The Plight of Inactivity

Discussion in 'Management' started by Eve, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. Eve

    Eve Resident

    Ah, inactivity... I'm sure we've all experienced it at one point or another, either with our own RPGs or one we've been a member of, so I'm curious to see what everyone has to say about it. Here are some jumping off points: What do you do when there is a lull or drop in activity? How about when members leave because of it? How effective do you think plots, contests, and other events are at remedying inactivity? Which do you think works better, a plot driven roleplay or a member driven roleplay? Do you have incentives for members to maintain activity? (in game currency, prizes, etc.) And whatever else you'd like to share!
  2. I try to brainstorm a game event and kick off some kind of Thing everyone can post in and might stir up some activity. Otherwise, I'll just PM some members to see if they want to do some threads and/or if they've got any ideas for stuff to happen. I tend to aim for a mix of plot and member driven stuff so there's a plot... but members doing things shapes and changes it as people tend to like when they can see they're having an effect. We don't really have any incentives- I've thought about trophies but I don't think any of our members would care enough about the idea to try for them, and most of them are hyperactive enough as it is, lol.

    But lulls happen- school starting causes one, the holidays will cause one. They're natural, I just try not to let them go on too long. :/
  3. Shriker

    Shriker Shadowlack Owner RPGfix Admin Patron Game Owner

    Well, at Shadowlack, activity waxes and wanes just like the moon. I feel like we're a little bit like an exception to the rule though... as inactivity has never threatened to "shut down" the site.

    Lulls always tend to happen during peak exam season for people who are in either high school or post-secondary school. There is also almost always a summer lull near the beginning of the season when people vanish for vacations.

    I'm fortunate to have many, many members who treat Shadowlack as a home. It's a known constant in their sometimes turbulent lives. Over its 11 years of being around, it's been credited with creating countless friendships, improving writing skills, encouraging people to take their education further, and allowing people to be themselves in a non-threatening and welcoming atmosphere. Even if we aren't always 100% active on the site itself, we're intertwined in other ways.

    I don't do activity checks. I don't harass people in order to post. What I do do is help foster that sense of community. I think that's the reason why it has been essentially undying.

    There are rewards/incentives for maintaining activity though. In Character posts earn you "glims" which can be spent on a variety of things. If you reply to posts in a timely manner, you also get a glim bonus. If you continue to reply in a timely manner, then you get a glim streak... and there are also rewards for that.

    I guess what it comes down to for me is this: Care about your members. Foster that community. Don't outright demand things of them. Don't delete their accounts if they haven't replied or have been inactive in x days (I can count on over two hands the number of people I've had return after being gone for several months/a year... actually, I even have a special Zombie award just for those people). Give them things to do other than roleplaying, whether it be a chat room or a unified goal to work toward (Shadowlack moonlights as a free-for-all world building project / 'Souls superlatives and spotlights are also great community endeavours). Have fun, and if you're not enjoying it, then it's likely that other people share similar sentiments.
  4. I dont think we do anything special. I mean, i consider everyone equal, with us as admins being responsible for the sites upkeep.
    As far as the writing is concerned, we as admins also have weeks were rl just takes precedence. Like this week. My co admin was on a business trip. I dont think that makes anyone nervous. If needed, people let their writing partners know they will be unavailable for a while. Because waiting for replies can be agonising.

    And we run things maybe differently than some forum rps. We dont play by posting responses, we write by editing one post with multiple writers. If one writer stops writing, others can still finish that post and publish it to the story. So we arent depending on every single writer logging in daily.

    Sometimes we have a flurry of posts, with 4 or 5 posts bring pubkished in one day. Sometimes we go 2 or 3 weeks without any post being finished. That is just the nature of our site. I dont worry so much about it, as long as I still have story ideas, we will have one writer, and that is all we need.
    Elena and deliriums child like this.
  5. Invisie

    Invisie internet forever Curator

    Definitely an outlier here, but I ignore it, honestly. Activity will always go up and down, no need to freak out over a little dip in members. We've lost 10 characters from our most active player overnight before and it wasn't really phasing -- because there are always new roleplayers. I think @Iversia and I are outliers, though, having old and biggish games (I wouldn't call either massive -- that one Warrior Cats forum is truly well and *massive*, damn).

