PURE Community Strategy

Overview

Our community strategy is rooted in our Community Purpose & Values.  To determine our strategy, we ask ourselves the question “What initiatives will most effectively further our purpose and are most aligned with our values?”

Our strategic planning process consists of defining “Strategic Initiatives,” each of which describes a major area of community work.  A Strategic Initiative is expected to take anywhere from 3-12 months to complete.  Our organization is only capable of focusing on a few Strategic Initiatives at a time — these are our “Current Strategic Priorities”.

Current Strategic Priorities

Our current strategic priorities reflect the strategic initiatives we are primarily focusing on (or expect to be primarily focusing on) for the coming months.

January 2014 – June 2014

  1. Leadership development:  Recruiting more volunteer leaders for community survival and growth.
  2. Community engagement:  Offering newcomers (and veterans) easy opportunities to get more engaged with the PURE community.
  3. Improved communications:   Improved information flow & dialogue w/the PURE community.  Includes website and regular town halls.
  4. Measuring success:  Creating metrics that help us assess how we’re doing as a community so we can guide our efforts wisely.

As you can see, for the first half of 2014, our strategic priorities consist entirely of initiatives focused on strengthening the PURE community’s value to its current members, rather than growing it to accommodate more new members (opening new servers, expanding to new games, etc.).

This doesn’t mean we won’t be growing!  As of December 2013, we’re actually riding a rocket ship of growth, having doubled our subreddit’s monthly visitors since September.  However, rather than trying to accelerate this growth even further, our volunteer efforts will be geared towards stabilizing the community as it grows.  There are a few cracks showing in our community’s cohesion as a result of this rapid growth, and such issues are like a snowball rolling downhill — they become self-reinforcing, so it’s important to get in front of them before they become too big to stop.

We’re building PURE for the long haul, with grand ambitions for long-term expansion in which we provide the same excellent community experience we do today.  These four current community-strengthening priorities will not only give us a stronger foundation for the long term, but will immediately build PURE’s image, reputation, loyalty, and help us make the impacts in peoples’ lives that matter most.

Strategic Initiatives

Our current pipeline of Strategic Initiatives is listed below.  They are grouped into “Strength Initiatives,” which aim to increase the value the community offers to its current members, and “Growth Initiatives,” which aim to bring the community’s offerings to more people.  Within each category, initiatives are listed roughly in order of priority.

As an all-volunteer organization, it is difficult to make meaningful long-term predictions about when (or even if) specific Initiatives will be completed.  The progress we make depends largely on the amount of volunteer leadership help we receive.  You can learn more about volunteer leadership roles here.

Strength Initiatives

Leadership development

What is it:  Recruiting volunteers that have the inspiration and capability to help lead teams of other PURE volunteers.  We need to not just fill our current leadership openings, but to develop a pipeline of prospective leaders that we can call on when a need arises.

Why is it important:  PURE has high aspirations, and it takes the collective effort of many volunteers to move the community forward.  We therefore need volunteer leaders that can help our volunteer teams work cohesively and effectively.   This is critical not only to PURE’s growth, but to our survival, as PURE’s continued operation is still too dependent on the current Community Lead.  A healthy community is self-sustaining, and a self-sustaining community is not dependent on any one person for survival.

Community engagement

What is it:  Offering newcomers (and our veterans) easy opportunities to get more engaged with the PURE community.  Example projects include launching an official Community Events program, auto-grouping TeamSpeak players together into squads, launching official presences on Twitch and YouTube, and expanding our Ambassadorship Program.

Why is it important:  We have undergone extremely rapid growth in the wake of Battlefield 4’s launch, with over twice as many unique visitors to our Reddit forum today (December 2013) compared to pre-BF4 (May-September 2013).  This means that lots of newcomers are in the process of learning their way around the community and getting to know people.  It’s important to help these folks feel welcome, acclimate, and integrate.

Improved communications

What is it:  Presenting information to the community in a clearer, more accessible way, and opening more lines of communication between PURE’s leadership and the community-at-large.  Specific projects include a full PURE website, regular “town halls” with community leaders, and updated & simplified informational content about PURE.

Why is it important:  Communications are necessary for a cohesive community.  Without clear & accessible information and open channels of communication, communities devolve into a random collection of individuals.  With over 20,000 unique IPs visiting our Reddit forum every month, PURE is quite large.  We can do more to help community members understand what PURE is, how to get more engaged, and to maintain the open communication that builds the community’s sense of trust and ownership over PURE.

Measuring success

What is it:  Creating ways to measure various aspects of PURE’s success, both holistically (community member satisfaction, quality of social experiences, etc.) and related to specific areas of our volunteer organization (server uptime, effectiveness of specific communications, etc.)  In contrast, our current metrics focus mostly on community size:  Number of servers, GameTracker ranking, Reddit subscribers and traffic levels, and so on.

Why is it important:If you’re serious about becoming a faster runner, you better get a stopwatch.  Humans tend to focus on what we can measure, so  creating measurements around more aspects of our community will help us improve in those areas.  This is also important for supporting our growing volunteer team, because metrics are critical tools for effectively running larger organizations.

