Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/faq/social-houses.html
How do you find a House or other Group to join?
Firstdecide what philosophical or faith-based path you wish to follow, whether it's from a "church", "house" or some other organization or group, you have to decide what works best for you. (For the rest of this article, I will use the term "group" to refer to any of the above types of organizations.)
SecondAsk around - ask vampires that you know, on or off-line, or vampire-friendly establishments. Run a web search if you need to. Most groups are fairly well advertised in the online vampiric community either in a post about the group, or in the profile of a group's member or representative.
Some questions you need to ask at this stage are:
- What is the Path/Philosophy they follow? Does it mesh with yours?
- What are the requirements for joining?
- What is the most common age range? Are there age limits/minimums?
- Are they primarily Psivamps? Bloodvamps? Or doesn't it matter to them?
- If you are not in that group's area, do they accept non-local members?
How do you approach the House?
If the group is online, check out their website, see if they have any membership information and requirements. (Most websites will have a link of this nature, even if it's just to a page that says "Sorry, we're not accepting any new applicants at this time.") Read the requirements before applying for membership - if they expect a lot of in-person attendance at events and meetings, and you're several states away, then it's probably not a good match.
Read the application carefully. Are you comfortable with the level of personally identifying information it asks, such as a photocopy of your driver's license or state ID, your real name, off-line contact information for you and possibly your spouse/partner/live-in? Or perhaps they want even more detail such as where you work? A request for proof of age IS reasonable, but how much information do they want besides that, and how much are you willing to give out?
If/when your application gets a positive response, then you can start investigating the group more thoroughly.
What questions should you ask when interviewing a House?
Essentially, anything you can think of to ensure that the group is the right one for you. Ask questions on various issues to get an idea of their philosophy towards fellow vamps and towards non-vamps of all types.
You need to interview the group as much as the group needs to interview you to determine whether you fit in.
Some questions you should be asking are:
- How is their hierarchy arranged? Is there room for promotion/advancement? If so, how?
- How often are meetings - is attendance expected? If so, how often?
- Are attendance requirements enforced? Why or why not?
- How active are the elders outside of the house and in the community? What do they do?
- How busy are the elders?
- Are all more experienced members approachable for questions by new members?
- How formal is the group - is specific etiquette required at all times or is it fairly easygoing?
- What other groups is this group affiliated with, if any?
- What are the group's stated goal(s)?
- What group(s) or individual(s) don't like this group? Why?
- What group(s) or individual(s) does this group not like? Why?
How can you tell if it's going to be a good House?
Talk to present AND past members of the group. Get their opinions on the group. If ex-members would not rejoin the group if given the opportunity, ask why - it may be a simple personality or path/philosophy conflict, or it may be something more serious.
Just because a group seems to be in "good standing" reputation in other places does not mean that's always the case - some things can be hidden under the "surface" of what outsiders see, and are only known by people who've been in the group and seen it for themselves.
If you are local, ask to meet group members at events and talk to them. Observe how they interact with other members of the house. Find out whether these events are official events (and thus, how formal) or unofficial "get togethers" that happen for whatever reason.
Some questions you should be asking are:
- How much drama is there?
- How close knit are the members?
- How many current members?
- Has the member number been growing or decreasing? If it's been decreasing, why?
- How are lower-ranking members (if any) treated within the group and at group events?
- How are non-vamps treated?
- How much respect is considered OWED to the elder(s) versus respect freely given?
- How rigid, structured or loose are the groups policies?
- How rigid, structured or loose is the social structure?
- How relaxed or formal is the interaction between members?
Also use the Isaac Bonewitz Cult Danger Evaluation Frame as a guide for your questions and observations. Don't be swayed by talk and promises often set up by con artists.