A Tale of Two Communities

There’s a storm going on in the WoW fansite teacup right now, which most of you are probably unaware of. I’m going to write about this, since if you’re reading this you are a member of the WoW community, and you probably read both of the blogs/communities in question – but I’m not going to link to either community, quote any posts, or anything else. If you’re a member, then you know what I’m talking about.

As the web director of a social networking site, I am very involved in the theory and function of virtual communities. When it comes to something like Warcraft, you probably spend a lot of non-game time on various blogs and sites, participating in the community, contributing to it, getting advice and tips, reading about breaking news, etc. The social network in Warcraft extends beyond the game mechanism, and can be just as vibrant and enjoyable as the time that you spend ingame.

What happens when you sever those ties with the rest of the community?

This has to do with linking to posts on other communities. Everyone does it – I sometimes think that 90% of all blog entries are links to what other people have written about. If you credit the original writer with a link, and report what they say fairly, it’s normally fine. It’s the nature of the web. It’s somewhat sloppy journalism, though, and I try not to do much of it because in a way you’re hijacking the original conversation. “Blog A made a really interesting point, but rather than discuss it there, I’ll report on it here, on Blog B, and get a conversation going here.” But most of us are guilty of it sometimes.

Not original journalism, but it is a standard part of the web – it’s all links and trackbacks and conversations that make meandering, circular routes through the pathways of the greater community. Open communication is a good thing.

What is not a good thing is locking a large, vibrant community down because of it, which is what has happened here. Evidently the moderators of said community made the decision without consulting the members, and closed the community completely, taking it off the general WoW radar. I (a longtime member) was concerned that the community seemed to have gone dead. It wasn’t until I logged in to make a comment on an older post that I realised that there were pages of entries that I hadn’t seen, since I rarely login to catch up on the community. A new player would think that the community was dead, based on the lack of recent posts, and just move on. And that is a great shame, as this was a very good community.

How important are your Warcraft ties outside of the game? If you’re reading this, I would assume that you participate in gaming communities, and Warcraft communities specifically. You probably have people that you “know” via blogs and communities that are not even from your server, or from your country. Blogs are the things that link us all together, as a sprawling social network of hopelessly addicted WoW players. And so, this is in part a plea for connectedness – we all lose something, in any community, when sections of it are fenced off.

7 Comments so far

  1. Samownall (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 7:00 am

    Teacup! WTf :) I like your blog btw and have linked to it from my wow blog – Wow Blog If you like mine I would greatly appreciate being added to your blogroll :) Thanks

  2. 5000! (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 2:19 pm

    If you’re a member, then you know what I’m talking about.

    No offense, but this is super annoying and the fact that you’re trying to give away the name of whatever it is makes the second half of your post a little difficult to follow.

  3. 5000! (unregistered) on May 21st, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

    Oops, that should be “trying NOT to give away.” Sorry ’bout that.

  4. Ravven (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2007 @ 12:41 am

    Yes, I realise that it is annoying to not name the parties…I thought about it, and decided that there had been enough drama and immature mudslinging already without naming names.

    The reason why I wrote about it is because it is a problem for the community as a whole when a very active, large resource decides to lock everyone else out due to the misguided decision of the moderators. You’re reading this, and probably other WoW blogs as well…as we all do. It’s part of the game, even though it’s not actually in-game.

  5. Andrea (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2007 @ 4:04 am

    You completely fail to address the reason why said community was locked down, and mispresent it here.

    It was locked because some other community posted about an entry, didn’t get the facts straight and twisted it a bit, and the original poster got harassed in turn. Harassment isn’t cool. The author who had linked also refused to remove the link when asked, after the harassment began, so there’s a whole lot more that you haven’t mentioned.

    I do not approve of the choice that all postings there are locked now, but I can totally understand where its coming from, as a measure to protect members from harassment from a community that can be very unforgiving. Ask Tseric how friendly the WoW community can be.

  6. Ravven (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2007 @ 5:13 am

    No, I didn’t address the reason why it all happened – that would kind of defeat the purpose of not naming names. :) I didn’t find the original post to be really offensive, just shoddy journalism, and I think I missed the harrassment part – it’s always very unfortunate when that happens though. Some online communities can be lethally cruel, but it’s part of the risk you take when you post.

    My original post was about something other than who was right or wrong…it was about closing communities and removing resources. A closed community is one that will stagnate and eventually die.

    (On a more personal note: I am a member of that community, even now. I’ve been one for a very long time. And it’s wrong that one or two people could make a unilateral decision for a very large membership that would result in taking it out of the larger network.)

  7. Jonas M Luster (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 2:23 am

    I know whom you are talking about, but your posting is more or less theorycraft wishy washy without clear examples, links, and analysis. I understand your reasons to not contribute to the whole issue, but, by gawd, if someone doesn’t, it sounds an awful lot like hog. Sorry, Ravven, that might just be me, though.

    On a lighter note, see WoWDrama for some really nice failing of mature interaction.

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