Between Open and Closed Communities

March 11, 2013Comments Off on Between Open and Closed Communities

Sometimes we oversimplify this choice.

It's not just between an open community, where everyone can see anything, and a closed community, where you have to register to see/do anything. There are many levels within this.

Lets think of this within three areas

1) Who can join? Is the community invite-only? Is it application-only? Is it referral-only? Is it assessment/skill-based? Is it open to anyone? Does it aim to attract specific groups of people to join? 

2) What can people see? What can people see before and after they register? Can they see everything? Are some areas exclusive? Do you target specific areas to newcomers and different areas to regulars? When/how do these areas open up? Are articles registration-only? Can people click {x} times before being asked to register? 

3) What can people do? Can non-members post, vote, or sign up for events? Can those that have just registered do the same things as regular members? Are members able to create discussions, post their own content articles, upload photos after {x} contributions? 

This isn't comprehensive, but that's not the goal here. Nor is the goal to turn a simple decision into a complicated one. The goal is to make clear that this never was a simple decision. You should spend time thinking about. A few tweaks here can help resolve many problems in your community. 

So you can have communities where anyone can join, but some areas/features are restricted to most influential members, VIPs, or regular long-term members. You can help newcomers become regulars by opening up more features/areas after time. 

You can have communities where you need to be invited to see anything, and others where you need to apply and be accepted to do anything. 

Plenty of choices, plenty of decisions. 

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