Newsletter #22 for September 26th, 2022

Howdy, fall!

It’s autumn! The leaves are changing, and so is your face. I see that smile! Yay!

Staff Roles page added to the site!

I took some time today to write up descriptions and responsibilities for the different roles of folks on staff here.

Feel free to check that out at https://joehills.net/staff-roles/

Discord prune complete, vacation mode active!

I’ve restructured the Discord and enabled vacation mode per the plan outlined in Newsletter #21.

The only deviations from the plan were:

  • Had to create a new category called “Yet Another Zone of Archived Rooms” after the first one filled up. I didn’t know categories could even get full, but live and learn, I guess.
  • Decided to keep the Friend Codes room writable to facilitate activity in the #players-wanted room.

Thanks for your patience while we give all this a try! I already feel like I’ve got some extra brain cycles free, and hope to re-invest them in the future of this community and my creative work over the course of the next month.

Minecraft Server News

Upcoming petitions for DS9 & modded:

If you need something, show up and let us know!

Our next two server petitions sessions are scheduled for:

  • October 1st at 2pm US Central Time
  • November 5th at noon US Central time.

DS9: Halloween parade sign-ups now open!

As of this writing, we have about half the parade float slots filled for the October 29th Halloween parade build contest.

Our guest judge will be Halloween enthusiast and expert Lucy Western voice actor BadgerSpanner!

Sign up now in Activity-Sign-Ups > #oct-29-halloween-parade

Toxxic’s Modded Server Progress

Toxxic sent me the world configuration and mods list for his upcoming server, and I will be setting up a test world for him to review this week.

If all goes well, we’ll be launching soon!

Signs of Autumn!

Tennessee Game Days Fall 2022

I had a great time at Tennessee Game Days last weekend! You can see photos and my thoughts on some of the games I played in this series of tweets:

Tennessee Game Days Spring 2023 is coming up March 3–5th!

The best way to be alerted when tickets go on sale is to sign up for their newsletter at: https://tngamedays.com/email.html. Tickets sell out quickly, so keep an eye on that!

We’ve also got a channel for folks looking to coordinate their TGD travel  on our Patreon Discord under Meet-ups > #mar-3-5-tgd-spring-2023.

Weekly Pinball Tournaments

Tales of the Arabian Nights results

Congratulations to Forgantly! Tales will be told of his victory!

A screenshot of the tournament leaderboard for Tales of the Arabian Nights for September 2022. 1st place: forgantly. 2nd: Mr_Hardluck. 3rd: ButterfyGirlKMC. 4th: WrexVerdi. 5th: Laxmi13. 6th: RIX5.13. 7th: NJCoffeeJunkie. 8th: JoeHillsLeaderboard continues... 9th place: Chloe. 10th: parker. 11th: Marwood. 12th: MisterLantz

This week: Space Station!

It’s an old-school space-themed pinball table by Bally Williams. Tommy says it is out of this world, but I don’t think he has actually played it. Find out for yourself! Tournament details are in Activity Sign-ups > #weekly-pinball-tournament

Meet-ups and Conventions

No confirmations yet on the October meet-ups, that’s in my queue for this week. Here’s the conventions I will definitely be at, though:

Upcoming conventions

Upcoming streams

Expect a lot of bonus streams the next two weeks in advance of my trip. I can’t promise when they’ll be, as I’m working around the royal collars, but I have a lot to get done!

Until next time y’all…

This has been Joe Hills from Nashville, TN. Thanks to ThatTommyBoii for his help as always!

Keep adventuring!

Newsletter #21 for September 19th, 2022

Howdy, y’all…

Joe Hills here, writing as I always do from Nashville, Tennessee. We have a lot to cover, so let’s metaphorically grab our ink blasters and transform into squids to fill our tanks! Or just read.

Quarterly Community Meeting Results

Tommy both filmed and took detailed minutes on this quarter’s community meeting, and you can find those at: https://joehills.net/2022-q3-meeting-minutes/

Here’s the high level overview of the conclusions of each of the six agenda items:

1. Discord Prune scheduled for September 22nd

Every few years (number TBD at a future meeting), we’ll prune down the number of channels heavily, with the intent to add some back at the next quarter’s meeting. Some Discord features that have been enabled by default in the interim will also be reviewed and possibly curtailed, such as allowing file uploads.

To discuss and provide feedback in general about the pruning, please use the Joe Hills Meta > #feedback-structure channel.

To make specific proposals for consideration at the next Quarterly meeting to be held on January 21st, 2023 at 11am US Central Time, please post those in Joe Hills Meta > #next-quarter-new-business so that Tommy can ensure they are added to the agenda.

The categories and channels that will persist after this year’s pruning are:

  1. Activity-sign-ups
  2. All-specific-except-for-general
    1. 911-emergency resources
    2. actual-rules
    3. current_events
    4. feels
    5. general
    6. identity
    7. introductions
    8. live_event_chat
    9. small_victories
  3. Consume
      1. Arts and entertainment
      2. Bookclub
      3. HermitCraft
  4. Create
    1. All spam channels are kept
    2. work-in-progress
  5. Games
    1. friend-codes
    2. gaming-general
    3. minecraft
    4. pinball
    5. players-wanted
  6. Joe Hills Meta
    1. Announcements
    2. Feedback-accessibility
    3. Feedback-everstorm
    4. Feedback-newsletter
    5. Feedback-structure
    6. Meeting-discussion
    7. Next-Quarter-New-Business
  7. Realms and servers (keep all)
  8. SMP categories and channels (keep all)
  9. Travel (rename to meet-ups, re-focus on individual event channels)

2. Discord Vacation Mode

As proposed in Newsletter #16, the Discord will go into vacation mode when Joe is traveling, setting many of the channels to read-only.

Here is the final mechanism for that:

  1. Vacation mode would start at least one day before I leave, and end at least one day after I return
  2. Set all channels to read-only except:
    1. #players-wanted
    2. #spam-servers-you-operate
    3. Minecraft Server channels
    4. Activity channels for events during that time (like Tommy running Gartic Phone)
    5. relevant travel channels (like, if we’re in vacation mode because I’m driving through Ohio, New York and Massachusettes, the meet-up channels for each stop would stay open)
    6. #live-event-chat (while streaming)
  3. Any issues that arose on the Minecraft Servers would be dealt with by server operators, and reviewed within a week of my return
  4. Any issues that arose on the activity channels would be the responsibility of the organizing staff member to address, and would be reviewed within a week of my return
  5. Any issues that arose on the travel channels  or #live-event-chat would be addressed by myself, as I’d be monitoring them to coordinate the meet-ups or during the streams

3. Modmail tutorial

Tommy has requested three hours to work on creating a text tutorial and a short video tutorial this month. I’ve approved that time.

4. Rules channel visibility

Per suggestion from Kindalas, the #rules channel has been renamed to #actual-rules. It has also been moved into the more prominent “All Specific Except for General” category.

Additions or changes to rules will be made in the #actual-rules channel, then  announced in the #announcement channel as well as the newsletter.

5. New rule explicitly prohibiting hate imagery and dog-whistles

Final text: “No creating or sharing imagery that has been co-opted by hate groups, such as swastikas or Pepe the frog.”

6. New rule prohibiting celebrations of bodily harm or death

Final text: “No celebrating the bodily harm or death of a real person.”

Minecraft Servers

Upcoming Petitions

Our next two server petitions sessions will be October 1st at 2pm US Central Time, and November 5th at noon US Central time.

