McB Critters Proposal

The Problem

Over the past few months, I (as well as other users) have noticed a marked decline in the overall culture of the community in #thecritters. Rather than room where anybody and everybody can go to for criticism, feedback, test readers, or general advice, it has become a sort of cyclical echo chamber involving a half dozen or so inexperienced users at a time waiting for feedback while attempt to critique others' work despite a lack of experience. Should an experienced reviewer or author show up in critters to get work of their own looked at, they're then mobbed by critique requests, many of which are interrupting a draft swap or crit in progress.

This lends to an overall negative culture in #thecritters. Experienced authors tend to prefer to go to private sidechats for critique, and this relatively new shift pushes more users in that direction constantly. Inversely, for newer users who are idly waiting for a reviewer to read their piece or critique their idea, it feels as though they are being ignored by the community. The current system also leads to newer users giving low quality, often overly positive, feedback to each other, potentially leading to articles getting posted that were not mainsite ready. I should also add that the above has become a notable enough issue that T RutherfordT Rutherford has actually drafted an essay that discusses how to properly get critique on an article. If nonstaff users feel that this is a problem enough to try and remedy it themselves, perhaps it's at least worth a look.

I've found that the current system is a detriment to experienced authors, new users, and the butterfly squad itself.

Possible Solutions

Require users to register their nick to use #thecritters

A large part of the problem that I am seeing is that unregistered users will choose to hang out in #thecritters for hours on end instead of joining the general chat in #site19, often meaning they only get attention from other users doing the same, or the occasional butterfly who pops in. Often, these users will also ping people as they join to ask for crit, which is irritating behavior to be on the receiving end of.

By making these users register, there will be no incentive to sit in the critters lamenting the lack of attention they are getting when they can easily just slip into 19.

Update the Op list for #thecritters

Currently, the Op list for the crit channel is barren, only including a small number of staff who are both chatstaff and wiki staff. It doesn't help matters that these users typically are not present in the channel, and need to be flagged down for any issues. This small pool of users is not sufficient to actively run a staff channel and curate the type of environment that we would like to see, in my opinion.

As such, I would like to propose that staff members of the site criticism team be given rank in #thecritters, similar to how staff on the other various teams are given rank in their respective chats. If critters are to be trusted to man the channel, then they similarly should be trusted to run the channel. I would prefer that forum/site crit moderators be given aop, operational staff be given hop, and junior staff given vop in the channel.

I believe that this would have multiple benefits to the culture of #thecritters. Firstly, it would incentivize critstaff to be more active in the channel. Secondly, it would allow critstaff to handle disruptive users and quiet the currently obnoxious levels of peanut gallery when crit is going on. Lastly, rank would signal to new users in the chat that they are dealing with experienced reviewers, lending to more weight being placed on their opinions.

Update the topic of #thecritters

Multiple users have suggested that the topic of #thecritters should include instructions that explain what the chat ranks in the room mean under the new system, as well as adding a link to the Butterfly Squad Roster page. I don't foresee many arguments to either of these things.

In summary

While these changes will not radically alter the overall culture of the chat, I view both of these changes as net positives for #thecritters, and I hope that they will provide a step in the right direction to getting experienced users back in the channel, as well as exposing newer users to the wider community.

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