Robert Kraut, in conjunction with Aniket Kittur, John Levine, Laura Dabbish, and Tom Postmes, explore the factors that contribute to the success or failure of online communities in the book Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design, drawing on theories from social psychology and organizational behavior. They highlight the importance of creating a sense of community among members, which can be achieved through fostering social interaction and encouraging active participation. This involves designing the platform to facilitate communication and collaboration, as well as providing incentives for users to contribute and engage with one another.
Another key aspect of successful online communities is effective moderation, which involves setting clear guidelines for behavior and enforcing them consistently. This includes addressing disruptive or inappropriate behavior promptly, as well as providing support and assistance to members when needed. By creating a positive and supportive environment, online communities can attract and retain members, fostering a sense of loyalty and commitment.
Kraut et al.'s principles for building successful online communities can be applied to a wide range of online forums and platforms, from social networking sites to discussion forums and collaborative workspaces. By creating a sense of community and encouraging active participation, moderators and administrators can foster a thriving online community that provides value to its members. Effective moderation is essential to maintaining a positive and supportive environment, where members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, and can rely on the community for support and assistance. By following these principles, online communities can achieve long-term success and build a loyal following of engaged and committed members.