Brian's Blog


In my last two blogs, I discussed how in developing online community, that strategy and process, AND technology, together are necessary conditions for vibrant, online community—and that none of these alone are sufficient. In particular, I discussed my definition of online community and that it is my opinion that the best online communities transcend the online and offline world. In my next blog, I will discuss how online community impacts entrepreneurial business models.


In this blog, I will continue this discussion of online community, and discuss more about how the process of coalescing community through the setting of community norms and codifying the responsibilities of formal and informal community members helps ensure successful online community.


Common Community Roles


As I have discussed, there are a very wide array of types of online communities. Each community will have its own optimal profile of they type of roles and duties that the membership needs to perform to make it successful. It studying the more successful of these communities, I have come up with a broad list of these roles and their responsibilities. Depending on the mission of the specific online community, communities may want to pick and choose the roles and responsibilities that are most relevant for their organization.


These roles include:


  • Sponsorship: Depending on the mission of the community, they may need some sort of top-level organizational recognition for the community to ensure its exposure, support, and strategic importance within an organization.


  • Facilitator: Sponsorship is different from a facilitator. The facilitator is the public-facing moderator, similar to a talk show host. The facilitator is a critical role in that this person implicitly sets editorial direction via their choices of content to discuss and their tone of voice.


  • Content manager: Depending on the community, the content manager can be the same as the facilitator. The content manager is simply an editor of content and keeps the content-related housekeeping in order.


  • Events coordinator: Similar to content manager, in a small community, the events coordinator could be the same as the facilitator. This person is in charge of keeping the events calendar full with relevant online AND offline activities. In addition, this person may moderate the calendar to ensure that the registration information is accurate and complete for the smooth operation of the event.


  • Communications: The communications manager is responsible for compilation of communications, such as online newsletter and news and calendar alerts. This is a critical role since it ensures participation of the overall community.


  • Education and skills development: Depending on the purpose of the community, this can be a critical role. This person is not only responsible for evaluating the content and skills development needs of the community, this person is responsible for aligning the content with the fulfillment pf the education and skills development needs of the community. This is helpful in technical communities of practice.


Now that we have reviewed some of the overall basics of forming online communities, next week, we will discuss how online community integrates with successful entrepreneurial business models.

�Luc� Ц� will help – or complicate – the development of the community. In my last blog, I discussed some common functionality that will help build online community that can be used as a basis for determining the community’s functional requirements.


On each of the above topics, note that there is an off-line corollary for community norms. Developing these types of community norms is not unique to online community. Those studying group and community formation from a psychological perspective know that these elements are crucial.


My discussion of the above norms just begins to scratch the surface on how to incubate and feed online community. In future blogs, I’ll continue to discuss these elements in more detail and give more specific examples of how they are manifested online and offline.


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