Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Lessons in Community

As Jim has pointed out, the Online Journalism Blog is running a series of Lessons in Community from Community Editors.

So far we have Shane Richmond from The Telegraph:

  1. The strongest community is one that belongs to its members
  2. Guidance is welcome, control is unwelcome
  3. The community has to reflect the values of its members, not its hosts
and from Mark Fothergill at The Guardian:
  1. Getting the tools right for the job are ultra-important, both front end and back end
  2. Define your role (and more specifically, the role of the moderation team)
  3. Deal with user complaints quickly
By some administrative oversight (for which, no doubt, no-one will be fired) I haven't been asked to contribute but (assuming that there's no point in repeating lessons that other people have already suggested) here are my three:

  1. A community is only really a community if it builds (or builds on) genuine relationships between the members. Otherwise it is merely interactivity. A corollary of this is that an online community needs to be focused around a common interest, need or passion (or simply "something in common")
  2. The most important tool for dealing with problems is your Terms of Use / Ts&Cs. If you are to deal effectively with problems of misbehaviour you need to be able to point to the rule which says the user can't do that. You will still be accused of suppressing free speech/being a Nazi of course, but at least you can justify your actions in removing posts, banning users etc. Spend a lot of time on developing the rules and lay them out in simple language
  3. Find ways to reward the best or most prolific contributors - this might be through a reputation system, increased rights, or simply highlighting their contributions in some way. Many users are driven to upload their photographs to the Farmers Weekly website in the hope that they will make it into the magazine. It's also true, of course, that one should aim to reward all contributors by ensuring that someone pays attention to them.


Paul said...

Thanks. Mind me publishing these on OJB then?

Andrew Orange said...

By all means, be my guest!