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June 25, 2008

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As much as I love blogging, and as privileged as I am to know good bloggers, I don't know how optimistic I am generally:

http://inrethinking.blogspot.com/2008/06/476-ad_25.html

I think blogging is a network strategy not a community strategy.

This (long, sorry) was my comment on Adam's post:

>Community is not a place. Community is an approach to publishing.

I think you're still thinking in terms of process and system, and that community is something that *you* can create. You can't - period.

You can provide a meeting place and be the host; you can be affable and friendly and make people feel at home; you can attempt to guide the agenda by providing expertise, advice and services; you can attempt to identify the values and focus of the group of people; you can be the "warden" and the "janitor".

If those are all online, that then becomes an approach to publishing (except that "publishing" sounds desperately one-way).

Community is a set of human relationships between a set of people. Community will happen when a number of people come to your "hearth" (to borrow a Viking concept) and begin to build relationships with each other. The most important point is that it belongs to "them" not to you - even on your server.

I wonder if the appropriate concept for dealing with blogs is "network" rather than "community". They can become communities over time, but the flow of posts tends to make them too unstable as forms of "sideways" communication. Politicalbetting.com have done it - but they have had a rigid flow of one or two posts a day for 4 or 5 years.

I'd tentatively suggest taking a stroll down to your local "community centre" or a newly started church in search of analogies. Really. "Community building " is a black art.

Two web references: A thread from Daily Blog Tips about forums (recommending 5000 uniques a day before you even try):

http://www.dailyblogtips.com/website-traffic-series-adding-a-forum-to-your-site-or-blog/

and you need kid gloves. It is theirs, not yours.
http://www.buzzmachine.com/2006/06/14/toy-company-breaks-little-girls-hearts/

All sorts of things happen when a community grows - not least it gets it's own "natural" dynamics that control what you can do with it.

That all sounds a bit blunt, but I hope it helps.

Matt Wardman
Consultant (various!) and poliblogger
Wardman Wire, mattwardman.com

Ashok: I think blogs are as individual as the people who write them, I'm not sure I understand you reason for being so disillusioned. Yes, there's lots of bad stuff out there, places where the mob rules, trolls dominate and all of that. But just as in real life, I tend not to hang out with those people or in those kind of places online.

Matt: interesting, goes straight to the heart of some of the stuff I've worked with recently. Hope to find time to talk more in-depth about that soon.

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