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The Power of Asking Questions: Unlocking Value and Building Relationships


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Questions are a powerful tool in the realm of communication. They serve various purposes, from spurring learning to fostering innovation and building rapport. In the context of online communities, where interactions are text-based and often asynchronous, asking questions becomes even more significant. Let's explore the art of questioning and its relevance in online community management.

1. Information Exchange and Impression Management

In online communities, members engage in discussions for two primary reasons: information exchange and impression management. Asking questions can effectively serve both these goals. Research indicates that individuals who ask questions are not only better-liked by their peers but also gain valuable insights into others' interests. This applies to online community managers seeking to create a positive atmosphere.

2. Questioning Against Social Norms

Online communities often have their unwritten rules and social norms, just like any other social setting. However, going against these norms by asking questions can be beneficial. For instance, during interviews or when discussing sensitive topics, well-thought-out questions can signal competence and build rapport. Community managers can leverage this by encouraging questions that drive engagement and learning.

3. The Art of Framing and Types of Questions

The effectiveness of questions lies in their framing, tone, and type. The New Socratic Method emphasizes the importance of aligning question strategies with the conversational goals. Online community managers should consider whether the discussion is cooperative, aiming to build relationships or accomplish tasks, or competitive, with a focus on discovering sensitive information or serving personal interests.

4. The Role of Follow-Up Questions

Follow-up questions play a crucial role in online community interactions. They convey active listening, genuine interest, and a desire to delve deeper into the discussion. Community managers can encourage members to use follow-up questions to keep conversations engaging and insightful.

5. Open-Ended vs. Closed Questions

The choice between open-ended and closed questions depends on the context. Open-ended questions encourage detailed responses and are ideal for uncovering information or facilitating in-depth discussions. However, they can introduce bias. In contrast, closed questions can be effective when dealing with sensitive topics or negotiation scenarios.

6. Question Order and Tone

The order and tone of questions significantly influence responses. In online communities, using a casual and approachable tone can encourage more open sharing. Additionally, offering conversational "outs" can make members feel more comfortable participating.

7. Privacy vs. Transparency

Online community members often face the dilemma of privacy vs. transparency. Transparency fosters connections and can lead to value creation, but it also involves risks. Balancing the desire for privacy with the benefits of transparency is essential. Members should consider their comfort level and the potential impact on the community when answering questions.

8. Group Dynamics and Perception

Group dynamics play a vital role in online communities. Closed-off members can hinder the power of questions, while collaborative and open participants enhance it. Community managers should be aware of these dynamics and strive to create an environment where questions are encouraged and valued.

In conclusion, the art of asking questions is a fundamental skill for online community managers. By understanding the nuances of questioning, considering their community's unique norms, and fostering an environment where questions are welcomed, managers can unlock value, build relationships, and create vibrant and engaged online communities.


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Every discussion begins with a question, you either ask a question and try to get answer, or ask a question and share your insights and invite other people to discuss on the topic. Communities are not just for talking this and that, communities are also platforms to get help or learn something, and your users can ask questions and answer questions to build a discussion.

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I see online communities as a platform where we can ask questions and get answers, and answer the questions that we know very well. If your community is a platform where there are a lot of resourceful answers on various topics, you will not only be able to create a healthy community but also a popular community

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When I am on forums, I mostly do two things, one, I ask question on topics that I want to know, I also ask questions to get opinions and answers from community members. Two, I alsolike to answer questions, I post replies to answer the questions as well as share my opinions. I avoid asking questions that are of temporary nature, instead I like asking questions that will spark a long discussion

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