And this is why ForumFall is a severe joke
To put all of this in an MMO context, the reason why forums and areas of discussion are breeding grounds for these extremist groups is because they can form these tight, opinionated groups. They trumpet their game and come to their game's defense all because they think they're doing good by pushing their opinions off on others.
Yet, it's these groups that actually begin to kill communities. We see it all too frequently when a single person asks for help or presents an opinion contrary to the opinion of the group and then gets themselves a severe flaming.
It may seem innocent or just plain silly, but I think we can all name a game that we may not want to play because the community just doesn't mesh with our interests. I know that I didn't have a bad time in Darkfall, but I'm not going back because the majority of the people who play it scare me. Vanguard's "hardcore" raiding community present on the forums is another example. So how can we overcome this?
Well, I'll be honest, it's pretty damn simple. All you need to do is listen. Don't perceive every sentence as an attack. Don't be so quick to jump down someone's throat. If you want a holiday themed sentence, "Holiday cheer doesn't have to be restricted to the holidays."
Instead, lend an ear, try to understand where they're coming from. Understand that not everyone is always going to agree with you and others are allowed to express their opinions. If they're completely wrong, then point out how they're wrong and make sure to follow up with solid evidence. If they push the issue, then drop the argument and understand that you will probably never change their mind.
The goal here is not to change the mind of the one vocal person, but the minds of those who are silently watching. When you shut one guy out, it sends a very clear message to the others viewing your actions that you're not going to let them in. But if you act in an open and understanding manner, others will be attracted to it and might give your game, or your opinion, a shot.
But when you start insulting potential customers and creating a verbal firewall around your game, get ready to kiss your subscription numbers good-bye.
Seraphina Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who finds it hilarious when people nerdrage. When she's not writing here for Massively, she's rambling on her personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message her, send her an e-mail at seraphina AT massively DOT com. You can also follow her on Twitter through Massively, or through her personal feed, @sera_brennan.