this month for you guys, even though you deserve it. Instead I held back and limited myself to just six, the inspiration for which were the classical fantasy elements you can see in most RPGS. Just like with the zodiac sets, just ask an admin or mod for whichever ones tickle your fancy, and we will get you set up.

    [​IMG]

    Third, and this one is exciting, we’re proud to officially introduce our Welcome Team to the site. If you’re interested in joining this team use the standard application form. When applying, ask for a position as an Assistant. We’re only looking for one additional teammate for now, but it’s extremely exciting for us to reach a stage like this.

    Fourth and final, though probably the biggest one for me personally: Events.

    With the site well-established and a bunch of active users, it’s finally time for us to pull the cord on this plan. September will begin a series of monthly events designed so that everyone can participate to their comfort levels. While none of it is a contest (strictly speaking), there’s still rewards to be gained. Specifically, the Event Medals.

    That’s right! If you wanted one of the premium set but can’t afford to donate, this month you’ll be able to grab all six! What do you have to do? That’s the best part. You just have to participate.

    There’s going to be three events total; a Genre Writing event, where you’ll be able to post a piece of prose or poetry as it applies to one of the six genres outlined on the medals; the Genre Trivia challenge, where you answer 18 questions all about the genres; and finally the End of Summer, where you can submit ANYTHING--writing, video, drawings, photos, ANYTHING artistic--that you feel embodies the changing of seasons from summer to fall.

    That’s all vague, and we’ll be coming out with another post soon detailing the rules, details, reward structure, and everything else you might need to know. Again, I am SUPER excited for this, and I hope it ends up being as fun for you guys as it has been to figure out all the details. One final note: events run from the first Friday of the month to the first Friday of the next. Head on down to the Event Forum to begin participating.

    LITTLE NEVERMINDS

    Yes, that’s right, if Nyctibius gets an emotionally poignant little section all to himself in my update, then you can be damn sure I’m gonna get a little sumthin’ sumthin’.

    I’ll do my best to keep this brief(ish). In the two months Umbra has been live, Nyco and I have been met with a variety of challenges, both technical and personal. Sometimes we do not agree about how a site feature should be implemented, or if it should even be implemented at all. During these conversations, there are moments when either one or both of us can become frustrated with the difficulty of coming to a compromise (i.e. I’m a stubborn goofnut). A key ingredient to our method of running Umbra--and interacting with all of you amazing individuals--is remembering to be kind to one another.

    This kindness doesn’t always come without effort (I sometimes struggle with being kind during moments of tension, and Nyco has helped me become a better person in this regard). In a moment of impassioned speech, it can be all too easy to allow a passive-aggressive comment to slip through one’s teeth. When interacting with strangers online, it is no trouble to toss aside the notion that on the other end of those harsh words, there is a person with their own motivations, experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Remembering to treat each individual with respect, regardless of your personal biases or beliefs, is paramount to building a welcoming, happy, and close-knit community.

    In the two months Umbra has been live, the community that has developed around Nyco and me has proven itself to be one filled with kind, thoughtful, and supportive individuals. You all amaze us every single day with your ability to reach out to one another when your fellow writer is feeling down, or your enthusiasm when welcoming a brand new roleplayer to the site. You have treated Nyco and me (and each other) with a level of respect that sometimes seems rare in the roleplaying community, and for that we can never thank you enough.

    We are so incredibly grateful to be steering this wacky cosmic spaceship into the expansive celestial unknown.

    Shit. That wasn’t succinct at all. I’m so, so sorry. (I warned you in the last update Nyco and I do not know when to shut up. Please forgive me. xoxo)

    IN CONCLUSION…

    August was huge, and we hope September will be even huger. Between events, a growing community, and new teammates it seems like it’s going to be. The future for this site is a bright one, and in large part that’s thanks to the supportive, positive community we’re building. Always be excellent, to yourselves and to each other.

    Until next time,
    - Nyco
     
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  2. Nevermind

    Nevermind paint me as a villain. Administrator

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    @Member Hey everyone! Nyco has put together this insanely sexy Site Update for you! Please take a look, read through things, ask for any sweet medals, and please leave any feedback you might have about the site, what you'd like to see moving forward, how you feel about the site, etc. We are always stoked to hear from you all.
     
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  3. TheChronicler

    TheChronicler Serial Quiller Member

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    Seriously: It is a rare treat to be part of a website's community (... community's website?) run by admins who match their tall ambitions with their ability, and express this journey so well to their members. It is really cool to witness, and I am glad to have been part of what I someday hope to call the 'early' set of membership here.
     
    • Love Love x 5
  4. Dao Ma

    Dao Ma sorrow made you. Assistant

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    Though politeness may be given automatically, respect is given when respect is earned—or so I believe. There is nothing in this world that won’t have its problems and frustrations, but what matters is how one handles them. You guys are doing a magnificent job and I really appreciate this site and everyone in it for what it’s worth.

    I’m super excited for all the new medals and events! I hope it will be able to bring unlikely pairs people together to share ideas and find more rping avenues. If that makes sense. I’m feeling optimistic.

    Thanks guys, for taking the time and consideration for the monthly newsletter and for providing us with things to look forward to.
     
    • Love Love x 4
  5. Rei

    Rei Local Jellybean Expert Member

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    Thank you guys for all your hard work. You rock. Looking forward to seeing how everything here continues to grow.
     
    • Love Love x 4
  6. Ruby

    Ruby Pragmatic Idealist Umbra Supporter

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    Just gonna take a moment to say how much I adore this site, the members on it, and especially our hard working admins. Really, you guys go above and beyond for Umbra and I want you to know that your efforts do not go by unnoticed. We appreciate you. Super excited to be a part of such a wonderful community (。’▽’。)♡
     
    • Love Love x 5
  7. baman begins

    baman begins up to no good Umbra Supporter

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    Ahh, I'm starting to look forward to y'alls monthly updates, very cute 10/10 ^^ take all our love~
     
    • Love Love x 3
  8. Dream Catcher

    Dream Catcher Catching Dreams Member

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    It's awesome to be part of a wonderful community such as this. In the short time I've been here I've been happy, sad, angry and cheerful. You all were there supporting me every step of the way. This is my virtual home away from home. My sanctuary of peace. Thank you all for what you do. It means a lot to me and the rest of the members of Umbra. I love you all!​
     
    • Love Love x 3
  9. Rei

    Rei Local Jellybean Expert Member

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    Question, lovelies:

    Should people who have already submitted applications re-submit with the Assistant piece included?
     
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  10. Nyctibius

    Nyctibius Grand Potoo Administrator

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    @ReireitheSmileFaerie

    That won't be necesarry. It's just been a slow weekend. The gears are moving, though.
     
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  11. Neelix

    Neelix Member Member

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    I just want to say this is truly a wonderful site. Everyone whom I've talked to is especially nice. The staff does a great job too. I will try to start getting more active on here. I can't be on to Rp everyday though. My health hasn't been that great and it keeps me from getting online. But I would like to start up a plot or two with a willing partner.
     
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