By Jason Snell
March 31, 2017 4:50 PM PT
Relocating a community
“Communities create themselves.” It’s something we’ve said about online communities for years now, and there’s truth to it. When I worked at IDG, we were maintainers of multiple online communities, some of which we had inherited through various acquisitions of other websites. Whenever someone made the mistake of assuming that community X was just like community Y—or that community X could be merged into community Y—we had to explain that it simply wasn’t true. Community X had organized itself a certain way, and if we treated them as an asset to be transferred or an employee to be assigned, they’d just leave—but not after leaving a big steaming mess on the lobby floor.
Big companies can create shells that can house communities, but they don’t own the people inside. The enlightened ones realize that the right way to approach those communities is to cultivate them, understand them, and accept that in exchange for the lack of control over them, you do receive great benefits from being adjacent to them and owning the shell that holds them together.…