A great question was tweeted to @Rygarius recently. Rygarius is a Community Manager (CM) for World of Warcraft.
Let’s not just limit this idea to a forum community. How about our guilds? Or a gaming community? Or a Twitch channel? How do we build a better one of these? What are your community goals? What is the purpose of your forums?
I’d like to think it’s to facilitate discussion amongst Warcraft players. Giving feedback and suggestions on the game that we love. It’s to share our accomplishments, ask questions, joke around and show everyone why we are continuing to play this 10 year old game.
I would ask the same of a guild. What are the goals of my guild? Do I want to be a top end raiding guild? Do I want to be a fun RP guild? Should my guild be a second family? Do I limit my guild to Warcraft only or can we make it grow into something more? What kind of stream do you want to be? What separates you from the others? What will make your community so great?Story Time!
Death Jesters started off as simply a guild of friends with raiding dreams. We came from different backgrounds with the same goals in mind. We’ve had some of the best players in the world in our guild, we raided at times, 5-7 days a week and were at the top of the raiding scene until we got older. We achieved our raiding goals and continue to achieve them but we raid far less. We were just a raiding guild but as time went on and the months turned to years; what was a raiding guild with a great atmosphere, turned into a community.
We play games outside of Warcraft, play Hockey together, go to BBQs, Blizzcon together. We send Christmas cards!
We go to each other’s weddings, celebrate when children are born and watch those children grow up. We are not just guildies, but also friends. I have guild members that have not logged on in years, but still hang out on our forums. Or I see a guild member that hasn’t been online since WotLK, log on with his Atiesh. They continue to stay for the community, guild chat, the atmosphere, and the feeling of being welcome. This is like a second family to them.
In terms of a raiding guild, I have often said that your core raiders are the bricks of your guild. You need them to keep the guild strong. Or they are the gears of your raiding war machine. But the casual members you have in your guild, the friends, the retired players, the ones that help farm mats in order to contribute; well, they are the mortar. They are the oil that keeps those gears running.
Having a balance of both will build that community within your guild. Examples of community in action? We had a tank from Dragon Soul to Tier 14 named Ethica. Solid guy, ex-army vet, Iraq and Afghanistan. One day, Ethica doesn’t show up to raid and missed a couple days after that – very unlike him. A few days later we see a forum post from his account, but from his sister. Ethica was in a motorcycle accident. He went through the windshield of a car, halfway through the rear window, nearly severed arm, nerve damage. When he woke up a few days later, one of the first things he asked was to have his sister open his computer browser to the first page that popped up and make a forum post on his behalf. He didn’t want to let his guild down. He didn’t want to let his friends down.
One of our Veteran members, Kiramaren comes to me with an idea. Ethica was such a great guy when he was around, why don’t we as a guild do something nice for him. She proposed we get a little fund going to send him some get well goodies. A Figureprint of his character so he could forever be immortalized, cookies, pancake mix (because he loved pancakes) and a number of other goodies. This would show him that we missed him and cared about our friend. Yet, not a single one of us had met him in person.
Is that not what a community should be about? Treating others how you want to be treated? Banding together for a greater cause? Understand that there is a human being behind that computer screen. Know that you’re playing a video game but there are people on the other side. When you make a forum post, know that the recipient(s) of your message have feelings like you. Find people like this. Find like minded people and your community will grow. If your community is a positive one, it will grow much better, will be stronger than one that does not value these things.
You want to foster growth of people that help your community. Reward those that go the extra mile to be supportive. On the Warcraft forums we have the MVP program. On Twitch we give those people moderator status. In a guild, we promote those that are leading by example to Veteran or Officer positions (never take these promotions folks, it’s a trap).
A year ago when I got into streaming, I asked Towelliee how he dealt with trolls. “Ban them asap, they do nothing for your community and spread like a cancer”, he said. What most people think of as trolls these days, are not actual trolls; just idiots spamming stupid things and making defamatory posts or messages. Yes, remove those. But the trolls we really want to watch out for, are the ones inciting hatred and building negativity. That negativity can be directed at the game, at Blues, at the streamer or someone else. If you can’t rehabilitate and show them why that doesn’t belong in your community, remove them. One day they may learn, but that day/year, is not this one.
That’s not to say someone should not disagree with a CM, a Dev, a streamer or other people in your guild/channel. Those things happen and SHOULD happen. Friends and family argue, but at the end of the day the bond grows stronger. Discussion is good to foster change and community growth. You can’t fix issues unless you discuss them. I love to have good debates with Hordies on why those rock-eaters think they are the good guys. Obviously they never win, but it spurs good discussion!
On your forums, in your guild and on Twitch; you want to have a great support system. Without this, your chances of building that community are slim to none. In your guild, your officers should be an extension of yourself. Embodying your qualities, but building on your weaknesses.
On the forums, we have our Community managers (CMs), Zarhym, Nethaera, Bashiok, Lore, Rygarius, Crithto and many others. They are Blizzard’s Support system and they have their own help through the MVPs.
On Twitch, we all have our support systems that we couldn’t succeed without. The ones making pictures and intros – to the ones that are your tech gurus – to the ones that just do a bit of everything and are on your ass, to get things done.
What about building a better community in game? I hear many complain about the community in Warcraft. They say that it is a terrible, vapid cesspool. You join an LFR or a dungeon as a new player and people start swearing at you. Telling you to “L2P,” jump off a cliff and go to ‘Toxxic’ websites for information. You ask a question on the forums or in a Twitch channel; then are told to ‘GTFO noob’, go learn basics. You are basically made fun of.
So what are we as a community doing about it? Complaining about it doesn’t solve anything. What are we actively doing to help build our community? What are you personally doing, to better YOUR community?
We all have hilarious tales of noobery. Who helped you? Many of us are now heroic raiders. Are we trying to build a community of raiders to help sustain us? Why does our Community exist? What are we trying to get out of it? Let me help you with this one:
It is our turn to help others. Our turn to ‘Pay it Forward’.
I ask my Twitch viewers everyday, what good deed did they do today to help build the community? How did they help some poor noob out? How did you handle that guy in your LFR that thought it was okay to berate people that were new to the game? What did you do about the person that heard rumors about you being an elitist streamer? Did you ban them or convince them of the opposite? Did you allow your community to grow today?
“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” – Libba Bray
Foster positive growth and the community will build itself.