History of Charas

From Charas Project

The author of this article has no real idea of what happened back then.
You can help by contributing your memory and wordiness to this article.


(this is a history of the forum, pieced together as best as possible from my own rambling memory and available posts that haven’t been deleted or something. Site history will be on a separate page and likely about 100 times harder to research…)

SaiKar wrote the core of this article. Have pity on his strained memory and add/clarify anything you can think of! Especially in the early days. Check the lingering questions part for specific holes I'm aware of.

Contents

2003

The Beginning

Alex, the MASTER, was around near every day

The forum was established on January 19th, 2003 with this likely as its first post. Alex was (and remains) the webmaster and owner. De KoFfie , also known as Steven Rombauts, and Ralph Rombauts apparently coded the forum script itself. What SMB’s role in everything isn’t entirely clear, but it seems he was a sort of global Moderator and a keeper of the peace.

Apparently the forums were established as support for the Charas Generators and character set creation in general. Most of the original posts are questions about how to use and submit the generators and announcements on new generator features, though even early on there were off topic posts in the All of All.

For roughly a year, Charas stuck to the focus of the generators and RPG Programming. Three resource contests were held to gather resources. Non-RPGMaker talk was light. Moderator positions were relatively unimportant. There was essentially no drama between anyone that can be seen today. Alex frequented the boards most every day, and the generators were upgraded often.

It is an interesting piece of trivia that all languages were welcome on Charas at the beginning, but almost immediately English became the only accepted language. Alex himself conducted all business in English despite being Italian himself, and did this “Because this is an INTERNATIONAL forum!!!!”

Other Events

Other Charas happenings between January 2003 and January 2004

  • These sections are for any significant history that doesn't really fit well above.
  • Everyone is encouraged to add stuff to this part!
  • Probably best to keep them in bulleted format, though they can be a few sentences long.
  • Try to include an external link to a thread if one can be found.

2004

RRWP and the First New Mods

Main Article: RRWP

Enter into paradise in January 2004 RRWP, a somewhat tragic historical figure. Notable for breaking the atmosphere of constant optimism that had been a major part of the forum for nearly a year, he and several older members were at odds due to his criticism. This culminated in a thread called "RRWP vs Gary", after which he deleted all of his posts and vowed to leave the forum forever. Though the opinion of RRWP has changed over the years, he still remains oe of the most referred-to and known forum members.

Other Events

Other Charas happenings between January 2004 and Feburary 29th, 2004

  • These sections are for any significant history that doesn't really fit well above.
  • Everyone is encouraged to add stuff to this part!
  • Probably best to keep them in bulleted format, though they can be a few sentences long.
  • Try to include an external link to a thread if one can be found.

Chaos and the Tightening Fist

Broken out of the “all RPG Maker all the time” mold, the spring and summer of 2004 brought Charas considerable growth, but not all of it entirely good. Spam and personal attacks began to become a major problem and it didn’t take very long for the off-topic aspect of Charas to reach a boiling point. By mid summer most everyone’s nerves began to fry. Even with three All of All moderators (Kijuki Magazaki, Darkfox, and SaiKar) the influx of bad feelings became overwhelming. Even Forum Gaming was full of more spam than usual.

Several moderators such as Kairou and Smokey Locs lost their modship for stupid reasons. The Pop incident, and the first instance of someone being banned, happened around this time. Naysayers declared the end of Charas, as naysayers are wont to do. To quote Sai in the private forum, “It seems like half the topics are spam and the other half are people complaining spam.” Also, a lot of people created joke accounts to confuse and spam with impunity.

Tired of watching Charas slip away down a dark road, Alex made a few adjustments. One of the first was in April and countered smiley overuse by limiting posts to a total of 8 smileys maximum. On July 3rd, 2004 he promoted Darkfox and Kijuki to Global Mods; moderators of all forums, so that they could better watch over the forum as a whole and fight increasing spam. To replace them at All of All, Alex held the first public Moderator Elections for moderators, resulting in Reain and Trevlac winning. A few people, mainly Apex, annoyed the hell out of Trevlac by posting a lot of spam, but it was later revealed to be a test authorized by Alex.