Toxxic’s 1.19 Modded Server

Toxxic is still accepting feedback about his upcoming server launch in Realms and Servers > #modded-1dot19-fall-next.

The exact launch date is TBD, but our current plan is for Toxxic to turn over the config and mod list to me by the end of this month, so that I can have a version of the server ready for testing the first week of October.

Everstorm obituaries

  • NJ went spelunking underwater and drowned one block shy of air.
  • DottyMatrix, on a lovely tour of Castle Hohenzollern, stared death in the face… and its other face… and its third face.

Deep Slate Nine: Halloween Parade Float Contest

Congratulations again to Not Kansas, our victors in the B’hala build contest, who will be hosting the Halloween Parade Float build contest the last weekend of this month.

Exact time and date were TBD at time of printing, but I can announce that our in-studio guest judge will be BadgerSpanner! Update: October 29th, 2022 at 11am US Central time.

In terms of parade float size, each float must be 24 meters or less in length, and allow 8 meters of free space ahead of it.

There are only eleven spaces, so if you’d like to secure a spot, sign-ups will are now live in the Activity Sign-ups > #Oct-29-halloween-parade channel.

Weekly Pinball Tournaments

No Good Gofers results!

Congratulations to WrexVerdi for taking 1st place on No Good Gofers!

Leaderboard for No Good Gophers. 1: WrexVerdi. 2: forgantly. 3: Mr_Hardluck. 4: RIX513. 5: Laxmi13. 7: ButterflyGirlKMC. 8:Parker 9: NJCoffeeJunkie. 10: marwood7. 11: MisterLantz. 12: ChloeTGAP. 13: QueenDarkLady

This week: Tales of the Arabian Nights!

Our next table is Tales of the Arabian Nights, which features a spinning genie lamp! And a blue genie! It’s totally not licensed!

Meet-ups and Conventions

I still don’t have the details locked down for meet-ups during my October trip, but hope to have those ready to announce next newsletter. Thanks for your patience!

Upcoming conventions

Upcoming streams

As I’ll be traveling extensively next month, I’m going to try to cram extra bonus streams into my schedule whenever I can. Since the Royal Court has an irregular collab schedule, I won’t be able to commit to announcing those in advance, so thanks for your patience there.

Also, don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of curious how long I can go without changing the stream title.

Until next time y’all…

Thanks again to ThatTommyBoii for helping compile this newsletter.

This is Joe Hills from Nashville Tennessee. Keep adventuring!

2022 Q3 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Purpose

  • Purpose of this meeting’s first item is the discord is getting too big and fickle to run
    • Every quarter we’ll have a quarterly meeting to decide if what we decided last meeting is viable
    • Give ample time for proposals to be addressed and for folks to weigh in
    • Even if not everything goes through everything gets to be considered
  • Anything not already on the agenda goes to next meeting

1. Discord channel pruning

    • Significant change, our discord has 100+ channels, has grown organically over 7 years, intimidating to new people, no good mechanism for adding/removing channels
    • Cull channels this month and review what are the needed channels in January
      • Joe requested Tommy begin the 2023 first quarter agenda and add the first two items, adding back any discord channels, and channel culling frequency. Tommy creates this.
      • Joe specifies that activity sign ups would remain as it currently functions, channels being created as needed for activities. No objections.
      • All specific except for general category, 911 emergency resources would remain as is.
        • Current events would also stay as it makes us unique as most other communities discourage political discussions, and Joe finds it high priority
        • Feels is experimental but we are still looking to keep it. A note is that the ability to send images would be removed.
          • The channels that would keep image sending capability would be channels that require it, such as spam-photos-you-snapped and collaborative channels such as the minecraft server channels
          • Joe states keeping the discord similar to older models such as forums keeps it runnable for him, as things being different from the norm is valuable for Joe
        • Identity is important to keep as it also is unique for us and encourages education and understanding.
          • Kindalas asks if the moderators feel comfortable with the Feels and Identity channels
            • Joe clarifies yes, but should they become an issue those channels would be placed into read only mode
          • Maahes says that he does not feel he has a strong identity to use the identity channel but has learned from those who do
          • Meep likes having identity makes them feel like they can express their identity that they can’t talk about anywhere else
          • TheQueenAsteri suggests combining Feels and Identity
          • Kindalas opposes
          • Joe explains that there is a difference in the spaces for somebody looking to talk about frustrations and somebody wanting to talk about identity
          • NJ also opposes as it would muddy the waters
          • Mantuamakers says people who want to speak about identity can feel safer with a reserved place rather than combined
        • DottieMatrix asks if Joe if the channels that dont specifically have to do with him be moved elsewhere or be made in other communities run by members of this community
          • Joe says yes, that this is something he is actively looking to encourage
        • Interior decorating is going away as it serves as a reminder to Joe for past plans not coming to fruition
        • Specific channels such as international emergency would be removed and discussion could be moved to current events or feels
        • The number one thing for Joe to keep, even with a theoretical 10x increase in members would be the live event chat channel as discussion in one chat (ie youtube or twitch) would get too large.
        • Small victories will definitely be kept as it genuinely helps folks to be able to post when they accomplish something.
        • Unrest would get a suggestion for replacement in January
        • Virtual cafe was created as a second general but is not needed. It can be revisited in January.
      • Animal crossing category is getting culled completely
      • Consume category
        • Book club will be kept
        • Food channel will be culled, it does not make the cut and will be revisited in January
          • Kindalas requests food be a small victories topic
            • Joe states its best to be revisited
        • Hermitcraft will be kept as it makes sense for there to be a place for HermitCraft fans to discuss content
        • Cultural channels (arts and entertainment) would be consolidated into one channel for things such as music, tv, dance, etc
      • Create category
        • The spam channels will be kept separate as different creations deserve their owns spaces to be viewed or posted
          • TheQueenAsteri feels that when photos are posted in the spam-photos channel they get drowned out by pet photos
            • Joe states that he doesn’t want to run a topic-specific community that is outside his expertise. 
            • If a differentiation could be provided in January’s meeting it could be revisited as Joe believes it is out of scope for today
          • Centuritron loves being able to post their crochet stuff
          • Misterlantz believes photos and art could be combined
            • Joe wants to protect the different arts
          • Kindalas states asking staff to differentiate between pet pictures and artistic pictures is a lot
            • Joe agrees and that’s why it may be revisited with framework in January
          • Meep explains worries about consolidating so many channels in terms of accessibility, a lot of issues comes from the screen reader not handling messages properly and causing a lot of trouble for them to stay chronological to the discussion
            • Joe states that is good feedback and greater reason to switch from discord to another platform, though that is out of scope for today’s meeting. He would like for Meep to provide alternatives that are more accessible.
            • Joe makes a note to review accessibility implications in the January meeting
        • Lets plays would be culled, Joe encourages community members who are fans of other series create their own spaces to discuss
        • Works in progress would be kept
        • Programming would be removed with revisit in January
        • Streaming/recording would be removed with revisit in January
        • Writing would be removed with revisit in January
      • Games category
        • Friend-codes would be kept
        • Minecraft would be kept
        • Pinball would be kept
        • Players wanted would be kept
        • All other channels in the games category would be removed
      • Joe Hills Meta category
        • Announcements would be kept
        • Feedback accessibility kept
        • Feedback everstorm kept
        • Feedback newsletter kept
        • Feedback structure kept
        • Meeting discussion kept
        • Next quarter new business kept
        • Rules would be kept
        • All other channels in the Joe Hills Meta category would be removed
          • Maahes suggests feedback structure be combined with next quarter new business
            • Joe disagrees
            • Tommy agrees with that disagreement
            • Xhille suggests having a feedback category in addition to the meta category
              • Joe declines
      • Realms and serves category channels would all be kept
      • SMP category channels would all be kept
        • Misterlantz asks if the -next channels need to be kept
          • Joe clarifies that those channels are consolidated when the servers go live
          • Misterlantz agrees but mentions there is 2022 experimental next and vanillish next
          • Joe agrees that the channels should be renamed to be feedback channels as they exist to give players a space to discuss changes for the servers
          • We will come back to this as Joe wishes to discuss it with the server operators
      • Travel category
        • Would be reduced to a meet-up channel and individual event channels
      • Tommy asks for clarification of when the channels would be culled and how, all at once or rolled out?
        • Joe specifies it would be culled on September 22nd as that is when vacation mode would be implemented
      • Misterlantz asked if when the channels are pruned would they be moved to the archived rooms category
        • Joe clarifies yes, culled channels would be moved there and everything being renamed would simply be renamed
      • ButterflyGirlKMC asks if there would be a general gaming channel
        • Joe clarifies no, discussion could be kept to general or if they wanted someone to play with that would go in players wanted
        • Mars states gaming is a core cultural value
        • TheQueenAsteri asks if gaming could go under arts/entertainment
        • Mars states it is too big a topic to be brushed into general
        • Centuritron states gaming general is nice to keep gaming in one place
        • Maahes is in favor of a general gaming channel to allow for space of culled channels such as animal crossing
        • Joe agrees that keeping gaming general would help measure scope for things in January

