PE: Seniority, What Does It Mean?

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Astralseed's avatar
Senior Week

Seniority on DeviantArt is that cool thing that gives a user a pretty medal next to their username. Today I'd like to shine a bit of light on what seniority actually means.

Before we dive into all of this though I'd like to start out by quoting FAQ #29: How do I become a Senior Member?

"So what does it take to become a Senior? That's a question many have asked and have never really been able to get a straight answer on. Some have gained Seniority as a thank you for their time spent as a Volunteer, or to recognize their contribution to a particular project or collaborative action. Some have gained Seniority because of their community spirit, providing help and assistance to many other deviants and taking time out to promote the work of others in the community.
Some people have received Seniority because of their artistic endeavour, having a positive influence on their peers by sharing resources, providing constructive criticism and by being a voice that stands out above the many others who deviate to be recognized in the crowd."

Over the years there has been much debate over seniority in general, and within those debates you'll often find many different opinions in regards to what seniority is and/or should be.  With this in mind I asked my watchers for their input, which can be read in full here, and gave them the following questions to answer.  


What do you feel Seniority means on DeviantArt?


Seniority, to me, has always meant that the user has done something to make them stand out in the crowd - be it as an exemplary artist, a community leader/supporter, an educator, or someone who's made contributions to DeviantArt as a network or a company. It's not an end-all be-all status, or a "top of the mountain" sort of achievement. It's more of an accreditation of our efforts by site staff, I guess.


I feel like seniority is a super high honor that takes a lot of work to achieve, it's one of my goals to one day receive that honor but I feel like it would never happen.


I'm not sure, because one one hand I'd like to say its the people who help out with the community and have high quality art, and are generally well liked and respected and deserve a way to commemorate that, but we all know that isn't true. It seems to be a sign of an important voice and opinions that should be listened to, and people that we regular users and supposed to respect. However considering there are quite a few completely rude, hateful, untalented and arrogant seniors, I'm not really sure what we are supposed to think seniority means at all. Maybe its people who the staff like, or people willing to take up for da staff's decisions.  


I think it should mean that the member has demonstrated a love of the community consistently, that they interact with other deviants, and that they consistently try to uplift the other members of the community. I think it means that the member in question has shown that they have a true love for :dalogo:, despite any problems it may have, and would rather work towards an amicable solution in the community than to insult and belittle the staff for their efforts - even when they disagree with them. Because, as seniors, they know that the best way to solve the problems they have with the site is to approach them with the intent to resolve them rather than to approach them with belligerence - anger is rarely effective in swaying someone of an opposite opinion.

As we can see there is some diversity in regards to what people feel Seniority actually means.  It is my belief that the diversity stems from the fact that seniority is granted for so many different things, and that there is a plethora of personalities to be found within the senior members, that it's simply difficult to pinpoint its meaning in any one way.  


Do you expect Seniors on dA to act a certain way? If so, in what way?


I expect seniors to act exactly how they'd act if they weren't seniors. Even if that means not being active in the community or being a voice of dissent rather than support, it just shows how diverse of a group we are! There are over 1400 senior members onsite, and there's no need any of us should be held to a higher standard than a regular user. I didn't sign some new terms of service when I got my seniority. I expect to be disciplined for the same things I would have been discliplined for before. Nothing more, nothing less.


I expect them to be very kind and supportive of everyone, even those who have bad art.


I just expect them to be themselves and not pretend to be nice or be the person they're not. I saw some of them acting too nice that they appear all fake, I feel like they're wearing a mask and hiding their true being. They often say things the way others want to hear. Nobody is obliged to express the way others expect to see. Everyone, no matter which symbol they have, must feel free to express and say the things the way they feel like to.


I used to think seniors might be more polite because of their higher status or at least more helpful for the community but nowadays when I see seniors that I don't personally know I expect some sort of holier than thou attitude and a fare share of deviantart elitism. Seniors come in strong cliques and have a ways about them that gives off a "I'm better than you" attitude. It's easy to get frustrated with people you are, for some reason beyond me, expected to have respect for, when they are arguably notoriously rude and elitist.


I answered part of that above. :D But, I expect them to be willing to stand up for themselves and others, to be willing to listen to both sides of an argument, and to speak their minds in a civil way. (I'm specifically thinking of something I saw over a year ago on a site update where the "senior member" acted with exactly the same level of childishness as everyone else who decided that denigrating the staff was an appropriate response to address something they didn't like about a change.)
I would expect to see a senior member leaving comments not only on the most wonderful works of the site, but also on those which need some improvement from those individuals who shoe potential. Obviously I don't expect that they would waste time on those who just throw up whatever all over the site, but those users who actually share their pieces with the hope of improving their skills and growing as artists.

This is a wonderful example of how different the views in regard to senior expectations can be.  Since there are no real requirements to follow once one has been seniored, placing specific expectations onto them is naturally a bit unfair.  

However, if the community views seniority as a status rather than an award, it only makes sense that the community might have expectations from seniors.  Perhaps something that warrants further thought?


