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.’Â 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.Â Â 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.