If your new HOL Account was deleted...

...then you most probably did not follow the naming rules. I will repeat them for you all now:

All HOL'ers from last year do not have to sign-up again. Your HOL-name must be firstname - lastname (eg. John Doe), not some one-word nicks or some nonsense as "Hermione43" or "OhMyMalfoy" - it must be a name. Offensive names are not allowed. All Harry Potter character names are not allowed in HOL - no "Oliver Wood" or "Ron Weasley". Invalid names for HOL are also: any impersonation of a celebrity (Brad Pitt, Britney Spears, George Bush, Katie Couric), a name of a well-known fictional character (Artemis Fowl, John Locke, Rory Gilmore, Bruce Wayne).

Ergo we had to delete some new student files today, incl. Esme Cullen and Scorpious Malfoy. You can find the complete list of rejected accounts here.





Signing up for the Hufflepuff Common Room!

Greetings new Badgers (those would be new Hufflepuffs). The Hufflepuff staff is working hard on getting a message out to each and every new member of HOL. For now, however, I’d like to greet you here and give you a bit of information that’s important for you to know!

While it is not mandatory that you come to The Sett (http://thebadgersett.us/forum/) which is what a Badger calls his home and we like to call the Hufflepuff Common Room), you might find it fun to meet your fellow Badgers and participate in some of the activities that we have there.

If you have any questions, please contact a Hufflepuff Prefect (*points below*)

(Everyone at the Sett has their own personal Prefect for any questions or problems that they might have. Everyone is sorted alphahuff-like and it goes by your FIRST name.)

Prefect Narcissa Heart - A - B
Deputy Head of House Felicia Hartwick - C - D
Post Graduate Anne Damhsoir - E - J
Prefect Tarma Black - K - L
Prefect Rorey Padfoot - M - P
Prefect Askeron Kyle - R - S
Prefect Mopsy Prewett - T - Z
(If you meet a Badger who forgot who their own Prefect is, you can refer him or her to that list so they remember!)

Welcome to HOL and Hufflepuff! We look forward to getting to know each and every one of you!

Sincerely,

Prof. Anya Chutney
Head of House, Hufflepuff
Deputy Headmistress HOL





N.E.W.T.'s Close Tomorrow

Now that almost everybody has taken their N.E.W.T.'s we will close the exams tomorrow. The only two candidates missing are Venefica vom Lehn of Hufflepuff and Mirabella Nevlome of Gryffindor. I heard rumours that they are both currently hunting dragons in Mongolia, but should they come back from this before September they can contact the Head Office for an individual N.E.W.T. appointment.

N.E.W.T. results, House Cup Winner and Graduation should be announced on Thursday, unless something unexpected is coming up.





New General Chat Room: #hol

The official general IRC channel for all-HOL chat has been changed to #hol now. All the links will now point to this room instead of old #hpgalleries, which is no longer an official channel for HOL.

Thanks to everyone who joined and participated in our IRC meeting last night. Great turn out, 3 1/2 hours... but we have accomplished a lot in this meeting.

The Chat Ops Committee has been elected (details on the HOL Contacts page) and the chat rules and guidelines have been discussed thoroughly. There is now a link from the main page to the partly revised HOL Chat rules and guidelines, please have a look at this page.

If you are very interested in every detail that has been discussed last night -- you will find the complete meeting log at the end of that new page.





New Library Project / Memories

Believe it or not, it’s been SEVEN years since HOL has first formed. Students and professors have come and gone. Various contests, events, games, competitions, and stories that can be told around a circle have taken place. The big question is: What do YOU remember the most about your time at HOL?

Click here and share with us





Welcome New Students

Welcome to HOL!

If you have just joined please sign-up for the HOL Forum and additionally for your Common Room. Click on the Houses tab in the menu and follow the links to your house and common room.

Important pages for you to check are the HOL Handbook and the Timetable where you can find important dates like Start of Term and Class Sign-Ups. Please read those pages before you ask around in the forums, most questions will be answered in the handbook especially.

We are now in summer holidays, that means you can not win points for your house because the HOL House Cup is based on the school year and we are all in the well-deserved summer break now. However, there will be open contests in the Library and Art Department during the summer and you will also be able to post your personal Getting Into Harry Potter Story and HOL Trading Card as soon as the 2007/08 school year has been properly closed (takes 1-2 weeks from now).

