Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Scattered State of the Creatures Community

I miss the Gameware forums.

Not because they were great forums. Don't get me wrong-- I was annoyed as anyone with the spammers and kids who just couldn't grasp the concept of basic forum etiquette, and it really would have benefited from closer moderation.

But they were a gathering place. People would break off and start their own forums, but all organized events, all group projects, all big announcements could still be discussed on the Gameware forums with the whole community. But when the forums went down, the remainder of the Creatures Community was scattered to the four winds. Some didn't know where to go and disappeared entirely, and the rest scurried to one of several fan-based forums.

Years later, the community continues to shrink, and appears even smaller due to being so split up. It makes it extremely difficult to coordinate a community-wide event (such as CCSF) when several people don't seem to know that there are more people involved in the community outside their forum, or if they do, don't seem to have any interest in contacting them.

But what can we do?

In a perfect world, we could all merge into one big happy forum. But that is far easier said than done.
First to protest I believe would be the admins/mods of the forums. I've run forums for other games/fandoms and let me tell you... merging just plain sucks for the admins. When you've been handling your community pretty well for a while and you have your own set of rules, your own way of handling misconduct, and even your own favorite skin for your forums, it is a serious test of patience to be put in a situation where you no longer have full control over your community, where you have to clear changes with other people before putting them into action, and so on. And if any conflict erupts between the admins, the whole thing is pretty much history. In fact, trying to run any community with more than two or three admins is generally a bad idea. I'd like to say we're above petty conflict and drama, but we are still human (though some of us swear otherwise)

Not to mention that during these past gameware-forum-less years, some of these sub-communities have grown rather comfortable and happy within their little group. Some forums are perfectly fine with mindless offtopic spamming; others will ban you for it. Trying to force those previously isloated cultures to mingle would likely result in conflict as well.

So what do we do? We can't create another general creatures forum and advertise it as the new community gathering, because unless everyone agreed on that concept we would just be creating another sub-community and splitting ourselves up even more.

So the idea I'm turning in my mind is not necessarily a community forum, but a community hub.
It would link to all the other sub-communities out there. It would include Creatures-based communities as well as other general communities started by CC members, and just generally link everything CC-related together as much as possible so we're just not so scattered.

And though it would have a forum-- a small one-- it would be used purely for discussing events that pertained to the entire community, so as to not take away traffic from the other sub-communities, but create a neutral ground for discussing things like CCSF, for coordinating and recruiting people for development projects, or for announcing new sites/content.

As per usual, I have no intent or means of putting this proposal into action, but it certainly has a much smaller chance of happening if I didn't write it down at all.

I really hope someday we can find a way to unite the CC again. As it seems Gameware has all but abandoned us, we really need to take matters into our own hands.

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