Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

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HuerTa
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby HuerTa » Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:07 pm

From a "new guy" perspective, I think it's a delicate balance. While I do enjoy cosplay, the main attraction to the MERF for me was being able to take that costuming idea to the next level from a functional perspective. The though of a trek through the wild in full kit was appealing to me and I was interested in bridging the gap between fantasy and real life, as it were. So I think while cosplayers should be (and as far as I can tell are) welcome, it should be clear that the goal of this forum and community is more than that. Perhaps a brief introductory forum with clear guidelines or expectations for the content of these boards would help. I think the Wiki is a great tool that perhaps could be utilized more effectively. Between that and some of the threads on here I've found a great help in slowly piecing together a functional kit and hopefully soon making my first trek out in the woods.
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Odigan » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:48 pm

theowl wrote:My point is that a person's dedication to something shouldn't be contingent upon the personal preference of the "elders" or whomever is keeping the gate.
Elleth wrote:Respectfully owl, I think your story makes rather the opposite point: that by following the pull of those more interested in tourneys than the research and application of the martial art, the original community you loved was overwhelmed and destroyed.


I think you’re both right, and there is much that can be said on the space between.

I too have had intermittent involvement in HEMA circles for the past decade and a half, and have seen it change significantly in that time. Some aspects like the sportification of tournaments are (in my opinion) regrettable, if inevitable, while at the same time the amount and quality of information, training resources, and availability of groups and practitioners has expanded greatly. Rules are one aspect that will radically alter the way any game is played. If rules are established it will necessarily restrict what is or isn’t permitted, but this doesn’t keep people from trying to work around them, particularly given rules go hand in hand with competition.

If we look at the development of any of these activities as evolutionary, then they must be responding to pressures, and those pressures often take a competitive form. In martial arts, there is a distinct progression that follows the further one is removed from real-world (read, actual life-or-death combat) application. As Bob Orlando writes in “Martial Arts America,” “In cyclical fashion, self-defense skills and systems of combat move through phases of evolution and devolution. During periods of violence and brutality, they evolve rapidly upward, gaining in sophistication and effectiveness. During times of relative peace and prosperity, they stagnate and slowly devolve downward.” Thus, he argues, when pressured heavily by actual combat, “Fighting Arts” develop, which in times of peace become systematized and idealized as “Martial Arts.” Without continued pressure and testing in combat, they become something else – in the East, often focusing on spiritual and personal development as a “Martial Way,” while in the West, competition and ranking take preeminence as “Martial Sport.”

One could apply this progression to what we attempt to pursue here also. Actually living, traveling, and hunting/fighting in the wild is where “Rangering” is born, but few if any of us ever have or will be so wholly ensconced in that lifestyle in an absolute way. It could certainly be said that for those living in the “developed” world it certainly isn’t even legally possible to pursue such an existence as we mean to represent! Additionally, given that what we base that representation on is a fiction itself, we already play at a mere shadow of that reality. So our pressuring components may differ from battlefield combat alone, but the further one gets from them, the more varying branches develop which functionally speaking have nothing to do with their origin. Middle-earth reenactment, LARPing, and Cosplay each are a piece that represent some of the same things, but simply having different objectives.

Weirdly, especially with anything involving combat and weapons, people tend to conflate possession of tools of violence or a portrayal of a combative character with actual skill in violence itself. Conversely, we live in the most peaceful period in human existence and (fortunately!) for the most part could never comprehend the reality of unrelenting mayhem. Indeed, I have seen even LARPers and Stage-combat practicioners – who should know better – vehemently believe themselves to be expert swordfighters simply because they pretend to be one. More importantly than what one does, then, is understanding for ones-self what it is and is not, and accepting that.

In terms of the forum, and “gatekeeping,” this too is a constant feature in the debate over “formal” vs. “informal” education or training. There are benefits to laying out an established groundwork with which to orient beginners and keep from repeating past mistakes, but this must be balanced with the understanding that it’s not the only way to do things, or necessarily even the best way. Having a system that everyone must go through generates a shared experience and some view this as a strength, while others as stifling. It can be both, or neither.


