Six Questions with Sara Nicholson
The first time I really interacted directly with Sara Nicholson, I was sending her an apology over IM. Long story short, I’d accidentally included a private email address on a CC line instead of a BCC when I sent out an email blast. At the time, she was working at GamerScore Blog, and had no reason to give this little ol’ noob Community Manager the time of day. She was exceptionally cool about it, though, and I’ve been a big fan of hers ever since. Currently she’s an admin over at PopChix!, and today, she’s answering six questions.
1. When you’re not saving the world at PopChix, what’s your day job?
Sara: I’m saving the world from ugly car dealer web sites. I’m a senior web designer in Seattle BANG POW!
2. How did you get started with online communities?
Sara: I’ve been involved in gaming communities since 2003. I got Ghost Recon for the original Xbox and felt the need to talk to others about it. There were a couple of sites that I got involved with in those early days – one was GamertagPics.com and the other was The Xbox Non-Clanners or XNC. Both have great communities. GamertagPics gave me my start in actually helping form and run a community, though. I was an admin there for a number of years. I also heavily participated on 1up.com, where I got my true blogging start. Yes, back in the days where it took hours to load the home page HAH! All of these lead up to my stint on the Xbox Community team.
3. What do you think makes a strong online community?
Sara: Of course, the members make the strongest communities. How you get them to keep coming back is the trick. I think staying heavily visible and involved as well as showing that you’re on the same level and share the same passions is exceedingly important. Involving community in the running of your site gives your members a reason to be positive. Everyone likes to get a little recognition once in a while so allowing them some kind of input into the running of things, contributing to articles, giving them shout outs, holding events (even if it’s just a Tweet-up at the local McDonald’s) all make for a great community. Also, you’ve got to keep things fresh. Nothing rots a community like stale content and uninvolved “management.”
4. You’ve worked on both sides of the industry fence. Which side do you like better, and why?
Sara: I honestly appreciate both sides. I felt a certain freedom on the outside. I don’t feel like I have to always defend things that I may not necessarily agree with but from the inside, I felt like I could bring the community voice to the people who could make a change.
5. What is your favorite gaming community site that you don’t contribute to?
Sara: Such an unfair question. When I was a Community Manager at Xbox, I looked after a list of at least 600 communities. They were all great. I can’t pick just one because I feel like I’ve been pretty intimate with a lot of them (not THAT way, sicko). I know, it’s the easy way out but I seriously don’t have a favorite and I don’t think you want me to list all 600.
6. What’s your dream community job?
Sara: Dream job… I would love to work with a company that truly sees the value in their community. They are usually your most loyal customers. I want to be able to keep them happy! I want to write, I want to photograph, I want to design experiences that enhance the game(s) being built. I would thrive anywhere that allowed me to do that for them. Granted, I would prefer to rep a non-crappy game HAHA
Sara is an administrator at PopChix! and a one-time Gamerscore Blogger at Microsoft. To hear more from Sara, follow her on Twitter.
Six Questions is a weekly Q&A with gaming community site leaders. The goal is to meet the folks who start online communities, to learn about why they do it, and to hear their different perspectives on what makes for a strong online community.