January 2024 Updates and Modcation

Posted 1 month ago :: Last edited 1 month ago by Starbask

Happy New Year everyone! We are officially in 2024 now, and efforts last week have been made to wrap up most work.

Winter Modcation

Modcation is upon us. We've wrapped up the first week of January and moderators have begun their modcation. Expect to see group functions halt on all fronts. If moderators wish to work during modcation there may be some movement but nothing is being required of the team during this time, so expect most things to not start happening again until early February!

  • January 8th-31st: Moderators will not be expected to work during this time frame. Users can still submit prompts and design approvals, etc. but please do not ask about turnaround times during this window as well. Staff may choose to work if they desire but it won't be a required thing. We want to make sure the whole team has a well deserved break.
  • February 1st-4th: Moderators will be slowly coming back. Responses may be slow during this time period but we'll be looking to get back to things at a more regular pace the following week.
Moderator Changes 2024

A few may have already noticed but early this January we've had changes to our moderator staff. We have one very bittersweet sendoff as a more senior moderator has stepped down, and a few new exciting additions to our staff team that resulted from applications reviewed this past year!

AliLV is Off to Other Pursuits

It's with a heavy heart the team is announcing AV is stepping down as a moderator with the group after working with us for five and a half years. We've had other very wonderful mods step down in the past to focus on their lives and other endeavors so this isn't entirely new to the team. As moderators, our time is often split between our day jobs, moderation work, and other hobbies and creative pursuits and sometimes we get spread thin. During these times, we need to consider if moderation work is the right thing to continue as it is still work, and while enjoyable can also be taxing at times.

AV for a number of years has made enormous contributions to the group in terms of keeping our masterlist processes and finalizing steps running. On top of those duties, her experiences as a more senior mod have meant sometimes on top of masterlist work she has contributed to design approval feedback, prompt feedback, questing feedback, and honestly there isn't much AV did not have some contribution to in the group during her time with us. When we transitioned to the World of Eyre site it's safe to say AV was what made it possible for us to have such thorough records of ownership histories, and she helped with most of the double checking of elnin data and entries imported to the site prior to its launching. It's safe to say the site would not be where it is today without her. So we're extending a big thanks to her. She has been an incredible mod and we can only be understanding and supportive as she gets some more free time to pursue things she may have put on hold for the group's sake in past years.

Shifting Roles

Prior to AV's departure from the team, we shifted some roles around a little. Alongside Sharky who has helped with masterlist task and guide updates in the past, our moderators FruitCrepe and wintry-chan have stepped up in recent months to help try to fill some of the big shoes AV is leaving behind. They have been doing a fantastic job. Fruit and Wintry are still helping the design approvals team, their jobs now extend to cover some finalizing steps both on that front and a few others.

New Moderator Staff Incoming!

As of this month, we've officially hired 3 new Prompt Moderators and 3 new Design Approval Moderators. We're hoping this will enable our teams to tackle the new quests and many design updates we're expecting to see in this coming year!

Please welcome these individuals to our staff!

  • Mild-arts, Nalico, and Strabi have joined our Prompt team!
  • Afrielzi, Becci, and Cynder are the new members of our Design Approvals team!

We're very excited to have them on board and we hope the community will be too. While we have onboarded them now, training and getting them up to speed on our internal workflows will be a task left for February. Their joining us in January should give them some time to get to know the existing moderator team during this quiet period and shadow any very limited work moderators may opt to do during break if they wish.

Reminders and Warnings about Soliciting and Trading Designs

We've posted some of these reminders in the past, but it has come to our attention that some users have been approaching people about buying/swapping their elnin when these owners have made no inclination that they have any desire to part with their elnin designs. We have also received multiple reports about users being approached with trades that break the group's TOS and Adopts TOS.

This is a reminder that users should not be harassing people about buying/swapping their elnin, or guilt tripping anyone at all. Users found in excess of this harassment may have their incoming trading privileges temporarily suspended, and if reports persist there will be heavier consequences. We put out public reminders and warnings like this as a first step to let people know that we're noticing these types of activities occurring, and if they are the ones taking these actions that they need to stop immediately. It is not ok. In general, if we see a single report of unwelcome behavior in the group or rule breaking, we may assume a reminder is needed to bring awareness to areas of the group in case some individuals may have forgotten our rules.