2. Vacation mode

    • Joe has needed a way to disengage from his work since 2008 and has not had that way.
      • Joe has dreaded taking time off as he feels like things would blow up without him
      • He would like to hire someone full time, such as Tommy on a salaried position, to be fully trained to take care of things.
      • We aren’t there yet and we will never get there at the current rate of things if Joe were to burn out.
      • Joe wants to make this all last, so the short term goal is for Joe to be able to have the discord “closed” when he goes on vacation.
        • It would begin at least one day before Joe leaves and end at least one day after his return
        • Anything that goes wrong would be reviewed the week after Joe returns from vacation
        • Channels would be set to read only except for spam servers you operate, the minecraft server channels, any activity channels, relevant travel channels, and live event chat for any streams
          • Joe adds on that players wanted could be kept open as well
      • Joe specifies it’s not the community’s fault, this was an issue before the discord was open
    • Joe will be traveling starting September 23rd until the end of October and this is the first good time to enable vacation mode
      • Consensus is that this is a necessary and good change for Joe to take to maintain good mental health
      • This means vacation mode will be activated September 22nd and end on October 31st
        • Kindalas asks if there would be no server petitions
          • Joe clarifies yes there will still be petitions, dates will be announced in Newsletter 21
        • Not Kansas’ Halloween parade build contest will also still occur, planned date is Sunday October 30th, the exact time TBD

3. Modmail tutorial

          • Tommy will create a modmail tutorial to explain what it is and when to use it and how

4. Rules channel

    • Make the rules channel easier to find
      • Joe asks if putting it in all specific category would suffice
        • Em agrees it’s easier to find there
        • Xhille says we could use bots to automate the process of new members reading and accepting the rules
          • Joe declines as this is not what he wants
        • Tommy suggests renaming the channel so it is higher in the alphabetic sorting of channels
          • Maahes suggested A list of rules
          • Kindalas suggests Actual Rules
            • Joe enjoys this proposal the most as it involves malicious compliance with community member’s requests
            • Rules channel was renamed to Actual rules and placed into all specific except for general category
      • Establishing staff and their roles is the next agenda item
        • Joe suggests he could draft that during his October break as he will have the time to create it then
          • Specifically in the times he is between trips
          • Scheduled for September 26th which is a Monday, Newsletter day
      • Notify current members of rule updates/changes
        • Joe states that we don’t really add rules often, and that a @everyone would not be needed as we would announce it in the appropriate channels and newsletter
        • Tommy agrees that an @ would not be needed
        • Folks seem fine okay with not requiring an @
      • Implement discord’s “start screen” feature
        • This feature is for public/community servers, we are unable to roll this out for our server as is.

5. Adding specific rule that disallows using media co-opted by hate groups

    • Community agrees we need to add that rule
      • Joe asks best way to implement it  without needed to constantly update rules
      • Tommy suggests a rule that gives pepe and swastikas as an example and ending it with etc to included items as needed
      • Xhille suggests linking a URL to a list of known hate imagery
        • This creates problems of people arguing what is and isn’t hate imagery
        • Tommy’s suggestion is accepted and will be added by release of Newsletter 21
      • Joe suggests also removing nitro ability to use custom emotes
        • Some community members seems saddened by loss but agree on it’s value

6. Adding specific rule that disallows celebratory messages or media as a response to a person’s death

    • Joe clarifies that he does not want to encourage any violent action but that also he doesn’t want to contribute to issues of aggressions or violent extremism
      • Joe opens the floor to a concise statement to be added to rules
        • Final wording is “No celebrating bodily harm or death of a real person”
      • This will also be added by release of Newsletter 21
      • Mantuamaker asks if there was room to discuss it if the person harmed was someone they knew and abusive
        • Joe clarifies that it would not be appropriate to celebrate here but rather in a private discussion.
        • Xhille says those examples can be discussed without being celebrated

Newsletter #20 for September 12th, 2022

Howdy folks!

It’s Tommy time! Community Liaison ThatTommyBoii reporting for newsletter duty! It’s always such a joy for me to be able to write to y’all, so let me get right into it!

Pinball FX3 Tournaments

Our weekly pinball tournaments continue on and everyone is killing it! It’s so awesome to see folks participating in such a fun game, let’s see how y’all scored!

Red and Ted’s Road Show

This table seemed like quite the trip! Congrats to Mr.Hardluck for the win with an insane 919 million score!

1st: Mr_Hardluck; 2nd: Forgantly; 3rd: WrexVerdi; 4th: ButterflyGirlKMC; 5th: marwood7; 6th: Joehills; 7th: Parker; 8th: Rix13

9th: NJ; 10th: Devi; 11th: Laxmi13; 12th: MisterLantz

Cirqus Voltaire

53 million points is nothing to joke about, another win for Forgantly shows he’s not clowning around!

1st: forgantly. 2nd: JoeHills. 3rd: WrexVerdi. 4th: NJCoffeeJunkie. 5th: RIX5.13. 6th: ButterflyGirlKMC. 7th: Parker. 8th: QueenDarkLady

9th: Laxmi13. 10th: Mr_Hardluck. 11th: MisterLantz. 12: Marwood7

This week’s table

If you’ve been reading this newsletter and have yet to join in the pinball fun what are you waiting for? Go-fer it! This week the table is No Good Gofers, you can find more information on how to compete in Activity-Sign-Ups > #weekly-pinball-challenges.

And if you’re not in Joe’s community discord, you can join us by supporting him on Patreon!

Fall Quarterly Meeting 2022

Those of you following the newsletters and announcements in the discord will know we’ve got some changes coming up. We’ve have a lot to discuss in our Fall Quarterly Meeting.

That’s going to be on this Saturday, September 17th, at 1pm US Central time.

