At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco last week I attended the session “Community Building: Good, Bad, and Ugly.” More than anything else, it reminded me of the “Building Community” session hosted by Laura Scott of pingVision that I attended a year ago at the OSCMS 2007 conference in Sunnyvale last April. I went to Laura’s session with no expectations (there was nothing else in that time slot I wanted to attend) and was really pleased to find the discussion relevant with tangible, actionable ideas I understood and could use. I’ve been meaning to post my notes from that session for a year and now I’m finally motived. So, here they are!
In addition to these notes, video of the OSCMS session is available. I am the second person to Laura’s right.
If people have more to add and express interest in the comments, I’ll turn this page into a wiki.
What makes a community?
- Long, deep threads
- Recognition for contributors
- Maintenance (by the site owners)
- Shared actions
- Q&A, support forums
Why do people go to a community site?
- Sense of community/belonging
- Shared bond
- Achieve common tasks
How do you build this technically?
- Don’t over-moderate most passionate users. Allow non-destructive flamewars.
- Rewards for participation (increased authority/recognition).
- Greet newcomers.
- Meet in person.
- Offer a short-term benefit to joining.
- Ask: What value am I providing?
- “Heroin content” &mdash: what people will come back for.
- Continuous activity
- Relate people based on their attributes.
- “Curation.” Identify important past content to bring in new users and bring them up to speed.
- Offer feeds on interesting topics.
- Mentors for new users.
- New member orientation.
- Women’s Only group: less intimidating.
- Feedback loop: survey users to see how things are going.
- Aging membership: cull inactive users.
- Archive content; related to curating.
- Long shelf-life for content. Keep it available as the long tail. SEO.
- Provide leadership positions, but term limits can be important.
- Transparency in moderation, leadership, and selection of leaders.
- Manage/leverage hierarchy.
- Limit # of posts per day per person per topic: make people censor themselves into relevancy.
- Keep software up to date.