Course Module: How To Start An Online Community / Exercise 1: Identify Genuine Communities
In this exercise, students are asked to identify genuine communities (no surprise there given the name of the lesson). Here is my suggestion:
This was a community for video game developers who bought into and used the Marmalade Platform to create their apps. Community members would use the answers forum, blog, social media, customer support and other channels to share their successes, raise issues and share their knowledge about the platform (and so keeping support costs down for Marmalade) making it a healthy, vibrant environment which members found useful in the development of their products.
WHAT ARE THE BOUNDARIES?:
In the purest sense of the word, there are no boundaries. Anyone with an interest in video game development or C++ programming, can sign up and contribute to the community. However, the most active, loyal, informed and vital members are those who are Marmalade users; those who have been coding for some time and created at least one title using the technology. With these boundaries of platform knowledge in place, the community is firmly focussed on the technology, its capabilities and flaws, and what can be, and has been, produced with it.
WHAT IS THE COMMON INTEREST?:
As above, the common interest is game development, C++ programming and the Marmalade Platform
Here's an example of the kind of peer-to-peer discussion that can be found on the Marmalade Answers forum: https://answers.madewithmarmalade.com/questions/21888/sdfflib-high-quality-text-rendering.html
(Hottest question on the forum ever: 25 votes, 35 answers, 12.5k views)
Interesting to see that after a period of no engagement (this was before my time as community manager), conversation eventually picks up when the original poster returns to the article to express their surprise at the slow uptake.
I enjoy seeing members happily, and in a positive way, highlighting issues with the new release for the engineer to return to the code and improve it. This knowledge sharing in the comments reflects the importance forming a community around a brand and activity like using third-party technology to build apps.