As a rule, I'm a forum addict. I've been this way for many many years starting with parenting boards then moving on to debate boards and finally into my current interest for the last four years, the virtual world boards. I've watched drama unfold, I've watched personal attacks and I've watched communities gather around each other when times were hard.
Basically, I've seen it all.
Or so I thought.
Recently, on the Inworldz Forum Boards, a new trend has started to emerge. Sides are being taken, the subject is discussed through numerous threads and posts. It's on-going, it's heartbreaking, and nobody ever wins. People become upset and those who could be civilized and polite with each other, no longer are. What is this new trend you ask and is it really new?
It's called "Telling other Creators what they should and should not do with their business."
Although probably not new to some, it is for me and I think that is because it's not consumers telling creators what they would like to see or how they wish to be treated. Instead, it's creators telling other creators how to run their business. The discussions generally start off innocent enough. Someone offers thoughts on how they run their business. Or maybe they ask for ideas that others have found to work for them. Possibly it's about prices and how does one go about deciding what might be a good way to figure out pricing. Occasionally, it's a rant about high prices or poor products. Worse...it involves freebies.
Sometimes, a smart person will say "this is only my opinion..." and share details on what works for them or as a consumer, what they prefer to see or how they prefer to be treated. Often, those words are twisted and turned around to accuse someone of telling another how to run their business.
However, the above isn't really the issue. What is starting to be seen more and more is creators losing their community spirit and attacking other creators. These aren't out right attacks, by far they are much worse. They are what I call the 'quiet attack' where your not really sure if the creator is addressing your products or another persons. Statements like "Too many business in a box or templates are being used", or more complaining about "big business' opening up their store amongst many other remarks that are being tossed back and forth.
These type of comments and jabs are extremely harmful to the community at large. It's true that a very small user base of the Inworldz community participates on the forums. What is also true is that a large portion read the forums, even if they only read them once. First impressions mean a lot and right now the creators of Inworldz are not making a very good or welcoming first impression.
What a person reads when they first glance at the forums are the issues surrounding our world, which is extremely open and transparent for a reason. That reason is to let others know that Inworldz is Beta and there are quirks, issues and down right hair pulling days. For many, that would be ok and acceptable. Be it to open a business, or to have a vacation home away from the Papa Grid, or even to take up permanent residence.
The other thing they are reading is creators fighting with creators. They are seeing people being called out on the forum for what another deems as poor behavior. They are seeing creators telling other creators that freebies are bad or higher pricing is bad. They are hearing comments about Inworldz sales paying for Papa Grid tier and how that shouldn't be acceptable (but apparently it's ok to use Papa Grid money to pay for Inworldz tier).
I'm not sure how any of this equates to the Community Spirit we all say we crave and want. It's not supporting other creators-even if we personally do not agree with their prices, their freebies or how they run their business, we shouldn't be calling them out in the forums. If we, as creators, want to get the Community Spirit back into the forums for Inworldz and make a good first impression that is welcoming to others, then it might be time to subscribe to the "If I can't say anything nice, I should not be saying anything at all" rule of thumb.
Does this mean you can no longer state your opinions? Of course not. What it means is to chose your words carefully and, keep in mind, you have an audience. What you type to another could possibly be their first impression of you. If you see something you don't like or feel it's not proper for the forums, by all means state so. Then end it there. Not everything needs to turn into a debate about what's better, or calling each other out on perceived attitude issues, or anything else that will end up with fights and locked threads.
We are all in this together, maybe it's time we all started acting like it.