Here’s our current agenda, if you have any items you’d like to request please do so in Joe Hills Meta > #next-quarter-new-business-requests. Thanks!

  1. Discord channel culling – Joe
  2. Discord vacation mode – Joe
  3. Modmail documentation and tutorial – Em and Dahlia
  4. Clarify rules and structure – Phali
    1. highlight rules channel
    2. establish staff and roles more clearly
    3. notify current members of rule updates/changes
    4. implement start screen to introduce rules
  5. Clarify what constitutes hate speech or images in rules – Maahes
  6. Formally add “no celebrating any deaths” to rules – Tommy

Minecraft Servers

There’s not too much to report on for some of the servers, but let’s check in anyways!

Deep Slate 9

The B’hala build contest was a huge success! There are some final parade dates that need to be finalized, so please be sure to check if your team has submitted your preferred holiday options! That would be under S9 Working Group Consolidation > #ds9-bhala-parades.

Some of the holidays taken include Halloween, Earth Day, and New Year’s, so y’all can look forward to plenty of parade building contests to come!

Modded 1.19 Fall

Our server operator ToxxicGlitter has been hard at work creating our next upcoming server! With the challenges faced with the experimental server, the community agreed to have our modded survival server move to be run by Toxxic! This is a great outcome, as he has proven his developmental skills by creating his own mods which will be featured on this server.

You can see the progress of this server in Realms and Servers > #modded-1dot19-fall-next

Vanillish

If DS9 is too busy or chaotic for you, and you want to stick with a vanilla server, I’d like to remind folks about our Vanillish server! This one is run by server operator Yirggzmb, and features a more comfortable and chill vibe.  Functions include keep inventory, a command to teleport to spawn, and other fun vanilla-adjacent features!

See what folks have been up to in Realms and Servers > #vanillish-general

August Everstorm Obituaries

Here’s the final roundup of obituaries from August’s Everstorm, rest in pieces everyone!

  • elimemeguy was slain by Zombie after a noble effort to survive until reset.
  • NJ nearly survived, but was smote by a smitten enderman.

August Everstorm Survivors

  • Wizardofdocs fought the End Wither with Void, got stuck on the dragon Island briefly, but brought home the beacon and moved into Void’s attic for a nice long nap
  • mercurialvoid brought a bit of spring into the ice waste, fought the Enderwither with Wizardofdocs, and bridged a thousand blocks for a final flight

September Everstorm Obituaries

  • QuiltyMel died to a Wither approximately 30 seconds after logging in for the first time.
  • Chefnutmeg died one island from spawn to a skelly while fleeing a wither skull
  • mercurialvoid ran into two withers and withered away in cleos gym
  • MisterLantz died to a pair of spiders while trying to flee a wither health bar

HermitCraft

There’s been two episodes of HermitCraft from Joe since the last newsletter, check them out!

Meet-ups and Conventions

Confirmed upcoming conventions

2022

2023

So long for now…

Thanks everybody for reading yet another one of my newsletters! I love getting to write these, I hope you love reading them!

As always I gladly accept feedback in  Joe Hills Meta > #feedback-newsletter channel.

This has been TommyBoii reporting for newsletter duty.

See you around!

Newsletter 19 for August 29, 2022

Howdy, y’all…

Joe Hills here, writing as I always do in Nashville, Tennessee.

The last few weeks have been trying for the Hermits and the broader HermitCraft community as we mourned the passing of our colleague and friend TinFoilChef.

Thank you so much to everyone who took time to remember TFC these last few weeks, and for y’all’s patience with the Hermits as we navigate tragic uncharted waters.

I personally believe that when someone who has touched our lives through their good works passes, a burden falls to us to attempt to carry on some small fraction of that good in how we live our own lives. While TFC’s impact on the world was great, he was loved by so many that I do not find that burden intimidating. Rather, I find it reassuring that such a large number of us will share it.

There is much to do, let us begin.

B’hala Build Contest Complete!

I was heartened greatly this weekend by the incredible and creative builds that our community collaborated on over the last two months around the Deep Slate Nine SMP’s temporal anomaly.

The builds were so competitive, I’m glad I didn’t have to choose between them. Thanks again to our three brilliant judges, M. Ebel, Janey Laney, and WesWilson for your insightful commentary and questions!

Results

As per tradition, the builds were ranked and given priority to select which upcoming holidays they might host parades for.

  1. Not Kansas: Halloween
  2. Earth Kingdom Outpost: Earth Day
  3. Team Radical: New Year’s
  4. Holland: Van Gogh’s birthday
  5. Team Gaymer: Pride (early June)
  6. KindaToxxic: GroundHog Day
  7. Team Blackwater: Kentucky Derby
  8. Team Shiny: Yuri’s Night
  9. Team Lotus: TBD
  10. Team Deztiny: National Intern Day
  11. Warden Hunters: Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day
  12. SCP: TBD

Thanks again to every team for all their hard work! Y’all really make this server vibrant and beautiful!

Pinball FX3 Tournaments

I’m also delighted to report that more folks have been coming together the last couple weeks to play in our pinball tournaments!

The last two tables we played were particularly fast and brutal, so for this week’s tournament I’m excited to shift gears with Red and Ted’s Road Show!

Road Show’s storyline involves traveling East to West across America, and it was intended to take all but the most skilled players more than three balls to complete. It was one of the first pinball machines to feature the ability to continue your progress by adding additional coins. As Pinball FX3 doesn’t support shoving coins into your computer, I’ve set this week’s tournament options to allocate each player nine balls instead of three. Hopefully this provides y’all a welcome break from the breakneck speed of the last couple tables.

Let’s see how y’all did on those!

Safecracker

This was a weird one, but thanks for giving it a try!

1st: Joe Hills; 2nd MisterLantz; 3rd forgantly; 4th ButterflyKMC; 5th Parker; 6th: NJ; 7th Phali; 8th devi

Whitewater Results

Congrats to Forgantly for taking the lead on WhiteWater with an impressive 126million!

1st place: Forgantly! 2nd: Mr_HardLuck; 3rd: JoeHills; 4th: WrexVerdi; 5th ButterflyGirlKMC; 6t:h Drewbacca81; 7th: NJ; 8th:Qwarkeh9th place: Parker; 10th: MisterLantz; 11th: RealPhali; 12th: Laxmi13; 13th: Marwood7; 14th: Badgerspanner

Hurricane Results

Double Congratulations to Forgantly for also winning last week’s Hurricane tournament with a score of 28million!

1st place: Forgantly; 2nd: WrexVerdi; 3rd: ButterflyGirlKMC; 4th Marwood; 5th: Laxmi13; 6th: Joe Hills; 7th: Parker; 8th: Mr_Hardluck; 9th RIX5.13; 10th: Devi; 11th: Qwarkeh; 12: MisterLantz; 13th: NJ; 14th: Real Phali; 15th: Drewbacca

Server Petitions

VODs and minutes for server petitions will henceforth be posted to a new website category: petitions!

