Now you may ask yourself, what does Q have to do with attitude? Nothing. But Attitude is something important that we need to discuss as a forum, something that’s been the giant squid in the room for some time. To say, the overall attitude on the forums has stunk for some time. We’re not singling out any members; in fact, we’re saying that the staff attitude has been bad at times (or in dW’s case, only bad on days that end with Y). There are a lot of different causes to this, but that’s really not the point of this discussion.
What we’re talking about is what we can do to improve the attitude of the forum as a whole, and as such, the experience that all members have on the forum. Why is this important? Because community is the only thing we have here, and the more toxic we make that environment, the closer we get to killing it off. And that’s a sad prospect, but one we’ve probably been a lot closer to recently than any of us would care to admit.
How can we improve? Laying that out is simple. (as a bonus, count up the number of big words used in these posts… we’ll call it a (root) beer drinking game).
Be accepting of new members. Let’s face it… the majority of members we receive are going to be kids or young adults. Some members have literally grown up on the forums. That’s not to say we’re going to make this a “kid oriented” place, we’re still about the AFOLs. But what all of our members need to accept is that the younglings are part of the community just as much as the AFOLs, and when you have someone that’s obviously struggling with fitting in (or following the rules), there are proper ways to handle it.
First, don’t disparage other members on the boards. That means no name calling, snide posts, or sarcastic responses. Everyone was new to the boards (and the internet) once upon a time, and let’s help members get better at everything here, not just building. So instead of responding to a misguided post with the most caustic vitriol you can manage, maybe be helpful. Instead of calling out the member publicly, why not send a PM with some helpful links and offer to help.
Here’s the problem with a public attack… the person who makes the jab always, absolutely always, looks worse than the person they’re correcting. If things don’t change or they get out of hand, ask a board moderator or staff member, and they’ll take over. As a community, we have everything to lose when we demonize a new member and drive them off the boards; that’s the taste they take with them whenever FBTB comes up again. How many members here came on with friends, and how many will we lose? The majority of our active builders are the same people that are ripped apart by the forum mini-mods (and even occasionally the staff), and we’re lucky that they’ve stuck around despite how they’ve been treated.
Sarcasm does not transmit over the interweb tubes. Shocking, I know (see, that there was sarcasm, but could you tell), but it really doesn’t. Adding a simple or some other smiley doesn’t help, either. The problem is that most of the time, some people get that its sarcasm, but most probably don’t. And it reflects on your attitude. So you have two ways here… either be nice, or be mean (you know, like dW). That’s not to say that sarcasm doesn’t have a place, sometimes, it is obvious or harmless, but when you direct it at another member, it can be taken wrong. Maybe not by that member, or by you, but by others reading it.
Remember why we’re here. This is one thing I know the entire staff has been guilty of. We’re a LEGO forum that’s designed around building and creating. We’re kicking off a “Shut Up And Build” week to say goodbye to old FBTB and welcome new FBTB, and the staff is among them. We’re about building LEGO, and when someone takes the risk to put their creation out there, look on how to give constructive criticism. Be helpful, be nice, but also be honest. That means don’t attack someone for making a big grey turd (like LEGO did with the Twilight); instead, give them pointers on how to improve their build, their figures, or maybe even their pictures and presentation. Be helpful, and it goes a long way towards improving members and the community.
Avoid the inside jokes. Okay, this one the staff is going to take on as well, because we’re guilty of this more than most, at times. We’ve see this a lot in the last couple of years, with stuff ranging from the portal gag, to the (seriously non-existent) secret mods, to the member bashing on private forums. Fact is, if you want to start a bandwagon, it needs to be available to everyone on some level. Even if it’s the “I Hate dWhisper Fanclub” (anyone remember who started that one off? ), these make some members feel left out and expose little cliques and circles on the boards. It’s fine to have friends, in fact, it’s expected, but when you start excluding others and making fun of them for not being part of the gang, we have a problem. And we’ve lost members for it. Want an example of how these should work? Look at the zombie game, it was open to everyone, and everyone was free to make it their own. Even if some misguided fools tried to zombify the king of monsters…
So, how do we change? That is a little harder, because it requires action. Some basic steps like don’t attack other members should be easy, because they’re in the CoC. If that happens, expect that the staff will get involved, and we may be nice about sticking the boot up your hindquarters, but we still will pull out the steel-toes when we have to. We’ll try to be a little nicer in our public warnings as well.
Another step that seems obvious is to quote momma: “When you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Sure, you may despise Halo or Doctor Who, so that means you can just hit the back button and exit said thread. Simple as that. Don’t troll up in threads where you’re only trying to cause problems.
Lastly, help other members, new and old alike. That’s not saying we’re expecting you to spend your days chucking out advice, but if you think of yourself as a forum vet, maybe you should act like one, and help the newbies find their place on the boards. If you see something in the wrong place, send a gentle message, don’t call someone a twit in the thread. And let the staff worry about moving them around or trying to sink the three-pointer into the trash can.
Oh, and tacos rule.
Signed, the Staff