Community Building isn’t about Features

This list of ways to build community features is interesting as much for what it leaves out as for what it leaves in

So two weeks after I called out Derek Powazek to write a 2nd edition of his book Designing for Community, his wife Heather Champ has put together a nice list of ways to build community, Flickr-style. (via Derek himself)

Businessweek: Ten Ways Flickr Builds Communities

Here’s the list…

  1. Engage
    Don’t just listen to your community. Engage
  2. Enforce
    Let the community help set standards and policies for appropriate behavior-then enforce them
  3. Take Responsibility
    Fess up immediately when you make mistakes
  4. ….

    This list of ways to build community features is interesting as much for what it leaves out as for what it leaves in

    So two weeks after I called out Derek Powazek to write a 2nd edition of his book Designing for Community, his wife Heather Champ has put together a nice list of ways to build community, Flickr-style. (via Derek himself)

    Businessweek: Ten Ways Flickr Builds Communities

    Here’s the list…

    1. Engage
      Don’t just listen to your community. Engage
    2. Enforce
      Let the community help set standards and policies for appropriate behavior-then enforce them
    3. Take Responsibility
      Fess up immediately when you make mistakes
    4. Step Back
      Don’t be afraid to step back and let your customers take over
    5. Give Freely
      Never underestimate the allure of a free T-shirt (or sticker, or button…)
    6. Be Patient
      Take knee-jerk reactions with a grain of salt
    7. Hire Fans
      Make sure your employees are as passionate about your product as your community’s most die-hard fans
    8. Stay Calm
      Develop a thick skin
    9. Focus
      Be flexible but don’t lose sight of your priorities
    10. Be Visible
      Stay human

    What’s missing from the list? Features!!!

    No features to be found. Not a one. Now THAT says something about building a community. It’s not about features, it’s about human-to-human interaction and being part of a group. That, to me, is the implicit lesson here…Flickr doesn’t see community building as a feature set, they see it as interpersonal communication.

    Now, a response to this might be…but so many features on Flickr and other social networking sites enable community, or make community possible. To some extent that is true, but not much. There were online communities way back before the Web in places like the Well and their features were incredibly crude…yet they still formed a very tight community. So while we need some basic level of communication means, there is no such thing as a “community feature set”.

    Published: September 19th, 2007

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