This should make it easier for folks to find those documents without having to scroll through entire newsletters like this one. Here’s direct links to the last couple month’s entries:

Everstorm Server Obituaries

Final July Obituaries

  • SuperStone jumped after a skeleton into the void on his way to the dragon fight.
  • Lyric was not as prepared for the dragon fight as they thought they were.
  • Magenta felt the sweet embrace of the void after freeing the End

August Everstorm Obituaries

  • Magenta got cocky and thought she could beat the skeleton at its own game
  • RIP Haiden he died going very fast which is cool I guess
  • Chefnutmeg died to Skelly while setting up an outpost bolt hole

Upcoming September 17th 2022 Quarterly Meeting Agenda

  1. Discord channel culling – Joe
  2. Discord vacation mode – Joe
  3. Modmail documentation and tutorial – Em and Dahlia
  4. Clarify rules and structure – Phali
    1. highlight rules channel
    2. establish staff and roles more clearly
    3. notify current members of rule updates/changes
    4. implement start screen to introduce rules
  5. Clarify what constitutes hate speech or images in rules – Maahes

Meet-ups and Conventions

Confirmed upcoming conventions

2022

2023

Until next time, y’all…

Thanks as always to our Community Liaison ThatTommyBoii for helping me compile this week’s news!

Keep adventuring!

Petitions August 2022

Experimental

  • Maahes0 petitions regarding status of server and its replacement
    • Joe suggests that even though Decorative Blocks has just updated to 1.19, folks have been winding down their builds and avoided starting new ones, so it is a good time to spin up Toxxic’s new modded server anyway
    • There are no objections to continuing with the plan as laid out last month

Deep Slate Nine Vanilla SMP

  • Sami requests Allay Destroyer swords
    • Mardigan asks if it would suffice to simply break Meep’s spawner
    • Joe inquires about feasibility of killing only undesirable allays with commands
    • Kindalas: the only viable item to kill allays is Sharpness 25+ diamond swords
    • Joe awards four Sharpness 255 wooden swords to Sami, with instructions to destroy after cleaning up the allays
  • Kindalas requests Warden Hunters book back as it is the last copy
    • Joe returns it
  • Kindalas requests back-up copy of server for lag-busting
    • Joe agrees to hire Kindalas to both evaluate world download and write up analysis and process blog post for publishing on his website
  • Mardigan requests release Kevin
    • Joe presses the button
  • Kindals requests  petrified oak slabs be added to B’hala loot table
    • Joe agrees



Petitions July 2022

Experimental Server

  • Maahes0 mentions that the Decorative Blocks mod has had no signs of updating to future game versions, and asks if the server should be reset to 1.19
    • Joe states the original idea was the server would run until 3 months before this season of Hermitcraft ends.
    • This is now believed to be a bad idea
    • Joe suggests to decide in a month if the Experimental server should be restarted every time there is a new minecraft version, they kick mods they don’t like and add new mods they do
      • Maahes states we would need a nomination process for what mods to add and to consider how much time to allow for mods to come out
      • Joe states we could add mods as time goes on, just not remove them.
      • Joe gives until the end of August for people to consider the following: Toxxic takes the vision for his Fall SMP server and sees if it is compatible with the Experimental server player’s desires, and for Toxxic to take lead on it.
      • Maahes likes that idea as he was interested in Toxxic’s mod, Joe agrees
      • Toxxic states he likes the idea of running a modded server and using his mod as well
      • Joe renames tbd-fall-next to modded-1dot19-fall-next and puts Toxxic in charge of coordinating it.

Deep Slate Nine Vanilla SMP

  • Kindalas requests server votes be given 48 hours for those in different timezones be given appropriate time to participate and that we get 2 weeks of notice before server updates so people can have time for due diligence for mods and new version bugs
    • Joe states it wasn’t a planned vote, and more of a sanity check
    • Kindalas states it was presented as a vote, and proper labeling would help avoid that confusion
      • Mardigan mentions NJ was kicked mid-stream due to updates
      • Joe mentions that it has happened to him on HermitCraft and a server that is dedicated for streamers for uptime and quality would be something to be workshopped as another patreon tier
  • Kindalas requests discussing the expectations of update timelines at the next quarterly meeting
    • Joe states DS9 updates as soon as possible, the Vanillish server updates in 2 weeks depending on the creative lead, and the modded server going forward resets each new game version and the Everstorm server only updates on monthly refresh.
    • Joe feels this is part of the value of the Vanillish server, and the problem is people would rather play on DS9 than Vanillish
    • Joe suggests having another server be the flagship server come next HermitCraft season, as he doesn’t want to change things from being a server that stays up to date with the latest minecraft versions
      • Kindalas states there is room to discuss this at the quarterly business meeting
      • Joe states that he is not at a place to commit to a 48 hour window
      • Kindalas suggests being able to warn Joe about updates that are game-breaking
      • Joe states he was not concerned about long term security risks with the release of 1.19.1 and was prepared to update the server again if it warranted that
  • Maahes0 mentions an issue with players being given 5 seconds to get to a safe place for a server reset in place of a minute
    • Joe agrees there should be the minute, but he would not give more time than that
  • NJ requests for Joe to help her finish organizing her shulker monster
    • Joe denies, but grants NJ 4 allay spawn eggs to pay people with to help instead
  • Joe mentions that in terms of creative frustration the HermitCraft server doesn’t rollback so it can give folks confidence that the work they have done won’t get undone.
    • CaseWalker states that this update felt rushed and more controversial and potentially damaging than any other updates
      • Joe agrees and states that if we genuinely wanted to not rely on Microsoft we would have to fund other projects such as MineTest so we would have our own Minecraft to not worry about Microsoft changing things on.
      • Kindalas states that sounds like a waste of time, money, and effort and defeats the purpose of playing minecraft
      • Joe agrees and states that if we don’t agree with moving to our own sources then we need to agree with relying on Microsoft, though it makes him nervous to be dependent on them.
      • Joe mentions that the last creator summit had only talked about this update and not about future updates, and is worried they don’t know what direction they are heading in
      • Kindalas suggests instead of decoupling from Minecraft to just not update in the future
      • Joe states that he feels he is in a unique position to wrangle building an open source Minecraft alternative, and that anyone could run an old version of Minecraft
  • Mardigan requests the B’hala anomaly be reset soon
    • Joe agrees for it to be reset but is not sure of when
  • Mantuamaker requests unbreakable leather hats for the baby zombies in the Not-Kansas outpost. Granted
  • Mantuamaker requests their B’hala loot item be red leather boots. Granted
  • Phali requests for Long Norway to be recognized as an outpost and given a channel.
    • StellarSpider objects as Long Norway is on team Holland’s ground
      • Phali objects to this as Holland wasn’t even aware of this until team Redstone had mentioned it
    • Joe adds Long Norway to Holland’s channel to officially recognize them
  • 5th_Alice requests their Bhala loot item be a strong shovel. Granted
  • Kindalas requests reinforced deepslate be added to the Bhala loot tables. Granted
  • Maahes requests the creative light block be added to the Bhala loot tables. Granted
  • Toxxic requests team Redstone be renamed to team Kinda Toxxic
    • 5th_Alice objects
    • Joe grants the request
  • VeryLukely requests to be exiled into the world so they could work their way back from scratch. Granted

Newsletter 18 for August 8th, 2022

Howdy, y’all! Joe Hills here…

I’m writing to y’all as I always do from Nashville, TN!

Stream schedule for this week!

Now that school has started here in Nashville, I am feeling more confident about pre-announcing my stream schedule for the week!

All times U.S. Central!

All streams on my twitch and YouTube.

Some bonus streams may be added on-the-fly as my schedule allows.

Monday, August 8th

  • 1pm: HermitCraft 9 bonus stream
  • 8:30pm: HermitCraft 9 live!

