In our new community,
we do a lot of discussion shuffling.
We tweak which discussions appear, where they appear, and if
they appear at all. This is a classic inception-stage community.
The top discussion is the lead discussion for newcomers. If
we know what someone is working on right now, we instantly create an
environment where members can help one another. It’s interesting for members to
see what others are participating in.
The second and third discussions are the key valuable
discussions where real expertise shine through. We want these to appear highly
Every day we might make a small tweak. We see which
discussions are popular and which aren’t. We decide which should be sticky and
which shouldn’t. Sticky discussions are an incredibly powerful tool. Some
specific actions here:
the posts that don’t gain a response. Most discussions at this stage are
initiated by us. If we post a discussion that isn’t popular, we remove it. The
appearance of popularity is important in feeling a sense of momentum (I’m aware
I’m shattering the illusion by explaining this). About 30% we posted didn’t
receive a response, so were removed.
responses to member posted discussions. If a member posts a quality discussion, we
both respond quickly with our own opinions and nudge other members with
relevant experience to participate as well.
the popular discussions with those that contain real value. We could have a
far more active community by posting nothing but board, fun, self-disclosure
communities. This isn’t our goal. We want real expertise from experts. This
means posting discussions asking about message content attributes, homogenous
–vs- heterogeneous groups, and motivation theory. This is the material that
advances the field and makes the community stand out.
- Tweak the
date. We juggle the dates of discussions. Not by much, but certainly to
ensure the best discussions rise to the top and the least valuable sink down to
the subject titles. If we see a member post a great discussion with a poor
subject title, we change it. We e-mail the member and let them know why (we
want more people to respond). If they want to change it back, we change it
The early stages of building a community
are difficult. The goal is to balance the popular valuable discussions with the
We’re now accepting applications for our Professional
Community Management course (Sept 30 – Nov 8). This is an online course that will teach you
how to apply proven, reliable, science to build bigger, better, and more active
communities. If you want to learn more, click here.