The Most Valuable Community Contributions

May 25, 2015 Comments Off on The Most Valuable Community Contributions

We probably agree not all contributions are equal.

If we're wondering what to promote in a community, here's a simple hierarchy. 


At the bottom are opinions. Giving an opinion is easy. Everyone can give their opinion at any time on any issue. The majority of blogs are filled with opinions. The ease of giving an opinion reduces their value. Hence why most blogs receive so few readers. We don't tend to remember opinions and anecdotal stories. A community filled with opinions gets tedious fast. 

Just above opinions are personal experiences. When someone discloses their own experiences that becomes both a) a data point, b) a marker for what we should be doing and c) creates a bond between everyone that connected with that experience. 

In the middle layer is support. Support provides instant value. People answer questions and help one another to achieve their goals. Support isn't about providing an opinion to a question. That's easy. Support is about resolving one another's problems.

Near the top we have new perspectives. Most people who think they're giving new perspectives are really giving opinions. A fresh perspective is an idea or approach that no-one has tried before. It's people who go beyond what we already know and share their findings. It's members who will say things the majority disagrees with (for now). 

At the very top is evidence and data. These are the people that synthesise existing data/studies and undertake their own research. It's people that don't write posts filled with opinions, but reference their arguments to verifiable data. Within this category there's good and bad data. For example, studies by community platform vendors and organisations 'proving ROI' is far less valuable than a study by an independent academics.

This category also includes direct first-hand accounts from the source. For example, members in my gaming community years go were arguing the recoil rate of different weapons based upon their experiences. One member called up the developers and got the exact metric of recoil for each weapon. That's more valuable. 

You can also spot the problem. The more valuable contributions take more effort. This is exactly why you want to make a big deal, promote members, and build an engagement plan around getting these types of contributions. 

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