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Liam Barrington-Bush

Richard -

This is right-on! Too often I find NGOs/charities/campaigeners forget these dynamics - namely - how many of your exclusively online 'friends' do you have any kind of real relationship with?

If the answer is few-to-none, as I would guess it probably is for most of us, what kind of influence/sway do you think you have with them (or they with you?), if the entire basis of your relationship is an avatar and some 'about me' text?

If you want to build an effective online community, you should (as much as possible) provide the chance for people to meet and interact in the real world. This greatly improves the odds of developing meaningful links, and thus strengthening your online community. Then, when we get back to the message boards and social networks, those avatars are real people, no longet abstract ideas...

As none of us live exclusively online, how can we expect someone we only know online to compete with our real world friends and aquaintances?

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