Social networks, joining people of like mind and like interest in a new wave of understanding and cooperation! Nonsense! Social networks are actually a nest of vipers and unless you are very,very careful you will get bitten! I spend hours a week deleting posts and dealing with private messages about one person or another’s perceived misbehaviour. I spend hours a week deleting spam from forums and Facebook groups, I also spend hours a week dealing with the “helpful” suggestions from members and finding nice ways to say no. You need to be fully aware how bitchy and petty people are when they are in groups before you undertake any project that involves organizing people into groups. Its worse than you think. With that out of the way…
Make no mistake, the opportunities afforded by Facebook, google+ and easily installed and maintained content management systems and fora such as Drupal and phpBB are immense. But with every silver lining comes a cloud, and the adage “herding cats” has never been more appropriate than when dealing with hundreds of wargamers. Add in the national traits of Scots and you have a recipe for disaster, we are famous after all for being temperate and reasonable individuals after all.
If you undertake to try to organize your fellow gamers, you can use Facebook groups, google plus hangouts and a website with forum to tie them all together, the technical skills and details of how to do this are easily available in many forms, youtube, books, and the tutorials on various sites. But no one tells you the why and the what, the where and the who. Today the WHY.
The WHY: Do you want to use the group for organizing games, promoting your club or just as a hangout for like-minded gamers?
These goals share some common ground but there are things that make them mutually exclusive. A purely organizational group should be very focused on the events and games, with as little ‘noise’ as possible. The people who want to use this as a way to organize games and tournaments will not appreciate the occasional “look at my thing I did” post knocking details down the stream(in Facebook groups, the most recent comment will bump a post back o the top, in Forums this is not as much of an issue).
If you are using your Facebook or google group to organize events, use the available tools as best you can, because there’s nothing worse than someone who has not put any effort in criticizing you for not using feature Y, except when they are right and you should have been using it. Calendars are a great feature that a lot of people use, but I am a member of a few groups that don’t. This means I have to do extra work to keep things in order…a simple “add to my calendar” feature such as that built into Facebook means I can just sync it to google calendar, iCal or outlook. This way I can see conflicts, work schedules etc in advance and decide if I can make an event or not.
Use the features of groups and twitter to promote your events and groups, these are free in cost but not free in time, it is a commitment to remember to tweet every event, it’s a commitment to go to each group and forum and post everything up. A simple event such as an extended opening day at your local venue can take upwards of 20 hours just to post in the various places and keep up with replies. Can you spare that kind of time?
Most important of all when it comes to the why, is why are you doing it all? Are you really doing it for the love of the hobby, for the love of the game, or for your own love of being popular and central to things? If it’s the latter, you are about to be disappointed. I know many people who have been press gangers or similar who have given it up in short order when they realize how much work is involved. People always tell you that these things are a lot of work with no thanks. It is a lot of work with no thanks, and you can’t understand just how much and how little until you have done it.
Still wanting to be that lynchpin, the one who does it so they don’t have to? Tune in a fortnight for the what!
Until then dance like naebodys lookin.