If we see multiple reports of actions persisting, even after public reminders, we will have to take further action. By that point we would've given users ample opportunities to refresh their knowledge of the rules, and will begin to enforce them. The group is not responsible for its members being made aware of the rules. Links to these rules and terms are accessible on the website, and are almost always linked alongside our events and sales. A lack of familiarity and awareness of the rules is not an excuse and warnings will be given accordingly if needed.

This is our second public reminder relative to these topics. We heavily recommend group members re-familiarizing themselves with the group's rules, etiquette, and policies.

These can be found at the following pages:

  1. Group Terms of Service
  2. Community Rules & Etiquette Guidelines
  3. Adopts Terms of Service

If someone has been harassing you about trading/swapping your elnin, please send the moderators a ticket with the details so that we can look into it. In the situation where a user has an older elnin and doesn't have a WoE account, you can send us a note to our Modberry account on DeviantArt instead.

We also want to mention that retaliation towards community members for not wanting to trade their elnin, or at those who've felt uncomfortable enough they had to report someone else's behaviors in the first place, is not ok. Please respect the decisions of others. Harassment in a retaliatory way is not tolerated here and there will be consequences for those types of actions as well. We are sorry this has to be said but we have unfortunately received enough reports that it is necessary.

An Update to Bonded MYOs

We wanted to include a mention here that when bonded MYOs were released, we stated that group members could not redeem a second bonded MYO (of the same type, either EC or SC) for 12 months after the last was claimed. We're now adjusting this to align more with how Special Quests can be done, where we will no longer be keeping track of the time between claim submissions, and just stating that you can purchase one bonded MYO of each type (One for EC and one for SC) each annual year.

So the ability to claim bonded MYOs will now reset with the end of the year wrapping up. This means as of January 1st, 2024 at 12:00am PST time you can submit a claim for bonded MYOs within the year of 2024. We hope this update makes it smoother for users as well as staff with a little less time tracking involved!

Some Trait Updates

In preparation for some future changes to the group, primarily looking more at subtypes and eventually hybrid elnin, some traits are being renamed to keep things clearer as new traits and terminology are introduced.

Traits and Mutations being renamed, some with more adjustments than others:
  • Hybrid Tails will be placed under the "Overwild" tail style umbrella under a "Furred" variant.
    • For now, this is just an adjustment and a rename, but we are still getting clarification if users will be able to edit their Overwild (Furred) tails into Overwild (Aquatic) ones and vice versa.
    • This change is to avoid this tail style from being confused with hybrid mentions in the future that relate more to the hybridization of elnin with subtype traits.
  • Hybrid Crowns (2MP, 4MP, and 5MP crown styles) will have their crown style renamed to "Compound".
    • This change is to avoid certain crowns from being confused as having a subtype restriction when we start to clarify info on hybrid elnin in the future where hybrid refers to subtype related traits.
  • Sleek ears will now be called Pointed ears, to have a name that reads solidly opposite to the Rounded ear mutation.
General Trait Guide Changes:

(The following pages either needed updates to align with the above changes or they were grossly out of date compared to the trait entries themselves. So we've opted to ensure information has shifted to our trait entries. It is worth noting given Modcation is happening some examples are linked and the "Trait Examples" are all placeholders. This is not a bug. It's just very time consuming to crop and add examples so that will be a future QoL endeavor.)

  • Tail Guidelines and Crown Guidelines are now on their trait entries.
  • The Tail Guide Overview page has been removed.
  • The Crown Guide Overview page has been removed.
  • Our Elnin Anatomy Guide now links to entries more directly in these areas, and the crown size graphic has been added to this page.
There are still a handful of guide updates we need to make based on conversations surfacing in discord, such as:
  • Updates to include more elnin aging info and details about kittoms on our lore page.
  • Refining language and visual guides for decora anima and how it interacts with other mutations.
  • Clarifying some additional lore on the elnin lore page about corrupted anima shards and the role elnin play in being the caretakers of Eyre's mana systems almost everywhere. (These bits we intend to link to on related quest acts for added background.)
  • And more...

Unfortunately, we just haven't had time to really refine language and what needs to go where. December was a busier month than expected along with some staff traveling or having some real life things take priority. We apologize for the delay but at this time it may just take us a bit longer to get everything into place. We're still trying to stick to release timelines for other aspects that have been long planned, but quality of life updates are never ending so we try to slip them in where we can.

Questing Updates
Special Quest submissions from 2023!

