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CalRef Development Journal

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A thread on this subject is probably overdue by now, but it only just occurred to me that I could write a post on where things are and where I hope they go, at least from my perspective. Part of that delay is just putting my nose to the grindstone and doing my best to remake the infrastructure that we can use to make a community. Part of it is me being sick recently. Mostly it's just my habit to live inside my own head. I forget that I can talk to people, I forget that I can ask for help, and I forget to remind people that I'm here and I care a lot. And I do.

I hope that this iteration of CalRef can be a replacement for all of the communities that have come and gone before it and, more importantly, be an alternative to what still remains. I didn't want to be an administrator, and I never really did. But I know that I can and I know that the internet is in a dark place right now. It needs something stable and dependable that you can hold onto. It needs a community that cares about people because they deserve to be cared about. So it's something that I want to do because it's something that I need, too.

I'm not a queen and members are not subjects to pass on praise to me. Respond to any topic you want, including this one, with whatever ideas or criticism you have, even if you think I won't like it. I want as many people to be a part of making and growing this place as possible. If you think we need to add something or something's not working, I'm not very bright but I'll do my best to make or fix it. Right now, there's not much here. Anything that remains of what was a much bigger internet island is washed away, and it's going to take some time to rebuild. But the good news is that we can start fresh, from the beginning, and you can watch and be a part of where things go. We've got the time.

So, I think right now, something I need to work on is how it looks and feels to be here. This theme is mostly fine, but it doesn't feel "us" enough. I'd like something that's a dark theme that's easy on the eyes, but still has some upbeat optimistic feel to it and retains some kind of "this is the refuge" vibe. Which sounds kinda difficult, but I think I can work at it. I have a jobs list that I carry on my phone so I can write things down as I think of them and then do them as I figure out how. Example: one of the things on here is an email server portal. That ranks pretty low on the list because I'm not sure how immediately useful that would be over the default, and also it would take a moderate amount of monumental work to put it into practice, so that'll have to wait.

Ranking a little above that, though, is board banners. There are going to be new boards that we haven't had before, and also, you know, the boards we have with the same names are kinda different from how things were forever ago, so maybe I need to freshen those up, too. I might be able to get them to switch out with light and dark themes with some smf functions, but I'm not sure yet. Right now, I'm kinda thinking that the writing board can have some sort of a hand-written theme to it, something written on old parchment with old ink. Announcements, I thought would be pretty neat if I could make something that looked like it was chiselled into a rock and has some kind of paintball splatter to it so it's not as grey. I don't remember why paint splats, but it still seems like a fun idea. I don't really have ideas on the rest, but it's going to take me a little while to get re-acquainted with After Effects and someone will probably have an idea for them by the time I need it.

I'll post another rambling when I have different things to ramble about. Until then, if anyone sees any bugs or things that don't look like they've been set up right, send me a message or send Valkyrie a message, or send Natalie a message. We're all getting familiar with things, so if something comes up, we'll figure it out together.  :heart:

I think it's time for another rambling development post about the things that I've been thinking and doing lately, because there's been a lot of thinking and doing. And, at the moment, the most pressing thing on my mind is…I have been getting overwhelmed every now and then with a kind of soul-crushing dread and mournfulness about how things are. And that manifests mostly as a "where are my friends?" thought in my head. And the response to that has two sides. The first would be that I have a lot of new friends now who are wonderful and amazing, and I want to see more of them and talk to them as much as they can stand it. The other side is that if, for example, Nioca were here, he would probably say we weren't friends in the first place :laughing: but also that I long for a point in time that never existed and I remember it idealistically. That's partially true. CalRef always had conflicts and some level of drama and intrigue. But it was a dynamic that was safe and reliable and populated by people that I liked seeing, that I knew personally, and that I cared about even if I didn't like what they were arguing for sometimes.

That's what home is, that's what it should be, and that's the real thing I miss: a mental/emotional connection between two human people. And any number of communities that exist out there on the internet should be those kinds of homes and full of personal connections. But we've kind of gone into a weird direction with where the internet world is.

There's a lot of commercialisation. A lot of people paying money or being bombarded with questionable ads or agreeing to have their data shipped to the digital equivalent of a medical testing facility for easy cash.

There's a lot of ideological extremism. A lot of people are angry. Mostly with how they feel about their lives, their economic situation, their social situation, what their prospects are for the future, and they channel that anger into scapegoats that take the blame and need for introspection off themselves.

