I am still rather surprised by how often I hear of people who steadfastly refuse to use forums, even CEOs of corporation in Eve sometimes believe that forums are a tool that has little benefit for them. So, what do Forums do for your corporation? What does it have to do with improved PVP prowess?
In a word: Stability. Yes, forums do have drama, NSFW pics, pointless reviews, and discouraging discussions, but that is part of their use, part of the need, and part of the fact that we are real, existing people, not just Policitally Correct NPC players. Forums provide a stable platform, and a stable platform is what you need if you want your corporation to grow. Forums quickly can become a solid foundation for your communication needs.
Now, before you start thinking that communication = bad jokes and lots of work, understand that every society that has ever existed, every culture, every nation, every empire, even down to the simple family, required a foundation of communication to exist. In a digital world, particularly in the 23/7 digital warfield of Eve Online, you need to have the ability to put, in a place everyone can see, what your thoughts are. If you are the CEO of a corporation, those thoughts are important. Those thoughts establish both the principles and the very culture of your corporation and who will be attracted to it and who will want to be a part of it.
Here’s a quick test. Say something, out loud, about what you want your corp to be. Did you do it? If you did great, and if you didn’t.. great. Why? Because it proves my point. I, Orakkus, didn’t hear it. And because of that, it has no bearing, no effect, no consequence to me.. ever. The same goes if you are just chatting in space, and someone asks you a question, and you respond.. either favorably or unfavorably, or just nonsensibly.. it means nothing. Most folks in that space will probably forget whatever you said the moment they leave system.
But, putting those words on forums, where your people.. and perhaps others can see them, gives them a bit of value. As a CEO, you want your words to be valued, you want your people to take them to heart and to be guided by them. But they can’t do that well, if they have no idea where to begin, and where the lines are. Even if you say to your corpmates, “Do whatever you want!”, this establishes a precident for new members of your corps, and current members too, for their activities. If two corpmates have a falling out, one can point to that and say, “Yes, I did the right thing, because these here are the rules.”
Don’t kid yourself, no human mind can handle permanent anarchy, even certified crazy people make rules for themselves, even psychopaths and sociopaths follow rules. If anarchy was our natural state, humans would have died out long ago because nothing would happen, nothing could get established. It is cooperation and communication that are the centerpieces to the true human experience.
In point of fact, this aspect is the most important part of your forums. Sure, communication is good, but its the culture that keeps people around. It only makes sense. Just because you understand each other, doesn’t necessarily mean you like each other. So, having forums also serves the dual function of establishing the culture in your corporation, starting from simple things like what jokes everyone thinks are funny, to in the very real sense, even helping to pay for various aspects of their real life. (A number of times, m3 Corp members helped pay.. with their own real money.. for RL situations of other m3 Corp members). That culture is one that reflects the type of people you want in your corp and it also makes the Eve world view you with a certain acknowledgement.
Culture is something that doesn’t just “happen” either. Remember when you started checking out the corporations in Eve. How often did you see various words and phrases, like “fun”, “mature players”, “Real Life (RL) first”, “Relaxed”, “Elite”, “Hardcore” on corporate advertisements? Were all corps that used “fun” in their recruitment the same? How about those who considered themselves “Elite” or “Hardcore”? Without a doubt, when you were in conversations with various recruiters, you got to understand that one “Hardcore” corp isn’t the same as another. Truly, in order for you to be described as any thing, you need to have a record of decisions and actions that PROVE you are living those ideals. That takes both time and effort and having well-established, well-thoughtout forums will aid in this process because those choices will now be a matter of public record and a history that you can refer to.
Redemption and Rebirth
The forums also can play a vital aspect when things fail. And yes, they will fail. Add to that the somewhat shadowy background of some people and you can expect some failures to be spectacularly huge. If, however, you established your forums as a consistant communication tool, a place where everyone can go to get the facts, you now have a way of discussing issues like this on your home turf, by your own rules. This gives you a BIG advantage when trying to contain fires, and resolve an issue before your corp and your alliance explode into a million pieces. Word to the wise, those disagreements happen sooner than you think. Just make sure it doesn’t happen sooner than you plan.
Formation of your Forums
Forums should have the following (and this is from experience):
- Recruitment Area – Included in this is a sticky detailing what you would like from those who want to join. An example app is always nice, and if you are skilled at forum software you can make some pretty nice forms they can fill out.
- Public Discussion Area – Not all of your buddies are in your corp or alliance. Give them a chance to drop a line and chat with you out of game.
- Corp/Alliance Discussion Area – This is a semi-formal area where people can vent and discuss in-game stuff.
- Announcements Area – This is the place where your leadership brings the laws.. make sure they are stickied and make sure no one can reply to them.
- Setups/Fittings – This is a good place to show both ideas about ship fits.. but also what you expect people to fly in various fleets.
- Chat Area – A non-formal area where people just go to talk. Nothing serious unless your minions want it to be.
- Officer Discussion Area – Need a place where your trusted advisers can talk about the goings on of the corp, about various members, and what punishments and rewards need to be dealt with.
A few other things can be added, depending on your needs, but those I listed above are pretty important to have. Either way, try to do what is best for your corp and alliance needs.