Gold is Where You Find It – Blogging and Community

If there is one offer I have heard repeatedly over the soon-to-be-seven years I have been blogging, it is the one where I am asked to join a community.  The offer inevitably requests that  I make this community my blogging platform, that I give up my independence.

Sometimes the offers are heartfelt and genuine from members of what I would consider my own “block” in the MMO blogesphere, for lack of a better analogy.  Certainly GAX Online, despite how it turned out, was an honest effort to try and bring some MMO people closer together.  Gary and Ryan invested a lot of time and effort in something that never quite got a life of its own.

Sometimes things have been more ad hoc, like Beau Hindman’s MMO gamer/blogger group on Ning, which likewise became more of a burden as time went along until he had to let it go.

There was a big push at one point in the name of “gamer social networking,” a concept that was never quite clear to me.  GAX Online was part of that, but there were certainly other groups out there.  Xfire and Raptr both aspire to take their game tracking and IM service into that realm.  I would be interested to know what percentage of their active users on either service ever posts or comments on their main sites.

And sometimes the offers are crass attempts to find people to create free content to drive ad revenue.  Not that I think such sites should be run as charities.

Certainly I never had a problem with services like Blog Top Sites and their business model, though I took down their tracker and stopped using the site eventually more out of a desire to clean up my side bar than anything else.  And I genuinely miss Massive Blips nearly three years later.  But they never asked for the serious buy-in of giving up my independence.

But a good chunk of the personal appeals are from site that want to be your blogging platform.  They always spell out the ill-defined benefit of greater exposure for your writing (my nothing blog usually has a better PageRank and Alexa numbers) while neglecting the fact that your writing will be placed outside of your control on an ad infested hell-hole of a site that likely to fold up the moment the kid running it figures out that it isn’t a path to easy money.

And all this time, I have never jumped in, not for the genuine nor the crass.

This has been in large part because of stubborn desire to maintain my independence.  And that has been mostly a desire to preserve my ability to post about whatever I feel like, to not feel constrained because I am on a site that is just about a single game or genre or whatever.  I want to be able to post about Pokemon events or dead cats or Memorial Day or whatever hell I feel like on a given day.  And I am not keen to give up control to somebody else who can lock me out or take down my work.  Granted, to be on the internet you are always at somebody’s mercy.  But I trust more in WordPress.com than most; more than I do in Google at this juncture, and certainly more than I do when it comes to some stranger cold calling me about their new community and platform.

However, that is not the only reason.

The other main reason is that I have never felt a lack of community.

Now, to a certain extent, I have been fortunate.  I wandered onto the scene at just the moment when Brent at VirginWorlds was coming into his MMO podcasting prime, was swept up in that moment of MMO enthusiasm, and became one of the blogs in orbit of his site.  Michael Zenke even put me in his “MMO blogs” addendum to the “Blogepelago” in the XKCD Online Communities cartoon from 2007.

Some still thrive...

Some still thrive…

Looking at the original cartoon, that was a long time ago in internet years.  But those bloggers and quite a few more were my community, my peers, my betters, my co-conspirators, my friends, my enemies, and quite a few states in between.  We commented on each others posts, or took offense and wrote scathing responses on our own blogs.  We appeared on podcasts together.  We played the occasional game together.  A few of us even met up in person now and again.  I have photographic proof from GDC 2010, GDC 2009, and GDC 2008 (which also shows my full range of facial hair options).

Dinner at Le Colonial

At GDC in 2010

Dinner at Le Colonial

The same place, GDC 2009

GDC 2008, more modest eats

Things have ebbed somewhat from the high point of the blogs clustered around VirginWorlds.  People have moved on.  Blogs have stopped being updated or have disappeared altogether.  Podcasts have faded.  And we have all grown a few years older and probably a couple pounds heavier.

Furthermore, there are more distractions and more options for community.  That XKCD cartoon from 2007 was redone in 2010.  During the intervening years we saw the rise of Facebook and Twitter.  They were barely things at all when I started blogging.  Tumblr has come along for a different style of blogging, while Google+ showed up to try and grab some of Facebook’s domination of frustrating interface design.  And I don’t even know what to say about live streaming, except to say that I do not get it.  Why would I want to watch you play a game rather than just playing it myself?  Sure, sometimes there is a big event worth watching… or Jita Cam (which is down… damn… will Freebooted idle cam suffice?)… but most of the time it strikes me as a “so what?” sort of venture.  But then I consistently write summaries of what I did in game.  Why would you read that rather than playing?

