20 Tips for Community Blogs and Forums

10 comments

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Dont ask the community about changes to your site untill you've done them. I've learnt this the hard way.
  5. 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.
  6. Speak with your true voice, and encourage your members to do likewise (see above).
  7. 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.
  8. Dont see other communities as competition, if they're truly "head to head" competition then you need to rethink your niche a little bit.
  9. 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
  10. You dont need to write an essay when you edit someone, 2 lines ought to cover it.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Dont bullshit members. There will always be (and this is a GOOD thing) someone smarter than you that will call you out on it.
  14. Politics is always a sticky one, it should be handled like point #1
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. If you have to ask for links, you're not working hard enough.
  19. 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.

  20. 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 :)

Comments

I would also add...

At lease occassionally take time out to read what others are saying about you on their sites and comment there.

Of course if you really disagree with them then that is reason enough to make an extended post at the home base

Good call. I've not been

Good call.

I've not been and made an appearance in that SEW thread actually, i should head off and do that now :)

I try to do a few comments a day off site, and i bookmark them so i remember to go back and see if anyone responded..

If you don't post what your

Quote:
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.

lol, thanks for poking my post with a stick :) I disagree about the point you are making though, actually I was interested in the article (that's why I clicked the link to read it). I just could not read it because the site was designed by someone with 20|20|35482%^&£!SIGSEGV vision and that let me frustrated and annoyed.. - totally different ;) If I'm not interested in a topic I just don't bother attempting to read it in the first place.

Best of british!

Best of british!

Social Work perspective on Community Building

Community building in the social work realm often nurtures: customs, traditions, rituals, totems, symbols... to enhance community identity, inclusion / belonging.

All communities have them, and those that effect these cultural aspects of the community have more significant power.

As the leader of the community you should consider your role in this process and it's impact on the success of the community.

Well, you got #17 right

Well, you got #17 right ...not sure about the rest, hhh. Thing is, a community is malleable, even durable, but fragile at the same time. You can select your own mix of rules and still build a successful group. But the one thing I find to be universal is the need for "anchoring personalities." Those members, the personalities, can be mean, gruff, intellectual, whatever --but the community counts on them.

OK OK

Quote:
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.

I was wrong Nick! I'll never tell you not to curse again. *laugh*

Back in the day when I ran a

Back in the day when I ran a 'free-for-all' BBS for many years my rules were very simple.

Rule #1 - There are no rules and complaining to the sysop could get you booted.
Rule #2 - See Rule #1

#1: Never break an SEO story

#1: Never break an SEO story on Friday (or weekends). If you're forced to, have a bump(er) ready for Monday.

yeah, all stories are shite

yeah, all stories are shite on friday

you end up in that "if i dont do it, someone else will" thing though. But then they do it monday and take credit anyway as no one sees you break it on the friday! heh..

If i wasnt so slubbornly, i'd do it on a friday, then follow up with "more on.." on monday morning ha!

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