The Convo Mark 2: The Online Community

It's time for the second round of what came to be known as "the convo". The last one led to all sorts of larger conversations and community efforts, but ground needs re-plowing. Seeds need replanting. This time around, I thought we'd target a more narrow topic than last time: What are the characteristics of successful online communities?

Most of us are involved in multiple communities whose primary medium of social exchange is online -- whether that be a Twitter group, a discussion board, email list, or whatever. When positive, these communities can turn into massively productive sources of energy and transformation. Some online communities thrive while others never get off the ground. Some prosper vibrantly for a short time and then wither and die for some reason. More interestingly, some communities (all healthy ones) appear to reach beyond the online sphere and into "real-world" connection and influence.

Are there characteristics shared by successful online communities? What are they? Are any of them necessary qualities? Are any of them sufficient qualities? Can any of them be fostered or nurtured constructively, intentionally? Can they be DESIGNED?

And, perhaps more importantly, what is the purpose or output of these communities? How is economic value generated? In a sense, where does the marketplace begin and end -- to put it bluntly, under what terms can we authentically go after money and seek economic reward in this community without (as RT so delicately put it) being douchebags?

Sign up on the wiki -- we're planning to hold this on the morning of the 23rd, location TBD. Stay tuned and hang out in the comments!

Photo credit: Ivan Avramov.