I've been debating with myself if I should get into this, or even if I should vote. The reason for my stepping down from a staff position I coveted since joining the forum so long ago stemmed almost exclusively from my desire to distance myself from the areas of the forum that I find unpleasant, annoying, or just downright make me angry at times. I still intend on fully doing that, and I plan no longer to take my ideas and thoughts to public discussion as I now feel it's not worth it, and that this place honestly doesn't deserve the amount of time and investment that some people pour into it. But the fact remains that I have, at least in some small part, attempted to make this discussion, at least officially, happen since we came to terms with Ventus after his multiple alt nonsense and finally settled all that crap. It's because of that reason, and because I've observed what this system does for so long, that I'll comment on this and make my vote.
Consider this my final resignation from the going-ons of this forum. Unless something major crops up, I intent to never worry myself with this thread, the suggestions thread, the contestment thread, or anything of that nature ever again. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
I'm sure people like Kitsu can confirm that the Knights in and of themselves were going to be the original extension of the Hylian Hero group, a section that was thought to offer superior posting and insight, with the Nobles being an ambiguous upgrade to them that was later retconned into a Hall of Fame. Even back then, there were just a few problems that were present among the general populace with the group, although I hardly noticed it at all past a few isolated incidents. People were brought in on a monthly basis, usually the most active members of the forum. The led to a sense of harmony, where it seemed like the ones who got the rank were the ones that deserved it - whether or not they truly did, it seemed like the Knights were more than willing to let a large variation of people into their ranks, which quelled the discontent a good amount. I can recall somewhat new members such as NorthApple and Xinnamin getting the nod for the position, among many others. The air of exclusivity wasn't exactly present, which is why when someone DID get "snubbed" repeatedly by the group (I can recall one friend of mine like this, although I won't mention his/her name), it was just a select amount of members that didn't really make a stink about it publicly. It was also rather difficult to get booted from the Knights as well; you had to REALLY screw up, as opposed to where if you coughed in the wrong direction the Nobles would kick you out. Just an interesting tidbit.
All of my issues were, at the time, not about the Knight group at all. My beef and concern was invested in the vague description we had of the Nobles, as the Knights seemed like the logical continuation of the Hylian Heroes. But that's a topic for another day, I guess.
Fast-forward to late last year, and things were already drastically different. The Knight's numbers are a shadow of what they once were, due to the new system that had been introduced. I don't think that system is the root-cause of anything but how the Knights are currently viewed. The moment you stop promoting people is the moment that members start viewing your group as something unobtainable, as something too exclusive for them. This is exacerbated even worse by the fact that it has been an entire YEAR since their last promotion, which goes one step further from what I mentioned above, and just makes the group seem stupid and pointless. There is quite literally no point for a group that fancies itself "role-models" if you don't promote anyone out of a large group of suitable contestants for an entire year. This makes you seem 100% elitist and exclusive no matter what your noble intentions are, and I truly do believe that we wouldn't be having this conversation on this scale right now had the Knights failed to do any time of public action for a year. Having had access to your section for many months, I'm afraid that the Knights have only themselves to blame. Despite record-low numbers, the current group is very capable of electing new members under their old system. A vast, vast majority of the Knights just aren't active, either in participation of discussions or voting. There's probably a grand total of..... five of you that consistently were active in that section, and even then, that's being generous. If you want to do ANYTHING to fix the current problem, you must rally your numbers and be more active. You can have any type of new system you want, but nothing will change that fact.
But that's not even the true reason the Knights are under fire, just the main trigger of it, I feel. The true concern is that the existence of the Knight group is fundamentally bad for the quality of the forum. Look above at the poll results - how many people have grown to be weary of the group due to being "snubbed" by it? I've heard PK Flash and Cassandra both say that they, like many others, desired the rank at some point. They failed to get it due to reasons that may or may not be legitimate, but the problem is there - this group is a breeding ground for discontent, whether people realize it or not. If people try their best to obtain something, trying the absolute best to their ability, and still fail, what's the result? It's contempt for what they failed to get. They start noticing that the Knights aren't truly knights, that they have members that are bitter and spiteful, and that they, in the modern age, do absolutely nothing from an activity standpoint. What can you honestly expect? For people to still admire the group that secretly rejects them behind their back? Again, it really doesn't matter if the Knights have even the purest intentions at heart - with every hierarchical system, envy and jealousy always steeps in, especially from a faction that claims to have a minimal amount of bias. Just the existence of this group fosters this, and, combined with the absurd lack of activity, just puts it in an even worse light.
But even separate from that, you have people just rejecting the notion behind it in the first place. Why do role models need to be laid out in front of us? Why does the voting have to be so secret and exclusive? Does the existence of the group, truly, without a doubt, lead to a better forum for all members? The answer is, currently, no. No it doesn't. When you have people complaining about the lack of activity, complaining about potential bias and corruption, and complaining about the fundamentals of the group in the first place, it's incredibly difficult to conclude that this entire thing is somehow a boon to the website.
I told myself when I came back that I would never accept an offer into the Knights should it come my way, and I stand by that. I also told myself that I would never make a public stink about my desire to abolish the Knights along with the Nobles, as it would be inappropriate of me to be the one to initiate instability among the community, especially with me being a mod. But as the one that has been suggesting this to Mases since I was able to, I have to conclude that I certainly think the Knight rank should be abolished. I was hoping that maybe eventually the Knights would realize that their reputation grows worse with each passing month, and that they would disband themselves. But if the administration believes this should be left up to popular vote, I suppose that it's among the most fair things to do.
I may as well make a statement on the Nobles too, I guess. I share little love for the group, and even less sympathy for the heat it continually gets. But I'm willing to compromise on this, and say that they group can stay as long as its purpose is clearly defined. Attempt to approach this from Mases' point of view - he's seen an incredible amount of people come and go from his vast time with Zelda Dungeon, and, as far as the forum is concerned, the Nobles are his way of making sure they're honored. You and I don't know them, and most of us don't even remember them, but the fact remains that they were vital contributors to the forum at one point. Just because we weren't personally around for it, or just because we didn't experience it, doesn't mean that they're contributions never existed. The Nobles truly are a trophy-room, where Mases makes sure that, at least to him, those people never truly leave the forum and are recognized for what they did. It's an elitist group through and through, but I believe that it is, at the very least, Mases' privilege to continually honor those who are the reason this forum is what it is today. As long as it's clearly defined that this is what it is, nothing more, nothing less, I no longer have a problem with it.
And I'm done. Have fun bickering from here on, I'll be sure to break out the popcorn and sweet tea and watch from a distance whenever "super serious" stuff rears its ugly head again, because you can count me out.