The Community I’m Looking For…

I’ve joined my fair share of communities the last 3-4 years. The storyline is the same: A handful of intelligent people come along excited to connect with one another and make an impact.

The community thrives at first as anywhere from 8-25 people start the same old topics you always see… What books have you read lately? What steps do you take to become an entrepreneur? What would you tell a recent graduate?

More people start to come along. They want to talk about the same old topics with the same old comments. The early influencers are bored of those topics. The community starts to get too big. Nobody is capable of effectively creating sub-groups/forums/topics. The noise is overwhelming.

The profiles remain, but there’s little incentive for people to stick around once they’ve outgrown most of the topics. Some communities would argue that fluidity is good, that their members are up, etc. etc. — but the old guard is long gone.

This is why people like Scoble love Quora & Google+ before those services start becoming more mainstream. Sure, maybe part of it is that the circle jerk feeds their ego, but I suspect it’s primarily because the value:noise ratio is pretty awesome before all the “Internet Marketers,” “Social Media Gurus,” and “New Media Consultants” infiltrate.

The community I want to join has the following:

  • A very simple platform.
  • A set # of smart people. Start it relatively small 12-15. Don’t let it grow above 50.
  • A required level of activity. If you don’t make 3 posts a week, you’re out.
  • People from varying backgrounds, but a high percentage of up-and-comers learning together and from one another.
  • Some element of game mechanics.
  • Notifications… that can be turned off.
  • A barrier to entry. An application, a monthly $$$, etc.
  • A dedicated community manager that makes sure every thread has at least once response.

What else would you add? The closest I’ve found to a community like this is the comments sections of some very good blogs.

I genuinely want to have smart conversations with smart people. And I don’t want those conversations spread out all over Facebook and @replies. I want them archived nicely on a forum where I can re-visit them whenever I want.

Does this community already exist? Point me to it. If not, who’s going to build it? You?

  • Aside from requiring posts, you might need to require informational posts. Anyone can reply with “that’s a great idea!” but you don’t really gain anything from that. One knowledge post a month?

    Another fallback with such a requirement system is getting the ball rolling. Chicken and egg.

    Please share your search results. 🙂


  • Abe Bellini

    You make a valid point. I’ve participated in such groups in the past but now spend a bunch of time just writing. Where are you focusing most your time these days? Twitter or G+?


  • Eric Conley

    Great post, Ryan. A few bullets to add to the ideal community:
    — a specific genre community (freelancing, career, marketing, social skills, etc). having a one-size fits all provides to the lowest common denominator — something to avoid.
    — a participation system (similar to your 3 and out rule) that prompts you to communicate on topics catered to your interest. additionally, a summary of your participation would showcase the value you have received since joining the community.
    — a visible, but simple directory of the people in the community with a profile tagline of “i am the __, who can help you __.”
    — influential participation from top-players. invite big names to the forum to participate for X days (i.e. ramit sethi on psychology).