What to Expect From Your RA
Some Helpful Background Information
Just in case you missed out
So, what is an RA, exactly?
Well, if you're asking this question, it's pretty clear you haven't been around for too long. But that's okay. :P
A Reverse Analysis (RA) is basically the opposite of a Dæmon Analysis. Instead of asking for the traits of the form your dæmon takes, you're telling us what you're like, and we'll try to suggest some animals for you to look in to. This started out on The Dæmon Page, and has since migrated to its own category on TDF. Here, you can post your own RA, or you can respond to someone else's with a suggestion. It's generally a fairly well traveled part of the site, whether you're looking to help out other forumers, fix a form crisis or just popping in out of curiosity, so you're likely to see a lot of familiar faces running around. Anyone can offer advice to someone, regardless of how long they've been on the site or how much they know about Dæmonism. (Although, a basic knowledge of animal traits will probably be necessary if you want to actually contribute to the discussion.)
Okay, that's all well and good, but how do I write one?
Unfortunately, that's not really the topic I want to discuss right now, as there are many other talented forumers who have already talked about this in depth. All of our current RA questionnaires can be found by visiting this topic--just pick one to fill out.
Should I post it Anonymously, or under my normal account?
This is really up to you, in the end. One reason people decide to do Anonymous RAs is because they could worry that the form their dæmon usually takes will influence other people's decisions. This is generally an issue if you're someone who has claimed settledom multiple times, or if your dæmon's been in one form pretty much the whole time you've been here. For example, if someone who has been on the forum for a long time settled as a duck decided to post an RA, they face the problem of having people tell them, "but I love you as a duck! Why are you crisising?" (Perhaps a little more tactfully, but it's still a factor.) This is sometimes referred to as the 'Sig Effect', in reference to the images or phrasing in your signature. People come to associate you with the picture in your signature, and have a hard time looking beyond it. (More information about the Sig Effect can be found here.) By posting anonymously, this is pretty much not a problem at all, unless you have a very distinctive typing pattern and someone knows you really well.
On the other hand, if you feel like this won't be a problem for you, it might be helpful for people you've spoken with before to be able to realize who it is and add their input. Since they've had a chance to get to know you better than just your answers to an RA questionnaire, they might have some interesting ideas. This could give you a different perspective then an anonymous RA can, and is why occasionally the original poster will reveal themselves later on in the topic so they can get both anonymous comments, and more personal ones.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference, and, in theory, shouldn't really affect your responses too much.
All right, I wrote one. Now what?
You wait for someone to reply!
The important thing to remember here is that this could take anywhere between five seconds and five weeks, so patience really is key. I know it's hard to contain your excitement when you've just finished writing up this wonderfully detailed description of yourself, but we all operate in different timezones. It's very unpredictable as to when you'll actually get a response, so just sit back, relax, and wait for someone to wander by.
Just like the rest of TDF, it's encouraged that you don't bump a topic for a while. Fifteen minutes is not enough time to justify bumping your post. Again, be patient. Generally, it's considered acceptable to bump your RA after a week or so has passed.
Replies, and How to Respond to Them
Well, assuming you already know to reply kindly
Everyone keeps telling me they can't tell much from my RA, and that I need to include more detail.
This is a very common complaint among newer members when it comes to the responses on their RAs. An RA is a difficult thing to write for many people, especially if you've never had to do anything like it before, and oftentimes people don't realize that they really aren't being that specific when they answer questions.
It's not necessary to write a small novel about yourself, but a few sentences might be helpful. One word answers are a definite no-no. When asked "are you solitary?", it's not a good idea to just say Yes. Give some examples, or hypothetical situations that you would avoid because you're solitary and some that you wouldn't mind going to even though you can be solitary. This helps the people reading your RA to get a real gauge on your personality, rather than just a really skeletal outline.
Go back and look it over. What else can you include that could help people you've never met before really understand who you are? What's really, really important to you as a person? There's probably something you're overlooking.
Once you add in more detail, you're likely to get some more constructive feedback.
Someone responded, but they say I seem Unsettled. What does that mean?
Generally, when people say that they get the feeling that you're unsettled, it means that there are contradictory statements in your RA. For example, if I was to say that I'm not social, but I love going to parties and hanging out with lots of friends, that would be an indicator that I'm not really 'settled'. This isn't meant as an insult, and shouldn't be taken as one. Being unsettled can be a lot of fun for both dæmon and dæmian.
