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A hard look at online communities


Before I get carried away with this blog post, take a quick diversion to our Investigation into the online capabilities of New Zealand member organisations and communities. It takes a somewhat brutal look at the state of communities and relates to this post.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s the notion of online communities was a hot topic and ripe for discussion around the circuit of internet jockeys. These days the term is hardly uttered, yet its original aspirations should be undiminished.

Why have we largely forgotten about it and why, in my view, should we reassert the never-ending search for the holly grail?

Back in 2001 a friend (Charles Peterson) and I coined an expression, ‘Communities of Common Interest’. We could see that the positive drivers of healthy communities could be brought to bear on online communities if we could build websites and supporting systems to make it possible. The trouble was that we didn’t have the resources or technology to make it happen.

Then the impact of social media platforms arrived in earnest and we seem to have lost some focus on how to create better online communities for our communities!

We think its time to get back on the horse of online communities and ask ourselves some hard questions. Questions such as, “why are we spending so much money on what is typically a fragmented collection of community websites, when we don’t have much clue about how the money should be best spent?” And, “why are so many of these websites not easy to self manage so that the content is old, static and discouraging interaction?”

Okay, I’m being tough, but I can say that we’re also doing something about this situation. Take a look at our Flightdec Communities offering. This is the kind of development that we think will create genuine collaboration and cohesion within communities, not just in superior website delivery, but also in shifting more of the focus onto content sharing, interaction and ultimately, a much better user experience.

Please take the time to look at Investigation into the online capabilities of New Zealand member organisations and communities and add to the understandings with your own comments.

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Author connections:

Fraser Carson is a thinker, problem solver, innovator and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in marketing, communications and social media. In 2012 he launched, a radical new concept to build online communities. 

A hard look at online communities

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