Protagonize & Community Building @ SocialCamp App Nite


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Protagonize - A collaborative fiction writing community w/ Nick Bouton

Protagonize is a creative writing community dedicated to writing various forms of collaborative, interactive fiction. One author writes a story, and others post branches or chapters to it in different directions. The result is an organic, evolving story where everyone can participate.

Nick Bouton will discuss community building in niche markets, Facebook integration, and contrast Facebook’s walled garden approach with the development and nurturing of a stand-alone social network / community site.

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  • About Protagonize Went live on December 27, 2007 Produced by Taunt Media ( Community web site with focus on collaborative interactive fiction writing About Nick Nick has worked in web application development in Vancouver for over ten years, specifically with the Microsoft .NET Framework, Java/J2EE, PHP, Perl and a variety of open source development frameworks and content management systems. He currently works as a User Experience Developer for Habañero Consulting Group, as well as running Taunt Media.
  • Protagonize & Community Building @ SocialCamp App Nite

    1. 2. The 10,000 foot view <ul><li>Who is this guy? And what is Protagonize ? </li></ul><ul><li>Basic elements of a successful community </li></ul><ul><li>Get it done, and don’t multi-task! </li></ul><ul><li>Promoting and marketing your community </li></ul><ul><li>Nurturing your community or social network </li></ul><ul><li>Trolls, gaming & accidents: dealing with moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Open community vs. building inside Facebook </li></ul>
    2. 3. Who are you, and what is Protagonize? <ul><li>About Protagonize </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Produced by Taunt Media ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Went live on Dec. 27, 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Custom application with social network elements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community web site with focus on collaborative interactive fiction writing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approx. 1,100 registered authors since launch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supports writing linear or addventure stories </li></ul></ul><ul><li>About Nick Bouton </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Operates Taunt Media; designed, developed & maintains Protagonize </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User Experience Developer at Habañero Consulting Group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formerly Product Manager and lead developer for OpenRoad’s ThoughtFarmer Intranet product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal blog: </li></ul></ul>
    3. 5. What makes a successful community? <ul><li>A strong concept that you can stand behind and support </li></ul><ul><li>Solid implementation & design (doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should work well!) </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on user experience and general usability </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to spend every waking hour working on it </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t use technology for its own sake; social networking components should have value to your users </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure your site has at least some content at launch </li></ul>
    4. 6. Multi-tasking is the devil <ul><li>Focus on the task at hand </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Build out a functional spec, even if it’s an outline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop a feature roadmap and plan for the long haul </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get as much functionality into your mockups or wireframes as possible, and focus on usability, but leave room for post-release additions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t spread yourself too thin </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Specify your core components, then design and implement them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t get sidetracked with gold-plating and nice-to-haves until you’re done building out the main core of the site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Filter out features that can wait; getting it out the door sooner in working order is going to be worth more to you in the long run </li></ul></ul>
    5. 7. Community Marketing 101 <ul><li>Dos: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have content worth reading and/or interacting with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post previews during development if you’re confident in your design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spread the word yourself and create grassroots support in your target niche via your blog, message boards, Twitter profile, Facebook page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personalize communications with sites and blogs you want exposure on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer various means to syndicate or share your content easily (link badges, friendly URLs, RSS feeds, external APIs, media kit, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversify your traffic; TechCrunch, Stumbleupon & Digg spikes won’t last </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spam Digg, Reddit, Propeller (etc.) with posts about your site unless you have a solid network of other voters to back you up </li></ul></ul>
    6. 8. Nurturing your community <ul><li>Your community needs a leader with a strong voice </li></ul><ul><li>Communities form around mutual interests and a sense of shared ownership and participation </li></ul><ul><li>Contributors need to “own” something on the site: content, profiles, photos, groups, rankings / stats, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Be welcoming: make members feel like they belong </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage feedback and cater to your users’ requests as much as possible without losing sight of your roadmap </li></ul><ul><li>Allow for user discussion with each other, not just with you </li></ul>
    7. 10. The joys of moderation <ul><li>Problems are inevitable; how you face them is controllable </li></ul><ul><li>Plan for hackers, trolls, gaming or simple mistakes: build tools to help you moderate and monitor content and users </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be too restrictive or heavy-handed with your users, but enforce community guidelines as needed </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be a faceless entity; you need a friendly team member to interact with users on a daily basis </li></ul><ul><li>Provide ways for users to self-moderate: user reporting, rating / voting systems, etc. </li></ul>
    8. 11. Roll-your-own vs. the walled garden <ul><li>Benefits of building on a large social network platform: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to a huge user community to draw members from </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to valuable demographic information of your users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possibility to link to other sites; user profile portability (OpenID, Google Social Graph API) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Benefits of developing a stand-alone community: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of dependence; not parasitic, no vendor lock-in: users are yours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to the rest of the Internet’s population – why limit yourself? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No sandbox: build anything you want, no approvals needed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If they change their API, your site still works (yay!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can still use Facebook social ads if you want to gain access to users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nothing stopping you from building your own FB or OpenSocial app </li></ul></ul>
    9. 12. Links & further reading <ul><li>External resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bokardo: Social Design by Joshua Porter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building an Online Community: Just Add Water ( Matt Haughey ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design for Community ( Derek Powazek ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting to First Base: A Social Media Marketing Playbook ( Capulet ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Media @ Alltop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accumulated Web Site Marketing Tips & Tricks ( Nick Bouton ) </li></ul></ul>