Another reason people might give this opinion is their observations of your behavior on the rest of the forum. If you're someone who sometimes doesn't seem to take the advice of older members seriously, or if you seem a little immature, or if you've claimed that the analysis for ferrets, binturongs, tigers AND panda bears fit you perfectly (my God, that would be one impressive hybrid), it can make other people get the impression that you haven't matured enough to really settle into one personality. Again, this isn't an insult, just an observation from other members of the forum, so it shouldn't be taken badly. :)
If you're interested in looking into more information about settledom versus unsettledom, I'd recommend Steve's THE COMPLETE FREAKIN' MORONS GUIDE TO SETTLING (Or not Settling.) It is quite informative, and amusing as well.
People keep suggesting animals that are nothing like me. Why is that?
Well, if people keep telling you you seem like a dog, there's obviously something in your RA that's making them think that, even if you're not seeing it. And if people keep telling you that, and it's not what you want to hear, then you don't have to take their advice. However, it's important to consider that many of the people who respond to RAs have done a lot of research into animal behavior, and have a pretty good read on how different families of animals behave, so you might want to take their advice seriously. A lot of people have found out fascinating information about animals they never would have looked at this way, even if they don't end up settling as it.
An RA is supposed to guide you in the right direction, not necessarily pigeonhole you into one form for the rest of your life.
But they're still suggesting _______ and I know that I'm settled as ________. Why are they not seeing this?!
Well, if you know you're settled then why did you write an RA? Writing an RA usually means that you're interested in finding a form that fits you because you're A. crisising, B. confused, or C. curious about others opinions.
You put yourself out there for other people to analyze, so that's what people are going to do. They'll assume you want feedback based on their own knowledge of the animal world, and they are responding because they want to help. If you know that you're settled as an otter, I really wouldn't recommend writing an RA just to prove that you are, because that usually blows up in the poster's face and creates drama for everyone involved.
And remember, just because you like an animal doesn't mean that you'd going to settle as one. Remember that quote from The Golden Compass?
Phillip Pullman wrote:
"Well, then, you're discontented, en't you? There's plenty of folk as'd like to have a lion as a dæmon and they end up with a poodle. And till they learn to be satisfied with what they are, they're going to be fretful about it. Waste of feeling, that is."
If people are suggesting a species over and over to you, it's worth a look. Leave your biases aside and do some of your own research before you write something off permanently.
People only seem to be able to suggest families of animals, rather than a specific species that totally fits me. What gives? I wrote this to find out my One True Form!
RAs pretty much never work this way.
Unless in the very rare case that someone who happens to be just like you reads your RA, it's incredibly unlikely that someone will pop in and tell you that this specific animal exactly, 100% matches you. (Although, considering the fact that we have a fairly diverse population, it could happen. It's probably just not very likely -- For example, on Rune's most recent RA, I realized we sounded very similar and told her she should keep looking at servals. I've seen examples where a mustelid soul is able to point out another mustelid, sometimes getting a specific species thrown in the mix, and the same thing with canines and birds.) Remember, most of us are only friends online, and therefore don't really know too much about each other when it comes down to it. It's hard to know absolutely everything about a person based on one RA, especially if you're a newer member and people haven't really gotten a chance to get to know you.
Doing your own research is pretty much the only reliable way to narrow down a very specific form. In most cases, you'll get a family suggested, and maybe a species, but it's unlikely that you'll find something that fits 100% just from that.
To use a personal example, I've been happily settled as a serval for about two years now. I've posted a few RAs in my time, and generally, the only thing I'd get was 'You sound kind of like a cat. Or maybe a hare. But I'm not sure.' So, I looked into both, and did a lot of research into animal behavior, even outside of Dæmon analyses. Eventually, I found out that serval fit me pretty much perfectly, and that was that. But it took me about six months to get it right, and even when I first 'settled' as a serval, I wasn't sure that the form really fit. I'm still doing research to help me better understand it.
Sometimes, forumers can only suggest different 'mentalities' that seem to come up in your RA, such as herd mentality, pack mentality, flock mentality, herbivore, carnivore, arboreal mentality, and others rather then a specific animal. These traits can also help point you in the direction of finding the right form, and are sometimes even more valuable then a specific species suggestion. If you're curious about how to interpret such a 'mentality', be sure to check out Edie's Compendium of Awesome, which has a specific section filled with useful links about animal traits written by various forumers.
Finding your settled form is full of hard work, and I can honestly say that I'm pretty sure no one on this site can tell you that someone gave them a completely accurate, specific form just from reading their RA once. As I've said before, RAs are really only to point you in the right direction.
So, What Do I Do Now?
Some final thoughts on the subject
Personally, Id gather the suggestions you received, think them over, and hop on over to Dæmon Analyses to investigate further. But that's just me. You're free to do whatever you like with your RA at this point.
Also, remember, people change. As such, it's okay to submit multiple RAs, but it's probably best to let a little time pass before starting a completely new topic. :)