Things didn’t really calm down; it was more like there were enough people watching to lock or delete the spam before too much piled up. Also, Darkfox began doing very odd things with his new powers. He deleted apparently random posts in odd places and edited other posts to make the original poster look stupid. There was a big controversy surrounding deletion of Seth Aechi’s posts, though it’s rather disturbing and best not to go into. Darkfox also started a lot of arguments on the forums he was supposed to be modding. Tired of cleaning up after his messes in All of All, SaiKar retired from that forum on July 23rd, preferring to focus more on Requests and real-life concerns. On the other hand, Trevlac changed his forum profile to female and started hitting on people (including Alex) and also created two fake accounts himself. Needless to say the two didn’t get along very well, and Trevlac and Darkfox fought often in the shadows of the Private forum.

Wahba (who later admitted to being Osmose) spammed the absolute crap out of some forums on August 25th and the “one post per minute” rule was implemented to prevent further such actions. Kairou continued to make vague threats about killing people and got banned September 6th (for publicly posting his password). These were the signs of the times.

And in one was probably record bad timing, Alex announced in mid September 2004 that he wasn’t going to be on the forum much due to his impending marriage. In reality, this was the last time he would be on the forum much at all other than to check in with people. But before taking off to start his new life with his wife, on September 28th he appointed Request mod SaiKar as an Administrator of the forums, a move that would alter how the forums were run forever.

Other Events

Other Charas happenings between Feburary 29th, 2004 and September 28th, 2004.

  • These sections are for any significant history that doesn't really fit well above.
  • Everyone is encouraged to add stuff to this part!
  • Probably best to keep them in bulleted format, though they can be a few sentences long.
  • Try to include an external link to a thread if one can be found.

Life After Alex

Seeing SaiKar's name in admin yellow caused a stir!

It’s not like Alex is dead or anything. In fact he will pop up quite often in the next two years of history, even including the more recent stuff. Today if we really needed to we could probably get him to show up in a day or so. However the promotion of SaiKar as an administrator was effectively the end of Alex’s frequent visits to the forum.

The key here is that none of the staff knew or expected this at all. Alex had mostly been around for the past two years and the staff assumed he’d be back soon. They assumed very wrong. SaiKar received a very fancy title on September 28th but no immediate actual power to back it up. Only after it became more increasingly obvious that Alex was taking more than a honeymoon off did Sai begin to take on some roles that had previously been held by Alex, and these often came with bloody battles between the staff in the Private forum.

Darkfox immediately objected to Sai’s promotion from mere moderator straight to administrator, skipping over the global mod level that he and Kijuki held and bypassing SMB, the “uncle of the forum” and long standing member. This lead to a rather long Darkfox vs. SaiKar feud which, since they both had high positions on the staff, highly crippled the staff’s ability to get along. Ghostclown, a newer moderator, also expressed reluctance to the choice. SMB wanted to protest himself being skipped but eventually realized that his lack of mastery over English would have gotten in the way and consented. Kijuki largely supported the appointment. Most of the other mods didn’t care one way or the other. Even so, the only thing that kept the staff together was largely Alex’s faith in his decision and Sai’s ability, but even so, staff tensions would only grow for the next year and a half without Alex’s presence.

What also didn’t help the situation was that Sai’s appointment didn’t mystically solve a lot of the bad feeling that were going on at the time. The staff was still very concerned about the falling away from days of RPGs and general respect. Carmen, at the time the moderator of the magazine team, asked Alex to make her a global mod because, according to her, SaiKar was doing an awful job (and in fact said such to Sai in the private forum), but Alex refused. A staff already saturated with feuds gained another.

Finally, after some time of bickering, the staff as a whole largely agreed on two points. One, Sai needed the ability to hire, fire, and promote mods while Alex was gone. And two, at Carmen’s suggestion, the mods needed to take a more hardliner approach. Simply asking people to shape up wasn’t working. Shows of force through editing, locking, and deleting posts and topics were necessary. Alex approved all these changes assuming the staff agreed as a whole in the future.

