The reason I called this post an open dialogue is because I'm sure that some users will have strong opinions on some of the subjects I mention below. I've noticed that in recent years, many users will take to one of the channels in the discord server (usually rp-planning or rp-discussion) to provide updates for their peers and friends here at LAW, which is totally for those matters. However, I feel that making a forum topic like this will invite more useful/productive discourse.
One of the main reasons I won't be sharing any of these announcements on the discord server is that I've always found those channels to be, not only a terrible medium for discourse with the purpose of having structured conversation and achieving a consensus or mutual understanding when it comes to certain topics, but also an astoundingly inefficient means of assessing the community's outlook and opinion. Time after time, I've seen people try to use the official LAW discord server for both of those purposes and time after time, I've seen this backfire spectacularly.
For those who have tried to have serious or constructive conversations on the server, I think I can sum up many of your experiences as follows. At any given time on the discord server, it's a generous estimate to assume that maybe two dozen people will actually be online and attentive enough to see your messages and your updates in the aforementioned discord channels. Of those two dozen, maybe one dozen might actually react to you or engage with you. And of that dozen, maybe half a dozen will actually talk it over at length beyond just a simple acknowledgment. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of that. That's how most Discord servers operate. The challenge with LAW is that we are not a community run primarily out of discord. And we have far, far more than 6-12 active members. And knowing this, I would think that it becomes increasingly clear how and why I find it grating when people use their handful of interactions on the server to sum up how the community feels about anything.
Bearing all that in mind, I hope it's understandable why feel that a forum like what we have on this website lends itself better to, not only providing the updates I'm about to share but also to having meaningful and productive back and forth discourse when it comes to matters that affect and shape LAW as a whole.
Effective immediately, and for the foreseeable future, I will no longer be regularly engaging in discord moderation at LAW. Instead, if an issue between members on Discord or in Discord DM's is escalated to me via the mod team or if the mod team needs my support, guidance, or decision on something, I will provide it.
I could speak at length about my thoughts and feelings here.
I've been admin of the LAW discord server for over 6 years now. I've acted as the moderator in charge throughout all of that time. I think the overwhelming majority of people realize just how deep my love for this community runs. In my view, I've strained myself for years to instill a positive attitude and culture within enough people in the community to make LAW a welcoming enough place. Each and every single time someone has thanked me for my efforts or even just recognized the number of hurdles, sticky situations, and incidents large or small that I've had to resolve- each time someone has recognized me for those things has been a time where my day was made. It doesn't happen all that often, but times that people have been supportive of me for my contributions, my actions, and my time and effort spent as a community leader have genuinely been the small pats on the back that have kept me going all this time.
Unfortunately, my time as a Discord moderator for this community has also subjected me to some of the harshest times and some of the worst experiences I've been put through as the guy in charge of LAW. There's no shortage of scathing, harsh criticism that's been thrown my way for the things I've tried to accomplish and for the ways in which I've gone about handling things around LAW, even from a few longtime/active members.
Reflecting back on everything, I'm very thankful to the community for bearing with me and for having me as the admin of the server for all these years. Being a discord moderator is very, very taxing at times. I never feel like the mods get enough credit for volunteering their time and effort for the sake of the community. For years, I've felt that doing a good job at discord moderation has come at the expense of more time and sanity than I would like it to. The kicker for me now at this point in time is that I feel like my time and effort would better serve the community assuming the duties an admin should (supporting mods and staff, organizing collective community efforts for events, incorporating community feedback into the way we do things, sorting out the availability of character references, and so on) rather than trying to give every single leadership role everything I can.
If you share a similar love for the community and you feel you have the availability and qualifications to serve as a discord moderator, please reach out via site PM. If I also feel you are qualified, you will hear back from me and I will put your application forward to the mod team. While I do feel the current team is well-equipped enough to handle things without my regular input, I would feel a lot more confident with one or two additional moderators to help fill my shoes.
I've taken time to streamline the event organization process in an attempt to make things easier for both the users and the moderators/staff. Please look over the events section of the forum to find these changes.