Wednesday, August 10th

  • 8:30am: Crafts with ZombieCleo and special guest JaneyLaney!

Thursday, August 11th

  • 8:30pm: HermitCraft 9 live!

Friday, August 12th

  • 8:30am: HermitCraft 9 live! Special morning edition!

Saturday, August 13th

Sunday, August 14th

  • 8:30pm: HermitCraft 9 live!

Pinball FX3 weekly challenge!

This week: SafeCracker

This week’s game is a Pat Lawler-designed weird one!

This table has a narrow body, timed play, and a board game in the back glass which you can win to earn a token that unlocks the special multi-ball mode.

I hope you give it a try! Details are in Activity Sign-Ups > #weekly-pinball-challenge

Champion Pub results

Congratulations once again to Forgantly for taking 1st place in our Champion Pub tournament!

Here’s the full results:

A screenshot of the Pinball FX3 tournament leaderboard with results for Champion's Pub. 1st place: Forgantly. 2nd place: ButterflyGirlKMC. 3rd place: Devi. 4th place: Joe Hills. 5th place: Parker. 6th place: MisterLantz. 7th place: NJCoffeeJunkie. 8th place: Kindalas

MineCraft servers!

Everstorm: The Reef 2 closing tomorrow!

No obituaries from the second Reef this week—but there’s still a day left!

Tomorrow, I will be taking down the Reef map and replacing it with something cool our Community Liaison ThatTommyBoii has sculpted for us. Keep an eye out for the creation of the Realms and Servers > #Everstorm-August channel!

Vanillish petitions this afternoon!

Our Creative Lead for the Vanillish Server, Yirrgzmb will be hosting her first round of petitions, today, Monday, August 8, 2022 at 5:00 PM US Central time!

If you’re active on that server or considering giving it a try, pop in!

August 27th B’hala build contest: two of three guest judges announced!

One of the greatest joys in my work is introducing creative and talented people and witnessing the brilliance of their interactions. Our first two guest judges are special folks, and I’m fortunate they agreed to join us!

The judges and I will visit each outpost, moving clockwise, with the first outpost to be selected by dice-roll at the kick-off of the event.

Each outpost will have the opportunity for a representative to join the judges and I on voice chat and present their work.

Where’s the outline of the July DS9 and Experimental petitions?

Due to the whirlwind of activity here for the kick-off of the school year, I forgot to delegate creating the petitions outline to Tommy last week. I’ve done so now, and it will be included next week. In the meantime, the VOD is still available here.

Meet-ups and Conventions

I’m making progress coordinating a series of meet-ups in both Ohio and Boston during my October road trip! Announcements to come as I confirm locations and times with the venues.

Confirmed upcoming conventions

2022

2023

Until next time, y’all…

I appreciate our Community Liaison ThatTommyBoii helping me compile this week’s news.

Please feel free to leave your feedback in Joe Hills Meta > #feedback-newsletter!

Keep adventuring!

Newsletter 17 for August 1, 2022

Howdy, y’all!

Joe Hills here, writing as I always do with help from our Community Liaison ThatTommyBoii!

Hot D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e Summer drawing to a close!

The final game in our Hot D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e Summer series will be held Tuesday, August 16th at 2pm US Central time.

It looks like we already have six folks who marked this as their first choice, so we have a full party! Even so, Discord community members who want to listen in may join the voice room muted.

The games we’ve played so far have been really fun and relaxing for me, so I’m hoping to announce dates for the next series of games in the back half of this month.

Let’s roll some dice!

Minecraft Servers

We’ve got a busy August ahead of us!

Experimental server members to work with Toxxic Glitter on new Modded SMP

In consideration of concerns the players on the Experimental 2022 server shared about being able to move to 1.19, I’ve asked our server operator ToxxicGlitter to work with them as creative lead coordinating the launch of his fall SMP concept as a replacement modded server.

Discussions are beginning on that now in Realms and Servers > Modded-1dot19-fall-next. Please jump in if you’re interested in playing there!

Mods currently likely for inclusion include the return of fabric and the lithium suite of performance mods, proximity voice chat, and Toxxic’s own Conductive Copper mod.

I’m excited to see how this collaboration goes!

B’hala build contest judging date: August 27th!

I’ve begun hiring panelists for the B’hala build contest judging, to be held August 27th at 2pm US Central time.

The judges and I will visit each outpost, moving clockwise, with the first outpost to be selected by dice-roll at the kick-off of the event.

Each outpost will have the opportunity for a representative to join the judges and I on voice chat and present their work.

Judge announcements to come!

Vanillish Server Petitions coming soon!

Yirggzmb, our Creative Lead for the Vanillish server is trying to sort out when her work schedule best aligns with the server’s community to plan their first petitions event.

She has pinned a “When is good?” poll in the Realms and Servers > vanillish-general channel that will accept responses until August 4th.

If you play there, please consider filling that out!

Everstorm server changing over August 9th!

No obituaries this week! We’ve got less than ten days left on Leonard Richardon’s Reef II: Reef Harder map!

I’m currently workshopping a pitch with ThatTommyBoii for the next iteration of the Everstorm.

More details on that, when it launches!

August Petitions scheduled

August petitions for Experimental and Deep Slate Nine vanilla SMP are scheduled for Sunday, August 28th, 2022, at 2pm US Central time!

July Petitions VOD now available

Pinball results

Congrats to Forgantly for his win on the Party Zone!

A screenshot of a Pinball FX3 leaderboard with Forgantly in 1st place, NJCoffeeJunkie in 2nd, MisterLantz in 3rd, Parker in 4th,and BadgerSpanner in 5th

This week’s tournament is Theatre of Magic!

I’d like to thank tournament director SamiHiggins for stepping up and bringing back this fun weekly contest for the community.

As Sami has resigned from her staff role over the weekend, I will be resuming responsibility for creating each week’s tournament starting next week.

Thank you again, Sami!

Notable streams and videos of the past week

Dracula chapter six!

Crafts with Cleo: Sci-fi pinball letterforms!

HermitCraft! 2 episodes?!

Meet-ups and Conventions

I’m still in the process of planning a series of Meet-ups during my October road trip! Announcement to come!

Confirmed upcoming conventions

Until next time, y’all…

Thanks again to ThatTommyBoii for help compiling all this and keeping me on track!

This has been Joe Hills from Nashville, Tennessee.

Keep adventuring!

 

Newsletter #16 for July 25th, 2022

Howdy, y’all!

Joe Hills here, writing as I always do from a subspace Bubble somewhere below the Corina Nebula!

This week’s newsletter is pretty jam-packed, so let’s fly right in!

Discord Structure changes for 2022Q4 and beyond

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Patreon Discord community and helped make it an interesting and exciting place!

I’d especially like to recognize the contributions of everyone who has shared thoughts over the last two weeks in #feedback-structure. The proposal under consideration below is vastly different from what I was considering before I received your input, and I’d like to encourage anyone who has more to add after reviewing my thoughts to please share them there before I finalize these plans at the September 17th Quarterly meeting.

Why are drastic changes to the Discord being considered at this time?

I have been overtired and overextended for a long while now.

I have been attempting to make small and incremental changes to my life to improve my energy levels, creativity, and health.

For example, starting the evening streams 30 minutes earlier has genuinely helped me get more rest, and re-allocating my streaming time from Wednesday nights elsewhere in the week has made me feel like I’m on the right track with my YouTube editing and publishing schedule (although I’m still refining the specifics on that one).