And all of this new stuff has drawn off people that seven years ago might have been reading or writing blogs.

Psychochild asked where the bloggers have gone. (A good posts that links to some other good posts on the subject.) Certainly in our little corner of the internet numbers have declined due to media fragmentation and burn out.  But bloggers still exist.  And new ones show up on the scene.  The mortality rate is high, certainly.  The New Blogger Initiative saw 110 blogs start, but only 30 were going a year later, numbers which matched up to my own survey of linking blogs from the a while back.  But new blood does show up.

And there is still a community of bloggers and commentors and readers who frequent our little cluster of blogs.

All of which makes me sigh in that oh-so-very-tired way when a doomsayer crawls out of the woodwork and attempts to set the narrative with a “join or die” style pronouncement about their idea of community.

This revolves around a bit of EVE Online drama… and what is EVE Online some days but a drama generation engine masquerading as an online game… wherein Marc Scaurus, who at a past time took over the operation of the the EVE Blog Pack and evebloggers.com decided to hand over the reigns.  He announced this a couple of weeks back, asking for volunteers to take over the two.  His own view was that the two might be past their prime and that he might not get any interest.  The EVE Blog Pack just turned five years old and evebloggers.com, a blog feed aggregation site for EVE related blogs, has likewise been around for a while, making them both children of the pre-social media blogging era.

Marc was wrong however, and actually had multiple candidates from which to choose, eventually picking Cyberin to take over. (Some words from the new host.)

The drama comes from a condition he set for the hand over, which was that past proprietors of either of the two services were ineligible to apply.  Alexia Morgan, the previous owner of evebloggers.com, wanted to get the site back and, when denied, began to spin a conspiracy theory about Marc actually planning to kill both services to the greater glory of his work at The Mittani.com.

Par for the course in the land of EVE.

But Alexia Morgan has a plan.  He has evebloggers.net (not to be confused with evebloggers.com!) which he plans to turn into an EVE Online blogging community.  And you’re welcome to be a part of it, as long as you do your blogging on his site and basically hand over control of and access to your work to him.

Did I mention that he HAD evebloggers.com and gave it up?

That is not a glowing recommendation in my book and part of the reason I was personally on board with Marc’s restriction on no past owners.

But there is more, which is all laid out pretty well in an interview over at Warp Drive Active.  And the key for me is Alexia Morgan’s apparent anger at and/or anxiety about independent blogs in the EVE Online community.  He clearly doesn’t like them and thinks they should all just surrender control to him in the name of community.  You are in or you are out.  If you are in, you are pro-community, and if you are out, well you are clearly anti-community.

Key quotes and reactions that pretty much mirror my own have been posted by Nosy Gamer and Marc Scaurus.  You should read both of those, along with the interview that prompted them, if this interests you.

For me, it mostly just indicates a misunderstanding of what community really is (exclusion, and telling independent bloggers to “go screw themselves,” certainly doesn’t enter into my idea of community) piled on top of my past experience with such ventures as detailed at the top of this post.  I would clearly be out, were I an EVE Online blogger.  (I don’t think my other blog really counts, being all pictures.)

And so it goes.  This might have been something worth getting worked up about had this been my first rodeo.

But it does get us back to an ongoing discussion about the place blogs hold in the community.  It is certainly true that some MMO companies, like SOE, used to pay much more attention to the blogesphere just five years back (I was even linked on EQ2Players.com a few times), though others, like Blizzard, never officially acknowledged that such a community existed outside of their control.  Even some MMO news sites like Massively, which used to reach out to the blogging community now and again, have now largely turned their backs on blogs.  But is that the end of things?

Where do you think blogs in general, and MMO gaming blogs in particular, are headed these days?  Has progress passed them by?  Are they relics of a bygone age?

Or have they just gone from being the latest “new” thing to being just part of the norm and have settled down?

And is there really a blogging community out there?  Am I just making that up in my head, or do you feel like you are a part of it as well?

Addendum – Some responses, indicating that our little blog cluster is still functioning.  Look, community!