Carmen’s hardliner approach would be a major problem later, but not until 2006. In the fall of 2004 this policy was actually quite necessary to beat some sense into what was becoming an unreadable forum. The staff agreeing on everything would also be a major problem later, but for the time an uneasy truce existed. But enough about the bickering staff for now.

The event that largely ended the unorganized spam and general doom and gloom was, without a doubt, the second All of All moderator elections in mid October 2004.

Main Article: Second Moderator Elections

The elections, which resulted in Red Giant and Carmen becoming the new All of All mods, ended most of the spam on the forums. Generally, everyone was happy around this point - until another event that would redefine Charas.


Other Events

Other Charas happenings between September 28th, 2004 and December 1st, 2004.

  • These sections are for any significant history that doesn't really fit well above.
  • Everyone is encouraged to add stuff to this part!
  • Probably best to keep them in bulleted format, though they can be a few sentences long.
  • Try to include an external link to a thread if one can be found.

2005

The Dark Ages

Main Article: Lord Raffles

A user by the name of Lord Raffles registered around December 2004. Though he was a slight nuisance, he would later grow to become quite the annoying pest, as detailed in the main article.

Other Events

Other Charas happenings between December 1st, 2004 and August 1st, 2005

  • These sections are for any significant history that doesn't really fit well above.
  • Everyone is encouraged to add stuff to this part!
  • Probably best to keep them in bulleted format, though they can be a few sentences long.
  • Try to include an external link to a thread if one can be found.

Oppression and Conspiracy

Despite being banned, Raffles didn’t get the hint. He registered a number of other logins and immediately started doing suspicious stuff on them. The staff, taking Alex’s banning of Raffles as precedent, banned these double accounts as well. A small-scale secret war between the mods and Raffles took place over the next few months. Darkfox and SaiKar, working as a team, became quite adept at finding a suspicious login, IP matching it to Raffles, and banning it sometimes even before its first post. The staff kept this quiet to prevent a witch hunt and return to the more panicked times.

The staff also fired the inactive Red Giant in almost the same manner as they fired Trevlac; they announced attention to remove him, Red returned and said he was sorry, the staff decided it was too late for that and fired him. Also, Ghostclown became a global mod and Warxe and Razor, two well-liked and generally popular guys, joined the staff, the former as RPGMaker Programming and Tutorials mod and the latter got Forum Gaming, and Carmen took over Requests in addition to All of All. Oddly enough, having to be on the constant watch meant the staff was working together better then they had since Sai’s admin appointment.

The rest of the forum was mostly uneasy because of Raffles. Despite the best work of the staff a few Raffles logins spread around word that Raffles was still sneaking onto the site. Charaman, a then-Raffles supporter, also posted messages from Raffles and that added to the tension.

Eventually though Raffles’s attempts to disrupt the site became less potent and people relaxed. And they began to wonder about a few things. Why were the hardliner mods still cracking down so hard on spam? When Raffles was around it was easier to justify, but now that he was gone, it began to look less like security and more like needless squeezing the fun out of things.

Carmen, the most influential mod at the time, went a bit too far

Ghostclown, though a hardliner, stayed mostly under the radar and did a decent job as global mod. Carmen though almost went out of her way to make enemies in blatant shows of moderator force. Osmose, who had hated her essentially since he joined the forum, had a field day pointing out her stranger moves. Midnight, a once popular member that had dropped out for a while before coming back, had one hell of a feud with her that ended with Carmen saying disturbing things like “Don't get in a fight with me, you won't win.”

Carmen made other enemies, but the reason these two people are being mentioned is that they are the best friends of SaiKar on Charas. The private forum had a discussion where Kijuki was trying to call Carmen on the point and Sai jumped in to try to emphasize how bad moderators fighting was getting, but Carmen shrugged it off and accused everyone of ganging up on her. A new resolve began to burn in Sai to gain his control over policy back. At this point Sai was more-or-less resigned to not being able to sway the staff through diplomacy, but the abuses became so blatant that he decided to take a more forceful approach if only the circumstances would present themselves.

