Insights from Online Community Managers

Jennifer Lentfer of the How Matters blog was asked to help conceptualize an online community, and given the order “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” So from a series of interviews with managers of online communities (including Curt and I from Appropedia) emerged the report Revisiting the Wheel: Insights from Online Community Managers.

In brief, Jennifer found:

  • A role for “keepers” of the community – a core group of community members need to serve as shapers and the drivers of the online community.
  • Moderators help create “buzz” – especially in the beginning stages.
  • A handshake still matters – personal connections provide energy and cohesion.
  • Different members, different priorities – there are different types of members, in terms of their goals and what they bring to the community, and in terms of how they participate.
  • What are our goals? And later on…what are they again? – Clarity on the online community’s goals and functions is very important.
  • Aims first, tools second – thus it is important to find a platform that will allow for new features to be added, tweaked and integrated in the community. And function must be prioritized before aesthetics.
  • Try and try again – experimentation and adaptation are a key part of an online community’s strength and robustness.

See Jennifer’s own summary at the How Matters blog post, or download the full report (PDF).