Due to modcation, Special Quests submitted towards the end of 2023 that required edits may experience a delay in feedback since the moderator team will be out for the remainder of January. Edits to Special quests from 2023 must still be submitted in January on the submitter's side.

Usually we would aim to have all special quests wrapped up entirely by the end of January, meaning any back and forth feedback from the moderator and users' sides would entirely be sent within the month of January. Since staff will not return until February this means users already have more time this January than they normally would to make the edits. In a normal year we would expect no edits be made last minute, since if back and forth was needed in a normal year, mods would be doing those steps during that month. Last minute submissions would give the team no time to give feedback and work through things during that 1 month of forgiveness time for corrections, resulting in the special quest rolling over to the following year because fixes may be still needed in February.

In general, we're still encouraging users to try to submit their act fixes sooner this January, even if more time is being given due to the staff being out. This year we'll be aiming to wrap up all special quest submissions that need edits by the end of February, so be sure to make any requested edits to 2023 Special Quest acts within January and resubmit your claim before 11:59pm on January 31st. If any claims are resubmitted in February, we will consider the special quest submission to roll over and be considered a part of 2024. This is done with the intent to avoid a long drawn out several months long process for approving any special quests that were intended to be a part of the prior year.

Two new Special Quests have been added to the site!

Unlike our last round of quest updates where they were more focused on mutations, these two quests do have some specific requirements relative to the base MP of some traits before the quest rewards can be applied.

A few things worth highlighting:

  1. The new quests will appear on the Quest Directory page. If you're curious about them you can read more there!
  2. While these are Special Quests, these two specifically have a relationship with the MP value of an elnin's tail or crown and have some requirements related to those MP values that must be met before traits can be applied.
    • The Overwild Tail quest will require an elnin have a 4MP tail prior to the upgrade reward from this quest to be applied, but if your tail style is lower than 4MP, you can pay the difference to upgrade it to 4MP prior to applying this quest.
    • The Compound Crown quest requires an elnin to have a crown, it does not add one for free, and this quest will always add +1MP to the base crown currently present. If you want a higher Compound crown style then we recommend when you go to apply this reward that you pay to upgrade the base crown to a higher tier.

Reiterating some other helpful details to know about these Special Quests since it's been a while since we last added some:

  • These quests should not be compared to resonance quests in terms of workload, as they relate to more limited traits not typically accessible through resonance.
  • These quests will be available year round, and they will not require you to spend AP, but they might require you to upgrade your elnin's tail or crown in order to apply the quest reward.
  • The number of acts required to do these quests will be comparable to the number of prompts you would typically do to acquire other more limited traits or mutations, with an additional piece required beyond the standard amount.
  • These trait quests will generally reward an additional 1 AP (Any Region) that users can put towards other goals they have for a character. While these two quests are not mutations, we kept this bonus to a character-tied currency to match their mutation counterparts.
  • The number of times users can do a certain Special Quest will be limited on an annual basis. This may be adjusted later, but for now this approach seems to be working.
    • We will be counting this based on when the original quest claim is submitted. So if you submit a quest claim in 2025, it would count towards that year's annual limits, even if your acts were completed or submitted in 2024. There will be no exceptions on this, so please be mindful of when you submit your claims! At the start of the year there is about a month we allow for Special Quests to be entirely wrapped up. January 2024 will be a bit weird due to modcation (see info above).
  • Quests now exist for the following traits: Overwild (Aquatic or Furred) Tail styles and Compound crown styles.

All the new quests have been added for now, so users will be able to start working on them. Please give moderators at least a month after modcation to review quests submitted to the Special Quest category. We expect that approvals for these quests may take a bit. While we won't be aiming for these approvals to take a whole month, we don't want these approvals to compete too much with our regular monthly prompt approvals in terms of time commitments.

Addressing concerns about vague acts

With the addition of these new quests, we want to recognize feedback we have recently received that some acts are feeling difficult to respond to due to how vague and generic they are written. Prompts and acts being more generic or open ended at times has been an intentional choice within the group, as these are starting points for creative writing. The group does not expect prompts or acts to write and personalize characters for group members. By leaving them on the more vague side, our hope is that despite a generic prompt users have more room to delve into why their characters are there on their own. The elnin may take the journey, but what they get out of it is up to their owners.

As staff, we will take a hard look at trying to do quality of life updates to quests throughout 2024 to provide additional questions that group members can ruminate on and help with this process without limiting user's characters to the same reasons for doing a quest and ending up where they do in each act. We hope these efforts to existing prompts over time will allow group members to expand upon their writing or the angles in which they think about their characters and the experiences those characters have instead.

