Jump to content

The Problem of Bigness and Littleness and the House System

Mr. Warren

Recommended Posts

While listening to many of the impassioned messages, posts, and topics about the Status Updates, I have noticed a few underlying themes to some of the points. One of the themes has to do with the size of our community. Catholic Harbor is a big place. In just the past week, we had about 360 different members log in.

For some members, CH can feel overwhelming and they don't feel like they have a true home in the huge and popular topics and forums. For members who are more shy, it is just more difficult for them to feel comfortable. Some are drawn more to the Status Updates where they can essentially control the size of their community (like Facebook). It can be as little as themselves alone or perhaps they follow just a few friends  and have been using that whole half conversation thing to communicate. The number of members also seems to make the limited number of chats we have available difficult to follow as there are multiple conversations occurring within the same chat.

Human beings simply weren't designed to be part of such a huge community without smaller groups within that community acting as intermediary groups. Big communities certain come with many benefits though, and this tension is what I call the problem of Littleness and Bigness--the simultaneous desire for a small tight-knit community while being part of a big and diverse community.

This concern has actually been on my mind since the early months of CH when we really started to get big. Until the software update that occurred at the end of November (the one that wiped out our themes but gave us the really cool grid design for the forums), I didn't have a solution. One of the things that changed was the way Invision handles "clubs". I won't get technical at this point, but I can now technically do something I have wanted to do for a long time.



I want to introduce a British school house system to Catholic Harbor. The house system is a long standing tradition in England (some of you might be familiar with the idea from Hogwarts, but be clear, that is not the origin of the system).

We will create 4 students houses. Each of these houses will have its own general discussion forum and chat. Each one will also have a special feature which only the members of that house will have. Houses will also have their own unique focuses, personality traits, patron saints, etc. All of the other communal forums on CH will continue to work exactly the same way, with the exception of the Chats and the SU forums.

Members will get to choose which house they would like to join. Presumably, you would stay there and build more of a tighter-knit friend group, but you will have the freedom to switch houses if it isn't working out well. There will be a new profile field with will display your House allegiance on posts. Houses will have their own crests and colors.

There will be three student leaders appointed in each house to help the moderators. These leaders will approve house transfers, watch over the content posted in their House forums (and yes, they will have some limited moderator powers), and House leaders will help welcome new members and possibly recruit for their House. As such, I will be eliminating the position of Ambassador, and the current Ambassadors will be given House leadership positions. You can only belong to one House at a time, and would have to leave one House in order to join another.



Name: Franciscan House
Patron Saints: St. Francis and St. Clare
Traits: Light-hearted, sanguine, fun, extroverted (might appeal more to young members)
Special Feature: Unlimited Chats

Name: Theresian House (aka Carmelite House)
Patron Saints: St. Theresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux
Traits: Artistic, warm, creative (might appeal more to the young ladies of the Harbor)
Special Feature: Photography Gallery (as a special attribute, House leadership will always be female)

Name: Dominican House
Patron Saints: St. Dominic and St. Thomas Aquinas
Traits: Intellectual, academic, analytical, phlegmatic
Special Feature: Debate Society

Name: Benedictine House
Patron Saints: St. Benedict and St. Scholastica
Traits: Melancholic, introspective, supportive
Special Feature: Personal Journals



I do think there were a few aspects of the Status Update forum that were undesirable. Some of these concerns were brought up in the myriad topics about the forum, so I won't go into everything. I think one of the main issues we had is that our expectations for the forum were not properly communicated because the forum was never a planned thing, and just evolved a little awkwardly on its own after the CHIP. Basically, we are going to rebrand the Status Updates as Personal Journals. I think this idea will better communicate that they are not for cross conversation, but are more like a personal log or diary. I also hope this rebranding will help communicate that spam is not appropriate in the journals. They shouldn't be posting emojis or random memes. They should be for sharing something about yourself. What happened today? How are you feeling? What have you been pondering or thinking about lately, etc.

Aside from the rebranding though, Personal Journals are only going to be available to Benedictine House members. So if you loved your Status Update, you will probably want to join Benedictine House. Likely, the members that used Status Updates the most will end up going there, so if you loved following other members' updates, there is a good chance they will join you in Benedictine House. The Journals will only be visible to other members of the house though. That should really help unite the house members together and form closer friendships. We will be relying on the House Leaders to help monitor the Journals to make sure they are following the guidelines. The current Status Update Forum will remain locked, but will still be visible as a historical record.

I want to give a special thanks to @Solkitty, who made a powerful appeal to keep the status updates in some form. I found her arguments the most convincing, and had it not been for her, they probably would have been gone altogether. I also want to thank @Dais, who suggested the idea of rebranding. It was that suggestion that helped me find a way to keep them in some form with the changes we needed to make. Again, without that piece, they probably would have been gone altogether.



The current chat forum will be retired. It seems clear that our community is so large that one, or even three chats, become incredibly difficult to follow for many (and also very difficult to moderate). I think you will all be surprised how much better chats with smaller groups will be. Here, we have our Alumni, the 5th House of sorts. Though very few in number, the Alumni chat this month actually had more posts than all three student chats combined. That chat feels 100% better than the student chats because it is easier to follow and easier to get to know the people involved. I am hoping that with each House having its own chat for its House members, this division of chats will be a great improvement. Also, if chats are you absolute favorite thing about Catholic Harbor, you want to join Franciscan House. There, you aren't limited to one chat, but house members can start their own chats, as many as you like. Because you can create more there, if you have a small group of friends that you would love to have almost like a group PM with, this could end up being pretty similar. While a chat can't be created with the purpose of excluding other Franciscan House members, because there can be so many, I am sure you can find a little privacy in the quantity (like having many rooms in a house).


Note: We are still working on the changes, so in theory, anything is subject to change until it is released (and even after if we find it isn't working as planned.)

  • Like 108
  • Thanks 5
  • Sad 9
  • Wow! 26
Link to comment

I plan to launch the new House system Sunday afternoon. Moderators will help act as House Leaders until the full slate of House Leaders are chosen in a couple weeks. I will have links to all the Houses at the top of the forums for a couple weeks at least, those will eventually be moved lower. Remember that when you click to join a House, you should not already be a member of another House. The approvals have to be done by a House Leader, so it will not be instantaneous. I will be adding a profile field where you can add which House you belong to.

  • Like 77
  • Thanks 3
  • Sad 2
  • Wow! 3
Link to comment

Given how busy most of the Houses have been, I am going to start making House Leader appointments now over time instead of waiting two weeks. I won't be making separate announcements for each, but you will be able to see who leaders are on the club pages and staff page.

  • Like 33
  • Thanks 1
  • Wow! 2
Link to comment
  • Create New...