There's a lot of authoritarianism. People do things without asking, infringe on people, back them into corners, discourage dissent, and then no one is interested in building something together, they just wait for instructions and listen to policies they don't like.

And all these things live in symbiosis. Somewhere along the way of losing CalRef, we lost the internet that it was floating in, and even the alternatives and anchors of stability that we looked at for metrics about how things were going have collapsed or sold out. It's incredibly demotivating and disheartening because there's such overwhelming darkness and toxicity in air right now with people pushing things in directions that will only make it worse, and there's hardly anywhere that wants to bring it back.

So I was thinking about bringing it back.

And, up to now, I was mentally going about it by thinking that I wasn't really cut out for it because I never made a community before and it wasn't really my department of administration in the past. But, in truth, no one has ever brought the *internet* back. It's something that we're all going to be new at and all have to do together because people need those kinds of positive spaces from the past where they might not have it in their offline life. I don't know if we're going to be successful in this one tiny island, but I know that we have to try.

So one thing I did this week is make this theme that 88% of you are using. Granted I didn't develop it originally, I've done my level best to make the css themes pop as much as possible and make them more readable and accessible for people like me who can't see too well. There are a couple more features that we have, like recent posts (and also the news fader is back) and other features we can have in the future if we ever need them, like splitting categories. Mostly I'm just enamoured with it because it's a responsive, modern theme for SMF in 2019* when, in all honestly, probably a hundred admins still use SMF. I'd rather not appear outdate, but at the same time, it's what I know and I still agree with SMF's premise of free, open source software, made by people who do so because they want to see it succeed and people make things on a platform they wouldn't otherwise have. So I hope I've done enough to keep it going and relevant for an unknown number of years to come.

It occurs to me that everyone who is on this community is here for their own unique reasons, but a lot of those reasons have a single unifying element more often than not: conflict.

The last two years have been pretty rough.

For whatever reason, the places on the internet that we would turn to in times of discomfort and uncertainty, all crumbled in our hands when we reached for them this time. Because they didn't have the support to give. Because they couldn't support themselves. And why that was the case varies from place to place. Corrupt management, overthrow attempts, greed, or a combination of all of these and more. These issues culminated into a singular, grand catastrophe, which appeared, at the time, like any other. Something that was difficult and tense, but would work itself out in the traditional process. But we lost. Either because it had been put off for too long and building for too long, because the system had become fundamentally broken, or because we had. We lost. And this time it had bigger consequences than just feeling bad and taking a couple snide remarks to the face.

Things collapsed.

As intended.

I've spent the greater part of the last year trying to figure out what happened and how this came to be, looking for how to do better next time and avoid something excruciating and pointless as this in the future. And basically I have arrived at this groundbreaking conclusion: There is nothing to learn. There is no unifying conspiracy of events except that they all had similar events at similar times. The elements, the same: People in positions of power can eventually collapse into a dark world of "if I can't have it, nobody can!" and I'm past the point in my life where all-out wars are somehow a good idea. And this is the story of every administrator we have.

But today is today. That's done and I'm done.

I'm tired of it and bored of living in the past. I've got stuff to do and a finite amount of time on planet earth to do it. So here's a bizarre corporate catchphrase from me: my commitment to you. My commitment to you is that the stuff that has happened in the past is over and done with. And everyone is going to go on with their lives from this point forward and do our best to be ourselves. And if ever someone shows up with yesteryear animosity, they'll be IP banned to the surface of the sun.

The thing about humanity is that it's full of human people. That's it. That's all there is and all there is ever going to be, it's just us. There is no alien civilization that's going to descend from the sky one day and give you someone nicer to talk to. There's just people. If there's problems, we're going to have to be the ones to solve it. If there's nothing that makes life kick and interesting to live, it's on us to change that and learn how to live with each other, regardless of our critics, in spite of our spite of our own internal doubts.

We're opening CalRef, getting up off the ground, and not living inside our headnoise anymore.

Brace yourself, there will soon be a wiki launch.

