4 growing and thriving online communities


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  • The process of building a thriving ecosystem is no small feat
  • To be successful, online communities need to overcome challenges that confront almost all groups. here are three major challenges in starting a new community. The first is to carve out a useful niche. The second is to defend that niche in the ecology of competing communities and alternative ways that potential members can spend their time. Meeting these two challenges requires making strategic choices about the scope of the community and about its compatibility and integration with other communities. The third challenge is to get to critical mass. A new community must recruit members before it has become the kind of community that they will value. There are a number of design approaches to meeting this challenge, including substituting professionally generated content for user-generated content in the early stages, leveraging early participants to attract later ones, and setting expectations about the likely future evolution of the community.
  • Provoke emotionality. This isn’t as cynical as it sounds. Highlight the topics that people have strong feelings about and initiate discussions, create content, or organize events based around these. You want members to be emotionally engaged in the community. It increases the sense of belonging between them. Create specific altruistic activities. With increasing frequency, create opportunities in the community for members to be altruistic. This might be simple, such as fundraising to hit a community target, or it might be members volunteering their time to help another member with a particular problems. Make altruism (sacrificing of time to help another) a common trait within the community. Over time, this may occur naturally without direct engagement. Reward the type of behavior you want to encourage. http://www.mackcollier.com/two-ways-to-build-online-community/Model the type of behavior you want to encourage
  • The diagram below shows an actual on-line community [OLC]. Every node in the network represents a person. A link between two nodes reveals a relationship or connection between two people in the community -- the social network. Most on-line communities consist of three social rings -- a densely connected core in the center, loosely connected fragments in the second ring, and an outer ring of disconnected nodes, commonly known as lurkers. Communities have various levels of belonging.The outer orbit in the network above contains the blue nodes. They have been attracted to the OLC, but have not connected yet. This group is the most likely to leave the OLC or remain passive members with little or no contribution to the community. Lurkers in online communities are often more than 60% of the group!The green nodes have a few connections -- usually with prior acquaintances. They are not connected to the larger community -- no sense of belonging yet. The small clusters of friendships amongst the greens can be maintained by other media and do not need a particular OLC to survive. They are also likely to leave or become passive and will likely do so in unison.The inner core of the community is composed of red nodes [zoomed-in view below]. They are very involved and have formed a connected cluster. The leaders of the OLC are embedded in the core. The core members will stay and build the community. Unfortunately they are in the minority. The core nodes are usually less than 20% of most on-line groups. Although small, they are a powerful force of attraction. It is the core that is committed and loyal to the OLC and will work on making it a success. They see a win-win for themselves and the group -- better connectivity will help the individual and the group simultaneously.
  • Simplicity is key.
  • Get questions asked and get them answered.Even from newbies.Participation.
  • If you go to Twitter and there’s something wrong like a non-functioning page then you get this.
  • Transparency
  • Keep a happy unified community. Quell unrest and uprisings.
  • Reward systems for good contributions.
  • Consistency?
  • Super loyalty.
  • Provide mechanisms for feedback. Listen to your community. Seek their opinion!
  • Speed, performance, reliability, response
  • Be happy to support your users, provide help, make it easy and satisfying.
  • Diversity of audience. Who to cater for?
  • Poor designNavigation, directions, find there way around, get back to the start etc.
  • Trolls post to cause outrage amongst an online community
  • Value added.
  • Harrassment policies, guidelines, actionBullying, moderation
  • Execute good judgment on behaviours. Be consistent. Backlash could be a problem.
  • Interactive!, participatory
  • What have we missed?
  • 4 growing and thriving online communities

    1. 1. Lecture 4Building a Thriving Online Community Ecosystem
    2. 2. Recall  “We want a growing and thriving community!”
    3. 3. Questions?• How to get a community started?• How to motivate contributions?• How to coordinate those contributions?• How to make thriving online communities?