Marc Scaurus: Blogging Lives On

Morphisat: MMO Blogging

Ravious: Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

Liore: The Future of MMO Blogging Collectives

SynCaine: The Blogs Reflect the Genre

Jeromai: Blogging Cowboys of the Modern Age

Tobold: Blogging is Dying

Game by Night: Bloggers disappearing and why I’m one of them. But not really

Bhagpuss: Please Yourself

Random Waypoint: Where have I gone?

Jester’s Trek: Ancillary Conversation Booster

GamingSF: Navel Gazing

Blessing of Kings: The End of MMO Blogging

Anjin: The Winter of our Blogging Lives

Healing the Masses: Blogging Diversity and Growth

MMO Gypsy: The MMO blogosphere is here to stay – if you want it to

Going Commando: MMO Blogging

T. R. Red Skies: MMO Community Trends

42 thoughts on “Gold is Where You Find It – Blogging and Community

  1. Pingback: Blogging Lives On | MALEFACTORMALEFACTOR

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Further question: Should we be doing anything to actively foster a sense of community, or is a post complaining about Tobold’s latest pedantry once in a while enough?

    Conspiracy Theory: I went searching for a link to the list of Top Influential Video Game Journalists from a few years back to annoy Michael Zenke on the off chance he actually reads this. I couldn’t find it, giving up when Google wouldn’t serve it up on a silver platter in three tries.

    But in doing that, I did notice a potential correlation between the peak of MMO blogging and the frequency with which the mainstream press went to Zenke for MMO related quotes.

    Clearly the decline of MMO blogging is his fault.

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  3. Letrange

    I should note that although I haven’t blogged recently (too much real life – too little EVE). I firmly fall on the side of “independent bloggers do their own thing” side of any equation. On the flip side, I never blogged to be part of a community. I blogged because I wanted to blog about my experiences in EVE. The thing to remember is that although a community can provide incentive to keep going, you still need to bring your own point of view and be able to hold up your own opinions on issues. I find that being too closely tied to any specific sub-community of EVE restrictive.

    I was originally dragged into the blog pack (trust me I was o.O when I found out the first time) soon after it’s formation. I’ve managed to drop out of it twice so far and it looks like this time it’ll stick.

    My only advice: Blog because you want to blog. Don’t blog because someone else needs content on their site. Keep control of your own blog or it will eventually be used in ways you don’t necessarily want. I’ve noticed a tendency to heard think with some of these communities (or that may just be the preponderance of pirate blogs – not sure).

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  4. sleepysam

    I didn’t have the impression from your monthly wrapups that traffic was trending up or down significantly…?

    I think that there is a group of MMO navel gazers that are going to continue to write and read these blogs. Maybe that group is getting smaller. I still read and comment on various MMO blogs – but I haven’t touched an MMO in months. I am interested in them in theory but in practice RL prevents me from playing them the way I used to enjoy – all in.

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  5. Eric Schoneveld (@ericscho)

    Great read ! I do very much agree on your independence point of view. All of these community sites come and go and take your work with you. If you’re not a professional writer there isn’t much point in joining up.

    We’re from the same generation of bloggers, basically we blog (I think) like Letrange says, because we enjoy writing about our experiences in a certain game, and not to get a load of views or cash in on ad revenue.

    To be honest I missed the eve blogging drama, but I do miss the evebloggers feed. It was a nice place where you could glance at all the eveblogs and read up on what was happening. Hope something similar will replace it soon.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @sleepysam – There was a noticeable drop in traffic, as measured by page views, back in February, which was related to a change in the way Google’s image search worked. So that basically subtracted people coming here to find a picture of a mouse on a tiny scooter.

    I don’t suppose I miss that traffic. Everybody loves page views and such, but if I felt the need I could go to Fiverr.com and pay somebody five bucks to generate some huge number of page views. Would that really mean anything, or would it just point out the absurdity of page views as a measurement? They are an abstract quantity that does not reflect any sort of quality.

    Comments on posts are a better measure of quality I think, and those are about the same.

    What seems to be sagging lately are ping-backs, referrals, and such from other blogs. Now that may be because I haven’t written anything interesting of late, though here it is only Tuesday and I have two navel gazing, open ended question posts already this week. That is sort of my subjective measure of community, how often other bloggers pick up a topic and post a reply or link out to other posts as part of their own effort.

