One community to rule them all
Internet 2007. There are tons of communities available and all aspire to be the global center of networking. Without a large user base, there cannot be a community. Most net-active people have an account with at least one of the popular communities, and some (ahem) have an account for most of them. But a lot of active community users are fed up with registering on dozens of different sites and rebuild their personal profile and friends list over and over again.
Since the different communities are competitors, they will rarely make it easy for other communities to share their data and collaborate across boundaries. The catch then, as always, is how to achieve domination? Unlike earlier efforts by emperors and conquistadors, the web market won’t fall to brute force. You have to trick the audience into using your community.
Most importantly, make it global. A lot of successful sites have failed because of this. Helgon is a community for people with alternative music interests, but since the interface is written in Swedish, it cannot achieve a large user base outside Sweden.
Don’t focus on a narrow user base. Lunarstorm used to be the number one community, but I haven’t touched it in five years. The reason for my absence is the juvenile feeling of it.
Make something different. Stand out from the other platforms. The newcomer Facebook maintains a list of your friends activities. X did this, Y is now friends with Z and so on. At the moment, this is a very successful approach for making people get back often. Lunarstorm uses a score system, where you get points for various activities. People with higher score are supposed to be cooler, or something like that. Trig uses a system where users “trig” other users, thus marking them as popular. This is somewhat better than Lunarstorm’s approach, since it forces the user to make other people enjoy their presence, but it can easily be abused by trig exchanges (“you scratch my back, I scratch yours”).
While waiting for the perfect community, I guess we are doomed to rebuild our online presences again and again.