Why do some online communities work

Date of publication: November 12, 2007

Catalogue: Qualitative 2007


Online research communities have been generating quite a lot of buzz recently. At the American Marketing Association's market research conference in September 2007, this was one of the primary themes, discussed by companies like General Motors who have created an online community for customer research around their new fuel cell vehicles. Having ourselves been involved in such endeavours for some time, we are presenting the theoretical rationale behind our community design process and providing a case study from an ongoing research community we designed, built and currently maintain for Microsoft's various IT Professional and Developer research initiatives. We will advocate that community success is as much about planning, management, and a deep understanding of culture and social behavior as it is about sexy technology. It is critical to understand the core elements of community and subsequently wrap technology around human behaviour, rather than trying to shoehorn people into solutions that may not accommodate the natural cycles of community and personal motivation to participate.

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