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A Guide to Open Threads

Discussion in 'Roleplay Resources & Guides' started by Rani, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. Rani

    Rani MODgician
    Plots & Events Division Technical Division

    The Moon

    A Guide to Open Threads

    So, you want to start an open thread. Maybe you’re not sure what to write, or maybe you’ve had bad luck with open threads dying quickly or never getting replied to. While we can’t control when a roleplay partner will reply, we hope that the following guide will give people some helpful advice on how to keep open threads something of interest that people will be more likely to be excited for and invested in.

    Starting an Open Thread

    Starting an open thread can be tricky business. Here are a few tips for starting open threads and give it a better chance of survival.

    Give characters a reason to join. If you want other players to join your open thread, you need to give them something interesting to react to. Some kind of a hook -- ideas on how their character can get involved are helpful as well.
    • Avoid open thread starters that boil down to “John is walking down the street and minding his own business” or “Jack is reading a book and keeping to himself”. These don’t create an interesting scene or invite other characters to interact.
    • Better openers are along the lines of “John is walking down the street, but then he suddenly trips and crashes into a market stall” or “Jack is reading a book, but it suddenly came to life and bit him!” These create action for somebody to respond to.
    Open threads can lead to so many different kinds of scenarios. Things don’t need to be sudden and huge for people to react to either. A character could be hanging up posters, so maybe someone who replies to it is tearing down those same posters, or takes one to ask the thread starter what it’s about.

    The most important thing here is to create an interesting hook to pull others into the thread. When writing an open thread starter, make sure you ask yourself the all important question: “Am I giving characters a reason to join this scene I’m creating?”

    Consider date, time, and location. How accessible is this thread? Is it in the middle of nowhere where a character will need to go way out of their way/comfort zone/daily habits to get access to? Is it in the middle of the night when most characters might be asleep? While out of the way scenes can definitely gather interest, just keep in mind that they also have a much smaller potential audience.

    Joining/Replying to an Open Thread

    So, you found an open thread you want to reply to. Just like with starting an open thread, here are some tips to pushing an open thread towards an ongoing and fun experience for both the thread starter and the replier.

    Add to the scene. When you join a thread, make sure you add to the current scene that has been established by the roleplayer. Don’t have your character be somewhere else entirely and do their own thing, and don’t ignore the content of the first post. The other player posted up this opener for a reason, so react, add to, and build upon the scene that they’ve created. It can be incredibly frustrating to the thread starter if what they wrote goes ignored and the person who replies seems to be somewhere else and doing something else.

    If you want to do a reply like this, where your character is doing their own thing, we recommend that you start your own open thread instead to follow the scenario you have in mind.

    React AND add an action. When replying to a thread, the idea is to add to the scene and push the thread forward. To do this, you want to both react to what the posts above yours did, as well as add your own new action for posts following yours to react to.

    An ideal post will have both a reaction AND an action, or else you risk one person being forced to drag the entire thread forward on their own, which can be frustrating for some.


    Let’s say the thread opener is something along the lines of:

    Amy is cooking a massive feast for the holidays, and oh no, the turkey is in the oven that just started billowing black smoke that’s now filling the kitchen!
    There are a lot of ways the above starter could be replied to. Here are a few examples of potential replies and how they can effect the thread.

    (bad reply) John wrinkled his nose from the smoke coming from the kitchen, but he turned on his heel and headed out. He had Christmas shopping to finish anyway.
    This is a bad reply, because while it did acknowledge the opener, John added nothing to the scene. He instead spun it off into a totally separate and unrelated scene with his own character. This gives the person who started the thread nothing to reply to or build off of unless they want to abandon their starter. In this situation, it would have been best for John to use his reply as an opener for a brand new thread.

    (okay reply) John wrinkled his nose and poked his head into the kitchen. Oh god, there was smoke everywhere! He pressed his hand over his mouth.
    This reply is better than the one above, but still far from ideal. In this reply, John reacted to the starter and joined the scene, but he did not add any action of his own. This forces the other people in the thread to drag the scene on themselves, which can be a little frustrating for some people.

    (good reply) John wrinkled his nose and poked his head into the kitchen. Oh god, there was smoke everywhere! Was there a fire!? He immediately grabbed the fire extinguisher and started spraying it everywhere!
    This is the best reply out of the bunch, because John reacted AND added action. He helped push the thread forward. Now, if each person replies with both a reaction and a new action, this thread will be golden.

    Consider your activity. If you join this thread, can you post in it regularly? Keep in mind that when somebody posts an open thread, they are looking for it to move forward. If you’re only available to post during activity checks, then it’s recommended that you focus on creating your own open threads instead of joining somebody else’s.

    General Tips

    The above tips can be helpful for replying to starting and replying to regular threads as well. They’re not limited only to open threads.

    If you start an open thread, make sure you add it to the Open Threads list. Similarly, if you are looking for an Open Thread to join, check that list.

    And of course, the #1 tip is to just communicate. If you’re ever unsure of what to do or aren’t sure of where the other person wants the thread to do, shoot them a PM or catch them in the cbox. You can always bounce ideas off of each other.
    #1 Rani, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2016
    Scissors, PoP, Crys and 3 others like this.