    Then again, it is summer. SynCaine isn’t attacking WoW, even after they started selling “leveling still isn’t fast enough potions,” and the best scandal around is just CCP hitting the wrong button and ending one of the biggest battles in the game. Even pedantry seems to be in short supply. It might not be the season. Blogging might require chilly weather and precipitation.

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  10. Knug

    Way too much navel gazing out there for me. Blogging is obviously a joy for you. Keep doing it for yourself, and no one else. We’re here because you’re good at it, and the topics/discussions raised invite participation and thought.

    No one is here because its the cool place to be seen.

    i will say that the half dozen blogs that I do regularly visit, are all firmly stamped with the “I-am-independent” brand. Funny that, I suppose.

    Long live the independent thinkers!

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  11. bhagpuss

    I certainly feel like there’s a community and what’s more I know just what sort of community it is, having been part of two eerily similar communities already, for the whole of the 1980s and half the 1990s. It feels almost exactly like when I published, wrote for and infested the letter columns of comics fanzines and then did the same with apazines.

    It’s my feeling that communities like this will persist no matter how technology changes because there will never be a shortage of opinionated people who love the sound of their own voices and have far more to say than they can cram into 140 characters. And that’s a a good thing.

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  12. SynCaine

    On my end, its due to working from home more often now. When at home, I’d rather have a game up than write something most of the time.

    The topic overall is interesting. I’ve not found any new blogs I read daily in over a year, while at the same time the ones I do continue to produce content, so maybe I just don’t NEED more blogs.

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  13. Ravious

    I kind of agree with SynCaine. I have not really looked for any new active blogs. Sometimes I will stumble across one and immediately go “oh I should add that one”… but that’s the extent of that.

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  14. sleepysam

    One other thought – some of the blogs make it a lot harder to comment – you have to have the right login thingy. I’ve tried to comment numerous times and given up because I didn’t want to mess with some login.

    Maybe everyone is playing Brave New World.

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  15. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Because I have that section in my monthly summary that calls out blogs who have added me to their blogroll, I tend to spend some time every month looking at new blogs. And I get all crying Indian every time I find a new blog without a blogroll.

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  17. Si Wang-mu

    “Where do you think blogs in general, and MMO gaming blogs in particular, are headed these days?  Has progress passed them by?  Are they relics of a bygone age?”

    I don’t think so. Blogs will always exist as long as people who have an interest in a game (or any topic) want to write about it. Many people enjoy sharing their thoughts as evidenced by your own blog. Blogs have always been a niche but they also engender a strong following.

    “And is there really a blogging community out there?  Am I just making that up in my head, or do you feel like you are a part of it as well?”

    Actually there is a very strong community of bloggers. Especially for a game like EVE which generates some superb blogs. My own corp (Stay Frosty) has attracted a surprising number of well known bloggers in the EVE community. We also have a number of members who also write (and edit) for TMC.

    Blogs serve a dual purpose – they not only provide opinion but also information. I still think there is a need for blogrolls. How else can new players find blogs without some sort of reference now that Google Search has become so commercialised.

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  18. Josh W

    “”””There was a big push at one point in the name of “gamer social networking,” a concept that was never quite clear to me””””
    …..
    I play games so I do not have to deal with being social or networking of any kind.

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  19. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Tobold – I disagree.

    Or, at least I disagree with what I think you are saying.

    A post responding to another post… for example, a response to something where I think you are being pedantic… and I could draw up a list of posts where I think you are being so… is the very essence of the blogging community in action.

    Of course, if you view disagreement as an attack, well, then it probably isn’t very pleasant for you. But if you want to say things in a public forum, you had best expect disagreement.

    Community is not about people agreeing and being nice to each other. That can be part of it. But the friction and the disagreement and the momentary factions and alliances are all part of the mix of community. Disharmony has been a part of any community I can recall being a part of.

    The Tobold vs. SynCaine episodes are some of the best examples of what I consider to be our little blog community in action. They got people interested in interaction between blogs as opposed to any individual blog. Things often rippled out to other blogs, people took sides and supported one or the other of you. And, I felt, actual personal attacks were relatively few. Those are the type of attacks that count against you to my mind.

    Of course, there is room for interpretation on what is an attack and what is not. I tend not to think that something like “Tobold is crazy if he thinks…” as an attack but a rhetorical flourish. On the other hand, calling out the real person behind the screen name as being actually evil… that feels like something beyond the pale to me. Or at least something I wouldn’t find worthy of a whole blog post. But such is my opinion.