    4. 4. Critical Challenges• Carving out a niche• Dealing with the competition• Starting a new community (critical mass)• Encouraging commitment – Commitment means feelings of attachment or connection to the group, organization, or community – Leave/join is quite easy: no contracts; no space/time boundaries;• Encouraging contribution – Inequality: power-law distribution of contribution• Regulating behavior – How to prevent negative behavior (e.g., trolling, spamming) – Challenging due to anonymity, textual communication, easiness of join/leave – Can overcome challenges since interaction archival, access control, and analysis (reputation, ranking) are possible
    5. 5. Overcoming the challenges • Community start-up • Recruit, select and socialize members • Encourage commitment • Elicit contribution • Regulate behavior • Coordinate activityBut anonymity, weak ties, high turnover, & lack of institutionalization make challengesmore daunting online
    6. 6. Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations• Individual motivation influences behavior through external motivators (e.g., rewards, incentives, reputation) and intrinsic motivators (e.g., fun & curiosity)Increase contributions by manipulating extrinsic incentives & intrinsic motivations – Extrinsic motivators: Offer rewards as incentive (e.g., money, reputation, perks, grades) • Larger rewards induce more contribution than smaller rewards. • Luxury goods create better incentives than money as rewards for more difficult tasks. • Rewards of status, privileges, money, or prizes that are task- contingent but not performance-contingent will lead to gaming by performing the tasks with low effort. • People wont game the system for private verbal reward – Intrinsic motivators: Make the task fun or intrinsically interesting
    7. 7. How would you make a contribution task more fun?
    8. 8. What Makes a Contribution Fun? Lessons from game designFlow Criteria Principles of game designConcentration Games should require concentration and the player should be able to concentrate on the gameChallenge Be sufficiently challenging and match the player’s skill levelSkills Support player skill development and masteryControl Support players sense of control over their actionsClear Goals Provide the player with clear goals at appropriate timeFeedback Provide appropriate feedback at appropriate timesImmersion Players should experience deep but effortless involvement in the gameSocial Interaction Games should support and create opportunities for social interaction Mapping flow to principles of game design (from Sweetser & Wyeth, 2005)
    9. 9. Support Opportunities for Social InteractionMake tedious tasks fun via social interaction
    10. 10. Gamification• Applying game-design thinking to non-game applications• Is the effect via fun (internal motivation) or incentives (external motivations)?
    11. 11. Design Claims Re: Trade-offs Btw Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation• Adding a reward to an already interesting task will cause people to be less interested in the task and to perform it less often.• While tangible rewards reduce intrinsic motivations for interesting activities, verbal rewards enhance intrinsic motivation.• Verbal rewards will not enhance intrinsic motivation and may undermine it if they are judged as controlling.• Verbal rewards enhance intrinsic motivations most when they enhance the target’s perceptions of competence
    12. 12. So, how can we encourage behaviours such as• Finding new users• Move users around online community cycle• Looking after and nurturing existing users• Retaining users• Word-of-mouth promotion by users• Keeping users busy and discourage lurking• Prevent undesirable behaviours 12
    13. 13. Gaining Critical Mass• Providing access to professionally generated content• Providing access to syndicated data• Participation by professional staff• Starting with limited scope and expand later 13
    14. 14. Lurkers
    15. 15. 15
    16. 16. how do you ...
    17. 17. ... look after them?
    18. 18. ... retain them?
    19. 19. ... keep them busy?
    20. 20. ... discourage lurking?
    21. 21. what can we do toencourage these behaviours?
    22. 22. In groups, please do these:1. Go to the Wiki and navigate to class 42. Analyse the series of images provided under work slides by: a) Identifying a consideration, issue or strategy for managing users from each of the images. b) Specifying a solution or implementation for the identified images in a).
    23. 23. Your job: Construct a user community strategy1. Get into your groups at one table2. Go to the Wiki and navigate to today’s class3. Examine the images on the slides: a) Suggest a possible problem or behaviour represented by the image b) Suggest an action(s) to mitigate (if bad) or encourage (if good)4. You have 40 minutes
    24. 24. Happy user strategies
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    45. 45. Time for a short commercial break Go on, get outside!
    46. 46. CLASS DISCUSSION 46