    I do agree with @Iversia a lot on giving people things to do other than just the forum. Wikis can be started on Wet Paint or whatever to catalog roleplay history, character data, and all the other stuff that gets shoved by the wayside. Chats can also be procured freely. Setting up awesome technical things like Shadowlack's glim thing (omg that is so awesomeeee, seriously) -- not so much, but sometimes you can implement things that sort-of kind-of emulate that.

    I think also a big thing to boost activity at 'Souls was the widespread implementation of 'pack games.' They could be easily implemented on a board-wide scale, but we choose to stick with the per-pack thing because of structural/traditional reasons and blah blah blah okay, onward. Important part: players earn points for posting. Unlike the glim thing, it's not automated. Players have to track their points. But for instance, they can get 5 points for a 500 word post, 5 points for engaging in a specific IC activity, 20 points for doing something major, etc.

    They can then turn these points in for prizes, ranging from little custom icons for their forum account to hand-drawn artwork commissioned by their pack leader. It should be enough to want to post in an ideal world, but it isn't an ideal world! Knowing you are close to a prize or a reward really can help draw posting out when you maybe don't really want to post (from a player's perspective).

    Sticking up a roleplay and wanting people to write is nice, but eventually everyone gets bored of writing and having lots of "other" fun baubles for people to engage keeps them on your site even when they are not roleplaying (thus increasing the likelihood they will stick around to roleplay).

    Member-driven, hands down. Who has the time to sit there and direct a roleplay? Directors, managers, moderators, and all other staff are difficult as hell to find. I don't like placing the onus for advancement on a single person or even a group of people -- someone always flakes, and it can seriously kill the plot. When the plot is integral to the advancement of your roleplay altogther... man, dangerous ground there.

    It might be doable if plots were more like brief chapters -- but so many games want this overarching main plot that never changes (easier maintenance). An overarching plot with smaller installments/advancements -- but, sometimes, too, you can write yourself into a corner with a character. They feel "finished" even if you don't want them to be and you want to continue writing with them. The same might happen with a board-wide plot. With more people to help drive it forward and provide ideas, okay yeah -- lesser chance, but then you run back into the previous paragraph's issue.
    Eve likes this.
  6. Eve

    Eve Resident

    Love the responses everyone! I agree that Shadowlack and 'Souls are definitely the outliers here since they've both been around for over a decade and - to put it simply with the least amount of fangirlism (that is a word now) - they are quite mighty RPGs in terms of size and fame. A lot can be learned from those forums though, not necessarily by emulating them to the letter, but by picking out the things that work to benefit growth, activity, and above all else player morale. Fostering a community is a big one for me, I've always wanted to have a forum, or be a part of a forum, where just being there is part of the fun of it all. I also agree that member-driven roleplay is the way to go, with very brief or episodic sort of mini-plots sprinkled in there to spice things up every now and again. I have yet to join, and have never created, a forum with a single overarching plot, but I was curious to see if there are any out there that are doing well, or not for that matter.
  7. Elena

    Elena Resident Game Owner

    New plots, events and contests with prizes are partially effective at remedying inactivity, but only partially, because in most cases they stimulate the already active people to be more active (and therefore partially compensate for the others’ lack of activity). My experience says, though, that they won’t stimulate most inactive people back to activity. They have to find it inside themselves. If they are busy, or in the quest for the next shiny thing and losing interest, nothing would bring them back until they solve their problems (if they do).

    Indeed, some members do leave because of the dropping activity… but I think this is the coward’s approach. Instead of leaving, they should create more activity (and yes, find another site on the side for their excess of free time, it is OK). I have never left a site until it was completely dead.

    I have prizes for contests. I have given e-books, graphics, personalized CDs with the site’s plot songs and theme songs to the contest winners. I am against in game currency because it usually doesn’t have any use. My gifts are concrete ones, which remain and sometimes constitute pleasant mementos.

