Help - Somebody Join My Community!
Courtesy of Bille
Over the past years, hundreds of communities have been founded in AW. Towns, societies and a wide range of projects. Impressive ideas and optimistic foundations, but why do many of them stop breathing after a few months? And what's the definition of a strong community?
There's of course no simple answer to such a definition - it all depends on the community's mission and the founders' intentions. If two persons live their cyber lives in a town, that town is just as important as a town of 50 residents. A society with only 3 members is just as valuable as a group having 100 members. At least it is for those involved, and who should indicate the success of a community if not it's own residents or members? It will always be more important that those involved are having a good time than to be the largest community around.
In the AW Community Register (AW ComReg), we require a community to have at least 2 members before they get listed as a community. Although a strong community ought to have even more people involved, at least 2 persons make a decent start. But to assure your community's future you should do your best to involve more people as soon as possible - it's often easier to attract them in the start since members then might be able to influence on decisions in an early stage. And, your community will most likely benefit from new impulses from those joining in.
It seems that any community works smoother when it's based on a theme or a specific, common interest. Themes can be either AW relevant or based on real life interests, but without such a basic foundation, the community will most likely get a very short life. Building is normally a common interest to most AW users, but what will happen with the community when all the houses and structures are completed? Most of the residents will probably stay listed as residents, but hardly visit the place. Keeping them interested in the long run, requires a plan or good luck.
Keep your members busy by delegating duties and some sort of responsibility. Ask them what they would like to do, and give them a chance to realise their ideas. But be aware that even members who doesn't have a lot of ideas might be happy if they are offered a specific job!
You might want to work on the community's profile, advertising it in any way they can; creating good graphics for the billboards, arranging local events, sending representatives to other community's events - all in order to spread the word. With hundreds of communities hunting for residents and members, it can be hard to get the majority's attention in order to bring in new members. "Join our community" might simply not be enough.
In addition the community's GZ ought to be updated at least by-weekly. Think for your self; You do visit a foreign town's main square and you find a sign there advertising an event that took place a year ago, or you get the impression that nothing was changed there in a very long time. Would you assume such a community to be alive and worth joining?
All in all, bringing your community to success and keeping it there, is a challenge similar to the most complex computer games - who hasn't played Civilisation or Sim City? What makes AW special is that you are dealing with real humans, not a programmed computer game. The community's future is decided by how real life individuals - your residents and members, will react to the leadership's actions. How you deal with conflicts within the community, and what your community is offering to it's members. And believe me - humans in AW are less predictable than any computer game...:)
It's possible that there will be some conflicts or disagreements after a while, but don't you think that will only make it all more interesting? Such conflicts might even be needed to form a better future for you all - because they challenge the community as a unit. After a while your community will grow, which might include minor or major adjustments concerning it's administration or missions. Don't expect it to remain your original solo project forever, because sooner or later the community might start living it's own life, with it's own history and local culture making it very special! That is the goal, isn't it?:)
On a final note; Being aware of all these challenges, it's strange that we don't see more 'advertising agencies' in AW. Groups and individuals with a certain interest and skills for marketing, could assist communities polishing their profile and advertising their existence to bring in more members. What a challenge that would be! And what a great practice for anyone who wants to work with marketing or graphics in the real world! And it might even be useful for the AW communities:)
Bille is one of AWCommunity's most active members. He is the founder of several communities, groups and organizations. In his continuing commitment to making AW a better place for everyone, he currently administers both