Taurinor wrote:Geez, this is complicated :\

It is, which is why it's so great to see it being discussed!
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Greg
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Greg » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:22 pm

I've been reading through everyone's responses...it actually sounds much like we're all on the same page, and simply putting our thoughts in varying levels of 'delicate'.

I like what Taurinor suggested about having a more specific sub-forum for welcomes. Perhaps some form of that, with or without the addition of a global stickied 'Read This Before Posting" topic with a welcome message might suit our needs. I jotted this down as a sample for discussion:

For Example wrote:Welcome to the Middle-earth Ranger Forum!

We are a lively community of Individuals with one central focus in common: We love Tolkien! We are readers, dreamers, craftsmen and outdoorsmen who have come together through our love of Middle-earth to make his world come alive.

To this end, you will find discussions here on a wide range of topics, from swords and archery to clothing and kit construction...from cooking on the trail to the menu at the Prancing Pony...from the construction of a Hobbit's mattress to effective means of sleeping in the woods.

We do not 'dress up' solely to dress up...we are after the heart of Middle-earth, and making it feel as real as possible. Because of this, you will find sparse cosplay and LARP discussion here. We do not discourage these activities, but understand that things that hinder sharp swords and hunting live quarry often do not receive the same attention as live fires in the backcountry.

This is a family-friendly environment, which strives to maintain peaceful and appropriate discussion at all times.

We are glad to have you with us, and look forward to learning from you!


Thoughts?
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby theowl » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:36 pm

Greg wrote:
We are a lively community of Individuals with one central focus in common: We love Tolkien! We are readers, dreamers, craftsmen and outdoorsmen who have come together through our love of Middle-earth to make his world come alive.

To this end, you will find discussions here on a wide range of topics, from swords and archery to clothing and kit construction...from cooking on the trail to the menu at the Prancing Pony...from the construction of a Hobbit's mattress to effective means of sleeping in the woods.

We do not 'dress up' solely to dress up...we are after the heart of Middle-earth, and making it feel as real as possible. Because of this, you will find sparse cosplay and LARP discussion here. We do not discourage these activities, but understand that things that hinder sharp swords and hunting live quarry often do not receive the same attention as live fires in the backcountry.

This is a family-friendly environment, which strives to maintain peaceful and appropriate discussion at all times.

We are glad to have you with us, and look forward to learning from you!



I like it
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby BrianGrubbs » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:38 pm

Greg wrote:I've been reading through everyone's responses...it actually sounds much like we're all on the same page, and simply putting our thoughts in varying levels of 'delicate'.

I like what Taurinor suggested about having a more specific sub-forum for welcomes. Perhaps some form of that, with or without the addition of a global stickied 'Read This Before Posting" topic with a welcome message might suit our needs. I jotted this down as a sample for discussion:

For Example wrote:Welcome to the Middle-earth Ranger Forum!

We are a lively community of Individuals with one central focus in common: We love Tolkien! We are readers, dreamers, craftsmen and outdoorsmen who have come together through our love of Middle-earth to make his world come alive.

To this end, you will find discussions here on a wide range of topics, from swords and archery to clothing and kit construction...from cooking on the trail to the menu at the Prancing Pony...from the construction of a Hobbit's mattress to effective means of sleeping in the woods.

We do not 'dress up' solely to dress up...we are after the heart of Middle-earth, and making it feel as real as possible. Because of this, you will find sparse cosplay and LARP discussion here. We do not discourage these activities, but understand that things that hinder sharp swords and hunting live quarry often do not receive the same attention as live fires in the backcountry.

This is a family-friendly environment, which strives to maintain peaceful and appropriate discussion at all times.

We are glad to have you with us, and look forward to learning from you!


Thoughts?


Took me a while to read through all of the content of this thread. As usual, I'm really proud of our community and our ability to discuss ideas with each other with both eloquence and civility.

Greg,

I find both the idea of a global sticky topic, and the text that you've suggested, to be great ways to handle this issue. It provides incoming forum denizens a very succinct but detailed overview of who we are, builds in a realistic expectation of what can be found here, and lays the barest of frameworks for interaction (family friendly, peaceful, and appropriate) to keep people mindful of how they treat each other.

Brian
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Odigan » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:43 pm

Greg, sounds good to me!
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Greg » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:52 pm

Lemme flag Jack down and have him weigh in on things.
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Iodo » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:12 pm

Greg wrote:I've been reading through everyone's responses...it actually sounds much like we're all on the same page, and simply putting our thoughts in varying levels of 'delicate'.

I like what Taurinor suggested about having a more specific sub-forum for welcomes. Perhaps some form of that, with or without the addition of a global stickied 'Read This Before Posting" topic with a welcome message might suit our needs. I jotted this down as a sample for discussion:

For Example wrote:Welcome to the Middle-earth Ranger Forum!

We are a lively community of Individuals with one central focus in common: We love Tolkien! We are readers, dreamers, craftsmen and outdoorsmen who have come together through our love of Middle-earth to make his world come alive.

To this end, you will find discussions here on a wide range of topics, from swords and archery to clothing and kit construction...from cooking on the trail to the menu at the Prancing Pony...from the construction of a Hobbit's mattress to effective means of sleeping in the woods.

We do not 'dress up' solely to dress up...we are after the heart of Middle-earth, and making it feel as real as possible. Because of this, you will find sparse cosplay and LARP discussion here. We do not discourage these activities, but understand that things that hinder sharp swords and hunting live quarry often do not receive the same attention as live fires in the backcountry.

This is a family-friendly environment, which strives to maintain peaceful and appropriate discussion at all times.

We are glad to have you with us, and look forward to learning from you!


Thoughts?

Sound's good to me :P
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby caedmon » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:22 pm

So, somebody just invoked the Absentee Landlord.

Ya'll better be lined up with your chickens, goats, & orc pelts... Rent is due.


-----------------------------


Just kidding. Greg just got my attention, I need to fully digest the thread, but it looks like good ideas generally. I'll need to look at this more tonight after work.
-Jack Horner

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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby caedmon » Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:54 pm

Ok... So a few things, really just ramblings really responding to the article and some of the discussion. My next post will be clarifying what I think is being asked for, and setting out specific actions.

I have always loved the dynamic of this group. Our core is Dunedain (light) Reenactment with an emphasis on camping, trekking and outdoor skills. We are in about the same space as high authenticity Ren Faire/SCA guilds, as most of us still wear modern underwear and glasses. I personally would prefer it to be a bit more MERS-y, but this is how it's organically grown.

I find the article interesting. I've been in at least one scene, mid-90's swing dancing, that got inundated and died just as described. I agree that we need to think about this stuff, as we might get an influx by people inspired by new mass-media portrayals of Rangers. Being prepared, and improving the group is always good.

But... We are very firmly ensconced in our thing. I don't think that we will have a problem with MOPs or Sociopaths, we're to small and niche. I am more worried this will happen to groups like Fell & Fair or those guys in Toronto. And I'm not worried that the Sociopaths will steal our wimmins. (BTW, was anyone else offended by that inCel blather?)

I am also a class of '07 steampunk and disagree that this is how it went down with Steampunk. (Bear with me, there's a point)

Steampunk's biggest problem between '06 and '12 was that it was 4 separate scenes confused by the fact that they shared an aesthetic sensibility. Yes a lot of casual interest was generated, MOPs and Sociopaths were abundant, but the biggest problem was that SP didn't have a sense of itself. Literary/media fans, reform-Luddite punks, retro-style makers, and cosplayers all warred. Each though that they exclusively owned 19th century style hyper-retro futurism. Wars between separate and distinct magisteria don't end well, especially when people start from flawed assumptions. More energy was bled off from Steampunk's various scenes by trying to one u-p each other, than was ever by game shows like Steampunk'd.

Steampunk as an aesthetic is very much alive (as evidenced by movies released just last month and my two teens' reading habits), and won't go away it will ebb and flow as it has since the 30's. (Yes, I am aware of the 80's and the California Trinity. Don't sass me, Boy! Point still stands.) Also there are a lot of us reform-Luddite punks still around and committed. I just spent the last 3 months reconditioning a geared hand crank forge, and an hour and a half in the Disneyland Paris Main-street USA 'Century of Progress' promenade with dreams of gears, and analog techno-optimism when I was there. I just don't use the word.

I bring this up because this is very much the area we are in. We are a separate and distinct magisteria than the cosplay, LARP, and movie/media fandoms unified to us by the Professor's vision.

