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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Community vs. Conformity

On the Why I Don’t Hop post, Alexia Smolensk made the following comment while arguing with Tedankhamen:
If you really are going to ‘build community,’ then build one. Offer services, that can be availed of by members who contribute more than answers to ordinary, drab and unimaginative questions. Do more than describe the hobby, propel it forward. Organize events that ONLY new bloggers are allowed to take part in, then offer mentorships and round up volunteers to give advice and editing. Teach those that are part of the community writing techniques and contribute source material to a central pool that everyone can take advantage of. Build a consensus against abuse, establish unity in blog maintenance and design, and promote yourselves to outsiders in a smart, pleasant and encouraging manner.
Now, the first part about services, contributions, pushing the hobby forward is vague, but not too objectionable. The part about new bloggers is either a goofy fixation, or a response to something Tedankhamen said that I missed, because I certainly didn’t talk about new bloggers, or about a blog hop as some kind of initiation/rite of passage. But the bulk of the remainder of that paragraph is describing something absolutely horrible that I hope no OSR blogger helps to organize.

Mentorships? Roving packs of editors offering unasked-for advice? Teaching bullshit writing techniques? Establishing “unity in blog maintenance and design”?

The RPG blogging community is not a freaking homeowners association. Why the hell would anyone even think of it as some kind of collective standards enforcement committee? Why would anyone even want that? Are we really gathering online to discuss septic tanks and lawn care? Granted, a lot of blog posts sound like gossip about the way Joe Blow has let his front yard go all to hell, and maybe he should do something about that rusty junker in his driveway. But is that the pinnacle we should be struggling to reach?

Blogs are not a physical place. And when I spoke about building community, I did not mean some kind of social club. I meant a community of ideas. The RPG blogging community in general and the OSR/DIY blogging community in particular is about sharing information and ideas. The maps and geomorphs, the the classes and spells, the monsters, the tables, the house rules.

The most effective cross-blog community-building exercises, in my opinion, were the Dyson Logos mapping challenges and the one-page dungeon challenges/contests. There were also some lesser examples of ideas sparking cross-blog creativity. The “blog carnivals” have potential, since they involve bloggers contributing one post on a single topic, instead of 26 to 31 posts for an entire month, but they’re kind of screwed up because there’s no good way to fin out who’s hosting the carnival or what the current topic is, and because some of the carnival hosts suggest boring topics that are about who you play with, how much fun you had, what products you’ve enjoyed, how much stuff you own. The best topics are topics that provoke the creation of new material.

So please, people, I beg you: DON’T FOLLOW THE ADVICE ALEXIS GIVES ABOVE. Please don’t create The Association for the Promotion and Imposition of Irrelevant Stylistic Bullshit.
Written with StackEdit.

7 comments:

  1. Bravo, well thought, well said.

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  2. "Build a consensus against abuse" he is most abusive arrogant blogger in scene - worst kind of egomaniac- basically stated accusing me of being gay and terrible dm because i dared disagree - i would rather be super mega gay than someone he approves of

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  3. The crowdsourcing experiments on G+ by Zak, Courtney et al. are another example of good community building.

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  4. It's been a couple days since you posted anything on this blog. The OSR Blogowners Association asks that you please post something new in the next 24 ours or we'll post something for you and send you the bill, mkay?

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    Replies
    1. Crap, both osrba.com and osrba.net are taken.

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  5. Personally I rather like blog hops, fests, carnivals and the rest. They are fun. They help stretch as a blogger and a writer. I also at the same time never begrudge someone for not doing them or not liking them. Hey we all have different tastes.

    We all do what we can to evangelize our little hobby here. I watch my stats, I am addicted to Google Analytics, so I know what these things are doing for me. And at the end of the day that is really the only thing I really can know.

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