Thursday, October 30, 2008

Building a Community

The heart of a good BitTorrent site is a good community. This is a hard subject to address, which is one reason I've hitherto avoided it. However, it's also a very important one, so I'll do my best.

Easier than describing how to make a good community is perhaps how not to do so. I know of a group of people that are trying to create a community out of whole cloth, which strikes me as ridiculously naïve. That said, they're more knowledgeable than I am, and if they succeed, the more power to them.

However, in my experience, good communities are things that are not made but simply come about of their own accord. The best you can do as administrator is to focus on creating an environment that fosters a strong community. I've already outlined factors that can poison a community: strong emphasis on ratio, paranoid pre-emptive action against potential undesirables, heavy-handed and arbitrary moderation, and so forth.

People like to be free, to be able to speak their minds without fear of repercussions. They will naturally gravitate to a place where they feel that they can do this. Make no mistake, the world doesn't need another 4chan. In fact, the world doesn't need the 4chan it already has. As always, it is necessary to find a balance between the extremes of staff control and utter chaos – to moderate in moderation, as it were. Trying to entice people become active in the community is doomed to failure. Rewards for high post counts are ridiculous; people are too hung up over post counts anyway, and it's harder to break in to a community where post count equals status equals worth as a person. It may not seem that way to you, but it will to the newcomers.

This is where things get difficult. It's up to you to find your own balance. All I can do is lay out the questions and leave you to answer.

If you've got any more points you'd like us to cover before shutting this bad boy down, now's the time. Don't be shy!


WakuWaju said...

Would be interested in a story about building a community outside the tracker.

Is there a level of communication between trackers ?

Are there sincere coorperatios between the trackers ?

Things like that ...

Pavel said...

Thanks a lot for those last 2 posts :-)

I was wondering - if you'd do some looking back at what you did, how would you rate it? Would you start a tracker again? Do you think that you achieved what you wanted to achieve when you started the site?

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