Other Events

Other Charas happenings between August 1st 2005 and March 2006

  • These sections are for any significant history that doesn't really fit well above.
  • Everyone is encouraged to add stuff to this part!
  • Probably best to keep them in bulleted format, though they can be a few sentences long.
  • Try to include an external link to a thread if one can be found.

2006

The Charas Judgment

The Charas Judgment itself is one of the smallest pieces of history time-wise, taking place over a few weeks at the end of March 2006 and was essentially the violent reaction to months of built up population annoyance against tight moderator control over the forum. Several relatively unimportant people quickly rose in power while others fell from high in a matter of days and drastically different policies on what would be allowed were put into effect. Depending on which side you supported, it was either a revolution or a mutiny, but it’s hard to argue against the long-term effects it had on how Charas is run today.

For a year Sai had stewed on how to remove the oppressive moderators without getting himself fired without any real good ideas until one landed right in front of him. Razor and Robotam, the community contest moderator (a very minor position) discussed on MSN how bad the lockings were getting and decided to seek help. Robotam approached Sai and asked for some sort of action. Sai decided that the time was right and encouraged Robotam to create a public thread on the All of All forum asking for an investigation. Knowing this would immediately get locked, Sai promised Robotam his admin protection of the thread to prevent people from mucking with it.

Robotam, dissatisfied with Carmen's modding, took action

On March 14th, 2006 Robotam posted the thread bringing attention to the massive number of moderator actions by Carmen and Ghostclown that month alone (70!) including the aforementioned permission from Sai. Carmen and Ghostclown locked it anyway, saying essentially that they didn’t care what Sai said; this sort of moderator criticism was highly inappropriate. Sai showed up, unlocked it, told everyone it was okay to speak their mind, and gave them both a stern warning to the mods not to touch that thread at all until it was done. Carmen and GC edited (and later deleted) their posts and said nothing more. And the fun began!

A whole 12 pages, and the uncharacteristic part is, the vast majority of it is actually civil debate between people with somewhat different viewpoints. Except for MrMister, who was mainly trying to use weird examples to make the whole thing seem stupid. Most of the people that responded found that the lockings and deletions were. Sleepy users that hadn’t been seen much showed up for the event and tossed in their two cents. DragonBlaze is largely credited for making some of the best points, as is Arcanagirl.

Naturally, behind the scenes, there was a lot of shady MSN talk, mostly between conspirators Osmose, Midnight, SaiKar, and probably a few other trusted mods like Razor and FFL. Most everyone supported some sort of revolution? But what? And would word reach Alex and he react harshly? Sai hesitated for a bit, but decided meh, what the hell, and posted the Judgment thread on March 17th.

As far as fire and brimstone on the mods went, it was light. Carmen was removed from All of All mod but kept Requests and GC got off with only a sideways glare. More revolutionary were the policies put down that effectively countered a lot of Carmen and GC’s moderator actions; posts would no longer be edited and topics locked or deleted for “poor reasons”, with poor reasons being most anything that wasn’t illegal in some way. Also that topics that went off topic but stayed civil would be allowed to remain open. The damage to Carmen and GC was done though. Carmen essentially said her peace and gave herself a fair defense, then left immediately. Ghostclown more or less consented to the changes for a few weeks before going AWOL himself. They both resigned in May but played no further part in any Charas events.

If Sai miscalculated anything during the power play, it was how SOLID the forum was behind him on the changes. Though there was understandable nervousness for the future and a bit of regret at how badly Carmen and GC were getting smeared by it, as a whole the forum greatly praised the policies that reduced moderator actions and gave more freedom to the average, non-spammy guy that was just trying to talk on the forum.

Probably the best thing to give validation to the whole deal was when Alex himself showed up and expressed approval to the changes. ALWAYS a huge relief when the boss tells you you’re doing a good job!