    I am in favour of a plot driven roleplay, but where the members have input in the plot and the characters can make their mark on it. I never join a site if I don’t feel inspired to further the story. There are sites which stories I love reading, but I don’t feel inspired to further it.
    Shriker likes this.
  8. Inactivity is always a bummer and for remaining members it could lead to a loss of morale. I believe its important for any remaining members and especially for admins/mods to keep rping and keep posting. The reason I say this is because even if its one post a day or every other day or week, it at least keeps the site active. If any member or guest strolls in they can see that and join in if they so choose and its also great for admins/mods to show by example. Even if it comes down to two people, I believe members are more willing to post if they see that others are also, instead of taking a stab at starting a topic or posting in what effectively looks like a ghost town.
    Shriker and Elena like this.
  9. I tried giving away 'real life' stuff. We had a printed calendar give-away. We send out our left-over dvd's to members who'd won contests. That was nice because they went to our friends, because our actual friends where the only ones participating :S None of the 'internet aquaintances' joined in any of the stuff.

    Best thing to do is just keep going and continue to do what you enjoy on your site. Activity is one thing, having fun is more important, I think. I'd stop if I wasn't having any fun and was only active to draw people in.
    Shriker and Elena like this.
  10. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    I LOATHE inactivity! It's my biggest issue with RP. With what RPs I ran or still run, I do try from time to time to keep them going, drum up some interest (often without success).
    Alas, I was banned from one place because I was upset over the inactivity. Mind you, I don't snap immediately. I was being polite and patient for months as people would not reply to threads my characters were in leaving a LOT of them open and essentially was ignored despite my messaging them with kind reminders about the thread and asking them about what direction they wanted to take it. Mind you, these threads just continued on for MONTHS without replies! One even went so long as a year! No, I could not just close it. About half of them was with the site owner. :: Sighs :: Alas, she banned me because I became upset after months of people ignoring me and I was frustrated with the issue. No, she really did not listen to my side of it, essentially reprimanded me in a not-so-kind way and I didn't really have any voice. So, granted I was demanding (after growing tired of months and months and months of patiently and politely asking others to plot with but generally being dumped and ignored, etc) because I had finally grown frustrated that people were inactive, including the Admins who left me all high and dry. It utterly felt like a waste of my time.
    I wasn't banned from another place but it also went inactive and I was frustrated with that because I put a LOT of effort into those characters. Again, the Admins just... POOF! All because others also went POOF!
    Again... I LOATHE inactivity!

    With my newest RP, Shadows... it is a general necessity that people post daily or every other day, or a minimum of once a week IF their character is active. They can be temporary or permanent. But I do ask that people who join be active in the story. I won't ban people if they are not active. But what can I do? I just simply ask from time to time those who are inactive if they would like to join the story, what their plans are, etc. Anything to get them to join the fun and not be silent. Otherwise, I presume that if someone is silent... that person is dead. Yes, alas, that has happened to me about three times in my RP 'career' that someone really did disappear only to find out... that person died. For real. It's not a funny thing when someone disappears. It's a very serious thing! I do often ask people if they will not be a part of the stories, just don't join or leave, or at least communicate with someone about their intent.

    Activity is what keeps a story going. It's a plague among RPs and other places. I don't let "I'm too busy" keep me from posting regularly. If I don't post regularly, then someone knows I'm either sick or away (which most often I will let someone know ahead of time, or post it on a place when I will be gone). I RP and made the commitment to join one I will MAKE the time to post. It's only 15 mins of my time if even that. I have no real excuse to NOT post! And I simply find it pathetic when someone says "I'm too busy" but all they have is classes. Oh, don't give me that excuse! Work, PLUS 12+hr college classes, PLUS hobbies, and a family to care for... and I can STILL make time to post 15 mins! So I don't want to hear their excuse that they can't make the time. Every time I've made time for my RPs. If gals and boys in school can't handle classes AND RP... oh, they are in for a hell of a wake up call when they are OUT of school!
    To me... since I can't travel as often as I used to for reenactments, RP is the next best thing to vacation. Sad, I know. But until gas prices drop down to a dollar a gallon (highly unlikely, unfortunately), RP will be the only means to keep me sane.

    ~Lady B
    deliriums child and Elena like this.
  11. I worry about people who just disappear too.

