- Exist for a reason – a community has to promote a collective goal.
- Users draw other users – Your most active users will draw more users than you ever will. Referrals might bring new members to the site but the community will make them return.
- Users will surprise you – Issues and themes you find important may never really resonate with your users.
- A sense of ownership – Regular users will develop a sense of community ownership which could manifest itself it positive and negative ways.
- You will never please all users – Remember they are in the minority.
- The first contribution – The easier it is to join a conversation, the more visitors will become contributors. Don’t put unnecessary barriers in the way.
- The interface – Create an easy to use, intuitive user interface. Given the advances in Web technologies there are now no excuses (see my previous blog post).
- Mischief – There will be arguments and trouble makers like any community. Plan for trouble. Set simple rules. Make them explicit. Apply them consistently. [Perhaps something for Building magazine to consider in relation to its discussion forums? See my Beware of the trolls post and follow-up.]
- Discuss the community openly – Be honest and open about your plans as early as possible. You might be able to get feedback from the community to develop better ideas.
Martin Brown (Isite) and I are trying to facilitate the establishment of a new online community for AEC people focused on integrated collaborative working – basically combining and extending two existing offline networks established by Constructing Excellence – so I will bear this advice in mind when we all meet next week. It is also worth considering in relation to our Web 2.0 efforts with Be2camp and with the recently-formed AEC network (both on Ning) and to related efforts on LinkedIn and Facebook. Thanks, Jim, for that timely post.