22 Jan 2011

5 Ways to Help The Warcraft Community

Official Warcraft Forums screenshot

I was flicking through the list of recent blue posts when I came across this little gem on the EU forums. Turns out that there’s a lot of thread deletion going on, particularly when a topic gets derailed or descends into anarchy. I can’t say for certain if much useful content is being lost as I don’t tend to get involved on the official forums, but if people are putting in time and effort trying to be helpful then it’s a bad thing to see that effort get wasted.

The great thing is that the official forums aren’t the only place where someone can contribute to the Warcraft community. There are a whole stack of other places where you can help out other players, either by highlighting a new discovery you’ve made or by sharing your thoughts and experience.

If you’re interested in getting involved and helping out other players or just sharing your thoughts and opinions, don’t feel that you’re limited to what the official forums provide. Have a look at this list and see if any of these grab your interest.

1) Contribute To An Alternative Forum

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to share and maybe get feedback on there’s always the alternative forums. Most are run and moderated by fans of the game themselves, meaning that your post is more likely to stay intact as long as it meets their guidelines. You’re also more likely to get feedback from players interested in that aspect of the game, making the whole process more worthwhile.

There’s specific playstyle forums like Just My Two Copper’s WoW economy forums or the Arena Junkies PvP discussion areas. There are role focused sites like Plus Heal and Tankspot. There are even class specific sites for Warlocks, Shadowpriests, Shaman, and our own mage forums.

2) Write A Guest Post

Almost every blogger out there will happily consider guest post or guest article submissions from contributors. If you’ve got a particular topic you’d like to write about then it’s worth contacting the blog owner with an article and see what they think. There’s no guarantee that they’ll publish it and you’re unlikely to get paid for it, but it’s another way of getting your ideas out. Try contacting a few of your favourite bloggers and see what happens.

Another guest post mechanism is WoW Insider’s Seed Guest Post Program. Although it’s limited to US residents only, it means you can get paid for writing articles. Again, there’s no guarantee that your article will get published, but it can be a route in to becoming a paid blogger.

3) Start Your Own Blog

If you reckon you have more to talk about than just one blogpost, why not start up your own blog? There’s a ton of helpful information, resources and inspiration for Warcraft bloggers over at Blog Azeroth. The Twisted Nether Blogcast and Wiki can also help with getting your own blog started.

Starting blogging doesn’t even need to cost you anything. Free blogs are available from WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Most platforms contain enough features to get you started, with paid options available if you want them. If you have questions the folks over at Blog Azeroth are always on hand to help out!

4) Start a Podcast

If writing isn’t your thing then there’s always the spoken word. Most of us have used voice chat through Teamspeak, Ventrilo, Mumble or Skype, so we’re familiar with talking to others over the internet. As long as you have a headset, a concept and maybe someone to share the show with then you’re good to go.

While it’s technically possible to podcast for free you’ll probably benefit from some paid services. Podbean offers a free basic service if you want to try it risk free, while both them and Libsyn offer flat-rate monthly hosting for your shows. Once you have a few shows under your belt you can also register your show with iTunes.  Again, the Blog Azeroth forums can help out if you need a hand getting set up.

Another option is to record a recurring segment for an existing podcast. Several Warcraft shows already run short segments of about five minutes in length that are submitted by the listeners. It can be a great way of getting used to the format and getting feedback from a seasoned podcaster at the same time.

5) Create Your Own YouTube Channel

Video is becoming increasingly popular in the gaming community as a way of sharing tips, tricks and tactics. If you’re not keen on writing and find podcasting a bit bland, this might be for you. It’s also popular if you’re interested in making Machinima or other Warcraft-based entertainment. Everything from film to music videos is possible!

Although YouTube is a free platform, getting set up can be a little expensive. FRAPS is one of the most popular software packages for video capture and has a free version available for you to try out. From there you’ll need to edit your video before uploading it to YouTube, and while Windows Movie Maker is free I tend to use Sony Movie Studio HD 10. It’s a bit of overkill because of what it can do, but it’s produced fairly clean movies so far and was fairly cheap to pick up.

Other great resources for budding movie makers include the Machinima.com forums and. WoW Model Viewer can also help with animating characters and creating interesting scenes. There’s even a Voice Acting Alliance if you’re looking for vocal talent for your movies.

Your Own Ideas?

If you have your own ideas on how players can contribute to the rich and vibrant Warcraft community then please share them! Either drop me a note or post them in the comments and I’ll do a roundup of them another time.

Don’t forget, if any of these ideas seem interesting to you then dive right in! Most of them are cheap or free to try out and you might find you have a taste for them. Give it a go and see where it takes you, just remember to share with us whatever you create!

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