If you have ever belonged to an online community or ran one yourself, and find yourself without the community any longer, how did this make you feel?
I know when I closed down Cre8asiteforums after a 20-year run, it was an emotionally draining experience even though what was left of a once vibrant community was a mere shell from its heyday.
Running an online community was a learning experience. I started out solo, then brought in co-administrators, who brought in moderators and topic leaders. I wanted everyone’s opinions on how things would be done and not done. For example, if someone came for an argument, they were in the wrong community. Debates were encouraged. Demanding to be right was not.
The most surprising observation was learning that people cared about the community, including and especially the quiet lurkers. I had no idea how attached they were or why.
I believed that even though I opened the door, the house was not mine to own. The community invented itself and became what the membership wanted it to become. Sure, I had one flat rule, which was “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” I think that was the best guidance I had to offer anyone who joined.
The people who came to help grow and manage the community were my teachers too. Our tagline was “There is no such thing as a dumb question.” If I didn’t feel safe enough to ask all my dumb questions about SEO, UX, web design, accessibility, running an online business, and more, how could I hope to offer that safe environment to anyone else?
I’ve never found a forums that could replace Cre8asiteforums. I’ve never felt welcome anywhere else. I’m not sure people want to learn from each other anymore.
The free study below may be of interest.
“This study examines what happens when an online community (OC) platform is shut down. In particular, it builds on recent interest from information science on everyday life information seeking, providing insights into the socio-emotional roles enacted by users following community closure. “