As the largest and longest-running Sonic the Hedgehog fansite and community on the planet, we're always challenging ourselves to think of new ways to make it exciting and interesting to interact with your fellow Sonic fans. With that in mind, I have been exploring and experimenting with a new feature that I'd like to sort-of beta launch to the SSMB. I call it 'Sonic Clubs'.
The concept of Clubs may sound like nothing new, if you've ever used Facebook Groups or Twitter's new Community feature. For the Sonic community, I want to introduce this functionality in a curated way. While the SSMB Forums will still be the main focus for all community discussion, I do recognise that there are fringe pockets of Sonic fandom that would benefit from a special curated section for themselves.
For example, you can chat to your hearts' content about the latest and your favourite Sonic games in the 'Sonic Games' forum here, but what if you want to discuss Chao raising techniques? There's certainly nothing stopping you from doing that on SSMB's main forums, but many people might see the long list of Sonic Frontiers and character discussion topics and decide that there would be no room for such a niche interest. Similarly, having us open a whole SSMB Forum dedicated to Chao raising may not be a sensible idea from our point of view, given that we simply don't know how big the subculture for this would be in our community.
Sonic Clubs is a way to alleviate that - not to replace the SSMB Forums, but instead act as a supporting pillar of the community that can work alongside the existing Forums. To plug any niche sub-fandom gaps that we might be missing, and to encourage and foster new and friendly sub-communities while we're at it!
How Do I Clubs?
You can find the Sonic Clubs section here:
There are currently four Clubs available to sign up to:
- Classic Sonic Fans
- Modern Sonic Fans
- Raisin' Chao
- Merch Hunters Anonymous
You can also create a Club if you want to, but this will be subject to approval (see below section, 'Creating New Clubs').
What Can I Do In Clubs?
The first two Sonic Clubs (Classic Sonic Fans and Modern Sonic Fans) are basically read-only Clubs for now (this may change in the near future as we experiment with ways to allow Clubs to build their own sub-communities without pulling away from the main SSMB Forums).
The other two Clubs allow for their own discussion Topics to be posted and replied to (once you are successfully registered to those Clubs).
In time, Clubs may add additional features like information pages, dedicated discussion topics and community calendars.
Creating New Clubs
At the moment, only Sonic Community usergroup members can request to create a Sonic Club (users under the 'Newbie' usergroup cannot). Up to two Clubs can be created per user at this time, and Private Clubs cannot be created right now.
Please note that your Club will need to go through an approval process from an SSMB Mod or Admin before it is allowed to go live. Until it is approved, only you will be able to see your new Club. Not all Clubs will be approved at this early stage.
To increase the likelihood of your Club to be approved, make sure you think of a good angle/reason for your Club's existence. It has to exist to encourage friendly and active discussion or collaboration, and it has to be based on a subject that you feel isn't - or cannot - be represented already on the main SSMB Forums. We will also likely not allow duplicate Clubs, or Clubs that offer a space that could be served in another Club.
How Clubs Work
Clubs are run and operated by assigned Club Leaders (and those Leaders can also assign Club Moderators who also have some limited rights within the Club) and can manage their sub-community in a number of ways.
They can create and write a Club Rules page, to uphold how that specific Club wants to operate (please note that any Club's Rules will be in addition to existing Global SSMB Rules/Guidelines - and no Club Rules can overrule Global SSMB Rules. So you won't be able to set up any rules that go against anything we already do not tolerate).
Once a Club is approved by the Global SSMB Moderation team, Club Leaders can also opt to add features such as information pages, calendars or discussion topics.
Club Leaders should use these features wisely and appropriately - Leaders are ultimately responsible for the quality and overall management of their Clubs, and if things get too out of hand, Global Mods/Admins may step in to clean up, deactivate or outright delete your Club.
In order to keep the peace and maintain both the SSMB Global Rules and their own Club Rules, Leaders and Moderators can perform certain actions within their Club. Things like pinning, locking, hiding and deleting content in Club Topics. They can also move content across Clubs, if they also happen to be Leader or Moderator of the target Club.
While Club Leaders (and the Club Moderators that they can assign) will be responsible for what happens within their Club spaces, Global SSMB Mods and Admins will still have full access and view across all activity in the Clubs section.
Above all, we hope the Sonic Clubs section opens up a new way for Sonic the Hedgehog fans to communicate and collaborate with one another. Let us know what you think of the feature in the replies to this topic, and if you have any further feedback on new site features that you'd like to see don't hesitate to post it!
Other Reorg Updates
In somewhat related news, we have also adjusted some of the positioning and naming of our mainline SSMB Forums, as part of our ongoing efforts to adapt the forums and focus on areas where the community is most active.
As a result of this, we have decided to close down the SSMB Market Place forum, and drop support for member-to-member transactions. We opened this special forum way back in 2009, in response to community members wishing to trade (or even sell) items to each other. But in recent years, activity in this forum has dropped significantly and there seems to be no desire to keep it online anymore. I'm also not sure how I feel these days about members agreeing to various transactions on our platform, given the many traps and pitfalls that could happen.
For now, the forum has been closed to all new topics and posts. We will keep it visible for a few days before consigning it to the archive forevermore. However, I personally feel that any merchandise-related discussion can still occur on either the Sonic General forum or in the new Merch Hunters Anonymous club, so please feel free to continue to talk about the latest and greatest bits of tat in those areas.
We will no longer allow member-to-member trading or transactions like the old Market Place forum, though. Please take this off-site if you wish to engage this kind of activity, as we can not manage (nor be held responsible for) any of that.