7 Harsh Truths about Running Online Communities

Paul Boag’s got another great post this week at – “7 Harsh Truths about Running Online Communities.”  This is the kind of knowledge you only get by managing online communities, and frankly, every failed community I’ve seen feel prey to one (and more likely, several) of these harsh truths.  

  1. Technology doesn’t create a community
  2. Show some commitent
  3. Learn to lead
  4. An antisocial community is your fault
  5. You need to swallow your pride
  6. Stop trying to control the message
  7. Nobody likes to be alone

Particularly I like to think about #4, in which he posits that it’s your own fault if your community becomes antisocial.  He attributes it to the site owner having setup a generally snarky and negative tone for the site to begin with.  Very easy to do, especially when you’re looking at a niche that’s heavy on reviews.  As anyone who’s ever written reviews knows, the bad ones are the fun ones, and we all have a tendency to go overboard.

I think theres another facet there which he’s missed; if you tolerate antisocial behavior in your community, you’ll just get more of it.  Basically, by allowing the trolls a place to live, you allow them to take over.  I’ve seen it too many times, when a site owner fails to act against one antisocial force in his community, only to find the positive, core members of his site move on to greener, more troll-free pastures.  As I have said before, as a site owner, you’re the Sheriff and you’re going to have to step in and maintain discipline on occassion.  If you’re not up to the task, you have no business running a site.

Boagworld: 5 Options When Website Budgets Get Slashed

If you’re a web designer or developer and you don’t know who Paul Boag is, you should.  In addition to running the Boagworld website, and of course his wonderful must listen podcast, entitled “Boagworld” he is the creative director at Headscape.

In an article he’s posted today, he gives us “5 Options When Website Budgets Get Slashed“; each of which we should all commit to memory here and now, as we’ll no doubt be using them a lot over the coming year.  A brief sample:

Too often we reinvent the wheel. When budgets are plentiful this can make sense. Although there is similar functionality out there, we might choose to develop it ourselves so we have more control or can customise it to our exact requirements. However as budgets begin to get squeezed these are luxuries we cannot afford.

In a world of widgets, APIs and open source it is becoming increasingly hard to argue the case for custom builds. Why build your own mapping application when there is Google Maps? Why build a forum when you could use an open source alternative like Vanilla?

Go read the whole thing now.  You’ll be glad you did.