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.