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.
-Michael, the OnlineDM