Defining "The Vintage Community"

@Brass-Man said in Vintage Challenge - 5/29/17:

I'm not even convinced that TMD/Facebook have a consensus on what the vintage community even IS. I certainly haven't seen much discussion on the subject.

When it comes to B&R, WotC cares about the format being fun. But fun for who? A lot of TMD users don't actually play a lot of vintage. A lot of active vintage players play in small metagames that have different metagame issues. Do MTGO-exclusive vintage players count less? Do they count more? There are a lot more vintage players that play 1-3 times a year than there are that play once a week (clearly true from tournament attendance numbers), and policy changes impact those two groups differently.

Maybe most dramatically, I'm pretty convinced that the amount of vintage-fans DWARFS the amount of vintage-players. That is, people who follow vintage coverage, read vintage articles, watch the VSL and Eternal Weekend, but do not play vintage and have no interest in playing vintage. These people still care about the B&R list, and they absolutely speak up about those opinions. There are absolutely decks and strategies and metagames that are more or less entertaining to watch than they are to play. There are more of them than there are of us, and I would imagine they spend as much (or much more) on the game, on average, than vintage players do.

I'm really doubting that polls (and the discussion threads) we have on TMD and Facebook (and Twitter and Reddit and anecdotally talking with friends) are representative of the Vintage community at large ... and if I'm being perfectly honest, I'm not sure what "The Vintage Community" even means. I'm unsure if WotC has their own definition, but I know for TheManaDrain, it's a giant question I've been struggling to answer.

Taking this conversation into another thread, but I really don't think this is that difficult of a semantic challenge.

Before Bdominia, there was no Vintage community. The internet made it possible for people who shared an interest in Type 1 to connect with each other, creating the Vintage community. Thus, individual communities of interest connected.

I think it's fair to say that membership in the "Vintage community" includes three elements:

  1. you have an interest in Vintage
  2. you play Vintage,
  3. and, you communicate with other Vintage players.

That last part is the most important part. If you love Vintage, and play the format, but you don't talk about or discuss the format with other Vintage enthusiasts, I don't think you can claim to be a member of that community.

There are, of course, ambiguities, such as how frequently you need to communicate or play the format. If someone plays Vintage 6 times a year, but doesn't communicate with other Vintage players, I wouldn't consider them a member of the Vintage community. On the other hand, if someone actively communicates about Vintage, but only plays once or twice a year, I would consider them a member.

I just don't think Brassy's challenge is that difficult. There are grey areas, of course, but I don't think it's as nebulous or challenging to define as he suggested...

last edited by Smmenen

What does communicating mean specifically? Does someone have to be a part of social media to count as communicating about vintage? What about the player that goes to shops and plays and talks with friends? Or the person that plays on MTGO and just chats with buddies they have their? Do they count? Or do you have to be on a blog, stream, etc to be a part of the community?

no precise definition - but I would include all of those forms of communication. I consider communicating to be talking about or discussing any aspect of Vintage with other Vintage enthusiasts.

It's the sheer expense. I'd be more of a Vintage "activist" than a mere "spectator" if my epic collection (including a ton of "Edgar") wasn't stolen back in the mid-90s. Sorry, but I haven't had the $250k to replace that ridiculous collection and play real Vintage again, and unfortunately no one helped me find the dude who stole it all. His name is Kenny and he owned a card store in Kingwood, TX in the 90s. Oddly enough no one had any information on his whereabouts when he took off with my cards, although all the locals seemed to suddenly have more Beta cards than before when I started asking around. I was quite vocal online about this for years and even hired a PI at one point who never found him. No one in the MTG community lifted a finger to help track this guy down, although admittedly not too many of us were online back in those days. As someone who started playing and seriously collecting in 1993, now I can only afford to reminisce about Vintage. I expect there are plenty others whose collections were stolen once the game started taking off in terms of card valuation. Still, I'm very appreciative of TMD even if I can no longer partake in Vintage play myself anymore.

Might not have been entirely relevant but the original post seemed to be pondering the difference between actual players and mere pundits. I would assume I'm not the only one whose collection has been stolen, and indeed I've read about other such horror stories on this very site. Hopefully it never happens to you other guys whose Vintage collections are intact.

Let's start rounding these thieves up. I'm game!

How do we evaluate parody accounts? I have about six active TMD accounts, and we techically all follow your three metrics of community.

@The-Gremlin-Lord said in Defining "The Vintage Community":

How do we evaluate parody accounts? I have about six active TMD accounts, and we techically all follow your three metrics of community.