    And what a great solution to curing inactivity: just ban people who ask about people's ability to post or not :P I think you should be happy that you were cut loose from that site, LadyB.

    But if someone is inactive I just write around them. Leave it up to them to write their characters back in in a logical way. Which is fun :)
    Elena likes this.
  12. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    Mostly, I am rather happier now. I was VERY stressed there for several months. And the Admins... were not helping in the slightest. That was only one of two places I've been banned from in my 15+ yrs as an RPer online. the other place... wasn't much of an RP, but there was RP allowed, alas, I was banned wrongly there, too... and soon after, the place went belly up because those who got me banned made everyone's life a living hell!

    I was doing that already. Writing around the others. But... it was SO bad... that I was only role playing with one person and a couple of their characters... out of nigh 2 dozen members who were supposed to be active with over 3 dozen characters! That's pretty bad really. And what excuse I heard... was I'm too busy from those few who did nothing by chat all the time on the chat box and barely posted. Saying they had no muse, too. Well, they had PLENTY of it to chat all day long on the chat box!

    I'm still a bit bummed (just ever so slightly) about the place I was banned from. Because I REALLY loved my characters there, had what little fun I did have for a while and was at least plotting with this one person about what our characters could do. It's funny.. because neither of us are in school, we are older, working a lot with other side projects and much more. But we still make the time to do our posts. Making NO excuses not to post for longer than a week at least.
    Granted I was starting to think about leaving, and I was working on a message about taking a sabbatical because I was highly stressed out over that RP. But... the head Admin gave me no choice. Degraded and yelled at me for my actions demanding that everyone role play with me and be active, never wanted to listen to me, and told me never to return that I was banned. Funny that this person is constantly going around to RPs and places advertising for an RP they rarely are on, to drag more people into their nightmare. Alas, this person will NOT release it to someone else who is willing and able to be around more often and can indeed run the RP AND be active with characters.
    I have run into this as a Mod with other RPs... where the Site Owner/Admins... just... take off. I end up being the only one left and will do what I can to keep it going, even get some people to join, make the place a little user friendly... in essence, the place becomes mine because the Admin just.. up and disappear, most of the time...for years at a time or even never return. I had ONE person who made me an Admin and left the place to me with all the rights. Some others made me Admin but gave me no rights and now I am stuck with places that I cannot delete or manage.

    Frankly, in my opinion... behavior such as inactivity and other issues can speak volumes about your character and integrity. Thus far, I've seen it. If someone is experiencing Burn Out, that's fine. It's typical, heck we all experience burn out with jobs, hobbies, relationships, etc. But to just... disappear and abandon someone without any communication? Nope! ::: loud buzzer sound :::

    I feel lucky that on my newest RP site that members keep in touch with me. Or.. some of them do. Or they at least inform me of possible absences. Otherwise, if it's been a couple or few months... I will toss them a nice little message saying we miss them, they are still welcome to join the fun and to keep in touch.

    Inactivity of members AND admins... and their lack of proper handling of RPs... is HIGHLY disturbing! I admit... I've been HIGHLY tempted to create a "guild" of sorts... free of course... of reliable, responsible RPs and Admins and RPers. It's nice that people want to RP and have fun... but... it's like a child or pet... you can't just get it and not take care of it or be active with it. Otherwise, it will die and those actions can have consequences.

    ~Lady B
    Elena likes this.
  13. wickedleaf

    wickedleaf Newcomer

    Having closed a site recently, and then even more recently opening a new one that's so far seeming to do better, here are some of my thoughts...

    With Wyldernis, I did panic quite a bit and probably tried to recruit and attract members in all the wrong ways. But the thing is, the majority of people I grew up roleplaying with are adults now. Activity will go up and down. It can get disheartening. However, people usually can and do come back if the site still exists and if there are a handful of people still posting.

    I don't plan on making the same mistakes with Wolf, and I'll discuss below:

    We recently experienced a lull in activity due to school starting back up, but we're also seeing some fresh faces... so to pick up activity, we started conversations about new features to inspire activity and make the game more fun. Getting members involved in discussion is really important, but even more important is acting on it quickly. People want to see results. For us, talking about board-wide plot ideas and introducing more RP-esque features (health bars, exp, skills) almost tripled our posts-per-day over night. The trick there is not to get comfortable, but keep working at it and making things happen.

