Matthew Haughey from Fortuitous has posted some good tips for building online communities. He does this out of his experience with mega-community site – MetaFilter. The main points were as follows (bold is their points – the rest is some of my reflections as it applies to blogging – some fits better than others):
- Take emotion out of decisions – I love his suggestion about the usefulness of having people to bounce ideas off when one’s emotions get a little out of control. It’s a useful thing to do when responding to crazed troll comments.
- Talk like a human, not a robot – With blogging I think bloggers do need to create their own voice and style – however in my experience the more you inject your own personality into a blog the better it tends to go over with readers. The remark ‘Be the best member of your site’ is sound advice.
- Give people something they can be proud of – This one gives me a little food for thought – giving readers/commenters a space to be creative with. Interesting.
- Bring users in during community decisions – it’s amazing how readers of a blog will feel ownership over it and how making radical changes can have a real impact upon them. Changes on a blog need to be managed – involving your readers and giving them an opportunity to give feedback is a smart thing to do.
- Moderation is a full-time job – Yep, so can be running a blog! If only there were more hours in the day.
- Metrics spread the work out – I’m not quite sure if this applies to blogging strongly, however I find that the blog reader community has a great way of moderating itself.
- Guidelines not rules – I like this one. Rules can get you into real trouble. My own approach is to try to create a culture in a place that you want readers to embody. I find that readers generally take their lead from the blogger – the tone that you blog in is generally picked up by others and if it’s not you’ll find that your regular readers will often step in to situations and police them for you.
Matthew’s post is well worth a read – even though it’s written more about forum style communities than blogging ones.