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Tips for Building Online Communities

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Moderation is a full-time job - Yep, so can be running a blog! If only there were more hours in the day.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Sumesh says:

    I agree all but the last two.

    As for #6 and #7, it varies from blogger to blogger.

    The most important is probably #1 and #3.

    Atleast that’s what I found, from my experiences with my blog.

    What do you say?

  2. Lance says:

    Some of these points are difficult to some people though.
    But its a good tips.

  3. Rich Minx says:

    Points 3 and 4 are interesting. I’d really like to have a blog that feels like a community as well but it can be hard to avoid just talking ‘at’ people. If/when my blog’s big enough I’d really like to set up some kind of forum.

  4. There are some good tips here. I have covered many of them in my community building blog. It’s good to see other bloggers writing about online communities – I was starting to worry I was all alone!

    - Martin Reed

  5. Callan says:

    Having recently just ventured into the world of blogging – i find this blog particulary focused and useful. You really make some good points and obviously know what you’re talking about. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Clara says:

    Talk like a human and not like a robot…..this is easy if it’s a personal blog where you blog about what you think., what you found, etc. My Tips Of All Sorts blog didn’t start out on a personal note but just as another platform for displaying content but now its ever so clear that it’s that unique personal torch that draws readers back to your blog to hear what you have to say.

  7. The Geek says:

    I’ve found that automating as much as possible is really important.

    For instance, I moderate comments…. but I’ve got multiple spam filters and a small system tray application that alerts me nearly immediately when there are comments to moderate, which means I spend almost no time dealing with them.

    The biggest chunk of my time is answering emails from readers… at least an hour or two a day.

  8. TheAnand says:

    Thats great points, since i am planning to start a community myself..thinking about no. 3 is good food for thought as you said..

  9. Gary Lee says:

    Be controversial, right? I think that’s one of your tips for bloggers and I think it it should apply in comments and online communities, too. Debating is a form of competition and competition breeds innovation . .

  10. Rhys says:

    I quite agree with most of them, but the interesting one is the last one. Often people get power crazy.

  11. jhay says:

    I like the last one, guidelines instead of rules. Rules just turn readers away.

  12. I think Tips #2, #3 and #7 is very much essential building online community.
    To build your online community You must “Talk like human, Not robot”.
    This tips is worth more. I am going to implement these tips in my new blog site.

  13. Chris says:

    I definitely agree on automation. RSS feeds are a godsend, especially on the site I’m building right now.

    On my blog, voice has always been a bit of a struggle, since I’m mixing my personal experience with more serious news. I sometimes find it hard to compartmentalize without just putting one type of content on one blog, another somewhere else.

  14. Jason says:

    Darren, you actually do a great job with #3 on this blog with your many submission/linking opportunities.

  15. I wrote about a great book — the bible, in my opinion — of building online communities, here, written by Amy Jo Kim. I invite this community to check it out.

  16. AmeyJah says:

    yeah thanx for sharing this with me.
    i will definitely find it useful because i have to go long way as i started just now

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