Running a community for this hobby is often a thankless task. I’ll admit, my experience has it’s limits since I have only been active since around 2012, but my experience is varied across many social platforms, and deeply involved. I can understand why some people go through a ‘burnout’ phase when dealing with the community, let me tell you why.
So what’s the problem? It’s easy, right? I certainly thought this back in 2012. You just need to ensure that contributions to a community fit within their guidelines, and that people get along without turning into keyboard warriors. Over the years I realise it’s rarely as straighforward as this, and requires a high degree of patience to overcome your own frustrations.
It occurs to me that, many people have what I would call an authority complex, perhaps on a personal level or within a group (group ones are the worst..). These people are the ones who are consistently challenging, frequently complaining, and being outirght rude to whoever is putting in the time and effort to maintain a community with little incentive. These people test me the most, as their ignorance blinds them to reason, but I’ll always try not resort to retaliation, through humiliation. Instead, I choose to deal only on a one to one basis, to diffuse emotional thinkers. Perclate to them, by appealing to their emotional level. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Now I understand this is probably comes across a little belittling, but think of it this way – It’s easier to speak to someone in their native toungue, than to shout and make hand gestures which will more often than most, make the situation much worse. There is also a great deal of contextual misunderstanding, or nonsensical, overblown hyperbole. It’s always been a rule of mine, never to ‘read into’ anything written on social media. I’ve fallen victim to this level of misunderstanding in the past, and it’s embarrassing to say the least when your suspicions turn out to be proven paranoia. The sad fact is, many fall so unneccessarily to this, and it’s hard to mediate when all of the fueding participants are contributors of value.
Now every once in a while, I question myself – why bother? Like I opened this article with; it’s a thankless task. I have a great passion for this hobby for sure, and all I want is to enable people to learn, interact and enjoy what they do and provide something useful – despite how I feel about what the hobby is about. I set aside, as best I can my own opinion in order to build and make useful communities, but will not hold back on logic. It takes it’s toll in frustration. I’m thankful to have a circle of friends who are on the same wavelength, who can certainly testify that I will often vent off to them for short term relief, and vice versa. It’s not an entire solution however, as the frustration still wears you down from time to time.
I think this problem has arisen with the advent of social media, and with the apparent ‘death’ of the specialised ‘forum’ (RIP Mecha Lounge..). Without a specific, niche hub of interest that has aspects of requirement of participation and conduct, you have a plethora of niche titled communities that you can join at the click of a button, without any need to digest any community guidelines. There’s also the problem that, everyone seems to think they can do it better – so more communities are formed that have little control over it’s content, further blurring the lines of interest and increasing conflict, crap content and boring, repeating questions. The more succesful and enjoyable communities I have found enforce it’s guidelines repeatedly, and candidly deploy reminders to ofenders. These communities are (sadly in my opinion) labelled ‘elitist’ or ‘admin power shows’. I guess a silver lining is that, these communities are free of those who don’t have any idea of meaningful interaction with those who share your interests, and you can be assured of entertaining content. Like anything though, the crux is down to the people running it, and those participating.
I guess, the main point I would like to make in this article is this; Please don’t abuse those who put the hours in to make things better for you. Much like working in customer services for a company – the assistant is much more amicable to resolve a dispute, and be helpful to you if you act in a polite, controlled and respectful manner. Remember that, if you decide to treat someone who is trying to be of help to you, who is putting in the hours to provide something of use to you, like shit – you’ll be the one being called a cunt by that person among their friends, and that’s the first impression they will all have of you. I expect, one day, I will experience a community ‘burnout’ and retire to my own content production – much like many of us community organisers have. Hopefully, there will always be a person of determination to keep it going. It could even be that i’m just not getting along with this format of confusing and frustrating social media communities and I’m just being an old fart. I’m still entitled to discuss it all the same, just as others feel entitled to abuse others through a computer screen.