Friday, 22 March 2019

What does 'Community' mean to you?

Are you in one?

What are its borders?

What are its rules?

What does it mean to be in or out of one?

Whats your borderline between 'community' and 'not community'? Like between a bunch of people who happen to hang out and an actual 'community'?

Under what circumstances can someone be removed from an community you are in? And who decides? And have you ever been afraid of being kicked out?

Do you ever have dark feelings about your community that you can't tell anyone?


  1. Communities tend to be groups of people, and historically, groups of people are bad.

    1. Alas, so are individuals. Not yet found a universally accepted solution to either issue.

    2. We just have to stop people in general.

  2. Is an online community a community? When you’re kicked out, you are literally excommunicated.

  3. It means localised activity, between local actors. Online things are great and everything, but lacking the authenticity (nebulous, yet understood) of proximity, they fail on multiple criteria, or rather present incomplete versions of community, to participate in incompletely.

    The screaming exception, might be 'selling shit', but I would consider that a low level outcome from community participation, being something one could win with greater ease from another community member, than say, a regular commitment of time. Thus, the wide net cast by online interaction, proves useful for commerce.

    Within the local, 'kick outs' and such, happen at a greater weight Of meaning than online. Thus: understandable, predicted, experienced and perhaps feared much less.

    The borders of a community, extend as far as the sphere of face to face knowledge--- individual by individual--- extends. In some sense, the community stretches unfathomably, but we're really talking about density, rather than a hard binary.

    1. The focus on in-person activity seems to be a rather uncommon definition Nick, why do you assess it that way?

    2. I agree with Nick. In fact I might write a blog post about it.

    3. I see communities as systems that produce outcomes. The ones I seek, are those that result in tangible benefits for the members. These communities are invariably analogue in nature... activity takes place and is responded to, in kind. If you scratch me in meat space, I'll react one way or another. The lessening of authenticity as one goes further out from that network, online for example, means that I may not even _know_ you scratched me. I might think it was a tickle. I might not notice such a low resolution activity _at all_.

      A community in situ, is the same as--- or adjacent to--- magical or spiritual ritual: change the topography of one's environment and relationships and see measurable effects

      I'm a believer, that localisation trumps. Grass roots activity nurtures genuine change. In my day job, it's my task to motivate and nourish a community based around creating and enjoying music and art (with the extra aid provided, by analogue booze), so I guess one could posit, that my focus on member activity, is a result of ongoing praxis. Wonderful things slowly become possible, by dint of attention towards relationships, emphasis on participation and focus on what is happening, in a space, day to day--- and how one is free and invited to inhabit and live that space.

      I sincerely hope that answers your question...

    4. I'm not unsympathetic to your point of view, but it does conflict quite strongly with my own experience. Almost everything good I've ever made was made with people I've barely spent any time with in-person.

    5. Yeah, I totally acknowledge that. It works well for selling and creating niche stuff. I'm not sure you'd have much luck selling DCO to many people in the local Wetherspoons.

      I do like to think that internet friendship and co-operation, can lead to organic friendship, or at least increase it's probability.

  4. After seeing the (to me) extreme political beliefs on both sides that seem to be tied up with how people interact and create within the space of our little zeitgeist, id say im more a part of (or a wanderer in) the OSR community than a part of its more directed, group affirming 'belief-spce' (tm).

    Its rules and borders are constantly shifting based on specifics seemingly completely divorced from the central focus of the group (rpgs and mechanics and art and such) and are more aligned along social and political boundaries. For good or ill i dont know, though its interesting nevertheless.

    Id say where the community ends regards blogger, especially now that g+ is dying ,though i can see a major (quiet) schism happening now that discord is taking over and tempers can flare in real time; the beauty of blogs is that they are much more subject focused, where irc is geared more toward the personal and, hence, the combative.

    Regarding removal, everyone here knows it can happen rapidly and with extreme vigor, and maybe thats the subject where dark feelings swell but are clamped down as divorcing events and ideas are hard for many people, increasingly so day by day.

    Of course, you were probably asking in the general sense, sadly the only community im really a part of is this one haha

    1. I'm interested in what you have to say. It brought to mind thoughts of my own in which the powers brought to bear to 'protect' the online community remain as a kind of dark invisible threat, a hidden sword, who's presence changes the tone of future interactions. It reminds me a lot of listening to Mike Duncans Revolutions podcast in which each emergency can only be resolved by cutting ever closer to the bone, with each cut just leaving less and less social and moral order to preserve.

