We've come a long way from the little group of a dozen or so mates that we started out with back in late 2013/early 2014. We've grown beyond anything I think us "oldies" ever expected and now we have discovered that with great population comes great responsibility (or at least great expectations!).
To start with a little history lesson, Agents of the Force started out with a bunch of Star Wars costumers who, while regularly donning their cosplays, attending cons and gaining comments/compliments on the costumes, never managed to get into some of the bigger, stricter Star Wars costuming groups. From this minor setback of never getting in with other groups came Agents of the Force as a change from the rules and restrictions of larger groups. What started as just a bunch of friends soon became a great place for swapping ideas, getting help and advice with cosplays, learning all manner of tips and tricks for making ourselves look awesome, and to ensure we always have some friendly faces to meet up with at cons (and beyond!) for anything from hanging out for a drink to sorting group photo opportunities.
We have now grown so much from such a small core group and it has been amazing! But as new people come in we have started to find it necessary to get a core structure of guidelines in place to avoid any mishaps or misunderstandings as the group expands.
The primary purpose of the group is for the members to stay in touch between conventions and arrange meet ups during cons as well as for fun and social events. We are self promoting via word of mouth as we meet people at conventions. Because of the informal and inclusive nature of our group, and that we do not promote ourselves in other ways other than through personally meeting people, we can hopefully continue using the less hierarchical structure we have.
Additionally, as we are a smaller group that is generally only advertised by word of mouth, we will regularly be setting the group on Facebook as open to the public for up to two weeks around the time of the big conventions. After this period of time the group will be closed again until the next convention. We do this so that as people do learn of us by word of mouth they can more easily find us and ask to join - it's not often we can get people invited/added on the spot otherwise. We are aware that it does also open us up to spambots but with a group of nine admins/moderators I'm sure we're up to the challenge of ousting any that try to infiltrate.
As for the rules and guidelines, it's all pretty basic and is fully outlined below.
Upon joining the Agents of the Force (AOTF) Facebook Group, and its subsidiary platforms, all members automatically agree & MUST adhere to the rules and regulations set out in this document for the safety of everyone.
Respect One Another
First and foremost we are a group of Star Wars fans getting together to network and have fun. We know that not everyone will always agree on everything or have the same views. However, we ask that you extend everyone here the same respect and courtesy that you would want to be given to you. This extends to the person as much as their cosplay.
Many of us are here because we love this magical world of Cosplay. Not everyone has the funds or skills of a movie prop department at their disposal & get by with what they can and improve when able. That does not make their costume any better or worse than something off the shelf, custom made, or pieced together painstakingly over years.
ALWAYS respect that the person in the costume has done the best they could with the time they had available, materials, money, and energy available to them. We do not have "standards" a person has to meet before they can join, & indeed a lot of Agents haven't put together a Star Wars cosplay but, are still welcomed in the group with open arms. We are all geeks who love dressing up, so don't ruin it for someone else, just because you don't like their costume or don't think it is good enough, the aim is to HAVE FUN!! If your current costume does not happen to be Star Wars related, don't fret! We love all genres of cosplaying here. NO costume will be slated, Star Wars or not, and you will always be welcome to join us at our meets and photoshoots.
Linked with the first rule all level of craftsmanship will be accepted & we follow the basic common sense guidelines when it comes to handling someone else's prop. Lightsabers, & indeed any number of other cosplay weapons or items, can be quite pricey to obtain, but also can be easy to accidentally damage.
Be considerate of other people's props by ALWAYS asking permission before touching & ALWAYS handle with care. Just because someone gives you permission to look does not always mean you can run off swinging at anything & anyone. If an accident does happen, do the courteous thing & immediately inform the prop's owner and apologise. Skulking away without a word is rude & will not leave you in good stead when the damage is found out.
Admins are well aware people carrying Lightsabers can feel the urge to challenge others to a duel. This is all well & good, until you realise that it hurts getting hit or someone has just nearly had your eye out with a miss-swing.
