An online community (or virtual community) is connected through email, a forum, a wiki or a social networking platform. Many are for entertainment only, while others are focused on sustainability, tackling poverty, appropriate technology, or design.
Communities on such subjects are communities of purpose - however, building and managing such communities require understanding human needs and desires. The members may be more driven, passionate and/or altruistic than those on a hobby forum, but they will still be drawn back to a place where they experience connection and fun.
- Wiki community development, on Appropedia.org.
- Wiki ecosystem - Coalition of the Willing wiki
- Green knowledge ecosystem - Coalition of the Willing wiki
- Online Communities for International Do-Gooders, a compiled (and growing) list of online communities related to international development and assistance from how-matters.org
Resources for community building and managing
Here is some suggested reading. Please share key points that are relevant to Appropedia, on Talk:Wiki community development or the site discussion page or community discussion list, particularly if it has inspired you to take action in a particular way.
- Art of Community by Jono Bacon, Ubuntu community manager. (You can download the pdf.)
- FeverBee, blog by Richard Millington, "an online community builder currently working for the United Nations Refugee Agency... the founder of Commania, a community for community professionals and the author of the Online Community Manifesto.
- The Proven Path - a clear introduction to community building that works, from Richard Millington.
- The Open Source Way - about online community, and being written by an online community. As at 22 Feb 2010, "The strongest sections are Communities of practice, How to loosely organize a community, and Stuff everyone knows and forgets anyway", according to the project leader.
- Lessons Learned in Building a Custom Community Platform - the pitfalls of developing online community spaces, looking at "The Climate Network" and why it failed.
- Community Managers - interviews with Collaborative Nation (a website for "Techno-Activist Communities")
- Wiki Patterns - growth and community in wikis. (Appears broken, but available at Archive.org.)
- CommunityWiki (less focused, more open)
- meta:Wikicommunity - proposal for community-building within Wikimedia through activities not focused directly on content creation. Contains links to relevant pages and discussions on English Wikipedia.
If you've read all the above - the books, the blog archives - you have plenty of knowledge to manage an online community. But if you still want to dig deeper, a few topics that might be useful to study are listed below - start at the Wikipedia articles, learn, and check the resources listed there. (This is an initial guess at useful topics - as you research, please improve the list):
Research and academic resources:
- Group Dynamics Resource Page - Donelson R. Forsyth, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond.