So first and foremost, I know this is why you're here: we do hope to have character creation up later today! As we've mentioned in a few places, real life kind of took us by surprise while we were trying to get things done, and for that we do sincerely apologize. But that's actually something that we wanted to take a minute to chat with you guys about today: real life, and what things are like outside of the Vault.
This is going to be a long note, but I am not sure how else to say it other than in one big letter. So let's have at it. :)
For those of you who might be newer, the core group that started what we now know as Vault 713 got together for the first time to RP in 2001. When I took over as the lead admin in 2002, I was only 14 and starting high school. I'm now 27, and have been running this site through a number of major life events: graduating high school, several moves, several long-term trips, multiple attempts at attending college, and that's just part of it. I've tried my best to keep the site afloat during that time, usually with the help of diligent co-admins (such as Moros, Laura, Jo, Anna, Elphie, and now Alex, all of whom kept me sane through a lot of those major life events) and an awesome team of mods.
That hasn't changed, but what has changed is that when I was 14 and had a ton of time after school, when I was supposed to be paying attention to class, and on weekends, I had no idea that the site would be going on this long, nor that it would get this big. As such, I never really anticipated being someone who was trying to manage working full time while paying the bills and also keeping a Harry Potter forum up to date. But that's a whatever: we made it through, we persevered, and we are still here today with no sign of going anywhere. And that is awesome.
Everyone who helps out on the Vault does so in their free time. We currently have a very small staff team, but it is not the smallest it has ever been, nor will it stay small forever. Our two mods, Nick (deraforia) and Izzy (JustIzzy) work 40+ hours a week in customer service, and Izzy is also currently attending school. Admin Alex recently got a new job working 40+ a week in retail. I am a freelance web developer, writer, and editor, which means that in a typical week I spend anywhere from 40-60 hours working from home for multiple different companies and clients. We do all of this on top of maintaining Vault 713.
We all also have a number of other interests besides the Vault, as well: Izzy and I are both huge fans of listening to music, attending concerts, and critiquing albums, Alex is incredibly passionate about film and screenwriting, and Nick is very involved in tabletop gaming and is often reading RPG corebooks when he is not on our forum.
The main reason I bring this up is not to highlight why things sometimes take longer than expected (although you may certainly refer to this post as an explanation) but because lately we have been experiencing a severe lack of people recognizing that the staff who run this site are not robots, we are not top-notch web executives in fancy offices, but we are normal people and members just like you all, and a big part of that is having lives outside of the Vault and other things we need to worry about.
Lately, we have seen a huge increase in people who both already have our non-Vault contact information and those who have acquired it from someone else using non-Vault methods of communication to get a hold of us, to an incredibly frustrating degree. We have received personal Facebook messages at 4:00 in the morning that have become impatient when we are not available to help, we have received texts and instant messages while trying to do things like grocery shop or work our regular jobs, and we have received Vault questions and complaints on our personal email addresses.
While we consider ourselves friends with most of you and love to chat with you about our day-to-day lives, our plans for our characters, threads we're excited about, movies we've recently seen, and so on, it can be incredibly frustrating to decide to use a website like Facebook or Tumblr to want to relax from working on the Vault for awhile, only to find that someone expects us to use that site for the Vault as well. We love this site, all of us are on it basically nonstop, but sometimes even we need a break and want to think about other things and enjoy our other hobbies for awhile. When the Vault has to be a source of work all of the time, even when we are not on it, it becomes less fun for us to access and more difficult to do the things we want to do for everyone.
We want to continue being friends with everyone, talking with everyone, and getting to know everyone as if we are a family, but we need everyone to please consider using the avenues we have given you for Vault 713 feedback and questions instead of contacting us personally, so that we might have a bit more personal space. I promise you that we are checking these things on an incredibly frequent basis, and we do prioritize as much as we can here at the Vault, but what may be a "very urgent question" related to the Vault may not be so urgent while we are trying to work a shift at our jobs or meet a deadline on short notice...especially when four other people may also have a "very urgent question" at the same exact time.
If you have questions: please, please, please use the Help Desk. We will try to answer you as soon as we can, which is often (though not always) in a matter of minutes. So many of you have been doing an awesome job of this lately, and for this we THANK YOU!!! Sincerely!!! From the bottom of our hearts. :)
If you have questions that are sensitive or private: please do not hesitate to send a private message to ANY member of staff. Myself, Alex, Nick, and Izzy are always available, and if you do not feel comfortable talking to one of us you are welcome to PM someone else. Again, we do check these on a rather frequent basis. You are also more than welcome to use the Help Desk anonymously as a guest.
If you for some reason cannot access the Vault at ALL and have a question or issue: We do have a twitter account, tumblr, and a facebook where you are welcome to contact us. (But don't forget that guest/anonymous option in the Help Desk, either!)
If you have an idea, suggestion, complaint, or something you think should change: Remember that we do have an Anonymous Feedback form that you can use at any time, and it does not have to be anonymous! You're welcome to put your name on it.
If you just want to chat or get to know us as friends: Please, carry on. :) We LOVE chatting with you all (especially through PM, too--you're welcome to contact me on paianjenul or Alex on tsarina at any time just to chit chat) and love getting to know everyone more personally, so please do not shy away. And you can ALWAYS ask me for music recommendations, no matter what. Just please remember to try to respect our personal space when it comes to questions and concerns about the Vault.
Thank you all for your understanding, and please know that there are no hard feelings here. We just want to be able to log off the Vault once in awhile—no one would want to be stuck at their job or in class 24/7, even if you enjoy it!
With all that in mind, it's time to go finish up character creation so we can get that up for you guys!
Wishing you all much love and many great threads,
Manda, Alex, Izzy, & Nick