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Calamity Refuge Discord Overhaul

Started by Emily, March 15, 2021, 07:08:05 PM

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G'diddia Refugi, non-Refugi friends, and assorted visitors,

As most of you are aware, Refugia is the NationStates branch of a wider and older community named Calamity Refuge. Though CalRef was on hiatus throughout most of 2020, we've gradually reintroduced elements of it so that the renewed interest in Refugia might get some nice people to filter through to the community. For the most part, this has worked brilliantly. NationStates has allowed us to meet new friends who fit well into CalRef's existing framework.

My job within the wider CalRef structure is to talk with people and make sure social aspects and dynamics are running smoothly. Ours is a community whose legacy is being close to one another. We're used to being able to share who we are, to talk openly and frankly about our thoughts and lives with one another, and to find support when we're having a hard time. Disagreements have historically been worked through, because we've tried to see things from each others' perspectives and meet each other on those grounds. At the end of the day, CalRef is a friend community.

My personal assessment of NationStates servers and communities outside of CalRef/Refugia is that they often discourage the attributes we've historically cared about. There's a tendency to favour ironic (or unironic) detachment and impersonality. People seem to play every level of NS, admittedly a game centred around politics, as political gamesmanship and popularity contests. A significant number of people make sure they're in as many NS servers as possible so they can spread their personal brand.

The people who rise to positions of prominence on the site, and those widest-swath cosmos, tend to do so by ensuring everything they say furthers an agenda, hiding who they are, and going with whatever is most popular or inoffensive in the moment. There's an encouragement to lie and manipulate to keep your brand looking clean, even while hyper-competitively trying to bury anyone you disagree with. If you're forthright and honest, sometimes there are going to be disagreements. And to quote someone else, people on NS tend to handle differences in beliefs or opinions as life or death situations. At best small, inconsequential disagreements over something will lead to people leaving servers or regions without saying a word. At worst, it leads to lies and twisted words to try and one-up someone else, to selectively edit quotes and try to frame a minor disagreement as a massively unfair attack on the character of a person or region. Over time, this leads to a dynamic where people take cover over the smallest disagreements or apologise profusely for talking about their personal problems.

These are toxic elements of NationStates, and I hate that I've begun seeing them infect the CalRef chat. Some NS culture bleedover was expected, though we kept a balance for a long time. But since late December, we've had at least six distinct conflicts that can be directly attributed to NS and its gameplay. Almost all of these were outside forces deciding they should be able to direct how we operate or what we do, and attempting to force their decisions on us. And for whatever reason, our responses to these issues have led to people leaving, going entirely silent within the server without leaving, or resorting to trolling until kicked.

So what are we going to do about this?

Starting today, we're making a series of changes to reorient this server back to a safe space for our members, a place where they can feel comfortable talking about their lives and feelings. We're going to be unapologetically Calamity Refuge again, and making sure that NationStates is just a thing that we do, not the thing that we do.

Some basic changes already implemented that you might have noticed:

  • The server has been renamed to CalRef.
  • The CalRef admins have been granted admin access in the server.
  • The server link has been removed from the region page.

The latter change has been implemented in hopes that we can push the CalRef forum for engagement. This provides an extra filter to ensure that the people joining the server are more likely to be interested in being friends instead of viewing us as just another NationStates server for their personal use.

Changes happening now:

  • #ground-floor-NS-Discussion is now the hub for all NationStates discussion. This includes issues, stats, cards. As such, the dedicated cards channel has been lost to the sands of time.
  • Regional Affairs and legislation drafting for RRS amendments will now take place in the NationStates subforum, or through dispatches and the Refugia RMB.
  • This server is no longer the place for external NS engagement. Those friends who are here to be part of our community are always welcome. Those who are merely here to represent yourselves or your region without further engagement will find no reason to stay here.
  • The CalRef admin presence (Emily and Natalie) will be taking a larger role in community moderation.

I'm hoping these changes will filter out most, if not all, of that NationStates-style hostility and toxicity from the chat. As Refugi maintain an interest in NS, there will be a place to chat about it. The members who get uncomfortable about certain aspects of NS, however, can be comforted that it is only a part of our chat. By taking a larger role in server moderation, the entire admin team can shoulder the burden of this gradual culture shift, so that none of us feel like we're individually resented or targeted.

Expect more changes going forward as we continue monitoring the situation and make adjustments as needed. As always, we'll be entirely up front about anything we do before we do it. Thanks so much for reading.