Little did I know that sharing my feelings about my little place in the online D&D community would lead to so much discussion! I think most of the discussion was really generated by Adam Page’s guest post after my original post, but still, it’s been very interesting to hear this issue discussed on the Haste podcast and the Dungeon Master Roundtable / 4 Geeks 4e podcast.
Here are a few clarifications and follow-up thoughts I wanted to share.
First, the “three tiers” structure of the D&D blogging / Twitter community was Adam’s phrasing, not mine. I can take neither credit nor blame for that description! I did talk about feeling like there was an active community that I thought I was a part of until I met people in that community and realized that they didn’t know me, so I did imply the existence of two groups, but I didn’t express it using tiers.
Second, a lot of the follow-up discussion seems to have implied that people think Adam or I were saying that we feel excluded, that people ignore us when we reach out to them, etc. I can’t speak for Adam on this point, but this is NOT the case for me at least. I’ve never felt excluded or ignored. My revelation was that I was unknown without realizing I was unknown.
I think because it’s so easy to listen to and read people’s work online, it’s easy to forget that reading a blog or listening to a podcast is mostly a one-way street. I “knew” the folks from the DM Roundtable, for instance, but they didn’t know me. I wasn’t putting out a podcast for them to hear, and none of them had ever read my blog. Yes, this is a, “Well, duh!” revelation, but worth noting. Just because I’d been blogging for over a year and was on the various RPG blog networks, I mistakenly assumed that people in the relatively small RPG blogging community (and the even smaller D&D 4e blogging community) had read some of my stuff and knew who I was. And that simply wasn’t the case.
I didn’t feel excluded – I just felt that I was unknown (because let’s face it – I was!). And it’s not even that I desperately wanted to be known before that; it was that I never considered that I might be unknown, and it was jarring to discover. I tended to think of people whose 4e blogs I read and whose podcasts I listened to as people I “knew”, but I don’t actually know these people, and they don’t know me. They haven’t read my blog. There’s no reason I should have thought any of them did, just to be clear here. It was a little bit silly on my part.
Third, for me it wasn’t about Twitter. I only joined Twitter the week of GenCon because I wanted to hear about what was going on while I was there. I didn’t have any followers, nor did I especially feel the need to have any; I signed up mostly to read other people’s stuff. So, any conversations about people worrying that others feel excluded because they’re not replying to everybody’s tweets – that’s not an issue for me, personally. I know this is something @SarahDarkmagic has worried about, and I can tell Tracy that for me at least, it’s not a problem.
Finally, I will say as I mentioned on my earlier follow-up that talking about this community issue ended up changing things for me. I’m still not a “top tier” blogger (Adam’s term, not mine!) and I doubt if I ever will be. But some of the people whose blogs and podcasts I follow now know I exist and have mentioned my name. Maybe I’m not known for the reasons I wanted to be known, but, well, at least I know I’m part of the community now! And that’s all I was looking for.
Okay, back to my regular D&D adventures and MapTool talk now. Anyone want to play-test the adventure I plan to submit to Dungeon? I’d love more feedback! 🙂
-Michael, the OnlineDM
Thanks for writing a Follow Up OnlineDM…. It gives me a chance to clear some things up.
When I started writing my guest post, I was trying to put into words my experiences of being welcomed into the D&D community. If I knew then that it would have created so much tension in the community, then, to be honest, I wouldn’t have posted it. My intention had been to show that without knowing yet, I had become part of the wider D&D community just by posting my things without the intention for them to get seen and commented on.
I included the example of my AngelicDND persona, and the outcome of that as a way of showing that while you can be part of the community, getting recognition and praise for the work you’ve done requires more effort than just turning up and posting, a view reinforced by @ThadeousC’s comments.
My example of tiers for the way the community was organised was also not meant as an attack on the abilities or communication of members of the community. Instead, it was meant to show my appreciation of the people in it. Those I consider to be top tier have got there because they deserve it, not because they have been called ‘top tier’. They put out lots of good quality material, from adventures, fluff, crunch, reviews, commentary, unboxings… Each of them has carved out a niche in the community and continues to support that role well. Without the tireless effort of these individuals, I doubt the 4e community would be half of what it is today. I appreciate that some people consider the term ‘top tier’ to be divisive, and again, that was not my intention, rather I name it this because you are the most respected members in the community and most of us look up to you.
I’d also like to address three of the common reactions to my blog post that I have seen:
1 – Adam is after recognition for his work/Wants to be considered top tier
If you read the post, you’ll see I mention that I once had a lot of recognition in the SLA Industries community. I hated it. I don’t want to be the go to man for D&D content, or reviews. What I enjoy doing is writing material for my own use, and working with people to make things happen. While some consider me to be a driving force behind things like the UK Tweetups, or the Knights of Crescent Moon theme posted over at mDailyEnocunter.net, I am merely the guy who works in the background, connecting people with an idea to other people who can execute that idea. Its something I think I do well, and I’d rather be acknowledged for that, than for my D&D content
2 – It’s a how to guide to become top tier
Nope. The post was about my experiences of becoming part of the community, and the findings of my fake persona on what you need to do to gain some recognition. I never stated that these are the steps you need to do to become top tier. The fact that I wouldn’t even consider myself in the middle tier should show that I don’t know the steps to becoming as famous a blogger as NewbieDM.
3 – He’s saying the top tier ignore people
The origins of this one come from comments to my post, not my post itself. I don’t dispute that at times I have felt ignored by some of the more recognised members of the community, but most of this stems from when I wanted to include messages from them in the UKt2 brochure. However… I can’t help but think that SlyFlourish’s #dnd tweet aggregator site: dndtweets.com , where you have t o be a member of his twitter list to be part of the site smacks of elitism to me.
I’ll also admit that I found some of the responses from those in the community quite hurtful. I’ll pick out one especially:
“Casey Gaffney – Bullshit gamer posturing. If it makes some neckbeard feel better about himself because he listens to so-and-so podcast and reads what’s-their-fuck’s blog and wants to brag about how much better he is because of it; let ’em. Probably just sits in Mom’s basement and does just that because no one will play with them. /rant”
It seems to me that this person didn’t bother to read the article and instead just made comment on it. I wasn’t trying to make myself feel better about anything, barely mentioned podcasts, and wasn’t bragging. As for the parting comment, I make no secrets about the fact i’m a blind parent of 4 with a pre-teen son who games…
All in all, I think a lot of the discussion that has come out of these articles has been positive, and initiatives like TWWombat’s “Winter is Coming” blog carnival are great, but I do feel like my blog post was misinterpreted and that I’ve almost been vilified because of it.
This whole D&D Twitter article series you did was so darn good. Thanks for the posts. I also bookmarked ya. Content and consistency are indeed king. Blog because you are having fun and meeting interesting people. Ignore that other stuff. Remember the classic quote – “Love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life”.
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