Crowfall’s Raph Koster has some advice for community managers

    
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Community management may be one potential path to making inroads at a development studio, but before you take that job, you’d best heed the advice of one of the MMO industry’s veteran designers.

Crowfall’s Raph Koster posted a list of advice for those who step into the role of community engagement. The 14 items offer a range of smart tactics, from “don’t get a swelled head” to “always be honest,” but above all of it, there’s the sense that community management is a delicate balance that requires a shrewd and deft touch.

It’s also good advice to anyone who posts in comments, forums, or on Reddit: “Give attention only to that which you want to encourage. Your attention is a precious gift. If you spend it on troublemakers, you’ll just make more of them.”

Got any community management advice you’d like to share?

Source: Raph Koster
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flying_dutchman

Being a CM would be the WORST JOB EVER. It would be like being a kindergarten teacher but all your students are evil, swear like sailors, and can look up your address to threaten your family when you try to teach them anything.

Gnomeland Security
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Gnomeland Security

Biggest thing is to NEVER take advice from developers, designers, or coders on how to do your job as a Community Manager.

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Raph Koster

These days, many indie devs are forced to be community managers by default; just like it used to be in the old days, when I had to be community manager for UO until we got one (or earlier, on the MUDs and online services, where we first defined the job of CM in the first place). Also, a lot of devs are being thrust into the public eye just because social media does that, so they need this advice too.

Gnomeland Security
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Gnomeland Security

Of course many do, and that’s a problem. You wouldn’t let a Community Manager with no development experience hop into your systems. These specialists don’t have the same skill set as actual CMs and it’s noticeable to everyone. Not only does it jeopardize things because developers and such try to defend things in a manner that most people don’t care to understand, it also puts them in range of angry customers when there’s no need to.

As for social media, devs are thrusting themselves into that spotlight. Restraint and a simple press@gamename.com or info@gamename.com or forum address shifts that to the correct place instead of engaging in such things that not only harm the company, but also their position.

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Raph Koster

I’m very aware of this and agree in general, but have to point out a couple of things:

* Many indie devs can’t afford go get a community manager. They have to learn how to be one themselves or do without, and these days doing without is a recipe for your game failing. It’s just another non-optional cost of doing business, and it’s already common for indies to wear many hats. If you can afford it, yes, of course, go get a specialist.

* It’s just not accurate that it’s “devs thrusting themselves into the spotlight.” It’s far more complicated than that. Some devs need to do it for the sake of their careers. Some devs get found, whether they want to or not. Some devs are put in this position by virtue of being good demo’ers or good at PR (separate skills from CM that still land you lots of Twitter followers)… I could go on. It doesn’t hurt to learn additional skills, particularly not ones as valuable as the basics of interacting with players.

Don’t get me wrong; I helped invent the job of CM, so I absolutely know its value. But my advice still stands. :)

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

Since you’ve seen the beginnings of community management to now, I’m interested in your thoughts on the balance of PR/marketing and community management. Personally, I’ve seen some companies use their community managers almost exclusively as a marketing arm and others use it as a post-sale customer liaison. Where do you think the balance lies? And what has worked really well and what hasn’t? (Maybe that answer’s a completely new blog post for you.)

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Raph Koster

Personally, I’d lean towards customer liaison and even ombudsman. You need to build trust, and being salesy works against that.

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Joe Seabreeze

Is this game ever getting released?

Hamblepants
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Hamblepants

Yes, it will be, give it time.

Vexia
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Vexia

“Never be angry” is one I’m trying hard to implement into my online communication. Has it been working here on Massively OP? By comparison, it’s many times more difficult to implement into live chat, but that’s where I think I stand to gain the most improvement from. I have bookmarked that whole blog post for future reference and study!

miol
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miol

“You’re always in public. No, 3000 followers on Twitter isn’t private. Nothing on Twitter is private, unless the account is actually locked. No, it’s not fair that your personal Twitter is suddenly a corporate mouthpiece.”

Is that his takeaway on one of Jessica Price’s statements?
“They framed an interaction on my personal social media in which I told a few individuals who (I thought) were being assholes that I wasn’t on the clock…”

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cursedseishi

I think it is less aimed at one specific person and more the general argument people make (especially those tied to industries like gaming) when something is riled up on their twitter.

No twitter account is “private” only unless you literally have it set to a private account. If you’re demanding to only have conversations with friends and family on twitter, for instance, and only them but you have an open account? You shouldn’t get mad when one of their friends then pops in because they saw a friend comment in your thread.

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PanagiotisLial1

Ask questions, don’t make arguments. Arguments invite more arguing. Questions encourage discussion between community members, which you can then mine for useful information.

Cant say I fully agree with that. There needs to be a dialogue and for a dialogue to happen arguments should take place, in a civil calm way

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cursedseishi

That is true, but I think there is a distinction between discussion or discourse and an argument. Especially on social media like Twitter, questions may be a better way method than trying to make an argument in 140 characters or less. Though Twitter in general is a poor tool in general for most any discussion.

Though on your own site? A civil discourse is definitely easier, though there’s nothing wrong with using questions as part of the argument.

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PanagiotisLial1

Yes obviously, if someone is being offensive its not worth responding too. A discussion is an exchange, it will have civil arguements too. Its also a good way for a dev to know what community thinks and have countersuggestions/feedback

As for social media, I dont like them a lot in general

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Toy Clown

I adore Raph Koster! He’s been one of my favorite devs for a long time and I enjoy reading his words of wisdom. Very few make it in this industry for very long. I especially love the last comment on this article:

It’s also good advice to anyone who posts in comments, forums, or on Reddit: “Give attention only to that which you want to encourage. Your attention is a precious gift. If you spend it on troublemakers, you’ll just make more of them.”

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Schmidt.Capela

“Give attention only to that which you want to encourage. Your attention is a precious gift. If you spend it on troublemakers, you’ll just make more of them.”

Or, in short, don’t feed the troll.

Vexia
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Vexia

Excellent advice for all aspects of life, indeed! Honestly, getting into my fair share of draining online arguments in the past has really helped me realize its importance. Now I try to apply it wherever I can, even along the lines of choosing to exercise instead of watching another episode of a show or something similar. Valuing your own time and attention when you can is of great help for a healthy mind and body.