There is a social order within every community.
If that social order is rigid, if it’s hard to move from being a
member to being a top member, if the boundaries are impermeable (or appear so),
members will participate less.
Or worse, social identity theory would predict they would attack
members on the fringe of the group (perhaps newcomers) or out-groups to
increase the feeling within the group.
It’s dangerous to have an accepted group of top members which never
changes. Others will also feel the outsiders. If you always focus content,
discussions, and other activities on the same group of regulars – members
perceive it impossible to reach the same status.
It’s better then, to highlight the contributions of people rapidly
rising within that community. Highlight the contributions of members whom have
joined within the previous six months and have made a series of great
Offline, status is a subtle manner. We take both non-verbal and verbal
cues. Online, you need to be more explicit. You may specifically state that
this member is rapidly becoming a top member of the community. You can also specifically point to the
contributions that have increased their standing within the community.
If you want more activity. Make sure that 1) group boundaries are
permeable. People can increase their status and 2) they have a proven path for
increasing their status. This is a path that has been taken by other members.