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Serious Communities And Non-Serious Discussions

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

Sometimes, those that manage ‘serious’ communities object to basic principles of community management.

They claim that ‘serious’ communities, such as communities of practice (CoPs) should only talk about issues that help members do their jobs.

I disagree.

If you go to any meetup for a community of practice, attendees talks about a range of issues. They talk about their frustrations, their lives, and offer support to one another. Sure, they still exchange advice and ideas, career opportunities, and much more – but this is never the focus.

People with something in common just love to chat about a range of things.

If it works for a meetup, why not for an online community? Does the internet change the dynamic of what we want to talk about? I doubt it.

If you want your community to be a place that members visit to exchange information, that’s fine. However, it means that members will only visit the community when they need information. That might not be very often. In fact, the better your community performs the less frequently members will need to visit.

The alternative is to build a strong peer group of people that, yes, do exchange information but also talk about off-topic issues, provide emotional support, and broadly bond as a group. Now members visit to see what’s new, not because they need something.

In communities like these, members might visit every week…perhaps every day.

This doesn’t mean that every conversation tactic works for every community. You have to adapt these to suit your audience. You should, however, be open to casual conversations in your community. You will find that a smaller % of discussions exchange information, but there is a greater amount of advice overall.

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