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  20. Pingback: The blogs reflect the genre | Hardcore Casual

  21. Solf

    I think Tobold has mentioned before that he gets stressed out when he’s ‘attacked’ (and I do think it’s a valid stance to consider ‘Tobold is crazy…’ as an attack — flourishes or no :) — although it is probably unwise in the open-blogging world).

    With that said this comment from him completely surprised me… until I’ve read your reply I couldn’t even understand what he’s talking about (after reading your reply I think you got it right).

    However, recently I’ve tried to have a ‘reasonable’ discussion with him here: http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2013/07/we-need-to-pay-more-for-niche-titles.html and he has surprised me with basically going ad hominem. So maybe he just ‘has had enough’ lately — too much negative feedback, too little positive (for whatever reason).

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  22. Tobold

    What response do you expect if you just outright dismiss a long and detailed argument with multiple sources as “strawman”, Solf? But of course I agree that language on the internet is difficult. I mean, why would “crazy” be acceptable, but “evil” not?

    I don’t agree that the MMO blogging community has a good or healthy way to respond to each other. It is more a series of calling each other out, without ever accepting a word of what the other person says. The general attitude is one of “you’re playing it wrong”, or “you’re playing the wrong game”.

    Just look at some other famous MMO blogs, e.g. Gevlon who is calling most players Morons & Slackers in every post. Or Wolfshead. Or look at the forums of any game: “The Enemy” for us tends to be people sharing our hobby, but either playing a different game or playing the same game in a different manner.

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  23. Solf

    “A straw man or straw person, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position”

    Tobold, it has exactly zero to do with “long and detailed”. If you’re misrepresenting my (or someone else’s) position, it doesn’t matter how good you’re at it. At least that’s as applies to where *I* used the ‘strawman’ word.

    And even then — ad hominem gets you nowhere.

    But anyway, TAGN blog is not the place for this discussion. Apologies for replying here.

    @Tobold — feel free to add comments to your original post if you want to respond, I have e-mail notifications on for that topic.

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  24. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Tobold – Crazy versus evil… no difference at all, depending on usage.

    If I say “Tobold is crazy if he believes CCP is going to go bankrupt” and then go on to detail facts that are contra indicative towards that end, that is a disagreement not an attack and “crazy” can be disregarded as a rhetorical emphasis.

    If I say “Tobold is crazy…” and then go on to rather vaguely describe why I think you, in real life, have a mental disorder based on some superficial behavior exhibited in the very limited venue of blog posts (and insist in comments that I do not need to define “crazy”) without actually having any other topic in mind, that seems to be to be pretty clearly an attack.

    Substitute in “evil” and/or “SynCaine” and there is little or no difference.

    On good and healthy ways to respond to each other, I think we do just fine, at least blog to blog. And since you participate in that regularly… you had a response post to Rohan just today, which I might sum up as “you’re looking at it wrong” in theme… I have difficulty in taking your statement as seriously as you might hope. Either you actively engage in behavior you think is not good and/or healthy or you are not clearly expressing yourself on the subject.

    Yes there are bad aspects to the community, as there are in any community. And no small amount of the bad is related to the zero-sum view that people can take on games. I agree that the ongoing cry of “For me to win, all others must lose!” does get tiresome. I make an effort to avoid it, though I have slipped at times. I generally take the view that if I don’t like a game, I simply never speak of it. Of course it is when I do like a game, but don’t like some specific aspect of it that people get worked up. Ah well.

    And we are also dealing with an emotional topic. People get invested and get passionate and we end up with a community of very diverse opinions. Which I think is a good thing. But it also means that no matter what statement you make, no matter how uncontroversial you think it might be, somebody will show up and disagree. I have any number of posts where I say, “I don’t like X” which always get at least one “Oh no, X is the best thing ever!” in response.

    As for Gevlon or Wolfshead…. well, they get the responses one might expect in our imperfect marketplace of ideas. I am surprised Gevlon even allows comments, given how readily he deletes them. But they hardly constitute the norm and are famous (or infamous) really only in very small circle. And sometimes they say something I disagree with but which still helps put things in perspective for me. So they remain in my RSS feed. If they were completely without value, I wouldn’t bother.

