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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Six Years of Blogging Part One: Community


Today marks six years since I began blogging, and over those years, a lot has changed and evolved. I'm going to be doing something a little bit different this year. I'll be sharing three different posts over the course of three days: Community, Content, and Contests. I want to cover a few topics that have been discussed recently on the state of the community. I will then specifically address some of my content, and we'll finish off on a light note with some contests.

If you follow my account on Twitter (not the blog's account), you're probably accustomed to seeing my opinion, which exists independent of my work here. I don't normally discuss these sort of topics on my blog, but because today is a little different, I'll make an exception. While I have only been blogging for six years, I have been an observer in the community since the game's initial release in late 2008.


Content You Can't Miss

First, I want to highlight a few recent works from around the Spiral that you should check out. I have done a couple of Community Spotlight posts over the past year in addition to other content promotion, but these are more recent. 


One of the Untold Spiral's most recent posts, Spiral Vacation Spots, is worth checking out. Vanessa is not only an incredibly active member of the community, she's also a big supporter of other community members and dedicates much of her time to helping other wizards. She writes not only on her blog, but also for MMORPG. She's a moderator on both Central forums and a Tournament Master on Wizard101 Central. She runs the Twitter group Hoarding Halfang and has been an active part of the Mercenaries For Hire service for quite a while now. Vanessa's content is a great model for bloggers who are looking to set themselves apart with something unique.

Wizard101 Central has provided a very active and populated space for players to share their ideas and works, especially those who are just getting started in the community. One thread that has recently caught my attention is the question of whether or not Grandmother Raven is evil. I'm a big lover of story and lore in the Spiral, and the connections drawn here between Raven and Odin are hard to ignore. Now, I might argue that Grandmother Raven isn't necessarily evil, but more overzealous in her quest for righteousness to the point of oppression, but there are a lot of good thoughts here.


Duelist101 has a very large staff and as such, produces a lot of quality content very quickly. They recently released a new Pet Talent Calculator, based on the data gathered in "Project O" by members of Wizard101 Central. One of their other posts I really want to highlight is Jeremy Ravenhunter's Feedback and Communication Between the Community and KingsIsle. The emphasis in this post is how to offer meaningful feedback and how the relationship between KingsIsle and the community should operate. There is also a little bit on the fact that some voices are louder than others.


Being a Leader

One of the biggest debates happening lately is what makes a community leader. I offered my thoughts on this not long ago: "Community Leaders are not just official fansite owners. 'Leader' is not a designation or status, it's based on action. As such, you can't designate yourself a Community Leader, it depends on whether or not people view you as one - even for official owners. There are definitely a lot of people who own unofficial sites or no sites who I see as Community Leaders."

You can decide for yourself what it takes to be a leader. It is my opinion that being a Community Leader also comes with some obligations. As Community Leaders, it is our responsibility to be aware of content and happenings around the community. We don't get to exist in our own little bubble; that's not what community is about. As Duelist101 mentioned in their post, everyone started out as a new player. We all had to put in the time and effort, but also, none of us did it alone. We all had helping hands along the way and it's important that we be that helping hand as new content creators emerge. 


Something we're all guilty of is promoting only content within our little friend groups and spheres of influence instead of based on the quality of that content or the work put into it. Sometimes we only share our own content. This is not only a repudiation of what it means to be a community, but also an unhealthy habit that is hindering our primary purpose here: to inform and entertain a larger group of players.

The idea that anyone - even someone who's entirely self-made - could share only their own content, reminds me of a sort of comic panel I saw once. A man had cut down all of the nearby trees to build a bridge across a gorge. After crossing, he cut down his own bridge. Another person followed, unable to cross and confused as to why the bridge was cut. The first man yelled back that he should make his own way across, just as he had done. The trees and means to do so were gone.

No one gets to simply call themselves a leader without exhibiting the qualities - including official fansite owners. There's no free pass; we all have a responsibility. 


Points of Contention

Here's the other thing you have to know: not everyone will support you as your content improves and you progress through the game and become more involved in the community. If you tend to have strong opinions, that's great, stand up for them, while making sure you're open-minded enough to change or at least respect other opinions. Sometimes people take a difference of opinion very personally. We all come from different backgrounds, and we process what happens here in different ways. It's something we have to keep an open mind about. 

My Direct Messages are always open to everyone on Twitter, and my email is published on the Submissions page here on the site for anyone who wishes to contact me. I often invite people to offer feedback to me directly about my site (earlier this year, I put out a site survey), or even to ask questions about my philosophies and actions.


There will be disagreements. A question was asked of the KI Live crew on this most recent episode about the state of the community. It's important to remember that we're like a big family. We won't always get along, but we have to stick together. There are so many issues around the world and even in other gaming communities today that I can't imagine why we'd want to create more problems here. If you don't like crazy aunt Susan, don't hang around with crazy aunt Susan. Unless she's making a mess of things or doing something harmful, you don't need to run around screaming about crazy aunt Susan. Leave aunt Susan alone. 

Compared to a lot of gaming communities, we have a pretty great one here. We shouldn't take that for granted. Every time you log in to your favorite fansite or social media platform, appreciate the number of wonderful people we can surround ourselves with, and how willing so many are to help you. 

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

AESOP

Stay tuned for Content and Contests in the coming days. Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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