If group members feel that there is a lack of balance between written and drawn prompts, please recognize that both drawing and writing are options. Neither option requires anyone to be the best writer or artist to complete the base requirements. We do not require submissions to be purely digital drawings, and drawings on paper that are photographed or scanned are also options! Which option is better or worse, or easier or harder, is a very subjective area. Some individuals in our group will write more or less, and some artists will draw faster or slower. Ultimately it's up to you to choose what works for you and work within what the group has decided the balance to be.

If one option appears easier to a group member, we highly recommend pursuing that option, but subjective statements about how easy it is without actually doing that option could diminish what is a harder task for others who are doing that option with difficulty at times. We have many individuals in our group that have hit our word count cap many times over, and we can tell that, for them, that option may seem easier than drawing. We will not be adjusting word counts on acts to be lower for a number of reasons, which we outline a bit more in the section below. The things covered in this section are just a few of those reasons.

A Not so Brief History About Written Prompts and Acts

We weren't originally planning on going over this for this news update, but it is something we feel is worth clarifying because this history isn't one we've really discussed before. It might shed some light on the group's stance on where writing sits in the group and how we've balanced some things, as well as why we will not be adjusting word counts on prompts but other changes we'll look into.

Way back in the dawn of Eyre, written prompts were not an option that got certain bonuses and for the most part these prompts did not exist in the group aside from very few entries. There were a few side events that delved into flavorful text entries, but they were usually side one-off things that happened in a year, and not intended to come up as regularly. Some early prompts did have a written option but it was always less balanced with variable word counts, and initially very lacking in the ability to earn bonuses.

The fact that written prompts eventually saw a more structured regular option with full bonus opportunities was largely due two things:

  1. An uptick in expressed interest from the community in written prompts
  2. Some early proposals from staff joining the team years ago who also enjoyed writing and were willing to put in the time to review written prompts.

Our overall outlook was very different back when prompts were only posted every few months, instead of monthly, and things like questing didn't exist. Mana ok'd the staff's proposal to have more regular written prompt bonuses and some attempts were made to include them. Base EC earnings and bonuses as well as requirements fluctuated greatly in the early years. There was little to no consistency and a lot of experimentation both by Mana, and later, the team in the years between early 2016 and mid 2018.

It wasn't until mid 2018 that prompts started to become more consistent in requirements, but the bonuses and balance still felt a bit off. This was later revised in 2021 after Questing specifications had been released and that system had been reworked once. At that point, we could better grasp what Prompts vs. Questing might look like, and the ways in which they could be aligned and the ways in which they wouldn't, because their requirements, needs, and surrounding expectations varied.

A Vague Outline of Prompts and Variables Over the Years
  • 2016 July - 2018 February Prompts
    • Base EC Earnable: Varied between 2EC - 6EC
    • Bonus EC Earned varied between 2EC - 4EC
    • At times multiple submissions were allowed for lower value prompts.
    • Drawn submissions required everything from just only the elnin to someone else's elnin with or without a background, other Berry Bazaar CS or Elseworlders or gijinka forms.
    • Written submissions required at their base anywhere from 500 -1200 words at times. Bonus word requirements required prompts to hit anywhere from 1200 - 2000 words total to count, depending on the prompt.
  • 2018 March - 2021 June Prompts
    • Base EC Earnable: 6EC
    • Drawn submissions required the elnin and either a second elnin or background generally. Bonuses were: Background +2EC OR Including another Berry Bazaar CS/Elseworlder +2EC.
    • Written submissions required 600 words. A bonus was allowed but it required 1200 words for +2EC.
  • 2019 Questing was Introduced
    • Drawn submissions per act required the elnin and a full background. Mini-requirements submissions drawn separately were just the elnin, partial backgrounds accepted if included at all.
    • Written submissions per act required 1000 words. Mini-requirements written separately were 300 words.
  • 2021 July - Present
    • Systems were re-evaluated.
    • For drawn prompt submissions, there was no change. An elnin and background were required.
    • For written prompt submissions, the base word count was kept at 600 words, but the bonus was lowered to 900 words.
    • For drawn quest act submissions, there was no change. An elnin and background were required (give or take extra elnin dependent on if you're questing for a kittom or not).
    • For written quest act submissions, the base word count was lowered to 900 words.
    • Mini-requirements drawn separately saw no change. (Historically these requirements were intended to be a part of the 900 words in Acts, and many people still include them. Doing them separately is intentionally 300 words because it's another submission to review.)
    • Monthly Regular Prompts were introduced and don't require drawing elnin but generally "bonus" portions of content (ie. Drawn background or 300 words.)

