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Our Approach to Online Community
We have combined our very practical expertise over 30 years of creating, supporting and developing online and online/offline communities with knowledge gained from academic research based on leading academic concepts and ideas. We looked at the structure of successful communities and from these observations have developed a practice-based model which we use to develop new communities and to give them a better chance of success.
The model that we use can be applied to communities that operate only online, and also to those which are “blended” – i.e. which also have face-to-face events. The model is also independent of any technology used to create the community. While some of the most successful networks or communities of practice have operated with a single technology – such as a forum or a mailing list - it’s clear that the web user today has heavy demands on their time and there is a limit to how many separate websites or forums they will visit and take part in. The Reach Further model works with forum or website technology, but it also applies to more distributed forms of networks incorporating a variety of technologies, including Web 2.0 and social media, with the aim of keeping it easy and quick to interact. The pervasive community is readily available via the technologies that people use daily, such as email, RSS, Twitter, forums, social networking tools, or swarming via mobile phone.
We define three levels in an online community, attention to each of which is vitally important to its success: the public or expert level, and behind a login, the collaborative or community level and the personal or individual level. Information and content is created in and and for each of these levels and moves betyween them in a dynamic flow of information and interactivity.
To facilitate the activity in these areas and the movement of content, a series of community manager and community e-moderator actions and interventions are planned. These roles are defined for each community and plans are drawn up for content and knowledge management, community engagement, project implementation and sustainability. Community moderation services or training in e-moderation are provided.