Guidelines for online communities

Metafilter founder Matthew Haughey has an excellent post on his blog about his suggestions for how to build online communities. Go read it, and read it again.
Much of my time at the Sentinel involves working with a group of dedicated neighborhood bloggers who contribute their time and ideas to writing about local issues. Most of Haughey’s list closely mirrors many of the practices I’ve done my best to follow when working with these fine folks.

Sometimes, it can be easy to treat community contributors as specks of data on a screen. It’s the same phenomenon as when one angrily flips a birdie at another driver — something people seldom do face to face.  But the people who blog on your site, regularly drop comments or even send in a photo of their cat deserve respect and appreciation for their efforts.

Joyce Wiatroski is a foodie who believes strongly in natural foods and loves to share her appreciation of Central Florida arts. She is not user-generated content.

William Beem is a motorcycle aficionado who enjoys taking photos of the places to which he travels. He is not more page views.

Tim Welch is a film-making hobbyist, blogger and community organizer. He is not text on a screen.

Community contributors are not just “users” “generating content” and racking up page views for your site. Most of them are people who are just trying to have a good time and make their communities better — each in his own way. Amid all the page view goals and revenue pressure, don’t ever forget that.

[Haughey post via Etaoin Shrdlu]

About Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's Sun-Sentinel.com and OrlandoSentinel.com. Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.
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