Currently the balance introduced back in July 2021, is a balance we are content with. Adjusting some of our newer quests' base word count requirements would mean we have to revise questing page wording across the board to make distinctions between types of quests (Resonance and Special) that we feel reintroduce potential confusion. Additionally, while we have introduced many Special Quests, there are likely to be future quests that may be more involved in terms of requirements and bonuses that we might ask to be included. This would potentially come up with quests for subtype elnin or occupational training on combat or magic.

Historically, you can tell there were a lot of iterations in what things got changed between currencies awarded, base requirements, bonus requirements, whether written works received the same treatment as drawn art, etc. We understand that currently things may seem a bit lopsided with one very involved quest that has lots of act options (Resonance) and other quests that are a lot more restricted and have very specific paths and goals (Special Quests). Our aim is to not make changes that result in more changes in the future that require back-tracking and varying things further. Keeping things consistent, so we don't need to update as many guidelines overall across many sections of different pages, is what is enabling us to tackle these projects. So we hope for some understanding on why we're deciding not to change things again now.

Artificial Intelligence Recap and General Warning

In this news post we were also hoping not to have to cover this, but it's apparent that there is still some presence of AI use in written prompts in the group. After about 3 months of looking at prompts and acts, including those before that prompted that initial news mention, a chunk of prompts have stood out as sharing numerous word choice similarities despite being written by several different users. It's frustrating for our team in good faith to clarify that AI should not be used in the group to replace one's own efforts. Yes, it can be assistive at times but it's to the point where it's very clear from the redundancy of phrases AI writing predominantly likes to use, that some group members are using assistive technology to speed up prompt writing in ways we have asked members not to.

We review a lot of prompt submissions, many of which are very clearly well written with diverse language and a lot of character inspiration behind them, and we are sure that to a degree AI is used in these prompts to spell check or help with grammar. Spelling and grammar assistance are considered appropriate uses of AI tools relative to the group. That said, word choice and sentence formation is not considered appropriate use of AI relative to the group. Some of the submissions coming through that we have to review are reading as though autocorrect has suggested every other word. AI is using the same words and phrases over and over again, and it does not sound like a person wrote it.

It's easy to look at our quest acts and prompts and know they are vague. We acknowledge that we might see redundancy from users in an overall way because it's hard to reinvent the wheel without really digging into some additional questions. However, in the cases where AI use is too prominent, we're finding redundant phrases that have little to do with what the prompt's descriptions say the prompt is about, which is what we assume to be the underlying cause of redundancy in the average non-AI prompt submitted by group members.

We understand that there are a lot of group members that don't use AI this way, we still recognize that most of our submissions do not do this, but when we so blatantly see AI use in the group it's frustrating. We wish to be fair to those who have put in the time to refine their craft, be it drawn or written, and fear that users who turn to AI to do it for them diminishes the efforts of their peers.

If you are someone who is using AI in your work as more than just a translator or spell checker, and we continue to see the redundancy of phrases that AI tends to write, or writing in ways that don't feel human, we will approach with revision requests. Ultimately, we want to make it clear it brings us no joy to consider having to do this. In general, we try to be more relaxed on prompts and we will still try to where possible, but we've already seen so many submissions that feel definitively AI influenced that we are ready to start addressing AI submissions more directly. If you continue using AI, despite the group's policy not to, please expect a lot of feedback from us requesting substantial edits to future submissions. If you aren't using AI, please continue submitting written pieces as usual; the team will try our best to avoid false positives for AI.

If you have concerns that your submissions may be reading as AI due to the use of a translation tool, please submit a ticket with a google document to your untranslated content, and a link to the tool you have been using to translate your content as well as the name of that tool. We are mindful this could be an extra ask for those who do not use English as their first language, so we want to be extra clear that submitting a ticket is not a requirement, so don't feel a need to do this right away. You may still hear nothing from us in the future, but if you do and you suspect it's due to AI translation, we can work through it and cross compare tool options to see if there's a pattern. Doing this at that time would help not only you but also the community as a whole.

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