Although I've been playing since launch, I've just started to actually RP myself a bit more recently. So I may not have the best point of view, but, I do consider myself a welcome member of the Dominion RP community (which says a lot about that community IMO), and have observed quite a bit. I'll offer my two cents in a very opinionated form.
My main focus has always been building. But building without an audience can be very demotivating. We need players who can offer insight, a pat on the back, or at least show up and poke around now and then. I've been super lucky to get lots of attention from Dominion players over the last few years but I've also seen plenty of people-- builders AND RPers and RPers who attempt to host with builds-- who fail to get the attention they want. It's a very tricky situation and sometimes I feel sad about the whole thing. I hate seeing someone try and get nothing in return, not because they didn't succeed, but because they may never try again... and the doing is the part that really matters IMO.
So there are a few somewhat awkward and possibly unpopular points I'd like to make, based on my experience:
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there's something to be said for Quality (as Pirsig puts it). Quality is often widely recognizable and people are drawn to it, regardless of their specific tastes. Sometimes this is a barrier to getting the attention you want as a builder, and I suspect the same is true for RPers. In my experience, Quality is a reflection of the individual's 'knack' for accomplishment, a kind of intuition that leads to attention-getting and comes naturally. But it's also a reflection of dedication, how much time and effort you're willing to put into gaining knowledge, practicing, and monitoring your performance. So if you want people to come to your build, or have them desire to interact with your characters, you might need to work on Quality one way or the other (finding your natural talents or putting some grind into improving potential growth areas). For RP I suspect this includes things like being consistent, using legible grammar/spelling, not micromanaging others, not godmoding, and if you run a character that's intended to be a curmudgeon or extremely shy or has similar personality features that make socializing difficult, be prepared to tone that down a bit when you make first contact (or at least go OOC to create some bridges so people know what's up).
Of course nobody is perfect and you shouldn't be worried that you have to perform like an RP olympian or build like a god. But the main thing is to put effort into what you do and be constantly aware that RP and luring visitors is about relationships, and relationships can take a lot of time, effort, insight, and even putting others before yourself. Someone who is notably selfless is very likely to attract others, and someone who demonstrates Quality is also likely to attract others (again, at least in my experience).
It basically comes down to respect. In the words of Tony Soprano, those who want respect, give respect.
The other side of things I've noticed as a wallflower (I frequently show up to RP events and don't do any RPing at all): There are leaders and followers. This can be an IC trait or an OOC trait or both. It's also a lot like real life. I'm not trying to claim that people are born a certain way and stay that way, or that this is a master/slave relationship. It's mainly about personality and how you express yourself and how much a certain type of socializing drains your batteries. Like introvert/extrovert. So I would say that a key aspect to any healthy community (at least ones that aren't selectively engineered) is to have selfless leaders and grateful followers.
What does this mean? Don't expect to have the benefits of a leadership position if you're not putting a lot of effort into it. People won't flock to you just because you invited them to. Sometimes it takes helping a lot of other folks before you get your time to shine, and always be prepared to make sure everyone feels welcome (as has been noted). I suspect this would be greatly helped by hosting venues that appeal to the community interests and that can make a lot of people feel welcome. As a leader you probably also want to RP an archtype that is actually going to go out there and mingle, that ~wants~ to get people involved for reasons, and will put that extra effort into making folks feel special.
On the other side of things, if you're not a leader/host, be aware that you may need to feel like an outsider for a little while. If this goes on too long, maybe reach out to some folks in a non-confrontational way and explore why you're just not clicking. Also, PLEASE show some thankfulness. I have often enough seen people completely taking the hard work of leaders/hosts for granted. This could include responses like complaining (especially in public areas) about lack of attention or just plain being critical in an unproductive way. But it can also be little things like not actually thanking the person who put the show together. Send them a kind word in the mail, thank them in WSRP chat where others can actually see this person getting some praise. Hell, you can even pay attention to the times they talk about that NPC they want for their plot and buy it for them. The point is, appreciation is sorely underutilized from what I've seen. I suspect it's human nature to take what you're given and, even if you're thankful ~inside~, not balance the scales. Maybe it's because we're generally born with parents who provide everything we need for a long time, or on the flipside, maybe it's because we're just forgetful or haven't been conditioned to realize the effort of others is not an entitlement (sorry to use that word but I think it's suitable sometimes in this context).
So I guess my point with this part is that a strong community needs people stepping up for reasons other than hosting their ideas/builds for others. That can come later when you've established yourself and gained the respect of other players. And it also needs people who are going to think about the folks around them, particularly the leaders/hosts, and be grateful. Actively. It's not much different from hitting the Like button or making the odd donation.
Quick example story: I was quite shocked when I hosted a housing contest last year that had 55 entrants, and less than 25% of them even Liked the post! Worse, only a handful of people Liked the winners post or offered any congratulations or thanks when it was all done. While I would still run another contest no problem and didn't feel my self-worth diminish because i enjoyed doing it (though the contest was never about making ~me~ feel good), seeing that lack of gratitude or awareness was a sad indication of the way a lot of people enter into community-based interactions, particularly on the internet. No matter which side you're on, creator or participant, you need to be ready to use your own personal energy to make events a success by giving to the ongoing relationship.
That's all from me, and I hope it wasn't too much of a ramble. I know the post is about cliquism but I think my points are relevant and that there could be less of this issue if folks were more practical about their expectations, and more willing to contribute.
I will finish with a thank you to the folks who have put so much effort into making the RP community great (in my case, especially on the Dominion side).
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