Previously, there was no real formal process for pitching events at LAW. Historically when it came to event ideas and pitches, users would kind of throw broad ideas out there into one of the Discord channels. Users with more organized/serious pitches would reach out to me directly and speak with me at length about their event ideas. Sometimes, they would organize efforts and people for their event ideas on their own dedicated Discord server and invite people who were interested. The point is there wasn't really a formal or centralized process and there were many times where that became taxing on me for a number of reasons. But the biggest reason is this: if I were to get his by a bus tomorrow, I strongly believe that the number of events put together on LAW would drastic go down. I feel that it's integral to LAW's future for me to ensure that there are at least a good amount of people besides myself who can and will try to put together events that are implemented well enough to be seen through to completion. So in light of that, I've tried my hand at streamlining the process.
Going forward, if you have an event idea you're confident in trying to bring to life on your own, you can organize it on your own. Feel free to post it in the self-started section in the event forum. The only assistance you might need from me is the creation of a dedicated section on the forum for your event, and you might not even need that much. You can organize your events via Discord or whatever means you like. You don't have to post your event idea to that forum if you don't want to, but the option is available to you if it helps to have a post to refer people to for signups or to just get your idea out there.
Similarly, if you have an event idea that you'd like mod backing for, if you want your event idea to be more "official" or if you just feel like you could use help, or if you'd rather have the mods take the reins for an event, there will be an approval process. After posting your event idea, please engage me or other mods/staff to try and get your event approved. Once we approve it and once you have enough signups (please use the thread with your event pitch for signups and have users sign up by replying to your event pitch thread), we'll move your event pitch to the approved events section. The mods and event support crew will decide amongst ourselves when a good time would be to launch your event. Alternatively, if you have a rough event idea and you'd prefer for moderators to pick it up/pilot it, please say so in your pitch and we'll see what we can do to run it and to schedule it for you.
Lastly, I've decided to add roles/color to the usernames of users who have successfully run two or more events to completion, regardless of how big or how small they were, and regardless of whether or not they've done so with support from mods or on their own. On the forums, moderators appear green, event support/coordination appear orange, the admin appears red. I'm thinking that users who have spearheaded multiple events to completion will be blue.
There are no immediate changes here. I just wanted to acknowledge various concerns I've heard from people over the years, and my thoughts on things that could be done to further improve LAW in the future. I'll go through them below in no particular order.
A few weeks ago, I rewrote the rules surrounding title contention and title reigns at LAW, and I implore everyone to read them before weighing in. Historically, there have been complaints surrounding overly long title reigns at LAW (close to and exceeding 3 years of irl time). Though there have been regular complaints, I feel compelled to remind everyone that there's really only been a handful of these types of long reigns at LAW. Just 3 of them, and there have only been public complaints about 2. By and large, most title reigns have been received well and most players who have had current or former champions at LAW have done a good job of being an acceptable length, adding to the legacy of their reigns and their championships, and listening to the community at large.
It is my hope that the changes to the rules will go a long way towards ensuring that we don't run into the occasional overly long title reign going forward. With my departure from regular activities as a discord mod, I hope to have more time on my hands to do a better job of enforcing these rules. I have a lot of confidence that things will improve on this front.
The next matter I'd like to address is the addition of new titles. There's a lot to say here and there are a few different camps of people/opinions I'd like to engage. I ask that you please hear me out.
There's a very small but very vocal minority within the community that's very avidly against the idea of entertaining more official titles at LAW. My experience is that by and large, most people are neutral on the idea unless there's a title idea they are excited about. It's been pointed out to me many times over that LAW as a community has grown significantly since the days we first began introducing titles, and that eventually there would be some bottlenecking when it comes to the number of active players and how long they'd have to wait for title runs due to the time it takes irl for titles to change hands and due to the number of titles out there.
I'd like to address this by making my stance clear. I am in no way, shape, or form actively against the idea of someday introducing more titles where I feel it makes sense and where there's community demand/activity. LAW's a big place. It slowly gets bigger every month. Every few months, another newly active player gets acclimated enough with the community that the idea of participating in official events and title matches appeals to them. The PPVs keep getting bigger, the number of events more plentiful, etc. As the admin, I think it's entirely unavoidable that someday we see the number of titles grow, or that we someday see the number of accolades that a wrestler can achieve at LAW grow. I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. The biggest hurdle for when we get there someday would be having more on my plate to manage as far as the title scene goes.