Non-profit incorporation

What is it:  Incorporating PURE as a legal non-profit entity, governed by a Board of Directors.  (It would be essential to select Board members that are committed to the PURE vision, and that have the skills, commitment, and community trust to fulfill their duties effectively.)  Currently, all of PURE’s assets (finances, domain names, servers, etc.) are legally the private property of an individual (James Hogan, the current Community Lead).  Note that forming and maintaining a legal corporation is very costly, so this doesn’t make sense to do before we reach a certain size — our current thought is roughly $1000/month in income.

Why is it important:First, this would legally codify our community’s purpose as one benefiting the public, not the community leaders.  Second, it would increase the community’s trust by decentralizing legal, financial, and ethical oversight from one individual to a Board of Directors with a legally-enforceable fiduciary responsibility to protect the best interests of the community.  Finally, this would help reward and motivate volunteers by offering a widely understood and respectable context to explain volunteer involvement in PURE to others, including future employers.

Growth Initiatives

Localized expansion

What is it:  Creating localized PURE sub-communities with their own servers, forums, and a degree of self-governance.  “Localized” would initially mean focused on large regions (“Eastern US”, for example), but could refer to smaller areas (e.g. state or city) over time.  Localized sub-communities would exist in addition to the current global “master” PURE community, so participation for those in the relevant area would be optional, not required.  Sub-communities would offer an experience consistent with other PURE communities in terms of purpose, values, and standards of quality.

Why is it important:All of PURE’s growth currently comes in the form of one large, monolithic community.  While we are a strong community, it becomes increasingly hard to form meaningful relationships with others as we grow.  (100+ people on TeamSpeak means that it may be quite a while before a newcomer bumps into the same person twice!)  Relationships are what give a community depth; If we continue along this path indefinitely, the social experience on PURE will eventually become shallow and diluted (relatively speaking).

The best way to address this is by creating more intimate sub-communities, small enough for people to more easily form meaningful relationships.  Geographic area is a great basis for a sub-community, due to aligned time zones, more cohesive culture, and the potential for offline relationships to form.

Software scalability infrastructure

What is it:  First, a unified database of our members with their key community activity (such as donations and volunteer time).  Second, an API for other applications to work with this database.  Third, migrating our current (spreadsheet-based) accounting system to a software package which integrates with this database.

Why is it important: Our Community Rank Program is an extremely important way for the community to express gratitude to our supporters, for community members to signify their affinity for the community, and to encourage further support.   This system currently consists of a set of complicated spreadsheets and step-by-step processes which will simply become too large to be manageable as we grow.  In addition, many of the features that could help increase community depth & cohesion as we scale, such as friend lists or intelligent pairing of likely-compatible squadmates, require a centralized back-end database to work.

International expansion

What is it:  Creating localized PURE sub-communities outside of North America.  This will be more challenging, due to time zone, language, and culture differences, and the substantially reduced overlap between the current “master” community and the new international community.

Why is it important:Part of our community purpose involves bringing the PURE experience to as many people as possible.  We’ve also had a strong international contingent, and strong demand for an EU server in particular, since day one.

Game expansion

What is it:  Creating PURE sub-communities for new games, with their own servers (if applicable), forums, and a degree of self-governance.

Why is it important:Part of our community purpose involves bringing the PURE experience to as many people as possible.  There is no reason to stop with Battlefield.  Expanding to other games is something that our current community members also want — most of them play more than just Battlefield.  Finally, we need to diversify our presence, so our community’s existence isn’t dependent on the success of one single game.  (This last point may warrant this initiative being prioritized more highly than it currently is.)

Repeatable expansion

What is it:  “Operationalizing” the process of creating a PURE sub-community (e.g. around a particular geographic area or new game) by formally documenting the setup process, recruiting strategies, support structures, and ongoing expectations in detail, and refining these until they are efficient and easily repeatable.

Why is it important:Part of our community purpose involves bringing the PURE experience to as many people as possible.  Making expansion a repeatable process will allow us to quickly scale the community to a much wider audience of gamers.

Public awareness

What is it:  Getting the word out about PURE through press, advertising, and other awareness-building strategies.

Why is it important:Once we are able to scale more easily, the bottleneck for furthering our purpose will simply be public awareness.

Past Strategic Priorities

July 2013 – December 2013

  1. Battlefield 4 expansion
    • Opened two servers shortly after launch
  2. Community building
    • Launched Ambassador Program to help welcome and integrate influx of BF4 newcomers
    • Began preparatory work for an Official Events Team
    • Launched the Communications Team to help keep strong, open lines of communication between the volunteer team and community-at-large
  3. Sustainability
    • Created a sustainable seeding infrastructure to keep server population high
    • Built active Operations and Development volunteer teams
    • Created framework for recruiting & integrating more leaders into the volunteer organization

January 2013 – June 2013

  1. Battlefield 3 rush server launch
  2. Unofficial Community Events program launch
  3. Exploration of transition from donor-driven community to gaming company

July 2012 – December 2012

  1. Community founding
  2. Volunteer program & collaboration infrastructure
  3. Donation program & financial self-sustainability