Building online communities needs a lot of passion and efforts towards a single goal.
Nowadays, there are a lot of communities being created by energetic people in Chennai.
There are communities like NerdDinner, ChennaiGeeks, Chennai-Open Coffee Club, etc. The list I told is small. There are really more.
These people join together via any social network tool like FaceBook, Twitter or any other.
They plan for meetings, dinners, arrange speakers and do wonders with the community.
I am worrying much on their platform. The social networking sites.
Those sites are useful to gather like minded people. But the stability and life of the sites are very less nowadays.
There were many MySpace communities, Orkut Communities, Zorpia communities and now it is time to Facebook communities. No idea on what will be the next?
Running a community based on these sites are dangerous as when the life of the site or interest of the people ends, we loss all the people.
When we switch from one site to another site, it is tough to migrate all the members.
We have to realise that when a social network site dies, all the communities are buried.
How to avoid this situation?
Avoid believing these sites.
Yes. You can catch people here. But, to maintain a really useful community, you have to work on the basic communication tools as the platform.
Another problem with these sites are that they are being blocked by many corporates and colleges, as they consume lot of time and scatter the minds.
These communities loss the people, who are unable to access these sites.
These sites need a login in their sites. If anyone want to be out of these sites, he can not be a part of any community based on these sites. Is it called Monopoly?
The following are the proven communication technologies for long time, for online communities with full freedom.
1. Mailing list
2. IRC Channel
3. A website or Blog
1. Mailing list:
we can use any free mailing list services like yahoo groups or googlegroups.
But still, members should have logins in yahoo or google.
There are sites like www.freelists.org to give free mailing lists that anyone can subscribe, with any mail ids.
There are Free Open Source Softwares like “Mailman“, to provide free mailing lists. But you need a website to setup this.
2. IRC Channel:
An IRC channel, can handle thousands of people in anytime. It is easier to discuss, log, run online meetings and run training sessions.
The Chatrooms in social networking sites are slow, no logging, can handle limited people, need login.
3. A website or Blog:
A website or Blog is the easiest way to express the information freely.
We can publish all our event announcements here.
We can upload photos somewhere and give links here.
We can get websites for cheaper as 1000 INR/year nowadays.
Blogs at www.wordpress.com are 100% free.
Anyone can easily read and get the information from these sources.
Even we can publish RSS feeds too.
All these technologies are proven and the entire Free Open Source Communities are revolving around these technologies and they live for more than 15 years regardless of any technological hazards.
Request for new communities:
- You are doing awesome work. Please make your works open to all.
- Social Network sites can help you to fish people. But tough to grow and maintain.
- Keep the technologies Simple.
- Give open access to anyone in the world.
- Use social network sites for announcements. Interested people will join in list/IRC.
- Avoid multiple resources. Having groups in Facebook, google, yahoo will end with scattered discussions.
- Use mailing lists, IRC and website or blog.
- Read the free book “The Art of Community” by Jono Bocon, Ubuntu Community Manager.
These are all just my views. There may be successful social media communities. I am unware of them because they are not open, they need logins to those sites and I am not a member of the many social media sites.