I took four sequential real days off work for the first time in years in June, and when I came back to work, I was startled that I was no longer too tired to ignore how tired I was.

The benefits of small things like this cannot be ignored, and I will continue to try to improve my processes in small ways where I can. Even so, they have not been sufficient to allow me to maintain my health and focus.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been too stressed out and distracted to realize I was making easily avoidable mistakes out of exhaustion. The money and time wasted due to those specific mistakes is deeply frustrating to me, and the measurable cost of both has forced me to face that I cannot both maintain my current level of responsibility and make time for the rest I need.

I recognize that if I am too tired to avoid stupid mistakes, I should not be making important and irreversible decisions in response to immediate frustration. The proposal below is open for consideration and comment until mid-September. Whatever is decided at the September 17th Quarterly Meeting will go into effect until the mid-January Quarterly Meeting, at which point I hope to be better rested and we all will have a clearer idea of what did and didn’t work during October, November, and December.

What are the primary objectives of restructuring the Discord?

  1. Allow me to focus on my creative work
  2. Allow my moderation staff to work within the budget I have
  3. Allow me to rest without dreading catching up on moderation actions I will have to review immediately upon my return
  4. Allow the Discord’s channel structure to change and grow in alignment with present-day needs, unburdened by one-off choices I made years ago
  5. Decouple the services I offer from Discord’s vendor lock-in attempts
  6. Re-focus the Discord channel structure around the following three tentpole concepts: interactions with me, gaming together, and individual creativity and expression

What other plans were considered and rejected?

Plan 1: Go full MumboJumbo

I considered following Mumbo’s example and trying to unplug as much as possible for a couple months by emptying my retirement fund and disappearing from the internet. I’d give the moderation staff a budget for the duration, and if they exceeded it, they’d have instructions and permissions to set the Discord to read-only until I returned so I wouldn’t miss payroll.

Plan 2: work harder on things I don’t enjoy to hire a full-time moderator immediately

I considered reducing my YouTube output drastically in favor of taking a tech day job that paid well enough to allow me to hire a full-time staff member to moderate the Discord.

Plan 3: replace the discord entirely with a self-hosted text-only web forums

I considered replacing the Discord with a text-only forum like GameFAQs to both recapture some of the joy of my youth and avoid the need to spend moderation time evaluating edge-cases involving memes or photos. In this scenario, I’d also host a Patreon IRC channel for chat during streams.

Plan 4: Set the Discord to read-only regularly

I considered closing the Discord two days a week. I’ve been thinking a lot about how big businesses clobber mom-and-pop shops the last two years, and like the idea that every business be required to select two adjacent days a week that their employees always know they will have off work.

Plan 5: try to get money some other way to expand my moderation budget

I considered pursuing bank loans, a merch store, and/or sponsorships to try to get through this awkward phase of community growth versus moderation needs, but didn’t have the energy or focus to do any of them right at this time. These ideas may be worth revisiting next year, assuming the following proposal genuinely does help.

The current draft proposal

The new proposal has several complimentary parts, which I have numbered for ease of reference in your feedback:

Part 1: Prune the Discord every two years.

This community Discord has been running continuously for seven years.

For new users, it may be overwhelming to see seven years of one-off channels and random stuff.

It’s kind of a weird map of my mind through a lot of disappointing times, and feels like it is anchoring me in the past in weird ways that I don’t want to burden you with.

Almost every channel was created as an opportunity for me to interact with the community in a new way, but many of them I disengaged from because of discouragement elsewhere in my life. For a lighter example, adding an #interior-decorating channel to post funny kitch in because I thought I’d be house-shopping soon was fun at the time, but is now just another constant reminder that I screwed up by not getting a mortgage before quitting my day job.

I understand that sudden changes to the Discord structure can be disruptive and alarming, and hope that pruning the Discord every two years on a scheduled basis will alleviate most concerns.

The pruning process would be to remove or consolidate as many channels as possible at the beginning of Quarter 4 of even-numbered years, then review the structure at the mid-January Q1 meeting three months later with the expectation that some additions or changes would be made that would largely set the structure for the next 21 months.

The autumnal cuts will be led primarily by my experience and intuition, and the January additions will favor community feedback and experimentation.

Additional channels may still be added at quarterly meetings during those two years as-needed, but I believe a regular large-scale shake-up will help us avoid being structurally beholden to the past.

On a personal level, I believe taking concrete steps to re-focus the Discord’s structure on the future will encourage me to focus on the present and future more than the past, and will genuinely help me focus my energy toward creativity and having fun with y’all.

Draft Pruning Result

Here’s a draft of how I see this working starting in Q3

  1. Activity-sign-ups
  2. All-specific-except-for-general (rename somehow?)
    1. 911-emergency resources
    2. current_events
    3. feels
    4. general
    5. identity
    6. introductions
    7. live_event_chat
    8. small_victories
  3. Consume
    1. Bookclub
    2. HermitCraft
    3. Culture (consolidate music, tv, film, theatre, dance)
  4. Create
    1. All spam channels are kept
    2. work-in-progress
  5. Games
    1. friend-codes
    2. minecraft
    3. pinball
    4. players-wanted
  6. Joe Hills Meta (making these decisions soon)
  7. Realms and servers (keep all)
  8. SMP categories and channels (keep all)
  9. Travel (rename to meet-ups, re-focus on individual event channels)

Part 2: Create and apply a Vacation mode to the Discord

This community has repeatedly told me that I need to take more breaks.

Unfortunately, most of the breaks I’ve tried to take the last few years were too short or too often interrupted by work concerns, such as the r/HermitCraft emergency while I was traveling with my daughter earlier this summer. Publicly, I quickly resigned in protest from r/HermitCraft, but my honorary status as a moderator of that subreddit for all those years left me responsible in private to confer with the other Hermits in defense of my friend.

If I’m responsible for something, I have a hard time disavowing that responsibility just because I’m on break.

I read about an Israeli hosting company that shuts down everyone’s servers before the Sabbath begins and turns them back on when the Sabbath ends. That way, no one is distracted by the worldly responsibilities of their labor during the Sabbath.

I’ve been responsible for servers around the clock since 2008, even without technically being on-call or paid for that responsibility. It has worn me down extensively, as even if something only blows up once every four or five years, when it does, it can absolutely tank a three-day weekend.

I acknowledge that creating and applying a vacation mode for this server is a rather extreme plan, but my fourteen years of personal experience about what allows me to enjoy a restful break or not deeply inform my judgement of how this plan will impact my energy, my focus, and my health.

Draft vacation mode mechanism
  1. Vacation mode would start at least one day before I leave, and end at least one day after I return
  2. Set all channels to read-only except:
    1. #spam-servers-you-operate
    2. Minecraft Server channels
    3. Activity channels for events during that time (like Sami running her Pinball league)
    4. relevant travel channels (like, if we’re in vacation mode because I’m driving through Ohio, New York and Massachusettes, the meet-up channels for each stop would stay open)
    5. #live-event-chat (while streaming)
  3. Any issues that arose on the Minecraft Servers would be dealt with by server operators, and reviewed within a week of my return
  4. Any issues that arose on the activity channels would be the responsibility of the organizing staff member to address, and would be reviewed within a week of my return
  5. Any issues that arose on the travel channels  or #live-event-chat would be addressed by myself, as I’d be monitoring them to coordinate the meet-ups or during the streams

Part 3: Enable only the bare-minimum Discord functionality on a per-channel basis

Discord has a business model of adding new features that make it harder for competitors to keep up.

