Muschamp Rd

Online Communities

August 20th, 2006
Social Media Icons

Although I didn’t set out to make it a focus of Muskblog, my repeated writing about online social networking sites now seem prescient. As I continue to be invited to join more and more of these sites I’ve inevidably started to compare them. In a lot of cases they are becoming more and more similar, common features include:

  • the concept of ‘friends’
  • blog or online journal
  • photo galleries
  • profile customization
  • discussion groups

I decided to do even more research into this and I’ve collected some links others might find useful. In my experience I’ve seen online communities develop around a mailing list, a website, a product, but the real underlying theme is a shared interest. Online communities develop when people with shared interests come together, it is that simple.

One key to success for online communities is self policing. What is right is determined and enforced by the members of the community and new members are often encouraged to emulated the existing accepted behavior or move along. One way this was accomplished in mailing lists was to withhold posting rights until the the new list member had observed the existing discussion for a period of time.

Online reputations are also created, usually there are more senior members of the community who if not in fact moderators, by dint of their seniority are accorded additional respect and status. Respect is earned over time but is not exclusively tied to frequency of participation, quality contributions even by neophyte members will do much to build esteem and enhance your reputation among community members. Often qualifications established outside the community and offline can be carried over online, but this isn’t always the case and the desire for anonymity online further complicates this. The eBay buyer and seller community has been so successful in part due to the ability of its members to build and maintain an online reputation over time.

Not that I need to join another online social network but I haven’t received an invite to Vox or Orkut and I suppose I should check them out in more detail for the sake of completeness. In the end Facebook defeated most of it’s rivals outside of China but now Facebook wants to become more like WeChat and as online communities grew the limits of self-policing and volunteer moderation have appeared. I remember the Internet being better when it was smaller and less pervasive in your life. Now I must spend my time updating old blog posts like this one in an attempt to improve my Google search results as I want a new and better job.

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