All that being said, I'm in no hurry to get to that point, nor do I feel like additional championships are something that LAW needs immediately or anytime soon. As admin, I'm constantly considering and engineering ideas for us as a community. I'd like to think that whatever knack I have for doing so has helped out at least partly when it comes to how far we've come as a community. But instead of talking about my own ideas on this subject, what I want to do is talk about a couple of the ones that I've heard from the community over the past couple of years.
Let's start with the one I consider to be a good idea: a Smother Belt. Smother matches and smother moves in matches are such a large part of community activity and demand. With or without a Smother Championship, there will always be smother matches and smother holds at LAW. It's the sort of thing I feel would slot seamlessly right into the RP we do here. So much so that I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually argue against the idea whenever it's come up. If I were to introduce more championships at LAW sometime later down the line, I'd probably start with this one.
Now I'll go over a more controversial topic. A Mixed/Intergender Championship. This has been the subject of much divisiveness in the Discord server for like at least a year or two, now. From what I've ascertained, I can generally break down the strong opinions on this into two camps: 1) a vocal minority that feels it's either not a priority or that there isn't enough activity, and 2) a passionate set of users that would very much like to see more mixed RP at LAW, with the inclusion of a mixed championship to give wrestlers in the mixed division something to strive for in character.
Now, as the guy in charge of this stuff, please allow me to share what I find most grating about the discourse I've seen over the subject of adding a Mixed or Intergender Championship to LAW. No matter how much you argue with another user on Discord, no matter who agrees with you or who disagrees with you, no matter how angry both sides or any side gets, no matter what conclusion your discussions reach in rp-discussions or rp-planning, none of those talks will result in the inclusion or exclusion of mixed wrestling titles at LAW. The one and only person you need to convince in order to make things happen one way or the other is myself. You can leave your opinions for me to read below. You can reach out to me via site PM or via Discord - whatever floats your boat. But I promise everyone reading this that throwing hands in Discord DM's or on the server does absolutely nothing to further your cause on this, no matter what your stance may be.
LAW is not now, nor has it ever been anti-mixed. To the best of my ability, I've just been trying to prioritize things at LAW based on the community's activity and demand. It's been my observation that the majority of users who actively participate in mixed threads and LAW's mixed division don't particularly feel strongly about the idea of adding a mixed title to LAW - that their attitude is sort of an "if it happens, it happens" vibe. My understanding is that the users who feverishly demand it and regularly bring the subject up tend to be those who aren't particularly active. I've heard it said many a time that a mixed title may spur activity in the mixed division. But please consider that titles and events at LAW have traditionally been introduced in response to user's requests and activity, not the other way around. It's entirely possible that adding a mixed title makes the mixed division more active. But I'd prefer to continue testing the waters via events, PPV matches, Supercard events like Do or Die, and other organized efforts to represent the mixed division at LAW before I think I'll have confidence that a mixed championship would succeed here. My thinking is that if organized efforts and events can be a success, then perhaps a title can/will succeed on the mixed scene as well.
I'll continue giving thought to forging ideas that I feel could work. Although I do find some discourse difficult, I very much value and care for the thoughts and feelings of the community. If you ever have an idea or a request for a title, story, event idea, etc, even if you feel the idea isn't fully formed, please know that there's value in sharing it. I'm constantly listening to the community and canvassing users to get an understanding of what the community wants. Sharing your thoughts helps guide me and helps shape the future of LAW.
At the conclusion of Apex, several longtime/active users expressed to me a sense of having their characters "locked out" of titles they are interested in at LAW. In each instance of this, the user has lamented to me that their "main" characters, characters that they've invested the biggest chunk of their time into developing and using in RP's, don't have much to strive for outside of the championship for their weight class and the Openweight Championship. From their perspective, they've been building up their girl to be championship-worthy, and not knowing when or if they'll get a title run with said character anytime in the near future can be a huge bummer, particularly for those users who have put in a staggeringly high amount of posts, threads, matches, and so on with those characters.
