Daniel “Dahie” Senff has come up with several exciting ideas for new community web projects that could make the sim racing community a nicer and more productive place. Daniel is not just part of CTDP, he’s been active in our community for over ten years, enjoying the Grand Prix series and rFactor.
Below is the first part of his series of articles, the ideas presented in them are free to picked up by everyone who feels like it, you´re very much welcome to leave your opinion and discuss the ideas in the comments area as well.
By: Daniel Senff
In my professional live I am a web programmer, I closely follow developments in Internet technologies and I am particular interested in communities and their dynamics. Communities can be a blessing and a curse, a horde of uncontrollable creativity and harsh competition.
There are common elements like trolling, bashing, but there is always a very creative and constructive social element beneath. While it is impossible to control this, it is possible to focus the attention, to enable and to leverage a supportive attitude. This sounds horrible theoretical and I would boil it down to this question:
Web applications and websites of what particular focus and function are you missing, that could possibly make the community a nicer place?
This is a very big question and I’d like to present to you a series of ideas, which could bring a new fresh breeze or leverage better what we already have in this community. They are not developed to the last detail and they are highly subjective and very much open for debate. Some ideas are realistic, while others are totally utopian. I have no plans to bring any of these ideas to life. They are free for the taken and I hope they inspire more ideas, new experiments and many comments.
Take care, Dahie
The first idea I’d like to present sounds like a little bit of herassy towards VirtualR, but actually it is not.
VirtualR is a very successful blog writing about news for SimRacing Mods and Games. The principle of a weblog is quite old, but the way blogs are shaped today emerged 2005/2006. Shortly after, Rob also started VirtualR and was one of the first to use this very topical way of reporting on selected topics to his advantage. VirtualR’s strength is the lack of forum, downloads archive and the focus on what it is: a news blog.
More isn’t always better
Many other websites expanded their services and lost their focus to a point, where we have at least half a docent community portals that try to deliver everything. We don’t need jack of all trades devices that copy each other and don’t bring anything new to the table. We end up with many sites, that have a very loyal fanbase, a league, an outdated download-section and are copying news articles.
So there is room for new sites that find their specific focus. This is what rFactorCentral did in the beginning when it focused solely on being a Mod Database. This is the strength of VirtualR and this is where more projects could find their spot. Based on this premise are several of the ideas I want present here, the first taking a look at community blogs.
I exaggerate when I say there are no blogs at all in this community. There are a few, but it is notable that they all follow some very confined ways:
1. the news blog -> VirtualR, …
Reports about news of mod and game releases, tries to be very neutral, objective. Does neither report nor comment on community issues.
2. the development blog -> CTDP Development Blog
Very technical and focused on the subject at hand, usually the project in development. Perfect for distributing information around the mod and for announcements. Barely commenting on community topics, unless they are directly effected by it.
3. The league blog
Mostly race announcements and league news. Depending on the style they try to simulate professional motorsport journalism. The topics are usually relevant within the league, but not to outsiders.
What’s missing are blogs, that focus not on Mods, not on Leagues, but on those who play them: the Community.
It’s a very vibrant place with many different streams, opinions and discussions:
Sometimes this boils up and one troll is enough to get everyone on each other’s throat.
Sometimes a new idea ist discussed in one forum, but dies, because it reaches too few people.
Sometimes a mod team is on high alert, because there are unwanted conversions.
Memes develop, humor spreads, we are all social and the community is too big to keep track of everything.
This is why I’m waiting for people to start writing about community topics. What topics move the community? What topics are being discussed? I don’t want dry analysis, I want subject characters writing down their thoughts. I want them to be edgy, I want to agree with some and disagree with others. I want people to publish their thoughts and ideas. Put them to discussion on a podium, that is larger than the small comment on the bottom of the page page in a blog article at VirtualR. A very great example for such a Community Blog is the German OpenStreetMap-Blog that gives a weekly summary of the noteworthy topics and discussions the community spawned within the last week.
And here you see, why calling for more blogs on the VirtualR blog is no heresy at all, because Rob has set his focus and there is a lot of room for more blogs with different focus! Everybody has a an opinion and a voice and there are many interesting things out there that could be written about.
Setting up a blog is easy, getting the audience is not. In the next article, we will discuss an idea, how we can help spreading the word.