Except that nowhere in his OP did Steve mention accounts. He is referring to individual people. You as an individual are only 1 person. 3 accounts on TMD is meaningless as you are still 1 person.

@Khahan What if my accounts contradict one another? Does that make me separate people?

@The-Gremlin-Lord said in Defining "The Vintage Community":

@Khahan What if my accounts contradict one another? Does that make me separate people?

That depends on how we want to define the different personalities that back each account. Now there is an interesting question to consider.

@Khahan said in Defining "The Vintage Community":

@The-Gremlin-Lord said in Defining "The Vintage Community":

@Khahan What if my accounts contradict one another? Does that make me separate people?

That depends on how we want to define the different personalities that back each account. Now there is an interesting question to consider.

The LLC I registered to sell t shirts is a legal person, so it counts too, right?

@Smmenen perhaps I shouldn't have used the term "Vintage Community" - it seems like the term has some built-in baggage. Honestly I'm not too concerned with the semantics of it. Whatever you want to call them, there are different groups of humans with an interest in what happens in Vintage/on TMD, and they don't all meet the three criteria you stated. Whether they're "part of the Vintage community" or not, they have opinions, and my concern is about how to weigh them.

In the BDominia era, there were few non-playing "Vintage Fans" (because there wasn't much to follow). Also most people who played vintage had SOME contact with the BDominia/Early TMD community, because you just couldn't find out about Vintage tournaments any other way. Those things have become less true over time, but in the past few years (because of MTGO), they have become a LOT less true.

Recently, MTGO vintage has become a bit of a spectator sport. The VSL Patreon has 186 paying supporters - larger than the attendance of most "very large" vintage tournaments. Eternal Weekend has viewer number in the thousands each year. I wouldn't be surprised if more people have watched Eternal Weekend coverage than have ever played vintage in the entire history of the game. Every Friday on twitch I get over 100 viewers – many of whom have never played vintage or posted on TMD – asking me questions about the format, often with some context they picked up from Twitter or Reddit.

And of course, there's another large group of players who would love to play vintage, but simply can't for logistical reasons. The price of entry is so much steeper than it was when I started, and most of the world doesn't have a local vintage community that a lone, interested player can join. There are a lot of people out there who want to play vintage, who love vintage content, and enjoy talking about vintage. These players might have very strong opinions about the format despite having never played it.

When I said I was struggling to answer the question "what is the Vintage Community?", what I really meant was "how do I prioritize the values of these different groups?"

WotC, as a business, has a clear goal and responsibility to be profitable. If there are policy decisions to be made that favor one group over another, they have to consider the relative size of those groups, and how valuable those people are as customers. I don't have the data that WotC does, but I suspect the average vintage player is a worse customer than the average VSL Patreon supporter, or even the average EW viewer (yes there is likely overlap between these groups). It should almost go without saying that the average MTGO-exclusive Vintage Player is a better customer than the average paper-exclusive Vintage Player. Most vintage-exclusive-paper-exclusive players I know haven't given money to WotC in years. Of course Wizards wants every format to be healthy and every customer to be happy, but when it comes to making decisions that affect vintage, I'm not sure interest/play/communication are on the top of their list.

When it comes to TMD, I'm not profit-obligated, and I have a smaller set of stakeholders to worry about. I'm very glad I'm not responsible for B&R decisions, but I still make decisions that help one group at the expense of another. I pretty frequently need to make a policy or moderation decision, or decide how to spend limited time or resources building things for the site, or generating content for the vintage-interested community outside of TMD.

My instinct says that everyone should count, and everyone should have a voice, but things can get bad for everyone when you serve too many masters. Should TMD have a subforum dedicated to Old School? How about art collection? Should B&R discussion be banned entirely? Should users be banned for posting low-quality decks? Should users be banned for telling other players that their ideas are low quality? Should there be gated subforums requiring written tests to enter? A lot of people use TMD for a lot of very different reasons, and far more people are interested in vintage, but don't use TMD because it doesn't provide some key resource/dynamic/interaction that they need. A lot of those key dynamics directly conflict with each other.

TMD is not a business in the way that WotC is, and I don't want it to be. That doesn't mean that some users aren't more "valuable" to me than others. There is the Patreon of course, but there are also users that create more or less content, and users that give more more or less headaches. So far I haven't really let that drive my decision making, but it's impossible not to consider it. I don't expect to get a clear answer because this isn't really a correct/incorrect sort of problem. This is more of a "this is where my head is" sort of thing than a "looking for a definitive answer" thing

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