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LONG BLOG

How to make game communities suck less: Not every problem is a nail

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It is a fact that fish will not live where the water is too clear. But if there is duckweed or something, the fish will hide under its shadow and thrive. Thus, the lower classes will live in tranquility if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left unheard. This fact should be understood with regard to people's conduct.

-Hagakure, the book of the samurai

In yesterday's Guitar Hero 5 review someone who I won't bother naming left in his comment: �wow another reviewer paid off or the organization he works with.�

He has since commented again, and his c-blog is still up and running.

Allow me to italicize.
Someone accused a writer of this site of taking payments for favorable reviews, and Dtoid- and its community- let out a collective yawn. Nick Chester just laughed at him, and that was the end of it. No drama. No theatrics. No �ban-hammer Monday�. Just a little laugh and then on to messing around with a much more persistent troll.

And if something as stupid as that can be posted with barely a whimper, then maybe my half-baked ideas can find a home, too.

I'm going to level with you here. I hadn't been part of a gaming community for a long time between the closing of Antagonist, Inc. in 2001 and my discovery of Dtoid in 2008. The reason? I'm shy. I'm suggestible. I have the emotional maturity of a Sham-Wow. I simply can't handle the ridicule and suspicion that comes with joining your average game community. In most of these places, you walk in on thin ice. You're assumed troll as soon as you walk in, and cracking the social order takes an impossible amount of persistence, luck, and brown-nosing- more work than the reward could ever be worth.

In contrast, It takes a lot to get banned from Dtoid. You have to make yourself famous to get banned from Dtoid. You have to become a stock punchline to get banned from Dtoid. (See: Wiisucks, Bill Holbrook). Much more than any well-meaning lurker or newb could ever inflict. It's no coincidence that Destructoid now has the biggest, most varied, and most creative game community on the web.

When game communities suck, it's never because of the trolls. Trolls can be beaten. Trolls can be ignored. In the case of Antagonist Inc, trolling can even be turned to friendly discourse. When game communities suck, it's because they've closed themselves off to their own elites, freely banning trolls, critics, and other harmless jackasses, and thus creating a chilling effect on anyone new who dares try to add something of value.

Let trolls be trolls. Let newbs be newbs. The former will get bored and leave, the latter will become another grateful, productive member of the community. Let there be room for error, room for stupid, room for ignorance. Much like a flower, you can't expect a community to grow when you keep hitting it with a hammer.

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About okone of us since 11:12 PM on 06.19.2009

Xbox LIVE:JTonWNES
Steam ID:JT706
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