Here’s a quick overview of his advice, all of which are critical points to understanding and fertilizing an online community:
1. Exist for a reason
2. Users draw other users
3. Users will surprise you
4. Barriers are mixed blessings
5. Policing mischief
6. Discuss the community openly
Many of the insights are similar to those in Derek Powazek’s Design for Community, but they come from a different perspective, with examples from advanced communities such as Perl Monks and Slashdot. Chromatic’s points go deeper in some areas and make this piece worthwhile for news organizations considering or managing an online community.
Also see chromatic’s previous column Weblog Journalism is Hard, and it Smells Funny: “… there’s nothing intrinsic to weblogging technology that suddenly makes journalism possible. It’s still hard to research stories. It’s still difficult to write well. It’s not any easier to organize your thoughts into a coherent narrative.”
Just wondering… We don’t understand the purpose of the author’s pen name chromatic. His bio notes “chromatic is not his real name; he never filled in his e-mail settings, but was taken seriously anyway.” Do pen names of this variety really fly anymore? Perhaps “chromatic” has street cred in some online communities, but does this affect his credibility in the non-geekdom world? Perhaps, as he says in this piece, “cypherpunks and anti-spam activists prefer their privacy.” Okay, fine. But if you are not going to use your real name, why not tell us why?
Update (11:14 pm CST) The Slashdot communityresponds to chromatic’s article.
On the Internet, no one knows if your real name is or isn’t Christopher Mattock. (Mine isn’t.) I could claim otherwise and have more credibility, but don’t see an effective difference between that and an obvious pseudonym.
Thanks for the clarification.