      I would be interested to know what's going on in Discord, if that's something you wanted to talk about.

  5. Well, a comedy series is one answer.

  6. I'm going to assume I'm answering about the tentative OSR community, or other Internet communities, and not, say, a real-life community as they vary more wildly in my experience.

    Not sure. Do I have a choice?

    Depends on who you ask, as far as I can tell.

    Depends on which micro version of the community in question, and then there are real rules, fictional rules and implicit rules, too. It gets confusing.

    For those like me who don't need to feel "in", doesn't make much of a difference, unless the latter becomes relevant: for those who do care about who's in or out, being out means getting treated as an outsider in the middle ages, sans physical abuse because Internet doesn't yet allow that, and being treated as in can be even worse.

    I'd say a community is a group that stops being just a bunch of friends - it's a bunch of people now, with all the good and bad that that entails.

    When there's a majority consensus, or, if the community is still small enough or controlled by a strong minority, when they say so. A community is made of people and people, as a whole (not as individuals mind you) don't care that much about reason, unless it's a curated group, and even then it's difficult to maintain with each growing numbers. Can't be kicked out if nobody notices you - if I was big, I probably wouldn't care that much either unless I made money.

    I can tell most people in my social circles because they're also the kind that don't need to feel "in".

    1. Thank you, that was interesting. In particular the borderline between being a group of friends and a group of people who are not necessarily friends.

  7. I hope I am not as I don't have a benevolent view on communities.

    Community is like a fire. When looking at it from outside, by the order of proximity, it illuminates, warms and burns, and it is always not fully predictable by nature. Getting too involved or even too close to 'the community' always results in burns, however safe it is proclaimed to be. It is better not to get too involved.

    Being out is being either unaware or indifferent; I don't care and ain't aware of any sports communities, for example, although they very probably exist. Being _tossed out_ is an entirely different thing, emotionally, much more heavy: it is being denied the access to something I am/was caring about.

    Community seems to be a self-gestating entity, online especially. At some point amidst people who are just hanging together, enthusiastically doing the same thing, somebody starts to say 'we/as a community', and unless everything breaks apart by the irony of the situation, 'we/as a community' usually sticks; then there are norms, then additional rules appear (written or not), which, at terminal stage, become filters of being 'in' and 'out.'

    Online communities balance it by being generally more fragile as the internet offers too many distractions and options. Offline communities take longer to gestate but somewhat more durable.

    To me the community (in contrast to a bunch of people who just enthusiastically do the same stuff together) is defined by the ability to take an more or less the same drastic action (be it buying certain stuff at mass, supporting or not supporting certain things); in this it is quite similar to mob in the respect that if you don't take such action often enough, you eventually start being viewed as outsider. In terminal cases, gatekeepers gain a lot of power to say who is 'in' and 'out.

    Long-lasting communities almost always have 'gurus'/'queen bees', of whom I need to be wary: people who cultivate cult of their personalities to use as a possible social weapon. People, who hang together enthusiastically going the same thing, usually don't have them.

    Participating in the 'community' always means making some personal compromises. The border is defined on how many compromises is required of me (openly or in unwritten fashion) and if I am willing to make them.

    I don't know about kicking people out.

    I had heavy feelings about a community (non-RPGs) I was in 2004-2011. I can tell about them, just it is useless to tell about them because nobody who is 'in' cares and to people 'out' it is just an unrelated rant. Yes, I was afraid of being kicked out, at some point, but I eventually left anyway.

    1. I largely agree with your emotions in regard to what it is. If you want to talk about what happened before, I'd like to hear it.

    2. May I write an email about it? The story is kind of long and may be confusing, and comments won't let me edit it if I get a wording wrong.

  8. There are some aggregate quantitative answers to this question here:

    Consider especially the final two figures. Basically, younger people see online gaming in community terms more than older people, and, in addition to perceiving it that way, seem to want it to be that way.

    Notice also that the data seems to cohere around three themes which map roughly to the objects of ambivalence you and David have highlighted in your recent posts (focus on the activity itself, focus on community connections, and focus on commerce).