The demand to build online communities has been accelerated lately as firms increasingly understand the power of collaboration. BUT, because the industry is moving at light speed, and the pressure to increase engagement is enormous, in effort to grab quick wins, best practices of moderation are often overlooked. While the quick wins are achievable with gimmick, game or luck, sustained online community building requires skill -a cultivated skill – in order to create a productive and safe environment for information exchange.
In order to succeed in the future, one needs to understand the past. While there are plenty of recent resources, it is so important to understand the roots of an industry. In our #CMGR workshops and Health Checks, we often leave behind a reading list. Here are selections of the classics from our list that can be most helpful to both novice and expert community managers alike…
- The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online by Howard Rheingold This web page contains an extensive list of moderating tips and of ways to model good conversational behavior.
- Building Professional Peer Communities: An Interview with Vanessa DiMauro by Matthew D. Lees This interview provides a good historical overview of online Communities of Practice. It also discusses some concrete areas of online community building, such as establishing trust, member relations, and active moderation.
- Calming Threads of Conflict in Online Forums by Nancy White This summary of a list conversation discusses useful strategies for a moderator who is dealing with challenging postings in their online community.
- Communities of practice: a brief introduction by Etienne Wenger An introductory article to Communities of Practice, it includes a list of nine activities through which communities can develop their practice, including problem solving, seeking experiences and mapping knowledge.
- Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge: Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder
This excerpt from Harvard Business School Press discusses the successful elements of a Community of Practice and how to more fully engage members.
- How Online Social Networks Benefit Organizations by Lisa Kimball and Howard Rheingold This article discusses ten ways that an online social network brings value to a corporation, with a description of moderator strategies to achieve each goal.
- A Roundtable Discussion About Online Professional Development: Three EDC experts in online professional development discuss the evolution of the field by Dan Tobin (interviewing Judith Zorfass, Glenn Kleiman, and Robert Spielvogel) Three early creators and researchers of online professional communities discuss successful facilitation techniques, activities to engage the community and methods of evaluation.
- Top Tips for Moderators of Online Discussion Groups by William Spitzer, Kelly Wedding, and Vanessa DiMauro Adapted from a moderating book published by TERC – a pioneer in online professional development – this article shares moderating strategies, including asking questions to encourage participation, composing thoughtful responses, and promoting reflective dialogues.
- Why communities of practice succeed and why they fail by Gilbert Probst and Stefano Borzillo Published in European Management Journal, this academic article identifies ten reasons that Communities of Practice succeed and five reasons why they fail. Moderator techniques are described along with a corporate example for each.
Please add to this list to help grow a useful body of work for all of us community builders!