Virtual communities: how do they work?

Any group of people, who may meet with each other face to face and exchange their ideas and words through meditation of digital networks is known as virtual community. Entering virtual communities can be really confusing especially for those who are using it for the first time. So, to overcome any problem or issue throughout the process, there are number of principles and tips which can be taken into account in order to make online virtual communities work.

In fact, many virtual community masters suggest that this process is a bit like something dropped in middle of Manhattan without any guide or a map and trying hard to find a place where you are residing.

There are number of principles and steps which are outlined to make your virtual communities work. Some of them include promoting continuity, confronting users with crises, providing institutional memory, providing place for children and many more.

How important is the software for virtual communities? 

You should always use such software which promotes good discussions and more. This is because most of the users complain about system issues and features like conferencing etc.

However, still there are number of things which are done right, by using constrained choices, popularly called by software designers. Like for example, an individual cannot start any new topic just by simply responding on an old post, that’s why topics and discussions are not tend to fragment ways as they do on CompuServe and Usenet. And in fact, its not possible to reply each and every post, unless you either read what is posted in topic previously or else you take any delicate decision to skip earlier postings. This is helpful in reducing amount of redundancy and also in making threads of discussions.

Should limitation for posts be set?

Do not impost any restrictions or any kind of limitations on virtual communities posts. There are many systems which limit length of postings, say something like 25 lines. However, this do not matter much especially when you are interested in short tidbits and banter, but sometimes it puts crimp in discussions of literature, politics or history. Sometimes these issues even require serious space so that things can be discussed properly. Overall, individuals must be able to post everything whether one liners or essays.

Why to load your system front with diverse and good people?

If you are planning to build your own virtual community, then you need to make sure that the system is front-loaded with diverse and talkative people. The well-made strategic decision will give you free accounts and time to each individual and hosts who can be counted for making provocative and interesting comments. In this way, things that make the well work is not which brings like-minded people together, but the one that brings different-minded users together. They inspire conversations and controversy sometimes with heterodoxy and strength of views.

Whether to continue ongoing groups or create a new one?

For the success of virtual communities it is important that you encourage continuity of ongoing groups. You can do this either on weekly or daily basis. This can include both special groups dedicated for personal support, discussions and self help along with topical discussion groups which work for development and welfare of online community.

Along with encouraging ongoing groups, one must also encourage formation of new groups’ communication among other groups. This is particularly important for those who are new in the market and want to enhance their online reputation. But, always keep in mind – do not try to control community with so many imposed structures or regulations. Give some space so that things get in place automatically.

Should we have a place for both private and public message?

No matter whatever virtual community you are planning for your audience, make sure that it is easy to locate. However, most importantly they should be user-friendly. Along with this, make sure that you are providing options to users for saving their discussions. Allow sharing private messages among other users in the group. At the same time do consider the pros and cons of allowing users to communicate privately. This is because during in-person meetings people whisper about each other.

In fact, you must also provide enough space for public meeting areas along with private rooms which users can create themselves and thereafter lock the doors as well so as to prevent uninvited intrusions in group.

Should we integrate online communities with the real world?

If you want to keep your community productive and healthy, then you need to work on its staying power. The members should be capable enough of integrating their online lives with life in which they actually live. This means talking about the online experience with those people whom they know offline.

This gives a clearer understanding about the experiences of the people, especially when the online world is a fantasy or an ambiguous text-only environment, where it is much easier to misinterpret intentions and moods of people.

In fact, it’s easy to loose act out, perspective and finding someone in hurtful situation rather than being enjoyable. When that happens very often with many people, we can easily destroy community. While on other hand, integration even means members of virtual communities can contact each other offline either by meeting in person, face to face or by having telephonic conversation and become familiar with lives of each other.

Virtual communities are an important aspect of our communication. If you are planning to build one – make sure it is user-friendly. Don’t put too many restrictions and allow users to express themselves.

Published by Modesta

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