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  25. Si Wang-mu

    Tobold seems to merit special attention from the community due to his somewhat inconsistent blog posts regarding MMO’s and EVE in particular. Comments like EVE’s imminent failure, general disillusionment with MMO’s due to not being able to get groups, and then abandoning the genre for tabletop games.

    Which overall is simply his opinion but he has to accept that if you make your comments available for public consumption then expect to receive comments from that same public positive or negative.

    Gevlon is a different case entirely. He eschews having any form of socialisation in MMO’s and argues that to be truly successful you should not have friends in an MMO. His focus has always been on income generation in MMO’s.

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  26. Pingback: Blogging Cowboys of the Modern Age | Why I Game

  27. Rieth Mhide

    Wilhelm
    I read massively just for the headlines, news, barely ever read any actual article over there

    at the same time i read pretty much everything you post here, same goes for Jester,Syncaine, Bhagpuss and a few other guys – blogging is far from dead, it just readjusted to the right size : the real good ones are still around, and I frankly couldn’t care less for the rest..

    blo

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  28. Solf

    @Wilhelm

    I’d like to take a moment to express how impressed I am with you. And I do mean all this literally with no snark at all.

    It seems that even in a heated discussion (with emotions often boiling over) you are able to see to the heart of the topic and express your thoughts in a manner that calms everybody down (well, okay, at least me) and makes the crux of the argument much more clear.

    You also often pick up and expose crucial details that I would have missed easily (your last comment’s paragraph on ‘healthy ways to respond to each other’ is an excellent example).

    I wish I were more like you in this respect. Well, that gives me a role model and a goal to strive for :)

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  29. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Solf – Thank you for that. I try, though it isn’t always easy. A decade in management got me access to a bunch of management training courses, a few of which actually turned out to be useful. We spent one week doing personality tests and exploring what they meant which ended up being a great tool. I created a document later for people who worked for me about how to make the best use of me as their manager.

    Basically, this blog would have been a lot different had I written it 20 years ago.

    One of the key items in that it isn’t tough to get me to change my mind, or at least broaden my point of view. I could never be a politician, I would get labelled a “flip flopper” because I revise my point of view based on new evidence often.

    And to acknowledge some of what Tobold was alluding to, there are people out there who, if you express an opinion, assume you are wed to it and will only be moved by brutal, head-on assault. Yet the internet is a giant example of how that almost never works when it comes to changing somebody’s mind.

    Tobold and I clearly differ on the subject of community, as his post today illustrates. He believes that if there is a community, it is completely toxic because of the way some people behave, slinging around the word “hate” a lot with an extremely wide brush, to mix a metaphor. And there is certainly a lot of that, though his threshold for what constitutes “hate” seems to be extremely low. But I have mocked the prevalence of hate myself, so I certainly couldn’t argue it doesn’t exist.

    But I still believe there is a community, and not a toxic one, and that its better members, the ones you feel an affinity for, are really brought into focus against the backdrop of so much bile and emotional rancor.

    Though I could be wrong.

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  30. Solf

    “One of the key items in that it isn’t tough to get me to change my mind, or at least broaden my point of view.”

    oh, we totally need more people like you :)

    I’m trying to move in that direction myself, but do I wish it was easier… all too often my first reaction to ‘opposition’ is to defend my ‘position’ at all costs. It often helps to wait a night or two before replying, but it is not always feasible and even less often easy :)

    Anyway — keep up the good work!

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  32. SynCaine

    I find its just much easier to always be right. Never have to change my mind that way. I can see how that might be difficult for some however.

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  33. Tobold

    “But I still believe there is a community, and not a toxic one, and that its better members, the ones you feel an affinity for, are really brought into focus against the backdrop of so much bile and emotional rancor.”

    I don’t know about “better”. It is basically the principle of Fox News: You don’t agree with how some people think of the world, so you limit yourself to reading the opinions of people who think like yourself. There is not “a community” of MMO bloggers, but there are many “communities”, e.g. one of hardcore PvP fans, or another one of casual themepark game fans. Relations inside each of those groups can be cordial enough, but between the groups there is outright war.

    And I’m still waiting on your comment on whether you think that I was wrong with my statement that “I believe that wanting to win over the opposing avatar is okay, but deliberately wanting the player behind the opposing avatar to be emotionally or physically hurt is evil.”, if I admit that naming names in that post wasn’t the best move.

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  34. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Tobold – I am not sure that Fox New analogy is apt, especially after I wrote, just a few comments above,that I read Gevlon. That I feel an affinity for some people in the community and not others is just the way people work. I have a different relationship with all of my friends as well. Some I talk to daily. Some I drop a line to a couple of times a year.

    If you say there are communities and not a single community of blogs, I am in agreement. It is just a matter of where we would draw circle around things. Communities, in the blog sense, are somewhat nebulous and arbitrary and if you ask me who is “in” our community today you would get one answer, and six months down the road another.

    As for outright war, yes and no. There are people who will harp on a particular subject or who appear to have made it their mission in life to make sure everybody knows that they dislike a particular game. I recall a particular blogger who would say how much he disliked LOTRO on every LOTRO post he could find over about a three month period.

    I do not get many such comments, but I am also not on a crusade of my own. I have problems with free to play, for example, but I admit there are upsides to it as well. It is a more complex topic than I think most people want to admit. And part of that is being older than many gamers. 20 year old me would have been much more black and white on the subject.

    As bloggers, we also have a history behind us that is easily examined. I might not recall past opinions of somebody who comment infrequently, but nearly 3,000 posts in, I am going to bet that regular readers make some generalizations about me, which then becomes the background noise for anything I write and influences how people interpret my message. If I posted that I loved SWTOR, some would be looking for the sarcasm in my post, or simply wouldn’t believe it, since it would be at odds with my past work. Likewise, no matter what you say about EVE Online, the undercurrent is “Tobold hates EVE.” It doesn’t matter if you think that is unfair or untrue, that is the perception people have and your comments will reflect that. And if you choose to ignore that and write more about EVE… and you are generally critical of it… there will be a crowd who will honestly say that it is you who are causing the war.

    People are passionate about games, and the idea of hate is over used, but sometimes we stir that pot as well.

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  35. bhagpuss

    Geez, I wish I got comment threads like this…

    One thing I’ve thought for a long time while reading Tobold’s blog is that I do need to keep in mind that I’m reading something written by someone not writing in his first language and who comes from a culture different from my own. Because Tobold’s English is so good and because the discussion is frequently about imaginary worlds, it can be very easy to lose sight of both of those factors.

    Living in the UK I would assert that the cultural assumptions and expectations of mainland European nations both vary significantly from each other and even more significantly from those of people brought up in Britain or America, whose underlying cultural values are, I would again assert, more closely aligned. On top of that, no small number of the spats on Tobold’s blog seem to me to arise from disagreements over the use of idiom. It’s exceptionally hard to read idiomatic meaning in a second language – it’s frequently tough reading it in a regional variation of one’s own.

    Why I’m discussing Tobold as if he’s not here on Wilhelm’s blog is another question entirely. Anyway, thanks for stirring up this topic – it’s got me to go out and actively look for new MMO blogs for the first time since Syp’s NBI and there will be some additions to my blog roll and Feedly as a result.

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  36. Syl (@Gypsy_Syl)

    Two of the things I do actively, in answer to your addendum, is keeping an active blogroll and also commenting regularly on other blogs I enjoy reading. connecting in such manner, rather than just nodding in silence, is important to me for two reasons: it lets my neighbours know they are seen and recognized, and it opens up avenues for discussion. some of the best, most enjoyable posts I’ve ever written were exchanges, sometimes passionate, between myself and other bloggers. while I’m no fan of controversy for the sake of it, I do value disagreements in the blogosphere. it can get a bit boring when we all agree all the time. ;)

    As for “our” community, I guess we’re all wearing our own monocles when it comes to where that is. for instance, I see many bridges (as in common followers / commenters) between your blog and mine, but for some reason we’ve never seem to have connected directly over the years. I can’t even say why – whether it’s general topics/games or something else. I have commented before though and do read you whenever you hit closer to my own interests – QED. ;)

    With few older bloggers, it always seemed to me that they like keeping to their select circle of oldtimers quite a bit – linking back and forth among each other without any real interest in new blood. that can get a little tiresome which is why they’re not on my blogroll any longer. Tobold on the other hand regularly links to all kinds of bloggers, also newer ones and that’s something I always appreciate (reminds me I miss the PPI) and try to do myself.

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