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Sustaining Online Communities for the Longer Run

Posted in Online Community,Special Events,web22talk by Gail Ann Williams on October 31, 2006

spooky window


spooky window

(photography by me) Happy haunting, all.

I am planning to go to Web2point2 next week, for at least part of the event!

My interests — first something i’m thinking of but don’t know much about yet: How do (and should) communities and their social platforms address the modern, more atomized and autonomous web? Are we still looking inward too much with many of our services and platforms rather than tying in fragments of other networks individuals already have built for themselves? What do we do /could we do with the scraps of tagging, rss, bookmarking, list-making and all the other ways people who “sign up for” something tend to indicate that they are part of other things too? Could this become very simple for newbies who seek out group sites? OK, I have nothing but curiosity in this realm.

More realistically, in terms of convening an interesting session, I am concerned about Managing and sustaining online communities for the long run: especially the evolution of social structures and group needs over time, and how to make business and technical changes in that context. There’s plenty to talk about. How do you avoid flavor of the month (or year) dynamics — where “nobody goes there anymore” because a site is considered too crowded, too mainstream, too cliche? What to do about refugees who leave or arrive or create a site together? What has kept you going back to a place for the long run?

I am curious about trends and plans in the former, and most versed in the latter. Both are big, broad areas for discussion. Anybody have a suggestion about how to approach this… Present/faciliate two things? (Noooo!) Lobby somebody else to bring up the first one? Yours if you like it!

Otherwise, how can I be sure to be involved in some way discussions about both of these areas of interest, if both are viable at the conference, without being a pushy person?

(I may edit this and flesh it out a bit, and am tagging it web22talk as I work on that. Hope that isn’t too confusing. I think I’m behaving in a wiki-ish way on a blog platform. Tsk tsk.)

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2 Responses to 'Sustaining Online Communities for the Longer Run'

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  1. […] 11:15AM Managing and Sustaining Online Communities for the Longer Run. Great post and great questions from a long time member of the Well whose experience will be of great value to community managers and developers. According to her excellent blog post, she is hoping to understand your perspective on the impact of Web 2.0 on some of the online communities that have been around a while. Highly suggested reading! (Gail Ann Williams) […]


  2. I think I have been a forum fanatic ever since I was first show a couple hat forums a time back. I joined these forums and realized that the folks on them was mostly acting as experts on the subject of hats. I was very eager to share and teach them a life time of skills and thought it should start with pointing out the hats they was spending 500+ dollars on each and being advertised as beaver hats was in fact low end rabbit felt hats. STUPID ME ! Here I think I have done a great public service to save the ones that had not invested enought to buy a house in low end hats and yet found I was actually blocking the ones that had supposedly spent this much from shilling for this company. I also alienated the masses due to truth was far from being desired. I seen these same groups grow to a point and then stagnate due to they choose a flavor of the month hatter and this was the extent of this hatters career for most part as all the members get this hat and then nothing more to talk about.

    Seen the one forum that started grow to 7000 members and yet the leadership still follows the same bad rules or allowing trolls to band together and put pressure on them to remove anyone with knowledge on a subject and this did not just include me but any knowledagle vendor that refused to give product privately for use of the mods and admins as shills.

    Now some almost 5 years later I see the one of those communities have all but dried up at a time it logically should thrive as it is Indiana Jones hats forum and the new movie they have squaked about for years is shooting now.

    The other 7000 member forum is getting maybe 7-20 people a day and less post than that last I looked.

    On the other hand the small community I started 3 years ago with a meager 300 members but lurkers from every major hat company in the world continues to thrive with the few post we get but more due to the commercial appeal of what happens in the back ground.

    I hate background administration but it seems to be a necessary evil.

    Our community is as suscessful as it is due to our members are REAL People and not teen agers in anon. We may never be full of millions of members but we survive and grow slowly due to that we are real.

    If the insert community name here _______________ stays real and if the Admin is not swayed by the tears of the insecure and if left open for all kinds of folks and not just the kind that may have once been the leading contributors then they will grow and be well. If they made the rules they did due to the limited exposure they once had and refuse to grow and change they will stagnate and die. I hate change but its the substance of life.

    Charlie


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