    A combination of both. People like their freedom, but in my experience they also want guidance and direction. Wolf will likely do 1-2 board-wide plots per year, and always leave the option for players to choose whether their character is directly affected or not.

    We're now introducing some, in the form of EXP... but it's nothing that will give any character an advantage over another. Mostly for bragging rights.
    Elena likes this.
  14. It is hard for me to keep up with when to expect a lull in acivity, due to school. Either school has been too long ago for me to remember ever having a busy time in the autumn, or you guys are really getting screwed with the amount of work you have to do... (Probably a combination of things, as I never had homework to do at home, I did all my schoolwork at school. Plus I never had the internet for distractions of course... And I bet they do give you more homework these days. I just bet they do.)

    I am just happy it is easy for us to keep active ourselves, even when we are faced with work, family events, moving house... (which will most likely coincide with a second year anniversary.) Because I do think that being active and to keep posting is what keeps a site alive enough to attract more and new writers, which will bring extra activity. If you can implement things they want or like, that's even better, but a forum with bells and whistles and flying monkeys will still be dead if people do not post.
    Elena and (deleted member) like this.
  15. Calico

    Calico Newcomer

    I think that inactivity often (not always, often) boils down to one thing: the staff not being active enough.

    I think that often, our members watch US for activity and if we start slacking, THEY start slacking because well, if the staff isn't involved, why should they be? It is often the staff that have characters that everyone wants to rp with, or characters that hold higher positions in groups or have the more interesting storyline, or perhaps they are the most skilled and other characters want to learn from them.

    Especially on younger sites. Younger sites really need a kick ass staff team for at least the first year if not two or three, depending on your niche.

    If you're staff on a site and you see inactivity - you should bust your arse to make sure it's not you. Reply to open threads made by members even if it's not in an area you'd normally go. Make new threads and talk about needing people to join them in your cbox or chat area. Hold an advertising contest with awesome prizes. Etc.
  16. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    Generally... whether an admin or a member, joining that RP is a commitment. Just... post! Be active. I think that's gotta be the priority of EVER RP is to relay the message to all members and potential members that if they join, they are expected to post regularly UNLESS they give reason to not post in a timely manner for a certain amount of time.

    But yes, Admins NEED to be the most active people on their site! They need to set a good example!

    ~Lady B
    Elena and Calico like this.
  17. Calico

    Calico Newcomer

    If your staff sets a good example of activity, the members will follow.

    As I've been staff on many sites and I'm also currently a co-Admin on one site, I feel that it's up to me to even post with as many of the new players as I can, to show a good example of what sort of rp we like on our site.
    Lady B likes this.
  18. RiseOfTheG

    RiseOfTheG Newcomer Game Owner

    I wonder what some of your tactics are for sites starting out? What's the best way to attract people? It's one thing to have fluctuating activity how do you deal with that when you're the only one on the board?
  19. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    Just being active. Shadows has been going on for 9 months. Activity is fairly steady even with three regular players and a few characters. But... Shadows is a website with a page for characters, archives, updates, and more. As well as a forum. I generally am rather relaxed there about most things except with member safety and posting. I'm not going to jump on people about posting and what they can or cannot do in a story, because I hope they are responsible enough to stay active with their commitment since they agreed to join the story. So... generally being active with good characters and a chance for more good characters to join the fun allows for possibilities, too. Activity does indeed make the place attractive to potential members.

    I have done that before, too, where it's just me. I, unfortunately, had to play with myself. It was boring and I came to an impasse often. It's just better to have at least two active people on an RP. After all, it's an RP, that means it's meant for interaction. If it's just one person posting all the time, may as well go to

    ~Lady B
  20. RiseOfTheG

    RiseOfTheG Newcomer Game Owner

    I agree with the positing and being responsible since they agreed to the commitment. I'm only a week in compared to your 9 months x3, so I'm hopeful. I'll just pick up some more characters and see how it goes. I know some people are scared to commit to an infant site with little to no activity. SCAREDY CATS!! *shakes fist* x3
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  1. Shriker