Grassroots tactics for online communities?
May 27, 2012 12:35 PM   Subscribe

So much of our online social lives are trapped within proprietary constructs. What happens when the developer of an online community starts ignoring its members with a monetary as well as emotional investments? How does one foster grass-roots community organizing within such restrictions?

An iOS MMORPG I play, for example, organized a successful 48-hour boycott of the game in order to spur some kind of respectful response from the developer in the face of neglect and opaque player account ban policies. But what next?
posted by ...possums to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do the sites generate revenue from advertisers? On a site I'm part of that does, the members recently undertook a campaign to email the advertisers to alert them to the ongoing problems with the site management, and point out potential damage to their reputation. I don't know if the advertisers actually cared but it certainly generated a response from the site managers.
posted by scrute at 12:42 PM on May 27, 2012

Mod note: Removed the link. You can put it in your profile if you think people should see it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:05 PM on May 27, 2012

- Create a forum for people to talk about the community.
- Talk to the owner in person if it's possible (preferably at a convention rather than showing up to the house.)
- Pool money to buy the site/game.
- Find a different community; leave en masse.
- Collaborate to create a new community in the spirit of what the old one once was.

Some of these suggestions assume the problem is fixable and others assume it isn't.
posted by michaelh at 1:50 PM on May 27, 2012

Best answer: I was a community manager for online games for about five years. Here are my thoughts:

1. Figure out what you are trying to accomplish. "Making the devs listen to us" will not do it. "Get a weekly Q&A set up with key developers," "get public clarification on the exact policy for account ban reversal," "Get patch notes posted publicly," are all things that a developer could possibly do in a reasonable timeframe, and that you could make a case for.

2. Identify the people you need to be talking to. Sometimes it's the community manager - for MMOs, that's a good place to start (although not always ideal.) Sometimes it's the producer, sometimes the lead designer. Sometimes it's the marketing person - and sometimes it's not an employee at all, but an influential person in the community (for example, a gaming site reporter or a fansite owner.)

3. Figure out the best method of communication. This may involve trying a few. Email, twitter, facebook, official forums, fansites - there are lots of options (and they will vary product to product.)

4. Generate support for your proposal, internally and externally. Get other people on board. Find the most eloquent ones and get them to help generate buzz. Make it a thing that a company employee could go to the money/scheduling people and say, "hey Boss, I think we could improve our retention/sales/image if we went with this thing. Here's some evidence."

5. Know when to quit. It's possible your idea is just not going to happen, for whatever reason. Maybe there are technical challenges that aren't obvious, maybe the guy who could have pulled that off just quit, maybe (and this is really likely for small products) there are three people on the product overall and there are just zero extra man-hours for anything.

This is obviously a specialty of mine, and I'm happy to chat offline in more detail if you have something specific you're working on.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:53 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ask Apple for a refund and then play some other game. Caveat emptor.
posted by jrockway at 4:56 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Don't make me go back to Livejournal.   |   How to sell art to a first time buyer. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.