Thursday, May 11, 2006

Editorial: Building Communities

There has been a fair amount of talk of late about how to build a community for RPG discussion, in many ways a new place to build theory. In particular, this has focused on bringing in people who have previously not felt welcome in such a community. The problems are two-fold. First, no community can welcome everyone. And second, a community is an organic, unpredictable thing.

Building a community is a good goal, but it requires a broader context. Many people will be excluded, despite or perhaps because of best efforts. In some cases those people will join other communities, and so on. What is important is to keep those communities interacting. Mobility, membership overlap, and the general effort of communication are all essential to keep the various safe places from stagnation.

To make matters worse, some people are just not community joiners. No amount of building safe places will help those people. For those people, and the people who cannot find a community of their own, it is important to have less safe places, more open areas of discourse. This process of meta-communities never ends, it is a continual growth, just like each community within. At each level it connects to broader groups, moving further from safety. It is this web in which any community finds itself, unless it chooses to entirely isolate itself.

Constructing a community can be very important, but you cannot neglect the connections around it, those are what sustain it and allow it to have a meaning outside of itself. Constructing resources and places of meta-community is also important, and should not be passed over on the search for each person's safe place.


Elliot Wilen said...


Troy_Costisick said...

Nicely said.