Designing an online community spec can be difficult, there are some elements I think should be included in nearly every online community. These are:

  1. It’s own domain name.
  2. An application form to join the community.
  3. Facebook Connect/OpenID linked profiles.
  4. Latest activity from members on the front-page.
  5. A news page for content about the community (Should be the landing page.)
  6. A forum for members to communicate.
  7. Game mechanics embedded deep within activity.
  8. Sections named after people and/or community jargon.
  9. These value-added pages.
  10. These 8 overlooked elements too.
  11. The ability for members to create their own sub-groups.
  12. Commenting enabled for stories that appear on the news page.
  13. The option to Tweet/Facebook-share any comment/story with friends/followers in two clicks.
  14. Use Facebook plugins to show which of your friends are already members of the community.
  15. The ability for visitors to read all community content (which isn’t private), but have to log in to participate.
  16. Deactivation of accounts which are inactive for 6 months.
  17. The option for the admin to give increasing levels of access to community members to moderate comments, write content etc…
  18. Every new member is prompted to answer a question which appears on a forum thread – hence prompting further responses and converting the newcomer into an instant regular.
  19. Members receive notifications when someone comments on their profile or responds to their forum thread (and these can be turned off).
  20. A Twitter sidebar which shows tweets by members in the community and allows members to respond (with an automatic hashtag) that shows up on the side of the bar. It’s like a mini chat-room, but promotes you and encourages off-website activity.

What other elements would you include?

Image via GraphicStock

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