Online Communities: your first?

Online Communities

What is an online community?Wikipedia: “An online community is a virtual community that exists online and whose members enable its existence through taking part in membership ritual.” (link to Wikipedia article)Meredith Farkas: “An online community is simply a group of people who gather online for a specific purpose.” (Farkas, 2007, p86).

Just like an offline community and online community needs a leader or someone to moderate what goes on with in the community. A moderator has many tasks and a great responsibility to the community.

Online Community: Best Practices

  1. Recognize your role as a moderator but also recognize the role of your members, do not try to control everything. “…allow people to connect with each other and speak their minds, it helps build trust and foster an environment where people are wiling to both own and share their work together” (Farkas, 2007, p105)
  2. Have guidelines and understand that not everyone will agree with them but they need to be followed.Often members join a community because of the guidelines set in place, similar to why someone chooses a particular school, if you allow them to be violated you will loose members and reputation.
  3. Hinder lurkers. Encourage visitors to become members. “By requiring users to take
    an affirmative action (that requires some minimal effort on their part), it weeds out the casual
    troublemaker from an interested user.” (Grohol, 2006)
  4. Communicate effectively by being clear, direct and frequent. Guidelines need to be communicated direct and clear, community updates need to be informational, and become a ‘human’ to the community, members like to hear from the ‘higher ups’.

Communities to join:

  • Wikipedia is a freecollaboratively edited, and multilingual Internet encyclopediasupported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.
  • FreeCycle a community the derives off everything being free. Members can request items or offer items. Main rule: It must be free.
  • Urbanspoon a community that enocurages members to leave reviews on restaurants they have eaten at.
  • FourSquare a community that encourages members to check in to places they visit and leave tips or comment for other visitors. Incentives often are special coupons or offers when you check in. I once received 15% off my dinner bill just for checking into the restaurant on FourSquare. This community is predominantly mobile based.

References:

Farkas, M. G. (2007). Social Software in Libraries: Building collaboration, communication and community online.  Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, Inc.

 
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