You can by all means sign up to my site and ask how we've done it. I'd be more then happy to help. Just read through the site and learn who the members are and ask. Otherwise, read here and hope you learn something. This thread will be partially bragging, partial lesson overall notes on things which have worked and failed.
A LAN party community has a few attributes to it.
- It's local
- It's diverse
- It's crazy
Before going into the different parts of your community, remember that you should seriously think about what kind of community you want to build. Get some rules out there. Leave the disclaimer that the rules can change at any time, but announce changes to the rules.
on to the mess...
The members are all friends of friends of friends. They will all know each other and they'll all meet. This is a problem. They also date and fight in real life (funny how the two fit so nicely in the same sentence). This leaves personal lives in front of everyone. All people can see the personal issues which on most other discussion boards don't see. the biggest difference is that there is no BS with this. On a normal message board you get one side, the side of the member who is upset. With a local community you get both sides, then the side of the friends who were there. This creates for a very exposed environment. Here is where you as an admin need to possess the abilities to be a mediator. You need to put all three sides in their respective corners. Let them know they are all wrong and tell them to basically grow up. You'll read in a bit why they need to grow up.
When people of different lifestyles and backgrounds come into the same place you get a very intense mix. You get a great hardware guru, an awesome graphics guru, slap the word game in your site and you get the massive crew of gamers. You also get a few stragglers. These are people who are on the site don't really contribute to the MEANING of the site, but respect it, the members and the community enough to stick around. Many times these are people who can help with organizing and events. They also tend to spend a lot of time on the site and also make the best moderators. Lastly, with a gaming/LAN community you have what I call the age point spread. This is the most difficult thing to accommodate. My members range from the ripe age of 13 all the way through the age of 60. How do you make all members happy? I'll explain the trick to this... basically it's one word...respect.
Younger participants do not want to be censored nor do they want to feel like they are being watched like they would be at home. They want an escape from life just as anyone else does. The catch here is to allow them to be free, but make sure they respect each other. Do this by telling members that entire portions of the site are off limits to spam. More importantly DEFINE spam. There are many different definitions out there. I had to write one specifically for my site. I'm lucky in the sense that my members all have a good base where their parents raised them to respect. But you can also teach respect. Teach them that everyone has a place in the world. That everyone has a place and a home with your site.
Some are members who I've pulled from other sites. Which leads me to my next portion... .
The biggest thing I've found on the internet is that many of the people you are looking for are right in front of you. Many of them are on a site which they feel they don't fit in, or they want another place to call home. The best example of the person who belongs in a LOCAL community is not someone who is 100% devoted to your site, but rather someone who is an expert on another. For example, I'm on the OCForums. Anyone who knows or is interested in computers or hardware tweaking knows this place. A friend and I were/are respected members of this community. When I got my site together, I asked a few of the members who were local to the area to come sign up and help me out. They did just that. They provided answers to questions and helped build a local base by inviting people they knew in their town or area.
Their profile (only one needs apply ):
-Lives in the NY, CT, and NJ tri-state area.
-Plays video games
-Is an IT professional
-Enjoys a good laugh
-Feels they would be a good addition to any community
The thing is that this site has a purpose witch is separate from mine. All they ask is that I get people to sign up here and not to use this site for the sole purpose of recruitment. No, problem here. GET YOUR MODS AND ADMINS TO SIGN UP! This site will never go away and I'll never be able to recruit this whole site because this site serves a different purpose then mine. On the other hand, I can get a member or two to click on my site, see if it's something they would enjoy and hope to recruit one person from here who feels the way I do.
The best place to recruit members is in high school. In order to save myself from local pedophile laws, I have little brothers who helped me with this. Print fliers and create shirts. You can do this rather cheap. We have an entire clothing line now. Just do it with good quality materials and get a designer to help you. If it looks cheap or un-cool they won't wear it. Repeat your website to the members makes them proud of what they are a part of. This also helps all members to act as moderators. They will help you moderate out the people who don't belong. Members will take pride in their community and will weed out those who don't belong.
THE MAIN EVENT
Throw a LAN party. Do this completely out of pocket. Tell people that you just need to cover the cost of the room. This allows for no profit to be made and no Uncle Sam to get on you. The thing here is that you are a group of friends, coming together to throw a party in a hotel... or other environment.
Make a list of people who you would like to sponsor your event. How to create this list? Go to your favorite online store; find a list of their "shop by brand" area. Copy/paste.
Take this list and write each company a letter telling them that you are planning a LAN. Most require 6-8 weeks of planning. Last event I sent roughly 20 letters and got response from two. It's just the way it works.
Here is a list which is a MUST for any LAN written by one of my admins:
How to keep it going?
I think the trick to my community was reward. Always giving back. CONSTANTLY upgrading the look and hacks of the site, so the members have a unique place to call home. Currently I don't have many designers... I'm about the only active one. I have a few coders and programmers, most are hardware or gaming buffs. So a reward to my members is to design them graphical signatures which look good. Since I know them all they inspire me to make it based on their personalities, and since they can't do them they are very appreciative. So appreciative that they want to pay for a LAN, or donate to the site. Find a way for you to be able to give back to your members. Give them a piece of you and they'll give right back.
Here's the sig thread:
An example of a sig which I made: