Community Challenge – Communication Gaps

There are some community communication gaps that I’m sure everyone is struggling with right now and they all stem from the choice of medium.

Let’s start old-school; Email.
I find myself over-explaining that if you need help with your private account matters, posting your username and password on Facebook is probably not going to net you the desired result. Instead I have to instruct our players to use email to talk to our help team. This presents a problem since most of our players don’t actually use email, let alone give us a real email address when they sign up for the game. So they’re stuck without help and I’m stuck repeating myself. (also see previous post about the technologically inept)
The gap here lies in communicating the need for, and helping with the understanding of privacy requirements.

Let’s move forward; Social Media
Yes I hate that term as much as anyone, Social Media is neither social, nor media, but that’s a rant for another day. My community is fragmented, fractured if you will, between different shards of communication medium. My Twitter users are not the same audience as my Facebook users, and let’s face it, no one’s on Google or Pheed. Pinterest is its own animal and will not be let out of its cage at the moment.

Twitter is a much more immediate, succinct and (in my opinion) rewarding medium. Conversations can be had but they are in the moment, relevant to the here and now and have a much more ‘live’ interactive feeling to them. It’s a group of people at a very large party who are having a wonderful engaging conversation that evolves and dissolves naturally. It can be high maintenance, but usually only over the short-term.

Facebook is the speaker on the podium who makes an announcement and then sits back to watch others have the discussion, only piping in once in a while to redirect the conversation.  Information on Facebook lingers which can be used to your advantage but it certainly requires more maintenance over the long-term.  People will continue to comment on things you said months ago, and you tend to look at them like someone who is late to class.

The gap here lies in effectively communicating using these different methods, with differing audiences who need different take-away and timeliness from those messages.

And where does that leave our underage players who cannot use Facebook, Twitter or Email? I’m afraid they’re struggling and I’m challenged to aid them.

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Community Challenge – Inalienable Rights

So you put out a release, and in the release notes is something that is a bug fix. Something that was never supposed to work the way it did, but because it took so long to fix, it’s somehow ingrained in your game. It’s suddenly an inalienable right that players be allowed to continue to reap the benefits of what is essentially an exploit just because you didn’t rip it out fast enough. Now they’re used to it, they rely on it to some extent and no matter what your rationale, you’re wrong.

Well guess what, you’re stuck. The handful of players who looked at it from a non-selfish point of view, and said, “yeah yanno what, removing it makes sense” are drowned out by the “how dare you take away our unfair advantage”.  And so you have a choice. Go with the unpopular vote for the greater good, and tick off the vocal minority, or acquiesce so that you send the message that next time there’s something they don’t like, if they yell enough you’ll change it. Rock | Dev | HardPlace

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Community Challenge – Rephrase your Response

Last week’s challenge was to find ways to better communicate answers to questions, particularly answers that are of the negative persuasion. (I already told you why I won’t give you a free max level account…)

I’ve taken a look at many of my EditPad files of standard copy paste responses and modified them to be more succinct, clear and final. I’ve also added a new one that I think will save a great deal of grief. I’ve seen this paragraph before somewhere else (this isn’t my writing) and think it perfectly conveys that the communication issue isn’t always in the response.

I’m open to hearing what you have to say and having a discussion about it, but I have a policy of not responding to people who take a malicious approach to conversation. If you’d like to try again with a kinder approach, I would be happy to have a conversation with you.

I’ve used this message recently in communications that have been purposely and pointedly malicious even to the point of violence, and with surprising success. Often the initial communication is a flurry of angered words fuelled by the emotion at the time. Once the dust has settled and my ‘want to try that again?’ response has been digested, the return replies have so far been apologetic, understanding, reasonable and well formulated. Once people realize that talking smack isn’t going to get them anywhere, but a rational conversation will often provide results, the subsequent interactions are much more calm and productive.

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