You are very welcome to join us all in the HOL Chatrooms to get to know your new school mates. You can access the HOL Chat via the form here on the main page or - recommended - by using your own IRC client like MIRC (there is a section in the handbook explaining how that all works).

I hope you enjoy the HOL experience and will stick around until 2015 when you will hopefully graduate the school. Sounds far away right? Keep in mind we do currently graduate our first Seventh Years and they are all on HOL since Summer 2001.

See you on the HOL grounds soon.





HOL Chatroom Meeting - Sunday 9pm HOL Time

On IRC in #titan - everyone is invited, encouraged to come. If you decide to join the meeting please be constructive at all times. Student sign-up will begin tomorrow and I do not want the same problems to occur that I've been told from many people during the previous sign-up periods.

Topics:
1. changing of the official HOL Chatroom to #hol
2. behaviour in chatrooms
3. language in chatrooms
4. channel operators
5. COPPA, privacy and child protection

The following is up for discussion, please read this before joining the meeting tomorrow.

1. The official chat room should change to #hol. The current #hpgalleries is a relic from 2000 and hpgalleries.com does not exist anymore for about five years. It is not clear especially for newbies that #hpgalleries is THE official HOL channel.

2. Everyone should feel welcome in the chatroom. That includes people who are from non-English speaking countries, people who are used to hanging out on MySpace or Neopets, people who are a bit different or who happen to express themselves differently than the majority, people who just want to have some fun. Channel ops should only interfere if there is a reason to do so, they are encouraged not to actively police the channel and hunt down offenders - that makes everyone feel unwelcome and uncomfortable and it is not necessary.

HOL has the "green light" from the Family Online Safety Institute (click on the ICRA link at the bottom of each HOL page), which is important because it is used for most parental control settings. If we have a green light we are accessible as a child-friendly, child-safe environment.

The label requires:
* No nudity
* No sexual material
* No violence
* Mild expletives
* No potentially harmful activities
* User-generated content such as chat rooms and message boards (moderated)
* This material appears in an educational context

I will break that down for everyone now.

No nudity means there are no pictures of naked people posted anywhere on HOL. This is what this is about. It does not mean that the fact that there is naked skin somewhere under the clothes is a subject that is forbidden to talk about. It is not offensive to talk about nakedness when it is not in a sexual context, ever.

No sexual material means pornography, sexually explicit texts or talk, discussing sexual acts etc. - it does not mean that talking about romantic relationships, kissing, love, feeling attracted to people and so on is a taboo subject anywhere on HOL. In fact, these are integral and important parts of the Harry Potter books and films, and rightly so because romantic feelings are nothing that is restricted to adults or older teenagers as most of you will probably know by experience. People need to be able to talk about what matters most to them, also in HOL channels, as long as it is not vulgar, sexually explicit or similar.

Also, the Harry Potter books and especially also HOL is all about tolerance. This is very, very important to me. I frankly do not care if anyone believes that homosexuality or the words "gay" or "lesbian" are offensive in any way - they are not in the Harry Potter universe (Dumbledore even) and they are not in HOL. We have to be tolerant here and we have to actively express that.

No violence should be pretty self-explanatory but let me try to briefly get into this as well. People who believe "The Simpsons" or "Tom and Jerry" are not suitable for children because they are "too violent" do not share the approach HOL is taking. We are not a site for first graders and we should not act like we were. If we go with standard movie ratings we will find huge gaps (Simpsons go from age 6 to age 16 for example), so this does not work and it doesn't apply here anyway as we do not show movies on HOL. What applies is common sense: violence that is directly potentially harmful for people in the room or forum - explicit imagery, videos, threatening language, bullying - is forbidden. Mentioning a book or movie that is the current box office star but might not be PG rated is certainly not forbidden.

Occasional uses of mild expletives are allowed on HOL. They have always been and they will always be. This is how people, especially maybe teenagers, do communicate - in a not always polite way - and this is perfectly fine. Nobody has a problem with that anywhere on the internet. There are a myriad of phrases that are used in casual spoken language that might fall under "might expletives" but the vast majority of people do not even think about feeling offended by these. "This movie sucks" is a mild expletive, also if you just check out Ron Weasley's language in the Harry Potter movies you find him saying "bloody hell" over and over again. There is also "bitch", "bastard", "arse" and other words in the HP books which are mild expletives.