As a result Agents of the Force do not condone Lightsaber fights/duels/challenges within the area of AOTF gatherings/meets/photoshoots. Choreographed duels for the purpose of videos being filmed during a photoshoot is the only exception and must be done in a safe area, cleared of people, with permission/acceptance from those participating (the photographer and the duellers) as well as being overseen by an admin or mod. Please Read the AOTF Duelling Disclaimer for further details on this matter.
Meet-ups and Events between Cons
Agents of the Force began as a bunch of friends hanging out and networking with other Star Wars fans - it makes sense that we want to keep hanging out with each other all year round & not just at conventions. This means everyone has a chance to get to know people beyond just an icon on Facebook. Anyone is welcome to try to organise meet-ups with fellow Agents whenever the mood and ability takes them. However, ideally, if you wish to arrange a larger event you may want to speak with the admins & mods regarding organisation and promotion (if suitable).
Please keep in mind we are still very low-key & chilled out & we do not always have the time & ability to officialise every single meet-up & event to ensure everything goes to a standard that will not reflect badly on the group. Therefore, by all means, feel free to collect as many Agents together for a, photoshoots, film opportunity, or just drinks down the pub or at someone's house, etc. Just be aware that the mods & admins of the group may not be able to help with every event & we will not be taking responsibility for your actions & planning unless you wish for us to help & we are able. If the mods & admin team is not involved you can not expect us to shoulder the burden for you if an event does not go to plan – if we're not involved we won't be likely to swoop in & "fix it" for you.
Facebook chat groups associated with Agents of the Force include:
AotF Agents Chat (Official)
AotF SW:TOR - The Red Eclipse
AotF Photography Chat (Official)
These chats are for the benefit of all members who wish to join them, some related to more specific topics that others i.e. AotF SW:TOR - The Red Eclipse chat is more targeted towards members who play Star Wars: The Old Republic, & wish to make plans regarding missions within the game.
Any discussions within these chat groups MUST under no circumstances leave people open to any character assassination of any kind or be defamatory towards potentially upsetting topics. Any members found to have made inappropriate comments about others within the group will be issued a warning regarding their actions. Every member is allowed 3 warnings with the exception of admins which is 2 warnings, and multiple infractions will result in temporary or permanent removal from the chats depending on the severity or reoccurrence of the issues. (Please view Disciplinary Policy regarding the warning system in place)
Other Social Media
Primarily Agents of the Force come together through the use of Facebook (our original and primary home). However, as AOTF has grown over time, we have also branched out to the following form of social media which you are you are welcome to stalk us:
• Twitter (https://twitter.com/agentsotforce)
• Forums (http://www.agentsoftheforce.co.uk/forum)
• YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWDnwt ... CLXAowaATw)
• Star Wars: The Old Republic (http://www.swtor.com/)
• Website (www.agentsoftheforce.co.uk)
If anyone has a video they would like AOTF to include on our YouTube channel, please feel free to PM any mod or admin or contact Ben Lavers who currently runs the channel & page. The same is also the case for AOTF website where we store many of our pictures from AOTF Meets Ups at Comic Cons or general social events.
Additionally, for the gamers of the group who wish to join the guilds & flagships we currently have in place on the Star Wars: The Old Republic; please speak to admins Chris Twamley or Nicole Butters on Facebook for further details or guild invites.
We are always open to suggestions. In time, we could expand to other social mediums if people show enough interest. Feel free to make any suggestions through the use of our forums website as they come to you, the admins & mods can discuss it & set something up if we think enough people might make use of it. This could include new forum boards, additions to the website, things to improve photoshoots & meets at cons and so on. We may not be able to take on board every suggestion, but we are happy to consider anything & get back to you with our decisions & the reasons for it.
In closing, we just wanted to remind you all that each and every one of you got into this group because you started chatting up some random Star Wars cosplayer. Everyone is different and will have different opinions, skills, and levels of costuming. But we also all have one thing in common – we are all fans of Star Wars, whether we show it by costuming, gaming, drawing, writing, photographing or videoing something to do with Star Wars. Treat everyone with respect and enjoy the relaxed and fun atmosphere with us.
(Credit to Nicole Butters for this post from the other forum + Ben Lavers for re-write. Update - Stephen Ludlow.)
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