MassivelyOP Asks — What Makes a Really Great MMO Community Manager?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

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In my time covering EverQuest II, we’ve had three really great Community Managers — Christine “Kiara” Renzetti, Margaret “Luperza” Krohn, and Racheal “Afista” McKenny.

Yesterday as part of their Daily Grind column, MassivelyOP asked “What Makes a Really Great MMO Community Manager?

When Funcom hired new community managers a few weeks ago, some readers questioned why we’d cover it. Big whoop, community managers are glorified retweeters, right? Yeah, not so much. A talented community manager can work a playerbase and keep everyone happy even in dark times. “Sinking, panicking games dump their CMs overboard first, not realizing their CMs are the best at bailing,” I argued at the time. “Hiring good CMs is a good sign in a lot of ways.”

Comments can sometimes be painful to read, but I found some interesting answers to the question posed…

Good communication and consistency. Don’t lie to players and expect them to respect you after. Things change, we get that and though we might not like it we can accept it.

Keep your game community up to date with what’s going on with the game and the company. Post replies to threads on the forums giving whatever bits of info you can (or even saying you have no info). Post threads of your own with important updates.

You need to work to create a community, not merely stand back and moderate whatever community happens to form by itself. You need to do what you can to foster the kind of community you want to have and a lot of work goes into that.

The ones who are active and willing to take on tough questions (or at least relay those questions to the dev team) rather than just dodge everything and play a major PR game.

CMs that run regular events that involve the community – not just the favourite forum stars but run stuff that the ordinary player who usually doesn’t even read forums can participate in. CMs that can deal with fed up and frustrated players at their wits’ end over an issue that has been plaguing them to the brink of rage quitting, and who don’t take it as a personal attack. CMs that can find the magic balance between allowing frank and honest discussion, and censorship of offensive posts.

and an entire post by schmidtcapela:

There are a few things a good CM can’t do, IMHO:

- Antagonize the players. Not even to defend the game, the company, or other players. Keep in mind that disagreeing doesn’t requires antagonizing, and keeping a good environment even as disagreement flares up is essential.

- Lie. Not even by proxy, so if the devs or publisher do lie, the CM should either not mirror that falsehood or else should put it into doubt; regaining the trust is very hard once broken. Telling the players that certain bits of information are off-limits is fine, though.

- Break forum rules. Or change them on a whim, which amounts to nearly the same thing. It’s already hard enough to make players follow forum rules, and that task becomes even harder if players can point to “official” posts that did the same rule violation, even if the rules were different when that post was made.

As for what makes a great CM, well, it’s an art. And, as such, while there are big “No-No”s, and even paths towards being an acceptable professional, there is no recipe for true success.

Commentary

Community Manager is a job title that carries with it a thankless job of long hours, abusive responses, e-mailed threats, and ridiculous expectations. An incredibly thick skin is required, and staff are often put between a rock (the player) and a hard place (business interests, marketing decisions, development resource limitations, etc.). However if a Community Manager can rise above the level of traffic cop to that of passionate community builder, they can create something truly engaging.

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Comments (1)

  • Katz

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    Good article. CMs can be the difference between building player resentment to a higher and higher level or decreasing it.

    For example, we’ve not received an answer yet to the question of why fansite, guide, and lore subforums just “had” to be removed from the eq2 forums. I still resent that. I think it was a capricious and arbitrary decision and have been told nothing to make me think it was otherwise. The response to the question has been a resounding *crickets*.

    Reply

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