Your server’s community consists of all of your dedicated users. Minecraft Multiplayer is a sort of social network; it connects players with other players and creates a web of personal relationships and social interactions. Your community will be the people that support the server, keep the forums alive, participate in events, drive new traffic, and most importantly the people that keep on coming back to the server. Once you make a community it is important to create an area where they can continue to chat and play with each other (in other words, it is important to foster the community). User retention is the most important quality of a Minecraft server.
Make Users Happy
The first step to growing a community is to make your users happy. While this is a very broad statement, there are steps you can take to best achieve this goal.
To start off you must first understand that it is better to have several users that love your server than a large amount of ambivalent users. Ideally everyone should love your server but you cannot expect to achieve this right away. Initially you have the choice of either trying to satisfy everyone via releasing many servers or trying to create an ideal server for a particular set of users. If you gain users that absolutely love your server, not only do you have the foundation for a strong community, your server is validated and is set for growth.
The initial problem, then, is to get users that love your server. In order to do this you must understand your users. When a new player logs in, see what the first thing they do is. If they are having trouble joining a new instance of a game, then make it easier to join a game. Ask players what they would like to see (add a sub forum if possible for suggestions). However, the best way to understand your users is to play on your own server. Not only will this give off an aura of active staff, it will help you understand what users want. When I was starting my server the compliment I got most often was about how I constantly participated in the community and took every chance I got to play and enjoy the server I created. Through understanding the user and improving the server to fit them, you can create a server that players enjoy playing on.
After you focus in on what your players want and implement the changes you should then examine how you can help support player interaction. There are two different ways of approaching this, which are radically different and attract different types of communities. One is through the form of competitive pvp and online rankings. Hold weekly events, give out free ranks to the top 5 players on the leaderboards, and support competition - not only will this lead to players coming online more often, it will foster a community, albeit a competitive one (while there are servers where you can pvp for the heck of it, it’s the competitive servers that manage to retain users most effectively, see badlion/kohi). On the other end of the spectrum is making a community through the use of cooperation. If you look at servers such as skyblock and creative, the largest servers are the ones that allow friends to work on their plots together, make shops and invite people to their island, and allow the use of /tpa to check out each other’s creations.
A community will not start by itself. Getting users that love your server by encouraging communication between them will help your community grow but to start off you need to be very active on the server and, as the owner, you need to help direct the creation of the community. Don’t underestimate the role of the owner and staff in this regard.
One of the most difficult challenges a server owner may face is to maintain the community even after their server turns into a hub (if you even want to make a hub). It splits the community and, if you split it far enough, it may even lead to a decline in active players. Preferably each server you have in your network should have at least 20 or so players, as this is (from my experience) the minimum amount of players that is required to create a self-sustaining community. Obviously this split affects different servers in different ways. If you now have 2 servers, factions and skyblock, then it is probably best to keep two separate communities. However, if your network consists of many separate instances of KitPVP and Duels, it may be best to take action in order to combine the communities, such as combining the network chat, as long as that isn’t confusing for your players.
Continue this series here: Commitment and Staff