Trying to ride on the success of the revolution, on the 25th Sai appointed Robotam, the real instigator of the whole deal, as the new All of All mod. He also snuck in Osmose and Midnight in as General Programming and Test and Welcome mods since those two helped with the whole thing in ways that don’t really show up well in this history, but they helped a lot, darn it. Oh and Warxe got his old jobs back. Sai also said he would appoint another All of All mod after a month had passed, but this decision was forgotten in the absolute chaos of the next month (see below section)

(purely biased aside from SaiKar: at this point I’m supposed to admit I treated them badly and regret the whole thing, since time heals all wounds, or something. Well I’m not going to. My only major regret is that I waited so long and had so many people leave the forum before acting with strength. It’s sort of funny reading about how Carmen was defensive about everyone ganging up on her when all I did was finally stop her from silencing people and let them speak their mind. She said with her last words as a mod how she was just a person with feelings, but didn’t seem to care about the feelings of others when she said their posts were useless topics nobody wanted to read. And there is a junk bin for a freakin reason. And Alex said he didn’t want things locked or deleted unless they were totally unsalvageable. Meh. I don’t want to turn this into a Carmen and GC bash, but I mean, damn. Though, to be fair to Carmen, she among everyone figured out that I had essentially planned the whole event to fire her. Which was true and it worked brilliantly.)

And so the conspirators won the day, and there was general dancing in the streets, and things eventually calmed down a bit while the staff tried to put some of their speeches into policy. But they would only get just over two weeks before the largest outside attack in Charas’s history would threaten to destroy it all.

Other Charas happenings during March 2006

Troll Invasion and Sanctuary Fortress

The Troll Invasion was a coordinated attack on Charas’s forums; the only one the forum has ever seen. It was one of our lowest moments as Charas had to face a situation that they really had no plan for.

As many online veterans know, attacking people and forums online is partially an exercise in futility. Honestly, there is only so much you can do. Saying “I stab you in the face!” won’t make you many friends and sure won’t be taken seriously. On the other hand, using hacking methods to disrupt or delete online files can bring real legal consequences and is generally suicidal to even talk seriously about. And so forum wars are largely a joke.

However, there is one way to attack a forum that doesn’t break the law but still does damage. Forums are run by people, and people enjoy certain aspects of talking online: comfort, security, freedom, and a general lack of worry. It is possible to disrupt these things and cause the forum’s inhabitants a good deal of stress. This was the sort of assault Charas faced in April 2006.

On April 9, 2006 an oddball group of weirdos began to trickle in. A mother concerned about violence in video games, an anti-environmentalist, a bible thumper, and others. Oh those trolls! Always so original with their personas! Immediately the anti-Raffles warning lights went off and all the logins were IP traced. One matched and was banned, but the others, for lack of serious evidence against them, were left alone for a while. But something definitely seemed wrong.

A day later it was clear that they had no intentions of playing nice. All of the threads they created were obviously designed to stir up opinions on controversial topics. One by one they were all banned until only Omega Weapon (the least offensive of the group) was left. Problem was, more accounts were created the following two mornings. These too were given a chance to prove that they weren’t trolls, these too failed, and they were banned as well. By now most everyone on Charas knew that there was some sort of massive troll invasion taking place. Once again complaints about how unfun Charas was began to surface and people drift away from the site.

On April 11th, while experimenting with forum security late at night, Sai created Sanctuary Fortress, a semi-secret forum that required 800 posts to view. The following day many Charites discovered Sanctuary and its purpose and began to discuss plans to thrart the invaders. These varied from diplomatic solutions of talking to the trolls to shutting down the forums to an outright attack, but in the end everyone agreed to wait longer. More practically, Charaman, a previous Raffles-supporter, redeemed himself and threw his lot in with the mod staff to reveal Troll Kingdom as the source of the invaders with, of course, Lord Raffles as its protagonist. The staff began to watch TKs forums while TK remained ignorant that they had been discovered. Many trolls revealed their troll login names on their forums and these names were banned from Charas often before a single post. This greatly increased the defense of the forum but the energy drain of having to be constantly on the ball to ban the next troll took its toll on the staff and they began to search for a permanent solution.

The next day yet more troll logins were banned: the total of which was nearing 15. Sanctuary continued to debate the invasion but reached no reasonable conclusions. The most popular ideas involved shutting down easy resignation, but after researching TK lead the staff to ExIsle, a forum that TK had also trolled that was now a barren inactive shell, Sai vowed to never restrict registration. Still, something needed to be done. Realizing it was only a matter of time before their vigilance gave out, the staff talked with Alex and Trevlac about forum security, a discussion that lead to the implementation of an IP ban feature that, while useful against certain people like Raffles, didn’t exactly provide much defense against multiple invaders.

