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The Elements Of Starting An Online Community

There are many challenges attached to creating an online community with the construction and development topping the list. A successful internet community must contain several vital elements such as chatrooms and effective advertising. Once the technical aspects of the site have been handled in an efficient and appropriate manner, you will likely see your online community begin to take off by leaps and bounds. At that point, all that you have to do is maintain your little piece of internet real estate, creating a place of fun and information that your members will enjoy and keep coming back for more. Chatrooms are almost synonymous with the internet. It is often the communication mode of choice because of the immediate exchange or information, the instant gratification.

This aspect of an online community is enhanced when a small number of people are participating. When large groups converge on to one chat room, it can become confusing and the dialogue is much more difficult to follow as well as manage. Even 15 to 20 people in one chatroom can cause communication to become jumbled and distract users. This is frustrating for the users and makes the experience less enjoyable. Web message boards are a great way for an online community to interact.

On the flipside of chatrooms, the more people on message boards, the better. Some people who join message boards will check in on a daily basis. However, if there are not enough people using this communication tool, the board becomes nothing more than a waste of space. Another way to draw visitors to your site and encourage membership to your online community is to have an online event. Presentations or showcases that are exciting and relevant will have your members coming back for more. For example, if you have a cooking website, running a webcast on how to make a particular dessert or how to do specialized cooking techniques would be ideal. Again, this type of community activity is dependent upon a lot of traffic. However, moderation of the events can cost time and money so you need to weigh the considerations to determine if it is really worth it. Mailing lists have consistently been proven as a successful method for reaching an online community. When people are given the opportunity to share and interact with other like minded people who have similar ideals, goals, beliefs and interests, they jump on it.

However when a two way mailing lists begins to acquire many daily posts, even as many as 8 or 10, it can become cumbersome and difficult to wade through. A member directory, while yet another useful tool, must also be maintained in a careful manner or it will lose its effectiveness. It must be searchable if it is to be useful. When it is difficult to navigate, a member directory is useless. It is terribly time consuming to sift through extensive, unorganized lists to read each member's name to find the one you need. You should offer several search criteria as an option, including name, location and age. An online community should be moderated or it can get out of hand quite quickly. Someone should be accessible to answer questions and ensure that inappropriate material does not find its way into the flow of communication. Often, moderation is strictly by choice, but some sites do spend the money to hire a moderator. The price for hiring someone to moderate your online community depends on its size.

A large site could cost a bundle. Setting up discussion groups will draw visitors in and encourage them to sign up. If you offer discussion groups on specific interests that target individual user groups, you can be sure to attract many new members.


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