Rules for establishing on-line communities

David Coleman has identified 10 rules for establishing on-line communities, which I quite liked.

Identify community founders/initiators, and explain the reason for starting the community, ongoing roles, and participation.

2. Provide a good reason for people to be in the community.  What are the benefits?

Provide a community member directory (with profiles) and an easy way
for members to contact each other and learn about each other.  The goal
is to develop trust among members.

4. Establish
a way to handle conflict at the initiation of the community.  Present
these rules clearly.  Conflicts must be handled quickly and fairly or
they will tear the community apart.

5. Provide
a hosted or focused chat.  Appoint a facilitator with editorial
capabilities (with editorial policies stated), and appoint discussion
owners to drive the discussion to a decision, conclusion or action.

6. Create informal spaces for people to socialize and interact. This also helps to build trust.

7. Create a critical reason for members to be active in the community.
    a. It should be the only place they can get critical information;                
    b. People should receive intrinsic rewards from the community that make it important for them to  be there personally, and;
    c. People enjoy interacting with experts in the community and should be
able to learn much that is  helpful to them in their everyday work.

Bring newbies up to speed fast (guides, buddies, docents, tours,
FAQs).  It is also a good idea to post or e-mail new members the "rules
of engagement" for acceptable behavior in the community.

Keep the content fresh and new with critical information and regular
events that keep people coming back to participate in the community.

10. Monitor participation frequency and quality, and reward those who deserve it.


  1. Dave said:

    That’s a good list. Running a community can be tricky and it’s important that the culture is set out early on.

    As well as my other sites, I run an arts discussion forum, Palimpsest [1] which has only one rule: Don’t be stupid. The rest is covered by the culture, which most people adhere to without being asked.

    Getting involvement in any project is a big ask though and it often means that tangiable benefits have to have been achieved. Those benefits can often only be the result of participation, so it’s a chicken and egg kind of thing, really…


    November 27, 2006
  2. Patricia said:

    I’ve been searching for such a list with rules for establishing communities for a long while – and at last I’ve found it. So thorough and competent. Appreciate it really cause I’m gonna create mine soon.

    October 15, 2007
  3. Dissident said:


    no problem. Keep us posted on what you learn from setting up your community.

    October 15, 2007

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