Bas Reus' quest on self-organization and online collaborative spaces

In how many communities can you participate?

Posted in online collaborative spaces by Bas Reus on July 20, 2009

Today I would like to discuss the growing number of online communities that seem to exist. Just social communities, or commuties with a focus to work together or to innovate. Everyday new communities start, and that’s great. To have a flourishing online community, you have to have some people involved that are really contributing. Contributors (including 3% creators) make up about 10% of the visitors of online communities, according to Gartner. There are probably many people that contribute to multiple communities, depending on their available time they can put in. But the problem is, if more and more online communities exist, in how many can you participate, and as a result, how many communities can successfully exist?

gartner-generation-virtual-engagement-levels-june-2008

I’m not trying to answer these questions here, that would probably need some real research, but I think these are viable questions. How many people will eventually be a member of any community, and how much time are they willing to invest? Is there a maximum number of communities that can exist together? Will the future tell us or can we tell something about the future? Will there always be an abundance of people who will contribute, or is that a scarce good as well?

These questions came to mind when I read the excerpt of Mushin on the P2P Foundation blog.

Where in the past there was usually enough time for societies and communities to catch up turning knowledge into understanding and eventually wisdom, this seems to be impossible today for who could keep up with the exponential growth of information and knowledge, diversity and complexity in human societies?

The expenentially growing number of communities has its drawbacks, but the environment and infrastructure of these online communities play an important role. How can you stand out as a community? Many factors play a role here. The community management team should comprise of professional people who have matured by understanding that managing a community requires equal respect for all members. That said, maybe the question in the title should be rephrased in “How can communities develop to stand out of the crowd?”

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