Do you know any Seniors?


I know... a lot of senior members. Probably over a thousand on a username basis, and several hundred on a first-name basis. Some from the founding days of the site, some staff members from across the years, some community types, some artists who just inspired the community enough to get noticed. I also suggest a lot of seniors regularly - everyone should suggest people who should become seniors! It's a great way to show people who inspire you on the large scale that the site appreciates them and what they do.


I do! I KNOW MYSELF, BRO! :giggle: But really, I do know a lot of seniors now that I am one. I did not know a ton of seniors before being made one. Maybe seniors are a little cliquey :noes: Also, the seniors I know are generally the ones who are active on dAmn chats. I don't see many seniors outside of chats.


I do, and the ones I know are amazing deviants. My senior friends are what I think seniority should be, and probably what people new to DA assume seniority is - well liked users that are welcoming to new members, active members of the community, friendly and talented artists. (and no I don't mean "hugboxes", I just mean approachable and easy to talk to) However, I only have gotten to know a small number of seniors, and my closest senior friend I knew before they were even a senior. I like only knowing a few of them because most of them that I've interacted with I'd like to stay away from. The senior friends I have are wonderful - and not an accurate reflection of the senior community as a whole.


Only in passing. I don't know any of them well enough to say, "Hey, I know them!" and I'd definitely never be able to win Lintu47's game. But, I do see them actively about the community, especially in groups that are geared towards promoting community endeavors (dAWishingWell, All-about-features, ArtInOurHeart). This is a two-way street, though. I didn't meet any seniors - or CVs - and I would never have left commentary on a staff member's work - until recently. Seniors, like community volunteers, are here for the :dalove:, so it's a matter of "coming out of the shell" and actually communicating with them. I feel that the reason I didn't know any seniors before wasn't because they were unapproachable, but because I'm a bit of an introvert and didn't make the effort to step out of my box. wink

It is indeed very true that seniors can be cliquey, though that may be because most seniors share the same love for involvement in the community, and as a result see and talk to each other regularly and know each other well.  
Generally speaking, seniors don't usually exclude others for their lack of status on DeviantArt.

Many seniors are quite approachable and don't bite, okay.. maybe a few nibble a little bit.  It's okay to reach out to a senior for help, most of us are happy to help when we can.  Just bear in mind that not all seniors are cute and cuddly (just like any type of user) so it's best to approach those who you see engaging others with positivity.    


 Do you have any other thoughts to add about Seniority on DeviantArt?


Seniority comes with some great perks, and added notability, but it's not something you should use to gauge whether you've been successful or appreciated on DeviantArt. It's a big group of users with a lot of diverse experiences and journeys on the site, and there are no set criteria. Don't make it something you need to have to validate your existence on DA. And don't get too mad if you see inactive seniors. Sometimes we're doing crazy things behind the scenes, and sometimes seniors are gone from the site for reasons that you'd not want them to lose their status over. I wrote an editorial about it a while back - A Senior's Rant - that might be worth a read. I guess the big message is: We're users just like you, at the end of the day.


I think it's an "ok" thing to give out but I don't think it has any meaningful impact on reputation or perception, at least, not as far as I'm concerned - I treat everybody the same (with respect and manners) unless given reason otherwise. Seems fair :shrug:
Maybe you guys should get slightly different coloured comment boxes or something, to make your interactions stand out more than just a symbol by your name? It doesn't seem enough for what you've done and no doubt have endured.


I think it's important for the community to understand what seniority is. I know it's tough because there are no set rules about what one has to do to gain seniority, but nonetheless it's important. Generally, seniors are given the tick/medal because of their contributions to the community as a CV, staff member, artwork, or community spirit. While there are currently no guidelines for seniors on how to behave... I don't think it would hurt for such guidelines to exist. If a senior member has a problem with being approachable then I don't think they deserve the medal. Seniors should be role models and set a good example for other community members to step up and be active, contributing members as well.  


I think the values of seniority are something every deviant should aspire to (leadership, community service, responsibility), but I don't think people should get too worked up about attaining the status.  People should and can be "seniors" even if they don't have a badge next to their name :)

    I think all that needs to be said here has mostly been covered.  DanielleMWilliams makes a particularly important point, that is worth taking to heart if you're striving towards seniority on DeviantArt.  

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Minato-Kushina's avatar
Such a beautiful interview! :heart: :clap: Thank you, Katy and everyone for your thoughts! :hug: I always like to see how people see us Seniors! :giggle:

In my 5 years here, I have not ever met a single rude Senior, to be honest. Lol, I don't know where other people find them! But maybe it's because I almost always stay clear from Complaints forums and dAramas. :XD: Or maybe some people consider some "strict behaviour" to be rudeness? :confused: rvmp 

There are simply some Seniors who don't talk so much to other people. However, they were like this before Seniority, so I suppose it's no wonder that they only keep the same character/approach after a "simple" change of their symbol. :nod: