The Laws of Online Communities

I went ahead and updated an ancient page called The Laws of Online Communities. It includes some of my observations of online communities over my many years on all sides of the game development fence (player, fansite creator, community relations manager, and designer). I added a few more laws to the mix, and I’ve mirrored them below.

Law #10: Developer posts are valuable as long as what they post has value. It’s great to allow for transparency and open communication between fans and your development team, but it is only valuable as long as what the team posts is useful. The Signal/Noise ratio doesn’t only apply to members of the community, it applies to the company as well.

Law #11: Never announce something before you’re 100% sure it’s going to happen. If it’s something very minor, it’s often okay to mention that you are thinking about doing it, but always be clear that it isn’t a sure thing. If it’s something major, don’t even go that far, or people will expect it to come to fruition even if you indicate that it may not.

Law #12: Never lie to your community. Honesty is the gateway to trust. It is better not to answer if you aren’t sure, and it is better to tell the hard truth even if players aren’t going to like it. They will respect you and your company more for your honesty.

Law #13: Never try to mask a negative as a positive. A nerf is a nerf, a buff is a buff. Players are smart. You can’t fool them into thinking something is a good thing if it isn’t. If something that players perceive overall as negative has positives, feel free to highlight them, but don’t pretend that everything is pie and cake if it isn’t.

Law #14: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it” – Kay, Men in Black. Build relationships with individuals, and realize that an individual can be reasoned with. People are smart. Treat members of your community as individuals, not just as a faceless crowd.

Law #15: Encourage and reward constructive contributions from community members. Whether positive or negative, acknowledge and thank players who provide constructive feedback, organization, and sanity to your community.

To see the rest, check out the page:

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