We have never been confused by that, and have made accommodations for individuals in our group that have interests in those areas, to ensure that our focus stays to our core.

This accomodation has been central to our resilience. First we accommodated LARP/LoTRO by adding a special sub-forum. That acted as a model for non-Ranger reenactors, and then for the high-authenticity side in MERS, which is a separate organization with a sub-forum. Giving members an outlet allows them to explore other interests but keeps them distinct is good.

That brings us to specific things to do right now. I'll do that in a separate post as this one has gotten way to loooooong.
-Jack Horner

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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby caedmon » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:12 pm

First:

I don't think of myself as the forum owner. I'm just a guy who has a bunch of websites on an antiquated host, who knows how to run PHPBB, and was really taken by Andy's idea when he showed up at SFI. The group makes the decisions and you shouldn't feel like you need to run things by me other than if you need me to fix something, add a widget, figure out how to do something on the site, etc.

(Of course that's what you've been doing here...)

Next is the list of actionable requests. Other items, like ranks and code of conduct didn't seem to make it tot he end of the thread. I assume they were not part of the final recommendation.

1. Create a (locked?) intro/getting started sub-forums at the top)
2. Fill it.
3. More active moderation. It won't be me. My wife and I just started a new business, and I'll probably be around less. (If you can believe it) I would be happy to add others to the admin/mod group provided that they:

a. have interest
b. have been around long enough
c. are acceptable to existing admin/mod group

Did I miss anything?
-Jack Horner

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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Elleth » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:28 pm

AWESOME on the newbie introduction stuff! :)

.. do we have a request for more active moderation?
If that comes from my (badly misusing) the "gatekeeping" term, it wasn't my intention.
(my thoughts are in fact much in line with Taurinor's, however poorly I expressed them)

Or is it just a desire to have the *capacity* for more active moderation in the future, should it prove necessary?
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Greg » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:16 pm

Elleth wrote:.. do we have a request for more active moderation?
I haven't seen one, but it's not really my place to say whether or not it's needed, one way or the other. I will say we haven't had to ban an orc in several years...pretty quiet place around here.

Sounds good to me, Jack!

I'll toy with some of the subforum and global post shtuff. There are a number of threads we've had recently and in the past that could easily be moved into a getting started area to help flesh that out. We'll continue discussion here as things progress and decide what we like, what works, what doesn't, and whatever else piques our interests on the topic.

EDIT: For accountability's sake, here's a complete list of what I just changed. Run around and look at it, and feel free to voice suggestions. I'm particularly interested in any other threads that you think might be helpful if moved from their current home into the Getting Started forum. So, here's what I've done so far:

1) Made a "Welcome! *Please Read Before Posting*" global sticky, which is a locked topic with our very basic, vague, and all-encompassing 'code of conduct'.
2) Made the "Getting Started" Subforum under Middle-earth Rangering.
3) Moved a few old topics for newcomers into the new "Getting Started" subforum. Suggestions welcome!
4) I took a liberty, and moved the Town Square subforum, intended for other cultures outside Rangering, from the Bree forum up to Middle-earth Rangering. It has also been re-named Other Free Folk. I felt like some of our membership, Iodo among others in particular, could do with not being pushed down past 'frontpage news'. Might encourage some more non-ranger Kit, and help newcomers pursuing these cultures feel welcome.

Anything else comes to mind, throw out ideas!
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Elleth » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:06 am

The only ideas that come to mind:

- moving (or copying the relevant parts from) caedmons' pattern threads (tunic, cloak) to the "Getting Started" forum.
- related, a list of vendors and "how tos" for getting started. Such as:

* historical fabric merchants (Wm Booth Draper, Burnley and Trowbridge, etc)
* historical leather merchants (Springfield for vegtan cow, loripel for vegtan goat, etc)
* patterns (tunic, trousers,cloak, boots, etc)
* maybe a top 10 of "how not to kill yourself on your first solo overnight." :)
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Re: Beware the Mops and Sociopaths.

Postby Elwindil » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:12 am

possibly having a list of suggested order to get kit items in might be good, since if someone new to this gets, oh say, their boots last and immediately goes out without breaking them in on a day hike...well...that could be bad for them continuing to do this as it would discourage further such practices.

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