Using mild expletives in normal chat is certainly not encouraged, but it is forbidden only if people use this to stir trouble or to provoke and disturb the harmony of the chatroom. And it is certainly not forbidden to directly quote from the HP books, whether in a signature or in an IRC quit message.

3. The official language in HOL is English. This means all discussions should be held in English because having a private chat in German or Spanish in the official channel is just rude to all of those who can not follow this language - take it P2P or a private room when not in English. It does not mean that the use of non-English words or phrases is in any way forbidden, and certainly no channel op should ever reprimand a user for saying the most obvious terms in a language other than English. Examples would be "merci", "hola", "auf wiedersehen", and the like. It is also perfectly fine if a non-native speaker who does not know the correct term for something is trying to express himself in his native tongue for having someone help him out. The language rule is not anything that should result in lecturing or reprimanding a user unless there is a whole conversation between 2 or more people held in the public channel.

4. Channel Operators. Reorganisation of the "Channel Ops Committee" if necessary. Does everyone feel represented? Should Channel Ops be active members of HOL? I do currently not know enough about this to make further statements.

5. The single most important thing for ops to take care of is protecting the identity of minors. HOL does not store any personally identifiable data on its servers so we do not know for sure who actually is older than 18 and who is not - therefore these rules do apply to everyone in all areas of HOL: chatrooms, forums, profiles... -- Do not share any personal information -- your name, phone number, address, name of school.

HOL is not responsible for what everyone is doing outside of these areas (MySpace, Facebook, Instant Messengers etc etc) but we do not want anyone to reveal their real life identity in public areas like chat or forum. We have never had problems with this and we do not want to have any ever in the future. Your real name combined with the name of your school is already enough to find out everything about you. Same for street address and phone numbers. We all use HOL Identities and the only thing that currently connects your HOL Identity to real life is your email address. But I am planning to remove access to the email address anywhere on the site if possible - we do have HOL Messages now which are internal only and 100% safe.

This is important as it is the basic line of defense against anyone who might want to intrude the privacy of minors, even for completely harmless intentions nobody should be put into a situation where their identity is revealed to a third party without their consent.

Current HOL IRC Guidelines

1. Use your a variant of your HOL name as your only nickname when you first begin chatting. Offer it freely when asked by the channel operators.
2. English is the official language of the HOL chats.
3. Netspeak is not tolerated.
4. Spam is not tolerated.
5. Do not share any personal information--your name, phone number, address, school or town. Countries and states are fine.
6. The HOL chatrooms also include members in the 9-12 age group--keep your content tasteful and appropriate.
7. Links must be approved by a channel operator before they are shared. Do not advertise private channels in public chats.
8. Spoilers should be kept out of the chatrooms--we will let you know when the ban on spoilers is lifted.


Channel Ops need to know who you are because this is an official channel where you can even win (in theory) or lose points for your house. It is always a good idea to use (a variant) of your HOL identity in chat unless you are that established that everyone knows who you are anyway.

Netspeak and SPAM are not tolerated, but please everybody keep in mind that this guideline was made to secure a fluent conversation, if possible on-topic. This is the ideal case, and all of you know that a chatroom is usually different and conversations come and go and resume or end abruptly. These guidelines are not meant to instantly correct every single use of netspeak or abbreviations. Especially new people who just joined HOL might be used to a different way of expressing themselves and even if they make all the effort the occasional "ur" might slip and this is not a problem at all. If "we" lecture them each and every time they use chatspeak in the channel, they will most likely just go away because they feel unwelcome.

In Guideline #6, the use of the words "tasteful and appropriate" makes this highly subjective which is not what we want. I have explained earlier in this post what appropriate language and what inappropriate (or not tasteful) topics are in the official chatroom - and this is what we should stick to instead of having every op personally decide what is "tasteful and appropriate." Because, let's face it, you ask any two people what this is and you get two different answers, how can a student act accordingly without feeling like walking on raw eggs most of the time.

