I find community to be overrated and underrated.
It’s overrated simply because of how people are doing things wrong. Currently there is the expectation of mandatory Discord servers. This screams, “I don’t want people with PTSD, anxiety disorders, or just introverts on my site.” This would be okay if many of these sites didn’t have mandatory “trigger warnings” (I put this in quotations as most sites don’t actually have trigger warnings, I’ll go into this with Safety). I’ve also found it rare on sites that even mention what rules and expectations can be found on those Discord servers. Is politics allowed? Is there a venting area? Are sensitive subjects allowed? How is any of it handled?
The above along with political language uncommon outside of the United States, feels like a Cup of Noodles approach to community building. Simply have a mandatory Discord server and mention how much you care about POCs and the LGBTQ+ communities! Just add water! Community building as taking care of sea monkeys.
Actual community building is hard. The first that I’ve seen a lot of sites fail at with community building are the rules to their site. As catty as my statements in the first two paragraphs may seem, it’s important to know who your audience is and who you want to attract. If you want people with anxiety disorders to join your site, you need to remember them for all aspects. Not everyone likes being called a person of color and less so a three-letter acronym. I’m bisexual and take issue with the term community because it sounds like a hobby I signed up for.
In fact, the reason why I’ve been sitting on this for well over a month is because I overthink community. I believe strongly that rules are more a place to put down your own philosophy and expectations. It’s the first step to building a community culture.
The second is to have no expectations. It’s hard not to, but one is only setting themselves up for disappointment. My site may do well, it may not. It’s not entirely up to me.
I’ve also found people want openness, honesty, and kindness. People want authenticity. I often feel like just about everyone has been burned by bad staff. I want to assure those people that I will meet them where they are and encourage improvement. I want to have a site where people feel the comfort they have sitting in their living room.
I’m getting ready to have a closed beta on my site for lore and otherwise. Despite my taking forever to get this prompt done, I will continue to do so as my site opens.