Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales summed up the spirit of working together online in an e-mail to folks working on the new Wikia search project. In part of his message, he wrote:
“One of the things that I believe in passionately is genuine human communities, as opposed to ‘crowdsourcing.’ What do I mean by that? I mean, people who get to know each other, over time, as real human beings, and through that process, gain a sense of trust and responsibility for each other and for the task at hand. So for me, if we are to succeed here, this is the first place we need to focus attention…”
Wales summed up the key to creating a successful local community online. Sure, having a bunch of people hollering on a message board is a kind of community. Every message board has its regulars. But message boards become more of a cacophony, as opposed to a group of citizens working together toward a harmonious cause.
The people participating in citizen journalism efforts locally should be made to feel like a team dedicated to a clear goal, not just a bunch of faceless contributors creating page views.