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How do you encourage collaboration within your community?


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Collaboration within a community can produce positive results for those not only leading the community but also for those who are part of the community. 

There are many ways in which you can collaborate within your community but it seems that not many take advantage of this. 

How do you encourage collaboration within your community? 

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I saw this post yesterday, but didn't want to respond because I wanted to think more deeply and thoughtfully.  

Encouraging collaboration is hard.  This speaks to group psychology and the innate empathy (or lack thereof) of humans.  

I haven't seen best practices here but I do think community admins should aim for the following:

  • Be clear in their introduction about people helping other people.  This really isn't emphasized enough. When I join forums (and I've joined a lot), the welcome message is usually fixated on where to go to post, where to go to ask for help, etc. They really speak to the spirit of collaboration that underpins the purpose of the community 
  • You periodically talk about it as a community admin.  Culture is something that needs to be actively voiced, and then executed upon.  It's not something tha you need to post a weekly update on, but to periodically highlight a great answer or response from the community, or collaborative initiative or feedback that was provided.  

There are technical innovations being developed.  In IPS, they've been aggressively rolling out features related to expertise - features such as Mark as Solution, Community Expert, Staff Member, Q&A, etc.   These features will allow a technical highlight of questions that are unanswered, invite in experts to answer, and reward expert users.  

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While it has not worked for me one of the most important factors for encouraging collaboration, in my opinion, is by providing value. Your community should allow uses to learn things or share things. Your community should also have flexible rues. If there are too many dos and don'ts, your users are easily diverted

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One of the ways I have found that has worked to help encourage collaboration within my community is ensuring that members feel welcomed and understand how to use the community not only to gain help but to also help others. 

I find that new members are often worried about chiming in and helping others on a forum they are new to and they need that little encouragement to let them know, it is fine to help others even if you are new. 

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Collaboration works best when you as the community owner are open to what you expect from your community. There is nothing worse than being a new member to a forum and not knowing what is right and wrong or what they would appreciate you doing or not doing. 

 

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