Now, I bring this up because I think it's a legitimate and understandable worry. It's something I can't blame some users for feeling. I'm sure more users feel this way beyond just the 4-5 people that have messaged me about it. On one hand, I don't think RP at LAW is as constricting as the image I've painted in the previous paragraph. Once you've spent a few months on LAW and feel like you've gotten the hang of navigating the community, finding threads, and once you feel like you have a good idea of how to pitch and craft and play out stories with people, you tend to develop long term goals for your characters. Generally speaking, most folks get to the point where they want to push at least one of their characters as being a big deal at LAW. Doing this organically and in a way that resonates with members of the community is difficult. Championship contention isn't the only way to do that, of course. But when it comes to championships, generally after making a female wrestler and putting her in a weight division, the options for championship contention once the requirements are met include The Openweight Title, the title for your wrestler's weight class, The Hentai Title, The LAWLESS Title, the Loser Title, and the Tag Titles if you're willing to put them in a tag team.
At a glance, this is a very healthy number of options, and that was my intention when laying the groundwork for title contention at LAW. However, when it comes to wanting to push one's own character as a character that's good at wrestling- as a character that a user wants to boast accolades for their merits as a wrestler, I can understand how a user might feel constricted. Outside of more niche interests like hentai and hardcore, the only titles that the community at large has historically viewed as depicting some of the best wrestlers at LAW are the Openweight Title, the Weight Titles, and arguably the Tag Titles. That isn't to say that there's anything wrong with the other titles. I think perceptions of the hentai and LAWLESS titles will change and adapt as we see more champions and more championship reigns with them. The point of all this is that I can understand how some longtime users may feel like their options are limited when it comes to wanting to push their wrestlers as being some of the best wrestlers at LAW.
Another challenge I want to highlight is that although I do my level best to look out for the community's preferences in regard to what everyone wants to see on LAW, I can't cover everything easily or in a timely fashion. I've been asked here and there why there aren't more events or focus given to the Young Lioness Division or the Mixed/Intergender Division or to Stables at LAW, etc. And I absolutely think more things could be done to bring the focus and attention to certain divisions and certain facets of LAW. It's my hope that by refocusing myself and my role on admin duties, I'll be able to do just that now that I won't have to constantly wear multiple hats around here.
Concerning both these challenges- the challenge of feeling constricted when it comes to finding ways to push characters, and the challenge of finding ways to give more focus and more of a spotlight on the midcard, Young Lionesses, and other divisions and groups at LAW, I feel there's a number of ideas that could help alleviate these things. A roleplayer's own creativity and initiative could overcome both these things. Custom/unofficial titles, attempts at crafting stories in pursuit of big wins, collective efforts to stage stories, and events that span characters and divisions at LAW that could use more of a spotlight are all things I think would help. But in my view, as admin, it's my job to work out plot devices and means through which writers in my community can feel less constricted and more inclined to do things concerning title contention and beyond. I don't want users to feel constricted. I don't want users to feel like creating a male character or a Young Lioness, etc is a dead end because there isn't much out there for them. I don't want people to feel like their characters have "nothing to do/aim for" because of the state of titles.
To that end, even though I don't have a concrete idea to throw out there right this second, I want to give people assurance that these are things I'm going to be working on. The idea might come to mind to address these things by adding more titles, a topic I went over earlier in this wall of text. But I actually don't think that's the way forward. If anything, I feel like having regularly occurring events that offer accolades and opportunities outside of championships is a better approach. In much the same way that some may be familiar with accolades royal rumble winner/mister or miss money in the bank, etc. regularly occurring events with accolades like our Queen of The Ring Tourney might be one way to give people avenues they'd like earning accolades at LAW. Similarly, catering events more towards facets of LAW that could use attention (mentor and mentee relationships between YL's and coaches, the mixed division, and so on) would help there, I believe.
I think going this route will help improve things on both these fronts. If anyone has any feedback or ideas, I'm definitely open to them. As always, I'm committed to improving things where I can. I hope my efforts bear fruit and I hope I've done and will continue to do a good job as your admin.
Grossly summarized TLDR, leaving out a lot of details - I won't really be doing Discord mod things anymore. I've also made changes to the event pitching/event organizing process. If you organize two or more events to completion, I'll make your forum name blue to denote your feat and your contributions.