Thanks to everyone who attended our panel session at WordCamp Seattle, and to our panelists:

panel

It’s hard to capture the vibrancy of a discussion in a blog post, but this is a short summary of some the topics from my notes.

Some of the terms / facts I learned as moderator:

  • “cold start” – the challenge of getting your first comment, people are afraid to be first
  • “Cheers effect” – you need a small group of interesting regulars
  • Quality content first – you can’t get community until you have visitors. You won’t have visitors until you have (good) content.
  • “sockpuppeting” – the ethically questionable practice of posting comments as other people
  • 10am is often the peak of commenting activity (Steve mentioned it: need source)
  • 60% of time by readers is spent below the fold (ditto)

Questions to ask:

  • Why do you want a community? Do you have a larger ambition (say profit)? How does that fit or conflict with the goals the people who you hope will join your community? You need to personally reach out to people who might match your goals and invite their participation.
  • How do you reward people who comment? What natural, intrinsic rewards can you provide?
  • Brand and names matter: you want to pick a name for your site that is inviting and attractive, but not so bland as to be generic.

Here is a brief list of the links and references mentioned during the panel:

 

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