Personally, I've managed, designed, and belonged to online communities for as long as I can remember, going back to the early days of the 'net, and prior to that, to the golden years of dial-up BBSs and CompuServe.
Communities large and small, ranging in size from a handful of passionate, active users to niche social networks with tens of thousands of users or more.
Community management has never been easy. Oftentimes, it's a massive pain in the rear; sometimes, even nightmarish. I've spent many a sleepless night resolving issues, moderating, or dealing with problem users in one way or another. But most days, it's been worth it. Rewarding. And usually, a whole lot of fun.
Why do I do it? I love crafting interfaces and building tools to allow people to connect, share, and socialize. I really love the idea of folks from all corners of the world building relationships using systems I've painstakingly developed. As a developer and designer, there's something magical that happens the moment you realize people are using something you built to interact, entertain and create.
So those are my reasons. Every community manager or developer has their own, be they completely altruistic, financially-motivated, both... or neither. But it usually boils down to building and helping to maintain social connections (and eventually, friendships) between like-minded individuals and groups.
This time around, we at Taunt have decided that, as founders of the Vancouver Community Experience Group, it's time to give back to our own community: the hardworking, enterprising folks who design, develop, own, and operate online communities. We've started this series of blog posts for a variety of reasons, but mainly to help out others, following in our footsteps, who may be experiencing the same trials and tribulations we have before. Hopefully, you can learn from our mistakes.
Now and then, we'll post about our experiences with online community management. We'll go through scenarios we've encountered, discuss common situations and suggest options for dealing with them. Throw in the occasional funny anecdote. And, most likely, the odd rant. We'll also solicit guest posts and feedback from our readers, if they — that is, you — are interested in giving back to the community as well.
We hope you'll find this site to be an excellent resource for managing your own community, too. We're looking forward to hearing your opinions and thoughts, and sharing your experiences with us.
Image courtesy of anarchosyn on Flickr.