The Guideline for Links is something I personally do not agree with but I see its merits. However, I will propose that all HOL staff, professors, head students and prefects are exempt from having to run to a channel op to get their link approved. This seems to be vastly overdone as we trust everyone with a position in HOL with running the house, classes, their prefect group etc. but we still believe it's possible they would publicly link in chat to inappropriate websites?

Another issue that I want to address is "forbidden subjects" in HOL - where there seems to be a huge misunderstanding from what I can see. HOL is an entertainment site, it is an online school, it is an international community of many different languages, cultures, religions, political systems and colours. I mentioned before that the first and foremost principle is tolerance which is why it's being said you should not hold discussions about religion, race, politics in HOL. Those tend to get beyond controversial very quickly as they might hurt the other side's innermost beliefs, intentionally or not.

But tolerance also means "freedom of speech" and "freedom of expression" - two very important principles that are both present in the HP books and in HOL. You can talk about anything if you do that in a tolerant (not missionary, not derogatory) way. It's not forbidden to state that you are a born again Christian or support Obama or that you are Jewish or divorced or gay or whatever, really... it just matters if you discredit other people's beliefs or if you do act missionary, intolerant or even racist. We can not turn into a bannable offense what is perfectly normal anywhere in communication but we will ensure that no members of HOL are discredited for their sexual orientation, religion, political belief or race.

Thank you for reading all this.

We will discuss all these matters tomorrow at 9pm HOL-Time (London Time, or 4pm New York, or 10pm Paris) in the IRC Meeting. Everyone is welcome to join the meeting and to make sure you know what we are talking about you should have read this post - but if you made it that far you will most likely have read it.





New HOL House Logos

The recent (and successful) Art Department contest to create new house logos for HOL has been voted on, the winners have been determined, and their work has been put forward for all to see.

Three cheers are in order for Cosmo Brown, whose shields you can now see on the individual house pages, as well as profile pages. These are now the official house logos of HOL; use them with abandon! Also deserving a hearty congratulations is Pezzie Wolfe, whose charming emblems can now be seen as the house avatars.

There was a lot of good work in the contest, and we hope to see even more in the future, as the Art Department heads towards its first fully-functioning year.





Missing Quills and Closing Classes

This is a reminder that the term is ending and that all classes have to be closed by Saturday. So if you are running a class, whether as student teacher or professor, then please set all current class members to either "graduated" or "not graduated" and when there are no more members in your class office then you can see the close this class (LOCK) button - push it :)

If you set a student to "graduated" you have to award them one quill. To avoid mistakes it is recommended to first award the quills and then to graduate your students. I found several missing quills from the autumn term and awarded them now so everyone has the corrent number of quills when it comes to advancing to the next HOL year.

26 missing Quills for Dreamology 101 (604)
1 missing Quill for Magical Charms and Talismans (601)
1 missing Quill for Magical Musicology (631)
1 missing Quill for Mexican Mythology (576)
1 missing Quill for Traditional Home and Folks Remedies (635)
1 missing Quill for Wands Workshop (577)

All classes that have not been closed by Saturday will be closed by the Headoffice on Sunday. Graduation will not happen before all missing quills have been properly awarded, so no worries if you have one missing at the moment.





Some Interesting Facts

I was curious how HOL is doing in the huge new world of Web 2.0, so a few weeks ago I installed a fancy new analytics program and tonight it popped up again from the deep dark dungeons of my brain. It looks pretty good over all, since we launched HOL 4.0 we steadily got more visits - so people seem to like it.

I checked where all these new people were coming from and what I found was quite interesting (and surprising). So I thought I'd share that with everyone and return the favour by backlinking to those sites who sent us the most visitors.

Number one is Wikipedia. We are listed on the Hogwarts page which is nice. But of course we deserve to be listed there after more than seven years.

Number two is Winzi.com, a site I have never heard of before but I can't know everything, heh. It's nice that we are the #1 match of 5,980 for Virtual Hogwarts and I don't mind that the Warner Bros. site is second place.

And the honourable mention goes to the Gryffindor Gazette where we apparently won the "site of the week award" some two years ago. Not that I remember having been told about that award but thanks nonetheless.

This Sunday the Admission Office will open again for new students, so all of you who come here for the first time from these or other references can join the HOL fun in just four more days.



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