When Amino first launched, it wasn’t possible to share outbound links.
That’s nuts….almost every community lets people share links in increasingly novel ways.
But take a second and think what happens when members can’t share links.
Problems like fake news, job ads, and self-promotional spam disappear. You can start crafting a community for people who want to be there because they love the topic, or love participating, and not because they want to get something out of it.
You start creating a totally unique culture that might really appeal to a key audience segment.
The problem with most of these examples of online communities is they make it seem like the best way to launch a community is to grow an audience and launch a forum.
But forums are just one of many options and Q&A covers only a small percentage of possible discussions. When you gather with your buddies, you’re not constantly asking and answering questions, you’re just riffing on what each other says.
The communities which people are excited to join, the ones which explode to life, are those which find an edge to push – often an edge few people have ever considered (like banning links).
Looking at current trends, it’s easy to identify some interesting edges to explore:
|Mobile||A mobile-only community which aims to connect members on the move who need urgent answers to questions.|
|Reputation||A community where a growing reputation scores gives you access to mentoring groups run by increasingly influential figures within the industry.|
|Reputation||A super secret community where all activity vanishes after 424 hours but reputation points remain forever.|
|Live-streaming||A community for members to live-stream what they’re working on and how to overcome that challenge. Videos are stored and shared.|
|Verification||A community where every member is verified by name and occupation by existing members. Everyone knows who is saying what.|
|Quality||A community where only the highest quality questions and answers are accepted and promoted. Getting an accepted submission is considered a remarkable achievements.|
|Disconnected ecosystem||A community with no links to the rest of the web. No spam, fake news, or self-promotional content.|
|Niches of business professionals||A community which targets the smallest possible niches within their field which need a place to connect with one another.|
|Top leaders||A community to find great leaders within that field and help them build their own tribes based around 3 to 5 subtopics.|
|Creating collections||A community for members to share their best examples/collections/work with one another – with detailed explanations and a place to get direct support.|
|Trending topics / content||A community for members to find out what’s hot in the field right now.|
|Simple events / gatherings||A community to help people organize their own events and regularly meet in person|
|Compare / compete against peers||A community members can compete against one another in competitions to build a reputation for money, respect, and future job opportunities.|
|Points/ICOs / Cryptocurrency||A community where members can tip each other with in-community currency they earn through answering questions and sharing interesting content. They can use this currency to promote their questions above others and have their content featured at the top of the page – or set a bounty for a good answer.|
|Marketplace||A community which helps top experts in that field get paid by the minute for live support to members who seek answers to questions.|
You can come up with plenty of your own, better, ideas I’m sure.
Forums are far from the only option when it comes to building a community. What you gain from reliability and simplicity, you can may easily lose in tediousness and being ‘just another community‘.
If this feels risky, it’s worth noting the risk of having a community which struggles for years to reach a critical mass of activity is probably about the same as the chance your community which explodes to life when you do something innovative, bold, and new.
So be bold and pioneer new, exciting, ideas for your community.