The staff plotted to use undercover operatives in TK to undermine the attack, but before any serious plans were made up a TKer named CHARAS UNITED posted a “victory” thread that had a link to TK itself. With all hope of subtlety out the window, on April 13th SaiKar authorized what he judged the least awful of all the awful plans: the invasion of TKs forums. A dozen or so Charas members spammed up TK. Some tried to debate, some flung insults, some just posted really long portions of random text. The TK response was more amused than anything else and everyone waited for the inevitable counterattack.

Said counterattack never happened. A few TK members registered on Charas but didn’t troll and eventually lost interest. Likewise a few Charas members stayed over at TK but themselves got bored. A bunch of strippers (of all things…) joined TK and the trolls mostly forgot about us. What seemed to be an uneasy peace began between the sites. The staff declared victory.

Yet, in the days that followed, no such peace could be said to take place within Sanctuary and on Charas in general though. Despite inexplicitly ending the invasion, many people were outraged at the lows Charas had sunk to get the job done. Osmose, frustrated by both his lack of duties as a mod and lack of voice on the staff, resigned in protest. Many people loudly proclaimed everyone else was acting childish or blowing it all out of proportion. Several members loudly declared that they were no longer participating in Sanctuary and were leaving Charas for a time. Facing increasing opposition, SaiKar, the only active admin with banning powers, also left for several days between the 18th and 23rd. SaintLucifer, a troll from TK that had gotten himself banned, apparently caught wind of Charas and trolled the forums most of the time Sai was away as the single unbanned troll remaining.

SaiKar returned to on the 23rd and revealed he wanted to take some time off to see of the forum could handle itself. No words can describe the hostility that met him. SaintLucifer himself was quickly dispatched but the anger lasted nearly a week. Arcanagirl posted a big thread in the All of All about what a bad job the staff (specifically Sai) was doing. In Sanctuary, many users, the most vocal of which was DragonBlaze, declared that Sai’s actions were totally unacceptable. Charaman and Midnight supported their friend, if not all his actions, in his dark hour, but basically everyone else was firmly upset.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Taking action made Sai enemies. Not taking action made Sai enemies. Most everyone wanted Sai to stay as an admin but definitely didn’t want him to do essentially anything he did during the entire Troll Invasion ever again. Sai began to wonder if all the time he was spending on Charas was worth it if he had so little support and announced his resignation, which sobered the hostility a little, but not much.

Finally, on April 29th, Sai announced that Kijuki was going to be promoted to administrator as his replacement. Sai himself stayed an administrator but with greatly reduced activity for some time and only a few token appearances. And on May 2nd, Sai made the following speech in Sanctuary.

quote:
Originally posted by SaiKar

Sanctuary Fortress will be closed soon. I'll make it a forum invisible to all but admins and there will be no activity here.

The trolls have been repelled through a combination of good strategy, bad ideas, and dumb luck. Though far too often the real enemies are ourselves and our inabilities to listen or compromise or admit we're wrong. No no, don't feel guilty. I'm just sayin'.

This forum will shut down officially some time tomorrow. Copy any threads you want for blackmail purposes soon. Some day, maybe, the fortress will arise again.


And so the Troll Invasion ended. Perhaps ironically, the trolls did far less damage to Charas than the Charites did to themselves. Though eventually most people got over it and resumed business as normal, trying to forget the chaos of March and April as best they could, with Kijuki mostly handling site affairs.

Other Charas happenings during April 2006=

Lingering Questions (and other sections)

  • Does anyone really remember Pop and Kairou and the whole conspiracy there? I think I missed that entirely.
  • Why do I need some cheese?
  • Didn't Asakura Hao have something going on? Something to do with Kairou, and he and Charaman agreeing with Raffles, setting the whole forum off at them or something?
  • Anyone have logs of all the MSN chats from spring 2006? I know some important stuff was decided there.

Sources

This section will get integrated into the history eventually.

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