Our Community is Fragmented, And We Need to Be Honest About It.

To preface: There are intact and well-managed individual communities. The title refers to the overarching “global” state of the community worldwide. Today I am reminded of how poorly the Legend of Dragoon community manages itself at times – let alone in any other topic space. I’m not perfect, but I can say with certainty that…





To preface: There are intact and well-managed individual communities. The title refers to the overarching “global” state of the community worldwide.

Today I am reminded of how poorly the Legend of Dragoon community manages itself at times – let alone in any other topic space. I’m not perfect, but I can say with certainty that proper community management often involves and requires a group of individuals who share responsibility, communicate, and inform one another of any pivotal updates or changes they wish to make. It also necessitates a sense of unity and teamwork. I can’t be the only one in the world that understands healthy community management practices, right?…  Right?

So what caught my eye? Someone from one of the general-purpose Facebook groups for LoD just created a “Legend of Dragoon” page and linked their group to it. By itself that’s a good idea, since pages don’t have the same functionality and purpose as “groups” and both have benefits. Pages are a public face format for the wide audience while a group is where that member base can chat with each other more directly – kind of like an organic forum. These two things can and should intersect somewhat, although Facebook’s present format for different kinds of things – like pages and groups – needs some streamlining and better overlap.

With that said, one of the largest issues in the LoD community abroad is that there are many general-purpose “pages” on Facebook for Legend of Dragoon, and at least two groups. I’ve been going over this with various people for a few years now, but this is my first time blogging about it. There are a number of issues to address; for the sake of blog length I’ll start with one of the largest matters that needs to be conveyed. It revolves around a case study of Facebook although the same elements can apply to other social networks.

Too Many General-Purpose Instances and Tribalism

With a quick search I discovered about 50 unique “page” results for Legend of Dragoon – not including groups and other types. The top result is the page with the game’s box art for a display picture, and about 3,800 likes and follows. The next page is titled “Petition for Legend of Dragoon 2” with almost 12,000 likes and follows – they previously ran some events, getting a lot of great responses from the fanbase. Wow!

Both of those pages have more potential outreach than any other on Facebook, yet are being managed infrequently. By contrast, the 2,500 member “group” has far more activity with dozens of posts a day and frequent management – but less outreach most of the time. A second group has ~500 members. There’s another LoD page that has 800 likes and follows, and there are dozens more with a random few game pictures or vague information. Others still have generic LoD titling but once you go to the page, the content doesn’t match. This makes social media needlessly cumbersome.

How did this happen? Over time, different individuals made different pages with different settings and got a random set of people to join their group until the group size got stagnant. I have come to call this situation “The Broken Islands,” named after the location of the same name in Endiness. It happens when random people want to make a difference and/or build a community, but only to the extent they’re capable and often without reaching out, asking for help, or seeing if another page/group already exists with the same purpose.

It is also true in many cases that the individual just wants something they’re fully “in control of” often due to their own real life being hard to manage or keep up with. They make these groups and pages, which reach a peak eventually, and then it’s just sitting there forever. Hell, I get that. I’ve been there. Feels good to have a group that doesn’t resist you, welcomes you, and it can just be “yours” in that sense even though it’s there for everyone else.

What these people often think they’re doing is building a general community, while the subconscious heart-strings are really speaking the language of “I’d like my own guild, clan or tribe.” I don’t think anyone’s a “bad” person for doing this, but I do think it’s a mistake in terms of context. We’ve got dozens of pages on a single social network with the exact same purpose. Posts and events are scattered so far between them that it’s embarrassing and disappointing. It becomes counter-intuitive. The irony is that many of these starter-types want to amass large numbers and/or push for the LoD IP to get another game made in some fashion. So here’s a massively revealing kernel of wisdom for anyone reading this:

When you go through with starting a cause but aren’t attempting to network with others who have the same goal, it always ends up in a situation where there are a number of other people just like you, doing something similar or identical, and each of you gathers a fraction of the people who took interest. In the process, usually that cause gets managed poorly because you, the starter, have very little management experience but somehow felt your good will was going to be enough by itself.

General-purpose communities are meant for centralized unity, not to be divided into dozens of little tribes on one social network. You are hurting this community and restricting the potential for this fanbase to be taken seriously by Sony – not to mention that you’re working against your own goal most of the time.

“Letting go” of your admin status and your separate page/group shouldn’t bruise your pride or ego either. If you still want to help, get on board with the global community and take on the responsibilities you can safely manage. None of this works with only a single person or two at the top of the “admin ladder.” This is why open-community wikis are so successful, and I must emphasize that fan communities for a video game need to follow the same model. It’s time to apply a Healing Fog and work together.

How Do We Make This Right?

How do we know when there are too many Legend of Dragoon page listings on Facebook? What constitutes “too many” LoD groups on DeviantArt? The most effective format I’ve ever seen in practice is to centralize – and it doesn’t require a full monopoly. To simplify this particular issue – when it comes to Facebook anyway – we must consolidate to a single “Page,” and possibly a single “Group.” This is all that’s needed for the general-purpose side of things.

Beyond that, separate pages are warranted for specific use. For example, there can be a fan page for Meru enthusiasts, but there shouldn’t be six of them. That doesn’t do any good, only serving to split the outreach potential. In other words, one page for each focus: general purpose, Meru enthusiasts, Lloyd lovers, and for speakers of other languages. To be clear, this is per-network. Obviously we can’t exist “just” on Facebook or “just” on Reddit.

The Facebook “Page” needs a team of people who can moderate chat as well as run occasional events or polls; things that engage the community and give them something interesting to read, view, or participate in from time to time. If the “Page” format doesn’t support it enough, we can also have a “Group” where the community interacts more with itself – musings, help requests, stream links and so on.

In addition – and depending on whether Facebook updates their format – we need to use the the closest-matching page “type” of the available choices on Facebook. Some of these LoD “Pages” are listed as Games/Toys, another is Community… Nonprofit Org, Artist, Video Game, Fiction.. Movie… Television Studio? Yeah. No.

Fixing this requires getting in contact with whoever manages those pages and groups whose purpose overlap, and encourage a merge explaining what the issue is, proof of detrimental effect, and asking them to do said merge into the pre-existing largest or best-managed page/group that’s serving the same purpose. They’ll have every right to take on a role in helping manage things too if they wish.

I’ll probably end-up being the one to do most of these requests, and I doubt I can successfully implore everybody. Still, I know this will help establish a more reliable foundation for growing the Legend of Dragoon community at large. I’m right here, so let’s open a dialogue~