Building a Community

Since good things come in threes, I decided to write about what I think it takes to build a successful team to run a community website. If you haven’t yet already, be sure to read Part One and Part Two first.

I have two reasons for this article: 1) to comment on some problems I’ve seen with some projects and 2) to remind myself of these things as I work on publicly launching the Cabernet project.

  • Be nice!

    People will give you a lot of slack if you’re nice to them. When you’re trying to attract users and contributors, you should remember to treat others as you’d like to be treated. Just because you’re providing a (free?) service, doesn’t mean you can treat them poorly.

  • Be responsive!

    If someone asks a question, reply quickly. Replying to questions and comments quickly creates a strong sense of having a conversation with the person and lets them know you see them as important.

  • Talk is cheap!

    If you make a commitment to do something, follow through. Don’t say you’re going to do something and then don’t do it. It also means under promise and over deliver. I’m constantly amazed how happy people are when I set their expectations low and then deliver more.

  • Communicate!

    Yes talk is cheap, but sometimes that’s all you’ve got. If for some reason something is taking longer then it should, you made a commitment you can’t follow through on or can’t reply in a timely manner, write a quick email/blog/whatever letting people know things are taking longer then you had hoped and when you think you can get back to them with the answer/solution/whatever. Nobody likes being kept in the dark.

  • Accept their help!

    If someone wishes to help you out, then don’t look the gift horse in the mouth. Remember, most people are going to be leechers, so do everything you can to get them engaged and involved as quickly as possible. The more engaged and involved someone is, the more likely they’ll stay around and be contributing member of the community.

  • Make sure you have time!

    I had actually originally forgotten to include this point, but it’s probably the most important. You need to have time. Running a website or any project for that matter requires more time and effort then you think it will- especially in the beginning as you try to drum up support and users. Dunno what to say here, other then look before you leap.

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