I thought it might be fun to make a list of some of the things i've learnt about communities, having spent an awful lot of time being involved in them over the years. In particular, looking after this community. Some of the list items are in the form of "tips", others are just observations. Feel free to add, discuss or dismiss.
- Once a month, let a big fight break out - this works best when the community fights a common foe, but you can also just let a troll post go undeleted and let the wolves have him.
- If you don't post what your community wants, they'll talk about what they want to talk about regardless. This always cracks me up: When Threadwatch members aren't interested in a topic, they often end up critiquing the site in question rather than discussing the article linked to.
- The more you give, the more you get. This is particularly true of links. Tip: Link out often and generously. Link to your competitors, link to your enemies, and always credit the source of your information. Trust me, you'll get a ton of links back.
- Dont ask the community about changes to your site untill you've done them. I've learnt this the hard way.
- Swearing on a blog like this one does not, contrary to advice i was given early on, have a bad effect, quite the opposite in fact.
- Speak with your true voice, and encourage your members to do likewise (see above).
- The people that visit your site at the weekend are your most loyal readers and members, make sure you feed them and care for them.
- Dont see other communities as competition, if they're truly "head to head" competition then you need to rethink your niche a little bit.
- Nuke 99% of all troublemakers on sight. Decide what you will and wont tolerate, draw a line in the sand, and kill anything that crosses it. For the remaining 1 percent, see point #1
- You dont need to write an essay when you edit someone, 2 lines ought to cover it.
- Try not to edit anyone too much - it makes more work for you. If they persist, move them from "member" to "troublemaker" in short order.
- Answer every email you get, and every private message as soon as humanly possible, people like that. If you can't do that, then state that you wont do that, then there are no feelings of neglect.
- Dont bullshit members. There will always be (and this is a GOOD thing) someone smarter than you that will call you out on it.
- Politics is always a sticky one, it should be handled like point #1
- When starting out with a new community site, take a good long look at what "the rules" appear to be within your niche, and break every fucking one of them.
- Focus is good, but not always. This relates to the point above, again contrary to what would appear to be good adivice in general, going off-topic is not a bad thing for a new community site in an already populated area.
- When your site goes down, which all sites do at some point, be aware that people are hitting your homepage to see if you're back up, and if at all possible, update them frequently as to what you're doing about the problem.
- If you have to ask for links, you're not working hard enough.
- Make sure your readers and members have IM access to you (my AIM is nickwthreadwatch, MSN is
) but tell them you may not have time to chat - Time consuming? Sure, but you'll get a lot out of it.
- Never moderate publically.
There, straight off the top of my head, just for fun. Do add to them, and if i think of any more dubious bits of unsubstantiated wisdom on communities i'll update :)