It me, I’m competitors. If Discord gets bought by Facebook, I need to be able to deploy a self-hosted alternative quickly and with minimum disruption.

Features like threads, text in voice channels, and image posting would all be a headache to broadly support on my own, and I’d be less stressed out with a clear understanding by the community that I do not consider those core functionality of what I offer here.

Obviously, #spam-photos-you-snapped would require image functionality, so we’d maintain that there, but limiting image and video posting to only those channels that require it to serve their purpose should help avoid some of the most common types of misunderstanding that led to moderation action over the last few years.

Having personally grown up using text-only chats and forums, I’m far more confident about my ability to make snap decisions around issues that arise in text, and my ability to train my staff to do the same.

Oh, good, you’re still here, you might be wondering if this is enough to actually help me get back on track, and, uh, this is the part you might be a bit alarmed by.

I need a real break, and not just for a few days.

I have a ten-day road trip planned with my daughter for mid-October, and this is a rare, not-every-year opportunity for us, as she spends most of her breaks with the other side of the family and I usually only have her while she’s in school.

That road trip sounds like a great opportunity to test vacation mode for twelve days. But here’s the thing…

Tennessee Game Days is the last weekend of September, and I have other family obligations and events like Music City Multi-Con and Chicago Pinball Expo every weekend in October that would also justify activating vacation mode.

So basically, if we activate and terminate vacation mode as often as is warranted throughout October, we’d be having a read-only server light switch rave.

I don’t wanna put y’all through that uncertainty about which few days of October the server wouldn’t be in vacation mode, and I personally need to be able to focus on recording and streaming HermitCraft as much as possible during the brief periods I am at my desk that month.

So… what I’m looking at now is putting the server into vacation mode on September 22nd, the day before Fall Tennessee Game Days until after Halloween on November 1st.

I hope to return from this break well-rested and re-invigorated after meeting many of you in person during my travels.

I will not hold it against anyone here if you don’t want to support me via Patreon at the $5 level in October. I understand that taking a break is impossible without sacrificing revenue, but I can’t postpone such a break any longer. If you do leave, I hope you’ll keep an eye on the newsletters and consider returning in November or January as services and structures are restored.

Other concerns raised in #feedback-structure

I asked folks what other info they might need to provide meaningful feedback about the proposals here, and there’s two items that don’t really fit anywhere else in this newsletter I’ll address here in the interest of thoroughness:

Licensing my name

I’ve previously asked that folks not use my name when founding discord communities they promote in #spam-servers-you-operate because I don’t currently have a licensing contract in place to do that in any official capacity and wanted to reserve that right for the future.

If folks are really disappointed by the changes proposed above, but not so mad at me that they don’t want to use my name, I’m willing to consider some sort of licensing terms.

I should be up front with folks that it wouldn’t be worth my time to make licensing agreements about my name with anyone (fan clubs, merch shops, etc.) for less than a minimum of $1500 up front plus a cut of revenue.

I understand that’s not practical in most cases that would arise here, so fan clubs staying unofficial and not using my name while advertising on my server would probably be the easiest course of action.

Recent moderation process failures

I have failed to properly institute processes that are commensurate with revenue and my moderation budget.

A situation arose recently that I initially dismissed and said no action would be taken on.

The situation escalated at a time when I did not have the capacity to review the specifics of the situation, and I expected my staff could deal with it quickly in my absence.

Certain complexities of this specific situation and the escalating nature of it outside the Discord on social media led to much more extensive discussion and deliberation than I had budgeted for.

Some staff members had to excuse themselves due to competing work requirements (I am working toward being able to hire someone full-time to handle things like this, but in the meantime, my staff not being able to focus solely on my work here is on me, not them), and others continued deliberation as new information kept rolling in.

I checked in and discovered that deliberations had continued and asked the staff present to please take some immediate action, as my budget had been blown for the month and I was already extremely stressed out by finances.

I was informed that some members of the staff had not been billing me for such deliberations in the past, and weren’t logging their time now.

This alarmed me greatly, as it meant my budget projections based on previous months staff costs were woefully inaccurate.

As I was not up to speed on the details of the situation under review, I asked again that someone on staff make a decision and communicate with those who had filed tickets.

No one on staff had the confidence to do so given that deliberation was ongoing.

I informed the staff that I couldn’t afford further deliberations, and that if no one was willing to commit to a decision either way, I would inform those who had filed tickets that the staff had informed me no action was being taken at this time.

Later, a staff member returned from their day job, decided that no action was an insufficient response to this situation, and (without further deliberation) acted decisively to ban one of the parties involved. A few days later, I reviewed the specifics of the case and upheld the ban.

The specifics of the case under review are immaterial to the concerns I have about my budget projections.

I cannot run this community safely without assistance, and I cannot expect my staff to want to work for me if they don’t have the budget to do their job well. Streamlining the structure of the server seems the most expedient way to meet in the middle.

Until I can afford that, in addition to the structural changes mentioned above, I’m planning on scheduling a staff meeting next month focused on encouraging folks to make decisions more quickly with confidence that my review process will sort it out when I become available.

August Book Club

One of my goals of my Discord proposal is to enable me to re-focus on one of the reasons I created it in the first place, to connect with y’all about things in a way I couldn’t on a nightly stream chat.

The book club was a huge part of launching this Discord, and the fact that I’ve failed to select and discuss a book each month has been a symptom of the problems I’m trying to address.

My selection for the August book club is the March graphic novel trilogy by John Lewis.

I’ve only had time to read the first of the three myself, but found it an inspiring first-person account of the Civil Rights movement. I hope y’all will enjoy and benefit from reading it too!

The three graphic novels are available individually, or as a boxed set, as well as well as e-book format.

Pinball FX3 weekly challenge with Sami Higgins

Another thing I love about this Discord Community is folks organizing and playing games together. I can’t say enough how encouraging and exciting it has been for Sami to re-launch our weekly pinball contests. Even on weeks I haven’t been able to join personally, I’m glad to see folks having fun together from around the world!

Pinball standing showing MisterLantz in 1st place, forgantly in 2nd place, Parker in 3rd, NJ in 4th, Mr. Hardluck in 5th, Samihiggins in 6th and kindalas in 7th

Deep Slate Nine and Experimental petitions

Petitions will begin on the Experimental Server at 1pm on July 30th, then continue on the Deep Slate Nine server immediately afterward.

Everstorm Obituaries

NJ saw the nether portal sign and it opened up her eyes…but she went in anyway. Mistakes were made—but no regrets were had.

Upcoming HermitCraft 9 Live streams with guests!

  •  Friday, July 29th at 8:30pm US Central Time, MantaDeray will be joining me via phone to discuss an upcoming charity event he’s planning
  • Saturday, July 30th at 8:30pm US Central Time, BadgerSpanner will be joining via phone to reprise her role as Lucy Westenra in Dracula Chapter 6!

Meet-ups and Conventions

I’m in the process of planning a series of Meet-ups during my October road trip! Stay tuned for details!

Upcoming conventions

Until next time y’all…

Thanks so much as always to our community Liaison ThatTommyBoii for help compiling this newsletter.

Thanks again also to everyone who posted thoughts and feedback in #feedback-structure! We have plenty of time between now and September’s quarterly planning meeting, so please share any further thoughts you have after reading the draft proposal above.

This is Joe Hills from Nashville, TN. Keep adventuring!