Game Design, MMOs, Personal, Social Networking & Media, Warcraft

Community Management

Part of what I’m wrestling with at work right now is community structure and management. How do you encourage active and passionate discussion and collaboration, while at the same time keeping the trolls under control?  How do you set guidelines about zero-tolerance (race or sexual orientation hatred, for example) and balance that against common usage (“you’re so gay”)?  You want to encourage self-moderation of communities, wherein they generally police themselves, but you still need to guide communities that are degenerating into spite and hatefulness. And how much harder might that be in a virtual world?

I’ve been thinking about that recently because I’ve become a bit weary about the nastiness common in most discussion in game forums that I frequent.  Communities become unpleasant places to be based upon the comments that are made…WoW Insider being an example.  There’s some serious nastiness going on there at times.  I mentioned in an earlier post about the abuse that BigRedKitty commonly takes on that blog…I just couldn’t do it.  Simple post today about how to do a jump shot – basic, yes, but something that a lot of beginners have never tried.  A valid post with a sense of humour. And my god, the aggression level in the comments was something else, quite nasty.  WoW Ladies can be that way to a lesser extent, not quite as virulent as the illiterate fanboi types frequenting WoW Insider, but people still get jumped on for innocent posts. And then there was the whole thing about someone getting upset that WoW Insider was linking to their posts, so they locked the entire community down for quite a while.  A vibrant, active community, just gone off the map. They re-opened it, but when I read it while logged into my LJ account I notice that a lot of people are putting their ding posts and such under a friends-only lock. Kind of defeats the whole concept of online community resources, doesn’t it?  I don’t bother logging in – I can’t be arsed to cater to people like that and I don’t care if I read their posts.

So.  Trying to get my head around how we nurture lively communities, and try to keep them positive.  I really don’t know how we’ll handle it.

5 thoughts on “Community Management

  1. If BigRedKitty wasn’t so out and out arrogant, with his precocious ‘I know better than you’ posts, not to mention taking that stand point with a laughable dps spec, he might get cut more slack.

  2. That’s not the point at all – and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The point is that it’s now a arena for people to display the nasty side of their personalities rather than make intelligent comments. A community needs to support and foster intense discussion, even heated discussion. But “lrn2play n00b” comments aren’t worth the time it takes to type them, much less the time it takes to read them.

    By all means, tell me that I’m wrong, tell me that I’m a jerk, point out every minute area where I got a fact wrong…but don’t say “lrn2play, u r so ghey lololo1111llll”. Not that you probably, do, but I have read others that write exactly that.

    So, how do you step on those people, and encourage them to insert a bit more thought and compassion into what they say?

  3. In my experience, only extremely active moderating works. Once a community gets above a certain size, self policing stops working. Only the threat of banning keeps the kiddies under control.

    Not sure how that would fit into your project though.

  4. We try to convert the flamers and make them part of our community. The BRK Blog is very open in our comment rules. Disagree, retort, disprove, and debate. We don’t moderate comments but instead call on people to expand their “L2P” babblings into something coherent.

    Anybody can delete comments they don’t like. The harder task is to try to help someone evolve and contribute to the hunter community. And it’s a task that has resulted in some tremendous successes. One of BRK’s best contributers is a reformed flamer that we convinced to use logic and personal experiences to bolster their arguments.

    If Squirrel – commenter #1 here – actually read the BRK blog and realized that, basically daily, we tell people that we don’t know everything and that we want other people to contribute their ideas, then perhaps there would be one more positive influence in our community.

    /wave

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