Edit: Accurate numbering

 I have no idea if it will actually help or not, but in an effort to not be sick anymore, I've basically been going around the apartment autoclaving any fabric I've ever come into contact with so that the purifying light of 30,000-degree water will ascend me to a new plane of existence. As I was going through the laundry bin, I noticed this topic sitting amidst the socks and that one wash cloth I used on the sink two weeks ago. Weird.
There's been some site development since February of this year, but for one reason or another it hasn't made its way into this thread. Because this thread is mostly a mental monologue of where my head is at while we're learning how to grow as people and as a community of friends.
That's had some bumps.
About a year ago today, I was in a kind of social dark age for a bit. CalRef hadn't gone well in the few months that I had attempt to right it, so I nuked it and I was drifting through a series of random communities that would come up on the internet. I don't know if you've ever done this, but I have no idea how civilization functions if this was a good sample size. Basically, it was all a kind of weird mix of "surprise I'm unironically a Nazi" or "allow me to attach these puppet strings to your face, so you may be in compliance with server policy" Okay well, neither of those sound like something I want to sign up for.
Working with the tools and in the environments that exist in the world is definitely a skill that can be learned, but that's not remotely something I care about doing. Because I don't like a lot of the world. I think it's a dark, uncaring place with selfish interests. I like being free to do my own thing without being judged for it, without living up to someone else's expectations. Because when that weight is lifted off my chest, I actually think I do alright and make some pretty cool stuff. And that's about where I am today.
Without worrying too much about the in-the-moment dramas of a chatroom, I want to be able to go back to creating content, like this, that may never be read. But that *can* be read by anyone, including myself five years from now when I do the laundry again, find this topic, and read about all the ideas I had that were wrong. That's a part of my history just as your creations are a part of your history. And all of that adds to who I am, in this space - that we own - and have the freedom to develop our own way to look the way we want. That's the magic of being in this community.
As such:
As indicated before, the wiki is online and is objectively fantastic. It runs on more modern mediawiki software than the before-times version, which lets us develop much more intricate formatting styles, and is less prone to the database becoming sentient and attacking us. I have spent slightly under three billion hours formatting the basic templates to use for making character articles, and I've written a series of help pages on how to use them. This is not all-inclusive forever, but it's probably 70% of the templates we'll ever use. If you need help, feel free to ask, for some reason I know how this works now.
Files and L.calref will probably come back. It's taken me a bit to think about, but I'm reasonably confident that I have a pathway to develop these systems so we have a couple more in-house features that we can safely use without worrying about what other people are doing with our data. Development on them will be slower, but I do actually confirm that it will happen now.
We've also created a Minecraft server? Amazing. This server runs our custom modpack called Refugia through the Technic Launcher. It's available on Oxygen, a server which is far larger and more powerful than anything we've ever run before, and accessible at More information in the appropriate topic which I will make in the Games board, which I will also make.
Refugia in NationStates is an officially sanctioned entity of Calamity Refuge. If you're interested in politics, dumb things, and using browser based simulations of dumb things to model politics, join our moderately problematic army of the dead in Refugia and together we will develop a domain that is better than the rest of their site. Collect cards if you're literally neurotic and refer to the NationStates board for content that relates to this universe, which does not exist but probably will in the future.
If you see anything weird, or you think some area of the site should be improved, please use this thread (gasp my old member number) to tell me what that thing is and I will apply all of my minimal skills to appease your whims.
Edit: Accurate numbering

As I continue to get healthier and less stressed, these posts will start to get  w  i  d  e  r.
It's good to work on site development again. Here's where I'm at with things related to this forum.

In the last week on the forum:

New Feature: You may now upload files directly to the forum using the attachment function. These are intended for an easy way to attach images to posts. The total file size is presently limited to 5MB, and you may upload up to five files at a time.

* The Admin/Arch-Admin colours now display correctly.
* Avatars have been scaled back to 100px If you upload one that is larger, it will be automatically resized.
* Postage ranks and BBC buttons now display correctly in Aquarelle.
* The Recent Posts list in Yorky now more competently lists the recent posts.
* Posts in NationStates and Spam are now announced by Ligrev like the other boards.
* Made an adjustment where the local moderator position and thread names no longer include three hundred spaces inside the header of the board.
* Local Moderators now have a clarified non-system member group which allows them to both see the mod board and appears as a fluffy lavender turtle.
* Uhhh. Added. Role. Descriptions.
* Yorky quotes and nested quotes no longer have apocalyptic colour schemes.
* Fixed the spacing on jumpdown menus.
* Made the calendar no longer display as #FFFFFF
* Critical alerts no longer display as invisible text. :wat:
* Yorky no longer scales avatars up 50%.
* The text for resetting your password is no longer set to collision spacing.
* Fixed a display error that implied there was no option to expand additional post options.
* Forum emotes have been redone to be function instead of just well-intentioned.
* Rest-of-the-world-that-is-not-the-US spellings have been added to the BB code, like colour and centre.
* The WYSIWYG editor has been deprecated, along with the changelog tag, off-topic tag, move tag, and the pre tag.

Edit: Accurate numbering


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