In the beginning, when I was new to roleplay and to the internets, I knew nothing about forums nor about play by post RPing. My first experience with a forum was one that was chat based and it was from here I began to develop my opinion of forum communities.
For a text based RPG one might discard the need to encourage a community, because it is all about the writing, right? Well, yes, it really, really is. However – having experienced both excellent communities and very poor ones (and everything in between I might add!) I have come to the opinion that in fact, community does matter. It matters a lot. The problem with having a poor community at a play by post board is that the hobby is called “co-operative writing”, so… people need to um… co-operate. This is possible to do at a forum whose community is, and I am trying to not swear here, f*****g awful, but it makes it a darn sight harder. I did it for an entire year and in the end only left because I had a boot to my arse and a gun to my head. Not everyone is like me though. Not everyone is nice enough to put up with horrible, spoiled, nasty, back stabbing little shits.
Sorry, looks like this blog did not make it to the end without a swear. Fuck.
So what about the folks who are not like me and are not prepared to put up with the spoiled little RPers who think the world revolves around, owes them, is against them and must please them? Well, for them we have the Fun and Fair Community. That’s right sports fans, it bloody well does exist! There is no such thing as a community without drama, because we are human (most of us are anyways, some of us are suspiciously Cylon-like though – yes, I am looking at you Miceal!) and wherever humans gather shouting and crying and sexitimes and fun things occur. It is how the head honcho’s at said forum deal with the shouting, crying, sexitimes and fun things that makes or breaks a community. In the time I have been online I have seen the following approaches.
The “Relaxed” Staff Team
Aka, we don’t give a shit but we want people to think we are cooooooooollll so we call it “chillaxed”. These people think that anyone who dares to CENSOR ME AND MODERATE ME are the bane of all existence and that they, as “relaxed” people create a far better community because everyone lulz. Fair play, many do lulz but they usually lulz at the expense of other players who just want to write and do not want to chat in the cbox or post status updates or fuck around on Skype all the fricken time. They want to RP. Just RP. And are often ostracised if they do not partake in the cool kids extra curricular activities. There is no authority and no real organisation most of the time, but hey… they have fun so what does it matter if nothing else ever gets done and why do they care if people feel left out or on the outside looking in and unable to get thread partners, hm?
The Paranoid Staff Team
Correction. This staff is singular. Why? Because this staffer does not trust anyone else. Everyone is “out to get them”. Seriously… these guys appear normal on the outside but scratch away at the surface and you’ll find whacko town. This kind of staffer puts so many OOC rules on the community it is literally impossible to plot outside of private IM. The cbox will have a huge message in red telling you who you must be and why you must be this way and oh for crying out loud DO NOT CRY OUT LOUD and please, please do not reference your real life because we really do not give a fuck, but we want others to think we give a fuck so they join and post and then after a month realise that actually WE DO NOT GIVE A FUCK and are a nasty little bitch who are two faced, insane little liars.
I have never met such an admin
*coughsmaybeoneorfive* but I imagine they have a group of Yes Men telling them how wonderful they are and how horrible the world is. Nothing is ever their fault and everyone else ruins their RP experience. These people know fuckall about community because they are too selfish to include others in their process. They claim mistrust but truly, it is just paranoid. Avoid these players and admins like the plague. And if you do come into contact with them, wash your body in scorching water, and spend some time in quarantine, or in other words, get the hell out of there and find a forum that is honest with you and wants you to write there.
The Good Cop, Bad Cop Staff Team
IMO, this is the best combo, but it does not always work for the best. For instance, if the good cop is the head admin you tend to get… a drama queen. Yes. This is me. I r dramaz. But seriously, to be the good cop you have to be a people person and people persons tend to be sensitive and on their bad days rather oversensitive (bad day =/= period btw, but sometimes it does, so give them chocolate or pictures of chocolate and avoid talking about dead puppies for a few days). However, when the “Bad Cop” is the head admin the Good Cop gets to insulate the community from all the Bad Cop’s bad habits and rudeness. Sorry, “management style” and “opinions”. 😛
So in summary, I do not know what the fuck makes a good community, it is luck most of the time and hard work the rest of the time, but community DOES matter and not just for forum RP’s. I think that perhaps we have lost sight of what it is to be neighbourly, online and offline and maybe we should all try a little harder to think before we speak, think before we press “enter” and try and be more positive instead of nay sayers. You do not have to like everyone, but it does you no harm to be civil.