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Part Two: Community Farmer - Attending To The Flock

Starting a community, however, is not as simple as [some] of the below software applications will make it seem. Much like teaching a room full of three year olds, all groups require rules, moderation, goals, expectations, communication, and swift respectful discipline should these aforementioned items not be observed. Most of all, be honest, transparent and inclusive to the group. No one likes a bully, least of all the person in charge. It also helps that you embrace the most active participants that align themselves with the group, its rules and communicate in what you deem as the best way be put put in administrative or moderation roles, easing the burden on you and justifying that your group is not and autocracy.

Here's a quick list:

  • Start question threads
  • Elicit feedback (remember, you don't have to act on every comment or criticism)
  • Grow a spine (you'll need it)
  • Respond to criticism rapidly (doesn't mean you have to do anything about it right away, but you do need to respond)
  • Acknowledge good communication
  • Do not judge; simply be a part of the community and intervene only if absolutely necessary
  • Don't censor or edit discussion unless harmful or it falls outside the rules
  • Follow the rules; optimize the rules
  • Cater to the egos of the group within reason
  • Destroy your bullies publicly
  • Create themes and programs for discussion
  • Listen, listen, listen. The group is not a platform for you to do all the communication
  • Make the site visually appealing by advocating user-generated content
  • Progressively survey your community (using free tools like http://www.surveymonkey.com/) to insure that your heading in the right direction
  • Evolve! Make sure that your content isn't stuck at a dead end
  • Hold live events where everyone can meet one another in real time
  • Create Podcasts/Stream/Video for the group
  • Bring in outside authors, bloggers and spotlights
  • Keep a steady stream of like-minded links from google alerts and RSS streams injected in your community
  • If you go on vacation, switch servers or do anything to disrupt communication let everyone know prepatorily
  • Do your best to respond to all comments
  • Be authentic, honest and charismatic
  • Be topical
  • Have fun

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Reader Comments (4)

Great article, you make some very good suggestions.
To survey our community we use a great web survey site http://www.websurveymaster.com/
It is very easy to use, creates great professional looking surveys, and the results analysis tools are fantastic.
Hope this helps

December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie


Tell me more about the product. Do you work for them? What make your tool superior to a Webmonkey or Snap survey tool?

December 10, 2010 | Registered CommenterJustice Mitchell


Great list. I will not comment on all, but a few jumped out at me.

1. Destroy your bullies publicly: I'm in the Scott Stratten camp on this one. Don't feed the trolls! They want you to reply. They want you to "engage." They live for the public acknowledgement. I think, many times, it's better to ignore them and/or let your strong community respond.

2. Hold live events where everyone can meet one another in real time: Face to face wins - always. Nothing replaces having a cup of coffee or drinking a beer at your local pub with another person. Face. To. Face. Do it!

3. Be authentic, honest and charismatic: You have to be true to yourself. That being said, be careful about always being honest. Use good judgement. If you think someone is being an idiot, it's not always recommended to be honest.

4. Have fun: If you are not having fun, why bother?

DJ Waldow
Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Waldow


As always an incredibly poignant response. It's true I've been one to be more confrontational with trouble-makers often because (in some cases) the group didn't want to take an defensive stance with a troll. But you're right, you SHOULD let the group have a go at the problem.

December 10, 2010 | Registered CommenterJustice Mitchell

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