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Manifesto For Community Contributors On-Line

There are a number of comments available about building communities on-line, but little guidance for those contributors that make long-term success possible. Without fresh content and individual opinion communities would hold little or no value. This manifesto highlights some existing resources while providing guidelines for new contributors.

Guidance for builders of communities, can look to A Manifesto for On-line Communities by Partnerships On-line, and the Seven Golden Rules for Building Community from Stephen R Figgins. These guidelines still apply to building communities on-line today, and should be considered in building your own customer or employee related communities.

Keep in mind, there isn't such a thing as an on-line community, so anything read here applies to contributing to any community. Your contributions on-line are just more easily referenced than a community in a physical context. These points can help improve your value in any collaborative environment, but first, you must understand what means to be a community contributor.

A "community contributor" consists of those individuals to seek, or provide solutions for specific problems pertaining to the theme of the community. High-value contributors create high-value communities through their commitment, time, and influence. To be a contributor means dedicating a certain amount of these resources to the mission of the community, and the benefit of its members.

The following are a summary of views on becoming a community contributor in communities on-line:

  1. Never copy, but always add original value not presented elsewhere. Too often contributions quote entire bodies of work, instead of translating the key points into the context of the audience this new message reaches.
  2. Provide sequel or prequel materials when commenting on original work. It adds no value to just comment on something you've read, without providing your own insights that provide background or follow up details about the original work.
  3. Add your expert opinion from your own experiences. Everyone has their own expertise, don't pretend to be someone you are not, speak from your own experience and expertise giving a prospective others may not have considered.
  4. Accept that others might have a different opinion, prospective, or contribution. While others might not be right, you must respect they can have a different view or contribution to a topical discussion. It isn't necessary to address their weakness directly if you can provide a more persuasive argument.
  5. Give credit with live contextual link to reference materials. When sharing someone else's idea, reference their original materials with a hyperlink to provide the reader first-hand details. Linking increases your own credibility without duplicating efforts.
  6. Extend a topic into your audiences experiences with interactive element. Learn about your readers experiences to draw examples they can directly relate. You can do this by asking questions and providing a means for readers to answer.
  7. Always provide contextual markup design to provide background resources. Don't rehash a point made by another person, it's better to reference it with a hyper-link then continue your point. People have enough to read, let the reader decide if they want background details.
  8. Cluster known facts to provide a more complete picture of solution. If you can't create something of original value, then bring together other peoples works around a specific solution of value to your readers. Providing a reference sources creates context.
  9. Support arguments with documented facts hyper-linked in context of message. Make your statement believable by providing statistical facts and links to the original studies so readers can get more details on their own. Simply stated, provide proof you're not making it up!
  10. Always give credit for ideas by referencing original word. When you see a new idea, instead of adopting it as your own, share it giving credit to the original creator. You can add value to the idea, but don't take ownership because it will usually back-fire on you.
  11. Get readers involved by shaping contribution by audience desires. Use interactive tools like surveys, feedback, polls, and interviews to understand what issues readers are facing. Mold your contribution around the solutions others are seeking.
  12. Share your successes in a way others learn from your mistakes. Tell people what you did that wasn't working and how you remedied the situation. It's acceptable to talk about how great you are only if you help others be great too.

These views apply to relationship building with corporate websites, knowledge sharing on weblogs, discussion forums capturing group knowledge, or other mediums where one-to-many interactions are encouraged. Keep them in mind when you interact with others in these environments, encourage others to do the same. Your experience is created only by your contribution.

It's important to take these points into consideration if you participate in other community activities like grid blogging, or knowledge clusters. You'll find a group working in these structures can bring together more details to solve larger problems in a shorter amount of time. Be a community contributor, add value, and build relationships.

This is a draft of a larger work, it isn't intended to be complete in itself. Do you think I'm on target with these guidelines, or do you have details to contribute? Have you had different experiences? Write with your comments.

/ b2b-websites | relationship-realms /

By Justin Hitt at November 24, 2003 11:50 PM  Subscribe in a reader


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